Monday, September 27, 2010

All Dogs Go to Heaven

And it is with a very heavy heart that I must say that my Dunken is now one of them.

As hard as it was for me, this morning, I held him and whispered in his ear as he took his last breath. Words cannot express the loss that I am feeling, that we all are feeling. But I am so relieved that he is not in pain anymore. And I am sure that he is frolicking and running around - barking at every little noise and digging holes bigger than he is. My heart hurts so much, and I miss him more than I ever thought possible. He was such a big part of our lives. And even as horrible as I feel right now, I would not trade even one single second of our lives with him. He will forever be in our hearts and in our memories.
I can't even talk about it yet.
So here are some words that I find comforting today.

The Rainbow Bridge
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys, all of it covered with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this lovely land. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. There, the old and the frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole once more. They play all day with each other, content and comfortable.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with the special person who loved them on Earth. So each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up! Then, the nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! You have been seen, and that one suddenly runs from the group!

You take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.
Then, together, you cross the Rainbow Bridge, never again to be separated.

Author Unknown

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to Louisiana

Even though I have not mentioned it in a while, we still have a house at Ft. Polk. Yep. The really stand-up folks who signed a contract to purchase it almost 2 years ago backed out. Awesome. Well, we had not seen the house since I left there in September of 2008. We assumed that all was well. Our wonderful realtor has found someone to cut the grass, but as far as maintenance and up-keep, well, there hasn't been any. So my husband, who sometimes stops by our house for a visit, decided that it was time for someone to go to see it in person. So on a rare week where he was not scheduled to travel, he loaded up his cute little Volvo Sedan and started out for Leesville. He was keeping me posted throughout his 11 hour drive. And when he was just outside of Shreveport, the last big city on his journey, his clutch started acting funny. He decided to keep on going.

He eventually made it to the house and checked it out. He said it didn't seem too serious. So he went on about his business. Lots of landscaping and sprucing up to be done all over the property. Carpets were cleaned. Toilets were scrubbed. Multiple trips to Lowe's and Wal-Mart were made. And through it all, his cute little Volvo kept on going.

Then the night before he was set to drive back, he called with some bad news. He could not even get it to go into gear. Uh-oh. Now what?! He called Volvo's 1-800 number and they agreed to send a tow truck to tow it to the closest dealer. In Shreveport. 90 miles away. Now David is in Leesville with no car. Oh, and it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend. There were no rental cars in Leesville. At all. AND he had tons of equipment with him, like a lawn mower, a seed spreader thing, a weedeater, a tiller, a shovel, a rake, lots of tools, etc. So he had to take a cab to Alexandria's airport to rent a car. He then drove the rental car back to Leesville and loaded up all the stuff. The next morning, he drove to Shreveport and dropped off the equipment in his car at the Volvo dealer on his way to the airport to fly home to St. Louis. And the Volvo service people couldn't even look at it until the Tuesday after Labor Day. Awesome.

So we spent the week with only 1 car. Luckily he has some cool people at work who gave him rides so that I did not have to add yet another person in need of a chauffeur to my rotation. He then planned to fly back to get the car the next Saturday. On Friday, he called the service people who assured him it was ready to go for him to pick it up on Saturday morning.

He flew from St. Louis to Atlanta. He flew from Atlanta to Shreveport. He took a taxi to the dealer. The dealer said, "Uh, I tried to call you, but it isn't ready." WHAT?! Are you kidding??
Now what?
We thought about all the many options.
Rent a car and drive? Fly back?
When can he make it back to Shreveport?

David said not to worry.
He said he'd figure something out.

Well, he did.

Yep. He traded that baby and drove home in a NEW Volvo.

Bless his heart.
I think he planned it.

Just look at that face.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bus Music

Jessa Lynn LOVES riding the bus. That has been her favorite part of going to school, hands down. Well, she liked PE, too, but I still think the bus is #1. She had the sweetest bus driver last year. She was patient with all of the kiddos on our street. She would stop 2 or 3 times to pick up the stragglers. BUT she retired at the end of last year. So we have a new bus driver. And we LOVE her, too! She is younger and really outgoing. She get a kick out of Jessa because she is NOT a morning person. At all. In the mornings, Jessa will barely grunt at her. But in the afternoons, she is her bubbly, talkative self. On about the 3rd day of school, the driver asked me, "Is she not a morning person?" And I laughed and said, "Not at all!" So now it is a funny little game that we play, trying to get Jessa to crack a smile in the mornings.

Well, one afternoon last week, when Jessa was getting off the bus, her driver mentioned to me that she was trying to play music, but she was having trouble finding something that all the kids liked. My Jessa went straight into the house and pulled out her Justin Bieber CD and her Taylor Swift CD and put them in her backpack. She said she did not want to forget.

The next morning rolled around and she was almost chipper going to get on the bus. The bus pulled up, Jessa got on and pulled out her CD selections. I was fully prepared for the driver to politely decline her choices. I was even prepared to console her if she was disappointed. Well, I needn't have worried. The driver closed the doors, but she did not even pull away from the stop until one of Jessa's CDs was loaded into her bus CD player! It tickled me to death. And Jessa was sitting in the first seat, beaming with pride as they drove away.

That afternoon, the bus pulled up.
Then the doors opened.
And the driver had the biggest smile on her face when she saw me and she hollered,
"Bieber Fever!"
A very pleased Jessa got off the bus and headed home.

Our Jessa, she can even control what music her bus driver plays. . .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spencer + Pre K = Silence?

Things have been so crazy and busy, oh, and also busy and crazy around here that I have not posted about my baby boy's starting to school this year. I am just bad, and that is all there is to it. So, here we go, several weeks after the big first day: a post about Spencer's first day. . .

Spencer was more than ready to start to school this year. Jessa's district started really early, so she was in school weeks before he was. Every week, he would ask if it was time. And I had to tell him no. Finally, the day arrived.
I was happy that he was going back to the same school that we went to last year. He was happy, too. Jessa was already reaping the benefits of being a returning student. She was so thrilled to already know "the ropes." So we got up on the big day and got ready to go. The first day was called orientation and all the parents were required to stay. Spencer was not thrilled about this. He kept saying, "Mom. Just go in and drop me off." And I kept telling him that they said I had to stay.

Oh, wait, before I continue, the obligatory first day shots:
the whole Spencer shot
the close up "cheese"
the walking in shot
at the front door
So all the way through the parking lot, he keeps telling me to go home and not stay. We get to the door, we walk in, and he saw his classroom from last year. His teacher from last year was so happy to see him. She hugged him real quick, and we set off to wash our hands. (His school is serious about clean hands.) After we wash our hands, Spencer turns to go back to his classroom from last year. And I said, "Oh, no, buddy, you go to the Pre K class this year." And his face looked shocked. Then his lip poked out. Then tears welled up in his sweet eyes. And as we headed into his NEW classroom, my sweet independent child who did not want me to stay at school was sitting on the floor clinging to my leg. Yep. He decided it was cool for me to stay after all.
So we had an iffy orientation day. He reluctantly sat in the circle. He played along with everything as long as he did not have to say anything. And when it was time to go, he raced me to the car. And as we drove away, he informed me that he had changed his mind: he did want to go to school after all.
Fast forward to day 2. The first full day of school. No mommies allowed. He was telling me the whole way that he did not wish to continue in school. Apparently, he had learned all he needed to learn in preschool. He slowly went into the doors. He slowly washed his hands, with a pitiful look upon his face. We headed toward his classroom. And per his teacher's instructions, we hugged and kissed at the door. And he headed slowly into the classroom, and I turned to leave. Then I heard a ruckus, and when I looked back, I saw Spencer break away from his teacher and start to chase me out of the building. I had to walk my sad son back to the room and give him one more hug as his teacher pried him off of me. I then had to run to my car to keep the other mothers from seeing me cry!
I anxiously awaited the time to pick him up. I went into the building and waited outside his room. When it was time to go, he ran to me and hugged me. As we were walking to the car, I asked him how was his day. He did not say anything. So to try and spark a conversation, I asked what did they have for snack. He said, "Raisins. And you know that I do not like raisins." And so I asked if he had fun on the playground. And my sweet boy said, "Mom. Do not speak of it." I tried hard to not ask anymore questions, but I wanted to know that he was OK. I wanted to hear about the things that I missed. I wanted to know that the teachers were nice and the kids were friendly. I had lost hours of his life and I HAD to know what happened. So I tried once more to ask something about circle time and he said, "MOM! I told you that I do not want to talk about it." So we rode home in silence.
I am happy to report that all is well with Spencer, school, and his class now. He likes his teachers and his friends. And I am even allowed to ask about school. Oh, and so far, they have not made the mistake of trying to serve him raisins again. Whew.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

To the lady with the baby at Target

I was at Target this week. I realized that morning while dressing my children that almost all of their pants are too short. It took me 3 pairs before I was comfortable enough to let Spencer leave the house. So I added to my to do list: "Pants for children." Speaking of my "to-do" list, it was long that day. This was Tuesday, I think.

The night before I had a bad night with my sweet Dunken. He seemed to be really uncomfortable, so I was up with him off and on trying to soothe him. I was exhausted and emotional and thinking that maybe this was it. So I got up that morning, showered and got dressed. I got Jessa up, argued with her about why she could not be homeschooled as I dragged her across the street to the bus. I then went to get Spencer ready, and had the pants problem.

Dunken and I took Spencer to school and then went to Jessa's school real quick. There were a few PTO things that had to be done, like yesterday. So then we headed to the vet. No appointment, but I was so worried. When I walked in, with tears in my eyes and my baby boy in my arms, they worked me in real quick like. The kind vet gave him a thorough check and even drew blood just to be sure and he told me to relax. That Dunken seemed to be still holding his own. His vitals were all good. AND he gave me some new dosages for his pain meds, so I left there feeling somewhat better.

I then took Dunken to Hardee's for a biscuit. He has been losing weight, so I made the executive decision that he is going to eat like a king. We ate our biscuits in the car while we waited on Spencer to be finished with school. Then we dropped Dunken by the house before we headed out for more errands.

We went to Target first. We needed the most things there. When I say needed, that is an important distinction. We only got things we needed, not just wanted. We needed new pants for the children. And the pants needed shirts to match them, no sense in getting lonely pants. The kids also needed socks. I noticed that Jessa left for school one morning last week with pink socks on that had the grippy stuff on the bottoms that said "2T-3T." She loves the socks, but I am thinking that when you are almost 7, you need bigger socks. I needed lots of other things. I needed to get Jessa the new Barbie movie. I needed to get Spencer a new Lightning McQueen car, the one with the tongue not sticking out. He said he needed to "closed mouth one." I agreed. I also needed to get Dunken a heating pad, part of my plan for him to be more comfortable. I needed some more of those granola square things with peanut butter. So good. Jessa needed some shoes because her 27 pairs of flip flops are not appropriate for school, and she cannot be expected to wear the same pair of shoes every day. Or so I am told.

Anyway, we were rushing from place to place in Target trying to remember all the things that I knew I needed and notice all the things I did not know I needed until Target provided me with a cute end of the row display to explain to me how great my previously unknown need was. And in the midst of all the back and forth, I noticed a lady slowly strolling up and down the baby aisles. She was wearing a Baby Bjorn with her very small, quiet sleeping baby asleep on her chest. I paused for a moment and tuned out Spencer's begging me to hurry so we could go to the snack bar and get him an Icee. I looked at her and knew exactly how that used to feel. I smiled and hurried on.

We left Target and had to go to Michael's for a few things for Awana. Then we headed to Petsmart. Max is now on allergy shots and needed new food that agrees with him and his delicate needs. So we rushed through the dog food and checked out. We headed from there to the commissary. I needed to pick up 7 things. I know that it was 7 because Spencer was more than ready to go home and it was about 45 minutes til the bus got Jessa home from school. I convinced him to power through since we only had 7 items to get. We mainly needed chicken because I am cooking King Dunken chicken every day. And since it was only 7 items, I let Spencer be my check out dude at the self check out. It only took 11 minutes to scan and bag the 7 items. He is a very efficient check out dude, after all. We hurried home and unloaded all the loot from a long day of errands. We did not have time to put the anything more than the chicken away before Jessa's bus stopped out front.

I got her inside, fixed her a snack and got her changed for soccer practice. I then loaded Max up in the car for a vet appointment. We went to the vet and it took a little while because, well, Max is a ball of trouble. The kids were tired and getting ill and very antsy. And by the time we were ready to go, Jessa was hysterical and so mad at me because I would not let her have one of the kittens that was in the lobby. Never mind that we already have more pets that we know what to do with AND that I have already been to the vet twice in ONE DAY. Never mind that the kittens already had an owner who was not giving away any. Yeah, we need another pet. And Jessa is also having this meltdown because she does not want to go to soccer. "Mom. When I said I wanted to play soccer, I was only joking. Couldn't you tell?" But we were waiting on our prescriptions to be filled, and we were already 20 minutes late for soccer. I have never been more ready to leave a place in my life.

So we get all loaded back up into the car headed home to drop off Max before soccer. After I fussed at the kids for a while about their inappropriate behavior at the vet's office, I looked in the back and they were both ASLEEP.

I called Momma to make sure that she did not think I was being a bad mother when I decided that we were in fact not going to go to soccer since they were ill, asleep, and we were already late, even after I gave Jessa the whole "you will let your team down" speech. She said, "go home!" So, we did. But we had to go back out because I had planned on picking up something to eat on the way home. So after we took Max home and checked on Dunken, we headed back to Burger King for a healthy supper.

We ate, and then I became a night time Drill Sergeant to get everyone in the tub, dressed for bed, homework done, backpacks ready, teeth brushed, meds for all the dogs, shots for Max, kitchen somewhat cleaned, all the loot from the days errands mostly organized, and all of us to bed before midnight.

And as I was getting myself ready for bed, I let my mind drift to the lady in Target. I used to be her. I was on my baby's schedule. Some days we did not even leave the house. Some days we did not even get out of her pjs. Going to Target and strolling up and down the aisles checking out the cute little socks and the latest deals on Pampers. The baby did not argue or talk back. And for a few minutes I was so jealous of how much simpler her life was. No sick dogs, nothing she has volunteered for to do, no soccer practice, no spelling tests to study for, no teeth to brush - just a Momma and her baby enjoying an outing together.

Then I zapped back to reality. I do miss those baby days so much, but I also love the craziness of these days, too. And I know that they go by all too fast. So I am going to enjoy them as much as possible. But if I could say something to the lady in Target, I would tell her to never take slow days browsing in Target with a precious sleeping baby on your chest for granted. Before you know it, you are the crazy, frazzled mom with children who don't have pants that fit, don't want to take a bath, and think that you are just the worst mother ever because you won't let them have a kitten.