Monday, November 30, 2009

Our First Baby

In 1998, the first Christmas after Joe and I were married we decided that our gift to each other would be to get a puppy. It was not the most well-thought out plan. On the contrary, our friends were getting a Rottweiler mix puppy from a family in the neighborhood who had bred their two dogs, we went to visit the litter with them and instantly fell in love with the male runt. And that is how Utah came into our lives, officially becoming our first “baby”.

Here he is at 5 weeks old, when we first brought him home:


And a little older at what I consider his cutest:


It was less than a month later when Joe came home from work one day and solemnly informed me that when he graduated from his tech school in 29 Palms, that his first duty station would be Okinawa, Japan. It was my worst fear come true. Here we were, married less than 6 months and now he would be going overseas, necessitating that we spend an entire year apart. I was beside myself. Furthermore, here I was, never having owned a dog in my life with a rottweiler pup, a breed that is known to be stubborn and overly protective. So after all the preparations and tears, one of the first things I did after Joe left for Okinawa was to enroll Utah in a dog obedience course. It was during this time that Utah and I truly bonded and the point, according to Joe, where I turned him into a total softie.

For those of you who don’t know the whole story, after spending 4 months apart, through some really great people (love you Jeff and Mindee!) we found a way for me to join Joe in Okinawa for the rest of his year stationed there. I had NEVER flown before and was actually quite nervous too so here I was getting ready to get on a plane for the first time that would take me all the way to Tai Pai connecting to Okinawa and yes, my baby Utah (at the time 7 months old and already at least 75 pounds) took the long flight with me. I will NEVER forget the look of sheer relief on Utah’s face when we finally got to Okinawa and found some grass for him to pee on, a task that seemed to carry on for 5 minutes straight. It was sheer comedy. Utah became quite the celebrity while we were in Okinawa. The Japanese locals did not generally have pets and if they did happen to have a dog, they certainly were not the size of a dog like Utah. Several times we were actually asked to photograph the nationals with him. On base, Utah was able to entertain and cheer up Marines, many of whom were quite homesick for America and their families.

Utah really does have the best temperament. He is sweet, playful and likes to snuggle. He is extremely social with other people, kids and other animals but he can be intimidating if you happen to be on the other side of our fence, pacing and barking back and forth. However, in the end Utah literally wouldn’t hurt a fly. I remember one time when I came home to find a mouse just outside the garage. Hoping that Utah would take care of it, I steered him over to where the mouse was. Utah approached the mouse, sniffed it and then proceeded to give it a big kiss. Twice he was attacked by loose dogs much smaller and weaker than him and Utah ended up injured because he refused to really fight back. Utah is also immensely entertaining. Whether he is hiking his Frisbee underneath him or singing (yes he sings) to his favorite Led Zeppelin tune. Dazed and Confused in case you were wondering. His safety zone is to push his way between your legs and then dance his back legs as you pet his bum. And you can't forget how he cocks his head back and forth while you talk to him. It's as if he understands. Utah has been the most wonderful and amazing dog in the world.

We didn’t know much about rottweilers when we got Utah but from a very early age, he would exhibit intermittent periods of lameness and we soon learned that rotties are prone to a host of orthopedic problems from hip and elbow dysplasia to bad knees. Unfortunately, Utah has all 3. We appropriately nicknamed him our “orthopedic nightmare”. In 2002 at the age of 4, he underwent a TPLO procedure to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee caused by his hip dysplasia. This is an advanced procedure that at the time was typically only done on working and show dogs and must be preformed by a vet with specialty training. It was VERY pricey. However, Utah was still so young we decided to give him the best chance for a full and active life. Unfortunately, as is common with this type of injury, it was about 2 years later in 2004, when I was 7 months pregnant with Jake that Utah blew out his other knee, necessitating yet another expensive surgery. It was at this point when Utah acquired yet another nickname, “the million dollar dog”.

Here is recovering from the first surgery with his morphine patch attached to his hip:


So why I am telling you all this? Well, first of all you can relax. There is nothing wrong with Utah. Sure he is so stiff from arthritis it takes him several minutes to stand back up after sitting and he runs like a toy soldier. Sure he has several lipomas, one near his kneecap that is approaching the size of a softball. Sure, he occasionally has accidents in the house because he is too sore and lazy to go outside and take care of business. But Utah has accomplished something amazing. This last week (November 21 to be exact) marks Utah’s 11th birthday. Despite being an “orthopedic nightmare” and having an expected lifespan of only 8-10 years, Utah has had the long, active and full life that we always wanted for him. He has traveled overseas and back and been with us through the birth of both children and the addition of another dog (Nago whom we got while in Okinawa) and several cats (Skittles RIP, Jazz and Mambo). He is and always will be our first “baby”.

Hanging out with Nago:

dogs posing

Hanging out with Jake:


In his prime (6 years old):


Last winter, all gray and covered in snow:

utah snow

And I know that this winter is going to be hard on Utah. I know that our time left with our companion is becoming increasingly limited but for now, I would just like to smile on the good fortune that we have had such a wonderful dog and celebrate the 11 years we have had with him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Semi-Wordless Wednesday - The Sticking Dress and Feather Hat

This is for you Mom! Explanation to come. Hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jake's Surgery

We had a wonderful experience at the Outpatient Surgery Center at Loma Linda University Hospital. After being called back to the prep area, Jake was able to watch cartoons as I helped him dress in his hospital gown. That was the only point where it got a little nervous and said he didn't want to sleep at the doctors. I told him it would be okay and asked him to guess what his surprise would be when he was all done and it was enough of a distraction that he got over his nerves. The nurse and anesthesiologist gave him some liquid Versed to get him calm and groggy, he got to pick the flavor of his gas (strawberry) and they showed him the mask and how is hand would be taped when he woke up. Then I said my good-byes and watched as they wheeled him off.
And just like everyone said, I stayed strong and only cried a little after I got out to the waiting room. It is so hard not to worry!

An hour or so later, I got called back to recovery and this is what I found:

As much growing and maturing as he has done lately, when I saw him lying there still fast asleep, he looked so small. While he was still out, he was visited by Grandpa Bob and Grandma Anne and Great-Grandpa Ken and Grand-Grandma Anita. It took a while for him to wake up, but thankfully, he did so without much fanfare (some of the other kids cried and screamed and carried on for quite some time). He was however, very eager to go home and so as soon as he drank some apple juice and got the all clear, the nurse removed his IV and I got him dressed. He was still pretty out of it, so I had them wheelchair him to the car where Joe and Jadyn were anxiously waiting for him, as well as his new mini-micro remote control car that he has been wanting for quite some time.

I forgot to take a picture of his belly when he had the Steri-Strip taped on it (they even drew a picture of a pumpkin on it) but we took it off Sunday night and everything is healing nicely. He never had to take more than Tylenol for pain and you could only very minimally tell he is sore when he tries to move too fast. He did complain of a sore throat Saturday, which is most likely from the intubation. When we showed Jadyn his "new bellybutton" she immediately looked at hers. Upon realizing that it was not supposed to stick out the way hers still does, she started trying to push it back in and keep it there because she said she doesn't want to have the surgery too. And hopefully, her hernia will close on its own because somehow I think it would be a different experience with her.

And then there was one

For those who don't follow me on Facebook, rest assured that 1) New Moon was amazing and 2) Jake's surgery went well and he is recovering nicely. I will have more to say about both subjects later in the week.

However, a very unfortunate thing happened in between all this excitement and stress. I got the call from the hospital Thursday afternoon with Jake's surgery time - check in was at 7:15am with a surgery time of 8:45am. Being that we are 2 hours away from the hospital, this meant leaving our house by 5am and I wasn't planning on getting home from the midnight premiere of the movie until at least 3am. So no sleep for me that night.

While e would have liked to have kept the cats as strictly indoors, between the dogs and the kids and the fact that we have a doggy door, it was nearly impossible so we settled for trying our darnedest to get them inside at night, which we almost always do. But, Mambo (Jake's tabby) never came in Thursday night and I am very sad to report that we haven't seen her since. Since she is microchipped and we combed the surrounding area for her, we have no choice but to assume that it was the work of a coyote.

We all extremely upset. Poor Jazz spent the whole weekend looking nothing short of distraught trying to figure out where her sister was. We broke the news to the kids Saturday morning when it became clear that something was wrong. We didn't hide anything from them and I think they understood. They were saddened but not inconsolable. I of course, balled my eyes out.

I took these pictures of the kitties hanging out in Jake's car storage baskets on Tuesday night:

So there is not much left to do except to be extra careful that Jazz comes in before nightfall. When we lost our kitty Skittles 4 years ago in similar fashion, we hoped it was just a fluke but now we know it just isn't safe and so we won't be getting any more cats while we live in this house. Mambo was a wonderful, loving cat and I am so glad that she got to be a part of our family. She will be missed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Knotts Berry Farm

When I took the kids to Disneyland last spring, even though a lot had changed since my last visit 12 years prior, the essence of the park was the same. It was nostalgia at its finest for me. So many of the attractions were exactly as I remembered them. Unfortunately, I did have the same experience when we went as a family to Knotts Berry Farm theme park last week, taking advantage of their Veterans promotion. What I always loved about Knotts was the rich history, especially since I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. I loved the Calico Mine Ride, the Log Ride, panning for gold and especially all the artifacts from the late 19th century, particularly the miniature replicas of the California missions. So imagine my dismay when we went looking for the missions, only to find out they had been removed to accommodate some massive new roller coaster. The Calico Mine ride was still there, but it was closed for repairs. You could still pan for gold, but it cost $7 a person.

The one thing they did still have that the kids absolutely loved was the log ride. It's kind of like Splash Mountain at Disney. We went on it twice.

The rest of our time was spent in Camp Snoopy where their was plenty of attractions that the kids were able to enjoy.


Crossing the bridge:

The kids on their first solo roller coaster ride:

Snoopy Bus:

The truck ride (note Jake driving below:

The log pedaler, which I thought for sure they would think was too much work, but they loved it:

And of course NASCARs:

And here is Jadyn and I with Snoopy. Jake had no interest in meeting any of the characters:

And the kids very first ferris wheel ride:

Maybe it wasn't the same theme park from my childhood, but we still managed to have a great time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Magoomba Monday #23

1) First things first, yes I have been MIA with my blog for over a week now and it wasn't planned nor for any real good reason. Life just got in the way and on the rare occasion I actually had time to sit down and blog, I simply didn't feel like it. Yes we have been busy - but I have been plenty more busy on many a week where I still managed to publish a post or two. I promise though, everything is fine.

2) This week, however is quite a big week. Thursday (technically Friday) at midnight I will be watching the much, much anticipated sequel to Twilight on the big screen. I have not followed all the hoopla associated with this movie quite as much but I am still very excited - this installment was my favorite from the series and it looks like they turned out a much better adaptation. I am currently re-reading New Moon right now to brush up before I see the movie.

3) Then of course on Friday morning, Jake is having his hernia repair surgery. I am starting to get nervous but I know everything will be fine. I sat down and explained what Jake could expect - that he was going to the doctor to have his belly button fixed, that they would help him sleep so he wouldn't feel it when they did it and that I would be there the moment he woke up. He is not all together excited about "sleeping at the doctors" but he does want to know what the surprise is that I promised him afterwards.

4) Last week was Veteran's Day of course and we celebrated by doing the one thing Joe absolutely loathes the most - we took family photos for our annual holiday card. Although our photo shoot was everything Joe feared it would be (kids not cooperating, over 200 photos snapped in various poses), my friend Rose from Beyer Life got some absolutely fabulous shots and I am super excited about how our card turned out. Let me just say, it has flavor.

5) Earlier in the week, we did get to do something a little more fun that was also at least in part, thanks to Joe's veteran status. We got to go to Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park for FREE! It was our first time taking the kids and our first visit in about 12 years at least. More on this later.

6) Once again soccer season is over as quickly as it began. Jake had his end of the season party after his last game and then last Tuesday, the division wide awards ceremony. More on this later too.

7) It would appear that our Indian Summer has come to an end. We are usually warm through Halloween and this year, save for a short cold front back in October, the comfortable temps hung around a few weeks longer - and we are still averaging highs in the 60's. However, between the earlier nightfall and overnight lows, the evenings have been getting pretty chilly. Still wanting to spend time outdoors, Joe and his ingenious ideas found a way to give the kids Power Wheel vehicles, "headlights", which the kids of course got a major kick out of. Here they are going for an evening drive:



And enjoying themselves next to a cozy outdoor fire after doing several laps around the house:


Hope everyone has a great and productive start to their week!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Funny Nose Friday - Sometimes they make you cry

Yes, a Funny Nose made me cry yesterday and in front of other people no less (anyone who really knows me will realize the significance of that).

So I volunteered in Jake's Kindergarten class yesterday. During recess I overheard Mrs. B. tell Jake how wonderful he was at sharing his mommy with his classmates (and I would have to agree).

After recess, all the kids were sitting on the ABC rug in the classroom listening attentively as Mrs. B explained what task I would be helping individual kids with next when Jake raised his hand. When Mrs. B called on him he proceeded to ask, "Can I go give my mom a hug?" to which she quickly agreed.

As Jake eagerly dove into my waiting open arms, Mrs. B told him to hug me good and tight because this was something I would remember when I was a much older like her. And as I found myself unable to hold back the tears that pooled up in the corner of my eyes, I couldn't help but agree that I would cherish this moment for as long as I lived.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Menace II Society

Well I officially lost my Mommy of the Year award this last week and it wasn't even for endangering my own children. I have so much guilt over this that I almost just tried to sideswipe the whole issue and not blog about it but we all make mistakes, right?

So as I mentioned in the Halloween post, Jake came home from school last Thursday feeling "yucky". On Friday, when he woke up with a low grade fever, I decided I didn't want to chance anything since he hadn't been vaccinated with either flu vaccine (H1N1 or the regular Influenza). Since his ped's office was closed, I hauled him to urgent care and the doctor assured me he had an upper respiratory infection and to give him lots of fluids and wait it out. I requested that he be swabbed for flu and given Tami-Flu, just for peace of mind and the doctor basically gave in, I felt just to get me off his back.

So when Jake started feeling better that same afternoon, even before his first dose of Tami-Flu, I decided that I had indeed overreacted. He had no fever and said he felt fine, even before he realized what he would have been missing. Therefore, we proceeded to take him trunk-or-treating at his school. Then on Saturday, we let him play in his soccer game and that night we went trick-or-treating as well. The only activity we bypassed was going to my brother's house for their Halloween party.

By Sunday, Jake was fine save for a minor cough, which is his MO for most viruses but that night Jadyn woke up with a sore throat and crying that she didn't feel good. No real surprise that Jake had passed on his illness to her. Monday morning, Jadyn was laid up with a fever but Jake was more than ready to return to school.

So imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from the doctor at urgent care around 2pm Monday with Jake's test results, which were POSITIVE FOR H1N1. Oops. Actually that doesn't do it justice. Major oops!

Jadyn's fever broke later Monday evening but now knowing what we were dealing with, we kept her home from preschool and everything else for the past two days. Jake is no longer contagious, although if I would have known, or even thought that his swab was going to be positive, I would have kept him home all weekend and home from school on Monday too. I am usually the one to err on the side of caution when it comes to making sure my kids don't infect others.

So I am trying not to beat myself up over this. It was an honest mistake. However, I still feel kind of bad. The good news is that now we have it out of the way and it was rather mild (I highly recommend the Tami-Flu by the way). So far Joe and I (knock on wood) haven't exhibited any symptoms but I am starting to think when I was sick a few weeks ago, that I may have had it then. The symptoms were definitely similar.

And cold/flu season hasn't even officially began. It's going to be a LONG winter.

By the way - the picture of Jake and Jadyn from yesterday's Wordless Wednesday was taken Monday night. Jadyn was laying on top of Jake with her arms draped around him and they were being complete hams. That shot of them has instantly become a classic favorite in my book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Working it Out Wednesday

Preparing for the holidays.

With Halloween over, holiday planning is in full swing. That does not mean I need to hear Christmas carols and see fully decorated trees in stores but I do like to plan ahead so I can enjoy a stress-free holiday season as much as possible.

Ever since having kids, I have been guilty of going overboard with Christmas and after last year, Joe and I decided that it was time for us (read: me) to tone it down a notch before the kids came to expect being spoiled every year. To help with that end, I am using a little saying that someone passed on to me via the April 2004 birth club on Baby Center. I just love it!

Each child will be receiving the following from Santa:

Something they want

Something they need

Something they wear

Something they read

I am hoping to start a tradition in the Funny Nose household based on this little diddy and now that the kids' lists to Santa have been made, I am going to serve as Santa's helper and start shopping for deals. FYI: I do not do Black Friday but I have found that A LOT of retailers do some great deals between Halloween and Thanksgiving so my goal is to be 75% done with ALL of our holiday shopping before Black Friday even hits.

And what I love most about those I have met through the kids' birth clubs and my blog, is that I am not alone in my constant need to plan ahead. However, Joe likes to point out that just because I can find people like me through the internet, it doesn't mean I am not crazy. It just means I can find people just as crazy as me. LOL! How is that for working it out?

Wordless Wednesday - Do they look like they are sick with H1N1?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In Character

As I have mentioned before in a previous post, our family has recently jumped on The Hogwarts Express and become devoted Harry Potter fans. Both Joe and I have read the entire series (Joe twice) and as a family, we have seen all the movies probably about 4 times each, if not more.

One of the ideas I tried to pimp for Halloween was to have the kids dress up like Harry and Hermione (you know how I like to coordinate)! I was even going to join in the fun by going as the Sorting Hat. However, my idea was rejected. So it was pretty ironic when only a week prior to Halloween, I found the kids running around the house using toy sticks as wands, waving them with a perfectly timed swish and flick and exclaiming, "Expecto Patronum!" To further get into character, Jake had put on his glasses and Jadyn was carrying around one of her stuffed animal cats who was acting as Hermione's cat Crookshanks. They then proceeded to use the linen closet as an elevator and very seriously told me of their plan to catch Malfoy.

Yes, they are definitely characters alright.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tricks and Treats

It was a treat when Jadyn decided to be Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast. First of all after wavering between several costumes last year, this year once she chose her costume she stuck with it. Second of all, out of all the Disney princesses, I felt she most resembles Belle because of her beautiful brunette hair.

However, the trick was getting her hair to actually look as good as Princess Belle. Not an easy task considering how uncoordinated I am doing other people's hair. I am the one that still does not know how to braid, let alone French braid so getting a poof/bun was not something I was looking forward to. A quick search of some hair blogs led me to this style and after two days of practicing and pulling poor Jadyn's hair every which way, I finally got it!

So here is Jadyn on Day One of Princess Belle for her preschool Halloween party - her third annual as she went to the last two years of Jake's preschool parties:

Here she is enjoying the party with her buddy Hayden and her friend Stephanie, both of whom have older brothers that were good friends of Jake when he was in preschool (Gavin and Chris):

It was a real trick helping Jake decide what he was going to be for Halloween this year. He scoffed at every suggestion I made, insisting that he only wanted to be Dale Jr. again, which is what he dressed up as last year. While most moms would be happy to save the time and money on getting him a new costume, I was secretly disappointed that he wanted to be the same thing over again.

So it was a real treat when I finally convinced him to dress up as something different. He was really interested in several characters from Star Wars, but I was afraid a mask would not go over so well so we finally decided on Anakin Skywalker.

Things go tricky again when on Thursday Jake came home from school declaring that he felt yucky. He then proceeded to fall asleep at 6:30pm that evening and not wake up until the following morning, something he has NEVER done. Sure enough, he was running a low grade fever and was not able to attend the final day of Red Ribbon Week at school, which was Pajama Day since the school district does not allow Halloween costumes at school.

But it was a real treat that while we felt for sure our Halloween weekend was ruined, Jake's temperature subsided by that afternoon and he was feeling much better. So much so, that we were still able to attend the first Annual Truck-or-Treat event at Jake's school. We participated by decorating our vehicle and passing out candy. I passed out the candy while Joe took the kids around to the other cars:

A personal favorite:

And after keeping things fairly low-key on Saturday and missing the chance to celebrate with cousins Madison and Ethan, we were still able to take the kids trick-or-treating on Saturday evening and they had a blast! The trick at this point was trying to keep up motivation to curl and manipulate Jadyn's hair for a third and final time.

It was a real treat to see my little girlie-girl INSIST on wearing her high heel Belle dress-up shoes for the entire trek around the neighborhood we take them to, even after Joe tried to convince her to wear tennis shoes on TWO separate occasions. I was so proud of her.

And it was also such a treat to see Jake, his usual sweet and thoughtful self, guiding his little sister up to each house and back to the car after they had trick-or-treated to their hearts content.

But the final treat, was seeing these two smiling, shining, happy faces as they hung off the monkey bars at the playground afterwards.

A perfect end to yet another great Halloween that was full of more treats than tricks