Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oliver Hits the Pool

I'm certainly "bearing it all" to post these photographs (eek!), but I wanted to share a few images of Oliver enjoying his last "Waterbabies" group swimming lesson this morning.

Thanks, NeNe for taking our pictures!

"Billy Goat" and the Barber

Okay, okay ... I'm behind.


It was recently brought to my attention (you know who you are ... ha) that I had not blogged about Oliver's first haircut ... so, here it goes!

On February 17th, 2013 ... after MUCH debate ... and after one too many persons exclaimed "What a precious little girl!" to me ... we decided it was time to give "Billy Goat" a haircut.

I'll admit ... as much as I loved his wild hair ... and as much as it totally suited his scrappy personality ... it was time.

Perhaps, over time.

Sheesh, it was worse than I thought, looking back.

Oliver did fabulously in the chair.

And emerged a new man.

How handsome, right?

Now, I wish I could say that he suddenly started towing the line and minding his p's and q's to match his fresh new look.  Inasmuch, not quite.

He's still just as wild as ever, living up to his "Billy Goat" persona ... just with a much more sophisticated look.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

District 12

On our trip to pick up Wookie, we happened upon something really cool.


That's an understatement.

We happened upon something phenomenal!

E & K Kennels just happens to be about 2 miles away from :

Do you have any idea how exciting this find was for Justin and I?

I kid you not, we were driving down a country road following printed directions to the kennel ... when we began driving past tons of small, abandoned homes.  I said to Justin, "Eww ... this is kinda creepy." His response was, "It reminds me of District 12 from The Hunger Games ... google where that was filmed."  (seriously ... I'm not kidding)   So, I googled ... and low and behold ... we were literally driving through the movie set without realizing it.  How observant my husband is!

All the hustle and bustle of filming is currently over, so after we picked up Wookie ... we drove back into District 12.  


The area where "the reaping" was filmed was marked with explicit NO TRESPASSING signs, so I do not have photographs of that section.  Nevertheless, we definitely saw it.  So cool.

I was, however, able to snap a few photographs of District 12.

Peeta's Bakery:

Katniss and Prim's House:

The village:

This movie set it an actual abandoned fishing village in the small town of Hildebran, North Carolina just outside of Hickory.  Being there felt just like stepping into one of my favorite films of all time.  It was a little surreal.

So ... next time you are driving through North Carolina ... or looking for a new puppy ... you might just get the opportunity to step into the movies.

C'mon ... who else can say "I rescued my puppy from District 12"?

So cool!

Welcoming Wookie

Introducing ... our newest family member:

Heath's "Wookie" Here

... better known as Wookie ...

Justin and I drove down to Hickory, North Carolina to pick up this sweet boy on Saturday.  We feel incredibly blessed to have found him, too.

As most of you know, I am a "Griffy" fanatic.  That's short for Brussels Griffon fanatic (Maggie's breed).  Well, they are very rare.  In fact, most people ... dog lovers included ... have never even heard of them.  So, as we searched for another Griff to welcome into our family, it wasn't easy.  We were looking into having one flown across the United States to come live with us ... as the majority of Brussels Griffons are born out West.  That's when I ran a google search for "Brussels Griffon North Carolina" and came across this beautiful little guy.

He is a "Broodle Griffon" which is a designer dog breed.  His mommy, Dolly, was a Brussels Griffon. His daddy, Pierre, was a Toy Poodle.  We found him at an amazing kennel called E & K Kennels which came with glowing reviews from both area vets and  I would certainly recommend the kennel to anyone looking for a new puppy (  We truly feel like this little man fell into our laps at just the right time.

He was a "reduced puppy" because he was already 18 weeks old (born 9/21/12).  You know me and my clearance rack shopping ... well, apparently, that gift extends to puppy purchasing!  It was a perfect fit!  He has that "Griffy" look with the added health benefits of being a mixed breed.  He is also a little older, so he's less fragile for Jackson and Oliver.  And ... he already knows how to "fetch," is quickly learning to respond to his name, and is doing eerily well with housebreaking.  I literally keep saying aloud "where did this puppy come from"???

I wish you could see him now.  As I type, he is sound asleep in my lap.  That's another great thing about Wookie ... he's a big snuggler.

We are in love!

Welcome to the family, Wookie!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Finest Friend

Maggie Mae

November 11, 2005 - February 4, 2013

The day came, although I pretended it never would.  Ever since Maggie Mae entered my life, if I ever made reference to her departing, it was accompanied by "a long, long, long time from now" or sometimes more wistfully, "But, Maggie's going to live forever."  I believe I truly thought she would never leave my side with a child like naivety.  I never wanted her to.

She was and always will be my life's finest friend.

I love that word to describe her ... finest.

So simple, as Maggie too was ... yet so profound, like her impact on my life.

*   *   *

Maggie Mae joined our family in 2008, almost immediately after Justin and I were married.  She was a "rescue dog" of sorts, a retired breeding dam.  We were told she was an excellent mother; a quality she would later prove when I brought home babies of my own.  At first, Maggie was painfully shy.  She had never been a pet, and she wasn't sure what to make of toys, treats, and cuddling on the sofa.  Gradually, she learned to trust us ... and soon she chose me as her "person."  Her breed, Brussels Griffons, are known as "velcro dogs," meaning they attach themselves to a single caregiver and follow them everywhere.  So, whether I was in the shower or making breakfast, there she was.  She was my first baby ... and my love for her never wavered.

Maggie Mae has been my secret sharer for the last 5 years.  She witnessed my worst, yet continued believing I was the best creation in this world.  When Jackson was diagnosed with PIS, I turned to her with reckless abandonment, because I never felt the need to explain my tears.  She understood them.  She never questioned, gave advice, or made me feel silly.  There was little I found more comforting than feeling her small warmth beside my body.  Knowing she would be there when I returned home from an upsetting trip to Shriner's was a comfort like no other.

Now, my heart is broken.  I ache to have her back with me.  After bringing Maggie home from the vet on Saturday afternoon, her condition rapidly declined.  Although we had hoped it would, the diuresis did not return Maggie's energy.  She was almost immediately lethargic and continued to be unwilling to eat.  By Sunday morning, she was showing signs of withdrawal from us and generalized weakness.  By that afternoon, her back legs were unable to bend, and she was stumbling when trying to walk.  On Sunday evening, when I returned from being out, I found Maggie Mae lying on the kitchen floor by her water bowl.  I feared she had passed away because she did not respond to my entrance.  However, upon approaching her, she lifted her head to look up at me.  I carried her to the couch and spent the next few hours just stroking her fur and expressing my love.  Once Justin came home from work, Maggie's condition was very, very poor.  We knew that she was ready to go home ... even if that meant making the difficult decision to let her go in the morning.

To the very core of her being, Maggie Mae put us first.  After telling her everything we needed to say, including countless "I love yous," Justin and I both tried to sleep downstairs with her.  Maggie was lying on her favorite blanket in her "special spot" on the corner of our couch.  We did not want to leave her.  Justin grew uncomfortable on the floor, and asked me to sleep upstairs so he could have the couch, and I obliged.  By that time, Maggie did not want to be approached or touched.  I blew my Maggie a kiss and said "I love you sweet girl, goodnight," and climbed the staircase.  Within 5 minutes, Justin called up to me to tell me that Maggie Mae had passed away.  It was around 1:15 AM.  In true Maggie fashion, she waited until I, her "person," had left the room to pass ... and she did so on her own, freeing us from the burden of having to make the decision.

What an angel.

*   *   *

I have good moments and bad ones.  There are moments when I chuckle aloud, remember the way she used to bully Tobey off of my parents' bed when she was younger.  Then, there are moments like this evening, when I find myself turning toward her spot on the couch and motioning for her to follow me up to bed.  I crumble in tears.  I am blessed to have know my wonderful "stinky Griff."  I am forever changed by her unwavering devotion until the very moment she was called home.

This morning when Jackson walked down the stairs, he said to us:  "Maggie float away."  I don't think that was a coincidence.  Perhaps our loyal girl even visited Jackson's dreams to tell him goodbye as she left this place.  It would not surprise me one bit.

I am imagining her that way now ... floating away towards the heavens ... greeted by Tobey, and Prissy, and Spot ... making a new "special spot" on the Rainbow Bridge until the day we will meet again.

Rest In Peace, Maggie Mae.

You are my finest friend.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oliver Is Nine Months Old!

Oliver is NINE MONTHS OLD (yesterday)!

22 pounds (75%)
30.75 inches (> 95%)
17.75 inch head circumference (45%)

At nine months, Oliver:

is an absolute "wild man" by definition
cannot be left alone for a single second without getting into trouble
has a strange fascination with electrical cords which freaks everyone out
can technically "army crawl," but chooses to roll everywhere instead
has learned how to pull-up to standing independently
prefers to stand and play (rather than sitting)
wants to play with Jackson's toys instead of his own
says "DaDa," "NeNe," "MaMa," and "Hi"
rode his first rides at Chuck E Cheese this month
can wave hello on cue
can clap on cue
participates in "Patacake" and knows most of the motions
gets suuuper excited about said "Patacake"
eats 5, 5oz bottles daily
also enjoys one fruit, one veggie, and one bowl of cereal with prunes each day
can feed himself using a pincer traps (puffs, yogurt drops, etc)
wears size 12-18mo and size 18-24mo clothing
wears size 4 Huggies diapers
still loves hanging upsidedown
is fondly referred to as "exhausting"
sleeps completely through the night
now sleeps in his bedroom crib during nap (instead of in his swing)
adores his paci
gets cranky when everyone else is eating at the table except for him
is still know as "brother" by Jackson
is always noticed for his crazy hair
smiles so big you cannot see his eyes

... and fits perfectly into our family!

Happy Nine Months, Baby Boy!

Mama loves you, my "wild child."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Visiting My Beloved

Putting on my "brave face," I stopped by the "hospital" this afternoon to spend some time with my baby girl.

My heart is breaking for her ... seeing that little nub-tail wagging 1,000 miles a minute when I walk up to her crate ... looking into those big, brown, googly eyes ... and just snuggling that sweet body -- taking her in as much as I possibly can.

Oh, how I love her!

Nothing has really changed in the last 24-hours with my Maggie.  No new labs have been taken.  She seems to be feeling better on her IV fluids and medications.  However, other than a very few bites ... she is still not really eating.  Sherry, Maggie's nurse (and my angel), was there by my side again today.  She has been so amazing to me!  We talked again ... about how when Maggie comes home she will require twice daily subcutaneous water boluses to even survive.  I cannot put my beloved through that for long.  What quality of life would that be?

I'm not sure if my tears will ever dry ... but I would rather bring Maggie Mae home for a few good days than for weeks of bad ones.  I think that's what she would choose for me, her Mama, if the tables were turned.  It's a mutual affection.

But, that decision is not one for today.

Today was about visiting ....

And loving ...

And just being ... together ...

And although we will soon part in a physical sense ... that is something Maggie and I will always be ... together.

No longer joined "at the hip" ... but at the heart.