Monday, February 28, 2011

Busy Girl!

So not only is Maria going to school four half days a week, she is also enrolled in a gymnastics class and swimming lessons.  Initially I worried if we were overloading her with too much to do, and sometimes, I still worry.  Especially since she's not napping on the days she goes to school.  But she seems to really enjoy the extra-curriculars and looks forward to them.
We just started our second session of swimming lessons this year.  Swimming has been rough for Maria in the past, but I think we have finally turned a corner. The teacher in this new session is more assertive with Maria, she pushes her harder and builds Maria's confidence.  It is great watching her realize she can do something! I can literally see the light going on in her head. She is kicking around on her own with the noodle, which she was afraid to do before.  And she's even jumping in off the side.  We've also been going to another pool on Friday mornings just to have fun. They have open swim and kids 4 and under are free.  This works out great since Maria is off on Fridays.  I was a little hesitant to take both kids by myself, but it has worked out really well for the past 2 weeks.  I hope to keep that up because every time we go, Maria seems to get stronger in the water. 

The Little Gym is a 16 week program that introduces 3-4 year olds to the basics of gymnastics.  Maria loves going and she is getting stronger at this each time, as well.  I love watching her hang from the bar and attempt a handstand!  The kids sing songs and do different activities each week such as a giant trampoline, the parachute, hula hoops, different kinds of balls, sticks, and bubbles.  She is wiped out when she comes home from the gym...and she sleeps great that night!

(I have no idea what is going on on the balance beam...but I think this picture is hilarious! I think they are trying to trade places and I snapped it at just the right time! Ha ha!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our night with Olivia

On Saturday our niece Olivia came over to play. Maria and Naomi were so excited they could hardly contain themselves.  After we ate dinner, the girls put on their princess dresses, crowns, high heels, jewelry and carried their magic wands around while they had a dance party. It was the ultimate girly-girl night full of fashion and fun!

The 3 little princesses settled down long enough to watch a Care Bears Movie. (about 40 minutes of it, to be exact...pretty good for a 3, 2 and 1 year old!)  But then the dance party resumed. We rocked out to Nickelodeon's Mega Music Fest and danced the night away.

The girls had a blast together and we can't wait to get together with Olivia again! (and maybe even Dominic next time!)

I've included a video of the girls rocking out.  Please ignore the weirdo in the background.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Late Valentine's Day Post

The Saturday before Valentine's day, Gerry and I had planned to go out to a nice restaurant for dinner and then go out for drinks after. We even hired a babysitter for the night.

Then everything happened with Devon, which wound up costing a lot of money we weren't expecting to spend.

Then the Kindle showed up.  I felt really bad knowing that Gerry had spent money on a gift to me and we had just paid everything for the dog so I suggested doing something different...something a little less expensive than dinner at a nice restaurant.

For me, it was more about just spending time with Gerry. (without the kids) I didn't care where we went or what we ate.  I jokingly mentioned we should just eat out at Chik- Fil -A.  A new one opened up close to our house last fall and Gerry has been dying to eat there, but the kids won't eat it so we haven't been.

That sparked and idea.  There are a few bars all within walking distance from Chik-Fil-A, so Gerry suggested we do a mini Pub Crawl, just the two of us.

I said I wanted to do something different, so I was all for it.

Our first stop?  St. Louis Sports Zone.  It was kind of dead, but we split some nachos and we each had a beer.

Next up: The Tilted Kilt.  Okay I never said the bars in the area were classy, or even nice.  This one was very interesting.  The waitresses dress worse than they do at Hooters.  Think Britney Spears in "Oops I Did it Again" ...on crack.  The bar/pub sort of  had a Scottish/Biker/Pirate theme to it.  Not very romantic, but made for great people watching! We had a few drinks here.  It was fun! (The worst part was that people actually brought their families...with eat dinner here.  Wth?)

Our third stop of the night was, indeed, Chik-Fil-A for dinner.  Nothing hits the spot after a few drinks like a good chicken sandwich and waffle fries.  Mmmm.  It was good and worth the wait!

Last stop: 54th Street Bar and Grill.  I couldn't fit anything else into my stomach so I just had a glass of water.

The night turned out to be so much fun.  I loved being able to hang out with Gerry and talk...just the two of us.  The best part???  We were actually in 10:30 pm!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wrapped In Love

Maria and Naomi might not totally understand what is going on with our dog, Devon.  But they know she is sick, not feeling well and that she needs to rest.  She stays out in the living room with us where I can see her and several times throughout the day both of the girls will, very gently, stop to pet her on the head kiss her or give her a hug.  At one point, I looked over and they were covering her up with their pink dress up scarves.

 They said she needed covers because she was cold. It melted my heart.

I'm pretty sure Devon liked it, too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My {early} Valentine!

When I got home from running around with the girls yesterday morning, this was on my front porch:

My amazing, thoughtful, wonderful husband purchased a Kindle for me for Valentine's Day!(complete with a snazzy case and a light for reading in the dark.) He knew that I've had my eye on one for a while.

We usually don't make as big of a deal out of Valentine's Day anymore (for each other), so this was a great surprise!I really wasn't expecting an actual gift, especially since we already lined up a babysitter for a night out on Saturday. I am totally looking forward to that, by the way!

I have already purchased a few books and am well into my first one, Water For Elephants.

Thank you so much, Gerry! I love you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Sick Puppy

Never a dull moment around here. Just as Gerry and I finished watching Idol on Wednesday night around 10 pm, our 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Devon, started getting sick.  This isn't a totally unusual situation...sometimes she just throws up for no reason and we all move on.  But after a few minutes, things seemed to get really scary.

I noticed she was having trouble walking, her back legs seemed to be giving out.  She was drooling out of the right side of her mouth and her eyebrows were ticking.  They looked like 2 ping pong balls bouncing up and down.  Her head was swaying back and forth and she was out of it.  I began thinking the worst.  My heart sank as I thought the only possibility was that she was having a stroke.

As I sobbed on the phone to the nurse at the Animal Emergency Clinic, she gave me some hope that it may not be a stroke but something called Vestibular Disease.  She recommended I bring Devon in, which I had planned on anyway.

So on one of the coldest nights of the year (I think it got down to -3 degrees that night) with layers of ice and snow covering the ground, I made the drive to the emergency vet hospital.  Luckily Devon was able to keep from vomiting until we pulled in the parking lot and then I think the motion of the car got to her.  Hear head was literally going around in circles.  It was so scary.

By the time the doctor came in the room, Devon was literally rolling over in her crate.  When I took her out she fell to her side on the floor.  It reminded me of when you are so drunk and the room is spinning and your head is spinning with it.  It was breaking my heart watching her go through all of this.

The vet explained that this does happen sometimes in older dogs.  In summary this is what she said:
The problem seems to be due to inflammation in the nerves connecting the inner ear to the cerebellum (which controls balance and spatial orientation). It usually lasts between a couple of days and three weeks. A few dogs have residual signs beyond this time, such as a head tilt. This disease normally affects dogs that seem normal up until the signs appear. Then there is sudden loss of balance with many dogs unable to even stand up. Rythmic eye motion known as nystagmus is usually present. Dogs may be nauseous from the "sea sickness" effect of vestibular disease. Most dogs will not eat or drink unless hand fed or given water by hand because they have a hard time with the fine motor movements necessary to eat or drink from a bowl. As long as they are nursed through this condition almost all dogs will recover. There is no known treatment. Some dogs do have relapses but most do not.

If there is not inner ear infection, it's referred to as Idiopathic, which means there is no known cause. She also explained that if the dog is not getting better, it could mean there is a tumor somewhere in the inner ear or on the brain, but the only way to diagnose that is through CT scan.

I decided to leave Devon there over night because there was no way I could take care of her in her condition and deal with my kids.  It was definitely more expensive to leave her there for a day, but I know it was the right decision.  I picked her up the next night around 8pm. They sent me home with some motion sickness medication, but nothing else to give her.

From Thursday night until Saturday afternoon, things seemed to be touch and go.  She wasn't eating anything, but would drink water so that was good.  She began having diarrhea, which was very difficult to deal with because she had a hard time standing long enough to go to the bathroom.  So I had to hold her up while she pooped...not fun! I think all the snow on the ground made it worse.  She's not a fan of snow to begin with and I think it disoriented her even more because everything was white.

But by Saturday afternoon, she started showing signs of improvement.  She's finally eating (boiled hamburger and rice) and she can get up and walk around a little better.  We bought her a harness so she could have more support when we walk her outside and I think she is loving all the extra attention.

This whole episode has put things into perspective for a me.  And I am ashamed of that.

This dog has been in my life for 13 years.  She has been through so much with me, I almost can't remember life with out her.  Yet, it took me thinking that I might lose her for me to realize that I am not ready to be without her.  And I am ashamed because I know I don't always treat her the way she deserves to be treated.

Since we have had kids, things have changed.  I know this is normal for most people who have pets first, then decide to have children. But the safety and well being of your kids becomes priority and sometimes the dog is the one who gets the raw end of the deal.

I yell at Devon a lot because she always seems to be in the way when I am trying to get something done.  I tell her to "go lay down" when the kids are running around like maniacs because I don't want them to get bitten or for one of them to fall or step on her.  I shoosh her constantly when she barks because I don't want her to wake up the kids from their naps.  And worst of all...I ignore her when I am so exhausted all I want to do is sit down for 10 minutes and all she wants is some love.  There are some nights when I am getting ready for bed that I stop and think "I don't think I've pet her once all day."

I honestly hope I will remember all of these things as I go about my day from now on.  Because I know I will never forget how frightened I was as I drove her to the hospital, begging the Lord to let her live.

I hope the remainder of her life here with us will be spent with more love and hugs and less yelling and shooshing.  After all she has given me over the years, that's the least I can do for my best friend!

    Here's my to lift her head for just a moment as I took the picture!
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