Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snow Days - Crystal Kit

I moved this post, it was in the middle of my story about Kahn Sol (the dog) who is not well and so I'm rescheduling it for later:

MLyons received a Crystal Garden Kit for her birthday and this week seemed like a good time to get it out.

Everything is included in the kit but I didn't feel like the manufacturer gave my little scientist enough credit.  They called the solution "magic water."  I would like to say to them, the box says ages 10 and up.  10 year olds are ready for a scientific vocabulary.  Call it a solution.  Better yet, tell them what is in the solution, even if it is only table salt and water.  They want to know.  I don't think this was table salt.  We saw crystals beginning to form within hours.

I like that this sparked her interest.  I'm hoping that we can explore table salt crystals and sugar crystals too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

bragging on Bitsy

having a slope side snack on Tyro

I am very proud of this young lady. She is 7 years old and this past weekend she and I had to manage the ski lift with her 4 year old brother while her dad was away at Snowshoe West Virginia for a race. That meant that even though I was there she was pretty much on her own. For a lot of 7 year olds the lift is not a big deal but Bitsy is short for her age.  It usually isn't a problem (other than she acts like a 4 year old and gets away with it) but it makes getting onto a ski lift a little bit harder.  At Wintergreen she practices on the big 6 person chair and that is a breeze. Easy peasy. But then we ski "through the tunnel" to the Big Acorn lift which moves a little faster and isn't as low. That means it is a fast scoot to load and she has to turn and jump. She was making it about 1/2 of the time.  And I'd get Little Hawk on and then grab her with my other arm and scoot her up but it was a little nerve wracking.  She was a trooper though and she conquered it.

So I told her about when I was around her age and my family liked to ski at Brian Head in Utah.  There was a two person lift and my mother would ride with my brother and my father would ride with my sister and I was the oldest so I'd ride up with someone from the singles line.  And I remember a young woman asking me after we got on the chair "can you really ski?" and I said something like "not very well" or "sort of" because for some unremembered reason it had already gotten into my little head that I should never sound like I was bragging. And she freaked out. "Your mom said you could ski and you wouldn't need any help." I hated riding the lift with people I didn't know.

Why did it matter that Bitsy work out the faster lift? Because the runs over by Big Acorn are less crowded. Awareness is hard to teach small people and small people on skis have a tendency to turn suddenly and cut people off.  I did that, cut someone off, when I was 6 or 7 and I got clobbered.  Poor man couldn't adjust fast enough.  My mom almost took the guy's head off she was so mad and I remember it to this day.  So I get nervous when the slopes are crowded. So Bitsy worked hard and she got it and we skied Tyro most of the weekend. What a big girl!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yay Megan!

image from the NBC Olympics site

Last night Megan McJames skied the Giant Slalom in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and I'm going bananas because I cannot figure out when I can watch it on T.V.  Every listing I find is talking about hockey. I don't want to watch hockey! I want to watch women's skiing!

I have already checked the results and so I already know the medalists (go Maze! and Fenninger! and I have to go check out Rebensburg from Germany as she is a competitor I haven't seen before) and I already know that Schiffrin placed 5th and Mancuso skied out and McJames finished both runs and placed 30th right behind Stiegler.  But I still want to see it.

I'm completely stoked for McJames.  She has worked so hard both on skis and off to stay in this game and find funding and support.  And she has managed to keep her comments positive which I think is so huge because it is completely human nature to let things get personal and show some frustration and she hasn't.  She really came through without saying anything negative.

And I just love that she did it. As a mom I say to my kids "you can be anything you want to be" with the implied "you just have to knuckle down and make it happen." And I've also taught my kids not to let other people tell them "no" to their dreams. If it is your dream you don't let someone else take it away. And Megan McJames is the poster girl for that. She wanted to keep skiing. She wanted to keep skiing at this level. She felt that she had it left in her and she wanted it. And she went out and made it happen. She made it happen by winning the NorAm and she made it happen by finding support and she made it happen by getting the FIS standing to qualify for the Olympic Team. She found a way. And it was hard! And I have not right to be proud of her, I'm not her mom or anything but I am proud of her.  I am so stinking excited that she got to compete in the Olympics, her second time to the Olympics(!) and that her story has been noted.

Today her Facebook page has posted links to several articles:

Megan McJames in the New York Times click here
Megan McJames in Yahoo Sports click here
NBC Olympic Photos of the women competing click here (Megan is photo 20/35)

and if you'd like to check her out for yourself:

Megan McJames on Facebook
Megan McJames Wordpress Blog

my family got to meet her in December 2011.  And so of course I blogged about it:
Megan McJames Dec 4 2011

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thank You

at the hospital last week

Friday night at the Mountain House
"get her off me!"

watching the Olympics on Saturday

So the big black seems to be okay.  He has a whole pharmacy. His drugs are administered on the clock and he eats 1/2 cup every few hours to reach his 3 1/2 cups a day which we are increasing to 4 today (he'll be so happy!) He is on a prescription diet for the rest of his life and no more treats.

I am grateful to have him home. I am grateful to all the veterinarians who helped get him home, and the vet techs and assistants and to every single one for falling in love with him along the way and letting it get personal.

And I am really grateful to my friends.  I have friends who are battling cancer.  I have friends whose children are type 1 diabetics and any given day can bring challenges and even emergency room visits.  I have friends who have medical conditions that stop them from having children, or that mean that they in their 30's are dealing with "old people problems" that require surgery or therapy.  Not one of these people ever said to me in the last week "Cailin he is just a dog."  And I am so grateful.  Because he is just a dog and in comparison to their everyday reality this is truly such a small thing.  And if we widen that circle to people who I don't know who don't have access to medical care for themselves or their families it is a really small thing, and we can widen it even more to include people whose main concern is enough food and clean water and they consider medical care a luxury never mind pets.  So I know this.  I know this.  And I am so grateful to you all for not throwing it at me when I was hurting.  Thank you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oh Dragon!

It is moments like this one where I wonder if he will ever feel part of his family.

In the car on the way to fetch Kahn Sol or after picking him up, it doesn't matter which, I said something along the lines of "he will need to take it very easy for several weeks.  Fortunately his sister just got spayed so that will keep her from jumping on him for at least a day."

very excitedly Dragon called out "Kahn Sol has a sister?"

I do not remember my exact wording when I answered that I was referring to Thalia.  He replied with obvious disappointment "oh, I thought you meant his real sister."

This may sound like nothing but gibberish to you but it is actually rather telling.
Dragon is my 11 year old son.  He happens to be adopted.  He joined our family when he was 6 months old.  He has 5 siblings: some older, some younger, some adopted, some born into this family.  None of them are biologically related to him.  Kahn Sol is our family dog, a big black male Labrador.  Thalia is also a family dog, a young female German Shepherd Dog.  But when I said "sister" Dragon immediately understood me to be talking about the dog's family of origin, not his current family.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The dogs are home

Thursday Thalia went in for her spay.  I am thought about not spaying her and had a few discussions with Jen at Pet Village about letting them use her once or twice in their program (I wanted a male puppy and the learning experience.) but when it came time to apply for Thalia's competition book so we can trial for her BH I spoke to Jen's dad Ray and he was definitive "the dog is not for breeding." Well I"m not going to sneak out on my own and try to breed her, I've not interest in adding to the population of animals in shelters.  Her spay went fine and she is feeling better than I anticipated and a little bored.

Friday we made arrangements to pick up Kahn Sol from VRCC. That's been such an emotional roller coaster! Oh but he looks so much better than he did last Saturday when I drove him up there. SO much better.  Dr. Clare and Amy were so amazing and they both seemed to sincerely like my dog and care about him and don't we all want that for our pets?  Dr. Gibson our regular vet was in contact with them every day and then she'd call me and check in on me and see if I had any questions even though I'd spoken to Dr. Clare already.  They really did their best to take care of me too.  And I'm so grateful.

Kahn Sol is most likely going to be on specialty food for the rest of his life and has a whole medicine cabinet of drugs for the next week but he is acting like himself and I am so, so happy to have him home.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

a bit of good news

he ate two teaspoons today.
his usual fair is a cup and a half.
but two teaspoons is progress.  so we will be grateful for that.
we've budgeted 2 more days. please let that be enough.

"helping with the yard project a few summers ago"
previous posts will fill you in if you wish. Just scroll down past that silly story.

Monday, February 3, 2014

a bit of levity

In the midst of all this canine drama I took a walk today to clear my head. In a down pour, with the German Shepherd (she is oblivious to weather) and got a bit into my walk and my bladder quit.  Totally quit.  I have to pee NOW! This bladder thing drives me bananas.  I peed before I left home.  I'm maybe 1/2 mile into my walk? Not even? What the heck!  Maybe it is all the rain around me, got my bladder excited.  Who knows.  I blame my birth son.  He was a big baby, he was 2 weeks late and he decided to be born and showed up 3 hours later.  Just kinda barreled on out and I'm pretty sure rearranged everything in his way.  I digress...

Normally I take a short break at South Hall Center when this happens.  But it quickly becomes clear I will not make it to South Hall.  It is winter, which means that the old "go find a tree" solution won't work either.  The only plants with leaves are in people's yards.  Can you imagine looking out the window to that scene?

I'm trying to come up with options. I can't make it home.  I've passed the road to Kara or Kathleen's house who would both laugh hysterically at me but at least wait till after I peed so as not to mess up their carpets.

OK, looking around, I think the L family lives on this street.  I don't know them very well but I'm desperate.  They are not home.  But Mara lives around the corner.  Please God! I make it to Mara's and the garage is open.  I tie the leash to the little arbor by the fence and knock on the door.  No answer.  I open the door from the garage and call out.  No Mara. OK at this point it is go on in or pee in the garage so I take off my boots, and hat and call out again and go in.  Open a door.  Laundry room.  Damn! Look how nice and neat those shoes are lined up! Next door pantry.  Next door stairs.  Mara! still calling.  And I find the hall bath. And take care of business.  And then I hear foot steps upstairs.  Oh Man! Now I've been caught in their bathroom!  So... I call out and wait.  And her husband comes down the stairs.  I apologize for breaking in and taking advantage of the facilities and he is being oh so nice about it...
I want to say again I did leave the dog outside, but since I'm pretty much a walking cloud of fur (Pig Pen from Peanuts anyone?) there might be fur in the house.  And I am so so sorry but so so grateful!

So um... my house isn't terribly close to the walking path.  But feel free to stop by should the need arise.  It is never, ever, as clean and tidy as Mara's and I cannot promise that the 4 year old hasn't stopped up the toilet.  But it is here if you need it.


damn it all
I spoke on the phone to the veterinary internist today and while she cautioned that Kahn Sol's treatment will get pricey fast, she felt his prognosis was good.  He just needed time and support and then his quality of life would return and for conceivably 3 years.  Later I spoke to our regular vet who was happy with the changes and what was going on.

And then I drove to Wintergreen.
On Friday my husband had taken the 4 oldest kids to SnowShoe WV for ski races, Slalom on Saturday and G.S. on Sunday.  He is flying out for business tomorrow and to make it all work will fly out of Charlottesville so I agreed to haul up there, fetch kids, haul home.
There is a story there but I'll get to it later.

When he finally got there around 8 PM my optimism came crashing down.  I caught him up on my weekend (Snowshoe has bad cell reception) and he looked at me and said, "Cailin, it isn't worth it."  {This is not him being a jerk.  This is him saying, we don't have that much money sitting around and it would be better for our family not to do this.}  I am devastated. I'm usually pretty good at compartmentalizing but this is my dog, my big boy, who crawled up in my bed when I was sick and snuck his head under my head and stretched out next to me so I'd stop shivering.  This is the big dog who sat with me when I couldn't sleep for months on end and pulled me through a very dark time.  This dog deserves to age with support from his family.

I haven't given up yet.  I will see if I have any rocks to over turn tomorrow.
It is midnight, I just got home from bringing the kids back from their ski trip. It was good, a first place in GS, some SL podiums... everybody is happy.  And very big, K beat her dad's time in the GS.  She qualifies that with "there was fog when the masters were running their races" but I think it counts anyway.  Weather conditions are part of competing outdoors.

last Wednesday

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Labrador is at the Emergency Center

I gave the back story yesterday and it is in the previous post.

After the plumber came by the house, around 2 ish, I fed the kids and around 5 we drove to see Kahn Sol at the Emergency Care Veterinarian in Newport News.
Apparently I had missed a phone call.  I had spoken to the vet on call in the morning and he had said Kahn Sol was in a lot of pain and very "mopey" and not eating yet and he wanted to do a second set of xrays as he didn't feel this was a straight case of pancreatitis.  So I authorized the xrays  I guess they saw inflammation around the pancreas and possibly a mass.  So when I visited yesterday and spoke with the Vet who had taken over for the evening shift she said that an abdominal ultra sound was needed to proceed.  Their internist on call would not be able to do that until Monday or Tuesday.  But there is a facility near Richmond that could do it.  I decided I'd move him to Richmond today, Sunday, but as I sat there petting my big boy I decided I wasn't going to get any sleep so I might as well move him right away.

Selfish, yes.

So around 7:45 PM I loaded my 4 yr old, 7 yr old, and my big black lab into my minivan and left Newport News and headed to Richmond to the Veterinary Referral and Critical Care.  Of course, this clinic is on "the other side" of Richmond which means you have to drive around your back and under your elbow to get there.  [You know the expression, I'm trying not to be too offensive here.]

We got there at 9:30 PM.  The very kind (and rather hot) Dr. Boyd was on call.  Hey, I'm upset about my dog and married but I'm not blind!  Any way-  We waited about 2 hours, but it is a true Emergency Room set up.  While I was there two Dachshunds came in with thrown out backs.  A nine month old puppy who had pins in her knees was leaving after having broken one of the pins and receiving care.  There was a lot going on.  They have kids books in the reception area and take you straight into a triage room upon arrival.  

It was decided that they would continue to give my dog fluid via the catheter, they would continue to give him pain killers through the catheter and he would be transferred to their resident internist for an ultra sound today.

I stopped at Wawa for a coffee and a donut and arrived home at 1 AM.  This is insane!  But this dog has gotten me through so much and I'm not ready to let him go.  And I cannot take him home yet, he isn't drinking water or eating on his own. 

The vet did tell me that it may or may not have been the rawhide.  So I'm letting that go.  He also said that in his opinion this is normal, I mean I am within the age rage to continue to seek care for the dog.  The dog is 9 years old, that breed's expectancy is 12 to 14.  We will see what the sonogram says today. I am trying to prepare myself for a worst case scenario while hoping for the best case scenario.  And no more midnight rides!

yeah, he's spoiled

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I know better!

I bought some cheap raw hide bones, the kind with the knots at the end, at the grocery store.  I never buy those.  I know better!  But It is week two of snow, which means I'm taking walks with the dogs with the 4 year old and he walks so slow and my fingers and toes get cold at that pace... and the German Shepherd is going bananas.  One would think that if school was out I could dump her on Tiger, and he does take her out to play in the morning for about 10 minutes.  But then he goes to work for his dad... all day.  And she's going bananas.  So I bought some chews and the older labrador ate his and hers and probably ate them too fast trying to make sure that she wouldn't steal them back... little canine sibling love.  And now he is in the hospital.
His prognosis is good.  They think he has pancreatitis in addition to constipation caused by the rawhide. He is very dehydrated.  And so, he is in the hospital on fluid IV and pain killers.
So sad.
And it is making me crazy because I do know better.
That and the diagnosis and initial treatment at my vet was around $600.00 (xrays, enema, fluids, observation) not to mention the hospital bill on top of that.  (Not all veterinarians offer 24 hour staff for observation so they send the dogs to the emergency hospital where they have 24 hour staff)
And to add insult to injury, while I was at the vet, for 6 hours with a 4 year old and a 7 year old) a pipe in my garage seems to have burst.  Luckily a friend had stopped by and noticed and called me and I was able to direct them to turn off the water.
Between beginning January with the flu and ending it with unexpected vet and plumbing bills, I am glad we are moving on to a new month!

on a happier occasion, harassing swans