Papa

From the outside he sounded like a statistic, and not a very happy one.  Blinded in one eye at the hands of a father in a freak accident when he was 2 or 3.  School drop out.  Married at 17 to a woman 4 years his senior.  A father at 18.  Buried his firstborn son at 34.  A father four more times to only daughters.  

His daughters would tell another story.  The hardest working man that they knew, who could be relied upon to be the best manager at the grocery stores he managed for years.  A tough dad that demanded they work hard and do better than he did.  One who rarely showed emotion, instead showing love through providing for his family.  A man who was respected and well loved at his job, in the neighborhood, and at church.

His grandchildren would tell another story.  A loving, kind, funny Papa who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was (good or bad) who always had coffeecake on the counter and circus peanuts in the cabinet for when they came to town.  A man who with one hand movement that we all know, would ask if you wanted to do his favorite past time, playing cards.  He would play at any and all hours, with whoever would join him, sticking to the four or so games he loved the most and would gladly teach anyone who didn’t know how to play.  We knew him to have the patience of a saint, a rite of passage in childhood was learning the seven hands of progressive rummy, which is a game I have yet to play with anyone other than him.

Just like I was with Nana, I am selfishly happy that I was the oldest grandchild.  I had him all to myself for nearly four years and he was vastly different grandfather than he was a father.  He would often reminisce with stories about me when I was a baby or a toddler.  Mom didn’t work when we were growing up, so she would spend several weeks down in North Carolina in the summers and he doted on us.  He took us fishing, taught us how to play golf, took us swimming in the lake, and brought us on his “paper route” in his rural neighborhood, which consisted of Courtney and I bouncing around the bed of his pickup truck while he brought newspapers down the long driveways of his favorite neighbors.  We would often accompany he and Nana at one of their timeshares in the mountains.  The smell of coffee and Busch beer will always remind me of their house because neither of our parents drank coffee or beer.

He and Nana came to visit me a couple of times in college and I was thrilled to have my grandparents come and visit.  They would take me out to dinner at one of his favorite buffet restaurants and would press a $20 bill into my hand when we got back to my dorm.  He would write to me on instant messenger, keeping up with the latest slang better than I would.

He loved holding his great grandsons, Chase and Ryder, when they were babies and would be quick to come into the house and take them out of the arms of whoever had them.  He was proud to be a great grandfather, and I am so blessed that he was a great grandparent to my kids.  One of Ryder’s first understandable words was “Papa” and there’s a reason for that.

He quit smoking cold turkey when his best friend died over 30 years ago, but had health issues from all of the years he was a smoker.  He had quadruple bypass surgery nearly 25 years ago, and then by some miracle, my sister, Mom and I were staying with he and Nana when he had a stroke almost fifteen years ago.  I still remember him giving us the thumbs up as he was wheeled out of the house.  At the hospital he cracked jokes with the nurses, played cards with us in the “visitor area” and nearly got us kicked out of the unit because we were laughing so hard.  Thankfully he didn’t have any lingering effects after that episode.  Because of his heart problems, he was an avid walker.  Rain or shine, the only thing that slowed him down was ice.  When his wife fell ill six years ago, he took over the role of caretaker and did it well.  After Nana passed away, he even learned how to cook.  And although I know it would literally kill Nana to hear me say this, he made a better macaroni and cheese than she did!

His work ethic never wavered in his 86 years.  We would all shake our heads with disbelief when he insisted that he continue to work in his 80s at a drugstore he had once managed.  His manager would often tell him that he was the best employee that he had.  He kept his home and later his apartment as immaculate as he did the stores he worked in.

He was a lover of country music, baseball, and Duke basketball.  He would religiously follow the sports teams of the colleges his grandchildren attended.  He would regularly stay up later than anyone else if he was watching the end of a game.  Despite his cleanliness, he would hoard magazines that he knew his girls and grandkids liked.

He would claim to be introverted, but when he moved into a retirement community after Nana passed away, he was known as the “cruise director.”  He was the ringleader of a group of 18 or so that would play cards every single day and he would get my aunt who lived down the street to print out copies of the rules for the games he played most often.  

He would brush it off and shy away from any compliments that anyone ever gave him, but he will be missed by anyone who ever knew him.

A month ago, we went down to North Carolina and I ran a race with my sister and cousin.  Papa’s hearing hadn’t been great for years, so when the boys were around, it was hard for him to focus and hear.  The second night we were there my husband brought the boys to their other grandparents’ house, so it was much quieter than it usual.  He was more “Papa” in those couple of hours than he had been in years.  He told stories about the people who lived in his community, made fun of my sister and beat us all handedly in cards.

When we dropped him off that night, I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him.  We had such a great night and so much fun and I am so grateful that is how I will remember him.  But I wish I had given him one more hug, told him one more time how much I loved him and let him know what a great grandfather he was and how lucky we were to call him ours.  

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Interlude, Part 2

My name is Heather.  I am 31 years old, I love to bake, love to laugh, love to travel and I am wife to a wonderful man that I have dated since I was 16 and mom to a sweet, funny 3 year old son.  On December 17th I also found myself as mother to a beautiful stillborn daughter named Charlotte Kathryn (or CK for short).  I like to think that she was too perfect for this world because without any type of reasoning, I can’t wrap my head around it (still can’t) and it would be a lot harder for me to go on breathing every day.

I have found myself quickly “one of those moms” that pregnant people  and anyone else with children talk about in hushed tones and don’t really think about for fear that whatever those undeserving women did (i.e. me) won’t rub off on them.  My own family doesn’t really know what to do with me and that terrifies me.  Many of my “friends” have already stopped checking in and my always optimistic, bright and shiny personality has lost part of its sheen.  There is a chink in my heart that will never be filled even if we were to have a dozen more children.  I am scared to death about ever trying to get pregnant again because I was a basket case this time and will probably need to be sedated for 9 months if we tried this again.

I never wanted to start this blog and despite being a hypochondriac and one that always assumes the worst, I would have never in my life imagined that I would be a part of this statistic.  This is still new to me, I still have signs and symptoms of pregnancy, but I have already learned that I would never wish this on my worst enemies.  Babies are supposed to inspire hope, new beginnings and life, not death.

I am starting this blog for me (I think).  I have had a lot of time to do some real hard thinking.  It has only been a little over two weeks since I started it, but it feels like an eternity.  Sleepless nights, the holidays when I’m not in the mood for celebrating, and several nights in the hospital will do that to a person.  Writing is cathartic for me and this will keep the memory of Charlotte alive as long as the Internet is in existence.  I’m not going to promise that this will be a fun or optimistic blog, but I hope to heal every day and maybe get back to my old self (or as close as I can get to it) soon.  Some of the posts will be hard to write, harder to read and I’m sure I will make some people mad, but I’m quickly learning that life isn’t perfect and this blog won’t be either.  I may repeat myself.  Some posts will be long, some will be short, and all of them will be brutally honest, but I hope with every word I write, I can bring Charlotte and my experience to life and maybe, just maybe, help someone else going through this.  At the very least, I hope it helps me.

I will be taking a break from Beach Tink for a while.  I promise I will return one day with funny stories, good recipes and the optimism you’re used to.  Until then, feel free to follow me at my new blog (www.lifewithoutck.wordpress.com) or at the very least, send someone suffering with pregnancy loss my way so they can see that what they are feeling is completely normal.  Maybe they can help me, too.

Lost

Writing and running have long been my outlets.  I am writing this not for pity, sympathy or attention, I am writing for myself and also in the off chance that someone going through a similar situation who is as lost as I am feeling, may find something helpful in this post.  And I’m writing it now because I’ve had a lot of time to think in the past 51 hours.

Pregnancy is all about statistics.  Numbers are thrown around all the time.  80% of all couples get pregnant within six months of trying.  40% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage.  Once you hear the heartbeat, the percentage of miscarrying goes down to 5%.  There is 50% viability at 24 weeks.  And a 0.59% chance of having a stillborn baby.  We were the 0.59%.

Everything this time was perfect.  My out of control white coat hypertension was minimal (meaning my blood pressure in the doctor’s office was closer to normal than ever).  At 15 weeks my favorite ultrasound tech snuck me back and told me that we were having a girl.  It was easy to pick out a name, Charlotte Kathryn.  Charlotte because I have always like that name and Kathryn was the name of my grandmother.  She was due in the spring, right smack in between Chase’s third and fourth birthday.  I pretended that I was nervous about having a girl.  I am a tom boy, I love sports, hate hair, and have loved being a mother to a son.  Secretly I was ecstatic about the prospect of having a mini me.  A blonde haired, blue eyed little person to follow me around the kitchen baking cookies and cupcakes.  Someone who would have the same relationship with me as I had with my mom.  A little girl born with a protector, her big brother ready to look out for her and at the age where he would be a huge help to me.

Despite everything seeming fine, at the same time, I had a feeling of dread about the entire pregnancy.  I had three or four dreams about miscarrying and I never had a single dream that I was pregnant.  No milestone was enough to ease my mind.  Time DRAGGED by.  At 11 weeks, 4 days, I thought I was having contractions, so I went to the doctor.  I wasn’t.  At 19 weeks, my ultrasound was fantastic, but they wanted me to get another ultrasound to monitor some fluid back up in her kidneys.  But other than that, things pointed to everything being ok.  I started feeling her move at 14 weeks and felt her every single day from that point on. At 18 weeks, she was moving so powerfully, that you could see my tummy bump multiple times during the day, but that feeling never subsided.

I acted weird the entire pregnancy.  I had written my usual Christmas letter to go with our Christmas cards and had stuffed, stamped and addressed the envelopes a week ago, and had left them sitting on the island in our kitchen.  Although I was thrilled at the prospect of having a girl, I had hardly purchased anything.  At this stage in my pregnancy with Chase, I had already registered two places, purchased a crib, mattress and a changing table.  This time, I had bought one single pair of pajamas.  It was almost impossible for me to admit that I was pregnant.  I am not sure I said the words, “I’m pregnant” more than a handful of times.  I still tried to hide my quickly becoming visible bump from everyone.  I almost begged my husband to not go to his company holiday party last weekend.  No milestone was enough and most of my google searches were related to fetal viability, miscarriages and even stillbirths.

I was obsessed with advancing through the pregnancy.  I had four different countdowns in spreadsheets to march closer and closer to my due date.  I had little reminders of everyday passing by everywhere.  I had enough cotton balls for removing makeup set out to take me until late February (I counted them), I rationed body wash so that it would last for months.  Chase was born at 34 weeks, and I kept thinking, “if I just make it to 34 weeks…”  I didn’t mind being pregnant (my only complaint was heartburn), I just couldn’t get to March or April fast enough.  I was obsessed with getting to six months or 23 weeks because I felt like it would be harder for things to go wrong after that.

At twenty-two weeks, three days, I noticed that this crazy child (who I could feel move every hour day and night), hadn’t really done much moving.  I had been on my feet most of the morning, which makes it harder for me to feel, so I took a shower and laid down and she started doing her crazy kicking and punching again. Unfortunately that was the last time I truly, honestly felt her. Two days later I asked a friend if I could borrow her Doppler because everything I perceived as movement could have been digestive.  I was stuck back in the, “was that a kick?” constant questioning of the early second trimester.  After thirty minutes of searching for a heartbeat we couldn’t find it and decided to go to the hospital.  At 22 weeks, 5 days, our girl was gone.  A reminder that sometimes statistics don’t work in your favor.

I am a very optimistic person.  I am always looking for the silver lining.  I’ve thought of a couple.  First, I’m having a huge glass of wine at every meal over the holidays.  Maybe even breakfast.  Brad and I can go on our annual anniversary vacation in April.  We can take Chase to Disney World for his fourth birthday.  We could be at the viable stage.  Or even full term when this happened.  But the truth is, I am completely heartbroken.  I try to be strong for myself and Brad and my family, but here I am days later and still struggling to hold it together all the time.  Which I totally realize is normal.  Although I hate to get emotional in front of people, I am allowing myself to grieve, which is probably the toughest part of all.

I’m not only mourning this baby, I am devastated for so much more.  All I wanted was a normal pregnancy.  One that went full term, with a healthy baby that can stay in our room as soon as it was born.  Maybe I could see what labor was like.  When we checked into the hospital on Tuesday, and I caught whiffs of all of the familiar smells of Labor and Delivery, I was suddenly hopeful.  This was just some fluky thing, she was facing the wrong direction, kicking my internal organs, and everything was fine.

Even though deep down I knew something was wrong.  We went to a Christmas themed park the night I started worrying and I was irritated at all of the kids running around.  And all of the babies, in all of their adorable snowsuits.  There was even a little girl in front of us named Charlotte.  Then Monday, I cried all the way home because I was so worried that there was something wrong after not feeling any movement.  On Tuesday, I called the doctor and despite a reassuring fetal kick test (so I thought), I was second guessing myself and still was worried that something was wrong.  Sometimes a mother’s instinct knows best.

The Labor and Delivery wing is not made for parents of stillborn babies.  The bulletin board in my room says “We are having a BOY/GIRL/ It’s a SURPRISE!”  It talks about labor progress, and asks for “Name Chosen.”  There is a cart filled with diapers and wipes.  A warmer for when the baby is born.  The entire room mocked me.  Happy families in the hallway. Carolers singing because of the holidays. A lullaby over the intercom comes every time a new baby is delivered. There are baby pictures down the hall and babies crying in the room next door.

Worst of all, there is a scarlet letter placed on our door as a bereaving family.  A small postcard with a leaf and a single raindrop in the middle to signify “Death Within”.  We are outsiders there and it warns the nurses, “Careful with this room, they don’t have anything to celebrate.”  I feel like I am going to be branded with that for the rest of my life.

And here is the cruel irony. No labor for first child (he arrived via c-section before I could go into labor), full labor for the second stillborn child. It’s the dirty little secret that they don’t tell you about. If your child dies inside of you, there are very few safe ways to get it out. The main way is the way that you would deliver any baby. Induce labor. Pain and pushing. Delivery. The only difference is that normally you reach with open arms for a bundle of joy that is crying for your comfort. Meanwhile, we asked them to take Charlotte away so that we could do the crying. She lay on an inactive warming machine less than five feet from us for over an hour. She looked like she was sleeping with nothing wrong with her. We kept waiting for her to cry out for us.   In the end we left the hospital with a small box of keepsakes including feet/hand imprints, hair snippets, photos and a death certificate.

I still can’t wrap my head around it.  We had less than a 1% chance of this happening and of all of my friends, family and even acquaintances, there is only one other person that I know who has had a stillborn baby.  Of course I wonder if it was something I did.  Did I take too many Tums?  Is it because I didn’t stop drinking coffee?  Was it because I slept on my right hand side and not my left? Were my showers too hot?  What about the glue they were using on the roof at work when I was four weeks along?  Did I want it so badly that I caused this to happen?  How could it be that just two days earlier I felt her and even saw her moving around?  What on earth happened in those two days?

At the same time, I am so grateful that this happened at this time of year.  We always have a strong family support system, but it’s even stronger around the holidays. It is a time filled with family and love and that is exactly what we will need.  Any earlier or later in the year and it wouldn’t be quite the same.  Until the holidays, which will be tougher than I could have ever imagined, we have so many amazing friends and co-workers who are going out of their way to express their concerns and condolences.

It is going to be tough.  Really tough.  I didn’t know I was capable of producing so many tears for a complete stranger.  Or for anyone for that matter.  But again, I am trying to look on the bright side.  We have a beautiful, wonderful little boy who owns my heart.  There are so many others who don’t have that much to show for it.  I am reminded of the quote, “Is it better to have love and lost than have never loved at all?”  Worst things could have happened and happen to countless others every single day.  Maybe I will decide that this is it and we won’t try again for another baby.  I’m not sure I can take the stress and worry all over again.  That it could all still end in heartbreak.  It would be easy to say I’m done, but I don’t know if I am ready to throw in the towel.  I really wanted another baby.  I really wanted a little girl.  I was so happy that we were heading in that direction.  I do know this, I am going to hug my husband a little closer (he has been amazing through all of this), snuggle a little more with my little guy and enjoy some time at home with friends and family for the holidays.

As hard as this has been for us, I have still been blessed with an amazing, active, sweet son and my life doesn’t stop just because someone else’s has.  There will still be tears, sadness and grieving, but life goes on.  Chase is very much alive and depends on me to be there for him.  Despite the time of year when this happened, it is a season of joy and love.  Thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, love and overwhelming support we have received from everyone.  Enjoy the holidays and be sure to hold your loved ones extra tight : ).

The Only Way to Travel

Ok, maybe not the only way, but I have found a new great avenue for getting up to DC, the Great American Railway. Maybe I am a little late to the party, but so far, this is the way to get up to see my sister.  It is especially awesome when it is just me and I can book the trip far enough in advance that it costs me less than a tank of gas to get there. It doesn’t hurt that at the end of this trip is a ticket to see New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.

Let me count the ways that the train is amazing:

1. The car isn’t that crowded so I can spread out and the seats are comfortable.

2. No worries about the weather or traffic.

3. Free wi-fi and electrical outlets.

4. Two words: Quiet Car

5.  Unlike air travel I can get up and move around at any time. I am not worried about missing my connection, or turbulence or getting through security or losing my bags. sure it takes longer, but that is sometimes the point. Which leads me to the best part.

6. Over 4 hours of luscious time for just me. I could read, watch something I want to watch on the iPad, look out the window, listen to music, sleep, blog or do nothing at all and will still make it to Nova.

This I know, I will not be driving up to DC by myself EVER again!

Sabbatical So Far…

A girl could really get used to this.  I won’t, but I could.  Especially because it is sunny and gorgeous and the summertime.  If this sabbatical was falling in January or February, it would be a different story.  But it is the end of May and beginning of June and Chase and I are having a blast!

We have done a lot.  In addition to our couple of strawberry picking ventures, trips to the beach, lunches with friends old and new, stopping by work so everyone can see Chase, jaunts to the pool, running a million errands, and a trip to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, I’ve also turned over some new leaves.

I have exercised almost every day.  I have fixed dinner three times.  I painted our front door blue.  I have had a lot of summer cocktails and adult beverages, and have enjoyed every one of them.  And I’m not the only one to work on self improvement.  Chase is no longer afraid of waves at the beach.  He actually runs (fast) to the water squealing and smiling the whole time.  He has learned how to hold on to a noodle and navigate his way around our community pool.  If you try to help him, he gets mad.  He can take a shower (rather than a bath) without vomiting because he is crying so hard.  I haven’t exactly kept him on such a rigorous schedule as his regular daycare provider would approve of (ahem, Rhonda), but that’s why we pay her the big bucks, right?

There have been multiple leisurely mornings.  Like sleeping until 9am, and I’m not talking about me.  There have been some later bedtimes.  Some later lunch times.  Some later naptimes.  But life is too short to play by the rules all the time, so we’re going to enjoy these days while we can.

We still have SIX MORE DAYS!  Let’s see what shenanigans we can get in to in the next 144 hours!

On Marriage

This post is solely dedicated to my sister.  She’s going through some growing pains.  She is slowly but surely becoming the odd woman out; the last of the “single” girls.  She is currently in a relationship, but it is in the early stages with its own complications, further distancing her from her core group of girlfriends.  So Tizz, this one is for you.

Marriage is the union of two people, for better or worse, in sickness and health, until death do you part.  When you do get married, make sure it is for the right reasons.  Don’t do it because anyone other than the two of you said to do it (or not do it).  This is for real, for the long haul, so make sure you choose wisely.

When you get to that point know this, marriage is whatever you want it to be.  If you want to be the stereotypical domestic goddess, subservient wife, then more power to you.  If you want a passionate, 50 Shades of Gray type marriage, that’s great too (just don’t tell Mom and Dad)!  If you want to fill your house with ten kids and become the ultimate Mom and Dad, then perfect!  Whatever you decide, make sure you are both on the same page.

There are some key concepts to keep in mind once you do get married.  Two individuals came into this union, and marriage doesn’t mean that your individuality vanishes.  You are always entitled to your own friends, your own personal time and your own opinions.  Just because you are a permanent couple doesn’t mean that you give up the couple of decades of you being you.  Your life is not over when you get married.  It’s really just beginning.

When (or if) the kids come, the foundation of your relationship will be rocked to the core.  You hear people make comments all the time about how much stronger their marriage is now that they have children.  They are lying.  Despite the aggravations, the two of you came before your new bundle of joy and remembering you came first (both literally and figuratively) will keep your marriage in check.  Take advantage of the dozens of people who volunteer to babysit and go on dates or even vacations. And don’t feel guilty about doing either of those things.

Everyone should experience having children (a topic I will cover in another post), but if you cannot have them, do not let the lack of parenthood define you or your relationship.  Buy a nice car, fill your house with a couple of sweet dogs and relish in the amount of money you will always have, vacations you can always take and the blessed time you will have with each other.

I got lucky. I met my best friend when I was 15, somehow convinced him that I was a catch, stole him away from another girl and nearly six and a half years after our first date, met him at the alter.  We’ve been together for over fourteen years, and our relationship isn’t perfect.  There are days I want to send him back to that other girl, but we make up for those days with interesting conversation, doing things we love to do and a lot of laughs.  I can only hope that you are as lucky as I have been.  I managed to nab a man who is a caring, thoughtful, hilarious husband, a fun, loving, attentive father and he also happens to do laundry, cook and vacuum.

Marriage is hard.  It may be the toughest job (save being a parent) you will experience.  But at the end of the day, it is worth it and will be one of the most wonderful, fantastic, rewarding decisions you ever make.  So ignore the haters, take your time and don’t screw it up : ).

I think this is my all time favorite picture : )

100 Miles Until 2013

Well, actually it’s currently 73.75 miles until the New Year, but 100 sounded a lot better.

Ok, before we talk about that, let’s talk about this.  So, it’s been a minute since I last wrote and I’m not really sure that I even have a decent excuse.  I could say I’ve been so busy with the new house or I’ve been spending all of my free time on a new hobby or baking or that I’m so busy working out and losing weight that I haven’t had time.  But none of those are true.  I’m not even sure what I’ve been spending my free time on.  Nothing productive, that’s for sure!  I have had something somewhat miraculous happen in the past 60 days or so.  I’ve started to enjoy running again.  I’m not going to drop the l-word or anything, but I don’t hate it or dread it quite so much.  That’s not to say that I’ve been acting on this new “like,” but nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction.

Work kind of sucks.  This is not a permanent thing, just something that happens at every job no matter how much you enjoy it.  I’ve started having trouble falling asleep because I’m thinking too much about work.  And life and money and all of that.

All of this got me thinking while I was on a run (shock, shock) last Saturday, which was December 1st.  Maybe, just maybe, I could start a streak.  They have always intrigued me, but I’ve never had the guts to start one.  I thought about what kind of a streak I could do, and I thought about 100 miles.  That’s a lofty number, but not an impossible one.  I thought maybe 100 miles by Christmas, but that I thought that might be pushing it.  What about New Years?  It roughly works out to 3.25 miles per day, which isn’t horrible.  I obviously won’t run everyday, but I will run more than 3.25 miles some days.

So far, I ran 3.1 last Saturday, 4.15 on Sunday, 2.25 on Monday, 3.5 on Tuesday, 3.25 on Thursday and 10 today.  The 10 I ran today was a race and it was fun and wonderful and I did it all by myself and it was the fastest I have ever run that distance!  I am not sure I could tell you the last time I ran 4 days in a row, which I did earlier this week, let alone run 10 miles by myself with no music!  That has been my secret for all of it, no music.  It gives me some alone time and time to think about whatever I want.  It has helped me tremendously!

I really want to accomplish this feat and I know that I can.  I want to prove it to myself and to my uber-runner husband (who claims he’s never broken the centennial mark in a month, but I don’t believe him).  I want to lose some weight along the way (which I have so far) and get on a healthy track again, especially during this time of year.  I’ve kind of veered off of it the past couple of years and I need to get that back for a bunch of different reasons.  Now, I realize that life isn’t perfect.  ‘Tis the season for not only gluttony, but illness and excessive time consumption with family and friends, so I will not beat myself up if I don’t make it.  But I have something to work towards.

Wish me luck!

Sir Bud Foster of Worsham

I think it is time that I gave some credit where credit is due.  Albeit, a little tardy, but still present nonetheless.  I would like to give a shoutout to my dog.  His full name is in the title, we just call him Foster.  He’s my first dog and truthfully, I’m not sure how any dog that follows is going to live up to him.

When Brad and I moved in together we talked about progression.  If I could keep a plant alive for 6 months, we could move onto a cat.  If the cat lived for six months, then a dog.  And finally, if the dog lived for a year, maybe we could consider having a baby.  We decided on a bamboo and closing in on the 6 month deadline, we started visiting PetSmarts on weekends to see if they had a declawed cat up for adoption.  After the first visit, I returned home feeling like I was catching a cold.  Following the second visit I broke out in hives.  We looked at some alternatives, rats (I was desperate, people!), rabbits, and guinea pigs (revisiting my youth) to no avail.  We were living in an apartment and Brad was traveling Monday-Thursday every week and I had never had a dog before, and didn’t have much of a clue of how to discipline one, so we shelved the idea and kept the bamboo.

I grew up in a household with allergic and lazy parents when it came to animals.  One year for Christmas all I asked for was a dog.  Instead I got a book on dogs.  I was also mildly terrified of them until I was in college and Brad and I would go walk dogs at the local Humane Society and even then, I didn’t love every dog, so I felt a little anxious about having a dog to care for on my own with Brad on the road as much as he was.

Two and a half years after we were married and after we had a house with a fenced in backyard and before the baby bug really set in, we decided that we wanted a dog.  I had switched jobs, had more flexibility, Brad was getting tired of his constant comings and goings and was looking for a new job, so we started the hunt.  We agreed on terriers and compromised on Schnauzers (Brad) and Yorkies (me) with Westies.  We found a reputable breeder who was located in the same small town in North Carolina where my father was working, so we took a road trip to find a dog.

The first one was crazy.  The second one was wild.  The third was on perfect.  A ten week old puppy with a calm disposition who didn’t mind being held and was so relaxed with us that he fell asleep on my lap.  We were sold!  That night after spending the first ten weeks of his life with his littermates and momma, he whined for five minutes, then fell asleep.

Almost five years later, Foster is still a wonderful dog.  He doesn’t really act like a dog.  When other dogs are barking and pull and tugging on their leashes, Foster just looks at them as if to say, “What?”  He lays in the sun and moves as it moves like a cat.  He fetches (Westies don’t really do that).  He only vomits on linoleum.  Most days he is smarter than we are and refuses to eat until we put a treat in his food bowl.  He loves people and will go where ever the people are in the house.  He will learn just about any trick we teach him.  He doesn’t run away, and the one time he attempted it, we found him on the front stoop.  He is a constant companion and will wedge his butt into your leg to snuggle with you.  He hasn’t met a person that he didn’t like and not many people don’t like him.  He’s a good looking dog.  He has never bared his teeth or growled at anyone in aggression.  He loves going down slides at parks, being chased, and going on walks.  When it snows I will take him on walks around the neighborhood without his leash and you can honestly see him prance.

He isn’t perfect.  He still hasn’t completely warmed up to Chase.  Despite that, he still barks more than he used to and guards the house more than he ever has.  When Chase wants to jump into the pool at my in-laws, Foster will get in between Chase and the pool.  He will kiss Chase, but only tolerates being pet by Chase.  As soon as Chase has some kind of aim with a ball, the two of them will become better pals.

Foster, thank you for being the epitome of Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend.  We promise that you will never be “just a dog” to us. Happy 5th Birthday!

I Heart the Olympics

I love the Olympics.  I become slightly (read: completely) obsessed with it and watch hours upon hours, lose a lot of sleep and my exercise routine suffers (ironic, isn’t it?).  I get sucked into all the back stories of the athletes, and I also become an expert in everything from synchronized swimming to archery to canoeing.  But my favorites are track and swimming.  I ran the 100M, 200M and 4x100M in high school and nothing gives me the chills like watching the world’s fastest men and women in the sprints.  I still feel the rush of adrenaline when they are loading into their blocks and my heart skips a beat when they do the relay exchanges.  I have both love and admiration for Usain Bolt.  When we were in Jamaica in May, I was freaking out when we drove past his high school, and kept my eyes peeled to find him somewhere on the island.  It made my heart smile when he fist bumped his gear attendant before the 200M finals and the guy could not stop smiling

The summer Olympics are my favorite because of the time of year and the events.  Because it is my favorite, I have so many fantastic memories of the various Olympics.  I remember seeing the hologram of Freddy Mercury singing “Barcelona” during the ’92 games.  The way I was feeling in ’96 getting ready to start high school, watching with my college roommate freshman year only a week or so after we have moved in together.  In ’04 watching Athens with my new roommate, my fiancé who I was going to marry 8 months later.  Cheering on Michael Phelps with an entire bar as he won his eighth gold medal  at one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties.  And then crying at the end of those ’08 games because I didn’t think that I would ever experience the extreme elation I had felt (Phelps and his medals, Bolt and his records).  And knowing that the next time the Olympics were going to roll around, we would probably have a totally different life with a possible child and/or new house and who knew what kind of job.

And man has life changed, but the Olympics have not failed to excite or surprise me.  When I think back to ’08, I can see why I was fearful of the changes I was facing.  But I couldn’t be happier now.  With the close of the games in less than 12 hours, I won’t cry this year.  Yes, I will miss the games and will be stoked for the next Olympics, but it’s not as scary this time.  I will look forward to Rio in 4 years and I can’t wait to see what is ahead of me in 2016.

Bye, Bye London, it’s been bloody brilliant.

I’m Back!

And man have I been busy!  On top of living with my parents for sixty days (chronicled here) and moving into our new house and doing all of the work and renovations involved with that, I’ve also been seeing a lot of this chick, doing a lot of baking, throwing a Housewarming party, and training for a half marathon.  We took a trip to Jamaica with our BCF (Best Couple Friends), which was a total blast.  Oh and then my “baby” is going to be two in less than three months.  Yeah.  There’s that.

I’m on a pretty serious weight loss plan and it’s going pretty well so far.  I would like to get down to pre-baby weight by the end of September and I feel more confident than I’ve felt in a while.

We are somewhat settled in the new crib, so I hope that means that I will be able to write on a more consistent basis.  Like maybe once a week.

Thanks for still sticking around for this very extended hiatus and I promise that the next time I write, I’ll have something way more interesting to write about than a three and a half month break.

Until next time, peace!