Sunday, November 14, 2010

The San Francisco Way....

I feel so rejuvenated after a wonderful girls-only visit with my Aunt in California!

We ate good food, drank good wine, paddle-boarded the Napa River, went on a photo-safari, found an elusive naked guy on bike (so elusive I almost didn't get a photo!) and just genuinely enjoyed each others company.  =)

I love my family.

Because we took so many photos, I shall showcase just a few from the trip (in no particular order).

For your viewing pleasure...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Falling behind...

My apologies for falling behind on the blog!

So much has happened in the last month!

As I'm sure you're aware...there is another blog associated with The Life Tourist now....called SUP Virginia.

My husband and I have been very busy going Stand Up Paddling whenever possible and I shamefully admit that most of my time has been spent on that blog rather than this one.

Well, now that the SUP season is practically over....I will most definitely devote more time to my touring life.  =)

And speaking of touring....

I'm heading to San Francisco next week!

I'm going to visit my fantastic Aunt and can't wait to update you all with my California adventures.

For now though, you'll have to make due with the following random thoughts going through my head at this very moment:

- Our dear friends are about to have their baby and I'm really worried that once the baby arrives we will no longer see them.  We rarely see them as it is, but that is because they are such good people that give their time and love in abundance to family, friends and church.  It's selfish to say that I know...but it's on my mind. 

- I got a promotion at work, and that's cool, but it didn't make me as happy as I thought it would.  People usually feel happy when they get promoted right?  Is it bad that I only felt satisfactory?

- My youngest brother did this NAGA tournament and came out of it slightly busted and bruised.  I think he's incredibly brave for participating but I'm pretty pissed off at the guy that took him down.  That's ridiculous...I know.  It's a tournament that my brother signed up for willingly.  But seriously, he's my baby brother.  Watch your back NAGA dude.

- One of my dogs just farted.

- I hope the flight to California isn't too bad.

- Holy moly, another dog fart.  Someone obviously isn't feeling well tonight.  =(

On that scent, I bid you goodnight.  ; )

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tick Tock...

I'm reading a wonderful novel titled "Tick Tock" by Lillian Schapiro, an obstetrician in Atlanta whom apparently had a few fertility issues of her own and channeled her personal experiences as material for the novel.

I'm only half way into the book and already extremely glad I special ordered it.

The writing is very "matter of fact" and the details of the various medical procedures and conversations between the main character (facing fertility challenges) and her husband, family, colleagues and friends are wonderfully raw.

In addition to being able to personally relate to the story....the novel has been an eye-opening experience for me.

Schapiro doesn't hold back from using medical jargon, however, she does her readers the service of defining that jargon, allowing us to better understand the language of infertility.

Just after reading the first few chapters I already feel better equipped to schedule an appointment for myself and know what questions to ask my doctor.

It's kind of ridiculous that it took a fiction novel based on a true story to snap me to my senses.

Perhaps the next book on my reading list should be "Infertility for Dummies". exists.  ; )

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life without Gridge, a year later

Friday, August 27th marked a year since losing Gridgery.

It's really hard to believe it's been 365 days since that terrible afternoon at the animal clinic when I made the most difficult decision in my life.

Not a day goes by that I don't feel conflicted about that decision either.

I thought it would get easier.

I thought at some point, surely at some point...I wouldn't feel as guilty.

It was, after-all my decision to end his suffering.

It was my responsibility as his Mom to interpret his needs.

He was in pain.

He was clearly in pain.

On August 26th, while laying in a wild patch of weeds in our yard, he looked to the sky as I sat in front of him, taking as many photos of him as possible, knowing he wasn't going to be with me much longer.

He looked to the sky, and then he looked at me.

I've heard many stories about people losing their animals. About people having to make the heart-breaking decision of putting their animals down. About the "moment" you know it's the right thing do to. The "moment" when your animal tells you it's time.

When he looked at me that day.....

I knew.

And it hurt like a mother-effer.

I called the Vet that afternoon, in tears, asking what to do.

"Come in tomorrow afternoon. You don't want him in pain."

When I hung up with the Vet I immediately called Jody, still in tears.

"I need you there. I can't do this by myself. I won't be able to do this by myself."

He was home earlier than usual that day, and took the next day off of work.

That last evening with Gridge, I held him as much as humanly possible.

I sang to him.

I cried on him.

I couldn't believe I'd be taking him to the Vet the next die.

I didn't sleep that I ended up lying on the floor with Gridge, talking to him all night.

I told him how happy he made me.

I thanked him for loving me so well.

I told him once he got to heaven, to chase each and every squirrel, to eat as many treats as he wanted, to nap on any bed he chose and to have as much fun as possible...because if any creature in this world deserved was my baby boy.

I also told him to listen for my call....because one day we would be reunited.

August 27th, Gridge was still in terrible shape.

I hoped a miracle would have happened overnight...that Gridge would have woken with new energy and spirits....telling me he was ready to continue the fight. That it wasn't "time" after all.

But nothing had changed.

He went outside with Kea and they both sat in the dirt on the side of the house.

It seemed as if Kea knew these were her last moments with him.

She stuck very close to him the rest of the afternoon.

Then the hour I dreaded was upon us.

It was time to take him to the Vet.

We took Kea to my sister-in-law's house. I couldn't stand the idea of bringing her and having her be a part of what would happen.

When we got to the animal clinic, I couldn't make myself get out of the car.

I turned around and looked at Gridge. He was sitting up in the back of the car, looking out the window.

He recognized where we were. We'd been there a dozen times just in the last month.

I suddenly felt like a monster.

Here we were, walking him into the Vet as if we were going to a regular appointment.

But there wouldn't be anything regular about it.

We were walking him to his death....and I didn't know what to do.

Once in the clinic, the receptionist immediately put us in one of the private rooms.

It was a typical clinic room; cabinetry for medical supplies, a steel table, animal posters on the wall...we'd become accustomed to these rooms over the last several months.

Gridge was having a hard time breathing. I could tell he was stressed about being there. He never liked coming to the clinic.

I sat on the floor and Gridge sprawled out in front of me...leaning against me.

I wanted to pick him up and run away.

I knew it would be selfish.

I knew it would only prolong his pain.

So I just sat there, massaging his shoulders, smelling him, grabbing his cheeks.

Jody sat down next to me and started rubbing Gridge's ears.

The Vet and a technician walked in.

She knelt down and examined Gridge one more time.

She determined this was the right decision and said she'd be back with the injection.

A moment later, she returned and proceeded to explain how the injection would work.

"I'm going to give him a shot. As far as he's concerned, it's a shot of medicine. It wont hurt him. He'll go to sleep quickly. And then he'll stop breathing."

Upon hearing this, my body started pushing against the wall I was sitting up against.

Had there not been a wall there....I would have taken him and run.

I started to cry.

"I know this is difficult, but you need to stay calm. He knows when you're stressed and he'll be concerned. We want to keep him as calm as possible."

I continued pushing against that wall.

"I want you both to stay on the floor with him as you are now and I'm going to give him the injection in the back leg. You'll want to hold his head so he can rest on you when he goes to sleep."

None of this was making sense to me.

This wasn't real.

This couldn't be real.

The Vet moved toward Gridge with the needle and my entire body tensed.

I was about to break down.

"Reassure him, he knows you're upset." The Vet said.

And with that, she gave him the shot.

Gridge faintly yelped at the sting of the injection and I was immediately on top of him, telling him everything was going to be OK.

"It's ok's going to be ok. You're going to be ok."

And in a moment, he was gone.

It fast.

"He's at peace now. Stay with him as long as you want. When you're ready to leave, go straight home. Don't try to do anything else today. I'm so, so sorry for your loss."

The Vet may have said more...but I didn't hear her.

I lost myself in my grief.

I cried so hard that my insides felt as if they'd burst.

My baby wasn't moving any more.

He wasn't breathing any more.

Jody starting sobbing and I remember thinking it had been some time since I saw him cry.

But that didn't matter.

What mattered was that my Gridge was at peace now.

No more vomiting everything he tried to eat and drink up.

No more pain in his hips.

No more struggling to breathe.

No more.

Through our sobbing, we kept talking to him.

Jody thanked him for being so good to us.

I told him to look for my Papa and Gigi and Jody's Dad Ron.

We told him how sorry we were.

I kept telling him how much I loved him.

I held him for a long time.

At some point Jody left the room.

I don't know how much time passed. I didn't understand the concept of time just then.

All I understood was baby was gone.

My baby that I raised and loved for 9 years as my child...not as my pet.

I kissed Gridge on the cheek one last time and rubbed his soft ears.

They were cold.

He was cold now.

I'm not sure why that surprised me...but it did...and I started sobbing again.

"Remember what I told you baby. Remember to listen for my call."

A moment later, Jody came back into the room, collected me, and ushered me to the car.

The rest of the day was a blur.

I know we picked up Kea.

I remember Kea starring at the door when we got home....waiting for us to let Gridge in.

I remember looking at his empty bed.

I remember picking up the towel he had been sleeping on and smelling it.

It still smelled like him.

I lost myself in my grief again and Jody put me straight to bed thus ending the worst day of my life.


A year later, I've had good days and bad.

There are days when I can't stop thinking about Gridge yelping at the sting of the injection.

There are days when I laugh so hard remembering how funny and silly my boy was.

I cry a little some days.

And sometimes I sob.

There are still days I accidentally call out his name.

Most days though....most days I feel him with me.

Most days he somehow manages to make me smile.

Bringing Gridge into my life was the best thing I'd ever done for myself.

Letting Gridge go was the hardest.

To honor my baby boy, a year later, I decided to get a tribute tattoo of a scaled down version of his paw print with a heart inside...because he'll always, always own a piece of my heart.

I love you Gridgery Lee.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Social Media trips...

I've been in Providence, R.I. the past two days doing Social Media sessions at our WJAR station in Cranston and I tell you, I seriously dig these accents!

I don't mean that to sound inappropriate in any way, but I really genuinely enjoyed listening to people there speak.

I especially enjoyed the 4 year old on the plane from Philly to Providence who was extremely excited about flying and decided to yell out hoping his father (who was seated in the back half of the plane separate from him and his Mom) "Daddy?!?!?!? Daddy are you sittin by a windoe??!?!?! Daddy!?!! Arr you seein this??!?!" I swear to you, everyone on that plane smirked.

I didn't have much time to converse with the locals as we'd been busy with work but I did venture out for dinner to a lovely little place called Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse where, for real, they had a talking mechanical moose head. =)

Side note: I think I've been watching a little too much TopGear.

My rental happened to look like TopGear's reasonably priced car and with the wet weather in Providence, I couldn't help myself at the end of the day in an empty parking lot near the airport.

All in all, a good trip to Providence/Cranston, but I'm glad to be back home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First bloom...

I started growing a potted Plumeria tree here in Virginia about 5 or 6 years ago.

It's continued to grow tall and strong...but it never bloomed/flowered.

I thought maybe the Virginia climate just wasn't what the tree needed, but I was perfectly content to keep it growing.  Just the leaves reminded me of home.

I'm happy and excited to report....a few weeks ago, a flower chute appeared....

and the next thing we knew.....

I give you, my very first Plumeria bloom.....

Mom-a-palooza 2010

For those of you that know me, I'm sure you've heard me talk about my Mom at some point and time.

That's simply because she rocks.

My Mom is young, beautiful and full of energy. In fact, she can run circles around me.

She also happens to have thee biggest heart.

So, needless to say, I was THRILLED to have her visit.

This was her first time seeing our new house, meeting some of our friends and meeting Kozy for the very first time.

She landed on a rainy Thursday evening just before a tornado watch was issued in the area. Talk about a fun drive home! We must have been going 15 MPH on the highway because the rain and winds were so rough.

We made it home safe and sound, grabbed some grub, pigged out and went into a food coma.

The next day I went to work and she recouped from her travels.

That night we tried a new recipe with pork chops and peaches...I wouldn't have thought to put the two together, but it turned out to be delicious!

Saturday was our big race day!

We secretly signed up for a Mud Run in Richmond because we didn't want my Dad to be worried about her.

The Henricus Dauber Dash in Richmond is a 5 mile course with several obstacles along the way that takes your through Henricus Historical Park.

Saturday happened to be the first GORGEOUS day we'd had in weeks!  It wasn't too hot and humid!

We got there, stretched, took some photos and then we were ready to dauber dash...

I just have to say, I LOVE that my Mom is just as goofy in front of a camera as I am!  =)

It hadn't been quite a mile when we reached our first obstacle....hay jumping....

A few obstacles later found us army crawling under some cargo nets.

Then came a run through the water, a mini-mountain and the boiling pit of was a really warm body of still water and it was WIERD!

Getting out of the boiling pit was actually quite tricky because of the fact we were climbing a mud bank...but it was awesome!

And favorite part.....

The MUD PIT!!!!

All you daughters out there, take note. 

You should take your Mom through a mud pit at least once in your life.

You'll both be better for it!  =)

After getting home and cleaning up, it was time to hit up the bookstore and grab some coffee.

I LOVE having a book/coffee date whenever I want!  =)

Sunday we took things pretty easy.

A little shopping here and there, some brunch, playing with Kozy, you name it.

Monday we decided to check out my Narnia of Richmond....Belles Isle.

It was another beautiful day, slightly warmer than Saturday and Sunday had been but it was a week day so Belles Isle wasn't too crowded.

We did some rock-hopping and exploring....

By the time we'd gotten back to the car we were STARVING.  And what better Richmond restaurant to hit up when you're that hungry than Bottoms Up Pizza?

Yum.  =)

The next few days were kind of a blur for, hanging out with Mom, work, hanging out with Mom.  It was so awesome having her to come home to!

Suddenly it was Friday and we spent the day with my Mom's cousin Liz at Lake Anna!  It was a bit overcast that day but that didn't stop us from playing on the jetski's and hanging out!

That evening we took Kozy to Agecroft Hall in Richmond for a Wags and Wine event.

Agecroft Hall is an actual English Mansion that was shipped to the U.S. in pieces and reassembled and renovated here in the U.S.

I'm not sure if this was the first time Agecroft Hall allowed dogs on the property but it was so well organized and such great fun!  I sincerely hope they host these more often!

Kozy was having a GREAT time!

The second Saturday Mom was here we threw a huge party that evening, but not before going out to breakfast with my husband's family and hitting up a Richmond canal cruise first!

The canal cruise was actually very interesting and offered up some views of Richmond I'd never seen before.

Then it was time for the bar-b-que/party at our place.

We had too much food (as usual) and too much fun!

Next thing I knew, it was Sunday, my last day with we did a bit more shopping...

Early Monday morning I dropped her off at the airport and I haven't been the same since.

I miss my Mommy.