Category Archives: memories

Tribute – don’t eat that

How do you capture a broken heart in a blog post?  How do you convey the tears that are still unshed and building up behind your eyes?  How do you write about a grief so raw?

On 11/2/18, Otis passed away.  For those of you that don’t know Otis, he was our beagle.  We got him when he was a few days shy of 6 weeks old.  I don’t recall why we got him so early, other than I think they were just ready to have those puppies gone.  We loved him from the second he was handed to me and nuzzled under my chin whimpering.  We had him 15 years.  782 weeks and 4 days that he was on this Earth and that much time that he wormed his way into our hearts and lives.

After he passed, several people said they felt like they knew him from my posts on social media.  He was always a source of a funny story or crazy antics.  He was a source of amusement to a lot of people.  To us he was family.  He was the glue that held us together during times we couldn’t get out of bed.  He was the laughter in our house when all we had were tears.  He was 15 years of routines.  He was the constant in our lives.  He was our everything.

I have several blog post that I have been trying to get updated and posted.  Then this happened and I stalled more than usual.  I have started to write this post a million times and haven’t been able to come up with the words.  I keep writing about his last week with us, and his last days, and his last minutes.  I just can’t get through it.  I keep writing about what he meant to us and fall short.  So I decided until I can post those things, I will write about some of his antics.

Everyone told me after he died that they knew he crossed the rainbow bridge and was playing like he never played before.  I sort of agree.  I kind of feel like heaven to our beagle and his mischief soul would be eating things he shouldn’t and not getting in trouble.  I was thinking about that the other day and made a list of the things Otis ate while here.  So my post today is a tribute to my sweet puppy and the things he ate.

This is not a complete list but the things we could remember.  This does not include things that he ate off the floor while we cooked, or dropped while we ate, or the things he ate while in my parents presence that they didn’t report.  Reading through this list makes me feel like an irresponsible pet owner. In our defense we always tried to push things to the back of the counter.  We always tried to puppy proof the motor home.  He was just so patient he would wait on that one slip up to go for the goods.  He knew better and we always had to tell him, not yours and don’t eat that.  Sometimes he would tell on himself and would come up to us and put his head down and lean into us.  Other times he would excitedly jump up and down pawing on us like come look what I did!

  • Ham (Stolen off plates, platters, floors, hands).
  • Ham biscuits (He stole those when my grandfather passed away.  He snuck in the kitchen after someone brought them and took two before I noticed my dad laughing because he knew what he was doing).
  • Chocolate Covered Cherries (He snuck those while we were in the motor home at the Charlotte races.  They made him really hyper (like psychotic) and he threw up).
  • M&Ms (Dark chocolate.  Ate those while with my parents.  He was so sick.  Several after hours calls to the vet.  A trip to Walmart at 3 AM.  He got a few other M&Ms here and there, some fun packs etc, but never an entire large bag).
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies (He snuck one from my purse – left over from lunch.  He stole a few off a plate off a counter).
  • Ressee Cups (He stole those out of my mom’s purse – it was her emergency chocolate).
  • Hersey Kisses (He stole those after our wedding.  They were part of our favors.  He opened some of them and ate just the chocolate and on some he ate the foil.  He pooped foil for a week).
  • Hersey Kiss wrappers (He would steal candy wrappers all the time.  He loved the foil from Kisses).
  • Life savers (He stole these after our wedding too.  They were also part of our favors).
  • Coffee beans (He opened my brother in laws Christmas gift and ate some coffee.  I also had a center piece for a table that had coffee beans.  When I would mix them around to make the aroma spread through the room and beans would fall to the ground he would gobble them up).
  • Tortillas (My parents went to Sam’s and got the largest size bag of soft tortillas.  While unattended in the motor home he grabbed them opened them and ate part of them.  He flung the rest of them around the motor home).
  • Spaghetti (Same trip as the tortillas – he grabbed the unopened noodles off the counter and had a fun day).
  • Gravy (Also in the motor home at the race, he jumped on the counter and licked the gravy spoon and the left over gravy after breakfast).
  • Bible (Bought Andy a brand new Bible (The Message) and Otis shredded that thing).
  • Norman Rockwell Book (Chewed on the spin of the book.  We still have it and laugh each time we see it.  Granted Andy was so mad when it first happened).
  • Rainbow flip flops (Andy’s pair.  Andy was mad).
  • Boxers (He always would grab a pair of Andy’s boxers and chew on them.  Right out of the laundry hamper or the dryer he didn’t care).
  • Socks (This might have been our mistake.  His first toy was a sock tied in knots.  He loved grabbing socks and chewing on them.  It was a challenge to put shoes on around him, when he was a puppy he would attack your feet trying to get the sock).
  • Plant (He dug up our “love fern.”  Andy gets made when I call our plant that, but I find it hilarious.  Watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  He pulled it up while he was locked in his crate.  He bounced his crate across the kitchen and grabbed the plant and dug it up.  Twice).
  • 3 crates (He chewed on 3 crates.  To the point that we had to have metal welded on, chains applied, and locks attached).
  • Towels (Too many to count. When we first started crating him we tried to put them in there so he would have something to lay on.  He shredded each and every one).
  • Blankets (He destroyed several.  He dug a hole in a few while playing with Andy.  He also shredded some that we tried putting in his crate).
  • Abercrombie Coat Zipper (Andy’s coat.  He destroyed the sipper.  Luckily the coat is still wearable, but just doesn’t zip).
  • Suite Coat (A Christmas gift for Andy from me.  Otis ripped the pocket off the coat, making it trash.  It was a really expensive suite that was bought with pennies saved at a time we didn’t need to spend that kind of money.  I was the most mad about that one).
  • Candy wrappers (He would find any and all candy wrappers.  Sneak them off the end tables by the couch, out of the trash, if there was a candy wrapper around.  He found it and would try to eat it before you noticed).
  • Snotty tissues (Yes it is gross.  He loved a tissue full of snot.  Cold season was his favorite time of year.  He would sneak into the bathrooms and look for tasty treats.  He would come back wagging his tail with tissue stuck in his teeth.  Most of the time we would flush the tissues, put it in the kitchen trash which was in a cabinet, or elevate the small trashcan where he couldn’t reach it).
  • Gum (He would get this out of my purse especially if I left him in the car alone.  Or he would find it in the car because Andy would leave some in his door some of the time).
  • Sour Patch Kids (After the M&M incident mom was more careful with leaving chocolate in her purse.  At the race she assured me her purse was puppy safe.  After 10 minutes he could sour patch kids in her purse.  He loved them).
  • Cough drops (He also loved eating cough drops when he could find them usually stolen out of a purse, a coat pocket, the bed, off the dresser).
  • Bread (This is not limited to just slices of bread, but entire loafs of bread.  He would steal them off the counter and off plates while we were trying to fix sandwiches.  He would grab the loaf off the counter and hid in the kitchen eating his loot.  He preferred homemade over store bought, but he would eat it all).
  • Fried Chicken (He stole dad, mom, and Candy’s left over chicken off the counter and ate it all.
  • Hamburger buns (Stolen off the counter)
  • Bag of brown sugar (Stolen off the island in the kitchen.  I put everything out to bake cookies and ran to answer my phone which was in the living room.  Came back and got another bag of sugar out because I didn’t see the other one and thought I hadn’t set it out.  I Heard something weird and looked on the other side of the table and his little beagle face was covered in brown sugar.  He ripped open the bag and there were clumps of it every where).
  • Futon Mattress (He dug several holes in several futon mattresses.  It was part of his separation anxiety and his humans didn’t realize what we could do to help at that point in time).
  • Soap (He ate an entire bar of soap after we put him on anxiety medicines for his separation anxiety.  It gave him the munchies and he ate an entire bar of soap.  He was so sick for a day.  He puked in the bed twice that night, and was miserable the next day).
  • Pizza (He convinced his cousin Haley the dog to get it off the counter – he was still a young puppy and couldn’t reach it.  They shared an entire large pizza).
  • Carpet (He dug up and chewed the carpet at two houses.  Kingsport Hwy house in TN and Clayford Ridge house in NC).
  • Door Frames (He ate door frames at 4 houses.  Clayford Ridge, Kirkcaldy Lane, Amber Mist Lane, and Kingsport Hwy).
  • Window sills (He destroyed several in the Clayford Ridge house and chewed on one at Amber Mist Ln).
  • Blinds (He destroyed several sets at Clayford Ridge.  We have one set in our house now that has an Otis tooth puncture mark in it).
  • Toilet paper rolls (He only did that once, maybe twice.  But he shredded an entire roll of toilet paper).
  • Magazines (As a puppy he shredded and chewed on a handful of magazines).
  • Fried pickles and tater tots (He stole my parents left overs off the counter).
  • Finger nails/toe nails (Gross like the tissues, but he would go through the trash and get them out.  Makes me gag thinking about it).
  • Hair (Technically he wouldn’t seek out the hair, but in digging through the trash could end up eating some).
  • Ravioli lid (The week before he died he snuck a lid out of the trash and enjoyed licking it clean.  So thankful he didn’t cut his mouth).
  • Blue Marker (He turned his white fur blue for a few days until it wore off).
  • Glasses case (He got it out of my purse while he was looking for food, and it now has his teeth marks on it).
  • Napkins in cars (He loved napkins in cars.  He would find them and shred them in the car).
  • Treat Jar Lid (My mom got him a nice treat jar with a wooden lid.  He got the lid off Andy’s desk and chewed part of the wood off and left his bite marks all over it).
  • Electric cord (For a long time he was terrified of cords so we assume he got zapped when he chewed it).
  • Water bottles (Or soda bottles.  Otis would chew on the lids making them come off.  He didn’t care if there was liquid or not, he would still take the lid off and spill stuff everywhere).
  • Trash (He absolutely loved going through the trash can.  It was like the best scavenger hunt ever).
  • Trash (Not in a trash can.  If you left a cup on the coffee table and it had ice cream in it, or a yogurt container, of a bowl that had peanuts in it – you better believe he would get it before you cleaned up).
  • Trash (One time he drug an entire trash bag into the guest bedroom and hid it so he could go through it later.  We put it by the door to take it to the dump.  Went outside to pick up trash next to the road to take when we went.  We came back inside and the bag was gone.  Otis was sitting on the couch looking guilty, but we couldn’t prove anything.  We searched the house and couldn’t find it.  We gave up, knowing he would lead us to it later.  Later that night he snuck off and we heard the rustling of a bag.  We went in the guest bedroom and on the other side of the bed partially shoved under the bed was the beagle and a giant trash bag that he was going through).

I know that I am forgetting things.  Probably hilarious things.  He was a sneaky little critter that wanted to explore the world with his nose.  His nose normally led him to something he thought he could eat.  He is missed, his antics are missed.  I have had a cold and my little trash can of tissues makes me choke up thinking about all the times I had to pick up shredded tissues.

Family Photos

With Andy’s immediate family we draw names for Christmas.  Each couple gets another couple to buy gifts for.  The older I get the harder it is to buy Christmas gifts and to put a “wish list” out there for people to buy us stuff.  I am to the point if I need something, we get it.  If I want something, eventually, we get it.  So telling people what I want or need has become more difficult (and the times that I gave the brand of shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner etc it was laughed at as a joke).  Last year we had Andy’s parents as the couple we were buying for.  I think they feel similar because they couldn’t think of anything they wanted or needed for their Christmas wish list.

Part of the problem was that they were in the process of packing boxes and moving and with most things they packed his mom would say something along the lines of why did she had so much “stuff.”  I didn’t want to add to the stuff she needed to pack so we thought extremely hard on what to get them.  We decided to get her a gift card so that she could have family photos done by a professional.  Not just my camera and tri-pod.  They seemed happy with their gift card.  Fast forward to 10 months later and they lined up using the gift.

I don’t like pictures anyways.  We will start there.  But we went into town (I had a dentist appointment too) and got dressed up.  I straightened my hair (which is always an ordeal) and put on mascara and lipstick and we did this picture thing.  The photographer did great and worked fast.  The nieces and nephew seemed to smile for all the pictures.  It worked out nicely as a good gift.

kids

See the kids looked great.

I smiled and hoped it would reach my eyes.  The entire time I was watching our nieces run around with our nephew I couldn’t help but think that Addy should be here with her cousins.  Each time one of Andy’s siblings asked if they should be holding the kids, I couldn’t help but think I want to hold Addy in our pictures.  I couldn’t help but think that she would have fit right in with them.  I couldn’t help but think of how unfair it was that she wasn’t with us.  I couldn’t think too hard because then I would shed the tears that were hiding behind my hopefully real looking, fake, smile.  The photographer would say “family with girls” or “family with the boy” and then “you two.”  To her credit she didn’t say “childless couple” because had she, I would have lost it right there in the park with my mascara running down my face.  She didn’t know where we have been.  It isn’t her fault at all.  But standing there with my in-laws in front of the picture.  To the right of the picture was their oldest child, his wife, and 2 daughters in a tight little clump.  To the left but still middle of the picture was their youngest child, her husband, and their son in a tight little clump.  To the far left was their middle child, and me.  And a heart so full of holes and sorrow.  But that was our clump.  I love Andy with everything I have but there is still that emptiness.  Addy should have been there.  I miss the dreams and answers to prayers that she represented.  I miss the what could have beens.  But mostly I just miss her.

Infertility sucks.  In my story, nothing emphasizes that more than “family” stuff.  Be it holidays, vacations, going out to eat together, or family photos…family stuff is hard – yes still (and sometimes worse than before).  We have been travelling this road far too long.  We are no stranger to sadness and disappointment and loss.  One would think we could “get over it already and be happy.”  But family is hard.  Family reminds me of that family I don’t have.

Holidays are fast approaching and I feel like there will be some moments I sneak out of rooms, or step out onto the porch for fresh air.  There will be times I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes just to breathe and give myself permission to be sad and happy.  To give myself the grace and space I need to grieve the could have beens.  To quietly brush a tear off my check.  Yes, I live infertility each and every day, but holidays are a different battle.  All of that to say – forgive me if you turn to ask for a refill on your wine, or to pass the salt and pepper and you are telling my back as I am walking away.

writing

So I had a list of all the things I was going to catch up on and write about when I took a break waiting to gain more storage.  But I re-read that list and there wasn’t much on there that actually seemed important now.  So I crushed it in my hands and tossed it in the trash.  So with no prompts or lists of topics I am just going to write.

For a long time writing has been therapeutic for me.  I have so many documents in word and drafts in my e mails where I just free write to get things out of my head.  It is so funny to go back and read some of the things I have written and seeing where I was at that time in my life.  Then sometimes reading the things that I have written just takes me back to places I don’t really want to be again.

Over the past several years infertility has been my demon.  It is something that consumes a lot of my time and thoughts.  The what if’s roll though my head.  The why plays over and over in my mind and heart.  The insecurities are crystal clear in the writing.  The blame I placed/place on myself and God are there.  The frustration creeps back in.

Let me be very clear that while I am living and breathing infertility and it consumes so much of my life – it does not consume everything.  I have moments, days, weeks, and months even that I exist with this label and don’t bat an eye.  That I push it to the back of my mind the best I can and enjoy life without worrying what happens next, without feeling like I have to be an advocate, without feeling like I have to explain why we have no children or defend why we haven’t been chosen with the adoption, without feeling like everyone that glances at me has a look of pity for me.  Where the past and the future don’t taunt me.  So while infertility is my demon – I still have some freedom to hide from it.  But that is all I can really do is hide.  Eventually it finds me.  Eventually it allows those thoughts to flood back in and I become that infertile girl again, and she warps into this monster.

As I read back through and think about where I have been and where I am, I realize I am caught between despising who infertility has made me and being proud.  With Mother’s Day approaching I swing closer to the despising side.  I think about the years I have missed out on that holiday and how each year is breaks my heart a little more.  Yes I celebrate my mother and other women that have “mothered me” but with each year that passes my time feels further and further out of reach for me to actually get to be on the receiving end of Mother’s Day.  It hurts.  It makes me mad.  It frustrates me.  I hide on that day because I worry that the monster that infertility has created will do something or say something stupid or offensive to someone.  That my bitterness will be more evident and that I will hurt feelings and people will make me feel guilty because I don’t have a child, that make me feel selfish because I can’t just “get over it and be happy.”  In years past I avoid church and will this year as well.  Sad but oh so true.  I can’t do it.  I avoid facebook and other social media.  I do my best to avoid going out to eat.  I attempt not to communicate with people in public because strangers tell women “Happy Mother’s Day” even if you don’t have a child with you.  And sometimes people that know you don’t have a child will speak that phrase to you and makes you wonder why?  Why in the world would you say that to me knowing the road that I have traveled.  And those three words when spoken or texted to me cuts straight through my soul.  I don’t deserve them.  I am not worthy and those words are wasted on me.  I despise that part of me.  The part that hides from the world – that allows the bitterness to creep in and fears that I will forever be 1 in 8 and never get to experience what motherhood is.

So this year as we get closer to Mother’s Day I find myself surrounded by emotionally bad days, the monster that comes with those days breathes bitterness and disdain and hopelessness.  Not with everything in my life, but with everything infertility related.  That monster has crawled into my head and heart and set up a tent, built a little camp fire, sitting all smug in a chair roasting marshmallows.

 

8 days

**I wrote this in the days following Addy’s funeral, but until now didn’t feel like posting**

addy’s life was short.

there is no way around this subject.  her life was short.  8 days to be exact.

while you may not agree with the next several thoughts, you have to allow me to believe them because i do.  we don’t have to agree, but we can respect each other.

when addy was born the odds were not in her favor.  she was 12 weeks early, she had the PDA, she developed the infection, and she had the massive brain bleed.  if she only had any one of those things (instead of them all), this story may have played out differently – but we will never know and playing the what if game is pointless.  with all of those complications we believe there is mercy in her passing.  we obviously didn’t want that to happen and we wanted the outcome to be different, but we were constantly reminded that we are not in control.  death is some times the most compassionate thing that can happen to a person, and we believe that to be the case in this situation.

even though the birth mother changed her mind hours before addy’s death she wanted us to be at the funeral.  we got an e mail from our caseworker with the arrangements.  we knew we wanted to go to support the mother and her family, we wanted the agency to know that we really did care, and while addy was alive i spent a lot of time with her and wanted to say goodbye.  so for us we knew that we would go.  we wouldn’t attend the grave side service, but we would go to the funeral home.  since the birth mother hadn’t told a lot of people that she was giving the baby up for adoption we didn’t want to go to the grave side service where people talk to the people around them afterwards.  we didn’t want to just say we were “friends” because we didn’t want the follow up questions.  the safest thing to protect the mother and the best thing for us was to just go to the funeral service at the funeral home.  when we got there we signed in and found a seat.  shortly after we sat down the pregnancy counselor came over to us and we stood up and hugged her.  she slipped something in my hand and told me that the mother wanted us to have it.  it was a tiny knit hat that belonged to addy, they also gave us a card signed by the people that worked at the agency.  i gave her a card and a flash drive of the photos that i had taken of addy to give to the mother.  we spoke with our caseworker and gave her a hug.  a few minutes before the service started the birth mother came over and gave me a huge hug and the dad came over and shook our hands.

i don’t love funerals – besides the obvious that someone is dead, but because i don’t feel like funerals capture a persons life.  i have been to a few funerals that have made me feel closer to the deceased, but most of the time i feel like funerals paint a picture that isn’t an accurate image of that person or their life, or that they are so far off on who that person was to the people they have left behind.  i will say that this funeral was no different.  it was painful.  i mean no disrespect for addy, her family, or the preacher that performed the funeral, but it was the worst funeral i have ever been to.

to begin with, it was a funeral for an 8 day old baby.  it doesn’t matter that we were connected through the adoption process and that she was so close to being ours, it would have been horrible even if that wasn’t the case.  it honestly felt like a pre-memorial service for pat summit (she was eulogized more than addy was).  i liked coach pat as much as the next person, but the tiny little body up there wasn’t pat summitt, it was addy.  the other thing that stuck out to me so much as being terrible was that in talking about pat summitt the preacher continued to say that millions will remember pat, but no one will remember addy.  that her life meant nothing.  she was insignificant.

maybe we misunderstood the point of what the preacher was saying, but we both would have misunderstood the same way, because we were both very upset when we left the funeral.  during the funeral andy’s hand would grip mine a little tighter and i returned the gesture each time something didn’t sit right (at one point in time it was just a continuous squeeze).  we couldn’t  believe some of the things we heard, and granted at a time like this it is hard to know what to say, but I feel like other things could have been said.  i silently prayed that the preacher would step aside and ask if anyone wanted to come to the front and say a few words – because i would have gone.  i thought about the fact that most people didn’t know of the adoption plan and thought “i don’t care, addy deserves better than this.”  he never left the podium, and never gave me a chance to speak. so allow me to say what i feel like should have been said in the first place.

one thing that the preacher did say was this: “how do you eulogize 8 days?”  that is how he started his sermon and that grabbed me, so i will keep that.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

you shouldn’t have to.  it isn’t fair and it is hard for us to understand why things happened the way that they did.  we can sit here everyday and say it was all part of God’s timing, but that implies that God was ok that her life was cut short.  or the implication can be made that he planned on her life to be short for a “greater good” or to “teach” someone a lesson.  i have a hard time believing that some people are born to die to show other people something because that would imply that their life is expendable – that God doesn’t value their life as much as other lives.  i don’t believe that we are God’s pawns that he just kicks us off the chessboard whenever he feels like it.  i just don’t believe that.  i understand from a physical stand point why addy died.  i know that she was early and that she was very sick.  i understand that her chance of survival was slim with all of the complications – so her death wasn’t a complete shock to us.  what i don’t understand is the spiritual side.  i don’t know why we were chosen to be part of her 8 days.  my heart tells me that there is a reason, but i can’t figure it out – and possibly i will never know the reason – and i have come to believe that this is ok.

addy came into this world with a dramatic flair – butt first; however, that first breath of life was her own.  she was a 13.75 inch long, 2 pound 10 ounce miracle.  for weeks before her birth she was our miracle.  her short life was full of tubes, medicines, tests, needle sticks, glow lights, beeps, and monitors.  her cry was never louder than a kitten’s meow. she never found her voice and we will never know the depth of it.  she never got to sleep in a real bed, only knowing the warmth of the incubator.  she will never know the silence on a starry night gazing at the moon, she only knew the beeps, constant noise, and bright lights of the nicu.  despite never holding her, and never being able to be that close to her, i was able to pick up on her scent.  the “new baby smell” that everyone talks about.  when i left the hospital after she was born to go to the hotel, i fell asleep with my hands next to my face drinking the smell in.  the smell that i associated with dreams coming true, hope, and our miracle. the smell that a few days later, triggered the tears to fall as i leaned my head against the incubator praying that the doctors were wrong.

it is hard to imagine what kind of person she would have been.  in her short life you could catch glimpses of characteristics of who she might have been.  when she was uncomfortable or in pain she put her hands to her face covering her eyes.  when she was completely relaxed she would hold her ear or put her hands above her head.  her heart rate reacted to music showing that she enjoyed music.  she would have liked to have been snuggled because she always responded to touch.  she was quick to grab your finger and to latch on and squeeze.  but beyond these things we will never know addy as being beyond 8 days old.  we can imagine who she would have been, but because her beginning was brief and the ending came too soon we will have few thoughts of her growing and living beyond the incubator and the nicu.

she was surrounded by love before she took her first breath.  her birth mother loved her enough to do the adoption plan, andy and i loved her more than any words i can express, our families loved her, and friends loved her.  she was a little girl that was never at a loss for love or prayers.  they poured in for her.  the nurses and the doctors loved her too.  i walked in several times to see the nurses talking with her and telling her that she was beautiful.  she might have just been their patient, but the love in the nicu was palpable.  addy received more love in her short life than some people get in a life time and for that i am thankful.

while her life didn’t reach millions of people (maybe not even hundreds of people) she touched lives.  deeply.  the people that she leaves behind have felt her presence deep within our souls and we mourn the loss of sweet addy.

and while i still don’t understand the “purpose” in her life cut short and i don’t believe that God “caused” this to happen to teach us something i do believe that we can use terrible things – this death – to find beauty.  we can find beauty in the fact that she wasn’t alone and that she died being loved by many.  personally, i am holding onto the beauty that this experience has opened my eyes and proved that i can love a baby that isn’t biologically mine.  there is beauty that relationships were strengthened surrounding the birth and death of addy.  the beauty that God never left us throughout this entire process.

i will never believe that she was put here as a dispensable life.  for some unknown reason her life was an essential part of our story and of our lives.  there is a part of addy that will remain in my heart, and i hope in the hearts of others, forever.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

her life was short and and her death won’t affect millions of people.  her footprint might have been tiny, but in the 8 days she was alive she left a mark – her mark – an impact and love that was immense, beyond measure.

goodbye sweet addy, goodbye.

our little twitter-bird

I have started and deleted this post so many times I have lost count.  Nothing seemed right.  Nothing seemed to do it justice.  One time it would be too detailed and too much information for the reader and other times it was so vague that it didn’t feel right either.  So I will start this post again and see if I can find some middle ground.

When we were chosen by the birth mother at the end of May 2016.  We were told she was due in September, but that she always went early so to be ready by August 1.  We made our lists of things to do before we were to bring the baby home.  We bought furniture and had it delivered to the house while we were at Montreat.  We started to talk about paint colors for the nursery, and we started to discuss what we would need immediately vs what would be on our wish list for later.  We had a plan pretty much for each week until August 1st.

We were chosen (officially) on June 1, 2016.  We went to Montreat as planned and while we were there we got a call on June 14th that our birth mother was in the hospital and they were trying to decide if they were going to do strict bed rest of go on and induce and take the baby because both mom and baby were in danger.  We were told to be on stand by.  June 15th we got a call stating they were going to induce as mom was now 28 weeks and they couldn’t wait any longer.  They were planning on starting the process at 5:00 pm.  We decided Andy would stay at camp with the kids since he wasn’t going to be in the delivery room anyways.  I made my way to the hospital and we waited.  5:00 came and went and nothing was started.  It was around 9:00 that night that they actually got things started with the induction.

This is where I end up being way too detailed or not detailed enough.  I remember every second (mostly) and detail about the time I spent in room 10 of the labor and delivery floor.  It was an experience like no other and that words don’t completely capture the essence or the magnitude of the moments we spent together.  Exactly 2 weeks after we were chosen, two weeks and a day after we met this amazing woman we were tossed into a whirlwind experience.  We hadn’t had our next scheduled meeting because we thought there was time.  We hadn’t had time to completely process the extent of our relationship and how connected we were because we knew the other existed for only 2 weeks.  We thought there was time to get the furniture assembled in the nursery.  We thought there was time to meet the birth father.  We thought there was time, but what we didn’t have was time.  It was here and now and all of my plans and lists were null and void.

I write about the timeline of events that happened in June 2016 and am thrust right back into the calm before the storm and then the absolute chaos.  And while all of those elements are so important to Andy and I, they may not be as important to anyone else, and that is ok.  Maybe in the moment those details would have been important to other people beyond Andy and myself, but this far out from that date, I just don’t know.  It is hard sorting out what others might feel is important and what I think it is important for other people to hear.  I can describe in detail the induction process and when things stalled or progressed.  I can describe to you how truly amazing it was to listen to the heart beat on the monitor.  How in the quiet of the night it would slam into me with so much emotion I would escape to the bathroom to gather myself.  How the chairs were arranged in that room and each person had their spot, but when they rotated, where we all went and how often we moved around.  How we took shifts to make phone calls, get drinks, ice chips, and eventually something to eat.  How birth mom would wake up during the night and ask if her “baby mama” was still there.  Those details are there and etched in my brain.

What is important regardless of how much time passes is the beauty that encompassed room 10 and OR room 1.  Two families connected through adoption.  The birth family and the adopted family supporting each other, barely knowing each other.  We laughed together, we got choked up together, we sat in silence together.

The awkwardness I thought would be palpable wasn’t there.  The conversation flowed between procedures and contractions.  The smiles and tears were genuine.  The concern was real.  She apologized to me so many times for having to be induced and the magnitude of the situation didn’t elude me.  She was saying sorry to me and yet she was about to give me my hopes and dreams for so many years.  It didn’t seem quite right.  I thanked her over and over.  We held hands like old friends.

Around 2:15 in the morning of June 16th I found myself sitting alone in the cafeteria eating the first food I had in hours and reflecting on life.  A terrible piece of pizza and a luke warm cranberry juice was all that was available at that time of morning.  I sat in the booth staring off into space, tired from being awake and exhausted from trying to be supportive and remaining hopeful and calm.  We were not delusional to think this delivery at 28 weeks would be without complications.  I knew what we were up against.  Andy did too.  But we held onto the hope that things would be ok.  The heart rate was perfect and I held onto that thought.  For the first time in years I imagined our life as a family with a child.  I grabbed onto that hope that it was really happening to us.  I reached into the back of my mind where I stashed all of those thoughts and feelings and allowed them to resurface again.

Birth mom and most everyone else in the room fell asleep around 3.  Myself and another lady stayed awake until about 4:20.  We were awaken at 4:40 by total chaos.  Birth mom was rushed to the OR to deliver there (as a precaution).  I was told to wait by a door to see the baby as it went by the door on the way to the NICU.  The friend that was in the OR with the birth mom was texting the pregnancy counselor and the pregnancy counselor was sending me the information and I was sending the information to Andy.  It was a long line of cell phone communication.  My favorite was when I got the text that she was here.  Our little girl.  She was 2 pounds 10 ounces.  I got to see a video of them taking her to the incubator.  They stopped by the door and I could see her.  The NICU doctor was with her.  I hadn’t been able to speak with her earlier so she stepped through the door and answered some of my questions.  She said the good news was that they didn’t have to intubate right away that she was breathing on her own (she warned me that could change at any moment).  She wanted to go to the NICU with her and told me I would be able to come see her and find out more information after their first assessment.  I went back to room 10 and watched the sun rise.

The day our daughter was born I saw the beauty in the creation of not just her life, but in the world around me.  In my tired state I marveled over the colors dancing in the sky.  It didn’t matter that it was coming up over construction and dirty machinery.  It was the most beautiful sunrise I ever saw.

I waited for what seemed like hours and was finally able to go to the NICU and be with our girl.  I was educated on how to scrub in and went through the dragonfly covered door to her little incubator.  I will admit in full honesty that I was glad Andy wasn’t there for my first meeting with her.  Biological mothers get to have that bonding time for 9 months (or so) while the baby is growing in them.  I hadn’t had that and was so happy that we could have a few minutes to bond alone.  I know that is selfish, but hey at least I willingly admit that.  The nurse was amazing.  She walked me through everything about the NICU.  I knew what to expect in the coming hours and what to hope for with the first 72 hours (what we were told would be the biggest challenge).  We were guarded but so far everything was ok.  She had a PDA (hole in the heart) and they were starting to treat that.  She would have cranial US to check on bleeding on the brain.  I was able to open the little door on the incubator and she grasped my finger and in that instant, my heart.  I talked to her and sat in silence staring at her.  Taking in her tiny little fingers and toes.  Watching her chest rise and fall.  Listening to the beeps and looking at the machines she was hooked up to.

With stories from the NICU.  I have a hard time knowing what to share.  Things happened quickly some days and other days not so quickly.  The omission of the massive amounts of details of what went on in the dragonfly wing of the NICU isn’t due to be uncaring or flippant about all that happened.  But rather I still can’t grasp what to say about it.  I almost feel callous in not writing more.  Most days were similar to the days before.  I would get to the hospital and go see the birth mom (she remained hospitalized after birth due to complications), then I would go to the NICU and scrub in.  I found a chair and would roll over to the incubator.  I would normally be met by the nurse and updated on progress or set backs.  I would then climb in my chair and talk to our sweet girl.  I would hold her hand.  Stroke the side of her face.  Tickle her tiny little toes.  It was just amazing and the images still come so vividly to me.

After the first doses of medications she still had a PDA and they were going to try another dose of medicine before they considered surgery.  Her oxygen was still good.  She had some help from ventilator, but wasn’t intubated.  She passed her cranial US with no bleeding.  She was a rock star.  She did have some episodes of Brady’s (forget to breathe), but I was assured that was normal with NICU patients.

One day I was at the incubator and the birth mom came in and we stood on each side of her and semi held her up for a family photo.  It was a moment I will never forget.  We marveled over how tiny she was and how dark her hair was.  There was a silence among us and looks of understanding, appreciation, and love between us.  A relationship that was so new and yet very deep.

Andy coming to meet her before he went on his next trip made me almost weep.  He couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I told him, but he said seeing it for himself was surreal.

She passed the 72 hour mark with very little complications (except the PDA).  All of her cranial US came back normal and her blood work was great.  She was doing wonderful on the ventilator, but still wasn’t intubated and was breathing on her own too.

Day four is where things changed.  I got to the hospital and the nurse said she seemed a bit off the night before and now.  They were waiting on lab reports to come back, but thought she had an infection.  She was fussy and not comfortable.  The nurse showed me how to tuck her arms and legs into my palm and hold her securely in the incubator.  That seemed to help calm her.  Otherwise she would flail her arms and legs and cry (he tiny cry sounded like a kitten).  I sat with her for hours holding her arms and legs in the palm of my hand so she would be comfortable.  You could see the distress on her face and in her actions.  You could see it in her vitals and on the monitors.  It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could do to really help.  Touch seemed to help and I just wish that I could have held her.  I was informed that if she continued to have problems they would intubate to help relieve some of the stress on her body.  I asked them to call and let me know if they did that.

Results came back and she did have an infection and they started antibiotics.  They did intubate.

Wednesday morning I got a call asking me to come to the hospital because the doctors wanted to meet with us.  They informed us that she had a massive brain bleed likely caused by the severe infection.  We were all devastated.  Andy drove over from camp to talk with me and the doctor and to visit with our sick little girl.  Things changed so quickly it was hard to breathe.

Friday morning 8 days after her birth I got a call that the birth mom changed her mind and wanted to back out of the adoption plan.  I feel like there were so many factors in that decision and we will never know the extent of why she changed her mind, but she did.  That was her choice to make and we respect that decision.  Her decision kept us from having to make the decision to continue with the adoption verses backing out with such a poor prognosis.  A decision that neither of us wanted to make.  After the call I climbed in bed and grabbed onto Otis and cried.  For 8 days I had a little girl that I loved so much.  For 8 days I was a mother, not legally or biologically, but I loved that sweet baby with everything I had.  She was mine and I was hers.  It was an experience that showed me without a shadow of a doubt that shared DNA didn’t mean love.

It is important, I think, to note that we had a name picked out for our child.  Ever since we did infertility treatments we had a name.  The birth mother had chosen a different name and we planned on changing that at finalization to the name we fell in love with.  While I was alone I called the baby the name we intended to change it to.  But while others were around I respected the birth mother and called her Addy.  Since the birth mother changed her mind we have taken to remembering our time with her as Addy.  That is who she will always be to us.  Addy our little twitter-bird.

We were notified on Monday by our adoption agency that hours after the birth mother changed her mind.  Just 8 days into her life, Addy passed away.

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catching up on 2015 adventures

we had snow again.  it was cold but beautiful!

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a lot of our kids were in the musical at the school – Oklahoma.  it was really cute and we have really talented youth!

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my grandmother got the presidents away at the college.  so we got to play hide and seek with her.  except we were hiding and she didn’t know.  we avoided her until the award was presented to her.

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jay and julian came stopped on their way through town.  (andy got a chest slap for old times sake)

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the silipigni’s came to visit.

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mom’s cats ashes and UT (the orange one) were cute like normal (they are getting older, but still just as fat and sweet as ever).

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we have been to chorus concerts, shopping trips, date nights and so much more that wasn’t captured with our cameras.

now that I am getting organized with my photos and thoughts I can say that hopefully this will be the last “catch up” post.  my goal is to keep it caught up (but I have said that before I know).

something I don’t have photos of that I am thrilled about and so very proud of is that andy has decided to go back to school.  that means that he is traveling on most weekends, but we will survive the next few years.  I have been able to catch up on reading and sewing so it has been ok – for now.  I am looking forward to his graduation gift – which I am already mentally planning – a cruise!  i really am so proud of him.

ruined birthday plans

my birthday was on a Saturday this year.  we had huge plans to work on our to-do list and get our house in order.  when we woke up that morning we decided to heck with that.  we went to the zoo.  we love the knoxville zoo.  it isn’t a huge zoo and it is currently being renovated in some areas, but it is a wonderful place.  it was a hot day, so a lot of the animals were just lazy.

prairie dog

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hogs (2 babies)

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elephants (they were the most active we have ever seen them.  one of them got in the water and was taking a bath)

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giraffe (we didn’t get to feed them this time)

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baboons

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lions

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elephants again (construction makes you walk by them again – this was the one taking a bath)

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red pandas

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birds (to look at the beaver there is a section closed in and these birds fly all around you.  very traumatic when they dive at your head).

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beaver

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turkey (told you it was hot.  it was standing in front of the fan).

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i got home that night and looked at my to-do list and realized that i didn’t cross anything off my list.  my birthday plans were ruined.  thank goodness!

gcpc happenings

RESURRECTION

where we sit in the back, eat pizza, role their eyes at me and all the photos, go to the arcade, get a lecture on shot glasses, and make andy feel uncomfortable.

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MISSION TRIP 2015 – OKLAHOMA

this year I went on the mission trip.  I don’t know why but I went.  we went to oklahoma and spent a day in texas.  we missed our first flight.  we got a quick flight to Houston where I thought we were going to be stuck until we died.  they split our group and sent me and 4 kids to new orleans (to connect to dallas) and as we were getting off the plane we heard the last call for that flight.  we made it and got to dallas.  I asked the lady at the counter where andy and the rest of the kids were and she said what do you mean they are in Houston.  I told her no.  because andy told me they were on a plane about to take off (I just didn’t know where to and when they would get to dallas with us).  she looked and said what is your name…I told her…and she said oh it looks like you are still in Houston too!  so apparently there was a black hole in Houston (I believe it) but she finally found that andy and one youth was on a plane to Tulsa (I knew he was with the rest).  we were reunited and the rest of the trip was very go with the flow.

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while my group was stuck in dallas we were sure we would never see our friends again.  we knew we would be stuck forever.  we made plans to get jobs while we waited when we ran out of money.  we planned our meals.  we found with outlets a corner and hunkered down.

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waiting to load the rental van.  it was so hot.

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we did yard work and some minor building repairs at a church (associated with the Choctaw tribe).  there were some down times, so we did a lot of random photos (trying to do best impressions of band cover photos, awkward family photo, or just weird photos)

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we saw some wild life a toad that went to sleep.  and a snake.  not a rattle snake but let’s be honest any snake is pretty much a cobra.

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in some of the down time I got to walk around the church campus and down the road to get pictures.

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we explored the town a little bit.

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the people there were wonderful to be around and fed us amazing food.  at the end of our time there they gave us handmade gifts.  on the last day while two of the youth were helping finish up a project the rest of them played volley ball.  you could tell how happy that made the church members.  they talked a lot about the hope that our youth gave them.DSCN7256 DSCN7264 DSCN7292

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putting up with group photo shoot

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our cabins were nice.

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on our free day we went to a lake (that was still flooded from a few weeks before).  we went to the casino for lunch.  we were told that there was a lot to do at the casino for kids (but that part wasn’t open yet).  we went to a durant.  there wasn’t much to do there.  but we made the most of it.

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we went to texas to the childrens home.  we helped with some yard work.  pulling weeds and trimming trees and bushes.  it was miserably hot and humid.  but we were able to work slow and take a lot of breaks.

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we celebrated with a night on the town in denton, tx.  it was a wonderful little town.  we had a blast.  we shopped.  had dinner.  had ice cream.  listened to music.  and at 9:19 it was still 94 degrees outside.

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we made it to the airport early just to be sure we didn’t miss another flight…only to have that flight delayed.  it didn’t matter.  we made it and I survived.

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MONTREAT

this year we had a bigger group so we had two houses.  we had a blast.  it was a very fun dynamic group of kids.  one of the houses (our main house) was close enough to events to where kids came and went.  we had a great porch that over looked people walking to and from different places and so our kids would yell “hey” as people walked by.  we became known as the “hey porch house.”  I will say I was very proud of my kids.  one of our youth got stung so I asked if anyone had any tobacco products to put on the sting (no punishment or questions asked – and everyone said no)!  we had tent city next to our porch.  at the girls house we had a cut out of a coyote and it kept moving around the house.  it was pretty funny.

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HIGH SCHOOL LAWN PARTY

kick off the school year right!

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MIDDLE SCHOOL LOCK-IN AND BON FIRE

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COLOR WARS NIGHT

we made our own color chalk and did games with the chalk….it didn’t work out as well.  next time we will just buy the stuff.  it smelled funny, was the consistency of weird jello, and the kids spread it on the ground and rolled in it to try to get it to stick.

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CORN MAZE

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I think that catches me up from church activities.  I know there were a lot of things I didn’t have my camera for, but this is a taste of the past year thus far!

cruising, wedding, and ringing in 2015

andy and I were booked for a cruise for may 2014.  we were so excited to be planning another vacation and then 2 unexpected things happened.  1. dad crushed his heel not long before we were to leave and 2. we got a wedding invitation to kendra and cliff’s wedding for right after Christmas – and they were getting married on a cruise.

we knew that we wouldn’t be able to go on two cruises in one year and we didn’t know if my dad was going to have surgery and I didn’t want to be that far away from home if he did.  so we called the cruise line and got our reservation changed.  one of the best decisions we made.  we got to go on a perfect vacation, see a wonderful marriage of two amazing people, and ring in the new year in style!

our boat was leaving from fort lauderdale, fl on sunday so we got up early Saturday morning (before the sun) and loaded up dad’s truck and away we went.

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we made it to fl and met up with my brother and blair for dinner.

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we made it to the port sunday after killing time shopping and driving around.  we went through security and after dad got his new knife taken away from him (he got it back when we got back) we boarded the boat.  there is something about walking through the walk way and to the boat.

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we loved our room.  it was a little bigger than the room we had on the last cruise.  we had a love seat in our room.  (I think my parents were jealous).  they were around the corner and down the hall from us in a room that only had a chair (because of a connecting door).  and like last time, we had a port hole in our room so we could watch the waves and the ocean.

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the wedding was different.  I had never been to a wedding on a cruise with the captain officiating.  we went to the chapel and had champagne while we waiting on the ceremony to start and once all the parties where there, we watched as two wonderful people exchanged vows and rings.

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(playing with editing a little bit)

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(back to the wedding)

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to the beautiful reception

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the first stop on the cruise was to the grand caymens.  we did our own self walking tour right around the port.  we didn’t stray too far but we did a little bit of shopping.  I love all of the towel animals.

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we made a point to try to go to all of the shows.  on our first cruise we didn’t get to many of them and we talked about wanting to make sure that we did on this cruise.

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kendra arranged for us to all sit in the same area at meal times.  we had a little trouble getting into the group since we transferred cruises, but we finally got it fixed to where we were sitting in the same area as the group.  we were at a small table with another couple from the wedding group.  allison and chris.  we had a good time with them (hopefully they did with us as well).

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we enjoyed after dinner festivities around the boat.

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the next port was jamaica.  we knew our room was close to where we got off the boat so I put my book in the window so that we could find our room.  we walked around inside the port area, but we also went outside the gate and walked around a little bit.

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after dinner we were invited to join the group in new year’s festivities.  they reserved the bridge for our group only.  it was so much fun to be with everyone (and to not be in the crowd below).  we definitely brought in the new year in style.

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the next stop was haiti

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that night we took our towel animal and dressed him up so our cabin attendant could see his elephant dressed up.

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they had the farewell show

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the wait staff did their farewell song/dance.  we loved our waiter, francis!  someone ordered “nothing” for dessert and this is what he brought out!

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when we got back to the room we noticed that the elephant had a few more decorations.

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some random photos around the boat.

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we went to an ice show – on the boat!  there was an ice rink!  it was a cute show and it was really done well.

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view from our room

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one of the shows had a violinist followed by a comedian.

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some group photos

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the marriage game!  hilarious!

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some photos of our room!  ignore the name behind the curtain!

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we had so much fun on vacation.  it was hard to narrow down the pictures to post the ones that i did.  looking back through all of them made me miss our trip.  but it brought up a lot of memories.  it was a wonderful wedding and festivities!  we were so lucky to be able to ring in the new year and start 2015 on a cruise.

we were sad to leave.

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we are planning another cruise for 2018 – I hope!

me, andy, and otis

just a few random pictures of us three from 2014 (mostly I think).

andy in my new donkey hat.

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this is the view I have of otis on all of our trips.

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otis loves “cozy monster” (not staged).

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otis loved when we opened the windows.  he stood there for an hour smelling the fall air.  when his legs got tired he jumped on the bed and laid with his head aimed at the window.

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otis laying on the couch with his head near the open door.  catching the sunlight.  his old soulful eyes.

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date night

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otis emptied his toy box, trying to find the perfect toy.

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at my grandmothers.

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fluffy and wet hair

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snuggled in the bed.

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we bought him a dog bed so that when we board him he won’t have to just lay on a blanket.  (he gets stiff because he is old).I wanted him to get used to the bed before we took it, in hopes that he wouldn’t shred it while he was at “camp.”  at first he wouldn’t have anything to do with it, so we put it in the chair he always laid in…he started laying in it and likes it!

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when you don’t have teeth to hold your tongue in your mouth…

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I got out of bed and otis took my place.

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otis in his sweater saying “it’s cold!”

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I love these two!