Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Family Time!!

(Psst - thanks to My Life and Kids and Kellys' Breakroom for featuring one of my posts on Finding the Funny!  My post was #3 - Check it out!)
Finding the Funny

This weekend we did something a little different. 

See, I've been having these premonitions of our life in 5 years - you know, when the girls are so busy with their friends, activities and (gulp) boys that they want nothing to do with us?

Yes, those kind of premonitions.  
The ones that make me yearn for an alcoholic beverage to take the edge off the anxiety attack that's headed my way.

So anyway, Brian and I made a decision at the beginning of summer to take at least one full day every month and spend it with the girls, doing something we've not done before so we can spend as much time together as possible. 

One day doesn't sound like much until you add in cheerleading practice 4 nights a week (which starts in a few weeks), games every Saturday from August through October, competition in November, then throw in dance classes three evenings a week, rehearsals, recitals, tumbling classes, birthday parties, family parties, school commitments, holidays...

Add all that into the equation and yeah - one day a month is a blessing. 

Moving on....

We live in a kick ass area of the country.  Truly.  We are within two hours of the ocean, mountains, lakes and some major historical sites so we decided to explore our own back yard! 

Our first stop:

Boonsboro, Maryland.

This is like the famed Luray Caverns, but on a MUCH smaller and more intimate level.

Picture from the website - no cameras are allowed
And by intimate, I mean squeezing through gaps, ducking your head and trying not to hyperventilate as the claustrophobic in you wonders if you will be stuck in the dark, dank, cold cavern forever if an earthquake were to hit...right...NOW and - wait - are the walls actually getting closer together????

I was actually OK - until our guide  began telling us some of the rules of cave exploration:, namely - bring three sources of light - a flashlight, a headlamp, and matches.

I casually noticed that, in addition to the electric lights placed throughout the caverns, he only had a hand flashlight with him.  

I don't think he was very happy with me patting him down to check for matches. 

Then he decided to show us how completely pitch black it really is underground when the lights are off. 

In case you're wondering, it looks like this:

Luckily the little 6 year old girl on the tour with us cried REALLY loud so no one noticed when I passed out from fright. 

I'm kidding.

(Sort of.... )

In reality it was very interesting - beautiful even - and the girls loved it. 

Of course, by the time we got out of there it was only 1:00 pm on a gorgeous Saturday in June.

So we went exploring....

Stay tuned!! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Back Yard

Look at this blank slate back here.....

Wow - we really need to power wash the deck.

Moving on....

This is the bed surrounding the deck - we planted some azaleas last year and they are slowly growing.

But we needed more.

Can you guess where this is going?

Yup.  I made Brian transplant the rhododendrons here. 

We planted two of the four here and I think it's the perfect spot.  It gets a little sun but is mostly shady. 

The perfect environment for them...

This ^^^^^^^^ is the next project. 

Again, the ivy had to go - it was creeping up under the siding (bad ivy). 

I don't know what to do with this bed though.  It's really steep - I'm going to have to think about this one.....

Enough about that.  Here's what the back yard looks like now....


My clematis (I love this one) and some hostas.

Look at that clematis....

Random deck picture....

One of the smaller rhododendrons was planted here in this little corner.

And Brian's dad got me some squash plants and Brian put them here.

We didn't really think they'd grow, but they are thriving. 

I love me some purple....

Now we just need some more lattice to screen the deck and we'll be done back here.

(See where Baxter is?  That's why we need the lattice - he gets under there and gets 

The rhododendrons are doing really well.

And here are the azaleas we planted last year.  As you can see, they're small.

They were PUNY when we planted them (because they were cheap and, well - I'm cheap!)

So there's the back.  Next up, the final shots of the front yard!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Front Yard, Part Two

Now that my mom is home from the hospital (she's recovering nicely, thank you), my puppies are hanging in there and all is well on the home front, how's about we take a look at what we've accomplished?  

First - the front yard.

If you recall, several years ago we had (what felt like) thirty feet of snow over the course of a few weeks .

That's a lot of snow.  And it was HEAVY. 

The weight of all that snow crushed a few bushes but we trimmed them back and figured it would take a few years for them to recover. 

Fast forward to Sno-tober...

Obviously the trees and bushes weren't ready for a heavy snow that early in the season (our ONLY snow I might add!) and I think it just did those poor bushes in. 

See those bushes with the pinkish flowers?  They were wonderful but the centers of them were completely crushed and dead.  It wasn't very pretty. 

We also had some bushes here on the interior corner of the walkway which also got completely crushed and were dead. I forgot to take a picture before Brian tore them out (but you can see some of them here). 
They were so damaged that it only took us about 10 minutes to dig them up.  
Sad face. 

The rest of the bushes needed some sprucing up since they were taking over the walkway.  

Of course, the hedge trimmers were broken so  - I trimmed everything by hand. 

I'm not going to tell you how sore my  forearms and wrists were after 6 straight hours of trimming bushes with hedge shears, but lets just I now know what it feels like to be a teenage boy who discovers the lock on the bathroom door and his dad's playboy stash.

That's a shit ton of bushes people. 

In addition to the damage to the bushes, we had four rhododendrons that were in desperate need of help.  The two bigger ones were damaged by the snow and were crowding out two smaller ones and just, in general, weren't doing so well where they were. 

Since it would absolutely  KILL me to destroy them I made Brian dig them up and transplant them. 

He. Was. Not. Happy.

It took him nearly two hours.

Did I mention it was the hottest day of the year?  

Yup, temps in the upper 90s and humidity at like 90%. 

It was gross out. 

Then we dug up all the ivy vines and vinca and cleared out the front bed. 

Once that was done, I went to work on the bushes with the pink flowers. 

Yes, I dug those suckers up.  All. By. Myself. 

Can I get  a "what!what!"

What looked like three, maybe four bushes turned out to be about 10 bushes all growing together in one big cluster-you-know-what.

I didn't necessarily want to get rid of all of them (and some of them were planted way too close to the electric lines for the walkway lights and I didn't want to electrocute myself).

I just wanted to clean it up, tear out the dead ones and  clear the area out by the tree. 

Turned out that at least three of them had rotted to the roots so they popped right out (and landed me on my ass - I wasn't prepared for them to come out so easily and gave them a good hard YANK).

The rest took me all freaking day. 

Some stayed - I kept four and cut them down to the ground so they could start over.

I would have liked to remove that one so close to the walk, but it literally runs right over the electric line for the lights.  
I decided I could live with it.  

They are already showing new growth and should be nice and full looking by next year.

For now, they  look a little sad. 

But the area under the tree is all cleared out, the rhododendrons have been removed and replanted elsewhere (I'll show you where in another post) and the vinca and ivy and dead bushes have all been removed.

And that was just the first day......

Monday, June 11, 2012



Things  have been cah-razy around here.  Let's start with Baxter.  We got a second opinion (from another vet) and actually a third (from a friend who's been a vet tech for years).  

Let me back up and say that I felt  VERY uncomfortable with what our vet told us.  (This vet took over the practice when our old vet retired - I'm not really a fan).  After getting over my initial shock and complete breakdown (at work, no less) I kicked into "kick the shit out of this problem" mode.  I called the vet to ask some questions.
Long story short, I felt very pressured into major surgery for Bax without any answers - and I felt that money was more of an objective than the well being of my Baxter boy.
And that pissed me off.
BIG time.
My dog is a member of my family - he's not someone's car payment. 

Seriously.  Look at that face. How can you resist that???

Anyway - a friends mother in law is a vet and offered to take a look at Baxter when my friend told her what was going on (for the record, I didn't ask - I didn't even know she was a vet).

I took him to her farm a few days later - crying the ENTIRE way, just knowing she was going to tell me my baby boy was dying - only to have her check him and and tell me "I don't think I'd lose sleep over this.  If it gets bigger - call me.  But its encapsulated -  it's not in the bone and - while I can't tell you it's NOT cancer - I can't say that it IS and I don't think you should make a decision like this based on fear.  If it was my dog - I'd wait and see what happens."  Say what?  I was dumbfounded.  I needed one more point of view. 

So I called my friend, the vet tech, who looked at him and said - well,  basically, the same thing. It's clearly encapsulated and contained, it doesn't bother him (he doesn't even know it's there) and it's going to be a difficult surgery so maybe its best to wait and see if it even gets bigger.  If it does - decide what to do.

   Sometimes I think it's the techs - not the doctors - that will give you the straight poop.  And as a friend I know she's not going to BS me and as an animal lover, I know she'll tell me what she thinks is in the best interest of my dog - not what's in my best interest.  I think a lot of vets get into a mid set of "Fix it".  And sometimes that's not the best course of action. 

So Baxter is eating, drinking, running around, wagging his tail and giving me kisses.  I'll take it. And if something changes we'll change course, but for right now - it's wait and see and enjoy life. 

Chauncey - well that's a different story.  Things don't look as good for him - which breaks my heart (and really?  BOTH of my dogs at once??  I feel like I have to choose between them - who gets my attention, who gets more of my love - who do I help?  When do I stop?  If I lose one - I know I lose both because they are so attached to each other and so close in age). 

Basically - the xrays they took of Chauncey's front leg show no abnormalities.  So, we know its his shoulder.  Again, our vet wants to do some tests that are a little extreme and still might not determine what's wrong.  So after consulting with our vet tech friend (who has seen similar injuries) and talking with another vet, here's what we decided. 

Again, the wait and see mindset.  Keep him on some meds, keep him VERY confined for two weeks - basically allow him time to rest and not move a lot - and see if that helps.  If it helps - then we are on the right track and it's probably a soft tissue injury.  If it doesn't - it's pretty likely something more serious (like a bone tumor in his shoulder) because something like that isn't going to get better no matter what we do.  If that's the case, we decide what to do at that point. So far he seems pretty unaffected by it - although I was told that a dog that is as lame as he is, is clearly experiencing some pretty significant pain.  And I feel horrible about that. So we need to get him some relief - fast.

Let me just say before anyone thinks we're horrible dog parents that Brian and I are absolutely destroyed over this (Brian is taking all of this really hard) - we would do ANYTHING to keep our boys with us.  But not at the expense of their quality of life.  Baxter is 11.  We don't know exactly how old Chauncey is - he's a rescue - but he's at least 12 or 13.  What's in their best interest? Can we save them? By treating them aggressively, are we only ensuring that they spend their remaining time with us in pain, recovering from this surgery or that treatment? Because lets be realistic -their ages, and time, are not on my side here.
They  are never far from each other.

We both feel very strongly that we won't put them through difficult surgeries or long term treatments at this time.   They are pretty happy boys.  I'd like it to stay that way.  And I don't want to put them through unnecessary treatment just to keep them here for me.  That's selfish, in my opinion.

Let's see if I still feel that way when faced with a life or death decision.  I hope I'll  make the best decision for Chauncey or Baxter even if its not the decision that makes me feel better. 

My sweet boys

In the middle of all of this my mom came down with pneumonia and has been in the hospital for a week.  Luckily I don't have to make decisions about her treatment plan - ha!  She's hopefully being released tomorrow but will be recovering for awhile at home.

So I'm here, but a bit distracted - bear with me :)

When it rains, it pours.  

Monday, June 4, 2012


My sweet Baxter Boy apparently has cancer - we noticed a mass on his leg last night and took him to the vet this morning. 

 We're struggling right now with what to do so I'd appreciate if you could keep my sweet boy in your thoughts.  This is like a double whammy for us, since Chauncey is now walking on three legs due to a shoulder injury that doesn't seem to be getting any better.  We've been so focused on Chauncey and never in a million years could have guessed that Baxter was sick - he's been perfectly fine and hasn't shown any signs of pain, or of slowing down. 

I'm devastated since Baxter is my baby and has the most gentle soul and eyes that melt my heart. 

 I love that face.....