Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sith Lords and Turning Four

Well it happened again, another wonderful (short) year has gone by and my little is a little less little. She has done so much growing this year and I know that in the years to come, there will be a flood of intelligence and curiosity and I just hope I can keep up with it all. We are getting ready to go through some big changes as a family including a move in the very near future and a new school for Emma the year after next. I’m trying oh so hard to hang on to these amazing, simple times together before life gets even more crazy. I started my new work schedule so I’m no longer able to enjoy afternoons with Emma. It was a loss I still morn (although hopefully temporary). I’m not a fan of getting home and heading straight into the kitchen to make dinner every night but there it is. The change was inevitable since Thomas’ job location moved he could no longer take Emma to school in the mornings. Her school does not open until 7:30 which meant I had to push back my work start time to 8 in order to take her. Once we move and Emma goes into Kindergarten I can see about changing it back but for now this is how it stands. 

In other news…someone finally got her big girl bed and never were more excited bounces ever had! She pretty much plays on her bed with her toys as much as she can and it is wonderful to see her feel a sense of pride as she grows and her world brings new adventures. I started doing a mini-room makeover (I took down all of the Winnie the Pooh d├ęcor *sniff*) and put up picture frames Emma crafted. I’m not doing a full blown room redo since we are moving sometime between now and August (posts to come on this later I’m sure.)

Now that we’ve caught up on all of that, it’s time to deconstruct a four year old birthday party. We thankfully only received a manageable number of RSVPs from her class (4 to be exact instead of the 13 it could have been). The day of the party went pretty well thanks in part to scheduling it later in the day! I had the whole morning to run around getting last minute items and didn’t end up forgetting anything! It was so refreshing to just bring some fruit, veggies, and light snacks with the cake. Not having to lug a meat tray and 100 pizza boxes was great! So liberating! 

We were lucky enough to have Emma’s Grandma Carole (Thomas’ step mom) there to help with set-up. I was prepared to bring the stuff in and sit with it in the lobby until 2:45 as scheduled and then hustle my sciatica having self to throw everything together but low and behold, there were no other parties before or after us! The party coordinator was sweet enough to let us set up early! So by the time folks arrived, the place looked great! “Dark” Vader and Star Wars everywhere! 

 Went for the good old figurines stuck into the cake again for the win! 

 This is a craft DADDY came up with/ executed! Glow sticks that came with thread to become necklaces he turned into lightsabers!

The kids had fun in the pool (sadly I was setting up so I did not get any pictures) and then came up for cake and snacks. It was actually not too stressful. It was a bit awkward when I started packing everything up as folks were still eating but I knew it would take a while so I’m glad I started when I did. I guess people are used to having parties at their own house so they don’t have a set time frame to “close up shop” but I wanted to be as accommodating as possible since the party coordinator was very nice about letting me setup early.  Besides the early clean up raised eyebrows, nothing too crazy happened to report and I was only briefly overwhelmed. I even managed to talk to folks at the party so it all turned out fine. I know, a relatively ho hum event for our chaotic family! I'll take the peace.
And now, I have a super terrific four year old…


Friday, June 17, 2016

California Vacation and Disneyland

I’m not sure if it was Mercury being in retrograde or the fact that I have had a wicked sciatica flare up, but this post needed to be written and my aching body was just not having it. I finally worked up the energy to put it together because the memories need to be preserved in case we don’t ever get to go back to Disney (although I REALLY hope we do). I’m sure we will make it back to California someday too since I love it so. Anyways…It’s finally here! The recap of our vacation/ trip to Disneyland! Just a warning before you proceed that this post is a long one. Ok so jumping right into it…

We left early on Wednesday morning. Well, maybe I should back up a few days. I had been going back and forth trying to figure out when to surprise Emma with the news that we were going to Disneyland. Initially, I thought I would do it the day of to ensure excitement and good behavior on the plane ride (the plane ride from Florida two years ago is forever horrifyingly cemented in my mind). After thinking about it some more, I wanted to let her be excited for a few days because what is it they say, “the excitement is sometimes better than the actual thing itself” (except the experience in this case was just as exciting!) So we told her that Monday by wrapping up a Mickey Mouse shirt and some pictures of Disneyland so she would hopefully understand where we were going. And it worked…

This was the first of many wonderful, excited faces to come during the week!
So flash back (forward?) to Wednesday morning. I was worried about having to get Emma up so early to make our flight but as I slid my way out of bed and into the hallway that morning, I saw a glow from the living room. Emma was already up and ready to go! Apparently, my kid loves the idea of traveling. We ran around for a bit and got everything together and headed out the door. I feel like we had a lot of stuff in our carry-ons but I used almost all of it. Snacks, crayons, movies, blankets, stuffed animals, I was glad to have it all. Emma was really great on the flight. I mean total turnaround from flying with an almost two year old. She sat and watched movies quietly most of the time. In fact, I got to take a short nap on the flight out! She did shout a few times because I guess she didn’t realize her ears had not popped so she could not hear very well. I tried to explain the sensation to her in hopes to prepare her for it but she seemed ok. She only got antsy around the last hour of the flight (both there and back) which is understandable after 5 hours or so everyone is ready to get up and move around.

When we got there, I was a little bit nervous about our accommodations since we were using AirBnB for the first time ever. I figured there were enough of us that if something went wrong we could handle the situation. Luckily, our hosts were very sweet and accommodating. The only thing I would do differently next time is to ask if the listing is a shared space. I originally thought we would be in a separate apartment from the house but it turned out we were in a shared space with the family who owned the house. It was a bit challenging being on East Coast time for the most part and having an energetic 3 year old who was up yelling at 5am Pacific every morning but we managed. I would just chose an arrangement were we were not in danger of disturbing someone early in the morning next time around. 

We pretty much just settled in and went to the beach to get some food that first day. I should have known better and brought beach stuff for Emma to play in the water but I figured since it was 6pm (9pm Eastern) that she would be ready to crash, especially after an almost 6 hour flight. I guess if the sun is out and there is sand and water toddlers are ready to party. She ended up getting knocked over by a wave and getting wet but still loving every second of being at the beach. We all crashed pretty hard that night knowing what was in store for us the following day…

Thursday was Disneyland Day!!! I was actually really excited because we were on East Coast time which meant we were able to get up and to get some breakfast and still make it to the gates before they opened! At first I thought we might make it through the entire day to see the parade at 8pm but we were all pretty much toast by 7pm. literally I don’t think any of us could have made it another hour. (Emma’s face says it all in our last picture of the day.)

But backing up…we did get there first thing and waited in a car line for the gates to open. Someone was of course blasting Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast music from their car which was perfect. After parking and catching the tram to the park…

We ended up waiting in the wrong line to enter the park…mom fail. I guess I read the website wrong and thought the park was open for general admission (aka the peasants who did not stay at the resorts) at 8am but that was actually for the folks who forked out the dough to stay at the luxury resorts instead of bunking with Jen and George at their AirBnB house. The regular folk’s admission time was 9am. Don’t get me wrong, someday I would love to stand in the resort stayers line but for now, I was just excited to be in any line! We finally figured out our line situation and it ended up working out well because the line for those less fortunate just so happened to be right next to the stroller rental area. Let me tell you, I am SO GLAD we did not lug a stroller with us on the plane. I happily forked over the money to rent one and it was one of the most magical parts of the day! Although Emma did end up walking quite a bit, I knew she would not make it walking through the whole park for a 10 hour day and of course it doubled as a stuff holder which was amazing. 

To be fair, they did let us into the main street area at 8:30am which was nice because we got to grab a coffee and see the Disney swag. I had my game plan for suvineers strategized from the get-go. Emma could pick out one thing, whatever she wanted, but she had to wait until right before we left to pick it out. This allowed for a “good behavior” incentive and made sure she did not yell gimme gimme gimme all day long. To be honest, she was actually really good about the whole thing because there was so much to see and do anyway that she was not paying attention to the stuff all around. I figured since we were at Disney for just one day that I would let her eat whatever she wanted and choose whatever rides/ activities she wanted to do so giving her the lead for the day also took away from any need to want every stuffed animal and doll in sight. 

It was actually pretty cool getting their right as they opened the gates. They made the announcement that the gates were opening and everyone cheered! Great way to start the day! We took our time at first, taking photos at all the landmarks…

We then made our way into the main park area. Emma immediately made a b-line for the carosole. The line was short so we hopped right on!
There were only two things I wanted to do…meet Mickey obviously, and ride with Emma on Dumbo! And we Dumboed so hard! I will pause to say that this was also Emma’s first time waiting in long lines for rides and she did pretty well with it. She was antsy but they beauty of it was…we were in lines with TONS of other little kids. Meltdowns were happening at the drop of Mad Hatter’s hats, so it felt good to be in a place where we completely fit in.

After Dumbo, I wanted to get the Mickey Mouse meet and greet out of the way while we were all still fresh at the start of the day, plus Mickey’s toon town, where he hangs all day, is of course at the far end of the park. So, off we went! I remember now reading this before we went but of course forgetting that Mickey’s toon town doesn’t open until 10am. Well once again, we somehow lucked out and made it right as they were opening the gates! Hubby had Emma on his shoulders to see the charaters as they greeted the kids at the gates. He walked a little bit ahead of myself and Emma’s godmother at one point and I lost sight of him. The next thing I know, I look up and I see Emma standing next to Minnie Mouse going into her “house.” As I ran to catch up, they blocked off the other kids from going in just as Emma and one other little girl went in the house with Minnie. I politely informed the lady at the rope that my child was inside the house already and luckily she believed me because she let me in and I got to see a sweet moment with Emma and Minnie. Emma got to hang out with Minnie for a bit walking around her house. It was the sweetest thing ever! And we didn’t have to wait in line! Score!

Next up was finding Mickey. By the time we got to his house, the line was pretty long so we had to wait a while…but boy was it worth it…

I can’t even remember when I’ve seen Emma smile that hard. She was totally happy in that moment.
We walked around toon town for a bit after that looking for Donald and Daisy but of course it was their day off. We ended up going on a bunch of rides, one of which was Emma’s first roller coaster! Let me just say, Emma is an adrenilan junkie like hard core. The kid loves it all. We went on the rocket ships, the Buzzlight year ride (awesome), Pirates of the Caribiean (scary for Emma and the girl who was running the ride said we would not get wet – spoiler alert…we did), The Wind in the Willows ride was really cute, the Star Wars ride, and maybe one or two other rides I can’t remember. We honestly did not go on too many rides because we did have some down time eating lunch and watching the Star Wars show. 

 Emma's first roller coaster!

I read up on it prior to going but I knew they did charater meal met and greets but it sounded like they would take a long time and be pricey so we stuck with the easy to access food on mainstreet which was fine. If we ever went again, I would definitely do a character meet and greet at a meal. I actually kind of wanted to go see a Princess show but we never seemed to make it over there in time. We did end up going all the way back to Mickey’s toon town to see Goofy and Pluto. I wised up about halfway through the day and downloaded the app that tells you where the characters are. We did see the Mad Hatter and Alice as well as Captin Hook meandering around but I was a little upset they did not have more characters out and about. Mary Poppins was there but Emma hasn’t seen that movie yet so she was like um who is this lady (I know sad we have not watched it yet.) 

So somewhere in between the rides and the multiple trips to toon town, we made our way into Tomorrowland to get fast passes for the Star Wars ride. I knew there was a ride, but I had no idea there was a live show every half hour….or that Emma would be SOOOOO into it. It was the craziest thing…we were walking around to find the fast pass machine and all of a sudden, Emma ducked behind a pillar. I was like what is going on and she said “mom, it’s DARK VADER! And he can see me! And he will get me!” I looked up to see that Dark Vader was indeed running around on a stage in front of us. We had entered mid-show and Emma thought the real Dark Vader was coming to get her! After I calmed her down and told her he could not see us, we watched the rest of the show then decided to stick around to get good seats and watch it from the beginning.

 check out her eyes popping out of her head when she sees "Dark Vader"
 The man himself!

I saw that there was a group of kids in the show “battling” Dark Vader and I knew I had to get Emma in on the action! I walked up to one of the ladies who ran the show and she said that kids have to sign up in the morning to be in the show. I was crushed. That’s when I decided to ask Thomas to get Emma a lightsaber and meet us at a table. I told Emma that we needed to sit back a bit just in case Dark Vader tried to run away, then we would get him. Yay for quick mom thinking because she bought it! While we were waiting for the show to start, the mom sitting next to me, whose son was going to be in the next show, told me he got in line to be in the show right when the gates opened at 9am and stood in line for TWO HOURS to be in the show. I know Emma would love it but I’m not sure I would spend two of my precious hours at Disney waiting in line to be a Jedi for 20 minutes.
The show started and Emma had a great time “using the force” from the audience. She still felt like she was part of the show and that was amazing to see. By the time we got on the Star Wars ride it was 6:30pm and we were all super tired running around main street at the end to find a souvenirs for Emma. She ended up picking out a small, plastic Mickey Mouse that was super affordable for which I was grateful. I told her she could pick one more little thing and she picked a plush Donald since we have all the other plush characters but him. 

It really was the happiest day on Earth at the happiest place on Earth. I'm already mentally planning our next trip. Needless to say we went back to Jen and George's and crashed hard. The next day, we went to the dog beach in Huntington for the first part of the day and then we drove out to my old home in Pasadena which I miss so dearly. I was so busy when I lived there trying to experience all of LA and surrounding areas that I still feel like I missed out on so much in just my little hometown area. The trees are amazing, there is so much to do in such a small place, which can be said for all of the LA area. I wish we had longer than just a few hours there. It's tough being out there because everything is a far drive from everything else so just getting from place to place ate up a bunch of our time but it was still so worth it. And that's it....finally I posted something before the summer was over! Emma's bday recap post to follow!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Great Birthday Blunder

Why hello there! I am sure you have been wondering why I have yet to share with you Emma’s birthday party plans for this year as with previous years (being a Type A nut), I have had everything planned out and crafted by mid-January. Well, for everyone biting their nails out there in anticipation, wonder no more. Behold my yearly ranting about toddler birthday planning. 

Due to several unforeseen circumstances this year, I was side tracked and unable to follow my type A heart in January to figure out what I was doing for Emma’s bday in June. Part of the reason for the delay was that I wanted to do something different this year, something low key and simple. Basically, I was looking for a local rec center to rent out next to a park (preferably a splash park because I love difficulty). I did a bunch of research, made some calls, and finally resorted to scouting some areas because the permit form was really confusing labeling the same park site with A, B, or C locations to rent. I had to figure out which location was where (pavilion A, B or C, A being a 15 person pavilion palace and C being a park bench next to a trash can). For the most part, if I wanted an indoor, air-conditioned (cause let’s face it the way Global Warming is headed, June is becoming the new August) space, I had to be football fields away from the actual park. This was disappointing. All I wanted was a building next to a park. 

From there, I ended up scouting out a few indoor pool options at different locations from last year. I kid you not, one of the locations had the party space literally FEET from the pool and the spray fountain in the pool was so loud I couldn’t hear the tour guide talk (although maybe it would be a bonus not hearing the kids scream during the party?) The other unsettling thing about the space was that no candles are allowed anywhere in the facility. Um ok people, so you’re going to give me a slab of concrete right next to the pool to set up my party and tell me I can’t have a lit candle for like 25 seconds? I mean if the situation really does get out of control I can always heave the flaming cake into the pool. I mean I cannot even dream up a safer location to have a small lit candle other than next to an open fire hydrant but ok. It’s sad because that pool was really awesome but I couldn’t handle not hearing my own thoughts and not getting any embarrassing pictures of my kid all puffy faced blowing out her candles. 

After decoding forms and visiting every kiddie entertainment space in town, I finally decided to suck it up and make our guests walk half a mile to get to a park from a rec center if they so desired. And after all of that back and forth and scouting park sites……..I was denied the permit for the rec center. Turns out, you DO need to reserve rec space in January or it is booked for the entire year. Great.
Finally, after weeks of anxiety ridden time put into securing a party place, I made the decision to just go with the same place we had it at last year. I am a little bit wiser on how things will go down this year though. For starters, I picked an afternoon slot. I know there is always the off chance of crankiness in the afternoon but I am willing to take my chances for this reason and this reason alone: I will not be providing lunch!!!!! Of freakin happy day! That’s right, no lugging 200 pizzas, salads, and other food stuff in and out of a room! We will have cake and fruit for those with allergies, and maybe, just maybe some popcorn or pretzels if I’m feeling up to it. Less is more. And with less, there is LESS of a chance to screw anything up which will be awesome since this is the year…

This is the year I invite Emma’s friends from school to her birthday. Realistically, since hopefully we will be in the middle of moving, we will not have a house for them to come to (thus the location scouting) and since all Emma can talk about is having her friends at her birthday, I have decided to just go for it. Of course at the beginning of the year, there were only 8 kids in her class and now there are 12 but it’s fine. They will swim and eat cake, and hopefully I won’t have to deal with my social anxiety talking to the parents because I will be running around doing things. I just hope they come since the place is a bit far. I also hope they don’t think I’m trying to be flashy by having a party at a location other than our house. While I’m hoping to be knee deep in boxes at that point, if we aren’t I just don’t feel comfortable inviting more than and handful of people over to a house with only one bathroom (especially with potty training toddlers in abundance.) I’m sure the other parents will have no idea how much I loathe having to remember to pack up every single thing we will need for food consumption (and thus would MUCH rather have a house party). The year before last, I forgot the knife to cut the bday cake, like pretty much the most important thing at the entire party. Had I been in the comfort of my own home, I could have solved the problem by walking mere steps to the kitchen, but being in an outside location at a county facility where sharp objects are frowned upon, did not leave me in a good position. Have no fear though, once we get a house, we will be having house bday parties there for years to come with fully functioning ac, no forms to fill out, and hopefully more than one bathroom to use. Here’s to hoping anyways.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

All About Emma

I feel like somewhere along the way these past few months, I’ve been hyper focused on myself in this space and not so much on my motherhood journey which it is really what this space is intended for. Thus I give you a post all about Emma for any inquiring minds! 

This kid continues to amaze me every day. I can’t even explain really her quiet confidence or her ability to seemingly understand complex concepts. Sometimes her father and I think she is an old soul. I know this because there have been times when weeks after I have explained a concept to her, she has repeated it. One of the most interesting times was when we discussed the concept of moving. Since we have been looking at houses on and off for a few months now, I had to explain to her why we are going to move to a new house one day (because of course she asked). I explained to her that we wanted to move to a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood and that the house we are living in is not ours, it belongs to her Grandpa and Grandma Carole. We are just borrowing it until we find our own house. So the other day, when we were out with my mom, Emma out of nowhere says, “Nana our house does not belong to us it belongs to Grandpa and Grandma Carole and we are just borrowing it.” I was proud to see she seemed to understand the reasoning behind our move (in part). 

She is also very stubborn and opinionated and has mentioned a time or two that she does not want to move (she dislikes change…sounds familiar as well.) The stubbornness is sometimes very difficult to handle. The other day, we got into a heated discussion after going to the science museum about how Emma thought we shrank and that’s why the dinosaurs were so big.  She would accept no other explanation for this phenomenon and I was not up for a battle so after a few attempts to set the record straight, I dropped it. We had another stressful exchange when I went to brush her hair the other night. She insisted she do it herself and I had to explain several times that while she was capable of doing it, she does not get all the tangles out so I need to still be involved in that process. Again, this did not sit well with her. I tried to explain that if she did not get all the tangles out, her hair would turn into a big knot and we would have to cut it all off. I told her I was speaking from experience but again these were fruitless attempts at achieving the task at hand. Let’s just say the disagreement ended with tears being shed but no hair needing to be cut. I’m all for letting her learn through suffering the consequences of her actions to a point. Chopping tangled hair that has taken almost four years to grow is not something I want her to learn through trial and error just yet (maybe when she’s 5….)

I see the stubbornness is not going to go away and unfortunately, Emma will have to learn some things the hard way but that builds character I guess. Luckily, she has an incredible sense of humor to fall back on. I think it’s the cutest thing when some cartoon makes her throw her head back and laugh a big belly laugh. Most of the time I end up laughing with her, her joy is that contagious. We also have a few inside jokes between us which is something we have always had and is one of my treasured mommy, daughter things. Currently, one of the funnier ones is when one of us will say something funny like “oh poopity poopers!” and then the other will follow up with “Awww blewpity blewbers” or something ridiculous like that and we will go back and forth cracking each other up to see who comes up with the silliest combination of rhyming nonsense. 

She starts Pre-K in the Fall and I’m not sure how I feel about it just yet. I made the decision to leave her at her current school next year even though we will have moved out of the area. It is one year I will have to suck up and be in the car with her for 30 minutes to and from school every day. I’m hoping we can work out a fun routine that won’t exhaust everyone.  Emma and I both love her current preschool so much that I just could not bear to move her for the last year. I might hate myself for it later but for right now, it was the best decision for our family. (I’m sure a follow up post on this is to come.) I also dread the next step, Kindergarten, public school, and the fight for before/after care and summer camps! But again, that’s for another post to come. 

This is also the year of the growth spurt apparently. Every day now Emma eats all of her lunch and most of her dinner and has been asking for a million snacks in between. We have seriously had to up our produce game around these parts. It also came to my attention the other day that Emma no longer needs her step stool to reach the sink in the bathroom L the saddest thing ever. While I’m glad she won’t need to use a step stool for life it is difficult to see her needing me less and less. In fact, just the other day on the playground, she was running and climbing and bounding up the equipment without needing me to be right there. She talked to the other kids and moved from one thing to the next without paying attention to where I was. I’ve never been a mom who sits looking at her cell phone at the park because let’s be honest, I’m a helicopter threw and threw but I suddenly understood why the other parents were sitting on the sidelines. Their kids were independently playing and enjoying themselves as it should be. I guess I will be bringing my adult coloring books with me to the park from now on. 

Lastly, Emma has pretty much outgrown her tricycle. I remember we got it for her 2nd birthday and she could not ride it too well then. Well she has certainly mastered it now and it’s time to move on since her knees are hitting the handle bars and all. Her dad actually got her a bike at the thrift store and removed the petals to turn it into a balance bike but she has not been too comfortable riding it. She might prefer the old fashioned training wheels route and that’s fine by me. Either way, I think this birthday will bring a new bike. Man this kid has no idea how awesome it is to have a warm weather birthday. Freakin awesome! 

Ok, have I rambled on enough? No, you want to hear more you say? Well don’t worry I have a post full of first world problem complaints on deck to share with you next!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here

I understand that moving on in this space from such a heavy topic needs some sort of transition. Yes, we are still very much missing Stanley. Just yesterday, I told Emma to get ready to walk the dogs and she said “we can walk all the dogs, except Stanley. “ Of course I burst into tears. I don’t think Emma fully understands the situation (how could she, she is only 3) since she talks about it so matter-of-factly. It might also have to do with the fact that she is sure in her little heart that Stanley is doing well wherever he is and that is a wonderful thing. As devastating as this loss was/ still is for us, we have a lot to be grateful for and happy about. Right now everyone is in good health! I don’t think I shared here but I had been on and off of antibiotics for months for various things and Emma seemed to have a cough that would never subside. I’m glad to report we left all of that behind us! Plus, Thomas started working at a new location for his job which should mean hopefully less stress and more time at home!

We will (for real this time) begin actively looking for a house and trying to grow our family over the summer. So, lots of big things happening. I feel like we are moving into a new chapter of life and I just need to finally get on the bandwagon and go. But, before we run off down this new path, we will be taking a very short sabbatical (ok sounds more mystical than the word “vacation”) to California. Originally, before tragic events, my good friend and I were planning a trip out west to revisit some of our old hang outs from the past when we lived in LA. We would have booked our trip and been done with it the week before, but both of our computers were not syncing up the flights so we decided to wait a week and do it together in person. In that time period, we lost Stanley and suddenly the vacation I was taking for some “me” time needed to be about family time. I could not leave my family behind.
So, here we are, all three of us (plus my wonderful best friend!) all set to go to California next month! We are even going to Disneyland for one day! I almost can’t believe it. We haven’t told Emma yet but I think we will tell her a few days before hand so she can enjoy being excited about it for a while. She doesn’t know what Disneyland is since we don’t really talk about it so I don’t know if she will fully understand when we tell her but it will still be a fun, exciting time! I am really happy to be visiting my home away from home. LA is so different from where I live now but I still feel so connected to the area. There are many things about it I miss (hello amazing weather and awesome food/ never ending list of things to do), while there is plenty I am glad to be rid of (drought, smog, wildfires, congestion). But visiting for a short time is always nice. I do plan on getting one afternoon to myself for some “me” time (I will be leaving Emma and Thomas at the beach during this time so not to worry, they will be doing ok).
All in all, I am really happy to get a few relaxing days away and use this time as a transition period between what was and what will be. I’m also really glad to be spending it with the people who have stood by me through some very difficult times. I think we are all ready to share in some joyful ones.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Stanley's Story Part 2

It’s crazy to me because the years from when I first met my husband and Stanley and when we started our little doggie family flew by. We went on all of these adventures together and I never even thought that any of us would slow down. Then we had Emma. There were a few months that went by that I don’t remember due to lack of sleep and trying to figure out my new life as a human mom (very different from being a dog mom). I feel bad I was not more attentive during those times but Stanley and the other dogs were very understanding. I was worried that the dogs would not take to Emma. I remember bringing her home and letting each of them smell her blanket and then her and they were like um ok...this thing is where is dinner? Human mama bear instinct kicked in pretty hard and I was very careful about them being around her. But then, something happened, they were all very sweet to Emma, even Stanley. He would not budge if she pulled his tail or tried to sit on him or anything. It was amazing and wonderful and I loved seeing it. In those moments, Stanley taught Emma how to love a dog and how a dog can love you and I will forever be grateful to him for that.

As time passed after Emma came, we were all enjoying each other’s company so much that I didn’t notice that Stanley was beginning to slow down. He started walking with a limp and he wasn’t holding his head as high as he used to. Then in the summer of 2013, we found out Stanley had hip dysplasia and also had a torn ACL (yup, like people get). He would need surgery to repair the tear or else he would not be able to walk after a while. Without hesitation, we got the surgery and thus gave rise to good old peg leg Stanley. He had a cast but was still as active as ever. It was funny to see such a strong, independent creature with an invasive cast on. Once he got the cast off, he had a quick recovery and was back to normal in no time. After that, I saw the young Stanley again for a brief period of time. He could run and bark and case things to his heart’s content. Then everything was good for a long time.

And that’s the thing, time keeps ticking away even if you do not notice it. Once again, I got sucked into everyday life and we once again settled into a routine of feeding, washing, and walking the dogs. I was living the good life and then came the day that people I guess refer to the beginning of the end. I never pictured Stanley getting old because frankly, he had never been old and I had never had to live through a dog I loved getting old (my dog growing up grew old and passed away after I had moved out of the house.) It wasn’t even on my radar. I did begin to write about what happened at the time but I never got around to publishing it on here but around October/ November of 2015, Thomas and I were in Emma’s room tucking her in at night when we heard a crash in the living room. I asked Thomas to go see what it was and he yelled for me to come. I ran out of her bedroom, forgetting Emma was still awake and rounded the corner into the living room. Stanley was laying on the floor, having a seizure. I’d never seen a dog have a seizure before and only have seen a human have one once. It was pretty shocking to see. I’ve never seen my husband move so fast in his life. He grabbed a towel and wrapped Stanley up. At this point, Emma had walked into the living room and knew something was wrong. I hated that she had to see anything but I calmly told her Stanley was sick and daddy was taking him to the doctor. She seemed ok with that.

Thomas was out the door and in his car in what seemed like 10 seconds. X-rays and tests were inconclusive. It looked like he might have a growth but they needed thousands of dollars to do more tests that would lead to a surgery that would be thousands more. I of course wanted to just do whatever it took but Thomas was a bit more sensible about it. Stanley still seemed to be in pretty good health so we got some medication and brought him home. It really seemed like an isolated incident. In the months to come, I saw Stanley run and play and enjoy life. Things were going so well, that I almost forgot he had a seizure. 

Then on Superbowl Sunday, Leon came over. Yes, the original Leon from the beginning of this post. Stanley was so excited to see him, he got up and ran over to him and ended up having an accident and collapsing on the floor. He could not get up. Suddenly the horrors from months before came flooding back. I of course was in denial. I’d seen this magnificent, strong creature do so many physical things that I couldn’t fathom his body was breaking down. He was the great and powerful Stanley, our protector, the dog people backed away from on the sidewalk if they didn’t know him. He was always supposed to be this solid shield of armor, at least that is how I always pictured him. So it was very difficult for me to open my eyes to the fact that lately, he slept more often than not. He would sometimes not have the strength to make it outside to go to the bathroom, that he would sometimes not want to eat. It was really difficult for me. 

Thomas ended up taking Stanley to the vet the next day. The vet told us that Stanley had a growth in his stomach that they could not see before and that it was going to rupture any day. She said he was an older dog and even if they performed surgery, he might not make it and if he did he would only live a few more months after that. We were of course devastated. Again I wanted to give the surgery a try but ultimately, Thomas brought Stanley home that night and we decided to spend one final night with him as a family. We did not want him to be in pain any more. 

I try now to think back on things like how it was an odd and sort of funny sight seeing him run sometimes because his head and torso were rather largely disproportionate to his hips and back legs. When he got to running fast enough with his tail wagging I would sometimes worry that he would tip over onto his face. We were never fully sure what breeds Stanley was made up of, certainly boxer and some sort of mastiff and possibly some pit bull as well. It’s hard that he looked like so many breeds because when I see any of those breeds now I think of him. I always think about how people would come up to me and ask me about my family. I would respond with pride that I had four dogs. “Four dogs! That’s excessive!” That was always the response and I always loved it.

They say when you sit down to write something profound that you want people to connect with and understand to do your best to describe how you felt in rich and vivid detail. As I sat down to type this post, I found it very difficult to interpret my emotions into anything anyone can identify with.
It’s like your life is forcibly moving on without this important piece when you absolutely never wanted to go anywhere without it. It’s been so bad that I have no idea how I will get through this another 3 times. It's like your mind keeps racing around, hurrying to find a solution, going back and forth, stretching out any possibility to the brink only to come back to the same starting point, there is no solution. There is nothing you can do. It’s like my soul, the very fiber of my being, is being ripped in half. All I want to do is scream out for him not to go. It’s like you’re on this life journey and you find your soul mates, the lives you feel comfortable braving the world with and you know it can't last forever but you never think the end would ever really come. In short and simple terms, I feel incomplete.
I suppose I shouldn’t make this memorial just about the pain because everyone, including Stanley, had enough of that. I want to remember all the good times I had with such an amazing creature. Of course my child in all of her wisdom and quiet confidence comes up with the most brilliant and wonderful thought of all. She looked over to my husband and said “the angel girls in heaven are going to heal him.” She still mentions him from time to time. And I am glad for it. We are all learning how to grieve together. We are all trying to navigate the same emotional path and I'm glad I have these people by my side to find the way.

One thing above all else I am certain, I was honored to have shared the same time and space as his soul on this Earth.