Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Dog is Sick

It has been a while since my last post. My dog is sick. We found out last August that he had lymphoma and had some big decisions to make. We could try chemo therapy which is expensive and may or may not work, or give him steroids which will work for a while. Either way, no one will give a serious prognosis, timeline, etc. mostly because they don't know. My 90 pound (originally, that is.) Golden Retriever is just one of many who get cancer. As a matter of fact, Goldens are in the top 3 for breeds who get cancer. So the age -old question is, why? Why do kids get diseases, and why do nice people get hit by trucks and have brain tumors? If you are a dog lover like me, you will get the Why Golden Retrievers? They are the most loving and devoted, sweet tempered darling dogs ever. Why isn't it a breed that bites, or attacks? Why not a little known foreign breed that has a tendency toward cancer? Why is it my big oafy Georgie who anticipates my every move, who follows me around the house and loves to ride in the car and hang his head over the back seat next to the heads of carpoolers who ride with us? My dog is my best friend in so many ways. He doesn't judge me when I put off the dishes or laugh at me when I sing loud with the radio. He looks at me adoringly and pushes his paw at me relentlessly to pet him. That's my dog.

So we have been doing chemo therapy now for over 8 mo. Thank God Georgie had absolutely no side effects, felt great and the cancer went into remission. I actually secretly enjoyed going to the specialty vet center for his treatment because of all the different kinds of dogs, (and different kinds of owners for that matter) I would see. I love dogs. Little ones, fat ones, 3 legged ones, ugly ones... bring em on. Each time I was waiting for Georgie, I petted and cooed with all the other doggies in the release room, and chatted knowingly with their owners. Georgie ran and ate and jumped into the back of my Expedition and even went into the pool! In March, his round of treatment was complete and he was in remission. Our Dr. couldn't say what to expect or how long as each dog was different, but he looked good and had responded so well, our hopes were high.

Three weeks later he stops eating. He developed a hollow cough that sounded like he was going to throw up. He did throw up some, but I knew in my heart it was his lungs. He was listless and his eyes were suddenly vacant. This was not my dog. He returned to the Specialty vet center where they removed fluid from his chest, hydrated him, and found his cancer was back. He had to stay over night, which he had never done. I was truly worried he would pass away right there of a broken heart thinking we had abandoned him. My doctor is an angel however, an assured me that he was not in a kennel, but laying on the floor of the procedure room nose to nose with her own dog and people all around. I can't say what a comfort this was.

Usually when he came out after his treatment, I could hear his nails on the tile wildly rounding the corner of the release room with a poor attendant at the other end of the leash holding on for dear life. Then he would either jump up, his paws literally on my shoulders and kiss my face, or he would jump into the seat next to me and put a paw on my arm. This, as you can see, is no ordinary dog. The day I picked him up after his hospitalization, I didn't hear his nails. He pulled around the corner of the release room, and seeing me came over, his weakend back end swaying and collapsed at my feet. I let out such a sob, I really embarrassed myself in front of the waiting room occupants. I literally broke down right there. I love that darn dog so much it physically pained me to see him like that.

They had given him a new type of chemo injection while he was there, and I was hoping he was having a reaction to it. His mouth was a little foamy, he was tired and not hungry. Even with the Prednisone this time, his appetite was scarce. I called the doc to see if he was truly reacting to the chemo, and she said no. He was probably getting ready to go. Go? Go where? I am not ready, I thought. I will never be ready. I kept looking at him. Are you really ready boy? He would try to do his doggie smile, but just lay on the cool tile of the kitchen.

Then the bawling began. I have had good dogs in my life. Our German Shepherd Tascha, what a great dog. Our Chow Chow, Meg, loved her. \I had been through this before. I remember my dad taking our Tascha to be put down, and he came back 30 minutes later with her still in the car. I guess it's a family thing. So I cried and cried trying to thank God for the gift of such a loving, intuitive companion. I didn't bother begging for the Lord to keep Georgie around a little longer because I knew I wouldn't want him to be in pain. I hand fed him bits of ham and cheese. We petted and massaged him gently. When he made his way upstairs to my room, I just sat on the carpet with him stroking his face over and over. For 8 years he has been an intregal part of our family. He is one of us. In some ways, he is the best of us. I tried to get him to take the prednisone with the ham, but he balked. Finally, I hid it in a soft chunk of butter. He loves butter. I went to bed that night half expecting him not to be breathing when we awoke the next morning. I texted my dog loving friends to pray for me as I was devastated. They did. I know they did.

I opened my eyes to barking. It wasn't the tinny little dog bark of our other pup, Penny. It was Georgie for heaven sake. What? He was standing at the back door barking at something and waiting to go out and pee.
I let him out and he seemed more steady on his feet. He peed for what seemed like ten minutes and almost jogged back into the kitchen. He ate a treat. His eyes looked like he was behind them again. Penny sniffed him carefully in confusion. Like us, she knew he was not well and had given up the rough and tumble play they usually participated in. Georgie was alert, he was weak, but he was back! I called the doc and she laughed. Maybe the prednisone kicked in. Who knows?

No more chemo. Georgie takes the steroids, and although he seems older and more frail, he is still with us. For how long? I don't know. I have had my miracle and I am not asking questions.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Flippin' Future of Our Kids

Recently I wrote an article for this blog entitled; "Don't Get Smart With Me." It suggested that there are different types of smart and some kids have trouble showing their particular kind of "smart" within our standardized testing and classroom confines. I talked about some very famous "smart" people who did not fit the school mode. I referenced Edison, and Einstein, for example. I was very encouraged by my findings and hoped whoever read the article might think twice about how they see intelligence and ability in others. I still do.

Having a teenager at home who is looking toward graduation and very unsure about what comes next, I have been trying to be encouraging, calming, even non judgmental when she throws out ideas regarding her future that make me want to scream, "WHAT? Are you crazy? No way. Not if we are footing the bill, not if you live here, not if ... Are you crazy?" I try to feign a smile and say that nothing must be decided today and not to pigeon hole herself as a student or non student. I try to remember some very good advice given to me many years ago. "Love your children for who God made them to be, not who you want them to be. The more you try to tweak them against their nature, the more frustrated everyone is." Ah, what a beautiful thought. But wait a minute, I don't think my mentor meant putting up with frivolity and laziness and kooky plans to find themselves somewhere along P.C.H. watching the sunset. Isn't it my job as a parent to push my child back into the right lane, to protect them from ideas that are not so realistic?

I would literally fight tooth and nail to make sure each and every child is evaluated fairly,and given his or her rightful chance to show their gifts and their capabilities. I am still a huge advocate for taking another long look at how we teach and how we test. What I am most sure of though, is that it is the desire for knowledge that makes life rich. The quest to understand and be enlightened in your faith, your perceptions, your grasp of history, and culture, and art is what heightens our enjoyment and fulfillment in our relationships and in our behavior and contributions to the world.

Too bad the age at which we graduate from High School is nowhere near the age that we understand the importance and the blessing of a good education. We are expected to make these big educational decisions at a time in life when all our hormones and frontal lobe want to do is have fun! I was no different. I was more concerned about how my bangs were feathered than my math test. I came out of High School and floated into Junior College with no real plan yet for transfer, or specific career. I knew I wanted to write; that's about it. Looking back though, somewhere deep deep down I had a strong sense that continued schooling was not a question for me. It had to be accomplished.

One of my teachers in High School always warned us, "If you don't get an education, your options are limited. Pay attention. Work hard, or you'll be flippin' the burgers." Any time someone was goofing off in class, or late, he'd just say, "Yeah, keep it up. Flippin' the burgers." We even used the phrase on each other when we did or said something silly. "Flippin' the burgers." Obviously with no offense intended toward any person who flips burgers, I want more for my daughter.

I watched an old episode of "Freaks and Geeks" the other night. It is a look at high school teens in the 80's. The show was under the direction of Judd Apatow and starred now famous faces like James Franco, Seth Rogan and Jason Segel. The character of Lindsay is a smart, capable student who is choosing to dumb herself down to fit it with the cool crowd. Her guidance counselor will not stand by and watch her demise, so he follows her with college applications and pleads with her not to throw away her chances at a great educational future. In a pivotal moment in the hallway, Lindsay turns to her counselor and says,"Not everyone who's smart goes to college. Look at Einstein and Thomas Edison." "And Frank!" points out the counselor excitedly. "Who's Frank?" asks Lindsay. There is a momentary pause, and then he answers, "The guy who pumps my gas."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Teach Your Kids About the Real Easter Story

Looking for a hands-on way to teach your children about the real Easter story? Consider getting a set of Resurrection Eggs. They are each filled with a symbol relating to Easter. There is a guide to explain each piece and it's importance in the story. We use them every year.

                                      Check discount stores, christian book stores and your church.

Pre Easter Hunting Fun!

It's Almost Easter...

Have some fun with those empty eggs before next Sunday!!
Spell out in capitals something special you will do with your kids..
GET  ICE CREAM      PARK     BAKE COOKIES   whatever
cut out the letters and put one each in the eggs and hide them. 
When all eggs are found, put the letters together to spell out the clue. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sing It Mama!!

My bible study gals and I were recently brainstorming ideas of worship. We were complaining about our distracted natures and the difficulty to stay focused. One of the ideas was not just listening to Christian music which is powerful in its own right, but to pick a few hymns or songs that really move you and play them loud and sing along. I know David sang out to the Lord often. There is something about belting out a great hymn in your kitchen, or your car, or while you are putting on your mascara when you're alone. 

I am thinking it wouldn't be bad for my kids to hear me now and then. When I sing along with the hymn I am attaching, my dogs look at me funny. I get goosebumps every time, and can hardly keep from choking up not only at the beauty of the voices of Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill, but the emotion I feel singing along from the bottom of my heart. 

Try it! Let Him know you love him, even if you can't read your bible today for more than 5 minutes because you get sleepy. If you are struggling to pray because your thoughts are scattered. Maybe all you need to do is:

                                                                                               Sing It!!

If you want to download this song in audio, it is on an album of country artists singing hymns which is great. It is called How great thou art. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ladies Who Lunch

It's funny, on one hand we are, in many ways the most entitled, spoiled generation ever, and yet we don't allow ourselves to enjoy a leisurely, lovely lunch with a friend because we are too "busy" for that.
Maybe, if we remembered the incredible value of sharing a meal, sharing our hardships and joys with a good friend, and then walking away to let someone else do the dishes...we might do it more often.
 You don't even have to wear hats!

Today I met a wonderful friend at a sushi restaurant where the poor waitress must have asked us ten times if we needed more iced tea or diet coke. That gives you an idea how long we sat there. This is not a friend I talk to every day, sometimes not for a month. No matter. There is a knowing. There is a mutual adoration, respect and deep affection that is reignited the instant we are together. I am genuinely happy to see her, can't wait to hear about her family, her highs and lows, the new and the old. Her eyes light up when she sees me too.

*If this sounds hokey to you, you need a new friend. I can't explain the gratitude I feel when I think of the girlfriends my God has blessed me with. It is one of the great joys of my life.

So, with ice tea and diet coke disappearing from our glasses, sushi being savored and shared, we discussed everything under the sun; our wonderful,challenging, exhausting kids, husbands, things we are working on, things we are not too successful with, hopes, worries, faith, health. There were rounds of spontaneous tears, some crazy laughter, some quiet conversation. Mostly, we were just being a friend to one another. We could say what we are proud of and ashamed of, what we are confused by and what we know to be true. I think I will donate to a good cause in the amount of a two hour therapy session I no longer need to schedule. There is nothing like a real friend to remind you of your good character qualities and encourage you away from the less desirable ones. She knows you don't really hate your kids or want to strangle your husband. She knows they are your everything, otherwise they could never drive you this nutty. If you put yourself down, she laughs and brings up something great you've done. She shares her good one liners with the kids, and listens quietly when she know no advice is needed, just a caring look and an "I get it," sigh.

Lunch with my friend is just what I needed today. She is so smart and funny and genuine. If she likes me, I guess I must not be too hopeless. Give yourself the gift of friend indulgence. Call a friend and make a lunch date today. You won't regret it.

* Watch your iced tea intake. I almost had a potty accident driving to the groomer to pick up my dogs after the lunch. I never wanted to get up and go during our conversation. What am I, 4?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

God's Not Dead

Taking my son and his friends to see God's Not Dead... a movie in theaters starring Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo. Heard it was good. Let you know.  5:15pm Sunday, March 23rd.

Ok. So, quick tip. If you are going to keep food in your purse to take into the movie because you didn't have time to eat it before... probably shouldn't make it sushi. Don't get me wrong, the sushi was good, it's just that eating it in the dark can be dangerous. As I popped a slice of California roll into my mouth, I was feeling proud of myself for making a better choice than the greasy, fried or other choices the kids made. Sadly, my pride was quickly replaced by an overwhelming sense of stupidity as I reached into the styrofoam box pulling out what I thought was the last slice of California Roll but was actually a blob of fresh ginger and Wasabi and quickly popped that into my mouth. Now if you are not a sushi eater, you may not know that Wasabi is a very spicy Asian mustard and fresh Ginger, although delicious, is not really to be eaten in a clump. Thank heavens I had a large bottle of water. I am thinking no more sushi at the movies. 

God's Not Dead. When we exited the theater after the movie, we ran into my son's fourth grade teacher who informed me that she read that this movie,,, without much hype or advertising was number three for the weekend. I felt so happy about that. 
The movie was really good. The acting ( aside from the boy's girlfriend) was quite good and the direction was good. It is difficult to tie several stories together to one theme without making it feel choppy, or too contrived when the stories converge. I really liked that the main character, Josh, was a fairly mild mannered guy. I imagine Jesus himself was not a foot stomper, or a loud, imposing person. Josh made his point through his faith, his intelligence and his passion. It was his trust in God that gave him the strength and courage to stand up to his Philosophy professor who insisted all students start the term by signing a declaration that God is dead. This was meant to explain away the atheism they would encounter in the Philosophers they would study. Josh just couldn't bring himself to sign that declaration, and that is where his uphill battle began. 
The movie also touches on many other subjects such as greed and materialism, religious oppression, cultural differences, and an almost viament hatred for Christianity. 

My favorite character was the black missionary who was visiting a local pastor and kept reminding him that God is Good all the time, and all the time God is Good.  He was so peaceful and gently convincing. There was a short but interesting appearance by Willie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty clan which I thought was unexpected. He is really likable and believable. 
The movie ends with a performance by the Newsboys, who I had heard of , but not really heard. Loved their music. I'll have to check it out. 
The movie challenges you to text God's NOT dead to all you know. 

Here's my recommendation Take your kids, go with your bible study, or your MOPS table. Bring some tissue. Fill your heart and mind with something good and wholesome and have some good discussion afterwards. 
I asked the boys in the car on the way home if they would have stood up to the professor. The boys said, "Zack would."   Zack is my kid. I am not entirely sure that was a vote of Christian confidence or an expression of the obvious ( he is a talker, and isn't afraid to say things which can be troublesome at times)
Zachary assured me when we got home that he would indeed refuse to sign that declaration because "it is the opposite of what I believe Mommy."  

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is GOOD!