I’m dusting off the old blog, yet again. It’s nice to have this here, when Facebook and all those other social media sites begin to make me feel stifled creatively and smug about humanity.

Here, I can stretch my fingers and my flex my brain. I don’t have to worry about filing up people’s news feeds or which list can see what picture. (Yes, not everyone gets to see pictures of my kids.)

So here I am, back in WordPress, trying to reacquaint myself with changes and decide how I want to fill this space. Let’s hope it takes shape organically, because my brain hurts trying to plan anything right now. Besides, who blogs anymore? I mean, is it still a thing for non-revenue seekers to do? I keep up with a lot of editorial, theological blogs, but most of my friends (especially in the adoption community) have moved on to 140 characters or less.

Either way, I need this right now. Yay for free blogging.

To keep it easy on this post, let me recap the past 9 months since my last post. LIST TIME!! (in no particular order)

1/ I closed my jewelry business this year, officially. Like through the state and city. I didn’t renew my membership to the Durham Craft Market. It’s been tough to mentally let go, but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I want to focus more on writing and other creative outlets.

2/ Sproutlet started Kindy this year. I have many feelings* about this.

3/ Big E started 2nd grade. I have many feelings* about this.

4/ We adopted a dog from Kansas City. She’s like Abbey, only more wily and perhaps an undercover agent for British intelligence. (That’s just how I imagine her “voice”). She’s about three and still has a lot of puppy in her. She’s been a great fit with ol’dog Ferg, they balance each other.

5/ I abandoned my novel. I finished the first draft, then butchered it in editing/re-writes. I literally have no idea what I have done to it. So 4 years down the drain. Lesson learned? DON’T TAKE A YEAR AND A HALF OFF. Don’t shelve a project unless it’s not working. Writers write. Everyday.

6/ I started a new novel. I’m 18,000 words in! I’m very anxious about finishing it and not repeating the same mistakes!

7/ Watching my brother-in-law battle ALS has been the hardest thing I have endured. Watching my sister-in-law and nieces care for him and soak up every minute with him, has been equally heartbreaking. As an “outsider” it’s hard to navigate how much help to offer, when to back-off, when to press…a lot of emotions these days…

8/ I was part of a search committee for our church. Truly a spirit-led endeavor, it was a great education for me on many levels. We not only found an excellent new rector, but I learned a lot about our church history and make-up. We are diverse in thought, word and deed, but we all want the same thing. A spiritual leader that will help challenge and ignite the gospel under our feet. Easy enough, right?

9/ I can actually keep plants alive. I’m thankful for automatic watering systems and a kind friend who helped me plan around my black thumb.

and finally…
10/ Letting Go is FREEDOM.

My Best,
Venicia

*feelings that are not atypical of a mother who is trying to absorb every minute of her children’s lives and feels it will never be possible with time moving so fast.

ya know…moms of all types are frikkin’ awesome. dads of all types are frikkin’ awesome. Stay at home moms are the deal, yeah, I get that. As a sensible feminist, I have some 35 year old feelings about this. There are some pretty righteous stay-at-home dads who get even less props, so, there’s that. I’m sick of the blogs whining about the lady-folk who don’t get their props. There are plenty more that whine that working moms don’t get props, either. For me, I would love to stay at home and raise my children and “really work”-because my job is a job, it pays bills. I have very close friends who do what I long to do and they long to have my day-to-day. A real “grass is greener” situation, no?  You live and learn and you only get one shot, right? Every individual makes choices and every choice can be met with a different solution. 

Why not say…if you are caring for children, in any capacity, you are doing what you are supposed to. Let’s quit perpetuating this madness of “mommy-wars”. You birthed children, you adopted children. You took on a responsibility and it’s your job to take care of them. I’m not going to compare either of the tasks because at the end of the day-especially a sick day, we’re all cleaning up vomit from a sick child and doing an extra three loads of laundry. We ALL signed up for ALL of that. Make the best of it, because your kid is only going to be your kid for about a half a second longer. There are many who can’t, many who won’t, and a helluva lot who just don’t. I don’t need to give anyone a standing ovation for doing what they are supposed to do, however they need to do it. Just don’t f-up your kid. No shame. No Guilt. It is what it is. Take a deep breath and look for ways to help each other.

Let’s take suggestions and have a real conversation on how we CAN HELP EACH OTHER, rather than tear each other down and put one another on pedestals. It’s stupid and gets no one, anywhere, fast. 

We’re all in this together. WE’RE RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION OF NIGHT-TIME TELE FANS who will hang out on social media and grouse about how their mothers did it wrong and their grandmas did it right.

 

Our eldest lab, Abbey, passed away last Saturday night. It was after 10pm, at the Emergency Vet, and D was the only one with her. 

Abbey had a touch of laryngeal paralysis. It was not curable, but somewhat treatable with anti-inflammatory medicines.  Our regular vet said that dogs could live with it until they couldn’t live with it anymore. I’m paraphrasing this, of course. We returned from vacation on Friday and stayed gone most of Saturday, back-to-school shopping and celebrating our 5 year “family-versary” with the B’s of Hillsborough. I regret that we didn’t come home sooner that night, maybe things would have been different. 

I’ll spare the details of what we walked into, but I only can guess she panicked for some reason and sent herself into an uncontrollable frenzy. When we did get home, she was lying in the floor of the foyer, slowly gasping for breath. The kids saw her, I couldn’t shield them fast enough…

It’s as visually shaking as you are imagining it. It kills me to think about. I never wanted my girl to go out like that. Daniel took her almost immediately to ER Vet, but by the time he got there, she was almost completely gone.

He made the next, best, humane decision…he let her go. Abbey moved from this world to the next sometime after 10pm. I explained it to the children the next morning, when they asked. I was glad he was there in her final moments. I was glad I got to say good-bye.

I have had five days to process her passing, her traipsing across the Rainbow Bridge, possibly Brady was there to greet her first. I can only imagine she saw him and tore after him-tackling him as she did when they were both living with us in the here and now. 

I take this crazy solace that they are overjoyed in reunion, a lot of missed time between the two. They were not from the same biological litter, but they were brother and sister in family.   

Abbey was D’s first dog post-college, our first dog together as a couple. We named her after the Beatle’s “Abbey Road” album, for no other reason than we both love The Beatle’s and that just seemed like the right thing to name her. She was a smart, sassy little pup that grew into a genius, sassy dog. Over 13 years, she’d been through it all with us. She and D started out as a duo in our tiny apartment in Durham. Then I graduated from college, moved home and lived with him and her much to her chagrin until we got married. (I guess you could say she was our “out of wedlock dog”) Shortly after we were married, we adopted “Wild Brady”. She was still learning to tolerate my presence, but Brady was just ridiculous. She lived through two moves, the adoptions of Big E and Lower Case E, the passing of Brady, the adoption of Fergus the Dog, and survived four months of her own medical condition. 

She was AKC, a pedigree hunting dog. Due to her white markings, the sellers couldn’t “get full price” for her. It was their loss, though. She was as smart as a whip and hunted her own fair share of creatures. One time she brought me a squirrel when we lived at 611. It was early in the morning, I didn’t have my glasses or contacts and I saw a blurry mass hanging from her mouth. I screamed and shrieked until D showed up to take care of the situation.

She loved to swim in the lake and was excellent on the leash unless Brady was beside her. Then she would act like she had zero manners as he didn’t. When she was a puppy, she would get the “puppy crazies” and tear around our apartment and fly onto the couch and rest. As.though.she.had.never.moved.

In her older days, she would go out every night promptly at 10pm (even coming to find us and “stomp” her paws when it was time) and once she came back in, she’d hang out until 10:30pm and go back to our room to “get in bed” whether we were with her or not. 

She always acted like we never loved on her when people came by the house. She also acted like we never fed her. She would go ballistic lab-wild.  That’s another funny story. When she saw you put something “special” (medicine, a dash of wet food, tomato) in her bowl she wouldn’t eat the next night until the treat was delivered to her bowl again. I would have to quit cold turkey and just stand over her until she ate. It was easier when she took her medicine, she had to eat it with food. 

I know there are more funny, quirky things she did, but those stand out most. I know, too, that they are only funny to me and D and that’s okay. 

I miss her so much. I miss the softness of her ears and clickety-clickety of her claws on the wood floors. I miss the big sigh at the end of the day and the way she “smiled” when ran to you. (People thought she was going to nip, but apparently some dogs bare a little bit of their teeth when their excited?) I also miss her “really?” look. She actually had quite a range of “faces”, but that was my favorite. If she was watching you do something that she didn’t “get” (like why do kids voluntarily get in the bath tub, I’m sure there’s a lake they could get in instead.) her ears perked a little and one eyebrow would raise a little. I wish I had a picture of that. If I didn’t throw a piece of popcorn her way, she made that face. (“Really, you’re gonna eat all of it?”) 

Her blood work and overall health was impeccable for a 13 year old lab. The medicine made her gain a little, but she was always a sleek, trim lab who loved when D clipped her claws (pedi time!)

Even though we were a houseful, she was very conscious of where we all were. She liked to be in Big E’s room during story time and she would check on Lower Case E in the morning. She was never far from D and knew she could sleep on my side of the bed with little fuss when she used to sleep on our bed. 

She taught Fergus well over the last six months. He’s been a little confused and more clingy since Saturday; even sleeping in our room for most of the night. I think last night he stayed with us the entire night. Now he’s being more conscious of where we all are. 

Like I said, she taught him well. 

Goodnight, sweet Abbeygirl, I love you. We all do.

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I have spent the past few nights sifting through pictures, blog posts, e-mails, and old chat room/forum discussions in preparation for this blog post. It’s been a year, friends. A whole year since we met our daughter, the little Sproutlet. It was nice to reminisce over the “Steps to TA” (travel approval) on CHAT and re-read all the little emails from adoptive mamas cheering each other on and providing support when something backfired or got held up in process. I read some of YOUR lovely emails and Facebook notes of love and support, and smiled over each one of them. You are part of our story, in the preparation and the arrival, so before I go further-give yourself a big squeeze from me. If you are around someone you love, go hug them, too. Even if you never uttered word to me, consider yourself part of our story, as well. Know that I am grateful for every prayer, positive and healing thought, and deed. We would not have gotten through any of this without the Holy Spirit moving some feet and hands. 

This year has been full of challenges and successes with our Sproutlet. She’s a spry, vibrant little force to be reckoned with. She is smart and eager to learn and so proud of herself when she accomplishes something. It takes a little (or a lot) of prodding, but to hear her say, “I DID IT!” in that sweet little voice, fills me up. She’s an amazing little girl and every night when I tuck her into bed, I always tell her how thankful I am that she is in our lives (and how much I love her, of course!) God was certainly good to us when our red threads were knit together. It’s a kind gift, the gift of adoption, one that should be given the utmost care and attention. The road is often long and hard, with happy, scenic pit stops along the way. We are blessed with this gift of a child who has not had the greatest of beginnings and we try keep her safe and loved through her life’s journey. We keep our faith and wits about us; and keep moving on. It’s a challenge that requires God and community among us. That’s why it’s especially important for me to say thank you, tonight. 

As I mentioned there have been big challenges to overcome. First were those of her sweet little ears and her hearing. To make a long story short, we spent the first six months fighting an ear infection that would not go away in her right ear. After treatment at Duke gave us the right antibiotic and ear irrigation, she was in the clear. Until the next ear infection surfaced. Thankfully, the latter infections have all been treatable with standard antibiotics, so no more Duke trips. We have to pay extra care with water now. No lake swimming, ocean swimming, or river swimming until the perforations are closed. Ear plugs, no matter how fancy have simply not worked. So far, the left ear perforation is closing up nicely. The right one has been a little slow going. This has all affected her hearing, thus the use of the hearing aids. She’s finally adjusted to wearing them, and I’m pretty sure we’re over the “let’s take these things apart” phase. Her hearing has improved a smidge, but until everything is healed up, we won’t be able to fully grasp her loss.  For now, her loss has been explained as though she’s hearing us underwater. She can hear but it’s muffled and certain consonants, letter blends and frequencies are troublesome.

The girl has compensated for it, though. It really doesn’t slow her down too much. When children ask me about what is in her ears, or I notice their curiosity-the best thing I have found to model for Sproutlet is honesty and explain that her aids are like glasses-they are tools to help her. Glasses help you see better, hearing aids help you hear better! It seems to be enough for her and Big E’s peers. While the overall process has been challenging, the comfort and ease of her transition I count as a success. 

Another big success overall this year was her gross motor development. She can jump like a frog, alternate feet going up and down stairs, run (oh my gosh, that’s the cutest thing, ever!) and jump. What’s the big deal? She’s 3 ½. Most kids are well on their way to doing this or mastered these skills. It has also helped that her big brother is part Mexican Jumping Bean. Or perhaps Vietnamese Jumping Bean. 😉

Other milestones:

-Sproutlet was Baptised this year in the Episcopal church that I grew up in and by the Priest who assisted in my Baptism when I was a child.  We were surrounded by family and friends and her God Families.

-She likes Little Einsteins, Doc McStuffins, Minnie Mouse (and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse)- she calls out “Oh Tooooodles” when Mickey asks.

-She like purple and dressing up in anything and everything. I have a picture of her in a Bumblebee Transformers mask, pink tutu/leotard, holding a toy power drill. She is obsessed with purses already, namely one her GodMama gave us while we were waiting for Big E to come home.

-She enjoys her Burt’s Bee’s “chappick”

-And she’s particularly bossy to her big brother, which we’ve had to regulate a little. (But I’ll -be honest, sometimes it’s nice to save my breath because I know “lil mama” has it handled) 😉

-She likes playing with messy stuff, but she DOES NOT like getting food on her fingers at dinnertime and will cry out for a “nakkin, pleeease!” And while she loves our dogs, she does not like them kissing on her or getting near her in the morning. She’s a morning girl, with limits!

-She has the brightest smile. And I adore her face when something surprises her or captures her attention.

I think I could go on and on but rather I’ll post the pictures you’ve been waiting to see. One from March 2011 (from our referral packet), March 5th 2012 (our “metcha” day), and then today (well, it was from the 3rd, but close enough!)

 

 

Sproutlet 2011Metcha Day 2012Big E, Fergus, and Sproutlet 2013

I have the best family, ever.

May you and yours be blessed and strengthened everyday.

With love,

Vea  

It’s been almost seven months since my beloved Brady passed away. 

Last night, we adopted an 8 year old chocolate lab. 

I drove to Greensboro in the driving rain. The coincidence was not lost on me. We picked Brady up one night during a torrential rainstorm. As a matter of fact, I drove that night, too.

I choked up a little bit. I was caught in a flurry of emotion that came and went just like that. 

[As I type, Fergus has jumped onto the couch and pushed my laptop away; thumping his tail with pride. I surrendered and moved my laptop to the armrest. Awkward typing at its finest.]

I believe, wholeheartedly, that things happen for a reason. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s tragic. I don’t think it’s ever my responsibility to explain or know why-but I believe in a plan bigger than my own*. As Pollyanna as that may seem, I can’t push myself to believe otherwise. Meeting Fergus, I felt like Brady may have had a paw in that. Maybe, just maybe, he was sitting up there with God and waiting patiently for me not to well up when I talked about him. Panting and thumping his tail until that moment came; when he and God knew who would fall in place with us. 

On the way home from meeting Fergus (who was named Relic at the time)-we knew he was the one. We all went back and forth-Duke, Dude, Watson, Cooper, Copper; a myriad of names crossed my list. 

Big E was the one who came up with the name Fergus-and we fell in love with it. He shouted out from the backseat as if it were manna from heaven. Crying out, “Eureka!” would have been cooler than the “Yes!” that was shouted in unison from D and I. But, we don’t live in the 1840’s and we didn’t discover gold. 

I asked Big E where he got the name. He claims that it “just sounds like a good dog name, people might think he’s a person, but he’s really a dog. Like Abbey.”

The kid knows his stuff. 

(I thought he got it from the movie Brave, whose patriarchal character shares the namesake.)

But my Fergus doesn’t want to take down a bear. He is calm and sweet, he only wants to be loved on and he’s pretty stoked about the milk bones he receives once he returns from a potty break. Abbey (aka The Dowager Countess as I will now call her forever), is confused as to why he won’t play with her the way her brother did, why he looks at her with a blank stare when she woofs at him to go out, and why is he playing with her toys!? Tradition, people! We must uphold tradition!

[Fergus’ head is now back on my right arm-smacking my laptop with his paw. He is not amused that I’m still typing.] 

Ah, there-free again. But not for long. I have an old pup to love on-so with this I part…

 

 

*I know there is a world of people out there who don’t agree with this sentiment. I respect them and their positions. Reasoning out my faith in a blog seems too tricky and difficult, especially when faith or theology, rather, can be so fluid. I have yet to see anyone else do it, but believe me-I do think about it. One day, I want to unpack all my thoughts on God and organized religion…just not right now.

I’ve been so absent from this blog that when I logged in, they’d changed stuff around! Yuck! I don’t want to re-learn anything now! I’m 35. I’m old. 

 

Just kidding. But I am crotchety tonight. I think the Dowager Countess would be pleased. 

Rather than update my shrunken readership with all that has happened in the past six months since Brady boy’s passing-I’ll sum up 2012 like this. 

As far as life’s journeys go, it was one hell of one. Ups, downs, and in-betweens. Dealt with more than I care to share on many different levels. 

2013 is already looking good though. The family is healthy, Abbey is still my grumpy lab, we have a roof over our heads and food to eat. My “resolution” was to paint my fingernails more in an effort to take time for myself. So far, so good. My other resolutions include:

finish my book, blog more, finish one yearbook for our family pics, lose another twenty pounds, and make jewelry/craftsy stuff. See the theme? My creative/artistic side needs to get out. Oh and the skinny girl from 1995. Even if she came out as a slightly curvier lady-I would be happy. I’m ready to make some stuff happen. 

Hang with me as I retool the blog, I promise it’ll be decent! 

It’s 2013! We can do this!

(4 minutes until Downton!) Have a great night!

Today, at approximately 4:45pm, my four-legged furbaby, Brady, fell asleep and started the next chapter of his life. And we began the next chapter of ours.

It’s been raining outside most of the day here in the Bull City, and we knew pretty early this morning that Brady was going to have to move on. Four months ago, we noticed a bump on his bottom, which turned out to be an inoperable tumor. Poor Bway. The vet gave us instructions and we added a stool softener to his food and let him be our guide as to when he was ready to take the next step. We were vigilant and even re-considered our vacation. Just in case.

Over the past few nights, I had noticed he was a having a hard time getting settled for the night. Over the past twenty hours, he had thrown up and had a bathroom accident at the door. D and I compared notes and agreed, despite Brady’s happy-go-lucky demeanor, his body was ready.

While we were on our way to the vet, I remembered twelve years ago when were driving home on a rainy evening from a single mother’s house with a black lab puppy for a “weekend try-out.” D and I had not been married long, and we already had our black lab, Abbey. (Who was still reeling over me being “the new chick” in town.) Brady had been a stray and the mom was newly divorced with two young girls. She was overwhelmed and dismayed, and she couldn’t afford the mental or physical toll (at that point) to add another breathing being in her home.

I remember telling D very vehemently that we could not see this dog, because we had neither the space nor the funds to have another puppy in our tiny two bedroom apartment. Plus, I  decided, I wouldn’t be able to say no. I would fall in love with him for sure.

I did and we brought him home. I don’t remember much after that. He never went back. He was home. He was a great dog. He was bossy, he always wanted to be petted and would get up under your arm to make it happen. It didn’t matter what YOU wanted.

He loved women. If he and Abbey were acting wild and I tried to put them outside while we had visitors, he would go to the closest female, and sit on her feet so sweetly and calmly as though to say, “But I was sitting here the whole time!” He was a charmer.

He loved to lay on one side of my lap. This is what we would do most nights. Elijah and Brady would have “leaning wars” jockeying for position on my lap. Silly guys, obviously they didn’t realize just how much lap I had!

He had to be urged to go outside. He let Abbey do what she did best…be the leader. She would stand at the doorway of the living room every night and ‘woof’ at him. Once we got them to the door, she would dart out, spin around and wait for him to walk out. Taunting. He would gaze at me and I’d shove him out the door, only for her to pounce on him. They’d roughhouse all the way through the backyard, only to tire and do what they set out to do to begin with-potty.

He loved car rides, he’d stick his head out of the window and LIVE. He counter surfed and rewarded himself with bread, candy, and whatever else Abbey helped pillage.

Oh, and that’s another thing. Even though Abbey was the “alpha”, Brady had zero problem with tattling on her. For years, when she would jump the fence, he would start barking. Not just at where she jumped, but running to the house and barking at us. “Sound the alarms, Abbey went AWOL!”

Brady lived a full life, not a fan of swimming but would try his best. Found his bark six months after he was home with us. (Apparently he was chained a few times-and it hurt him-he could only cough-bark). He was wild for snow and liked to curl up in the back yard on a sunny day and smell the wind. He welcomed neighbors home with his barking and helped annoyingly wake them up on the weekends. (sorry!)

The memories are rolling through my mind at such speed, I can’t keep up. But I think I have illustrated enough of why I loved that crazy dog. That sweet, handsome, galut of a creature. He was my big hug at the end of the day and one of the main reasons I kept my faith steady while we struggled through our family building process. There was always something in his eyes that told me to expect more and not to worry.

I close this with my thoughts on where he headed next. I imagine he casually made his way over the Rainbow Bridge, because he moves at his own pace, no rush. He’s good.

Get’em Bway. We love you.

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