Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Small Changes

I've shared the fact that I gained 60 pounds while on steroids, and that I have lost 40 pounds of that weight.  I still have 20 to go to get back to my ideal weight.  I've actually had 20 to go for more than a year now, so it isn't looking good.  

The first 40 came off rather easily once I was off the steroids.  The timing was great as all the kids were in school and I could walk them to the bus stop, see them off, and then head right out on the roads for a run.  Actually, run would not be the right word.  At best I was on the roads jogging, but, I think "jalking" would be more descriptive.  60 extra pounds puts a lot of stress on hips, knees and ankles and caused me to have a unique running form.  As I shed the weight, the pain in those areas decreased and I was able to go a bit faster and a lot farther.  Before I knew it, I was 40 pounds lighter and feeling a lot better about myself.

And then, in terms of my weight loss efforts, I went off the tracks.  I was still getting some runs in during the week, but they were cut back to around 3 miles, with slightly longer ones on the weekends.  But time became tight and finding a chunk of it to dedicate to exercise became harder and harder.  I know the naysayers will cluck their tongues and think that I was just making excuses.  They wouldn't be wrong.

I have 3 very active kids and a husband who travels a lot for work.  As he is often gone, it falls on me to get the kids where they need to be each evening.  That means that I am often in my van from 2:30 to 7/8pm, Monday through Friday.  When we get home, it is all me getting dinner on the table, dishes cleared, homework, showers, reading logs and putting everyone to bed.  Before I pick everyone up to get to activities, it is all on me to pick up the house, do the laundry, have dinner ready to go and make any and all phone calls to insurance companies, doctor offices and run any errands that need to be done.  I also volunteer in one child's classroom each year and serve as an administrator for the lacrosse team.  In addition, I have started working as a substitute teacher in the school district a few times a week.  Lastly, when my husband is away, all of his weekly chores become my responsibility as well.  That means mowing the lawn, taking care of recycling and trash, moving wood, etc.

Except for the hour I set aside each day to take my dog Stella Thunderpaws for a walk, the time I have to focus on exercise needs to be either very early in the morning or very late in the evening.  Being completely honest with myself, I'm just not motivated enough to do it then.  I have a hard enough time getting up at 5:30 am each day.  The thought of getting up at 4 am to exercise -- well no, I can't even form a coherent thought after even HEARING 4 am!  I have less of a problem with working out in the evening.  Getting on my dreadmill at 9 pm is not unusual for me.  Its not the exercise piece that prevents me from doing it on a regular basis at that time.  Rather, its the fact that I am then so awake that I can't even contemplate climbing into bed until it is well after midnight.  4 to 5 hours of sleep on a regular basis makes me very, very cranky!

When I sit back and think about it, I simply don't want it that badly.  That's right folks.  I am OWNING my extra 20 pounds and muffin top!  I know exactly what I need to do, both in terms of diet and exercise, to rid myself of it, but I am simply choosing not to make it a priority at this time.  **GASP**  

I have decided that I can do some smaller things that will hopefully help me fit comfortably in my clothes.  I may not lose 20, but 5 would be good, and I can probably do that with some minor tweaking.  

First, my dog is finally old enough that instead of walking her entire route, we can include some jogging.  That should not only help increase my heart rate, it will allow us to complete the 5 miles in about an hour, rather than 1 and 1/4 hours.  I have decided to dedicate that 15 minutes to using my husband's kettle bells.  As soon as we get back, I will crate the dog for this 15 minutes and go directly to the basement and get to work!  

Second, I have committed myself to the 300 Ab and Core Workout Challenge.  I have done it twice so far  -- well, the first half of it, that stuff is HARD and my abs are SOFT!  But my plan is to be able to get the first half down over the next two weeks and then start adding one step each week.  By the fall, I should be able to do the entire workout, in the suggested 15 minutes.

Third, I have set a goal to be able to do 20 real push ups.  No butt in the air.  No head bobbing.  20 real push ups.  

The fourth change is perhaps the most important.  Now that I have hit 40 and have the metabolism to prove it, I need to make dietary changes.  Gone are the days that I could right my dietary wrongs on the dreadmill.  I have removed sugar from my coffee.  I usually drink 2 or 3 cups a day and usually put 2 teaspoons of sugar in each cup.  That's almost 200 calories a day -- that's 2 miles of running!  When I think of it that way, it was easy to forgo the sugar.  I also need to watch my carb intake.  Not just because of my weight, but also because of my family history of diabetes.  But, there is no way I can completely cut them out of my life.  Because I love them.  LOVE. THEM.  I can cut back.  No, I will cut back.  The easiest way to do this (for me) is to replace my breakfast toast with eggs.  I like eggs almost as much as toast.  If I had someone to make them for me, I would love them more than toast.  

For both health reasons and vanity I would love to shed the extra weight.  Right now though, it isn't my top priority.  I've put my kids, my husband, my house, and sleep ahead of losing the 20 pounds.  But I think I may have found a way to lose 5 pounds and still keep my priorities the same.  So, I may never look like this again;

I am okay with that.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Trip to the "Motherland"

Nowhere does preppy meets redneck better than LL Bean!

We did our annual trek there to buy the kids their backpacks and lunch boxes for the upcoming school year.  Actually, I lie.  We do an annual trek at this time of year to prep for school, but the last two years, we haven't bought backpacks or lunch boxes.  The quality of Bean's packs is so good that we get two the three years out of them.  My oldest son's bag is still in great shape, but is simply too small for him to use any longer now that he has to not only cart actual books back and forth, but also gym clothes and other sporting gear.  So he needed the big, bad boy bag this time.

I love Bean's.  I love their products.  I love the atmosphere they create on their campus.  For those that haven't been, LL Bean has its flagship store in Freeport, Maine.  In it, are all their clothing and shoes for men, women and children.  An addition was put on a few years ago attaching the hunting and fishing merchandise area to the store.  The two areas are connected by a long hallway that is home to a huge fish tank.

The tank has an observation bubble built into the bottom.  It is designed for kids to be able to crawl down and into to see all the fish up close.  I however, did what a lot of adults do and crawled down as well and took a picture from inside.  One fish thought the flash was quite interesting.

Last winter, I had to take my youngest son up to get a new pair of boots.  He somehow managed to run so fast through the woods, that he impaled a stick right through the front of his boot and between his two toes.  Knowing that LL Bean stands by their guarantee and would replace the boots, we headed up and he crawled into the bubble.  No matter how often we go, he is still amazed by it.

One word of warning.  Your patience as a parent and a human being can be tested while trying to get in to the viewing bubble.  I have raised my kids to wait their turn, not to cut in line and not to take too long as to hold up everyone else.  Visiting the fish tank is evidence that 99% of other parents are not only not teaching their children these lessons, they are unaware of how to behave politely as well.  If your kids wait patiently, they will have countless families cut in front of them.  The fish tank brings out Lord of the Flies behavior and your children will need to adjust or wind up like Piggy.  Okay, that may be extreme, but you get the idea!

In addition to the main store, LL Bean has added a home store and bike/ski shop.  In the center of all of the building is a green area and parking.  During the summer months, they close this parking area down on weekends and hold special events.  This weekend we were fortunate enough to visit while they were hosting the Maine Rock Gym's portable rock climbing wall and bungee trampoline.  My kids loved climbing the rock wall and bouncing on the trampoline.

 Getting on their harnesses and listening to directions.

This kid is a monkey.  I find him in trees, on top of playground equipment and on my walls.


See what I mean?

She is less of a risk taker - but still had a great time on the bungee trampoline.

He heard ice cream and decided not to climb or bounce!

We had a bit of time to kill while waiting for the backpacks to be monogrammed and the kids decided to have some fun.  We got lucky and it was late enough in the day that there weren't a lot of tourists trying to take pictures, so we didn't feel guilty about taking these.

After picking up our bags, which came out great by the way, we stopped by the locked moose display in the camping area.  (You can also view it from outside the front of the store now.)  In 2006, Adella Jones found the locked moose on her property. While their bodies were decomposed, the antlers were in great shape.  During mating season of 2005, the two moose, fighting over a female, charged each other and their antlers became entangled.  They were unable to get loose and died attached to each other.  For the full story, check out this report from The Sun Journal.  

We have a few more weeks of summer left, but will have to head back up to LL Bean to finish up some shopping.  Most likely, we will wait until September 15th & 16th and combine our shopping trip with the Fall in the Village Art Festival.  After getting what we need for school, my daughter and I can check out all the various artists while the boys pick up what they need for hunting season.  Fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My First "Try It" Tuesday

I love Pinterest.  Sometimes.  One thing I don't love is finding a beautiful coat, or an interesting top and then finding out it is no longer available.  There should be a time limit on all clothing and merchandise pins.  Once an item is discontinued or sold out, those pins should disappear.  

But I digress.

I have been finding recipes that look delicious.  I keep pinning helpful hints that if they worked would make life easier, and crafts with a finished product that doesn't appear too "crafty".  

I have made a decision to actually try some of the recipes, crafts and hints that I have pinned before I pin anything else.  Just as putting goals to paper increase our likelihood to take action to make them a reality, I thought that going public with my plan would make it more likely that I would follow through.

Today I am reporting on a hint I saw a while back and pinned to my board Tips .  It is for homemade soap scum "killa".  It involves mixing equal parts hot vinegar and blue Dawn dish detergent.  I microwaved 1 cup of vinegar for 2 minutes and poured it into a spray bottle that contained a cup of blue Dawn dish detergent.  The original hint makes a point of telling us that it must be the blue Dawn!  I shook the spray bottle to mix the two ingredients and then went to town spraying it all over the showers in my home.  The blog I traced this hint back to said to leave it overnight, but I worried a bit about the blue foam staining the grout.  So after about an hour, I went in and used the flexible shower head to spray down all the walls and the inside of the tub.  

I was extremely happy with the results.  I ran my hands along the tiles and found no traces of any soap scum and thankfully, the grout was not affected at all by the blue coloring.  I was also pleased to not have to worry about breathing in fumes.  This is definitely a hint that will become a regular part of my weekly cleaning routine!  

The Next Running Goal

September 30th, 2012 is the date for the Maine Marathon and Half Marathon.  I am signing up for the half this year.  I intended to do the full, but with my husband's work schedule and my kids' activities, there is no way I can get in the mileage each week.  The half is doable and if necessary, I can get my miles in at night on the dreadmill.  I usually follow Hal Higdon's training schedule for all my races.  I like how easy it is to print out his schedules and cross them off as I do it each day.  I still may use his plan, but the one above looks like it may work too.

But first, I have my Warrior Dash to do!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Urge to Purge

This year, there has been a string of arsons in our immediate area.  Most of the homes were abandoned due to foreclosure, but two homes were occupied.  Living in northern New England, where winters are long and very cold and wood stoves are used 24/7 in many homes, house fires are common and usually lead to complete loses.  But, having a house be purposely burned down less than 2 miles from my home stirred something inside me and made me want to be more prepared.

I started to question what I would do if my house caught fire.  What would I grab if I could?  What would upset me the most if it were destroyed by flame or water?  What would I need to make picking up the pieces easier?

This new purpose paired up with my natural tendency to not like clutter, has inspired me to prepare, organize and purge.  I have been further inspired after reading an excerpt of Gretchen Rubin's upcoming book Happiness at Home.  (If her name is familiar, she is the author of The Happiness Project, which I highly recommend reading and visiting her site http://happiness-project.com/ )  In the excerpt, she was describing how she addressed clutter in her home and it reminded me of how I tackled the clutter in my home just after my extended stay in the ICU.  Just as I was motivated to make my home more organized for my family, so that if I were ever absent they could remain calm and go on, she was motivated to bring a similar sense of calm to her home.

I was inspired to pull out my copy of Peter Walsh's It's All Too Much and reread some of the sections I had dogeared and highlighted.  I also watched a few episodes of Buried Alive I had hoarded on my dvr.  Armed with my renewed sense of urgency, I started tackling areas of my home that I had secreted away all my "treasures" in storage containers.  I started to question if something was really so important, why was it in a plastic bin, that was under another plastic bin, tucked away in the back of a closet.  I pulled out paperwork and thought about what I would need in an emergency or following a disaster.  And then I got down to business.

I knew that if there was ever a fire in my home, once I knew my family was out safe, the only thing I may be crazy enough to risk my life to save would be our family pictures and videos.  So I knew one of my first priorities was to ensure that I had copies stored safely somewhere.  I used my 20% off Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon to buy myself a photo scanner that saves photos right to an SD card.  (In hindsight, I wish I had purchased the 8x10 model which was only a tiny bit more expensive.  I would have been able to save most of my documents on an SD card, rather than on a disk after I scan them onto my desktop and it would have saved me a fair amount of time. More on this later.)  I pulled out all the pictures I had taken before I went digital and started scanning them onto the memory cards.  However, I was ruthless with what pictures were memory card worthy.  In my boxes of photos, were pictures that were just awful.  I had an entire envelope of pictures that were Christmas card rejects.  Before going digital, you had to take an entire roll of film in hopes that at least one picture came back with everyone's eyes open, all looking at the camera, perhaps even all smiling.  Yet, I had kept the 23 photos that weren't good enough to include on a Christmas card.  So I pruned and purged.  I did keep a few of the rejected photos in which all 3 kids are crying just because now I can laugh about those days. If I deemed a picture not worthy of a frame, I figured it wasn't worthy of space.

I also started going through my current SD cards.  I never reuse a memory card.  They are part of my back up plan.  I deleted pictures that were doubles or blurry or had caught someone mid-blink.  These cards, combined with my newly uploaded pictures are all going in a safe deposit box along with copies of important documents.  I have on my list of things to do for next week, going to the credit union to get the safe deposit box.  Once it was put on the list, there is no going back.

Also going in the box are copies of documents I made.  I copied our wills, titles to our vehicles, life insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage license and a list of all our credit card and bank account numbers.  While making the copies wasn't difficult, I wish as I stated earlier that I had bought the larger sized scanner.  I could have scanned it all directly to another SD card. C'est la vie.

Finally, the boxes and boxes of kids' school work.  I had 3 bins filled with papers and art projects.  As I pulled them out, I realized that in some cases I didn't even know which one of the kids it belonged to - how special could it be?  But, I also found some true stand outs such as a great drawing or a story that really showcased their imagination. These I kept while tossing the math journals, worksheets and unidentifiable assignments.  I consolidated it all down to one plastic bin.

Soon I will be taking on my closet.  Last summer I realized that even if I lost the steroid weight I was carrying around, that I was never getting back into size 2.  So those all went to Goodwill.  Sometime soon I will be bringing more items to donate.  Armed with Peter Walsh's and Gretchen Rubin's advice still clear in my mind, I will rid myself of the attachment to items of clothing that I don't wear because I either don't like them, don't like them on me, or am not comfortable wearing them.

But not today.  Today I am going to enjoy the humid free air, a rarity this summer, and take a bunch of pictures of my kids.  Thank goodness for SD cards.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I Wish I Had Known

After yesterday's post, I had a number of people ask me, "How?"

Long story short, contact lenses and lack of knowledge.

Now for the long story.

I started wearing contacts while in high school.  My mom took me to the eye doctor and he examined my eyes and set me up with my first pair of contact lenses.  I would wear them each day and at night, take them out, place them in the storage case, put the storage case into the heater and boil the heck out of them all night.

At some point, I switched to a non-heating form of cleaning.  The contacts would soak in a bubbly liquid (now I realize it was a peroxide based cleaner) and then I would neutralize them and put them back in.

As cleaners progressed, it became even easier and soon I was using a simple multipurpose solution.

But, at no time was I ever told, by any doctor (and I had many due to moving and insurance changes), any contract lens supplier, or even another contact lens wearer that I should never, ever allow my contacts to come in contact with water.

Yes, letting your contacts come in contact with water is THIS dangerous!

I have learned a lot in the last few years about taking care of your eyes and unfortunately, learned too late all the things I should have know about taking care of contact lenses.  I know that there are 24 million contact lens wearers in the United States and my hope is that the following information gets out to as many of them as possible!

  • Never let water come in contact with your lenses.  This means any and all water.  Don't shower with them in, swim with them in and do not go in a hot tub with them in.  And please, do not use water to rinse them, EVER!  
  • Always wash your hands and then dry them, before handling your contacts.
  • Wash your lens case out with your cleaning solution, or saline, NOT tap water!  
  • Throw out your lens case EVERY SINGLE month.  These are a hot bed of bacteria!
  • Do not sleep in your contacts.  Sleeping in your contacts, even those that are designed to stay in overnight, create a 4 times greater risk of getting an infection.
  • Never use expired cleaning solutions.
  • Keep the cap on your cleaning solutions.  The tip of the bottle is easily contaminated.  Gross alert ahead!  Most people keep their solutions in the bathroom.  Every time the shower runs, all the yucky germs found in bathrooms vaporize and can land on anything and everything.  Do you really want microscopic amounts of poop to land on the tip of the cleaning solution?  Put that cap on!
  • Never top off your cleaning solution.  When you put your contacts in, dump all the solution out of the case and then refill it when you take them out. 
  • Don't just rinse your contacts.  Rub them with the cleaning solution. 
  • Consider a peroxide based cleaner.  These have proven to be more effective in destroying potentially blinding microbes (Shoff et al, July 2008) (Johnson et al, July 2009).
  • Consider using daily throw aways.  Nothing ensures a clean lens each day better than a new lens each day.
  • Do not wear your lenses longer than recommended.  You increase the likelihood of scratching your cornea and giving fungus, bacteria and microbes an entrance to your eye.  
  • If your eye becomes red, remove the contact lenses.  If the eye does not improve within a few hours, go to the doctors.  Never wait more than 48 hours.
  • If you are being treated for pink eye, you should see improvement within a day or two of treatment.  If you don't, you should ask to be tested for microbes and herpes. 
  • The makeup industry is not trying to get you to buy more product when they suggest you throw eye makeup out every 3 months.  Eye make up, particularly mascara, is a great medium for fungus.  I sat next to a girl who got a fungal infection from her makeup.  Her eye looked awful.  Check out this link and see the pictures of eyes with fungal infections http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1194167-overview#a0101.  Trust me, you will spend the $7 every 90 days once you see this.  
  • If you have any STD, it can get in your eyes.  So, use extra precautions and wash your hands very well before touching your contacts and eyes.  If you are prone to cold sores, or live in a home with someone who is, you can get herpes in your eye and this can lead to blindness (I'm guessing this is where a certain wives tale came from!)
  • Don't convince yourself it is worth saving money to put your eyes at risk.  Spend the money on new contacts.  Spend the money on fresh solution.  Spend the money on new contact lens cases.  Spend the money on new make up.  My eye infection cost my husband and I $35,000 OUT OF POCKET!  And it cost my insurance company over HALF A MILLION!!  Sure makes the few bucks you'll spend seem like chump change, doesn't it?

Following two major out breaks of eye infections in 2006 and 2007, the FDA was advised by experts that consumers needed to be better educated regarding the hazards associated with wearing contact lenses. From talking to people who still wear contacts, it seems this advice was never made policy.  And while Congress did pass regulations making it harder for online businesses to provide contact lenses without confirming prescriptions, there are no regulations for cosmetic lenses and anyone can purchase these and use them.

Please feel free to add any additional tips in the comments section - I know some of you who may read this work in the eye industry and some of you may have met me through the support group losteye.com and can add to the above hints.  Also, please share with anyone who wears contacts.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Giant Reveal

This photo is special to me for two reasons.  First, because it was taken at the Mother's Day Brunch at my daughter's preschool, and we had a wonderful day together.  Second, it is the last photo taken in which I was normal.  Two weeks after this photo was taken, I started having issues with my left eye.  My eye was blurring and felt "tired" all the time.  I went to a local optometrist who told me I had allergies and he placed me on steroid drops.

Two days later, I just knew in my gut that I was not suffering from allergies.  I did some searching online and was horrified to realize that I had all the symptoms of a parasitic infection that is life threatening.  I called an opthamologist, explained my symptoms and they got me right in for an appointment.  I told them what I suspected and they assured me that such an infection is rare and I most likely had a bacterial or viral infection and started me on drops and oral medications.  Unfortunately, I continued to get worse and on June 16th, while at a martial arts tournament with my son, I lost all vision in the eye.

I woke at 3:30 am the following day in the worst pain of my life.  I called the opthamologist's office and they had me report to them for an emergency visit.  I had to wrap my head in a towel to get there as the pain from any light was excruciating.  When I removed the towel at the doctor's office my fears that I was in trouble were confirmed by the doctor's reaction.  He immediately called a specialist's office in Boston and told my husband that we needed to drive down right that moment.   Unfortunately, we had no time to find a babysitter for our 3 kids, aged 2 to 7 at the time and headed to Boston with all 3 kids still in pajamas and only the 2 diapers I had stuffed in the glove compartment.

At Boston, my worst fears were confirmed.  I did indeed have the parasitic infection,  Acanthamoeba keratitis.  It is a very aggressive parasite that eats and destroys the cornea of the eye.  If it manages to get through the cornea, the eye must be removed to prevent access to the brain.  The doctors in Boston felt I wasn't at that point yet and started me on a regiment of drops to try to stop and kill the parasite.  I had to use 7 different drops every hour, 5 minutes apart, 24 hours a day.

I eventually wound up in the ICU at Tuft's and had an emergency corneal transplant in an effort to prevent the parasite from entering my eye and having access to my brain.  We knew the transplant would fail, and I would need another one in the future, but I was happy to know that I was parasite free.  Unfortunately, I developed trauma induced  glaucoma as a result of the parasite and the toxic drops I had to use and a cataract formed.  In the spring of 2008, I had a second corneal transplant and had the cataract removed.  It was during this surgery that it was determined that the glaucoma had damaged the optic nerve and I had only shadow vision.  The glaucoma was also causing significant pain.  It would spike into the 60's and 70's and I would have to go and have fluid drained out with a needle.  I eventually had a patch and shunt implanted to drain the fluid out.  I had been on oral steroids for almost 2 years to prevent the transplant from failing.  In addition to acne, facial hair and a 60 pound weight gain, I also developed high blood pressure.  As a result, I hemorrhaged behind the eye and had to be rushed to the ER where they cut my eyelids to allow the eyeball to come forward and allow all the blood that was behind it to get out.

(Big black eye and "moon" face from steroids)

I continued to try and save my eye, but it took its toll.  I had to travel 2 hours each way a few times each month to go and have it checked, to have stitches pulled that had come loose, to get new prescriptions for ulcerations that would form on the surface.  I was in pain almost every day and it was affecting my ability to be the mom I wanted to be for my children.  Cosmetically, the eye was starting to wander and to shrink.  In August of 2011, I went for a visit with the occular plastic surgeon to discuss my options, and it became clear that it was time to end my struggle.  After breaking down and crying like a baby, I scheduled my enucleation for November 3rd. 

(November 5th, sporting my compression bandage)

My surgery went well and I was fortunate to have my parents willing to come and stay with us to help keep life as normal as possible.  I also had tons of support from family and friends and to this day I swear I healed both emotionally and physically so quickly due to all the prayers that were sent up for me.  I had to wait until mid December to go and have a prosthesis made.  Most people assume that when you have a fake eye, it is put in your socket when the real eye is removed.  It isn't.  A small implant is put inside your socket and either covered with your own tissue or that of a donor.  I had limited tissue that could be used, as there was so much damage, so donor tissue had to used.  The prosthesis is like a really, really thick, really big contact lens that fits over the implant.  I can take it out and clean it and then put it right back in. 

 (My new eye!)

The most common question I am asked is what does it look like without the prosthesis in the socket.  I did post a picture on my facebook page about a week after surgery of myself without the patch on.  However, I had in the socket a clear conformer which maintained the shape of my eyelids.  Very, very few people have seen me without anything in the socket.  This is going to be the big reveal!  

Its a lot less gross than most people are expecting.  It is still hard for me to look at sometimes, I'll admit that.  And neither of my sons will look at me when my eye is out.  In fact, it was my daughter who took these for me, when I took my eye out today to clean it.  I wanted to be able to show people that it isn't that bad looking, particularly people who are at the start of their journey with losing their sight and possibly choosing to have their eye removed.  
 First I slide the top of the prosthesis under my top lid.

 Then I pull down my lower lid and let the prosthesis settle before allowing the lid to slide back up.

 The paint job is amazing!  It matches the other iris exactly, as does the blood vessels they added.

I still may have some cosmetic work done.  The parasite and drops caused me to lose a lot of the fatty tissue so there is a noticeable difference when my glasses are off.  But for now, I am enjoying 6+ months of good health and no pain medications or drops or trips back and forth to Boston for medical visits.  Maybe next year I'll talk with the occular plastic surgeon about using some fillers and stitching up the lids a bit to match the other side.  Then again, maybe I won't.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stella turns 1!

Today is my Stella's first birthday!  All the dog hair aside, it has been a great year with her.  She is just a fabulous dog and I am so pleased that I took a lot of time to find her.  

I grew up with dogs, usually strays that my father, an animal lover, brought home.  My husband and I got our first dog just before our first anniversary.  Otis was a crazy dog.  Otis would make the infamous Marley look like a dream.  He ate our floor.  He ate our walls.  He ate the handle of my sliding glass doors.  He paced all night long.  He took ritalin, and it didn't help.  I took him on 6 and 7 mile walks through the woods, throwing a ball to him and making him come back, and it didn't help.  He started nipping after our first child was born and the vet recommended we find him a new home.  We kept in touch with his new owners, who let him roam their 80 acre farm.  He ate all their lampshades and pulled the woman into a roadside ditch during a walk and broke her leg.  They loved him and kept him until he passed away a few years ago.  

We let years go by before considering another dog.  We did a brief stint with Dirty Gertie, a cairn terrier we rescued.  However, the two sets of bald eagles nesting behind our home made it clear that they considered Dirty Gertie to be an appetizer.  After the third day of them circling above our yard, we found her another home. And I swore, no more dogs.

I held true to that for a long time.  3 kids, one diagnosed on the autism disorder spectrum, juggling activities, therapies, school, home and my own illness made it easy to dismiss any suggestions to add a pet to the mix.  Because all of us mothers know that "We'll take care of it!" is perhaps the biggest lie to ever cross any child's lips!  And I just didn't need one more responsibility.  

My youngest haunted me non-stop for a dog.  He wanted a dog "so much".  And, in a moment of weakness, while dealing with pain and potty training, I told him that when he peed and pooped on the potty all the time and my eye was better, we would get a dog.  Soon, he was indeed fully trained and diapers were a thing of the past.  About a year later, my eye was as healthy as it was going to get and he turned to me and said, "I'm using the toilet and your eye is better, so where the hell is my dog?" (his potty mouth is a whole other story!)  And so the search began.  

I had initially wanted to do a rescue, but found my choices limited.  I am straight up admitting that I do not like pit bulls.  I know there are those out there that love them and think they have gotten a bad rap.  I don't care.  I don't like them and I did not want a dog that was part pit bull, and the shelters here are full of them.  Its also pretty expensive to adopt here.  At least $200 to $300 and I figured if I was going to spend that, I might as well spend a little more and get what I wanted.  And Stella is what I wanted!

Even though my kids love her and she loves them, she is my dog.  She spends almost all day with me, so its not a surprise.  There are mornings when I think life would be easier if I could sleep in just an hour longer and not have to get up to walk her and feed her.  But I credit her with how quickly I healed following my final surgery.  Once my parents left to return home, I had no choice but to get up and feed her and couldn't climb back into bed and feel sorry for myself after the kids got on the bus for school.  I had a dog that needed to walk.  So we walked.  Short distances at first, and then longer and longer.  And I met neighbors that I hadn't even known existed.  They would walk over to pet Stella and introduce themselves.  And they would say hi the next day as we walked by.  And then they started keeping track of my recovery and offering to help if I needed it.  And I avoided the depression I felt nipping at the edges since losing my eye.  None of that would have happened if we didn't have Stella.

Happy Birthday Stella!  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Virgin Post

Another blog.  Another preppy blog.  How much is too much?  Perhaps it is my own feeling of self importance, but I haven't yet found a blog that really fits me.  So instead of wasting time looking through all those out there, why not do my own?

I'm a woman who loves all things preppy.  Except apparently, my men.  My husband is NOT preppy.  My husband is pick up trucks, ATV's, camouflage and testosterone.  My husband couldn't identify seersucker let alone would he ever be caught wearing it!  And as we have built our life together, I am finding myself with an evolving style caught somewhere between preppy and redneck. 

Fortunately, I live in the land of LL Bean.  A feminine flannel seems a much better choice than Lilly Pulitzer when my day will include volunteering at the school, cleaning house and moving firewood.  I am lucky to be surrounded by other women like myself - former fashionistas, former preps, former owners of their own style.  Now, we are slaves to practicality.  You have to be if you live in northern New England and can't afford to have someone else do all the dirty work living here entails.  There is snow to move, air so cold it will freeze your nose closed, and humidity so high you will forget you freeze the majority of the year and wonder why you never had central air installed.  And then there is the mud.  There is a lot of mud.  So much that I am sure I will dedicate and entire post to mud season and why that is the reason I have Wellies but refuse to spend money on Jack Rogers sandals.  As a result, the women tend to be very free of passing judgment as they too have had to sacrifice fashion to function. 

But every once in a while the planets align and I get a chance to push the multitude of fleeces to the side of the closet and find some of the nicer items stored safely in the back.  And as my children get older and my need to deal with the elements decreases, I imagine those moments will multiply and I can actually enjoy my pearls, seersucker and monograms without fear of destroying them.  

Until then, I will live vicariously through my Pinterest account and this blog.