Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back on the ground...

I had a whirlwind weekend complete with a very short trip to Chicago to volunteer with the Children's Heart Foundation on working on a national awareness campaign in collaboration with the newly formed National Congenital Heart Coalition. It was exciting to see so many people devoted to this silent epidemic come together, despite diverse agendas, and be able to set the initial stage to begin work on a national awareness campaign, as well as national advocacy efforts. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

On the lighter side of things, the trip was as crazy as any of mine... 3 hour delay on Friday on the way out, landed to find snow on the ground and realized I hadn't brought a coat, stayed in a total roach hotel near the airport (avoid PriceLine!!), drove a Chevy Cobalt (not as bad as I thought it would be) and watched a medical emergency unravel on the plane on the way home when a gentleman went into a severe seizure. Unfortunately, he lost control of all bodily functions, which is quite ummm... gross when canned together for an hour. I can only imagine how embarrassed he must have been when he came to. Thankfully we had a cardiologist on flight (he had severe hypertension which led to the episode), and we didn't have to reroute. We were escorted in once we hit the runway by the police and he was met with 3 ambulances. The end result, however, was that the front of the plane cleared out after his episode, as the stench was overwhelming. This caused problems, however, so some were asked to go up front to balance out the plane. No one wanted to. So, seeing as I am frequently faced with poopy pants, vomit and other such lovely things, I went up there, wrapped my jacket around my face (which I bought while in Chicago) and hoped for the best, not knowing if it was contagious at that time. I was relieved to later find out it was not. Hope the guy feels better and it's nothing serious.

I also had a freak-out moment of my own when faced with the fact that Sadie is a "high risk" cardiac patient that will need follow up and, likely, further treatments as she grows. Realizing that there are not enough experienced people out there who know how to deal with CHDs was a real wake up call. I know, I know, I should realize this, but when faced with it written on paper, I felt my stomach plummet. It's easy for me to think that her case is much less severe than most as I have now found myself deeply entrenched in a large social network of children with heart defects much more severe than hers (so I thought at least), but the reality is that it is still extremely serious. I've always known this, but admitting it is an ENTIRELY different matter. I couldn't sleep a wink last night thinking about it all, and was ready to get home and forget about it. As I rocked Sadie to sleep before her nap, the emotion of it all totally overtook me... I am NOT a cryer, but months and months of bottled up stuff just came pouring out. I think I need a breather from all this this week to recoup. That being said, a friend's daughter is going in for cardiac cath this week, so I know it will never be far from my mind. Please send lots of positive energy and prayers to my friend Karen and her family, but especially to little Jameson, who is one of Sadie's heart friends.

So, that was the weekend's fun for me. I was greeted at the airport 30 minutes late by Jason with an overly excited Katie and extremely exhausted and (ah, the irony) thoroughly poopy panted Sadie. The ride home was complete with high pitched screaming, Katie's exhasperating attempts to shout over her sister and Jason's general grumpy, stressed out self. Ah, home again.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Post Pascha Prilosec Please

Ugh... pass some relief this way, please. The girls had a fantastic time this Easter, but this momma could crawl into bed and sleep for a year. Who the heck was it that decided plastic eggs and candy should be a part of this day's festivities? Clearly, not a parent.

The morning started with Katie awaking at 5:20 to follow a trail of glittery confetti and eggs that led her to the ultimate payout - Easter basket complete with a new Webkinz and Hannah Montana CD (yes, I am a glutton for punishment, thank you for noticing). She managed to keep things quiet for a little over an hour before waking her sister, who discovered her basket. Sadie proceeded to bite through Hershey kisses wrappers, and when Jason put the basket out of her reach, found a way to get to it, grab candy and then run like all heck to a quiet spot where she could imbibe. Around noon we headed to the Thies clan's homestead in NoVa, where five cousins hunted for 149 more eggs . The ride home was one that even Satan couldn't come close to imagining up as the ultimate punishment in the depths of his fiery kingdom. Two candy-cracked out kids, two irritable parents and an insane lack of sleep led to the best case of heartburn I've ever had. Screaming, kicking (some of it the kids' doing), loud music and a 5-year-old with diarrhea of the mouth, it was one of the longest 1.5 hours of my life. Finally, they are in bed.

Now to hide all the candy they got today, to be given out in small increments over the next, say, three years. I'm sure there's enough that if it were one piece a day we could do that, with a few pieces left over.

Onwards and upwards. I did manage to get out to the office for some quiet moments (now), and read a blog entry in one of the many I keep up with that I'd like to share from AuspicousJot...

To me - resurrection is about the slow invisible pulse of life that flows in our seasons and quickens in Spring.

Resurrection is when you think you can never love again; when your heart is so broken that you let it die instead of trying to heal. When there are years of cold in your heart. And then... and then... you meet someone and you feel it again. The early pangs, the budding, and the full aromatic blossoming of a heart bursting with love. Resurrection.

Resurrection is people who live in the dark and endless tunnels of depression who see a glimmer of light and have the courage and the stamina to start running for it. And the darkness is so much more than that little flicker of light, but they run and run and run.

Resurrection is a hope that more people will resist taking up arms and instead hold hands with strangers. Cities will be rebuilt. Wounds will heal. Peace will be learned and taught.

Resurrection is every person in recovery working the program, going to the meetings, being clean today. Resurrection is starting all over again tomorrow.

Resurrection is apologizing, forgiving, learning from your mistakes, not dwelling on the mistakes of others.

Resurrection is trust, hope, faith, and awe.

Resurrection is leaving a little bit of room in your life for the impossible to take root and become possible.


Beautifully written. I needed a bit of food for the soul, and this left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling about a beautiful day, and its true meaning. Rock on with your chocolate bunnies, kiddies. Momma's back in the game.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Life with Carly Sparkles

Don't let this photo of a sweetly sleeping dog fool you. She is NOT that way often.

Carly Sparkles's schizophrenia has added to the mayhem that is the Thies household. Here are just a few of the personalities that she has displayed thus far...

Carly the Wanderer. Yes, the pup has total wanderlust. Her yearnings to travel has taken her to every neighbor in our vicinity, despite fences up to six feet high. She digs, climbs and squirms her way into other yards to socialize. She's a conscious traveler, though, and often brings us unique gifts from her explorations, including clothing items, trash, other dogs' toys, and a series of antlers that are currently strewn about our yard (last count, 7 pair). The other day a neighbor from behind our house dropped by to see if we had any of his children's shoes. Alas, we did. Two, actually, one for each of his children. When I mentioned antlers, he admitted that these, too, had come from his yard. Surprisingly, he did not want these trophies back.

Carly the Destroyer. Given the mix of breed, I'm surprised, honestly, that there hasn't been more damage. Mostly, she prefers to chew shoes, diapers (when she can find them) and underwear. However, we've caught her with glass, aluminum siding and, once, chewing on a wrought iron chair.

The real destruction comes from her digging. Through teamwork she's created a six-foot wide hole to gain access under our neighbor's privacy fence to visit his very lonely and neglected black lab mix. Really, in her digging, she's trying to do a good deed, I am convinced. The neighbor is not so appreciative, and on his side has laid down bricks, 2 x 4s and other items to prohibit her entry, and his dog's escape. Carly responds by simply digging deeper or moving down a few inches and starting again. The neighbor will soon run out of bricks.

Carly the Killer. She has a taste for rodents, with a particular palate for squirrels. Once she acquires one, she uses it first as a squeak toy, gently squeezing it in her jaws to get the squeaks she so loves to hear until all the air is out. Then she moves to the tail and uses it to toss her new "toy" in to the air. I have tried to save a few, but often find them in a pretty sad state once wrangled from her, so return them to her so she finishes them off quickly. Her hobby has forced us to create a squirrel cemetery in the bamboo patch behind our home. The first few got crosses on their graves, but Katie quickly grew tired of naming them and making gravestones, so now it's unmarked.

She also goes after moles by "flushing" them out of their holes. She'll hear one in the ground, gauge where it's exit is, then start on the opposite side by digging a hole. She digs until the blind little creature is forced out of its hole, at which she grabs it and begins the squeak toy game. Jason is dismayed by the giant holes pocking our yard, but I'm secretly happy. I hate those critters, and I think Carly's pretty ingenious in her tracking methods. Besides, our yard is now blissfully free of unwanted critters.

Carly the Lover. Carly is quite fond of her people and lets us know every waking moment. She has a tongue that is longer than she is, and loves to lick you when you are not aware she's within radius, eliciting "ewwwws" from the younger inhabitants of our home. She's extremely tolerant of Sadie's constant need to stick her fingers down her throat, pull her tail and give her kisses on her nose, and loves to sleep with Katie when allowed. She especially adores poor old Darla, and puts her paws over the senior dog's shoulders to hug her. Which Darla hates, and responds with by nipping at Carly. Carly is either too stupid or too loving to care, and will return the hate with more love, in the form of inner ear licks. Darla is especially fond of this, and a barking match will shortly ensue. Every once in a while, though, I find the two cuddled up side by side or playing in the yard, and I think that even Darla's come around to the newest addition to our home.

Carly the Protector. Perhaps my favorite part of our newest pet is the fear she elicits in others. Though we know her to be sweet and loving, if people catch wind she's got some pit in her, they instantly fear her. A few weeks ago a woman in PetSmart told me how proud she was to pet Carly - that she'd never been brave enough to pet a "killer" breed before. I just sighed. This being said, Carly can put up a good front when necessary. Recently, an unfriendly dog was barking menacingly and came running at us as we passed its yard on our nightly constitutional. Carly stopped dead in her tracks and began to growl in this eery, scary, deep voice I'd never heard escape her muzzle... and it made my hair stand on end and stopped the dog dead in its tracks. Another woman was walking some furry, yippy little rat on a leash (decked out in some hideous fake fur coat), heading our way at that precise moment. Hearing the growl, she turned on her heal, briskly switched to the other side of the street and high tailed it out of there.

'Atta girl, Carly. I guess you're a keeper.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Justice is Finally Served

On October 16, 2003, Jason's cousin, Taylor Blanton (a Virginia state policeman), was murdered in his home. Three days later, we attended what was one of the saddest and strangest funerals ever imagined. Hundreds filled the building for Taylor's eulogy, packing several rooms.

What was so bizarre about the funeral was watching the murderer, there in attendance. Hugging OUR family. Most of our family suspected who it was, but hadn't had the heart to confront Taylor's dad, Jason's uncle Ray. In fact, Ray and his wife were watching the dog for Donna, Taylor's wife and his murderer, at the time. I shuddered as she was carried past me when she "collapsed" outside of the funeral, and my brother-in-law, who is a firefighter and "in the know" about her pending charges, nudged me and told me to "watch the show."

The procession continued to the graveyard, where many in Jason's family lie. Only a short month before Taylor had been a pallbearer for Jason's brother's funeral, in the same cemetery. The irony was not lost on us. Though I didn't know Taylor any more than a casual acquaintance, I could not hold back the tears as I watched his mother and father, his children and Donna kids in front of the grave. I will never forget was when the police presented the American flag - not to Donna, who stood expecting it - but to Taylor's mother. I knew then that the police had confirmed that she was the murderer.

In the days that followed, we heard the hideous details of Donna's plan for murder, from staging a break in two days before, to a note left on the porch. She even said that Taylor had been shot while she'd been in the shower that morning, preparing to have sex with him, and that she came out when shots were fired, saw Taylor's gun lying on the floor, and fired shots at the fleeing intruder. We held our breaths and hoped that there was enough evidence to nab her.

Four days later Donna was arrested. She finally was convicted in 2005 to 28 years. Our family was appalled and sickened at the light sentence. Then came another blow - she won an appeal based upon the media coverage of the incident in the local area she was tried in, and got a retrial. That trial has been taking place for the last few weeks in Virginia Beach.

This past week, the jurors heard testimonies from two Taylor's kids and Donna's OWN children. (I have the highest respect for those four kids!!) They heard about Donna's web of lies, saw physical evidence and heard the investigator's reports.

Today, the jury recommended life in prison. Finally, a bit of conciliation.

Rest in peace, Taylor. Justice is finally served.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blogging Crack

This is your brain on blog crack.

For my avid readers (all 2 of you), you may have noticed I haven't rated the book I put up over two months ago that is my "current read". That's because I haven't started it.

While last month was a huge interlude into CHD Awareness (sorry for forcing it on you), I also had a guilty pleasure I'd been indulging in private. Like any good narcotic, I've become totally addicted to a clever and witty blog I stumbled across. I tried to limit myself to a few entries a day, but quickly devoured it all. Now I greedily wait for my next fix...

If you'd like to sample my drug du jour, check out Cul de Sac Blues. You have to start at the beginning of the blog, or it won't make a lick of sense. Before long, you'll be as absorbed with the happenings at Burning House and the Three Dougs misadventures as I've been.