How Are Things?

It certainly has been an adjustment and some difficult days since Sasha passed away. Jameson still asks for a new doggie, but less frequently. Coraline was just looking for Sasha again this morning (and she is speaking in relatively full sentences, so this was “Sasha where are you” or “Sasa aru”), but it is only for a moment.

Jameson always has us all say “We eat” in the third person (so I say: “We eat mommy” and Brian says “We eat daddy”) after prayers. So after Amen, on our first dinner without Sasha, Jameson speaks for himself and Coraline. He said “We eat Jameson, We eat Coraline, and… Sasha’s not here. 1…2…3…4. Just 4 friends now. Why?” The kid is unknowingly heartbreaking.

A couple days after, Brian and I were having a hard time with the empty spaces Sasha left behind, so we moved some of the kids toys and furniture. Jameson really liked the change, but then suggested in the new smaller space we left open that we could get a bed. A small bed, for a new doggie. Luckily, we don’t get those requests as often already, and seeing Aunt Melissa’s new puppy on Saturday helped.

I’ve watched him progress pretty quickly processing Sasha’s death. But the first few times we read the book was hard. He would ask what page Sasha dies in, and when we get a new doggie, can we get Sasha again? That was a hard one. But now the questions have progressed into Heaven, God and Jesus, which is good timing for this season. We have the nativity set out, and I brought out a children’s Bible I bought last summer before he was quite ready. Now we’ve read some of those stories on the weekend.

Unfortunately, we’ll have more sad news to relate to him in a short week when we go to visit my parents. Jameson loved walking their oldest dog Mayzie, one of my childhood pups, but she passed away Tuesday. What a month! But I am happy that we’ll be able to talk about how Mayzie is in Heaven with Sasha (albeit, they were not the best of friends! ha!)

Mayzie always had an almost human grin when her favorite people arrived. The most tolerant dog to my kiddos poking and prodding, and best big sister to Shiloh making sure she didn’t annoy the babies too much. She was protective and loving and made an awesome howl with the harmonica. We got her in May 2001, and she was 14 years old. It’s hard for myself to fully understand she’s gone; when we arrive for Thanksgiving I’m sure I will feel the loss harder.

The weekend before Sasha passed away, I was actually visiting by myself to see the family and take some photos of Mayzie. I thought Mayzie would be going first, but we hadn’t really accepted the reality of Sasha’s illness yet. I loved getting these photos for my parents, it was a nice healing weekend before the hard stuff ahead.







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10/1/02 – 11/11/14

Yesterday, we had to tell Jameson that our beloved puppy was gone. Unexpectedly, he seemed to understand the concept of death already, that she was gone from us and not returning. He was incredibly sad, and immediately requested a new doggie. While I am certain he expected a new doggie to make him feel better, we know that is not entirely the case. It was the easiest question he asked. He also asked if we were with her, another unexpected but easy answer. The hardest part was watching him so sad, since this is his first experience with this kind of unresolvable sadness and grief.

Despite trying hard not to dwell on sickness or old age as reasons we die, he picked up on old age. He’s too young to explain that all of us die without causing fear, though I think he made that association anyway; or that death can also happen unexpectedly; so, we reassured him that Sasha had lived a very, very long time, and that she went to Heaven and can run in the grass there. He asked if tomorrow he will get older, and I told him that he will not be old for a very long time. I may have said that everyone lives for a very long time. It’s hard to find the answers to reassure and make him feel better, but to be truthful without opening up more questions he is too young to understand is nearly impossible. I am sure that won’t be the last of his questions about death and Heaven.

I did make him a book about Sasha, with photos of her as a puppy he has never seen before. It hasn’t really been the immediate hit that I expected, but I think it will be a useful tool when he asks more questions or misses her. Instead, he associated the book with making him sad, and he didn’t really want to read it again. I think he will want to later though.

We visited grandma last night, which was a much needed distraction for all of us. He has a big stuffed dog there, which he called his “pet doggie” and put it in the fort he and grandma made. So many, many sad moments. Some of the worst are associated with routine, of course. Looking for her in the morning when we get up or before bed. Leaving the garage door open when we get home to let her out. Thankfully, Coraline is so young, aside from looking for her very briefly, she has been a comic relief and little ray of sunshine for us. She chose an outfit today of all doggies.

I’ve found that I don’t really know Brian without Sasha, since the two were partners, his buddy, from the day I met him. It’s hard to find words to describe their relationship, since it was much more than master to pup. She will always be his very first baby. Watching him grieve is almost as hard as losing Sasha herself.

It took me a little time to love Sasha, not because she wasn’t lovable, but because she took up a lot of space in our bed, haha. But now, even though we’ve filled our home with additional pack members, the house feels so much emptier. She is such a big part of our life, home and family. And our hearts. Her exceptionally large presence really seems to make her absence even bigger.

We have a sing-song phrase we use with Coraline for naps and night-night time. It can be used for hello and goodbye, too. Monday, Jameson sang it to Sasha, singing “bye bye Sasha, bye bye Sasha, see you after school.” Knowing that she would not be home waiting for us in just a couple days while listening to him sing to her was the beginning of many hard moments. Another was watching Coraline, who has just started in the past few weeks to pull out Sasha’s treats on her own to go give to her. Yesterday morning, instead of a bye bye song, Coraline sang “Night night” to her.

Sasha reached the end of her life at the very old age of 12. She was, and is, the smartest dog I have ever met, a gentle giant with a sweet disposition as long as you don’t poke at her face, Coraline! Sasha loved rolling in the grass, sitting on couches, catching snowballs, eating cookies (the dog treat kind), and giving puppy kisses.

Pillow stealer

I’m sure you’re glad to be chasing bunny rabbits again.

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It’s been quite some time since my last post, in fact, nearly a month because Coraline will be turning one THIS WEEK.

How did this happen, a full year gone by in a blink of an eye? So much has changed, and I’ll save further nostalgia and blathering on about the time warp of  parenting on Coraline’s one year post.

I have actually had a rather lot of time on my hands the past two and a half weeks since I was let go from my job. I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to write much about it until it was final, but here we are.

Ice wine festivalMy next entry was going to be about our plans to finish off our basement; plans that we were literally going to sign off on the day that I was laid off. Or position was eliminated. My career services coach, provided generously by my former employer, says that “laid off” has negative connotations and that I should use the terms “position elimination due to cost reduction and restructuring”. Which is true, but a mouthful.

Thankfully, our contractor for our basement is a very old friend of Brian’s who is perfectly willing (and has plenty of work without us) to move us into fall, by which point I should be securely into a new position elsewhere. Although I am still incredibly bummed by the delay! Not to mention bummed at the lack of a job, of course.

I am on severance payments right now, and again my former employer has been generous in that regard in comparison to folks from other companies I have heard of. Generous, though, is not a job, and a few things changed for us including a $300 increase per month in health insurance on Brian’s paycheck in comparison to what we had from mine.

But don’t spend much time feeling sorry for us or myself. I am experiencing quite a bit of an ego hit myself, but for our family, we are not hurting financially or even emotionally in general at this moment. These kinds of decisions surrounding finances and family life are never fun to have, but aside from my pride, Brian is really enjoying my being able to pick up and drop of kids from daycare.

How have I been spending this time? We have continued to send the kids to daycare, because we are not ready to pull them out entirely and we have to pay anyway unless we wanted to set up a part time schedule. But quite honestly, we strongly feel and hope that I will not be out of work for long. We have not considered me as a stay at home mom at this point. I envision several more years in the future a potential part time job for me so I might work on photography more and allow us the freedom from having before or after school care, but at this moment we are happy with our choice.

So my time to myself has been spent working on organizing photos and moving them. I messed up when I created our iPhoto library when we first got our Mac, and this project has been on my mind for a long time. Basically, I was duplicating photos on the very same drive (which certainly isn’t a good back up strategy and has no benefits).

I freed up over 100GB on our drive and in the process organized and labeled family members in EVERY SINGLE digital photo we have (not including scanned family historical photos). From 2002 on, here’s where we’re at:

– 4 iPhoto Libraries totaling 34,603 photos tagged from: 4 or more phones and 5 cameras we have owned, plus numerous shared photos
– 1,874 photos of Sasha
– 2,424 photos of Coraline
– 3,833 photos with me, from 2002 to present
– 4,591 photos with Brian, from 2002 to present
– 11,328 photos of Jameson (obviously I didn’t know how to delete)
– Over 7,400 labeled as a favorite photo
– 66 photos of all 4 us humans
– Just 2 photos of all 5 of us with Sasha

With that project complete, which literally was like a job for 8 hours a day for a week or more, I have turned my attention to things that forever get put on the back-burner like renewing my passport, ordering Jameson’s birth certificate (we only ordered Coraline’s oddly enough), running outside whenever it was nice enough to do so (oh I am feeling the lack of a treadmill which I used to have access to at work!), cleaning the floors and actually catching up laundry, having lunch with friends, and working on Coraline’s party.

In a couple weeks, I’ll be heading to my parents for a visit with the kids and am pulling kids out of daycare a few times this week for various things. All in all, my time is very well spent and filled to the brim. It is great to be able to do things I have always talked about doing and never found the time to. I am hoping to finish Coraline’s digital scrapbook and catch up on both kids’ baby books. Maybe I’ll even get to our 2013 family photo book.

I have had some trouble sleeping and frequently have to turn away from bitter thoughts which invade whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself. But mostly I’m okay, even good. I’m sure, like Coraline’s first year, that it won’t be long before I look back on this time of freedom with nostalgia as well.

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Christmas Visit to Great-Grandma’s


The weekend after Christmas, we made the 2 hour drive to see Brian’s grandma, Jameson and Coraline’s great-grandma. Jameson enjoys great-grandma’s house. He’s always very shy initially, but warms up within an hour to play with his cousins and pet the cats. He wouldn’t give great-grandma even a high five when we first arrived, but by the time we went to leave, he voluntarily gave her a big hug goodbye.



Coraline was fascinated with great-grandma’s face, as she is with most people’s right now, but was very concerned when great-grandma held her! She was also in general a bit fussier because of both the drive and getting a top tooth in! Overall though she was great with sitting in laps and just needed a little walk once to get a change of scenery.



Everyone on that side of the family was there: cousins, aunts, and uncles! We had lasagna and chicken and, of course, cookies that Brian’s Aunt Sue brings.


Sadly, just a week later, Brian’s uncle George passed away unexpectedly. We were all shocked at the suddenness of his illness, a complication and confusion over changed medication for his diabetes. When we look back on these times while we are blissfully unaware of the future, it is hard. One moment life is going on as usual and the next everything is changed. This hit home to us particularly because two of Brian’s cousins are our age and lost their father. It definitely makes us appreciate what we have now more, but I find myself now that I am older with kids of my own dwelling on the pain or situation of others, especially tragedies affecting families. For better and for worse, I think.


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July: Elmo, Juice, Stuff

Last week, Jameson got his very first bloody nose.

I don’t have any photos of it, because it was a bloody nose. No, I did NOT go running for the camera. Yes, I DID think about it (and thought about artistic ways to take pictures of bloody kleenix. Officially insane). Instead, Brian and I argued about which way was better, head forward or back, and having seen some pretty awful bloody noses (and knowing that we can’t trust Brian’s childhood memory), I won.

Head forward. Nose pinched, but we didn’t do that since Jameson was bawling. Not quit sure what Jameson did, since I was doing dishes and Brian was in the living room, but he tripped and fell flat on his face in the kitchen.

Oh, I did have Brian tweak his nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. Also, I was thankful that we didn’t lose any more teeth. And it was over in about 5 minutes, with Elmo watching and some juice.


I’m in a bit of a rut here, blogging-wise and photography-wise. I went to edit my photos from the zoo and our visit to great-grandma, and then I stopped. The photos I took seemed uninspired and obligatory, much the way I’ve been feeling lately. The real camera has spent most of the week put away, in lieu of my iphone which is so easy and quick. I’ll get to them, soon.

It’s kind of a burned out feeling, like what I’ve been doing has started to feel like work and less like play. And this is important to want to enjoy recording life events and Jameson’s milestones and achievements, so I’m trying to put a no-pressure attitude on it to return to my old self.

So, if you’ve been missing my posts, I’m sorry, I know, I think I’ll look back on July and be like, did we do anything in July!?

We did:

  • We got new office furniture. I’m going to take a photo, but we’re not really done setting it up yet and some of the old stuff is in other rooms, but maybe I’ll just take an in progress picture and show you the awesome-ness that is now our office. Soon, I promise.
  • Brian went to Vegas, I went to my parents.
  • Sasha went to the vet, all checked out fine. She has a cyst on her eyelid we are watching. She is turning 10 this year, which I think means we need to have a dog birthday party!
  • We got UVerse installed, so there was a lot of Olympic and recorded TV watching to catch up
  • We finally saw friends Matt & Carrie’s new house, while Jameson and Nicholas played (together even! It was cute)
  • Went to the farmers market a few times
  • Watched fireworks from our porch
  • Went to the zoo with the neighbors
  • Watched my gladiolas bloom (clippings inside are so nice) and my hibiscus plant explode.
  • Dinner at grandma and grandpas
  • Visit to great-grandma’s and seeing Brian’s side of the family
  • Also, on the work side of things, our interns last day was last week, and one of my teammates has returned from maternity leave. Things are looking up on that front, so I am thankful for that.

P.S. Excuse my bra strap. Classy.

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It was an outdoor weekend: perfect weather for it! And it was a bittersweet weekend.

It started out somber, of course. Brian’s grandfather’s funeral was Friday morning and calling hours Thursday afternoon and evening. He lived a long (91 years!) full life, the last of his siblings to pass away. We feel fortunate that he was able to meet Jameson twice.

Brian’s grandmother passed away several years past, and the service this time was similar to hers. The tough part was actually the military honor and playing of Taps at the end. It was beautiful and terribly heart-wrenching. He was a veteran of WWII.

We opted to leave Jameson at daycare for both calling hours and the funeral; I left to pick Jameson up Thursday before the second set. It was better that way since he wouldn’t understand or tolerate the sitting and standing (and lack of toys). While I’m sure he would’ve lightened the mood, it would only have been for a half hour before he became antsy, I’m certain!


But on that lovely Friday evening, Brian got out the “bounce house” for Jameson to try the very first time. Lily wasn’t happy about it (she may not remember, but she did go in it at her first birthday part last year). The pump does make a pretty loud noise though.

Jameson wanted me to go in with him every time, which after some 10 or so times got a little old.

By the end of the weekend, he finally did go in and through it all by himself! (With close watching by mom and dad, since the activity is for ages 3 and up)

We meandered (well, Jameson ran over) to Lily’s house for a while. She had all kinds of great toys for him to play with.

She has a Cozy Coupe (he does too, but he didn’t know it yet *wink wink*) and he spent time going in and out of that. And letting dad drive him up and down the sidewalk.

It was a great way to end the day that started out so sad.

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Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy needed to pay her very first visit to our household on Wednesday, 5/2. She decided, due to the circumstances surrounding the too-early event and Jameson’s lack of interest in money just yet, to double up a contribution to his 529 account this month (well, sometime this year anyway since she needs to save up a little for it) to pay for college.

Fortunately, the tooth loss could have been a lot worse. I mean, it could’ve been better by, you know, not having knocked it out in the first place. But, it is was it is, or whatever the heck trite saying you’d like to use.

I’m sure Jameson, his future self reading this, probably thinks it was awesome. We’ll probably tell him that he got beat up by a 6 year old or something, because that sounds more awesome.

Totally not true.

Anyway, Wednesday just before noon, I got a call from Brian to my work phone. Apparently my cell phone wasn’t picking up any calls (and I still have no record of missing any). He said that the daycare called and Jameson knocked out a tooth.

The first words out of my mouth were along the lines of “You’ve got to be kidding me”.

They said that he knocked it out by flinging himself forward in one of those small chairs he was strapped into.

And I can’t help but question if they were even watching him. They have 10 kids, and 2 teachers. One teacher was changing his diaper, which left the other with 9 children. 9! Even though the one changing diapers could see into the room, her hands were full (literally. ew).

Well and so. I called the doctor, who told us it was a dental issue (wasn’t really thinking of that but, of course, yes it is a dental issue). They recommended a pediatric dentist, and she wasn’t in the office but graciously gave me a bit of background on baby teeth to be prepared.

And then I called and got him in to our family dentist; at this point I really didn’t have any idea how bad it was. The daycare said he was fine, but their fine and my fine are completely different things. Or maybe they’re not, but I felt like they were.

I picked Jameson up at the daycare where he was drinking milk and snacking in the kitchen with one of his teachers (not the one who was supposed to be supervising him, who I haven’t interacted with before at all). And yes, he was fine! albeit tired since it was nap time.

They gave me the tooth in a cup of milk which they labeled “tooth cup”. Supposedly milk keeps a tooth strong. But here’s the thing about baby teeth: You don’t typically put them back in, because they can fuse to the bone and cause many other problems.

Jameson fell asleep on the way and Brian met us there, so we let Jameson sleep on him for a bit while the dentist did some poking around.

We finally needed a different angle though and jostling him around (and presumably waking up to a stranger with those scary gloves in his face) made him wake up a touch cranky. We held him down for a minute so the dentist could get a better look and check his other teeth.

The verdict? No xray because he probably wouldn’t still still, but after looking at the tooth, and checking his gums, it appears that the entire tooth, root and all, came out. Which is good, because it means no surgery. It also means he’ll have that gap for another 4-7 years until the permanent one grows in.

Orthodontia problems? Probably, since the baby tooth won’t be there as a spacer. However, both Brian and I had braces anyway, so not a surprise.

Aside: Another little boy I know of had a fractured front tooth and needed a root canal! So we are thankful for small blessings.

Another aside: The dentist told us his 2 year old daughter had just knocked out her top tooth recently too. It’s reasonably common, but still upsetting.

Here it is, the tooth he only had for about 7 months. Wish I had a macro lens, just for this:

But let me tell you, my superficial little heart still hurts for his smile terribly.

And, I am still so very angry at the daycare (as needless or meaningless as it might be, since accidents happen anywhere, anytime, no matter who is watching).

We are making jokes. Jameson is clearly fine, he didn’t even need any pain reliever. He cried for just a moment when he saw blood, but never for pain. One tough little dude.


But. It is what it is.


P.S. Guess my baby’s child modeling career is over before it’s begun. Sigh… (just kidding)

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High of 80

This week has been beautiful. I am so happy to see flowers popping up everywhere (except my house because we don’t have any early blooming flowers or trees). Brian cooked out on the grill for the first time this season, and Jameson loves to watch.

We’ve been taking long walks in the wagon, where I will give Jameson flowers that are growing around the open lots by our house. Except they’re not really flowers, they’re weeds, but Jameson doesn’t know that.

They’re small and yellow and he holds them the whole ride (without eating! most of the time) and he gives me a big grin whenever I give it to him. I need to capture this on camera. Him holding the little delicate flower without eating or shredding it to pieces is momentous in my mind.

The only unfortunate part of the week was this. Oh, and the fact that it ends tomorrow with rain and cooler weather.

He crashed into his toy when he tripped and fell (actually, a little plastic wheelbarrow that I shouldn’t have been letting him play with ANYWAY because it’s an Easter gift. Oops). It’s already looking much better though.

Here’s to more blue skies and happy weather. (I’m raising my water bottle here at work, but pretend it’s a lovely wine glass, will ya?)

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This day last year I was making the decision whether or not to see my grandma in the hospital before she was going to be taken off the machines keeping her alive. I was at work, deciding what I wanted my last memories of my grandma to be.


I think it’s better in some ways to know when death is going to happen, so that you can prepare yourself. But in other ways, it doesn’t seem to make any difference.


My last memories of my grandma were not at the hospital. I opted not to go. She wasn’t really aware, and I was pregnant and didn’t think that I would be able to handle it well.


I had actually gone to visit my grandma just days earlier, the previous weekend. I am so thankful I did.


But that last visit is not really how I want to remember her either.


Grandma was frail, moved in inches across the carpet. She needed help in the bathroom since she had broken a wrist.


She had a nurse, but the nurse left while we visited. I wasn’t prepared for that. I told Brian that while I was glad I had seen her, I hoped someone would be with me next time.


We had grilled cheese, which seemed to be the only thing she would eat.


We talked for a while: about the baby (which she told others she thought was a girl by the way I was carrying). We talked about family (always some drama). We talked about her housekeeper (who could never do a good enough job), her nurses (who she loved much more than I thought she would).


I told her before I left that she needed to be careful and let that wrist heal so she could hold my baby.

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In Honor Of

A pretty terrible thing happened yesterday. A really terrible thing, on a real scale, rather than the exaggerated funny terrible of yesterday’s post. Today I am at my parents, and time is moving forward, but I’m stuck in a little time warp of my own mind. Next week, I may be scattered with posting, with life things.

Here is this week’s old photo, in honor of my grandma.

This is a school picture, appropriate for the time of year, I think. It’s of my grandma’s mother, Ida. I am not sure exactly where she is in the photo, although my grandma pointed her out to me before.

Ida was born to Godfrey and Louise in 1896. She married Carl, who owned a refrigeration company, and they had six children, one son and five girls! The eldest girl was my grandmother.

The first house Ida and Carl owned had just four rooms and no bathroom or running water. They got electricity when my grandma was about 6 years old, and lived in it for 12 more years. I am trying to imagine six children in four rooms and no indoor plumbing, (because yes, all were born here before they moved out of this house according to my grandma), but I can’t. It was a different time.

Ida was a member of the Methodist church and part of the Ladies Quilting Circle. She enjoyed sewing and gardening; My grandma remembered her beautiful rose gardens.

I hope that all these kids grew up, had families, had fulfilling lives, like Ida and my grandmother did.

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