Friday, March 21, 2008

More Nala

So far Nala has been too good to be true. We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop (or be chewed) but she has been an angel so far. She starts her vaccines today so it will be a little while longer until she makes her public debut. We are working on simple things like getting her used to a leash and collar and a walking harness. Her 'trainer' comes next week to get us all started. Us humans apparently need more training than Nala does so she works with the whole family.

Not much else is happening here. Bob took the day off to watch basketball with Connor. March Madness I guess....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meet Nala

Our newest member of the family came home last night. This is Nala, our puppy. Nala was given to Carter by our favorite doctor. Nala will be trained as a companion/therapy dog for Carter. She was born on December 11, 2007 and is over 30 pounds now. Full grown she will be roughly 110 lbs plus and 3 feet tall. Here are some pictures of her homecoming. Chardonnay took to her right away and they slept together all night.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Those tricky leprechauns somehow turned all the water in our faucets green this AM! The toilets flushed green water, too! It was a big mystery for a while but then the boys started to figure bits and pieces of it out. They guessed that the Leprechauns must have put green paint or something in the faucets. After a lot of fun and teasing I brought out the fizzy tablets from Steve Spangler that does this. They had fun mixing the colors...Carter did not know that yellow and blue make green...I just assumed he learned that in Kindergarten (maybe he was absent that day, lol). Connor remembered back to 4th grade where I taught him chromatography and made black with the primary colors. Thank you Leprechauns for the fun color reminder and for leaving us extra fizzy tabs to play with! ;)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Welcome to Holland

One of my amazing friends whom I have never actually met in person is going through the very difficult loss of a little boy with spina bifida. Years ago I started an international support forum for people with spina bifida. I met my friend here. We emailed back and forth for years, we kept in touch when I had to shut down the board temporarily, I sent her stuff to help her son that they do not have in Northern Africa, we 'speak' weekly :) No, thank God, it was not her son. My friend is a support contact in her own right in her area where information about spina bifida is not so readily available. She is a source of inspiration to mothers all around her area who come to her for help and advice. It was one of these little boys that she has helped and loved. She remembered this poem (story?) and asked me to send it to her for the family. It reminded me that I should share it again for all the moms (and dads) for whom the birth of their child did not turn out quite the way they expected. It is one of my favorite stories of all time and it makes me smile and cry every time I read it.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

Letterboxing at Red Rock

We braved the wind, rain, cold and snow (yes, Vegas got a light dusting in the mountains last night) to go out letterboxing again today. This picture looks like a painting doesn't it? This one shows the snow a little better. Notice the signature desert pink sky. Sometimes I am in such awe of the desert beauty. Because I have grown up in the desert my whole life (minus a few years on the East Coast that I don't remember well), I often neglect to look at just how marvelous it can be.

We picked Red Rock Canyon because there a several boxes out there and it was a far enough drive to be considered an "adventure". We first looked for one at Calico Basin which is just outside of Red Rock. As we did on Thursday, Carter stayed in the car with me. Bob is much tougher than me :) so he took Connor up to look for it. After more than an hour I was about to send the rangers up after them. I was scared to death that something happened to them. Of course, they find it hilarious that I thought something terrible could happen to them on this 'bunny hill', WHATEVER! Here they are hiking up for the first box.

The second box was not successful either. This one we are pretty sure is 'missing'. I contacted the owner of the box so that they can check on it. There was snow patches all over the ground on this trail. Sorry, no picture of that one.

Thankfully our last box was a success and what was great about this one was that 95% of the trail was accessible so Carter got to hike on this one with us. The wind had let up and we had a great little family hike.

Bob is hooked on this which was a big surprise to us all. He even suggested that we buy a hiking backpack with a compass and more supplies so that we can hunt for harder ones.

There are 4-5 boxes out at Calico Basin so we plan to go back there in a few weeks and hunt for all the ones in the area. There is a nice little picnic area right at the bottom of the mountain. If any of our friends are up for joining us, let me know. It would be more fun with some friends. We can grill at the bottom and have another fantastic family day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Letterboxing and Chuckwalla!

We went today to find our first letterbox today. We went to the Hoover Dam to find Stephanie's box. Letter boxing is a little like treasure hunting. Think National Treasure meets boy scouting project and you will have the gist of it. It is an English tradition that began in the 1800's. Carter was able to stay in the car with my mom while Connor and I went hunting for it. We had an absolute blast and found it after a little while. We brought it back to the car for Carter to stamp.

After we found the box, Connor saw a big "lizard".I thought it was a gila monster. But when we got home Connor researched it and found out that it is actually a chuckwalla . So, we watched him (her?) for awhile before heading back home. It was HUGE!

The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hospital Thoughts

So, while I was in the hospital I did a lot of thinking about the past year especially and how happy I am that we are now homeschooling. Sitting there watching Carter sleep hooked up to so many machines made me think about how many nights Bob or I have done this, about how little control we have over him and his health, how many years we wasted trying to maintain the status quo. I could kick myself for not listening and being strong enough years ago to follow my heart and not put him in school. I always wanted Carter at home with me but I let everyone talk me out of it. I listened to all the comments of how not going to school would make him reclusive and wouldn't give him the real life experience that he needed. My solution was to be the PTA President and then a teacher at their school. It was always my way to be there with the boys as I never wanted them far from me. Almost a year into this (May of last year was really the last time he attended school for any regular basis) I laugh at all of that. When we first started homeschooling, we followed all the rules :) We did a curriculum every day, even though he hated it most of the time. I remember one frustrating day of actually yelling at him to pay attention to some stupid lesson he was not at all interested in and that was the day I became an unschooler. I didn't know at the time that there was a real term for my newfound philosophy. I just realized how stupid it was to keep pushing him to be 'grade level' and prove that I was right in homeschooling him. Unschooling has been the most incredible thing to happen to our family. It has given control back to Carter over a life that he previously had very little control. You could see the changes in him during this hospital visit. He advocated for himself, insisted that everyone tell him what was going on, told people to leave him alone when he had enough. He saw how little control he had in this situation and fought desperately to gain it back. Perhaps that is because he is getting more comfortable controlling his own life through unschooling. It hit me as a watched him sleep how much unschooling has given him and our family. Now, I will admit I a much less confident unschooling mom of Connor. He has some big goals and I struggle with the boundaries of pushing him to do now the things he needs to accomplish those goals. I suspect as Connor fully explores his freedom, his goals will change. He will see that there are many more roads for him to travel now. At 11 years old he started his own company and website. Yes, he gets a lot of mom support with it but it is his in the end and it is becoming very successful. He wants to explore this more, getting more involved in building business relationships, controlling the site finances, and delving into more advanced coding. I know that he has the drive and spirit to be successful in whatever he chooses. My hope for him is that he learns to be HAPPY in whatever he chooses. That is my hope for Carter as well. More than anything, the boys both need to learn to control their own lives and destiny.

See Ya Later Suckers!

Cart has been home for about an hour now. He is on the 'sick bed' with a bunch of bears and remotes. He is looking great and feeling good. I think it will just be a few days until he is fully up and about. As we drove away from the hospital he yelled out the car window, "See ya later suckers!" This vocabulary is certainly funny if nothing else....

THANK YOU to everyone for all the offers of help, emails and well wishes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Update

C slept much better last night :) He is still having a problem keeping anything down, which is not unusual at this point for him. Connor is keeping him well entertained with the bears. We are keeping him happy with the thought of maybe a puppy and a new trip to Disneyland. Can anyone say spoiled??? We can't help it! He is just so cute. Every now and then he will say. "Mom, this place SUCKS" or come up with some other lovely (insert bad word) phrase. His almost 10 year old vocabulary is certainly increasing. Then 5 minutes later he will be watching a video from one of our many Disney trips and he says "Mom, I will never get tired of seeing those elephants dance". I just have to laugh....of course you can have a puppy and more build a bears, and yes, we can go to Disney when you feel better.....LOL

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I feel like I am at the Ritz Carlton with all the amenities this hospital has. Seriously, who uses pay per view at the hospital? ROFL. Thanks for everyones well wishes. We hve told C how many wonderful messages he had. Hisi two new bears are in his hospital bed with him. He is cranky which is normal on the first day. We are trying to keep him comfortable. Everything went well with the surgery. The doctor ended up putting a shunt in the spine at T9. We should be out of here Sunday night. I have internet access through the TV only. He is enjoying unlimited ice cream :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's Official

Cart will be headed back into the hospital on Thursday. We will be there a few days for sure. Can't really say what the surgery will be for exactly as a lot of it will depend on what we see in the scans done this AM.

Anyway, I will just update here later in the week to let you all know how he is doing...

If you would like to learn more about Spina Bifida you can peek at this.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

And The Lawn Mower Passes...

A pivotal point in any Father-Son relationship came today as Connor became the official lawnmower of the house. I am not sure who was more happier about the passing of this important 'manly' chore but it is one more sign that Connor is growing up. Of course, we only have about 20 square feet of grass on our whole property :)