Appreciation

Appreciation. It’s a funny thing. Some people live their whole lives feeling appreciated by those they love. Walking around beaming with pride from their very soul as if the very rays of the sun are coming from within. They know that their presence matters to someone, and that mere feeling pushes them from day to day with an exuberance to top their last.  Then some people live their whole life just wanting an ounce of appreciation from one truly pivotal person in their life. Whether it’s an abused spouse trying their damnedest to make their significant other show just a hint of happiness for having them in their life, or whether it be a silently ignored child just fighting for an ounce of affection from a parent who doesn’t seem to notice or care that they exist.


The universe itself thrives on appreciation. Those who live life with a thankful heart live life to the fullest. The more they appreciate what the universe has to offer, the more it wants to offer to them. People are very much the same. The more they feel appreciated, the more they want to do. Decades ago when divorce was less rampant, what kept families happy? Why did a man continue happily slaving at an endless job every day of his life? What kept a woman happily putting every meal on the table for her family? The key word here is “happy”. Those who happily did it most likely felt appreciated for these monotonous and mundane efforts.

Appreciation. Whether you look at it in extremes or in minute instances. It can make or break a person. Lack of appreciation can turn a heart cold. It causes divorces. It makes good employees leave good jobs. It can create tyrants. Or it can create a silent and deadly depression as it makes one’s soul slowly wither away. There is an endless array of circumstances that can befall a person when they feel unappreciated. Sure it may vary based on circumstances, but the fact of the matter remains.. we all seek to be appreciated in some form or another.


We may not all care about the amount of appreciation we receive. We may not all care if it comes from every aspect of our life. But I am pretty certain everyone has at least one key component in their life where a little appreciation means everything to them. A parent wanting their ever demanding kids to realize all the sacrifices they’ve made. A young child, wanting a parent to appreciate a drawing they worked so hard on. A star athlete wanting to feel valued by a respected coach. The best employee wanting to know the boss recognizes their efforts. A stay-at-home mom who lives life day-to-day with little adult interaction while her husband entertains late into the evening. Most don’t actively do things seeking appreciation, but they do notice when there is a lack thereof.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing to feel appreciated. A feeling that says, “Hey I see you.” “I acknowledge your efforts.” “I understand you.” Or “I am thankful for you.” A little appreciation can go a long way. It can make one’s efforts push beyond all expectations. But a lack of appreciation can go a long way too, as it can push a person down into the deep recesses of humanity. It’s the story often told in movies of triumph. It’s the story often told in movies of despair. It’s the unmentioned catalyst in both. But if you step back and focus on it, you’ll see its presence or lack thereof. You just may come to understand what it means to receive or show appreciation.


Appreciation. It’s very much like a smile; show a little and you may just change someone’s day…a server, a clerk, a stranger helping you on the street. But don’t stop just there, for we all tend to show more appreciation to those whose paths we will never cross again than we do for the very people right in front of us day-to-day. Don’t forget those who support you, whose very lives intertwine with yours. Those may be the very souls who need it the most from you. The people we become complacent with having in our lives. How quickly we grow to expect so much from them.  Make sure they know they are appreciated. Don’t take them for granted. For no matter how much you love them, people get tired eventually. Even if they stick it out, life offers no guarantees.  As the old saying goes: take time to stop and smell the roses. This too has always be just a little reminder about appreciation.

 

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Facing the Inevitable

Amazingly it has been six months since my Obi was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).  Since then we have had our share of good days and bad days, ups and downs and quite a bit of stress.  Back when all of this began, my baby had already started turning away from his dry dog food, so I had to start watering it down.  By March, he would no longer eat that, so I started buying canned dog food and mixing it.  When he started turning away from the canned/dry mixture, I went on to straight canned dog food.  By May he wouldn’t eat canned dog food either. I then tried purchasing the refrigerated tube of dog food that is offered in some stores.  He liked it for about three days.  Then he went on a hunger strike for about a week.  I watched him get skinnier and skinnier and was afraid to go on vacation at the beginning of June.

My mom came to our house to stay with him during our vacation.  “Grannie” somehow managed to get him to eat again and helped him put some weight back on. Her trick?  Lots of leftovers.  That was more than alright by me, as I had already tried giving him some here and there as well.  I would do anything that would keep Obi eating.  Unfortunately, that didn’t last long  About a week after she left, he quit eating most of the things I gave him.  So I started to cook for my dog. I found a crock pot chicken recipe that was very simple, and he loved it!  The pot of food lasted almost a week and he ate it all.  For some reason, the second pot didn’t come out quite the same.  He knew it too, as he would nibble at it, but wouldn’t eat all of his meals.  Now we are on the third pot, and he won’t touch it at all.  We had steak one night for dinner and of course he loved that.  The next night we had hamburgers and hotdogs.  He ate the hamburger, but wouldn’t touch the hot dogs.  The next night, he turned his nose up at the hamburger.  He didn’t eat anything that night.  That brings us to last night.  My daughter made soup, and we had french bread with it.  The only thing I could find in my house that he would eat was that french bread.  Once I discovered he would eat it, I dipped it in his crock pot dog food broth to provide some substance, and that worked.  Unfortunately once the bread was gone, he wouldn’t touch anything else.  I don’t know from one day to the next what he will eat or even if he will eat, but strangely enough, there is one thing he has eaten all week with me…watermelon.  While he turned away hotdogs and hamburgers, he was more than happy to share my watermelon.  Silly dog.

But as comical as I find his taste for watermelon, it hasn’t detracted from the fact that my dog is starving himself.  Due to his salix (water pills), he was drinking a lot of water before, but even that has subsided this week.  On a good note, his lungs do not sound as “liquid” since he hasn’t been drinking, but don’t let that fool you. His nose is showing he is becoming more and more dehydrated each day.  His energy is gone.  He is still as lovable with me as ever, but he also seems so very sad.  We spent a day laying in the grass last Sunday, and I would have sworn at that time that was going to be his final day. I am happy to say it wasn’t, but that day is coming, too quickly.


As if the universe wanted to send me a message, I received an article on my news homepage yesterday regarding euthanasia for dogs. I was able to read it objectively until I got to the part about what to do with their remains.  Then I almost lost it.  My baby will be gone…very, very soon.

I belong to a Facebook group dedicated to Doberman DCM.  After reading the euthanasia article, I took a chance and posted: “I am curious as to how many DCM families made the decision to euthanize instead of letting nature take its course. If so, at what point did you decide it would be best to do it? The idea breaks my heart, but I don’t know how much pain my baby is actually in.” I received so much feedback, most of it very supportive, but most of it heartbreaking.  Many responses included signs that my baby is already showing.  Many indicated it would be better for me to euthanize so he could die comfortably instead of risking a very painful death (which some had gone through with their dobies).  Now I am at a crossroads.  My heart continues to break.  I have a tough decision to make.  I don’t think I’m strong enough to make it.  Hell I can’t even handle thinking about it.  I don’t want to be the reason my dog dies, but I don’t want to be the reason he dies in pain either.  I need more time!  Sadly, time offers no guarantees.

So now I am crying as I am reluctantly planning a “fun last day” for my baby. I haven’t picked a date yet, because that would mean it’s final.  I’m not ready for it to be final.  But if you see me and I don’t seem cheery, if you call me and I don’t want to talk, if I turn down any invitation, or if I just seem quiet and far away while I’m in your presence, even though I may or may not have a smile on my face, please, please, please understand it’s because my heart is being ripped away from my very soul.  Maybe it will be renewed one day, but for now…well for now it’s just what it is.


Related posts:  Anticipating the End, Pet Insurance; Such a Scam  and Day by Day

Day by Day

Back in January, my Obi was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  (See Anticipating the End.)  Since then, it has been a struggle to keep up with the cost of heart medicines for my adorable baby. (See Pet Insurance…)  But how can you put a price on keeping a loved one in your life – even if it is a furry loved one??  All costs aside, my baby seemed to be doing very well, and no one would ever suspect he was sick.  So as any logical person struggling with the excessive cost would, I began to question the need for the medicines he was on.  First I researched three of the four.  This is what I found through my internet searches (and you may want to skip over this part if you aren’t researching for your own dog’s health):

Benazepril is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems. Benazepril is an ACE inhibitor and works by relaxing blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily.  This medication may also be used to treat heart failure or to help protect the kidneys from harm due to diabetes.

ACE Inhibitors – Indications

Severe heart disease is generally associated with activation of the reninangiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS), which promotes fluid retention, vasoconstriction, and myocardial and vascular remodeling. Use of ACE inhibitors in dogs with CHF is associated with improved quality of life and survival; however, data in support of this statement are less robust for dogs with DCM than for dogs with DMVD. When diuretics such as furosemide are administered, the reduction of plasma volume further stimulates RAAS activity and coadministration with an ACE inhibitor is generally recommended.

Administration

There are a variety of ACE inhibitors available, including enalapril, benazepril, ramapril, and lisinopril (Table). Differences are relatively minor, mainly involving route of metabolism/excretion and lipophilicity. From a clinical standpoint, many cardiologists consider them to be interchangeable. In the United States, the two most commonly used ACE inhibitors are enalapril and benazepril; both are associated with clinical benefit in dogs with signs of heart failure.

Considerations

In dogs with DMVD, the use of ACE inhibitors in those without clinical signs remains controversial. Two well-designed studies offer slightly different perspectives: One study in Cavalier King Charles spaniels with mild–moderate DMVD clearly indicated that enalapril did not delay onset of CHF. Another study involving dogs of many different breeds and more advanced DMVD also failed to show benefit with respect to the study’s primary endpoint; however, analysis of several secondary endpoints suggested that dogs that received enalapril avoided heart failure longer than dogs that did not.  In my opinion, if ACE inhibitors delay heart failure in dogs with DMVD that show no clinical signs, the effect is inconsistent from individual to individual, relatively small, and unlikely to dramatically change progression of disease. In dogs with severe heart enlargement and at high risk for CHF, I prefer to use an ACE inhibitor in tandem with low-dose diuretic therapy (furosemide, 1 mg/kg Q 24 H), as this more likely reduces plasma volume, intracardiac pressure, and risk of CHF than using an ACE inhibitor alone.

In human patients with asymptomatic DCM, early use of ACE inhibitors is widely recommended. In veterinary medicine, large-scale trials are lacking; however, a small study indicated that ACE inhibitors delayed onset of heart failure in Doberman pinschers with DCM. Thus, in dogs with DCM, I recommend use of ACE inhibitors prior to onset of clinical signs.

Monitoring

Adverse effects of ACE inhibitor treatment are relatively rare, but clinically significant renal dysfunction can occur. Less commonly, systemic hypotension or electrolyte imbalances are encountered. Renal function should be evaluated both before and after initiation of ACE inhibitors and at 3- to 6-month intervals thereafter.

Sotalol is used to treat a serious (possibly life-threatening) type of fast heartbeat called sustained ventricular tachycardia. It is also used to treat certain fast/irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation/flutter) in patients with severe symptoms such as weakness and shortness of breath. Sotalol helps to lessen these symptoms. It slows the heart rate and helps the heart to beat more normally and regularly. This medication is both a beta blocker and an anti-arrhythmic.

Beta-Blockers – Indications

Sympathetic tone is chronically elevated in dogs with DMVD and DCM and is thought to contribute to disease progression. In humans, plasma norepinephrine is a powerful predictor of morbidity and mortality. However, routine use of beta-blockers in veterinary medicine is hindered by lack of well-controlled clinical trials and risk for adverse events when initiating therapy, especially in dogs with advanced disease. In humans, beta-blockade is recommended in virtually all instances of reduced contractility, such as occurs in DCM. Thus, administration of beta-blockers is advocated by many cardiologists in dogs with DCM.

Adminstration

Because of the risk for acute slowing of heart rate and decreases in contractility, treatment with beta-blockers must be performed with caution. Typically, the dose is up-titrated over 4 to 6 weeks with close monitoring of heart rate, respiratory effort, and blood pressure. Titration is best tolerated in dogs with relatively early DCM.

Considerations

In dogs with DMVD, the use of beta-blockers is controversial and no consensus recommendations can be made.

Monitoring

Practitioners who use beta-blockers must be prepared to monitor dogs closely and to deal with acute decompensation should it occur. Consultation with a cardiologist is recommended.

Vetmedin (pimobendan) is used in the management of heart failure in dogs, most commonly caused by myxomatous mitral valve disease (also previously known as endocardiosis), or dilated cardiomyopathy. Research has shown that as a monotherapy, pimobendan increases survival time and improves quality of life in canine patients with congestive heart failure secondary to mitral valve disease when compared with benazepril, an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.[2] However, in clinical practice, it is often used in conjunction with an ACE inhibitor like enalapril or benazepril.

Indications
Both DMVD and DCM are associated with progressive loss of myocardial contractility. Poor contractility is much easier to detect in dogs with DCM as opposed to DMVD, where the presence of a large degree of mitral regurgitation often confounds routine echocardiographic evaluation of contractility.

Pimobendan is a positive inotrope and increases contractility through a mechanism different from that of traditional inotropes such as digoxin—the advantage of which is increased contractility without significant increases in myocardial oxygen demand. Pimobendan also relaxes vascular smooth muscle and elicits modest arterial vasodilation; this dual “inodilating” action is unique. Pimobendan improves survival and quality of life in dogs with DMVD, and very likely does the same in dogs with DCM.

Administration
The recommended dose is 0.5 mg/kg per day, divided into 2 doses that do not necessarily need to be equal.

Considerations
The benefits of pimobendan have been substantiated in dogs showing clinical signs associated with heart disease due to DMVD and DCM; treatment with this agent is recommended only if clinical signs are evident. Thus, in the majority of instances, pimobendan is prescribed only if and when dogs experience congestive heart failure and its attendant clinical manifestations (eg, cough, dyspnea, tachypnea).

Less commonly, dogs with exercise intolerance or syncope are also candidates for treatment. Currently, no evidence exists for the use of pimobendan in dogs with DMVD or DCM prior to the onset of clinical signs.

Monitoring
Pimobendan is generally well tolerated in dogs and no specific monitoring recommendations accompany its use.

The fourth medicine (Salix), I did not bother researching, because I already knew this one was desperately needed to help keep fluid from building up in his lungs.  As you can guess, I was researching the others to see if I could drop any of them from the mix to save some money.  After reading about them, I concluded (and it’s possible I was wrong), that three of the four were taken by humans, but the fourth (Vetmedin aka Pimbendan) was not.  This pill just happened to be the most expensive at $110 for a 25 day supply from my vet.  I thought I would try to go without and see how he reacted.


At first, Obi seemed fine without the Vetmedin, but within a day or two I started to get paranoid about going without.  Therefore, I went online and found it cheaper ($88 a month).  I submitted an online order.  Since this is a prescription medicine, the company indicated they would require a prescription from the vet and would attempt to get it.  I waited.  Two days later (on a Saturday) I started to get worried, so when Obi ran out of his salix and I had to call the vet for a refill, I asked about the prescription. The company had not sent the vet a request.  I figured I would give them until Monday.

Sunday morning, during our normal routine, I was up bright and early (6:30 am – way too early for a weekend if you ask me) and gave Obi his medicine.  Since I was awake, I started to make my coffee.  Behind me I heard a thud.  I turned around and my precious baby was lying flat on his side staring wide-eyed at me. I ran over to him and tried to help him up.  He couldn’t move.  I watched for signs of a seizure.  He did not shake at all, just laid there as if he were paralyzed.  I started to panic.  I thought this was it.  I woke the kids up, because I was afraid this would be their last chance to say goodbye.  We spent the next hour laying on the floor with him.  All we could do was give him love.  Then he slowly started to get up and I asked him if he needed to go out.  He did.  He moved slowly, but as the day progressed, he worked his way back to being somewhat “normal”.  He was slower than his normal spunky self, and I could hear the fluid in his lungs, but he seemed to be OK.  A trip to the vet in the morning would be priority.


On Monday, he went to the vet and got an injection to drain the fluid from his lungs.  We also got a new supply of his vetmedin since the online company never followed-through to obtain a prescription from the vet.  That evening he was back to his spunky self.  It was settled, he would stay on all four medicines for the remainder of his life.  Happy as I was that he was doing better, I faced a new dilemma.  I have a vacation coming in a week.  A “kid vacation” if you will…the last one we will have before Virginia graduates high school and goes off to college.  I originally thought to board the dog with the vet so that I knew he would receive good care; but now I didn’t want to leave him.  Even though the staff at the vet’s office loves Obi, and even with the amount of attention they would give him, I knew there would be periods of time that he would spend in a kennel, alone.  I don’t want him to feel abandoned.  And if this happens to be his time, I don’t want to chance him dying “alone”.  I didn’t want to cancel this trip either.

I spoke with my mom (who lives a few states away), and she agreed to take him.  As fabulous as this is, and yes it is an awesome deal for both Obi and myself, it still worries me.  At the vet, he would have been dropped off the day we left, and picked up the day we returned.  Since my mom lives a few states away, I am now taking him to be with her a week prior to our trip.  That’s a week I won’t have with my baby.  I know, silly right?  But unless you have a fur baby that you deeply love, you cannot imagine how hard it is to leave your baby, especially when they are deathly ill.  Still, I have no other choice, and this is the best one.

So, we are now taking it day by day.  I listen each night as his breathing grows more “liquid” and labored.  I listen to him cough to try to eliminate it from his lungs.  My baby is slowly drowning and I feel helpless that there is nothing that can be done to reverse it all.  When I leave for work each day, I kiss him goodbye and hope when I return at the end of the day he will still be at the door to greet me when I get home.  Day by day.  That is all I can do.  That and love him with everything I have.

Pet Insurance – Such a Scam

As you may know, my precious little Obi has been suffering from CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I wrote about his symptoms back in February, and detailed how this came about in my blog entitled Anticipating the End.  I am happy to say as of right now, he is doing quite well.  I am very thankful that for the most part, even at 9 years old, he acts like a puppy, and you would never know he has a medical problem.

At the time this started, I was thankful that I had purchased Nationwide Pet Insurance through my employer.  After all, it seemed to be useful a few years back when we had a tumor removed from his leg, after which he proceeded to open his stitches up twice over a holiday weekend, forcing us to the vet multiple times.  The tumor turned out to be benign by the way.  After that incident, there were a few times that I contemplated the need for paying the high cost of having this insurance.  After all, premiums of $76.08 per month add up to a whopping $912.96 for a year!  And it seems that I am never reimbursed an amount equal to what I have paid in premiums – or even equal to my complete vet expenses!  In all actually, it seems that more times than not, my claims were denied for some frivolous reason.  So I started to think about cancelling this insurance just a month prior to learning of Obi’s CHF, but for some reason, I did not.  And, as I said, when I learned he had CHF, knowing that he would have to go through several expensive tests and possible future treatments, I was relieved that I still had the insurance.  But then the insurance hassles began.

From the initial onset of his disease, I was very prompt in submitting my insurance claims for reimbursement.  Nationwide Pet Insurance, however, has been anything but prompt in the processing of my claims.  In most cases, they are quick to deny.  Below I am going to share with you how ridiculous having pet insurance is, in the hopes of saving anyone else the trouble of taking on this monthly bill.  Instead, it would be much more cost-effective to just put money aside every month for possible vet expenses; a better alternative to throwing your hard-earned money away to this company.

Included  Charge  Amount Reimbursed  Reimbursement Pending
12/14/2016 Vet visit – Annual vaccinations, Skin test for hair loss (initial CHF problem??)  $                   196.96  $            51.50
12/29/2016 12/14 visit denied due to lack of diagnosis
12/30/2017 12/14 claim resubmitted claim with diagnosis
1/11/2017 12/14 claim denied again – waiting for diagnosis
1/12/2017 Diagnosis for 12/14 claim submitted again
1/25/2017 Vet visit – Radiographs Series & Interpretation, Salix Injection, Salix Tablets, Benazepril Tablets, Vetmedin Pill  $                    325.17
1/31/2017 12/14 claim denied stating “behavior modification”
1/31/2017 Phone call arguing 12/14 claim and the fact that my dog does not have a behavioral problem, he has a heart problem – they want a new diagnosis
2/1/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis of dilated Cardiomyopathy
2/1/2017 Vet visit – ultrasound of Obi’s heart  $                  260.00  Denied
2/2/2017 Received letter requesting Vet Records
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 12/14 claim – no response
2/3/2017 Unable to read vet records – 1/25 claim denied again
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 1/25 claim
2/8/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis again
2/21/2017 Vet records sent a second time  for 1/25 visit
2/24/2017 Refill of Medication  $                   145.62  Denied
2/28/2017 Letter denying ultrasound from 2/1
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 12/14 claim will be reimbursed  $             128.57
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 1/25 visit will be reimbursed for Cardiomyopathy, but won’t cover CHF  $             275.00
 $                  927.75  $          51.50  $            403.57
 Expenses since 12/16  Reimbursed  Pending

As you can see, No matter how much my vet bills will amount to, having these ridiculous caps on each disease or illness, I will never recoup the cost of my yearly premiums ($912.96).  So take a tip from me, don’t buy pet insurance, at least not from Nationwide (although I don’t expect any other company would be any better!).  Save that money instead! If you are lucky, you will never need it, and if you do, you just may come out ahead paying cash to the vet instead of paying it to an insurance company that won’t reimburse!

 

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An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld 

I just had the most amazing evening. Every so often something happens in your life that will simply touch you in ways you cannot imagine. It doesn’t have to be a grand spectacle. Sometimes it is just something that you would never dream would make a difference in your life. But these are the moments that can make a huge impact. So what was it? Well, you see I am a tremendous music lover. I attend many concerts. Some may say I attend way too many concerts (see Rock On!). But I love music, and I love feeling an artist’s work the way they intended for you to hear it; raw and full of emotion.

For a few years now, I have been a fan of the band Blue October. I have had the privilege of seeing them a couple of times in concert here in Nashville. Each time they played in small venues, so the experience was much more up close and personal than most concerts. When I saw that the lead singer of the band, Justin Furstenfeld, was coming to Nashville again with an “open book tour” called An Evening with Justin Furstenfeld, I quickly acted to make sure I got tickets (especially since this was going  to take place in a very limited seating venue).

As always with his performances, Justin did not disappoint. More than that, he exceeded any and all expectations I could ever have had for any concert…ever. You see, he has written songs for his band Blue October from some very high points in his life and some very low points in his life. In my opinion, his songs have touched every facet of human emotion out there. It doesn’t matter how happy I am, how sad I am, how angry I am, or even how emotional I am; no matter where I am emotionally at any given time, Justin has written a song that fits my emotional state. I believe Justin Furstenfeld is one of the most talented song writers of this generation. While Blue October’s music may not appeal to everyone, they are sure to have at least one album that you may like. Regardless of that, the show he put on tonight would probably help anyone truly understand why I feel this way about his artistic abilities. As the performance was so appropriately titled , I truly felt that I spent an evening with Justin Furstenfeld.

The show consisted of just Justin on the stage with his guitar. Here he opened up about his most intimate thoughts and experiences that shaped his songs. Songs that had already captured me emotionally now had a deeper meaning for me. I felt like I was there when they were written. I knew the thought process that went into their development, and even more intimately, I deeply felt every high and low that created those songs. I laughed at some of his stories. I cried more than is probably normal for many more. I truly felt like I got to emotionally live his joy and his pain through his music. And did I mention his talented singing ability? I cannot put into words the talent this man posseses when it comes to his vocal abilities. He did not need music to drown out his voice to cover any flaws, for there were none. At one point he even sang, without any music whatsoever, one of their harder rock songs (Bleed Out) flawlessly.

I have had many ups and downs in my life and when I look at my life compared to this man’s, my difficult times don’t compare in any form to what he went through. I was low enough to be on Prozac at one point, and I had enough love and support to help me get off it. I still have panic attacks, anxiety and moments where I know I can go back to a dark place at any moment. When I hear Justin’s lyrics, I know I can get through more than I think I can. I applaud and cheer for this man’s tremendous determination at defeating his demons and facing life head on one step at a time.  (Fear)

After the show, Justin held a meet and greet and merchandise signing. I debated saying something to him about how his songs have touched my life, and almost chickened out. But when I got up to him, I told him exactly how I felt. I opened up to him and confessed that no matter where I had been in life, he had written a song that has fit it. Now I didn’t feel any more special than any other person there, I just felt truly in touch with his words. However, the response I got from him by telling him this blew me away. He stopped and focused directly on me and gave me the most sincere thank you and God bless you I think I have ever received in my life. He shook my hand and I truly felt a gratitude like none other.

No, this was no ordinary show; and Justin Furstenfeld is no ordinary singer/songwriter. He is real. Good or bad, he has shared it all. From amazing highs to his most dark hours. And I feel privileged to have shared such an emotionally intimate moment with him. I am truly grateful.  (Home)

T

Let the College Search Begin!

college-preparation

When you have children, amid the sleepless nights and multitude of diaper changes, it’s hard to imagine that your precious little baby will someday be college bound.  When your preschooler is busy exploring the world and learning their ABC’s, you still cannot picture the day you will be planning their flight out into the world.  While you watch your elementary school student sing in school performances and start venturing out to their first sleepovers, you still cannot picture the day when their “sleepover” will extend into months, or even years.  During the middle school period, when standardized testing is being pushed, you start to get an inkling that college will be coming, but it’s still barely a thought in your head.  Even when your “baby” enters high school, it still seems so far away that you may not give it very much thought.  Then one day it sneaks up on you. Maybe you are lucky and have this in mind at the beginning of your child’s junior year (or before).  Or just maybe you are like me, and out of curiosity you start looking into it mid-way through their junior year, only to discover you are now behind in planning.  That’s right, I said BEHIND.

Here it is, February, mid-way through my eldest’s junior year, and I thought I was making an early move by scheduling a local college visit for her.  Sure the timing for visiting colleges may be right on target, but there is so much more to consider than just the visit.  We scheduled our first visit for non other than Vanderbilt University.  Why Vanderbilt?  Because Vanderbilt is my family, my employer, my own school (albeit graduate school), and it is local.  We arrived at 7:30 on a dreary Monday morning.  Even though it is early February, the last few days were like spring, almost summer really.  I expected the same of this day.  We went to the grand ballroom where hundreds of other families assembled from all over the country to learn just what Vanderbilt has to offer (like I don’t already know), and what to expect from their admission process.  We were very fortunate that not only did they explain their process, but they also explained the overall admission process as it would pertain to the majority of colleges and universities across the US.  The session was very informative.  For my daughter…it was also very disheartening.  For as they explained their process and their order of importance for certain categories, they hit a few sensitive spots for her.  Here were the expectations that were outlined for us, in addition to points of importance for me that I will keep in mind for my youngest.

First, obviously they will place heavy ranking on ACT scores.  Now she is a very smart girl and has not even attempted to take the ACT as of yet; however, she feels that despite her awesome grades, she does not test very well.  I have tried to assure her that she doesn’t know until she gives it a shot.  The school even said that you can take it multiple times, and they will ONLY consider your highest score.  She doesn’t seem convinced.  Lesson #1:  invest in ACT practice literature – these usually come with software to take practice tests.  (Ours is now on order).  

As our lecturer continued on with their entrance requirements, their second emphasis was placed on letters of recommendation.  My girls just changed high schools because of our move, but I quickly noted for her that she should contact her former high school teachers, who know her very well, and ask them for letters of recommendation.  I am also pretty sure that some of the teachers at her new school will have a good idea of who she is by the time she submits her college applications.  Lesson #2:  think ahead and remember those important people in your child’s life that may be able to write a glowing recommendation for them when the time comes.

Next in line came the written essay.  Now, here I have no doubt that my daughter will excel. She loves to write and does very well with essays.  But this also tied in to the next requirement:  extra-curricular activities.  Here was our first major blow.  When my girls were younger, I exposed them to a variety of activities that ranged from girl scouts, music lessons and dance lessons, to ice skating, gymnastics and even bowling.  They were happy to have these experiences, but as they decided each one was not for them, I did not force them to stay in anything.  I was just happy to provide them with the opportunities.  By high school, I wanted my girls to be themselves and enjoy being kids for their final adolescent years.  As such, neither has pursued any “extracurricular” activities as a normal person would define them, and I was not one to push.  But now we were starting to panic.  There were no clubs to list on her application.  There were no outside music or physical activities to list.  After digging in and doing my research, I learned that there are many things that constitute “extracurricular”, not just organized school activities, these include:  Part-time jobs, volunteering, hobbies, any many other interests that your child may hold outside of school.  We feel better about this now, and can now breathe a sigh of relief.  Lesson #3:  Keep your children (or encourage them) to remain active in activities regardless of how old they are.  

So now we know the admission process for one of our school choices (probably the most difficult one), and we also know that many other colleges may have similar requirements, even if they are weighted differently.  Now comes the task of deciding which schools have a concentration in my daughter’s academic area of choice (she’s interested in neurosciences), and which of those we wish to visit.  Once we narrow that down, we can proceed with the fun part – VISITING!

We left our orientation information session and proceeded on our first campus tour just as it began to rain…without having umbrellas. There have been many points in my life where it seems rain brought good luck, and even though we were thoroughly drenched after our tour, I chose to believe this would be one of those lucky moments.  My belief was cemented when we proceeded to take a tour of one of the neuroscience labs here at Vanderbilt (thanks to my connections).  This little tour provided us with more information and insight into my daughter’s chosen career field than any ordinary college tour could ever provide.  Here her spirits were lifted, and she regained her enthusiasm for the future.  We now have two more campus visits already scheduled (within driving distance), and are looking to add a couple more that may even require travel by plane.  Even though it will be bittersweet in the end, after all it will mean that she will be moving on in life, I am looking forward to having this little adventure with her.  I am so proud of her, and I am truly blessed to be her mother.

 

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Anticipating the End

Love.  It’s a funny thing.  You can’t predict where love will come from.  You can’t predict when it will enter your life.  You can’t always predict when it will leave your life.  Sometimes it leaves with a goodbye.  Sometimes it silently walks away.  Just as it can begin without a beginning, sometimes it comes to an end without an ending.  In such a case, one never loses those feelings, they just push them aside and move on.  The sad part of life is no matter how much you love someone or something, there is no guarantee they will be with you forever. So what do you do when you find out that the most precious part of your life may no longer be around within a matter of weeks, or maybe months if you’re lucky. For some the answer is easy. Imagine having this extraordinary love; this love like none you have ever experienced in your life. Would you be surprised if I told you it may be the love between you and your pet?  You may laugh at this notion.  I may have also disagreed once.  Even though I have loved my previous dogs, I am not sure I would have gone so far as to say a love between a person and their pet could be so deep that their very existence makes life all that much more…..more what?  Here I lack the words.

My dog: Obi.  Obi the Dobie.  Obi-Wan Kenobi XX.  My guardian and protector.  My loyal, faithful, super-adorable, lovable companion.  My dog has shown me this very special love.  I cannot even truly describe it, it is that special.  But I will try.  When we are together, he is glued to my side. Sometimes it seems literally.  He is a Doberman, a breed known for being “velcro” dogs, because they do attach lovingly to their owners and like to lean against you wherever you may stand.  If you sit….well, they are happy to accommodate that as well.  Obi is no exception.  My 100-pound Doberman is a lap dog at heart. When I lay down at night to go to bed he will lay with his body between my legs, his chest on my belly and his head on my chest so I can snuggle and pet him until we are ready to move into our comfortable sleeping positions.  This beautiful creature is not short on love by any measure. I don’t think there is a human being alive that has shown more love than my dog has shown me. And as such, I probably love him more than I ever thought would be possible. But nothing lasts forever.

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About a month ago, my baby started coughing. It was right about the time he received a brand-new bone for Christmas. So we automatically assumed he had bitten off of piece and got it stuck in his throat. I called the vet to ask if there was anything that could be done, and the vet suggested we give it a few days to see if it would work itself out. In the mean time, my baby turned 9.  After about a week of coughing, I was about to take him in to see the vet, but then it seemed like he was getting better. So I did not follow through. A day later, his cough fired up again and was much worse. I made plans again to take him to the vet.  Then he seemed to get better yet again. This cycle continued over the course of a couple of weeks.  Each time he his cough was worse, scheduling conflicts made it difficult for me to rush him in to the vet, and when we could get there, he seemed better.  Then one night, when his cough appeared to have gotten better, we were lying in bed and I could hear his breathing. Heavy breathing with a thick gurgling sound. I immediately knew that meant he had fluid in his lungs, he would go to the vet the very next day – no matter what.

The vet wouldn’t be in until that afternoon.  So Obi was dropped off, and I waited to hear from the clinic while at work.  The day progressed very slowly. I am sure that it seemed even slower for my poor baby as he sat in a kennel all alone at the vet’s office.  That afternoon, I finally received the phone call.  I was provided with all the details, short of a diagnosis.  He had an enlarged heart, an irregular heartbeat, and fluid in his lungs.  All symptoms of congestive heart failure.  As any normal person would these days, I immediately looked up CHF in dogs and learned that this could be congenital for Dobermans.  The bad news…once it develops, even with the best case scenario of treatment, they may be lucky to live a year. I broke down crying. I was not ready to face the fact that my lovable pup may only be around another year.  Sure he is already 9 and a large dog, but I was hoping to exceed expectations and have him until about age 12.  I guess that is no longer a possibility.  After I got myself together and convinced myself not to despair (after all, nothing “bad has happened yet”), I went to the vet to pick my baby up.

As I sat waiting in an empty lobby for what felt like forever, I started to get anxious.  Why were they taking so long?  Did something already happen?  What could be worse?  Of course my fears were unfounded, as the vet was just busy.  When he was free to talk to me, I was given further details of Obi’s symptoms and what could possibly happen going forward. It was suggested that we get an ultrasound of his heart.  We agreed to set that up, and I went home with over $100 worth of heart medication for my dog. Was it necessary? I was told some of it was immediately necessary, with the most expensive being optional until the results of the ultrasound came back.  The ultrasound wouldn’t take place for another week, and I could not wait for treatment.  So to me it wasn’t an option.  I wanted whatever I could get to help my dog now, especially if there were any chance this medication would help improve his heart.  I didn’t care that it cost $100 for just this one medication.  I regularly pay $100 (or more) for concert tickets.  You’d better believe I would pay $100 for medication for the most precious part of my life. We proceeded home, and settled in the routine of medicating him every morning and every evening; waiting for his ultrasound appointment.

The day of Obi’s ultrasound finally arrived.  Once again, he was dropped off in the morning, and I had to wait to hear from the vet when it was completed. Optimistic me expected his heart to be better.  I expected that the medicines would have given us a miracle.  I expected the unexpected.  I wouldn’t get it.  When I arrived to pick Obi up, it was confirmed, his heart was rather enlarged.  Now forgive me if I mix some of the medical explanations up here.  I already don’t have the best memory, but sometimes it’s more difficult to understand everything when you find yourself emotionally weak.  I was told Obi’s heart produces impulses at a rate of 24%.  It should be at a rate of 40%.  It was a miracle he had not simply passed out on a regular basis due to the lack of blood flow.  He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and he is in the stages of heart failure.  We could give him another heart medicine that would help his arrhythmia.  While this may have a positive effect and “keep him from dropping dead” as the vet put it, it could also bring forth its own set of problems by dropping his blood pressure too low. I had to outweigh the trade-offs.  Not having this medicine could kill him, but giving him this medicine could also kill him. What kind of choices are those?  I could see a cardiologist for my dog, but apparently there aren’t any in the immediate area. Fighting back tears and jokingly telling the vet that he was killing me, I kept myself together and asked him how long he would guess Obi would have, good or bad.  Then then my world was crushed.  He could make it a few months… or he may only make it a week.  How could this be?  My dog has always seemed rather healthy.  We feed him only top of the line dog food.  We limit people food and unhealthy treats.  He looks healthy. He acts healthy. He’s still spunky like a pup. We did everything right.  But that didn’t matter.

In my car, the tears fell.  I knew I was highly optimistic to once think such a large dog could live to be 12.  But now it would be extremely optimistic for him to live to his next birthday.  My heart is slowly breaking, but all I can do is love my baby harder than I’ve ever loved him before. He is irreplaceable.  I cannot fathom where I’m going to be mentally the day he moves on.  I will lose the biggest love of my life.  But I won’t lose that love, for he will always be with me.  All I know is I don’t want that day to come.

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Big Changes in 2016

2016 has turned out to be one of the busiest years in my life.  Amidst my year of dealing with graduate school, several other big moments have taken place.  One, my eldest obtained her driver’s license, her first car, her first job and her first wreck.  Another, just because I had applied to graduate school did not necessarily mean I would get in.  So I did not put my life on hold…. and we decided it was time to move into a home that finally suited our needs, especially since Nashville is a hot real estate market at the moment.  After looking at what was available on the market, and watching every home with potential disappear before you could even ask for a walk through, we chose to build a new home.  In May the paperwork was signed, and the builder broke ground in August – the very week I also started classes.  My boss told me I was crazy for taking on so much at once.  Boy was she right!  But I am not going to focus on the topic of school here. Instead, I want to share my home building experience with you.  And since our new home is so close to our old home, I made it a point to visit the site every Sunday during the build phase to see its progression.

— Pre-Build —

May 29, 2016 – We took the plunge!  We were very fortunate to obtain an awesome lot on a cul-de-sac at a deep discount.  The best part….it backs up to trees, not houses.  The way the area is laid out, we will never have to worry about another house being built behind us.  We anticipate a closing date of December 15th. Apparently building doesn’t start for 12 weeks.  Until then, there will be a few design appointments to pick options.  Another highlight was that the sun will  rise on the front door – a sign of good luck.

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June 3, 2016 – We had our first design consultation to pick flooring, and tile options.  This is when you start to find out that every tiny thing will ever so slowly increase the price of your home.  Want to change from crappy carpet?  Yes, the base carpet is exactly that.  It will cost you.  Want to upgrade the carpet pad?  It will cost you.  Want any flooring that doesn’t look cheap in your expensive house?  It will cost you.  We didn’t jump for every upgrade, but we still walked away somewhat happy with what we chose.  My only disappointment was the carpeting.  While we did upgrade the carpet from the basic, it cost a pretty penny to get truly nice carpet, so we only upgraded a level.  I am sure it will be replaced again in time anyway, so I wasn’t about to sink a fortune into carpet right now.

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June 6, 2016 – We had what was called an “interactive systems” appointment.  At this appointment you decide where you want all your cable and/or phone outlets to go.  You can also have a home security system or a central vac installed.  I never knew deciding where to put a cable plug could get so complicated!  We also took time this month to meet with a realtor to discuss when to plan the sale of our current home.  We definitely have some time, but I still went ahead and started some cosmetic changes.   A new coat of paint went up on a few walls, I started pricing replacement carpet, and I even installed new bathroom flooring myself.  Not something I want to do again!

June 19, 2016 – Today we chose our external options – brick, vinyl siding, shutters and front door colors.  We also confirmed our counter tops and cabinet choices.  Up to this point, I went back and forth over having wood stairs with wood and iron railing vs. carpeted stairs and a wall.  It seemed like an awful lot of money for this simple upgrade, but this is one upgrade that I really fell in love with in the model home, so I decided to add it.  We also added a four foot master bedroom extension.  I’m not sure what I will do with all that space, but I am sure I will figure it out!  I really wanted to upgrade the elevation of the home so we could have a front porch, and even possibly add a back deck, but these were high dollar expenses that just were not feasible without making our home way more expensive that it needed to be.  In order to have some of the interior upgrades, I had to sacrifice somewhere.  So no front porch and no back deck.  Maybe in the future…

— BUILDING BEGINS! —

Week 1 August 21, 2016 – There isn’t much to see just yet.  The lot is cordoned off, and the house area is staked and looks nice and large. One neighbor’s house to the right of us is moving along rather quickly.  No neighbor on the other side yet, and we are told that it may be a long time before someone chooses to build there since there is a rather steep hill on that lot.


Week 2 August 28, 2016 – The footers have been poured, but there is still nothing else to see.  I am feeling impatient and want it this process to move along faster!

 

Week 3 September 5, 2016 – The foundation is down.  We are on a slight hill so the crawl space on one side seems tall enough for me to walk under while standing up.  With the foundation, the yard doesn’t seem as big.  It also seems we have quite the incline in the back corner of the yard.  This should be fun for cutting the grass.

 

 

Week 4 September 11, 2016 – The first floor is framed.  You can start to identify the various rooms of the house.  We started moving some of our belongings to storage in preparation for selling our current home.  We also hired someone to help with the interior projects to make it ready to go on the market.

 

 

Week 5 September 18, 2016 – Not only is the second floor framed, but the house is wrapped and the windows have been installed!  It actually looks like a house now!  The yard is back to looking large again.

 

 

Week 6 September 25, 2016 – No changes to the outside, but the heart of the house has been installed inside (electrical and plumbing), as well as the bathtub and shower.  This week we had our pre-drywall meeting to go over all the details of the things you don’t normally see.  We have been told the grading of the yard will change as well (there won’t be as steep of an incline).  I noticed “16 Settler’s Court” painted on the house.  Must be for materials, as this is not the address we were given initially.  The process is starting to get exciting, and it is now time to put our current home on the market.

 

 

Week 7 October 2, 2016 – The doors have been installed.  Finishing details for plumbing and wiring have taken place.  I don’t see any other discernible differences.  We put our current house on the market on October 1st.  On October 3 we already had an offer – at FULL PRICE!!  The down side – the buyers wanted to close at the beginning of November.  Our new house won’t be ready until December.  I did not anticipate such as quick sale.  We asked them to close at the end of November instead – on my birthday no less.  They agreed.  All seems to be going smoothly, but this isn’t my first sale, and I know the hassle of selling our home has only just begun.  I also know we will have to find a place to live for approximately 20 days.  Hello Airbnb.  I found a house in our area that I could rent for that duration…and they will allow me to keep my dog with me!

 

 

Week 8 October 9, 2016 – Drywall is up and surprisingly the rooms all look bigger!  I’m loving the lot we chose.  It is going to be so peaceful.  I hear reports that we have turkeys and deer in the yard quite often.  I love it!  Inspections on our current home have taken place.  We are anxiously awaiting the results. Even though we are moving a good bit of our items out and into storage now, I know the final move (furniture) will be a hassle.  Plus I will have to move those items out, into storage then back into the new home 20 days later.  So I began pricing movers that could accomplish the final part for us.

  

 

On October 12th, we hit a bump…my daughter, Virginia, totaled her car.  It would have been a relatively minor accident, but her car sat much lower than the one she hit, and because it was dark and she did not see it, she did not brake.  The other car suffered minor damage.  Her entire front end was demolished. By the grace of God she only had a few minor scratches and bruises.  Between school, buying a house and selling a house, life will be just a little bit busier for a little while since I will have to help her get to work and school until she is able to get another car.  But this is all fine by me.  I’ll take any and every inconvenience as long as she is alright and still with me, for the outcome could have been much, much worse.

Week 9 October 16, 2016 – The drywall is finished.  The brick has arrived, but has not been started yet.  I had forgotten which brick we had selected, and seeing it on the pallets made me worry about the color.  It’s funny how dusty and dirty everything is inside.  Now the hard part of our sale starts.  The buyers want a few unnecessary, and expensive things taken care of.  We declined.  They countered, wanting half of them (the most expensive ones) to take place and a drop in the price of our home.  I was so mad I told our realtor no, and told him to put it back on the market.  By Saturday, they agreed to our counter, asking simply for us to add a two-year home warranty to help them cover any repairs should they become necessary.  That was reasonable to me, so we were back in contract.  All that is left is for the appraisal.  I’m praying it comes in right where we want it.  Now the move crunch truly has begun.

  

 

Week 10 October 23, 2016 – The brick is half done.  Seeing it on the house, it is simply beautiful!  We made a great choice.  I am amazed at how much is completed inside!  The wood and iron stair rails have been installed.  This was a feature I almost chose not to get, but I couldn’t resist.  They looked so beautiful with the hardwood steps and entry way.  I am so happy I chose them!  The most exciting part…the kitchen cabinets have been installed!  They look black in my photos, but they are espresso and have a reddish tint to them.  Bathroom counters are in, as well as flooring in the bathrooms and the laundry room.  Everything is moving so fast now!  Time to get myself moving quickly on the rest of the storage items as well!

  

 

Week 11 October 30, 2016 – The brick is complete, the Trim is finished, the walls are being painted, and utilities are being dug outside!  Is it possible this will be ready before the anticipated December 15th date?  Time to decide on which mover I am going to fork over a hefty sum of money to!  And now I’m worried about what to do with my valuables that I don’t want to put in storage or send with a mover.  I also don’t want to leave them each day in a stranger’s house (our airbnb house).  Oy!  I also worry about my plants (yes there are some I’ve managed to keep alive).  I suppose they will go to the airbnb house too.

  

 

Week 12 November 6, 2016 – outside the siding, flashing and eaves are complete, and almost all the shutters are up. Inside paint was touched up and the hardwood floors were installed.  Even though it’s moving along, I was a little disappointed. A neighboring house that started after ours suddenly looked more completed than ours. It had its driveway, front stairs and all light fixtures installed.  Even the electricity was already on! Sure it is a smaller house, which may be the reason it seems to have been finished so much quicker, but I still couldn’t help but feel we were pushed back a little because of them.  But I guess in the end it doesn’t matter because we still are running on time. I noticed in this photo that the siding on the back looks beige; however, it is a light gray.

At our current home we continue moving things to storage.  In three weeks, we have to be out of this home.  I have moved a lot in my life so I don’t tend to get attached to houses or furniture, but during the course of this adventure, I found out that my youngest, though happy, was sad about leaving this house, because it is the only house she really remembers her whole life (she was 3 when we moved in).  Along those same lines, I sold a sofa that we no longer have use for, and my eldest voiced her sadness, because we have had this sofa her whole life.  It puts a new perspective on things when you hear how someone you love is attached to them.

  

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Week 13 November 13, 2016 – Today was a disappointment. For the first time since construction started, I was not able to get in to see the inside of the house: what’s more is the driveway still has not been formed as it should have been. Outside I can see that the front door handle, doorbell and garage door have been installed, but two shutters are still missing (or at least I think they are…maybe they don’t go there?).

On November 14th, I received a phone call update…the granite counter tops were installed, and appliances went in today!  I wish I could see the inside now!  Electrical details (light switches, outlets, etc.) have been installed as well.  The driveway will be formed and poured this week.  Next week they anticipate installing carpet, touching up paint inside and working on the yard outside.  Then it’s inspection time!!  The original date of December 15th is still a month away, but it sounds like we may be in much sooner!  I hope so anyway!  I also hope the Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t slow things down down next week!
  

 

November 16, 2017 – We received an email from the settlement company, we have our final walk-through on December 9 and we close on December 14. Yes, I am disappointed that our closing date only moved up one day.  I asked them if the walk-through is on the ninth, could closing possibly take place sooner. I was told that as of right now they cannot say for sure, but if it becomes a possibility they will let me know. Fingers crossed!

 

Week 14/15 November 26, 2016 – I stopped by the house today and was pleasantly surprised to see the yard had been graded, the trim work around the front door was complete, including the stairway out up to the front door, and we have a tree!  When we went around back, a back small deck was added.  Klara discovered that the back door was unlocked, so we finally got to see what had taken place on the inside! Carpet had been installed, the stairs have been stained…everything looks pretty complete except it is quite dirty. Overall it looks almost ready to be lived in. I cannot believe we have to wait 2 1/2 more weeks!

 

 

 

November 24th – Happy Thanksgiving! Last night I received a message from our realtor that the closing on the sale of our current home has been pushed back from November 28 to November 30. We receive some sort of lame excuse about regulations, but I’m thinking since they have had two months, this is just the case of the bank not doing their job and wanting to take a long holiday weekend for Thanksgiving.

We got back home from visiting with family for Thanksgiving, then spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday moving items into storage. Movers came on Monday, November 28, my birthday, to move furniture into storage. This took all day and it rained. Luckily the rain was light, but about the time they finished, it had gotten a heavy. Relieved that everything was done, we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday.  While at dinner I received a message from our realtor stating that the buyers were doing their final walk-through on our home, this included them going into the crawlspace under the house. Now mind you it was pouring rain at this time, and this is not a waterproof crawlspace; therefore, there was some water trickling through the crawlspace.  Apparently, when their realtor saw the water, she freaked out and wanted us to have a plumber come back out. Seriously?!!  We were beyond pissed and said no.

November 30, 2016 – We finally closed on the sale of our home!  Such a relief! We went out afterwards and purchased a refrigerator for the new home (the only appliance the builder would not provide for some odd reason). I then drove by the new home and noticed that the final shutters were installed, the front stair rails were painted, and we now had a mailbox! I also noticed the number 16 on the house – the same number originally painted on the front during construction.  This was not the address I was given by sales or the mortgage company.  I contacted the builder and the sales office and discovered that the address we were originally given would not be the actual address, and the 16 was correct.  For some reason, the sales group had planned on one address; however, when it came to filing with the city, it had managed to change.  Good thing I had not submitted any change of address documents to anyone since we are only two weeks out from our closing.  I also It looks as if the only thing left for our house is for the sod to be put down.  The builder contacted me and asked if we would like to complete our final walk through on the 8th instead of the 9th.  Yes!!  Too bad it only moved up one day…but I will take it!  🙂

Week 16 December 4 – 10, 2016 – The sod is down!  The final inspection takes place this week and we had our final walk through on Thursday, December 8th.  The builder was very meticulous through our walk-through.  As he explained every detail about the house, he would mark small imperfections with tape so he could have his crew go back in and fix them.  Some of them were so small I could not even see what it was he marked!   I’m excited and so very anxious to move.  Our little airbnb house has served us well, but I think we are all tired of it.



    

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 a Closing Day – So excited that moving day has arrived. I got up early, took the kids to school, went and put the utilities for the house in our name. Then went to closing. Nine minutes prior to signing the paperwork, the mortgage company called with questions. They had to call back. We went into closing, signed all the papers, then it happened. The mortgage company pulled it due to a job change! OMG we were now homeless! I had movers coming in an hour to take our belongings out of storage. I had a refrigerator being delivered in the morning. I had utilities hooked up. I changed my driver’s license. I registered the kids for their new school. NOW WHAT?!! I broke down. I have not been his broken since I needed to go on Prozac a few years back.

I contacted our airbnb to ask if we could extended our stay. Sorry, it’s already rented, I was told. Numb I called and cancelled the movers. Called and cancelled the refrigerator delivery. Called and cancelled cable hookup. And cried.

After several calls and emails to the mortgage company, we were told that everything was being reviewed. Originally we were told it could be a month before we close again. Then a week. I pleaded. We would be HOMELESS! And wouldn’t you know Christmas is 10 days away. Merry fucking Christmas. Pardon my French.

At the close of business the final word was that if “management approves everything tomorrow, there is a 2:00 opening for closing.” Now I pray. Mother and Father God, please help us back into a smooth transition.

I went to bed at 7:30, probably out of depression. Woke up disappointed that it was only 9:30 the same day. It’s going to be a long night.

Thursday, December 15, 2016 – our originally scheduled closing day is here.  As predicted, I didn’t sleep all night. I’ve gotten some of my optimism back and keep telling myself it will all work out today. I’m just feeling helpless; not sure where to go from here.  My girls have been simply fabulous about everything. Their support is boosting my spirits back up. I just need this day to move along so I know what is happening.

2:00 and finally closing at. I drove to the settlement company less excited than yesterday. All through closing the attorney tried to make small talk and joke, but I wasn’t interested. I just wanted it to be over. When all was said and done, and I had the keys in my hand, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I quickly drove back to the airbnb house and loaded up some of our stuff and the girls and I drove to the house. I was finally excited.  I put the key in the door and turned the lock, and it didn’t turn!! What the f@$k! We tried the backdoor. Nothing. So I contacted the builder, and he had to have someone on site come over and unlock the door. It seems they intended to change the locks for us and they gave us the keys for the new locks, but they did not actually change the lock. So they will be doing that tomorrow. Movers come tomorrow. So much happens tomorrow. But for now, I am in my house, and I plan on spending the night on the floor. It’s all good, I’m finally here!!

Prologue – December 22, 2016 –   Moved everything into the house on one of the coldest days of the year.  Moving in took 9.5 hours, and that does not include unpacking – and where did all this crap come from?  It certainly did not seem like we had so much stuff in our last place.  Delivery of our new refrigerator was delayed for a few days, so there’s no food in the house yet.  The cable company won’t come out to install until after Christmas, so we do not have TV, internet or wifi yet (thank goodness I am on winter break for school!).  With only three days to go until Christmas, I tried my best to get unpacked and have everything set up, but I ended up dreadfully sick and in bed for a few days.  I suppose that’s my body’s way of telling me to slow down.  Now I am expecting family tomorrow for Christmas and nothing is ready.  Oh well….I’m still in my new house, and that is the best Christmas present I could ever ask for!  ❤

The Coupon Torment

Couponing. I seems everyone everywhere is couponing these days.  There are websites dedicated to this craze.  They will tell you when and where you can take coupon x to an already existing deal on product x to basically obtain said item for free.  No matter how hard I try, I could never get couponing down.  Heck, I could barely use a coupon to my benefit as it is!  Every time I go to the store with a coupon, I either leave it in the car or it is already expired.  It has become quite the joke in my household to the point where I receive cheers from my girls if I actually pull out a coupon at the store and it is still good!  I’m sure I’ve even blogged about my inability to use coupons already.  But it’s all good.  I’ve accepted my coupon failure fate. But then the universe decided to start taunting me once again.

My birthday was last week.  Each year I tend to get numerous emails and/or coupons specifically designed to reward me with something discounted or free for my birthday.  If it is a discount I may or may not use it, but if it is something free, then I try to do my best to not let a good thing go to waste.

Coupon #1 – a free Starbucks drink.  I went to Starbucks with a friend and was excited to see I had a free birthday drink on my phone app.  Before I could use it, my friend so graciously bought my drink and told me to save the coupon for a “second” freebie (thank you by the way!).  So I tucked my phone away.  I had forgotten that Starbucks changed their free birthday drink coupon from “use any time during the month” to “use within a few days”.  On December 1st, the joke was made that I had let the coupon expired, and I thought, “no I didn’t”.  But then I opened up the app, and what do you know…it expired November 30th.  Damn. Well I got one free drink, but lost the opportunity to obtain two.  Missed opportunity #1.

Coupon #2 – a free Dunkin Donuts drink.  On my birthday, I went to Dunkin Donuts and ordered my free coffee along with a few other things.  The girl behind the counter was an obviously new.  Thanks to the ordering screen, I watched her screw up the order twice and I talked her through correcting it twice.  Then I gave her my coupon.  Confused, she asked me what I wanted to get with it, and I said my coffee.  So she proceeded to add the coupon, delete the coffee, then delete the coupon.  Wrong method.  I had to talk her through the order again, and had to have her correct it AGAIN.  I then talked her through how to do the coupon (apparently I visit Dunkin Donuts too much).  I received my free drink…but if I had let her do it her way, I would have had the chance to use my coupon twice.  Guess that was a free gift from the universe I let slip away.  Missed opportunity #2.

Coupon #3 – a free meal from Au Bon Pain.  I was cleaning out my emails today and found an email for a free birthday meal.  Expiration date:  TODAY.  Thinking I was lucky once again for not letting another coupon slip away, I promptly went to Au Bon Pain to obtain my lunch.  When I went to check out, the girl at the registered messed something, so she looked and me and said “go ahead, have a good day and use your coupon another day”.  So yes I got my free meal, but I also got an opportunity to use my coupon a second time.  Unfortunately it expires TODAY!  Missed opportunity #3.

I find it amusing that the universe wants to keep taunting me with missed coupon opportunities.  But that’s alright, I still got my three freebies, and a little bit of a laugh on the way.

   

The Election Fiasco – and Kids

This started as a post on my Facebook timeline, but I think I want to add it here as well and add just a little bit more to it.

We have watched so much ugliness go back and forth in this election it’s unbelievable. It seems like everybody wants to spew hatred and play the blame game and point fingers, yet the very people doing this do not take responsibility for their own actions or even see the faults in their own candidates actions.  Let’s face it, there isn’t a good choice this go-round. And now I am seeing the most ridiculous commercial out there regarding this election and it has to do with elementary school children watching what is going on during this political circus. That brings me to what I posted on Facebook about kids.

The funniest part of this whole election are the comments people make or the ads I see about what our kids are seeing and what they will think. I’ll tell you what they see and think – and it has nothing to do with the election! I guarantee you there is not one child out there who is sitting and watching debates or paying any attention to presidential elections. They are too busy being kids, just like we were when we were in elementary school. As for them “respecting” whoever is elected….I can also pretty much guarantee that at their age, it doesn’t matter one bit to them. So stop putting this election off on what the “children will see”. They are too busy with video games, snap chat and enjoying life to care about politics.

Now what do they see? YOUR behavior. They hear YOUR hateful speech. They see what YOU do, not the candidates!

But let’s pretend for a moment that they do pay attention. Do you not think they don’t already deal with this kind of crap in school? Do you not think they won’t deal with this kind of behavior among people as they grow up in venture out into life? If you don’t think that they will, you obviously must lead a very sheltered life – or – you are one of those liberals that feel that colleges need to be a safe place where feelings shouldn’t be hurt. That’s just not reality. In a world where we have religious fanatics killing other people because they don’t have the same beliefs that they do, I don’t think shielding your child from hypocrisy or the like is a good idea. Use it instead. Make it as a teaching tool. Use it to help them learn how to rationalize and cope logically with these issues in life so that they grow to be respectable adults.

But if you feel you must shield them, then start by shielding from political propaganda. While you are at it, shield them from all news, and all sexually explicit or violent media. Now that I think about it, when I was very young, I wasn’t allowed in the room when my dad was watching the news. There’s a thought. What about divorce and ugly family drama?  Shield them from that.  Shield them from video games and song lyrics that may be a little crude or violent.  Wouldn’t that be the most reasonable and logical thing to do? Seems to make more sense to me than feeling you have to bring them into the political issue to begin with.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.