Apr 21, 2014

Harper is 3!

Earlier this month, we got to celebrate Harper's birthday at a local gymnastics place.  It was a lot of fun and filled with laughs.  Here's a little photo dump because I took a ton!

Riley was intrigued, watching the employees set up the iPod, and when she realized it was the Frozen soundtrack, she was THRILLED!

Riley and Harper just ran in circles singing the song! :)

We played lots of Gavin's new favorite game...Tag!

Then, there was a lot of fun with one of their 'ramp' mats.

And of course, the adorable Frozen themed cake!
Happy birthday, Harper!

Apr 12, 2014

Sweet Shirley

Wow, what a hard post to begin.  I never expected that we'd have to say goodbye to Shirley so soon.  She was only ten years old...we all thought we had at least a few more years with her.

On Saturday morning around 2am, Jarrod woke up and realized Shirley wasn't in our room with us where she always is.  He found her asleep in the corner of the dining room, and when he got her to go back into our room with him, she wouldn't lay down.  She just sat there on her bed for at least twenty or thirty minutes.  That morning, she didn't even come out to have breakfast or go out to pee so we knew something was going on.

Saturday was spent just laying around.  She didn't eat dinner, and just wanted to sleep.  I just had this gut feeling that something was going on, but of course I was trying to stay positive.  I laid with her on the floor while Jarrod was gone to workout and snapped some pictures of her.


Sunday she seemed to be doing better and we thought maybe she had just had a stomach bug.  She was eating and playing around with the kids.  But, Monday morning, she didn't eat again, just wasn't acting like herself again, and I noticed she was drooling a lot.  I decided it was time to call the vet.  They couldn't get her in until late that afternoon but they told me to bring her in and just drop her off so they could keep an eye on her and I cried all the way there.  Something inside told me this wasn't good.

They ended up keeping her overnight.  All the tests they ran showed everything was 'slightly' or 'mildly' elevated.  She was borderline anemic, but everything else seemed mild and so they did xrays to see if they could find a mass.  Well, they didn't find a mass, but found that her heart had almost doubled in size.  She didn't have an irregular heartbeat or a heart murmur, which are the things that they could treat, and after more bloodwork and xrays on Tuesday morning, it was determined that the antibiotics, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory meds they gave her on Monday to try to help hadn't done anything.   Aside from traveling a few hours to do some exploratory surgery that the vet didn't even think would be a good option, there just wasn't much we could do anymore.  At this point (Tuesday morning), she hadn't eaten since Sunday and was spitting up any water she tried to drink, which led him to think there was likely something going on with her diaphragm as well.

Jarrod decided to leave work around 10:30 on Tuesday and go see her, and my heart immediately broke when he called me in tears.  He said she just didn't even look well anymore and he knew it was time.  We decided to go pick up Gavin from school early and Jarrod was bringing Shirley home so we could say our goodbyes here.  I didn't want the kids to see her at the vet like that and be scared.  

Once we all got home, Jarrod told me that she had so much trouble getting up into the car that he didn't want to take her back to the vet and our wonderful veterinarian had offered to come to our home to euthanize her so we planned on that. We spent all day Tuesday taking turns laying with her. It was such a draining day. I've never seen Jarrod cry so much; it was so hard on him.

She literally laid on her dog bed and didn't move from the time they got home around 11 until 7:45 that night.  When Jarrod opened the closet, where her food is kept and she usually come running for, she didn't even lift her head.  

 Then it was time to have the kids say their goodbyes.  Riley, of course, doesn't quite get it, but she loved on her.  Gavin was hesitant; he patted her back but didn't want to hug her or kiss her and we didn't push it.  We took the kids into bed and I told Gavin that if he changed his mind, he could come out to hug her before the doctor came to pick her up and reminded him that she wouldn't be there in the morning.  Just a few minutes later, he came out crying and laid with her.

Jarrod and I had a little bit of time to just spend with her before Dr. Harper came over.  We cried together, Jarrod paced the floor some looking for the doctor, and we finalized our decision that we didn't need to receive her ashes.  

When the vet arrived, we briefly spoke about where we got Shirley and how we picked her name.  Jarrod wanted to know if we had done anything wrong, and he reassured us that this heart condition is genetic and really doesn't have a known cause.  He explained to us what he was going to do, and when he started to give her the anesthetic in her back leg, he noticed he couldn't even find her femoral pulse, which he said meant the blood wasn't even flowing to the back of her body anymore.  She was in bad shape.

He gave her an anesthetic and she immediately fell asleep, then he left the room to go get a blanket for her and gave us a few more minutes alone with her.  We both kissed her and whispered our goodbyes.  When he returned, we put her on the blanket, and he went ahead and shaved her front leg to administer the injection.  He hadn't even finished it before she stopped breathing.  It was very peaceful.  Jarrod helped carry her out to his truck and we thanked him for coming to us.  Then Jarrod and I just held each other and cried.  

It's going to be a long while before things get better around here.  Jarrod came home from work the next day and immediately broke down because she wasn't there to greet him at the door.  I still find myself walking by her bowl (which we haven't put away yet) thinking I need to add water to it or I'll see a shadow at the door and think it's her waiting to be let in.  The kids still run to close their doors before we leave the house and it hits me every time that we don't have to flip our cushions over for the first time in years to keep her off the couch when we leave.  We've actually had to start sweeping our floor after dinner; no more Shirley to clean up all the crumbs for us.  It's just really different to not have our furry friend here with us when she's been here for the last ten years of our lives.  The kids don't know life without her!

Of course, we can't help but feel guilty for the times we were annoyed with her.  It all seems so silly now; she was such a good dog, even if she did eat her poop and roll around until she was covered in our annoying grass through the winter, making her look like a yellow lab instead of a black one.  All dogs get into things; looking back, her getting wrappers out of the trash while we were gone really wasn't a big deal after all.  It definitely puts things in perspective.  And I can't help but feel sad that I didn't give her as much attention after I became a mom.  Before the kids were born, she was my baby.  After, I definitely neglected to give her the same attention and I feel so bad about that now.  Luckily, Jarrod never changed the way he treated her so I know she always felt loved.  She was such a lucky dog.  And we were so lucky that she was our first family pet; definitely not the normal puppy!

Thank you all for the kinds words over the last few days.  We never imagined how hard this day would be; the quickness of it all definitely didn't make it any easier.  Shirley will always be a part of our family.  Riley has already seen her in her dreams!  I know that her memory will always live on around here as we remember all the fun times we had with her.

Shirley, 2004-2014.

Apr 1, 2014


It wasn't until I was an adult and had a move under my belt before I realized just how true the old saying 'everything happens for a reason' is.  I've blogged about it before.  I feel like our move to NY happened to show me how strong I really was.  Being a 'single mom' to an infant before we were reunited in NY and then just making that initial, super hard move away from Ohio....both just showed me how much I could handle and how much strength I had.  Then, we moved to Arkansas.  I feel like I blogged about this, too, but I've always said the move to Arkansas happened so that I could meet Amy (the first Amy....apparently all the great people I meet are named Amy!).  She and I were instant friends and it felt SO good to have someone here that I could connect with so much.  There was a reason that we both moved here around the same time, with boys that were similar ages, and joined the same playgroup.  We still miss her and her family every day. 

A few weeks ago, I was doing a party in the next town over and drove past a house we had looked at when we were here on our trip back in 2010 to look for a place to live.  It was down to two choices, this house and that one.  I really wanted that house, because it had a neighborhood pool and playground.  And then, it hit me.  There was a reason that house didn't work out.  If it had, we wouldn't have met Amy and Pete.  

Amy was another person that I met and felt completely at home with.  We are alike in so many ways and I know I can be totally honest with her and not feel judged.  Again, just like with the Faminis, it's so nice to have friends that Jarrod and I both like spending time with and our kids get along.  And it's pretty awesome that it takes less than a minute to get to their house!  
It's a special bond.

I think I've shared some about Amy's story here, but I'm not sure...  Long story short, just 6 months after we met them, Amy gave birth to triplets very prematurely.  When you live far from your family, you understand what fears go through someone's head when something comes up that you'd normally rely on family for.  We were so glad that we had Amy and Chris to watch Gavin for us when Riley was born because I wouldn't have trusted anyone else with him.  Needless to say, their world was turned upside down, and without their family nearby, Jarrod and I were more than happy to take care of things here for them so that they could focus on their family, both immediately after the birth and in the months that followed while they were in St. Louis with Maggie.

It hit me that night that there was a great reason we ended up in this house.  If we hadn't, I wouldn't have met Amy and we wouldn't have formed such a great friendship.  Our kids wouldn't have met Harper.  And we wouldn't have been able to take care of their home and pets while they were gone.  In the end, that's what friends do.  All we did was help our friends, like we think anyone would've done, but had we ended up in that other house, none of that would've ever happened, and I never would have known what an incredible woman Amy is.

Mar 27, 2014

Leprechaun Fun!

Last week, Jarrod, Riley, and I headed to school with Gavin to watch his Rise and Shine program because Gavin was getting recognized for reaching his Accelerated Reader goal.
Go Gavin!

Unfortunately, while he was waiting for the assembly to end, his St. Patrick's Day necklace somehow broke, so he was in tears when it was time to take his picture....this was the best I could get!

Afterwards, Jarrod headed to work and Riley and I stayed at school to have some St. Patrick's Day fun!  A leprechaun visited and left some gold behind so the kids got to search for it!

We headed inside and did some fun dancing to some Irish music in the cafeteria.  I love how Riley just wants to be with her brother when we're at the school and he doesn't mind one bit that she tags along.  Such a good big brother!

It was a fantastic morning spent in kindergarten with my favorite little boy.  Being at school with him makes me so happy - I'm such a lucky mommy that I get to stay home with these amazing kids.  Thank you, Jarrod, for making that possible!

Mar 25, 2014

Such a good student!

We are so proud of our little man!  It's doubly rewarding to see report cards and have conferences with Mrs. R - I can't help but smile with pride as both his mommy and a teacher.

It was back in August that Gavin picked up his very first book and read it to me cold....a brand new book we received in the mail that he'd never seen before and he mastered it.  Fast forward to the end of January when we were informed that he tested at a 3rd grade/3rd month reading level!  Seriously?!?!  And, on one of the standardized tests that he was given, he scored in the mid 800s; the scale goes up to 900 for the end of third grade.  So proud!

He's also coming out of his shell a lot at school and making great friends.  Pokemon is a new fascination for him.  He insists we get to school early every morning so he has time to swap cards with the boys.  It makes me laugh because I took away (and threw away!) so many Pokemon cards in the five years I taught.  Boys were always getting in trouble for playing with them instead of doing their work and I never did understand the appeal. Still don't.  But I do appreciate Jarrod trying to learn how to play so he can spend that time with Gavin in the evenings.  Right now, they just play their own version, but they'll start going to the library once a month for a 'Pokemon tutorial' soon.

He's also started Running Club. Every extra-curricular that has come home he has shown no interest in, but when Running Club was announced, he was eager to give it a try.  We got off to a rough start, though.  The very first day, which he was so looking forward to and counting down the days til, they wouldn't let him participate because I didn't complete the online registration for the race they'll be running in May.  I felt like the worst mom in the world when I pulled up to pick him up and he got in crying.  Day two we were all registered and I knew he'd be able to run.  I get there to pick him up to find him with his hand all wrapped up because he fell on his first lap and skinned the palm of his hand on the gravel.  But, since then, he's been doing great and even ran 1.5 miles last week!  On Friday, I picked him up and the lady doing the car line called his name as, 'Gavin Pate.  Our running star, Gavin Pate!' and then she turned her mic off and told me how much she loved running with him and said that from her time as a track coach, she really feels that Gavin has a natural gait and will be a really successful runner.  Our uncoordinated, clumsy kid that fell on his first time around the track???  :)  How exciting to hear!  I can't wait to go out on a run with him.

Of course, he's not the perfect child.  We need to work on his handwriting and get him to be more creative in his writing.  He has a lot more potential than the '...and...and....and' sentences he's been doing.  I'm trying to find ways to encourage him to do more creative thinking at home.

Overall, we're so excited with how his kindergarten year has gone and cannot believe we're only a few months away from it ending.  It's all downhill from here....I know each year is just going to feel like it goes faster and faster.