Welcome to the New Year

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago whether or not I had plans for the new year, I would have said, yes. Like making 2018 a year of more two-wheeled adventures (sorely lacking in 2017). Seeing more of my family and my friends. Working less and playing more in general (my job was very demanding in 2017). Getting back to the hobbies I enjoy — reading and writing blog posts, quilting, crafting, furniture painting, photography, etc. — but am always too tired for.

The unpredictability of life has a way of changing things, though, doesn’t it?

I learned a few things over the holidays, and now my outlook has shifted a bit. I still have plans, just different priorities.

L-R, K and Belle

Let’s talk about happy stuff first.

All of our kids, their spouses, and grandchildren were together at our house for Christmas this year. The last time we were all together was April 2013, for our son Eric’s wedding. Why so long? Because we all live in different states, have busy jobs, our own interests and commitments, and rarely enough time and/or money to get together as often as we’d like.

It really was great having everyone together.  Hubby Mike drove to Maryland on December 20 to pick up his mom. Shannon and Chris flew in from San Diego on a Christmas Eve red-eye. They told us they’d be arriving the morning of December 26, but surprised us on Christmas morning. Amy, TJ, and the grand kids drove down from just outside of Indianapolis on December 26. Eric and Kelsey drove down from Maryland on December 28 and 29.  It was a happy time.

L-R, Eric, Amy, and Shannon

It’s hard having the kids spread so geographically far apart. We want them to live their own lives doing what they want, where they want to do it, but we do miss seeing them more often.

Everyone left on Saturday morning. Eric and Kelsey drove back to Maryland, Amy, TJ, and kids left for Indiana, and Hubby drove Mom to Maryland before dropping Shannon and Chris at the airport. Which meant I was left home alone with the dogs.

This is the scene in our driveway that greeted me on Saturday afternoon…

All Gone

Now for the not-at-all-happy stuff…

That image perfectly captures the happy chaos of Christmas week. It really was awesome having everyone together. Just imagine how quiet and empty the house felt after everyone left.

It was just me and the dogs. I hadn’t been able to think too hard about the dogs since the day after Christmas. In fact, I’d had to consciously push focused thoughts of the dogs to the back of my mind for that entire week.

Belle and K, some time during Christmas week.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas day, we noticed K was having a bit more difficulty than usual getting around. She was having trouble with her back legs. We don’t know exactly how old she is. We adopted her after she’d been pulled from a kill shelter, so we don’t know her history. They guessed her to be about three at the time we adopted her, which would make her 12 now, but I think she’s two or three years older than that. She no longer hears well. She’s had cataracts for a while now, so her vision has been getting progressively worse. She has a heart murmur. And she’s been slowing down.  She’s always been a loud breather, but that’s been getting louder, too. It’s not laryngeal paralysis, which seems to be common in Brittanys, but we hadn’t been able to figure out why it’s been getting worse. She’s had unusual head twitches and tremors for awhile, too, which are apparently not uncommon in older dogs, but can look like a dog has neurological problems.

Long story short, her health has clearly been declining with age, but her rear-end weakness was very concerning. So we went to see her vet the day after Christmas. After a very thorough exam, including full blood work and x-rays, the vet was surprised to discover that she has very severe arthritis in her hips, which explains the rear-end weakness. She’s apparently been hiding chronic pain for quite some time (instinctual in animals). Her spine looks great, though. Sadly, the vet was also very surprised to find a large mass in the front lobe of her right lung. There’s no evidence of cancer in her lab results, which means if it IS cancer, it’s not a blood malignancy and it is still encapsulated.

Removing the mass would require invasive and very painful thoracic surgery.  The anesthesia that would be required is very risky in dogs her age. Lung cancer is not very common in dogs, so there’s a good chance it’s some other sort of cancer that’s metastasized to her lung. We could have it biopsied to try and determine exactly what it is, but that would require anesthesia, too, and would be painful. Knowing what it is would not change anything. We don’t want to subject her to surgery or any other painful, invasive procedures. If it is cancer, we wouldn’t subject her to chemo and/or radiation at this age either. She’s just too frail.

My Sofa Buddy

We WANT her to live forever, as a healthy, happy dog. But we do not feel like it would be fair to subject her to pain, prolonging her life for our own sake. So we are doing what we can to manage the arthritis pain and make sure she is happy and enjoying life. That’s the status quo for now. Of course, we have no idea how long that will last, so we are struggling with this knowledge daily.

K, before her Christmas haircut.

She’s still got a strong appetite. She’s still able to get around okay and the meds seem to be managing the inflammation and pain. We are all trying to go on as usual, but are taking each day as it comes, hoping the inevitable is in the distant future, but preparing to handle the worst, but most humane thing for our Special K, whenever the time finally comes.

Taking Life One Day at a Time

A Few Fun Pics from Washington State

Since I use this blog sort of as a photo diary and personal reference tool, I wanted to post a few more fun pics captured while visiting Washington earlier this year.

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One of two cool cows at Haggen’s grocery story in Auburn, WA.

 

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There’s no shortage of coffee/espresso stands in the Pacific NW.

 

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Hubby and the Grand Kids

 

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Unique Yard Art

 

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Hubby and Me

 

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The Puyallup Bunyan Muffler Man

 

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Me and ScooterBob

 

All About the Girl

IMG_6832Hubby and I were in Washington State visiting family April 15-24. Our daughter and son-in-law, Amy and TJ, had to go away for a few days, and needed us to supervise the grand kids. They’re good kids, so we really only needed to be there to chauffeur them around to various activities, make sure they ate, bathed, slept, didn’t kill each other, etc. Most evenings were pretty busy.

Tuesday evening, Brianna had a lacrosse game in Bellevue, roughly 30 miles north of their home in Auburn. Depending on timing, the drive could take 45 minutes or two hours. The game got pushed back to an 8:00 PM start to avoid traffic delays.

We didn’t have to go, since she had to ride the team bus, but I wanted to go. I know nothing about lacrosse, but hadn’t seen her play for several years. They’ve lived in Washington for three years already!

The last time I saw Brianna, now 15 and in her first year of high school, play any sport was for a recreational/club team. It was really quite surreal seeing her playing lacrosse for her high school. They have real uniforms, and coaches, and play in fancy stadiums with lights and everything. And since she’s just a freshman playing on the varsity team, which is awesome, she looked so young out there playing amongst the older girls.

Mentally, it doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was playing high school sports, and now my granddaughter is playing? Weird. But cool.

Brianna's lacrosse team.
Brianna’s lacrosse team. That’s her in the middle, fiddling with her mouth guard.

I mean, how’d she grow up so fast?

Look at this cute pic from 2008.

Brianna the T-ball Player

I didn’t get many decent pics that first night, but she also had a daytime game on Saturday in Tacoma.

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Brianna is the second girl from the right.

She was on the sideline when I reached the stadium, about halfway through the game (I don’t even know if there’s such a thing as half-time.) Apparently, she scored in the first part of the game before I arrived.

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She’s young and thin, but she holds her own!

I’m really proud of Brianna. She’s right on the cusp of womanhood, and is turning into quite a nice young lady.

There’s so much we miss, with the grand kids living so far away. Little things they wouldn’t think to tell you about. Like, when a teammate got taken out by the opposing team, Brianna was the first one to run over and ask if the girl was okay, retrieved her teammate’s stick, and talked to her ’til the coach arrived.

Or when, after practice one night, I overheard Brianna giving an older teammate, who I gathered was feeling quite discouraged about her recent on-field performance, a pretty grown-up sounding pep talk. She’s really becoming such a lovely person.

As I’m sure her Mom would say, she has her moments. Don’t we all? But persevere, do your very best as a parent, and give a kid a strong foundation, as Amy and TJ have for all of their children, and they will eventually grow into amazing adults. Just like our kids have.

The grand kids were on their best behavior all week. Really. Their parents must have laid down some pretty hefty threats to get them to behave for poor, old G (that’s me) and Pop. LOL.

Here are some pics of the super-cool stadium where Brianna played on Saturday.

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That’s the school on the hill.

The game was at Stadium High School in Tacoma. (Click that link if you want to read a bit about the history of the very cool-looking school.)

Stadium overlooks Puget Sound's Commencement Bay.
Stadium overlooks Puget Sound’s Commencement Bay.

 

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Quite the view.

 

Tugboat
Tugboat

 

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Cool Bridge

The grand kids will be coming here for a visit in June. I’m already looking forward to that, but really start need to thinking of things we can plan to keep them busy! Being busy is key. 🙂

Fun with Family

Joey (age 8)
Joey (age 8)

Our time in Washington went by way too fast. But isn’t that always the case when you are enjoying yourself immensely?

Eric (youngest kid) and his wife Kelsey weren’t able to join us in Washington. Shannon (eldest) and her boyfriend, Chris, flew up from San Diego for the weekend. Amy’s husband, TJ, had to work during the day on Saturday and Sunday (he’s in the Army), but we did get to see him in the evenings.

We didn’t do a whole lot besides hang out and enjoy each other’s company both days. It was awesome.

We didn’t need to do anything, really, besides just relax, chat, laugh, carry on a bit, etc. It was perfect. Especially since we all live so far away from each other. I would never be one of those parents who insist that their kids stay close geographically just for the parent’s sake. I am a firm believer that your children, when they are adults, need to make their own places in the world.  I do miss all of them, as does Hubby, but we try not to dwell on it.

Breakfast Chatter
Breakfast Chatter

I, of course, had to walk around taking pictures. Who else is going to document events like this?

Some of Joe's art work.
Some of Joe’s art work.

I couldn’t help but smile at Joey’s creations.

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I guess he likes his privacy.

Meanwhile, back downstairs…

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Tech support? Or online shopping?

 

Flowering Tree
Flowering Tree

I’m not sure if that’s a Rose of Sharon tree (in their front yard), but it sure is pretty. Especially with the blue-sky backdrop.

Since the sky was so clear, I decided to borrow Amy’s car and drive about seven minutes to a place from which I know Mount Rainier is easily seen. I never get tired of seeing that mountain.

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Mount Rainier as seen from Lake Tapps

Yes, I zoomed in to capture that photo. The mountain is not as close as it appears. Also, I was sort of shooting into the sun, which is why the sky behind the mountain looks so gray.

Saying “the mountain is out” (referring to Mount Rainier) is the local way of saying it’s a pretty day.

When I got back to the house, I was tickled to see Amy sewing.

She's sewing!
She’s sewing!

She apparently also favors using a machine that was built before she was born. (She borrowed the 70’s era machine from a neighbor friend.)

The Grand Kids - Brianna (15), Joe (8), and Gaige (12)
The Grand Kids – Brianna (15), Joe (8), and Gaige (12)

Joe did have a baseball game in the early afternoon, so we all went to watch. Brianna had lacrosse practice, too.

Family Spectators
Family Spectators

 

Joe is a very good catcher.
Joe is a very good catcher.

 

Interesting weeds.
Interesting weeds at the ball field.

That little guy LOVES baseball.

He's a natural.
He’s a natural.

He’s very focused, can you tell?

Joey and Amy
Joey and Amy

After the sports stuff, Shannon, Amy and I did some shopping for lunch and dinner fixin’s, adult beverages, and some other local specialty items.

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Cheers!

Then, after lunch, we got to sit outside and test TJ’s special beer coozies.

Hubby matched his coozie.
Hubby matched his coozie.

The hand-shaped coozies were fun, but wouldn’t a Sasquatch hand be REALLY cool to have? And fitting, given the area.

The next day, Joey made chocolate-chip pancakes for Hubby and I to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.

Chef Joseph
Chef Joseph

 

Chef Joseph
Chef Joseph

 

Hubby and Me
Hubby and Me

We had to get a family photo or two. I’ve always been able to get the kids to pose nicely by letting them do a goofy shot or two at the end of the session. Chris wasn’t used to that. LOL. The goofy shots often end up being some of my favorites.

Goofballs
Goofballs

Later, Shannon and I decided to walk to the park to watch the sunset.

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Orange Azaleas

I absolutely love those orange azaleas, which Shannon and I saw during our walk to Sunset Park. Yes, that’s really the name of the park.

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Gorgeous Azalea

The sunset wasn’t anything extra-special, but we did get a nice view of the mountain bathed in the late-afternoon light.

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Mount Rainier as seen from Sunset Park in Auburn

 

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Mount Rainier as seen from Sunset Park in Auburn

 

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Sunset as seen from Sunset Park in Auburn

It wasn’t long after that when Shannon and Chris had to head to the airport. 🙁

All-in-all, it was a great weekend, even if it was far too short!

Hubby and I have certainly been blessed in so many ways.

Whirlwind of Activity

Holy cow it’s been a crazy week. But GOOD crazy. Fabulous crazy, really.

A couple of posts ago, I said, “More adventures are on the horizon. Could it involve family, friends, a road trip, airplane rides, surprise visitor(s) , a voyage to another country, a boat ride? Or maybe all of the above? One never knows. I do know, however, that exciting times are definitely ahead.”

In my anniversary post, I meant to enlighten y’all a bit and reveal that we are in Washington, which is where that handsome, pancake-cooking grandson lives. But I forgot. Sorry!

I’m guessing if you follow my Instagram feed, you know — or have been guessing! — where I am. We are in Washington State. Our daughter, Amy, lives outside of Seattle with her husband, TJ, and three kids. Our daughter Shannon and her boyfriend, Chris, flew up from San Diego for the weekend. So we were just a son and daughter-in-law short of having a full house for our anniversary.

The Family
The Family

It was awesome having everyone together for the weekend.

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We drove this route counterclockwise.

Shannon and Chris left on Sunday evening. On Monday, while the kids were in school, Amy and I set off on a little road trip adventure, choosing to take the scenic route to Port Townsend (PT), a historic seaport town on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula.

I gave Amy the option of a fast, medium, or slow, scenic ride, with me driving, of course. I was very happy when she chose the scenic route, which involved two ferries and a quick visit to Whidbey Island, one of my favorite locations in the state.

It was really, really nice spending the day with Amy. I don’t get to see her much, since we live on opposite sides of the country and all. 🙁

While we were off on our girls adventure, TJ and Hubby went to the Lemay car museum in Tacoma. Then they went to the Army base to see TJ’s boat (he’s a boat captain). The guys seem to have enjoyed their day as much as us girls did.

I’ll share pics and tell you more about PT later. But first, there’s some other excitement.

Amy and TJ had to go away for a few days, so we are in charge of the kids. Which means we need to be here to chauffeur them around to various activities, make sure they eat, bathe, go to bed on time, don’t kill each other, etc. Hubby and I are both working remotely from here, unless something else comes up.

Most evenings are pretty busy. Wednesday (yesterday) was one of the few days only one kid had any place to be (Brianna had lacrosse practice), so I decided to escape for an adventure.

Selfie in Victoria, BC
Selfie in Victoria, BC

I drove into Seattle and took the Victoria Clipper (a passenger-only ferry) up to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for the day.

Victoria is a beautiful city. I took LOTS of pics. But want to know what the highlight of my day was?

Happy hour!

Not just because it was happy hour, but because of who I got to enjoy happy hour with!

Darlene and Me
Darlene and Me

Darlene, aka Princess Scooterpie! We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. I’d been to Victoria previously, but was traveling with friends so wasn’t able to squeeze in a visit. This time, I was very determined to meet this cool lady in the flesh.

She’s every bit as awesome as I knew she would be. Our time together FLEW by. Hopefully, next time we’ll get a couple of days together, instead of two, too-short hours.

I took a ton of pictures in Victoria. It really IS a beautiful city. I’ll share more when I get back home.

But guess what? Tomorrow — Friday — Hubby and I get to meet some more moto-blogger buddies. I really shouldn’t wish my time away, but I have been looking forward to this for quite some time.

I’ll leave you with this for now…

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Sunset over the Olympic Peninsula

I captured that pic from the back of the ferry as we headed back to Seattle. It was a beautiful end to a fabulous day.

 

A Very Special Day

Twenty-three years ago today, I married the love of my life. It’s been a long road, filled with ups and downs, joy and sorrow, happiness and pain. But it’s been a fabulous ride. Hopefully we’ll have many more years together.

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Mike and Me, Christmas 1992

Look how young we looked. That picture was taken in 1992, about four months before we tied the knot.

We didn’t make any children together, but together we raised three fabulous kids.

Family trip to VA Beach, about 1994.
Family trip to VA Beach, about 1994.

We’ve had lots of fun over the years. And together have shared many adventures, big and small.

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Christmas 2014

We’ve enjoyed lots of travel together, too.

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Mike and I at the not-so-famous Treviso Fountain.

 

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Me and Mike upon his completion of his ride around the US.

 

We are both lucky to have each other. Not only have we been blessed with three children, we have three grandchildren, too.

One of those, Joseph, age 8, made use a special anniversary breakfast this morning.

Chef Joseph
Chef Joseph

Chocolate chip pancakes. My favorite.

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Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I am a lucky, lucky lady. I have a beautiful family and a wonderful husband who loves me. I love him right back.

Here’s to many more very happy years. And a whole lot more laughter.