Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank you, Tall Oaks!

It used to be that every time I went on a road trip, I would take my dog, Chewbacca (aka “Chewie”) along with me. Of course, this compromised our lodging wherever it was we went, but I love this dog like I love my own child, and I just couldn’t bear to leave him behind.

That was until traveling WITHOUT my dog was a requirement. That meant figuring out what to do about Chewie. On our first trip away from home, I asked a friend if his teenage son could come over each day to feed Chewie and let him outside to go to the bathroom, but that didn’t work out very well. The friend's son ended up just leaving my backdoor open the entire time we were gone and pouring out a ginormous amount of dog food for Chewie to eat from. The second time we had to leave town, we hired a dogsitter to come into our home and feed the dogs and let them out to use the bathroom. (This was during a time I was petsitting, so there were two dogs.) This situation worked out much better.

On the other hand, for our recent trip to St. Louis, we didn’t hire the dogsitter this time around. I don’t know why my husband didn’t suggest her, as she was a lovely person who did such a good job of caring for the dogs, but this time he suggested a kennel. I thought of my friend (and Jesse’s preschool teacher) Kim, since she’s a dog owner herself, but my husband really pushed the kennel idea.

The idea of leaving my little buddy at a dog kennel filled me with dread. I’d heard so many horror stories of animals being abused and neglected at dog kennels. I didn’t want to chance putting Chewie into that situation. But I calmed my fears by just telling myself I would be thorough in my search for a kennel and personally check out the premises. I have a strong intuition with people, so I would also pay attention to what kind of vibes I pick up from them.

I passed over a bunch of kennels that just didn’t seem right and settled on one that did: Tall Oaks Dog Resort. The “resort” idea made me think: EXPENSIVE! But I checked their rates and it seemed really fair. I explored the web site and liked what I saw. Saw some good comments about this place. Everything looked good so far.

One problem, though: I didn’t have Chewie’s shot records. I lost them in the move from California to Oregon. I debated whether or not I’d have any success in placing Chewie with this kennel.

Still, I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

So I called them up, hoping whoever answered didn’t wig out over a relay call. (Sadly, a lot of hearing people still don’t get it that the deaf must use relay to make phone calls to them. I have had the lovely experience of a lot of hearing people thinking relay was a scam and hanging up before I could get a word in edgewise.) Fortunately, the lady who answered, Heather, had no problem accepting my relay call. She was very friendly and helpful as we talked on the phone. I explained the situation with Chewie’s shot records and she said it was no problem, we could try to get a copy from his last vet in California. (He didn’t have one in Oregon at this time.) So I called Eldorado Animal Hospital in Palm Desert, CA, and asked about Chewie’s shot records. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any shot records for Chewie on file, only for my other dog (who died in 2001). I could only shake my head. How could they NOT have his shot records?? Good grief! Well, it was what it was. So I called Heather back and explained the situation. She suggested I take Chewie to a veterinarian business they use and get him updated on the essential shots. Fortunately, the vet was able to see him that same day, Chewie got his shots, and everything was all set.

My daughter accompanied me on this errand. Before I could visit the kennel, however, I had to get Chewie some dog food from the store. We also took a favorite pillow he likes to sleep on. When we arrived, I immediately had a good feeling about the place. It’s out in the country with LOTS of room for animals to romp and explore. The entire front of the house is animal-friendly and there was even a sign on the door alerting visitors that a delay in answering might mean the owners were busy with the animals. The owners, Heather and Frank, were very friendly and welcomed us with smiles and enthusiasm. I held my breath on how Chewie would react to them, knowing he barks at strangers a lot, but he actually didn’t bark at them at all. Good sign! He immediately took to Frank, and I smiled as I noted how comfortable Chewie seemed as he sat on Frank’s lap. The kennel was like a second home to him.

There were good vibes all around so I agreed to leave Chewie with them. I’ll have to admit that I cried a little on my way back home. I’ve had Chewie ever since he was a puppy, and especially after learning he has a heart condition, he means even more to me than ever. But we had important business ahead. We had to travel to St. Louis to be with my mother. I had to focus on that.

And, at the same time, knowing he was being taken care of while we were away was a big weight off of my shoulders. It allowed me to enjoy our trip and focus my energies on my mother.

While in St. Louis, I received occasional updates from Tall Oaks on Chewie’s progress. I was glad to know he was doing well. And relieved that I left information with them on how to reach me on my cell phone since I hardly had any Internet access while away.

When we returned to Eugene, Oregon, I was very eager to get Chewie back into my arms. I missed my little C-Dawg. When I picked him up, he appeared just as clean, healthy and content as he had been when I left him. He kept staying by my side, and I could tell he missed me, too. I allowed him time to explore the yard a little before we left. It was so good to see my dog again and bring him home.

Thank you, Heather and Frank, for taking care of my dog while we were away. It was definitely one less worry for us and it helped knowing that Chewie was doing just fine while we were away. We’ll definitely bring him by for an occasional visit and be sure to recommend you to all of our friends.

And of course, after we got home with Chewie, I spoiled him like crazy. Gave him treats, lots of love and hugs, bought him fancy dog food and a brand new bed.

(To see a picture of Chewie on their web site, go here


Friday, April 29, 2011

Back home!

This is going to be a short blog post because I am trying to get caught up on a ton of things that had to be put on hold while we took a road trip to St. Louis to be with my mother during her emergency medical situation.

The good news is that my mother is on the road to recovery. Her surgery was a success. I literally saw her "brought back to life" the day after her surgery. It was like my mother was back. If that makes sense! It will take her some time to adjust and completely recover, but news of her doing well is encouraging. Go, Mom!!

I am so very, very grateful to everyone for their prayers and good wishes for my mother.

Also, I want to say I have some of the most AMAZING relatives back east. You guys are so AWESOME!! Thank you to everyone who opened their arms, their homes, their wallets and their methods of communication to us during our stay in St. Louis. I will never forget any of you. It was so good to finally meet some of you and to see others again I have not seen for over 20 years!! It has been so long since I have been back east. Thank you, also, for all of your prayers, texts and support for my mother during this time.

And thank you to our friends in Eugene who watched over our house while we were gone. You guys rock!

I will post about our travels from Eugene, Oregon to St. Louis, Missouri. What an adventure it was!! I will also share pics. We have soooo many pictures to go through!!

For now, it's a matter of getting caught up and getting our lives back in order again. Lots of laundry to do and luggage to unpack. Lots of business to take care of today -- among them, picking my dog up from the kennel he was staying at while we were away. I sure missed him while we were gone, but it was a HUGE load off of my shoulders knowing he was being taken care of during this time. It's gonna be a busy three days getting everything back in order. I am looking forward to getting back in business on Monday.

Enjoy the weekend and God bless!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I surrender

This is an update post from my last one. We are still trying to get the money together so we can travel to see my mother. I hope...really hope that can happen.

She is not doing well today. It has just been one thing after another after another. First it was her stomach, then her leg, her kidneys and her heart....

She is not expected to live much longer. The doctor has given her 48-72 hours left to live.

I am struggling to keep myself together. It's getting harder and harder for me to focus on everything else besides this. As a wife and mother, I am acting on autopilot, but on the inside, I am extremely fragile right now. I am trying to fight back the tears. I will NOT shed a tear while there is still hope!

But I am scared to death. I don't want to lose my mother.

But at the same time....I accept God's will. She is literally in God's hands now. If He decides it is time to call her home, I accept this.

Yes, it's unfair because I haven't seen her for so long. And she has yet to meet her 3-year-old grandson.

Yes, it makes me angry she is being taken away from everyone like this.

But I am surrendering it to God. I surrender my mother's fate to God.

At least, if she goes, she will finally be without pain and can have peace.

I want God to heal her. But I accept what He decides. As painful as it is if she goes.

Still praying for her. Every minute of the day.

We had one miracle, that her cancer was taken away. I am praying for a second miracle, that she will live.

But I accept whatever God decides.

If you could do one thing for me, one thing for her, please pray for my mother. Please.

UPDATE: We have the funds for travel. Thank God! We are making arrangements to travel out to be with my mother. I pray we will get there in time to say goodbye....if we have to say goodbye.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not out of the woods yet

The other day, my mother was officially declared cancer-free. Finally, after years of battling this disease, the cancer is gone. It’s truly a miracle. I cried when I heard the news and have thanked God every day that she is finally free of that disease.

It was the best news I have received all year. It is THE best news of this year. The best gift anyone could ever receive.

Unfortunately, however, she is not yet out of the woods.

A day after this came about, I learned that my mother was rushed into emergency surgery. My sister and I were sending texts back and forth while she was at the airport waiting for her flight. (And she apologized to me about the email. We’re blaming it on her pregnancy hormones.) Then she told me right before boarding her plane that she’d just heard that our mom was rushed into surgery. I logged in at Facebook to find out from my relatives out there what was going on. There are problems with my mother’s stomach and that’s why she had to go into surgery. I immediately sent out a prayer request for her.

Meanwhile, I started praying. People in my network let me know they were praying for her, too.

I prayed so hard for her yesterday. Fighting back tears and fear, I focused on asking God to help my mother. Yesterday, I prayed more in one day than I have ever prayed in my life. Jennifer prayed for her, too. She even included her grandma when she said grace at dinnertime.

I kept my phone with me, relying on texts from my cousin for news, but I kept checking my Facebook messages for news, too. I called the hospital both while my mother was in surgery and after she’d been moved to the ICU. They could not complete the surgery because she is too weak. They planned to complete the surgery tomorrow.

The situation stressed me out. I could barely focus on anything else besides my mother. I kept checking my phone and checking my messages. I know it annoyed my husband I was on the computer so much, especially right after I’d put dinner on the table, but this was (is) an emergency. I just could NOT focus on anything else! I’d made, dinner, sure. I’d edited and resubmitted an article to DMS, sure. But not much else was a priority for me.

In a way, the distractions could be a good thing. I could barely sleep last night because I was so worried. But I stopped myself from pacing around the house and wringing my hands and sat down to watch the movie Secretariat instead. (This was my FOURTH attempt to watch the movie! And I finally got to watch the whole thing. And because Jennifer could not sleep, either, she sat down to watch it with me. And remind me again how much she wanted a horse. Well, I want one, too, but the horse ranch thing will have to wait for a future time.)

Now, as of today, things don’t look good for my mother. She might not make it if she goes back into surgery tomorrow. They have put her on a breathing tube. She isn’t doing well. And I’ve just learned she is going into surgery today.

Please, dear Jesus, please heal my mother. Please help her.

I am going to see if we can get out to St. Louis to be with her this weekend. We HAVE to go see her. We HAVE to be there. I have to accept the fact that she might not make it….which is why we need to get out there to be with her all the more. We NEED to be there. We must.

I’ll be praying that will happen, too. Somehow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just because I'm happy doesn't mean I don't care

They say you should never assume something, because then you end up “making an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.” But still, people assume. It seems like people can’t stop assuming things, especially about people. What’s tragic is that they tend to believe their assumptions are true. Never mind trying to see if it is true. They’re gonna go ahead and believe it is true! This has happened so many times with me. People have made assumptions about me. I hate it when people make assumptions about me. But what I hate even more is when they believe those assumptions.

Case in point: This situation with my mother. She has had cancer for a long time, and lately, it has gotten worse. Thing of it is, I have not seen my mother for YEARS. I thought it was four years. But now I think it’s been three years. Anyway, it’s been a long time. And with her cancer getting worse, her health deteriorating and things not looking so good, the pressure is on EVERYONE – all seven of her children – to see her before she goes. To be there with her.

I have no argument with that. In fact, I agree with it.

The problem is that it seems like one of my sisters thinks that I don’t. Somehow or another, she thinks that just because I don’t jump into a car or onto a plane to go out to Illinois from Oregon, I don’t give a crap that my mother is dying.

Or the fact that I’m apparently “happy” with life. So happy that I can continue to work as if I don’t have a care in the world. Or take care of my children. Write books. LIVE MY LIFE.

Excuse me, when did it become law that EVERYONE is supposed to stop living their lives just because their mother is dying?

And I may not act all sad or dramatic or cry all the time. But that’s just because I decided one day I’m NOT going to live like that anymore. I have already been there, already done that. I won't go back to that. I decided one day, you know, I’m not going to be sad anymore.

But then I went from being sad to being ANGRY. Whoa, was I angry! I was screaming a lot. Stomping around a lot. Wearing a bitter look on my face all the time. Drinking really bad, too.

That was a path of self-destruction. The anger was just tearing me apart. I was angry because my mother has cancer, that the cancer is obviously winning the battle, angry I couldn’t see her and even angrier that I might not see her before she dies.

That anger was just really tearing me apart. It made me into a bad person. I didn’t like that person, either. I CHOSE to be happy instead of angry. I’m done with being sad. And I’m done with being angry.

I choose to be happy, right here and right now. Even as my mother is slowly slipping away from all of us and I can’t see her. I won’t put my life on hold for that. I have seen what letting that get to me does. It hurt me and it hurt the children. All of that sadness – walking around the house crying and being depressed all the time – and all of that anger – the screaming and stomping around – it was making life miserable for all of us.

So I said, no more. No more of that. I want to be happy. And I want my children to be happy.

But because I have made this decision, now people are thinking, “Gee, Dawn’s mother is dying, and she just doesn’t seem to care anymore.”


I DO care. I DO give a shit, contrary to what one of my sister’s thinks, who said in a message to me yesterday, “I ASSUME you give a shit.” I’m just tired of people talking to me like I DON’T.

I CANNOT let this thing with my mother get to me that way anymore. I CAN. NOT!

YES, I AM trying to get enough money together so we can go see her. You people will have to accept the fact that I won’t travel to my mother without the children. If I go, they go. That. Is. That.

YES, I care about what is going on with my mother. I DO CARE! So don’t you people dare treat me like I don’t. I DO!! I just have my own way of showing it.

I pray for her every day. I support her and her fight against this killer disease. I love her more than any words could ever say. I DO make an effort to call her as often as I can – if by some miracle, my calls get through over there. Or somebody answers the damn phone. And if by some miracle I have a CHANCE to call her. You know, life can get pretty dang busy for me on my end. Some people just don’t get it how much work I do taking care of the kids, the house, running errands and TRYING to write all in one day. I have responsibilities, people. I can’t sit at the computer 24/7. I call when I can.

And unlike some people, I don’t have the luxury of grabbing the children and jumping into the car to drive back and forth from Oregon and Illinois. I am not blessed with the gift to snap my fingers and make enough money for travel to magically appear in my hand. You do know it takes money to travel, right???

I DO care about what is going on with my mother. But I will NOT allow this to tear my life apart. I am NOT going to act like my mother is dead NOW – because she is NOT dead! She is ALIVE! I am going to live as though she is alive, because she IS alive!

And while she is alive, I will be happy that she is alive. I will thank God Almighty that another day is here that my mother is alive. I won’t live as though she is dead. I want to be happy. And I want my children to be happy, too. I want us ALL to be happy and enjoy the fact that Carol Colclasure is living for another day! Instead of us all being sad with this…”cancer cloud” hanging over our heads.

And meanwhile, we, on this end, are doing what we can to make arrangements to go be with her before she is gone. Believe me, it IS on the “to do” list. It IS a priority. I KNOW we need to go see her. We WILL go see her. It’s going to happen.

So please don’t treat me like I don’t care. Because I do.

Peace out!

UPDATE: As of today, the doctors have revealed that my mother's cancer is GONE!! SHE IS NOW OFFICIALLY CANCER-FREE!!!! Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!! Praise God! All of our prayers have been answered!!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eye on the prize

So I wasn’t able to return to school last year. I am determined to do so this year – especially now that I have a part-time gig going on that is bringing in some extra money each month.

I have even decided on an occupation. No, it’s not medical coding. I only chose that one because of the perks. I did some serious soul-searching on this one. I figured if I pursued something that I am actually passionate about, then I will do better in that field. I’ll be happier, too. Life is too short to waste away at a job you hate.

And while writing and publishing are my whole world, I know I want to pursue something OUTSIDE of that as a career: Herbal medicine. If there’s anything else I am passionate about, it is that.

I know there are risks associated with being an herbalist. But, really, there are risks associated with everything you do. I used to be terrified I might give somebody the wrong herb for their problems, but how is that different from the doctor who is secretly terrified of botching a diagnosis? Or a surgeon botching a surgery?

They accept those risks and try to avoid making those mistakes. I must be the same way if I am to become an herbalist.

I just really would feel better following my heart on this one.

So I was back to looking for where I could go to receive training on becoming a certified herbalist. And I found a school – an ACCREDITED school, at that. A REAL school: The American College of Healthcare Sciences. Best of all, they offer correspondence courses for the study of herbal medicine. And they’re based in Portland, which is a 2-hour drive for me. Convenient if I have to go there for lab work or an exam.

When I found out about this school, I became VERY excited. Yay! An accredited school that can help me become a certified herbalist!! That is so cool. I’m so grateful I found out about it, and even more grateful that they offer correspondence courses. I am hoping I can get Jesse signed up to go to preschool fulltime in the Fall, when I plan to enroll, and if so, I’ll be grateful I’ll have extra time for that, as well as any trip to Portland should that come about.

Right now, however, I’m in the process of paying off certain medical bills. That stack of medical bills just kept piling up and it got a little scary. Thanks to this gig I have going on, I decided it’s time to start paying them all off. I am working my way through them, but we are also saving up money to go visit my mother in Illinois. I haven’t seen her for 4 years! Well, maybe 5 years. I have lost count, really. But I DO need to see her, especially since she has been getting sicker.

So, that’s my plan. Save up to go see Mom. Save up to pay off the medical bills. Then save up for school. As it is, the gig will continue even after I start school, so that extra money will help to pay for any other educational needs, as well.

I am looking forward to beginning that new chapter in my life. I can’t wait to go back to school and receive certification in a trade. Hooray!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Lost cops?

Never let it be said that nothing interesting ever happens at a bus stop. In this case, Jennifer’s bus stop. I once saw a girl facedown on the sidewalk at this bus stop and panicked, thinking something had happened to her. (She was actually asleep. LOL) I thought that was the most excitement I’d see at that particular bus stop. The events which unfolded this morning proved me wrong.

We arrived early, and while Jen and I stood there huddled together, freezing our butts off, I noticed a police car driving around the area. I didn’t think too much on it, but I had a feeling something was up. Soon the other kids arrived, as well as one of the moms, and we were all standing there, making small talk.

Suddenly, the kids got excited about something down the street. I turned around to see three police cars racing up the street, sirens and lights going off. I had to pull Jennifer back to keep her on the sidewalk because she was practically getting into the street to see them. They raced past us and I could literally smell the rubber of their tires burning. It was two police vehicles and one city police vehicle (if that's what you call a regular car with sirens on the inside?). They pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex across the street, but not for long. The car in the back started pulling out backwards. The other two vehicles followed. They went up the street and into another parking area adjacent the building. But then they came back out again (this time, not in reverse) and zoomed past us to pull in at another parking area of that building.

I shook my head as I looked at the mom. “They’re lost,” she said.

I laughed. That’s not supposed to happen! Aren't police officers supposed to know their neighborhood??

Anyway, they came back out of THAT parking area again, flew past us yet again, this time with a state police car joining their pursuit, and they pulled into the lot they had gone into on the second try.

“Don’t they have computer maps in their cars?” I asked the mom.

She modded and the look on her face indicated that she didn’t get this situation, either. How could those cops get lost?

I told her about how I’d noticed a police car driving around the area earlier and that maybe it was canvassing the area. She agreed that that was probably what was going on.

I had to feel sorry for the bus driver, who was down the street caught in the middle of this chase. Maybe she didn’t know whether to stay put or keep going if the cops had finally gone into the right parking lot they meant to go into. When it seemed like they did find the right lot, she drove the bus on up to the stop and opened the doors. As the kids proceeded to climb onto the bus, once again the cops came speeding past us, lights and sirens going off. And then they went past us AGAIN just as the bus was pulling away.

While we were watching all this excitement, a guy on his bike stopped riding past us to check it all out. I noticed he was talking to the mom (couldn’t read his lips) then he took off on his bike back the way he came to check it out. A lady at the apartment complex across the street came over to us to talk about what had happened, motioning with her hand how the cops had driven all around over there.

Finally, it seemed like the cops were at the location they meant to be at because they pretty much stayed put this time. It had been like watching a tennis match, with them going back and forth. Me and the mom had a laugh over the whole thing and wished each other well before parting ways. After I got into my car, started the engine and drove away, I noticed the guy on his bike riding down the street, talking on his cell phone.

At least all that excitement helped us to forget about how cold it was.