Sunday, July 26, 2009

4th of July Fun Run

Pops and AJ did do the 5K Fun Run on the 4th of July, AJ ran the whole way. He didn't win for his age class, but he finished. Not bad for a kid who hadn't really trained.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two degrees of separation

I heard from my first love from high school. He lives in Wasilla and is friendly with the Palin family. So I am 2 (or is it 1) degrees from Sarah Palin.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Australian Labradoodles

I am plugging along on research about finding and getting a dog to be a therapy dog and work with me. I'll share info I have learned. I have become enthralled and educated about the Australian Labradoodle. Read along if you are into dogs.

Australian Labradoodles were originally breed in Australia and are a combo of a few breeds. They have been bred for so many generations that they are now seeking to be identified as a breed in and of themselves. The not-really-yet-a breed was originated to be guide dogs for the blind and to eliminate the issue of people being allergic to dogs. They have hair instead of fur and do not shed (like a poodle).
Therefore, people are not allergic. Turns out this is much different then a labrdoodle or goldendoodle that was breed by mating a poodle and a lab (or golden) retriever just a single or a few generations back. In this case you cannot guarantee a hair coat and disposition as much.

The color can range from white, cream, apricot, brown, black and all shades in between. Usually they are solid in color. The coat can be "wool" or "fleece". In my mind "wool" looks curlier like a poodle and "fleece" looks more like a cross between Bob Marley and a dog (see the brown guy up above). Or if you are a lab lover, they both look a bit like a lab with a bad perm. I spoke to a breeder today who said she noticed that children with autism really seemed to like the soft fur of these dogs. A nice tactile experience!

They are bred in 3 size categories:
Standard Labradoodle 21 to 24 inches in height and 50 to 65 pounds
Medium Labradoodle 17 to 20 inches in height and 30 to 45 pounds
Miniature Labradoodle 14 to 16 inches and 15 to 25 pounds

Cost varies-but generally seems to be $1,800.00 to $2,500.00. Most are $2,500.00Gulp. I think that is largely due to "labradoodles" being the "in" kind of dog to have lately. The strong history of service dogs for Australian Labradoodles is from a line(s) (or kennels) called Tegan and Rutland. Breeders will boast if their dog came from one of those lines.

Two women started a business breeding and training labradoodles to be service and therapy dogs. One of the women has a daughter with special needs. Us Special Mama's, we get it done! Read down the page on the link. I love the photos. You get a good idea of what a standard sized labradoodle looks like.

The breed is now being recognized and used quite a bit by people who train various service dogs. Of which there turns out to be many:
hearing dogs, guide dogs, seizure alert dogs, allergy alert dogs and best of all service dogs for individuals with autism.

At a minimum-those dogs make you smile.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The star in my night is my joy when thinking about getting a therapy dog.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boxes on the shelf

Boxes stacked on the top shelf of my dank emotional closet:

Son with PDD-NOS, ADHD and no true friends

Daughter who feels and dresses more like a boy and has no true friends

Mom fading from Alzheimer's and living with me

No other supportive family

Friend in a coma- and with that an over-whelming amount of responsibility and time required of me (medical and financial power of attorney)

Home in disrepair

One box

Some days, I can consider the surface contents of one box

During moments spent crouching on the closet floor I wonder why that shelf is so full

Most of all, I fear an earthquake raining the contents and suffocating me

Close the door

I can't consider the boxes

My friend

Still in a coma with movement of all 4 extremities. Not following commands consistently. I am managing LOTS.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 9th

–day after surgery for Tanya
They eliminated the sedation and she remains minimally responsive. I was hoping she would wake up more-of course-but also so I could talk to her and feel like she knew I was there. She opened her eyes to her name and moved all 4 extremities, but not to my voice. She was not following commands and her eyes were blank. She is still on a ventilator, but is doing some breathing on her own, which is good. But in general, not good if she doesn’t start to rouse.
I have to believe that in her soul and subconscious she has stored memories that Amanda (who I have not met-but Tanya adores) and I were with her in this crazy time and that she heard us when we said she is loved by so many.
It is like I have stepped into a chapter of a different book in the trilogy of my life. In the past 5 to 10 years Tanya and I have not been all that close. Our lives became quite different with my marrying and having 2 kids, one with special needs, and my hunkering down in the life of family and work. We connected mainly annually at Christmas time.
I told her long ago that she should put me down as medical power of attorney. Andrea and Chess and I are listed. Andrea is one of my oldest friends (30 years, gulp) and while our friendship took a hiatus for a few years-we are “back together”, with this now more then ever. I think Tanya has brought us that as a gift. This chapter with Tanya and I is a reconnecting from the past really. It is my turn to put out love and effort for her like she did for me so many years ago. She took me on my 1st trip to Europe and was an excellent model for learning to travel. She helped me gain much of the confidence I needed to go across the country and tackle this situation alone, navigate an unknown city and crawl through a mammoth medical system. I am flying home now and I did things on this trip I have not done before and I learned. I ate dinner alone in downtown, explored a portion of the city alone and rode in a bunch of taxis. I chatted with drivers and got to know one of the shuttle drivers at the hotel. And I could see Tanya in myself as I did those things. I think she gave me those successful experiences.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Adventures in Miama and the ICU

Waiting to hear from MD regarding out come of brain surgery my friend had. The surgey has been over for more then an hour-and still I wait. Not despite my best efforts to tackle any knowing sources.

Everyone in Miami pretty much speaks Spanish. I am by far a minority in looks and language.

Women and men seem to rarely wear shorts despite hot, humid weather.

It is maddening to be on the other side of such a critical situation. SO hard to get info. Hurry and wait, hurry and wait and hope that the MD or social worker doesn't come to speak with you when you are in the bathroom-they will leave again.

On most of the 1st floor of the hospital-where cafeteria, places to sit etc are-there is often no cell phone reception. So if you are called by staff on the cell phone you are clutching-you won't get the call. But you have no way of knowing that until it is too late and your crazed trying to get a hold of the MD.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Life on July 5th

In the past few days a long time friend of mine had a stroke while out of the country and was flown to Miami and has had emergency brain surgery. Tanya was like a second Mom to me when I was growing up. I have known her since I was 7. She bought me my 1st car, took me on a road trip to MI and back one summer, she took me on my 1st trip to Europe and she flew to Madison with me to settle for graduate school there. There are many other wonderful things she did for my friends, Mom and I. With marriage and kids and ALL we have grown apart, but talk or see each other a couple times a year. She comes up every Christmas because we have spent some (or all) of every Christmas together for the last 30 years. While she has many friends, she has no blood-family. Her friends are her family. I get that. Outside of my husband and 2 kids, the same is true for me.
Years ago I told Tanya to put me down as medical durable power of attorney. I am one of 3 listed. One of the others a dear friend of mine, Andrea, who has known Tanya for ages as well. She is brilliant, organized, concise and can solve her way out of a box in 30 seconds with her hands and feet tied behind her back. I worked in hospitals forever and Andrea and I joke in a serious way-I do hospitals, emergencies and touchy-feely well. Our skill sets are totally opposite. We think Tanya was on to that when she put us both down. The other person listed is Chessa, who lives in Co. While I had never spoken to Chessa until a few days ago-I know Tanya adores her and her family. I can understand that- she seems to be a combination of both Andrea and I.

What is funny is that I cannot remember the last time I left the state. (Oh yeah-I went to Seattle with Squid and Jennyalice to do a book reading and I got to visit my friend Kelli.) I do not recall traveling to and being in a strange city alone. This is big for me. Especially since being by myself often means “alone” or “lonely” to me. Tanya is currently in ICU and is evidently “alert” at times per the RN, but is medically sedated. So while I will see her-she will not be a companion to me. Of course I am not going there for that. But I am curious how it will be for me to be gone from 9 pm Sunday to noon on Fri and not be with anyone.
This will be a time in which I am able to help Tanya and a time that I will be able to culture pieces of my heart, mind and soul.
Time to board the plane 10:20 pm Sun July 5th. Red eye to Miami.