Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I have a few talents, as I mentioned elsewhere in the archives.  Change?  It's not one of them.  It's different, it's unknown, it makes me cold.  Not the kind of cold that leaves you comforted by a warm blanket, the kind of cold that leaves you chilly in your soul.  I can change my hair color without missing a beat, I can change my mind about what to eat for dinner, I can even change the book I'm reading if I don't find it satisfying.  It's major life changes I don't really like, cringe when I see them coming, and am never really sure how to prepare for.

I've already written about how sick my little Sparty is right now.  He did really well for a few weeks, but last night things changed.  It was hard for him to jump on the couch, hard for him to get comfortable laying down, everything was just a little off.  I'm not going to kid myself.  I know a major change is headed our way and my eyes are opened wide enough to know that this change is coming quickly- maybe even light speed quickly. I've known for a while it would happen, that my cuddly little guy is slowly slipping away. I thought I was prepared, turns out I'm not. 

Watching him fade makes me realize how fleeting every moment is.  I remember watching soap operas when I was a teen, anyone else remember the lines: "Like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of our lives"? As I write this now, I see the hour glass of my life and the sand tumbling all too quickly through.  For eleven years I have lived in this home, a fantastic friend and neighbor, only steps away.  For ten years I have lived in this home, two little dogs following me room to room.  For six years I have lived in this home, the sounds of little footsteps padding through the hallways.

The fantastic friend and neighbor is moving tomorrow, I am saddened to see her go. One of my little dogs approaches the end of his life, I am melancholy for my immenint loss.  The little footsteps that once padded through the halls are not so little anymore, they get bigger every day. 

I wouldn't change any of these moments for any amount of money.  But, being the uber sensitive gal that I am, they all play a number on me when the moment slips away.  I see the grains of sand as my moments in time and see them slipping through, escaping the bottleneck, and landing atop the other precious life memories who made me who I am.  Even if I could put a stopper in the hourglass, stop time from moving forward, I know the sands of time must keep moving.  If anything, as I've aged I've learned to relish the moments as we live them.  I may not sound like I'm doing much relishing today, but I'm trying to make a point to remember why I loved each of those major landmarks in my life...

For eleven years in this home, I grew a friendship that has been extremely important to myself and my children.  I didn't know it when my neighbor moved in, but she was going to help me through a few very trying moments.  She was a shining beacon when I was having difficulty becoming pregnant; pep talks, spirit bossts, hand holding- she did it.  When my kids were born and grew, our kids became almost inseperable.  Through countless conversations at one or the other's kitchen table, she inspired me as a parent and gifted me with her friendship. What a gift.  I knew it then, I know it now.

For eleven years in this home, I was followed from room to room by two of the most loving little dogs I could imagine.  They loved me when I didn't always love myself, they comforted me when my dreams of having a child were only that - dreams, they have looked at me with a warmth most people can't muster.  Every challenge I've faced over the last ten years was faced, not only with a loving husband and family to talk me through, but with the wordless love and gestures only a dog could offer- gestures that soothed my heart and soul. Could I ask for anything more? I'm not prepared to lose one of the pups, but I am content in knowing that he will love me fiercly until the very end.

For six years, I have listened to the sounds of childhood and heard those sounds age each day.  As I write this now, I hear raucos shouts and squeals of joy, and size thirteen feet running through the upstairs hallway.  If I could freeze my girls for a moment in time, I wouldn't.  Even though I get misty eyed (ok, maybe waterfall eyed, rainstorm eyed, terrential downpour eyed) at the thought of them growing up and beginning their own lives, I cherish every day of the process. What a contradiction I am.  Despise change and love it all at the same time?  It is ebery moment of their six years of life that make me adore them more every day, and it is in their growing that I am getting the most satisfaction.  They are growing.  They are GROWING!  They are not helpless little babies.  They are people who can tie their own shoes, brush their own teeth, and read their own books.  My girls, who will forever be 'babies in my heart' (as I tell them all the time) are smart and capable and amazing.  Isn't that whay every mother wants?

Stopper the hourglass? No. At first it sounds like a great idea, but the next great moment of life would never come if the sands stopped moving.  I know there are people and events and moments yet to be encountered that could change my life just as drastically as those I've mentioned in this note.  I just have to be willing to let the sands flow, keep my eyes open for the new possibilities, and await the days of my life that are yet to come. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Zombie Fever...or maybe just the FLU

And here I was, feeling invincible. Weight loss, muscle gain, staying far away from dairy.  Two weeks ago, when the husband was sick on the couch and out of work for nearly a week, I kept waiting for it to hit me. Everyday I felt fine.  No signs, no symptoms. I was, I believed, an immune system Super Hero. The Amazing Aimee. Powers beyond belief. The ability to knock out germs with a single blow. As long as I avoided my krypton (dairy and wheat), I'd be fine.  Wrong.

Exactly two weeks after the husband was sick here I am, apparently mortal and very sick with the FLU. Yesterday, when my doctor offered to meet me for an evening treatment and I made my way to the car, I felt more like a "Walker" than a living, breathing, human. Shuffling, scraping one foot behind the other, groaning in pain.  Yep, I was a "Walker". I even had the super high fever to prove it: 104.8 degrees.  For real? Yes, for real.  Not such a immune system Super Hero after all.  

Although I'm definitely on the mend, it's slow going.  There are many holistic meds on the night stand and I've already taken a wet sock bath, followed by a neti pot treatment.  But there's one not so home remedy that I really miss.  It's a guilty pleasure that we all know is bad, bad, bad.  I hang my head in shame to admit this to you, but I really miss ramen soup.  It's not just the noodles, it's the seasoning too.  All of it filled with bad stuff I just can't eat.  But, there are some good things too; there is one very good thing in fact...turmeric.  With its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, it's actually the one ingredient that might be called good for you.  

A few weeks ago, I had a craving and decided to attempt a homemade version.  Switch out the ramen noodles for rice noodles, the powdered broth flakes for vegetable stock, and add some turmeric.  Ok, it needed just a little bit more, but not much.  I whipped up a batch today, at about noon, before I had a chance to become a "walker" again and it did, in fact, keep me human for a little while longer.  

Not So Bad For You Ramen

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons Tamari (depending on how salty you like it)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tespoon garlic
1 ounce flat ride noodles

To be honest, I am guesstimating my measurements here.  Some days I prefer a stronger garlic flavor, some days more salt.  Use this as a rough guideline and suit your own tasts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Handsome, Brown Eyed, Boy

As I write today, I am busy wiping away my tears.  On Monday, we received definitive word that our beloved little friend, Sparty the Italian Greyhound, has cancer.  They give him somewhere between two weeks and two months to live.  There is so much to be said about the little guy, so much I have to put down before it's too late.

He came to us, along with his litter-mate Sophie, 10 years ago this spring.  I was beginning to feel the need to mother and mothering of a little person was some ways in the future, with many obstacles yet to overcome.  When we agreed that we would get a dog, we agreed to get "A" dog- a little girl.  It took much searching to find the breed that would be right for us and eventually agreed on an Italian Greyhound.  The husband has pretty severe allergies to pets, but the IG is pretty close to hypo-allergenic.  Finding one of these rambunctious creatures to adopt proved to be a challenge.  Having never had a puppy of his own, the husband very much wanted to look for a puppy rather than a rescue.  I know, some people look down on that, but it was the right decision for us and one that changed our lives. 

Italian Greyhounds are a very protected breed.  Every breeder I spoke to basically gave me the same line: they weren't sure what I was up to, but they were certain it was no good.  Every single breeder doubted my intentions.  Until I talked to Dick and Marilyn Michigan.  It turned out they had a litter of three pups, two of whom would be available for adoption. If we were willing to make the 6 hour drive to spend the day getting to know them, they MIGHT consider us as an adoptive family for one dog.  I don't know and I never asked, but I wondered if the offer for us to drive that distance was a test to see how bad we really wanted a new family member.  I know it was a test to see if we could handle a true IG.  Dick and Marilyn had more than 10 dogs in their Michigan home at the time, so a visit would definitely prove something.

We readily agreed and set a date.  When we arrived, we were greeted by some of the most spirited little creatures you could ever imagine.  IG ownership is certainly not for everyone, but right away we knew it was for us. There was only one 10 pound problem.  There were two dogs up for adoption and I wasn't leaving without committing to the little girl.  But the other one, the little boy Sparty- I could barely stand to leave him for a trip to the restroom, let alone never see him again.  There would be a waiting period, during which time any adopted puppy would be spayed or neutered and then the breeders would drive to our home to deliver our newest family member.  It broke my heart to leave either dog for my return home and the waiting period that would follow.  I knew we would leave committed to Sophie, but the thought of not bringing her brother to live with us tore me to pieces.  With a little convincing, the husband agreed that two pups were the way to go.  Truth be told? Something about Sparty's incessant need to lick won over the husband long before I had a chance to do my best convincing act.

The weeks passed and eventually the doorbell rang.  Two of the most wonderful pups were welcomed into our home. In the years that followed, they became our dearest family members.  Rare was a family event to which the puppies did not go, rare was the evening we didn't stay snuggled under a blanket. Our lives were changed. And then motherhood happened.

I had always said I would not be one of those women who shunned the dogs when two legged children arrived.  I wasn't.  Sure there were times when my hands were full and fewer scratches were given, but I never for a second forgot that those two pups were my best nursemaids while I was on bed rest during pregnancy.  Never could I ignore their melted chocolate-brown eyes when one or both came padding into the girls' room. And, without a doubt, never could I forget a birthday for the little four legged fuzzy guys- my girls were born on the same day as the dogs (separated by four years time.) My 9-1-6ers, that's how they were all collectively known. Life was chaotic, sometimes frustrating, often overwhelming, but never without unconditional love.

I find myself looking back at the last handful of years and realizing that time has been perfect, especially since I got my health in order.  When I found health and peace, I began to see that my life was as close to perfect as one girl can get.  A loving husband, two great kids, and dogs that cuddled with me whenever I saw down.  One dog who was so devoted, that even a late night with friends, couldn't send him to bed without me. Those deep, knowing, compassion filled eyes were always watching. He. Was. Always. There.

When I received the crushing news, a friend mentioned how hard she knew it was for me and how symbolic to me it must be. At first, I couldn't identify what was symbolic about this situation, though I knew she was right. Then I figured it out, through many shed tears. The symbolism lies in my devotion to him.  My relationship with Sparty, is much like a marriage.   It took time to cultivate our routine, our understanding of one another, and a relationship of comfortable habits. I think back to the past couple of years and the peace I have found cuddling in bed, watching TV or reading, with the my soft and caring friend.  It was comfortable and warm and peaceful and known. 

It may sound strange, but I equate it to the idea of dating again - something that I am beyond happy I am not doing.  There comes a peace when a relationship hits the point of being content and comfortable.  At that point, each other's faults are known and accepted.  That is where I am in my marriage and in my relationship with everyone in the household, including that little dog.  Much like my relationship with my mate, where I have finally realized I don't need to always be right and that he loves me no matter what, my relationship with Sparty is a comfort.  It is a comfort I am not ready to give up, and don't know that I will ever be prepared to be without.  When we learned the devastating news I told him that I will not be selfish.  I will not let him suffer.  I will be for him what he has always been for me.  I will hold him, I will love him, I will see him through.  I am terrified for every second of that goodbye, but I owe him the kindness he has always shown me on my darkest days. 

And when it is over, when the end has come and gone, I will carry the pure and unconditional love forward.  The thought of never again looking in his eyes and seeing a universe filled with devotion and love is killing me, but I will keep looking until they close for the last time.  I will shower extra scratches on Sophie, for she has never known a day without her brother.  I will give her just one more treat, and love her even more.  And I will never forget the time I had with them both, no matter how long either lives, because it will never be long enough.