It's been a great Christmas season. I've really enjoyed spending time with family. Thanks to all of you who have written about Thatcher, for your thoughts and prayers...we appreciate your support and encouragement.
We started off Sunday with the Christmas Eve service at church. It was truly magnificent. It was an 8:00 a.m. service and they kept the sanctuary dark with just candles lit in the entire front area. The pointsettias were white, as were all of the other floral arrangements. It was a simple elegance that was so beautiful. The service was so awesome...with the choir, special music and the congregation singing the Carols of the Season, I just felt so blessed. Truly a great way to start the day!
That evening, we had the clan over...it was definitely lots of fun...a little crowded but good. Vern smoked a couple of hams and they were soooo good. There was plenty of food, with tons of leftovers. Yay! Here's Vern's Mom and Dad...smiling cuz they just ate!
Sometimes I wonder why my nephews insist on making funny faces for the camera...well, I guess this shows who they learn it from...Vern's brother, Greg and his son, Josh. Cute!
On Christmas Day, we opened gifts in the morning. I never get over the fun of being surprised and surprising Vern and Ashley. This year, Mom and Dad stayed with us and we opened gifts with them. I wanted to share a picture of one of the gifts I received from Vern...it's an awesome primitive angel made from a hand painted metal body, head and wings and movable wooden arms . She's almost 3 feet high and just way too cool to put away after Christmas...I have a spot in my studio picked out for her.
In the afternoon, we drove up to Fountain Hills where my brother and family (from Idaho) rented a house for the week. Vern and my nephew, Josh, had a Monopoly marathon going...as Ashley put it, Josh just refused to die and just kept hanging on by a couple hundred dollars.
Needless to say, it was an all day affair...here's a pic of moneybags Vern with his piles of money, houses and hotels and Josh with his measley remains!
Josh mustn't have been too upset since he's still smiling. Josh and Vern are pretty tight...they really look forward to their Monopoly face offs.
Here's a shot of the fountain for which the city is named. The fountain goes off every hour, day and night, and is quite huge. It's truly an awesome sight to see from an airplane when flying overhead.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the Valley and we enjoyed spending time walking around the fountain area.
Ashley and Nicolas (born just a month apart) enjoyed spending some quality time together. Ashley, born a drama queen and currently minoring in theater, had to perform for the camera!
Ash got a really beautiful piece of art done with pastels from Tim, Carmen and boys. Very fitting for our resident horse woman!
Here's one of my Mom and Dad in the forefront of the fountain. They have really enjoyed a break from the cold winter and snow of Idaho...
Yesterday, we treated the whole family to breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, T.C. Eggington's. We had a great server with a sense of humor...some of the family members apparently couldn't remember what they had ordered...when she brought out the food and called out what she had, no one would claim it! We were commenting that we not only have to remember what we ordered but also what our parents and children ordered!
Vern and I were planning to go to the paint ball park with Ashley, our nephews and Vern's brother but we got the news that Thatcher was ready to come home. So...Ash, cousins and uncle went without us...it was a shame to miss out on that but we were thrilled to be able to bring "Puppy T" home. His surgery had gone well and he was feeling fairly perky.
He apparently has a condition called "megaesophagus", something we knew nothing about previously but, thanks to lots of info on the net, have learned a lot...really fast. From what we have read and been told, this is going to take quite a bit of time and consistency. This is Thatcher's daily feeding and medication chart...he's on bland food...that's boiled chicken and rice put through a food processer to resemble a mush and he has to eat from an elevated surface...currently it's an old Gateway computer box (maybe he will gain some computer knowledge by osmosis). LOL. The major challenge is that he is on 4 meds and they all have to be given within a half an hour of each other, followed by his meal...the suggestion is 3 small meals a day, with each meal taking about 2 hours in giving meds, walking him to keep the head elevated so that the food passes through the esophagus into the stomach (that is done after each med is given as well)...by the time we clean up, it's time to start the process again. So far, he's done pretty well in keeping everything down...keeping our fingers crossed and prayers sent upward! Vern and I laughingly said that we are feeling like parents of a newborn baby again...we're definitely going to be tied to the house for the next two weeks...but, we want to make sure that we give Thatcher every possible chance to make it and get healthy again.
Sorry for the long post...it's just been so busy and there have been so many good things to share. Life really is good...and I appreciate God's blessings in our lives. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
Phew! When I posted about the craziness of the week, I had no idea what a self-fulfilling prophecy that would turn out to be. A week from this past Thursday, our 11 year old Bouvier, Thatcher, started doing this gag/choke thing that would result in him upchucking his food. It started getting worse and on Monday, we took him to the vet, who took x-rays and lots of tests. His advice was to wait until the lab results came back before we took further action. In the meantime, I was cooking chicken breasts and rice every day, pureeing it in the blender and feeding it only for Vern and I to have to clean it up again. He was obsessed with eating grass outside...totally like a horse or cow...amazing...then would promptly lose it. Both of our dogs like eating grass but the volume was astounding-Vern even caught him outside one evening precariously perched on the rocks of the pond waterfalls going after the papyrus strands. It seems like the night time was the worse time for him-he was constantly hacking which, of course, kept us awake. I was up at 2 or 3 (yep, AM) just about every morning...up for the day, that is! (early mornings=really dark circles under the eyes!)
On Thursday, the vet told us that the lab results were normal except for a very mild case of Valley Fever for which he prescribed meds. Our instincts told us this wasn't related to Valley Fever as most people and dogs who live in the Phoenix area do get Valley Fever and often don't even know it. Once you've had it, it will show up in a blood test. Since Thatcher wasn't getting better, Vern took him to an veterinary ER hospital yesterday for a second evaluation. They found that he had some "foreign object" in his stomach and that his esophagus was stretched out, which caused the gagging.
Our options were to either do surgery to remove the obstruction or to put him down due to his age and all the possible complications, as well as the fact that there were no guarantees that this was going to resolve the issue. It was quite a tearful afternoon...we opted for the surgery and yesterday afternoon, Thatcher had a mass of plant matter removed from his belly. The tech said that it was all coiled up in a big ball. Anyway, he had a good and restful night and we are waiting for the tech to call us to see how his morning has been. Unfortunately, we still aren't out of the woods because of the esophagus thing...if it doesn't go back to normal, then we are going to have the gag/choke thing going all the time. There are no guarantees as to whether it will shrink back to normal size. There are lots of prayers, good thoughts and wishes for this great pup of ours!
On the positive side of things, when I'm worried or feeling depressed, I go into a cleaning frenzy. Consequently, the project table in my studio is clean for the first time....in ...ah, well, let's just say a long time. That feels good. I ditched three large bags of trash from the area and I'm sure there's more that has to go!
One of the other things that I did was to chop a bunch of my scraps into 6"x6" pieces...here they are, all stacked up...they look like a yummy layered dessert! Hopefully, I'll be more prone to using my scraps when they are nicely cut and organized by color.
My house is clean...really clean. That's a good thing since our houseguests arrive today and the whole clan is over for dinner tomorrow!
Oh yeah, about the mouse. Since we back up to a canal and there are agricultural properties across the way, we often will have little visitors when the weather turns cold. This one is an elusive one though...haven't seen him but know he's around...a couple of telltale signs in one of the hall closets. Guess he doesn't like cheese...maybe peanut butter is his thing! One thing I do know....I will win this battle! Enough said.
Another positive happening this past week was the beautiful lunch for the instructors and employees at Scrapbooks, Etc. that the owner Marti Jones put together. She is an incredibly kind and generous person and it was so nice to take a couple of hours to enjoy a meal and gift exchange. Thanks, Marti and Doug!
What have you done recently that took you out of your comfort zone?
My experience happened last Saturday. I took a slide charm solder class at Ink It from the very talented Liz Eaton. I had always wanted to learn how to solder and have wanted to make some of my own charms...plus, I thought it would be a good break in my Christmas decorating day.
Liz is a great teacher-she really knows her stuff and is very patient in teaching the techniques to newbies. Here are several collages that I made.
I was definitely out of my comfort zone but it was a good thing. After taking the class, here are a few of my thoughts.
I'm no Liz Eaton or Sally Jean Alexander...not even close! Liz made the process look easy but it definitely is much harder than it looks. I know for sure that I need LOTS of practice before my charms look anything like theirs. The hardest part for me is to have enough solder to cover the foil tape but to keep it smooth and level.
It's good for me to be a student learning a new thing, not only from a personal perspective of challenging myself but to help me to better relate to my students. I haven't taken classes that required this type of concentration since I took a series of bookmaking classes years ago. It's good to be reminded that there is some frustration with doing something for the first time...that all of us need patience and encouragement as we're working through a new process...and that some people need more time and more help than others.
I could seriously become addicted to making these charms. They are soooo fun to make, even though they are a little frustrating right now. I love creating the little collages and hopefully, with some time and patience, I'll get better at the soldering part. So, maybe next year, there will be a Christmas tree dedicated to the little charms. Hmmmm....always a project :)! Bought some solder, flux and a glass cutter...but that's another story for another post.
Hope you've done something out of your comfort zone...if not, hope you're planning to...soon.
Wow, it's hard to believe it's the last one of the year. I almost didn't do it...you know, the "I'm waaaay too busy" excuse, but then thought, it's only 12 pics...go ahead and take them! So glad I did...it was a GREAT day. Here's a quick collage of my day. To check out who else participated, go here.
It's been a great weekend. I was feeling pretty stressed last week because the house wasn't decorated, the Christmas shopping wasn't done and I was about two weeks behind schedule. Thanksgiving weekend is my usual time to get ready for Christmas but with us being out of town, nothing got done. Add to that, I had a number of deadlines after I returned.
Last year, I remember going through the same thing and then just hurriedly doing the prep so that I could say it was done. There was honestly no enjoyment of the moments...and consequently, no great memories of that time. This year, I had a "come to Jesus" discussion (i.e., very serious discussion) with myself on Saturday morning. I was going to take my time. Savor the moments. Enjoy the process.
It was GREAT. FUN. JOYFUL.
As I was climbing up and down the mega ladder with armfuls of Santas, I thought about previous years and how everything that was important always got done and maybe all the other stuff didn't really matter.
So, as I'm sitting here typing away, smelling the baking ham, listening to the Christmas music in the background, I thought I'd share some of the scenes from around the house...
These are the Santas above the three armoires which store all my "stuff".
Here's a close up of the center section. I was too lazy to bring the mega
ladder back in so I'm shooting up into their faces...the shots aren't the best!
This is Marvin the elf helping out...he's trying to put the silver and crystal
garland on but he's made a huge mess...so it's all sitting out on the table :)
This is what you see when you walk in through the front door...the highest
point of the ceiling is over 20 feet high which gives me a lot of space on the
shelves. To put it in perspective, the center Santa on the rocking horse is
over two and a half feet high.
This is our "tree-o" (I know...cheesy!) in the corner. Sounds more impressive
than what it really is. Three skinny trees ranging in height from 7' to 5' to 3',
all covered with Santa ornaments. The jester keeps watch.
A close up of the jester. Ashley gave him to me for my birthday last year and
we jokingly told my sister-in-law that he was her blind date for Christmas
Eve dinner...the general consensus was that he beat the last blind date she had!
This is one of my favorite guys...he was custom made for me by Cindy Gray,
an artist is Maryland who makes museum quality Santas. All of the clothing
is made from vintage pieces of fabric or clothing and she hand made the tin
lantern and wooly lamb.
Another of my favorites which I hand made in 1999. What was so weird about
him was that he ended up looking like my maternal grandfather. I was really
close to Dyedushka...maybe the subconscious mind took over when I was
sculpting. I was distracted from sculpting when I started scrapbooking but
I'm thinking I'd like to take a week long clinic in Montana this summer from
an incredible Santa artist.
Can't forget the outside. A piece of a cypress tree with barbed wire wrapped
around it...and satiny glass ornaments (which the hummingbirds have been
buzzing this afternoon :). Our nod, really our only nod, to the Southwest...
Looking forward to this coming week...the Christmas shopping, getting the house in order for Christmas Eve dinner (an invasion of 17 people), doing cards, buying cookie tins for our commercial clients...joyful about the coming celebration of the birth of Christ!
And the winner is DAWN! who guessed 150 Santas. The actual number that I have is 157!
Congratulations, Dawn...email me your address and I'll send out your kit.
Thanks to everyone who played!
When I told Vern about how many Santas I had, he said that it was a Grand Collection. After I saw the guesses coming in, I started thinking that maybe I had a Grand Obsession! I was relieved when some of you started guessing some bigger numbers...maybe it's not an obsession after all. :))
I'll post some Santa vignette pictures this weekend. Hope you have a fabulous one!