Wow! Y'all had to wait nearly two full days for an update. Sorry it took so long. This one will be another epic. In Word it was 4 pages long!
Just got done trading harrassments with my wife so now I'll concentrate on the update.
To start off, Katie Udell down under, the t-shirt was made by the mother of one of our friends and Romp n' Roll regulars, Megan Blake (also, and most unfortunately, another Caringbridge member). I told her she could start a little cottage industry making those. By the way Megan's mom, any way we could get a new pink one in a 5-t for Charlotte (her's is getting a little grimy and she loves wearing it) and a matching one in Large for a woman here at The House? I'll GLADLY pay for both. I'm telling you, they would be lining up if they could get them out.
OK, wow, where to start. Yesterday, we sort of slept in and still noodled around part of the morning after we got up. I was going to try to go the big dog show that was going on at the Reliant Center just down the road. If figured CJ would like it and I knew I would totally love it. Especially if I got to see some of my favorite breeds up close.
Things were progressing nicely, we were getting dressed, snacking, reading, watching videos…Then I tried to get CJ to brush her teeth. Holy Mother of Rhodes! Saying she had a melt-down is like saying the QE2 is a big boat! And we had been doing great up till now.
Thus started about a two hour wrestling match during which I actually got her to promise that if I didn’t make her brush her teeth, then she had to take her vitamins. That lasted until she got a vitamin, which she used to LOVE, near her mouth. Melt-down Part Deux! Then it just dissolved into crying and screaming for no apparent reason. She told me that. I asked her why she was crying and she said she didn’t know but she certainly was shedding a river of tears. I tried to take her downstairs to play…no deal. When I finally did get her down to the lobby, she found occasion to cry at every turn. She wasn’t mad at me as she clung to me on the couch and didn’t want to let go.
I had spoken to a woman earlier about bringing her daughter with us and “carpooling” to the dog show (her daughter was to undergo brain surgery on Monday-today) but I wasn’t sure we’d even get out the door the way things were going.
When it got to be now or never time, Charlotte settled down and told me she still wanted to go to the dog show so we packed up and headed out. I wasn’t feeling very optimistic that CJ would last very long but one cute thing she did was leave Mickey on the bed saying that Mickey was a mouse and we were going to a dog show. Then I suggested we take Rompy and she thought that was mildly amusing.
From here out, she was an angel. Guess she just had to get it out of her system. She sat in the stroller and actually wanted to be where Calle and her mom were and paid attention to the dogs we were viewing. She really like the obstacle course where the dogs jump steeples, go in and out of slaloms, and zoom through tunnels.
We saw dogs of every shape and size including a great dane that seriously considered devouring Rompy and I got to see some of the most beautiful animals I have ever seen in my life. Alaskan huskies, bull mastiffs (one was 225lbs!), and the biggie, Bernese mountain dogs! Ah, yes. Go here and feast your eyes. http://www.google.com/search?q=bernese+mountain+dog&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1
I didn’t get to see any Irish wolfhounds which are the other favorite of mine but there we lots of Bernies to behold. There were booths with the various breed rescue organizations and I saw the beagle booth but they only had one very old beagle that wasn’t very representative of the breed. Seemed kind of strange. I saw no other beagles the whole time we were there. Beagles and beagle mixes are just about the most common kind of shelter dog (at least around Virginia) and they make awesome pets. We’ve rescued all of our animals and totally recommend everyone do the same. I love looking at the purebreds but in the end, a shelter dog is a better choice for us.
So, back to the story, after a bit, Charlotte actually got out of the stroller and walked quite a while. We then decided the kids had seen enough and we headed back. It was a very nice event and the fact that it was 5 minutes from The House was bonus.
Later that night we went to the airport to pick up the Beazleys and relinquish the truck. It was coming up on 9:30pm by the time we picked them up and started back and Charlotte zonked on the way. In the confusion of the load-out at The House, I left my cell phone in the truck! Talk about fortuitous circumstances, I didn’t have either of their numbers memorized and almost panicked BUT, it just so happens that I had started compiling a list of our Houston contacts “just in case.” I was actually going to leave the Beazleys numbers off because, hey, they’re already programmed into our phones…Good thing I ignored that impulse. They just happened to stop off at a nearby drugstore and were still close so it wasn’t a big deal to swing back around.
Silly me. Lucky me!
Now to today (which by now is yesterday!).
This morning I woke up at 3am wide awake and it took a long time to wind down. Then as I was dozing back off at about 4, Charlotte decided to wake up. And I mean with vigor! She started talking and singing loudly, very clearly and very wide awake, and as soon as she realized I was awake, she just HAD to be in my bed. So over she came. Fortunately, she fell back asleep sometime around 6 (not sure because I dozed too) and slept in until almost 10!
She had about as lazy a day as ever while I puttered around doing laundry (did the sheets, pillowcases, etc…as well), playing online and cleaning the room. I figured we need to straighten things up and clean for when CJ’s counts plummet which they’re supposed to. Back to germophobe 101.
One of the better events of the day, as usual, was poop. Three sizable poops to be exact and every time, she turned into a different Charlotte, a little bit happier each time. Quite honestly, I can’t say where it all came from. It didn’t seem she had eaten enough to account for all of it but I’ll take it.
Another thing she’s been doing is taking my running shoes (it HAS to be the running shoes) and pulling out the shoelaces. She plays around with it for a while and then re-laces the shoes, CJ style. This activity has taken up HOURS of her time the past week. It’s good for her fine motor skills, keeps her in one place, I don’t mind wearing one shoe at a time around the lobby.
The one not so good development I’ve noticed is that she has gotten stiffer in her legs and although I’ve been stretching and massaging them, she needs a real PT/massage therapist to work on her. I’ll check into that tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow…The past 3-4 days have been days I'll never forget for as long as I live. I didn't think I could bond with Charlotte any more than we already had but especially today, it has been filling me up. We’ve been doing very little, actually, but the whole “vibe” today has been next to magical. Just little things like honking noses, following each other aimlessly around the lobby, her telling me over and over, the subplots in her Dora and Blue's Clues videos, etc…
There's a certain bitter-sweet quality to it and the last part of the movie "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" keeps intruding into my thoughts, the part where the androids bring the “mother” back to life for one day so the “son” can see her again and have that one perfect day and, of course, nobody in the audience wants it to end.
These have been her last few "good" days before starting up the proton radiation/chemo and I can’t help but dread the inevitable downward spiral (which, by the way, is becoming her favorite shape. How deep is that?) waiting for us as treatment, and the family fun side effects, begin to take their toll. I’m so appreciative of having these special days with Charlotte. I’m sorry Rachel wasn’t here for them since she will be coming back after the treatments begin and will have to deal with the “sunburn,” the chemo, the oh-so-fun temozolomide (there are chocolate bars in the bin in the fridge) pretty much as soon as she steps off the plane.
I just want to hold her and kiss her all the time (I think she’s getting irritated with the kissing part). It’s 1:30am and I don’t want to go to sleep, even though we have to get up super early to eat something before she goes NPO at 5:30am, because she’s over there less than three feet away from me sleeping like a little angel and I can’t get enough of her.
Fortunately, there will be support here for us during the most trying times as Grandpa and Grandma Bonita are headed this way and the New Mexico contingent will be here the 8th of August. We are also developing quite the Houston based network of people who know people following Charlotte’s progress.
The letters and packages are starting to come in. Thanks to all for those.
Now for something COMPLETELY different! I NEVER do these sorts of things on Facebook (surveys, quizzes, junk like that, especially where you’re supposed to tag people to do the same quiz or whatever). I really LOATH doing those, but one finally caught my interest. It’s the “put your ipod on shuffle and make a list of the first 15 songs that come up” game. Now, I had seen this before and I was like, “Whatever.” But local Richmond musician, Desiree Roots did it and sent her list to me. Her list was so cool, I figured she'd appreciate mine. I didn’t “tag” anyone or anything like that. I just put there for her and all to see. And it came out very cool! Here’s what came up…
1) Bills, Bills, Bills - Jonathan Coulton
2) London Bridge Is Falling Down - Romp n' Roll training songs
3) Union House Branch - Allison Krauss & Union Station
4) Digging In The Dirt (Live Version) - Peter Gabriel
5) Southern Soldier Boy - Southern Horizon Civil War Band
6) Simplicate - Upper Left Trio
7) On Your Way Down - Little Feat
8) Happy Trails - Veggie Tales
9) Hold On - Yes
10) Bangs - They Might Be Giants
11) Story Of Little Boy - Tommy Emmanuel (story, not a song)
12) At The Still Point - The Story
13) A Token Of My Extreme - Frank Zappa
14) In A Silent Way (DJ Cam Remix) - Miles Davis
15) Come Over To My House And Play - Veggie Tales
16) Speak Low - Dianne Reeves (bonus due to 11 not being an actual song)
So we step into the next part of the journey in just a few hours. I can't tell you how much we appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, beams of gold and silver light, etc...sent our way. We certainly don't feel alone.