Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Farm

Last year our family went to a farm in the north/middle of PA, near Bloomsburg. We enjoyed our long weekend there so much, we decided to extend our stay to a whole week. There were 20 of us there this year, all from my side of the family- my mom, sisters, brother and their families (including my sister from France and her 2 boys). There were lots of little kids, lots of laughter, good cooking, swimming, fishing, and hiking. It was a great week to get reconnected with each other. It is funny how even after all these years, we all fall back into many of the roles and spaces that we occupied when we were children. Sometimes, that is not so great, like when I am sharp with my 33 year old sister, like she is a child. And other times, it is fun as we laugh at my brother's wit and antics. Of course, there was a hole where my dad would have been there with us. We all commented at one point or another throughout the week how he would have loved being there with his kids and grandkids, how it was exactly his favorite kind of vacation. Despite moments of longing, our eyes shiny with tears as we mourned our deep loss once again, it was a joyful, fun week. The kids loved playing with their cousins, favorite activities being the pond, fishing, and the trampoline.

We took a trip to Rickett's Glen on Monday, where coincidentally our next door neighbors were hiking there the same day and we ran into them--crazy! The falls were gorgeous, and the trails were a little challenging, but not too bad. The kids also loved wading in the different pools along the creek. (KK did not come on this hike, maybe next year she will be big enough to handle it.)

Later in the week we went to Knoebels amusement park. It was a blast- KK was actually the one who was the most daring on most of the rides. We went on one together that E and N did not want to try. It lifted into the air and the ride spun several baskets all around in a huge circle through the air. KK kept saying, " This is so fun! I love this ride!" We also went on the flume which she loved, and N hated. I was amazed at her enthusiasm for the fast and dizzying rides. As for me, it is clear that I am past all that. I used to love those rides that went in circles, and I felt absolutely sick. I remember as child, how my mom used to sit out most amusement park rides herself, and I never understood it. Now I do.

This is the ride KK liked so much

My French nephews

Makes me dizzy just looking at it

The rest of the week we spent just hanging out together, games at night, sharing meals, just doing family stuff together. And it was good, really, really good.

I actually really don't like this picture, but it was out of my hands.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Well, after our rather emotional spring, we were really looking forward to summer vacation. The one big trip that we were planning to take was to the Outerbanks of North Carolina, more commonly known as OBX. We had been invited to go with Ed's brother's wife's family. We have been wanting to go for years, but could never find another family who was willing to commit, so we jumped at the chance. Our vacation time was the week when a terrible heat wave hit the rest of the country, we were so glad we had the pool and the beach to escape the crushing humidity. The house itself was absolutely gorgeous, everything you want in a beach house- the ocean was just over the dune, we had a beautiful pool (that the kids enjoyed even more than the ocean), and the house was spacious and beautifully decorated.

We loved the slow pace of the day--hanging out on the beach in the morning, going back to the house for the pool or hot tub in the afternoon, and eating ice cream while we watched the sun set at night. Then when the kids were in bed, Ed and I played Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and other games with Jim and Steph. We did take a day trip down to Hatteras Lighthouse, but other than that we hung out at the house.

While on the beach, I tried body boarding for the first time this year, and I found out I really, really liked it. I have grown fearful of the big waves in my adult years as I realize how you can be injured, and my sensible self has been staying out of the big waves. With the body boards, I feel safer, and I can ride the waves in. I had a blast, it is such a rush!

From a photography standpoint, I absolutely fell in LOVE with the dunes. They were breathtaking, and the perfect setting for my first photo shoot of another family (Stephanie's). I also got some great shots of my own family in the mix.

I could have stayed for another week, easily, but unfortunately, our vacation came to an end. I am hoping we can get together another group for next summer because it is definitely the best vacation I have been on in a long, long time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Holly Girl

So, after an 8 month dry spell, I thought I would try to come back to blogging. I will not attempt to catch up on everything that has happened in that time, but I will give a couple of significant events every few days. Today I will start with Holly.

This spring we noticed that our 12 1/2 year old Lab, Holly was not doing so well. Her breathing was getting heavier and heavier to the point where we wondered if there was a tumor. But then she would have periods throughout the day where she was fine, and rested peacefully. We
finally took her to the vet, because we wanted to see if there was an easy way to ease her breathing. Unfortunately the vet told us that she had something called Laryngal Paralysis that was causing her to have trouble breathing. There was really nothing they could do to help her, and they asked if we were ready to put her down that day. Ed and I just sat there in the room crying and holding Holly, and we decided we wanted to take her back home to see how she did. That week, the first in May was cool, and we didn't notice Holly having any trouble. Then on Tuesday, May 7, it was an unusually warm day. I noticed Holly's breathing becoming more labored throughout the day. That evening it got really bad, and when Ed came home at 8 she was gasping for every breath, vomitting because her sides were heaving so much, and it was clear that something had to be done. We looked at each other, and with tears in our eyes we decided to call the vet. They had hours until 10 pm, and it was around 9. I drove Holly and picked up our friend, and old neighbor, Lisa who had told me she would come. She loved Holly as much as we did, and Holly loved her too. We drove into Rau, and they took us back to a wonderful room, called The Comfort Room. It was set up like a living room with a couch and chairs and a rug on the floor. It was exactly what we needed to help us say good-bye to our sweet girl. Lisa held Holly as she fell after they gave her the muscle relaxant. I just kept holding her head, stroking her soft, soft ears and telling her what a good girl she was and how much I loved her. She slowly relaxed, and her breathing got more controlled. When they gave her the final shot, it was a couple of breaths and then Holly gave one final sigh in exhalation, and she was gone.

Leaving her in that room was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I felt like I
was abandoning her, even though I knew she wasn't there anymore. When I got home, it was really hard. It took a long time for our family to heal from the loss. Even now, as I write this, tears run down my face remembering our sweet girl. There were nights when I was just holding all 3 kids as we sobbed, missing Holly. Ed and I reminisced together about all of the things that made her Holly. The way she would push herself between your legs, trying to squeeze herself as close as possible to say "hello", her innate knowledge of when it was a Sunday morning, the day she would visit Lisa, how she would sit at the door the minute we started piling up bags for a trip, determined not to be left behind. Her sweet, gentle ways with the kids, never barking or snapping, even when they put their hands in her mouth. And her wise, all knowing eyes that were so expressive and intelligent. I still deeply miss Holly, she was our first baby, and although she kind of fell into the background with the kids' arrivals, she never complained. She was a steadfast dog, and we are so blessed to have had her in our family. One day I hope we get another dog, and I think it will really help in the healing. But I will never forget our good girl.