Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Halloween and Mud

I know.  I know.  I haven't written a new blog since before the girls were in school.  Keeping a normal routine in a new location has proved harder than I expected.  Caroline has started at her new school and Summer in her new preschool.  They both seem to be fitting in quite nicely with their new teachers and friends.  It blows my mind that Summer will be in the same school with Caroline next year, and Bella won't be too far behind.

Between school, soccer, and exploring our town there hasn't been much downtime.  I knew once we got to Halloween the madness would taper off so I have been looking forward to the end of October.  This Halloween was different for us.  It was the first one in Weddington.  Our girls are used to trick-or-treating in a neighborhood that you could fill your buckets just going down one street.  Caroline gave me a hard time about wanting to go around our neighborhood this year.  We live in an area where the houses are pretty spread out and the majority of the owners have older children or are retired with no children at home.  She was worried that the less kids that were out the less candy people would be giving.  I personally was excited about less candy and more walking for my girls this night.  To be fair we probably only saw 3-4 other groups out, but our new neighbors were thrilled to see little princesses and a fairy at their door.  They poured handfuls of candy in their pumpkin buckets and Brandon and I got to enjoy talking with the adults we knew.  Everyone had a great evening and we almost made it around the mile loop before Bella hit her limit.  With 4 houses to go she couldn't go another step without a drink of water.  When I heard the words, "We can get water in a minute, let's go get some more candy" come out of my mouth I realized maybe I was a little more excited about their full size candy bars than they were.

Before too long I remembered that the next day was November 1st, the day every parent of young kids dreads.  They day after you let your kids stay up late, walking around in the dark eating pounds of chocolate and sweets and try to shove them off to school at 6 AM.  This year it also coincided with the day I needed to take the girls to Greensboro so they could stay with their grandparents while Brandon and some of our friends participated in the Tough Mudder.  Caroline had a soccer tournament the same weekend in Charlotte so my mom offered to drive down to Charlotte, get a hotel room, and take Caroline to her double header games and drive her back to Greensboro until Sunday afternoon.  The plan was to meet her to hand off Caroline and then drive to Greensboro myself to take the other 2 to Brandon's parents' house and back in time to meet Brandon for dinner in Uptown for a date.  On the way here my mom noticed how bad the roads were with the pouring rain and offered to keep all 3 with her in the hotel for the night.  She took them all swimming in the indoor pool, out for dinner and frozen yogurt and shared a room with 3 little ones.  I've shared a hotel room with these people before, it's not something I would wish on anyone else, but she handled it.  I heard there was a little bit of musically chairs being played in the sleeping arrangements that ultimately ended in my 62 year old mother sleeping on the floor, but she still got everyone up, packed, fed, and out the door in time to make it to Caroline's soccer tournament.   Caroline's team finished 2nd place in the tournament and she was ready for me to sign her up for the spring season before the weekend was over.

The Tough Mudder was a fun time.  Brandon signed up because our good friend from back in Cary offered to come down to race with him.  Once we started reading about what was involved with the obstacles he wasn't sure what he was thinking.  Jumping into a pool of icewater, crawling through a tube half full of mud and water, or being zapped by 10,000 volts of electricity climbing through mud over hay bales sound appealing to anyone else?!  These are all just a few things he did in between running 12 miles.  As the weekend approached I figured it would be like the Krispy Kreme challenge, he would hate doing it, and would probably hate that he did it once he crossed the finish line, but maybe by the end of the evening and onward it would be something fun to tell people he did.

To my surprise he had an absolute ball.  The miles went by quickly and he seemed to love crawling through the mud.  Even the Arctic Enema ice pool was a nice relief on his muscles.  I wasn't able to see him on all the events (the spectator trail was an obstacle course in itself), but every time we did see him he had a huge smile on his face.  The only downfall to the entire event was I lost his wedding ring.  That morning he had taken it off so it wouldn't be lost or damaged and handed it to me.  At 6:30 AM putting it my pocket seemed like the perfect idea.  Hopefully someone picked it up since I put a claim in for it, but if not I guess I know what I'm getting him for Christmas!

The orange headband may have gone to his head a little bit because Brandon is ready for the next challenge.  He has decided now is the time to finally run a full marathon.  He has also somehow talked me into running a half marathon at the same event.  The plan now is to race in the Raleigh Rock and Roll so we can support Sixtyfeet and see some of our friends and family in the process.  Hopefully training through the winter won't be a bad idea.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Charlie Herndon February 28, 2013 - August 15, 2013

We met Charlie in the middle of May.  We picked him up in South Carolina just 2 days before we moved out of our Apex house.  The girls, Brandon and I immediately fell in love with Charlie.  He was so gentle with the girls and loved to be with people.

That first day we took him for his first walk.  He did terribly.  He only wanted to lay and sleep.  The girls couldn't get enough of his soft fur and the little kisses he would willing offer to anyone that got too close.

About a month after we moved into our new home Charlie fell down the few stairs on the back porch and immediately we knew something was wrong.  It didn't look like a bad fall, but he was obviously in pain.  The next morning we took him to the vet.  They discovered he had broken his elbow.  Since this break was in such a bad spot they couldn't just put on a cast.  He required 2 surgeries to place a screw in his elbow to hold it in place until the elbow healed.  For 6 weeks we had to be extra careful with him.  He needed to be carried up and down all stairs, wasn't allowed to run or jump and couldn't play with other dogs until he was healed

The day before he was cleared to get back to normal activity we found him out in the yard acting very strange.  He was walking around very clumsy, almost seemed blind and wouldn't eat or drink.  We immediately took him to the emergency clinic and they discovered he had low protein levels and thought it could be due to issues with his liver.

While we waited for the ultrasound and other tests the doctor had us treat him with several medicines and a special diet.  Suddenly he became a dog we had never seen before.  He would run and jump and chase the girls.  He was so sweet, but obviously completely spoiled rotten from all the extra care he had received.

The ultrasound showed that he did in deed have a liver shunt.  Meaning that instead of the blood being processed through his liver it was going through this extra vessel and the toxins from his foods were being put right back into his system.  He could continue on his medication for a little time, but the only long term fix was surgery to close the shunt.  Our family prayed about what we should do and over lots of discussion we decided we had to offer him any chance he had to live a long life, so although expensive we decided to have the surgery.

They asked us to wait 2 weeks for the surgery.  So they could get his liver as healthy as possible before they operated on it.  All the extra time I got to spend with Charlie really brought us so close.  He was such a mama's boy and I fell head over heels in love with him.  He finally loved to take walks and would try to visit with each dog that crossed our path.  His favorite past time was to find any shoe he could and run off with it so you would have to chase him.

During Charlie's surgery they discovered that his liver was missing some of its anatomy and it could not be corrected.  Blood could not be passed through his liver so his body created the shunt to allow for the passage.  The thing that was killing him was the only thing that was keeping him alive.  There was no more that we could do to help him.  We decided that rather than watch him deteriorate and lose his puppy spirit we would put him down.  It has been such a tough decision.  I have been crying so much over the last few days that even my face hurts.  It just shows you how special of a puppy he really was to touch our lives so much in a short amount of time.  I feel so blessed the Lord put him in our lives.

The girls know what has happened to Charlie and have handled it better than I had expected.  They are already asking for another puppy.  My heart is going to need some time to recover, but I know we'll get another dog at some point.  For now I just like to think of the sweet boy we got to enjoy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What home are we going to?

We are in our new house, all the boxes are empty, the girls are signed up for summer activities, and Brandon is back to work.  We already love where we live.  I still can't stop looking around at all the great detail that was put into the construction of this home.  There's enough room to run and play, but it's not so overwhelming to maintain.  It seems like we live in the middle of nowhere, but just a few miles down the road in any direction you can find shops and restaurants galore.  We are looking forward to trying them all and discovering our new favorite places.  We take walks around the neighborhood and meet all the friendly neighbors that seem so eager to hear about us and what brought us to the area.  All the updates we did before we move into the house are complete and we can just enjoy life in Weddington.

I can already picture the girls going off to school on the bus that stops on the corner, family gathered in the kitchen for holidays, the girls walking down the front steps for the prom, their wedding showers in the backyard while the azaleas are in full bloom, and Brandon and I sipping tea under the gazebo on the back deck while we grow old.  I hope this is the place we will be forever.

Over the weekend some old friends from Cary invited our family to the beach for the weekend.  We had a great time letting the girls play in the sand, eating way too much, and doing a little shopping.  It was a great way to spend the weekend after all the chaos that we have been through the last few weeks.  On the way back, when we got about 30 minutes from the house we asked the girls if they were happy about being home.  Summer asked which home we were going to.  The poor girl has been dragged back and forth from Apex, back and forth from Lake Wylie to Weddington, and then to the beach.  She had absolutely no idea what to expect when we told her we were going "home".

Rather than get too far ahead of myself looking to the future of this home we need to live in it.  Read books while snuggled on the couch, play mermaids in the bathtub, make cookies, and run through the sprinklers.  Time to do one of those things now!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saying Goodbye

It’s officially time to move.  Although we have been in Charlotte for the last 2 months all of our things have still been here at our Apex home.  In Charlotte we have spent the last few weeks letting Brandon settle into his new position with Duke Energy, enjoying the lake, and changing a few things at our new home so we have it just the way we want it before we move in this week.  In this process I have still thought of our Apex house as “our home” so coming back seems normal to me.  With all the work we have been doing at the new house it still just feels like a place that I work and will have to leave when all the work is done.

Last Saturday we picked up our new puppy, Charlie.  He is a Golden Doodle.  The girls have been talking about him for weeks and were so excited to finally meet him.  He is a sweet dog and so great with the girls already.  He’s been interfering with my sleep since we are crate training him and is terrible at walking on a lease (he loves to just lay down and let you drag him), but other than that he is the perfect addition to our family.  I can’t wait to see the girls playing with him in our new fenced yard.

At the moment the girls are in Greensboro with my sister-in-law, Brandon is in Charlotte working before the move and Charlie and I are back in Apex with the movers.  My house will be completely packed up tomorrow and everything will be on its way to Charlotte.  I’m the only one here to see the house we have owned since before Caroline was 1 completely empty. 

I’m so excited to be in our new home, but this one holds a lot of special memories.  We brought Summer and Bella home from the hospital to this house, and all 3 girls had their 1st birthdays here.  We taught our girls to ride their bikes in this driveway, and planted almost every tree and bush in the yard.  For years we put a lot of long weekends and late nights into making it our home and I think it’s safe to say that we are leaving it better than we found it.

We are leaving every doctor and school we have learned to love and trust.  A neighbor that is willing to watch my kids at a moment’s notice, and so many wonderful friends that we have collected along the way.  I have to admit I’m a little sad, but I know the people we met and the things we did have lead us to be the people that we are.

Charlotte, I hope you’re ready for the Herndons, because here we come!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Almost Home

We have been down in Charlotte for a little over a month now.  It has been so nice to be together and we've had a lot of fun.  Brandon is completely in love with his new job and the new commute has not worn on us yet.  The girls have had a blast with all the fun things to do outside.  They love fishing right at the backdoor.  We go on goose hunts in the boat, and the big girls have even done a little swimming in the lake.  The girls don't have any friends here so they have become best friends among themselves.  It seems like a 2 month long vacation, and it kind of is.  The thing about a vacation is at the end of it you've had a great time and you don't want it to end, but it's nice to go home.

I'm trying to keep my usual schedule.  We spend the morning running errands and exercise.  Lunch is at home or we try to meet Brandon once a week near his office downtown.  The afternoon is for little girls' naps and I try to clean the house and get organized, we try to have dinner ready and everything done before Daddy walks in the door so we have the evening available for family fun.

Despite all this I still don't feel settled.  I don't have any own kitchen stuff, I'm not cleaning my own furniture,  and I have to use my GPS everyday to figure out where I'm going.  My husband is having the time of his life and doesn't share in my unsettled state.  I was beginning to think I was crazy until last night Caroline had to be disciplined for the millionth time that day.  We couldn't understand what was turning our little girl into the crazy person that was currently in our home.  Brandon sat down with her that evening to have a heart to heart.  She said she was struggling being away from home as well.  She missed her friends, her school, and her room.  I've been so busy trying to keep myself on track with this move that I wasn't noticing the effects of turning my kids' lives completely upside down was having on them.

This morning all the girls and I sat down together and made a countdown chain to count the days until we move into our new home.  We drew pictures of all the things we were excited for, our new rooms (my new kitchen!), our new dog, the girls' new schools, and having all of our things that we loved before in our new home!

We've all decided to enjoy the time we have left here at the lake house and treat it like a vacation because it's not going to last forever.  But boy, is home ever going to be sweet!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In limbo

If you haven't heard, we are moving and this is our last full week in Apex.  Brandon will begin work full time in his new position at Duke Energy on Monday morning.  In February he worked half weeks at both jobs and traveled back and forth between Charlotte and Apex for a number of weeks.  He has been here in Apex for the entire month of March so he could assist his former department with the planned nuclear plant outage.  It has been great to have him here to help me with the house and also help with all that is to come with the move.  

Thursday is his last day of work.  He leaves immediately for an annual golfing trip with some friends from high school and college, but will be back late in the weekend to help me pack for our temporary move.  Friday is Caroline's last day of school, but the girls and I will stay in Apex a few extra days so Summer can have her last day of preschool on Tuesday.  All the girls will be home with me until school begins again in the fall.

We have found a lovely home in the town of Weddington.  It is in an area southeast of Charlotte with wonderful schools, lots of charm, and most importantly with plenty of room for our family inside and out.  I am already picturing my girls spending the warm days playing in the backyard swinging on the new playground, and cool evenings in our living room next to the big brick fireplace playing board games (You see, my girls always get along perfectly in my dreams!)  We are scheduled to close at the end of April, but will wait to move in at the end of May so we can do a little bit of updating.

Our house in Apex went on the market last Thursday.  It took a little longer than I had hoped to get everything in order since we decided to do some last minute updates.  After 2 weeks of nonstop work the house looks better than it ever has.  We've had 15 showings so far in 4 days, and high hopes that it will move quickly.

For the next 2 months we will be renting a house on Lake Wylie.  It is actually a vacation home, right on the water and absolutely beautiful, but only a 40 minute drive to Brandon's office.  We were unable to find another furnished rental that would accommodate all of us, but we think a little vacation home for 2 months will work out just fine.  It will be nice that we can all be together while Brandon begins work and I won't have to pull my hair out trying to keep my Apex home in tip-top shape while rushing 3 little ones out the door for another last minute showing at dinner time.

I still feel a little in limbo, but glad that there is an end in sight.  Brandon is loving his new job and I know this is where we are suppose to be.  I'm hoping for some visitors soon!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A big week for us

Thank you all for the birthday wishes.  It sure made my day special to hear from each of you.  I started the day with hand delivered flowers and a decaf vanilla latte skinny from the little girl I watch and her mom.  I got to end it with some of my favorite people at the same place I've been eating my birthday dinner every year since my grandmother Halstead used to take me when I was a kid as a treat from my dad and a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake with white cake and icing (does my husband know me or what?!)

Even with all the fun, my birthday was not the highlight.  The big news of the week is that Brandon has landed his first job since he finished school!  It's actually with the same company, now Duke Energy.   He'll be transferring  to the Analytics Unit, working with the energy trading models and fuel optimization strategies.  Which basically means that he'll be spending his working hours creating spreadsheets, studying data, and telling people the best way they should go about spending their money.  If anyone knows Brandon very well, you know that he would probably love to do this even if they weren't paying him.  I am so thrilled for him!  The only downfall to this job is that it will require us to move to Charlotte. We honestly don't know much about the town, but what we do know about it we are very excited to have in our backyard.  Charlotte is also closer to my sister and brother, no farther from Brandon's family or my mom, and my dad is coming with us so the family is completely covered.  It's closer to the mountains, it's closer to the beaches we like, it's even closer to Disney World (Caroline made sure she pointed that out to me).  The only thing it's not closer to is our friends in the triangle.  We have met so many wonderful people during our time in the Raleigh area, especially just in the last couple years.  It will truly break my heart to wave goodbye to each of you and I pray that our paths will cross again.

Before I start getting tear drops on my keyboard I have some more great news from the week.  Brandon received a personal letter from the Dean of the Fuqua school of Business at Duke letting him know that he was one of the few in his class that was awarded the honor of Fuqua Scholar.  This is only awarded to the top 10% of his class based on academic performance.  They will be presenting him with a special award with special recognition at his graduation in May.

I have to admit for months years I have been worried about what the future held.  Many sleepless nights and nail biting days have almost consumed me.  It seemed like the difficulties were never going to end, and maybe they won't.  But this week I feel as though the Lord is looking me straight in the face and saying, "You see Stacey, I GOT THIS."  I'm so glad He does, because we would not have made it this far without Him.  For the first time, Brandon has finally admitted to me, yes, it was all worth it!