Friday, September 30, 2011

Lulu Update

It's been a few weeks since we started Lulu on antibiotics for what we hoped was a UTI so I thought I would give you all an update on how the little girl is doing.

After we finished her medication a week or so ago she started peeing in her sleep again. Of course this was very frustrating for both Erik and I. Since we definitely couldn't afford a $500 test to determine whether her incontinence was due to a birth defect or something else I decided to call up the Humane Society, plead my case, and hope that they would help us out. Thankfully they offered us assistance and told us we could bring Lulu in and they would run some tests for us. The doctor I spoke with at the Humane Society clinic seemed pretty confident that we didn't have anything to worry about.

Erik took her in on Wednesday and left her for most of the day. When he went to pick her up he was told that they did not see anything that would indicate she had an ectopic urethra (yay!) but that she did have a significant UTI (apparently the drugs we were giving her didn't complete knock the infection out). She also said that size-wise her bladder was pretty small in comparison to other puppies (like her I guess?). At any rate they gave us some steroids called Proin to get rid of the UTI and strengthen her bladder muscles. We are supposed to continue this treatment for 20 days so hopefully she will get better. Poor girl--a UTI for over a month?? Ouch!

So it was definitely good news for us on the puppy front--no more worries other than trying to teach her to walk correctly on a leash and not to jump on people (which we still haven't mastered). I think I'm going to sign us up for obedience classes at Pet Smart because I know that I could use some instruction on how to get her to respond better to my commands. I'm hoping it won't be a total train wreck because she is always great at home but once we leave the house all bets are off.

In other Lulu related news, she weighed in at 24 pounds at the doctor's office on Wednesday (that's up 14 pounds from when we adopted her 7/31)! She has added shake and wait to her repertoire of tricks and has developed a lovely singing voice. No really...she talks all the time. And howls, and yips. She'll have a whole conversation with you especially when she has misbehaved. It is the oddest thing. Even the vet told Erik we had a very vocal dog. The good thing is that she doesn't really bark a lot, except at the cats who still see her as the antichrist.

So that's it for now. Here are some 4 1/2 month pics for your enjoyment:

Sweet girl

With Erik

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life is Funny

In the last year I’ve had a lot of change in my life. I went from being in an 8 year relationship to being single to meeting a wonderful new man. I became a homeowner for the first time. I sold my old car and bought a new car—on my own—for the first time. I adopted my first puppy.

There has been so much new in my life lately that I feel as if I’ve hardly had time to reflect on how these changes have affected me emotionally. It almost feels as if I started running last October and haven’t stopped.  And while this past year has been in many ways one of the best years in my life it has also been very, very tough. I’ve struggled financially—trying to balance living on my own with homeownership has not been easy. I’ve struggled with letting go of a past relationship and opening up my heart to someone new—also not easy.

So yeah, there have been some major challenges for me this year. Deep down I knew I probably wasn’t dealing with all these changes in the most up front manner but I was coping. I would handle the situation at hand and then move on. Until this past weekend I thought I was doing okay and then I had an unexpected run-in with my ex and his girlfriend.

It was Sunday afternoon and Erik had picked me up from a girlfriend’s house (I had spent the night with some good friends after a girls night out on Saturday) and wanted to stop by the pet store to get Lulu some dry food. The pet store we go to is a small locally owned business in Grant Park. As we walk in the first thing I notice is a chow dog staring me in the face. I look up and immediately recognize the person attached to the chow dog as my ex. I look further beyond and see my ex’s girlfriend chatting with the store owner.

Now, you may wonder how I know that this is my ex’s girlfriend. Well, funny little side story. The ex’s new woman used to be good friends with my brother. When my ex and I were together we would hang out with this girl for game nights, drinks out, and other such festivities. This continued, at least for my ex, the entire time we were trying to work things out in our relationship. He would go out and spend weekends and evenings with this girl, sometimes not coming home until 2 am, and wonder why I would be upset. On one occasion he actually blew me off on a Friday night to hang with her. He said they were “just friends.” Which, to give him some credit, I’m sure that nothing was going on between them physically at first but if there was such a thing as cheating on someone emotionally I would say he had hit the nail on the head. I mean what guy goes and hangs out with another single woman until 2 am and expects their ex to believe that nothing is going on—even if it is just "intellectual conversation"?

So at any rate, they were together pretty much the second our break-up was official which I gleaned from Facebook--pictures of road trips to Charleston, Ohio, and kissy pictures from Curacao were dead give-aways. I was not “friends” with him at this point but I think we all know how things get around via friend of a friend comments—someone that we were mutually friends with would comment on a photo and then it would show up on my newsfeed, etc, etc. But back to my original story…

When I first saw them I didn’t know what to do. My first instinct was to run to the car and hide. Then I thought better of it and decided that I was bigger than running away and hiding and that I needed to confront this situation head-on. Yes, I know this wasn't entirely necessary but did I mention that this wasn't the first time I had seen them out and about together? Atlanta isn't that big and it was bound to happen sooner or later so why not get it over with?

We were the only 4 people in the store and the ex’s new lady was getting the low down on products from the sales clerk. Erik and I were ready to check out almost immediately but had to wait for the clerk to finish. Eventually my ex and I made eye contact, there was an awkward smile and nod of acknowledgement but I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know what to say. Should I say hello? Should I introduce Erik? No that would be weird. We hadn't communicated with each other since March and I can't say that converstaion ended well. This internal debate raged for what seemed like hours (but was probably minutes) and then the clerk finally came over, rang Erik and I up, and we walked out.

After we left I felt a whole range of emotions. First I was angry—why did this have to happen? Isn’t the city big enough that we should never have to see each other? Then I was sad, but only because of the situation. I mean I was with this person for 8 years—we lived together and loved together and yet we couldn’t even look at or speak to each other? Very sad. Finally I was relieved. Relieved to have had this run in past me and know that I am better for it and that I am happier now and in a better place (and I'm sure he is too).

On a side note (if I am being honest) I didn’t know whether I should write this post because I didn’t want to come across as the bitter ex-girlfriend because I am most definitely not. There is no part of me that wishes I was still with my ex or that wishes him ill will. I was hurt by someone I loved and trusted and (sadly) that takes a while to heal. I lost a family and friends when that relationship ended and I don’t know many people who can fully recover from that type of loss in a month, 6 months, or even a year.

Luckily for me I found a very understanding guy when I met Erik. He knew that I was carrying along some baggage and he respected the fact that I had just come out of a break-up. He gave me the space to figure out that I could fall in love again and the courage to trust my gut feelings, which were huge steps in my personal recovery process. Oh and he also has a wonderful family and friends who have so lovingly embraced me so that helps too.

In many ways it has been a year but it has only been a year. So long that I feel as if my ex and I broke up years ago but so short that I have to remind myself it is okay to still grieve a little and continue to let the past go.

Life is funny like that.

Seeing my ex this weekend was a small reminder that I am still healing and that every now and then you have to stop running, reassess, and move on. It’s okay to be sad—acknowledge it, don’t beat yourself up, remember what has come from that sadness, and embrace all that is currently good. And there is a lot of good in my life and a lot to be thankful for even if it is sometimes easy to forget.  

Friday, September 23, 2011


This is going to be a short post—a quick rant if you will—to say that I’m exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally—you name it. A lot has been happening in my life recently and it seems like none of it is good. Every time I turn around something terrible is happening to someone that I know or love. Job losses, premature babies, divorces, and even the death of a 9 month old to brain cancer—the bad news just keeps on coming. I feel like I’ve been living in an alternate universe, kind of like in Back to the Future 2 where Marty goes to the alternate 1985 that Biff has created and everything is completely trashed and wrong.

Where did this black cloud come from and can I go home yet? Please?

I hate that not only have things been kind of shitty in my life but that my friends are going through such difficult times a well. I wish there was something I could do to make things better for all of us. It just doesn’t seem fair. I'm well aware that we all face hardships and that things could always be worse, but is it really necessary for everything to happen all at once? I mean really???  So, I’d like to take this moment to say please, if there is a God out there who cares at all, can you give my friends and I a break? I've had really difficult winters the last couple of years and was sort of hoping this one would be different.

Thanks. Pity party over.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Today I'd Rather Be...


"Here" is Isle of Palms, S.C--the beach my family has been visiting for many, many years. In fact, we love this beach so much that my grandparents decided to buy a beach house here about 25 years ago. I was little, but I remember the excitement of having an actual house to visit and the thrill of knowing my family owned a little piece of an island.

Our beach house

Throughout the years I've seen the island change and the city just across the bridge (Mount Pleasant) grow into a popular tourist retreat because its right in between the beach and Charleston. I remember when there was only one way to get onto the island--an old school draw bridge--and how it took a beating when hurricane Hugo tore through South Carolina in 1989 (thankfully our little beach house was spared, and along with some other minor damage only lost a portion of the roof).

The whole fam circa 1987-1988
I remember taking trips every summer no matter where we lived, often meeting up with my other set of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (who made the drive from Kansas City). I loved these summers because we so rarely saw the KC family and they always made everything so fun. I remember taking trips to the old Slave Market in downtown Charleston, visiting the Yorktown submarine (and the Hunley when it was discovered), taking sunset cruises on the intercoastal waterway, playing card games into the night, and of course having at least one big shrimp boil. I remember the many times we had to board up the beach house and "evacuate" due to a tropical storm or hurricane and how much fun it was to go down to the beach and let the wind whip our hair and the water knock us down.

My brother and I--we look so innocent but don't be fooled
With the KC grandparents
My brother and I with our mom (this looks like about '98 or '99)
My sister and I looking hot in 2004
I remember taking friends for weekend trips and spring break getaways in college, and then later bringing a special boyfriend or friend along for family vacations (which I'm sure they loved but only because they wanted to be with me--hehe).

The beach is my retreat both mentally and physically. It's the place I think about when I am anxious or stressed out, but also the place I know I can always run away to if I need to get out of town for awhile. It reminds me of my family who I constantly miss and all of the past summers we spent together laughing and having fun. I'm so lucky that my family has this special place and I hope that someday my kids will get to create memories there with their aunts, uncles. cousins, and grandparents.

Nephew Regan's first time on the beach

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Like everyone else in America I am sitting watching the TV and remembering the events of September 11, 2001. I can't believe it has already been 10 years.

10 years ago I had just started my sophomore year at Mercer University. Tuesday, September 11, I woke up early to make it to an 8 am class (a religion class studying the New Testament with Professor Wilson). Class went by as normal and I remember being excited that we got out early--I was tired and wanted to take a nap before my afternoon classes. I left the classroom and headed over to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat before heading back to my room in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house. The Mercer cafeteria had TV's which were on all the time but there was no sound. I remember glancing up and seeing a skyscraper burning and thinking "Oh man. That really sucks." I am ashamed to admit that I didn't recognize that the building was one of the twin towers and since there was no sound I had no way of knowing what caused the fire--for all I know it just looked like a really bad accident.  Today I wish that I would have gone back to my room, turned on the TV, and gotten more information but since I didn't realize the significance my desire to sleep trumped any curiosity I might have had. So off I went to curl up and go to bed.

The next thing I knew one of my sorority sisters was waking me up saying, "Ashley, we're under a terrorist attack." I jumped out of bed and ran to the common room to watch on TV with the rest of my sisters as both the Twin Towers collapsed. I was shocked and stunned. Surely this wasn't happening. It was so surreal.

The University cancelled classes for the rest of the day and students gathered in groups to mourn the terrible loss of life and the great tragedy that had befallen the country. I remember the day as being very somber and sobering.

Seeing the coverage today still makes me tear up. I can't imagine how it must have felt to have lost a family member or friend to the greed of heartless terrorists. I hope those people can find some comfort in the fact that we all grieve with them and know they aren't alone.

Although I don't necessarily support the idea of war or all of the politics that transpired directly after the attacks, I appreciate those men and women who have fought and given their lives to protect our country. I don't understand the logic of terrorists or why men like Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein felt the the need to take innocent lives to push a certain agenda. It's sick and I feel so sorry for those who continue to be brain washed into believing they are dying to serve some greater good.

Today I remember with the rest of the country and mourn for those who gave their lives. I continue to wish for peace, believe in the good in people, and hope that someday we can find a way to not hurt each other out of spite or greed or hatred.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A little Perspective

A lot of really crazy things are going on in my life right that make me want to hop in the car, drive to my parents house, curl up in my mom's lap, and pretend I am 10 again. This is probably greatly illustrated by the strange dreams I have been having lately where I have been running away from evil beings like bloodthirsty aliens and deranged video game characters (please, don't ask). The internet says that dreams like this indicate there is some problem or issue that I don't want to face and that I should think about what the things chasing me symbolize. Bloodthirsty aliens=something foreign I have no control over? Deranged Mario Brothers=your guess is as good as mine.

Of course I don't put too much stock into the meanings of dreams because there are so many things that can influence our subconscious. However, given the way things have been going lately in my life maybe the dreams I've been having aren't too far from the truth. Maybe there are some things, past and present, that I just need to embrace and not be afraid of.

To put this into perspective I offer a conversation I overheard at the doctor's office today (where I was diagnosed with stress-related stomach issues, go figure). First let me say that I really love my doctor. She is always very nice and personable and so easy to talk to. Her specialty is family medicine (as are all the doctors in the office) but when I go in there I never see families, or young people, or anyone under the age of 65 for that matter. I feel like I somehow picked the geriatric doctor and everyone is secretly laughing at me when I walk in thinking "bless her heart, she doesn't know." I've tried to convince myself that its the time of day that I'm going or that maybe there are just a lot older people in that particular neighborhood but really, I think its's the doctor's office for old people.

Not that I have a problem with old people at all. Some people are squemish and don't know how to act around the elderly but I still have 3 out of 4 grandparents, knew both my great grandmothers, and have happily visited many a nursing home in my day. The only thing that does make me feel uncomfortable is that I feel like these people are looking at me all young and (relatively) healthy and that I am somehow making them feel sad because they no longer have their youth. It's silly but I actually feel guilty about this even though I know that there is probably a 95% chance that these people are perfectly happy and are glad to have lived long and successful lives (at least I hope this is the case).

But to get back to that conversation I overheard...

I was sitting in the checkout area of the office waiting for the woman behind the desk to call my name so I could pay my co-pay and get back to work when I began to listen to the conversation of two men next to me.  One of the men was 79 (we'll call him Man B) and Im not sure how old the other man (Man A) was although he said he had a brother who was 88 so Im guessing late seventies, early eighties as well. Man A was discussing a recent episode where he temporarily lost his mind and had to be hospitalized. Apparently he was lashing out at nurses and doctors and didn't even know where he was. Man B was listening to his story and commented about how he was glad that medicine was able to bring Man A back to life. Then the men started talking more about their health and this is when Man A mentioned his 88 year old brother and how he was in such great shape for a man his age. Man B mentioned that at 79 he was grateful that he was in the shape he was in and that anymore, a man who can live past 75 should be grateful because he's made it past the average life expectancy. All the while here I am, this 29 year old trying to pretend like I'm not listening to these men while on the other side of me there is this older woman clutching her diabetes testing monitor and smiling at me like old people do when they see a young person, and all I am thinking is that things could be worse in my life. I could be these people, sitting in the doctor's office, discussing how I am lucky to have reached greater than average life expectancy, be in good shape, and thanking god for all of the medicines that are keeping me kicking.

Well played God. Well played. Way to give a girl some perspective.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That Lulu Pup

As of today Lulu has been in our lives for approximately 1 month and 1 week. She will be 4 months old next Monday and is weighing in at a healthy 18.6 pounds (according to the vet's scale last Friday) which means she has gained about 8 pounds since we got her. She is getting so big, so quickly--I can't believe it!

Since coming home with us Lu has been a typical puppy--bouncy, playful, full of mischief, cuddles, and curiosity. However she has also come with a lot of ailments. At her "wellness" appointment 3 days after we adopted her from the Humane Society the vet found that she had both hookworm and ringworm. A few days later she developed a nasty upper repiratory infection. Luckily all of this was covered through the Humane Society (who apparently partners with a local vet and will cover certain common illnesses that come with their animals for up to 2 weeks after adoption). This was fantastic for us because as most all pet owners know, these friends don't always come cheap.

One of the issues that we asked the vet about on our initial visit was about Lu's tendency to pee--a lot. We realized that she was a puppy and not house trained yet but it seemed like she was going every 15 minutes. Initially the vet told us not to worry--it probably wasn't a UTI becuase that is uncommon in puppies and she was probably just learning to control her bladder yadda, yadda. But even weeks later Lu was still having accidents and some of them were happening when she was dead asleep. Admittedly this was kind of funny at first because the first time she did it she was sleeping on Erik and it got all over him (sorry honey) but once it  got all over my new couch (!!) among other places we thought there had to be something else going on. Erik immediately made the phone call to the vet and they told us to bring her in.

Once at the vet they did a UTI test which involved using an ultrasound to locate Lu's bladder and a needle to extract some urine. All the while Erik and I were keeping our fingers crossed that this was the problem because we had admittedly committed a cardinal sin by reading about all kinds of dog incontinence issues on the internet. The doc came back with some mixed results. He said that he wasn't 100% sure that what Lu had was UTI because he didn't really see any blood or protein in her urine but he did notice something else that was a bit strange.

He said that while looking at the ultrasound to locate the bladder he noticed what he thought might have been some fluid outside of Lu's bladder. The fluid could indicate a condition called an Ectopic Urethra which is a birth defect where one ureter attaches to the bladder and the other one connects somewhere else. He proposed that if Lu has this condition it could explain why she has been having incontinence issues and has been peeing in her sleep. However, since he wasn't entirely sure this was the problem he proposed doing a radiogram (x-ray) of Lu's belly and sending it to a specialist to diagnose her properly. According to his estimate this would cost us around $500. Then, if the specialist confirms that she does indeed have an Ectopic Urethra we could opt to have it surgically fixed which would require what the vet described as a very tedious and delicate surgery (i.e. very costly). I think he could tell by our deer-in-the-headlights eyes that we were both freaking out a bit and mentioned that we could always try to seek financial help from the Humane Society but that since we were most definitely out of their 2 week care window he wasn't certain that they would help at all.

After taking a few breaths we asked the doctor if this was a life threatening condition. He assured us it was not, and that if Lu was diagnosed with it and we decided not to do surgery she would be fine and we would just have to deal with her being incontinent the rest of her life. Great. In the end we left the doctor's office with some antibiotics to treat a UTI in the hopes that the doc was wrong and that she would be better soon.

Since we've been treating her the last few days we have seen a noticeable spike in her energy level (she went from crazy to crazier within hours it seemed) and she hasn't had any accidents in her sleep. We are taking these as good signs and hope that the problem has been solved, with this whole Ectopic Urethra thing turning out to be nothing more than a one time scare. I love Lu and would never want to give her up but I have to admit that having a dog who leaks urine all over the place does not exactly thrill me (because lets face it, I hardly have $500 to diagnose her let alone pay for a costly surgery). So, fingers crossed that everything turns out okay for Miss Lu and she feels better soon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The New Ride

Many of you may have guessed by the last post but in case you weren't sure, I sold my old car last weekend. I have been thinking about getting a new car for awhile (as evidenced by some of my earlier posts) however I really wanted to try and hold off becuase: A. the car was running okay and B. I didn't have a car payment. All of that changed while I was on my way to the beach with my mom and sister and my radiator blew leaving me on the side of the road waiting for a tow.

Although this wasn't the total disaster it could have been (luckily I was following my mom and sister who were riding in my mom's car and my mom was able to use her AAA membership to get me a tow) it still put a damper on my vacation and raised new worries about the reliability of my car. Although my car was fixed by the time I was ready to drive back to Atlanta ($469 later) the repair facility warned me that when my car over heated it could have done damage to the engine so I needed to pay attention to the temperature gauge on the drive home. If the gauge even moved a little to the hot side I was instructed to pull over and have someone look at it immediately. Thankfully, this did not happen and I was able to make it safely home. However, even though the car was technically "fixed" I decided it was time to sell it and look for a new ride. I was tired of taking chances.

I sold the Vitara privately through Craigslist. The ad was posted late Thursday night and the car sold on Sunday afternoon for $3,300 (I originally had it listed for $3,500). I was very, very pleased with this number especially considering that a dealership I visited was only going to give me $1,000 for it. Score!

On Monday Erik and I headed over to a local mall to check out some cars I had researched on Autotrader. I really loved my SUV so I wanted to try and find something similar. My mom drives a Nissan Rogue which I really liked, but I also decided to check out the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Rav4, and the Hyundai Santa Fe. We went to the Hyundai dealer first where I test drove a sweet 2010 Santa Fe. It had a lot of really nice features for only being the base model, including bluetooth, a wireless mp3 player (connects with your iPhone), XM radio, radio/cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, and a 4 year factory warranty. The salesperson we talked to was very nice and not pushy at all (which I greatly appreciated) but since Hyundai was only the first place I had looked I wanted to check out a couple other cars before making my decision.

So we headed over to the Honda dealer. I know that Honda has an excellent reputation and that their cars have great resale value. Unfortunately these things make them a little more expensive than similar vehicles and I had a pretty strict budget. After scrounging around their lot, this particular dealership was able to find a 2009 CR-V that had just been traded in that was within my price range--it hadn't even been detailed when I test drove it. It was the base model and was just kind of average in my opinion--nothing fancy or really special about it. It drove well and had a decent amount of space but after driving the Santa Fe it just seemed really plain and boring.

After driving the CR-V I had planned on heading over to the Toyota dealer to try out the Rav4 but it just so happened that Honda had a Rav4 on the lot. I took it for a drive and was really unimpressed. In my opinion the Rav4 was louder than the CR-V and the Santa Fe and I didn't like the interior at all. After the test drives I told the rep that if I had to choose I would pick the CR-V over the Rav4. He worked some numbers and was able to fit the price of the CR-V into my budget. It seemed that I had decision to make: the CR-V or the Santa Fe.

The CR-V had a clean car fax, 50k miles, no warranty, and all the "reliability and resaleability" that comes with buying a Honda. The Santa Fe was a year newer, 37k miles (which is a lot for a 2010 model), had a 4 year warranty, and one front end collision that showed up on the car fax (I was told that the damage appeared to have been only cosmetic--I know this could have been a sales tactic, but things under the hood looked good to me and this was a pretty reputable car dealership). The Santa Fe had a lot of really cool features and the CR-V was just kind of basic.

Can you guess which one I chose?

I picked...the Santa Fe. To me it was a no brainer. The Santa Fe was bigger than the CR-V, had a much nicer interior and lots of cool features, plus that 4 year warranty (which made me feel a little better about the whole front end collision thing). Sure Hyundai may not have the reputation of Honda yet but everyone I know who has driven a Hyundai has loved their car. I'll be honest when I say that before I drove the Santa Fe, I really thought I would end up with a CR-V or Rogue but I was very, very impressed with Hyundai. And I love my car. I mean I LOVE my car! I got a great price and it is so fun to drive. Plus I got an extended warranty (on top of the 4 years) which gives me 100% coverage on my car up to 97k miles. Can't beat that.

So without further ado, my new ride:

The front seat
So pretty!

Back seat--the seats recline!

Lots of awesome hauling capacity