Sunday, August 21, 2016

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Scarlett's Statement on Bella

Today Jonathan is taking the kids to a movie while I host an event at our home that has been planned for several weeks.    Last week on this day, we had gone to church, swimming lessons, a movie and lunch ... and then we returned home to find Bella.

Scarlett (4,5) said something so interesting:

Scarlett:  "You know what?  When we go to the movies tomorrow, Auntie Liz can come watch Bella."

Jonathan and I look at each other ... and he says to her gently, "Scarlett, Bella is gone."

Scarlett:  "Yeah, but ... if Auntie Liz stays with Bella and watches her, then she won't die."

*sigh* Scarlett understands Bella is gone, BUT she doesn't understand time or permanence.   She thinks that because today's activities will be similar (the movie in particular) that there will simply be a different outcome if Auntie Liz is here to be with Bella, rather than Bella staying home alone.

Ah, my sweet girl ... if only we could turn back the clock on do things differently a week ago ... if only ...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

An Unexpected Gift to Remember Bella

Sometimes I am absolutely amazed by the kindness people have inside them.

The day after Bella died, three of my friends came together to bring us flowers, baked goods and a sweet card.

Last night, a woman I know only very casually - and saw a the pool yesterday - messaged me to say she'd left something on our front porch. 

Jonathan and I were beside ourselves.

I had no idea where she got Bella's picture.  Initially I assumed she must have looked through my FaceBook photos to find it.  But, I had been looking through my photos myself with the hopes of finding a picture of Bella, but there were none.

Turns out, she went to Jonathan's Facebook page and found one in his collection of photos.  They aren't even "Facebook friends."   I was really impressed with her successful search to find a pic of Bella.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Christian's Memorial to Bella

Today I was explaining to Christian about how sad Jonathan and I are feeling about Bella.  And he told me that after Bella died, he got a handful of her dog food so he could remember her.  And he told me he put the food behind his Millenium Falcon toy.   

The same day, he drew this simple picture of Bella so we could all remember her.  I just love his precious, tender heart!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Farewell to Our Beautiful Bella

I am heartbroken to announce that today, we lost our beautiful Bella.   Her death was sudden and unexpected and there aren't words to convey how devastated we are.

I do not wish to share the details of what happened. other than to say we were out most of the day and returned to find her already gone.   And thankfully, the kids did not find her, nor did they see her.  The details will be forever etched in our minds, and so there is no need to post here for us to read again and and again.

We adopted Bella in May 2005, exactly one week after Jonathan and I were married.   She was at a pet adopt-a-thon.  We were looking for a puppy ... and so were lots of other people.  She was a puppy, but older (6 months) and very shy.  But we somehow knew she was the dog for us ... and she was with us for over 11 years. 

She was our "first baby," and every bit as much of our family as each of us.  She has been our only pet as the Lucero family ... and so the only pet Christian and Scarlett have ever known.

Our kids and are pretty resilient.  When Jonathan discovered Bella today, I knew by his intense reaction that she was gone.   I tried to quickly usher the kids into their bedrooms so they couldn't hear or see our devastated reactions.   After a few minutes passed, we explained to them that Bella was gone.   It took some time for them to process the news ... but I saw Christian's face drop when he really understood.  And when Scarlett saw Christian break down, she knew the situation was serious.

After 11 years, we have so many memories of Bella ... her personality, her youthfulness (despite being 11+ years old), her contentment in just sitting next to us.    She was fiercely protective of us - didn't like people coming over.  And when somebody would come to our front door, she would charge and attack the door.  Best guard dog ever!  And yet with us, she was sweet, loving and gentle.   If somebody displeased her, she'd give quick growl, stand up and walk away.    We loved her so!

As she got older, we were aware that she had fewer years ahead of her than behind her.  But she was still so healthy and energetic.   In fact, she had recently been to the vet and got a clean bill of health ... and for a dog her size and age, she had somehow escaped having hip and joint problems.

Looking around the house, there is evidence of Bella everywhere and it is almost too much to handle:  bits of her food on the floor from today's breakfast, her bed, small, faint collections of her fur built up in some corners on the floor (whooo, did that pup shed!), her leash still hanging on the wall by the front door ... her nail marks on the sliding glass door when she was ready to come inside.    

So far, her food and water bowls have been removed, as has her bed.   But every time I walk into our room, I see her laying there ... gone.    To think it happened while we were out having a fun family days:   church, swimming lessons, a movie, a late lunch, ice cream.   Completely unaware of the devastation that awaited us upon our return home. 

Thanks to a very kind friend who called a local vet for us, Jonathan was able to take Bella there just before the office closed.  They gave us her paw print in plaster to serve as a memory ... which I thought was very sweet. 

That is all I can share ... because my heart is broken into 1,000 pieces and my eyes are so very puffy from crying for hours.   The devastation is immeasurable.

Bella we love you.  We miss you.  Our hearts are completely broken.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Christian's Long List of Allergies ... Lung Issues, and Asthma.

Since we've met our medical deductible for the year, and health care is very reasonably priced until January 1, I decided it was time to take Christian to an allergy specialist.

A while back, he had allergies that got really bad and when we took him to the doc, he thought Christian might have asthma.   He gave us a prescription for an inhaler, Christian used it for a few days and all was well.   Haven't had any issues since.

Back in February, when Christian was in feeding therapy, I had provided cashews as a snack during therapy.  Shortly after eating a small amount, he threw up and then broke out into a rash on his face and neck.   I wasn't sure what was going on, so we rushed out to get some Benadryl.  He took it, fell asleep with a few minutes, and was just fine when he woke up.

Since then, I had wondered if he was truly allergic to cashews, but didn't know because it was the first time he'd ever eaten them ... and I just made sure not to give them to him again.

Prior to doing all the testing today, I told the doc the cashew story and he thought it might have been just a one-time occurrence.   He wasn't worried at all ... and I thought, "Well, at least this exam will be inexpensive."

Turns out, Christian is HIGHLY allergic to both cashews and pistachios.   The doc said "off the charts allergic."   A second exposure to cashews could have been life-threatening to Christian.   Wow, I did NOT expect that news.   So, we were given an RX for an Epi-Pen.

He is also allergic to "everything outside."  Weeds, trees, pollen ... you name it.  He is allergic.   We were told there is no need to change our plants / trees / grass because the allergens can blow in from 600 miles.  Doc also said that the air in the Phoenix area is one of the worst in the entire country because of all the allergens (guess cuz plants bloom year round here), all of the pollution, and that fact that Phoenix sits in a valley.   Great ...... can't win for losing (as they say).

We ALSO learned he has persistent inflammation in his lungs ... even when he appears perfectly healthy.  And that is why when he gets allergies, he gets respiratory issues.   So, he will be taking a drug called Singulair each day, and we also got another RX for an inhaler.   Thankfully, the inhaler isn't a daily thing ... just as needed.  And he rarely needs it.

He is also allergic to cats (the number on the chart was the same as the cashews), but not  to dogs (thankfully!).    Good thing we'll never be a "cat family."   Bella is all we need. :)

But knowledge is power!  So thankful we now know for sure what his issue are, and we know how to treat them.   I shudder to think what we would happen if we didn't gain this valuable knowledge, and Christian ate cashews again ....

Thanks be to Jesus for always protecting Christian.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Christian's Latest Surgical Procedure

Today, Christian had surgery to repair "undescended bilateral testicles."   Boy, I tell ya ... if there is going to be an issue, it seems Christian is going to have it.   Poor kiddo!

Unlike last year's tonsillectomy where Christian was in complete panic mode before the surgery, he handled this one like a trooper!    And thankfully, recovery is expected to be far, far easier and faster the tonsillectomy.

Here is after the procedure ... happy as can be. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Our Happy Place Oregano's

Christian Gets Baptized!

Last summer at Vacation Bible School, Christian gave his heart and his life to Jesus.   Today, it was time for him to get baptized at our new church, Summit Community Church.   So proud of him!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Birthday to Christian

Today, Christian turns the big EIGHT!   It has hard to believe so many years have passed since he first came into this world!!

These days, he's very much into Jack Skellington from a "Nightmare Before Christmas," Legos, and whatever is on TV (this boy LOVES TV with a passion).

His extracurricular are currently marital arts and swimming lessons.

He is very theatrical and has a fabulous memory - he often recites lines from movies with complete accuracy.

And he is a great big brother!   He is never mean to Scarlett ... never retaliates when she does something to him.   And when she is hurt or upset, Christian is right there to see what is troubling her.

Christian is full of compliments for others.  Out of the blue, he'll say, "Mommy, you're my favorite mom!"   Or, "Mommy, you're a really great baker!"   And even a simple, "Mommy, I love you!" comes out with such heartfelt love, that it melts my heart.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Our Sick Kiddo

Poor Christian has had a rough few weeks.  First there was his tonsillectomy in August, and a tough recovery for a few days.

Then after finding blood in his urine the other day, Jonathan took him to urgent care and we discovered Christian had a urinary tract infection (which is rare for boys).

On top of that, he's had a persistent cough for weeks that we assumed was because of allergies.   When we took him in for the UTI follow-up, I mentioned the cough.  Christian's doctor listened to his lungs, and sent him for a chest x-ray.   And we learned Christian has pneumonia ... and there is a concern that he might have asthma, too.

We felt terrible ... we really thought his cough was due to lingering allergies. 

He now has a rescue inhaler that we're supposed to use regularly until his cough subsides.   I wasn't sure how Christian would do with it ... but I am pleasantly surprised that he does well with using it.

Here he is getting his chest xray.  He thought it was really cool that there was a cross projected onto his back.   Silver lining. :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Many Faces of Christian

Here is what I find after Christian has been playing with my phone ...

Let it Rain!

Rain is ridiculously rare in the Valley of the Sun.

So rare, that our kids don't quite know what to do when it rains - ha!

I had Christian run out a few feet to get wet ... And he immediately had enough of the wet stuff and rushed right back to the porch!

As Summer Winds Down ...

Wait ... Who am I kidding?  Summer won't be winding down for us for a few weeks  still.

But ... We did have a rather cool morning (finally!!!), so we went to a park as soon as we ate breakfast.

The Little Martial Artist

Christian (7) is officially an official martial artist, now that he has the official uniform.

We just ordered his shin guards and gloves.  Its gettin' serious! (No, not really.  The protective gear is now required by his instructor).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Flowers for the Teacher

Christian is such a sweet boy!  He LOVES his first grade teacher, Mrs. Keller ... she is amazing!

We were at the store, and there was a display of flowers.  Christian immediately said he wanted to get his teacher flowers!

He doesn't let me walk him to his classroom anymore, so I couldn't witness the moment he gave her the flowers, but I imagine she was delighted!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Has Returned ... With a Vengeance!

We sure were blessed to have relatively cool  weather through early June.

But now it is time to pay our dues ... Ugh!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our New Swim Park

Since moving here, the promise has been that obecday, our community would build a swim park.  They have been building it for just about a year now ... And today officially opened!

We went early in the morning, and there were few people there.  The water was colder than I expected, but I am guessing they were preparing for today's 111+ temps. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Christian Advances to The Next Level!

Next month marks three years that Christian has been in weekly swimming lessons.  He is definitely an "at his own pace" kind of kiddo, and this last level of swimming lessons seemed to take a long, long time for him to get through.

He has worked really hard and improved a great deal.  And he was just one accomplishment away from moving up.   Unbeknownst to us, they were evaluating him this weekend ... And he successfully completed four widths across the pool and earned a ribbon for completing the "Octopus Class."

This kid lives for getting ribbons ... So he was absolutely thrilled, and we were were extremely proud!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Our Very First ER Visit

I think it is pretty impressive that we were able to go over seven years without ever having to visit the ER.

That streak of good fortune ended last night.

But let me backtrack:

On Thursday, March 19, I went on a trip while Jonathan stayed home with the kiddos.   Shortly aftger picking Christian up from school that day, Christian started to feel lousy and went downhill from there. 

I noticed that the mom of one his classmates posted that her son had strep throat. When Christian was still sick on Friday, Jonathan took Christian to the doctor to get tested for strep, and sure enough ... he had strep.  He got an antibiotic shot, and we expected he'd start to feel better very quickly.

But he did not.   Christian was tired and lethargic and wasn't eating and was barely drinking. He was also throwing up and unable to keep anything down.  Jonathan kept me continuously updated and it was clear that there was something other than strep going on.

I arrived home Sunday afternoon and Christian barely looked up at me, and then returned to staring at the couch he was laying on. 

By Monday, 3/23, it was clear Christian needed to see the doctor as he had not eaten anything since Thursday.  At our local doc office, his own pediatrician was booked and no other docs could see us.  So we were sent to another doctor at an office that was quite a drive for a 6:20pm appointment.  Christian had lost almost 5 pounds from his well-child exam the week before.  They tested his urine and concluded he was severely dehydrated and needed IV fluids ASAP.  We were told to get him to a pediatric ER.  The doc said the ER should be fine on an early Monday night in March, so all four of us headed to Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Imagine our surprise to arrive at the ER to find it FULL of people.   My heart sank. I knew this wasn't going to be a quick visit.   We arrived at 7:30pm ... and time passed very, very, very slowly.

I was highly annoyed to see non-emergency cases taken up space and hospital staff's time.  Like the kiddo in front of me who had been kicked in the eye at school earlier that day.   Or the kiddo behind me whose mother proclaimed the little girl had chicken pox.  The intake nurse looked and said, "She doesn't have chicken pox ... she has a rash."   I struck up a conversation with the lady and she said that her sister, who has six kids, said it was chicken pox.  And that her neighbor who has five kids said it was chicken pox.     She lifted the little girl's shirt and I said, "She does not have chicken pox.  If she did, it would be all over her body and itching like crazy."    I went on to tell her that PCH has urgent care offices she can visit for this kind of thing and it will cost her way less money.  She replied that it was okay since she had Medicaid and didn't have to pay no matter where they went.


I looked around wondering just how many of the (too many) people in the ER were actually there for an "emergency medical need."  

I looked up one of PCH's urgent care centers, and saw they only had a 15 minute wait time.  When Christian was seen briefly to get his vitals, I asked the nurse if one of their Urgent Care places could do the IV fluids.  She said yes and I thought we would be spared the ER nightmare.  I called the urgent care right away and learned they do NOT do IVs there.   So, we were back to ER madness.

For her part, Scarlett was doing remarkably well ...but as time passed, I knew she'd start getting antsy and tired of being there.   Poor Christian did not want to be there but was too sick and exhausted to put up much of a fight about it.   He just sat there, moving in and out of sleep.

Jonathan started looking up options for getting Scarlett and me home, because it was clear we were all going to be there for hours.   He considered a taxi for him and Christian later, looked up nearby hotels, etc.  Fortunately, my friend who lives around the corner offered to come get us.   And by 10:30, she arrived and shortly thereafter, Scarlett and I were home.

It took forever for Christian to be placed in a room - it was about 12:30am (remember, we arrived at 7:30am - so it took 5 hours to get him into a room).   And as we knew would happen, the IV insertion didn't go well.   Christian screamed bloody murder and they had to call in a very large "gentle giant" nurse to help hold Christian down.

But he eventually settled down and the IV started doing its thing.   When it was done, and Christian was given a drink of Gatorade, Jonathan said he was immediately back to his normal self!  The immediate transformation was surprising and impressive!!

Jonathan and Christian arrived home around 3:30am.    It is now 11:00am, and he is still asleep.   Scarlett came to wake me at about 7:00am and said, "Mommy!  Christian is home ... come look!!"   She was worried about her big brother - it was so touching!