|The Golden Gate Bridge|
|Castello de Amorosa Vineyard|
|Me assessing the wines. Sweet like apple juice, or gross?|
|The lovely wedding reception|
|Christin, John, me, and Kate|
While I was gone to San Francisco, Matt got an urgent call from work - they needed him back up in Sherman by Monday morning, and I wasn't getting home till Sunday evening, so Matt's sister came over and watched the kids for a few hours so he could get on the road. He was gone another week, and during all of that, I was getting ready for our big road trip to New Mexico to visit my brother for a week. However, Patrick's town was in the line of some forest fires, so we waited and waited until he finally had to evacuate, which effectively cancelled our trip. Matt came back home and, since our vacation got cancelled, we took an impromptu family trip to the Exotic Animal ranch west of Austin. We toured the Blue Bell creamery on the way and stayed in a cabin at the ranch, where animals were just roaming around. We petted kangaroos, buffaloes, deers, etc. The kids swam in the pool and that's where Addison just took off with her swimming, floating on her back, and treading water. It was amazing. She has gotten better and better every day and can swim 25 meters all by herself without stopping, as well as tread water perfectly and jump off the diving board at our pool. I am so, so proud of her! The next morning we took the safari around the ranch and got to feed lots of animals. The kids really seemed to like it, and Addison cried when it was time to go because she wanted to live in the cabin forever. She got a stuffed camel named Suzanne and Ryan got a Zebra as their souvenirs.
|Outside Blue Bell|
|Inside Blue Bell|
|This deer kept sucking the swim water out of Ryan's swimsuit|
|Big red kangaroos|
|This was a very clingy deer. Matt grabbed its snout.|
|The zebras were slightly aggressive|
|Gross buffalo toungue|
|On the safari ride|
|Suzanne the camel|
Turns out that Patrick and Erica were able to get back to Los Alamos on Monday the 4th, so after much rearranging and last minute decisions, we decided to go ahead and head to New Mexico, since there would not be any time to go for the rest of the year. We were bracing ourselves for our first super long road trip and split the 16 hour drive into two days. The kids were amazing in the car, much to our relief. They watch movies, listened to tons of music, and played a lot with their toys. We got them a new Etch a sketch and a Travel Aquadoodle as their special toys for the special trip. Both days, Ryan got a little bit fussy for about 30 minutes at the end of the day. We didn't have to stop a whole lot, and we ate sandwiches that we brought in the ice chest. We stopped in Childress on the way and the kids were very excited about the Super 8 hotel we stayed in. The next day, we drove through the barren plains of west Texas and New Mexico until we finally got into some hills and then the mountains, which we could see smoking. We got to Pat's around 3 or so on Wednesday. They don't have air conditioning there, and there were still fires burning, so during some of the times the smoke was pretty bad and we'd have to close the windows, so it tended to get stuffy. Usually the mountain air is cool and nice!
The kids had a blast with their cousin Sarah, who they haven't seen since last summer and before that, she was an infant. She is about 3 weeks younger than Ryan, and they all played beautifully. And noisily, I might add. They ran around the back yard, played in the rooms, ran around singing loudly, etc. We went to the pool (COLD!) and library music time and just had a good time spending the days with each other. When the kiddos are a little older, we'll head out there for Christmas when there's snow everywhere and go sledding.
|At night you could see the fire burning and Patrick called it Mordor|
|Addison, Ryan, and cousin Sarah|
|Most of the time they played really well together|
|Uncle Patrick and Ryan|
|The kids were wiped out after our long trip|
We headed home the next Monday and the drive home went pretty well too. We stopped in Wichita Falls this time, and then got home on Tuesday afternoon. We were all ready to be home!
However, we had some bad news awaiting us. Our friends Sarah and Shane had kept our dog Casey while we were gone and told us that she had been having accidents in her crate every night. We had noticed her peeing and drinking excessively for many weeks now and we had started leaving the dog door open at nights so she could go out. She'd also been eating like crazy and getting into the trash, which was very out of character for her. I took her into the vet that Friday thinking she had probably a urinary tract infection. The results were negative, so they tested for diabetes, which was also negative. The vet seemed surprised, so she asked more questions and I mentioned the excessive eating and getting in to the trash. She immediately suggested Cushings disease, but wanted to do some (expensive) bloodwork. I agreed, and it came back showing elevated liver levels, which is a red flag. The vet said that to narrow it down, we'd have to run more tests, so I brought Casey in the next Monday. On Tuesday, the vet said that the results were negative (which was good), but that she was still pretty convinced it was Cushings and even called the lab to double check the results. She said she would call a specialist and consult, and then let me know what she found out. By Friday, she called back and said that the specialist asked if the dog was a Rhodesian Ridgeback, because he had seen in a small percentage of Ridgebacks specifically that the test gave false negatives. So our vet was even more sure that we were dealing with Cushings, which can be treated but not cured. We'd already spent nearly $500 just on tests, and we'd have to have another $400 test to be sure before we could start medicating. The medication alone would run us probably $80 a month and she would need to be carefully monitored during the first few months and have frequent retesting to check levels.
Matt and I talked a long time and came to the conclusion that we didn't think we could do what it would take (financially, mostly) to start the treatment. We have started speech therapy for Addison and have expensive dental work ahead for her (starting now, plus braces later), and we are going to be traveling so much this fall that we don't know what we would do with Casey during this initial treatment phase. Also, Casey would turn 10 in August, and the lifespan of Ridgebacks is 10-12 years on average. It was a hard, painful choice filled with lots of guilt and second guessing, but we decided that it would be best for our family and for Casey to have her put down. We told the kids, and Addison at least understood what it meant, although the implications didn't really sink in. Our friend Sarah watched the kids while Matt and I took Casey in. The night before, we'd bought a turkey leg, since turkey was Casey's huge food weakness, and let her devour the whole thing. I brought the rest of her dog food and let her eat it in the office. The vet gave her a tranquilizer and we held her as she laid down and then went sound asleep. She was snoring loudly and we petted her and cried, and then when the vet came in with the other injection we left. It was pretty horrible.
|Baby Casey - the first of our babies to sleep on Daddy's chest|
|In her prime at the Rhodesian Ridgeback National Specialty in Dallas|
|At the vet clinic, almost 10 years old. We love you, Casey.|
|At a cousin's wedding in June|
|At the wedding, after the chocolate fountain|