Monday, May 30, 2011

A Memorial Day Thought

I took the weekend completely off from the computer when the laptop was put away before a party we hosted on Friday night. While I enjoyed a little down time, I did think of the true meaning of Memorial day. And having come back online this Monday night I find that one of my favorite bloggers has posted a lovely bit from YouTube that puts my feelings about our soldiers into perspective quite nicely. So thanks Christine over at a Deliberate Life and here is the link.  (Pause the music player before viewing.)
A Deliberate Life: For our Soldiers......
Have you thanked a veteran lately?  What do you know about those from your own family that have served?  It's never too late to get to know the important stories that sometimes never get told by those who are so amazingly humble.  Sometimes we only get to hear about greatness after someone is gone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everything Could Change At Any Time...Or Not

I ran into a friend that I don't see very often at a Birthday BBQ the other night.  She's the one with a child who was born with special needs so she is especially busy and harried these days.  Still, she took the time to really talk to me (while I held her sweet baby and took my turn at helping to sooth her near constant crying).  I couldn't believe that in the middle of all that is going on with her, she truly gets how I'm feeling these days.  She immediately picked up on the fact that my husband and I are in the position that we are attempting to keep our spirits up for a real change in location in the near future while managing to remain grateful and content for what we have right now.

But of course it made sense.  Her family is going through something so much bigger.  Their daughter will be having the first of many surgeries at the end of this month.  This surgery will change things to one degree or another, but there is no guarantee as to what the results will be.  They could be in for a lot of relief for their daughter's situation or they could be merely laying the foundation for a more profound result in the future.

While I was amazed that this person- of all people- got what we are going through, I am ever grateful to those who have not tired of my story and can demonstrate some level of understanding.  I mean, it is not like we are going through anything all that profound.  And yet, it is a big deal to us- this waiting for an opportunity to move and then also wondering what that will be like when we get to that point.  It is a chosen in-between. 

We live about 6 weeks at a time.  With every new interview or even the hint of an opportunity, we get excited and consider the possibilities.  As the process moves on, we find that we have a hard time committing to much of anything.  We don't know if we'll need to be at an interview somewhere far away or if it will be another year before we actually have any concrete plans.  We are resentful that we can't just sell our house and live off savings while getting to become locals and find a job that way.  But, we are also oh so happy that we have a home and a good job right here.  I have everything 'semi-packed' mostly in Rubbermaid containers and will be having another garage sale with a friend to empty out my guest room of all the things we have decided do not make the cut for being 'move-worthy'.  We have made many trips to give things away to charity. 

I find that I am more free than ever living in this 'in-between' way, something I never anticipated doing or feeling comfortable with.  I appreciate things more.  I pay more attention.  It is easier for me to see what is really important and to be able to let go of the stuff that doesn't matter much after all.  This sort of juxtaposition living makes for an interesting time.  It makes you think about what you want out of life in a bigger way.  You get to live in the moment. 

Have you ever done it? 
What was the situation?
What happened to end your in-between time?
How did you feel when it was over?
Did it permanently change the way you look at life?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bringing The Sun To Me

We are about to have our first day of at least 70 degrees here in the Northwest, since November 3, 2010.  (And by Thanksgiving it was snowing.)  That's right folks, it has been 198 days since we last felt a 70 degree day, and I would say that 70 is not even all that ambitious but I guess we take what we can get.  Oh, and did I mention that since we welcomed in 2011 there have only been 27 days without rain?!  The forecast is set for rain again by Sunday and today is the only day of 70 degrees and sunshine for the foreseeable future.

So anybody who wonders why I am so hellbent to get some sun, I think you probably get it now.  At any rate, I have decided that since the sun is playing shy with us out here I will do what I can to bring the sun, or at least the impression of it, to me.

Here is my latest attempt to pretend that I live somewhere other than I do.  I will be enjoying a little subtropical corner of life on my very own deck with some hearty banana plants, some lilies and Gerber daisies.

I really am usually pretty good at making the best of any day, no matter the weather.  I am usually not this much of a complainer about the weather.  Still, wouldn't you know that we would end up with a record-breaking year of lousy weather just after I have decided to move to a warm weather place? 

I hope the plants and I can survive the 'cool' and rainy summer that we are supposed to be getting.  Have a good one.  I am off to milk this day for all it's worth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love Child?

In response to the news about Arnold Schwarzenegger, I must say that I am not all that surprised that he has been out there screwing around without much thought to what any possible consequences might be to his family.  Just another politician high on power and disrespectful to women.  Really, are any of us surprised by this kind of behavior from these power hungry types?  Even after a long marriage and 4 beautiful children...  Some people just never seem to realize or care about what there is to lose until it's gone.

For me there is an interesting angle to all of this.  Whenever I hear a story of this type, I concentrate on one particular point of view.  You see, I am a 'love child'.  Born of a short term affair that my mother had with an older man who was prone to drink, or at least this is what I have been told.  My mother never was very pleased at how precocious I was as a kid and she has enjoyed being the only one to hold all the answers of my origin.  But then I must admit I've never been sure I really wanted to know.  It's an interesting stalemate.

At any rate I can't help but wonder- where did this term 'love child' come from?  (JJ probably knows!)  I mean, it just doesn't seem to fit.  There certainly wasn't a whole lot of love surrounding me and my entrance into this world.  There were plenty of secrets and lies.  And sadness.  And disappointment.  And shame.  No family came to see me when I was born.  My mother and I lived in poverty.  Between the ages of 6 and 7, I went from finally having my grandmother acknowledge my existence and see me for the first time to having what little I did know of who I was dashed to pieces when I found out that the fathers name on my birth certificate was not that of my Dad at all. 

I am aware that things have changed over the years and that there is less stigma now about being born out of wedlock.  I don't really believe that I am 'less than' for having been born this way.  After all, I didn't have a choice in the matter.  Still that doesn't change the sting that comes with knowing that my parents didn't love each other enough to get married or even to bother with a long term relationship before carelessly creating another life.  I guess I would tell any young woman that thinks that there is no issue with how a child comes to be and fantasizes only about a sweet baby and how wonderful that is, that she needs to really think about how she would feel if she were the one being brought into that particular situation as a child. 

There are some basic levels of support in this world that everyone deserves.  I hope that the media will remember that in this latest saga of a 'love child'.  Even though this person's father is a famous man, the human being that was created because of the poor decisions of Schwarzenegger and another adult woman deserves basic human dignity.  He/She will be dealing with enough as they grow into an adult, just knowing the story of how they came to be without being harassed or made into a spectacle to satiate the curiosity of  the starstruck.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Thing That Changed Everything

-may be disturbing to some readers

**Secondarily, this post has become extraordinarily long.  I have tried to edit things down, but decided that I wanted to post this as is.  It is important to me, but I understand if it goes beyond what you are willing to endure for a story.   What a day to post THE longest and most difficult post I've ever had, only to have it lost! (for a while)  Do I have timing or what?!**

About 7 years back I made some really difficult choices.  These choices are hard to explain and even harder to justify in some cases, but they were necessary.  I won't go into that right now.  I just wanted to find a place to start that seems to offer some sort of background as to what was going on in my world before I got to the moment that really did change everything...

So there I was, thinking that I was doing a pretty decent job of taking charge of my life and starting to actually live in a meaningful way.  After a couple of years of sort of readjusting my world, and over a period of about 5 years I went through a process that included clearing out that last level of clutter.  You know, the level you think you might never get down to.  The one that goes beyond any comfort level.  The one that includes not just physical junk, but a manner of cleaning out all types of psychological trash along the way.  I got rid of those 'friends' that weren't really true.  Let things that I thought were a comfort, but really just had me stuck in the past, go.  I started replacing those 'tapes' that rolled in my head with newer more positive messages.  I forced myself to try new things that I thought would never be 'me'.  (Not all of those things worked out so well!)  Overall, I decided that anything that was more of a negative than a positive in my life just simply had to go.  I was ready to admit to the life that I had really always wanted, no matter what anybody else thought, no matter how much outside of the norm I would be.  (Who the heck are those average Americans everybody is always polling anyway?  Nobody ever interviews me.)

It had been a beautiful sunny day.  My husband and I were in New York City.  New York has never been my favorite place, but we were showing 2 friends who had never even been away from the West Coast a thrilling time in the Big Apple.  We were on a trip that had been planned for months and we were going to see my husbands best friends brand new baby.  As we neared the home of the new parents we got a call from them asking if any of us had been sick lately.  Typical worried new parents!  But it was then that my husband admitted that he had not been feeling quite right all day.  In fact, he had been a little nauseous and bloated.  He thought maybe he had food poisoning or something.  His friend didn't want to take any chances so we ended up at a Walgreen's picking up an instant-read thermometer.  Everybody took their turn and we all checked out with normal body temperatures.  After all that, my husband decided that he was feeling better and the stomach pains had passed.  We had a lovely visit with the sweet new baby and it was so special to see such a proud Papa. 

After that, it was more sightseeing.  Experiencing nightlife in the Big Apple for the first time was so exciting for our friends.  Time passes fast in the 'City That Never Sleeps' and before we knew it we were about to miss the last bus out to get back to our hotel.  We barely made it back to the bus station and I noticed that my husband wasn't really keeping up with us.  That was just not like him.  It turns out they send more than one bus back for each line at the end of the night, so we waited for the second one rather than crowd onto the first bus.  As we sat waiting on a bench I realized that maybe there was something more than indigestion going on with my husband.  I asked him if he thought he should see a doctor.  He said he wasn't sure.  I immediately pulled out our medical card and got on the phone.  I found out that since we were traveling out of state, we should just go straight to an ER rather than try to find a clinic of some kind.  By the time the bus came, I was antsy to get back to suburbia so we could get to a hospital near our hotel room.

Our friends wanted to go with us to the ER, but I wanted them to get a decent nights sleep as we would be driving out to Connecticut to see my husbands sister early the next morning so they returned to the hotel while my husband and I went to the nearest hospital.  It turned out that there was a blue H sign right next to our hotel and we set out following a series of these.  After about 20 minutes of driving around, I realized that I was beginning to recognize the same landmarks all over again.  By this time we were both tired and I asked my husband if he thought we should just go back to the hotel and get some sleep before trying for the hospital again in the morning.  He said that he thought we could find it if we just tried a little bit more.  I knew then that something must really be wrong.  Just after that, we did find the hospital.  Somehow, it was right there in front of us with an empty spot right at the door to the ER.

I expected a long wait inside, but there was hardly anyone there.  The nice guy at the front desk noticed my panicked look and reassured me that if anything was really bad my husband would be 'doubled over in pain'.  He felt sure that we would be in and out in no time.  Next we were put into a large holding area type room with curtains drawn between patients.  It turns out we were not in the best part of town and there was actually a guy handcuffed to a bed with two police officers at his bedside and another that kept wandering around exposing himself to people.  After a little while, we got a little more relaxed and sort of enjoyed the people watching.  My husband went through the usual tests- blood, urine, physical exam and nothing came up abnormal, other than some loose stools.  His temp was normal just as it had been earlier in the day.  The doctor was pretty certain that he did indeed have a case of food poisoning or 'travelers diarrhea'.  My husband was given fluids as he was a bit dehydrated and was just about to be released when the doctor decided to do an x-ray of his abdomen, just to be sure since we were traveling and all.

The moment that x-ray was put up in front of the light on the wall, I didn't need any instruction to be able to see that something was very wrong.  The intestines were all distended and there was clearly something blocking the digestive tract.  Suddenly there was an immense urgency in the room.  Several doctors all stared at the x-ray as if they could not believe what they were seeing.  Then they began prepping my husband for an emergency CT scan and told me he would be going straight to surgery after that.  They also shoved NG tubes into his nose and started pumping out this awful fluid.  I couldn't even think.  The nurses told me to take any valuables as they had a way of disappearing around here and took me through a maze of doors so that I could see my husband just prior to his surgery. 

After the CT scan, my husband was wheeled into the room where I was waiting.  There was an anesthesiologist with him who was explaining that there was no time to wait for his stomach to empty and that they would have to intubate him.  We were told that this was very serious and that there was a mass in my husbands abdomen that was preventing the passage of normal digestion and that it could kill him if they did not remove it.  They were able to see that the mass was not moveable by any other manner via the CT scan and the intestines were so distended that they could rupture at any moment.  Naturally, I thought he must have colon cancer or something, but I did not ask about that.  All I wanted was for him to be O.K. for right now.  I just wanted a little more time with him.  I kept asking God or whoever would listen to my pleas inside my head for this to just NOT be cancer.  In my own selfish thoughts, I didn't think I could take that.  As my husband was moved into the operating room they let me stay with him until after they put him under.  I thought this was strange and heard one of the nurses tell the other to let me stay and have my goodbyes.  Then another piped up and said this was not goodbye.  She told me that the doctor they called in was the best and that if anyone could save my husband, he would.  I could not believe this.  How did I go from a bright day as a tourist to this?

I was led back out and left in a row of chairs in a daze.  I didn't know anything except that I was so glad that I was not alone.  I could call my friends.  They were just a short distance away.  During the planning of the trip there had been a time when we were going to be going to New York on our own, but fatefully our friends had decided to join us.  They came to be with me in a flash and didn't ask questions.  Somehow they both knew just what I needed in that moment.   After 4 long hours, a doctor came through the double doors.  He was a tiny East Indian man with such a gentle demeanor.  By this time I really had it in my head that I just wanted to hear that this was NOT cancer.  Sometimes the mind can get stuck on a stupid detail.  So there I was just begging for him to tell me that.  My wish was somehow granted.  There was no cancer!  But wait, how could he know that so soon?  How could he be so sure?  It turns out that when I got over the initial euphoria of hearing that there was no cancer, there was some other news that was a bit more sobering.  The doctor informed me, in his lilting accent, that "another 12 to 24 hours and I could not save him."  My mind went reeling again as this idea settled in.  What if we had decided to go back to the hotel and rest?  What if we had been back at home and decided to wait until Monday so we could avoid going to the ER?  What had just happened?  How did this happen?  

The doctor would answer the questions that he could in due time, but he wanted me to see that my husband was indeed still alive and much better than he had been only a short time ago.  A short time ago when none of us had realized that this was such a serious thing at all...  So I was taken into recovery and greeted by several doctors and nurses with huge smiles on their faces.  You could feel the relief in the room and we all shared a laugh as my husband started in talking about how it was very important for him to get back to work right away and that he needed to take care of things, in a very drugged out voice.  They told me he had been repeating that over and over.  Then the doctor finally started to explain to me what had happened.  It turns out the diagnosis would be truly unique and complicated.  My husband was found to be the one of a kind man that I know him to be, in every way. 

You really never know just how things in the universe line up as they do.  I just know that if I had ever doubted that there was a purpose and a meaning to this life higher than mere existence, all doubts left me that day.  This doctor had trained in India as an intensivist.  Then he had specialized in gastrointestinal surgery in the U.S. and had done most of his work with the elderly and more recently victims of gunshot wounds.  (In the daylight the neighborhood we were in was much more clearly NOT the good side of town.)  In all of his experience this doctor had never seen anything quite like what had happened here.  But his experience and expertise were just what was needed.  The 12-24 hour comment came from the fact that there were several things going on, any one of which could have killed my husband almost immediately.  He had a baseball sized abscess that was very near rupture within his abdominal cavity but not inside the intestine, he had multiple adhesions that had wrapped themselves all around the abscess and eventually cut off progress of fluids through the small intestine, and peritonitis had set in.  As well as the initial danger from possible rupture of the abscess or intestine, any one of these could have become a life-threatening septic condition.  So how on earth was all this going on without my husbands knowledge?  Well, that part is left to theory.
      Here's what we do know:  1) He has a ridiculously high tolerance for pain that probably grew slowly over time along with the illness.  2) He is one of the very small percentage of the population that does not respond to infection with a fever or a high white blood cell count.  (Some researchers have found that these people are often on the autism scale as well.)  3) He was born without an appendix.  (Since all of his intestines had been outside of his body during the surgery and searched thoroughly we can be sure that my husbands best friend is correct when he guesses that my husband is just a little bit more advanced than the rest of us.  His friend is a biology teacher, after all.)  4) Since the abscess was outside the intestines, the only reasonable guess as to what caused the initial infection is probably E-Coli which comes in many forms and can and will invade the body anywhere.  (Several other doctors expressed this guess to us as well when we got back home.)  And finally- 5) There is no way to know when or where this E-Coli would have infected him as people can live for years with an abscess that has been encapsulated inside adhesive scar tissue and is like a ticking time bomb that can burst at any time.

My  husband spent 3 days in ICU and another 5 in the hospital being pumped full of every type of antimicrobial agent you can imagine since we really had no way of knowing for sure what it was that had invaded his body.  Once we knew that he would be strong enough to fly back home, he left the hospital with 20 staples and 3 retention sutures in his gut.  The physical effects that ended up following my husband for months (and now years) after this were nothing compared to what this did to our souls.  This absolutely rocked my world.  It shook me to the core. And it made my husband believe that maybe he should not expect to live a long, normal life even though we had been assured that this whole thing really shouldn't affect his life expectancy at all.  It was so hard to see the person who had been there for me and provided me with the strength that I had so badly needed in such a place of uncertainty.  I was suddenly very aware of what it must be like to be told that a loved one has been hit by bus, but has survived.  Only to be told later that the person will never be quite the same ever again.  Over that summer, I watched my husband go through some of the most difficult emotional times.  Things that I simply never could have imagined.  His body had betrayed him.  (This person that everyone had always described as the neatest, cleanest guy that they ever knew had been compromised by bacteria.)  Neither one of us knew what to trust, where to turn.  Life, that had been moving along on an expected plane, had just moved to a whole new universe.  Nothing was certain and nerves were so raw and exposed.  We both had grown up with very uncertain home lives and had come to expect that as adults we would be able to control our surroundings and live in relative stability.  This had shattered our senses and left both of us searching for a new normal.

For myself, I found that it really was time to grow up.  For all the time that I had spent being a 'little adult' when I was a kid, I had somehow thought that I would be able to make up for that in my own life on my own terms.  But really I had just ended up leaning heavily on my husband for the stability that I had so badly needed.  This had left him empty of the ability to really feel his own emotions.  It was never safe for him to be a little off, even for a day, because I had needed so much from him.  My guilt was immense and yet I was a little scared of this new emotional man in my life.  The truth is that as much as I had needed him to be the one solid thing in my life, he had needed me to be there to take care of him and to feel, when he was not ready to do that yet.

Over time, we both have grown stronger in this new life that has been thrust upon us.  Individually, we have learned how to do the things that we had leaned on one another for, for over a decade.  I, who have always been so independent anyway have learned that if I needed to I could make it all on my own.  And my husband who has never let anything ever get to him seems to be more comfortable with the idea that sometimes you have to embrace and feel the fact that the world can be a scary place.  We have seen that our individual weaknesses can be dealt with best with the unconditional love we share for one another.  We have each grown grateful for the gift that is knowing that you never really do know what tomorrow brings and that any one of us can be gone from this earth at any time. 

My husband will require more surgery to deal with some residual issues left from such invasive initial emergency surgery and we have been putting that off.  There have been so many opportunities to get past this time in our lives and come out stronger- we have pursued things that we never thought possible and made life decisions that we once only discussed in passing and had put off for 'someday'.  During this process there was a song that had come out that summer of 2009 that my husband gravitated towards.   I can remember him stopping whatever he was doing to sing along every time he saw the video played on TV.  If you've made it this far into this ultra-long post, then you owe it to yourself to share in a little bit more of our lives by clicking on the link below:  Oh and thanks for reading, this post is very important to me.

I'm Alive/ Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strange Dreams

I like the artist that sings this song, Heart.  They always bring a kind of dreamy quality out in me.  Not just in this song, but in all of their stuff.  I grew up listening to them and hearing stories about what it was like for my mother and aunts who attended high school with the girls from Heart.  This song just seemed perfect for what I woke up to this morning.

For a long time I never remembered any dreams at all.  I mean literally at least 10 years went by when I thought that I must not be able to dream anymore.  Prior to this period of time, I was always a vivid dreamer and much like I am able to utilize a very photographic memory in my conscious life, I had always experienced dreams that were very real.   I suspected that I was still dreaming, just not remembering them for some reason.  I finally came to the conclusion that I had lost my ability to remember my dreams when I was going through a time when I felt that most of my 'dreams' for life seemed dead.  Bingo!  I began remembering my dreams upon waking yet again.  It was as if the floodgates of my mind had opened.  All of this coincided with a very turbulent time of becoming aware of how much of myself I had given up trying to fix or fit in to my very disturbed and mentally ill family.  As soon as I realized that this was not a worthy cause to spend my life energy on, I got my life energy back and with it, my dreams- both in slumber and in real life.

I tend to be an early morning dreamer.  Especially when I wake up in the wee hours and then fall back asleep, I have extraordinarily vivid dreams.  Recently, I woke up replaying a particular episode with my mother when she had broken a restraining order on Christmas day and came knocking at my door.  While I am proud of how I dealt with that situation in real life by just speaking through the door and calling the sheriff immediately so as to minimize the drama, I also like how I dealt with it in my dream.  In the dream, I opened the door right up and faced her and told her that she was no longer welcome here and that she needed to leave my property.  I then actually realized that I was dreaming and said, "besides this is just a dream and you don't really matter in my life anymore."  Boy did I feel satisfied upon waking!

This morning I had a very intriguing dream.  I dreamed that my husband and I were walking down a sidewalk and these 3 young guys came up behind us and kind of invaded our space.  I tried to sort of ignore them and my husband and I gave each other knowing looks.  We were approaching a strip mall area.  One of the guys ended up brushing up against me.  I turned and faced him and brushed him back.  Then for some reason I ended up walking ahead and leaving my husband a little behind with the guys right there and tension clearly in the air.  I remember wanting to get inside one of the stores and get to safety and tell someone what was happening, but I also knew it was really strange for me to leave my husband there with those guys.  He is NOT a physically tough guy.  He is an intellectual who uses wit to get himself out of any trouble and would never fight with anyone. Besides, it is just out of character for either one of us to desert the other for any reason.  Anyway, I end up inside a gift shop and the weird thing is that I then get distracted and totally forget about why I came in!  So I'm there just shopping around for awhile and I suddenly realize that I have forgotten all about how I left my husband outside with these 3 guys.  Immediately upon remembering this, I run outside and I catch the very end of some police action going on.  All I see is the cops putting handcuffs on my husband while he slowly turns his head to face me.  I see a little blood on his neck area and a few scratches.  I notice his glasses are gone.  But overall he doesn't really look that bad for what I imagined could have happened.  I scream, "what did they do to you?!"  But the look on my husbands face says something like resolve or strength or some combination of that.  His blue eyes are so clear in my mind.  The 3 guys are not in the picture.  I have no idea what happened to them and I sense that I don't care. 

I think this dream has something to do with some loose ends that need dealing with when it comes to a near death experience that my husband had back in July of 2009.  I haven't really shared any of that on this blog.  One of my friends who is pretty intuitive stated that she knows that though I have a lot to say, I'm not always saying everything I need to.  So it may be time to share that moment in my life.  It is a turning point for me.  A pivotal moment in time that changed everything for me.  I was on my way to changing, but that experience made me know that there was no going back.

I am confident that I will share this soon.  In the meantime, any insight on my dream would be appreciated.  It seems to me that fellow bloggers are often the best at giving me the knowledge that I haven't quite grasped yet for myself. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Doggy Dementia

Who ever knew that there was a form of Alzheimer's that affects dogs?
Apparently CDS or canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is something that is affecting my dog.  He was diagnosed the day after his 14th birthday.  He had started to act a little funny here and there.  One thing he does that is a bit weird is go over and stand in a corner, staring at the wall.  He also has gotten louder over time, kind of as if he has lost his inhibitions.  I thought these things were just a part of aging since I know he can't see or hear very well anymore.  But, I finally took him in to see the vet when he stopped making it to the door when he needed to go outside.  He would wake up groggy and stagger about, then pee all over himself like some kind of drunk!  (If you're curious about CDS or want to know the symptoms, click here.)  The news that my dog is compromised by more than aging is a little sad, but not really a huge shock as he has well outlived his expected time on this earth of 10-12 years. 

The good news is that he is super healthy physically and has been on medication for a few weeks now and is responding quite well.  So for now, he is still the life of the party.  My Boston Terrier has always loved a good party. 

And who ever knew that dogs could really get together to have a party like they do in my favorite Dr. Seuss book, 'Go Dog Go!'  Check out these pictures from a dog birthday party at my friends house back in February. 

These are the 'cupcakes' that I made for the dogs.  Their ingredients include oatmeal, carrots, olive oil and canned dog food with gravy and crumbled kibble on top.  And, of course, some dog treat 'candles' on top for the dog that was turning 3 at this party.

Yes, these stink while you are cooking them and the dogs go nuts sniffing all over the kitchen!

My dog is always the last to fall asleep at these dog parties.  I think he's a lot like me in the way that he never wants to miss anything.  Once the other dogs have all passed out, he finally gives in to his exhaustion.

And yes, he wears a great hat, just like the dogs in the Dr. Seuss book!  I love my little party animal.
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