Making a House a Home

As of last Monday, we've been proud home owners for one whole month, and today marks 5 weeks exactly! Whew - I can't believe how much we've accomplished in that time period. We've painted most of the house, had a new roof installed and almost all of the boxes are unpacked! There are still so many things that I'd like to do, but this house is finally starting to feel like home. In commemoration of the one month mark, here are some pictures of the things we've done to the house to make it our own (warning: lots of pictures and home decoration talk to follow, just in case you don't like that sort of thing).

This is our entry way with hall closet. Notice the new paint color - we were going for a Tuscan Gold, something warmer and less green than the previous gold color. This is the predominate color in the house now, with the exception of our accent (fireplace) wall, which is slightly darker with a touch more orange, and the new olive green kitchen. We still have a lot of work to do in this area, with the office and dining room, but that'll come with time.

A picture of our beautiful new bathroom fixtures that Collin & Stephen installed during our move-in weekend. I just love them - the clean lines really make the space feel more updated and sophisticated.

Looking into the kitchen from the great room. We bought the two bar stools, and hope to get two more in the near future to complete the breakfast bar. You can see the new color in the kitchen as well, which I like pretty well, although I'm not 100% happy with it.

I was finally able to start using my Uppercase Living stuff I'd been stock-piling since Vandenberg (thanks Janessa)! I love how these personalize a space - you may have seen the "welcome" over the hall closet in the first picture too.

If you look closely at the wall on the right (under the window), you'll see the slightly darker accent color we used on that wall. This over-sized chair is our favorite place to cuddle up together near the fireplace and watch a movie!

Our humongous couch underneath the ledge shelves that Collin hung for me last weekend. I plan to put a few more things on those ledges, but it's a work in progress. Love the warmth of the new color... do you remember the dark terra cotta before? The room feels much bigger and lighter now.

This is part of Ian's room. We kept the color the same, but added a Mickey theme with the wall stickers, and accessories on the shelves. It feels so nice to finally have a nicely put-together room for our little guy!
Here's another portion of his room. See? The blue is not quite as bright turquoise as it appeared in the sale pictures.
Moira's room is probably the most put-together of the whole house (how does that happen every time?)! We painted over the awful dark orange color, and the space looks so much more like it belongs to a little girl now. It's complete with Disney Fairy wall stickers, Fairy bedding and my attempt at a canopy over the bed. We're just awaiting the "I believe in Fairies" and "All you need is faith, trust and a little pixie dust" vinyl wall applications from Uppercase Living, and the space will be complete. Isn't it cute?

A closer shot of the fairy stickers and some of the fairy books and accessories we're displaying on the shelves. She just loves her new room!

Our guest room hasn't really been started, except for the new bed and bedding we picked up this week for our friends that are visiting this weekend. I think it's a nice start at least!

We picked up patio furniture for the screened-in porch when we first moved in...

... but my favorite part is finally being able to hang and use the sky chairs we bought a couple years ago! I could spend the whole day in one of those with a good book.
So, that's it, in a nutshell! We're feeling very cozy and happy in our new home, and definitely blessed that God's gifted us with so much. I'm sure I'll post more at a later date, as more things start taking shape. Thanks for letting me share our excitement & joy here!


Better news...

Many of you have e-mailed and called about how Cailin's appointment with the Specialist went on Friday, so I wanted to get on here this morning and post about it - thank you all for your concern and support!

We made it down to Birmingham a little earlier than her 4:30 pm scheduled appointment, and headed in to the building in time to get her vitals taken and talk with the nurse for a bit. After waiting in an exam room for 15-20 minutes, the nurse came back from the ultrasound with Cailin and told us the Specialist (he's an pretty renowned Veterinary Internist in this area, by the way, if any of you are wondering) would be in to discuss the results with us shortly. Dr. Lothrop made his entrance soon thereafter and was very warm with us and the kids - we definitely appreciated his calm and supportive bedside manner!

Anyway, this is what he had to say. The bad news is that it is indeed cancer, specifically it's the Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC) that I posted about earlier. The good news is that it's not located at the neck of the bladder, as we had thought, and she's a good candidate for surgery! He assured us that the cancer had not spread outside of the tumor (located between where the kidneys dump into the bladder, and the opening to the urethra or "neck" of the bladder), and if the tumor were to be surgically removed, it was pretty likely they'd be able to remove all or most of the cancer, and save a good portion of healthy bladder. This is really spectacular news, and against the odds, since TCC is an aggressive and fast-spreading cancer, it's usually located at the neck of the bladder and therefore deemed inoperable, and in most cases it's too late to do anything to really help save the dog.

So, we have two options. Option 1) Opt not to do surgery, keep her on the Peroxicam which would help slow the spread of the cancer (and it will spread) until in 9-18 months it would block her urethra, making her unable to urinate, at which point she'd go septic and we'd have to make the decision to put her down. Option 2) Spend an estimated $1500-$1800 on surgery, keep her on the Peroxicam (which would only be necessary if they couldn't get all of the cancer), and possibly allow her to have a normal life-span for a Sheltie, another 3-4 years or more, barring no other age-related illnesses that could come along. He assured us that, as pet-owners, both options we're completely reasonable, and the decision was entirely ours to make.

After Collin and I discussed it together, prayed about it and took a night to sleep on it, we've decided to do the surgery. We both feel that it's worth it as the risk is low, her quality of life would remain the same, and we could possibly have a few more years with our precious puppy. We made the commitment to care for this creature, who has become such a huge part of our family, when we took her into our home and hearts, and we feel this is the right thing to do. It's definitely not the cheapest option, but again we made a commitment to care for her, and since we can afford it (it'll require some sacrifices, but it's not going to put us on the streets or anything), we feel it's our responsibility to do all we can for her. Even if something horrible happens in surgery, or they're unable to get all the cancer, we'll both sleep better at night knowing that we've done everything we can to give her the best chances possible - this is as much for us as it is for her. And, we're at peace about it.

So, I'll be calling down to the same Specialty Animal Hospital in Birmingham today to set up an appointment with one of the Vets that does surgery (Dr. Lothrop, the Internist, won't actually perform the surgery but was able to give us a couple recommendations on who should). We'll need to get her in pretty soon, we're hoping next week, since we need to do it before the cancer spreads and eliminates her eligibility for surgery. We'll need to take her back down to Birmingham, leave her for there for surgery and a couple days of recovery (which is going to be exceedingly difficult), and then come pick her up for after-care. We ask for your prayers during the surgery, that it will go smoothly and without complication, that she'll (and we'll) not be too anxious about leaving her for a couple of days without us, and that the after-care and recovery will be easy afterward.

Here is a beautiful blessing that was offered up for us by some of our very dear friends, that I wanted to share here with you:

Blessed are you, Lord God,
maker of all living creatures.
On the fifth and sixth days of creation,
you called forth fish in the sea,
birds in the air and animals on the land.
You inspired St. Francis to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless this animal, Cailin,
By the power of your love,
enable Cailin to live according to your plan.
May we always praise you
for all your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures!


We, too, have caught the Olympic Spirit!

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... at least no one can say we aren't good sports! (right honey?) He's gonna kill me...


Cailin's appt was rescheduled to Friday at 4:30pm, so I won't have news until then...


Ultrasound Appointment

Just wanted to report that Cailin's ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow at 5 pm. Collin's going to leave work early so we can head for Birmingham after Moira gets out of school, around 3 pm. Meanwhile, Cailin's just as perky and sweet as ever! Thank you for all the sweet comments, e-mails and phone calls - we feel so blessed by the encouraging words of love. Hopefully we'll have some more conclusive information to report on Wednesday...


Man's Best Friend

I haven't posted in a while due to getting in the swing of our new schedule with school, and Ian and I seem to have come down with a cold of some sort this week that's really taking it out of me. I felt the need to update you, and ask for your sincere prayers for our family, and our beloved dog, Cailin.

Cailin has been having some health issues since about late April, but we've not had the ability to get to the bottom of what's causing it. I finally took her in to see a new Veterinarian on Friday of last week. After an exam, x-rays and examination of some tissue collected from her bladder, it was determined that she has Transitional Cell Carcinoma, a rather aggressive form of bladder cancer. Not a good diagnosis - according to our vet, it is inoperable and chemo and radiation would not really be a viable option. We were, needless to say, heartbroken. While dealing with the shock and sadness from the news, we decided to send the same tissue sample into a Pathologist with the hopes that we'd find out more and hopefully get a better idea of how much time we have left with her.

Yesterday we received a phone call from the Vet with the news from the Pathology report - and to further confuse things - he seems to think that it's a "possibly benign polyp" in her bladder that could and should be surgically removed! Good news, right? Well, yes and no. We asked the Vet where this left us and he's recommending that we take her to a Specialist in Birmingham for an ultrasound, to help figure out what this really is, and possibly surgery if the diagnosis calls for it. I called to speak with the Specialist's office today and it looks like we might be setting up an appointment for the beginning of next week to drive her down to Birmingham for the ultrasound. So, the bad part of all this, is that we still don't know what's affecting our dear little puppy (I say that as a loving mother, she'll be 10 years old on Monday) - and we're looking at a pretty expensive road toward finding out and taking care of it. We've already put over $300 toward her diagnosis, and that's just while we've been here in Alabama... we've spend over $800 total since we first took her to the Vet in San Antonio. Now, we're expecting this visit with the Specialist next week to cost $365 for the exam and ultrasound, and possibly more if additional tests are needed. I don't even want to think about surgery yet, as that's estimated (at this point) at costing between $1500-$2000.
Now, I'm very well aware that many of you out there reading this will think we're absolutely crazy for putting this much money into our pet. But, I must stress to you how much a part of the family our "pet" is. She's been with through everything with us during the last 10 years, we lovingly refer to her as our first child, and I can't imagine my daily routine without her. That being said, we're talking about a whole lot of money here (especially after just coming out of 6 months of unemployment), and while we do feel she's worth it... I also fear that they'll do all of these procedures, including surgery, just to do a biopsy on what they remove and find that it is cancer, and we're going to lose her soon anyway. We've been taken on a roller coaster ride emotionally since the beginning, and I just can't bear to lose her after the hope that she could be alright.

So, please pray for our family. We haven't, and probably won't, explain to the children what's going on. If it does turn out to be cancer, we'll tell them she's sick when she starts acting like it... meanwhile, they're too young to really understand anyway. For Collin and me, we need the ability to handle this with clear heads and loving hearts combined; we're praying that God will give us the wisdom we need to know what to do, and the strength (and finances) to do it. Thank you for your sensitivity in this issue, and for any prayers you might be able to offer up for us. I know some of you other dog lovers out there will understand when I say she's given us so much more than we could ever give her.


1st Day of School

My oldest child started Kindergarten today! *sniff* We went to an open house at her school last night to meet her teacher and see her classroom, so she was good and ready to go this morning. School starts at 7:40am here (really early for a non-morning-mommy) but I was up at six and ready to go by the time I got her up for breakfast. She looked absolutely darling in her Gap Kids dress (thanks Aunt Dara!), Mary Jane shoes and Tinkerbell backpack. Here are some obligatory first day pics...

Standing at the front door, in all her cuteness, ready to go!

Ian saying a sad good-bye for the day to his big Sis

Daddy adjusting her backpack after Mommy got her "Car Rider" tag pinned on (she'll wear this for two weeks, to help her remember her car line #)

Once in her classroom, she found her tiny assigned seat with her name on it all by herself!

West Madison Elementary - isn't it cute?!

One of the great pictures she brought home today. This one is of her in front of the slide on the playground, with her new school on the right. Check out those windows - we have a little artist, must've gotten it from Daddy! (Sorry, I couldn't get the picture to rotate.)
She came out of the building with all smiles when I picked her up today, exclaiming that she "had so much fun!" She also said she "likes her nice teacher, made two friends that are girls, and remembered her lunchbox at lunch, but forgot to bring it home." How cute is that? She'll have tomorrow off, as they're staggering the start for Kindergartners this year, but she'll go every day starting Friday. My baby is such a big girl! I was a little teary once we got back home, but did pretty well overall. Hopefully Ian will make the adjustment as smoothly as it appears Moira is going to. Thanks for the well-wishes, advice, and loving support for her (and Mom!) as we start this grand new adventure!


Nieces galore!

I'm pleased to announce, to those of you who don't already know, that we've received a wonderful blessing in the form of our newest niece, Hannah Elyse McCann! She was born to Collin's brother and sister-in-law, Barrett and Suzann, last Sunday the 27th around noon, and weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz and 20.5 inches long. Hollyann and Andrew seem very happy with their new baby sister. Isn't she beautiful?

Many congratulations and blessings to the new family of five, may God bless you and keep you all in the palm of His hand!

Cherished friends

I have a lot of catching up to do, so I thought I'd start with a few pictures from our move-in weekend with the Hobbses. What a blessing to have them here to help so whole-heartedly and witness the newest chapter beginning in our lives - we're so thankful for cherished friends!

The long-awaited PODS with all the comforts of home

Moira and Ian ready to help move in

We all enjoyed a hearty lunch of Zaxby's to fuel the rest of the day's labor

A quick trip to Lowe's for some "much needed" bits of this and that (or so I was told!)

Stephen overseeing Collin's first attempt at changing out a faucet - we'll make a handy man out of him yet!

A celebratory dinner to mark two birthdays and a new home!

"I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar." - Robert Brault