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Moving Forward

Earlier this week, my family and I decided that we are going to get another Corgi.  We'll be getting her from the same breeders that we got Rolo from, and it's the same parents, so technically it will be his sister from another litter.

Originally, we were going to name her Rollo, with two Ls, but I decided that Siggy sounded better.  (And yes, for those of you who noticed, I'm a huge Vikings fan.)  We don't know which one we're getting yet, we want to let their personalities develop, but one of these lovelies will be our new fur baby.

I thought long and hard about this decision, and weighed the pros and cons.  My heart is still broken from losing Rolo, and I'm fully aware that a new dog will never replace him, but the house feels so empty.

Life is full of uncertainty.  What happened to Rolo was a freak occurrence, and the possibility exists that it could happen again--or a million other scenarios could occur.  I live with anxiety and panic disorder, so believe me when I say that my brain comes up with some ridiculous worst-case scenarios.  But I don't let them rule my life.  I can't.  I would never leave the house if I did.  I wouldn't let my family leave the house if I let my imagination rule my life.

My point is that its better to take a chance than live with regrets.  Yes, something bad could happen.  But you know what else could happen?  Something good.  She could turn out to be an amazingly wonderful dog that lives a long life and makes everyone in the family happy.  Her life with us is going to be awesome--no matter how long she's in it.  I'm going to spoil her rotten.

Life can't be about the what ifs.  It has to be about the what happens.  Yes, it's painful.  I will probably worry every day that I own her, but I have to give it a chance.  I can't live in fear.

I'm happy with my decision, even if I'm not completely confident with it.  I'm looking forward to what the future with Siggy will bring.

Getting Back into the Groove

The past few weeks have been both emotionally and physically draining. Being stressed and then getting sick led me down the path of no motivation. Even thinking about writing anything longer than a blog post made me want to curl into the fetal position and cry. But then I felt the agonizing guilt of not writing when I should have been.

That vicious cycle, coupled with everything else that was going on, pretty much shut me down. I couldn’t function. I didn’t do anything but stare at the TV and think about how I needed to get some writing done.

And then, I did. I picked up my pen and put it to paper, and relief washed over me. I felt like everything was going to be all right with the world and that I could get my life back on track. It made me feel like things were finally getting back to normal.

I’m working on my grandfather-in-law’s biography, and it has been interesting. I’m going to be honest, I’m nervous about doing it. I’m nervous that he’s going to hate it when I’m done. But I’m doing my best to tell his story.

Figuring that out took me a little while. I was thinking that I needed to have tons and tons of historical information and stats and names and places from the war. And the book will have those things, but the main focus will be Dale’s story. It will be about his experiences with historical information to back it up.

Until it’s done, I’m not sure how he’ll react to it, but I have to get something down on paper first. It’s been a rough few weeks, but I’m getting there. The words are coming, and that makes me very happy.

One More Ride

Last week, we got dumped on for 3 days. Seriously, I think we got more snow in those few days than we did all winter. It was fantastic!

The fresh snow made it possible for us to go snowmobiling. Since my husband and I already traded in our old sleds for our new 2016s, we had to borrow some. Not a big deal. The one I rode was a 2015—much newer than the one I normally ride.

There were eight of us that headed up, and I was a little nervous. I’d never ridden powder before, but I was going to do my best. The only way to get better is to push my boundaries, and this was definitely going to do that. Still, I was concerned that I would hold the others back. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t about what I couldn’t do, but what I could. I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself.

I worked on tipping my sled and fell off several times. I still don’t have it down, but I’ll get more practice in next season. I think it’ll be easier once I have my own sled. I hope it will. 

Everyone in the group was so excited and had such a great time. We all got stuck multiple times, but that was to be expected with the deep powder. The joke was that if we weren’t getting stuck, we weren’t doing it right. We even got to be the first people to make tracks in several areas.

I’m still undecided if the trip was fun. Riding in powder is super exhausting. I was constantly jumping from one side to the other to keep my balance and wiggling the sled to get unstuck. It was a lot more work than I was used to. (I was so freaking sore later that night and on Monday it wasn’t even funny.)

By the end of the day, I was so frustrated of tipping over and burying my track I wanted to scream. At one point I was upset with myself for picking a bad line and falling into a hole that I kicked and hit the sled. I was just done.

I’m still so new to this experience that it’s more work for me than it is enjoyable. I’m concentrating so hard on not tipping over or picking the right line or trying not to get thrown that it’s hard for me to enjoy the ride. I’m always so worried that I’m holding the others back that it’s hard for me to have fun. 

I hope that in time I’ll be able to enjoy being in fresh powder and have fun on the ride, but until I get better on my sled, I have a feeling the trips are just going to be meh.  I’m going to keep trying, though.  


Last week I talked to the vet, and she had some answers about what happened to Rolo.

The preliminary investigation didn't indicate any obvious signs of death.  There was nothing wrong with his internal organs or any signs of trauma, so they had to dig deeper and do a toxicology report and bacteria cultures.

The bacteria cultures were incredibly revealing.  Apparently, Rolo had a strep infection, and that led to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).  (This is a good article that explains the disease if you're interested.)  They have no idea where he got the strep infection or why his body reacted the way it did, but that's what led to his death.

This type of reaction is extremely rare.  It had nothing to do with his breeding, and it can't be transferred to my boys or the other pets.  It was a freak occurrence.  There was no way it could have been prevented, and no way to treat it.  Even if they had known it was TSS when I brought him to the vet, they couldn't have saved him.  Antibiotics wouldn't have helped.  All they could have done was make him comfortable, and that's exactly what they did.

Even though this information won't bring him back or unbreak my heart, I'm glad to have it.  I don't have to worry and wonder anymore.  One of my biggest fears was that someone had poisoned Rolo and that substance was still in my yard, accessible to my kids and anyone else who visited.  Thankfully, that wasn't the case.

I still miss him every day, but at least my questions have been answered.

I'm thankful for what the vet did for him, and for what the vet lab found out.  I'm thankful for my family, friends, coworkers, and strangers that supported me in finding answers and continue to support me through a difficult time.  I'm thankful that I can bring another dog into the house and not have to worry something bad will happen to it (although I'm sure I still will).

Most of all, I'm thankful for the short amount of time that Rolo was part of our lives.  He made us so happy, and I spoiled him rotten.  It still amazes me that a small furball could mean so much and make such an impact, but I'm grateful he did.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life

I have a short piece in a new anthology called Horror Addicts Guide to Life,.

Here's the description:

Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the "norms" not understand your love of the macabre? Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society. Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A.Williams, and Ron Vitale. With art by Carmen Masloski
My piece is called "Surviving Zombies," and it looks at how I structure my daily life to make sure I'm prepared for when the dead rise.  It's nonfiction, and yes, I seriously do all of those things I talk about.  At this point in time, nothing should surprise you with me.

If you enjoy horror, or you're curious to know how the horror-minded live, check out this book.  It's a lot of fun!

Thankful for What I Have

The past few weeks have been really tough for me.  The death of my puppy has affected me deeply, but there have been other things that have been going on in my life that I won't go into here.  But through it all, I've been trying to focus on the positive, and here are a few things I've tried to focus on recently.

My family, friends, coworkers, and strangers are amazing.

In my time of need, when I felt like the world was crashing down on me, they were there with a helping hand and loving arms.  They let me know that I wasn't alone and that I had support.  I don't think they'll ever know how much that means to me.

Life is way too short.

I refuse to spend it being miserable, but I also refuse to spend it not feeling.  Life can be tough and unfair and throw sadness, anger, and confusion at me, but I have to take it all in stride.  Without those moments, how can I experience happiness?  It sucks, and going through it is the worst thing ever, but it makes me appreciate what I have.

What are my priorities?

I've been thinking a lot about this one lately, and it ties into the notion that life is short.  I'm still figuring out what I want and need to do.  This is certainly not something that will happen over night, it will take time, and I hope that it will help me be happier.

Life has its ups and downs--that is certainly not a secret.  I have to deal with whatever comes my way, but I'm going to do it on my terms.  I'm not going to let anyone tell me how I should feel or react to the situation, I'm going to do what I have to do.

Time will make everything all right, and while it will never erase the bad memories, it will dull the hurt and it will make me stronger, and that's what it takes to get through life.

Teens Will One Day Change the World

Last week, I read on io9 about an awesome Twitter trend. It’s called #VeryRealisticYA, and it points out the unrealistic way teens in young adult stories act. Some of the tweets are hilarious, and very spot on. They were fun to read. I laughed.

Young adult stories are often far stretches of the truth, along with a lot of other stories. But that’s the point: stories portray events or characters that don’t actually exist in the real world. They are created to entertain.

Of course the vast majority of teens in the real world aren’t going to act like Katniss or Tris. At one time, I was a teen, and I could barely look beyond the weekend to decide what to do with my life. Why would I even dream about saving the world?

But the point of these stories is to ask the question: what would teens be capable of if they weren’t self-absorbed?

One of the amazing things about teens is that they are an in between group. They are no longer children, but they aren’t yet adults. They are allowed certain freedoms to figure out who they are as a person or who they want to be. They have this freedom to experiment and make mistakes—all in the hope that one day they will become contributing members of society.

What is so fantastic about YA stories is that they propose this idea of who teens can be. They show them that they are capable of great and wonderful things. They show that they can change the world. They show that there is a larger world out there—and if they want to make an impact in it, they can. They are supposed to be inspiring.

More often than not, the reason we tell stories is to teach some kind of lesson. Fairy tales and children’s stories are notorious for teaching children how to share or what happens when they don’t follow the rules. It’s a way for society to pass their values and morals down in an entertaining fashion. Children don’t want to be lectured day in and day out, but if the lesson is fun and exciting, maybe a little surreal, kids are going to listen.

The same thing with adults. Life is hard. The world can be a cruel place. But stories allow us to escape and follow a character that is having a more difficult time than we are. And when that character overcomes those ordeals, we cheer her on and realize that maybe our lives aren’t that terrible or it gives us hope that we can also overcome hardships.

Teens are looking for the same kind of escape. They want to go to a place where they get to make up the rules and where they are in charge.

The vast majority of YA stories that are popular now are dystopian. They look at how the world has been destroyed and how it is rebuilding to be “better.” More often than not, there is a corrupt government that has to be taken down. And who is in charge of this government? Adults. All the other adults in the story are usually complacent and happy with the world they live in, it’s all they’ve know, but the teens refuse to follow the crowd. They question the status quo. They refuse to be mediocre.

What these stories do is take what happens in teens’ everyday lives and magnifies it. They are a reflection of society told metaphorically. Think about it. What is the biggest complaint you had as a teen? For me, it was that my parents controlled my life. They wouldn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do. I had to follow their rules when I lived in their house, so I rebelled against them. The teens in these stories aren’t doing anything different. They’re rebelling against the authority figure. They’re just doing it on a grander scale than a real-world teen.

Most teens aren’t on the streets with guns taking down the government, but they are staging protests. They are speaking out for their rights and making stands against injustice. They are changing the world, but in a quieter fashion than what these movies portray. Sure, the stories are incredibly grandiose and over the top—the complete opposite of reality—but that’s the point.  That’s what makes them entertaining.

I appreciate that YA novels portray teens in a way that isn’t typical of the real world. I enjoy that they are strong and overcome adversity. It gives teens something to aspire to. It reminds them that no matter what the world says, they are capable of great things. They just have to go out and get it.

Well, Frick!

Last week was supposed to get better.  I wanted it to.  I hoped it would.  It wasn't supposed to end with my 7-month-old puppy dying.  But that's exactly what happened.

Friday morning, right before lunch, my husband called me to let me know that Rolo was sick.  He had thrown up several times and was being incredibly lethargic.  I called the vet to get him in, but they had no appointments, so they asked if I could drop him off and they would get to him when they could.  That worked for me.

It wasn't hard to tell the little guy was having a rough time.  I put him in his kennel and put him in the back of the Jeep.  The vet is about 10 minutes from my house, and while I was driving, I heard his claws scratching on the plastic of his kennel and wondered what he was doing.  When I got to the vet, I realized he was having a seizure.

I became hysterical.  I ran him inside, and they immediately took him to the back.  I grabbed my phone and called my husband to tell him what happened, but he could barely understand me.  I was freaking out.  I had sunk down to the floor and was holding onto the counter to keep from falling over.  The world around me was spinning out of control.

I don't handle emergency situations very well.  I have a tendency to go straight into panic mode.  I've done it with my boys, and this pushed me into it as well.  That's part of the reason I was so proud of myself for remaining calm when my youngest cut himself.  That wasn't a typical response.

After taking a few deep breaths, I was able to make myself comprehensible, but I was far from calm.  I took a seat on the bench and fretted.  What had happened?  Why did he have a seizure?

The vet was able to get him stabilized, but with how the long the seizure lasted and how long it took him to come out of it, they were worried.  I got to hold him for a little while after he was administered the medication, and he seemed better.  He definitely wasn't in as rough of shape as he had been when I picked him up.  While cradling him, he started twitching and they were worried he was overstimulated and might have another seizure, so he went back into his kennel.

He never had another seizure, but he never got better.  His eyes started twitching involuntarily, then Saturday morning, he passed.  The boys and I went to see him, and it tore all of us up.  He was only 7 months old.  What could have happened?

At the top of the vet's list was that he got into something, but we have no idea what.  I have kids, so it's not like I keep cleaning supplies laying around.  We wondered if he found something in the yard, but we didn't see anything.

It wasn't a secret that he was my favorite.  I doted on that dog.  I loved everything about him from his gigantic ears to his stubby little legs to his amazing personality.  As strange as it seems, I loved his smell--even when he stunk.

Whenever he was scared or unsure of himself, he would stand in between my legs, having me there to protect him.  When the alarm went off in the morning, he would jump at the side of the bed and whine until I got up.  He cuddled with me.  He was my boy.

I know he was just a dog.  I am fully aware that I didn't lose a child (thank goodness!), but he was my fur baby, and it hurts.  We had him for such a short amount of time, but he was my shadow, my buddy, my angel.  I miss him terribly.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds so that I can have tests done on Rolo to figure out what happened.

While I'm aware I may not get answers, I have to try.  If he got into something, I need to know what it was and hopefully keep the other pets in our house safe and prevent others in the community that may be exposed to the same thing from getting hurt.  Anything you contribute helps, and I appreciate you helping me find answers.  Thank you.

Things Are Going to Improve

Wow. It has already been a crazy, stressful week. I already talked about what happened on Saturday, then on Monday, we were at my mom’s house, and my youngest was playing football with his brother and cousins outside, and fell in the grass and sliced his arm open on a piece of glass.

My mom, sister, and I debated for a while whether or not we thought it only needed a butterfly bandage or stitches. We figured a butterfly would work fine, then we would wrap his arm so it wouldn’t get infected, but my mom didn’t have any butterfly bandages at the house, so that option was taken off the table. After sending my husband a picture of the wound, he made the final decision to take him to the hospital. They glued him back together, and (thankfully) we were only there for half an hour.

I have to say, I was incredibly proud of myself. I don’t normally handle these kind of situations very well. I hate to see my kids get hurt, and I have a tendency to freak out and panic. But this time, I kept it together. I stayed calm and took it all in stride.

My youngest shed more tears over the fact that he might have to get stitches than he did over the actual cut. He was afraid they would hurt, and when we told him they would give him a shot to numb it, that freaked him out even more. All he heard was “shot,” and he HATES shots! And I can’t blame him at all for that. But, in the end, it turned out to be a painless procedure.

Now that we’ve gotten all that “fun” stuff out of the way, life can continue on as normal. No more trips to the hospital. I look forward to things getting better, and they are going to. Come on exciting adventures!