Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

August 31, 2011

August 2011 – Family Update

Filed under: Lilah and Luke,Mom and Dad — dave9169 @ 4:34 pm

August Highlights:

Remembering Joya

On August 21, 2011 we lost our beloved dog of more than 14 years. Needless to say, it was a difficult day. We first had to take her to the emergency animal clinic where we thought we would be leaving her for overnight observation since we were pretty sure she had experienced two seizures. Two hours later, the vet called us to tell us we needed to come back to the clinic as Joya’s x-rays did not look good. Her stomach appeared to be leaking and it also looked like she had cancerous growths all over her lungs. Her prognosis did not look good so we made the decision to put her to sleep. Before doing so, however, we brought the kids into the room, huddled around Joya and said our tearful good-byes. We spent a good 45 minutes or so going through this process. After that, we sent the kids to the waiting room. We then met with the vet who briefly explained how she would put Joya to sleep. A few minutes later, we watched as Joya’s golden head slowly drooped to the floor as she went into her final slumber.

It’s still tough thinking about the experience. Joya was such a big part of our lives. Sifting through her photos this month really brought that point home. A lot of life happens in 14 years. Joya took me through my late 20s, my entire 30s, and my early 40s. Many events have occurred in my personal life during that time including some pretty big things: the purchase of our house (well almost, she came in just after we moved in), the birth of our kids, and jobs with three different companies. And Joya was with us as we experienced all the milestones along the way – the making of new friends, the kids learning to walk and talk, dozens of birthday parties, me earning my master’s degree, and Cathy and I becoming fitness junkies, just to name a few.

Joya was always an energetic and restless dog who could never seem to sit still. As a puppy, I taught her to catch a frisbee to help her release some of that pent up energy. But that only seemed to give her more spunk and an even bouncier step. Anywhere you went in the house she would follow you. If you didn’t quite shut the bathroom door all the way, you could count on her to push it open with her nose. I know I would sometimes get annoyed with her and tell her to stop following me. Cathy and the kids would also occasionally get irritated for the same reason and tell her to stop. Of course it was no use. In the end, this was just who she was. After all, Joya was a herding dog and her job was to watch over us no matter where we went.

These days we all miss her shadowing presence. We also miss the sound of her paw pads against the tile, the jingling of her dog tags, the sound her ears made when they shook, the quick lick to a bare foot or hand, her high-pitched bark during play-fighting (especially with the kids), her soft fur and pulling out chunks of it during the shedding season, and the wagging of her stump (her tail-less nature a part of her aussie heritage).

Reflecting back, I’m happy Joya never listened to us. She insisted on following us and being there for us for 14 years. We truly were blessed to have you Joya and we miss you every day!

A Trip to San Diego

Our last hurrah of the summer was a quick trip to San Diego to visit Randy and JaNae and their family. We hadn’t seen them in just over two years so we had a lot to catch up on. Since the last time we saw them, they had moved into a fixer upper in the hills of San Diego. Randy is in construction and as he gave us the tour of the new place he reminded me that the house was still a work in process. He then proceeded to tell me all the things he had planned for the house with so much detail that I can’t even recollect it all. Suffice it to say, that the house will be great when finished and it’s really not that bad now. The place has an awesome view of Mt. Helix, Mexico, and the ocean and islands (on a clear day). It also has a pool that was designed by James Hubbel, a world renown local artist.

The kids spent pretty much all day in the pool as it featured a cool water slide as well as a boulder that you could jump off of and into the pool. It was nice to watch the kids still getting along so well even though so much time had passed since the last time they saw each other. In addition to swimming together, they also played in the game room, climbed up one of the backyard boulders, and got a chance to pet the chickens, dogs and guinea pigs. Guess we missed our opportunity to see the goats, which were animals Randy thought would make a nice addition to the backyard. Turns out the goats were tough to keep because they got into everything and were too noisy, constantly “bah-ing” throughout the day and night. Randy said they were also fond of climbing up the boulders and butting heads. In the end, Randy gave his noisy pets to a goat farm.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego zoo was awesome, although a bit overwhelming to try and take in all in one day. We were there almost 7 hours and I’m not sure how we managed to stay that long because at around the 4 hour mark, the kids were ready to go home. It didn’t help that the weather was in the 90s, but we regrouped and managed to make a final push through the zoo and see pretty much everything. The kids really enjoyed the polar bear exhibit. The bears themselves, a sister and brother, appeared to be in great form as they really put on a show for the visitors. They frolicked in the water, they dove off the snow ledge and into the water, they wrestled and played on the snow. It almost seemed like the bears fed off the “oohs and aaahs” of the crowd and relished entertaining us.

Above are some of the pictures I took while visiting. There really is a lot to see there, but you need to pace yourself and take plenty of breaks to make sure you see it all.

A Couple of Firsts for the Kids

Everything finally aligned just right and Lilah was able to learn how to dive. After a couple of failed attempts, I managed to organize a coaching session for Lilah at a local pool. For this, I enlisted the help of Lilah’s swim coach, who met us at the pool to teach Lilah the basics. After about 20 – 30 minutes, Lilah had it down and was even able to dive in without losing her goggles in the process.

The nice part was that she was able to put her learnings into practice almost immediately at the summer championships which happened the week after she learned to dive. She did well at the championships taking a third place in the breastroke despite having to compete against older girls. Lilah is now in the 11-12 year age bracket, but since she just turned 11 she is on the younger end of the age range. She was nervous about moving up a level but felt much better after the meet was over, having realized that she still can compete and is also getting better.

Luke is also doing a first of his own — taking piano lessons. We found a great teacher for him that he seems to like. She is very patient and Luke seems to understand what she tells him from what I observed during a lesson. One thing Luke is not too fond of is practicing, but he does much better if I sit in the room with him and coach him along. I guess this is a good arrangement because I also have to pay attention and learn some things so that I can coach him through the tough parts and push him to keep going when it gets tough. He’s walked out a couple of times when he doesn’t get it, but I don’t give him a hard time about it. I tell him that the next day we’ll do it again and make it a little better. So far the approach is working and Luke and I are now in “our” 7th week of lessons.

Kids Begin School Year

Lilah is now officially in middle school (6th grade) and Luke is in 3rd grade. It’s funny, one of the things that Lilah was most excited about was getting her own combination lock for her locker. She just kept having fun locking it and then unlocking it (each time trying to get faster at going through the combination). She was so happy about the lock that she even took it with her on our trip to San Diego. In addition to the locker, Lilah will also be receiving her Netbook soon. I’m sure it’s going to be another interesting year. More next month…

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