Friday, August 28, 2009


In all the chaos of the last few weeks, we did manage to squeeze in a photo session for Payton's one year pics (a little early) with one of our favorite local photographers, Rebekah Girvan.

Check out these links to see the pics she took of Payton:


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bye Bye, Allie!

One last kiss...

Our foster dog, Allie, went to a new forever home today! Bye Allie! We are so happy for you. We will certainly miss your lovey personality. I hope that your new family gives you lots o lovin and many, many treats.

Allie and her new Daddy!

God's Promise

To be honest, the season of death has been hard my spiritual life. Sometimes it is hard to see life and live with hope when one is constantly surround by death, illness, and suffering... both people and animal. A quick peek at the nightly news is a daily reminder of all the bad things happening here. Our world is awful and broken. I am a realist and a pessimist to begin with, so the Summer of Death did not help me look on the bright side at all... but then we saw this beautiful double rainbow. It was so big we could not fit it all in one shot. As we took time as a family to enjoy this beautiful sight, I was reminded that God is good, God is faithful, God is present, God is life, and God is love. I needed that reminder. God, thanks for listening.

This little boy is also reminder of just HOW good and faithful God has been to our family.

Payton, I am so glad God found us you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The County Fair

Check out the horns on the Watusi cow!!!! They are big to help keep them cool!
Our little lamb :)

Riding on the tractor with cousin Bryden. Bryden is so in to tractors these days!

Is that a piggy I see? Payton nearly climbed in! He loves all animals. Even the smelly ones.

More tractors... it was tractor pull night. I remember as a kid going to watch when Dad would help out and the vibrations from the tractors pulling the weight would make my balloons pop... which in turn, made me quite sad.
In addition to the farm animals, we also got to see one of the Budwieser teams, a fun dog show, and all kinds of local exhibits. Of course, we also made an obligatory stop at the lamb show to see how the Dad's 4-h kids did in their classes. It was a really fun night and gave us something fun to do as a family. Next year, Payton will be able to show his sheep! Watch out world... here comes the Pate the Farmer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bark 4 Life 2009

Our family participated in the Bark 4 Life this past weekend. Wes and his mom, Judy, put in hours to help organize this event to raise funds for the ACS. I wish that some of the money would have also gone to support chemo therapy for 4-leggers too, but the ACS said no. However, Wes made sure that donations were made to our local SPCA. It was a fun day with over 50 registered dogs! Search and Rescue teams and local police dogs demonstrated their skills, which were quite impressive. Tam Strickler took some of these awesome shots of our family at the Bark4Life. Check 'em out!

Jackson won these Doggles at the silent auction. Hysterical!
Daddy and Payton

Payton supporting the ACS! (Please, pay no attention to my ghostly white legs!)

Two of my boys grinning from ear to ear! Check out Jackson's tongue. We thought he was a shoe-in for the longest tongue contest, but as usual, he did not cooperate. He also lost the hot dog dunk and the musical sit contest. Oh, Jackie, we still love you, bud. (Truly, I wonder if he suffers from mild brain damage... he is as sweet as they come, but not too bright.)

Lily-Lu, We thought of you often on Saturday! We love you, sweet girl. This one was for you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

11 Months

Somehow, 11 months have passed since we first met our sweet pea. It seems so unbelievable that we will celebrate his first birthday next month.

I am not sure his exact weight, but he finally broke 17 lbs this past month on the bathroom scale. I try to feed him a lot of food, but he is not much of an eater. Maybe he will just be a skinny man. Currently, he gets between 28-34 ounces of formula a day, 1/2 cup of rice cereal, 2-4 servings of vegetables/fruits/meats a day depending on his apetite, a ton of cheerios, and a smattering of cheeses and other finger foods, as well as 2-6 ounces of juice or water. Typically, he looses interest before he finishes anything and he feeds the remaining finger foods to the dogs. He also loves to share his food with me. So cute! I love to see his emerging personality.

Payton continues to love his animals! Carmen has taken a new interest in Payton and he reciprocates. She really wanted nothing to do with him when he was a motionless newborn, but now that he can love on her, she has become his new guardian. Whenever Payton is playing in his play area, she parks herself by the door and Payton talks to her. She also comes to find me and squeaks if he is crying (as if I can't hear him) and will run back and forth between us until I pick him up. Carmen has always been very sensitive to emotions. She hates to see us upset. Lately, I call of the dogs "DOG" in hopes that Payton will pick this up as his first word. He is so close! He reaches out his hands to them and says one of two things: god or agoygd. Keep working, Payton! You will figure it out soon.
In addition to lovin' on his dogs, Payton has really enjoyed his ponies lately. Sally was holding Payton by the gate and he started trying to climb up to get to horses (see above pic). It was too cute. He is such a strong boy. Payton also got his first riding helmet last week. He donned his helmet for a ride on Dan the Man, a huge Belgian, that just came to the farm. He looks so tiny up there, huh? The other nite I sat Payton in front of me on the saddle while I rode Daisy and he really loved it. We trotted a little and he giggled! Hopefully, he will be a natural. I found a lead line saddle that I think we are going to get him for Christmas. He is not quite ready to sit up there with out someone holding on to him.

A close up of the helmet... look how those pearly whites shine! He now has 5 teeth!

Payton hasn't really hit any new milestones this month. However, he has certainly improved his coordination. He can bend over and pick up toys while holding on to something for balance, he walks more easily with his walker, he crawls faster, he climbs up stairs and over everything, he babbles with more sounds and combinations (it almost sounds like he is imitating to sounds my Ethiopian friends make when they speak...we are around them a lot), he also enjoys games of toss (see video below). I am amazed at how much he has changed in such a short time.

In addition to all of his "new and improved" skills, Payton has become a bit of stinker lately. He whines for me if I walk away for two seconds, he reaches for me when other people hold him, he squeals if we take away a toy, he cries when he sees me prepare his bottle, he screams with horror when I turn on the vacuum or the dogs bark loudly, he brushes his food off of his high chair onto the floor, he cries when I change or dress him, he laughs when I say no and crawls faster towards the item, he doesn't want to nap unless I hold him, and he expects me to snuggle with him in the mornings. I know all of this is developmentally appropriate for him, but it sure can be frustrating at times when I need to get something accomplished. Even though he is a little rotten these days, I am so sad to leave him this week when I go back to work. I love teaching, but I love my boy a whole heck of a lot more. He makes the days fly by and he makes me laugh all the time! He is precious and every minute with him is so much more fun than work!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer of Death

This summer has come to be known as the summer of death in our household. I was hoping this would be a laid back, restful summer with my baby boy. While I did enjoy time with Payton, the rest of this summer was just plain depressing. It began with the loss of my old show pony, Topper, then we lost our 6 y.o. boxer, Lily, to cancer, and now... our baby Sawyer.


June 28, 2007 - August 6, 2009

Saw-man, we loved you so and will miss you forever. You were our joy. You made us laugh every day. You enjoyed life to the fullest in your short two years on Earth. We only wish there was something more we could have done for you... but we tried our very, very best. I promise.

Sawyer's story was dramatic from the beginning. If you want, read this post to learn the Sawyer's whole story. I just cannot retell every detail of Sawyer's medical history over the last two years... it is just too much for me right now. Earlier this spring he began having difficulty in anaphylatic shock that paralyzed both of his laryngeal flaps. After 6 weeks of intense medicine regimen, training boot camp to teach him to load on the trailer, and THOUSANDS of dollars in vet bills, we finally got him to the clinic. He almost died 4 times on the trailer just getting him there. Last Wednesday morning he had what is called a tieback surgery to open his airway a bit more so that he could live longer. Everything went great. Then we got a call at 1:45 am on Thursday that he was dead. The vets at the clinic and the vet that completed the necropsy have NO IDEA why he died. The surgical site was fine. Their best guess is that is was a blood clot. He died instantly. The vets that have spent so much time with him are equally as devasted. He quickly won over their hearts as well. We are so grateful for the folks at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic for all they have done for us over these last few months.... late night calls, constant trips to the farm, and many texts. They sure did their part. But unfortuantely, their efforts and our efforts still did not prevent his death.

My heart is so dull at this point and truly, I am having a harder time dealing with his death than Topper's or Lily's. Maybe because he was two... Maybe because he was born on our farm... Maybe because we spent over $15,000 in vet bills over the last two years trying to save him... Maybe because I invested so much time and energy... Maybe because I gave up horse showing this summer to pay for his medical fees... Maybe because this means we have to push our second adoption back a while we build the bank account back up...Maybe because we cancelled several weekend trips to be able to be home to care for him... Maybe because I loved him...Maybe because he was beautiful...Maybe because he was a constant source of humor in our house...Maybe because I feel helpless... Maybe because I feel like a failure... Maybe because he is the third of our four-legged family members to die this summer, the summer of death... Maybe because we thought we had finally saved him by getting him the surgery.... Maybe because he was supposed to be my nice show hunter and Wes' hunt horse... Maybe because I just bought him a new halter the day before that now sits in my trunk as a reminder... Maybe because he was our baby...

The tears still haven't stopped. I am so over this summer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Meet Allie

As if we don't have enough animal drama around our house, we've welcomed another foster dog into our home.

Meet Allie:

Allie is a two year old boxer rescued from a kill shelter in Greenville, SC. She is a lovey dove that does not seem to know a stranger. We had her spayed two weeks ago and she will begin her heart worm treatments soon. If you are looking for a sweet boxer girl, here she is folks!

She and Jackson have worked out things and are turning into great playmates, but I have not introduced her to Carmen because she likes to play rough and Carmen's hips are a little too fragile these days. Carmen has to be carried up and down the stairs (yeah, that's fun, right?).

Check out her link on the Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue website.