Dec 28, 2007

Quick Update

We're continuing our Christmases in northern California, and I've been trying to avoid my computer for a while (though we're having fun with our Wii). I had to get online to do some work, so I thought I'd give a little update on Willow.

At the moment, there's still not really any news. Willow still has no control over her hindquarters, though they're still not concerned. When they stand her up during physical therapy, she's able to support her own weight for a bit, but they need to keep her balanced and she's not moving her legs at all. She'll probably be in a similar state when we take her home early next week. We'll have to keep her confined to a cage and practice her physical therapy on our own.

I'll make sure to post if she gets any better (or worse), but for now we're enjoying our vacation. This week is much more relaxing than Hawaii, due to our daily excursions while on the islands.

Dec 25, 2007

Willow Update

We got to see Willow today for the first time since her surgery, in between our first Christmas and our second Christmas. Our third will come tomorrow afternoon, just after visiting her again. Parental divorces definitely have their down sides, but a dearth of Christmases is not one of them.

After seeing Willow and talking to the doctor, we were simultaneously encouraged and discouraged. We weren't sure what to expect, and were surprised and dismayed to find that she still couldn't move any of her lower limbs. The doctor, however, informed us that this is completely as expected, and that it will take several days to see any return of function (or even motion). This eased our minds a bit, but it was still devastating to see her like that. She has a long scar running down the middle of her back, her entire back is shaved, and she looked incredibly pathetic dragging her butt (literally) out of her cage to see us. She's obviously stressed out by the whole situation (as are we) and was whimpering and crying for a few minutes when we arrived.

Having us there definitely seemed to help, though I think visiting too much might be just as bad, due to overexcitement and additional stimulation. She hadn't taken any solid foods yet, so one of the techs put a quarter-can of dog food in a bowl with a wooden tongue depressor (to use as a spoon). We were convinced she was a bit happier when she ate almost the entire bowl of food in a few minutes, at one point snapping the tongue depressor as she bit down enthusiastically.

As far as long-term recovery is concerned, we're still pretty much in the dark. Though her progress is normal so far, a wide range of outcomes are still possible, from partial death of the spinal cord and full rear paralysis to a full recovery, which may even include running/jumping like normal. Even with a good outcome, it may be eight weeks before her motor skills return. This uncertainty is awful, but we're trying to focus on each day as it comes. Even with human medicine, dealing with spinal cord injuries is a much less precise science than dealing with other disorders/conditions/complications that we've grown used to during the past six months. There's just no way to make an accurate prediction about anything. The one guarantee is that it will be an emotionally difficult process, as well as incredibly, ridiculously, outrageously expensive. Just the preliminary bill has already far surpassed our entire out-0f-pocket expenses for Andrew's five month stay in the NICU. This is why we wanted Andrew to be a veterinarian.

We're trying to enjoy our Christmas, and we're definitely looking forward to the new year. Christmas Eve wasn't the same without my Yia-Yia, our imagined Christmas with Andrew never materialized as expected, and both losses are felt especially hard during the holidays. Though we still don't know exactly what will happen with Willow, we are hoping our 2008 is significantly better than 2007.

I'll keep posting, though I might not get to it every day....Willow's recovery will be a slow process, so I don't think I'll have much daily news. One of these days I'll wrap up our Hawaii trip with some additional stories and pictures (swimming with dolphins!), but for now I'll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas and sign off. Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2007

Crazy day

More about Hawaii later.......

We arrived back at LAX at 7:30 this morning and headed to D's mom's house. Willow spent the week there and had been feeling much better on her medication. However, when we arrived she was quite wobbly on her hind legs. By the time we got her to a vet's office, she was dragging them behind her. After an examination that didn't reveal a quickly fixable problem (muscle spasms, etc), they referred us to another pet hospital with additional diagnostic tools and surgeons. After another exam, they recommended immediate surgery.

She came out of surgery about half an hour ago. She had a bulging disc in her back that was pressing on her spinal cord. Though the cord itself looked good (visually), there is no way to tell how much permanent damage she'll have. They successfully cleared out the problematic disc and said the surgery went as well as it could have. We'll know more about how she's doing in the morning.

Needless to say it hasn't been a great day, and this was a really awful way to finish a great getaway. I'll leave it at that for now, and post more when we hear back from the vet in the morning.

Dec 21, 2007

Day 4 Video

Here is the video from last night. It's hard to get a sense of scale from the lone animal gliding out of the darkness, but these rays are far larger than I makes them seem that much more graceful when they're doing barrel rolls in front of you.


Day 4 ended with a successful manta ray snorkel! We got to spend quite a bit of time in the water, watching two mantas glide gracefully below us. It was everything I had hoped for, and we had a really great time.

As expected, the pictures didn't really come out well. My underwater camera isn't great in the best of conditions; the combination of darkness, bubbles from scuba divers, and water filled with plankton made the mantas look like white streaks. Video mode seemed to work a little better, so I got one good video which I'm in the process of uploading. I'll post a link tomorrow night.

In the morning we're heading out early (again) to swim with spinner dolphins and whatever other marine life (pilot whales, whale sharks, etc) that we happen to come across. In the afternoon, we'll play it by ear.....we'll likely end up at one or two of the local bays that are supposed to have good snorkeling.

Dec 20, 2007

Day 4

Day 4 has begun with another no-show. After getting up ridiculously early to drive down to Kona for a whale watching trip, we returned several hours later without a single whale sighting. We saw some spinner dolphins and some bottlenose dolphins, but missed the migrating humpbacks that have just arrived in the area and couldn't track down a local sperm whale that was sighted by some other boats.

They gave us a rain check, but we don't plan on coming back any time soon, nor spending another of our quickly-dwindling mornings trying again. Fortunately, the voucher is transferable and never expires, so let us know if you'll be heading to Hawaii any time soon.

We're taking a quick nap and then heading down for manta try #2. Wish us luck!

Day 3 More Pictures

While I'm here, some more pictures.

Our catamaran had some colorful sails, though we could hear the motor running the entire time....I'm pretty sure the sails were mostly for show.

We were able to get up close to a lot of neat coral and lots of sea urchins (red, purple, and black).

It's hard to take pictures of moving fish with a less-than-professional underwater camera, but this shot features at least four different species.
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Day 3 Continued

My internet is behaving a bit better today, so I thought I'd get these posted while I had the chance.

This is from our snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay. I got lots of pictures of a wide variety of fish, but this one was particularly impressive. It seemed like most of the yellow tangs (pictured here) were hanging out in one area, so I specifically sought them out. I called this area Tang City.

We arrived a little early for the manta ray snorkel, so we watched the sun set over the harbor. We've seen some beautiful sunsets while we've been here, though an L.A. smog sunset usually has more color (reds and purples, specifically). Having an unsuccessful manta trip was a great disappointment, but all will be redeemed if we see one on our re-try trip.
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Day 3

My internet connection (my laptop attached to my phone) is on the fritz, so I can't post pictures for today. We spent the morning snorkeling in a beautiful bay and taking pictures of tropical fish. Visibility was good and the fish were varied. We then spent a couple of hours exploring the area before heading back to the docks for our night manta ray snorkel.

The success rate for manta viewing is around 90%, but we somehow managed to pick a manta-less day. We spent over an hour in the water, waiting for them to arrive. Since this is so important to me (lifelong dream), we'll be using our rain check and trying again tomorrow. I hope to have better news tomorrow night.

Dec 19, 2007

Day 2

Today was our day for driving around the island and seeing some of its natural (land-based) beauty.

We started at Akaka Falls, a 420-foot waterfall on the northeast side of the island.

After a drive through Hilo, where we saw the statue of King Kamehameha below, we visited the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. We took the tour and got some samples (can you say Wasabi and Teriyaki Macadamia?).

Our last major stop was Waipio Valley, where a 4x4 van took us down the steepest county-maintained road in the United States. The entrance to the valley averages a 25-degree slope, and maxes out at 39 degrees...that's steep! At the base of the valley are some beautiful greenery, lots of taro farms, and a good view of these twin waterfalls, which are over 1200 feet tall.

From the lookout at the entrance, you can see the mouth of the valley, with its black sand beach, lush vegetation, exposed rock, and additional waterfall.

Due to unfavorable lava conditions, we skipped Volcanoes National Park. We may regret it later, but we're more interested in seeing water, greenery, and life than barren least on this trip.

Tomorrow we'll be exploring Hawaii's sea-based offerings. We're starting the morning with a catamaran trip to Kealakekua Bay, where we'll enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the area. Then we're going on a night snorkel with manta rays. For those of you that don't know what a manta ray is, a video really does it justice better than a description ever can. Since my underwater camera doesn't have very good video capabilities and it may be too dark for normal pictures, I'll rely on someone else's YouTube video for my explanation:

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D and I are having a good time for the most part, though we still get pretty emotional occasionally. Every time we see a small kid (less than 3ish), we wonder exactly how old they are, and how Andrew would have looked at that age. There was a little boy in front of me on the airplane, and all I could see of him was his hand on the window. Kids' hands are completely different from adults in shape and texture, and I found myself staring at his hands and thinking of's the littlest things that can trigger those kinds of thoughts. It's pretty rough for me to consider the fact that we'll never know what Andrew could have become....the toddler, the adolescent, the teenager, the man that he would have been.

Around the resort there are kids of all ages, though it's not overrun with them like Disney or somewhere similar would be. They obviously range from the cute (a young boy yelling "Expecto Patronum") to the not-so-cute (major tantrum before dinner at a nice restaurant). We jokingly say that we would want our kids to skip the not-cute phase, but we really just wish Andrew were any age, in any phase.

Dec 18, 2007

Day 1 Continued

We got in late the first night and couldn't see anything out of our window. When we woke up in the morning and looked toward the balcony door, we could see this view without even leaving bed.

There are pools and lagoons everywhere, including this "reef fish exhibit" right next to the restaurant where we ate breakfast. D's trying to eat breakfast while the koi are trying to eat her.

The property is littered with millions of dollars in artwork, mostly with a far-east theme. Much of it consists of paintings in a long hallway that runs the length of a few buildings, but there are also hundreds of statues distributed throughout. This is from Buddha Point, with a golf course and swaying palm trees in the background.

We wanted to watch the sunset from Buddha Point, but we had early dinner reservations. This was our view on the way to dinner.
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Dec 17, 2007

Day 1

Here are some pictures from Day 1, taken with my waterproof camera.

The hotel has a lagoon with a waterfall (seen here). The lagoon is connected to the ocean, so sea life can swim in and play in the reefs. D and I spent some time playing with the sea life.

He's coming right for us!

We slowly drifted along with this sea turtle for about fifteen minutes. It was a fantastic experience.

Recently the turtles have started to come ashore to bask in the sun. Though you aren't allowed to touch them or bother them in any way, I still got these pictures....there were five total turtles in this little area.
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We've safely arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii, where we are staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort. Our room has an ocean view, though it's too dark at this point to see anything.

We were also welcomed by a basket of Hawaiian goodies (macadamia nuts, cookies, etc) and a sling filled with fresh fruit. Due to the nature of the container and the selection of fruit, we're calling it our banana hammock. Thank you so much to the Carlsbad Bunco girls.

Tomorrow is our day to explore the resort and relax. After that, we have activities planned every day until we leave. I'll post some quick updates (from my phone) but I probably won't be able to add pictures until we get back.


Dec 16, 2007


This bear was designed and donated by a mother who lost her baby in the NICU at Children's. She now has them sent to the parents of every child with similar circumstances. It's heavy, beautiful, and very much appreciated.

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Dec 15, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today would have been Andrew's six month birthday. We miss him a lot.

Willow in Action

Here's a bit of Willow in action. This is how she acts after a matter how well we dry her off with a towel, she always takes it upon herself to get completely dry by rubbing herself on any soft item in the house. Carpet, couches, blankets....doesn't really matter.

I've been told by other doxie owners that they all do the same thing....apparently it's one of their quirks.

Dec 14, 2007


Through the process of having Andrew and keeping this blog, we've had the opportunity to meet many wonderful new people. Friends of friends, friends of family....whatever the relationship, everyone has been very supportive throughout. In the last few days while blogging about Willow's back issues, I realized that many of the people reading this may not have ever met her. I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce Willow to those people.

Willow is our four and a half year-old miniature dachshund. We got her at ten weeks old from a specialty dachshund breeder, in order to minimize the possibility of back issues...the very back issues we are now dealing with. She was wonderful as a puppy and even four years later, she still has the youthful exuberance (and small size) of a much younger dog. She's stubborn, independent, and has way too much control over our lives.....but she's also loving, cute, and incredibly smart. We've taught her to do all sorts of tricks (roll over, play dead, go around, shake, stay, etc), but she has a mind of her own and will only do them when interested, or when bribed with a treat. She has stairs to the couches and a ramp up to our bed, and she sleeps under the covers at our feet....spoiled much?

Willow gets a lot of attention when we take her out, mostly because of her color and her size. The color is called red piebald...piebald refers to the influence of white patches on any other color...a black-and-tan piebald would look just like a black-and-tan but have similar white coloring. It makes her resemble a jack russell terrier a bit, so we get a lot of questions about her breed; sometimes people don't believe us when we tell them she's pureblood dachshund. She's also pretty small (12 pounds) and looks young, so many think she's still a puppy.

More about Willow will come, whenever I don't have anything else to write about, but let's start with some pictures of her when she was younger. She doesn't look a whole lot different now, just bigger and more mature.

This is from the day we picked her up. She was scared at being away from her mother and just sat there on the kitchen floor, shivering.

I took her to work a few times during her first weeks at home. She didn't really understand the concept of staying off computer keyboards yet. This is one of my favorite pictures of her, even out of focus, and I often get the question, "Is that a stuffed animal?"

Willow takes after D and me in that she knows how to relax.

I wanted at least one picture that shows her length...she is a wiener dog after all.

Dec 11, 2007


D had a great weekend in Arizona. She got to spend time with friends, watch Santa parachute into a shopping center parking lot, and check out some new housing developments. After seeing the incredibly beautiful houses that can be had for a fraction of what our condo costs in San Diego, she's ready to buy a house in Arizona. She will then pick up that house, put it on a flat-bed truck, and drive it to San Diego where the weather, beaches, culture, and friends all make life beautiful.

I spent the weekend playing nurse to Willow. She was showing some more signs of pain on Thursday, even worse than before, so we went back to the vet. We got a wide assortment of medications....steroids, antacids so the steroids don't cause digestive problems, painkillers, etc. Every twelve hours I had to make her drink a slurry of blue liquid, wait an hour, feed her, and then give her three pills. The vet also suggested we keep her locked in a kennel for two to three weeks, which is laughable for anyone that knows Willow (and us). We know it's in her best interest, so we're trying to compromise. We're keeping her from jumping up or down from the furniture using stairs and strategically-placed pillows, we're locking her in our bedroom when we leave, and we're refraining from doing anything that would cause her to run, jump, or make sudden movements. She spent a couple of days walking really gingerly, but she seems to be feeling a bit better today. She's more mobile, and hasn't been looking pained.

We're working on plans for our Hawaii trip next week. We've got the hotel and flights worked out, so we had dinner tonight with a travel book, trying to plan out our days. The highlights will include manta rays, waterfalls, volcanoes, and hopefully some turtles. Though we have each day generally sketched out, we won't book anything until tomorrow afternoon. So if anyone has some suggestions about can't-miss sights on the Big Island, please post them in the comments ASAP. We'd love to hear from people that have actually been and have firsthand experience with what we're reading about.

We spent this evening doing some shopping for Christmas, and managed to get a good portion of presents squared away. However, we still have far too much to do before we leave on Sunday, so we may be relying on the good old fallback of gift cards for some people. In those cases, we'll at least make sure the stores are well chosen, and hope no one is offended by the impersonal gift.

Dec 9, 2007

Christmas Tree

Here's the one other portion of our house that's been decorated for Christmas.

Our tree doesn't smell as nice this year, but it doesn't drop any pine needles, either.

Andrew's Tier. The heart on the left is a locket with a picture and inscription inside.

Dec 8, 2007


Here's the shadowbox D made, in its current place on our mantle. We'll probably hang it on the wall in the living room after Christmas, but for now it looks good with the snowmen.

Most of the items are relatively self-explanatory, but a few probably need some explanation.
  • The bee in the top left is one piece of the mobile that hung over his bed.
  • The white and green strips on the right are his wristband and our wristbands.
  • In the plastic heart on the bottom is a tuft of his hair.
  • The blue fuzzy thing with Posey written on it was used to cover his pulse oximeter, the red light that measured his oxygen saturation. We found it when we were doing some of his laundry.

If anything is unclear or too hard to see, let me know in the comments.

The Many Faces of Andrew

I was just looking through some old pictures and came across this one. It seemed like every day we went to the hospital, Andrew looked a little bit different....specially during the first couple months of ECMO, surgeries, tries at extubation, etc. One of the reasons I took so many pictures was to try to capture each of those moments in time, good or bad. I think this picture is perhaps the one where he looks the most like a baby; he was sleeping peacefully, he had fully recovered from ECMO and the associated fluid retention, and he hadn't yet developed the "steroid cheeks." You can see his beautiful eyelashes, his cheeks are just the right amount of squeezable, and his hair was neither lost nor dorky....just thought I'd share.

Dec 7, 2007

Long Week

It's been a long week. I spent all of Tuesday at a customer in San Diego, I drove to LA on Wednesday and Thursday (twelve hours of driving over two days), and I've been on conference calls since 8:30 this morning. Everything went well, but my sleep definitely suffered.

D spent the week grading, cooking/cleaning/etc, and putting together various keepsakes, such as the collages I posted about on Wednesday. Her most recent is a beautiful shadow box with various items that remind us of Andrew and his stay in the NICU. I'll post pictures of it (and of our Christmas tree) later tonight.

D's boarding a plane to Phoenix at the moment, where she'll spend the weekend relaxing with our friends K&C. That means I'm a bachelor until Monday, which I hope to take advantage of by sleeping in as much as possible, taking some good naps, and spending a lot of quality time dozing off while watching movies.....did I mention I was tired?

Dec 6, 2007

Busy Day

I spent the day at work in LA, which required a long drive up there in the morning and home at night. I'll be doing the same thing tomorrow for another customer, which means very little sleep (again) tonight. While I was gone today, D kept herself busy by creating the following collages, making prints, creating a shadow box with lots of Andrew's little keepsakes (pictures pending), and putting together gift baskets for the NICU nurses. Everything turned out beautifully, so I'll let these collages speak for themselves.




Dec 4, 2007


I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow....I have to leave the house around I'll keep this short.

Our friends K & K had a beautiful baby girl today. Just in the three minute video we've seen, she's already cried more (audibly) than Andrew did in his entire life. It reminds me once again that living on a ventilator is in no way natural. Of course we wish Andrew were here and never had to confront the challenges that he faced. We are fortunate, however, that he had wonderful care while he was here, and that we still have the opportunity for future children with healthier prospects.

I hope this isn't too macabre for the blog, but I picked up Andrew's ashes from the mortuary this afternoon. It was, expectedly, a very small package. We'll likely hold onto them for a while, then scatter them at some point in the future. There are all sorts of rules and regulations that apply. I won't bore you with the details, but we'll probably have to do it at sea.

And, on a completely different note, we're slowly figuring out the details of our potential getaway. We'll likely be going to Hawaii the week before Christmas, which should give us the opportunity to get our minds off of recent events. I'm looking forward to snorkeling with manta rays (lifelong dream!), relaxing in the resort's lagoon, and seeing some nice beaches and waterfalls.

No Rhyme or Reason

I don't have much to say today, so I thought I'd just post a few previously unpublished pictures. D and I spent the weekend at home, watching a lot of football, grading papers, and getting some work done. On another note, I've decided that we should stay away from Islands Restaurant....I like the food, but for some reason that's where we get into conversations that start the tears flowing. The waitresses are going to start thinking we're clinically depressed. In general, we're doing pretty well....we miss Andrew bunches, but it comes in fits and spurts....we're normally relatively composed. The whole situation is still a bit surreal, both being in the NICU for all that time and leaving it as well. I think what makes me the most sad is that I'll never be able to touch him again. All of our keepsakes turned out as nicely as possible, but it's not the same as looking into his eyes and stroking his soft skin. I regret that so few people were able to experience that touch. Well, I started with nothing to say and ended up in tears, so let me move on to the pictures.

Here, Andrew takes "the position" to the extreme. Right hand scratching his head in thought, left hand inserted into mouth.

The double hand-hold. When he was resting peacefully like this, nothing beat holding his hand.

A demonstration of those piano-player fingers....I could almost put together a flip-book of all the pictures of his hands moving.

Dec 2, 2007

An Assortment

Three pictures, three stories.

First, a beautiful silver necklace made from Andrew's fingerprint. It came in a kit that contained a ball of silver clay; we took an imprint of Andrew's thumb, sent it back (to Iowa), and less than two weeks later received a solid sterling necklace. It's D's new favorite necklace, and saved me from buying her some alexandrite-laden Christmas jewelry. Andrew's birthstone is pearl, but the backup is alexandrite, and D had her own Christmas present all picked out.

Second, a map of the blog hits from California. I've posted a picture of all the United States visitors before, and most of the states were shaded very lightly, due to the overwhelming number of hits from California. If I drill down to just this state, you can see what a wide range of cities contain blog visitors.

Lastly, a cute picture of Andrew in his favorite position. During his last several weeks, he spent a lot of time with his left hand at his mouth, either pulling at the tube, sticking his fingers in his mouth, playing with his nose, or just getting his hand all drooly. His right hand spent most of its time at his right temple, as if he were scratching at his head and trying to remember something.

Dec 1, 2007

A Path, A Path

I thought perhaps I'd alternate between Andrew posts and non-Andrew's the one I meant to post last night.

Last weekend D and her family started a remodel of the backyard. We still need plants for the dirt areas (obviously), and we'll also be doing some brickwork, but we're really happy with how the path turned out. These pictures were taken before the torrential rains we had yesterday, so the yard might look more like mud than dirt at this point.

I think once we add one shrubbery, the path will then call for yet-another-shrubbery....I'm all for pouring concrete and making better use of our newfound space. Somehow I suspect that I'll lose this argument.

Nov 30, 2007


It seems almost sacreligious at this point to post pictures of Andrew that are less-than-flattering, but I want to make sure that I immortalize everything about him, both the good and the....not so good. The steroids definitely did a number on him, which appeared most prominently in his swollen cheeks and hair loss. I know some of this may have been due to natural hair loss in babies his age, but I think the steroids may have accelerated the process. These pictures have a good angle on the bald patches that were left on his head.

The puffy cheeks were cute in a way, especially since we were expecting them to diminish over time. Some of the lesser side effects were not cute, but sometimes funny....they read like a steroid warning label. He had a little acne on his chin...just a couple of small bumps. And though he was losing hair on his head, he had plenty of hair in other places. On his chin, on his chest, and on his legs; he was like a little old man.

One hair location that I don't think I can blame on the steroids is his forehead. He was born with hair coming all the way down to his eyebrows, and while most of the other "baby hair" rubbed off as it was supposed to, this just got thicker and darker. I'm guessing my Greek and Italian blood had something to do with it...let's just hope that any future babies (especially girls) don't share that trait.

Nov 29, 2007

Home Again

No news, but we're home safe and sound.

I know that not everyone reads this blog every day, and that each day some people are still discovering the news that Andrew hasn't made it. I hate that people have to find out in such an impersonal and piecemeal manner, but in some ways I feel like we're going through the same process. We wake up every morning and have to remind ourselves that we aren't going to visit the hospital today. I still have on the armband that identifies me as a NICU parent; there's no real reason that I haven't taken it off, but I've grown used to it and it feels like nothing is permanent until it's off my wrist. I'm not deluded enough to actually believe that, but it is a nice memento.

Thank you all for the kind emails, cards, and calls. This blog's continuation is a tribute to you as much as it's a tribute to is a place to celebrate his impact on all of us. The pictures and stories will resume tomorrow.

Nov 27, 2007

From the road

D and I have found ourselves the unfortunate beneficiaries of a bunch of newfound free time. We would give it up in a second, but for now we're going to take advantage. So, I'm writing this from a hotel room in San Francisco, where I was sent on business. I'm working and D is grading papers and trying to relax...hopefully the hotel spa will help.

I'm going to cut this short so I don't have to type on D's iPhone keypad any longer. More when we get home tomorrow night.

Nov 26, 2007

Lip Cuteness

Here are the pictures I mentioned yesterday. I know they are bittersweet, but I hope everyone enjoys seeing Andrew free from tubes and gadgets. The disparity between this and his usual assortment of gear really emphasizes how much support he needed. A situation necessitating such support for years (perhaps forever) is really not the kind of life we wanted for him.

On another note, there was a comment asking about Willow...she thanks you for your concern. She's doing much better since our visit to the vet. The steroids had some not-fun side effects, so we quickly discontinued those, but she hasn't shown any signs of pain recently. We've been trying to make her take the doggy stairs instead of jumping up and down from the couch; that's a game that we don't always win, but she's been better about it recently. All in all, she's acting much more like her regular self, and we're happy with her recovery.