Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My cousin Dom is the little brother I never had, so when he set a date to get married in Anacortes, Washington, there was no way we were going to miss it. Dom is my Uncle Roger's son. We all went out there together. 

Our first stop though was to meet Dave's sister Dinah, who is currently living in Seattle. We had lunch with a great friend I met through my blog who also lives in Washington. 

We met Dinah, Cameo and her entourage (Beya, Papa, Asa and Valentina) in Seattle. They are one of the best families I have ever known and I lucked out in having them beside me. They too have experienced one of life's greatest tragedies so our friendship has strengthened over time. We always joke and say how we wish we never, ever knew each other, but if all this had to happen, then I will take the good.

After lunch we walked all around town, and then met more family for dinner. It was a great day spending time with the people that mean so much to us!

The wedding was also beautiful, and we were so thankful to be part of their day. 

Dave and Dinah


Aviana taking in the Seattle sun.

I love streets that look like this!

We were supposed to take a ferry to Victoria Canada this day, but as luck would have it, they changed the schedule for fall that very day, so we ended up in Friday Harbor. It was absolutely beautiful!

Yep, they were all with us ;o)

Friday Harbor.

Uncle Roger, Gary and me and my broken down posture.

This picture was taken about 20-30 minutes before the next one ; )

The weather suddenly changed and this was what it looked like on the way back. It was gloomy and pouring rain. Just my kind of day. Dave and I looked at each other and said, "We could do this? Let's move." 

 Avi was about to fall asleep on the ferry ride back.

This was the town where we stayed, it was called La Conner.  I would love to live in a town where coffee shops look like this!!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Not a good feeling...ever!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Live and Learn

I started to write a series called Live and Learn, and then never continued on with it. Well, as I wrote a chapter for something else, I revisited all the things I have learned from this experience. I am still on the bridge and am still unsure of exactly how to cross, but I thought a refresher of what I wrote about the initial concept might just help me. I decided to continue on with the series and post it here too. 


The very last, and most important thing I have learned is to cross each bridge when I come to it. This is the single most valuable thing I have ever learned. I used to spend so much time dwelling in the ‘what if’ and not ‘what is.’ I truly always wanted to be that person, the one who was living in the present. I had read so many books, and watched more than my fair share of Oprah, but each time I tried, it never lasted long. I strived, but usually ended up empty handed.

I knew full well that much of what I was concerned about, never even came to fruition. Most times, my worrisome behavior resulted in the wasting of my precious energy.

Early on in counseling, I would act as a one-woman firing squad, “What if she never walks? What if this accident breaks up our entire family? What if we have to care for her for the rest of our lives? What if we never hear that sweet voice again? What if my mom and stepfather can never overcome this insurmountable loss? What if Aviana has zero quality of life? What if we both die on a plane, what will happen to Aviana? What if? What if? What if?” Looking back, I must say, I was quite annoying.

Our counselor told us to take one step at a time, one day at a time, one moment at a time, and to cross all those various bridges when we come to them. I think I must have audibly laughed out loud at her. I had tried that so many times in past scenarios, and never once achieved that methodology.

You know what though, when you try it your own way, and let those thoughts run rampant, the end result is the same every single time. What is the definition of insanity? According to Albert Einstein it is, “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Let’s just say, “I was insane.”

Being insane is exhausting, and can only last so long. My body developed its very own defense mechanism, and wouldn’t you know, I was actually crossing each bridge as I came to them. This is the single most powerful tool in my arsenal. I am by no means perfect at it, but I do my best, and that is all I can ever ask for myself.

Crossing these bridges when I come to them has been nothing short of freeing, and liberating. This belief is truly one of the most amazing of all. To be in the present, and not in the past, or future, what beauty that concept brings.       


We skipped one of the most important things we were supposed to do during The Honeymoon. We were supposed to go away, just the two of us. We started the program without ever crossing that, all too important thing, off our list. I knew it was a big mistake, so we decided to go spend the night in Tahoe. Are you tired of hearing about and seeing pictures of Tahoe. Yes, we were up there three out of four weekends this past month. 

We got a room in Squaw Valley. I have been going up there since I was 3.5 and have always driven by Eagle Rock, seen the people overlooking the lake from the top, but have never taken the short hike up to see it for myself. We dropped Aviana off at my dad's and the first thing we did was go to the top of that rock. It was awesome!! I can't believe I hadn't done it sooner?

This looks like a Where is Waldo picture!

Can you see the road way down below? 

I could have stayed up there all day!

 We then went over to Squaw. 
I love this fireplace and wish I had one just like it in my backyard ;o) 

Dave golfed the next day.

I was going to ride on the golf cart, but then decided I really should go to the spa and learn to relax. I reluctantly booked a body scrub and gave myself a little pep talk, "Come on Jen, you can do this. You did it in Cabo. You liked it." As it was coming down to it, I was backpedaling. You may remember I run from anything relaxing in that way. The morning of, I called and changed it to a pedicure because it would be faster and something I needed. I wear flip flops all too much and my heels pay the price. I am much like a runaway bride, but with the spa. I planned an escape route, many more times, but am happy to say I stayed the course ;o)

Dave still had many hours left golfing, so I went to my favorite pier. It was extra perfect that day. The weather. The breeze. The water. The smell...all perfect. Tahoe is a slice of heaven on earth.

Ha! This is what the lake looks like when you are laying down ;o)

Aviana had a nice time with my dad. He spoiled her with all the foods she should not have. He fully believes she should be eating what she likes, not exactly what she is supposed to have. He fed her macaroni and cheese, ice cream, and even made her eggs for breakfast.

I had my doubts that she would want to come home with us ; )

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Potty Time

Round 1

Round 2

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I have not been innocent throughout my lifetime, but obviously am much more aware of it now.

I Shall Call Her...

my little egg. It happens, Aviana falls forward, or sideways. I had just left her to go into the office, and I heard her body fall softly forward. So I walked over to put her back up and was surprised to see she was fast asleep.

Don't these look terribly uncomfortable and bad on her body??

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be."

~ John Lennon

The GFA Show

There were a few highs and lows. I won't go into crazy detail, but for those who are wondering...

So I have come to a conclusion, I have brain damage by association. Funny? No. It wasn't meant to be...but it's true. I run the risk of you thinking I am a concert snob, but that's okay because I kind of am. Everyone goes to concerts for different reasons though. I go to get as up close and personal as I can ;o)

I used to go to them and not mind too much if I wasn't right up front. Over the years, I have had a total change of heart. I usually do my homework thoroughly and MAKE SURE if I am going to a show, I am up front. For my main shows: Cheap Trick, Butch Walker, Gary is mandatory. I want to see everything. I want to feel the music. I want them to sweat on me (yeah, I said it). I don't want to miss anything.

Due to my daughter inflicted brain injury, I failed miserably. Before I purchase my tickets, I usually call the venue to make sure there isn't any VIP seating. Anytime there is VIP seating, I opt out and wait for another date, as my best chance is seats behind them.  I am the person who will wait 5-12 hours in line if it means I am directly under the man! I purchased the tickets through the Fan Club without checking into it and paid dearly. There were many VIP rows :o( I went to Will Call to pick my tickets up and upon opening them I almost fell over backwards. Row 11????????? As my friend Judianne said, "We may as well have been on the ceiling." But actually, that probably would have been better.

So, I tried to stuff my disgust of the seats and enjoy the show. He had surgery last year on his vocal cord and I had not seen him since. He sounded absolutely amazing!!!!! They put on a GREAT SHOW! There was a huge highlight at the end. His dog Lucy came out onto the stage and ran around while they played. She then went to the top of the stage and patiently waited for him to finish the show. He then went up and they left together. It truly melted my dog loving heart.

As for the Meet & Greet...I wasn't sure what to expect, but while the crew and Gary Allan were very nice, it was super rushed. It felt much like cattle quickly being herded through. I am sorry to say this, but as I hugged him, I wasn't quite sure whether to say hi, or moo. I did get one more hug before I was ushered out. I honestly didn't want to let go of him!

Because I wasn't sure how it would go, I did write him a letter. I couldn't let this opportunity pass without letting him know just how much he means to me and how much his music has helped me through my darkest days.

During the show he did say they almost didn't make it that night. They were driving up from Laughlin and got stuck. He said they arrived at 7pm. The Meet and Greet was to start at 7, and the show was supposed to start at 8. I met him at 7:40 and there were still some people behind me. So he definitely had reason to be rushed. I don't know how they normally go though.

Overall, it was a good night ;o)

This was my favorite song from the night. This video is not from that night though. This is my Aviana song...


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let it Be

The single best piece of advice.


I have been working on this post for a while. It has been a little hard for me to articulate, but here's the bottom line...

I project.

If I look closely, I am constantly projecting on Aviana.

Constantly, constantly, constantly.

I don't mean to, I just do.

I am trying to stop.

When I look at a fish in a bowl, why do I not project on it?

Because a fish is a fish, and a fish does what a fish is supposed to do.

When I look at Rainey, why don't I project on her? She doesn't talk.

Because a dog is a dog, and a dog does what a dog is supposed to do.

So, it makes perfect sense as to why I project on Aviana.

She is a kid, why do I project on her?

Because a kid is a kid, and Aviana does not do what a kid is supposed to do.

I inadvertently project on her. I don't want to. I don't mean to. I just do. It is hard to wrap your mind around something that is not as it should be. Pretty much everyone else, at slightly varying degrees, are as they should be. I am. You are. Your kid probably is. Very few, in the grand scheme of things, are not that 'typical' way. Very few cannot support the weight of their own head. Very few can't speak one single word. Very few can't reach for an object. Very few cannot move from their back. Very few are in diapers at 5 years old. Very few cannot smile or laugh. Very few have 2000/1000 vision on top of all the rest. These things make it very hard to accept or come to terms.

When I look at Aviana, I am looking at her through my eyes. This is very dangerous. I am looking at her with the very same eyes who have experienced a truly amazing life filled with: holidays, birthdays, running through the forest, baking cookies, building forts, running down the hill and spending the day floating around on a raft with my cousin, best friends, crank calls, slumber parties, boyfriends, driving for the very first time, becoming more independent, working, graduation, the whole college experience, setting my own goals and achieving them, finding a good man, properly expressing my wants and needs while listening to his too, marrying him, buying a house together, decorating the house, trips with just the two of us, wakeboarding, snowboarding, adopting a child, etc, etc.

The list goes on and on. Because Aviana is the way she is, she will probably never be able to experience the majority of these things. We also, will never experience these very exciting things through her. Don't get me wrong, we will have experiences with her, but I am wondering how to learn to see through her eyes, instead of my own. The two are vastly different, a world apart, if you will.

At first I didn't really realize I was doing it. It became pretty clear after the first year, and now I am pretty cognizant. I have been trying desperately to stop myself. I am creating my own unhappiness, because I do think Aviana is just fine. She is content for majority of the day. She doesn't seem to get bored. She's never in pain. She is happy when we are loving her and holding her. She is good to go. It is me that is not. It is me that creates unnecessary havoc.

The Beatles famously sang, "All You Need is Love." And I always believed it, and still do. But now I am second guessing myself, at my core and when it really comes down to it, do I really believe that is all you need? My mind says yes, but some of my actions say no....

If everything seems to be fine by her, why can't that be enough? Sometimes I feel it is, but most times I feel it will never be enough.

What Am I to Do?

Every so often I buy a trashy magazine. I was just looking through my new Us magazine and thought, "Wow, Justin Bieber came out with a perfume for women? Isn't he like 17? I know he is a super talented, but perfume?" I passed it by, but later opened it out of curiosity. It smells so good. So what do I do?

I can hear it now...

"Oooooh, you smell so good. What are you wearing?"

"Justin Bieber."

I  know. If it smells good, buy it.

But if I go out and get it, does that mean I have Bieber Fever?

I'm 36.

I just can't stop my mind from wondering.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Can Aviana go in the hot tub?

Yes, Aviana can go in the hot tub. We too, thought that would be a great idea for her so we went to drain and refill it, which we have done for the past 7 years and there was some sort of problem. We have not gone back to fix it with how busy everything is, but we should. I agree with you that it would be enjoyable for all, especially Aviana. She loves being in a pool, so I am sure she would love that too.

Before the accident, did you and your husband consider having (or adopting) more children? Would it prove impossible due to Aviana's therapies, and schedule?

Before the accident, I don't think we were planning on having anymore kids. Brace yourself when I say this...we are not really kid people. It's not that we don't like kids, but adding another to our family is not something we will ever do. There are so many reasons why. As I said, we are not kid people. We can't have kids so we would have to adopt again. We don't have that much cash lying around. I had severe bonding issues with Aviana, and couldn't handle that again on top of this. I suppose if the want was there, everything else would be a moot point, but it is not.

I know my answer might be confusing after what I wrote about a void and a detailed description of a healthy child. I just miss Aviana. I miss her voice, her mannerisms, her smile, her love, her presence, everything. I just miss her. I don't want anything back, but her. So, we will stick with dogs for the rest of our lives :o)

I love you just the way you are. Isn't that a song?

Yes, Cameo "Just the Way You Are" is a song and you have come to just the place to learn everything you maybe didn't really want to know about it. My love of music compels me to move forward with this though. I am always fascinated with how songs came about, so I must continue.

So, it's by Billy Joel and was released in 1977. He dreamt the melody, but not the words. He wrote this song for his first wife and gave it to her for her birthday. After Billy Joel recorded it, he didn't think people would like it and did not want to include it on the album. He thought it was a chick song. Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow heard it and convinced him to put it on. The song won Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1978. Billy Joel said, "I was absolutely surprised it won a Grammy. It wasn't even Rock n' Roll." Minus the close up sweat shot, this is a great video ;o)

Have you considered Equine Therapy?

Yes, we have considered it for a very long time. We have also thought about a whole host of other therapies. We had decided on The Institute and from then on it has been double, and triple time. They have left no time or room for anything else. Now that the plan is shifting slightly, we might seriously look into it. We are still doing tons of The Institute program, so I am not sure how likely it is just yet. We will have to go with what we feel.

Having a child with this kind of needs is one thing, but carrying out the program we do is a completely different animal. I am so exhausted from it in every way possible, that in the short periods of down time the very last thing I want to think about is more therapy.'s a lot. We sure need to simplify, rather than add more, but this is one that is on the top of my list if time allows!

Do you know if there is a facility near you to do this?

Yes we do. It is pretty close to our house and we have driven by a few times. It's called Ride to Walk.

Have you ever thought of joining some sort of support group? 

First I wanted to say, there is never a stupid question. Through the Institute, I have met some of the best families ever. A few of us stay in contact throughout. We have become very close and share a tight bond of not only what it's like to have a Special Needs child, but what it is like to be on, and survive such an intense program. They are like family to me. I love them dearly!

I also find some comfort in reading blogs of other peoples struggles. I follow a number that range in every type difficulty.

Being that you love Tahoe so much, I'm surprised you don't live there - why not?

If it were at all possible, I would be there now. The problem with Tahoe is it is very hard to make a living. Dave is a structural engineer and I have spent years hounding him to try to figure out some  way we can make this dream a reality.

Before Aviana arrived I worked for a company that actually had been looking for years for someone who was willing to work in Tahoe. That just about killed me ; / Dave has been working on Tahoe Forest Hospital, and when that job began, I thought, "Oh my gosh, could it be?? Could it really be?" and no, sadly it couldn't be.

I was a pest before, but I really became one after Aviana's accident. I feel that if life can end in the blink of an eye, why waste it in a place you don't want to be. Sadly, it doesn't necessarily work that way. If it were just me, I would be back there bartending. I would do whatever I had to do to be there. Like I said before, I would have been much more careful with coming out of college and finding a job. I would have definitely selected a better place, than where we currently live.  Dave always says we will move there when we retire, but that feels much too far off in the distance.

I guess I better start playing the lottery...

Oh, That Girl

When Snoozer visits, Rainey is the biggest menace. We used to take Snoozer's collar off every time he was over because Rainey would drag him around the house by it. Once the collar was off though, she started grabbing his face and pulling him around. My dad figured, better the collar than his sweet little face. 

It's honestly eerie how many of Kama's traits Rainey possesses. Kama used to dangle a toy out of her mouth and every time Zander went for it, she would either run away or turn her back towards him. This would go on for hours. Rainey does the exact same thing with Snoozer. He is one of the sweetest dogs ever just takes it all in stride.

"You want this? Watch my fancy foot work as I dance away from your pitbull face, boy!"

"Here you go, you can have it...just come here."

"Seriously Snooze, come on...."

"Ummm yum, let me take a bite out of your face."

"I don't think so, my ladybug!"

Ha! Here's our stoner girl! So happy to have her ladybug to herself!