Friday, December 9, 2011

Puppy Watch 2011

It has been difficult for me to focus on exams this year, more so than any other, at least.  One reason may be that I get to see my baby cousins in a couple of weeks.  One reason may be that this semester has just been more work than any other throughout law school.  But I think the true reason for my difficulty in focusing is what I have labeled "puppy watch 2011" (soon to be puppy watch 2012).  Particularly, I have been looking at Daily Puppy (link is to my favorite daily puppy of all time), and the Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue site.

This is Chuck, a 1 year old Husky/Shepherd mix, who, clearly, wants to be my best friend.
I have also been procrastinating by looking through Alaska photos on the Alaska Daily News website and getting excited for the actual White Christmas I will have next year (my first!).  For your enjoyment, here is a recent picture my friend Chris sent of a road trip through Denali:

Denali, also know as Mt. McKinley, is the highest mountain in America standing at 20,320 feet!
The Denali road that runs through the park is only open to tour buses and visitors of the few homesteaders who still own land in the national park.  However, each year the state holds a lottery and a certain number of people get passes to actually drive through Denali in their own vehicles.  Pretty neat.

Well, since my latest procrastination activity seems to be blogging, I am going to head off and actually learn admin law.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pray, Talk to Your Loved Ones, Don't Drink and Drive!

The day before Thanksgiving, our former nextdoor neighbors' lives changed forever.  Their youngest son Jamie, only 20 years old, was injured in a terrible car accident.  Below is a message from his mom, Katrina, that I thought too important not to be shared.  Please pray for Jamie's recovery, talk to your loved ones, and don't drink and drive!

‎1st, i would like to thank everyone for their phone calls, texts msgs, FB concerns. (pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)

2nd, there are a few people that i want to thank for all that you have done: Jan sherman for setting up BROADSHOULDERS FOR JAMIE. Kim loved your spaghetti with meat sauce and meatballs, Mel Nixon~your soup is awesome, 1st thing i have eaten w/o paper around it. to all the others that have set up a day to help feed this family, we are grateful beyond words. To THE BOOK NOOK family as they have pegged themselves: wendy king, sally swenk, lauren & melissa McLean, thank you so much for taking care of my "baby" while i take care of my true baby. You have taken a huge burden off my shoulders. If you are not mentioned here, i have not forgotten you, there are just so many that i would not know where to begin...(pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)

JAMIE UPDATE: Jamie is the same, still asleep, no further injuries have turned up, he had his feeding tube removed yesterday and an abdominable one put in, today he will have a trach put in. There are many reasons for this: we believe the tubes were irritating him which was raising his blood pressure. this is a long term situation that we are in, and the less invasive things that we can do for him to make him comfortable the better. He has begun "brain storming", which it seems every brain injured person does. This is when the neurons begin "firing" in his brain. It is not harmful to him in that it does not create more injury, but i am told that it is painful to him and painful for us to see. by removing the tubes that irritate him, we can only hope that we can decrease the severity of the storming, we will not be able to stop them tho. He seems a bit more relaxed, as if he is just having a really good sleep. he can hear you, he has emotion..whenever some names are mentioned a tear will come to his eye..which brings me down to my knees. He loves Kayla, Jayden and Richard more than anyone, but tears come, so i do not talk about them anymore. I have been doing PT with him to decrease any tendons shortening. As a mom, i cannot do the medical things, but as a former Special Ed teacher i can stop him having additional problems such as "foot drop", etc. I am pulling from my past education (thanks mom and dad for that education, it is finally coming to use), and it makes me feel useful in a very sad environment. His eyes do react when light is shined in them, he still has a shunt in his head to reduce the swelling of his brain. He is to be moved to TIRR sometime soon (possibly next week) and then he will begin intensive PT for how long, no one has an answer to that question. Weeks, months, possibly years. But his birth certificate did not expire when he turned 18, we are in this for the long haul. And we know it. (pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive.)

there have been many questions of "what happened" with the unspoken question of "was alcohol involved". as i can assume that you have gathered from my not so sublimineal statements above, YES, alcohol was involved. My dear sweet Jamie made a decision that changed all our lives forever. Could Kim and I have done more? We were the parents with the breathalyzer on the counter when they came home. We were the parents who always said "no drinking and driving". I don't know if we could have done more, I can only pray that they listened most of the time. to see my dear sweet jamies car in the paper with the one lone sentence: man wraps mini cooper around tree. That is not a man, that is my son, someones brother, uncle, cousin. when we read this we think "oh not another one" we don't think about family, friends who will never be consoled. The only comforting thot i have now is that i do not have to go to another parent and tell them how sorry i am for my son taking their loved one. I'm strong but there is always a breaking point. to live with the grief we are going thru and put guilt on top of that..(pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)
I have held many titles: daughter, granddaughter, cousin, niece, wife, parent and now mother of a drunk driver. like the ones above, i will never be able to get rid of that title, and i can only hope and pray that all those young people who are camping out in ICU will read this and stop and think and pull out that $10 for a cab. YOU DO NOT WANT this title. It breaks your heart beyond repair. Think before you speak, write, text something. it may be the last communication you have with someone, it may be the thing that pushes them over the edge that makes them lose all common sense and do something so incredibly stupid that will affect so many people for their entire lives. Don't worry if you fight with them, take away their car keys, they will get over it when they wake up the next morning in their own bed. They may not even remember, you will be mad at the nasty things they said to you, but so what..they are there to say I'm sorry. (pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)

parents, kids, young adults who are facing the new challenges of building their own independant lives, talk, talk, talk. Dont stop talking when you move out, don't stop talking when you marry, when you have kids, talk, talk, can never turn back these hands of time. My heart is broken beyond repair as is kims, nicolas, colin's and katies. Will Kayla, Jayden and Richard ever get to have the opportunity to have their Uncle Jamie back. I pray they will. (pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)
lastly, in this entire mess, there is one person who most likely saved my dear sweet jamie's life. His good friend John was following Jamie and he saw the accident. He immediatly called 911, flagged down cars to find out exactly where they were, and jamie was life flighted within 15 minutes. the first 30 minutes are crucial in this type of injury. John did not think about himself, any trouble he would get into, he just saved his friends life. For that we will be eternally grateful. John will now be a part of our family for the rest of our lives, he is now my 3rd son. Pray for this young man who is going thru his own trauma. Pray that he understands that there is nothing he could have done to stop my dear sweet jamie from picking up those car keys, pray for his mental health and acceptance of what happened. We love you John, you are now and always will be an honory Chapman. (pray, talk to your loved ones, don't drink and drive)

lastly, Wendy King texted me & said that Jamie's accident has made her realize how precious family is. She has decided to only have ornaments on her tree that her sons have made thru out the years. I have those same ornaments & every year they go on the tree. This year i am adopting Wendy's idea. My tree will not be all glitzy, but very simple with my dear childrens ornaments that i have saved, glued back together and just could not get rid of. Kayla, Jayden and Richard will join the tree with their wonderful creations.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Most of my previous five Thanksgivings have been spent with my guys at Walter Reed, or at work.  However, this year my mom, my sister, and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean.  What is that?  Don't I have exams in a week?  Yep!  But I have a new theory (as of last week) that nothing prepares you for that last push like a nice relaxing week of fun in the sun.

The first few days were rough - literally!  The waters were so choppy and the winds so high that the ship could not dock in Grand Turk.  But for us that meant an extra day at the pool to just kick back, relax, go to a wine-tasting or two, and engage in the most important customary cruise activity - eat.

Puerto Rico was great.  Mom and I went on a hike through the rainforest, where it was raining (at least it lived up to its name).  Mom jogged up the trail backward (that is for you dad)

The rainforest was lush and beautiful and we got to swim in a large waterfall, got a drink and some food in San Juan, and then it was back onto the ship to sail on to St. Thomas. 

El Yunque Rainforest

St. Thomas was by far the most beautiful of the three locations we visited.  The sea immediately gives way to mountains, the water was crystal clear, and the people were so friendly.  I went on a snorkeling tour to a shipwreck on a catamaran that had by far one of the best rum punches I have ever tasted.

St Thomas (mom's photo)
We spent Thanksgiving on the ship, which was definitely a different experience.  In truth, while I enjoyed it, I did miss the way my family cooks things, and I missed my guys at Walter Reed.  However, I had so many things on the ship to be thankful for!  I met some really great new people, including the Ford family from Chicago.  By the third night on the ship, they were already calling me the "sixth sister," so I picked up an entire new family!  I also made friends with a few people closer to my age from all different backgrounds (and countries of origin). 

My new sisters!  Sheila, Susan, Donna, Peggy, & Eileen (not pictured is my new brother - Steve)

Aaron, Heather, Alex, Sig, Carl, Mandy and I

Our final stop was in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.  The water was truly turquoise and Mandy, mom, and I went for a horseback ride on the beach and through the water.  Definitely the best excursion of the trip. 

Yours truly leading the pack!  (Also mom's photo)

Mom reminiscing on her horseback riding days
 Mandy and I spent some time snorkeling, off the coast and we were dressed to impress:

Overall, it was a great trip and now that I am back in the 'Burg, exams and Christmas movies are calling my name!