Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lions & Tigers & Bears... oh my...

We have now come to my absolute favorite part of our trip down south. When we arrived on Wednesday night I was flipping through a magazine for Eureka Springs and I stumbled upon an advertisement for a big cat rescue center. I was hooked right then. I told Jess that I didn't care what else we did on the entire trip but wanted to visit the cats.

Unfortunately Jess wasn't all that jazzed about it so when I called and found out that it was $15 per person I figured that I was probably SOL. However, as it turns out she likes me... she really, really likes me, so when our shopping trip was kind of a bust she agreed to accompany me on the trip to Turpentine Creek.

As soon as we walked through the doors I was hooked. There were Lions:
And Tigers:
And even three bears:
(Sorry about the metal in all of the pictures but these are large, wild animals and so there were two layers of fences around everything to make sure no one got hurt.)

Oh, and before you think to your self, oh how cruel the animals are in cement cages, let me give you a little history on this place. This is a big cat rescue center, they advertise themselves as the biggest in the world. They are a 100% non-profit agency that takes on abused, neglected, unwanted animals as well as animals that the owners are no longer able to care for. Most of these animals were kept in conditions FAR worse than this and about 80% - 90% of them have never even seen grass. To them, where they are now is what they are used to, if not much better than what they are used to. However, as was told to us right away, the idea is not for them to stay there forever. The idea is to move them into habitats. But habitats cost money.

Ok... back to the story, when we arrived we were just in time to make the 3:00 walking tour. They took us out of the main area which they call the compound and into the back area where there are animals that have already had habitats built. They build the habitats on a first come basis and also on a money basis. It costs $15,000 - $20,000 to build a habitat that will hold anywhere from 1 - 3 cats depending on how well they get along. (The bears are getting their habitat next week because someone donated the money for them.)

As we walked around the back I learned more about big cats in one hour then I have in a life time of reading about them. In Iowa it is illegal to own a wild animal so it was never an option even though I always thought I wanted one.

It was easy to see how someone could be drawn in by the cuteness of a baby cub or even the majestic beauty of an older tiger.
But once they started talking about the stories of how they got some of the animals it quickly became clear that these are not house cats.
That ball, weighs 30 lbs.

Take for instance the story of one big cat who was the owners best friend. He took him to the ocean and they swam together and he fed him well and cared for him just like a family pet. Then one day while they were swimming he held the guys head under water just a tad too long. He did eventually let him up but the next day while playing the tiger showed him a new trick. That he could fit the guys whole head in his mouth. It was at that point that he realized that the tiger was a wild animal and even if it wasn't trying to hurt him a 700 lb kitty kitty was just a bit much to be in his home. (In the tigers defence if it hadn't been playing he would be dead.)

This tiger, was one of the lucky ones. There are several more there that were neglected or abused. Some of the breeders tell people that if they don't feed the cats meat and they have them declawed that will make them not be wild. That is not true. All that does is serve to deform their legs and make them malnourished.

Actually I could go on and on about what I learned but I will stop here. I put a ticker on my sidebar for them. They are not giving me any money but I really think it is a good cause so I'm willing to advertise for them. And when I win the lottery (Perhaps I need to buy a ticket first) this will be the first place I give my winnings.

Go to their site, snoop around a bit. I promise you won't be disappointed!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Calling All Creative Minds!

I have a friend who would like you guys to give some suggestions about a party they are throwing. Since I'm SUPER busy working on a project right now I figured it would be fine if they hijacked the blog. At least for a day or so... :-)

Calling all Party Planners, Idea Holders, Fun Lover’s, Celebration Goers’….and anyone else who has an idea please….PLEASE….come forth.

We are planning a milestone surprise party. The theme…Beach and/or Hawaiian.

We began with the decorations which are 14 inch chunky black lanterns with candles inside. Then we have glass cylinders to use and decorate as well; possible with sand and candles. The tables will have black table cloths with khaki or aqua runners. There will also be about ten black and white photo’s blown up to poster size to be propped around the floor or ledge above.

We hired a one man guitarist/singer who is AWESOME!

Food is undecided as of now only because we are unsure if we will attempt it ourselves or hire a caterer.

Drinks: We will have some galvanized tubs with ice and bottled beer. Then I am going to buy old-fashioned clear glass “lemonade” pitchers with the “spickets” and put different kinds of drinks in them like margarita’s or something of the sort. They will be labeled with little labels, and colorful - a d├ęcor in itself.

Here is where I need you all to come in (hopefully)…..the invitation wording. We would like to welcome everyone to wear their luau/beach cloths so I need to cleverly phrase that on the invite.

Also…the reason we have chosen this theme is very significant. It was some of the party goers’ ideas to get a glass container and label it Hawaii Trip. Everyone at the party can contribute and with any luck we can send the birthday person back to Hawaii (most of the money coming from family I am sure). I dislike it when people send you an invite and tell you what to buy or where to buy it. However in this occasion we would really like to state no gifts but if you feel you must, there will be a chance to gift at the party. My first question is: Do you think that can be said on an invitation? Second question: How would one say that without it sounding like bring money, give a gift. I want it to be fun and lighthearted as we REALLY don’t expect anything but do not want or need gifts and this would be a remarkable gift which 80% of the party goers will know the significance of.

Well…what do you think? Do you think you can help? I sure hope so!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Drive to Eureka Springs

For some reason the whole allure of jumping on a boat and sitting for hours watching a pole bounce up and down only to reel in a large smelly fish was lost on us girls. So, we decided to spend our day a little differently than the guys.

We had heard about a little town called Eureka Springs that had some quaint little shops and so we decided to drive over there to visit. We were told that it was only about 20 miles away but the drive was kind of scenic and it would take us about 45 minutes to get there. What we didn't realize was that just because it's 20 miles away does not mean that we can drive through the lake to get there. So... we had to go around.

If you plot the trip on a map it looks something like this....
If you drive it it looks more like this....

(Can someone please enlighten us as to the point of the two stop signs?? We are thoroughly confused)

The people who told us were right. It was very pretty. Except for the random smattering of trailers and junk piles along the way. When you see the movies and you think of rural Arkansas I was expecting people with thick accents, no teeth and living in run down houses. For the most part the people were very nice and hardly had accents at all. However, several of the houses / mobile homes... they did not disappoint.

At one point I believe Jess referred to driving through the "show me state" to get to the "sh*$ hole state" but I could be paraphrasing. :-)

On the way there we decided to take a slight detour and visit the Beaver Damn. This is a hydroelectric damn and while it didn't look like they did tours it was still pretty cool to see.
We even found two unsuspecting ladies to take our picture.
After the damn we continued to downtown Eureka Springs. We missed our turn, however and ended up taking the back roads to downtown. Or as Jess referred to them the bike trail through the houses. She swears if she would have had a cane she could have rang the doorbells. I think she was exaggerating just a bit... but not much.
In all the shopping wasn't as great as we expected but the drive there more than made up for it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fishing in Arkansas

On Thursday morning the guys were up and out the door by 5:30. The lovely Miss Jessica offered to take them to meet the guide so I could sleep in seeing as how I was so tired (or perhaps because I was such b#*$% from lack of sleep... we'll pretend it was the former ok?)
Everything in Arkansas is really flooded from all the rain they have been having so the lake we stayed next to looked like chocolate milk with branches floating in it. Not great for fishing, so the guide drove them about 30 - 45 minutes south to find clear water.

As the story goes they got into the boat and Shane told Jake that he could have the first fish but after that is was a free for all. The guide looked at Shane like he was crazy and then told the following story.

He had a family on the boat a grandpa, his son and his grandson. They were
fishing along and a big fish hit on one of the poles. The dad told the grandpa
to let the little boy real it in. The little boy headed over there and the
grandpa pushed him away saying you have 80 more years to catch a fish like
this... get the hell out of my way.

Either way, Shane was true to his word. On the advice of the guide, "If you have to ask if it's a bite... it's not. If it bends at the 1st or 2nd eyelet... it's a dink. If it bends at the 3rd or 4th eyelet it's a 20 - 30 lb fish. If it bends at the base... give it to me." They sat down and waited for fish to bite.

They had 9 poles in the water so their eyes were continually moving. The first fish hit and Jake went for it, too slow. The second fish hit and Jake went for it, too slow. The third and fourth fish hit but they were gone before anyone could get to them. Finally on the fifth fish Shane was right next to the pole and figured Jake had is chance and so he started reeling him in.

Shane said it was GREAT fishing and that the fish fight really hard. His fish was only estimated at 13 lbs and he said he can't imagine how hard it would be to real them in if it was larger.
(Sorry about the head cutting off Shane... apparently Jake has some camera issues!!) After that, they went for a good two hours without a bite.

Shane was feeling kind of bad that Jake might not even get to catch a fish when he sat down to eat some more of Jan's wonderful cookies. About that time one of his poles started moving but he was too busy with his mouth full of chocolaty goodness to get to it. So Jake ran across the deck and started reeling him in.
The fish Jake caught was estimated at about 15 lbs and he too said that he could not imagine the fight if the fish were bigger.
After that they did not catch any more fish but they said they still had a GREAT time and would return to that guide in a heart beat.
On a side note... the fish were in spawning season so Jake's fish left him a little love serum to remember him by.
Shortly there after they cut off his head and filleted him.....

Jake's Cat Fish

Jake caught this 30 lb Catfish in the Des Moines river on March 22nd and begged me to put it up on the Internet so everyone could see it. (I have a 5 x 7 of it on my refrigerator so if I have to stare at it... so do you!! :-)
I know it is not the fish pictures you are waiting for but I promised him I would put it up. He even had this whole post written in his head about what I should say so I couldn't let him down.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little Cedar

Back in October Jess had e-mailed me pictures of the cabin we were going to stay in. The brochures were lovely and I'm going to post them here because I'm sure she won't mind the free advertising.
However, I must say, the brochures do not even come CLOSE to doing this place justice. After driving for 8 hours to reach our destination we pulled in and saw this quaint little carving as we entered the driveway.Set back in the woods we came across the log cabin. Adorable from the outside, drop dead gorgeous from the inside.

When you enter the cabin you come upon a open kitchen/living room/dinning room area.


Complete with a wood burning stove...
Which we did take advantage of on Thursday night when it got a little chilly.

Off of the kitchen area there was also a really nice screened in porch. (This was Jess's secret napping area...)

The cabin also had three bedrooms. Once we had seen it we knew there was no way we were going to be able to "fight amongst ourselves" and decide who got the master bedroom so we flipped for it. My husband flipped the coin and we lost... I think I should have demanded a re-toss by a more competent flipper!! :-)

So we let Jess and Shane have the master bedroom

And we took the fish bedroom. (Which was probably pretty appropriate considering it was all Jake thought about or talked about while we were there!!) (Yes those are totes that our clothes are in. Jess made us pack everything in totes in case in rained and the cover on the truck bed leaked. Let me tell you... were were the most classy people in the Hilton on Friday too....)
There was also a third bedroom decorated with Dogs. Jan (the owner) LOVES dogs. She rescues them and has 13 of them right now. The ones that are adoptable she finds new homes for but the ones with "issues" she trains and keeps.
If we would have brought Zack, this would have been his room. There was a pack n' play in the closet and a highchair under the deck. I kept telling Jess I felt like we were staying in someones house and they were out of town on vacation. EVERYTHING was there except the people.

When we arrived on Wednesday she had cookies and home made salsa waiting for us. There was shampoo in the showers and a little drawer full of all sorts of things that you might have forgotten.
The cabin was so nice that the guys are already planning their return trip, I think they forgot to include us in this fishing weekend. :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Having a Great Time!!

I have to type fast as the Internet connection here is costing me $0.49 per minute!! :-()

Jake's appointment on Tuesday was pretty uneventful. Their main guess as to what happened was that his brain is still healing from the drug usage and that caused the seizure. He has more tests on Tuesday but for now we were cleared to travel, obviously, and I was told not to hover!! :-)

On Wednesday we left and ended up in the coolest cabin in Arkansas. I took lots of pictures and will post some when I return. Today we drove to Branson and we will be here for a night and then heading home tomorrow. It has been SOOO nice to have a few days to sleep and NOT think about taxes.

Well, I'll check in again on Monday when I'm back to the daily grind. :-(

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jake is fine...

I've been trying to write this post for over a day with no success. I kept thinking I would gain some distance from the situation and I would be able to make this a little less dark, a little less scary. But I can't, so I'm just going to lay it all out there for you.

On Saturday night Jake had a seizure and it was without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life and no matter how hard I try, every time I close my eyes the only thing I see is him convulsing on our couch. Right now it is 3:45 am and I'm wide awake. Every time he makes a noise, every time the dogs make a noise, every time I hear something and I'm not in the same room as him I think he's having a seizure again. I must have asked him 50 times yesterday if he was ok, if he was feeling alright, anything feel funny?

Inherently I know that if he is going to have another one there is nothing I can do to prevent it but I just don't want him to be alone. I don't want him to hurt himself any more than he already did. He made hamburger out of the sides of his tongue on Saturday and I'm afraid if he were standing up or doing something it could be much, MUCH worse.

Perhaps I should give you a little more information. Jake is 27 years old. He has never in his life been known to have a seizure. On Saturday we were sitting on the couch watching a movie and all of the sudden he went ridged. His arms went straight out and he started foaming at the mouth. In total it probably only lasted 30 seconds to one minute but that one minute seemed like an eternity.

By the time he stopped convulsing I already had 911 on the phone. When he stopped he just got very still and for a moment all I could think was that he was dead. Then he started to breathe and I remember saying to the guy on 911 oh my god he's breathing!!

I don't think it took very long for the ambulance to get there, perhaps five minutes but it seemed like SOOO much longer. I called my mom and she came over right away to watch Zack. When Jake came to he was confused and disoriented. You would look at him but there was not really anything behind his eyes. It was scary for me because the last time he had that look was when he was using and I kept thinking he had done something or taken something.

I rode in the front of the ambulance and he rode in the back (obviously) and by the time we got to the hospital he was acting perfectly normal again. They did a CT scan and it was perfectly normal. They ran a series of blood tests and they were all negative for any infections or other unusual items. Finally they ran a urine analysis and tox screen. All negative for any drugs or chemicals that could have seeped in through his skin.

The bottom line is we have no answers. Which means we have no way of knowing if this was a one time occurrence or if he could begin to have seizures on a regular basis. Right now, Jake seems to be fine. He had a bad headache yesterday morning but they said that was normal. He also slept most of yesterday which I have also been told is normal after a seizure. From talking to him I get the impression that this has left him just as shaken as it has me. After all, he has no memory of what happened and to have someone tell you something happened to you but not be able to remember it I'm sure would be a little scary.

As for me, I just keep remembering a NY Times article I read a week or so ago. I saved the link because I thought I could use it in a post but I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be this one. The article is called "My daughters are fine, but I'll never be the same". This article is about his children but I think the same context can be applied here.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that this would happen to us. Of all the demons I thought we were fighting this one never even entered my spectra but now that it has I can't go back to naively thinking that nothing will ever happen to anyone I love. It could, and it did and right now all I really want is to find away to be able to close my eyes again and not see that image, to hear a noise and not think the worst, and to sleep at night and not wonder what I will wake up to.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Damn....

This is the third sweater that this has happened to this tax season:

Apparently when I am working I rest my elbow on my desk and use my 10 key. At this rate I will need a whole new wardrobe by next winter!!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Maybe... someday...

So... I only have 11 days left. What are we going to do with all of our free time?

We should do something?

Oh really... like what?

We should go fishing!!

(Taking a moment to catch my breath and not burst out laughing)
.
.
.
Mmmm Hmmmm... and where should we go fishing at?

Oh I don't know, maybe the river or out at the lake.

(Huge sigh when I realize he still has NO idea...)
.
.
.
Maybe we will have to do that.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Checking In

Things around here have been a little crazy. I'm going into my 50th hour of work this week and my brain is a little fried. HOWEVER... I thought I should at least give you a little update on the goings on around our house.

One week ago Jake got his one year coin/chip at his home meeting. It was a nice ceremony. His mom, his grandma, his grandpa, my parents and Jess and Shane were there. There was one person missing from the festivities but we have come to the conclusion that if he is going to continue to exclude himself from the festivities because he can't let go of the past than that is his loss not ours.

Anyhow, the meeting was nice and Jake talked for a little while and thanked everyone who showed up to support him. Jess took this nice picture of us after the meeting. (Ignore the fact that I look about 20 lbs too heavy... I'm going to do something about it... just NOT right now....)

When Jake picked Zack up on Thursday night he noticed that his eyes were kind of matty. I told him I was guessing it was pink eye but the whites of his eyes were still decidedly white so we were all holding out hope that perhaps it was an ear infection or a sinus cold.

My parents took him home after Jake got his metal/coin/chip and on Friday morning I got this picture of him on my phone. My mom said what do you think should I take him to daycare?

I immediately called her and informed her that there is NO way they would even let him in the door. Then Jake went and picked him up and off to the doctor they went. Three Friday trips in four weeks. Bronchilitus, Tonsillitis and now....
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.

.

.

Pink eye. So for five days we tried to wrestle our screaming toddler to the ground to try to get drops in his eyes. I realize that of all the illnesses this is probably the easiest on him but it was one of the hardest to treat. And before you tell me, yes I know the trick about putting it in the corner of his eye and letting it go in when he opens them... the problem there is still getting him to LAY DOWN for me to do that!! :-)

So... other than that, my week has pretty much been work, sleep repeat. I'm considering hanging up a paper chain in my cubicle to count down the days until I am DONE but I stopped short lest I look like even more of a dork than I already am!! :-)

Hope you all are having good weeks I will be back after the 20th of April, I promise!!