Apr 102012

Even tough Sasha looked good in Pink, the bandages had to come off.

On March 21st, seven days after the surgery, Dr. N. removed Sasha’s bandages and checked the incision; it looked great.  He and the rest of the staff said Dr. Clary, the surgeon, did a great job and they all seemed really surprised at how well and how quickly Sasha has been healing.

Then on March 28th, the staples come off.  It was quick and painless, and yes, I do have the staples = )

On our way home from the vet, we stopped at our neighborhood park.  We wondered if Sasha would be up for a short walk, and indeed she was.

We got this great shot.  I say “we,” but really, it was Carlos who took the shot = )










After the visiting the vet and the trip to the park, Sasha wanted to get on the sofa, and I let her.

Sasha on comfy sofa

I love to cuddle with the dogs, but when we purchased this sofa a few years ago, we decided to keep them off to keep the sofa clean.  Now that Sasha has been getting special treatment, it has created a ripple effect.  To be “fair,” I let a dog at a time get some time on the sofa.  Of course at night, one of them sneaks into the room and up the sofa he/she gos.  With so many,  I feel its best to not let them all get on…otherwise, the sofa would not last long = )

Our Fireplace

 Posted by
Apr 092012

A while ago, I posted about Carlos and I debating whether to buy new windows or a wood fire place insert.  As you recall, we went with installing new windows.  We (I) thought it was the best decision because it would give us the best return when selling the house.  However, after having the windows for a while and not really noticing much if any difference  in our house being cooler/warmer, I regretted the decision a bit.  See, new windows does in fact provide a good selling point, but they do not provide a quick return on investment nor do they make a big difference in the house feeling cooler in the summer or warmer in the winter.

So after much consideration, we decided to look for and purchase a wood fireplace insert.  Carlos did a lot of research and after looking for inserts online and visiting a couple of local places, we went with one we found at Northern Tool & Equipment.  There were many inserts, but the ones we liked the most were over $1500, which was out of our budget.

We purchased the Century Heating Wood Stove Fireplace Insert.  Below are  a couple of pictures:

Wood stove insert with surround

Wood stove insert without surround

And now for pictures of our fireplace, before it was painted and before installing the wood insert.

Fireplace before painting

Another before shot

Fireplace close-up














Fireplace after painting it and with wood insert:















Excuse the mess!  I will share some better pictures soon!

We used the wood insert during the winter,  and we love it!  We also love the money it saved us = )  Using the wood insert made us have to look for firewood, but Craigslist does not fail.  We found so much that we have wood for next fall/winter!

I’ve always liked winter, and now I like it even more because I can be really toasty inside without spending much money, yay!


~ L.

Apr 052012

On Thursday, March 15th, we brought Sasha home after her amputation.  Even though I could not wait to bring her home, I was nervous and concerned.  I didn’t want anything to go wrong.

Sasha’s first picture after getting home after surgery.  Trying to find a comfortable position.

Leaving the vet’s office was not a problem, she didn’t seem to even need help; however, we used a towel as a harness to help her walk, then Carlos went in the back of the Jeep with her.  We live less than 2 miles from the hospital, so it was a short ride.  Sasha was definitely happy to be home, and the rest of the pack could not wait to see her, but we didn’t allow them to check out her immediately.  We had arranged the living room for her and we barricaded part of it for the other dogs to not get too close too fast, though they instinctively knew to take it easy.

After she settled, she started showing discomfort, and she did something she has never done before.   She whimpered.  And although it pained us to hear cry, it was cute:

The first night was very tough, on everyone.  Carlos and I both stayed with Sasha in the living room.  Neither of us wanted to sleep on our bed and leave her alone, crying and in pain and confused about what was going on.  Having her up on the bed was not an option; we could not risk her getting hurt.  Sasha was in a lot of pain through the night.  She could not sleep, and would often try to get herself in comfortable positions, but no position was comfortable.  We gave her the pain meds as instructed, but even after a while the pills had taken effect, she would continue to whimper and this was breaking our hearts.

Carlos laid on floor cushions with Sasha’s head in his arms for most of the night.  I slept next to them on the dog bed, petting her, trying to make her feel better.  Sasha cried most of the night, but she also seemed to have moments of comfort, and she would fall asleep for very short periods of time.  Through the night, when she’d awake and show interest in getting up, we would take her outside, and each time she seemed to feel better after coming back inside.  However, most of the night she was in a lot of pain and even though petting her and holding her seem to make her feel better, the pain didn’t seem to diminish.  We ended up calling the emergency hospital a couple of times to see if we could give Sasha extra meds, or give her the pills ahead of schedule.  Thankfully we were told that we could.  After giving her the medication ahead of schedule, out girl didn’t seem to be doing any better, so I called the clinic again.  This time, I was told that Sasha might be having disphoria from the pain medication.  We were asked to hold off on any more meds until the next scheduled dose, and to call our vet’s office in the morning.  This is not what we wanted to hear.  How could we let our baby suffer in pain?  Seeing her in so much pain, with those sad eyes, now knowing or understanding what this was happening made us both question if we had made the right decision in amputating her arm.  Sasha has always been healthy, and at the ripe age of eleven years old, she is a happy, spunky girl who loves hiking, swimming, and catching Frisbees.  Our decision had to be the right one; we just had to get through these first few days to justly realize it.

The following morning, because I had only slept two hours, I skipped class and prepared some breakfast for me and Carlos.  We fed the pack, and to our surprise, Sasha had an appetite!  (This girl doesn’t seem to lose interest in food, just like her dad, lol.)  I had purchased soft canned food because Christina, a vet tech at the hospital, hand fed her soft food while Sasha was there.  So it was special for her to eat this food, and she loved it.

Stay tuned for more updates on Sasha’s recuperation.


~ L.

Apr 022012

As I had mentioned here, Sasha was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, and Carlos and I have decided to proceed with the amputation of front her right arm.  Her surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th, a week after we received her diagnosis.  The days leading to the surgery, Sasha was in a lot of pain, and would not interact nor want to go outside much.  On Sunday, March 11th, Carlos and I took Sasha and Alli out for a drive.  We also stopped at Rita’s Water Ice and enjoyed some cold treats = )

Sasha enjoying some Rita’s custard

Alli’s turn

Eating together is better = )

Though it was a bit cool, we drove around for a little while with the windows open, so that the girls would enjoy the smells and cool air.  Sasha has always preferred the cooler weather; she even lays on the snow to chew on sticks!

Anyway, after the nice drive and cold treats, we went home.  To our surprise, when we got her down from the car,  Sasha was a bit spunky!  She hadn’t been spunky in a while, so seeing her this way made us very happy.  She even wanted to walk!  If our girl asked, we’d let her, so we took for a short walk in front of our house and into one of our good neighbor’s front yard.  There was a kitty cat there, and when Sasha got a glimpse of the pretty white and grey cat, she wanted to check him out.  You see, she grew up with cats, and she loves them.  If we say the words “kitty cat,” she’ll perk up and look for them.  She loved being outside and seemed so happy.  We now know she was in a lot of pain for some time, but given that Sasha seemed to want to be active on this Sunday afternoon, we had to let her.  It is true that dogs take pain a lot more than humans, but with the kind of pain Sasha was in, she knew her limits.  After a while of being outside, we brought her in; it was pretty much time for them to have some dinners – as Carlos’ mom says.

From Monday thru Tuesday evening, she was not very active, but she never lost her appetite, which is good.  Most of the time, the pain is so severe that dogs lose their desire to eat, making them lose weight and be less healthy for an amputation.  Other than the cancer, our girl has always been very healthy and was at a healthy weight.  In fact, and although we don’t give out dogs many treats, we did limit them more just prior to her surgery.  With the bad news, I wanted to give her whatever she wanted to eat, but it was in our best interest to maintain her weight as healthy possible.

Then Wednesday morning came.  I went to my English class and after I got home, Carlos and I took her to our vet’s office.

Wednesday was probably one of the longest days of my life.  The surgery was to start around 11 am.  Around 1:30 pm, I called to see how everything was and make sure Sasha was doing well, but the surgery had just started.  The  surgeon had an earlier surgery that didn’t go as hoped, and it delayed Sasha’s surgery.  The good thing was that the other dog was now doing well, and now it was Sasha’s turn to be taken care of.  Around 4:30 pm Sasha was now out of surgery and we everything went well.  Carlos and I wanted to see her, so we stopped by.  Our vet was concern that we’d wake her, and he wanted her to rest, but he did let us take a peak and we got to her.  She was completely OUT.  We didn’t speak because we didn’t want her to hear us and get anxious.  Though we wanted to touch her, we refrained for the same reason, to not wake her and get her anxious.  There she laid, asleep and wrapped in pretty pink bandages; snoring = )

I kept waking up all night on Wednesday.  I think I just wanted Thursday to arrive so that we could pick up our girl and bring her home.  Anxious and nervous at the same time, I wait.

~ L.


You can watch Sasha going to the vet’s office the day of the surgery, here.

Postponed plans

 Posted by
Mar 262012

It’s been a while since I wrote a post.  As you know, our girl Sasha was not doing well.  All I could think off was how the news of Sasha having cancer changes many things.  Not only have I been distraught about the news, but I’ve been trying to focus on our next steps, looking back at good memories and planning to creating as many more as we can, knowing our time with our baby is limited, breaks my heart and slows me down.  However, I’m doing my best to change this attitude as I know its detrimental, and staying positive through it all is the best possible thing I could do.  Sasha has recovered well from the surgery.  I will soon share more with you.

This post is about how quickly plans can change.  Just a couple of months ago I was thinking I would have a job by now, so I was making plans about some things that we need to take care of.    As you may recall from the lists post, we have a lot of things to do.  But out of everything on and off that list, there are four things Carlos and I wanted to do as soon as either or both of us found a job.

The four  plans were:

  1. Increase our emergency fund to cover at least 6 months of living expenses.
  2. Save 10% of every paycheck for retirement, or more if can.
  3. Tommy’s surgery – our boy will need TPLO surgery on his rear left leg.  Hopefully, real soon, we can do this for him.
  4. Life insurance.  Although we would have insurance through a job, we want to buy other policies to ensure our dogs will be taken care of if something were to happen to the both of us.

Though most of our plans are on hold, for the time being, there are a few small home projects we’ll be tackling.  I’ll be sure to update you all on these as we get them done.


~ L.

Mar 212012

I’m sorry for not having posted in a while, as you all know, it has been been a rough couple of weeks.  Since I have shared Sasha’s health situation, I thought I’d share a video with you.

Sasha, the day of her surgery, on our way to Dr.N’s office:

I’ll post an update on Sasha soon.


~ L.

Fitness update

 Posted by
Mar 172012

The past couple of weeks have been extremely stressful.  I feel tired and not in the mood for much, not even food.  I have been eating, but at times, even though I’m hungry, I feel weak and a bit sick to my stomach.  I’m trying to think positive, but that is hard at times.  Thinking of Carlos and my decision about Sasha, has led me to reevaluate a few things/plans I was working on for when I found a job and even before.


To start, I had mentioned here and here about my workout routines and the classes I was planning on taking at the gym.  I recently learned I have a Myofascial Trigger Point, at least, that is one diagnosis.  Seems like I have something going on with my S1 nerve and this is creating the MTP.  It’s been going on for over years now, and it has progressively gotten worse.  I had not done anything about it because I thought it was just that my muscle was not needed to be stretched more.  It got to the point that it was annoying how I could be fine and then all of a sudden, I walked with a limp.  Or I would be fine and after 50 min of seating in my class, my muscle would remain contracted and I’d limp…same when I took a bike class.  My leg felt exhausted but the rest of my body did not.  I went to a Chiropractor and the results were the issues with my S1 nerve and the MTP.  He would like to see me 3 times a week for 12 weeks in order to adjust my lower lumbar region.

An image I found online, shows where the S1 nerve is located:

I’m not going to do these sessions; I will wait until I have benefits thru employment.

With these results and how uncomfortable my right quad feels after a bike class, I have decided to switch -yet again- my routine at the gym.  Not only am I changing it because of what is going on medically, but also because I keep reading, from fitness professionals, that in order to lose fat one must train heavy while also including a High Intensity Interval  Training (HIIT ) routine.  In addition, I want quality, effective workouts, not to be in the gym for hours a day…that is not realistic.   Its not about quantity or workouts but rather about quality training, topped with good nutrition.  I’m feeling good about this because I love to train with free weights and to train heavy.  The plan will be to train with weights 4-5 days a week and perform 3-4 HIIT sessions, along with 2-3 BodyFlow classes.  We’ll see how well I this plan.  Consistency is not my for-take.

Exercise is just one of the few things I’m going to change.  I’ll continue to update you on everything.

Have you gone through a life event that has made you or is making you re-evaluate things in your life?



Selecting a puppy

 Posted by
Mar 132012

In light of recent news, I thought I would share this paragraph I wrote last semester, for my English 080 class.  The paragraph does not include the suggested corrections/changes made by my teacher.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sasha @ ~ 14 weeks

Selecting a puppy is not easy, but Carlos and Liliana would make a fun and exciting adventure of the process.  After they had been together for a couple of years and were now getting a place of their own, they wanted to expand the family.  Often they talked about how much they loved dogs.  After work, on a cool November evening, they took a trip to Frazer Zoo, located in Frazer, PA.  They were greeted by Andrew, an easy going guy and the owner of Frazer Zoo.  He was also the owner of Mesa, a gorgeous American Bulldog female.  Initially, Carlos and Liliana wanted a Pit Bull, but the apartment complex where they were moving to, would not allow that breed.  After meeting Mesa, they loved her look and friendly personality so much that they decided to look for an American Bulldog pup of their own.  A few days later, per Andrew’s suggestion, they went back to Frazer Zoo to take a look at a new litter of pups.  To see seven puppies all together was exciting for Liliana, as she had never been around so many puppies before.  Birds were chirping, puppies were yapping, and the scent of cedar was strong in the air; the Zoo used cedar wood shavings as bedding for the animals.  The litter had five males and two females.  As the puppies played, barked and wrestled with each other, Carlos and Liliana watched them while pondering which one they would choose.  The couple was looking for a puppy with spunk.  They searched for one that was lively, not submissive to her litter mates and enjoyed attention from people.  After studying all the pups, they chose one of the females.  They were seduced by her frisky personality, her unique and beautiful brindle markings, and her sweet disposition toward them.  Now, the couple needed to think of a name for their precious girl.  Carlos and Liliana thought of several names for the puppy, and they chose Sasha.  The couple was not able take their new friend home with them for several weeks.  They were living in a place that did not allow pets, but soon they would move to a new place where Sasha would be welcomed.  While they waited to move into their new home, they visited Sasha every single day.  Liliana would take her out of her pen and carry her like a baby around the store.  She would grab treats from the “bag your own treats” section and feed them to Sasha, who seemed to enjoy them along with all the love, attention and special play time she was getting.  Even though they saw their friend daily, they were heartbroken to have to say goodbye to her at the end of each visit.  They would put her back in the pen with her brothers and sisters.  The bars on the pen door were like the bars on a jail cell door.  At least, that is how the couple felt.  Sunday January 7, 2001, was an exciting and emotional day as Carlos and Liliana finally took Sasha home.  Their first night together would be special.  For the couple, Sasha was like a new toy to a child on Christmas morning.   They played with her and took turns holding the new puppy.  When it was time to sleep, Liliana placed Sasha in her little bed and covered her with a blanket.  The couple said good night to the little girl as if she were a child, and then went in to their own bed.  Actually, the couple was using a pile of blankets as a bed because they had not yet gotten a new mattress.  An hour had probably passed before the couple fell to sleep.  They were too excited about the new addition to their family.  In the morning, Liliana was the first to wake, but Carlos soon roused from his dream world too.  Liliana told him to be careful, and motioned with her eyes for him to look between their two bodies.  Sasha had left her bed in the middle of the night and crawled between the couple.  She laid her head down on a little corner of Liliana’s pillow like a tiny little person, and with that sweetness, Sasha had worked her way indelibly into Carlos and Liliana’s hearts forever.  This was their first puppy, and she would become a very special member of the young family.




The paragraph was written in the third person, and I think it takes away some of the feelings that writing in the first person would evoke.



Mar 122012

After hours of reading, Carlos and I talked about our options to treat Sasha.    If we did nothing, she would be with us for maybe 6 months, but likely much less than that, and most of the time, she would be in a lot of pain and not able to enjoy herself and be happy.  So, amputation seemed like our best option for our girl.  It will provide immediate pain relief, and on average, dogs live for about 370 days, so we’d have a year (more if we are lucky) with her.  After her recuperation, we plan on doing all the things she loves.

For now, we just had to wait for 4:30 pm so that we could pick up our girl.  It seemed to take forever.  Once it was time, all I wanted to do what see and hug Sasha, but we had to speak with our vet first and we asked him to get us a quote for the surgery.  He informed us of our options, which was everything Carlos had already read.  He supported us on the decision we were leaning towards and we appreciate that, he knows the type of people and owners we are, and knew it was the best decision.

When Sasha was brought out, she looked SO happy, her tail wagging, ready to go home.  Her happy face is embedded in my mind.  Once home, we got her comfortable and I lay with her for a while.

Tommy wanted to be close to Sasha.

My favorite picture.  I like pencil drawing.

Sasha stayed on my arm for a while, which is strange because she’s not a cuddler.

Tommy wanted to be close to her as well, and near her ‘wound.’

Tommy moving in for a lick.  Alli near, on the other bed.

And he got to lick my nose.  He was really sweet, and Sasha didn’t mind him being that close.

Dogs, they sure make our lives whole.

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