Friday, December 10, 2010

On The Road/Snowy News

At 6:30 am, I’m headed out for—you’ll never guess—Greenville!  (How many times have I typed that in the last six months!)

If all goes well, this should be my second to last appointment with the plastic surgeon before I start being seen once every six months.  Happy, happy day.

We’re going to be having special house guests this weekend; Sarah and I, especially, are very excited! I’ll fill you in more on that tomorrow.

And lastly, I called Snowy’s vet yesterday, just to keep her informed as to how Snowy is doing and to ask about a few things I didn’t quite understand.  In short, here is what I learned.

Any surgery to remove kidney stones cannot be done locally; the nearest hospitals that can handle that kind of surgery are 2-3 hours away. She said the cost for the last dog they sent for kidney stone removal was ten thousand dollars.  (I almost dropped the phone.)

She had put him on a canned dog food to supplement the dry food he’s already on. (Dry food is especially for urinary issues and was also prescribed by her.) Since he’s already been on a special diet and the stones have returned, I asked her what was the purpose of trying another food-related “treatment.”

She said the canned dog food is designed to make him drink a lot and pee a lot which will, in turn, make his urine less concentrated.  While the food can not actually dissolve the stones, she said all of that fluid going in and out of the kidneys will smooth off the rough edges of the stones, like a river over river rocks. That might accomplish two things:  1) It will keep the jagged edges from rubbing against his kidney wall and causing bleeding  2) Some small pieces may even slough off and be passed through his urine. 

When we take him back in for his 8-hour, follow up appointment next Friday, she won’t be doing another x-ray right then. She’s going to observe him for the day, check his urine (to see if there’s still blood in in) and check his blood work to see if he’s still anemic from blood loss.  Then she’ll send those results to the Veterinary College and see if anyone there has any clues as to whether or not there might be any non-surgical ways to deal with Snowy’s problem. 

She’ll keep him on the high drinking/high peeing diet (wasn’t that such a highly technical description?) for a couple weeks after that and then take more x-rays to see where we stand.

Obviously, we are still at a serious juncture.  And may I just say that nothing can make me go from my “happy place” to tears running down my face any faster than the thought of putting Snowy to sleep.

The vet is not white washing this and saying we’re going to have a wonderful outcome. She just said she’s going to try everything she possibly can and get as many different vets’ advice on it as she can before we have to  make any final decisions.

So that’s the Snowy News for today.  I tell ya, I think Snowy needs his own blog; he’s far more popular than any of the rest of the Smiths!  (smile)

Okay, a road trip awaiteth.  As well as a not-so-pleasant doctor visit.

But first, here’s a picture of who-know-who to keep us all smiling.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Retrospective On A Son

Since we have a Pick Up The Son From The Airport Appointment on December 20th, and since I’m currently in a Son Mood, I am going to re-post something I wrote when he flew home for Christmas the very first time after leaving for college.

This was first posted December, 2007.

We were all so excited that Nathan was coming home that we arrived at the airport a full forty-five minutes early.

We sat outside the airport for a while. And then we sat back inside. Then we went back outside. And we twiddled our thumbs. And tapped our toes.

In between our inside/outside/twiddling/tapping maneuvers, we kept on wandering over to the arrival/departure monitors as if fervent and intense staring would somehow coerce the monitor into magically announcing that Nathan’s plane had finally landed.

And then! Finally! The Great Moment arrived! The monitor proclaimed that a certain flight from Orlando was on the ground!

The three of us were a few steps away from the escalator where the passengers were to make their appearance, so we raced over and, almost vibrating with enthusiasm, lined ourselves up to wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

And then, in the midst of our diligent waiting, we happened to notice something rather alarming. We noticed that there didn’t seem to be many Orlando passengers appearing on the escalator. In fact, we noticed that there didn’t seem to be any passengers appearing on the escalator at all!

Finally, an airport employee (who doubtless couldn’t stand to gaze upon our crestfallen faces one minute longer), asked what airline we were looking for. When we told him “Southwest, “ he said, “Oh, you’re in the wrong place. You have to walk down this long hall to the other escalator.”

Well, I am not the speediest person on the planet in any sense of the word, but when I considered the possibility that my son might arrive on his first trip home from college without his family there to greet him—well, that was just too much for me to cope with.

And so I immediately shifted my 45-year old body into high gear, which for me basically means that I switched my operating speed from Real Slow to Slow-ish/Medium-ish. I have no doubt that my frenetic Slow-ish/Medium-ish cavorting down the corridor provided inimitable entertainment for all the people around me.

Puffing and panting (COPD patients do not usually engage in slow-ish and/or medium-ish sprinting) I finally arrived at the second escalator and planted myself firmly in position, camera in hand, heart in throat, excitement intense.

Sarah and Steve pulled up behind me shortly thereafter and we all fixed our gazes on the escalator with the same enthusiasm as if we were expecting the resurrected Beatles to make a personal appearance right there in front of our very eyes.

We waited. And we waited some more.

Sarah informed me very earnestly, “Mom, I’m just looking for a cumulus cloud,” which is what we always call Nathan’s “big hair” whenever we’re teasing him.

But, alas, no cumulus cloud appeared. All we saw was an excruciatingly empty escalator.

Finally, after a few minutes had passed, Steve (who is a little “smarter than the average bear”) said, “Becky, there is no one coming off this escalator. However, there are a lot of people coming out of the baggage claim area. Let me go look over there for Nathan.”

Suddenly, we heard Steve shout, “It’s him! I see him! Nathan is over here!”

Sarah and I practically knocked each over in our frenzied hurry to get over to the baggage claim area. In fact, at that very instant, for one brief moment in time, I almost got myself worked up to Medium-ish/Fast-ish speed!)

And then we saw him. All the way across the cavernous room, Nathan was sitting forlornly by himself, no doubt wondering if his family had maybe, possibly, inexplicably forgotten that he was coming home for Christmas.

There were hugs all around and then we all stepped back for a moment and gave him the once over, trying to see if he had changed, trying to discern if he was the same ol’ Nathan.

And he was the same—but with just a extra dash of college sophistication thrown in.

And then it was off to the moving sidewalk . . .

. . . heading out of the airport.

nate air4

Can you believe how young the two of them look? (Me either.)

n air

n air1

While he was home, we put him to work decorating the tree . . .
nate tree

. . . and helping to make our traditional pancake dinner.

nate c4

. . . and posing with his little sis.


His visit home zoomed by way too fast. When the day arrived to take him back to the airport, we all got kind of silly for a while, sitting on his bed, watching him pack, acting goofy, enjoying, and treasuring the minutes together.

As we were getting ready to load his stuff in the van Sarah said, "Nathan can't leave. We haven't prayed yet."

And so the four of us gathered in the garage, held hands (with Snowy looking on with great interest) and prayed together. And THEN it was time to go.

I got to drive him back to the airport and it was a treat to get to spend time with just the two us. There was a magnificent magenta sunset filling the sky in front of us and as we drove, I feasted my eyes on the sky, feasted my ears on Nathan’s words and feasted my heart on his quiet, dear companionship. A quick hug at the airport curb and he disappeared inside the terminal, the “cumulus cloud” visible for a couple extra seconds as he turned the corner.

I choked up a little as I drove away and yet, in the middle of missing him, I was so proud of him for doing so well without us, for making his own way so well, so far from home.

As I drove home, I thought back to August when he had started college. The night before we were to drive him to Florida, he and I had gone out to run an errand and pulled back into the garage about 9 pm.

As I slammed the van door and started making my way toward the side door, I noticed that Nathan hadn’t gone ahead of me into the house. He was just standing there between me and the door, with his arms stretched out toward me and with a dear expression on his face.

I walked toward him and he wrapped those big old lanky arms around me and just let me cry, let me say my good-bye. We must have stood there for at least a minute, completely silent, except for my quiet weeping.

A few days later, when I hugged him good-bye at college, I realized our real good-bye had taken place in a garage dusted with memories, a garage where my 17-year old man child had held out his arms and given me the chance to shed all the tears he knew were in my heart.

And as we hugged, I knew he was saying good-byes of his own, not just to me but also to his childhood years. We both knew that the next time he came home, he would be 18, an adult, a college student.

A chapter was ending, a precious, priceless snippet of time that would never be repeated, never be revisited. My tears were my response to the grief of seeing my son leave his childhood behind and the joy of knowing the horizons ahead of him were limitless.

Such precious memories. Such a precious time. Such a precious son.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Terrible Picture. Inspiring Book. Great CD.

Okay. First of all I know that this is a really alarming picture of me; my eyes look just a wee bit shadowy and strange. But hey, it was a cheap cell phone camera blended with department store lighting. Not the greatest combination for making me look all fabulous.

But do you see what I’m holding? I’m holding a book! A book that can be found in Target stores and other major retail outlets across the country. It’s a book that has my writing in it! As well as Sarah’s story! Yahoo!

The reason I had this picture taken is that it was the first time I had actually seen the book on a shelf in a store. A real shelf! A real store! So exciting!


The moment was made even more poignant for me because when I wrote the piece for this book, I didn’t have cancer. But standing there in Target? Holding The Cancer Book? I suddenly had a new appreciation for all the stories the book contained. No longer was I an outsider to the cancer world writing a story about someone else. I held Sarah’s story in my hand, but I had also become one of the stories.

The book has 101 stories all together—amazing, incredible, funny, inspiring stories. And we have only about ten of these books left from our initial order.

If you’d like to give one of these books as a Christmas gift, Sarah and I would love to autograph a copy for you and send it your way. As I said, we only have a few left, so if you want one for Christmas, you’ll have to let me know pretty quickly.

Also, we have some music CD’s available entitled, “Like A Blanket.” Here is the picture from the CD cover and the title track. Unlike our other CD’s which are a mixture of fast and slow music, the fourteen songs on this CD are all slow to medium—the music is warm, lovely and peaceful. Steve and I wrote most of the songs but the CD also includes a few hymns including, “My Savior’s Love” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”

The CD is professionally produced with a studio band, orchestrations, and pro background singers. As some of you may remember, we originally put this CD out right as Sarah was going into transplant and we have given at least a thousand copies away to children’s hospitals and to families that have been touched by cancer or other serious illnesses.

Since one of my life goals is to eventually be able to own a SLR camera , Steve and I have decided that any proceeds that come in from this book or CD will all go to The Camera Fund.

And the cost? Well, it works like this:

CD’s are $2 shipping, PLUS whatever donation you’d like to give.

Books are $4 for shipping, PLUS whatever donation you like to give.

And that’s it! No set price.

If you’d like a book autographed, please let me know the specifics when you order.

If you want the item(s) by Christmas, it would be best to either send the check in the next couple days or else use PayPal. (Just go to and click on the tab toward the top that says, “Send money online.” Follow the steps and when asked for an email, type in

Checks can be made to “Heartsong” and sent to:

Becky Smith

127 Raleigh Wood Dr.

Manteo, NC 27954

Thanks in advance, to those of you who will become our much appreciated Camera Fund Patrons!


In other news, Snowy continues to act like he feels fairly well. The frantic drinking has let off some; I think the fact that the vet put him on a different sort of food made him more thirsty.

Of course, regardless of how he acts or seems to feel, nothing can change the fact that each of his kidneys contains a huge stone. That is the reality we can’t get away from and the reality we’ll have to make a decision about in the next week or two.

Thanks so much for your concern and prayers. Also, Snowy says to tell you, um, Snowy says . . . well, actually Snowy is sound asleep in the chair beside me so I won’t wake him up right now to get a statement.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snowy Writes.

Hi.  Snowy here.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel so good.  This morning, I didn’t feel so good either.

In fact, I felt a lot like this.


Since I wasn’t feeling great, my sister and I hung out in my brother’s room and she gave me lots of sympathy while I lolled about on the bed in my most pitiful state ever.  It kinda brought back memories of all the times when I gave her double doses of doggie devotion when she wasn’t feeling well during her cancer treatment.  She and I are real good buddies.


In fact, she even cheered me up a little by telling a few funny stories.  Even though I didn’t feel up to laughing out loud, I was still doing little “sister smiles” in my heart. 


When my Mom took this picture, I tried to put on my Bravest Doggie Face so that she wouldn’t feel bad.  I don’t think I fooled her though.  Mom’s don’t get fooled very easy.  I know that from experience.


This morning, I got up early and helped Mom write her blog. (I tell ya, that woman can’t do much of anything unless I help her. What am I--her personal assistant?)

You can tell she still has her Sad Eyes on in this picture, but I was actually starting to feel  just a little bit better as the morning went on.  In fact, this is my Officially Improving Face. 


In fact, after a little awhile, I asked Mom to take off my little coat (I felt like such a sissy doggie in it) and I walked around the house a few minutes so that I could investigate all the important things that needed investigating. 


I stopped shivering, wolfed down my food, and started acting pretty frisky.  I  also did very good at going outside and “doing my business.”  Ahem.  I decided it would be best not to let Mom post any pictures of my actual and official business-doing.  A man does need his privacy.


Mom told me a few minutes ago that a whole bunch of our Smithellaneous friends are very worried about me and that’s why I figured I’d better write this post.  I feel very happy that when I’m sick, people put on their Sad Eyes for me, just like my Mom does. That makes me feel very much loved.

I heard Mom and Dad talking tonight and this is what they said.  (Um. Don’t tell them that I told you, okay?  I wasn’t supposed to be listening.)

They said that since I was doing my business really well, and eating a lot, had stopped throwing up and wasn’t shivery any more, they were going to wait a day or two to see if my upward trend (their words, not mine) would continue.  However, they said that if I started feeling bad again, they would call the vet. (In fact, Mom is going to touch base with the vet in the next couple days anyway, just to keep the doctor informed on how I’m doing.)

Mom, Dad and Sister have been keeping a close eye on me all day; in fact, truthfully I feel a wee bit smothered.  I just want to say, “Hey.  Could you guys back off already?  Whadya think I am.  A sick doggie, or somethin’?”

Of course,  I really don’t mind it all that much.  It’s not every creature who gets to feel like he is the Center of the Universe.

And I am.  In the most humble sort of way, of course.  

Okay.  That’s about all the words I can think of to say for the moment.  I just wanted to send my sincerest doggie thanks to everyone who has thought about me and prayed for me today.

I think I have to agree with Mom that Smithellaneous Folks are best folks.  Ever!

This is Snowy. Signing off.



Recipe and (Non) Rambling: Six-Week Muffins

During a lot of the recipes I post, I do a good bit of rambling between the recipe directions. Today though, I shall spare you from that scary, rambly part of my brain and just post some pictures and the recipe itself. (Don't worry. The rambling will be back in the next recipe!)
This recipe is one of my favorites because you can keep the batter in the fridge for up to six weeks (hence the recipe’s name) and just scoop out the batter you need. Which basically means you can have made-from-scratch-fresh-from-the-oven muffins with very little effort. How wonderful is that?

Here are a few pictures of the process. The complete recipe is at the end.




IMG_0047 IMG_0050


15 ounce box Raisin Bran or bran flakes
2 1/2-3 cups sugar (Could cut the sugar quantity quite a bit, if desired.)
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups Crisco or 1 cup vegetable oil (for lighter muffins)
4 eggs
4 cups buttermilk
1. Combine the first five ingredients, mixing together until large lumps remain.

2. Add Crisco or oil, eggs and buttermilk. Stir together well but do not over mix.
3. Place in a sealable plastic container under refrigeration until ready to use (or overnight).
4. When needed, scoop out the amount required and ladle batter into greased or sprayed muffin tins. Fill any unused muffin wells 1/4 of the way with water. If batter becomes too thick, stir in milk, buttermilk or melted butter until a good muffin batter consistency is achieved.
5. Bake at 375°F degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. You can also bake these in mini muffin pans for about 12 minutes.
Makes four dozen or so muffins. Batter will keep for several weeks in refrigerator. (Note: After a couple of weeks, the top of the batter will turn dark; just stir the batter before putting into tins.)
You can add a variety of toppings before baking: Brown sugar, raisins, Craisins, chopped pecans, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts.
I add nuts to some (which Steve and I love) and sprinkle cinnamon on others.

Yesterday I made the muffins for Sunday lunch and tried to think of something Christmas-y to sprinkle on them.
“Voila!” thought I. “I shall sprinkle green sugar on top of a couple muffins so that I can usher a festive muffin look to our table.”
And how did that work out? Not so much.
I was taking the muffins out of the pan when Sarah walked by. She stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Mom! Those muffins have mold growing on them.”
IMG_1661 IMG_1658
Since that wasn’t quite the effect that I was going for, I think it’s safe to say that the green sugar topping can probably be nixed.

Before I close, let me give you a quick update on our “third child.”
Snowy continues to not feel well; he’s thrown up, been shivery on and off, and still has that “I don’t feel good” look in his eyes. (You know, that particular look that mothers everywhere can recognize in a single split second.)
He’s still drinking way more water than usual and drinking it in a frantic manner, like he just can’t get enough of it.
It’s just going to be a long two weeks while we wait on the follow up visit and the vet’s prognosis. In the meantime, we will spoil him (even more than he already is) and treasure the moments.
Oh, and one more thing?
Snowy asks if you’d please continue to pray for him and for our whole family. 'Cause we're all a little sad right now . . .