Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today . . .

christmas collage2


P.S.  Snowy had another good night; he seems happy and comfortable and content. So thankful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas. Smith Feet. Snowy.

Snowy Report.

If no one had told me Snowy had severe kidney disease, I would never have guessed it by looking at him yesterday after he got home from the hospital. He seemed energetic, happy and (most importantly) pain free. He drank well and has eaten just a little. He trotted up and down the stairs at a relatively energetic clip and was in major Snuggle With The Fam Mode. (Which I love.)

He’s still on a special diet and on several medications but all in all, he’s acting pretty perky which truly makes my heart happy.


Unpacking the New Camera



With all that Snowy’s been going through, I’ve gotten a bit behind on acquainting myself with the camera and taking some pictures to post; however, here are a few I managed to snap shortly after the camera arrived. I’m still at the “just turn it on and push the shutter button” stage so anything good in any of these pictures is entirely due to the camera and not me.

I just can’t begin to tell you how pumped I am about all adventure ahead of me as I discover the marvelous mysteries of good photography.



DSC_0050 DSC_0059


Tree Decorating Night

Here are a few pictures (taken before new camera arrived) of our tree decorating; as I mentioned earlier, we were a little bit late with it because we wanted to wait until Nathan got home. We realize that each Christmas we spend as a foursome is extra precious since each year that passes finds him flying further and further from the nest. (sniff)

We all drank the traditional eggnog and then, of course, we had to kid Sarah about the year she went to the kitchen to top off our eggnog glasses and accidentally pulled out the buttermilk instead. We were all standing there, sipping away, making polite little faces and murmuring, “Hmmm. This eggnog has quite the unique flavor!”


Holding a favorite ornament . . .


Snowy Snoozing with Steve and Sarah Smith. (With all those “s” sounds, it’s a good thing I don’t spit when I write.)IMG_2215


Smith feet. View one.


Smith feet. View two.


Snowy cuddled between Sarah and me.


Later on he moved to the other side of me. With an entire huge couch to lie on, he chose to plop himself down in the teeniest little corner on the edge. Nothin’ like living dangerously!


This was the view under the tree five days before Christmas. Can you tell we’re running a little behind?


Merry Christmas Eve!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snowy. Back Where He Belongs.

Thanks so much to each of you who has taken the time to write and share your sympathy and concern for our family. Thanks also, to those of you who have shared your own stories of losing a pet; it's helpful to read your experiences and be reminded of how universal this whole "love of pets" phenomenon is.

As a cancer mom (and a cancer survivor) I sometimes feel like there must be something wrong about feeling such deep sadness at the pending death of a pet, when so many people that I know have lost a child or a spouse.

Obviously, if Sarah or Steve's death was around the corner, I would be experiencing a whole different level of grief. And for those of you who have lost loved ones (I lost my dad a little over a year ago) you know what level I'm talking about.

And yet I can't help but believe that it's also "legal" to grieve deeply for a furry family member, too. They come into our lives with very little to give but unconditional love. And when you've been loved unconditionally for eleven years by someone who is also cute to boot?

Well, that makes good byes extra hard.

I saw a sign at the vet's office that said, "A dog. A poor man's psychiatrist. " How true is that?

Well, right now my furry psychiatrist and I are nestled into our favorite chair. I've got his snuggly red blanket wrapped around him and he is currently emitting sighs of pure bliss.

And when Sir Snowy is feeling blissful? Well, I can't help but feel a wee tinge of bliss myself.


I'm sorry I've not posted any pictures for a couple posts. My laptop has suddenly stopped going online so I'm having to borrow Nathan's laptop. Unfortunately, all my pictures are stored on my computer; plus, the blog writing software I use on my computer (LiveWriter) isn't on Nathan's computer and so it makes posting pictures a lot harder. But I'm workin' on it

Background/Religion Comments

I've continued to be fascinated to read your religious background comments; I had no idea that Smithellaneous readers represented such a broad spectrum! Thanks to those of you who have participated in this informal survey; please feel free to jump in on the conversation. I'm really enjoying this process of finding out where each of us is on our spiritual journey and how we got here.

And to those of you who said such kind things about me and the blog in those recent comments--thank you. That encouraged me so much.

Well, I'm going to sign off and spend a little time with Ye Olde Doggie. So grateful to have these extra days to spend with my own personal psychiatrist!

Snowy. Good News. And (Mostly) Bad News.

The good news?

Snowy is being discharged from the hospital this morning. The vet just called and said he's bouncing off the walls, barking happily, and has even removed his own IV by means of excited chewing.

She said, "He looks so much brighter and happier since he had all those fluids overnight and he is just so ready to get out of here and go home."

The bad news? (We got this news last night just 30 minutes before our Candlelight Communion service.)

The bad news is really, really bad. I have already cried my way through thirty Kleenex-literally--and am not near to being done.

Snowy's liver is failing. Very quickly.

In November, three of the main components that make up his liver panel were all normal.

Then when he was hospitalized last week, right out of the blue, his liver started showing signs of distress. And it's gotten worse.

In just one week:

His ALT level (normal is 100) went from 622 to "greater than 1000." (Which means it's so far off the charts it can't even be read.)

His ALKP level (normal is 212) went from 322 to 738.

They didn't check his GGT level last week but yesterday it was 65. (Normal is 7)

So for some reason that no one can figure, in the space of a couple weeks his liver function has gone into a free fall.

The vet said it could be liver cancer or it could be something else entirely; without a biopsy, she can't say for sure. However, we all agreed that doing a biopsy would be a ridiculous waste of time and money because whatever he has isn't treatable and whatever he has is destroying his liver very rapidly.

She also decided (after seeing the final liver results) that it would be pointless to do the Cushing's Disease test on him today since his liver issues and/or growing kidney stones are the primary concern.

For now the goal is just to keep him comfortable.

Saturday night we'll take our annual family Christmas photo around the tree, knowing it will be the last time to feature our little buddy's happy face in the Smith Family circle.

Monday, we'll all travel to Charlotte for Christmas with Steve's family--our last big road trip with the little guy. The vet will send a sedative and an anti-nausea medication with us so that Snowy is happy and comfortable when he goes to visit Grandma and Grandpa for the last time.

Now I'm off to pick him up from the vet and bring him home where he'll be smothered with snuggles and giggles--and tears.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Baby Food

The vet just called and said Snowy ate a teensy bit of "specialized can food" mixed in with a little baby food.

Snowy and baby food. Sort of makes me smile to think about that.

She said he's kept it down so far but he's still doing the foaming in the mouth/excessive licking routine (which he's been doing or a week now) which she says signifies ongoing nausea.

They'll continue him on fluids all night and do the additional testing in the morning.

Off to eat ham quiche and salad, made by the College Dude himself!


The vet called and said that Snowy's blood levels looked better as far as his pancreatitis goes; however, his liver panel levels came back looking even worse than last week. So . . . he can't come home right now.

Right now they're just trying to get him rehydrated and try to get his nausea under control. In the morning, she wants to do a test for Cushing's Disease. She'll call again later in the day to let us know how he's getting along.

Thanks so much to all who have checked in throughout the day and kept Sir Snowy in your thoughts.

Also, I've been enjoying reading your religious background entries; each of them are heartfelt and honest and insightful.

And as to the one who asked if the pictures posted today were with the new camera--no, I'm still using up a few pictures from my old camera.

Signing off, for now. I'm frightfully tired and "stretched" feeling and still need to get a whole bunch of work done for tonight's Candlelight Communion service.

I'll let you know if anything changes in Snowy World.

Snowy Visits the Vet

Snowy had an appointment at 10 am but didn't actually see a doctor till 11:15. In that period of time, I don't think he sat still for more than ten seconds at a time.

I sternly commanded myself not to cry but felt myself frequently tearing up during the wait. At one point, to distract myself, I thought I would walk around the room and read all the advertisements, posters and letters to the doctor that were posted.

Not a great idea.

A lot of the letters were for the purpose of thanking the doctors for being so compassionate and caring when their pets were put to sleep. And then there were all these beautiful heart rending, tear jerking, soul shredding poems about dogs passing away and I thought, "This is not good."

Then I got the idea of looking out through the venetian blinds at the waiting room area and trying to distract myself by people and animal watching. Bad move. The first thing I saw was one woman fling herself into the arms of another and start sobbing.

Obviously, she had not gotten good news about her pet.

After the doctor finally arrived, I lasted about three minutes; when when we started talking about symptoms and problems, I lost it. Completely.

Several tissues later, she told me that she needed to keep Snowy for a while; he had lost weight, was running a low grade fever and looked as if he were possibly dehydrated. She said they would do blood work and call me in about an hour with results.

Then she asked me my phone number. A pretty non-emotional piece of info to impart, right?

Not so much.

I gave her the first three digits. And then lost it again.

I think that at that point, Snowy was more worried about his weepy mama than I was worried about him!

So I am home for a few moments. I need to go to church and work the afternoon but I will keep my phone (and tissues) nearby.

The Traditional Making of the Pancakes. And A Discussion Question!


Before I post today’s (previously written) entry, let me update you on Snowy real quickly.

He threw up again this morning and did his “trembly, shaky” thing for about half an hour, complete with noisy, raspy breathing. The vet said she definitely needed to see him; even though they’re already double booked this morning, she wants him brought in about 10 o’clock.

I didn’t sleep well last night and have been rather prone to tears since I got up this morning; just feelin’ a little emotional about this doggie child of mine.

He’s in his usual spot—curled up beside me (always on the right side, never the left)--and snoozing away in fine Snowy fashion.

I’ll let you know how the visit goes.

And now . . . . Today’s Post!

Somewhere along the way, our family came up with the very strange annual tradition of making a pancake dinner before we decorate the tree. Nathan and Sarah were asking Steve and me where the tradition came from and when it started and neither of us really had any idea. I guess at some point, we just opted to adopt an odd tradition. (Try saying that three times fast.) And thusly the tradition has stood. For an unbeknownst number of years. Forthwithly.

As the 2010 Version of the Tradition commenced, Nathan, as per usual, was in charge of the scrambled eggs. It is not widely known why college students like to wear t-shirts and basketball shorts in the dead of winter but hey, who am I to tell my 21-year old son how to dress? (Go. Put. A. Sweater. On. NOW!)


Once he got the eggs all cracked he said, “Mom, I need that swirly, stirry thingie.”

The scary thing? I knew exactly what he was talking about.



While he swirled and stirred in his sockless, sweaterless state, his besweatered father labored over the frying of the bacon.


Snowy, enjoying being a part of the Exclusive Fellowship Of The Smith Males, kept a close eye on the proceedings


Then he trotted off to go see how the womenfolk were doing. I know it’s a big name for a small dog, but his official title is “The Smith Kitchen Overseer And Highly Esteemed Cute Canine Connoisseur of Overall Food Quantity and Quality.”


One of the things Snowy happened to witness was this Ritualistic, Traditionalistic, Sibling-istic Passing of the Spatula . . .


. . .which Sarah immediately placed in front of her face. Which is not its natural habitat.


Ahh. That’s better.


I went over to grab the pepper and Steve grabbed a picture of me and my reserved, quiet, and introverted son. And just in case you’re wondering, said son has not shrunk since he was home last. He was just sort of scrunched down so that he looks sorta shorter than me. (Shorter than I? Shorter than I do? Hmmm. I’m never sure of the proper usage in that particular grammatical conundrum.)


And in the end? It all came down to the pancakes.

After Nathan and Steve got their assorted egg and bacon jobs finished, they went over to lend helpful male moral support to Sarah.


I must say that the whole scenario created quite a bit of excitement in the Smith house.


No. We don’t get out much.


Discussion Question

Trine, our long time reader from Denmark, brought up an interesting question for our fine Smithellaneous family. She asked what everyone’s religious backgrounds/denominations/beliefs were.

I didn’t put that question in the form of a poll because most people’s responses to that question could not be contained in a one or two word “option.”

A few of you have already answered the question and your responses have been so interesting. If the rest of you would like to jump in, feel free! This is another great way to get to know each other.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Snowy Saga Continues

Earlier tonight, the four of us (plus Snowy) drove about twenty minutes to view a big Christmas light display. On the way there, Snowy was kind of anxious and restless and eventually disappeared to the back of the van. It wasn't long before a Certain Smell wafted toward us---a smell that mothers of baby humans and small doggies recognize instantly.


We stopped at a gas station for a Clean Up Mission; I happily handed Steve a few tissues from my purse so that he could easily pick up the little logs that Snowy is wont to produce. Unfortunately, this particular time, we were not so lucky as to be presented with logs. Snowy didn't exactly have diarrhea but it was the next best thing. My little dainty tissues were quickly retired to their "dainty tissue package" and Steve went over and got the big, industrial sized paper towels from the gas pump area because it was a big, industrial sized mess. (I'm trying to be diplomatic here.)

Steve got the worst of it cleaned but the aroma of that Certain Smell remained. Oh happy day.

We walked through the light display (leaving Snowy in the van), and then headed back home. Within the space of about five minutes Snowy threw up twice--once in the front of the van and once between Nathan and Sarah's seats.

It was a lovely moment for all involved.

Apart from all the unpleasantness of experiencing his output at close range, I am now back to worrying about Snowy in general. For the past couple days he's done pretty well with the chicken and rice diet and I thought maybe we had the eating problem beaten.

However, with this latest development I'll have to call the vet again in the morning and see what our remaining dwindling options are in getting him to not just eat, but to also tolerate what he eats.

Last night while we were decorating the tree, he had a really bad "spell" for about thirty minutes where he just shook all over and looked absolutely miserable; we had no idea what was wrong or how to help.

I feel so bad for the little guy and just want to help him feel better. And yes, I would even happily make chicken and rice for him every day for the rest of his days if that was the solution. But at this point, it appears as though the chicken solution has disappeared, too.

Going to bed a little heavy at heart knowing that he's just not bouncing back the way he should.

He's an annoying, expensive, inconvenient, occasionally stinky--and dearly beloved little guy.


Just a quick little note for all of y'all! (As we like to say here in the South.)

For a little while, I'm going to enable comment moderation, mainly because I don't want any less-than-kind comments directed toward the person who posted the initial "camera question." Sounds like she's already having a tough time in life.

Also, since I've already expressed my thoughts on that situation, all that's really left is for readers to weigh in either "for me" or "against me" and that's probably not the most productive thing to do right now. So any further negative comments on this subject won't be published.

However, if there is something in particular you'd like to say, you are always more than welcome to e-mail me at I'd welcome hearing from you.

I was just telling someone in an e-mail that Smithellaneous folks are the best. And I truly mean it.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

It's Here!

The new camera arrived a whole day early!

I have unpacked it and stared at it and circled warily around it and even held it a little bit!

The battery is currently charging and at some point today, I might even get the courage to put it all together and push the shutter button!

I'm so excited!

(Is that enough exclamation marks for one post?)

The Phantom of the Gas Station

Yesterday on our way home from the airport with Nathan, I noticed I was running a little low on gas; I pulled into a station but before I could even get out of the car to start the pumping process, I glanced in my side mirror and noticed something.

Something startling!

Something alarming!

Something scary!

I am here to tell you with absolutely no equivocation that in that very moment in history I, Rebecca Campbell Smith, caught a rare glimpse of the legendary and secretive Phantom of the Gas Station!


It was an amazing moment. A stunning moment. And also life altering. I mean, how many of you have been privileged to lay eyes on such a rare phenomenon?


I yelled for Sarah to hurry up and look too, so that I could have corroboration on this fabulous sighting. She is now prepared to back me up concerning this event in a court of law, should that become necessary.


As we continued to watch this amazing scene unfold, the Phantom’s visage suddenly came into view.


And then? And then! The Phantom! He spotted us!


He saw that we were watching him! And he made a Phantom-esque face at us!

And we squealed like girls! (Well, we are girls.)


And then to our great relief, the Phantom smiled. And suddenly we realized that it was not the famed Phantom after all. It was just Nathan.


Good ol’ Nathan.


The (cute and beloved) Phantom of the Gas Station.

From the Comments Section . . .

Lizz said, Oh my oh my! I REALLY wish I could go to your church! Looks like such a great place and a great pastor! I like a pastor that has a sense of humor! He seemed like he hadn't even been so horribly sick just days before! What a guy. He reminds me of my daddy...CA-RAZY!!! :)

Lizz, it’s funny you should mention that it seemed like Steve hadn’t been horribly sick a couple days earlier. When he was practicing that song and dance number on Saturday night with the “hippo,” he was so terribly out of breath during rehearsal that it was downright disconcerting! All that “output” plus very little food for several days really sapped his strength.

By Sunday night, after a little more rest and a couple more meals under his belt, he managed to (thankfully) make it through the routine with just a wee bit of breathlessness.

And I agree that is certainly a pastor with a sense of humor! :-)

Ann asked, “Is it tree decorating night with pancakes? I know Nathan is a little late coming home so you may have done it without him this year.”

Ann, you have a good memory and you’re absolutely right! Last night was, indeed, tree decorating night, preceded by pancake making. Even though it put the decorating pretty near Christmas, we wanted to wait for Nathan to get home before we did it. I’ll post pictures soon.

Camera Talk

Note: According to my shipping tracking info, the camera is supposed to arrive before 7 pm tomorrow. It’ll probably take me thirty minutes to get up enough courage to turn it on!

I’m so intimidated! And also so excited!

Marysienka said, “Congrats on the new camera!!!! You'll have sooo much fun :) What kind of lenses do you get with it?

That’s a question that sort of makes me nervous to answer since I truly don’t have any idea what I’m talking about. Just so that I don’t goof up entirely trying to describe it all, I’ll just copy and paste the info from the order and see if that makes any sense to you camera pro’s out there.

1) Nikon Nikkor 55-200mm Zoom Lens features VR Image Stabilization, f/4-5.6G, IF-ED, AF-S, DX

2) 18-55mm VR Lens

I’m still not quite sure if I’m going to keep both of those lenses or return one of them and get a 35 mm or 50 mm “fixed” lens in its place. (Or maybe the term is “prime” lens and not fixed lens? As I said, I have a lot to learn!)

Rachel said, “You are going to love your DSLR. I have the Pentax Dx and I love it. The most wonderful thing about a DSLR, I think, (other than the quality of the pictures) is that you turn it on, click the shutter button and the thing actually takes the picture immediately. No "blink blink blink I just have to charge the flash please wait" (and by then your subjects have moved or completely left the photo shoot area! LOL).

Rachel, I cannot begin to tell you how many hundreds of times I have had that very thing happen to me and have muttered to myself, “At some point in my life, I am going to acquire the knowledge and the camera to take pictures without this delay always happening!” Drives. Me. Crazy.

Of course, once I gain some additional knowledge about the technical side of photography, I think I’ll be able to make my beloved, purse-riding “point and shoot” camera be a little more user friendly in that regard, as well.

Anonymous said, “Becky, I really don't mean this to be snarky, and worry about how to phrase it so that it conveys my heart in the question. There are a number of things that our family needs and wants just now. Should I develop a blog and then ask people to give me money so that I can get those things?

Yes, it's lovely that folks have given you well over $600 (depending on lenses, maybe over $1000) so that you can have a camera, but . . . honestly, I struggle with the way that you ask for such things. And yes, folks made 'donations' over the cost of the CDs, but . . .

Our family sure won't be receiving a fancy camera just in time for the holidays. I dunno . . . it just rubs me the wrong way to hear you basically ASK us to give you gifts.

Again, I don't mean it to be snarky. Lucky you - you have a new camera.
I guess I'd feel better if your plugs for gifts for yourself were actually gifts for OTHERS.”

Anonymous, thank you for taking the time to write and graciously express your reservations about the camera.

While I certainly can’t say I know exactly what you’re facing right now, I will say that at various times in my life (as a child AND as an adult), I have had Christmases where there was barely enough money to pay the bills, let alone buy Christmas presents; it’s a frustrating and scary place to be. I’m truly sorry things are difficult for you and your family right now.

Since you asked honest (gracious) questions, I feel like you deserve honest (gracious) answers:

1) Steve and I could not agree with you more about the importance of giving gifts to others. We have given away (completely free) over a thousand of our “Like A Blanket” CD’s (mentioned on the blog) to cancer kids, pediatric hospitals and to families facing stressful situations of various kinds.

We LOVE to give and even in the past few days, have given gifts to people who are struggling. Giving is a privilege and it is also a joy. In fact, the ten (or so) people who donated toward the camera purchase have told me what great joy they got out of being able to help with this project.

2) I think the fact that what I purchased was a camera and not some other item is also important to this conversation.

I have some readers who have been following our family’s story for almost eight years; I’ve gotten to meet some of them in person and have developed e-mail relationships with others. After so many years, I feel like so many of my blog readers are honorary Smith family members.

I think that part of the reason people have read this blog for so many years is because of the pictures and--as it turns out--most of the pictures I take are for the blog! So I guess I felt okay getting a little extra help with a “blog related purchase,” since it’s my readers who will be the ones to enjoy the results of the camera.

Now if I had asked for a new wardrobe or a vacation to the Bahamas—THAT would be another issue altogether. :-)

(And on that same subject, I already had some money saved up for the camera; the camera’s cost was only partially covered by my blog readers.)


Before I close, here’s a picture of Snowy, faithfully guarding Steve and Sarah during a “post decorating the tree “ sofa snooze. Good thing our family has such a faithful and ferocious watch dog on duty!


Monday, December 20, 2010


At 8 am I am leaving with . . .


To go to . . .


Photo Credit

To pick up . . .


Who will stay for . . .



In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Smitty’s Christmas Variety Show that we had at our church last night. It featured children, a dancing hippo, Elvis, a bicycle built for two, rednecks, videos, fun music and sacred music.

It was lots and lots of fun.

Steve (as Smitty) opened the night with this song. (He’s not only a ham—he’s pure pork!)





Sarah was in charge of running media for the show and also participated in a music/drama number.




Before I close, let me mention that Snowy seems to be feeling much better. He’s really loving the chicken/broth/rice mixture his vet told me to try with him. I’m not sure if I will be consigned to cooking chicken and rice for my dog for the rest of my days, or not!

I’m going to call the vet today to report in and ask what we’re supposed to do with his food and meds, now that he seems to be turning a corner.

So thankful to see our little doggy with a smile back on his face and taking an interest in the world again.