YEAR EIGHT: 2016-2017

This past week, we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. During our eighth year together, Ray completed his first year as a lateral entry middle school language arts teacher, my mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer, Ray started grad school, and I went from working full-time to part-time with the YMCA. We spent our anniversary walking around our alma mater, UNC-Charlotte, reminiscing our undergraduate days; it was an awesome way to spend the day. This summer, before school starts back, we are planning a trip to Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center and a few of the Disney World parks for our annual vacation together; Ray’s mom will be joining us this year as she has never vacationed with us before, nor has she ever been to Disney World. This trip is especially exciting to me because, in less than two months, I will be turning 30 and I absolutely love all things Disney. Although we won’t be in Florida for my actual birthday, I am counting this trip as my birthday celebration! So, to end this post, I think we are both glad that this past year is behind us, due to many unlisted reasons, and we are truly looking forward to what God has in store for this next year of our marriage.

8th Wedding Anniversary

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The Last Six Months of 2016

In the second half of 2016, Kati went to Disney World with her parents, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews while Ray remained at home to continue his role as a 7th grade language arts teacher for a title-one school. While Kati was at Disney World, we boarded Music at a local doggy daycare so she could have fun playing with other dogs while Ray was working each day. However, Music obtained a skin infection from the daycare and had to be put on antibiotics and wear her e-collar for a couple weeks.

The weekend before Halloween, Kati, her parents, sister, nieces, and nephews went to Hilton Head Island, SC and enjoyed the beach, the pool, and visiting Lawton Stables. On Monday, October 31, 2016, Robin, Betsy, Kati, and the kids carpooled home while Glenn enjoyed the rest of the week at the resort. Just one week from driving home, on Monday, November 7, 2016, Robin was admitted to the hospital after her family doctor found tumors and blood clots in her body. She was diagnosed with stage four leiomyosarcoma, as well as kidney cancer. After over two grueling months in the hospital, Robin was able to return home on Thursday, January 12, 2017. Soon, she will begin chemotherapy and radiation.

Because Robin was in the hospital during Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kati spent the afternoon with her on Thanksgiving to relieve Glenn, while the entire family spent Christmas Day with her. Christmas was spectacular because it was the first day Robin felt like getting in a wheelchair and being pushed throughout the hospital to see the Christmas decorations. After we toured the cafeteria, Robin asked Steven to grab his acoustic guitar so we could sing Christmas carols in a space off the cafeteria, as well as on her floor. At first, we did this to brighten her day, but several people stopped to listen, cry, and thank us for singing. We ended up being requested to sing on another cancer floor at the entrances to specific patients’ rooms. It was such a beautiful time together!

We spent the evening at home for New Year’s Eve because we were very tired from the Christmas holiday. We did not stay up until midnight, but were excited to celebrate Music’s 5th Birthday on January 1, 2017.

On the weekend of January 7 and 8, 2017, it snowed in our city and we spent a bit of both days with Kati’s sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews enjoying the winter weather.

The second half of 2016 was filled with some very difficult days, but we look forward to 2017. Ray is working on his Master of Arts in Teaching graduate degree and, this summer, our lease will be up and we are in the process of deciding where we want to spend the next several years (in our current neighborhood, of course!).

Year Seven: 2015-2016

Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. During our seventh year together, we moved over 580 miles back home to North Carolina from Indiana, we experienced our first, and hopefully last, major car wreck, we bought a Honda Pilot (out of necessity from the accident that totaled our Honda Accord), we camped in North Myrtle Beach, SC and rented a beachfront house on Topsail Island, NC, we survived Music’s third ER visit where she had to have major surgery, Ray received his custom Pearl Masterworks drum set, and we opened our own little art booth at a nearby antique mall. To celebrate our anniversary, we ate at the Melting Pot on Wednesday, June 15, followed by experiencing the NC Zoo on Saturday. The Melting Pot never disappoints, and the zoo was fun because we laughed a lot, even though we did not get to enjoy the animals well due to the large crowd.

It took the year to get back into the grind of life back home. Now that we are back in the swing of our Southern life, we are ready to experience year eight together!

Ray, Kati, and Music

Topsail Island

On March 26-April 2, 2016, we experienced our first vacation together of 2016 at Surf City, NC on Topsail Island. For the past few years, we have talked about renting an ocean-front home for vacation, but this was the first time we have had the opportunity to do so. The house we rented was two stories and had a kitchen, kitchenette, two living rooms, three bathrooms, and four bedrooms; the living room and master bedroom had gorgeous views of the ocean! Throughout our vacation, the weather changed frequently, ranging from cold and rainy to windy and sunny. We cooked in several meals, walked miles and miles on the beach, and went to both ends of the island…our favorite was the South end as the beach was breathtaking and secluded. We also ate out a few meals at Daddy Mac’s Beach Grille (sadly, they do not offer hushpuppies), Beach Bunny Grill, the Fractured Prune, and Domino’s; Kati also found a unqiue jewelry boutique called the Mermaid’s Purse. After a week at Topsail, it has been added to our list of favorite vacation spots alongside Chicago, Hilton Head Island, and Disney World (a top pick for Kati!). We cannot wait to visit the island again!

NOTE: In March, we began our store the Vintage Hummingbird, selling our creations at the Catawba River Antique Mall in Belmont, NC.

Music’s Third ER Visit

On Saturday morning, February 13, we woke up to find that Music had thrown up several times throughout the night. Music’s vomit was bile with a few blue strings in it; when I went down stairs, I found one of her rope toys that appeared to have one end’s strings chewed. Because Music often gets sick from things she eats, our home is dog proof; she has had this rope toy since Christmas 2014 and has not chewed it before so we did not consider it a hazard.

In 2012, after Music turned one, she experienced her first ER visit after eating an unknown item. In 2013, after Music turned two, she experienced her second ER visit and overnight stay after eating another unknown item. In 2014, after Music turned three, we almost had to take her to the ER after eating yet another unknown item, but we were able to get her to eat cooked ground beef, rice, and water mixed together, keeping her hydrated and out of the veterinary hospital. However, year four of our Airedale’s life did not disappoint with her third, and almost annual, ER visit for eating something not meant to be ingested: string.

On Saturday, after finding Music had thrown up, we kept an eye on her to see how she progressed. In the afternoon, we tried to feed her some cooked ground beef and rice but she refused to eat it; that is when we knew we needed to take her to the ER for fluids. At 6 PM, we arrived at the local veterinary ER where the doctor examined Music and suggested she have x-rays to check for any blockages. After reviewing the x-rays, the doctor appeared concerned and suggested another veterinarian, who specializes in radiography, review the images to confirm her suspicion of a blockage. After 8:30 PM, and after giving Music fluids (Music was about 5% dehydrated) and a shot to stop her vomiting, the doctor decided to send us home and she said that she would call with the findings: either Music would be alright or we would need to take her to another 24-hour veterinary ER in Charlotte for more care. Five minutes after we left, the doctor called and said that the other veterinarian confirmed that Music appeared to have a blockage between her stomach and intestines. Because of this, we drove to the ER in Charlotte where the doctor strongly recommended performing an exploratory surgery to find out what was happening to Music; she also explained that the surgery would cost anywhere between $2,500-4,000. After we agreed to the surgery, we were asked to pay a deposit which was the minimum amount of the surgery cost quoted by the doctor: $2,500. Whoa! We had just paid over $500 at the first ER for their services before being transferred to this new ER. Thankfully we had the money in savings to pay for this and they admitted Music at 11:50 PM. At 1:30-3:30 AM on Sunday morning, they performed her surgery, finding the string blockage that was about the size of a quarter, plus a little more in her intestines. On Tuesday morning, February 16, they discharged Music and we brought her home. We only had to pay about $300 over the deposit amount, so the final payment was not as shocking.

When we brought Music home, she was uneasy. I laid on the floor with her in the living room until she fell asleep, allowing her to relax. Ray and I took the rest of the week off to care for her as the doctor said she needed 24-hour supervision for any complications. Every 12 hours we gave her pain medication disguised in a teaspoon of peanut butter and we fed her a diet of Purina EN Gastroenteric canned food multiple times a day, followed by cooked ground turkey and rice. Today, we were finally able to introduce her regular food back into her diet, weening her off the bland diet.

We are so glad that our girl is safe and healthy! And, we hope this is the last year of visits to the ER for Music!

Hello 2016

I cannot believe it has been over three months since I last updated our blog! Every time I thought to post, I reconsidered because our life back home has become routine after six months. Since my last update in September, we have spent our days balancing work and life; nothing out of the ordinary. However, after looking through our pictures, we have experienced some great moments! After months of waiting, Ray finally received his custom drum set that we purchased for his 30th birthday. Everyone who knows us personally knows that Ray is a phenomenal drummer who absolutely deserves this new kit (this is only his second drum set; his first was given to him by his parents when he was 11 years old and it served him well). We also went to our first UNC-Charlotte 49ers football game, spent a long weekend at Hilton Head Island, SC with my family, and enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. On New Year’s Eve, we rang in 2016 with our dear friends; we could not have imagined a better night! God was so good to us in 2015, as He is EVERY year, and we cannot wait for what 2016 has in store.

Summer in the Carolinas

Life since our last post, over two months ago, has definately been different than we expected it to be, but August was just a month filled with work, home, and my (Kati’s) 28th birthday. For Labor Day weekend, I planned for us to stay at my mom’s camper at North Myrtle Beach, enjoying the beach life and to get a little rest. The Wednesday before we left, Ray was driving to work in the morning when a wrong-way driver almost hit him as the man was fleeing from the police after a domestic dispute. Thankfully, Ray was was able to get into the emergency lane before the deranged driver could hit Ray. This traumatic experience landed Ray on the evening news and in the paper as an eyewitness. On Friday morning we began our trip to the beach, preparing to reach our destination around 11 AM. However, with just 59 miles left, we were t-boned at an intersection by a young driver who did not have the right-of-way. While Ray did everything he could to avoid her, she hit our car hard, causing our back bumper to knock down a street sign, followed by the front of our car landing in a ditch. The airbags deployed when the cars collided and God protected us, and the other driver. Smoke and debris filled our car, but Ray and I were able to get out on my side, and I got Music out. Music was so scared, she almost got loose from my grip of her leash; I was so worried that she would run into the oncoming traffic. Ray stayed with the vehicle to speak with the police while I called our insurance company who assisted us with getting a rental car. It was an extremely emotional day that caused us to be stressed the entire weekend. However, we did continue to the beach, after getting the rental car, cleaning out our car at the wrecker’s shop, and taking Music to the vet to be examined. At the beach, the stresses did not end as the camper’s A/C had trouble and the kitchen was filled with tiny ants. We did try to make the most of it by going to Alligator Adventure and Broadway at the Beach, eating seafood, and taking a couple walks on the beach; it rained on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday morning, we picked Music up from her doggy daycare, only to see her limping on her front leg. The daycare staff said they had not noticed it, and we were frustrated at their lack of attention to Music; they even referred to her as a male dog. At that point, we were just ready to be home safely and have the weekend we had so looked forward to to be over. Thankfully, the driver who hit us admitted her fault to the insurance companies and we were able to purchase our new car, a Honda Pilot, the very next Friday as our Honda Accord was totaled. The insurance adjuster who inspected our car said he has seen more fatalities with less damage than we had and that he is glad we survived without any major injuries. We lived because God allowed us to and we are so thankful to all be alive and healthy. Since that trip, we have returned to our weekly routine of work, with a weekend 5K and the celebration of two friends at their wedding. And this fall, we are considering a do-over long weekend vacation…maybe.

Year Six: 2014-2015

Today, we are celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary; our third, and final, anniversary spent in Indiana. Last year, our anniversary gift to each other was the gift of becoming 100% debt-free; this year, our anniversary gift is moving home to North Carolina as of June 26! Throughout this past year, Ray has continued to exceed all expectations at his workplace, being referred to by his coworkers as a legend, and I have also thrived in my role with the Y. In October, I experienced my first airplane flight to Charlotte and in March, we celebrated Ray’s 30th birthday in Chicago. After three amazing anniversaries spent in Fort Wayne, we cannot wait to experience year seven back in our hometown. We are beyond thankful for year six being amazing, and we cannot wait for more years to come!

Ray and Kati 2015

After Over Two Years in Indiana

Here are a few things we have learned about living in this Midwestern state; in Indiana:

…Hoosiers always specify if they are from Northern Indiana or Southern Indiana
…Amish communities are ubiquitous
…Hoosiers are proud of their universities, especially Indiana University
…All lakes have caution signs to discourage ice skating
…Hoosiers do not wave
…It is the norm for businesses to have drive-thru windows
…Hoosiers that farm always grow corn or soybeans
…Flights to large cities are always packed; flights to Fort Wayne are always empty
…Hoosiers are delighted by Southern accents
…Pizza and breadsticks come with a side of cheese sauce; marinara must be requested
…Hoosiers believe Cheerwine to be an alcoholic beverage
…Almost every house is either gray, tan, or brown
…Hoosiers that farm surround their homes with trees
…Apartment complexes are often older than your parents
…Hoosiers take pride in their grass; it is always green, lush, and phenomenal
…You can see for miles because the land is so flat
…Music has developed a hatred for golf carts and horses; anything deemed a security threat
…Our favorite places are Mike’s Carwash, our doggy daycare, and our dentist

Music is Terrified of this Horse Statue!