Monday, February 13, 2017

Proud to Introduce Cinna

One year ago we said goodbye to our sweet boxer Tybalt.  Saturday was the anniversary of the day we received his ashes and paw print.  I had found a puppy that I thought Kyle would love, submitted an application that was approved and we headed to Patriots for Pets in Clear Lake, IA to meet him.

When we got to the shelter and walked in they asked who we were they to see and we said Red, the gal in charge said she was sorry but he had just been adopted.  She explained to me that on the adoption paperwork it says they do not hold puppies, I told her I knew that and wasn’t blaming her for anything but that it would have been nice for her to let me know he got adopted.  His brother got adopted that morning as well.  Kyle just walked out of the shelter in tears and I took Bella out to the car.  Kyle was just sobbing, I knew how badly he was ready for another dog and I was not giving up.  So I asked him if he wanted me to go back in and walk through to meet all of the dogs and he said yes but if they didn’t have what he was looking for then not to come get him.

I walked through with another gal and she was super sweet, I told her about Tybalt and that this was the same day we had received his ashes and paw print and that we were all overly emotional.  She completely understood and wanted us to find a match.  There were so many dogs there and there was a kennel that had six husky/lab puppy mixes and they were adorable so I kept them in mind because I thought if Kyle saw one he would love it.  As we wandered through there quite a few dogs who caught my eye.  In one kennel there was a lab/border collie mix and she was just beautiful they said another dog was in there with her but he was outside.

So I went to get Kyle and Bella, the gal had one of the husky mix puppies out for Kyle.  He got lots of puppy kisses and thought she was cute but she just wasn’t what he wanted.  As we got to the kennel with the lab/border collie mix the other dog was in there, he was a beautiful boxer mix and Kyle wanted to meet him immediately.  They put us in a hallway away from all of the dogs and brought him out to us, this was how they reacted to each other….

When I met Hurley I knew immediately that he was meant for me and when Cinna came over to me so gentle and loving with a sweet soul you could see in his eyes I just knew we would be taking him home.  The other big test was with Bella and well she fell for him instantly too.  These pictures truly express how we all were feeling at that very moment, tears of joy and relief to have found him.

Cinna was actually in a kill shelter in Oklahoma and Patriots for Pets rescued him, he was on death row.  He was at that shelter because his previous owners kept him chained up outside and apparently he had broken the chains twice and the neighbors complained so they surrendered him.  The gal that contacted Patriots for Pets was desperate for them to take him because she knew he was a good dog.  

It was an extremely emotional day and he was truly meant for us.  We talked last night about if they had called and said the puppy was gone we probably never would have met, if Kyle hadn’t walked through that second time we wouldn’t have seen him.  My heart is so full, Hurley just adores him and it’s so weird but so does our cat Milo.  Milo tolerates Hurley but he is totally different with Cinna he actually wants to CUDDLE with him.  If Cinna is by us on the couch Milo jumps right up to lay with him.  I feel like he must remind Milo of Tybalt.

Our family is complete once again, if we could afford to we would have a huge house with acres upon acres and barns so we could adopt as many animals as we could handle.  I cannot stress enough how very special and meaningful it is to adopt an animal from a shelter.  Their love and joy is unlike any other.  I am not saying our love for Tybalt, who we bought from a breeder as a puppy, was any less.  I will say the pure gratitude from both Hurley and Cinna is overwhelming and they truly are grateful to be part of our family.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Childhood Home

I grew up in the small town of Newhall, Iowa.  Our house was located on the edge of town with 5 acres, we also had a park right next door.  Everyone used to call it the Koch park since we were always there hanging out with our friends.  We would spend our summers playing outside with our friends, catching fireflies, swinging, walking through the pasture and trying to catch fish in the creek.  When the street lights came on it was time for all of us to head home and rest up for another day of fun.

I loved growing up there with my brothers and sisters, even though we would annoy each other and fight like most families, I loved them and had fun growing up with them.  Our parents were extremely supportive and made sure we always had what we needed.  My dad would take us out and pull us around on the sled behind the tractor in the winter, we would swim in the pool we were lucky enough to have.  I got the most joy from our beautiful horses, my dad teaching me to ride and trusting me to do so much on my own with them was the best time of my life.  Our horses were everything to me, I could get home from school and go straight out to the barn and saddle them up or even just ride bareback.

Christmas was always a very big deal, Christmas Eve was always celebrated at our house.  My aunts, uncles and cousins would come over and we would have the best time.  As we got older it was only our immediate family which of course is still a lot of us.  Some of us kept the tradition of spending the night on Christmas Eve and celebrating Christmas morning together.  Last Christmas was the last time we got to do that, it was so bittersweet.

My parents had talked about selling the house for quite a while and it finally happened this year.  We were all offered the opportunity to buy it but we have all planted our roots in Cedar Rapids or Des Moines, honestly it was heartbreaking to tell them no.  The house sold quickly, as I knew it would.  A young couple bought it and I am certain they will make some amazing memories there like we did.

We had one final family reunion at the park by the house this summer and I made sure we got some photos with all of my siblings and most of the grandchildren.  Sadly not all of the grandchildren could be there but I will cherish these photos forever.  We have all grown up and have our lives to live and now my parents will embark on their greatest journey traveling around the United States in their motorhome for the next 4-5 years.

We will miss them greatly but there will be plenty of room in the camper for any of us to vacation with them and they will visit us when they can.  I am so grateful for the wonderful memories, I will cherish them forever and never forget where I came from.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Living Through Changes

We are living, we are loving and life is changing.

Bella finished up 3rd grade last week, seriously how is she already through 3rd grade???

She is ready for a fun summer, spending time with her friends during the day and going on fun field trips, lots of swimming, summer dance and probably some soccer.

Time is not slowing down like I hoped it would ;)  I know I've said it before but I will say it again, Bella is the most down to earth, sweetest, most giving and caring little girl.  There are days when I ask myself what we did to deserve her.

We love to be silly, play jokes on each other, hide in the dark hallway to jump out and scare one another.  She is our joy, the very brightest spot in our life and I thank God for her every day.

The moment I see her when I pick her up my worries fade, for that one moment, these days a single moment is needed.  I feel selfish sometimes for counting on that from Bella, but hey I'm her mom and she is my everything.  Also I feel the same joy from her when she sees me, ready to pick her up and spend time together.

Kyle is thoroughly enjoying life at Kosama, we have been blessed to become a major part of such a supporting and caring group of people.  Throughout our life there have been ups and downs with Kyle and various jobs, I have worked to be his rock and stay strong for our family.  I love seeing him so happy with his job and knowing how bright his future is there.  He is appreciated, he is respected, his trainers and members truly enjoy having him be such a large part of their lives.

I love him.  I love seeing him thrive.  I love seeing him happy.

When people tell you life can change of course you listen and understand that.  When major changes occur that you never could have imagined would even be possible, well, that is a hard pill to swallow.

My professional world has been rocked and for the first time in our life together I feel uncertain.  My job is something I enjoy, the organization I work for is an organization I truly believe in.  By no fault of my own or my Local that I work for my job is at stake along with everyone else I work with.

When I first started working for Teamsters Local 238 I knew how lucky I was to land such a job.  They pay well, benefits are fully paid and it is a job that doesn't come around very often because people don't leave that type of job, they retire after 30 years or so and are able to enjoy retirement thanks to their pensions.  My dad was a member when I started and I was so proud to be a part of something that he believed in so much.  We have been close always but my job became something that we bonded over even more.

For quite some time Central States Pension Fund, the company who handles our pensions has been losing money.  Various factors have played into the demise of the Fund from deregulating trucking which shut down a lot of big trucking companies nationwide to other employers closing their doors and filing bankruptcy, which left a lot of "orphans" drawing partial pensions.  Central States Pension Fund submitted a plan to the Treasury Department which included cuts to all current and future pensioners.  The cuts would have been awful, but I was for them because I knew the outcome if the cuts didn't happen.  My dad who draws his pension from Central States was also for them even though his pension would have been cut more than we projected.  The Treasury Department rejected the plan in May and that's that.

Next month we should have a more certain timeline on when the Central States Pension Fund becomes insolvent.  Then I will have an idea of how much longer I get to continue working for Teamsters Local 238.  Once the fund becomes insolvent and every employer that pays in is forced to pay their unfunded liabilities, our Local will be forced to file bankruptcy and close its doors.  If anyone is interested in reading about the situation this is a good article that explains why the Government took over the Fund in the 80's and how many poor choices were made with money paid in by hard working people and it was lost. 

At the age of 20 I knew how lucky I was to work for such a great organization, I knew I could provide for my future family not only with a steady income but also health insurance benefits and a retirement.  Now I am at a loss of what I can do.  There is no solution for Central States besides help from the Government.  Over 400,000 people are in the same boat as I am or worse.

I do not deal with change well and over the next five years I need to figure out how to deal with it.  Bella sees me as a strong, independent woman and lately I feel I have grown weak due to uncertainty and complete fear.

We as a family will push through and thankfully a wonderful opportunity is in the works.  Funny how things come about that can be big, scary and exciting opportunities right when the solid foundation you walk on has been shattered.

Our life has been a revolving door of challenges and unexpected changes.  Relationships you thought were unbreakable are gone and yet out of some of that there has been good.  Other relationships have strengthened and we will always take in anyone who needs help as we always have.  Thinking about it I believe Kyle and I have lived in our house over the past 10 years with just us that first year.  I wouldn't change a thing, I am proud to say we have been able to take in my best friend, one of my nephews and my father-in-law over the past nine years.

I have to just keep swimming for my family even on the days when I honestly want to do nothing other than let myself sink into the terrifying darkness of uncertainty.  Thank you Kyle for taking on the role as the rock and to Bella for being my sunshine and to my father-in-law for being a source of relief and to my own parents for trying to help me keep my sanity even though they have their own uncertain future ahead of them.

Positive thoughts are needed and some prayers as well for our little Griffin family.  We will persevere because I will allow nothing less.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tybalt 06/25/05 - 02/03/16

February 3rd was a normal day, a full day of work, picked up my beautiful girl and we headed home.  The puppy dogs were ready to play, relax and eat dinner, Kyle had to close that night.

After Tybalt ate he threw up a little bit, I of course yelled at him for a minute and he came upstairs.  He continued to try to throw up, circle the same spot to lay down only to get up and do it all over again.  I called my sister Missy because I knew something was really wrong, she advised me to take him to the ER vet because she thought he had bloat.

At this point Kyle had gotten home, I told him I was really worried but that it was probably nothing so he and Bella should stay home.  Missy didn't want me to be by myself so she called our sister Jenn and Jenn came to be with me.  Thank god Missy did that, thank god Jenn knew I shouldn't be alone.  They took Tybalt back to do an x-ray and afterwards they took us into a small room.  His stomach was twisted, surgery would be about $4,000 and they weren't sure how he would do in surgery due to his age.

I completely lost it, screaming sobs that I'm sure were heard through the entire building.  How could this be happening???  He was fine four hours ago and now I knew we would have to say goodbye.

Jenn called Kyle so he Bella, Randy and Hurley could all come be with us.  I can't even describe how difficult it all was.  Bella didn't fully understand until she was there and I explained that the doctor would give Tybalt some medicine and he would simply go to sleep and cross over the Rainbow Bridge.  She lost it, screaming and crying, it was incredibly hard to see her go through the realization of saying goodbye to Tybalt.

We got to spend as much time with him as we needed, he was pretty drugged up but still a happy boy.  Hurley kept licking him and nuzzling him.  I didn't really know how to say goodbye.  He had been by our side for 10.5 years, our best friend, our protector, our sweet big boy.  As the doctor gave him the shot I repeated over and over how much I love him, how much I would miss him and that someday we would be together again.  Then he was gone, he looked like he was just sleeping peacefully.

Leaving him was incredibly difficult.  Our home doesn't seem the same anymore and of course it's not, we are adjusting to a new "normal" and it has been so hard for all of us.  Hurley hasn't eaten in two days, he has been playful sometimes and we were able to take a walk yesterday but he is just so sad.

Tybalt will be remembered forever though the hundreds of pictures we have to the ashes we will wear and the memories we have.  I will never forget him, he was truly one of kind our gentle giant.  Heaven is lucky to have gained such an awesome angel and we've got him watching over us every day, waiting until the day when he will show us the way.

I love you Tybalt, my bubba.