Category Archives: Charley

Pool Time

Mike is still in Chicago, he won’t be back until the weekend, and then he stays with us for a whole week. But he was here the weekend we arrived, and my dad took these photos of us having some fun in the pool. My “new” family of 4.

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Valentine’s Day and Updates

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Hope it was kind and sweet to you. Valentine’s is special around our place because it’s the day we celebrate my dad’s birthday and also, old lad Charlie’s birthday. And, we also celebrate the anniversary of our first formal date, back during in the awful blizzard of February 2011.

Mike had made reservations to go out to dinner at Emilio’s, the restaurant in which we had our first date 5 years ago. We try to go back there every year. But we had to cancel and hopefully reschedule for next weekend. Mike started feeling icky Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning, he had a full-on fever of 100.4, which got a little worse to 100.6, until it finally got better Sunday night. So this was the backdrop for our Valentine’s day…

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We still celebrated a bit, with cards, gifts and chocolates. Mike got jeans and I got much needed tech-gloves and an infinity scarf.

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Charlie, the old chap, would have loved to relive this:

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But instead got several short walks in the snow and lots of treats.

Liz flew into Miami Saturday night. The initial plan (before my mom’s health emergency) was to be with my parents for the kids spring break and my parents birthdays (my mom’s birthday is also coming up in a few days). Great timing, because they could all be there to visit Coco and celebrate my dad’s birthday as well.

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Coco is doing better. Still at the hospital (it’s been over a week now) and still not well enough to go home (although she asks every day), but better. After the TIPS procedure, there were going to be side effects both from bypassing the liver and the general anesthesia. The blood that is now not going to be cleaned of toxins by the liver, takes these to the heart and brain, causing elevation of toxins in the brain, also known as Hepatic Encephalopathy, which is an altered mental state. In order to control these toxins and eliminate them, she is given a laxative type of medication, which for a while there she refused to take.

Another complication/side effect from the whole episode was low hemoglobin. She had lost a lot of blood from the initial esophagus bleed, and even though she had some blood transfusions, the hemoglobin was not a stable normal indicator yet. This coupled with the general anesthesia, caused respiratory issues. She developed liquid in the lungs. As of yesterday, she had one lung clear and liquid remaining still in the second one. She’s been taking diuretics and being nebulized every 6 hours now.

So these are the 3 variables they are controlling for currently: eliminating the liquid in the lungs, keeping the hemoglobin up, and lowering the toxin levels to avoid Encephalopathy. The side effects are plenty: bruised arms from all the injections and blood drawing, many bathroom accidents due to excesses diuretics and laxatives, weight loss and thus loss of energy and vigor, and overall being done with the whole thing and wanting desperately to go home already!

She is getting better, the values that need to go up are rising and the ones that need to go down are slowly decreasing. But she’s not yet ready to go home. The Dr. said today that if she went home, she most likely would have to come back soon, and we all definitely want to avoid that. The hospital is the best place for her right now, until she’s stable. Hopefully this week, she’ll be able to go home to her Jack, and all the fun awaiting her there with Liz and the kids. Keep those prayers going, and the positive thoughts coming. They are all helping very much. Thank you!



Summer time is always anniversary time in these parts. I wrote about it a few years ago here. It’s a time when I also have some down time to think about what I have accomplished, where I am, and where I want to be. I think because I’ve always been living under the “academic schedule”, summer is the time during my year when I get the breathing time to do some reflecting, and unavoidably, every year, it happens.

This summer, it’s been 4 years since I moved to Chicago from NY. Four years working at DePaul and working toward tenure. It’s been 3.5 years since Mike and I met and started our relationship, and now it’s been a month since we began living together. Parenthesis – I live with boys now, people!!!! – I just needed to get that off my chest, but I’ll come back to that later.

It’s been 3 years since I adopted Max, and it’s been about a month since he turned 6. Max is 6 years old! Charlie’s birthday is in February, so we don’t celebrate that in the summer. Old Charlie is a whopping 10 years old, can you believe?

But speaking of birthdays, Mike is having a birthday tomorrow!! I’m excited. I’m always excited about birthdays. And I’m prepared too, with gifts and cards in tow.

Tomorrow is also the beginning of our summer road trip vacation. We are heading out south tomorrow morning, and probably not getting back into Chicago until the last week of August.

So, enjoy while we are gone. We will be doing a whole lot of this while we are away, because the boys are coming with, and we all know how much they love their morning walks! I’ll keep in touch from the road. Cheers to summer!



First Week

We survived our first week of co-habiting, or as Mike jokingly calls it “living in sin”. Well, we barely survived it. Things have happened this week. Lots. Of. Things.

Mike moved in on Saturday, dropping off his unwanted furniture anywhere they would take it: at his sister’s, at a church, and finally up in Wisconsin at his mom’s. He ended up getting back home, after retuning the truck, his keys, and picking up his car, around 10:30 pm, having started the day off at 8 am.

Sunday was an early rise to organize everything. The storage area was a mess; Mike had left everything out in the hall, in the hopes to save some time on Saturday. So we desperately needed to get all things settled in the storage room, and out of people’s way. We were at it for hours, but made it back home in time to watch the US game, while organizing kitchen stuff.

We now have SO. MUCH. STUFF.  I mean, literally, every surface has something on it, big or small. Every closet is filled, every drawer is packed, every cabinet has been used. If we ever get or buy anything else, we will have to get rid of something to be able to fit it in… or move to a bigger place… but let’s leave that up to the unforeseen future, shall we? For now, I really don’t want to think about moving again anytime soon.

Monday was the start of Mike’s first of two long commute weeks. He’s still working out in Channahon, until July 3rd. So the poor guy takes almost 2 hours to get there, and then similar time to drive back, every day. Not fun. But at least it’s not for long. But that first Monday, he came back home sneezing and in a haze. I gave him some Claritin and off to bed he went, only to wake up the next day with the flu. He had a full blown cold: runny nose, sneezes, headache, and a fever. He called in sick and spent all day in bed.

By Wednesday morning he was feeling better and went off to work. But by Wednesday night I was now starting to feel my throat itch in that not desirable way, and by the time Thursday rolled by I was sneezing like a pro and in a total haze. I had a packed agenda day on Thursday, with errands (how many times can a girl donate things to the Salvation Army? Apparently over a thousand!) and work meetings, so I headed out, but once I got back home around 8pm I was full blown sick. Thank you, Mike. We’re not sure where he got it from, but I sure do know where I did! (and, thank you for the flowers too, they are beautiful).

I had to cancel everything I had set for Friday and stayed in bed all day. Of course this was the only day of the week with no fútbol. Murphy, why do you always have to be right? But I slept and drank water, and took Advil and antihistamines, and went through boxes of tissues. Saturday looked pretty much like more of the same for me. I stayed in all day, changing from one set of PJs to the next, but not really getting too far from my bed. This time there was fútbol on TV, so that helped.

Mike was very industrious and spent some hours down in the storage unit labeling everything and reorganizing, to see if we could fit in some more lingering things that just couldn’t fit upstairs. While I rested and lounged around with the boys, who of course kept me company all through the duration of my cold. They are suckers for accompanied bed time.

On Sunday, I started feeling better. We had been invited for arepas brunch at some friends’, but had to canceled. I did not want to bring my germs and this nasty cold as a hostess gift to these guys. I was barely out of it, and knew how nasty it felt, and really didn’t want to give it to them. But I did feel better, and took advantage of that, so I went with the boys for a walk. It felt good to be out of the condo and to breathe clean air. It was nice to walk along the lake again. When we got back, I made breakfast at home. Mike was bummed we had missed out on arepas, so I made some for us to compensate.

We lounged around and then went out for lunch, some errand and to see Godzilla. Mike had been wanting to see it in the theater for ever, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss seeing it on the big screen. We came back and walked the boys again, and I was feeling much better. So much so, I decided to retire the Kleenex box to it’s original spot in the bathroom, and return leftover cough drops and Advil to the medicine cabinet.

I still have a cough, but I feel so much better. No fever in the last 24 hours or more, no runny nose, and no head cold. Just a cough, which I’m hoping will go away soon enough.

But… last night, it rained. No, it didn’t just rain, it thunderstormed. And we all know Charlie does not do well with those. At 3 am, we were all up. Trying to calm Charlie, and quiet Max. When it rains, Charlie turns into a wuss and Max into a bully. For some reason, Max can’t stand Charlie’s fear, and he lashed out at him, only making it worse. So you can just imagine how fun it is for us. Especially, at freaking-three in the morning!

So this morning when Mike got up to take the boys for a walk, I decided to stumble out of bed and help him get them ready. I figured we both had had a terrible night’s sleep, and he had to go into work, while I could go back to bed and sleep a little longer, before starting my day. Little did I know, this was not my hottest idea. As I held Charlie so Mike could put his harness on him (Charlie was still afraid of the rain at 6 am), Mike dropped the retractable leash on my foot, and it landed square on my right pinky toe. %^&*$#@!

It’s supposed to rain today, all day. I have a meeting close to my office, which I was planning to walk to, and now I’m not only limping, but it hurts if I wear enclosed shoes. My pinky toe is throbbing. Mike, dear, next time you drop something in my proximity, a heads up to move out of the way will be highly appreciated!

So yeah, first week? We survived. Barely. (cough, cough, limp, limp)


Charlie and Max and true boys, and as such are always getting into dirty stuff. They love going to the beach; Max can’t be close to the water without getting in. But inevitably it seems like they bring back with them all the sand, dirt and grime from the streets. This past weekend we took them to a new place to get groomed. They were overdue for a haircut, and since summer is around the corner, we thought we would ask for a little more than the usual trim.

We like how they look all long hair and scruffy, but sometimes one just needs to go short and clean. Truthfully, we didn’t ask for a short cut, we said clean up their faces, paws and skirts, but I guess they understood buzz everything, because that’s exactly what they did.

This is a before shot:


And these are some after ones:

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Don’t they look so much younger? When I saw them, I said “It’s like we have puppies now!” They look adorable, and since the tangled, scruffy hair was cut off, they are as soft as silk; a dream to pet!

Summer, we are ready for you, now let it be hot!

Morning Walks

The weather has finally gotten better, although it snowed on Monday… again. But it has gotten so hot, it even reached 79 F last weekend. Right now it’s back to the 50s, and we are enjoying it.

Our morning walks are some of my favorite times together, when the four of us are out and about in the neighborhood. Some of us snif, pee, poop, and chase squirrels, while others of us talk and reminiscence while enjoying the cool, fresh air, and sometimes take photos to share with you.

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Aren’t mornings along Lake Michigan pretty? We tend to think so.

It Snowed

The weather has been crazy in Illinois. Crazy cold that is. Well, actually it has been crazy cold across the country, except for Florida. It always seems to be 80 F degrees in Florida. Lucky them!

Anyhow, this morning we woke up to snow, a boat load of snow. Just take a look at what it looked like during our morning Saturday walk with the boys.

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Weekend “andanzas”

This weekend turned out to be a little less restful than I needed. Mike, Charley and Charlotte came over Friday night, and we just ate in and watched TV, because we were all kinda pooped. On Saturday we had planned to go for a Historical Tour around the city with some groupons I had bought ages ago, but as it turns out the forecast for the entire day was rain and overcast, so it wasn’t much of a photo taking situation, besides they were sold out. I didn’t know I needed to make reservations in advance and as it turns out they are sold out every weekend in May, so our tickets will expire 😦 We can still use the money towards another ticket, but the offer we bought will not be available any more. That kinda sucks, but we did leave it to the last minute, so lesson learned I guess.

Saturday we took the boys for a walk around the lake, we got some cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather and coffee at Starbucks and headed home. After breakfast and a little picking up, we watched a little TV, until hunger hit and it was time to head out in search of substance. We went to Five Guys and had deliciously big burgers and fries. We made a pit stop by Marshall’s and DSW because Mike had forgotten underwear and wanted to look at hiking shoes. I’m on a no-spending budget this month, so there will be no shopping for me.

When we got back, Mike took the boys out for a stroll and I retired to the bedroom, thinking I would take a nap, when Mike walks into the room “Sweetie, guess what I found on me?” A tick! I had found a tick on myself on Thursday and almost flipped out. I checked Max head to toe, put some anti-tick medicine on him, washed all the bedding, and took an extra long shower myself. But I guess either Charley brought some with him (we’ve found some on Charley before, none on Max) or it was lingering around here.

I got up as fast as I could and off we were to Petco to buy some special anti-tick shampoo, collar, sprays, and whatnots, and came back home to wash down the boys good. They had never had such a good cleaning before. We then cleaned ourselves good too.

This whole thing has me a little disgusted. I’ve been scratching my head paranoiac-ally ever since I saw the first tick, and I don’t see this changing anytime soon, since every time I think about it I get chills of disgust. I hope we got them. I mean the boys have been shampooed, combed, sprayed, and sprinkled with medicine. But it is the season for ticks, so we’ll see, I guess 😦

By the time we were done with all this it was close to 7pm and I was beat. I never got that nap I so much needed. But by this time we were all hungry too, so I made some dinner: shrimp linguini in béchamel sauce. It was quite good, we finished clean the entire pan.

We caught up on dvred episodes of Magic City and went to bed not too late. It had been a day. A tick day. On Sunday, we had planned to go up to Wisconsin, and spend the day with Mike’s mom. We bought some cinnamon rolls to take and picked up the edible arrangement with balloons Mike had ordered for his mom, and off we were, boys in tow, to Wisconsin.

They had meat sandwiches, fruit, and cake for lunch. Mike’s brother, sister-in-law, and baby came too. It was fun, relaxed, and sweet. We had a good time. Then drove back, with some traffic, getting home around 7ish.

It was a good weekend, but I feel like I need an extra day to relax and have that nap I so much needed. Oh well, maybe next weekend.

Smells and messes

So what do I come home to after a long day of meetings and grading? This:

Yep, that is pee and footprints all over the bathroom floor! I couldn’t help but be thankful it at least had been done in the bathroom, where one typical pees, and not the living room rug, which has had it, the poor thing.

But that wasn’t all. When I went to put the bathroom mat and other dog-dirty things in the washer, I noticed a sticky, wetish, spot next to the laundry door. “What is this? Another pee spot?” Yep. I cleaned that up too. And then the following morning I found a sticky streak across the kitchen floor. “How could I have missed that last night?!” I thought to myself and cleaned that up as well.

The bathroom mat turned into shreds in the washer, so out to the trash it went. And the apartment now has this distinctive pee smell, that hits you across the face as soon as you walk in. It stincks of pee I tell ya, and I am now paranoid pee is sprinkled all over the place in spots I am completely missing. I want my nice, sweet smelling home back!

But I have a plan. When Mike comes back next week, I’m shipping all the animals over to his place for a while, even Max. And then, then I’ll clean this place up with no mercy, and get it back to it’s nice smelling, typical self. I’m determined I tell you, determined to smell good again!

This week: All 3 animals!

Mike is off for DC today and not coming back until next Tuesday. So, it’s me, the boys and Charlotte, all by ourselves, all these days. I hope I make it. I hope I make it in one piece and sanely.

I won’t be staying and working from home though, that’s for sure. For one, I work better at my office. I’m more focused there, I have all my materials and books, and I have the big computer screen; but also, I can’t take all the barking at home. The noise gets to me, and I end up in a bad mood. It’s best to distance myself from the madness and come back, having been productive, and ready to interact with them. It just works best that way.

Next week is Spring break for us. Well, it’s technically the one week free between one trimester and the next, so it’s not a week off, at least not for faculty. The students get to lounge around or go places, if they want to, because there are no classes. And for us, there are meetings, so there’s always that. So, my plan is to head back to Minooka with Mike when he arrives from DC. All animals in tow. I’ll be working from home then, but Mike has a backyard, so I can let them out for periods at a time and minimize the noise… hopefully.

Send positives vibes this week will ya? I’m bracing myself for it, I think it will be fine, but one never really knows with these guys.