Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two is Better Than One??

At least in the Justus household that seems to be the mantra this summer...

For one reason or another, this summer has been all about the power of multiples. From dining experiences to family emergencies, we seem to find ourselves indugling in the same activity over and over. On some occassions, the double-dip experience has been fun and we've taken advantage of the little things we enjoy as many times as we can squeeze into a short summer - such as:

1. JJ got to run two basketball camps over the summer
2. We ate Trolley Stop hotdogs nearly everyday on vacation
3. We chose to ride the bicycle built for two instead of one
4. We celebrated our second year of marriage!!! Yeah for us!

But on other occassions, we've found ourselves in less incredible repeats. In particular, having both cars in the shop (the same week!) and our furry little baby running in and out of doctor appointments. This note is the purpose of the post.

(Sigh)...Yet again, our sweet little golden retriever has found his way back to the operating table for the third time this year. The first slicing took place in October 2009 after he swallowed half of a tennis ball into his stomach and we found it lodged in his tubes blocking just about everything that is critical to survival. He was cut open immediately. After recovering nicely 10 days later (thank you, Madison Animal Hospital!) he was back in for x-rays in December to diagnose a nagging limp in his right hind-leg. Despite hoping for a sprain, it was a torn ACL and one that was beyond natural repair.

In comes surgery #2.

Coop went in for a TPLO knee surgery in March 2010 for a full repair. Basically, a doggie knee replacement complete with a metal plate secured with six screws around the joint. (Anyone want to guess how expensive 6 tiny screws can be???). We were told the recovery time on this round of operations would be 90 days and he was to remain as immobile as possible.

Riiiggghhhtttt.....that part was hilarious.

We argued that Coop was a four year old, healthy pup and he couldn't possibly stay quiet for 90 days. With a little shake of the head and a pointed finer, the surgeon looked at us and said, "Ok, but just realize that when a dog his size tears one knee, there is a 50% chance he'll tear the other. I'm just saying be careful."

That was all we needed to do everything short of sitting on top of him all day long to make sure he didn't move. We took every precaution and kept him on doggie lock-down for as long as possible. "Just make it to June," we'd say, "And then we're home free!"

Well, June 1st hit, and we celebrated! We were in the top half of the 50% and best of all our bank account would narrowly dodge another $3,000+ operation. Time to cheers!

Then came June 4th. And the limping began.

We were sure he had just tweaked an ankle since there was no way this was happening again, but after a week of watching him limp around the house at night, we knew we had plummeted in the statistics. It was back to the doctor (our new best friend) for more x-rays and another confirmed yes, that in fact, the second ACL had been torn. By this point we were pros. No need to check the calendar at home - just give us the next available appointment.

In comes surgery #3.

August 17, 2010 - Cooper returns to the doctor for ACL surgery #2 on the other knee. It doesn't get easier on the parents, I don't think, but for some reason Coop seemed to come home in happier spirits than the first time. Despite the gigantic swelling and bruising splotches all over his knee, he seemed content. Not quite happy, but content. It was almost as if he remembered this all from the first time around and it was old hat to him...or, eh, old cone?

As I showered him with his new "surgery presents" of gourmet dog cookies and stuffed animals, he licked his lips and wagged his tail like nothing had happened. It was me who needed the relaxer meds...

Relieved to see him alive and well, I can now sit back and breathe that we're done. Hey, the dog only has two knees, right? What more could he tear?? (I'm knocking on wood).

Next on the to do list: rebuild the bank account and destroy all tennis balls that are within eyeshot!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Business of Making Memories

If there's one thing that my husband and I have learned over the 5 years of dating and marriage that we've experienced, it's that we're both terrible at giving and receiving gifts. Sure - who doesn't love to GET a gift, but then there's always the expectation that you'll one day turn around and give one back. Right? And then comes the agony of being the bewildered shopper...

We never could quite figure out how to find the next best gift for each other, so we finally reverted to the one thing that frustrated gift-giving couples will say to each other to avoid the topic:

"Just don't buy me anything, and I won't buy you anything. Deal?"

So in 5 years, of all the Valentine's days, anniversaries, Christmas holidays, birthdays, etc. I think I can only recall ever really receiving about 3 gifts from him.

And I love it.

Instead, we've made a pact to just blow our money on a fabulous evening out anytime we're "supposed" to be buying each other presents. We're in the business of making memories, as my Grandma would say, and not draining our bank accounts to out do each other's creativity. And so far it's worked. We dine at incredible restaurants, we go repelling on zip lines, we go to the Final Four, we horse back ride (ok, so that was MY day to pick something) - but you get the point.

We've learned to value the moments of seeing the look on each other's face the first time we do something new or see a new place. It's the same feeling you get when you watch someone open a gift you know they'll love - only you get to do it, too.

But for our second wedding anniversary, JJ took the cake in the memories department. We actually did give each other gifts this go around and although I thought my gift would trump his, hands down, he definitely took the crown.

As I came home from work the other day, I walked in the house only to find a sheepish grin on his face with a half-bent smile running up his cheek. With his eyes dancing and the wiggle of his "I know something you don't know" dance, he pulled out an envelope with my name on it.


And dared me to open it.

The front said Happy Anniversary and there was a thin piece of paper wrapped up inside an envelope bearing his company letterhead. (Ok - on that note, he took the easy road, but it's what was inside that counts.)

After moments of challenging his dance with "I don't cares" and my own cocky grin, I finally gave in and ripped open the letter. Inside, was a plane ticket to Chicago.

My first thought was, "Awesome! How sweet! He planned a trip for us and I bet he's planned something totally cool for us to do. When do we leave?!"

As I flooded him with questions, he said, "Look again. I'm not going."

Dazed and confused, I looked at the ticket again. Sure enough, it was for one passenger. ME. And only Me. As I processed what was going on, my mind raced with the obvious question: Why would you send me somewhere ALONE for our anniversary? Ok, JJ - worst gift ever!

But before I could blurt out my objections, he told me he had arranged for my two best friends to take the day off work to pick me up at the airport in Chicago on the day of my arrival. He had secretly maneuvered for us all to be in the city together for three blissful days to do 'whatever it is you girls do' when you're together - something we die to do as often as possible, even though it never seems to be enough.

He had used every email, Facebook, and text message trick behind my back to set this up for me and I was blindsided - fabulously blindsided. As I screeched with excitement and called them both to blurt out the good news (as if they didn't know), I quietly rememebered why I married the most wonderful man in the world.

Of all the gifts he could give me - he gave me time with my best friends.

And that's a gift you never forget.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Since starting my new job several months ago the word 'reunions' is now one of the most common words to leave my mouth - on a daily basis. It's all I talk about from 8-5pm every single day of the week, and even a little on the weekends...when people ask how work is going.

I used to only think of Reunions as a these long-awaited (or sometimes impromptu) retreats for my friends and me to get away together. Sometimes a wedding trip to North Carolina, or a business trip to Atlanta (conveniently we're all there at the same day) or even a trip to New York for absolutely no reason to go, other than that we miss each other.

So it's a fun topic. It's about getting excited to travel somewhere inticining to spend time with people you care about. In my job, I work with people who are about to have a Reunion of their own - a college Reunion. Personally, my college alma mater doesn't hold these unless it's a big year - 10th, 25th, or 50th. But in my work, we have them every 5 they're common.

But like my alma mater - most high school reunions are few and far between. They don't just happen every so often, so when they do it should be a blast to go. Right?

I find it's always interesting to see the reaction of people when you talk about their High School Reunion and whether or not they want to go. Personally, I can't wait for mine in two years...but then again I loved every second of high school and miss my friends daily. But even for those who may not have cherished every second of every day in high school -wouldn't you be curious to see how people have changed?

Or maybe how they haven't?

I encourage everyone to read this article - especially those nay-sayers who say Reunions are a waste of time. You never know what you just might find if you go...