Monday, January 28, 2013

Fifty Percent

Blogging Friends.... I hereby behold my Top-Secret Quest!! Drum roll, please.... No. Seriously. I love, love, love rhythm!! It is self-titled: OPERATION Beautifully Unique!! Sorry for the delay in "publishing" this. Once-a week Blog posts will not be some regular occurrence!! I promise!! 

 "Hero". This is a grossly overused word in the current culture for which we reside. And one that I do not freely throw around. I can admire somebody for diverse reasons, but this doesn't necessarily make him/her my "hero". However. When somebody profoundly changes my life, this very well may qualify him/her as being a "hero" to me!! But. Does it count when this certain somebody is a fictional character brought vividly to life by Robert Downey Jr.? I think so!! Tony Stark/Iron Man is my hero. There. I said it!! Tony Stark/Iron Man is my hero!! This has become a recent self-discovery of mine. What can I say? Tony Stark/Iron Man has left a lasting impact on my life!! All because of one scene in "The Avengers". One line. "It's a... terrible privilege.". Well? It has been nearly nine months since my ears first heard Tony Stark speak those words. Nine months. Meanwhile, God has been teaching me--slowly--that everything regarding my life is, in fact, "a terrible privilege". I was born with this neurological birth defect called craniosynostosis. Wait. What?! Craniosynostosis. It means that I was born sans any soft spot. If memory serves me right, over time, the back of my scull became malformed, making a "point". Craniosynostosis--according to medical facts 29 years ago--mostly affects boys. And I am female!! 1 out of every 2,000 live births are affected by craniosynostosis. 1 out of every 2,000 live births. The cause of craniosynostosis remains unknown. It is, for the most part, sporadic, happening by chance. Thus, God has been teaching me--slowly--that these statistics are "a terrible privilege". My craniosynostosis was surgically operated on. Twice. Dr. J. even removed bone from my forehead!! He threw it away, like some useless piece of junk. The scars form a "T". My part? It is a scar!! We were scheduled for operation number three, but, miraculously, God healed me!! Meanwhile, I was also born with another birth defect. Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH. Wait. What? Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. This is an extremely life-threatening illness. It means that I was born with a hole in my diaphragm. Yep. And I was a more milder case than most. Amazingly enough!! While CDH causes "part of the organs from the belly (stomach, spleen, liver, and intestines) to go up into the chest cavity near the lungs also forcing the heart to move", my little body was spared of that!! For which I am grateful. If memory serves me right, my spleen was displaced. Plus. One of my lungs collapsed as resulted from CDH. And, while many children reherniate, I've never heard any stories which indicate that I did. One out of every 2,500 live births are affected by CDH. One out of every 2,500 live births. Approximately 50% of babies who are born with this condition do not survive. Approximately 50%. God has been teaching me--slowly--that these statistics, too, are "a terrible privilege". Our surgeon operated on this medical problem, sealing up the hole in my diaphragm. Oh yeah. And they also severed my appendix. To evade further problems!! As resulted, I now have one long scar across my abdomen. So. Time to be proactive with Tony Stark's message of "It's a... terrible privilege.". Thus, announcing my Top-secret Quest!! I am in the process of Google-searching Blogs authored by Mothers who either gave birth to children born with craniosynostosis, or CDH. Leaving comments. Then, reading these Blogs forevermore. I began with craniosynostosis. My comment to Moms of girls is this:
I just discovered your Blog. I, too, was born with craniosynostosis, among other birth defects. I am now 29 years old. I love, love, love to write!! I do live with learning disabilities. Unfortunately. But, I'm slowly being taught, that, in so many ways, as Tony Stark/Iron Man said in "The Avengers", "It's a... terrible privilege.". Everything is. It's my cross to bear. ;)

(Specified name) is beautiful!! No, wait. As my phrase goes, she is Beautifully Unique!! ;-D

Keep posting. I want to watch (Specified name) grow up!! ;)


And, much to my tearful delight, there have been responses!! From Julia's Mom: Thank you so much Raelyn! It’s always great to hear from someone with experience! I really appreciate your post. Julia is a sweet little girl!! She has an affectionate laugh!! I watched a video!! From Alayna's Mom: Raelyn - Thanks for commenting! And thank-you, I think my Alayna is beautiful, too. :) Alayna has a huge, rather mischievous personality!! Girl after my own heart!! From Rollin's Mom, in a comment on Beautifully Unique: hi! thanks for following our blog and my son Rollin who also has craniosynostosis! hope you are well, love the photos of your precious doggies! Rollin certainly likes superheroes!! He looks ready to assemble The Avengers in his Captain America costume!! From Ainsley's Mom: Thanks for your comments Raelyn. It's great to hear from someone who is an adult and has been through some of the same things as Ainsley. Ainsley is both developmentally and physically disabled. But that does not keep her from smiling!! What an example.... And, last, but not least, From BB's Mom: Thanks for visiting us. BB has taught me one thing, that life is precious with all kind of abilities or lack of thereof. He has taught me to slow down and enjoy the march of ants
Good Luck in everything you do. Do not let anything slow you down Cheers. BB is a beautiful boy!! Beautifully Unique.... They all are!! Then. I Google-searched Blogs authored by Mothers who gave birth to children born with CDH. I had previously educated myself on this birth defect's breathtaking statistics. And, while researching them, I was--emotionally--punched in the solar plexus. Hard. It is very disconcerting when you realize that you're a survivor, and could have died. For I am.... The other 50%. Furthermore disconcerting? When you Google-search CDH Blogs, and the first two Web sites found are about children--one an infant, another six--who died. Victims. "Angels". All on account of a birth defect which I conquered!! Oh, this has touched and overwhelmed my deepest emotions!! My deepest emotions. I am not sure what to make of this. It's as though CDH is some terminal disease!! Like cancer. I'm conflicted right now as to whether or not I should be grateful for my life which was spared, or feel a strong, palpable sense of "survivor's guilt". Perhaps I can experience both emotions. Honestly? I do not even have anything to offer to Mothers who lost their children because of this life-threatening birth defect. For I am still here!! Eventually, I did discover some Blogs authored by Mothers whose CDH children are alive. Several, actually!! And, my comment to Moms of boys is this:
I just discovered your Blog. I, too was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, among other birth defects. I am now 29 years old. I love, love, love to write!! And, I enjoy singing. It sets my soul free somehow. People say that I am good.... ;)

(Specified name) is adorable!! Beautiful in more ways than one. No, wait. As my phrase goes, he is Beautifully Unique!! ;-D

I will be praying for (Specified name's) continued good health!! ;)

Keep posting. I want to watch (Specified name) grow up!! ;-D

"I (we) shouldn't be alive... unless it were for a reason." ~Tony Stark. ;)


I feel such a kindred connection to these kids!! Their faces. Their stories. I cannot get these children--many on oxygen still struggling to become healthy--out of my mind!! The same feeling applies for kids born with craniosynostosis. A kindred connection. Especially with the girls!! I did not expect that. Now for a different kind of "kindred connection". Between Rose and me. Whenever I stroke my little girl's velvet-soft fur, she often rolls onto her back, exposing stomach for a belly rub. Which, of course, I happily give. One afternoon, my fingers traced along Rose's abdomen scar from when a veterinarian spayed her. And, suddenly, I felt this deep sense of correlation with Rose!! We both have abdomen scars for different reasons!! Which, seems befitting!! Rose is my Heart Dog, after all!! You know what? I do not need any reminders to glance upward and thank God for my existence!! No. I have a very physical reminder across my abdomen--in the form of a scar--indicating that I'd not be alive without surgery. And yet. What have I done with this life? What? I have wasted away several years on account of mood swing-induced pity parties!! Oh. I realize what I am doing with my life. That's a no-brainer. But the real question is: What am I not doing with my life? "It's a... terrible privilege.". Hmmm.... I should have these words tattooed on my left forearm. What do you think? Or. I should write Robert Downey Jr. and share how by playing Tony Stark/Iron Man, he has profoundly impacted my life. What do you think? Ummm.... Both notions freak me out!!



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

She Loves That Wild Man

Blogging Friends.... Sorry for posting only once last week!! It was not intentional. My excuse? I have been insanely busy of late!! Besides taking up my still Top Secret quest--more on that later!!--I am fighting a head cold!! I feel so out of it--as though I've been drugged--despite never having swallowed any over-the-counter medications!! Yuck. I am way overdue for a story, and, they have been freely accumulating this month like some soft, white snowfall!! So!! Here goes....

Hope. To the pessimist, with his glass half empty, this is a vacant, meaningless word. Correct? But, to the optimist, with her glass half full, the word "hope" springs forth endless possibilities!! Well!! Experts say that people are either one extreme, or the other. You cannot be both. But, I tend to disagree. Why? Because, according to my sister, I am "a pessimistic optimist". Isn't that an oxymoron? Perhaps. Nonetheless, I am a mix between both pessimist and optimist. An unwanted shortcoming, which, we are working on. Yes, we. Because, apparently, when someone is as flawed as me, she needs a ton of support. Am I going somewhere with this? Or should I just take a "sick day" and sleep my hours away? No, I am good, I am good. I'm noshing on potato chips, sipping 7-Up, my system is loaded with herbs, plus "brain juices" are flowing!! What more do I need? This is only a head cold. God will heal me!! Now. To the story. Rose is a full-fledged optimist. Forever hopeful, that girl!! Not because she is a canine. No. I knew this miniature Dachshund once--named Ivy--who was seemingly a pessimist. Her muzzle prematurely graying, everything terrified Ivy. Poor girl. But my baby? Whenever food is concerned--even if it's hazardous to her health--Rose bounds toward our kitchen, anticipating a snack!! Forever hopeful!! We own this Audubon Society singing bird clock. Every hour, our ears hear a different feathered creature. Occasionally, when three 'o'clock "chirps", Rose opens her deep colossal brown eyes, looks at me from my bed, and telepathically asks: "Aren't we gonna walk, Mama?" Forever hopeful!! When we are leaving for a hike, and she is invited, Rose develops Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. That's right. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. My little girl bounces off our walls like some tennis ball, then bays happily on the top of her vocal chords. Forever hopeful!! The other day, on a brisk January morning, still frozen patches of snow glued to our grass, Rose was doing her business. As usual!! In order to keep my raccoon scat-rolling, cat poop-ingesting hound out of trouble, I followed closely behind, shivering, and groggy from this head cold. Rose had finished her duties. I was ready to step back inside. Rose would follow suit.... Right? Wrong!! Because--as usual--Rose and I were not on the same page!! She couldn't have cared less about our freezing cold temperatures. Rose was looking--searching--for someone. Our next door neighbors' black and white St. Bernard/Border Collie cross, Zeke!! Rose seemed optimistic that she would find him in his backyard!! Forever hopeful!! She poked her ebony nostrils through Zeke's fence. Whined softly for him. Balanced her front legs against Zeke's fence. She walked around our shed toward a broken down part of his fence. But, Zeke was nowhere to be found!! Or, so I thought.... Suddenly, there was Zeke, running out his backdoor!! Beside herself, Rose whined, and bayed a few times!! Then--satisfied at last--she made a beeline toward our sliding glass back door!! She loves that excessive barking, high-energy wild man!!








Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16th, 2000

Blogging Friends.... I am a bit behind in commenting on all of your Blogs. For which I sincerely apologize!! This week has been seemingly busy around here, and, on top of everything keeping us occupied, I'm on some Top-Secret quest. It has required losing my sanity, in a positive way!! More shall be revealed on Beautifully Unique later!! Meanwhile. Today is a very special anniversary for me. January 16th. It's a day when my heart is filled in an abundance of nostalgic feelings. And memories simply flow like blood through one's veins. Thirteen years ago today, an amazing dream of mine became reality. How so? I became a first-time dog owner!! For thirteen years ago today, Shadow Sunshine was placed in my life!! And nothing again would ever remain the same, because I will now always have a canine!! This poem--which I composed in 2010--expresses how our lives were intertwined.... Shadow and mine....        
I will never forget;
That afternoon we met;
How you ran outside to greet me;
As though knowing we're family;
I'll remember too;
How Winter winds blew;
During church service the lights went out;
And I have absolute zero doubts;
That this was God weaving;
His Amazing Planning;
For their sanctuary went black;
Taking everybody aback;
So we fled toward their gym;
And sang beautiful hymns;
Then someone was giving away his canine;
Which is the story of when you became mine!

Happy Gotcha Day, Sweet Sunshine. I miss you still.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Beautifully Unique

"What can you tell everybody about yourself that would be surprising?" How many times has this query been presented to aspiring celebrities by some television journalist? Or, anyone, for that matter? This question has always intrigued me. Always. How would I answer should some journalist ask me? I often do wonder. Well.... I have a huge heart for children whose lives have been touched by special needs. For I myself live with learning disabilities. This has been freely expressed on Beautifully Unique. And--throughout our lifetime--God has blessed my path with personally knowing kids who, too, have special needs. Down Syndrome. Cerebral Palsy. Dyslexia. "Developmental delays". "Neurological disorders". Now. To answer the opposite of that commonly-asked query. I love, love, love mutts!! Which, has also been freely expressed on Beautifully Unique!! Why do I love mutts? Because--such as with Rose--they were born different. Like me. Why do I love mutts? Because. Having "Irish"/Scottish/German-Russian blood flowing within my veins, I, too, am a mutt!! I will say it loud. I will say it proud!! Why do I love mutts? Because--such as with Rose--they are Beautifully Unique. Irreplaceable in more ways than one. Like people. Particularly special needs individuals. Thus, imagine my delight upon coming across a news article earlier this week that combined the two!! Mutts and special needs. Score!! Enjoy reading this!!

Girl's best friend is dog who carries her oxygen

By Linda Carroll

Two years ago Aaron and Debbie Knobloch learned that their baby daughter Alida was suffering from a rare lung disease and that she would need a portable oxygen tank to help her breathe. The good news was that the oxygen tank would make their little girl healthy. The bad news was that she’d have to be tethered to the 6-pound tank most of the time.

The Knoblochs struggled to find a way to give Alida a normal life. Aaron built a walker with a pocket for the oxygen tank so she wouldn’t always have to be tied to one of her parents. But as the little girl grew older – and more mobile – the walker wasn’t enough.

When Aaron saw a TV program about service dogs, he knew he had the answer: with a dog carrying her oxygen tank, little Alida would be free to roam and play with other kids. Enter Mr. Gibbs, a golden doodle trained to be Alida’s constant companion, ever at her side whether it’s scampering down the slide at the playground or trotting alongside as she rides her bike.

"He's been a great addition to the family and just awesome help for her," Aaron told TODAY's Matt Lauer. Next to him, 3-year-old Alida giggled as she alternated between wrestling and cuddling Mr. Gibbs, who patiently rested his head on her lap.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for the Knoblochs.

Though she was a little premature, Alida initially seemed healthy. But by the time she was 6 months old, the little girl started having breathing problems. Sometimes her heart would start racing for no apparent reason. Other times she seemed to be breathing too fast. Then one day she turned blue and the Knoblochs rushed her to the hospital. Though she was quickly stabilized, doctors couldn't explain what was happening to Alida.

Aaron and Debbie went from doctor to doctor searching for answers. The relief was palpable when a specialist finally figured out what was wrong: 8-month-old Alida was suffering from a rare lung condition called neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy, or NEHI, that made it hard for her body to get enough oxygen from the air she breathed.

The condition was discovered just seven years ago, and there have only been 500 confirmed cases, according to the Children’s Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease Foundation (chILD).

So far, nobody has figured out exactly what causes the children's labored breathing, says NEHI specialist Dr. Megan Dishop, a pediatric pathologist at the Children’s Hospital Colorado and an associate professor of pathology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Researchers just know that there is an overabundance of neuroendocrine cells in children with NEHI. It’s possible that when there are too many of these cells, there’s a breakdown in communication in the airways, resulting in too little oxygen getting into the bloodstream, Dishop says.

While the Knoblochs were happy they finally had a diagnosis, they quickly recognized that it would change their lives.

“After we were told how rare it was and that there wasn't a lot of information available there were about a million more questions,” Aaron told “How does she get her oxygen? How do we make sure she is getting enough? Where to do we get it from? Will she be able to play with other kids? How is a baby going to grow up having to be tied to an oxygen bottle? Will she ever be able to play sports, or just go play outside? And that was just the first second.”

Getting oxygen was the easy part, it turned out. With the help of a small portable oxygen tank, Alida was able to return to good health. The tough part for the Knoblochs was figuring out how they could give their little girl a normal life – until they found Mr. Gibbs.

The dog was living with Ashleigh Kinsleigh, who trains service dogs near the Knobloch's home in Loganville, Ga. The puppy had finished up his initial obedience training when the Knoblochs came for their first visit.

Alida hit it off with the shaggy puppy right away.

“They weren’t sure they wanted to go with a golden doodle,” Kinsleigh told “But she went crazy for him.”

So Kinsleigh began the specialized training a dog would need to take care of an especially young charge.

“He had to learn to get under the table at restaurants,” she says. “He had to learn that if there were other animals he couldn’t just go and play with them. He had to stay right next to his girl and ignore all the fun things around him. He also had to build up to be able to carry around the full weight of the 6 pound tank.”

Kinsleigh calls Mr. Gibbs “a work in progress” because he’s still learning to be a little girl’s constant companion. “His job is to go wherever she goes and do whatever she does,” Kinsleigh explains. “If she wants to get on the bike and go down the driveway he has to learn to run alongside. If she’s going to ride on a slide, he has to learn to climb up and slide down behind her.”

Most service dogs don't work with children younger than 5. Teaching Mr. Gibbs to pay attention to a 3-year-old has been a challenge.

Aaron Knobloch told Lauer. “This hasn’t been done with a child this young. He does really well with Debbie and I, but it’s tough for him to listen to a 3-year-old.”

Little Alida gets her share of training, too.

“She actually gets frustrated when he doesn’t listen,” Aaron said. “That’s what we’re working on right now – helping him understand that that is the command. And she doesn’t always speak real clearly, so it’s been tough for him.”

The Knoblochs hope that by the time Alida’s ready to start school, everything will be running smoothly.

“That’s why we’re doing this so early,” Aaron told Lauer. “We’re hoping by the time she gets to kindergarten it will all be figured out and there won’t be any training left to be done and they’ll just go to school.”

Mr. Gibbs may not always have to carry around Alida’s oxygen tank.

Experts say that children seem to “grow out of” NEHI – or at least the need to breath with the help of an oxygen tank. “The general thinking is that these children will only have mild residual disease long term,” Dishop says.

Maybe one day Gibbs' only job description will be: girl’s best friend.


Monday, January 7, 2013

My "Happy" Scent

Blogging Friends.... I send a heartfelt "thank-you" for not only reading, but also commenting on last week's way-too-long Blog post. Wow. What an incredible community Blogville is!! I am so grateful for each and every one of you, dear Friends!! I promise to never compile another year-end Blog post such as that again!! You have my word....

Simple pleasures. Life is abundant of them, so long as you keep an open eye!! Simple pleasures are never expensive, like some elaborate Paris vacation. But, rather, they're small things which make a person feel deep, palpable, immeasurable happiness. One of those simple pleasures for me is the smell of vanilla. Candles. Soaps. Body wash. Lotion. There is something about the scent of vanilla for me that brings an immediate self-satisfactory cock-eyed smirk to my face!! It's so relaxing!! And, as has been freely expressed on Beautifully Unique, I have struggled mightily with happiness, plus self-acceptance regarding my learning disabilities. Thus, every simple pleasure counts!! For Christmas, I received not one, but two small identical bottles of vanilla-scented lotion!! One from my Mom. The other? From my sister-in law. And, with that, I have reached a self-discovery: the scent of vanilla makes me happy!! It boosts my mood. Literally!! I've been slathering this lotion all over my hands like strawberry jam on toast, and, just today I finished bottle number one!! Its sweet "vanilla sugar" scent is quite potent. Quite potent. I can wash my hands several times a day and it still remains!! Score!! Some of Rose's simple pleasures in life would, inevitably, be this. Lounging about lazily on the bed where I sleep, which she has long-ago claimed as "hers"!! Food!! Chasing selective squirrels out of our backyard, as she is seemingly choosy about which bushy-tailed rodent to dart after!! Food!! Spending one-on-one quality-time with her Mama!! Food!! Playing with her favorite dog toys, right now it being Lamb Chop. Did I mention food?! Now. I have far more simple pleasures than just the scent of vanilla, another one being quotes/and/or movie lines, plus uplifting messages. So. Along Beautifully Unique--mostly beneath Rose's pictures--are hidden "happy" messages, which were stolen from my 2013 wall calendar!! Such as: "All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within.". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Love grows a happy heart.". Plus. "A joyful heart is content in all things.". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Laughter makes the heart sing.". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Smile, happy looks good on you!". Mmmm.... I like that!! On January's calendar page: "There's room for every flower to bloom!". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Today is a good day to be happy.". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Live life happy!". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Spread your happy wishes!" Mmmm.... I like that!! "Live. Love. Laugh.". Mmmm.... I like that!! "Live a joyful life!". Mmmm.... I like that!! And, last, but not least, there is: "In Summer, the song sings itself.". I am thankful for life's little, simple pleasures!! Thankful for the happiness they bring!! Because, after all. Simple pleasures are gifts from God!!  



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome, 2013!!

Blogging Friends.... This post was initially planned to be "published" yesterday. Nonetheless. As my fingers freely typed away sometime around 11PM, New Year's Eve fireworks exploded outside!! Rose, of course began to panic, tremors pulsing through her poor body. I stopped typing, and lead my girl toward our bedroom. I hooked her red leash. She was basically now--against her own will--incarcerated. For I know very well that if Rose is allowed free roaming of our house during such occasions, then I'd awaken to accidents, or scratched-up doors. I do not want that. So, like with any storm, we "rode it out" together. Eventually, I moved us into the great room. I turned on our television, looking for some New Year's Eve program. I found the news, instead. Yuck. So, I flipped to some channel that was playing "The Twilight Zone", and only halfheartedly watched it. Fireworks periodically boomed all around us. Rose was panicking. Soon, that old black and white TV show was over. "Mission Impossible"--not with Tom Cruise!!--replaced "The Twilight Zone". I wasn't interested. Then, finally, I found this repeated New Year's Eve program. Taylor Swift was onstage performing!! I like that pop/country singer!! I watched this multi-colored illuminated ball drop on television, caught sight of several exploding bottle rockets out our great room window, consoled Rose, and marveled at a Brand New Year!! Then, everything grew silent, as though 2013 never even happened. However, that New Year's Eve program just kept going, and going, and going, like the Energizer Bunny. They promised me country hunk Jason Aldean. I enjoy his songs, as well!! So, I waited, as Rose still trembled beneath my fast-numbing left hand. It was, probably, 1AM when I finally fell asleep. Thus, "today's" Blog post is written as though I did it on December 31st. Because. For the most part, I did!!

This Blog post required twain days to finish!! Twain freakin' days!! I feel as though I've just climbed Mt. Everest, or something!! So. Sorry for the delay in "publishing" it!! Then again. Sorry that it is so lengthy!!   

December 31st. Another New Year lurks ahead of us, filled with bright tomorrows, plus unforeseen events in the distant future. Some positive experiences. Others negative. Another New Year lurks ahead of us carrying with it endless possibilities, personal growth, and further lessons to learn. 2012. A year which will, during swiftly fleeting hours, enter this time capsule of memories never again relived. I like December 31st. It is a time for looking back. An opportunity to reflect upon past seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks plus months. While many people get sad this time of year, I never have. Because. Right now, I find it a terrible privilege as we move forward into our New Year. Yes, a terrible privilege. And what an interesting year 2012 was for me!! Correct? I was typing for Beautifully Unique, but only had one official Blogging Friend who left faithful comments--Stacey--at the time. I know Ruby in person. She is a very dear friend of ours!! I know Karen, as well. My only Followers were--except Stacey!!--people who I knew. I am not involved with the lives many dog-owning friends. I never have been. In fact, I can count them on one hand. With that, I have felt alone, very alone. Plus, I possess this gift of writing. I wanted to share my talents with the world. So, I longed for--cried over, prayed for--an online Blogging community. Then, in 2012, the world--literally speaking!!--came to me!! I now have Blogging Friends from as far as South Africa!! Plus 35 Followers. Yes!! A community at last!! Called Blogville. I am continually rendered speeches by this!! For words alone cannot express my gratitude!! These wonderful Blogging Friends have instantly loved and accepted me as this weird, crazy, learning disabled, pain-in-the-butt individual!! I need that. Rewind. Before gaining such an amazing community, on March 7th, Rose and I were featured on !! All thanks to Charlene, a newly discovered Friend at the time!! We can be found under breed labels on its sidebar: Beagles and German Shepherds!! Rewind again. I became an Auntie in February. My adorable cherubic-faced niece is growing way too fast!! Also in February, I reached the self-realization that I enjoy baking Rose dog biscuits!! Surprisingly, because I am not at all domestic!! I even baked Rose one batch of treats nearly every month throughout 2012!! In March, I filled my small-sized, brown-colored ottoman with memories of both Shadow and Rose. Such as toys, leashes, plus miscellaneous items. Memories to cherish forever!! In April, on our morning walks, Rose and I met this small-sized yellow school bus driver. He routinely pulled over, opened his doors, smiled, and offered my mutt a few Beggin' Littles. Eventually, this friendly bus driver gave me an entire package!! Wow!! Rose, my "food-lovin'" little girl, of course, immediately loved him, and anticipated his generosity!! Also in April, we befriended this Jr. High-age girl named Shelby. Sweet kid. She loves animals--especially Rose!!--and aspires to someday be a veterinarian. You go girl!! Also in April, Rose was introduced--apparently for the first time--to wispy-seeded dandelions. My Curious George seemed so fascinated by them!! When I blew on one, her ears perked, and forehead furrowed. In May, our little world encountered an exotic-looking Chucker Partridge. This bird had black stripes like a Zebra's painted on "his" sides. Plus an ebony marking which wrapped flawlessly around the fowl's chest and eyes that made him look like a bandit, or something. Bright orange feet and beak completed this unique bird's appearance. His "call" was equally peculiar. And noisy!! Best as I can describe it, when this bird opens his beak, he lets out something that sounds like a dying car engine!! Not so pretty!! I thought this fowl was the loveliest creature that I'd ever set my eyes on. Rose? My "birddog" licked her lips upon seeing that Chucker!! She considered him food!! On May 4th, we saw "The Avengers" in our local movie theater. Best. Group. Superhero. Film. Ever!! And, as a learning disabled person that has lived far too long like Bruce Banner, somebody who does not want her limitations, I--shockingly!!--found inspiration from Tony Stark!! All because of one scene. When Tony Stark is having a deep, serious conversation with Bruce Banner. This scene:  

Tony Stark: You know, I've got a cluster of shrapnel, trying every second to crawl its way into my heart.
[Stark points at the mini-arc reactor in his chest]
Tony Stark: This stops it. This little circle of light. It's part of me now, not just armor. It's a... terrible privilege.
Bruce Banner: But you can control it.
Tony Stark: Because I learned how.
Bruce Banner: It's different.
[Banner tries to read the computer screen, but Stark slides the data aside with his finger so the two can see face-to-face]
Tony Stark: Hey, I've read all about your accident. That much gamma exposure should have killed you.
Bruce Banner: So you're saying that the Hulk... the other guy... saved my life? That's nice. It's a nice sentiment. Save it for... what?
Tony Stark: I guess we'll find out.
[Banner and Stark get back to work at their respective computers]
Bruce Banner: You might not enjoy that.
Tony Stark: You just might.

After that, I have slowly realized that as far as my learning disabilities--plus birth defects which started it all--are concerned, It's a... terrible privilege. This is an incredibly humbling concept. Also in May, I happily learned that I am "Google famous"!! That's right. I occasionally Google myself!! Well, that's very humble of me!! And today, if you type in Beautifully Unique, my Blog is there!! Right now, it's number two!! Number two!! As someone who oddly craves being well-known, I will take it!! By the way? This just discovered. I am also "Bing famous"!! Yep!! If you Bing-search Beautifully Unique, I am number one!! Pretty fun.... In 2012, my Blog earned six awards--which mean the world to me--including twain back-to-back Very Inspiring Blogger Awards!! Thank-you, Friends!! Also in May, Rose met some neighbors' Pit Bull/Labrador Retriever cross puppy through our cyclone gate. She was thrilled upon meeting a new friend. Me? I was a bit nervous, but tried my best to hide it!! Rose is my baby, and I am an overprotective Mama!! Guilty as charged!! Meanwhile, she taught me about never allowing media coverage to control my opinions regarding Pit Bulls. And their mixes. After all, Rose cannot allow the media to influence her "perspective". She doesn't even see Skip as a Pit Bull cross!! Rose cannot watch, or hear news coverage about these so-considered "man-attacking" beasts. She sees Skip as a dog, another mutt, no different from herself!! How wrong was I to think otherwise. How wrong was I.... Also in May, I learned on a hike that--much like Indiana Jones--Rose is terrified of snakes!! One slithered up from beneath this boardwalk's crack, and Rose took three steps backward!! Interesting. I love snakes!! Also in May, We experienced an unexpected thunderstorm. While away!! So Rose--who was "abandoned"--ran through our house, left saliva markings everywhere, and scratched up my bedroom door!! Poor baby.... I was not there for her!! In June, my family and I drove to our beautiful local beach. We stayed all day. For the first time, I entrusted Rose to somebody else. Not some boarding kennel. Rose loves her freedom too much. Not a house-sitter. No. She stayed the day at my Grandparents' house!! Honestly? Even that was nerve-wracking. But my Grandparents are responsible, trustworthy people!! In July, on the Fourth, my sister watched some downy-feathered baby chicks. Rose, of course, saw those high-pitched peeping birds as food!! So we kept them locked away--in a bedroom--thus everybody was safe!! Also on the Fourth, for dinner, we ate home-made fried chicken!! I love how ironic life can be!! Fireworks? They began around 6PM. Before dusk!! I spent six hours sitting on our hard "boy's bathroom" floor, stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur, singing patriotic songs, and waiting that insanity out. Panicked tremors never, for one second, worked their way through her body. Amazingly. Also in July, we ran into this family. They brought along their tiny miniature Dachshund puppy. Quite the yappy little thing, as most small dogs are!! I learned then, as my ears listened and mind observed, that yapping "out-barks" baying!! Who would have known? It was in June when I confessed of Rose's long-standing addiction to chocolate. Oh, she is terrible!! I have lost count how many times I've been forced to "save" Rose by pulling chocolate out of her mouth!! She needs help. Is there such a thing as rehab facilities for canines with chocolate problems? Hmmm. Choco-holic Anonymous? Also in July, we experienced extremely-loud-and-incredibly-close wall-rattling thunder and lightning around 5AM!! Rose awoke me for that with a THUD against my bed frame. I love this type of weather. However. I had never felt so unsafe, or so vulnerable during a thunder and lightning storm!! It was eerie!! For thunder rolled above us as though some high-speed train were driving past our house!! I temporarily lost my sanity during the Summer of 2012. I learned about Robert Downey Jr.'s--his word--"notorious" past. The good, the bad and the ugly, as that phrase goes. And I grew up. Suddenly a part of my innocence felt as though it was stripped away. I matured. For Robert Downey Jr. has broadened my horizons in more ways than one. And I have changed some negative behaviors. Because it turns out, that Robert Downey Jr. and I are quite a lot alike!! Personality. Idiosyncrasies. And.... "Character defects". I am stubborn. As was he. Being stubborn is my birthright, so no complete transformations there!! I refuse to listen. Neither did he. I am still working on that one!! I made lame excuses, used my premature short-term memory loss as a motive, and lied. So did he, minus the learning disability, of course. I repeatedly broke promises. Said that I would do this, or partake in that. But I did not care. Just. Like. Him. So, because of Robert Downey Jr., I learned. I spent so much of 2012 gleaning self-revelations. And, while reading about Robert Downey Jr.'s self-destructive past, I gained a sense of empathy and compassion which never before existed toward addicts. In August, while we shampooed carpets, Rose became my "prisoner". As I typed, her comically-sized pillow was placed on the "boy's bathroom" floor. With dog toys strewn about. It was the perfect temporary location for my mutt. She could see and hear me type. Her water was nearby. And, she takes up little room!! So. I had a bit of fun with this!! I pretended that Rose was incarcerated. She had few freedoms. Eating? Allowed. Drinking? Allowed. Urination and/or bowel movements? Allowed. Walks? Allowed. Exiting her "prison cell"? Not allowed!! Sitting on a nearly-broken white Lifetime chair, and placing my right hand pointer finger to our black computer keyboard, I was Rose's "prison guard"!! I took this job very seriously. Rose was, for the most part, a cooperative furry little inmate, switching positions on its tile floor, and seldom ever leaving her "prison cell". My submissive girl.... Rose was released on bail at the end of that day for an enormous financial cost. How large a sum? I am not at liberty to say.... Also in August, Rose went missing. Where was she? My bed? No. The great room? No. Mom and Dad's bedroom? No. Outside? Not likely. Then, somebody considered Uncle Michael's bedroom. The door was closed. That somebody turned its knob. Standing there on the other side, waiting--patiently--yet looking rather co nfused, was Rose!! Poor girl? Well.... Consider the believable facts in how Rose got locked behind that wooden hollow bedroom door. It was not because somebody accidently closed it on her. Uh-uh. Rose's black nostrils detected something, something tempting, something of bread "crusts" and butter. She is my "food lovin'" Beagle cross, after all!! And nobody was watching that hound!! Rose wandered freely toward Uncle Michael's bedroom, where, placed upon his couch, lie her "treasure"!! Why not go after it? Then, an open window sucked shut the door!! Also in August, our Grandmother came to visit--for two weeks--from California. My ever-sociable girl loved this new friend!! However. One Saturday, two days after Grandma's arrival, everybody piled into our Chevy minivan, and drove to a museum-like location. Everybody, except for Rose. She disliked that!! For Rose must have found it was strange that, immediately after Grandma settled in, we would be leaving!! Sans the dog. Oh, she was very upset with me!! Rose ran from room to room, bouncing off our walls like Winnie the Pooh's Tigger!! No kidding!! Following our exit, Rose balanced her front legs upon the living room window, and those mighty vocal chords let out this pathetic series of high-pitched baying!! My heart shattered like some broken glass as I listened helplessly to Rose's lonesome crying before we drove away. I hate leaving her under these circumstances!! Hate it. Then, the next afternoon, on Sunday, Rose became clingy to me. As though I were a refrigerator, and she was some strong magnet!! Everywhere I walked, Rose followed. Plus, she was obviously fidgety. Strange. It's not like I was ignoring Rose because of Grandma. Nope!! I could never be that type of Mama!! I know my little girl's needs, wants, and behaviors. I understand Rose. She needs my loving. Needs it. So, I have stroked Rose's velvet-soft fur whenever possible. I've continued with her walks. However. Should you ask Rose what is going on around here, she would most likely whine: Nobody's paying enough attention to me!! Doesn't anyone understand that I'm the most important creature who ever walked this planet? Anyone? Will you pet me? Will you? Will you? Will you? This is animal neglect!! I do not know where she gets her "Drama Queen" traits from.... In 2012, I made even further self-revelations. More growing. More maturity. More change. I am a "one step forward, two steps back" personality-type. Aren't we all? In September, we--Rose included!!--drove to a beautiful rustic, spacious log cabin!! It was plain and simple!! The moment we arrived at the cabin, my hound mix's ebony nostrils immediately inspected every corner, every floorboard, every staircase, every room. Repeatedly!! We hiked down these wooden stairs on a porch, explored the creek, and walked circles around our cabin. Repeatedly!! By the end of our first day, my canine wore me out!! During our first evening, we started the fire pit. Everybody cooked hotdogs and brats!! Yummy!! Rose, safe from any flying sparks, was temporarily tethered to the porch's post. Afterward, some of us roasted colossal-sized marshmallows for s'mores!! Mmmm!! My fingers were sticky after eating the sweet treat. So I headed up our porch to wash them in the kitchen sink. As soon as I was finished, my ears heard this familiar high-pitched baying sound. Rose!! So I flew through our cabin as fast as my legs could carry me. They sped up once I reached the porch stairs. Down, down, down I ran. I then observed Rose's surroundings. Everybody had gone their separate ways, thus abandoning Rose!! Poor baby!! She hates being left behind!! Certainly my presumably neglected mutt's thoughts went something like this: Hey!! Where'd everybody go? Oh, they left me!! They left me!! Make a lot of noise. Maybe they'll come for me!! Oh.... They're not coming back. They're not coming back!! I've been left behind!! Rose was instantaneously silent the second I returned to her side, however!! But she did not bay for very long!! I can only imagine her thoughts upon seeing me: Mama!! You came back for me!! I'm saved!! Of course I came back.... In October, we drove Rose to see her veterinarian. She was due for vaccinations. Inside the veterinarian's waiting room, I found this chair which was positioned next to a large window. After hearing Rose's name be called, we followed some lady down their narrow hall, weighed her canine patient on a scale, then entered this vacant room. Which, of course, my hound dog's ebony nostrils inspected!! Every corner, every crevice!! When our busy veterinarian simply passed by the doorway, Rose let out this low, resounding growl. I firmly, yet patiently, scolded her. It meant nothing.... Right? Rose sometimes growls at our neighbor boys through the living room window before remembering that they are friends!! Silly girl!! But there was a negative vibe at the veterinarian's office that day. A negative vibe. As we were waiting--patiently!!--for our balding silver-haired senior experienced doctor to step through the door, some poor woman was euthanizing her canine. We could overhear their somber conversations. From across the hall. The second our veterinarian walked in, Rose's mighty vocal chords let out this series of loud, ferocious barking!! Followed by aggressive growling. More barking. Further aggressive growling. Weird. Rose's behavior was "out-of-character"!! And mean!! Rose is my little sociable "pacifist"!! She loves everybody, and would not hurt a fly!! Ever!! Nonetheless, if my reflexes were not well-trained, I am afraid that Rose would have bitten our veterinarian!! What a frightening concept. But, I yanked Rose back so fast!! Then I scolded her. Eventually, she settled down. We lifted her up onto this tall, silver examination table. He injected his syringe into Rose's thigh. By then at least she was calm and relaxed!! The doctor asked a few questions. We answered. And, within seconds, his task was complete!! Just like that. So, Rose's temporary "mean streak" was for naught!! Or. Was it? She had "opinions". This balding silver-haired senior experienced doctor with the syringe is not her friend!! A canine died here, for Heaven's sake. She does not like this man!! This murderer!! So Rose "told him off"!! She was only expressing freedom of speech, after all!! Is that such a bad thing? Also in October, I learned that Rose dislikes pecans!! I was chopping up eight cups of the nut for some dessert that we were baking, a Taylor Swift CD blaring loudly in our stereo. Eight cups?! It was for some church event, so we needed enough. Rose, ever the beggar, wanted those pecans!! Please, Mama? Can I have some? Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I? Pleeeease? Oh, those colossal deep brown eyes!! Who can resist them? So, I set one aside, just for my little girl. However, Rose had to wait. Patiently!! Otherwise she will return and beg for more!! Plus, I had a huge task to complete!! So. As soon as I had nearly eight cups of the chopped nut--we ran out!!--I kept my promise to Rose. Her one pecan awaited!! Rose, who had moved on to chase squirrels in lovely Autumn sunshine, was visibly eager. I do get one? Really?! I had just about given up hope!! I tossed the raw pecan into Rose's expectant mouth. She spit it out. Immediately. Only to pounce on the nut, and throw it around our great room like some hunting feline with a mouse!! Repeatedly!! This carried on for seemingly the longest time!! I laughed, and laughed, and laughed!! So hard, in fact, that my abdomen muscles ached afterward!! Which, of course, was a good sensation!! You gotta love belly laughs!! In 2012, I revealed on Beautifully Unique that I was born with a birth defect called craniosynostosis. Wait. What?! Craniosynostosis. I was born sans any soft spot. Twain separate scull operations--one of which he removed bone from my forehead--is probably responsible for any and all "developmental delays". Not that I am blaming our skilled neurosurgeon!! He did preserve my life, based on research. Craniosynostosis, according to medical facts 28 years ago, mostly affected boys. Based on some Web site that I recently found, this still stands accurate. And I am, most assuredly, female!! According to an Internet research study, one out of every 2,000 live births are afflicted with craniosynostosis. I highly doubt that this statistic has changed throughout the course of 28 years!! Statistics are seldom ever altered!! The cause of craniosynostosis remains unknown. It is, for the most part, sporadic, happening by chance, according to one recently updated Web site. So I was "chosen". Thus. I suffer from premature short-term memory loss.... And have my entire life. In October, I witnessed a beautiful, rare occurrence. An Autumn rainbow!! It was a half-arch stretched across the skies. There is something so magical about rainbows!! They are momentary vapors, like ourselves. Blink, and you will miss their brilliant colors pained across the sky!! But. To witness an Autumn rainbow, as crisp winds blow loose leaves through the air, that is magical!! So magical. I then stood there, stock-still, completely hypnotized by this half-rainbow. This fleeting moment. I saw the rainbow become brighter, as sunshine illuminated it like some stage's spotlight. Ooooh!! And I watched the rainbow disappear in the grey clouds!! Vanished!! Just like that!! I then began humming the tune to "Somewhere Over A Rainbow". Automatically!! I wonder why.... In November, I admitted to successfully teaching Rose the term "crack on" from "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". Because. For reasons beyond my comprehension, I love, love, love Robert Downey Jr.'s line: "Now. Do you need me to elaborate. Or can we just crack on?". So. I taught "crack on" to Rose!! Accidentally!! To Rose, "crack on" is translated: "Time for a walk!!". Then. You, my dear Blogging Friends from across the pond, educated me on the fact that "crack on" is frequently used over there!! Neat!! You learn something new every day!! Also in November, during an evening walk, I saw Venus shining brightly. We were facing onward, when, I witnessed it. The moon!! But, as its beams rose upward, they reflected on Venus!! I stood there, stock-still, and stared, utterly mesmerized by this unexpected gift of nature. Rose and I were just about to turn back toward home, when the moon peeked through those grey clouds, slowly arising. It was breathtaking!! In December, I learned that Rose does not have an appetite for poinsettias. Because we had one, as it sat displayed on our great room floor. Near the illuminated Christmas tree. In fact, Rose has never--never--noshed on plants!! She prefers food products!! I do not even think that I've ever seen my little girl nibble on fresh green grass!! When we leave home, I place the cheery plant upon our great room table, far from Rose's reach. Temporarily. Unless I forget. Which, I admit, has happened. Twice. Such was the case one Sunday morning. While sitting in the our church's chapel, singing Christmas carols, what site did my eyes witness? A cluster of cheery bright red poinsettias!! Oh!! I forgot!! was my dreaded mental response. But what does a concerned Mama do in such situations? We were thirty minutes away from home!! Literally!! If Rose were going to commit suicide by ingesting that plant, she would have already done so. Correct? Oh, it was such a helpless situation!! So what did I do? I panicked. Then I said a silent prayer asking God to protect Rose from that poinsettia. And suddenly, I felt this sense of peace that everything was fine at home. Everything was fine. Just fine. Homemade chocolate candy, plentiful that time of year, was either contained or put away, out of Rose's reach. Because, after all. Rose has a problem. She is my chocolate addict!! But the poinsettia was not out of Rose's reach!! We returned home, and I immediately inspected that plant. It was untouched!! God answered my prayer.... 2012, also, saw some beloved Blogging Friends pass away. Sadly. So 2012 was a successful year for me. Beautifully Unique became internationally known. Stories have--for the most part!!--been plentiful. But emotionally? 2012 was a roller coaster ride. As I struggled with self-acceptance, mood swings, and pity parties!! Three cheers for 2013. It is going to be a better year!!