Friday, May 8, 2015

Elleda's Organic Vitamin C 20% Serum Review

I was given the opportunity to review another skincare product this past month. It's Elleda's Organic Vitamin C 20% Serum, containing 72% organic ingredients and 98% natural. This type of skincare is in my interest because it's more on the natural side, promoting ingredients the earth provides to help repair our skin from harsh environmental factors instead of using products containing ingredients with names unknown to me.

 Elleda's Organic Vitamin C 20% Serum contains a few main ingredients: Vitamin C and E, Aloe, Witch Hazel, Hyaluronic Acid and Jojoba Oil. The Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, a protein in our skin that connects cells. As we age, collagen breaks down and wrinkles appear. Vitamin E nourishes the skin along with the aloe and jojoba oil. The Hyaluronic Acid aids in retaining water (moisture) in our skin, keeping it looking and feeling revived and fresh.

I've used this product for a little over two weeks. I apply it day and night, following a skin cleansing routine but before my daily moisturizer of coconut oil. After using this product for two days, I noticed an immediate change. My skin felt a little hot for a few minutes but after that subsided, my skin took on a brighter complexion.

I'm unsure yet how to come to a conclusion about this product seeing as though I haven't tested it for a long period of time. I do, however, love the way my skin appears and feels. I plan to continue using this product. If you'd like to learn more about Elleda's Organic Vitamin C 20% Serum, go here.

Bridget James

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Skleer Review and Giveaway


I came across Skleer a few months ago when I was searching for a product that would help restore my skin from the harmful effects of the environment and to renew the natural glow to my skin. After the harsh winter in my arid environment, my skin feels dull and lifeless. With summer approaching, I want to revive my skin's health and the first place I look are products made from natural ingredients.

The first thing that caught my eye about Skleer was that it's made from all many natural essential oils. I've been using essential oils in my health and wellness regiment for not only myself but my entire family for nearly a year now and with great success. I tend to be drawn towards natural products because not only do they perform better, they have less of a negative impact on my body and that of my children. Too many products made these days contain a multitude of toxic chemicals, horrible for the body as well as making a negative impact on the environment.

Before I had children, my skin was very close to flawless. I was definitely one of the lucky ones, not having to pine over my skin or be embarrassed by acne. But once I began having children, my skin changed dramatically due to was a mess. I began trying over the counter products containing harmful ingredients because they held claims to help with any type of skin. In my case, I was in desperate need of help with combination skin. I paid way too much money to a very large corporate giant skincare line and after using it, my skin looked and felt like the life was sucked out of it, leaving it so dry my skin literally flaked off. This was not what I had in mind. So, like many people with skin inconveniences (I like to call them), I've learned to cope with skin that just doesn't feel like my own.

Then about 4 months ago I discovered using organic, unrefined coconut oil on my skin and it's been great. I think using something natural has allowed my skin to heal and return to a more normal state of health. The health of my skin wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be, but then I tried Skleer as a regimen to use prior to my new moisturizer...and the results have done wonders for my skin! It's glowing, I have very little to no blemishes and it feels really great! And it's no wonder, Skleer's all natural ingredients include many great ingredients!

Some ingredients include:              
  • Water
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Cardamom Oil
  • Caraway Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil (Bark)
For a more complete list, go here.

Skleer's all in one skin corrective can be used for a variety of skin ailments, not only combination skin. It's recipe is meant to reduce inflammation and infection in the skin, drawing to the lower levels of the skin for maximum effectiveness. It can also be used for:
  • pimples
  • itchy skin
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • dry skin
  • rashes
  • insect bites
  • minor burns
  • abrasions
  • hives
  • sunburns and sun/age spots
I've also been using it on my very dry and cracked feet and it's been wonderful. My toes seem to be healing and feel much softer...perfect for the summer months of sandals and bare feet!

Skleer is made without so many of the harsh chemicals we are accustomed to today with most skincare products. They contain no:
  • parabens
  • harmful preservatives
  • lanolin
  • hydroquinone
  • corticosteroids
  • salicylic acid
  • retinoic acid
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • not tested on animals
And I've some great news for all of you...Skleer is letting me do a giveaway on my blog of their product for one lucky winner to use and love too!

In order to enter the giveaway, simply comment to this post and tell me why you would like to try Skleer (please don't forget to include your email address so I can contact you!!!). Entries will be accepted until 5/14/15 and the winner will have 24 hours to reply back to me with their shipping address.

Good luck!

Mommy Bridget

Now, if only I could find a product to tackle those dark circles under my eyes...ha!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Birth Story of Luca Louis

As Luca's birth reached 8 weeks ago last weekend, I realized I had better put his birth story into words before memory of it began to fade.  I feel as though it happened only yesterday, or maybe a week ago.  The days leading up to his birth and his delivery day are still so fresh and beautiful in my mind.  But just as I'm slowly putting his newborn clothes away because he is growing so quickly, so is the time passing since his birth.  It's all incredibly bitter sweet.

Luca Louis was born on Saturday, June 29th at around 12:30 in the afternoon.  I was supposed to be at a Blessingway for a dear friend of mine that afternoon but instead was empowered for my own birth, by the beautiful strong women gathering together to celebrate the magic of birth, from afar.  Luca's birth was at home, in a birthing pool, just as I had planned.  It was comforting to be at home and be in charge of his experience I wish for all birthing moms.  And was I ever "in charge" of it!  His birth, or our birth story, is one I'll be telling forever. It was crazy, beautiful, and totally how I envisioned it in my mind and in my heart. The power of the mind should NEVER be underestimated...especially for a birthing mom.

Our story:

During the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was sure I was going to deliver Luca earlier than his due date.  I measured 3-4 weeks further along, I felt Braxton Hicks like they were going out of style and I felt near deliver 4 weeks before my real due date.  In fact, I was so sure I would deliver early that I had my sister fly out to be with us for our home birth two weeks before my due date!  But delivering early would not be the case.  Luca arrived a week past my due date.

Three weeks prior to my delivery date, I wanted to induce my labor naturally.  My midwife whipped up a concoction of herbs (to drink) that would start contractions and if I was ready to have my baby, if HE was ready to be born, my own labor contractions would take over.  The herbs worked within 15 minutes, and contractions came on strong.  So strong that I was worried I would have a rapid birth I wasn't ready for.  My amazing doula came over to the house and began her beautiful work.  My sister cared for us and tended my other boys while my husband got the house ready for a baby.  We kept my midwife in the loop so she'd know when she was needed to come over to the house.  But that would never happen.  After 8 long hours of what I thought was true labor, my contractions subsided.  Or at least I decided in my mind that I was exhausted and scared and not ready to have my baby.  We all settled in for the night, went to bed and awoke the next morning to more contractions and no baby.  I was surprised...I couldn't believe my labor had really stopped. It was surreal.

The next appointment with my midwife was 5 days later.  I had her check me and I was dilated 5 cm but only about 50% effaced.  She left it up to me whether I wanted to try to induce labor naturally again.  I felt SO ready, I really wanted to have my baby and wanted my sister to be a part of it, so I had her strip my membranes and I drank another one of her oh so delicious (no, not really...they are terrible) concoctions of herbs.  I began to contract within an hour and spent another day of 8 hours of self induced labor.  And then, once again, at 9 pm at night, my labor began to subside.  I was again surprised and a bit let down that I hadn't given birth to my little Luca.  I felt incredibly ready, but together we ultimately were not.  And so I kept my morale high and tried to relax about the situation.  Each day that went by was another day my tummy grew.  It was enormous, the biggest my belly had ever gotten during a pregnancy (even though I gained the least amount of weight).  I knew Luca would be my largest baby, and I have to admit the thought of pushing him out began to frighten me.  I had lucked out in the past and not torn terrible nor had I ever needed an episiotomy.  I really didn't want the horrid experience I've heard of mamas tearing...all the way, down "there".  So I tried to keep busy and do things to keep my mind off of D-day. 

The two weeks my beautiful sister spent with me and my family came and went.  I took her to the airport teary eyed and said my apologies for not having Luca while she was here and we hugged out saddened good-byes.  I was a little frustrated and terribly uncomfortable but still remained positive, dodging all calls but my family's because talking about it was too stressful.  That day was my third and final appointment with my midwife.  Since I had reached my due date, she wanted to do special tests to ensure baby was safe and happy in my melon of a belly.  And he was.  VERY happy.  She offered to strip my membranes again and I accepted. 

And then again...this would be the third day of 8 hours of labor contractions with no baby finale.  I felt defeated.  I was 80% effaced by this day and dilated 6 cm but not finishing with the grand, gold medal prize of my baby.  After this day, I decided to leave it alone.  I wasn't going to try to induce anything since it had proven not once, not twice, but THREE times to do nothing but break my spirit up a bit.  I guess I shouldn't say "nothing" because it did do "something".  I was progressing, doing the work necessary to safely deliver my sweet child when we were ready to do so.  And so I waited.  And more days went by.  And when I FINALLY felt that I would never have my baby, when I FINALLY felt like moving on from the whole idea (literally, that's how I felt), I went into true labor.

It was 2:30 in the morning and I awoke to a painful contraction. I realized after a few more of them that the contractions were different than I had felt on any I had previously.  I knew this was our time.  I laid around for the next 4 hours, I didn't want to disturb anyone and since my contractions were quite far apart, I felt safe relaxing.  I woke up my husband at 6:30 am just to let him know I was in labor and we went about our usual morning.  The boys woke up, we fed them, clothed them, cared for the doggies, cleaned our house, played, picked up the yard...

I spoke to my midwife at around 7:30 that morning and she asked if she had time to shower with which I told her, "absolutely". A few hours went by and my doula, my sister in law and my midwife all arrived around 11 am.  My contractions were still about 15 minutes apart, and I was feeling good, making lunch for my boys and doing some backyard work.  My midwife suggested she check me to see where I was at and I agreed.  So she did...and to our surprise (not mine, really), I was fully effaced and dilated to 8+.  She felt a bulging bag of water and suggested we fill the tub because if my water broke, that baby was coming!  Or so we thought...

We filled the tub and I got in.  I asked to have my water broken because I thought it was the only thing keeping me from delivering Luca and I really wanted to get it (pain) over with.  She did, and I expected, we ALL expected things to turn fast, but they remained the same.  It was seriously crazy. We (myself, my doula, my midwife and my husband) all sat and chatted while I intermittently had quite tolerable contractions.  I remember talking about cats...the most random of topics.  And about an hour after getting into the water, my loving midwife asked what was keeping me from having my baby.  Think about it: after 3 days of hard prelabor, the last 10 hours of real labor, I was fully dilated, fully effaced and my water was broken, and STILL, I wasn't pushing him out.  I wasn't even rolling in agony.  I was quite comfortable.  At that very moment, I realized that I knew exactly what was keeping me from delivering Luca.  It was ME. 

I was scared, I knew what pain I was about to endure and I was frightened of it and exhausted of my pregnancy.  At that very moment, it crossed my mind how nice it would be to go to the hospital and have the epidural.  But then I realized it was too late.  I had done ALL the work and it was time.  And so my midwife suggested one last thing to me: to surrender.  As soon as I was ready to surrender to the pain, surrender to my body and my baby's will...then and at that very moment when I made that decision to do so, he was born.  I literally said, "okay", got into position, and surrendered to our birth.  It was fast, hurt like hell, and was over in a minute.  And then I felt what so many before me felt, power.  I felt the spirit of motherhood and met my little Luca face to face for the first time.  He was beautiful and BIG.  9 lbs. 14 oz. to be exact.  I didn't tear, I remained "intact", and aside from being a little woozy, I physically felt pretty great.  I did it!  It was so awesome!  My oldest son, Park, heard Luca cry for the first time and came running up the stairs with Jude and their auntie, Andrea.  The boys were thrilled to see their new brother, minutes old, in my arms and still connected to me.  They weren't afraid of anything they saw, just enamored of their new baby brother.  That's a memory I'll forever cherish.

Birthing in the water is seriously the way to go.  I longed for that with my second son's birth, although squatting (which I did with his birth) is quite efficient.  But birthing in the water makes it much more comfortable.  And, as I've said before, birthing with a midwife's assistance is key to having an empowered birth experience.  My doula was also such a support and comfort to me.  Her levelled energy made me feel with every contraction that I was in control of my own birth.  And my birth story proves just how much control that really was.  And my dear husband, he knew just how much I wanted this birth to be a healing birth for us as a unit.  His constant support and encouragement was undeniably part of the reason I allowed for my birth to happen the way it did.  I fell in love with him all over again...and our little Luca is a testimony to that love in many more ways than one.

It's now been 8 weeks since our birth.  Luca is a smiley, sweet, gentle mannered baby in a big, strong body.  I chose his name from a list I created 15 years ago and kept stored in our filing cabinet.  When we found out we were having a boy, I remembered the list, found it and saw his name written down first under "boys".  I fell in love with the name "Luca" all over again.  And "Louis" is a very old, very traditional family name from my father's side of the family.  It dates back to the 1600's from France and I thought it was strong yet sweet.  I actually debated it as his first name but didn't want the confusion of how to say it correctly (in French). 

Luca looks a lot like his oldest brother, Park, but definitely his own little self.  We got off to a rough start with tongue-tie issues but got that (mostly) fixed.  He is a healthy little man, he sleeps quite well and is quite predictable.  We all LOVE him dearly.  We haven't experienced any jealousy issues and everyone adjusted quickly to their new positions in the house.  Park is incredibly sweet with his "best friend baby Luca", always kissing him and wanting to help take care of him.  And I can't complain, I've got three sweet little boys who are stuck with me for life!

I am blessed.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pregnancy in Toxic Land

Last week, I wrote an article for Moms Clean Air Force, a national clean air blog.  It's a personal story about my experience as an expectant mother living in a place where toxins in our air often times exceeds the national standards for acceptable air.  Below is the article:

Mommy Bridget

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Calming Lavender Bath Soak

It's been a LONG time since I've posted anything on my blog but I couldn't keep this one away from you all, no matter how incredibly busy my family keeps me.

I was looking for a good bath soak for my family to relieve our wintry dry skin and found a simple recipe to use.  And lucky for us, I had a large bag of dried lavender from last year's harvest just waiting to be used.  You will love the natural ingredients, the soak works beautifully!

Here you go:
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup dried lavender
  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal
Mix all the above ingredients in a blender until it's a powder form.  I use about 1/2 cup of the soak in one bath but you can use more or less according to your needs.


Mommy Bridget

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In Loving Memory of My Little Latti

Anyone who has known the love of and for a pet understands the unshakable bond that connects us to them.  I had the opportunity in my life to feel this unconditional love for an animal and on Tuesday of this week had to say good-bye to her, my first baby, my best friend, my sweet little Latti.

I first moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in the fall of 1998.  I was young, 19 I think, and still so immature even though I had already been living on my own for 3 years.  Being an animal lover my entire life, I always knew that when I lived on my own, when I had appropriate living conditions and when I was done spending most of my days travelling for work...that I was going to get my very own canine companion.  I never knew exactly when and had no idea what "type" or breed of dog I wanted, but I knew it was going to be a big part of my future.  Little did I know just how much of my future this addition in my life would be and it was just around the corner.

In January of 1999, my dear friend Kortney called me up and convinced me into going to a pet store with her because there was a cat she was interested in.  Kortney, my boyfriend at the time and I packed in his car and headed down to, in all honesty, a cruddy, little, hole-in-the-wall pet store in a not-so-good area of town.  When we arrived, Kortney led me to this cute puppy for sale that she saw earlier in the day.  Little did I know, her plan all along was to get me to see the puppy (knowing how much I wanted a dog) because she somehow knew I'd fall head over heels.  We went into the small room filled with wall cages, it seemed empty.  Then, I looked up and saw two dogs sharing a cage much too small for the both of them.  The first, a miniature type dog.  The other, a cute little yellow lab mix puppy that would be my Latti. 

Latti was young, about 2 months old.  The pet store employee said she was the last of the litter for sale.  To this day, I think to myself how wrong everyone else was in choosing the other puppies and not Latti.  I really lucked out with her as far as the short time it took to potty train her (a few days), to crate train her, teach her not to chew on my shoes and to leash train her.  By the time she was a year old, she didn't need a leash.  She always stayed right by my side, until the end really.  Anyways, after seeing her I was instantly smitten.  I asked the employee if I could hold her.  She seemed so hesitant seeing as I was quite young.  I don't blame her though...I was only 19, dressed most likely in jeans with holes in the knees and probably wreaked of cigarette smoke (a habit from my past I am not proud of).  But she did anyways.  She handed her to me, warning me that the puppy was very timid.  I could tell.  She clung on to me quite intensely, it was incredibly sweet.  I knew she was mine, and so I took her home.  She cost $65 which included her first set of vaccines (funny little memory).

Latti was a typical puppy, rambunctious and wild.  She chewed on the wood trim on the walls of our rental home, she chewed on my running shoes and bit my fingers when I played with her.  But she quickly learned.  And she quickly became my baby.  I took her everywhere with friends' houses, camping trips, trips back home to visit family, car rides running errands, walks and runs, everywhere.  I'm not sure how much my friends and family appreciated my wild dog running around but they were thankfully accepting.  (My parents weren't too happy about her seeing as they felt I wasn't responsible enough to have a dog.  Understandably so, I probably wasn't and dogs are like children, requiring a lot of attention.  But I learned quickly too.)

Over the years, Latti and I were on the move.  We lived in the mountains of Munds Park, AZ in a beautiful cabin.  Everyday, we went on adventures of exploration of our new surroundings.  I remember fondly of her pouncing through the deep snow like a deer while I followed behind in my snow shoes.  I remember romping in the pretty water sources throughout the mountains and just south near Sedona.  I remember never feeling lonely and feeling relatively safe because she was by my side despite the fact I lived alone for some time pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  We had a blast living in Arizona together...some of the best memories of my life were spent there with her.

We lived in Salt Lake City in between living in other places.  We also spent time in Kansas City where my parents lived.  She really enjoyed swimming in my folk's parents were awesome for letting her cool off in it!  We lived in Miami Beach, FL for about 6 months with my ex-husband.  She swam in the beautiful crystal ocean and ran around the beach like she owned the place.  She also experienced a nasty case of the fleas, no thanks to the possums that lived just outside our apartment. 

We spent time in my hometown of Bismarck, ND while I was briefly married to my ex.  She was a trooper despite the frigid winter temperatures of the upper north.  She was happy anywhere, really.

And we finally ended back in Salt Lake City, our permanent home.  We took many summer trips camping in the endless parks of Utah. I have our best memories lakeside in southern Utah at Lake Powell.  It was there we spent a ton of time with dear friends.  Latti was a huge water dog, never leaving it unless it was bedtime.  Even then, I remember early in the mornings when the sun was peeking out of the red rocks, she would quietly climb out of the small hole in the tent and I would hear her splashing around in the water.  My favorite memory, one I will NEVER forget, was a time when we decided to take a weekend trip to the lake.  As we approached the lake, Latti could smell the water.  She sat up in the backseat, something she never did, and realized where we were.  I rolled down her window and in an instant she had her front paws on the door with half her body out the window.  The minute the car stopped she jumped out and ran for it.  Those memories will always live on.  We were having adventures together, her happiness was my happiness and I have no doubt she felt the same.  Latti was my best friend, and I couldn't think of another whom I'd rather have shared these experiences with.

In Latti's golden years, we travelled a lot less.  I got remarried to the love of my life and we all settled down and began having children.  I regretfully watched as Latti got less and less attention from me as my children were born and grew older.  I always felt so guilty that we didn't spend as much time together but at the same time, I truly felt she understood.  She didn't have as much energy as she did when she was younger and preferred to lay on her bed most the day.  She became a bit arthritic, typical to her breed of dog.  Running with me was no longer fun for her, and every time I tried to coax her with her leash to go with me she cowardly stepped away from me.  I wasn't going to make her do something she no longer enjoyed so we stuck with her favorite sport, playing fetch.  Right around the time I had my first son, when Latti was about 10, she began getting these horrible fatty tumors.  I took her in to have the vet look at them to make sure that was all they were and was told that she was too old to have them removed (which I assumed).  The past 4 years, two of the tumors grew quite large in size...comparable to a large grapefruit.  I felt so bad for her but she never seemed to be affected by them, only noticeable to others.

Latti was a sweetheart with my children.  She never got cross with either of the boys for climbing all over her, interfering with her mealtime or even tugging on her ears.  After Jude was born, I saw, for the first time, her demeanor change to that of a true, loyal protector of the kids.  Whenever we played outside, she never left Jude's side.  She really enjoyed his company as he got older and put up with a lot from both boys.  Some days, I wasn't sure if her loyalty was more towards the boys because they were her family or because of all the food they kept giving her.  She was a lucky girl.

This past August, I awoke and went to let the dogs out to go to the bathroom like I did everyday and to my surprise, Latti couldn't walk on her own.  She kept falling over and was acting extremely sluggish.  After observing her for a few minutes, it appeared she had had a stroke.  She kept leaning and falling to her right side and was unable to eat or drink on her own.  It was heartbreaking to watch and even more to come to the realization that our time together was coming to a close.

After 24 hours of hoping she would get better and with the thought of euthanasia looming in my mind, I found out from my dear friend Heidi that dogs, unlike humans, can overcome strokes.  I took her to the vet the next day feeling a bit more confident with her condition but after he took one look at her, he said she most likely had a brain tumor which caused the stroke.  He taught me how to nurse her back to health but said if she didn't begin improving within a few days that it was time to put her to rest.  He really didn't believe it was possible seeing as she was riddled with tumors and very old.  I went home determined to prove to him and to us, of course, that we could overcome this obstacle.

I fed her soft food and water through a syringe all day long.  I had to carry her outside to the bathroom and coax her to want to walk, eat and drink.  I gave her 90% of my attention, gave her lots of love and snuggles and made her as comfortable as I could.  And within about a week, she had greatly improved.  Over the weeks, she behaved normal again except with the complete loss of hearing.  That was interesting to get used to, but completely okay.  I still had her with me, she seemed her normal chipper self again and I was going to make the best of the remaining time I had with her. 

She acted like a typical old dog, sleeping most the time and deaf.  But she didn't have a problem eating and going to the bathroom on her own and still liked to play in the yard, if only for a few minutes.  She was always excited when we got home and greeted us in her usual way.  She loved when company came over, especially those she knew.  She even had the opportunity to see my parents one last time over Thanksgiving.  We occasionally played fetch or frisbee, but she only lasted a couple of tosses.  I was happy for even that because I knew she still enjoyed the game.  November rolled around the corner where she would turn 14!  I was so proud of my baby girl living so long and felt incredibly lucky to have her all that extra time.  Just last weekend Friday, Latti played a little fetch outside with me, rolled in the grass like she loved to and ran around with the children.  Friday was a good day.  Saturday was not.  Unfortunately, when Saturday came, she took a turn for the worse.  Sunday I confirmed it in my mind and in my heart, she officially was feeling bad.

I could tell when Latti awoke she wasn't feeling well.  She stared at her food but couldn't seem to walk over to it to eat.  I tried to coax her into eating but with no response.  How sad it was to see her staring at her food, knowing she wanted it and needed it but without the willpower to do so.  Sunday morning she had an accident overnight and I had to clean dog beds and walls as well as bathe her.  I knew while giving her a washing that it would be our last.  She felt crummy, I could see it in her sad eyes.

On Monday, I hoped so much that she would eat or drink but her condition remained.  She lay on her bed, looking tired, almost defeated if you will.  I knew her body was giving out on her.  It was heartbreaking to say the least.  I finally got up the nerve to call her vet to ask if he made house calls.  I always knew I would never take her into the vet, a place that she was scared of, and put her to sleep.  Like everyone else wishes for their own beloved pets, I hoped she would die naturally at home, peacefully.  But I couldn't let her die with so much pain and suffering.  After finding out the vet did not make house calls nor did he have any openings for a few days, I knew I couldn't wait.  They referred me to a woman who did make house calls and I called her immediately.

I made the appointment for Tuesday morning while my husband took the boys to school so I could be alone with Latti.  What a dreary, dreadfully sad morning it was.  My heart was breaking.  I couldn't believe I was holding it together until my family left the home.  This really wonderful woman/vet came to our home where Latti was comfortable and felt safe.  She was sweet, loving and respectful to both Latti and I, and I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate experience.  She administered a drug like morphine first so Latti wouldn't feel any more pain.  In fact, she was so relaxed, she sweetly fell asleep laying her head in my hands and in my lap as I stroked her and told her how much I loved her.  After about 15 minutes, she was put to rest with me by her side, lovingly holding her beautiful little face.  I was relieved that my baby girl was no longer suffering.  I wrapped her in a soft blanket, gave her a kiss on her cheek and I said my final good bye to my sweet and loving dog on Tuesday, December 4th at 9 am.  Latti was cremated and returned to me two days later.  For years I planned on burying her in our backyard under my favorite tree but realized that our current home is not our forever home and that if I had buried her here, I would never leave.  So I opted to cremate her.  That way, she will be with me wherever I may go.  I also have big plans on returning part of her to a few of our favorite places we spent together.

The grieving process has been really difficult for me.  I want to be selfish and say I wish Latti was still alive but life doesn't work that way.  I miss so much about Latti that I can't hold back the tears.  Every time I walk into the kitchen I keep thinking she is going to be right there.  I turn a corner and expect her to be staring up at me but she isn't.  I miss the road trips where Latti laid right behind me, excited about where we were headed.  I miss her soft fur and the way she nuzzled her head into me.  I even miss having to vacuum up her fur all over the floor every morning, something I loathed when she was alive because she shed SO MUCH.

I put her doggy dish away today and set up the room where the dogs used to lie together in a different way.  Yesterday, I picked up her toys outside and put them back in the basket, wondering if they will ever get played with again.  Latti's departure is nothing less than the end of an era in my life.  I think to myself that even though her departure from this world is difficult, I take solace in remembering all of our beautiful times together, filled with adventure and love.  I know in my heart that someday we will meet again.  She will always be in my heart and I am grateful for the life we had together.  Writing this memoir has been a strong part of my healing process.  I really wanted to put all of my thoughts into words before time would pass and I'd begin to forget the little things about our time spent together.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share our story.