Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our First Donation Canister Is Now Active!

We'd like to say a huge "Thank you" to Melody at Everything Pawsible! You have the distinction of being the first business to host one of our donation canisters, and we can't thank you enough.

I've started a box on the right side of this page, where I'll be sharing the contact info for any business or individual who hosts one of the canisters. 

The lovely Cindy has created some info-cards for us to share around town, so I'll also be taking them into places that might not want a canister out. Salem is about to be sick of seeing my face.:)


First Day of School

It's the first day of school for Rachel, a full week before her friends, but that's okay, we're ready. Well, I think we're ready. I'm ready. I'm pretty sure she'd be just as happy to stay in bed.

Rachel and I finally made it to the coast yesterday. We usually make it to the beach more than once during the summer, but we kept waiting for the weather to cooperate, and then when we finally had a plan to go, the big seizures happened.

So, yesterday we decided we were going, regardless of weather, and it turned out to be a beautiful day.

Okay, not the best pic of Rach ever taken, but she was getting tired. I mainly wanted to show the blue sky and the gorgeous topography of Neskowin Beach. It's only a little over an hour drive from us, and away from the serious bustle of Lincoln City.

Also, I've updated the thermometer today, to include another $235 in donations to Rachel's dog account! Thanks so much, everyone. I'm supposed to go back to one of the businesses I approached about letting us put out a donation canister today, but have to wait for Rach to be done with school for the day. I will be sure and update on that later.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back To School!

I feel like we're off to a good start with the blog, and I hope to not lose that momentum, but Rachel's school year begins on Tuesday, and since it's a new experience for both of us, there will be a period of adjustment, and a lot to learn.

Rachel will be attending Connections Academy online, and as her Learning Coach, I have certain responsibilities to take care of each day she is studying. I'm hoping that once she gets settled into her new routine, I'll have more time to concentrate on other things.

I also wanted to let you know that, since the seizures of Tuesday/Wednesday, there have been no more. We have every hope that the tonic/clonics are now managed once again, though we do expect to continue seeing the partials from time to time. I will be taking Rach in to get a blood draw on Monday evening, so that we have a better idea of what her medication levels are. This can help her doctor make a more informed decision about dosages.

I will continue to update each time we get donation notifications from PAWS, and whenever we have a new fundraiser or outreach opportunity. Thanks for keeping up with us, and feel free to offer fundraising advice and ideas.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Donation Canisters

It was suggested that, as part of our fundraising efforts, we should approach some local businesses, and ask if they would allow us to place donation canisters at their registers.

*shudder* This is so hard for me, but I put on my big-girl panties, and have approached two places so far. One said no (and they were really nice about it), but the other said 'probably'. I just have to go back on Tuesday to speak to the person in charge. 

I let them know that I would be happy to place links to their businesses here on our blog, in return for their counter space. If you have a business, and would be willing to host a donation canister, or know someone who does, please leave a comment with your contact info, and I will be in touch. All comments are screened before posting, and I won't post private info.

In other news, I was very gratified to open Rachel's email, and find notifications of 4 more donations made to Rachel's PAWS account, totaling $140! Thanks so much. There is no amount that's too small; it all adds up, and we are grateful for your generosity.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Heating Up!

I realized today that notices of donations made to Rachel's PAWS account are being sent to her email, not mine, which makes sense, but she's awful about checking her email.

Anyway, now I know that I need to check it regularly, so that I can keep an accurate record of things. Today I increased the 'temperature' on the donation thermometer by $130!

Thanks so much to everyone who has made a donation.:)


The Day After

Yesterday was a bad day. It wasn't bad enough to end us up in the hospital, but it was bad enough that we were reminded quite vividly of what those days felt like, and how much we don't to want to relive them.

I've always felt that Rachel's epilepsy was not a good thing, and I like to think that I don't wear rose-colored glasses, or else we wouldn't be in the process of getting her a Seizure Response Dog, but I have felt that maybe her seizures weren't really bad enough to warrant the dog. I sometimes thought that we were overreacting, and that she'd be able to eventually make her way without that assistance, and it was just a matter of time before things got better.

I had my bubble burst in a big way Tuesday night. Those nasty, huge, ugly TCs are lurking just under the surface of a chemical cocktail that holds them prisoner, and we never know when that cocktail might fail. Meds can lose their efficacy over time, people can make mistakes, and before you know it, you're staring at someone you love while they thrash their way through an electrical storm that takes place in their brain, and exhausts their body.

Opening up this blog to the eyes of potentially thousands of strangers is one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I believe now that it is imperative that we are able to help Rachel get this resource that will allow her to move more safely through the world. The dog won't be able to stop a seizure, but it will be able to alert that she needs help, and stay by her side until she gets it.

As her parents, the prospect of letting Rachel go out into the world on her own is frightening, but we recognize our responsibility is not to hold her back, but to give her the tools to go out that door with the confidence that she has everything she needs to be independent. 

Last night was better, and Rachel only had one partial seizure, at about 3 a.m. Believe it or not, that was a relief. It means that the med levels are coming back up, and we may have the leash on the TCs again. I'd like to stuff those suckers about 10 feet underground, and never see them again.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harsh realities

Throughout the process of creating this blog, and keeping you all updated on our fundraising efforts, I've sort of intentionally kept the tone very light. It's no fun to read about doom and despair, after all, and I get that.

Today, though, it's hard for me to be upbeat, and this is a part of living with epilepsy. Whether it's yourself, or someone you love that has it, there will be bad days; days where you doubt yourself, your doctors, and your ability to cope.

Yesterday morning, Rachel missed her early dose of her medications. This is generally her lower dose of the same meds she takes in the evening, and the same meds she's been on for quite awhile now. Usually, I am all over her to take them on time. For the first time in at least a year, they got missed.

The result is that at about 10:40 p.m. last night, Rachel experienced a tonic/clonic (formerly grand mal) seizure, which hasn't happened in at least 5 years. We were scared, but realized she'd missed the meds, and hoped that would be the last of it. This morning at about 6:40, she had another one. 

These seizures go on for more than 3 minutes, with low oxygen, blue lips, bitten cheeks and tongue, and convulsions. Now we're really worried. We have emergency meds here at home, called Diastat, but fortunately didn't have to use them, and we really hope we're over this particular episode now. I have called her neurologist and they say to just wait it out, as it takes time to get those med levels back up in her blood.

It's incredibly hard to wait. We're exhausted, and scared. Brett is here to help me, and I am so grateful. We'll take turns being up with her, while the other tries to catch a little sleep. More than ever, it's things like this -stupid human error- that reinforce how much difference a Seizure Response Dog could make in Rachel's life. What if we weren't there? I don't even want to think about it.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Custom Bags & Note Cards

In addition to the jam that we made for sale, and are now almost out of, we have available some really awesome custom-designed cosmetic/stuff bags, only $10 via Paypal to raisetheWOOF4Rachel@gmail.com. Shipping is free within the US....

In addition, we have blank note cards featuring original art by Rachel, which measure 4 1/4"x 5 1/2". We're selling them for $2 each, with free shipping within the US. Just use the same Paypal address as above, and let me know your requested quantity and mailing address...

If you have any other ideas that you think might work for us as fundraisers, please feel free to comment. Comments will be screened before being displayed, so don't be surprised if they take awhile to show here. I will see them.


Thermometer Tampering

There's something that you should know about me: I am a wibbler. I will sometimes make a decision, and then think better of it, and change my mind how about how to go about things. 

In this case, it's about the little fundraising thermometer on this page. In the beginning, I opted to include in our funds raised the $2500 grant from The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation. We're still getting the grant, but the way it works is that they give the final $2500 needed toward a dog, so technically we don't have it yet, and I don't feel right including it, and giving a false impression of where we are right now.

What I intend to do instead is to update each time I personally make a deposit of funds to Rachel's account, or I receive word from PAWS that someone else has. I don't know what their schedule is for generating that information, but I promise to update as soon as I know.

So, that explains why that thermometer is looking much 'colder' than it was yesterday. Today I made deposits totaling $1218.88! A full $850 of that was from the yard sale alone, with the rest coming from jam sales, and cash donations. I know for a fact that other donations have been made, but I don't have an official declaration from PAWS, so can't guess what the total is.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 2 of the Sale

Hello again, friends and family!

Day 2 is behind us now, and was even more profitable than Day 1, but it was also 95 degrees out today. Fortunately, our fabulous neighbors were kind enough to lend us a sun shade, so we were protected from the worst of it.

Our earnings for the first two days are just over $700! We are surprised, but thrilled, of course, and I am very much looking forward to being able to make a sizable first deposit into Rachel's Paws account when this weekend is over.

We have just one day left, and we don't want anything out there to come back into this house, so we will be making some great deals.

We will still have a long way to go, but I am feeling more confident that if we just keep plugging along, the fundraising period might not take as long as I'd feared. 

With all of you behind us, we can't fail. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. We really are depending heavily on our 'village' to help this child get what she needs to safely make her way in the world.:)


ps-I have just gone back to edit about 5 errors, so please forgive any others, as I am super tired, and just can't concentrate enough to spell, or use proper grammar.;)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Great First Day!

The first day of our sale has gone quite well. The weather was lovely, we had lots of help, and the mood was light. We met some lovely people, sold some unneeded items, and got to talk about epilepsy and Assistance Dogs.

Best of all, we made just over $300 today toward Rachel's dog! We still have lots of great things available, and there will very likely be things put out tomorrow that weren't there today, as we continue to dig through storage areas, and more friends chip in their donation items.

Here's a picture of the three of us, with Brett as Arnie....

The Big Sale Weekend Is Here...Ack!

Yesterday afternoon was spent in the hot garage, sorting, organizing, and pricing the very large pile of items we had gathered from our home, and had donated from a few family members and friends. There's a lot of stuff there. We pulled out of our family room the large, and super heavy, reclining sofa and loveseat, too. It's not going back in, so I hope it sells.

The art cards we had made came out looking really good, and I spent some time in the evening folding them, and putting them with their envelopes, and printed out some informational fliers that Cindy created for us to put out for folks.

I wanted to have an image to share with you this morning, so I took a picture of the ginormous Yard Sale sign Brett made, along with a flier, one of the cosmetic bags, and Rachel's art cards...

I hope to have an opportunity to take a few more pics during the sale, but I expect to be pretty busy. Brett put an ad on Craigslist, and included an extensive list of the types of things folks could find here. We really do have everything from car parts to kitchen utensils. It should be exciting, and I wish you could all join us, even just to hang out for a couple of hours.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Garage Sale Eve

Good morning, friends and family!

I'm up way too early again, but it's the day before the big sale, and my mind won't let me sleep, so I might as well get busy.

Rachel has an appt. with her neurologist today, up at Doernbecher. It's a regular, 3 month check-in, where we discuss how meds are working, and whether there have been any changes. Our neurologist was a motivating factor in getting us to apply for an Assistance Dog for Rachel, so she'll be interested in knowing that Rachel was finally accepted.

Then it's back home, where we'll be in full-on sale prep mode. It's a good thing I'll have help today, as there's a lot of stuff to be handled, and organized.

So, that's as exciting as it gets here today.:)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garage Sale Prep

Just a quick little entry today, as we continue to prepare for the garage sale this weekend, in addition to all the regular stuff we have going on in our life.

I'm still packaging and shipping jam, and should be getting the cosmetic/stuff bags in the mail today from Cindy. I also hope to hear from the printer that the art cards will be ready soon.

Rachel and I made a trip out yesterday, and picked up a few things to help with garage sale promotion and decoration, so that will keep her busy tomorrow, while Brett, Lisa (dear friend), and I get everything organized for Friday's big start.

If you notice that things don't look the same each time you come here for awhile, that's because I'm making little changes here and there that I hope will improve clarity of our goals and make the blog easier to read. Today I'm fighting with the Direct Donation instructions box a little bit, and trying to figure out why there's a white box around a couple of elements.:/


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Be Jammin'

A couple of weeks ago we had only a vague idea of how we wanted to get started with our fundraising efforts. We had a growing pile of stuff in the family room, which was earmarked for a garage sale, and some artwork that Rachel had done, which was unique and interesting.

So, I took the artwork, which was in the form of two largish paintings, to a local blueprint company, and had them use their big scanner to make digital images, and put them on a CD for me. Good start, but what now? Hmmm. I decided to just think on it, and move on to the next thing.

In the meantime, we got the go-ahead to begin fundraising from Paws, so my friend and service dog mentor, Cindy Mitchell started promoting the custom cosmetic bags she'd designed, and I decided to make jam.

Rachel and I hit a nearby berry farm, and picked 17 pounds of berries, then visited Bi-Mart for jars and pectin. Another visit to the grocery store for sugar, and we were off. I had never made jam by myself before, so there was some consultation with Mom, and then I took a deep breath and fired up the blender.

When the first batch was done, I had 9 little jars, and asked Rachel to taste the result for me. She was so happy with it that I needed a picture of her eating it, and I thought that would be a cute picture for the labels. This is what we ended up with...

Wanting something catchy and memorable for the name, Rach helped me choose Rachel's Raise the Woof Marionberry Jam. I got to work making more jam, and Rach helped get the labels on.

Before the jam had cooled, Cindy was asking for 4 jars, and then word got out, and we needed more berries. Rachel and I picked 13 more pounds, and got to work.

Brett went to work with a couple of jars one day, and a few more the next day. The day after that, he took a flat, and then asked me to bring out 2 more. I had 21 jars not spoken for, so took them out, and helped take 12 of them into the office, where we got to say thanks in person to several of the folks who bought the jam. 

This time Brett went with us to the berry farm, and we picked another 13 pounds. In doing the math, I calculated that we canned 117 jars of jam. I now have 20 jars available for sale, and fully expect them to be gone before the garage sale we're having this weekend. I am overwhelmed and grateful for all of the people who bought the jam, and can't believe the excitement that a homely jar of jam could generate.

Our friends at Redbuilt really came through for us, and we can't thank them enough. In addition to cash for the jam, there was more than one outright, and very generous, cash donation. Thank you all so much.

In addition to the many, many sales to Redbuilt associates and their families and friends, we have had friends from ebay, the epilepsy foundation, and my arthritis support community wanting to help us out. We really are blessed to have such a fantastic network of support.

The artwork Rachel did has been transformed into greeting cards, which are still at the printer, but will be finished soon, and we hope to sell those at the garage sale, and will be available to anyone else who might want them, too. Watch this space for more info.;)


Monday, August 15, 2011

Welcome to our new blog site!

If you're reading this, it means you've been invited to come along on our journey to raise funds for a seizure response dog for Rachel.

Rach has been struggling to get decent control of her partial onset epilepsy since she was 8 years old. She has been on multiple medication combinations, with limited success, and has been implanted with a Vagus Nerve Stimulator, or VNS. At this time, she is still experiencing anywhere from 5 to 12 seizures per month.

In addition to the seizures, Rachel also lives with a panic disorder, which has made attending public school nearly impossible. As a result, she will be attending an online public school for her last two years of high school. Instead of being disappointed, we are looking forward to the flexibility this kind of learning offers.

Over a year ago, we began the application process at Paws With A Cause, with the hope of Rachel being accepted as a client for a Seizure Response Dog. She was formally accepted as a client in July, 2011 and the fundraising process was begun.

We have been fortunate to have the promise of a $2500 grant from the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation, which helps people with seizures obtain funding for seizure response dogs, and seizure monitors. We are grateful beyond words for their assistance.

We are hopeful that with the support of a well-trained Assistance Dog, Rachel will be able to live the full and independent life she dreams of. We are happy to have you along for the journey, and thank you for your support.