June 30, 2016

Craziness, Campers and Carly

Cancer scans. Dog breeding. Camper renovation. One month summer semester coming to a close. DIY landscaping and house projects.

That's just from the last two weeks. We will be doing more scans to investigate liver lesions in coming weeks and George's summer session wrapped up so we have the rest of the summer free.  Been working on painting lattice under house last week and trying to landscape the backyard...by myself...because George doesn't care about a nice looking yard...not even little bit.  And this heat has been miserable so my progress has been sloowww.  But I've made some...

It isn't just about having a nice looking yard though.  It's about having a Clayton proof yard.  Clayton doesn't understand things like dog poop is gross; so he doesn't watch to avoid it on the ground and if he steps in it he doesn't associate it with gross and will wipe it off with his hands or rub the bottom of his foot on his other leg, etc.  You can see how that can get really not fun for me.  So it's 30% about working towards a well groomed yard and 70% about designing designated dog-poop free Clayton play areas and paths.  It's taken two years to get as far as I have, but I'll keep chipping away a little at a time.

Macy came in heat so we've been spending a lot of time at her boyfriend's house.  So.Excited.For.Puppies.

Aside from making puppies the most exciting thing has been our camper renovation.  I'm almost done stripping factory decals, then a good cleaning and roughing up and then PAINT!  Already got my paint and waiting on good weather next week.  Here's my color scheme (paint chips and our new awning):

I like classic so that's what I'm going with.  Going for this pattern with my colors.  

As you can see the old awning was shot...

The new awning is such better quality and more appealing aesthetically too.  Some local folks helped us find an affordable option since our finances are super strict.  It was actually a Sunbrella camper awning on clearance from a past season. So it ended up costing less than ordering the fabric alone would have.  Then when the size wasn't just right, they altered it in no time. 

I have also been reading Carly's Voice and it is great.  Carly and Clayton are nothing alike, yet with so much in common.  I read her dad's words and I hear my own thoughts as a parent to a child with autism.  I know there are plenty of families with Autism around, but I don't personally know them, so thus far our autism journey has been as lonely for me as our cancer journey once was.  Reading this book is such a comfort.  Here are a few moments from the book that spoke to our life in so many ways:

It was irritating, destructive and unstoppable. "Ssshhhhh," I would say, but it came out more like, "Stop, God damn it."

What simple solution could there be to stop a thirty-pound child from hurtling her body full force against a wall?

Carly couldn't engage in many of the diagnostic tests they tried.  She didn't follow multistep instructions or tasks nor could she speak to explain what was going on inside her body.

Rather than enjoying Carly's childhood, we were consumed by the tedious task of pushing her from one doctor to the next.

I was beginning to feel like Haiti. Or Sri Lanka. A place where natural disasters just start coming and don't have the good sense to stop.

We rejoiced at small wins such as her learning how to hold a sippy cup, sit still on a chair for ten minutes during music time and sort blocks by color.

It felt like a humiliating medical procedure with our private parts exposed in the chilled air of the examination room as he pored over our tax returns and reviewed the expenses for raising Carly.

But over time, even these simple words disappeared.  I was thoroughly disheartened when meaningful words where mastered one week, then lost the next.

There was some relief in the delusion that she didn't understand the sights and sounds swirling around her.  But Tammy and I always felt as if we were being shunned by a clique.

Mothers are suppose to have limitless patience, but I know all too well that this isn't true.  Tammy was drained.

Though my life often felt like I was bailing water from a foundering vessel with a teacup, I believed that if I was determined enough, consistent enough, patient enough---I could bring order to the chaos.

It was like living with a raccoon in the house and there were no signs of her growing out of it.

There was so much I wanted for her, simple things, impossible things.

It seemed like there was always potential for a little more bad news, a few more challenges.

Autism was a thief...It stole energy and money and patience.

We are not part of the autistic child's domain, nor are we fully part of society.

This sense of self-imposed isolation was often a topic of conversation between Tammy and me.

I'm not even halfway yet and this book just speaks to my heart.

I only know how this books reads for me with the challenges in my life, but I would think it would be a good read for anyone hoping to better understand the world of Autism.  If you do read the book I will disclose now that one of the biggest differences between Carly and Clayton is that Clayton has always been happy and always laughed (of course he has grumpy days and can have extreme tantrums but generally speaking, happy).  I guess that was our gift for his always being sick too.

June 24, 2016

Meet Clayton

Let me start with a disclaimer...Don't be stupid and go Google the information I am about to disclose and use odd, out-dated and misguided information floating around on the web to make determinations about my child or place limitations on him.  I will give you all the information about the subject and what it means for Clayton and what we know right here on the blog and I will point you towards credible resources of outside information for all those who want to know more.  So please don't be stupid and insult my child by looking at photos or reading misinformation and using it to shape your perception of Clayton.  I am determined to protect my son and not allow ignorance and misinformation to limit him.  Therefore, in disclosing this closely held secret of mine, I am also providing credible resources on the subject.  

As a second disclaimer, I am letting the universe know that this is my conversation about the subject.  I have NO desire and am NOT willing to discuss this with anyone.  What you see below is all I have to give for now.  There is nothing left to know beyond this, but my feelings and thoughts will not be discussed outside of this blog unless I choose to bring it up.  I ask that you please respect that whether you understand it or not.

Meet Clayton...Clayton has Sotos Syndrome.

This is incredibly hard for me and a very very long time coming.  I have been keeping this in for years now.  It has been mine and George's secret because I needed it to be.  I needed to give Clayton a chance to see where he was headed before I put a name to his genetic mutation for the world to see.  I needed to give Clayton a chance to see how little this genetic mutation might influence his life.  I needed to see what would be...what could be.  At least for a little while.  I feel like I have a decent idea now.  Enough that I am willing to finally share this information with our friends and family...and the strangers reading this blog. (this is even the first time our parents are getting this information)

When I was pregnant with Clayton certain complications were indicators of a potential underlying syndrome, but the doctors ran tests including an amniocentesis and found nothing.  When Clayton was born the doctors did a more thorough genetic work up while he was in the NICU and again they found nothing.  At that time, George and I didn't necessarily know anything was amiss, but we knew the doctors were still curious.  Eventually we came across a doctor that had us do two tests to test for two potential disorders.  One was a blood tests for a disorder that came back negative and the other was a bone density test that had the results come back a certain way would have indicated Sotos Syndrome. The results did not indicate Sotos Syndrome.  Moving forward the insurance would not cover further testing so everything was just put on pause (the blood test for Sotos would have cost thousands without insurance).  Once Clayton was diagnosed with cancer, insurance once again covered testing.  So the doctors ran blood tests for a few items to check.  A few months later while sitting in the Oncology Infusion Clinic at USACW, the geneticist found us and gave us the results.  We were in a room full of people and in the middle of a cancer battle and just couldn't quite focus on what we had been told.  So we said nothing.

Slowly over the coming months, we talked it over with each other and had a real conversion with the geneticist.  I told George I needed time with this information.  I was worried people wouldn't understand something so unfamiliar.  If I say Autism, people know enough not to feel the need to Google it.  If I say Down Syndrome, again people know enough not to feel the need to Google it.  If I say Sotos, people are going to be like, "what?".  So for years we have just told people Clayton had Autism.  It was the easiest thing to do.  And not a lie.  Sotos causes learning disabilities that can sometimes take on the characteristics of Autism.  So Clayton IS Autistic, but it is a symptom of the Sotos.

So why the secrecy?  I guess that's a two part answer.

Part I: People aren't always smart.  They don't always know how to weed out the credible information from the crap.  Simply put, I did not want people using outdated, misguided, misinformation or photos to form perceptions or place limits on my child.  I feared as soon as folks started Googling Sotos that would start happening.  I feel like I was protecting my child and giving him a chance to prove himself and what he was capable off without any stigmas.

Part II: Maybe my secrecy with this doesn't make sense to some people...and guess what? it doesn't have to.  But for me, acknowledging this out loud to the world is like accepting all of the things Clayton will never have.  All of the things George and I will never have with Clayton.  As a parent that is heart-breaking.  Heart-breaking in a way that unless you have a child in a similar situation you can never know how gut-wrenching it truly is.  Eventually I will elaborate on this one in another post.

That said, Clayton is this bundle of innocence and pureness that this world is missing and I am so lucky he is in my life and so blessed to call him mine.  Life with Clayton makes me feel sorry for people who won't get to grow old being witness to this type of innocence everyday.  I think we all need that.

So what is Sotos Syndrome?

Below I'll introduce everyone to Sotos Syndrome and tell you all the ways it has influenced/affected Clayton's life so far.  It will bring some things full circle and show the connections between his various challenges.

Sotos Syndrome is a rare genetic mutation characterized by excessive physical growth in the early years of life.  Sometimes called cerebral gigantism (large head, large forehead) as well.  In addition to physical overgrowth, Sotos often affects muscle tone, speech, motor skills, cognitive and social development.  The result can be a child who looks older and acts younger.  Often times in late childhood, the gap between children with Sotos and those without Sotos begins to close.  Sotos plays a large role in developmental timing and many adults with Sotos fall within the normal ranges of size and intellect.  Roughly 95% of cases are from families with no history of Sotos.

Below is a list of characteristics/features associated with Sotos and their rate of occurrence.  I've highlighted the features we know Clayton to have and marked through the ones we know he does not have.  Those characteristics not highlighted or marked through are still possibilities.

Features seen in most children (80%-100%)

  • Macrocrania (large skull) without megalencephaly (large brain) no mention of a small brain
  • Dolichocephaly (high, narrow skull) I don't think so
  • Characteristic structural changes in the brain on MRI (extra fluid, midline changes)
  • Prominent forehead, “receding hairline”
  • Apparent hypertelorism (eyes look wide-spaced despite normal measurement)
  • Rosy coloring over the cheeks and nose
  • High arched palate (roof of mouth is narrow and arched upward)
  • Increased birth length and weight
  • Excessive growth in childhood
  • Disproportionately large hands and feet they are BIG, but I don't know about disproportionate?
  • Low muscle tone one doctor said he had this which makes no sense to us because every doctor/nurse ever has commented how strong he is?
  • Developmental delay in the form of Autism
  • Expressive language delay

Features seen in the majority (60%-80%)

  • Advanced bone age (above 97th percentile)
  • Premature tooth eruption, soft enamel this combined with his chemo was a disaster
  • Poor fine motor control odd because some fine motor skills are poor and others not?
  • Down-slanting palpebral fissues or “antimongoloid slant” (eye openings are lower in outer corners than by nose) one doctor said he did 
  • Prominent, pointed chin I think his chin is a little pointy
  • I.Q. in the normal range (>70 I.Q.) NO IDEA YET So far he is smart, but silent :)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections
  • Behavioral disturbance (anxiety, depression, phobias, sleep disturbance, tantrums, irritability, stereotypies, inappropriate speech, withdrawal, hyperactivity)

Features seen in the minority (under 50%)

  • Hyperbilirubinemia (newborn jaundice) Very mild
  • Persistent feeding difficulties and / or reflux
  • Disclocated hips or club feet
  • Nystagmus, strabismus (eye movement or focusing problems)
  • Autonomic dysfunction (flushing excessive sweating, poor temperature control)
  • Seizures
  • Constipation, megacolon
  • Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)severe
  • Heart or kidney defects Murmur and enlarged left ventricle, lots of kidney problems

Occasional or possibly associated features

  • Abnormal EEG
  • Glucose intolerance (pre-diabetes) there was one episode in Texas that made us wonder if diabetes will be an issue in the future.  Just had another low blood sugar episode in June.
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Hemihypertrophy (uneven limb length or body mass)
  • Neoplasms (tumors and cancers)

While Sotos is not a fatal diagnosis, in Clayton's case, the features of his Sotos such as respiratory difficulties, kidney disease and cancer are what present the life threatening challenges.

Sources for the curious:

And now you know...
I'll come back soon with posts about the things we've had to accept Clayton will never have and as a result we will never have; as well as an update on how the geneticist feels about Clayton's progress.

June 21, 2016

Medical Monday: CT and Results

We did Clayton's follow-up CT to check on the lesions on his liver last Thursday.  It was an odd experience in and of itself.  Clayton woke up with what appeared to be a migraine, but we went to the hospital anyway, knowing that if it were anything more we would be heading to the right place.  Since he was NPO for his sedation, I couldn't give him tylenol, so my sweet baby was forced to endure.  He spent the entire morning from home to hospital to waiting on CT without even looking at a single piece of technology.  It was completely unlike him.  When we arrived at the hospital, there was a wheelchair outside and since I was having to carry him due to his not feeling well, I had my mom sit in the wheelchair and hold him while I pushed.  He never once got up.  Again, COMPLETELY unlike him.  Usually he never sits still.

The only good thing from this is that we were able to do the CT without sedation.  Which was a huge win, but again not normal for us.  Once it was done, we left the hospital only to get a call to head to the oncology clinic because his blood test showed his blood sugar was urgently low (33).  Luckily, right after the CT, I was able to give him Tylenol which helped perk him up enough that he had already started to eat by the time I got the call.  So by the time we got him to the clinic and checked his blood sugar again, his values were back in the normal range.  So for now, we are just keeping an eye on his blood sugar to see if it is going to become a problem.  Per doctors instructions.

Monday we went back to the oncology clinic to see the doctor and get results.  Clayton was absolutely giddy for this visit.  He actually started clapping when he saw the nurse coming to get us.

Good news is they aren't using the word cancer...Bad news is they aren't ruling it out.  The lesion from his liver we were watching has not grown, but there is now a new lesion.  The doctor said that sometimes they can see something like this as a result of chemo therapy, but that they are of course always worried about a relapse of his neuroblastoma.  They are suspicious enough that they want to further investigate by doing a MIBG in the coming weeks.  So we are waiting on that to be scheduled.

The plan is that after the MIBG the doctors will decide if they want us to resume scanning every three months or every six months depending on what they find.  At this point they aren't saying anything beyond that.  The only speculation I have to offer is that they keep watching these spots and depending on what the tests show and any changes in the lesions they may decide to biopsy at some point.  But I don't think we are there yet unless the MIBG shows something new.

For now, I'm exhausted coming off an anxiety attack.  Sometimes I have to deal with my own feelings and concerns before I can deal with or respond to the concerns of others.  And sometimes I'm harboring too much inside to even deal with questions which is why for my part, I have the blog.  I get that our family particularly wants to know and I'm not in the business of hiding anything from them; but for me, all of this is so much more than just getting answers.  It is my life... it is where I'm going to be tomorrow or what I'm going to be doing, or what hospital I'm going to be staying at, etc.  And sometimes I have to process my own thoughts and anxieties over the unwanted possibilities before I can handle the anxieties of all those who love Clayton.  Otherwise, I find myself in a situation like yesterday, where I'm trying to deal with my concerns and then the concerns of those around me and it just overflows resulting in an anxiety attack.  I think that's why the blog works so well for me.  I can put the information out there without taking in the concerns of anyone else.  It is what works best for me and I need people (cough...parents...cough) to please just go with it for my health.

I'll be back later this week with a secret I've been harboring about Clayton...so stay tuned.

June 16, 2016

Camper Chronicles: Part I

A few months back, I mentioned we got a small camper off of craigslist January 2015.  We did this for two reasons: we wanted to be able to travel and have fun for cheap; and if Clayton and I were going to have to spend a prolonged period of time somewhere due to his kidney issues, then we wanted our own space to serve as our temporary home.  We've spent plenty of time living out of hospital rooms and Ronald McDonald rooms, so a camper all our own would be a huge step up!

The back story:  So we entered into the world of RVs/campers knowing we knew nothing about them.  So when we found our craigslist gem, we paid a local RV repair company to come inspect it for us.  They did and they told us of the few issues that needed attention and told us as long as we took care of those now we wouldn't have any problems.  So we were satisfied that our gem of a (old) camper was indeed a gem of a find and we purchased it.  We then paid the repair shop to do the repairs they said needed to be done based on their inspection.  Again, not yet knowing anything about RVs we felt more confident in their ability to inspect and do the work than our own.  Well they kept it for WEEKS never even starting on it.  When they finally did start, the total $ was way more than they originally said.  As in double without a real good explanation as to why.  But they came recommend by many many people and we didn't want to make a stink.  I should point out here that we were not dealing with the chain store repair shop, but rather the local guy.  You know...trying to support local business and all.  Eventually we got our little camper back and went on our merry way.

The day we brought it home.
We noticed almost immediately, that one of the windows had a leak despite the fact that everything was suppose to have just been resealed/repaired, etc.  But it appeared to be a small leak.  Well, George didn't want to break into that project before our trip to Disney last October so we waited.  Then it was the holidays and then hunting season and George's school.  So fast forward to May when we finally got into it.  Well, well, well.  We were in for a nasty surprise when we went to remove and reseal the window.  The whole freaking wall was wet and rotting underneath the vinyl wallpaper and luan.  George and I know that we put off the window repair, but not only was one of the leaks coming from somewhere other than the window, but it was obvious from the extent of damage, that the repair shop had seriously missed and/or neglected something important.  Needless to say, we were furious with the repair shop, but didn't turn to them, because after what we discovered and our previous experience with them, how could we trust them to do it right?

So much to George's dismay, we opted for the DIY route.  George would have loved to patched it and sell it as a hunting camp camper to someone and get a new camper.  Alas, a new camper is not in our budget.  So in addition to the immediate area around the damage we had found, I twisted his arm convinced George it was in our best interest to remove all of the wall paneling we could that was easily accessible (not behind floor to ceiling cabinetry) to check for leaks elsewhere and put things back together right.  Anyone who has owned a camper that didn't cost an arm and a leg can tell you that they aren't always well put together and wallpaper can be wrinkled, bunks not secured properly and other random things. So with a wife forcing his hand by doing demo herself some coaxing, we proceeded to essentially gut our camper with the exception of the kitchenette area and the bathroom.

The front corner is where we found a leak that caused additional rot near the window.

See the black stuff? That use to be a wooden support.
I maintain that we still found a gem of a camper though.  It was clean, from a good home, a stellar price, no smells and at the time of purchase had minimal water damage, that had it been resealed properly would not have turned into the problem it became.  I think the wall damage only became as bad as it did because the repair shop did not reseal the camper properly.  And note to future RV owners and RV owners who haven't learned this lesson, vinyl wallpaper covered luan hides problems very well.  Very well.

So anyhow, that was the back story, which brought us to our DIY repairs and our yet to be completed Glamper.  We removed rot, sprayed/killed mold (on damp framing), replaced wooden framing, let things air out for a while, replaced insulation, put up new luan and are painting, caulking, trim work etc.  The inside is finally almost done!  I was going to glamp it up with beadboard, but in an effort to stay true to the lightweight character of the camper went with the lighter thinner luan instead.  

Last framing to replace!
Luan going up.
New insulation and new framing where needed.
Gutted bunkhouse area, being put back together.

More priming.
And now that we are getting the pieces put back together, the little bug is ecstatic.

I'm telling you this kid loves his camper like nothing else.  He loves that when we go camping and he has mom and dad all to himself; no TV or chores to distract us from our #1.  I think he also loves the "clubhouse" feel.  With our camper only being 16 ft, it is very much like a clubhouse.  George and I love it too though.  The day we discovered how bad the damage was we literally spent the rest of the day depressed.  It sucked the wind right out of our sails.  So we are all excited it is almost done.

Right now we are replacing all the outside trim, scraping and resealing the front and back seams on the roof, reinstalling and resealing the window we had to remove, resealing all the other windows, look for anywhere else that needs to be sealed and we are going to replace the awning (got an awesome deal on a new one).  Oh, yeah...and after all this DIY, I told George I am going to repaint it too.  I'm sure I just made a few folks cringe at the idea of painting my own camper, but I got this and it will be wonderful when its done.  It'll be like a brand new camper and once all is said and done we will have spent no more than $600 at the very very most.  Everything we are doing would have costed thousands if we paid someone else to do it.  At $90 - $125 hr for labor, we are saving oodles and oodles of money.  And none of what we are doing is really hard.  It just takes a little time and we have been working on it little by little as we have time.  Learning the structure of how a camper is built in my opinion is a valuable takeaway too.

Anyway, just something we've been working on.  When the inside is completely finished, I will take before and afters and give everyone a peek at our glamper. :)

June 15, 2016


True story.

June 14, 2016

Medical Monday: Boring

So we have had a pretty quiet week. No news on the medical front as we get ready to repeat some scans on Clayton to check the lesions on his liver.  Just a recap...The last few sets of scans showed a lesion or two on Clayton's liver.  For a few cycles of scans (every 6 months) there was no change in the lesions.  However, on the last set of scans, the lesions showed some growth.  So rather than wait six months, we are rescanning him again this month.  Hopefully, we will find there is nothing to worry about.

Keep us in your prayers!!!

June 10, 2016

Friday Food Love: Homemade Almond Butter and Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

The last few years I have really embraced almonds.  Here are a couple of my favorites to do at home with them.

Homemade Almond Butter and Chocolate Almond Butter Cups:

This one could not be simpler and homemade almond butter is one of the best things EVER!  Nothing like the crap you buy at the store.  Throw the almonds in the food processor and blend.  No measurements at all.  Just fill it with as many almonds as it can easily handle.  Blend until almonds have butter consistency.  In my food processor, that takes almost 20 minutes.  You will see the almonds go through a number of phases before they become the desired product.  Just keep waiting... It will happen.  At the end the almond butter will likely be warm from the process...its amazing! Here are step by step photos of the process.

You might have to stop to scrape the edges.
Just another minute and it will be...

You can use the finished product for apples OR you can make these awesome...

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups: 

1/2 c. organic coconut oil
1/2 c. raw cacao powder
1/2 c. almond butter
1/4 c. raw honey (you could try maple syrup, but I haven't yet)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt/soften coconut oil in medium microwave safe mixing bowl.  Add all ingredients to melted coconut oil.  Mix thoroughly until smooth.  Pour into silicone muffin cups filling about 1/4 to 1/2 way.  Refrigerate or freeze until firm.  ENJOY!  Store in fridge or freezer.

Perfect healthier alternative for sweet cravings.

Happy Eating!

June 8, 2016

Macy Grace Turns 2!

I have never had a dog.  Not really.  We had one when I was too little to remember much and then my dad always had a dog, but I didn't live with him so...not dog for me.  Then when I met George, he had a lab that he had had forever.  So she became the family pup.  Which was nice and all, but she was always HIS dog.  Not ours or mine or Clayton's.  In fact she never wanted much to do with Clayton.  You see he kind of stole her thunder.  For eight years she was the top dog, George's baby, etc.  Then Clayton just busted her bubble.  So she never paid him much attention and had a tendency to walk away from him.  So, I was just itching to get another dog.  But it was never the right time with Clayton keeping us so busy and all and George didn't want to further intrude on Sugar's life.
But once we got finished building our new house, it just seemed right.  So we drove to north Alabama and came home with this:

I know right?

These two only had a little time together.

Well anyone who has met Macy since we got her can tell you when she sees people she goes crazy!  Like dog done lost her mind crazy.  She just gets so stinking excited to be around other people.  That has been her worst trait thus far.  Which is really our fault because like us she stays home a lot and doesn't get out much.  She has really been such a great dog.  She has never chewed up or on any of our furniture.  Never messed with our shoes; none of that typical puppy stuff you hear about or experience with other dogs.  She doesn't touch Clayton's toys, which are always covering the floor...She just tip toes around them and ignores them.  She is a guard dog for sure.  I mean someone can't pull in the driveway without her ringing the alarm.  Which though it can sometimes be annoying, I honestly love it, because it makes me feel safe.  And she loves Clayton.  AND she knows he is the boss.  I always get a kick out of it when they play.  Sometimes I get worried he is going to get her too excited and she might accidentally hurt him, but that never has happened.  Other times if he is playing on his own and she gets too close to his toys, he cracks me up because he will literally go after her and grab her snout and give her his serious face.  Which anyone who has seen that face can tell you is hilarious.  So to see him doing that to the dog is just too much.  Sweet Macy though just lets him.  She always has.  She can tell when he is irritated with her and will try to retreat, but if he gets hold of her first, she just sits there.  She has never snarled at him or anything.  And in the spirit of full disclosure, he has even bitten her before and she didn't so much as give a response.  She just knows.  We have been incredibly lucky and dealing with what George calls her crack-head ways when she sees people is worth the trade off of all of her other awesome qualities.  That said, we have seen so much improvement in the last 3-6 months in her behavior around other people.  Massive improvement.  Huge.  Oh and did I mention she is a retrieving machine?  It is all she wants to do.
Anyway, she turned 2 on the 29th of May.  Baby girl's a teenager now.  I love this sweet pup and thought she deserved to be celebrated.  Happy belated Birthday Miss Mace!

P.S.  As you can see in the pics she is a fairly petite lab. We recently found her a suitor.  And I believe on her next heat we are going to breed her.  Probably only this one time though.  I'll have to get some pics of her betrothed.  Like her, he is a fully registered lab, good blood line, retriever, etc. and he has the personality to compliment hers in that he is very docile to her excited.  We think it will be a good mix and are excited about puppies in our future.  It should be in the next 8 months so if anyone plans on getting a lab puppy, keep us in mind.  We haven't determined a price yet, but I can tell you they won't be the $600+ labs and they won't be the $250 labs either.  Somewhere in the middle.  They will be coming from two good bloodlines and both parents have really good traits.  But it will be her first (and probably only) litter and we aren't breeders, just dog lovers.  So we will sell them to good homes for a reasonable price.  Anyway, just something to think about.