Monday, December 31, 2007

Recovery days

The past few days have been recovery for us. It is hard keeping my house picked up with all of us home! If we spent the entire time at home I suppose it wouldn't be as big of an issue... but between the kids napping (usually on opposite schedules) and the things we want to get out and do, well the house takes a back seat.

Leif and I have been talking about the ornaments and Christmas stuff coming down tomorrow. Still I think it will hit him hard. He loved Christmas and has been asking to "do it again" regularly.

When I tell him, "no, not for another 360-whatever days," he responds with:

"Well why don't we just try."

Said exactly like how I tell him to go sit on the potty when he insists he doesn't have to go, but it is obvious he does.

Last Wednesday night he decided he would rather go to preschool than be at home with mommy and Skadi. So I hauled him in and he enjoyed the day. Skadi and I shopped at Target and the fabric store (evil, evil, money sucking place). The fabric store is a huge weakness for me.

Playdate on Saturday. (I forgot how yummy macaroni and cheese from the box as opposed to the packets really is.)

Sunday morning we spent way too much at the grocery store. (Where I bought macaroni and cheese in the box... among other things.) Sunday afternoon I went to the movies with a good portion of my book club... leaving AB to fend for himself with two non-napping children. The house was only a little worse for the wear upon returning. (And thumbs up to Charlie Wilson's War.)

I worked today. New Years Eve.

Mentally I needed it. I didn't get much accomplished, but I didn't waste a vacation day and the kids got a short taste of returning to the routine made a little easier by AB being home so he could help send us out the door.

He tried helping with Skadi by dressing her. Sometimes I think he does it on purpose though.

If you are a woman with kids and a husband who is less than fashion inclined, you know what "it" is.

The holidays have been wonderful, a little tiring, a touch expensive (paying bills today was painful), but all in all, fabulous. Still I am ready to embark upon 2008.

In the short term, the month of January, we have my birthday next week, AB's after that, PF Changs opening shortly thereafter (yes, that is reason to celebrate living in Eastern WA), then AB and I plan to haul Leif off to the hills. The ski slopes. Strap skis on him and let him rip it up! My goal is to get him to the hills (because as a Colorado girl... that is what we have here is hills) once a month for the next three months. I have hopes that the third trip in March will be to Colorado... though AB is still rolling his eyes and grumbling about money at me when I mention that.

Looking at the longer term, after tomorrow we have "the long haul" where at least where I work, we have no paid holidays until Memorial Day. But the project money will be here as the bill has been signed, I have a new direction at work, I can look forward to Skadi's first birthday and her transition to Leif's school (one drop off!) in June. The coming year holds a lot of wonderful things for us.

It is my wish that they hold as many or more good things for you.

See you in the new year!

(Oh and PS... I will finish my "how AB and I met" story soon.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas day and beyond!

This year was a first for us, Christmas here at home and by ourselves. It was our intention to have Christmas in our own home for the first time, however, it wasn't our intention to have Christmas without our families. Afterall, Christmas IS about family.

It is difficult living away from our families. But circumstances are what they are. And this is our home, even though it is not our extended family's home. But the reverse is also true... Colorado is no longer MY home, nor AB's. I look forward to visiting my family in Colorado sometime soon, but the holidays weren't it this year.

We have had a fantastic holiday so far. So the Polar Express wasn't all I built it up to be in my head, but since returning, we couldn't have asked for a happier, better Christmas.

Christmas Eve was spent with friends. They are our family here. We went to Christmas Eve service where Skadi entertained the entire congregation by giggling at the most inopportune times (or the best times). Leif enjoyed the lighting of the candles and the procession. We headed out to celebrate Jesus' birthday with the other children (and M and N) complete with bounce houses and treats. M and I decided we would haul the kids back into the congregation hopefully in time for the singing of Silent Night and lighting of the candles. We succeeded and the kids were wide eyed and quiet at the beauty. We were leaving and one of my favorite moments was when A asked Leif what day was tomorrow? Tuesday, he replied.

I really do love Christmas Eve services. Almost enough to make me want to consider going to church regularly...

After the service we all headed to our K&V's house for appetizers (including sushi), wine and the kid's gift exchange. Leif was lucky enough to find himself sandwiched between the girls for a group hug. I am sure someday he will look back fondly... though he did seem to be enjoying it at the time too. It was a lot of fun and a great Christmas eve.

Christmas morning we got up to much excitement. Rudolph had eaten the carrot we left out, only the stump remained. And Santa had enjoyed his cookies, chocolate covered pretzels and milk. (Note next time to not leave out quite so much food for Santa... his sleigh gets weighted down.)

Leif pulled everything out of his overloaded stocking and then opened his present from Santa. The one, the only and highly coveted... Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

We pried him from Buzz long enough to remind him of the other presents under the tree. It took two sittings, a long break for breakfast in between helped to rejuvenate us. Leif is still at that point where he didn't easily dive from one gift to the next. It was nice to see him stop and enjoy each gift and with all heartfelt desire, ask to open it and play with it now. We had time and nowhere to be, so we abided his request.

Skadi? Indifferent to it all.

Me? AB did extremely well with me. Extremely. There were a few surprises I wasn't expecting, like the Turkish bath sheets. Pure luxury. Then there were the ones that weren't real big surprises, but much appreciated; the Ginger bath candy (from Leif since he begs and begs to use them when he bathes... sometimes I give in), the earrings (AB always gets me earrings, these were aquamarines - Skadi's birthstone - from Sundance... woohoo!). Then there were the things I actually asked for and got! (AB doesn't like buying things I ask for... he finds them boring.) Adobe PhotoShop is my biggy... and I have had A LOT of fun playing with it today. I told AB it is better than playing Civilization (sshhh... I didn't admit to that)... so if you wonder why my blog goes on neglected after today, you know where to find me... I am doing things like this:

And well, this one didn't need editing, but I had to include it...

We had a great day playing with our gifts. AB loved his carabiner watch from Leif... maybe as much as Leif loves it.

AB smoked a good sized prime rib. I made mashed potatoes and gravy and a salad for dinner and we ate well. (CR Sandridge's Tri*umph accompanied) We topped it off with a nectarine pie I made and froze earlier this fall and Sonoran's Full Moon Kerner Ice Wine. Mmmm. (Excuse me while I go get a glass...)

Today Leif told me he is ready to go back to school tomorrow. So his lunch is packed and Skadi and I have plans to hit the after Christmas sales.

Looking ahead we have New Years Eve to be excited for. Yes... it's true... AB and NM are going out for New Years Eve! I wondered for a moment if we should decline the invitation out of politeness to the hosts since everywhere we go on New Years Eve we bring hmmm... what do we bring? Well not much good. As recanted here... I keep telling myself the hosts don't know us THAT well yet.

Though I do see where it could at least get a little weird... Their best friend is my ob/gyn. I know, I am weird. AB and I have even talked after he delivered both of our kids that we really like him and he is the type of guy (and presumably his wife too) that we would get along well with. And he even gave us his home e-mail address after the birth of both kiddos. But then I get weird... my ob/gyn!! Apparently this may come to pass and I will learn to get past the whole "he has seen me there" thing since we have become decent enough friends with his and his wife's best friends.

But back to the point... will we break the curse that is sub-par New Years celebrations? Stay tuned to fine out!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

As Skadi and I sit here and wait for Leif and daddy to get up, I thought I would wish everyone a Merry Christmas and post our Christmas letter now.


This year when we started talking about writing the annual Christmas letter, Leif volunteered. And who am I to stand in his way? Since he is now three years old, we thought we would take him up on this. So at dinner the other night and in the car last night, we talked about what should go in the letter and what he wanted to say… so in his own word’s, here’s Leif:

“Because cause Santa will be here soon and I am going to buy big Shrek’s for everyone. I am going to ask Santa for two Zurgs and two Buzz Lightyears and a blue camera with an orange button like N’s, but hers has a red button and I want an orange button, but but not a pink camera like C’s. Probably it’s going to snow a big one on Christmas.

Probably we are staying here for Christmas and Winny will go outside and be happy. She be’s wild when she is home by herself. And we are getting a baby kitty and I will sleep with her and play with her and hold her up to do the [Advent] calendar.

We got like a baby. But she is a girl and I am a boy because I have a (mommy censorship!). And Skadi goes to school and crawls around and she does. She cries and gets into a fireplace. (?!?!?!)

I go’d to school and I am in River Room. I singed Jingle Bells with Ms. B today and she said I ringed my bells the loudest the whole song, but not to ring them the whole song, only on parts, but I liked to ring my bells, can I have bells mommy? I want the big red one on the tree to ring lots. And I play with J and BB. I do ‘d my work quietly and I am a good listener. Ms. K said I am a good listener today, but but I wasn’t yesterday, but I was today so can I have an ‘eward? I like counting work. Probably I want to show my counter at show and tell.

I am grateful for an airplane, Winny and Skadi, my blanket and my mommy and daddy. Actually at Christmas I am going to say prayers for a dinosaur.

I love my family, my grandmas and grandpas and Sophia and Murphy (grandma’s cats).”

We wish you all the best this holiday season and throughout the coming year. And may you find lots of Shreks and Buzz Lightyears under your Christmas tree!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just what you want to see...

when you look out your dining room window into the back yard...

A cop walking around your backyard.

Actually I didn't realize he was a cop at first. I was too busy trying to force the words out of my mouth to AB, "there's a man walking around our backyard".

He jumped into action.

The cop saw me at that point and started walking to our back door.

"I am sorry for scaring you," he tells us, "I was just getting my glasses."

"Ummm," AB said searching for the obvious words to ask why his glasses might have been in our backyard.

Apparently while the dog was barking during the webcam session with my mom and sister and her kids, some perp jumped over our fence, into our backyard, followed by the police.

They caught him.

Frankly, I am glad we were in the other room. I am still freaked by it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cause that's the way things happen on the Polar Express... or not...

Here we are! Hood River ready for the Polar Express!! Everyone is excited!!

Especially mommy! Err... I mean Leif!!

A shower of ticket punches! (This is starting out good!)

Ok, give the restless baby a ticket to play with.

Cause that's the way things happen on the Polar Express... or not... (part 2)

Ok so the bakers did smile... photographic evidence and all... but there was no dancing or singing the favorite "Hot Chocolate" song.

Leif makes a friend with the boy next to us. (This was taken minutes before the boy slipped and fell and split his chin open requiring stitches and lots of paperwork by the Hood River authorities... evidently we were the most prepared people for every eventuality... they don't even carry a first aid kit on the train...)

Finally! Santa comes on board!

"Well ok... you really want to hold her even though she is sleeping?" Truth be told, *I* wasn't sure I wanted him to hold her lest she wake up and start screaming. We were an hour 15 minutes on the train at this point and I was getting tired.

A sweet moment... what you don't see is my frazzled demeanor at this point... oh wait, you see I am no longer smiling. This was seconds before Leif bonked Skadi on the head waking her up for the rest of the trip.

Ok, so our tune changed. Leif liked it all, or so he said the next day and told us he wanted to go back. We tempered our knee jerk response of "fat chance" with an all knowing "maybe next year".

We had two issues... first off, it could have been so much more. So maybe the bakers didn't need to sing and dance, but they could have at least played the Hot Chocolate song in the background. I know they could have because it was playing when we got on the train.

Second? At three hours long, from the time you arrive at the box office to stand in line until you pull your car out of the parking lot, it was way too long. The train ride could have EASILY been half as long. Easily. That length of time is way too long for three year olds... and there were A LOT of three year olds on this trip.

To help ease the length of time issue it would have been nice to deboard the train at the North Pole, let the kids run around a little, meet Santa outside, etc.

Then AB will add in the hokeyness factor... If you are going to be hokey, go all out. The conductor played his role well. The obnoxious teenagers posing as elves who were really too cool to be there were just annoying.

(Apparently we had more than two issues...)

For me it was a disappointment, it could have been so much more.

However, what worked for me was getting out of town, staying in a hotel with a pool with the kids, eating out in a different place. Getting up in the morning and walking around Hood River with the snow falling lightly worked. Getting lattes and hot chocolate at a little coffee shop, browsing the toy store and downtown shops. Going to Cathedral Ridge winery. Having at least one child sleep the whole way, each way.

Hood River reminded me of a small, less touristy Estes Park with a little splash of Boulder mixed in. I love that place.

Why I have very few ornaments on my tree anymore...

No not my 9 month old...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It will be a good summer!

Because Sonic is coming to town!

Counting down the days till my first limeade from the Sonic that we saw being constructed tonight just a matter of blocks from our house.

This place is starting to work for me...

(Under 1 month until PF Changs opens!)

Pooh pooh to the Who's

So a lot of sounding off on parenting boards lately is regarding lying.

Lying to your kids.

A very vocal minority (or I choose to believe they are in the minority) are accusing those of us who tell our kids about Santa of lying to our children. Perpetuating a falsehood... building up their hopes... not teaching our kids to give credit for gifts where credit is due... frightening them with tales of home invasion by some old, obese guy from the mall.

I was a die-hard Santa lover... and truth be told, I still am as can be seen on my Christmas tree with my collection of Santa ornaments. We love the Polar Express in our house. I appreciate the fact that it emphasizes belief and faith in the possibility of all things and even though Santa may not be a real, living person, Santa represents the spirit of giving and generosity. The subtleties of this are of course missed on a three year old, but will be appreciated by a nine year old, I have a feeling. The Grinch is one of my favorites as well that also teaches a valuable lesson that is often missed in contemporary television (was it Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where they had to rescue Santa to save Christmas? That annoyed me.) The Grinch reminds us that take away the boxes and bows, the trees and the stockings, the trimmings the trappings (what are trappings anyway?), and Christmas will come just the same. (And according to Leif, then we can carve the Horse Beast.)

I loved anticipating Santa as a kid. Even up until I was in my teens and we maintained the story for my youngest stepbrother I would still secretly wait to hear reindeer on the roof as I layed in bed. I want Leif and Skadi to experience that magic and wonder for as long as possible.

As a young child I saw the mixed signals but I either chose to ignore them or wrote them off. The Santa at my mom's employment, the local YMCA, actually being a friend of theirs I recognized. I remember telling my mom it was Jim, but in my mind, I knew he was just a representation of Santa, and I still waited for the real Santa. I even knew kids in school as early as kindergarten who didn't celbrate Christmas for religious reasons, yet their nonbelief of Santa, didn't cloud mine.

I was a late bloomer with regards to "the truth". My friend Jennifer told me to maintain the facade (she didn't use that word) for her little brother that year I would turn nine two weeks later. I nodded my head, forced back the tears and later cried that she confirmed that Santa was not real. But still I held out hope that just maybe...

Leif has friends who for various reasons don't celebrate Christmas. One of his friends is German and they celebrate the Ukranian holiday with St. Nicholas on Dec. 6th, a very similar concept to Santa really. And a tradition that his Montessori school also celebrated this year. My kids will undoubtably - and hopefully encounter lots of children of different faiths and beliefs in the next few years. It is my hope that Leif and Skadi will hold within them the spirit of Christmas and treasure Santa for as long as possible.

In our house Santa will bring one gift and fill stockings. The rest of the gifts are from mom and dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. I don't feel the need that some parents out there on the internet have cited, the need to have the real giver of gifts (namely them) be acknowledged. We will give one Santa gift (Leif gets Buzz and Skadi gets Raggedy Ann) and the stocking stuffers from Santa. My kids are gracious and it is more rewarding to me to see the joy in Leif's eyes over what SANTA brought then to be acknowledged for those gifts. And furthermore I question the parents who feel the need for their children to acknowledge THEM for their every gift as opposed to playing up the magic and wonder that is childhood.

Is it lying? I don't think so.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shepherd... bumble bee... same diff

At Leif's school they were reenacting the nativity. I only know this as it popped out at me on his monthly newsletter. Since we are hoping to instill a little bit more about Christmas into this holiday than just Santa, I was anxious for this to happen and talk about it with Leif.

Finally the nativity day came.

NM: "Leif what were you in the nativity today?"

Leif: "A bumble bee."

NM: "Are you sure? I didn't know there was a bumble bee in the nativity."

Leif: "Yes, and the baby layed in the grass and the bumble bee buzzed around. BUZZZZZ"

NM: (Thinking...) "Were you the baby Jesus?"

Leif: "No mommy, the baby layed in the grass and I was a bumble bee. BUZZZZZ..."

Ok, fine. So he was a bumble bee in the nativity. Maybe they had so many kids they made up parts.

The next day I went in and asked the teacher how the nativity went.

Teacher: "Great, Leif was a shepherd."

(And apparently one of the little boys in the class was adament he was going to be Mary, which miffed a few of the girls.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lucky kitty!

Lucky has a home!

We arrived about five minutes late to pick up our kitten and the coworker couldn't throw him/her in the carrier fast enough and get us out the door! I slowed her down a little saying I wanted to make sure that one was the one we wanted. After a few minutes, and knowing I really didn't want the long haired fluffy kitty who had fallen for Leif already, we went with the second kitty showing interest, Lucky.

Leif carried the carrier on his lap on the ride home. Once home I told him we had one rule right now, he had to wait for Lucky to come out of the carrier on his/her own. No reaching in.

After about 10 minutes he got tired of waiting and decided a movie was a better option. About five minutes later Lucky sauntered out of the carrier, jumped up on the couch and walked across it and found a nice place to settle on Leif's blanket next to him.


Lucky is a sweet tempered kitty, who so far loves Leif and me. Lucky isn't so sure about Skadi yet, and frankly, I haven't let her get close enough to test. Lucky is probably getting more used to AB after him being home much of today. But this morning he/she was leaving AB's attempts at playing to follow me around.

The one we need to work on is Winny. Winny is over the moon excited and can't wait to chase Lucky around the house, on the walls and around in circles on the ceiling. Lucky, thankfully, is holding his/her ground and not running. But there is a lot of hissing and spitting going on. Though a little less this morning than last night.

Right now the kennel is the safe haven and where Lucky is sleeping routinely.

And the new automatic litterbox? No problems at all with using it!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The story of a cat

So this post is more for me.

Shortly we are going to go get our new kitten. Leif is thrilled. I am thrilled. Skadi... well she will be thrilled. Winny... hmmm... Winny's world is going to be turned upside down. AB? Not so thrilled, but that's ok. He will grow to love Lucky, I know.

While we bring a new kitten into our home and heart, it makes me think a lot about my cat, Calley. I wrote this up recently and finally decided to post it. Sorry for the length, but you know me by now... wordy. I would split it into parts, but since I have it all penned already, here it is, one big long story of one cat's life.

So here is the story of my cat, who lives on in my heart.


When I was 11, my friend's cat had kittens. My parents had just seperated and my mom gave me the go ahead to get one of the kittens. I remember going to her house and picking out one. A calico I named Alexandra and we called her Alley for short. She was an outdoor cat (as all our cats were back then) with a little bit of a hard streak to her. She brought home birds and mice and wasn't much of a cuddler.

I was in 6th grade and the first boy I liked came by after school. I remember him saying, "your cat's pregnant". I told him she wasn't. How could a BOY know those things anyway?

About three weeks later my sister was home sick from school. She called my mom at work crying.

"Alley's in my closet and mice are eating her!" she cried to my mom.

My mom was enough concerned about this statement that she went home. Either my sister was really sick and therefore hallucinating, or there was a real problem with the cat.

What she found instead, there in my sister's closet among her stuffed animals was Alley, cleaning up four little kittens she had just birthed.

She was a tough old brod (the cat) even though she was only about 8 months old. That night Alley grabbed the favored cat, the little calico, brought her into my room, onto my bed and nursed her. Left the other kitties in my sister's room. We brought the kittens to her and almost had to force her to stay there and nurse them all. This happened for a few nights. Then eventually she figured out they were all her kittens and that she couldn't just pick and choose her favorite. Or she just got tired of hearing them cry and us eyeing her disapprovingly.

At some point my mom said that we could have two cats. But that they were both getting fixed. It was an easy choice, we were picking Alley's favorite kitty, the one calico I had named Calley. The others (Jojo, Popcorn and Sparky) we would find homes for.

The kitties were about 4-6 weeks old when my mom came in and told us that Alley had been hit by a car that night. The neighbor... "Crazy Rod"... had done it. I am still not sure what the events of the evening were, but I think he had thought he had done my mom a favor (and he probably had) by "cleaning it up" so that my sister and I wouldn't see our dead cat.

For weeks afterwards I scoured the road, curb and sidewalks (there was neighborhood talk, he had hit our cat on the sidewalk) for evidence of this crime.

The kitties were suddenly weaned, they grew older and one of my favorite memories of them was when they would fly across the living room floor simultaneously and up the drapes. You would walk into the living room and see four tiny kittens sitting on top of the drapery rod meowing at you as you walked by.

My mom looked into a procedure called "declawing".

Jojo, a mild mannered black kitten, was accepted by a pet store because black kittens were "easy to move". The two male tabbies, Popcorn and Sparky, were out of luck. My dad took pitty on us and adopted them. Within a few months though my dad's allergies were killing him. The cats slept with him and I even remember a story of him rolling onto one and bringing it back with mouth to mouth resuscitation. The cats went to live on a farm. Quite possibly the proverbial farm. I was old enough to wonder at least...

We kept Calley. She was a tortoiseshell calico with what her Reno vet called a "candy bar personality". She could be as sweet as could be for about 2 minutes. Then when the candybar is gone, you were almost sick to your stomach with her. She was a wild thing.

She would lie in wait as my sister (her prey) would dance across the living room floor. Then Calley would assail her prey with the intent of bringing the nine year old down to her knees. I remember my sister standing on the kitchen chairs crying and my cat eyeing her from below. And she had this death glare in her eyes. She was out for blood.

AB says that he would have had the cat put down after this happened. I asked him how you really take the beloved pet from one child away? I am sure my mom thought the unwarrented vileness towards my sister would end. And it probably did at some point. (My sister would probably insist it never did and that Calley despised her till the day she died.)

Calley, on the other hand, loved me. I was convinced she was my soul mate and told her my every secret. (Since I was just getting to that stage where secrets are real. I am finding out three year olds don't understand secrets so well...)

I took Calley everywhere with me. We went to my dad's house in the summers. We moved to Colorado in junior high. I picked her up from my mom's after my first year in residence hall at college when I had my own apartment. We moved to Boulder and had a few apartments there.

I had a boyfriend I lived with just outside Boulder during early college. Calley used to make him cry too. Then she expressed her discontent at him by peeing on his jumbo bean bag, and then his pillow. He was history soon thereafter.

Then AB came along and there was the now infamous attack to his head by Calley while at my parent's house. He grabbed her and launched her across the room. My step-dad applauded and AB was immediately accepted into our family. I, on the other hand, could not believe my boyfriend had done that to my cat.

AB eventually accepted that I came with a 15 year old psychotic cat and we packed her up and went to Reno where I was going to grad school. I am sure he thought the cat couldn't live *that* much longer.

While in Reno her occasional vomiting spells became routine and I somehow had failed to notice how much weight she had really lost. I took her to the vet and was astonished my healthy 13 lb cat was now 9 lbs.

An ultrasound revealed that she had massive cirrhosis of the liver. Her days of living as a lush had to come to an end.

On a serious note after doing a little reading on liver functions in cats and remembering back to when her vomiting started, I feel strongly that it was the massive ingestion of hundreds of miller moths during a summer invasion in Fort Collins, Colorado. An invasion I will never forget as one of the most gross experiences I have had. She ate moths until she was stuffed and my apartment - actually, the city was infested to epic proportions.

I was happy this cirrhosis was actually treatable. She may never regain her liver function, but with steroids she could maintain what function she had as well as giving her an oral synthetic bile.

We went this route for five years during which time she gained a couple pounds back, quit vomiting and met her new soul mate in life - a rascally Belgian Sheepdog named Winny.

The unlikely pair were inseperable. Calley's life though stable, still hung in the balance and our vet was satisfied with our route of "benevolant disregard". We weren't going to go to heroic lengths to save Calley, no liver transplants or operations, just medication and treating symptoms as they arose. He understood the huge trauma to her for any blood analysis after finding a fang lodged in his arm after one such experience. (It actually broke off IN his arm.)

Calley had good days and bad days. Sometimes she behaved like a spry 15 year old cat, and sometimes like a feeble senior.

She was swinging on the low side when we decided to move to Washington state and our vet warned us that she may very well not survive the move. She had just been diagnosed with early stage kidney failure and diabetes. Her spine had nearly no cartilege left from the longterm steroid use. She was hunched over and unable to groom herself, which was fine since Winny did that for her. (We would go camping with Winny and return after a couple days to our greaseball kitty cat who hadn't been groomed during that time. It was obvious Winny maintained her.)

Not only did she survive the move but lived for another two years in Washington State. We found a vet who was receptive to our desires to "leave her be". This was actually more difficult than it sounds. We went through two vets who thought she needed to have surgery (at age 20) and the second even went so far as to state abuse and attempt to take her away from us when I took her in because her eyelid quit retracting. Finally a friend pointed us to a woman he knew who understood the issues of older pets. She agreed with us that our chosen route to treat her problems was best and added in fluids administration to help with her failing kidneys.

Calley spent most days sleeping in the closet on her heating pad and sitting for her daily bath by the dog.

Then the day came that she didn't bounce back. She kept going downhill and we awoke to her in one of the spare bedrooms (which was odd enough) convulsing. I tearfully held her, knowing what we had to do. She was 22 years old. Death was upon her. Our dog wouldn't come near her. AB and I cried as we called an on-call vet and arranged to take her in to be put down. It stung as the on-call receptionist listed off the rules and fees. I know she didn't know us from the next person, but we weren't just simply annoyed with the animal (as apparently many people are and have pets put down).

We took her in wrapped in a towel as she didn't have control of any faculties anymore. AB and I sobbed. I hadn't seen AB cry that hard about something ever. He had obviously grown to love her as well. Within minutes, she was gone and we said goodbye to her.

We went out to the desk to settle what we were expecting was our massive bill for a Saturday call in and the receptionist told us we were only being charged $50 for the equipment use. (We had been quoted over $300.)

We had Calley cremated and still today her ashes are on my dresser in a small container. I never knew where to lay her to rest because she was an indoor cat. There wasn't any special place - other than in my arms, next to her dog, or on her heating pad.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Karma bites

So I take it back. I should have never linked the "Man Cold" video.

I have taken it on the tush in a bad way.

Details of why I am out of commission and why my internet time will be sparse - I AM a ticking time bomb.

Mild cold starting about 1.5 weeks ago. No biggy, I can deal. I am not a wuss like someone else I know... or so I thought.

Saturday comes and I can see this hindsite now. I was freezing. I sat on the couch under blankets and feeling a little dizzy. And wow my neck hurt. What DID I do? And why wasn't Hans feeling this? Oh right... he had to have a temp because we just figured out he had a rabid ear infection.

I got up in the night and felt my soundly sleeping daughter. Wow, she felt cool. That cannot be good. I bring her into bed with us (NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY - I won't write it 100 times for your benefit). Her night, then becomes crap, but I finally got up and took some Advil for my aching neck.

Sunday, more Advil for the aching neck all day. Sunday night I am a shivering ball on the bathroom floor and dizzy enough that I was fearful to stand. I started not feeling quite so with it.

Finally it dawns on me to take MY temperature... even though I never get fevers. Ever.

103F and I started panicking. Doctor tells me to take Advil and Tylenol and see her tomorrow. (Major duh regarding the night before, *I* was the sick one.)

Monday morning comes and I am feeling alright, I drop the kids at daycare and head to the doctors. I emphasize that I cannot be sick, I just am never THIS sick. This is silly. I just have a fever that won't stay away. Oh and a sore throat.

Rapid Strep test - Negative
Pneumonia - Negative (thank goodness)
Sinus Infection - Nope
Influenza A/B test - Negative

I will be better in a day or so, take it easy. I grab Wendy's for my husband (who stayed home) out of concern for me... and his ear that is still pounding.

Tuesday 2am and the vomiting starts. No Advil is staying down.

I tried to get up to go in for my SDR, reassured AB that I was fine and just needed to take a shower and stuff.

At 7am I am dry heaving in the toilet as Skadi laughs at me. Evil child.

I call AB and admit defeat - which requires him to drive nearly one hour back home. Thankfully he drove his car and didn't take the Vanpool. He gets there and gets the kids dressed while I lay on the floor moaning barking instructions about bottles and blankets. Then he whisks the kids off.

10 am Price Is Right with Drew Carry.

Wow, it is cold in here again... I thought I turned the thermostat up. I check. It's normal.

I check me - 102F.

11am Mythbusters (did you know Adam was on the Charmin commercial with Mr. Whipple?)

Call the doc and the nurse insists that I get Advil in me and clear fluids only. Oh and take all those prescription meds in my closet for nausea while pregnant with Skadi. Well not all at the same time. But take them as prescribed and then the Advil.

When is this going to stop?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Leif and other miscellaneous

NM: "AB, who is going to write the Christmas letter this year?"

Leif: "I am mommy!"

All of you will have to just wait for it to arrive in your mailboxes. (And I will post it here later.)


Singing Leif's current favorite song before bed...

NM: "Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."

Leif: "Mommy can we say, 'four calling Leif birds' for the rest of the song."

NM: "Umm ok. On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, five gold rings, four calling Leif birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."

Leif: (Eruption of giggles.) "Four calling Leif birds!!"


Yesterday I arrived to pick up Leif at school and his main teacher, also the director followed me into class.

Teacher: "I wanted to talk to you about Leif."

NM: (Here we go again, what has he done now. Nothing has been good lately when these words come out of her mouth.) "Ok, what's going on."

Teacher: "Well today he was really interested in the walking sticks,"

NM: (Oh goodness, what did he accidentally do to the walking sticks - because I KNOW Leif would never do anything intentional to them, he loves animals and bugs.)

Teacher: "one of the other older girls was holding one for just a second,"

NM: (Oh no, what did he do to the little girl???)

Teacher: "he wanted to hold one SO badly. He begged and begged and so finally I relented because he is always so fascinated by them. I figured 'well, we will probably end up with two dead walking sticks, oh well', it will be a lesson on the fragile nature of life."

NM: (Does he need to know the fragile nature of life? I didn't say this, instead) "Yes, he loves bugs, insects and all animals so much."

Teacher: "Yes he does. And for over an hour, he walked around holding two walking sticks, taking care of them, talking to them, touching them,"

NM: (Ok, what did one of the OTHER kids do... smash one in his hand?)

Teacher: "He walked around for over an hour and then came back to me and very politely said, 'Ms K, I am ready to put them back now'. And do you know that after all that time they were still alive and he was more gentle than the boys TWICE his age are and for such a LONG time! He just really amazed me with the love in his eyes for the creatures."

NM: (Forcing back the tears!)

I just had to include this because everything lately has been about turkey behavior at daycare. Things that have prompted AB and I to start discussing if we can swing me working 75% time and thereby have a little more time at home with him.

She made my day.


Kitty plans have been postponed. Just a week. The coworker "miscalculated" how old the kitty's are by a week and they are just 7 weeks and not 8 weeks. So she called (last night at about 9pm, after we had gone to Petsmart and talked with Leif about it finally being "only one sleep till kitties") and told us it would be another week.

I explained to Leif this morning that the kitty's mommy wants to keep it and feed it some more, but we will get one in another week. So far, he has taken it well. Not sure he really understands... but no meltdowns yet.

The girl did call Hans today and apologize and say she realized how hard that could be on a three year old and so if we wanted to pick the kitty up tonight, she does have "kitty formula" that we can administer the kittens.

Yeah no. I don't think so, but thanks. I have one small being to feed every few hours and I don't need two.

And anyways, breast is best.

We will deal and wait for a week.

Finding the spirit

I am normally all *over* Christmas. And I suppose I appear at least to be all about Christmas this year. My house is decorated, tree has been up since a few days after Thanksgiving - though I still have to get AB to bring in the ladder to put the last few ornaments up top and the star up. The star, which is fine. But I want a pretty angel. A really pretty angel, not one with a contorted plastic face, but an elegant, classy looking angel. I have yet to find her after at least 8 years of looking... and when I finally find her I will likely pay whatever the asking price.

Presents are bought, but not wrapped. I will wrap one evening next week while everyone sleeps. I have one or two last minute things to grab, but for all intensive purposes I am done. And not to mention, I am thrilled about my purchases, some I just know are going to really be reveled in by the recipients. Buzz Lightyear is going to be a huge hit. As is the Halloween clearance kid sized, jet pack, wings and gloves that Leif has NO idea about. The camera will be a great present, and he is already talking about taking pictures of his new kitty with it.

Leif's annual Christmas ornaments are made and ready to be distributed to family.

But something hasn't quite clicked with me yet. And I don't know what it is.

Maybe it is the 65F weather earlier this week - even though we DID have snow last week. 65F is just wrong in December. (Tomorrow will be much more appropriate at 25F.) Or maybe it is that I am not stressing about holiday travel as we actually stay put this year. Maybe I am just too preoccupied with trying to maintain step with the rest of my family's life and schedule. Maybe it is the deluge of colds in my house. (Love this video - thanks Jo.) Maybe it is not having wrapped presents under the tree (which I am fearing a little... though so far Leif HAS left the two packages alone that arrived from my sister once I told him that he couldn't open his until Christmas). Maybe it is the bah humbug attitude of some family members. (Not my family of course, they are all the perfect Christmas revelers.)

Or maybe it was my lost Muppets Christmas cd.

I was going to burn a copy this morning since last year I uploaded it to the computer. I had been sorely missing Miss Piggy singing "FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!" and squealing "PIGGY pudding?" and Scooter replying, "no figgy pudding, it's made with figs... and bacon".

This morning I found it. I had scoured my cd case a few times already to no avail. But apparently it never made it back to the cd case last year and instead stayed out in the repository of regularly played music next to the cd player - despite it not being "regularly played" over the last year. (AB might have flung himself out a window.)

This morning we had a Muppets fest on the way into school and I am feeling better, a little more Christmas spirit.

Now if my son would quit yelling, "mommy please don't sing, I want to listen to the music" from the back seat.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My favorite things

Taking a cue from Jo (who needs to finish her list still - ahem!)... who took her cue from Oprah... these are 20 of my favorite things in no particular order:

1. Citrus Spice Herbal Tea

2. Thanks to my MIL for this addiction, Enstrom's English Toffee

3. Classic Coach purses

4. My great grandmother's sugar cookie recipe

5. Fleece pajama pants

6. Professional pictures of my kids

7. Sunset magazine

8. Washington Red blends - Fidelitas Optu, Canon de Sol, DeLille's D2 and even though I have only had it once Col Solare rocked my world.

9. My mom's pies.

10. Comfort foods, hamhock and bean soup, chili, Homemade chicken/turkey pot pies and V's Tortierre.

11. My bookshelf that AB built me for Valentine's Day 2003. (Laughing at how sparse it looks... oh the days.)

12. My gold and platinum diamond solitaire engagement ring.

13. Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner... so I can smell like a baby lamb... roasting (according to AB).

14. Books, my favorites - The Time Traveler's Wife, The Life of Pi, books by Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven)...

15. Volkl skis... should I ever move beyond demoing again someday.

16. Origins Ginger Float bath creme

17. My collection of unique wine stoppers... especially my Medusa, kind of like this one, but mine is frosted clear, it is better (and apparently now rare!).

18. Dankso shoes

19. Satsuma mandarins

20. Blue Moon Belgian White Ale

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Part 6... Happier times

AB and I were settled in Reno. He would go up and work on The Slope for about 4-6 weeks and then come home for 2 weeks. This actually worked out quite well for us at the time. He was making good money, I had my study time. I met fellow grad students and got to know them. I established myself in my program and much to my surprise, I excelled and enjoyed what I was doing.

AB came home from his stint on the Slope in November and decided that during the slow winter time (because who wants to work on the North Slope of Alaska in the winter?) he would seek a job in Reno and see what he found. We hosted Thanksgiving for our friends that year (my first turkey - I am always inclined to sing the song "Rawhide" thinking about that turkey...), we drove back to Colorado for Christmas and then shortly after the first of the year in 1997, AB had a job working as a chemist in an environmental lab. The pay got us by and we were officially now Nevada residents, living together full time.

Things went great for that year and we were quite happy, but after about 1.5 years I started to get restless. I wanted marriage in my future, it was important to me. I brought up the dreaded conversation with AB. He seemed perplexed and a little confused. He told me he thought things were just fine the way they were and that he had just figured we would get married when we were ready to have kids.

Kids! Kids? Kids were way off in my future. I was tired of splitting expenses 50-50 (funny how that happens when you are the low earner... and even though AB offered to merge everything, I refused), I wanted a real commitment. And I certainly didn't want to have kids while in grad school. That meant that on the optimistic side, we wouldn't be married for another four years? At least? I was dismayed.

I remember telling myself I had time. I was happy. But since this was something that was important to me, I had to not ignore it. (See, I finally had my head on straight!) I told myself that I would give it one year. If in one year, I did not have a marriage proposal or at least feel substantially different then I did right then, I needed to make a decision if this relationship was right for me.

That year of fun went by and I knew my date was approaching. I also saw a lot of good things happening for AB. He had a new and very good job offer working for the City in the Wastewater Treatment Plant. And he had just spent a good portion of his savings.

The savings went not to buy me a nice big rock for my finger. It went to buy a brand new Subaru Outback that Valentine's Day in 1999. Truth be told, he needed the car after just replacing the engine in the Nissan Pathfinder and it still didn't run overly well. I tried not to let myself be too disappointed, but I feared having to have that talk again about what I really wanted in life, despite our very happy state in the present.

We needed to break in the car and so picked up and drove to Napa Valley for Valentine's Day weekend. (For the record... probably the stupidest idea ever to think that "it's a holiday, no one will go to Napa for Valentine's day". HA HA HA!)

We ended up in Santa Rosa in a Super 8 motel and eating Mexican for dinner. A far cry from our usual Napa trips that included spas, hot springs and quaint little bistros. But it was still fun. We drove the coast to San Francisco to go see JB on our way back.

On this trip, there was talk. And *I* didn't even have to bring it up. AB told me he couldn't afford a ring right now, but he had been thinking about what I had said the year before. He said with his new good job, he felt he could swing a ring soon. He suggested we start pricing engagement rings in the next few months. He wanted my input so we got exactly what I would want.

I was chomping at the bit. I couldn't wait to start looking at rings and I think I allowed myself one weekend before dragging us to the mall and every jeweler in town.

At the first jeweler, I found what I wanted. A 14K gold and platinum band with a diamond solitaire. I tried to look at other rings, but "my" mind was set.

Would AB feel the same way?

We had decided that he would make the final decision and the proposal would be as much of a surprise as it possibly could be.

I knew it was coming, but when and where was indeterminate.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Photos in Parts

"Leif, sit down and look at me so I can take a picture of your front."

"Smile. Please."
"Hey AB, pause the football game and come make them smile."

"I said make them SMILE! Not traumatize them!"

"Leif smile, please?"

"Ok, so we won't try laying on the floor under the tree..."

Christmas photos in parts

"Leif move. In or out of the picture. Now."

Shoe off. Where did the shoe go?

Shoe on... not so bad. "Hey Leif come here and sit beside your sister."

"Leif look at the camera."

"Leif look at the camera and smile normal."

Christmas photos in parts

What are they looking at? (Cute picture if it weren't for that branch...)

Low light... (cannot wait till we get the new camera - Canon EOS Digital Rebel 10.1 Mp).

"Leif sit up. If you aren't going to sit up, get out of the picture."

"Forwards! Crawl forwards! You are going backwards!"

Photo shoot done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gettin' Lucky!

This Friday we are getting Lucky!

The cat. Lucky the cat, as named by Leif.

My coworker finally realized she was going to have to compromise a little if she wanted to get rid of her kittens. We got to go up this evening and check them out.

I had initially shy'd away from her and her kittens because I felt she was just being a flake about it all, not wanting a three year old in her house and such. Just not being very accommodating for us to come see them.

We decided if we wanted a kitty we would go with the Humane Society.

In the meantime my mom also got another cat. Their elderly cat, Kismet, passed away earlier this year peacefully. Kismet was a great cat. A big, huge yellow tabby. And seriously, big huge boy he was. He was a special guy that showed up in my mom's yard when I was in college. He had a raucous meow, and amazingly powerful hind legs that would propel him to the top of the fridge. And a crooked tail that had likely been shut in a door at some point prior to finding himself a new home.

They got a little kitten they named Murphy from the Humane Society in Fort Collins. A week later Murphy turned up with a horrible upper respiratory infection and barely clung to life. He was nursed back to life (after large vet expenses). Hearing about this experience from my mom made me less inclined to want to go to the Humane Society.

About that time my coworker was realizing that her kittens were nearing that 8 week point and would need homes, or they themselves would be taken the Humane Society.

We ventured up there and it didn't take long for them to worm their way into AB's heart. AB being the one I was worried about, I wasn't worried about me or Leif.

There are five kittens, three black, sleek looking shorthairs, one smushy face black fluff ball (medium to long hair - very unique looking kitten that appears to maybe have a little Persian to it) and a black and white. Right off the bat the smushy faced ball of fluff finds a friend with Leif.

The owner tells us that is the kitty they want to keep, but in the names of finding homes, they will take whatever is leftover and if we want him, we can have him.

He was dang cute. But the hair.

I already have one beastly with a long, double coat of thick black hair. And here is where AB and I disagree... he thinks we probably wouldn't notice the additional hair since Winny is a big girl. But the cat will grow and will go places Winny currently doesn't (the couch, the beds...). I am leaning towards one of the shorthairs.

Fairly quickly afterwards two other black kitties venture out to play with Leif and soon he has three black balls of fluff jumping around him.

He couldn't be happier.

We snagged the two other kitties out of hiding, but it was obvious they were not interested in playing.

We coaxed Leif away from the kitties and there were tears on the way home.

"But I want to take a kitty home," he cried.

AB admitted, "I think that is the first time you have yanked on my heart for a kitty unassisted and unprovoked." (He said while eyeing me...)

So this week we need to make a trip to PetSmart to buy all the kitty goodies... a carrier (because I am NOT using that huge old airplane carrier that I used to use with Cal-cat), a bed, a litterbox, dishes, food, litter, and Leif is very excited to pick out toys for the kitty.

We have decided on Lucky as a name.

Lucky is Professor Wiseman's kitten on Curious George. It is also part of the title of Leif's favorite book, "Leif the Lucky". And most importantly, Leif likes it and picked it out. And for me, it isn't Muffy... the second place name which Leif tells us is NOT "Murphy" my mom's cat's name... it is Muffy. I really don't like that. Really don't. We may have pushed for Lucky just a wee bit.

We are getting Lucky on Friday!