Monday, November 24, 2008

Fear of flying...

With small children. Much anxiety. Beforehand, I was worried: Are they congested? Will they nap at all? Will C stay in his seat? Will the baby scream the whole way? Alas, the worries were justified. Although pumped up with anticipation to visit the grandparents, for C, the airplane itself lost its allure soon after the door was shut. He freaked out at the noise when I tried to turn on my air vent, and he threw a major, entire plane-alienating fit. G cried too, mostly because he was tired, but by the time the plane got in motion to take its place in line on the runway (delayed by an electrical glitch), both kids were asleep. Phew.

So now we can settle in and enjoy Northern California for a few days. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Self stim"

When I went to my very first mommy & me classes with C two years ago, the woman in charge (not the instructor, who seemed nice and perfectly able, but her supervisor, whose own kids were over 20 and apparently perfect, and who never let the instructor contribute anything) scolded me for not giving C the chance to learn "self stim." I had to suppress a giggle. I resented every piece of "advice" that woman spewed (including, when I catalogued the severity of his colic, "You should try singing to him." Duh!), and stopped going altogether after a few meetings. But, to be fair, C never did get the self stim thing down.

G, on the other hand, is remarkably capable of entertaining himself for long periods of time; 20-minute chunks sometimes. He is curious, good-natured, and observant. It is wonderful. He will press buttons on music boxes, bang on a xylophone, and push cars around, with a smile. What I don't know is whether this is because we ignore him a little more than we did C (inevitably, as we only have finite attention resources now shared between the two), or whether it is an inherent personality trait, to be a little more self-sufficient that way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Car radio, part deux

I went to try to get the car cd player fixed today. The situation is a bit more involved than I would have liked. A new one is being ordered. If it were just the cd player, I could be patient, but when Hubby was using my car the other day, he returned to tell me that the radio now didn't work either. This, I cannot tolerate. I have a trip to LA in my future in a couple of days... I can't imagine doing it sans NPR. It's fund drive season and all, but still... unthinkable.

An expensive month. First, a button that cost a good half-month's mortgage, and then a few pennies that killed the car stereo. Time to buy a lottery ticket?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New snuggle buddy

The two cats used to snuggle for long stretches of the day. I was worried about how poor Van would adjust to being alone. Now I have my answer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Want to sit in Mommy's car

Carter usually becomes a little unruly in the later afternoon. I get desperate for ways to keep him busy. Besides "washing the dishes", one of his newer interests is sitting in my car in the garage. At first, he was happy just pretending to drive the steering wheel. Then I started finding things from the center storage space strewn across the car. Easy enough to clean up; worth the effort. But the other day, he really went to town: front and back windshield wipers on, door light off, rear view mirror and steering wheel tilt out of adjustment, and in case all that wasn't enough:
A zoom of the relevant detail:

My parents bought my husband and me a front-loading cd player for the house for our last anniversary, and warned us that the salesman had said that kids like to put coins in the slot. Still, I was surprised by the damage he was able to do. I'll let him explain to Miss J why our familiarity with the Music Together repertoire is lacking this time around. And maybe I'll cave and just learn to love Barney.

Monday, November 10, 2008

For Frank

I'll start off by saying that I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, writing what might turn out to be a long post about my dear, sweet cat Frank, who died today. I can't promise that I would have read anyone else's tribute to their dead cat, and even if I did, I probably would have thought at some point, It's just a cat. Or at least, I would have thought that before going through this awfully painful loss. As friends have generously pointed out today, Frank was more than just a cat. He was a real member of our family, a loyal friend. Frank was named after my paternal grandfather, and he was a gentle, special creature. In order to deal with my grief, I am posting this in honor of him.

Six years ago, I had gone to the pound thinking I would pick an orange kitty, in honor of my college roommate's adorable Marvin, whom I had coveted. There was a whole cage of little orange balls of fur. But grey and white Frank had more personality than all of the cats in the other cage. He was playful and spirited. The pound had a waiting period of 48 hours. When I got home, as an afterthought, I called to ask if the other cat in his cage was available because the two seemed to have bonded, and they could keep each other company. Thank goodness for that decision. Anyway, on the trip home two days later, they cried and cried. They never learned to like car rides. I tried singing to them, speaking French, explaining to them what was going on, that they would have a new home. It was such a relief to finally drive up and release them into the one room I had selected to expose them to first. Their eyes were less wide by the end of the day, and they soon claimed the house for their own.

They were so much fun as kittens. I loved watching them go down the stairs for the first time, like out-of-control snowboarders. Curious, willing to chase anything, and so snuggly. Once I freaked out badly when I couldn't find either of them. I was sure they had gotten out somehow. Finally, finally I found them snuggled together in the small space behind the washing machine.

When the boyfriend that I had been living with when I/we adopted the cats broke up, it was horrible. Any sadness I felt about the break-up seemed to be dwarfed by the agony I felt over deciding the future for the cats. We both loved them so much. We knew we couldn't split them up. I got them in the end, because I had taken the initiative in the beginning. I was sad to take them away from him, but I did not want to part with them, and I knew I would do my best to make them happy.

In Pasadena, the cats and I shared a one-bedroom apartment. My dad helped me shop for a cat tree in Marin when I was up there, since they wouldn't have stairs anymore to exercise on. He drove it all the way down to Pasadena. My parents also helped me outfit the patio with chicken wire and a net roof so that the cats could go outside. It took hours, but they knew how much the cats' comfort meant to me. Pasadena was often lonely, but those cats always kept me warm.

Once I started dating my future husband, I would pack them up for weekends in Orange County. They hated the car ride, but liked running down his hallway, sliding into the wall at the end, and exploring his place. We eventually concocted a special add-on to attach to the gate in front of the courtyard so the cats could enjoy the nice little landscaped space and lay in the sun. The HOA nearly put a lien on the house because some neighbor complained that our addition was against code, but it didn't come to anything, at least not before we moved.

The new house had stairs, which the cats loved. They would chase each other up and down, and pick a stair and relax there. The upstairs office is super-sunny, to their delight. Frank liked to walk along the banister, which had a long drop on the other side that always made me so nervous, but as far as I know, he never fell. He also loved hiding and playing in cardboard boxes and paper bags. The cats liked to team up against whoever was on the other side of the bathroom door. They would swipe their paws under the door, and jab them, curling up, toward the hand that taunted them from behind the door.

Carter had gotten old enough to torment them. He loved to chase them and pull their tails. Frank was always tolerant of Carter's pulling and yanking; it seemed like he knew that hurting the kid was out of the question. I trusted him, and he did not let me down.

Frank and Van fought; sometimes, the fur literally flew. But mostly, they loved each other. They often mirrored each other's position.

They snuggled into each other, falling asleep with blissful looks on their faces. They would clean the hard-to-reach spots for one another, like inside of their ears, and between their eyes. When they were hungry, sometimes they would get snippy, and even box each other, with one bopping the other on the nose with a left paw when they were both resting back on their hind legs. After dinner though, it would always be back to a yin-and-yang pose of cuddle and brotherly love.

Frank was only six. I was so looking forward to bringing him home today, especially to showing a sad Van that there was nothing to worry about, his brother was OK. But he developed pneumonia after the operation and was put to sleep this morning, as I pet him and tried my best to comfort him. I am so sad, for me, for Van, and for my whole family. We miss you, sweet Frank, and we will not forget you. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kitty pica (or "The World's most expensive button")

Ever since Frank's collar disappeared several years ago and I found it a week later, in the middle of the living room, surrounded by kitty vomit, I knew Frank had a serious penchant for eating strange things. He especially likes plastic bags (apparently they contain animal bi-products, to which I say: 1) eew and 2) who knew?) and paper towels. So when he threw up his food twice in a row and then puddles of bile, I was very worried. The vet had all kinds of theories going, based on the x-rays. He also incidentally found that Frank has only one (well-functioning, thankfully) kidney. This morning, he had a barium test to see whether he was obstructed (x-ray was inconclusive), and bingo. Exploratory surgery yielded a (very expensive) button. Get well soon, Frank. We can't wait to have him back home Monday. (On the left, with brother Van).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sick and tired

Poor Carter is under the weather. It might not have helped that at Uncle Keith's wedding this weekend, he partied until he dropped.

Coughing, runny nose, loss of appetite, majorly grumpy... He was in whiny, contrarian mode. "Want juice. Or milk. Or juice... I don't want to take a nap. Want to listen to cd..." All day long. But tomorrow is not just another day, it will be a historic day, and long-awaited. (I am daring to be optimistic here... I will exhale tomorrow.) Is the nightmare really, finally over?

Lights out

The other day, the utility company had a "scheduled outage." We didn't get the memo. 9AM-4PM, they told me, when I finally called at 11. Even though I am a former UCSC slug, and as such, am supposed to be (and feel like I am) in touch with nature and aware of creature comforts, I had an alarming amount of "duh" moments. I thought to myself, "I can't use the computer, so I'll just go listen to the radio..."; "Why is the light out in the refrigerator?" I came very close to trying to use the microwave. And I got lucky that Roque was able to help me get the car out of the garage, sans (and in spite of) the garage door opener, in time for Gavin's doctor's appointment.