Conversations with Jake

I keep my cell phone on my desk at work every day, turn off the ringer, and set it to vibrate. If my family needs to talk to me, I have them call or text my cell phone. If I’m in a position to respond, I will. If not, they can leave me a message.

This afternoon, my cell phone buzzed. I could see it was Jake, and I wasn’t overly busy, so I answered.

Jake: Hey, Mom!

Me: Hey, Bud. What’s up?

Jake: Where’s Dad?

Me: At work, why?

Jake: What time did he leave?

Me: I don’t know. Probably two o’clock.

Jake: Well he wasn’t home when I woke up at ten fifteen either.

Me: Oh, that’s right. He switched his shift today. He would have left home at ten.

Jake: Oh. Okay.

Me: Why? What do you need?

Jake: Nothing. I was just wondering. Hey, there was something else I wanted to ask you too.

Me: What’s that?

Jake: Who sings Come on Eileen?

Me: Ummm… (humming)… Hmmm hmm hmm hm. Hm hm hm hm hmm hmmm. Hmmm hmm hm hm…. DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS! Riders? No. Runners. Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Jake: How do you spell Dexy’s?

Me: D – E – X… just look it up. That’s what Google is for.

Jake: Okay. Hey. Who sings Aeroplane?

Me: Aeroplane? I don’t know. How does it go?

Jake: I don’t know.

Me: Can you sing a little bit of it?

Jake: No.

Me: Hum it?

Jake: No.

Me: Then look it up. That’s what Google is for.

Jake: Okay. I think it might be The Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I’m not sure.

Me: Just search it on iTunes. You’ll figure it out.

Jake: Okay. See ya later.

Me: K, bye.

And then I returned to my fascinating and gratifying world of work. I was diligently creating a user guide for our website. Approximately a half hour later, my cell phone rang again. It was Jake.

Me: What’s up now, Jake?

Jake: I’m smelling gas by the stove. Not a lot. Just a little. (Ongoing problem. We’re working on this. Steve the G.E. appliance expert said he smelled no gas, but I swear, it’s there. I’m calling someone on this to come check it out.)

Me: I know. I keep smelling it too. I’ll have Dad look at it again tonight.

Jake: Okay. There was something else too.

Me: What’s that?

Jake: The kitty wants to say hi to you. Hold on.

Cat: MEOW

Me: Which cat was that?

Jake: It was Holly. She wanted to say hi.

Me: Okay. Thanks. And as much as I appreciate it, I really can’t be spending my time at work, on my cell phone, talking to cats. Even if her days are numbered.

Jake: Okay. See you when you get home.

Me: K, bye.

Hey, he’s nineteen. If he’s actually willing to talk to me, I’ll take it. I won’t dictate the topic of the conversations. But I do draw the line at talking to the cat.

Pins, Peeps and Prom Dresses

What a great weekend it was! The weather was beautiful and warm. I enjoyed a Saturday at home for a change while Mark took Kacey to her volleyball tournament for the day. While they were gone, I caught up on all the things that seem to be getting away from me lately.

I went out for an early morning run in the bright sunshine. It felt great except for this crazy cramp-like pain that has developed in the arch of my right foot. This better not be because of the new shoes I just bought, because they were somewhat expensive! I ended up limping home, but it felt a little better after a shower and taking it easy for a bit. It still hurts though. I might have to take it easy for a couple more days.

Once I’d cleaned up, I went to the grocery store and restocked our food supplies. Then I made good use of my new kitchen by baking some cookies and putting together a cashew-chicken-pasta salad for the pot-luck we were having at bowling Saturday night.

I kept an eye on my poor, sick kitty and made sure she got all the drinks she wanted.

Later on, it was time to go bowling. It was the last night of our couples league for the season. Scores weren’t tracked. Instead we enjoyed FUN NIGHT! And did we have fun! Everyone was relaxed and did a lot of goofing around. We got to choose the team against whom we wanted to bowl. We bowled against our good friends Paul and Megan, and their partners, Annie and Rich. Annie always has some kind of gimmick she brings along to bowling. Usually her gimmicks are in the form of some sort of nasty snack that no one can bring themselves to put in their mouth, like the time she brought shrimp chips!

This time, instead of a snack, Annie brought proof of her creative talents. Inspired by our local newspaper’s annual Easter contest, in which contestants create dioramas out of Peeps Easter candy, Annie decided to create a bowling themed Peeps creation. Annie was accused of having too much time on her hands, and her husband was all too willing to let me take the diorama home after Fun Night for use at my women’s league Fun Night on Monday! Check it out:

After bowling, a bunch of us went into the bar to watch people singing karaoke. One of the guys got the bright idea to have all of us sing, and soon there were twelve of us sharing two microphones singing The Eagles’ Lyin’ Eyes. We were like a really bad, (and really old) version of The Brady Bunch.

Sunday arrived, sunny and beautiful. It was such a perfect and warm spring day. Kacey and I had plans to do some shopping…for a PROM dress! Yes, my baby is suddenly old enough to have a boyfriend and old enough to go to prom! We found a beautiful dress at the first place we shopped. She was hesitant to decide on the dress so quickly, but I asked her if she loved it, why bother looking elsewhere? She agreed and we made the purchase.

I’m so excited for her that she gets to go to prom and that she has found someone she likes enough to want to go with him. But part of me feels a nervousness that I never experienced with my boys. The boys grew up into big, strong, young men and I watched them become mature, responsible and capable. And it’s not that I don’t see those same things in Kacey. It’s just that I worry about her vulnerability more so than I did with the boys. And I’m not the only one. When Brad found out that his little sister has a prom date, he wanted to know, “Who is this kid, and has he filled out an application yet? (Old family joke. All potential boyfriends must complete an application/interview with Dad and brothers for consideration as to whether or not they are acceptable company for the daughter/sister.)

I don’t know why I worry so much more about Kacey. Maybe it’s because she and I are so close. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl and she’s my baby. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. I just have to try not to let it overshadow the happy feelings she’s experiencing right now. I am proud of her and I believe in her. That is what she needs to see when I look at her, not a ton of worry.

So…Monday night is Fun Night for my women’s bowling league and do we have some fun planned! I’m very excited and I hope to take pictures, so look for a bowling post later this week!

Life is Good – April 9, 2010

It was a tough week here. The news of Holly’s tumor kind of overshadowed everything else.

Things seemed so dire on Monday when we were given the diagnosis, and again on Wednesday when she was so sick, but she seemed to be okay by Thursday. I spent most of the day at home keeping an eye on her, and she seemed better. She ate some of her dry food and kept it down . I also bought her some canned cat food. (Iams Proactive Health brand food. Now there’s irony if I ever saw it.) I was  hoping that the canned food would sit better with her stomach and it did. I gave her a small amount to begin with and she woofed it down. Poor thing was hungry!

And yes, I know the poor cat is on the tail end of her ninth life, but I seriously think she’s taking advantage of me and my obvious sorrow over her impending passing. See, every single time I use the bathroom now, and I do mean every-single-ever-lovin’-time…whether it be to actually… you know… use the bathroom, or simply to grab a tissue or just wash my hands…suddenly there she is trying to look all forlorn and pitiful and weak.

And then she starts in on me. “MEOW! MEOW! Poor me! Pick me up, puh-leeze! You know I simply can’t make the leap up there to your lovely sink and I want to drink out of that faucet thingy where the water comes out all fresh and clean and has no hairs of other cats in it. And also, be sure not to turn it on too much. Just a trickle please. Thank you. That is lovely. You know I just can’t possibly drink out of that big, blue bowl full of water into which Tigger has been sticking his tongue. Eeeew. Cough! Cough!

Okay, so cats don’t actually cough, but the rest is very true, I’m pretty sure. And I’m totally letting her get away with it because I plan to spoil her rotten for the rest of her days, even if she might actually be milking it just a little bit.

So, while Holly and I hung out on my day off, I was also waiting for the appliance repair guy to come and tell me what was so wrong with my brand spanking new oven that it refused to heat up. Steve showed up in a timely fashion and went to work figuring out what the problem might be. First he checked to make sure the gas was on. (Duh!) And then he started taking pieces off of and out of the oven. He stuck tools inside and checked his little computer and such. I proceeded to fold laundry at the kitchen table, trying not to look like I was scrutinizing him too much as he worked down on the floor with his head in my oven. He seemed a nice enough guy. He didn’t try to steal my pot-holders or Tupperware from the cupboard near where he was working, so that was good. I’m telling you, you can trust those G.E. Appliance Experts!

Steve talked on and on, sometimes to himself and sometimes to me. And wouldn’t you know it, he pulled his head out of the oven and turned to look at me just as I pulled a pair of my string bikinis out of the basket of laundry I was folding. I stuffed them back in the basket and tried to look all like “Underwear? What underwear? No, we don’t have any underwear in our laundry, Heaven forbid! No underwear here! Those hot pink things? Yeah, those were socks. Totally socks.”

Steve was kind enough to pretend not to notice my hot pink underwear.

So, as Steve the G.E. Appliance Expert informed me, the problem was simply something called a glow bar. I pretended to know just what a glow bar was, because, quite frankly, I didn’t care as long as it got fixed or replaced. Steve said that glow bars are delicate parts and  it is quite common for them to be damaged during shipping. He replaced mine and then showed me it was working, all like “behold the flames!” I did my best job of looking impressed, all like, “Wow, look at that. Fire. I can cook now. Yay.”

I thanked him, and off he went to rescue yet another appliance. All in a day’s work for Super G.E. Appliance Expert Steve, I am quite sure.

And also, I’m sure you are asking yourself what these pictures have to do with anything I’ve written here so far. Well, if you would just be patient, I will tell you that the tulips are getting ready to bloom in the little garden underneath the crab-apple tree. I actually tried to get rid of all the tulips a few years ago, but some of the bulbs were all stealth-like and escaped their demise.  I don’t necessarily dislike tulips, but they are only pretty for like a week before they croak, and then you have to leave all the stems there until they sort of dry up and you can pull them off the bulbs. But now I’m just too lazy to remove the rest of them, so there you go. Pictures of spring in my front yard!

And also, Kacey has a volleyball tournament this weekend, and I think I am actually going to stay home! Because I have been a super-supportive volleyball mom and attended every single tournament so far. And this weekend, Mark is available to go with her, and it is a very local tournament, so I’m thinking I’ll just stay home and have a non-chaotic weekend for a change. But I haven’t told Mark yet that I’m bailing out and he gets to go solo this time, so Shhhhhhhh, okay?

Have a great weekend!

Watching and Waiting

When I returned home from work yesterday, Jake informed me that Holly had been sick at least three times during the day. (Sick = throwing up icky stuff.) I went to find her and she was dry heaving and looking miserable. I let her be until the sick feeling seemed to pass and then picked her up. As I did, she squealed a little bit, as if she might have been in pain.

Jake then told me, “Dad said she probably won’t make it a week.”

The combination of that statement and what I had just witnessed caused me to have a little melt down. I was sure the vet’s assumption that she had another month or so was way off base.

Later, I gave Holly some bits of chicken and she ate it willingly. I don’t think she’s been eating her dry food. She threw up all of the chicken not long afterwards.

I woke up at 3:00 this morning, and had a little trouble going back to sleep because I kept thinking that somewhere in my house, my little Holly had passed on. But I was afraid to go look for her. I finally did go back to sleep and  got up just before 6:00.  After using the bathroom, I hesitantly opened the door, afraid I wouldn’t find her waiting there for me. Normally, when she hears the water running, she comes to the door and then jumps up on the vanity to get her drink, but I didn’t expect to see her there this morning. Much to my relief, she was. As soon as I opened the door, she started meowing over and over. I think she’s too weak already to even attempt the jump, so I lifted her up and turned on the trickle of water for her and she drank to her heart’s content.

Afterwards, she huddled up into the bread loaf position on the vanity and stayed there, sleeping, nose down, while I cleaned up for the day. When I was done, I carried her to the love-seat where I had spread out my favorite fleece blanket, which she just loves. She’s been sleeping there ever since.

She seems a little better today, but I’m seriously doubting she’ll make it another month. As soon as it’s clear she’s in pain, I’ll do the humane thing.

The hardest part of this is just knowing she’s dying and being reminded every time I look at her, yet not knowing when it’s going to happen. We’ll know when it’s time, I know. And I do remember that after we had Shelby-dog put down, it became immensely easier knowing she was no longer in pain.

The kids seem a little less scared about the prospect of losing another pet. It was extremely hard on them when we lost Shelby, but I think now they’ve learned that time goes on, and pets come and go. And since Dacotah entered his life, Brad has learned that it’s possible to fall in love with another pet again. (Talking on the phone with him today, he said she’s in heat for the first time. She’s wearing doggie diapers and hates it, so she sort of waddles when she walks and “it’s SO cute!” I think HE’S so cute.)

So, these are difficult, but valuable life lessons for all of us, I guess.

Sometimes I feel a little silly, thinking, “My gosh, she’s just a cat, and one that I never even intended on having. She just sort of fell into our lives.” But she’s been a part of this life for 15 years. She’s been a source of love, entertainment, amusement and frustration over those years. She grew up right alongside my own children. And they love her immensely. She has a very distinct and permanent place in all of our hearts. It’s sad to know that very soon, I won’t feel the soft, silky feel of her fur on my face and the sound of her purring when she cuddles on me.

Holly in her younger days

Okay… I’m going to try to stop with the bummer posts from here on out…

I’m hanging around the house waiting for the stove repair guy to show up today. It sucks that a brand new oven doesn’t work on the first try. (And since we were remodeling, it wasn’t installed upon delivery – our choice – so that’s why it didn’t get tested when we first got it.) Hopefully it’s no big deal and I’ll be able to cook in it soon!

Holly

A couple of years ago, my neighbor learned that her cat had diabetes. She was determined to do everything in her power to prolong her pet’s life and so, she began a daily regimen of insulin injections for her cat. I remember saying at the time, “I love my pets, but I’d draw the line at having to administer daily injections.”

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that Holly has lost a noticeable amount of weight. And she’s been drinking a lot. Every time I pull back the shower curtain, there she is, waiting for water to come out of the faucet. When she hears me in my bathroom, she jumps up on the vanity and stares into the sink.  It’s not as easy to make the jump anymore, but she can still get up there. I know something’s wrong, and I want to spoil her now. Every day, I turn the bathroom faucet on just a trickle and let her drink until she decides she’s had enough.

Jake’s been letting her drink the milk from his cereal. I’ve been feeding her bits of chicken, as much as she’ll take, hoping she’ll gain back some of the lost weight.

She’s tired all the time. Mostly she just sleeps in her favorite places; the love seat in the family room or on Kacey’s fleece blanket on her bed.

Mark took a couple hours off from work yesterday. He called me at work. “I’m going to take Holly to the vet at 3:30. See what’s wrong.”

“Alright,” I said. “Let me know.”

I’ll give her the injections, I thought. A couple of years ago, I thought that was silly. But now I’m ready to do it. She’s my kitty.

At 4:30, I glanced at the clock, guessing Mark should be back home by now. I picked up the phone and called.

“So, what’s up,” I asked?

Hesitation

“It’s not good.”

“What is it,” I asked?

“It’s a tumor. Cancerous. On her kidney. Pretty common in cats. She’s lost three pounds.”

Three pounds. I took a deep breath. “So it’s not diabetes?”

“No. I didn’t want to tell you while you were at work. Are you okay?”

I was crying a little bit, trying to keep it in check. “I’m okay,” I said.

“The vet said if she were younger, they’d suggest surgery. But at fifteen years old, it’s just not something they recommend.”

“I suppose not,” I sighed. “Is she in pain?”

“No. She’s still purring. That’s a good sign. The vet said that when she starts hiding, we’ll know it’s time. She might have a month or so left.”

A month or so. I’d guess it’s probably closer to a month. I don’t have high hopes of making it to “or so.” All of a sudden, I’m remembering how hard it was to put Shelby down almost two years ago. We’re going to have to go through this again. Tigger is going to wonder what happened to  his pal. I think he knows. I caught him gently, lovingly licking her head the other day. These cats don’t love each other. They torment each other. I guess he knows.

I guess I’m not really surprised. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be so imminent. I hate this.

Easter Sunday

Another four-day weekend – gone in the blink of an eye.

The kitchen is finally mostly put back together again. We still have to install the trim boards and crown molding. I waited all day Friday and much of Saturday to get my turn in there.  I had boxes waiting to be unpacked. I got a small start late Friday, but was sidelined by some friends who Mark had invited over to see.  I  got another chance late Saturday afternoon after doing a bunch of cooking with my sister for Easter brunch. I  started unpacking. I hadn’t gotten far when the next door neighbors popped in to have a look. I was patient while they visited and looked around and listened to Mark tell tales of his manly remodeling adventures. Finally, they left and I unleashed on Mark. I told him if he invited any more people over while I was trying to put my kitchen back together, there would be hell to pay. From there on out, he would periodically glance out the front window and announce, “Bill and Tammy are heading this way…” or “Here come Dave and Rita…”

I fell for it a few times and shouted at him, “You have GOT to be KIDDING me! NO MORE VISITORS!”

Then he would laugh, thinking he was SO funny. So he kept at it, but lost interest when I would just shout back at him, “Shut up!”

I went to bed Saturday night, exhausted but with my kitchen back in order. Sunday morning I was anxious to give my new oven a try. I preheated the oven for the brunch egg dish I had prepared. I timed it just right to make sure the food was done just in time to bring it over to my parents house for the family celebration. After allowing plenty of time for preheating, I opened the oven…and found it was not anywhere near 350 degrees. Not even close. My brand new oven DID NOT WORK! ARGH!

Thankfully, Mom and Dad live a block away, so I called over to their house and my mom answered the phone cheerfully. Unable to hide the pout in my voice, I said, “Mom? My oven doesn’t work!”

“Well bring it on over,” she said. “We’ll just cook it in my oven.”

Easter was saved.

We had a great time with the whole family and stuffed ourselves silly. The food was delicious and plentiful. My mom made sure the orange juice was pulp-free, because she knows how much I hate pulp in my orange juice. My brother and I were actually already planning Thanksgiving dinner.

Later on, we went over to Mark’s parents’ house where we had a great time with his family! I got my baby-fix kissing and chasing and hugging our one year-old nephew Ryan. We threw plastic eggs at each other all afternoon long and then I helped him find more plastic eggs in the egg hunt.

Family isn’t always fun, but today was good.

Life is Good – April 2, 2010

I have no photo to offer today. Things have been so chaotic around here that I haven’t even had a chance to take pictures lately. It’s a shame too, because the weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday here in Minnesota. Our temperatures were in the high seventies and I even donned my flip-flops for the first time this year!

So things are still crazy in la casa de Terri, due mainly to the kitchen remodel project which is threatening to send me over the edge. I have to constantly remind myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. (Though Kacey recently informed me that due to the struggling economy, and in an attempt to conserve energy, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off until further notice.)

The past few days have been the worst days of the remodeling adventure. There had been a temporary restoration of order in the kitchen, but then came the installation of the new counter tops. In addition, Mark started ripping out the old hardwood floor. The table, chairs and any other kitchen items that I find necessary and convenient were shuffled all over the house. Early Wednesday morning, as I was attempting to get out the door for work, I found myself searching high and low for my insulated lunch bag and my vitamins. Thursday morning, Mark began installing the new hardwood floor bright and early. Our friend, Paul came to help out. The place was a mess. The sound of an air-nailer and pounding hammers continued throughout the day. I felt in the way and aimless, so I got out of the house and ran some errands.

When I returned, they were still working fast and furious and I still felt useless, so off I went again. I found myself at Barnes and Nobel, which always has a therapeutic effect on me. I recently (finally) finished reading Pillars of the Earth and LOVED it! This is probably the best book I have ever read. So there was no question what book I was seeking in my trip to the bookstore. The sequel, World Without End was sitting on the shelf, calling my name, just waiting for me to come pick it up. Who was I to argue?

The guys worked well into the late evening on the floor installation. In spite of the noise they were making, I decided to go to bed and was actually able to go to sleep, for a few hours anyway. Midnight rolled around and suddenly I was wide awake. I decided to tiptoe into the kitchen to see how much they’d accomplished and much to my surprise, they’d completed about three-fourths of the floor! The new refrigerator and stove, which had previously been sitting in the living room were now in their proper places. A sense of order is slowly but surely returning. Maybe today, I’ll actually be able to unpack all of the kitchen belongings and place them in their new homes!

This weekend promises to be a full one. Not only is it Easter weekend, but today is Jake’s 19th birthday! He’s been desperately wanting an iPod touch, so one of my escapes yesterday was a trip to Target to pick it up for him. He’s been nearly crawling out of his skin in anticipation, so I didn’t make him wait for his gift. I gave it to him and let him start enjoying it right away. And I was rewarded with one of his rare but heartfelt hugs and a sincere thank you.

This week also saw the return of my parents from their winter home in Arizona. It is so good to have them back. They arrived late Wednesday afternoon and I walked over to their house as soon as I felt they’d had enough time to get their bags inside and get somewhat settled. I spent a wonderful evening sitting around the kitchen table with Mom, Dad and my sister. We talked and reminisced about friends and neighbors from “the old days” when my siblings and I were growing up and it was such fun.  Mom and Dad had an uneventful winter, which is always good news. No health scares, to speak of and they returned home to very warm and welcoming temperatures. The whole family will be gathering at Mom and Dad’s on Sunday for brunch to celebrate Easter and their return home.

Life is Good!

MOM2K9

Personalized license plates drive me nuts. They distract me from my driving while I try to figure out what they say or what they mean. Lord knows I don’t need any more distraction from the road. There’s already enough of that between trying to search through my purse for gum while simultaneously staying in my own lane, checking the display on the radio to learn the name of a new song and singing at the top of my lungs.  (This is done only when driving solo. I don’t want to torture anyone.)

Yesterday while driving home from work, the plates on the  S.U.V. in front of me caught my attention. They said:

MOM2K9

“How sweet,” I thought. “She really loves her dog.”

And then I realized, “No she doesn’t… She’s a b*tch!”

I’ve never had personalized plates. I just can’t think of that one thing that I just have to tell the world about myself by advertising it on my license plates. And if I could, I certainly wouldn’t be advertising that I’m a MOM2K9.

What would your personalized plates say?