Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Death and other fun topics

Today we held a funeral for Jojo complete with flowers, a song - "You are my sunshine" - and about 1,000 mosquitos as uninvited guests. Then, Liam popped the question - the one I, at 34, am still not even close to comfortable with.

"We're not going to die, are we Mom?"

"Yes, everyone dies - animals, plants, people."

"But when are we going to die?"

"We don't know - but most people live a nice, long life and don't die until they get very old?"

"Are Jerzy and Paula (who are, oh, 40ish and in better health than anyone I know) old?"

"Noooo, your great-grandparents are old."

"Are they going to die?"


"But why are they going to die?"

"I don't know why - maybe because our bodies get tired."

"But what happens when we die?"

"Well, different people believe different things - some people think there is a place our souls go after our bodies stop working. Some people think we come back as someone else. Some people don't believe in any of that."

"But I don't want us to die."

"I know, hon, but we can't do anything about it. The only thing we can do is live each day as well as we can, and just don't waste it."

"Oh. Can I have a cookie?"

"That's not exactly what I meant."

In memory of Jojo

Jojo was born 12, years ago in Anchorage, Alaska and lived her early years in Alaska before following her human companion, Carey, to Oregon in 1998 in the back of a Subaru with her mother, Zoe, and sister, Cuppa. She returned to Alaska, setting up residence in Homer with her mother's new friend, Matt, and his puppy, Hannah, who she quickly educated about the claw power of cats.

During the past nine years of her life, Jojo was a great comfort to her family, despite their decision to add to the family with another dog, Taz, and another cat, Tasha. Tasha and Jo enjoyed a love-hate relationship and while they often did battle with one-and-other, they were also seen grooming each other and ultimately passed only weeks after each other.

Arguably the biggest role Jo played in her life was as the first pet Liam bonded with - finally being granted permission to sleep in his bed several months ago. She enjoyed catnip, mice, birds and may well have brought a squirrel into the house on one occasion.

She will be missed with great intensity and honored always.

Monday, July 28, 2008

standing tall

Thea stood on her own two feet for a good 30 seconds today without holding on to anything.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Made it through the weekend

I love my kids, but two days alone with them and all the other things I have to do in a day freaks me out every week. In fact, even when Matt is home, by Monday morning, we are all ready to take a break from each other. It's not that I can't do the basics - I just worry about getting through the weekend without wanting to strangle either of the kids. Sorry, but this gig is no easy thing. And it's not getting easier. Thea is pulling up on things and then falling down all the time and hollering. And Liam is terrified of letting me out of his sight, even for a minute.

Yesterday, everyone was up by 6 a.m. for some ungodly reason. I had the goal of not doing anything productive Saturday - no cleaning, no groceries, no laundry. It was pouring most of the day, but by 9 a.m., when Thea refused to go down for a morning nap but was totally distraught, I packed everyone in the car and headed out for some garage sales with the dream of finding a small wood stove at one of them for the rental cabin. I didn't find that, but I did find out that Liam's fear of abandonment was in full swing - he couldn't handle having me out of his sight for even a second.

Then it was over to our friend Heather's house - she's a seasonally-single mom, too, and due to have her second child in a month, so we found comfort in numbers and cooked dinner together. Somehow, listening to your children whine is so much better with company. And they did. Lots.

Today was better. My main goal was to clean up and set things up for the week, and I managed that pretty well. The chaos was really bothering me, so taking it down a notch was great. Things like the shelf in my bedroom office that fell out last week, dumping its contents on the floor and I couldn't find time to fix it. Spending most of my "free" time on the rental cabin fir the past three weeks has really had a toll on my own house. But on Friday, we finished it. Propane stove not leaking, phone line mended, walls painted, touch-ups done, carpets moved, fridge in place, vacuumed, paint cans cleaned out, garbage hauled away. I did my best.

So after cleaning, I actually had time to do a puzzle with Liam, then Thea got up, so I tackled the upstairs and the boxes and boxes of baby clothes and gear I have to pass on. An hour later, Thea's ready for another nap. And how. She slept from 11 to 3. Wow.
Liam and I did some painting and when the girlie got up, we headed for the grocery store. I think I accomplished what I wanted to today - let Liam and Thea do their own schedule for one day - while still getting enough done to keep it from getting out of hand.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

moving up

I know, I know, no pics. I'll dig around for a new one.

But this is newsworthy. Thea is really moving. She was on all fours when I got her out of the crib this morning, and tonight, in the bathtub, she grabbed the side and pulled herself up. I think a lightbulb went off because then that was all she wanted to do. OK, she's incredible, but can she slow down just a bit?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Today, after a very full morning (Liam to preschool, back up hill, paint floor in rental, tag all furniture as toss or keep, fix propane for cookstove, find telephone wire splicer things), a fuller afternoon (trash to dump in pouring rain - drenched and dirty) I took Thea to the doc.

She said what I already knew, which was that Thea was fine. The rash was gone this morning and she was much happier. Still snotty, but much much better.

They also told me, however, that Thea was now 19 pounds. We went to the doc three weeks ago and she was just over 18 pounds. I thought she looked a bit bigger.

Thea is doing something amazing this week. She's learning to cruise. It seems only a few days ago she learned to sit up solidly on her own. Now she is standing up while holding on to things and tonight, she held on to one thing and turned around and grabbed another thing and moved over to that. Amazing. OK, maybe you had to be there.

Liam continues to have such a tough time with things. He's really struggling and my manic schedule doesn't help. I don't know what to do about Jojo. That's just going to make things more difficult. Tonight, she jumped up in his bed with him and snuggled. It was so great - but it felt so final.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm taking Thea in to the doctor tomorrow. She's had a cold for a couple weeks, then got a fever, low, maybe 102, tops, then got a rash, is so sad at night, waking often, screaming often, and the trots, too, which I'm sure is a big part of the screaming. So, it is, I think, either a sinus infection, which is no big deal, or an allergy thing, which is a very big deal. I'm doing a silent chant to sky for the former, but the way this week has been going.... .

Last night as Matt was getting ready to leave for another assignment - 20-plus days - I lost it just thinking of all the things I needed to do this week, including probably putting down my second cat and maybe watching the dog I've had since I was 19 lapse into sadness.... it was just too much. But then, I made some lists, split it all up by days, ate a lot of chocolate and charged.

Today was a winner of a day - 2 hours in the dentist chair and I think my friend Jackie is still talking to me after leaving my snotty, blotchy, screamy baby with her for so long. Then to Matt's work to find a paint can, hardware store to get paint and primer, to Radio Shack to get a thing to splice the phone line where it was cut by tenant shoveling snow, then to the propane place to get fitting for the propane stove that is leaking, then to grocery store for quick $100 fleecing, then to Liam's preschool, then home, and wait for Matt's coworker to drive his truck up the hill and drive him back. Finally home, Samantha calls and asks if Liam can come play for the afternoon - suuuurreee.

On the way home, Thea falls asleep again, and I drive right down to the cabin, prime the remaining patch of floor, cut in all the paint, clean up many messes, try to fix the propane tank (no success, it still leaks) moved rugs around, cleaned more messes, and then it was almost 5 (Thea took a 3-hour nap!) so home I went, cleaned up, got Thea snacking in her highchair, made meatloaf, Liam came home full of stories, ate dinner (Liam actually consumed a protein source), got Thea to sleep, got Liam to sleep, worked two hours on various projects and now i am going to sleep.
pictures soon. I promise.

Friday, July 18, 2008

falling to pieces

I found out today that Jojo, our other cat, will probably have to be put down next week. She's got a big tumor in her stomach and she's not really eating. And then, Breton, the dog I've had since I was 19, has started stumbling around and when she sneezes she nearly falls over. Maybe she had a stroke, I don't know.
The problem with this much death in one week, or two, is that when you have an infant around, you worry about all the what-ifs too much as it is. You don't need any help to wonder if your drinking water is cancerous or your stove poisoning you, or whatever. Not helpful.
So it feels right now like the whole world is conspiring to crumble around me. Stoves, wiring, rental cabin issues, now pets. I'm terrified to see what is next. One day at a time, right?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hippity Hoppity


Thea slept through the night four times this week. Finally, all those late-night tears are starting to pay off. She woke last night at 2 and went back to sleep but woke again at 3 and I nursed her. She has a cold, and I was tired by then, so I caved. But she slept from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.- eight glorious hours - all on her own doing four times this week. Oh, the joy.

I keep catching myself willing Thea to learn how to crawl. Part of me, a big part, is ready for her to move on to this next stage so she can entertain herself more readily. I know, I know, I'm crazy, because what she will be entertaining herself with is ever thing that is currently out of bounds. But I pulled out those baby books again and if Liam is any predictor, she's still a month away from crawling. We'll see.

Matt came back from his first assignment on Friday night, fuzzy-faced and exhausted but glad to be home. Liam was so happy to see him, but at the same time, the anxiety he has been expressing about being "left behind" seems to only have gotten worse since Matt's return. Example: I go to take the trash to the trash cans 20 feet from the front door and come back to tears and a panic-stricken boy trying to get his boots on to chase after me. It's obvious that this year's fire season is having an impact in much greater ways than ever before.

Sounds like he will head out again this weekend or so, hopefully back before we go to Victoria and Vancouver, and then out again while we are gone. There is so much to think about, the rental has to get rented, painted, etc. The grass in the yard is getting high and I don't even know if I can get the weed-eater started.... but I try to take it one day at a time and remember that every season passes and a new one comes before you even know what hit you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Birth and death

Today I had to put down our cat Tasha. That in itself was drama enough - I realized last night that she wasn't doing well after a month of losing weight, she was starting to have trouble standing up, etc. So this morning I took her in hoping they would tell me that there was a magic cure, but they said what I pretty much already knew. We had already eliminated all the fixable stuff. All that was left were the big nasties like cancer. So I gave her some love, cried some, and let her go.

Then came the tough part. I had to tell Liam. This was the first animal he'd ever lost, and really his first brush with death up close. We sat on the steps of his preschool and talked about it when I picked him up. We decided to go get some flowers to put at her grave and then get a nice rock from the beach to put out there, too. He asked a lot of questions. Was she flat like a bug when you make a bug dead? Will my other cat die, too? Why couldn't the doctors inside her fix her?

All through town, he held on to the bouquet of plastic flowers we picked out and told everyone about his cat dieing. When we got home, he sprinted to the spot I told him she was buried and "planted" the flowers. Then he set to work on the rock, and wow, did he do a great job. He painted a cat (I'll post that picture later) with claws and lots of fur, and then a rainbow. He must have been at it for more than a half-hour. I was very impressed.

Through the day, it came up here and there. He was bummed that we couldn't put the rock out right away but had to wait for the varnish to dry. After dinner, we found some pictures of her and he put one up in his room.

All in all, I feel like we did OK. But we'll see how far through the night we get. He's been waking up every night now for most of the past week, and not really clear why. But on the phone night before last, he was concerned that Matt's clothes were going to get burned, so I think it is especially hard this year for him as he becomes more conscious of his dad's job and the risks it entails.

Anyway, it was a dramatic day, and one for the record books. But now, I'm running on no more than five hours of sleep, and if I don't go to bed now, I may get taken away in a padded suit tomorrow.

So here's to Tasha - she was a dramatic, loving, silly, sweet, obnoxious, troublesome spit-fire of a cat. She will be missed.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Two days ago, my sister-in-law Jennifer got her induction into the motherhood club with the birth of Kirra. The whole thing catapulted me back to those early days with Thea (I've completely blocked out the early days with Liam, which is why I created this blog to help with retention!)

All I can say is how glad I am to be out of that phase. I have a friend who calls it the fourth trimester, and that's really true. These babies when they first come out are so vulnerable and so easily overwhelmed. One new mother I know wore her baby (who, I might add was a wee little thing) around in a sling for the first month or two pretty much all the time. It seemed to work really well for them both. I'm sure I tried that at some point, and it didn't work, but you'd think it would. All that baby really wants is to be snuggled right next to you with free access to the boob all the time.

This week, Thea has had so many firsts. She had her first solo expedition in the bathtub tonight and loved it, of course. I had a pang of sadness for a second, which is very unlike me. Bath-time has always been fun with her and I, she gets all calm and floaty. But it sure is easier to be out of the tub than in. She also drank from a regular cup for the first time. And she's eating "stars" by hand.

This thing with the stars is so huge. This puffy cereal-like starter finger-food was something we used with Liam, and they melt in your mouth, so they get practice early on with solid-like food, but don't choke if they get it wrong. But what got me about Thea and these stars isn't that she loves them, it was the determination with which she worked at getting them in her mouth. She attacked those stars with such focus and drive, it was almost scary. And she's getting it. That finger "pincher" coordination is really big stuff, and she's getting it by pure force of will. It was, I have to admit, a little scary to watch.

Thea still isn't crawling, but she's not staying put, either. I saw her pushing herself around by sliding on her face today. I'm telling you, the girl has drive. We had her six-month check-up the other day, and she was 18-plus pounds, 100th percentile for height and 90th for weight.