Ella Fitzkitty

I said good-bye to my kitty today. She had not been eating or drinking for quite a while. Honestly, I'm not even sure what was keeping her alive, but I could not let it go on any longer. I tried everything to tempt her: treats, turkey, milk, cheese, canned food, etc. For a while, she was eating a few treats a day. The illogical part of my brain thought maybe I would just feed her treats instead of food, but obviously that was not a good long-term solution. I was also concerned about the fact that she was no longer drinking any water. I was still giving her the Pet-Tinic, and I believe that was the only fluid she was getting. I have not needed to clean her litter boxes in quite some time.

She did something very strange the other night. On Saturday evening, we had gone to a concert in the park. After the kid had taken a shower and headed off to bed, I settled in to watch "48 Hours Mystery" on TV. Now, the cat door has always been left unlocked, but Ella seldom came upstairs. My husband was sitting at the dining room table, fondling the comic books he had purchased at the convention earlier in the day. We heard the cat door swing open and then close with a thunk. Ella ran under the dining room table. The dogs were lying around like a bunch of carcasses and didn't notice anything. Nonetheless, I ran over and scooped her up before the Boxers regained consciousness.  She was just a jumble of bones covered in striped gray fur, all jagged angles in my arms. I settled back into my chair and held her in my lap. She climbed onto my shoulder and nuzzled into my neck. I am allergic, so I started sneezing shortly thereafter.

Now, Ella has never been a touch-feely sort of girl. That's why this event was so unusual. My husband has always joked that Ella is like a stripper - she can touch you, but you can't touch her. Over the years, sometimes she has permitted me to pet her and sometimes not. Sometimes she would allow me to run my hand along her spine just once and then she would hiss at me. Occasionally, I would even get a sound swat from a claws-out paw. So, it was definitely unusual that she would climb into my lap and then stay there for a while.

I held her until I couldn't stay awake any longer and then passed her to P. It was bittersweet to spend that time with her. I could tell she was in a lot of discomfort. Any time I shifted in my chair, she would mew in a way that told me there was pain there. The dogs, oddly enough, were leaving her alone. I don't know. Maybe she knew she was dying. Maybe they knew she was dying.

She died in my arms this afternoon. There was not much left to her, so the fatal fluid took effect very quickly. The veterinarian checked for a heartbeat and confirmed that my little tabby was gone. Dr. S left me alone in the room so that I could finish my good-byes. I laid Ella on the blanket-covered gurney. I arranged her tiny body so that she looked . . . comfortable, I suppose. I covered her still, small form with the baby blanket I had brought along. I placed my right hand on Ella's ribcage and clutched a wad of Kleenex in my left hand. And then I cried longer and louder than I have in a very long time. Finally, I leaned down and kissed her cheek and said, "I love you, Ella Fitzkitty. You were a good girl."

I will miss my strange little cat. My ninja kitty, who could hide in spaces seemingly too small for a gerbil. I hope they have some good hiding spots on the other side.

Their Turn on the Inside

Samuel and Peter have been attending the county fair every year since they were born. Samuel made his first rounds of the animals barns when he was a mere one month old.
Every one of their older siblings have taken animals to show at the county fair- pigs, goats, cattle, chickens and rabbits- which means these two boys have seen a lot of show rings- but always from the outside. This year was their first time to get inside the show ring and face a judge with their own animal.

Luckily, their big sister was around to remind them of all the details they needed to remember in the ring- always, always face the judge- smile!- always move around the front of the goat, never the back. Keep the goat between you and the judge, keep the goat's feet set up in a square pattern, if the judge touches your goat, brush the goat's coat down afterward...

....look like you are having fun every moment no matter how bad the goat is acting- smile!- hold the goat's head up and keep those feet set up, listen to the judge's instructions and follow them exactly, don't act nervous....

For Junior Novices, the boys did really well.

They faced down the judge and pretty well remembered all of their sister's instructions.

Though the goats themselves only got red ribbons (for a lack of "finish") the boys both got blue ribbons for their showmanship.

And Samuel's smile brought home a Reserve Champion showmanship ribbon. If he follows the lead of his older siblings it won't be the last one.

Bucket list is almost done.

Yesterday we had a late start, because hubby's coworker unexpectedly came to visit us.  So it was 1:30 PM by the time we made it to the Ontario Science Centre.  And with only three hours to go (because it closed at 5 PM), we managed to scratch two more things off Kerri's bucket list: going to the museum and the circus.

Our first stop was a live theatrical presentation called "Star Trek Live".  We are a family of "Trekkies", so this was top of our list of things to do at the museum.  Kerri absolutely loved it!  Our next stop was a visit to the "Circus" exhibition, where Kerri got to see and do many things: she dressed up, clowned around, and did aerial acrobatics to the cheers of the entire room.  It was definitely another highlight of our trip.

She spent the rest of the afternoon playing and exploring, and then we went to dinner at an Irish pub.  So there is only one thing left on our bucket list to do: the zoo.  But Kerri is tired and sore from the harness she wore, so we are going to put that off until our next trip here (hopefully in August).

Today is our last full day here.  It has been an amazing trip: meeting up with friends, watching Kerri scratch things off her bucket list, experiencing new things, and sharing her excitement.  I am so very glad she made a bucket list, and that we have been able to make almost everything on her list happen.

Life with Kerri's bucket is almost full.

Overcoming her fear.

Kerri has SPD, and one of her sensory "issues" has always been this panic and fear of getting her face and eyes wet.  It makes washing her hair a nightmare, and it has taken a very long time for her to work up the courage to go in a pool.  When she does take a bath or go to the pool, she has to dry her face with a towel constantly.  And the neighbor kids know better than to get her face wet, because Kerri instantly gets mad and scared at the same time, and yells or cries.  That is, until Friday, when Kerri and her girls came to visit.

My daughter watched in awe as both J & J jumped into the pool, and went under water.  And then she decided she had to work up the nerve to try putting her head under water.  We took baby steps, but in a few hours Kerri was holding her breath with her face in the water completely.  And then that progressed to jumping off a rung in the ladder holding my hand.  By the end of the afternoon, Kerri was jumping into the pool by herself (going underwater and pushing herself back up).  Over and over again.

So Saturday, Kerri wanted to show her Daddy what she could do.  And he watched incredulously.  I wish I had taken a picture of his face.  To see his daughter not just jump in, but put her entire face under water on her own - without screaming, panicking, or asking for a towel.  It was one of those moments that fill you with pride and wonder.  We watched Kerri - on her very own and with hardly any encouragement from me- finally overcome her fear.  It was even better than watching her take her first steps. 

So we spent the entire day in the pool watching Kerri practice and swim under water (with the help of her personal flotation device).  And ended the evening with a celebratory dinner nearby.  It was perfect.

Life with Kerri is courageous.

First "Big Girl" Bike Ride

P spent the day looking for his soul mate at a comic book convention out of town, so the kid and I did some mother-daughter stuff. We hit the farmers' market and then headed to a bike trail. It's a nice trail; it runs alongside a river and is pretty scenic. Today was the perfect day for a ride because it was sunny and only around 73 degrees.

We rode 6.5 miles in total. I was pretty proud of my little sprite. I had no idea what her stamina would be like (or maybe her attention span was more of a variable than her stamina was). From our starting point, 3.25 miles took us to a park with a playground that she loves. So, it was the perfect place to hang out before turning around.

I did warn her that a lot of the people on the trail are trying to exercise and may not want to chat. She nodded, but then still forced every passerby to say hello to her.

The highlight of our trip.

Every time we come here, we look forward to seeing our friends Kerri, Jeff, and their two girls J & J.  It has become the highlight of our trip, and since our first meeting we have since made trips to each others' homes too.  Kerri and her girls came to visit us yesterday - they drove over two hours to get here.  So you can only imagine our impatience!  We practically kicked the housekeeper out the door in order to hug our friends and spend some quality time with them.

The girls have all grown since the last time we saw each other (less than three months ago!).  Pookie was in heaven.  He went from lap to lap.  We went out to lunch and had lots of fun, but the girls were impatient to get into the pool.  And so three young girls took over the hotel pool, along with noodles and a pink dolphin named "Squeaky" - while the moms took over the hot tub/spa.  My Kerri finally got the courage to jump into the pool - over and over again!  We stayed until our wrinkles put elephants to shame, and then we headed back to our room for a massive pillow fight between my Kerri and little J.  Big J is too cool for that, so she watched TV and snuggled with Pookie while us moms got to catch up (as if we had not already talked for hours). 

Hubby joined us after he got off work, and we went to Gretzky's restaurant for dinner - it's become our annual pilgrimage!  As we waited for our table, we got to cheer on team Canada at the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics (which was being broadcast on big screen TVs in the restaurant).  The bar erupted in cheers and applause, it was so very cool.  I also got to take new pictures of the girls standing in the same spot as the last time we were there, so we could compare how much they have changed.  And even though my Kerri tried everything to get them to stay (from trying to hide their belongings to grabbing my friend Kerri by the leg and not letting go), alas, our time together came to an end late last night. 

I can't explain why we connected and became friends, but I can tell you that coming to see Kerri, Jeff and their beautiful daughters J & J has become something I look forward to every year.  And I wish we lived closer, so we could hang out over coffee, and watch our girls play together.  It really is the highlight of our trip to Toronto.  And I am so very glad we got to see them again. 

Thank you Kerri and Jeff and J&J for making it happen.  We love you guys!

Life with Kerri went to bed very happy last night.

Boys Bake

On the one day this week that I didn't have to bake for Fleur Cakes, the boys needed to bake for their county fair exhibits. I just can't get away from those dishes.

The boys each baked two things, a cookie and a "muffin method" quick bread. They both chose recipes out of my favorite baking cookbook, the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book. Samuel made the pumpkin bread and chocolate espresso bars.

And Peter chose to make the chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies and blueberry muffins.  Both boys wanted to choose recipes that would be winners and they know that chocolate is always a winner.

And they were right. All their efforts won blue ribbons but Peter's cookie also won a champion ribbon!

And Samuel's pumpkin bread won a Reserve Champion ribbon.

But best of all, the Chocolate Espresso Bars that Samuel took the time to garnish with a bit of white chocolate (living with the Fleur Cakes kitchen, he knows that presentation counts) won the Grand Champion ribbon! That is the highest prize chosen from all the food categories and means it is also chosen to go to the Oregon State Fair in September. With this boost to their confidence the boys think maybe they'll keep up with this baking thing.

Game of Thrones

My husband and I finally found something we can do together: watching "Game of Thrones."  We are currently working our way through Season 1 via Netflix.  There are a lot of beheadings and gratuitous sex, so we have to make sure Short Stuff is asleep when we watch it. In one episode, even a horse is beheaded. I'm sort of wondering how many of the characters will still have heads at the end of the series.

P and I don't watch a lot of TV together. I have my shows and he has his (I swear that he only pretends to be reading comics while I watch "Dance Moms," though - I've seen him sneaking a peek and then shaking his head like he is disgusted. Ten bucks says he can name every mom on the show.)  We aren't really united in music either, now that I think about it. We have a few interests in common but sometimes I'd swear we are from different planets. [whispering] He's a Republican, you know.

I think one reason he doesn't like to watch TV with me is that I ask a lot of questions, as if he got there before I did or perhaps possesses some secret filing cabinet in his brain that somehow stores facts about shows we haven't watched yet. Five minutes in, I am asking stuff like, "Wait? Who is that?  That's her brother? Who was that other guy then?" I'm pretty sure he finds it maddening. 

So, I have done my best to pay careful attention to "Game of Thrones."  And let me tell you, there are tons of different characters in each episode and it is a challenge to keep track. Sometimes I visit HBO's website and read the synopsis for the most recent episode I've watched, just to make sure I "got" it. Anyway, we're really enjoying the series. I can see why it cost a gazillion dollars to make.

Now, if you have watched the first two seasons, don't tell me if Khal Drogo dies. Even if he does, he will live on in my memory because he is deeeeelicious. As I understand it, he gets it on with Lisa Bonet in real life. I realize this diminishes my chances somewhat.

We need to work on that.

Kerri loves to talk.  She was never told "children are to be seen and not heard", and so she participates in adult conversations all the time.  And usually that is not a problem, because she is quite logical, funny, and very perceptive. 

However, yesterday was an exception, and reminded me that we really need to work on some of her social skills.  We met up for dinner with one of hubby's coworkers.  They are pretty good friends, and so there is a comfort level.  But Kerri made it very awkward when she would interrupt and say inappropriate things.  For example, at one point she decided to tell the coworker that she loved my "boobies".  At another point, we were having a general conversation about how companies are run, and Kerri looked at the coworker and blurted out: "It's the Peter Principle". 

The coworker had no idea what Kerri was talking about, and thought she was referring to another coworker named Peter.  So we had to explain it to him: The Peter Principle is a belief that in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization's members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, "employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence."   He had heard the last quote, but had no idea it was called "The Peter Principle". 

And then Kerri was bored.  So she decided to take over the conversation, and set up a hockey ring on our table, using soda cans for the "goal" area.  She took out a dime and challenged the coworker (who is older than hubby, by the way) to play table hockey with her.  And so he did - and even though he tried to cheat, Kerri beat him. 

Life with Kerri is an awkward seven going on twenty.

Blast from the Past

Thought it would be a kick to see some old pics of some families that have been in the club for over 5 years. What a change in the little cuties!


A little bit of Kashmir.

Today Kerri wanted to explore a little store close by that is closing at the end of the month.  Everything in the store was imported from Kashmir, and most items were unique and/or hand made.  As I picked out a few gifts for some very special people, Kerri had her eye on some items that were a bit out of her budget.  I reminded her she did not bring her money with her.

I asked the shop owner if he would hold our items so we could go back to the hotel to get some more cash, since I left without much (not thinking I would be going shopping).  When we returned to the store, the shop owner and I chatted away for over half an hour, while Kerri continued to "shop".  At one point, I reminded Kerri she had not brought her money, and she made us both laugh when she said: "Oh yes I did!" and pulled her wallet out of her shorts (it had no pockets, so she had tucked it into the front).

I finished all my shopping.  However, Kerri's tastes were a bit too expensive for her budget.  I told Kerri she was limited to what she brought, even though she tried to convince me to pay the difference, buy it for her, or lend her the money.  So the shop owner made Kerri an offer she could not refuse: he "hired" her to work for him.  He "paid" her $1.00 a minute, until she had "earned" enough money to buy what she wanted.  And when they were done with their business transaction, he then gifted Kerri a silk scarf and a "genie" lamp - and called her a "princess". 

We bought some beautiful gifts today, but the greatest gift was given to us by the shop owner. 

Life with Kerri experienced a little bit of Kashmir today, and it was lovely.

Park Day

Too hot to play at the park so we had a fun time at the pool today. Great way to cool off in this heat.
Snack Time!

Little Swimmer

Fun with Mommy
Fun in the sun!

Such a fun place!

July Business Meeting

Wow...what a big turn out we had for our first meeting with the new board. We had a great meeting and then did a craft with the kids. They all had fun making pin-wheels with the paper they decorated with stickers then a pencil and push pin.
Most of the kiddos!

Craft Time

Sticker Fun

The back of a finished pin-wheel! :)