Monday, May 3, 2021

Patients and Patience

 Hello from 2021! 

Yes, we survived the year that was and wasn't. I can't help but laugh at my last post, where I thought for sure we'd all be back to work by the end of summer. I guess everyone knows how that turned out!

We worked from home full time for quite a while, but slowly transitioned back to a few days in the office by fall. I personally was suffering from really terrible sciatic pain through the summer and fall, thinking it had everything to do with the change in where I was sitting for work. When school started for my daughter, I moved my work space to my upstairs desk next to her so that we could be together. Her request, I swear! I love it, though, because soon she'll be taking college classes and it won't be quite the same. I'm enjoying every minute.

In October I made the mistake of lifting something unexpectedly heavy, which caused me to fall forward a bit to keep from dropping it. That night I had muscle spasms in my back, and the next day I could barely walk. The pain was phenomenally bad all down my left leg and I would cry just trying to climb the stairs. This finally led me to my doctor, who I'm grateful did not mess around and sent me for an MRI right away. (Probably because the pain started as early as March.) The MRI showed that not only did I have a herniated disc in my spine, but that it was pressing so hard on the sciatic nerve that you could barely even see it in the MRI. Yikes. That also explained my foot starting to go numb.

Long story short - six months ago yesterday I had spinal fusion surgery. Basically they knocked me out, flipped me over in a contraption that reminds me of a spinning waffle maker, and proceeded to put my disc in place and add in a plate with screws to keep in there. To say it's a long recovery feels like an understatement. I was happy to lay in bed a lot for the first few weeks, but then suddenly laying down hurt more than anything. (Imagine someone trying to split you completely in half, starting with your lower back. Yeah.) Sleeping in a recliner downstairs solved my lack of sleep problem for a few months, but being all by myself down there got old fast. Finally now, with the help of many pillows, I'm back to sleeping in my own bed. It's supposed to be a year of recovery, and I can honestly say that at six months I feel better and better every week. Sure, it still hurts to turn over in bed, and getting up in the morning isn't my favorite thing. And I could really do without the sharp pain that comes if I twist the wrong way or step poorly off of a curb. But as long as I'm careful, I can definitely handle a day at the office when I need to be there, and unfortunately I can grocery shop and do chores again. I'm just very cautious about everything and hopeful that I'll feel pretty normal again soon.

What else is new? baby graduating from high school next month feels insane, but I'm very excited for her. I just hate that, because of the state of the world, she won't be having a prom or in person graduation or fun weekend at Disney, etc. It's not fair! She'll never have any of those special memories and that drives me crazy. But in the end there's nothing I can do except invent ways to celebrate and make it a new kind of memorable. And indeed we will. We also plan to make a big deal out of her 18th this summer, which by her wishes lands us in Wisconsin for many days. We can't wait!

That's all from me for now. Happy, mostly healthy and thankful for an awesome job with an awesome boss.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The New Normal

The world is a very unique place in this year 2020, and I'm just doing my best to keep up with all of the changes.

There are a million opinions out there about everything going on, and I know I certainly have my own. But I've always wanted my blog to be a place where I can share about my life, my family and my thoughts on the things that effect me personally, so that's the way I'm going to keep it. That's not to say world news won't pop up, because how can it not? I'm just saying that for the most part, you can count on me keeping this to be a place where friends can find hope and humor and love.

That said - it's been a year! Since I've posted, I mean. Yup, a year since we lost our sweet Marley and then adopted our little thug pug. Back then I was working part time in the office of a local church, where I actually ended up developing some great relationships and became quite involved. It had its ups and downs, like any place where everyone wants to run things their own way, but overall they're good people with good intentions and I mostly felt like I was becoming a part of things. (There's always that one person that wants to make sure you remember that you haven't been there as long and that you don't really understand how things operate. Aren't they just the best Christians ever??) The best part of the job was the Pastor of the church, who I've actually become good friends with and can't wait to see again once we reopen our doors. She's so down to earth and such a former hippie - I just love her!

However, just as life goes, things change and you end up with those doors that open and close and then open again. The door to a job at a former company I enjoyed working for opened up right around the holidays, and I couldn't help but to peek in and see if it was a good fit for me. It turns out it was the perfect fit, and an opportunity I simply could not pass up, so I jumped on board and as of February I'm back to work full time. It's been a few years since I've done that, and I tell my husband regularly that I'm thankful for that time with my kids. I missed so much of them growing up because I was the sole supporter since my daughter was two, so to be around during the high school years was a gift.

Nowadays Charlie is a high school graduate that is trying to figure out his next step, and Noelle is gearing up for her senior year of high school. Where did the time go? Thankfully for them, Covid wasn't such a huge adjustment since Charlie had JUST quit his part time job and Noelle already does online high school. They're introverts anyway, and just as happy to be home on a daily basis, so this hasn't been all that hard. Mostly they just miss their friends. As for Russ and I - we've been working from home across the dining room table from each other for over two months now, and thankfully we still want to be married. Slowly but surely we're going back to work a day or two each week, but thankfully neither job is demanding us back 100% until after summer. Since everything is still a bit of a question mark amidst stores and restaurants opening up again, we're happy to take the wait and see approach for now. Not to mention how much easier it is to work from home and not worry about putting on a mask and sanitizing my hands constantly, which is what a day at the office feels like.

And there you have it! We're still here and healthy and mostly happy. I do miss my friends and can't WAIT to get out with them again. Our Bunco group almost started again this last week, but alas something came up and we're delayed until July. Soon enough this will all be a distant memory and we'll hopefully look back fondly on that time we were all quarantined together. But for now, this extrovert in a house full of introverts is ready to get out and play again!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Pug Life

I find myself getting tired of the animal turnaround posts on my blog.  Are you?

I really don't want to do it again, but it would be weird if I overlooked it completely, so here's a quick synopsis.  Hopefully I don't come off as thoughtless and heartless, but rather...succinct.

Our sweet dog, Marley, fell ill last fall.  Over time he began having trouble standing, and then walking, and by December we were carrying him outside to do his thing.  We assumed it was his arthritis taking a serious hold.  It broke all of our hearts, but we finally picked a day and, as a family, we took him to our vet's office.

The crazy thing was that as soon as we put him and his bed onto the table, he perked up!  He sat up, wagged his tail and looked delighted to see all of us!  As if we'd finally taken him to where the real party was or something.  We spent a good 20 minutes just hanging out with him and loving on him, and I told him that if he could get up and walk out of there, he'd be coming home.  But of course...

When the vet came in he noticed Marley had a bit of a twitch, and I mentioned it had started several months back.  He then suggested that it was in fact neurological, and he suspected Marley's inability to walk was likely a tumor on his spine.  That explained a lot.  Our sweet guy went through a lot in his life, including epilepsy with grand maul seizures, and all with just one eye.  I think he found a happy home with us, and we've been missing him ever since.

RIP Marley 2010-2018

Some time has passed and we found that we weren't crying every day, and so you know what happens next.  We started spending time at our usual favorite rescue.  We always think it's going to be therapy, but somehow it always ends up leading to this.

Meet Baxter.  He's a puggle.  (Half pug, half beagle.)  He's small and energetic and refuses to stop peeing on the floor of our loft.  He's super.

Okay, I'm being sarcastic.  I actually really like him and we're getting to know him and he's getting to know us, and it's turning out to be a decent relationship.  We did find out the day he came home that "oops" he's more like eight years old instead of four.  So we have a senior dog who it turns out HATES other dogs and is banned from the second floor.

But seriously -- how can you not fall for this crooked little nose and this serious face?  We laugh with him every day, and I think that's just what we needed.

In future posts, we hope to just continually live life and have zero unhappy visits to the vet for a long time.  At least when we call, they've stopped saying, "Oh no..."

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Work, Study, Vote!

If I'm not careful, Google is going to change the name of my blog to "Crazy Cat Lady."  I've got the mug to prove it, thanks to my cousin, Laurie.

There are other things actually going on in my life besides adopting cats.  No, really!  And most of them are pretty good, albeit busy, things.  Here's a little rundown.

Yes, that is supposed to be plural.  Because I basically have four jobs.  (Not including the always standing mom/homemaker/wife stuff.)  I started subbing for our local grade school district a few years back, and then I decided to add the high school so that I could be even busier.  To be truthful, sometimes weeks will pass with nothing very good popping up and no phone calls, so it's not full time craziness.

On top of that I added being a Lyft driver so that I could bring in some extra cash in my spare (HAHA) time.  It's actually quite successful and fun as long as I go to better parts of California to do it.  My hometown is not exactly a bustling community, but if I'm in Monterey or San Francisco, I'm driving someone constantly.  It works out well, and I've met some really interesting people.  Including a band member of a band I love -- that was a cool day!

My fourth and most recent job popped up unexpectedly.  It actually appeared on Facebook, of all places, and I threw my hat in.  It was a part time office position at a local church that also happens to run the preschool my kids went to.  You never know if these things will actually happen, and I rather forgot about it, but then out of the blue I got a call from the Pastor, asking if I'd like to come in and interview.  I did, and we hit it off!  She's so down to earth and easy to talk to, and the job is only 12 hours per week, so I knew I could cram it in.  Much to my delight she called three days later and offered me the position.  I was thrilled!  I accepted and started in October.  It's a lot of fun working with such nice people, using my Executive Assistant skills on a not very stressful level.  Good for me, good for my resume.  And compared to my last job it's a cake walk -- nobody yells, swears or slams doors.  I'm on board!

Maybe I'm not in school anymore, but both kids are now doing online school from home, so we are up to our eyeballs in class work, tests and labs.  Both of them turn to me for support regularly, so I'm very involved and often using my mad typing skills to get things done in a timely manner, which serves to help me keep those skills polished.  Everyone wins!  To be honest, I'm counting down the days to the upcoming breaks.  Hurray for Thanksgiving!

I'm voting today.  I don't know how I'm remembering to since NOBODY is talking about it.

Frankly I'm just thrilled that "ad season" is almost over.  If I have to hear one more person slam another person for doing things differently, I'm going to lose my mind.  All the hate and mud slinging is exhausting.  It would be nice if we lived in a different political climate, but I suspect it's only going to get worse from here.

One thing we're lucky to have is a ballot drop box.  I don't have to stand in line -- I just hand deliver my mailed ballot and drive away!  Yippee!

Cheers for now to everyone -- I hope you have a fabulous day!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

And then there were THREE!

I've officially told the kids we can no longer volunteer at our favorite animal rescue.

Because this.

That's right -- the one on the right is NEW.

We dropped in to spend some time with the animals, and when you're with Noelle that means you're going to go to the dog kennels and play with dogs.  After a while, I started to wonder where Charlie was.  I decided to go in search of him, and found him in the kitten room with the biggest grin on his face.

"Mom, I've found a kitten that I want to take home."  Uh oh.

My first instinct was the usual, "No honey, we can't adopt another one."  And then he picked her up.  And she turned into a puddly mess in his arms, just loving being held and purring the entire time.  She was the same with me and then the same with Noelle.  We couldn't get over how loving and friendly she was.  And daring!  This kitten will jump up anywhere and isn't daunted by anything!

We went home with big smiles on our faces and decided we would bring Russ back the next day to meet her.  It wasn't tough to convince him that she was the necessary third for our perfect kitten trifecta.  Once they met, he was smitten, too.  The best part was that she was a little older and was already fixed the week before, so we had her just a few days later.

Since she's Charlie's kitten it was his responsibility to name her.  He loved her tortoiseshell coloring and wanted to comment on how she looked like coffee.  I suggested Kona, and he loved it.  And so there you have it -- we have an Iris, a Junibelle and a Kona.

And now we really are careful at the shelter to avoid the kitten room.  We've been back to help with fall cleanup and what not, but we try not to fall under the spell of the little tiny meows.  Otherwise, we're in trouble!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Still a family of seven

We've had a bit of bad luck since that last post.  We were thrilled to have found our kittens, never thinking in a million years that we wouldn't have both of them for years to come.

As it turns out we were mistaken to assume that.

Our sweet darling Zinnia had only one little flaw -- a bad liver.

Completely out of the blue, we discovered her not feeling well and got her to the vet as quickly as possible.  It didn't take long to get to the bottom of the problem, a failing liver, though frustratingly with no explanations as to why.  We searched the house high and low to see if there was an error on our part -- something that she could have eaten to cause such a thing.  But there were no answers to be found.  Within two days she was gone, slipping away from us in her girl's arms, being loved to the very last moment.

This brought much devastation to our usually happy home, and we all grieved.  Nobody more than my Noelle, who had lost her sidekick in life.  They were always together, day and night, and this was a very unexpected turn of events.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugs and I may have slept in her room for the better part of a week.

As it always does, time healed a bit.  Our eyes stayed dryer longer, we laughed together at our favorite Zinnia stories, and eventually we decided to return to our favorite shelter for some kitty therapy.  Nobody thought we'd find another family member -- we just wanted to hold some babies and play with some cats.

And then this happened.

It was actually me who thought she was the cutest kitten in the kitten room at first.  I held her and took some pictures, but she was nobodies favorite.  There were a few other babies and some teenagers catching everyones eye, but again -- we weren't looking to adopt.  We thought...

On another visit, Noelle and this little girl suddenly caught each other's attention.  I inquired within and found out she was the only kitten NOT in the process of adoption.  She was also the sole survivor of a litter of kittens.  And she was almost ready to go home!  I was shocked when we walked out that day with an application for adoption in our hands.  That was a Saturday.  By Tuesday the application was in, and on Thursday she was on her way to her new home with us.  WOW!

We pondered names, wishing we could find another flower or tree to follow our theme of Zinnia and Iris, but in the end, we found something we invented and loved.

Meet Junibelle!  aka Junie, Junebug, Junie Bunie, etc.

She might actually be the coolest kitten ever.  Not only does she adjust beautifully to change, but she already adores Noelle and has become her shadow.  She's a mute little thing, with no meow to speak of, but she purrs like a motor boat and has the most active tail that whips about in a frenzy during every adventurous moment.  Her markings are unique, with calico on top, stripes on her leg and leopard spots on her belly.  It's an interesting mixture of various breeds that has turned into one perfect kitten.

I think the part that makes me the happiest in all of this is that it all feels very meant to be.  We would do anything to have our Zinnia healthy, but her loss led us to Junie, who wasn't wanted by anyone until we walked in the door.  It's as though she was waiting for us and we were the family that needed to find her.  I don't know that I believe in fate, but this smacks of something like it.

Regardless...welcome home, little girl.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New to the Family

Something I never mentioned in my last post was another family change we had over last summer.  As you may recall, we lost our beloved Husky Simba to cancer back in February, and we spent some time recovering from that.  But by spring we were all thinking about the one thing we could never have in the same house as our former hunting dog -- kittens!

Our family always had cats in the past (pre-Simba) and we were longing to have that same feline element in the house again.  One afternoon I was perusing the site of a local no-kill shelter in our town, when up popped a picture of a mama and her two tiny kittens that had arrived.  The two kittens were popping up from behind her with the yummiest little faces, which for days I could not get out of my mind.  So that weekend I spontaneously said to the family, "Who wants to go take a look at some kittens?"  Naturally everyone was on board, so to the car we went.

How do I describe how we all felt when we first laid eyes on these two kittens?  I know no better way to explain it was meant to be.

By the time we walked out of the shelter that afternoon, we had started application paperwork to adopt these two sisters as soon as they were old enough.  We couldn't stop smiling!  As we were walking to our car, Charlie noticed some flowers growing near the building and pointed out that they were similar to ones we grew at our old house.  I told him he was right, and they were called "Iris."  It took him about ten seconds to note that he liked the name, and then suggested it for what would be his kitten (the black one).  No joke -- by the time we reached the car, Iris was her name!  As we started driving home, Noelle pondered what she should name hers.  I suggested keeping with the floral family and had her google flower names to see if there was one that struck her.  Two minutes later I was fighting for Primrose, but she then saw (and fell in love with) "Zinnia."  And there you have it -- Iris and Zinnia were the new members of our family.

Of course we still had to go home and finish our applications, hoping that the shelter would choose us.  But as it goes, because we were the first to apply and we wanted them both, it was a bit of a no brainer.  In the mean time, we visited them constantly and also volunteered at the shelter quite a bit, helping with anything we could.  These girls were not hurting for attention or love.

By May, they were weaned, spayed and ready to come home!  We really planned ahead, making our family room a safe space for them that was separate from the dog.  (A baby gate between them let them meet without any danger to anyone.  By the time we took the gate down, dog and kittens were just fine with each other.)  Since then they've been growing like weeds and making us all very happy.  Sure, they have their quirks -- like when Iris decides she wants to play fetch at 4am and wakes me up by dropping a piece of balled up paper in my face.  That's fun.  Or Zinnia and her 6am love bites on Noelle's chin or nose.  Not aggressive, but not fun when you're trying to sleep!

Welcome to the family, sweet girls!  We're so happy you're here!  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Out with the old, in with the new

A few more months have passed us by and here we are at the tail end of summer.  It's been a good one, overall.  Charlie did have some summer school, so there were a few weeks of early mornings and homework, but once he got that out of the way we were free to enjoy our freedom.  We swam...we rode roller coasters...we played games...we slept in...we overall enjoyed the chance to enjoy life without a lot of "have to's" mixed in.  I am grateful.

With the beginning of school comes the usual routines that we are often less than enthusiastic about.  Early mornings.
Too much homework.
Grumpy kids.  (Is that a routine?)

I myself am fairly enthusiastic about another year of subbing because I now have a car payment to make every month!  Yes, we finally traded in our beloved minivan that kindly carried us from here to there for over 14 years, because frankly the old girl was losing her looks.  Sure, the engine was still running well, but when you have duct tape holding your door's interior in place, you start to feel a little embarrassed.  Plus the auto door could no longer be opened or closed, so everyone had to get in from the other side.  And let's not talk about the the little dinging noise coming from my side of the car that would only get louder and LOUDER as I accelerated.  I think my sanity is worth something - don't you?!?!

And so out with the old, and in with the new -- a 2016 Chevy Equinox that I am thoroughly enjoying.  All the bells and whistles work, the interior is in place, and there's not a bit of duct tape in sight.

Funny how your standards change!

The more exciting news about the start of school is a big one for us: both kids are going to be in high school this year!  Finally, one location to carpool to!  And we're genuinely excited that Noelle will be a freshman because she's what you might call a "participator."  She will want to go to the football games, the dances, the rallies -- you name it!  I personally like being involved in such things, or at least attending the games, so we'll be out there with the cheering crowd and being a part of things.  I can't wait!

I envy my kids being in school together again.  My brother was five years older than me, so I was far enough behind that I didn't start high school until after he graduated.  For my kids there will always be someone on campus who will have their back.  And like me, my daughter will know a lot of upperclassman because she's the younger sibling of one.  I remember getting hugs and hellos from various seniors when I was a freshman -- it felt great to be singled out and noticed by these "kids" that basically looked like adults.  I felt safe.  I hope it's that way for her.

Now I'm off to enjoy our last cookout of the official "summer."  We're never done with the bbq, but tonight there will be burgers, a bonfire and s'mores.  Because if summer has to end, it needs to end with a BANG!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Perfect Goodbye

It's been five and a half weeks since we said goodbye to our Simba.  While it was difficult getting to that place where a decision had to be made about his life, once we were there, we had complete peace.  There stopped being any question of "is today the right day?" when that morning he could no longer climb the stairs in our house.

It was a peaceful day, and it couldn't have gone any better.  We kept the kids home from school and the entire day was all about Simba.  Noelle baked dog cookies that she'd received for Christmas -- each one in the shape of a bone.  While Simba wasn't interested (because he was barely eating anything by then), Marley was delighted to enjoy both shares of the baked goodies.  We sat around as a family and spontaneously started sharing favorite Simba  We laughed at his antics and wept at the thought of missing them in the future.  We ate tri tip from our favorite local vendor for lunch so that his last meal would be something delicious and special.  And we probably took way more pictures than he cared for.

Late in the day we piled into our minivan and drove down to our vet's office.  We were the last appointment of the day, so it was quiet.  We brought Simba's favorite big pillow, which we laid on the exam table, making it a comfortable place to be.  We huddled around him, petting and loving on him, making sure he heard from each of us one last time that we loved him and were so grateful to have had him in our lives all this time.  Those are the last things he heard.  And then he was gone.

Lots of tears and hugs and laughs about his barking later, we are feeling better day by day.  There's a little shrine to him on an end table with his ashes, his collar and a rather perfect stuffed Husky that has a suspiciously similar look on his face that we used to get right before Simba barked at us with what we called his "crazy eyes."  We miss him so much, but I can honestly say that I miss the Simba he was before he got sick.  After he was sick, he wasn't himself, and I could tell he was less and less happy with life as each day passed.  Our timing was perfect and he is at rest.

Goodbye, old friend.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


My regular readers *cough my parents cough* have eagerly checked in to see if I'm writing.  Much to their disappointment, I haven't been.  And so here I am to share a bit of insight into the life that they created.  (Thanks guys!)

I took today and the next two days off from a long term sub job to deal with something terribly painful.  And by the time you even read this, the worst part may already be over.  That's what I'm having the hardest time with -- the idea that life will go on beyond Friday.  Beyond something our family is dreading.  Somehow there will be a weekend, and then work, and the usual business of life.

This terrible thing is that we are losing our sweet Siberian Husky, Simba.  He had started to lose weight last fall when I was walking daily like a madwoman, and at first we thought it was all the exercise.  But alas, it was not.  It was the dreaded thing that we all pretty much live in fear of: cancer. It took two vets and a pricey ultrasound to find it, but find it they did, and we've known since December that we were living on borrowed time with our sweet blue eyed boy.

We've tried very hard to make his last days with us wonderful.  Or as wonderful as we can guess an eleven year old Husky would want them to be.  For Simba this mostly includes walks in the park, jaunts in the nearby field and delicious food.  We drive him to the park now so that he can use his little bit of energy to enjoy his time there.  And I don't think he's complaining about the amounts of fresh chicken and steak in his life.  Here are some latest fave pics -- photo cred goes to the kids.

This gives you a sense of where our lives are at, and what we'll be dealing with in the coming hours and days and weeks.  I'm thankful we will have each other, and I know that grief gets easier with time, but I know my kids will suffer.  My son is especially sensitive to change and upset, so I'll be all over him like a helicopter.  Being the mom is the hardest part, really.  Making the decision, making the appointment, making us all talk about it.  Nobody on this earth loves this dog more than me, but I will be the comforter and the caretaker.  Because that's what we do.