January 31, 2006

Six months

It's hard to believe, but Emily went in for her six month checkup
today. We got her tires rotated, checked fluids, looked at her tranny
and made sure her brakes work. It's all in good working order.

She weighs twenty pounds. Ooof! This reminds me of one of those books
I haven't reviewed yet: _Nickel and Dimed_. The author points out the
irony that women are often steered away from jobs requiring lifting,
even when they are very capable and eager to do the work, and in fact
often lift lots as Mommies. I am quite literally feeling this irony as
I lug around 20 and 30 pound weights ALL DAY. These weighs are
squirmy, occasionally crying, and do not hold their centers of gravity
like, say, a docile and well-behaved box would. (Perhaps this is why
women are less prone to hernias than men, too; somebody's got to schlep
the babies around!) On the other hand, it's got to be great for
building trunk strength back up after pregnancy. A wise Nature strikes
again.

Anyway, this puts her in the 95% for weight. She's in the 90% for
height, so she'll continue to shop at the Big and Tall Store for Babies
(if we didn't have lots of hand me downs in many sizes, I would
desperately wish such a place existed! As it is, I only wish they made
more comfy jammy-style outfits at the 18 month size. If she were
actually that old, I wouldn't mind so many overalls, but for now it's
nice to have front snaps and feeties).

Laura did a great job, too. We talked ahead of time about how she
could just wave to the doc, and that nobody was going to do anything to
or with her, especially Not Shots. She suggested that she "could
probly cry?" and I said I didn't think she would need to do that. In
the event, Doc actually got a bonus smile! Hopefully this will help
the next time she has an appointment.

January 27, 2006

Life goes on...

We are sad, but going forward. Laura knows all the cat's names (though
she still has a tough time telling the black ones apart at first
glance), so she keeps saying "and Merlin" when we speak of or to Dudley
and Fiona. We tell her he was *very* sick--sicker than Mommy or Daddy
or she has ever been, so that she won't worry about that,
hopefully--and had to go away. We remind her how she said bye-bye to
him--I'm glad we did that, and glad we got the opportunity; though I
don't think he was noticing much by then, it's been helpful with Laura.
I know she'll be fine, but it is heart-wrenching for us every time we
have to remind her. I know she doesn't have any concept of "forever".

Since Matt and I are both creatures of routine, and Merlin Cat needed
to be incorporated into our routines (he was special in the "special
ed." sense in a few ways, too ;-) ), we are at loose ends. Imagine the
disorder we all get at time changes, and add losing an old friend, and
you'll have a good idea. Writing does help.

Dudley and Fiona have not reached a rapprochement yet. They do
play/fight together, but I've explained to each of them that if they
want someone to wash their ears and the backs of their necks, etc.,
they're going to have to become closer. *I* am certainly not going to
lick them!

Laura and Emily actually got to play together today: I propped Emily
up with some pillows around her on the floor so she could sit for a
bit. Laura came and snuggled in next to her, and even brought her some
extra things to look at, and they laughed at each other in a mirror.
It was a good time (and I got today's ration of laundry folded; it's
been a bigger bite than usual lately, what with a recent sick animal in
the bedroom, plus another influx of hand-me-downs from Kelia that we
got on Sunday to be washed and sorted and stored.) I also noticed that
this is the beginning of more freedom for me; Emily's much more likely
to be happy out of my arms for a bit, and Laura *loves* having a
playmate around. Yippee! I'm starting to check off things that have
been backlogged!

Of course, I'm hoping to spend a lot of time outside as the weather
moderates. My next job is figuring out a good place to put my seed
flats: warm, light, and out of The Toddler-Destructor's path (I do
plan to show her all about the process, but I also don't want to lose
10 tomato seedlings as she grasps them enthusiastically.)

January 26, 2006

Emily's doings

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Emily was six months old yesterday
(there is something so...*tidy* about a child whose ages always fall on
paydays!) She was baptized on Sunday, and thoroughly enjoyed it, being
held by at least five different people during the service and
innumerable after it. (Many more played "sniff the baby"; the oil the
Vic uses for annointing is quite pretty).

She is preparing the way for tooth number three, which means she's not
sleeping through the night the last few.

Smiles, opera, and babbling are the order of the day.

A hole in our home

We said goodbye to Merlin Cat yesterday.

His infection (which may have been cancer) became moot when he had a
stroke. It was obviously his time. I take some comfort in two things:
the end was fairly quick, and I had the chance to hold him while he
was still lucid and tell him that he was loved, that he was a good boy,
and that it was o.k. for him to go.

He will be sorely missed, not just by us but also by the other two
kitties; they both liked snuggling and bathing with him, but don't
especially cotton to each other.

It was a good life, as far as I can tell. As a tiny white kitten, he
played with my highlighters while I studied in college. He was
generally an indoor cat, but dispatched roaming bugs and the occasional
mouse with lightning fast reflexes. He met Matt, and made it his job
to teach a dog person how to love a cat (Matt made it his job to find
the right way to rub Merlin's belly, and Merlin loved belly rubs from
that day forward.) He accepted the caresses of our toddler with good
grace, never a scratch or a growl (even when she deserved it!), and was
friendly to almost everyone he met (the exceptions worked in the
veterinary field). He slept next to my head at night, nuzzling into my
hair and singing me to sleep with his big purring voice. In his
dessert days, he slowed down but was still nose diving onto his side to
ask for tummy tickles, even through this last illness.

Having known many cats, I can say that he truly was a special one. He
was not overly endowed with brains--or good genes, half-Siamese that he
was--but he made up for everything with his vast capacity to give and
receive love.

There is a hole in our hearts and our home.

January 21, 2006

Good Neighbor Award

Merlin Cat has a "raging infection" (I quote the vet tech), so he had
to go to the vet yesterday; they were kind enough to see him quickly.
But I was not relishing packing everybody up, then trying to figure out
what to do with them all at the vet's.

Tamara to the rescue! She was actually willing to drop him off for me
(no small feat, since our vet is a ways away--they were the closest one
to us when we started with them...and then they moved about two months
later. Such is life.)

I felt bad asking, and then I felt worse when she reminded me of
something: it was her birthday! Now *that's* a nice neighbor. I will
return the favor by not saying which birthday. ;-)

For those interested in Merlin's health, we're actually glad it seems
to be an infection: at almost 16 years old, I was steeling myself for
major organ failure or something (still possible; I know he won't live
forever, and hopefully I'll outlast him, if only for my children's
sakes!) This, however busy it will keep us with the numerous
treatments he needs, is fixable. Ironically, one of the things he
needs is rehydration with, basically, an IV set-up. It's ironic
because that's how my former neighbor, Laurie, and I met and became
friends: giving her adopted old cat fluids. At least I'm experienced.

January 17, 2006

Love Notes

Emily likes to BOUNCE. She needs no help, but bounces just fine under
her own power. She also likes to throw herself backwards when she's
sitting up, confident that someone or something will catch her. (Glad
she has so much faith in the world.) She blows lots of raspberries;
often she gets spit as far as her forehead doing that...we all need
goals in life!

Laura has begun doing the "running hug"....and then she says, "Do
again!" Of late, she's also started really helping out; she likes to
put (nonbreakable!) clean dishes away, and the other day I was throwing
clothes in the dryer and she said, "Laura help!" Mentally scratching
my head, I thought, sure, I have no problem with that!

Emily's smile is a bit like the sunrise: you have to wait for it, but
once it arrives, it's beauteous and it lasts for a while. There are
two pointy, sharp teeth in it. I also have to admit that most nights
in the last few weeks, she sleeps right through. That's about a year
earlier than Laura did. I am duly grateful.

January 12, 2006

Gardening in Paradise

It's difficult to remember sometimes at this time of the year, but we
share a plant hardiness climate zone with the middle of Texas and most
of the Florida panhandle. There are very few categories of things you
can't grow here, even if they won't make it through the winter.

So, I planted some roses yesterday. "Mah" offered me some starts she's
had growing in water on her porch for, oh, a year? or so, and offered
to hold Emily for 10 minutes while I dug them a hole. I took the
opportunity to move some irises while I was out there; I moved several
others year before last, but there were still a few hold outs
inconveniently occupying what is now vegetable garden space. They
should fill in the gap in the line of the other moved ones nicely.

Anyway, back to the roses: it is nice not to have to worry too much
about watering them for the next several months. And to not worry
about them being out there in the first place.

January 9, 2006

There will come soft rains...

...but not tonight, according to the forecast. Tonight's are supposed
to be hard and windy. In light of that, I'm happy to report that so
far, since the day we did all we could, we've had very little water in
the basement (we do still get a little when there's a veritable deluge;
I can live with that until summer, when we go around making repairs.)
Also, the street does okay--again, except for brief issues when we have
a "micro-burst" (that's what the Public Works guy called it.)--and even
then, it has been *much* better. Of course, it's supposed to rain for
a while this week, so who knows what may happen....

I'd also like to note one bright spot as a gardener: at least the water
table's getting all filled up! This is on my mind lately, since I've
been in the throes of plant lust, spending my Christmas goody in the
Territorial Seed catalog. I didn't get to garden last summer at all,
and I'm hoping Laura and I can have some fun with it this year (not to
mention eat the results; I miss picking salad very very very much!

I haven't been a devoted blogger in the last few days for two reasons:
One, my calendar program (Palm Desktop; I'm not a fan of iCal, at least
in OS 10.3.9) went belly-up, due to an unforeseen (by us) conflict with
some iPod software. All data is gone, alas, and I've been a bit at sea
since then. I made myself some lovely hybrid (computer and paper)
calendars today, and feel much better. Apparently I'm a bit like
Hercule Poirot's Miss Lemon, who spends her spare moments devising The
Authoritative filing system; there's no help for it, I'm just built
that way. I *must* have to do lists!

The other reason was just being on my own for a while; Matt left for
Pacific's tournament Thursday night, so I had three bedtimes (and the
intervening days) to fly solo. Things went fine, but I wasn't feeling
bloggish. As an aside (one of so, so many!), Laura has finally decided
to talk on the phone...previously it was a bit like the obscene phone
caller of yore: just breathing. She has now entered that
heart-rending stage when she can say, "Laura miss DADDY!" into the
receiver. You can bet she was a little peeved when he had to leave for
work this morning. It's nice to be missed.

January 4, 2006

Rollin', rollin', rollin'

I've never been much of a New Year's resolution maker. I have lots of
good reasons; for one, I'm lazy at heart. Sure, I *do* plenty, but the
thought of adding commitments just for myself has never sounded that
good. Two, I don't like that hazy idea of doing something for a year.
What happens at the end? Does one just hope to continue, if needed, or
does one just figure if you get that far, then it's okay to drop the
ball? Third, it's an awful time of year; I think resolutions should be
made (if at all) in the Spring, when all seems alive and full of
possibility. All I want to do this time of year is curl up in front of
a HOT fire, drinking something cheerful. and eating something creamy,
or chocolate (or both).

So the fact that the Ogle girls actually left the house on their own
yesterday really had to do with Emily, not me. She's sitting up pretty
well; still wobbly, but enough that she works well in the double
stroller at last. And I'm finally feeling recovered enough from having
her that I want to get moving. So away we went! In effect, this gave
Mommy four workouts:

-Getting everyone ready (three trips up and down the stairs, all
carrying a 20-or-so-pound weight; one squirmy baby, dressed; one
*really* squirmy toddler, dressed, with shoes).

-Getting the stroller to the outside. It's been in our guest room all
winter, and since it's huge, it doesn't go around corners well
(collapsing makes it only slightly smaller end-to-end, and takes away
the use of the wheels).

-The actual walk.

-Getting everyone back inside, then pulling the stroller back up the
steps and herding it into the guest room.

While it's nice to exercise, that was a bit much. The stroller has a
new home in the garage, which will also make a safer "staging" area
than the front lawn. I had to make something easier, or I knew I would
never try it all again. As it is, I'm looking forward to rambles in the
neighborhood whenever I get the chance. I know Laura liked it, too:
"Tree! Clouds! Kitty! Squirrel!", etc.

January 2, 2006

Best wishes for 2006

...here's hoping it's better in many ways (though Emily was certainly a
bright spot, and Laura often provides a glow herself).

We spent a few more social days after Christmas. We made it out to
Monitor to visit some of our favorite people, the Hansons (and one
Lewis, nee Hanson). We were wildly impressed by their wine...building.
Rumor has it that it began as a cellar--and indeed, it has a lovely
one--but it has grown two stories above that, and even produced a
balcony. We should all be this ambitious in retirement.

We also got to meet our new neighbors for a pizza night with the
Pickerels. I think they're going to be a great addition to the 'hood;
among other things, they have great senses of humor. Really, that's
half of what we need in life anyway.

Christmas went away today--at least the decorations. I hate packing up
early, which means anytime before January 6th, but it was either do it
now or still be looking at them for Valentine's Day (there's a preview
of our next month for ya!)