Friday, November 21, 2008

My Hero

In the same breath that I announce that The Boy deserves the award for "Biggest Whiner" (he's at that age where EVERY SENTENCE comes out as a whine), I also announce that he deserves the award for "Mom's Hero of the Week."

Isn't that an interesting pairing.

He goes to preschool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are our time alone together. Isn't that a nice schedule?

Well, this week, our time alone together sure was a drag.

On Tuesday, I had to run a very small errand at IKEA, to pick up an item so that the people coming to stay in our new basement guest room for Thanksgiving will have a place to hang their clothes. A $13 errand. And... you know... whatever else I found in the Marketplace...

IKEA is about 30 minutes away (and.... hey! I just looked it up on Google maps and it says 18.7 miles, 27 minutes! I was actually right about a driving-related estimate!), so we left our house at 9:30 am to get there right when it opened at 10:00.

By 11:20, I was not quite all the way to IKEA, and I had not been able to get a hold of anyone to pick up Middle Girl from Kindergarten for me. I had to turn around and head back. The Boy, who at this point had been sitting in the car for almost two hours, was thirsty, so we pulled into the first thing I saw (Target) and visited the drinking fountain and potty (that was smart of me). Then we drove back home to Middle Girl's school.

There was an overturned big rig blocking all but one lane of the freeway. We had been stuck in the traffic for over 90 minutes. Whee! Great use of time and gas: altogether a 2.5 hour trip in which I didn't even get all the way to my destination, let alone obtain the $13 thing I needed. No, I have not tried again.

Then, on Thursday, our other day of Time Alone Together, I took The Boy to a boring meeting at church where he entertained himself with the Leapster and some snacks. Also crawling around under the conference table. (Looking at people's shoes? Their toenail polish colors? Who knows.) We had to leave the meeting before it ended to take Turbo The Kitten to his appointment with (Remember this?) the Veterinary Dermatologist.

The Veterinary Dermatologist was running very late. His first appointment of the day had been over 30 minutes late and he was backed up. This was terrible news to me, since I had already put The Boy through a boring meeting! Now he had to wait in the waiting room for what turned out to be 45 minutes! I had paper and pen in my purse, so he did practice writing his letters, and he visited the potty a few times, but whoo! that much waiting in one morning is A LOT to expect of an almost-four-year-old boy.

Dear The Boy,
Thank you for putting up with boring, extra-frustrating-and-long errands TWO MORNINGS IN ONE WEEK. I would guess that you appreciate your school days much more after that! The good news is that Grandma and Noni are coming to visit, so next week's days off school will be SO MUCH FUN!
You make me feel like a lucky Mommy for having you.

Even though the wait was long and difficult (see: almost-four-year-old boy who already sat through an hour-long meeting), I think it was a very good thing I took that crazy kitten to the Veterinary Dermatologist.

Turbo's swollen paw didn't really respond to the two antibiotics the other vet tried, and an expensive fungal culture showed no growth, so I was dubious that it was an infection.

But I was wrong.

The Veterinary Dermatologist took a little sample and looked at it under a microscope, discovering that it is "teeming with multiple types of bacteria." Yes, that is gross, you are right. But I was nonetheless glad to have the start of an answer about this swollen paw that we have been dealing with since October 6! He did a culture of the sample so we can find out exactly what bacteria we are dealing with.

The best part of the story happens now:
He gave Turbo some kind of new, special antibiotic. He took pictures of the paw and told me to come back in 14 days for the next dose and more pictures. He did not charge me for the antibiotic and will not charge me for the next dose or the re-check fee, because if this antibiotic works, the pharmaceutical company will pay him for the photos! TRA LA TRA LA TRA LA!

In other news, he did say that this kitten is quite a handful. On top of that, the other vet had written the following in Turbo's file:

Ha! I'm right! He does have above-average energy!

Perhaps we should have been more careful when choosing a name... was it a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Monday, November 17, 2008

A future in interior decorating

As I rounded the corner to head upstairs, I came across something...

The Boy has quite an eye, don't you think?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reason #68 why I love this town

It was on the list of top 10 cities in LA County against Prop 8.

And we're not even on the Westside!

It's a bedroom community (what does that mean, anyway?), full of families who come here for the schools.

What a nice place to live.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pretty pictures for a Friday

Sometimes, if I'm driving along and I see a gorgeous house and I've got my camera with me, I stop and take a picture of the house.

Look what I found in my archives:

I park in front of this one when I go to the gym.

You can't really see it, but there is a drop-dead gorgeous porte-cochère.
It looks like a tree is growing out of the chimney. Sorry about that; I snapped this photo really fast.

Oh my Lordy, if we won the lottery I would totally buy one of the houses in this neighborhood. Making sure there was enough money leftover to have someone clean it for me on a regular basis. And for a gardener. *** Le Sigh ***

Those houses, breathtaking as they are, are not representative of the local architecture. One of the things I LOVE about our town is that all of the homes are so different from one another - so we really have ALL types here.

That being said, the California Craftsman style started here in this very area, and it is GORGEOUS.

My old house kind of paid tribute to the style...

**Sigh** again. I love my new house, but I really do miss my old one, too.

This is for Jess. I'm not sure that she will see it, but it's for her.

This is my old house's stove:

And this is my new house's stove and two ovens:

(All pictures are mine except two of them. Google Images.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vet bills and strep throat

A little while back, I wrote about my cat being ill.

We were having a rough stretch. One which may be coming to a close (knock on wood!).

Turbo (aka "The New Kitten") first had an irritated intestine (I will spare you the sign that told me to take him to the vet) and was put on an antibiotic for 10 days; just when those 10 days were up, his right front paw was swollen and I had to take him back in. More antibiotics and diagnostic cultures. When that antibiotic was done, the paw was swollen in a different area; I took him back in. They put him on a different antibiotic. The cultures were negative, so no answers as to why the paw is swollen. Fast forward to today, the paw is still swollen, and I need to take him to a dermatologist (A VETERINARY DERMATOLOGIST... OF ALL THE...), but you'll soon understand that I am taking a break from vet visits and vet bills. He is a very lively kitten (one might call him a maniac), so the paw doesn't seem to be bothering him. Still, this task is on my list.

While all this swollen paw business was going on with Turbo, we noticed that our 11-year-old cat Dino was not acting right. He wasn't sitting in our laps, he was just staying to himself under a chair in the living room or under our bed. Then we noticed he was walking really shakily and slowly, the bones in his back were very sharp when I petted him, and he was throwing up fizzy bubbles. I decided to keep him in my room with his own food and litter, to see if he was eating. This experiment shows that he was NOT eating.

I took him to the vet. They wanted to run a lot of tests. I picked a few of them. They gave me some pills to give him - including an appetite stimulant and anti-nausea medication. Shortly thereafter (I had only given him one dose, and it was impossible getting that pill down his throat - I'm not sure I was successful), they called me report that all of the tests had come back negative; they wanted more tests. They scared me with this fact: cats go into liver failure very quickly if they don't eat. I gave Dino 24 hours to see if the appetite stimulant would get him to eat. No dice.

Back to the vet. We decided to admit him for hospitalization so that they could put him on an I.V. They ran more tests. The money was flying out of my bank account.

After Day 1 of hospitalization (I pre-paid for 2 days), they called me with an update. The tests were negative. They could do another test. He still wasn't eating. I had some questions for them: "What would you recommend if I don't have any more money?" and "If we were to do this other test, and it came back positive, what would we do to treat it?"

The answer to both questions was "keep doing what we're doing." Well, that answers that! We did not do the other test.

I went to visit him during Day 2, and brought him some tuna. He was SO HAPPY to see me, rubbing all over me and climbing in my lap for scritches. Then he ate a bunch of the tuna! Hurrah!

He has been home for almost two weeks now. He seems to be almost back to his old self. I've been feeding him "the good stuff," and he is eating more and more each day. He sits on my lap when I watch TV, and he has started wrestling with Turbo. He just LOOKS BETTER. They suspect it was pancreatitis, but we didn't run the further tests to know for sure. I have been spoiling him ever since he got home!

When Dino had been home for about 5 days (he was eating pretty well but was still weak and was keeping to himself), Middle Girl and I came down with strep throat. The ten days of antibiotics and feeling crummy are nearly over for us.

Quite a run we've been having!

Let's hope it's in the past (KNOCK WOOD!)

Now, about that Veterinary Dermatologist...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hide and seek

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!
Ready or not, here I come!"

"Not ready! Not ready!"

"One, two, three, four, ... Ready or not, here I come!"

"Not ready! Not ready!"

Both sides seem to be missing the point of "Ready OR NOT!"


"...Ready or not, here I come!"

(Loud whisper heard from under the living room sofa:)
"Hey! Find me last! I'm supposed to be the counter next!"


(Strange banging noises coming from the living room.)

Someone is tired of hiding, getting worried, and giving the counter a clue!


"I'm not playing Hide and Seek any more! It's boring!"

(It took a while to find them this time. Someone got tired of hiding!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

quite clear

It seems like everyone is saying that Prop 8 passed because people were confused about the wording.

In other words, if a person went into the polls thinking, "I support gay marriage," they might think "I say 'yes' to gay marriage; that means 'Yes' on Prop 8."

For argument's sake, let's assume that's true; that the wording of Prop 8 was confusing.

Well, then, a person who went into the polls thinking "I say 'no' to gay marriage" might vote "No" on Prop 8.

Those confused people would cancel each other out.

Prop 8's passing cannot be blamed on people being confused.

Now, to the other point: was the Prop confusing?

Here is what the ballot said:
YES -> O
NO -> O
Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments."

I am sorry to say, that wording is quite clear. Even if you were confused by the signs and bumper stickers you saw around, once you had that ballot in front of you in your chosen language, you were confronted with "ELIMINATES RIGHT."

Do you want to ELIMINATE THE RIGHTS of people, YES or NO?

Quite clear.

Especially when you compare it to the wording of other Props:
This sounds good, right? But it was a poor plan for renewable energy, and it wasn't supported by environmental groups. The People knew to vote No, and they did.

Interesting. You'd think the people who voted Yes on 8 would have liked this one. But 52% of Californians voted NO.

So which one was "confusing?"

To end on a good note, however, let's look at the last time Californians voted on a gay marriage ban: March 2000.

That year, 38% of Californians voted "NO" to banning gay marriage.

This year, the number was 48%. Looks like progress to me!

The tide is turning!

(I can't help it; I'm an optimist)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mom! You're crying AGAIN!

I had tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face as I left my polling place yesterday. I had just had the privilege of casting a vote for Barack Obama, and I had done so with two of my children's hands holding the marking pen along with mine.

What an honor it was to be able to vote for this man for President of the United States of America. To choose him, with his intellect and indefinable talent, to lead our country. It felt like I was voting to shape our history, and not just our racial history, but who we will be as a country as the world's people continue to be more and more interconnected.

The honor brought tears to my eyes several times during the course of the day; having two of my children with me, participating, reminded me that this vote is about them - it's about the future - and I was choked up with pride.

We watched the election returns with our children, and when the west coast polls closed and the networks went ahead and projected Obama as the President-Elect, I began to cry again. My older daughter noticed, and said, "Mom, are you CRYING?!"

"Yes, honey, I am. I'm just so proud of America today."

After the last two elections, I wasn't sure I would ever feel that way again.

We let our girls stay up for a few extra minutes to watch Obama's speech. (It's nice to live on the west coast!)

"MOM! You're crying AGAIN!"

I tried to tell them what a big deal this is. What it means to have the first African-American President. They were surprised that in the history of the United States, there had never been a non-white President. They can't grasp the significance - in their minds, what does skin color have to do with anything? That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

We're so glad our children were able to witness this event, to go to the polling place and make the mark, to see the numbers come in, to hear the words spoken about the occasion.

It feels like a new day!


There was one other mark on the ballot that I had my children help me with. Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California.

After voting for President, I put The Boy back down and went through the ballot quickly - mark, mark, mark, mark, mark.

Then I got to Prop 8. "Help me with this one, this one is really important too," I said.

This vote was for my children, for everyone's children.

We all grabbed the pen and marked the NO spot.

Children who grow up and discover that they are heterosexual are no better than those who grow up and discover that they are LGBT. No more deserving of acceptance. I want my children to know that, no matter whom they fall in love with when they grow up. We marked the NO spot.

The ballot measure is not called yet, but so far, it is passing. 52% of the votes counted so far (95% have been counted) have been "Yes" votes. Votes in favor of discrimination. In the state of California.

In the state of California, it is still OK to discriminate against LGBT people. They are people. We voted to keep chickens in more humane cages (Prop 2), AND we voted to discriminate against people.

California, I don't understand you.

My elation and pride this morning are incomplete.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween 2008

(Throwing some pictures up real quick before I head off to bed... I'm excited to reflect on Election Day when I can think more clearly... What a day. What an honor it was to participate.)

School parties and parades

(The Boy's school doesn't allow costumes, and in fact calls the day "Orange and Black Day," so he is dressed in orange and black for school.)

Finishing touches on our house's decorations

My brother and Middle Girl carving a pumpkin
(Her original jack-o-lantern collapsed in a moldy, mushy heap, right before our eyes.)

Two families came over to have dinner (pizza!) and go trick-or-treating.

Half of the grown-ups took the kids out, and other half stayed home to hand out candy.

Last year, the marching band was practicing during trick-or-treating, and this year there was a football game going on! Apparently, the high school marching band provides the soundtrack of Halloween in our neighborhood!

Big Girl and her friend C. thought "The Spooky House" was AWESOME! while the other kids were too scared and stayed back. Other than that, all seven kids (including The Boy!) were enthusiastic trick-or-treaters.

Arriving back home with heavy loot bags, the big girls headed upstairs to do some trading. I don't know who came up with that idea, but they were very serious up there going through their candy and trading with each other for their favorites!

It was such a great day and night, with beautiful costumes, happy kids, and a fun group of adults!


Monday, November 3, 2008

There's been a delay

There's been a delay in putting up Halloween pictures.

The good news is that Sunday evening I was busy - out with some mom friends.

The bad news is that today was spent in medical offices.

This morning, Middle Girl woke up with a painful throat. Remembering the notice that came home last week about strep in the Kindergarten, I knew that she would be going to the doctor instead of school today. We got Big Girl and The Boy to school, and since the earliest pediatrician appointment was at 2:50 pm, we went to Urgent Care to check out the wait. Since my throat is scratchy as well, I though Urgent Care might take care of both of us at the same time.

There were only three people in the waiting room.

They finally called us in after TWO HOURS of waiting. Middle Girl and I were SO BORED!

When they called us in, I asked if we would have to wait more in the exam room, because we had only ten minutes until we had to leave to pick up The Boy.

After five minutes, I realized that there wouldn't be time for the test and paying the co-pay, so we just left WITHOUT SEEING A DOCTOR.

Well, that was a good use of two and a half hours.

Later, at the 2:50 pm pediatrician appointment, Middle Girl's test came out positive and she's taking antibiotics and staying home again tomorrow!

My tomorrow, which was supposed to contain two volunteer activities for Middle Girl's class, as well as going to vote,

now contains

going to the doctor (for me) and voting, with two kids in tow. (Streptococcus will NOT keep me away from the polls!)

Hope I can avoid a wait.


I've uploaded the photos onto the computer, but now I am going to bed to rest this scratchy throat. I'm hoping to have time to put together a post tomorrow!