Thursday, August 29, 2013

Things Gone Bad Sometimes Turn Out For the Best

Yesterday was a day that did not (to put it lightly) go according to plan. Amazingly ... I believe that the day was enhanced due to the bumps and bruises earned along the way.

First on the non-agenda was an unexpected trip to the vet.

Our Senior Cat has been on antibiotics for his pneumonia for almost two weeks. His vet asked me to check in with her yesterday so that we could decide the best course of action for him. She highly advised keeping him on the antibiotics for a while longer because they appear to be making a difference. Since he is not back to his pre-pneumonia-self, she wanted to continue the treatment.

It is stressful to make your cat swallow a pill every twelve hours. I felt bad for him. He was becoming a master at finding ways to manoeuvre his tongue and spit it out and he started to pretend he swallowed it on a few occasions (and for all I know, he held it under his tongue and expelled it when I wasn't looking). So I asked if there was any way we could reduce his stress caused by this. She suggested taking him in for a shot that would equate to two weeks of antibiotics.

We turned this little task into a fun little adventure out of necessity. I have to work tonight (the only night their office is open  late) so we had to find a way to get him into the office during the day. I was taking care of only one child yesterday, so we eventually came up with the plan to take the double stroller. Room for two to ride! This was inspired by our memory of our Senior Cat in his kitten days:


We opted to skip the bonnet and we didn't strap him into the stroller but he managed just fine. I think that he had some pleasant flashbacks of the days when the kids used him as a live 'doll'.

This unexpected little task turned into a fun little adventure. But we wouldn't reap the full rewards until about twelve hours later.

He voluntarily came up and snuggled with My Son in the middle of the afternoon. And he purred. Loudly. We have had to convince and cajole with him to snuggle &/or purr. He did this on his own. It was a glorious moment. 

As the evening progressed (and progressed far later than anticipated due to the fact that we brought out old photo albums in search of the above picture from our archives), there was some cat wrestling. Later on there were a few cat chases. More time elapsed and there was more wrestling. Our Senior Cat  has not had such a spurt of energy in ages. 

We could see and feel such a vast difference in him within such a short period of this miracle drug being administered. I hope that the effects are long lasting and get him to a point where his body can take over and fight his own battles. 

This was the best gift that our day  had to offer.

I suppose the Fence Fiasco will make for a very good story one day. It sort of felt like a battle of "Us" against "Them". We didn't declare war and we didn't want to fight. They did. So they threw in the towel and walked off the job. 

There are more details to the story but the important part is that my Second Son got a Second Opinion and he was right to question how the job was being done. One should not be able to jiggle one fence post on a fence that is 110 feet long and actually see the the ripple effect the entire length of the fence. 

Then there was the bed bug scare. That was the tipping point of the day. If the bug that I had found had been deemed a bed bug, I was going to wave a white flag and give up. Thankfully life was done doling out the 'hard stuff' for one day and the verdict was ruled in our favor.

At the end of a very, very long day we simply sat in the middle of the living room and enjoyed our cats at play. Everything was all right in the world. Our 'cat came back'. At least for a day.

Some days are here to test us, teach us lessons, provide examples of what-not-to-do and how-not-to-treat people. Thankfully those very same days are often sprinkled with enough good stuff to carry you through.

It was an off day. But it didn't throw us off the good track. 

Onward.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And How is Your Morning Going?

Here is a glimpse at my day so far ...

I talked with our cat's vet this morning and we decided that the best way to continue his treatment of antibiotics was to give him a shot which will give him a two week dose of antibiotics without having to force a pill down his throat every twelve hours. 

The dilemma? I could only get him to the vet's office during my daycare hours. The solution? This:


Does this spell Crazy Cat Lady to the average man on the street or what?!?

We were literally a minute or two from home when I got a call from my Second Son. The Fence Crew (once again) showed up after I left the house (once again) after 10:00 this morning. I had asked my son to talk to them on my behalf because when I did try to voice my concerns-to-date yesterday, she talked over me and didn't listen. My son is forceful, yet diplomatic and communicates clearly. I felt fine in leaving this in his capable hands (even though he told me that I should be with him when he spoke on my behalf because this was my fence and my business deal - not his).

Long story short? This is now our fence is in its completed form. The Fence Crew walked off the job. And this is our new reality:



There are two sides to every story. I don't know that this story would have ended any differently if I had been present from the onset. But the end result was the absolutely disrespectful way that virtual strangers were speaking about my son, directly to my face. I gently reminded them that "You are talking about my son here ..." The response (unfazed and with no attempt to withhold themselves), "Well he's a jerk ...". 

I did my best to try to talk with them and hear their answers. But once again, they spoke 'over' my questions and answered little to none of my concerns.

Not good for business, people. Not good for business.

The end of this story will be fine. My son has told me that he will build the fence. It is my hope that they are fair and expedient in dealing with how we will handle the deposit that they received. My overall out-of-pocket expenses that I have budgeted for will remain the same. With any profit going in my son's pocket. 

I hope this ends well.

It is only noon. And how is your day going? 

P.S. (12:40 p.m.) - As if the day couldn't get any better, I found this little critter crawling on the floor at the foot of my bed a few minutes ago (which, when magnified, has some similarities to a bed bug):


This is not helping me deal with the paranoia that I am fighting in regards to our home's exposure to bed bugs. At all. An SOS email to my friendly neighborhood exterminator has been sent. Awaiting an answer...

Update to bed bug email. This was the response, "Looks like a weevil or small beetle". I'll take this one as a 'win'.

It Is Not Yet the End

I have one simple wish. I want to believe what people are telling me. Is that really too much to ask??

Some anonymous soul rated my daycare and within that rating, they rated my meals with a generous 4.25 out of 5. Why can I simply not believe this? Instead, I am racking my mind and available resources for new ideas and better ways to feed my young charges. I don't believe that my meals are anything more than adequate (if that, some days). I am grateful that no one is rating my after-daycare-hours cooking. Is there a negative rating?

Why can't I revel in the joy that someone out there was more than satisfied with my meals and meal planning? Because I know the truth ...

I cannot leave the potential that bed bugs have hitched a ride into our home alone. Have I checked everything and everywhere? Do I know what I am looking for? What if they do not leave evidence of their presence until they have been around a few months? Am I not finding anything because I don't want to find anything or because there is simply nothing to be found?

I called my friendly, neighborhood exterminator (again) yesterday morning. I was full of questions and concerns. I really and truly wanted him to come over and look things over with his expert eye and tell me that our house was in the clear. Instead, he answered all of my questions (and more). He assured and reassured me that I had done and checked everything that I should and could do. And he told me that he believes that even though our home is more at risk than our neighbors (simply because we have more people coming and going through our doors), in his professional opinion he believes our home is fine.

I tend to want to believe him because he could have offered to come over here and charge whatever he wanted to charge me to alleviate my worries. But he didn't. There was no profit gained by answering the way he did. I want to believe that he is right. But I am still afraid he is not. Because I honestly don't know if I have checked everything thoroughly enough.

Our fence project is not going well. The first few days (almost) went according to plan. I had to work all weekend and the Fence Crew appeared and disappeared after I left for work and before I came home. If it had not been for those that were at home and made observations as to the work ethic and method that was used to place the posts (it was not done according to the way I was told it would be done)  I would be none the wiser. They appeared to be doing everything they promised to do.

On Monday (the first day that I was home when they were scheduled to be here), I swear that they must have been hovering in the neighborhood until a few raindrops fell. At that precise moment, someone appeared on our doorstep and declared it was too wet to work. They would see how the afternoon went. The rain amounted to nothing more than barely wetting the ground. They never returned.

Yesterday, I left the house with my daycare family after 10:00. No fence people. Their (lack of) working hours astounds me. We came home four hours later. The fence people were there. I didn't have the energy to talk with anyone at the time so we simply settled back in at home and when I felt energized (enough), I went out and voiced the concerns that my Second Son noticed.

I said what I wanted to say. Almost. Then they began talking over me and filling me with reassurances. I want to believe them. I want this fence project to be completed. Now. Progress was being made (slowly). I was happy enough.

Until My Son came home a short time later (and the Fence Crew had mysteriously disappeared after yet another extremely short work day?) and asked me how my conversation with the Fence People went. I told him. He asked if I wanted to know what he thought (it was obvious that he was skeptical). After my daycare day ended we went outside and he showed me everything that was a concern to him. He took pictures. And videos. I don't want to know this! I just want our fence back. Even our old fence. We are fenceless. And I hate it...

I want to believe that if the Fence People simply complete the job, the fence will stand for thirty years. Instead, I tend to worry that My Son's concerns are valid and after piling snow against our wobbly fence for a winter or two or three, our fence will begin to lean over. It is an 'endless' expanse of fence. Leaning on one end is going to affect the entire fence line. And it is long.

So here I sit. Knowing that something must be said and done to rectify this problem. I simply don't know if I have the stamina to do it. I feel weak. I think my predators smell my weakness and are plotting to take advantage of their position ...

Why can't I simply believe that I providing adequate meals for my daycare crowd? Why can't I simply trust that the bed bug situation has been contained to its original owner? Why can I not foresee our brand new fence still standing at a 90 degree angle in five years??

Then there is the ongoing concern with our Senior Cat's health. At least his vet is honest enough with me which allows me to believe in what she says.

I see the truth that is woven in between all of those lines. The truth hurts. I simply want to close my eyes, forge through it and simply trust that it will all work out okay in the end.

"Everything works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end"
~ Quote from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

That is exactly what I was most afraid to hear. It is not yet the end.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Sitting-on-the-Deck-Staring-at-the-New-Fence-Party

Four people attended; two dogs and a cat.


The fence was a no-show. 

I don't want to talk about it....

Empty as a Broken Jug of Milk

A have just one small piece of advice to pass along today:

If you ever drop a four litre plastic jug of milk down an entire flight of stairs ... do NOT cheer it along and hope for the best!

Instead, RACE it down the stairs and when you get to the bottom of the stairs and find that the plastic has inevitably broken open, hold the milk jug in a fashion where gravity will keep the remainder of the milk that is left in the jug contained.

Do not ask me what to do with four litres of milk. Throw it down the sink if you must. It beats sopping it up with a household full of towels.

All I can say is "Thank goodness we have laminate flooring".

That's all I've got this morning. I feel as empty as that broken jug of milk at the moment. I just may go back to sleep for a while.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Few Kind Words

This morning, I was tending to the business of promoting my daycare business at one of the various on line sites where I am advertising when I spotted the tab "Review Rebuttals". The very idea that someone could write something derogatory about me and my daycare that required a rebuttal kick started my defence systems so I clicked on the tab.

I've checked on my reviews various times over the course of the year that I have been back in the daycare business. A year ago I did mention to my previous daycare parents that they were welcome to leave a review on my site, but no one did. I checked in from time to time. But the review section of my daycare ad remained neglected.

So I expected to find 'more of the same' when I habitually clicked on that very same tab this morning. I was wrong.

What I found instead was a 97% rating and a short paragraph describing what one of my previous parents (I could tell by the context of the message that it wasn't one of my new parents) had liked about bringing their child to my daycare.

First of all, I was in awe. I wondered who it was that left such kindness in their wake. Of course I had a few faces immediately come to mind. The wonder of it all. Someone likes me. They really like me!

Then (do we all do this or is it just me) I wondered "Why only 97% ... what did I do wrong??"

I clicked onto the details and found that my downfall was my meals. Why would that surprise me? I am just lucky that it wasn't one of my new daycare parents doing that review. I have been trying so hard to get these kids to eat anything, that I am trying whatever it takes to tempt their appetites (and it isn't all healthy).

Then I looked again. They gave me a rating of about 4.25 out of 5 for my meals. Five out of five on everything else.

I got a score that high on my meal planning?!?! Suddenly I was back on my cloud. I can cook. I really can cook.

A few kind words left by an unnamed friend-of-my-past has made my morning. Spread kindness into your world. You just never know who needs it the most. So be generous with your praise and you will never know what a difference you have made.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Measure of Success

"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year."
~ John Foster Dulles

I once asked my mother-in-law how things were going. Her response? "Same shit, different pile." I remembered that feeling well. I was so relieved to have stepped out of that life and into one that didn't repeat the same cycles.

I have talked with people about their jobs. I have heard the same stories with different names and faces many times over. Different factors at play but it felt like an endless repetition of the same old things. Time and time again.

I've made a few bold moves when it comes to destructive cycles within my world. I've packed up and moved literally and figuratively many times when the same problems kept recycling themselves back into my life. 

A person has the opportunity to do a little housekeeping with each move. I don't like to bring too much baggage from the past along with me. I prefer to pack up the lessons and leave the heart ache behind. It isn't that simple but it comes in time.

I think that is why I look back at 'A Year Ago Today' from time to time. I will scan the archives of my blog or go back into my journals to see where I was a year (or longer) ago and measure my progress. I like to utilize my past as a measuring stick and define myself accordingly.

When things aren't right in my world I tend to shake it up a little. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. This past year? It worked

Using 'A Year Ago Today' as my measuring tool, I would say the year was a success! 

P.S. A year ago, I wrote this blog: http://colleen-lifeasiknowit.blogspot.ca/2012/08/this-holidaying-business-is-exhausting.html . Boy!! Did I learn my lesson from that holiday. This year's holiday was everything that one wasn't.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Purrfect Moment

Man, did I wake up on the wrong side of the world this morning.

I had absolutely no desire to wake up and greet this day. I have an agenda this weekend (I despise weekends with an agenda) and I didn't accomplish anything productive last night.

Oh, I did turn on the dishwasher and tossed in a load of laundry. All that meant to me this morning was that there were dirty dishes in the sink, clean dishes to be put away and a load of laundry to be folded and put away.

Add to that, the fact that I must leave the house today. So I had to stop by the bathroom mirror and try to outline my facial features so it looks like I have eyes, eyebrows and a bit of color in my cheeks.

I had no desire to leave my room this morning so I did the unthinkable. I walked away from an unmade bed. Which meant that I had to return to that job on top of everything else that I found to do on my way to breakfast.

I crossed those irritating little items off of my to-do list as I made my way to the kitchen and I just felt the grump in me erupting. "I just want to stay home and not talk to a soul today ..."

I was making up my daycare beds and found myself in my makeshift 'Hotel Oasis' - a room with a desk and a door. Immediately, I was taken back to my wonder-filled memories of only one month ago. My Hotel Oasis within our home. Quiet. Solitude. Peace ...

I want to go back there.

I am working at my bookkeeping job all this weekend. Our fence project is finally going to begin today. It should be complete by Tuesday. I have an appointment on Wednesday night. I have offered to work on Thursday night at my bookkeeping job. Mom is coming Friday night. We have a fun and company filled weekend to take us through the upcoming long weekend.

I am looking longingly at the month of September and begging it to stay empty.

I want to book myself into my little room-with-a-door for another weekend. I want to find the peace that enveloped my holiday and wrap myself in it again.

I found myself within the article "23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert" - "You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long. Do you start to get tired and unresponsive after you've been out and about for too long? It's likely because you’re trying to conserve energy. Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they'll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment, says Dembling. Short of a quiet place to go, many introverts will resort to zoning out." ** 

I'm shutting down. I just need to find myself a little piece of quiet within a hectic week ahead. It will be just fine. 


I just snuggled up with our Senior Cat and convinced him to stay with me a moment. He fought me for a second or two and then succumbed to my wishes. He curled up on my shoulder and purred into my ear. He licked my face and then my ear and purred louder and more persistently. I felt my entire body relax with the hypnotic steadiness of his purr. I think we communicated a non-verbal message to each other. We are not alone in this world (or house) and for this very moment in time? All is purrfect in our little world.


P.S. I got an early morning call from my bookkeeping boss. She told me "Do not come to work until I call you back. We don't have any power out here. It's been out for hours ..." That was just as stress-relieving as having our cat purr into my ear.

Friday, August 23, 2013

He's in Very Good Hands

We have the best vet in the world for our little cat family ...

I just got off the phone with our vet once again. This is the second time that she called to check up on Andre (our Senior Cat) since his office visit eight days ago. After Junior Cat de-worming medication was finished (several weeks ago) she called to check on his progress as well.

I'm certain that she called long after their office closed tonight. Even with that, she did not rush our conversation. She asked questions. She provided me with more information. I had more questions. It was not a short call. And at no time did I feel that she was rushing me through the conversation, nor did I feel that she was simply doing a job.

As our conversation progressed, I made a comment to the effect that I was unsure what symptoms were simply 'old age' and what was caused by Andre's current state of health. Her answer? "Old age is not a disease. When there are symptoms, there are underlying issues..."

As soon as she said the words, I was suddenly back in my mom's doctor's office with my sister. Several years ago, we felt that we had to fight to get Mom's doctors to look for the underlying cause of her symptoms. The feeling that we were getting was that she was old. And this is to be expected.

Old age is not a disease! Did you hear that, Doctor? These words of wisdom came from our cat's doctor!

I complimented our Cat Doctor for her astuteness and willingness to look at the cat behind the symptoms and give him the best opportunity to fight the good fight. I also thanked her for her follow-up calls.

What doctors do that? What service providers of any kind provide such personalized follow-up?

I'm still quite concerned about our Little Black Cat. He's better but he is not bouncing back as much as I wish he was. What concerns me most is that he will not snuggle up and relax in my arms the way he always has. He isn't purring. He is wrestling with our Young Cat but it is with the same technique that my uncles described their brother (who had asthma) and how he wrestled with them as a child. He was quick and efficient with his moves because he only had so much wind in him. As I watched Andre tonight, my uncle's voices rang in my ear and I thought "asthma ..."

Minutes later, that very uncle called me. One of his first questions was about Andre. He has gotten to know Andre quite well via my story telling and meeting him when he stayed with us a few years back. My uncle is an animal lover and his empathy carried right through the phone lines and it felt like he was right here in our living room.

I'm concerned about our Little Black Kitty but I know that he is in good hands. I could not be happier with the care and doctoring that he is receiving.

I wonder how many people wish they could say the same ....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

He's Baaaack (I think)

Our Senior Cat is half-way through his two weeks of medication to treat his pneumonia. It is hard to know what changes within him were due to his health verses that of simply aging. But he is showing definite signs of improvement. This medication just may be working ...

He has always loved going outside. Always! We have to tether him because he likes to roam. He plays along with this whole harness and leash thing because it means he can be outside.

Yesterday? He hunted dragonflies (I should have video taped him - his 'hunt mode' doesn't translate well with a still shot).


Then he went and hid in the peony bush. We have a huge, overgrown peony 'tree' in the front yard (where he loves to hide) and we have this new peony 'twig' in the back yard. We think that he recognized the smell because he was quite determined to hide here. 


Then he found it. A cat's paradise. We trimmed down our lilac bush this year and these are all of the suckers that have grown up in the month since. Can you find our kitty in there? Honestly ... this is the best desktop background that has ever been on our computer. I think it is here to stay. 


By the way our little black kitty appears to be bouncing back, I think he is going to stick around a while longer too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pre-Reunion Preparations

One month from today, I will be attending my 35 year class reunion.

One month ... what can I do with a month?
  • It will give my ultra-short a chance to grow out some more. I am three weeks in and I have now reached the point of not shuddering at the new reflection in the mirror. Is it better than it was or have I just gotten used to it?
  • It will also give my roots a month to grow out. How much grey will be showing in a month? Will I care? Should I care? Ten dollar cover up job in a box will have to suffice. If it matters to me at the time.
  • My wardrobe. Will I be able to open my tickle trunk (aka: closet) and find something appropriate to wear? My years of dancing provided me with more choices than I used to have. My years of idleness since that time has added some extra poundage which eliminates some of those choices. Sigh...
  • Speaking of weight, what can a person do with a month? I have no desire to go on some crash diet or exercise regimen to change 'what is'. I think the one thing that I will attempt, is to cut out after supper snacking. This includes eating supper before 8 or 9 p.m. (I'm tired of waking up still feeling full).
  • Pedicure? My three week old pedicure may as well  have never happened. The nail polish started chipping after a week, my heels are cracked and the calluses have all returned (I don't think they were ever gone to start with) in their glory. The sandal season will most likely be over. I won't sweat the feet stuff.
  • Manicure? I have a coupon for a free manicure at the school that did my hair and feet three weeks ago. Five hours invested and I had to get my hair fixed and my feet look no better than they did before this. I think I'll simply spread some cuticle oil on my cuticles, file my nails down to the same length and call it good.
  • Botox? Plastic surgery? Face mask? It is too late to worry about anything besides a face mask. Perhaps I will wear veils...
To tell you the truth, I'm not overly concerned about my outward appearances. Oh, I care. But I am not going to become obsessed with that-which-I-cannot-change in a month.

What I care about is the inner 'me'. If I find someone that I used to know, I hope that we sit down and chat and everyone will forget about what the other guy is wearing. Once I start talking to a person, I don't see beyond the words that I am hearing and the person that is inside of the body. I feel myself change from the inside, out when I speak passionately about life and the way I see it. I find that I feel the same way about whoever I may be talking with.

Happiness and contentment ooze out of one's pores when that is their truth. There is no mistaking a person who wears their face naturally and proudly declares to the world 'This is the me I have grown up to be ... and I am happy with the person that I am today'.

I shall dust off some old dance clothes, cover up my feet, make the best of what my hair has to offer and accessorize myself with a smile and an honest desire to reconnect with a friend or two (I still have a very hard time believing that I will actually know very many people there - I was such a hermit in my high school days). 

If someone wishes to judge me from afar and see only my imperfect body and hair or whether I have aged gracefully or not, so be it. The only impression that matters to me is the way people see me when we have a conversation. I promise to reciprocate the kindness.

Outward appearances are fleeting. It is the way a person internalizes the life which they were given and run with it that creates the person within. Our physical body can be snatched up and consumed or destroyed. Our spirit can be faced with the same adversity and come out stronger, more compassionate and beautiful than ever before. 

Will I remember this as I get dressed on my class reunion day? There may be a moment or two of amnesia before I walk into that room. But once I settle in and find my comfort zone (oh, I hope my comfort zone will be present on that day), I'm sure that I will settle in and enjoy the little moments as I find them. 

Those little moments. That is what it is all about ...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I've Got the Music Back in Me

Something very small but rather amazing happened to me this summer. There has been an invisible metamorphosis that has transpired. The music inside of me has been set free again.

A few years ago, the music of my past was snuffed out. I couldn't bear to listen to any music that held a memory. The memory was not specific. It was simply music of days gone by that changed the beat of my heart.

Each and every time I heard 'an oldie', I changed the channel. I would choose listening to advertisements over listening to the music of yesteryear. It hurt my heart.

But the new music? Bring it on! New music had no correlation to anything of the past. It was all brand new. New was where I was headed and I couldn't bear to look back. Only forward from here on, baby!

Forward is a good direction to pick, if you must choose one direction to go. Turning off the music of the past didn't hurt me. I no longer needed or wanted to dredge up old memories. Music has a way of doing that to me. So ... I tuned it out and I turned it off.

This summer has been the best one I've had in years. I think what I needed most of all was my self induced week of seclusion.

I brought everything that I needed to sustain me into my little 'hotel oasis' within my home and my heart sang out with joy. I closed the door, knowing that I was snuggled into a quiet space within my most favorite place in the world. Home.

I brought the radio inside of my room and it played continually within the background of my most-favorite-holiday-of-my-life-so-far. Now that I'm back living my real life, each and every time I hear those songs that played over the course of my retreat (and there were so many songs!), my heart leaps for joy. It leaps. Really.

My present day ear for music is different than the skewed one that developed over the course of the past few years. I can tell in the way that the music makes me feel. But I can also tell because I have stopped when I've heard one of those songs of my past and I can enjoy it again. My heart has stopped hurting.

I didn't even know my heart was aching until the residual pain disappeared. Nothing tangible happened to make this occur. It has simply been a slow process of finding and following my own path again. I'm back living the life I was meant to live. I've got a good, solid year behind (and within) me. I'm feeling insulated from the bumps and bruises of life. I feel safe. I feel good. I am content.

I've got the music back in me. And it feels wonderful.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Appreciating Life's Little Things

We are watching for any little sign, so we are revelling in the little things we are finding. 

Our Senior Cat has been taking medication for his pneumonia for three days now. 

At the two day mark, we noticed little things. He is sleeping out in the open again. He had found a special little nest of seclusion that My Youngest had made for him and had abandoned 'his' pillows on the couch in favor of this special little spot of his own. 

His eyes were just a little bit brighter and animated. We could see a little bit of our 'old cat' coming back to life.

Our Senior Cat is socializing with us a little bit more. Sleeping in his (previously) old, regular spots where he can be seen. I hadn't even realized that he had vacated those spots until he reappeared. It felt so good and so right to see him where he belongs.

He jumped up on the bookcase by the living room window and enjoyed the view of the great outdoors yesterday afternoon. Once again, this is another one of the small things our Senior Cat had stopped enjoying in life.

Then there was (what I think) may have been a cat chase up the stairs. I didn't see it. I simply heard the sound of stairs being taken in one big 'whirr' (where you don't hear the individual steps but more like thumbing through a deck of cards). Just one continuous sound. By the time I poked my head out to see what all the ruckus was about, I saw both cats sitting face-to-face in close proximity to each other, so I guessed that they both raced up the stairs.

This morning, I heard a skirmish in the hallway and there was an abbreviated round of cat wrestling coming to an end (cat fur was flying - yet another thing that I didn't notice was missing until it reappeared).

Our Senior Cat is still not purring his big, monstrous purr but he is purring. It is gentle and tentative. But he is purring. And it doesn't even sound rusty.

Watching our cat sleep in the heat of the summer sun yesterday exhausted me and I found my own little spot and cat napped along with him. I had hoped that he would snuggle up with me and grace me with his special brand of purring ... but he didn't. Maybe next time.

It's funny. A person doesn't consciously notice when those little things start to happen. A little bit like a relationship dying a slow death. Those 'little things' stop (or start) happening and then 'big things' start to change. It feels catastrophic at the time until you look at things backwards and see that things had been disintegrating over a very long period of time.

A person doesn't appreciate life's little blessings until they are threatened. Then you realize what you had all along. 

Life is throwing this lesson at me from every direction. I'm trying. I'm really trying to be grateful for every little thing that blesses my life. But the lessons are not slowing down. 

For this moment ... for today, I will simply appreciate every little cat-step towards our Senior Cat's return to life-as-he-knew-it. We all know that life is not eternal. The best we can hope for is good health and a comfortable life while we are living it. That is so much more than so very many people have. 

As I root for our cat's good health to return, I will be thinking of those that I know where it is simply not that easy. Black and white answers are often not among the choices we are given in life. We have to learn to appreciate the gray. 

I've said it before and I'll say it many more times before I die "If money can fix our problems, we are very lucky indeed". As I paid the vet bill and realized that a follow-up visit was inevitable, the cost was the last thing on my mind.

As the days before us unfold, we will be ever-aware of the little things. They all add up.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Good Day, Any Which Way You Look at It

Yesterday was one of those idyllic days that felt good from every angle.

A quiet anticipation and appreciation of what the day could hold. An eagerness to set out on the road and live the day (more often than not, I go through a phase where I just want to stay home where it is safe and known-to-me). A pure and utter enjoyment of the moment I was in. All day. And a blissful replay of the day as I drove home.

I met up with four of my dad's brothers for the afternoon and I made a quick stop to see my mom's sister en route to my afternoon destination.

I called my aunt to see if she was up to company and see what time would work best. It sounded like a brief visit after lunch worked best for her and the timing was perfect for my afternoon plans. So that is what we did.

We had an easy, most enjoyable visit. When I spoke to her on the phone, it sounded like she was not really up to company for too terribly long. I thought I'd stay fifteen or twenty minutes. I stayed twice as long as I anticipated and I was sorry to see our time pass so quickly.

I arrived at my uncle's home and two of my cousins were there, which was an unexpected surprise. It was fun to catch up with them and one of my cousins stayed on as we started our last information gathering session in an attempt to plump up their personal chapters within their family's collection of memories.

It was a different dynamic between the uncles this time (one uncle was missing; another filled his spot), as compared to the first. It makes a person appreciate what each individual 'brings to the table' when the flow changes. Our conversation drifted off from time to time. We talked of family dynamics and many little things which will not make it to The Book. There is an underlying story to everyone's memories and sometimes it helps to reveal that-which-will-not-be-written.

We went out for supper afterwards - a steak dinner fundraiser which was a most excellent way to wrap up the afternoon.

When I sit back and think about it, the day was quietly unremarkable. But remarkably memorable. Sitting down at a table and collecting memories is a most excellent and rewarding  pass time. One of my cousins remarked at all of the work that had gone into this book thus far and compared it to a needlework picture that took her years to create. She said, "Never again!"; I smiled and thought, "If I could do this and nothing else, I would gladly do it again".

I couldn't help but think of a comment my son made many, many years ago after eating an incredibly tast chicken nugget from a favorite restaurant. He was thrilled when he burped and got to savor the flavor of that nugget after it was long gone. Yesterday was exactly like that for me. I loved every moment of the 'aftertaste' that I savored during my one and a half hour drive home.

It was simply a day that was as enjoyable living forward, as it was looking at it in my rear view mirror.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Time to Shift the Tides

I have stepped back from my Book Project since I locked myself in a room with it over my holidays.

The minute I opened the door to my seclusion, Life and all its glory was waiting for me. A person doesn't realize what a difference it makes to putter away at those endless supply of little things until you stop puttering.

Then there was the get-away portion of my vacation. Perfection in every way but (again) you come home to a home that is begging for attention.

Back-to-work was easy. But all consuming. I gave myself to my daycare world and at the end of my days I simply revelled in the quiet. Again.

Life has a way of filling up the cracks of one's day. To do anything above and beyond that-which-must-be-done you really must make a renovation to your life to make the room.

I live a quiet little life of simplicity. I enjoy the nothingness that encapsulates my days. It gives me the energy to deal with the little things that crop up in a week (like bed bugs and our cat's pneumonia to name a few).

I'm not saying that this past week derailed me. It didn't. But if I had my life scheduled down to the minute (I have done this and it did not make for a most pleasant 'me'), anything above and beyond would have been too much.

I know that I fritter a lot of my time away on mindless and useless things. I need to replace the mindless frittering and replace it with mindful book-editing. It will take no more energy and it will reap much greater rewards.

Today is the day I plan to shift the tides.

I am meeting up with four of my dad's brothers this afternoon. We are collecting stories and memories for their personal chapter in The Book. I suspect that I will come home with a completely renewed sense of gusto that will push me through and make things (start to) happen.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Longing to Hear Our Cat's (special brand of) Purr Again

Our Senior Cat has not truly been himself since we adopted our Second in Command Cat.

At first, the new young cat was a bit of a novelty. But something seeped deep into our Senior Cat's bones as he came to the realization that this cat was here to stay.

Senior Cat cracked my heart just a little bit when he started to shy away from my touch. There would be those first waking moments of pure, unadulterated happiness in his world and then Junior Cat would walk into the room and the bubble would burst. No, Senior Cat ... it was not just a dream.

Weeks evolved into months and our Senior Cat seemed to be resigned to his new room mate. They wrestled and there were many a cat-chase throughout the house. Our Senior Cat seemed to be regaining his sense of self and had no problem keeping Junior Cat in his place.

During this time, our Senior Cat developed what we called a 'rusty purr'. His purr sounded perfectly normal and fine on one end of the purr but on the opposite end (I'm not sure if he was inhaling or exhaling), it sounded 'rusty'. He used to have a Monster Purr that you could hear across the room. He started withdrawing his special purr that communicated his love for all of us after Junior Cat moved in. It was sad. When his purr got a little rusty, we told him it was because he wasn't using his purr enough.

Then came his pathetic new meow. He sounded like he had a frog in his throat. It was his meow that he used to let us know that he was hungry. Once again, we joked that he was doing this to get us to feel sorry for him. Junior Cat had monopolized our attention and we thought (hoped) that Senior Cat was just trying out a few new attention grabbing techniques of his own.

Senior Cat is a snuggler. He nestles up on top of us and adorns us with his presence. Junior Cat's arrival changed all of that. It simply made the snuggling time with Senior Cat (when it happened) that much more precious. But we started noticing something else. His purr. Again. As he inhaled, all was completely normal. On his exhale, it was like his chest collapsed. Something seemed very labored in his purring. It wasn't just rusty.

As the weeks evolved into months and the strange purring and voice changes didn't change, I started watching him more carefully. He was trying to be himself but it appeared to be harder than it should be. Everything about him just seemed ... slower.

He stopped playing with Junior Cat. We accused him of being a grumpy old cat and I didn't want to think it was anything more than that.

I have to give our Junior Cat credit where credit is due. He is a big, burly, young and healthy cat. Yet he is completely and totally submissive and respectful of his status in this household. He would cower his big, bulky head and nudge his forehead into our Senior Cat's chest. The body language seemed obvious, "Do you wanna play??"

Senior Cat bit whatever was closest (and would hurt the most). An ear. An ankle. A paw. His body language was loud and clear, "No! Go away!!"

In the background of this entire scenario was the fact that our Senior Cat seemed to be losing weight. We weighed him regularly and at last count, he was holding firm at 7.4 pounds. This was down from his regular weight but at least he was holding his own.

Despite all of these clues, I still wanted to believe that our Senior Cat was going to wake up one morning and start to regain his zest for life. I hoped.

Then came the scariest symptom of all. The one that we couldn't ignore. The one that wouldn't go away.

A handful of days ago, our Senior Cat developed (what sounds like) a croupy-sounding kind of cough. He would hunker his body down as if he was going to cough up a hairball. And nothing. Just this awful, painful sounding cough.

I hoped it was an isolated incident. It wasn't.

We took him to the vet last night and thought the x-rays did not specifically spell out pneumonia, that is what our vet told us that he most likely has.

She showed us his x-rays. There is a lot of gray area in his lungs. It should be black or white. Gray is not good in this case. It means air or liquid. Neither of which is a good thing. She said our cat's symptoms lead her to believe that it is not liquid. And this is good. She confirmed that cancer or a tumor or asthma are not evident. His heart is good. His organs are in good shape. But his lungs aren't.

She sent us home with a two week supply of medication. We should notice a visible difference within three to five days, if this is pneumonia. He should start to get some of his energy back.

I walked in the vet's office hoping that they could pinpoint his symptoms, give us some medication and send us on our way. We got very close to what I hoped for. X-rays, consultation, medication and the office visit aren't cheap. But at this point, it was the right thing to do. Our little black kitty was full of love, spunk and energy before all of this. I hope he is still in there...

Andre, our little black kitty, has been a part of our family for thirteen years. I've never loved a cat this long before. I want to believe we can fix this. He has a lot of lost purring to make up for.

Slight side-bar here ...

Just one word of advise. Before you take your pet to the vet, take them to the bathroom. I told our kitty to go to use his kitty litter before we left but he chose to have a short rest on the couch instead. The end of this story is a sad and traumatic tale that I wish our cat could tell from his perspective. It wasn't pretty ...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Subconscious Thoughts

I'm tired this morning. I woke up in the middle of a very strange and complex dream which wove characters of my past into my subconscious thoughts.

Scenes from my dream: 
  • Brother-in-law asks me: "How much weight have you gained?!?!" 
  • Another brother-in-law absolutely snaps when I ask how he is (and I really want to know the answer). 
  • My sister-in-law works at her hair and pretties herself up and doesn't agree when I suggest we have a 'hair and nail' day (and she could make me pretty too). 
  • Father-in-law is going crazy trying to figure out the noise that is in their house since our arrival
  • Grandmother-in-law insists My Youngest bring an envelope with him when we come (and fills it with cash)
  • Ex-husband talks about all the money he is making and how disgusted he is with girls who are attracted to his money
  • Mother-in-law is in the background scenes but is not part of the dialogue
Yes. These scenes-from-my-dream consist of an entire cast and crew from my ex-husband's family. Weird. Especially the part about my brother-in-law asking if I want to take the leftover McDonald's fries home with me and I tell him (after they fall all over the floor by the back door) that even I have my limits.

What is going on in my subconscious mind?!? I thought I was worried about bed bugs, our Senior Cat's health and my budget. 

I knew that my expanding waist line was on my mind. I'm so glad that it made it into my dream sequence. Oh, and my present day ultra-short haircut explains my wish for my sister-in-law to make me pretty. Now that I think of it, I have a wish that my Second Son would get a financial break to help their dreams along. Oh yes, then there is my long standing addiction to McDonald's. I guess a lot of it makes sense after all.

Oh, the complex trappings of our minds. It is a very tangled web in there. It is all intertwined and interconnected. 

Our emotions, reactions and longings come from a place deep inside of us. When I am find myself overreacting to life's small stuff, I can almost always (eventually) find my way to the source of my emotional breaking point. Whether it reflects something I don't like about myself or guilt or a combination of those and many other things, my answers are almost always within my own thought processes.

When I wake up out of a dream state, it starts my day with a weariness that I wish wasn't there. I like when my subconscious mind speaks to me. I just wish it would have done so long before my alarm went off... 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Life is a just a nursery rhyme ... until the plot starts to develop in your own back yard. Or in this case, in the home of someone that pops in and out of our home on a daily basis.

Unbeknownst to me (at the time) our saga (as far back as we know it) began on July 17th. One of my daycare charges had a whole bunch of 'mosquito bites'. They were in clusters. They concentrated on his exposed limbs on one side of his body but there were a few under his shirt and on the other side of him. 

As I investigated more closely, I thought it looked more like a rash than mosquito bites and immediately wondered what had happened in my care to make this happen. I religiously put sunscreen on the kids when we go outside. I use mosquito spray only as needed. I think that I had used the sunscreen/mosquito spray combo the day prior so when this mysterious rash appeared I designated it an inside day (until I could figure out what happened or the rash went away).

I went to my trusty Dr. Google. I keyed in the word 'rash' and consulted Google images. I was met with an array of skin conditions that made the rash that I was concerned about seem pretty minor. But I did see many pictures that resembled the rash that had enveloped my little boy. Each and every time I clicked on the image to find out what it was, the answer was the same. Bed bugs.

By the time my daycare charge was picked up, his rash had faded substantially and all that was left was just the faded, mysterious tell-tale signs of the rash that had been inflamed earlier in the day. I told the mom that I had googled her son's symptoms and that the image that most resembled what I had seen was bed bugs. I tossed the ball into her court. And that was that.

There were no more rashes that followed. Days went by. I went on holidays. Another week went by. He didn't come to daycare on Monday. And when he arrived on Tuesday, I heard the rest of their story.

There are bed bugs in their suite.

Both her and her son woke up on the weekend, completely covered with a rash. They went to the doctor. They were told that they had hives. She went home and lifted the sheets on her bed and found them. Bed bugs (insert visible shudder here).

They have infested her bed and she rarely sleeps there. She sleeps on her couch. But that night, they had both slept in her bed. So she is inclined to believe that they have not infested the whole living area. But she is/has been going through the entire cleansing process to rid their home of this nasty bug. 

I had the heebie jeebies after she left. She had assured me that everything that she had brought to daycare was clean. But I couldn't risk it. I enclosed the pull-ups in a zip-lock bag. I washed the entire contents of his bag (and what he was wearing) in hot water. I tossed his bag into the dryer on high for an hour. 

I then consulted Google once again to arm myself with information.  Don't go to Google if you are not prepared to be over-informed. I read case after case after case of people unable to get rid of bed bugs once they had them. In most of these cases they were trying to solve the problem without added costs or professionals or trying to be 'green'. But in many of the cases, they also talked of their distrust of the professionals out there and how this was a big money-making gimmick.

Apparently, it is not unusual for bed bug bites to be misdiagnosed by a doctor. There is no test that they can take to confirm that it is bed bugs. So they are often diagnosed as scabies. Or in my daycare family's case, hives. This made me feel very old and wise as I had correctly discerned that there was a possibility that his rash was indeed bed bugs. Of course I didn't want to be right and when all was well in the days that followed, I assumed I was wrong (I was just fine with that).

But the part of this story is what really and truly makes my skin crawl. In this family's desire to find out how this infestation began she recalled the events of (almost) a year ago. She was in contact with someone whose dad had bed bugs in his home. Could the bed bugs have entered her home at that time and gone unnoticed until they were this bad?? A year ago!??!

I checked our home for signs of infestation. I saw nothing. I didn't want to see anything. So I looked again this morning. Still nothing. 

I alerted the household to be aware of the possibility that bed bugs could be in our midst. Everyone else sleeps downstairs. I know bed bugs travel. They are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide. So one floor isn't immune from the next. 

You can bet that I will be calling a few exterminators today to find out some more information about how long it takes before these bugs leave evidence of their presence. But I find that I feel a little sceptical about the answers I may hear if they have the potential to profit from their response. 

I do not want to believe that our home could be infected. This is not the kind of surprise that I enjoy finding. 

In my years of daycare, I thought I had seen it all. Or certainly all I had wanted to see. Head lice, worms, fleas (on a stray cat that I babysat for a parent while they returned to work to go to a meeting) ... then there are all of the infectious diseases that have walked through our doors.

In almost every case (except for perhaps the fleas, when our cat caught fleas years and years after our home's exposure) these nasty little bugs didn't pass from one daycare child to another. It made me feel like I was doing something right (not sharing head gear, enforcing the washing-hands rule). 

Let me tell you ... I am seriously considering all non-fabric options at the moment. I have never been inclined to want a leather couch or hardwood floors. But suddenly I am looking around the house and all I see is 'hiding spots'. 

I wonder if there is a grant that could subsidize the cost of transitioning our household to a cold, sterile and highly scrub-able surface. Plus I would like to hire someone to do all of that scrubbing.

"Night, night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. If they do, take your shoe [(s) ... put them on ... and run for the hills!!] " It simply doesn't have the right ring to it. I'll work on it. 

I will stand by my previous conviction. No matter what happens in life, one can usually find a bright spot. After our flea infestation many years ago, this is the Christmas poem that I came up with which encapsulated a-very-bad-year:

Because Our Little Cat Scratched
You may not believe it,
but here's how it happened ...
One cold winters day,
our little cat scratched.
Because of that scratch,
we went to the vet.
Because of that vet,
we found our cat had fleas (we assume our dog too).
Because of those fleas,
I vacuumed every nook and cranny.
Because of that vacuuming,
I found black mold in my room.
Because of that mold,
I called the inspector.
Because the inspector got called,
he noticed our windows.
Because he checked out our windows,
he recommended replacement.
Because of his recommendation,
Our new windows got approved.
Because of our new windows,
I started painting.
Because I started painting,
I just couldn't stop.
Because I couldn't stop,
I painted everything outside, on our lot.
Because everything looked so new,
I started inviting.
Because I started inviting
we had many friends and family gather.
Because of those gatherings,
my heart swelled with joy.
And that started something I'll never forget
and as far as I know, it is going on yet.
And that's how it happened,
that's how it all hatched.
Because, just because ...
our little cat scratched.
(P.S. The 'inspector' mentioned is part of a wonderful, wonderful program which has
allowed us to get a lot of water drainage issues (our driveway, for one!), among other things
repaired)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just Another Ordinary Day

I woke up before the alarm this morning. I was in a semi-conscious state as I mapped out the day ahead of me. It is going to be a good day. I could feel it coming.

I made my bed and opened the door. Junior Cat laid in wait outside of my bedroom door. Senior Cat was at the other end of the hallway, poised in a position where he could keep his eye on the household, Junior Cat and my waking moments. Ahhh ... to be greeted first thing in the morning by two cats who know you, your routine and appreciate whatever bit of love you have to spare. I live a good life where life greets me in the morning and doesn't expect a lot from me.

I went through the paces of readying myself for the day.

I found an email in my inbox from a friend. I responded. I read the blogs that replenish me. I filled my coffee cup for the second time. Then I opened the blinds and welcomed the day. I am ready for this day and whatever it has to offer. I don't feel like this every morning. It tends to make me appreciate the days when I do (which have been plentiful lately).

I am awaiting a day that I assume will unfold pretty much according to plan.

Life can change in an instant but I live such an ordinary and predictable life, that I am not filled with anxiety nor do I live in fear of the unexpected. There have been times when I woke up with the feeling of a fist in my chest. Anxiety levels were high. I know the difference between then and now. I choose now. I wake up feeling an enormous amount of peace in my heart and soul.

Today holds promise of a visit with an out of town guest..

My uncle has decided to take me up on my offer to borrow my spare car (who would have ever guessed that I would have a spare car at my disposal?? Certainly not me!) during his visit back 'home'. His flight comes in around noon and I will have the pleasure of seeing him at the beginning and at the end of his holiday. It makes me think that I am being totally self serving in offering him a car. He is my dad's brother and has encouraged me every step of the way as I collected memories from their family to put together in the form of a book. I very much look forward to seeing him.

Today is going to be just another regular, ordinary day. With a twist.

Today I can anticipate the specialness of the day that has yet to unfold. Any other day holds endless possibilities which may or may not present themselves. The thing is, that if you look for it you can often find a small bit of wonder within any ordinary day.

Yesterday, my day began with my two year old daycare charge walking in the door saying my name. Over and over repeatedly. I was touched. I was even more amused when I realized that she was not saying my name. It turns out in her newly developing vocabulary "Colleen" and "coloring" sound pretty much the same. She wasn't saying my name after all! An unexpected smile ...

Yesterday, I chatted with a friend that I haven't spoken with for more months than I can remember. She is a breath of fresh air and sunshine every single time we speak. It doesn't matter how serious the topics are that we speak of, she speaks with love and passion and empathy which oozes out of her very being. She has had many challenges thrown her way and she comes out fighting and smiling and spreading goodness to those that she touches. We spoke of serious things yesterday, yet I was left feeling uplifted and inspired. What a gift ...

This morning started with an email that I received from another friend. A friend that most likely didn't have the time, energy or inclination to write. But she did. I've been worried about her and she took the time out of her very hectic life to send off a few words. I am gifted by friends that think more of others than they do themselves (perhaps more than they should?). Her words put my mind at rest but instilled a calmness and determination to keep in touch. Life gets too busy and keeping in touch becomes harder than it should be. And it shouldn't. This morning's gift was the realization that a few words can make a difference. It instilled my belief that if you are thinking of someone, you should follow through and let them know.

The days are filled with small blessings. We may need a magnifying glass some of those days but if you look hard enough you can often find a pebble of goodness within an avalanche of challenges.

May you find a nugget of pleasure to carry you through the day. Or better yet, offer a little of yourself to create that very same pleasure in the life of another. It is a double sided coin. It feels just as good (or better) to give than receive ...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just a Regular, Ordinary Weekend

It was a regular, ordinary weekend. Perhaps a little too much on the regular side but I appreciated it none-the-less.

Ordinary feels good after life has been shaken up a bit. Regular is a little on the predictable side but I enjoy knowing what to expect.

I ran errands. I relaxed. I worked. Pretty bland in the whole scheme of things. But I enjoyed every moment.

I should have accomplished more. But I accomplished enough. I will settle for 'enough' this week.

I spoke only to a handful of people. Perhaps less than a handful if I count only the people who live outside of our home. But I didn't have much to offer. I was not full of words or passion or anything worth sharing with the outside world. Three people were ... enough.

We revelled in our World of Cats within our home. I love the way our cats bring My Youngest and I together. We often sit on the floor with them and just watch their antics. I swear that our Junior Cat's mission in life is to make us laugh. I am equally certain that our Senior Cat enjoys playing on our guilt. Our Senior Cat snuggled up on me while I was lazing the hours away on the couch. And it felt good. It felt oh-so-good.

I seem to have less and less words sitting on the tip of my fingertips. I used to have a handful of people that I would email on a Saturday morning. This weekend? I responded to one email. I initiated another. But I didn't have an excess of words or thoughts. I hate when that happens. It seems to occur when I do not spend enough time sitting quietly with my own thoughts. In other words? I turned on the TV.

The TV invaded my weekend. It felt good at the time. Very good. I got caught up on a lot of sleep. And a lot of cat-love. But when I wake up on a Monday morning and realize just how little I nurtured my inner self when I plunked myself down in front of that television set, I'm a little disappointed in myself.

Sometimes we need a little down-time. My holiday was wonderful in every way. It felt good ... really good to get back to my job and life-as-I-know it. But sometimes ... just sometimes a person needs a little bit of dead space to replenish their resources.

TV does that to me. It deadens my spirit, my passion, my creativity and my soul. If I do only one thing this week, I should turn off the television. I think that I could be amazed at what I could accomplish if I did this one small thing.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You Know You Are in the Right Place When...

You know you are in the right place at the right time in your life ... if you are just as happy working as not working.

Maybe I'm still on a post-holiday high. Maybe it's because I have the ability to compare and contrast prior summer/fall combos to this one. But then again? Maybe it is because  I am exactly where I am meant to be right now.

Four summers ago was filled with hopes and dreams. I was winding down my daycare so that I could pursue an education and change my career path. The year of education was one of my best. I fulfilled all of my schooling obligations, I took care of a few kids before and after school. I did some bookkeeping out of my home. And I followed wherever my dreams took me ...

It was a year that I took advantage of my new found freedom from parenthood. My youngest had reached the age where he was starting to becoming less dependent on me and my Second Son stepped up to the plate and watched over him many times while I vacationed a little bit here, there and everywhere.

Three summers ago was probably one of my best summers. I had finished off my schooling a month ahead of schedule and the future looked bright. I was doing bookwork out of my home and could fit the work into my life whenever and however suited me best. I thought it was the beginning of the life I was after. It took a while for me to fall off of my cloud and I enjoyed the view while I was there. But in the end ... it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

This translated into the summer that followed. The summer of polishing up my resume and believing that I was capable of many new things. I tried several new things. Believing and succeeding don't always correlate. It was the beginning of a tough year.

Last summer at this time, I was just beginning my latest Life Renovation. I had researched my options and one year ago today ... I handed in my letter of resignation to my part-time summer job (that had become my tipping point). I started advertising the reopening of my daycare and two days later, I typed up and handed in a second letter of resignation to my (what I had hoped would be) my 'full-time' employment. I was off and raring to go.

This year has been ... calm. Oh. So. Calm. There has not been anything that has felt too big to overcome. It is a tiny bit scary to be in the precarious position of starting my daycare from scratch again. But lessons learned in the past are serving me very well. Looking backwards, I could not have hoped for a better year.

I have been back from my holidays one week. The phone is starting to ring once again with people looking for new daycare provisions. I have one spot that I would like to fill ... but if it doesn't happen, I am okay with that. Really okay.

What I love about these phone calls, is that each and every time I talk to a prospective new parent I hear myself talk about what I do, how I do it, why I do it ... and I like what I hear. I am not perfect. But I am doing what I am doing for all of the right reasons.

I missed my daycare family while I was gone. I was genuinely happy to see everyone walk through the door upon my return. I was calm. I was patient. Life felt completely right. And I was not on vacation. I was simply living my life.

You know you have a good life when each and every time you walk into your home, you are happy to be back. It doesn't matter how long I am gone. An hour. A day. A weekend. Or longer. Each and every time I drive up the driveway ... I am always glad to be home.

You know you are in the right job when coming back from a vacation doesn't feel like work. I am perhaps one of the lucky ones who simply has to wake up in the morning, open the blinds and unlock the door and my work comes to me. But this week? Work was life. I woke up. I lived my life. And I took care of a few children while I savored the bliss of simply being home, eating regular meals, resuming a schedule and taking in the great outdoors.

You know you are exactly where you are meant to be when all of the stars feel like they are aligned and living your life doesn't feel like a chore.

You know that you have travelled a good path when the lessons present challenges to overcome. Because if it wasn't for those challenges, you wouldn't appreciate where you are at. It is the contrasts in life that make the mundane full of wonder.

I would not appreciate where I am at, if I hadn't chose the various detours that it took to get here.

The sad part? To maintain this great amount of appreciation and peace, I will probably need more challenges tossed my way.

I know that this too shall pass away. But while I'm living the good life of feeling the awe of this simple wonder, I am going to appreciate every breathe I take while I am at this resting spot.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Simple Solutions

Sometimes the answers to what we seek are simply ... simple. We simply complicate matters by searching too hard.

Let me tell you (once again) about our cat...

Our Junior Cat joined our family two and a half months ago. He has had chronic diarrhea for pretty much the entirety of that period.

His previous owner alerted us to the problem and included a weeks supply of a heavy duty antibiotic home with him as part of the purchase price.

That didn't work. I called back and was advised to mix Metamucil  in with soft cat food and that should do the trick. I did that religiously. Still no improvement.

Eventually I took him to our vet and she agreed with everything his previous owner had suggested and offered to run a wide array of tests for a 'small' cost. After the results of those tests were in, then we would start to treat the problem. We chose to go for a heavy duty worm treatment instead.

Weeks went by and nothing changed.

Eventually I consulted Dr. Google and was dismayed to find the number of cats with this same problem. I found a forum where many cat owners were discussing the topic. They had tried a wide variety of things and in most cases their cats did not readily improve.

The one common denominator that I found within that discussion was the suggestion that diet was the root cause and to try this, that and the other brand of cat food. Since I had just bought an economy sized bag of (expensive) cat food that had come at the recommendation of Junior Cat's previous owner I thought that I would return to my small, local pet supply dealer and ask if they had any suggestions.

I talked to the Pet Expert in the store and told her our saga. Right down to the fact that our cat is high strung and so jumpy that we call him 'Scaredy Cat'.

She listened intently to everything that I told her. When I was done she offered her advise. She said that absolutely every thing that we have done to 'cure' our cat irritates the intestinal lining and promotes diarrhea. In search for a cure, we harmed him just as much as we helped him.

We were armed with the knowledge that he had been medically treated for anything that could have been physically causing his distress. The Metamucil? That was simply bad advise. It would only make matters worse. Not to mention that we were mixing it in with soft cat food which (in our cat's case) should be avoided.

Her advise? Feed him only the hard cat food that he had been accustomed to eating before he moved in with us. Make sure he has lots to drink. And wait. The poor guy's stomach had been in such an upheaval for the two months that he had lived with us that he probably just needed for things to settle down.

That was over two weeks ago.

It didn't happen over night. He still isn't 100% 'cured'. But he is at least 75% better than he was. And what did we do that was right? Nothing.

Imagine that. 'Nothing' was better than 'too much'. Letting our poor guy's body heal thyself was exactly what he needed the most.

How often do we do that to ourselves? Over think a situation and create something more than it really is?

How often have my best answers come to me by simply sitting back and finding my own answers within the quietness?

What if the solution becomes part of the problem? Maybe we need to slip into a state of neutral to figure out exactly what is going on. I am speaking of matters of the heart in an emotional sense here. Not matters of the heart in a physical sense ... which is entirely a different matter.

Sometimes ... just sometimes ... perhaps the answer lies in keeping it simple.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Connections

The power went out for two hours the other night. Two hours at the end of the day when all that I had hoped to accomplish was done. The two hour power outage felt like 'life' was forcing my hand. Making me sit still and enjoy the moment. It was good. Two hours was long enough.

Yesterday, our telephone, cable and Internet connections were down all day.

Thankfully we went for an early morning walk. I always forward my calls from our home phone number to my cell phone when we leave the house. It is just something that I have gotten into the habit of doing during my daycare hours.

By the time we returned home, all of our connections to the outside world had been severed. Except one. The ability to receive calls people made to my home phone number (and the ability to call out on my cell phone).

If the day is going sour, I often turn on the TV to act as a diversion. Yesterday? Nothing. So I turned on a movie. The kids don't like the "Cars" movie ...

Before nap time, we have a little couch-time ritual. We all sit and watch the "Berenstain Bears" together. We are quiet and still. It is a wonderful time of day. Yesterday? Nothing. We read four "Berenstain Bears" books instead. I had a captive audience of two (out of three). It was a good start to a new ritual.

During nap time, I always turn on the TV. The "Gilmore Girls" and I have a standing date from 2:00 to 3:00. After 3:00, the kids start waking up. It is a routine I know and love. Yesterday? Nothing. I washed a head of lettuce and grated cheese for our supper instead. Not quite as relaxing but it is amazing just how much I appreciated having that little job done and out of the way at the day's end.

I received three calls about my daycare openings. One sounded very promising. It could have been a perfect fit. But I guess I'll never know because they didn't show up to meet me last night. A second family is planning to call me back today (after waiting to see the outcome of last night's scheduled interview with the family that didn't show). I was outwardly relieved that I had accidentally forwarded all calls to my cell phone. That was a large sum of potential income that I stood to lose if I wasn't available to take calls.

It was not until after 5:00, that our connections to the outside world were restored.

The first thing that I did was check for emails. You would think that my life depended on knowing that I was open to receiving any and all emails as soon as they came in. One email awaited me. It was not important.

The second thing that I did, was turn on an episode of the "Berenstain Bears" upon the request of my last daycare charge as he waited for his mom to arrive. He had little to no interest in watching it. He wanted an excuse to bounce off of the couch and watching TV gave him that momentum.

I sat down at the computer and re-established my Internet connections. I had a few things to 'google'. Other than that? I really hadn't missed much by not feeling that tug to access the outside world during the day.

Hmmm...
  • An aborted attempt to disconnect from the outside world during my week-long sabbatical from 'life'
  • Three days of 'disconnection' during our holiday ... followed by two days of intense 'reconnection'
  • Two hours of powerlessness upon our return home
  • An entire business day without telephone, Internet or TV
Is the world trying to send me a message? Disconnect, Girl!! These TV, Internet and constant on-call connections are ruling your life!

Each and every time these connections were severed, I found more important things to do. I reconnected to the world around me in ways that didn't cost a penny but were rich in what they offered.

The wireless connections that we have within our world are ones that aren't fueled by a power source. And I'm not talking about WiFi or cell phones...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing

"The positive thing about writing is that you connect with yourself in the deepest way, 
and that's heaven. 
You get a chance to know who you are, 
to know what you think. 
You begin to have a relationship with your mind."
~ Natalie Goldberg

This ... is why I write.

The Vacation Haze is Lifting

The grass doesn't stop growing just because you don't look at it. The weeds don't stop reproducing simply because you pick them. Once. Neither the grass nor the weeds stop inching up along the fence, garage and sandbox due to your lack of time to trim them. Believe me. I know these things. Because all of the above was boldly glaring in my face the minute I looked up out of my Vacation Haze yesterday.

I vaguely remember the words 'trim grass' on a list that I made for myself in the days before we left on our vacation. I vividly remember deciding that a spur of the moment trip to have coffee with My Sister took priority. And the motion sickness that followed that little trip put me (a little bit) out of commission the next morning. Moving slowly and steadily towards my (eventual) goal of getting ourselves to our holiday destination that day was much more important than a shaggy looking yard.

I hired someone to spray the yard for weeds. Unfortunately that didn't happen soon enough. The weeds look like they have been taking steroids. They are muscling their way through the grass and taking over the lawn. I see no sign of weakening. Perhaps it rained too soon after the lawn was treated. Maybe the weeds were to tall for the weed killer to reach the roots. I believe that those weeds are singing in harmony to the tune of "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"!

My Son did mow the lawn before we left on vacation (the day before we left). Add on the day after we got home and that equals seven days. How dare the lawn grow so much in one week! I was on vacation. Why couldn't the grass take a week off too?

My dreams of coming home and cleaning up my Book Project one-chapter-at-a-time at a rate of one-chapter-per-day is laughable. Life takes over. The lawn isn't the only thing that gets away on you when you aren't looking.

I am quickly realizing exactly why this Book Project has been put on a back shelf for so long. Life is time consuming. Little things fit into the cracks of the day and fill it up.

I wouldn't have it any other way ...

P.S. Now, if only my new hair cut would grow as fast as the lawn. Man! It's short. Really short. Maybe if I stand out in the sunshine and the rain and withstand all of the elements that nature throws my way, I'll need another haircut and trim in a week. And grey-spray too. The grey hairs are taking over my hair like the weeds are taking over the lawn.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Home Again! Home Again!!

Be it ever so humble ... I am so glad to be back!

It was a nice, gentle return to earth (at least so far it has been). Before we left home, I had done as much as I possibly could have done to prepare for the return to reality.

Unpacking was easy. One load of laundry was all it took to get caught up. I needed to run out and get a few groceries. I had one phone call to return. Just one!!

The cat hair had been flying in our absence so I had to vacuum up 'a cat' and do a small amount of housekeeping.

I finished cleaning the cat litter and the dryer went off just as that job was done. A millisecond later the power went out. For two hours.

The timing was impeccable.

I folded laundry by the remaining light of day. I got ready for bed. My Son showered (with our own soap and shampoo) and crawled into freshly clean clothes.

Then we sat down in the middle of the living room and enjoyed Our Cats.

I think that we may have missed them more than they missed us. But I could be wrong. You never quite know with a cat.

Junior Cat accidentally purred out loud when I greeted him with a good head and ear massage. Senior Cat curled up in my arms and purred with little prodding. But that was within moments of walking in the door. Three hours later? It was as if we had never been gone.

But it felt good to us.

To be back home. Life back in order and ready to go. And all nestled in with our little furry friends. It just doesn't get any better than that ...