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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Big Kitties

It's official: we no longer have wee kittens. They have both grown so much since they became part of our family four months ago!

They've gone from this:
Snuggly sweeties napping in their favorite spot
 To this:

Hey, can you get this big guy to scootch over? Kinda crowded up here.

They still love the top shelf of the cat condo and hang out there much of the time. But it isn't quite the roomy fit that it once was. They have certainly grown!

They are archetypally curious cats. Very little escapes their notice. They have decided that my work space is fascinating. (Well it is! Wires and beads to bat around, fabric to hide in, thread to tangle, mom's busy hands to bat at... a cat's paradise!)

Earlier this week, I set up my "light box" (very DIY repurposed diaper wipes box) and they had to check it out.

This would be one reason I'm not getting as much work done as I might...

It used to be that I could just move something up if I didn't want the cats to get into it. I've had enough experience with childproofing over the past 7 years that this was almost second-nature. But I was working with an outmoded paradigm -- our elderly cats were not much for jumping, so moving something up would both child-proof and cat-proof it. Well, these guys are full-on leapers. They can now get to every high place in the house. Including the shelf above the front door:

This means that every open area in the house is fair game for cat exploration. You can imagine what the cabinets and closets are starting to look like. (They haven't figured out how to open up doors. Yet.)

Shelly is the more skillful and adventurous climber and jumper. She has been the first to figure out how to access all these tempting spots. Stormy will be on the floor, watching her get up there and meowing at her as if to say, "How did you do that?" He eventually figures it out for himself, but he's more likely to knock stuff down in the process. This has led to a sharp increase in number of messes that I have to clean up lately. (At least those glass bottles have long been glued to the shelf with earthquake putty, so they aren't going anywhere.)

But for all the annoyance factor of kitties testing gravity and exploring everywhere, they are awfully sweet and we adore them.

Bath time!
Hey, do you mind? You interrupted our bath time.

We have a running joke that Stormy's tongue is too long to fit in his mouth. He often sticks out just the tip, as though he's tasting the world.

Ok, this is more than just the tip of his tongue, but still pretty cute.

They have, predictably, obtained many nicknames. Shelly is: Speckle (for the random spots that have appeared in her coat), Shelly-Belly, Shelly-Welly, Little Miss Mischief, and Ramona (after the mischievous character of the Beverly Cleary books that are among Benji's favorites right now). Stormy is: Picky-Picky (Ramona's cat), Bat Head, Stormy-Wormy, Stripes (for the stripes in his undercoat), and Leroy (because it suits him).

And don't get me started on the turf war that under way in the kitchen. We're attempting to train the cats to stay off the counter tops. Excuse me while I go get Shelly down. Again.

Mystery Solved

In the kids' playroom, we have a pretend market stand. It's a cute little piece that we got from the thrift store a few years back. For the past few weeks, I kept having to fix the fabric at the top where it had been all pushed up and pulled down.

I'd ask the kids: what are you doing to this fabric? Why does it keep ending up like this? They claimed no knowledge of the situation. So I'd smooth it out.

And soon after, it would be messed up again.

This cycle repeated itself for a few weeks. I admit it: when I'm not feeling well, little annoyances like this bother me much more than they should. (I'm happy to share that the antibiotics did their work this week, and I'm feeling worlds better.) I was getting pretty frustrated.

Then, I went into the playroom and found this:

Mystery solved.

Who knew that the top of the market stand made a great cat hammock?

If a precarious one... I now see why I didn't find Stormy up there sooner. It seems he'd get up there, relax for a bit, then the back would start to fall down, and he'd have to jump out.

I'd then come in and see it messed up and fix it. And he'd get right back up there until his weight pulled it down again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So far, I've only seen him up there -- his sister seems to have no interest in the awesomeness that is the cat hammock. It's probably only a matter of time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Five Rough Weeks

We've definitely hit a rough patch over here -- as evidenced, among other things, by my infrequent posts at the blog. Five weeks ago yesterday, I threw out my back, and while my back is doing much better now, it seems like it has been one thing and another ever since. Kids got sick, I got sick, seasonal allergies have been really bad... a few days ago my right shoulder started acting up... and I've just generally not felt like myself. Bleah!

While I'd gotten to feeling a bit better on Friday and Saturday, I went to bed at 8 p.m. last night, just dead tired and feeling strange. Low grade fever and feeling badly in my chest, mostly on the right side. I worried about it and hoped it would pass and decided to just try to sleep it off.  By this morning the fever was gone and I felt a little better but still not normal. S basically insisted that I call the Kaiser nurse line, and of course they said they wanted me to come in and be seen. 

After hearing about the chest pain and breathing difficulties I'd been having, my doctor ordered an EKG. (I love how easy it is at Kaiser: she ordered the test, I walked down the hall to have it done, and a short time later I was back in her room discussing the results with her.) Happily, it came back normal -- "just beautiful," she said, when she showed me the printout of the results. So that's a relief. It turns out I have a raging sinus infection, enlarged lymph nodes, fluid in my ears, and probably a pinched nerve in my shoulder. Double bleah.

As I was relating the unfortunate series of events during the past five weeks, I jokingly commented that I didn't know if it was all related or not, but figured I should give her all the details just in case. She said it's likely that the inflammation which resulted when my disc issues acted up also played havoc with my immunity, making it more likely that I'd get sick, and also making it more likely that I'd have trouble fighting things off. She noted a bunch of knots of muscle in my shoulder, which she said may well be pinching a nerve, which could explain the chest pain last night. She said it should resolve (time for a massage, methinks!) and sent me home with antibiotics.

Thank heavens for antibiotics. She said I should be feeling much better in 48 hours. I'm looking forward to that.

Filoli with Auntie L

BB and I had a lovely outing with Auntie L on Saturday. We spent the morning at Filoli Gardens-- very appropriate for Earth Day weekend, don't you think?
 The wisteria was fabulous. There were pansies in pots almost everywhere. (Mom, you would have loved it! And every time we saw pansies, BB mentioned that they were your favorite flower.)

 The gardens are really stunning. It was the first time we'd been (L is a member) and though I'd heard it was very pretty, you really have to see it to believe it. Reminded me a lot of Longwood Gardens, of which I have very fond memories from my childhood visits. (Wonder if Filoli does any holiday lighting or displays? Will have to check that out -- definitely one of my favorite things about Longwood!)
 The tulips were in glorious bloom. BB was very impressed.
 The irises looked beautiful too! (My favorite flower, so I'm partial.)
 BB loved the little garden house where they had a bird cage.
 The house was magnificent, too! I didn't take many pics inside, because by that time BB was getting a little tired.

 She liked the ballroom, though, and wanted to pose with Auntie L next to the enormous fireplace.
 I loved the library, myself!
 And I just had to get a picture of this amazing needlepoint screen. It is as tall as a person (hard to tell from the photograph) and really stunning.
It is in a Louis XIV gilt frame, and the needlepoint is courtesy of the "Tuesday Stitchers" of the San Mateo County Assistance League, dated from 1982.

I'm definitely looking forward to going back to Filoli sometime soon!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Not Much of a Break

So that was spring break.... BJ was home all last week and returned to school today. I had all sorts of plans and hopes for how we'd spend our days. I find I really miss one-on-one time with my boy since he's gone to school. I wanted to let him choose some fun things to do -- maybe we'd do some reading, try out some of his new science kits, break out the microscope that he got for Christmas.

Unfortunately, since BB and I were sick with a nasty cold all week, none of these things happened. (That pic was taken last month during one of his furlough days from school --furloughs are a regrettable side-effect of the budgetary woes in California, but at least for one of those days we got good mom-and-kid time.) Between the pouring rain and the snorkiness that kept BB home from preschool, we didn't do much beyond just hang out and try to get through the days. Way more screen time than I would usually approve of, and more bickering than I like to see. Sigh.

Now he's back at school and BB and I are feeling better. (Though allergies seem to have hit, replacing the viral indignities with a non-contagious variation on the sniffle/cough theme.) It wasn't much of a break, and I have to say that I'm glad it's over.

Here's to health and a happier week to come!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Bunny Meets Tooth Fairy?

Easter Eve was an interesting time in the Mama's Magic household, because our apartment was visited by not one but TWO childhood icons: both the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy!

BB had lost her first tooth earlier in the day (which caused great excitement, let me tell you).
It was her lower right front tooth -- she's holding it in her hand, though it is hard to tell -- and it had been loose all week. She feels like such a BIG GIRL now! The one next to it is loose too, so I'm thinking it will only be a matter of time before the tooth fairy is back...

Happily, I was able to whip up a tooth pillow from the fabrics on hand -- both the kids helped with that project.
BB ran the foot pedal on the sewing machine, and BJ liked helping to stuff the pillow. Here's BB showing off the finished pillow:

Later that afternoon, we dyed Easter eggs.

Unfortunately, thanks to the usual anticipation of the Easter Bunny added to BB's excitement about the Tooth Fairy, the kids found it almost impossible to sleep. BJ came into our bedroom at 1:30 a.m. with his hands full of eggs, exclaiming, "Mom! Dad! The Easter Bunny Came!!!"


We sent them back to bed, acknowledged BB's thrilled explanations about the coins left by the Tooth Fairy, and told them not to come back to our room until 6 a.m. or later. They proceeded to talked and stay up in their room until about 4:30 a.m., when a very tired S marched down the hall to insist that they GO BACK TO SLEEP.

Cheerful parents this does not create.

We did our best to put a smiling face on our exhaustion when they came in shortly after 6:00. Here's BB with the coins she received: three quarters, a euro, and a Sacajawea dollar coin.

The tooth fairy also left heart kisses for each of the kids -- inside plastic easter eggs. (Too cute, eh?)

Mama got smart this year -- I had the kids help me write a note to the Easter Bunny asking not to hide the dyed eggs. (Kittens are a little too fond of Egg Hockey for it to be a good idea.) And whaddyaknow but the Easter Bunny complied quite graciously, hiding only the plastic eggs!

And after hearing the kids wonder all day Saturday what might happen if the Easter Bunny ran into the Tooth Fairy, is it any wonder that some of the Easter Eggs contained a few coins?

Clearly the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy work quite nicely together. (Now if they'd just left some instant nap powder in with the other treats! Thankfully, S and I were able to trade naps a bit to get some more sleep.)

Hope your holidays were equally magical!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Riding Around

Now that BB has gotten so good at riding her two wheeler (no training wheels, Mom!) we have some new daily habits. She loves to ride around campus, and in the past week we've gone out almost every morning that she's been home.
We've really been enjoying the lovely spring weather and exploring the campus. Good for me to be out walking, too -- definitely helping the back (which is much, much better, thanks, but not yet 100%).

BB also has her favorite spots to visit -- the fountain, the statues, the "window," and the flowers are most popular at the moment. I finally remembered to bring along the camera so I could get some pics! Here she is in the "window," enjoying the view (and the climb up):

We always visit the pansies and think of Giki!
We finally got her a new helmet, since she'd outgrown the old one (it had to really be jammed on her head to get it on; no fun) and it's pretty clear she's also ready for a new bike. Though for the time being, she's zipping along just fine!