Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dearest Finnegan

I am glad that you enjoyed your escape yesterday. I am sure the Adrenalin from darting out the yard unnoticed gave you quite a boost.  We really should get that gate fixed.  As you know Husband has spent a lot of time fixing that gate and a bear/raccoon/skunk/Hurricane Irene keeps knocking it over.

I am sorry that it took so long for me to notice you were gone. I was in the midst of making three different dinners, watching an Oprah re-run, dealing with my work email and making my Scrabble moves on Facebook. You can see I had a lot on my hands. 

I must admit that I did not think you would go far.  I have always bragged that you were "not a runner" as was my childhood beagle who would run as fast and as far as she could to avoid detection.  I started to doubt my judgement of you as I ran through the neighbourhood yelling like a crazy woman the one word that always makes you return to us:

TREAT!!!!

I was of course not really worried that you would run away forever, I know you know you have a good gig here, being a co sleeper in the matrimonial bed and having as many walks and cuddles as a puppy could want. I was worried about cars/bears/raccoons/skunks/Hurricane Irene getting to you before I could.

I will say that when we received the phone call that you were safe, we were so relieved. And I believe Husband finally agreed your $20 name tag with our phone number was worth the price.

I commend you for finding the one backyard in the whole town that contained the only two eight years olds who don't yet have a dog but desperately want one.  You could not have possibly been more doted on.  You are to be commended for escaping capture for so long.  They did not know a 1 year old Maltese mix could run circles around a backyard that fast.  I bet you did not expect that they would want to keep you.  Thank goodness for a common sense Mom who not only called us but suggested the girls walk you before they brought you home.

Welcome back.  And I think this is an excellent time to tell you that we have a two and a half hour private session with a no nonsense dog trainer tonight.  The holiday is over. We at taking back da house.

xo. Mommy

Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Picture

It has been three months since I lost my Mom. Life is okay. 
 
I even felt brave enough to look at pictures of my Mom again. I wanted to get some prints or photobook made. Some for my kids. Some for my Dad and some for me.  I had looked at the pictures extensively those first few days to make a slide show for the memorial service.  It was hard at first, but I did find it therapeutic reliving all the special moments. But I have not felt much up to looking at pictures since.   

So recently I started looking at pictures again. It was okay, I was doing fine. Then I came across a picture of Sydney and my parents. It was at a party I held for Sydney's preschool graduation.  By "party" I mean inviting the grandparents over and make a fuss over Sydney since she went to a very lame preschool that did not have a full on graduation ceremony as Jackson's had - rented hall, walk across the stage - and my mother guilt meant we could not do NOTHING for such an important milestone when Jackson had it all, including a graduation photo in cap and gown.  Anyway in this picture Sydney was thanking my parents for a little gift.  I cropped out my Dad (sorry Dad) as I thought it might make a good one in a collage.  

And once I did I was stunned by the picture that remained.  It is hardly a Pulitzer prize-winning photo. It is grainy.  There is light coming in from behind which gives it an ethereal quality and makes it even more breathtaking. The look on my Mom's face shows the kind of Oma she was and how much she enjoyed her grandchildren. And part of the reason that I miss her so much:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Year.

A lot has happened in the last year. It was one year ago that I got a call from Husband that my Dad was headed to the ER because he had forgotten his PIN number at Safeway. (See here is you want to relive the ordeal in detail.)

The result was a clot on his brain and we had to wait, watch him deteriorate and then hope after surgery he would come back to us.

It was a scary time for all of us.  I remember talking to Dad just before surgery asking him about the finances.  Were there any bills due? In a moment of clarity he knew what I was asking.  He told me where I would find a file with all the the important financial stuff.  He knew he might not come back.

But come back he did.  While the hospital wanted to enroll him in a stroke rehabilitation programme to "help him get back as much as he can", he walked out of the hospital on his own steam and never looked back.  He works out much more than I do and to my annoyance is still better at crossword puzzles than I am.

But what I am thinking about today, is how much time I spent with my Mom that week and how scared she was.   We both were. I spent a few nights staying with her at the house.  She told me the house never felt so big and so empty as the nights she spent there while Dad was in the hospital.  Though she didn't let on at the time, contemplating the idea of losing Dad, or even losing part of him, was hard to manage. It was something we did not dwell on.

Mom was on chemo at the time, but fortunately on her 'off week' between cycles when the really scary stuff happened.  But she was tired due to the three month build up of chemo toxins in her blood and she could not tolerate long days at the hospital.  So my brothers and I took turns sitting with my Dad. That was the only time she would go home and rest as she did not want Dad to be alone at the hospital. 

It was one of the first times in my life that I felt I was truly of service to my Mom. In addition to overseeing my Dad's care, I went with her to her oncologist appointment and made sure she had everything she needed while she received chemo. 

While she had chemo in one wing of the hospital, my Dad, who was well into his post surgery recovery, was giving the nurses a hard time in another.  I shuttled between them.  Making sure my Mom had a warm blanket on her chemo chair. Then running upstairs to take Dad a walk few laps around the nurses' station so he could regain his strength and balance. Back to check on Mom and then upstairs to the neuro ward, hoping to time my arrival with one of the random visits of the neurosurgeon.

I thought at the time: this is what it is like to have aging parents.  I guess I won't ever really know what that is like.  Now, a year later, Dad is with us. And Mom is not. And I don't think this will ever feel normal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dear Finnegan,

Happy birthday! You have survived one year on planet earth and about nine months in our custody.  I hope you enjoyed your presents as much as we enjoyed giving them:

However, now that you are no longer a puppy, I must issue a cease-and-desist order for the following behaviours:

1. Devouring pencils as fast as a wood chipper leaving remnants everywhere.  Have you not seen how little we like to vacuum?  I cannot believe we have not heard the words "bowel" "obstruction" and "$2000" in the same sentence yet.

2. Digging.  Especially in our bed.  What do you think you are going to find there, anyway?

3. Barking at your nemesis dog, who I grant you does seem to egg you on. I believe I speak for everyone living within a 10 block radius when I say: give it up. I do not know what you two are up to, but it will not be resolved by a bark-off.  I propose a game of rock paper scissors.

4. Treating the kitchen table as your own personal buffet/staging area. I realize that toast crusts are often left there and they will go to waste if you don't eat them.  And that you have a much better chance of seeing nemesis dog from up on the kitchen table.  But it is considered poor canine form. That also goes for napping on the table even if Sydney leaves a hoodie there now and again.
5. Jumping up on people who come to the door.  While I heartily agree that the jumping up may slow down the stream of Jehovah's Witnesses to a trickle.  They come to the door and do not feel at all deterred by the "no soliciting" sign I put on the door for them especially.  Even if they insist on coming not to solicit but to "invite" "share" "discuss" and "show", I think on balance the play dates are really going to dry up if you cannot stop pulling on the girl's pony tails and hanging off the boys' hoodies.

Your bad habits notwithstanding, I commend you for melting our hearts daily.   Your general adorableness, playful nature, happy disposition and extreme enjoyment of belly scratches more than make up for your failings. Here's to many, many, many more years!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alaska. Or Bust.

Gorgeous view of Mount Baker.
We saw wildlife:
Amazing how friendly Alaskan bears are.
Here, they just want to eat our garbage.
Ketchikan
Not too much to see there, but we turned souvenir hunting to a fine art.
A couple acquisitions.
In Juneau the thing-to-do is take a tram up Mt. Roberts.
We thought this would be a lovely family outing, until we discovered
it would be almost $100. And it was cold, rainy, wet and foggy and we
were not sure we would see anything when we got up there.
One of our party was more than a trifle obnoxious obstinate
impossible uncivilized and we did not feel like subjecting ourselves
to that much vitriol up in the air and pay for the pleasure.

But then the other of our progeny INSISTED on going up and
was willing to pay the whole shebang from her allowance.
So Husband and I hemmed and hawed whether we would rather:
A.) Go up a wet, damp and cold mountain to look into fog bank or
B.) go back to ship with a certain unnamed boy
(whose initials are J-A-C-K-S-O-N)
who had been banned from the only thing he considered
acceptable entertainment (his Nintendo DS). His reaction was
a constant stream of griping, punctuated only by temper tantrums.
I ended up on ship duty and pretty sure Husband owes me a drink.
He caught this picture:
Skagway was hands down my favourite stop. First of all,
it is unbelievably pretty:
Second, it wasn't raining:
Third, Husband found a playground and they played forever:
Fourth,  everyone was civil and smiling (including me):
The other exciting thing on Alaskan cruise is the glacier.
Green water. Hunks of ice:
It was kind of chilly so we found home base in the ship and
took turns going outside to snap pictures:
Most of the rest of the trip, was spent looking at water and trying to
decide where to have dinner and what to order.
Oh, and I got my pic taken with the grande Dame of Alaska.
Who knew she would hang out at Alaskan souvenir stores!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cruisin'

We had a week away in late July.  A cruise to Alaska.  We have cruised before, but not in 4 years. We found a great last minute deal. We paid for an 'obstructed porthole' and could not believe our luck when we were 'up'graded to an unobstructed porthole.

What they don't advertise is that the portholes are on the bottom floor of the ship. Which is perilously close to all the really noisy bits of the inner workings of the ship.  They also neglect to tell you that when you are on the bottom floor, they skip some optional cabin amenities.

Like proper mattresses.  We had two beds that were the approximate texture and feel of ironing boards.  And the other two were as soggy as that old couch that has been in your parents basement for three decades.

Also omitted was wall insulation.  It was pretty much like being in a curtained cubicle in an ER.  We not only could intercept conversations without a wiretap, we could hear our neighbour's TV, hear them sing, sneeze, burp, and in one case fart. I really wish I was exaggerating about that last bit. Jackson and I were also treated to the ecstasy of a couple TWO cabins away enjoying a mid-ocean-mid-afternoon-romp-in-the-hay.  Thank goodness the boy was absorbed in his Pokemon game on his Nintendo DS to ask too many questions.

But we did not make a bed all week,  Well, as Jackson pointed out,  we actually don't do that at home but our beds were actually made. Plus we did not have to make three different meals three times a day. Gotta love buffets!

Here are a few photos of our shipboard experience. (more photos on what we actually saw in next blog entry).
Bon Voyage from Seattle:  
Porthole
(unobstructed!):
Water slides were how we chose this ship.
Unfortunately, when you weigh 55 pounds or less, as our kids do,
you actually have to walk down the last halfof the slide.
Hot tub on the ocean. What is better than this???
I'll tell you what is better:
One guess who was first in line?
Yum!
Okay, she had company:
Our wall-to-wall-to-ceiling family bed:
Jackson said the best thing about the trip was seeing the nightly towel animal:
So of course we attended a demonstration:
And as irrefutable evidence that cruise ships can make money out of anything,
we also own a DVD on how to make them.
Movietime in the cabin:
Pretty as a picture: