Friday, February 27, 2009

Summer Weather

Molly and I went swimming on February 26! The temperatures were in the upper 80s, so we decided to check out the pool. Molly loved the water even though it was very cold. She kept wanting to climb in and out and then run around on the deck. She loved splashing and throwing her rubber ducky and hippo into the water. After 30+ minutes I was exhausted. I put her into the stroller, and she was very upset to be leaving so soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good-bye Kit Kat

Our kitty died yesterday. The house seems empty knowing he's not curled up on the bed like he normally is this time of day. Molly is napping, Ryan is at work, and I am melancholy. We've had Kit Kat since August 2003. He was a stray that I convinced Ryan to allow us to keep. He was very spunky and a little bit naughty. To get attention, he liked to go outside of Molly's bedroom as she slept and meow as loudly as possible! He acted a lot like a dog, following us around the house, and greeting visitors at the door. He was quite athletic, sprinting around the house and begging to be chased. Even on Friday night, he was acting like himself, wanting to play with some kids that were over and running around. If you want to read what happened to him read on, but it is pretty sad!

We had no indication that there was anything wrong with him until Saturday morning. The morning started out fairly normally, but a short while after waking, he came into Molly's room where we were all playing and curled up on the pillow. Ryan and I immediately noticed that he looked sickly. His third eye lid was showing, and he seemed lethargic. I guess it was mostly intuition that told us that something was very wrong. Ryan took him right away to a vet. They wanted to keep him all day, run tests, and give him an IV because he was dehydrated. The tests all came back inconclusive. They sent us home with some high calorie food and an antibiotic just because they had nothing else to try.

When he returned home he seemed almost normal. He walked around checking the place out and meowing. He hungrily ate the new food. He gradually got worse throughout the evening. His breathing became very shallow and quick. Around midnight he had no balance and didn't seem to see very well. We just tried to keep him laying down. We felt like he could pass away at any time, and we wished for that because he seemed so incapacitated. I finally convinced Ryan to try to sleep for a short time. We thought maybe he would peacefully pass away if we were sleeping. Ryan awoke a short time later noticing that Kit Kat had climbed over him and fallen to the floor. We knew that we couldn't go back to sleep and leave him unattended. We decided to take him to an emergency vet and have him put to sleep.

We woke up Molly after deliberating whether to wake her or a friend to come watch her. After the vet did a quick exam, she surmised that he had some kind of brain problem- an infection, tumor or stroke- because only one of his pupils was dilating. We decided to leave him there for a few hours and let them give him some injections of antibiotics to rule out the possibility of an infection.

When she called back in the morning, Kit Kat had stopped moving at all and was not maintaining his temperature. Ryan returned to the vet to say good-bye and have him euthanized.

We all then went to my parents' to bury him. It was a breezy, sunny Sunday morning. We dug a grave for him next to the barn. A short while after mounding the dirt over him we noticed a couple small birds dancing around on his grave and flying around the area. He would have loved to watch and chase those birdies.

I am missing him very much today. I miss him whenever Molly brushes her teeth because we would let him drink from the faucet. I'll miss it when the afternoon is warm, and he won't run to sit in the window after I open it. I missed him sleeping against my legs last night and sitting on Ryan's legs as we watched TV last night. We are thankful for our good kitty and his adventurous life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Living in America

I just recently started volunteering with a family of Iraqi refugees. I am a mentor, which means that I'm supposed to help them get acclimated to American life. They have a case manager that helps with things like jobs and food stamp applications, but I'm available to help them with their English and learn to get around. They get government assistance for a couple months, but after that they'll need to be completely self-sufficient. The husband and wife were both teachers in Iraq, and he cut hair for awhile. It is difficult because they need to be licensed for those things here, and their credentials don't transfer. They need to get an entry level job, and then acquire more education or training later.

I met them last week when the volunteer coordinator took Molly and me to their apartment. They were very welcoming, and we began communicating somewhat ackwardly because of the lack of common language. After awhile, it occurred to me that the woman might wear a veil outside of the home. I asked her about it. She told me that yes, she was a Muslim, and she covered her head. I surmised that she had looked through the peephole, and saw two women standing outside. She allowed us in without putting on her veil because she is allowed to be uncovered among other women and her own husband. Because appearance is somewhat important in first impressions, it is a weird feeling to get to know someone looking one way but knowing that her appearance would be much different when we go out in public or if Ryan accompanies me to their home.

Yesterday we ventured out to the grocery store. Usually the husband rides his bike to the store, so the wife (who I'll call Tina to protect her privacy) gets little opportunity to shop. They have no car, and no car seat for their preschool aged son. (They also have a daughter in school.) I'm not sure what the carseat rules are for older children, so because my mom was watching Molly, I just turned her seat around to face forward, and strapped the boy into her seat. When we were at the store, Tina noticed some spices in bottles. She was trying to find a particular one that her husband had purchased with which she was not familiar. I told her that when we returned home she could show me, and I could help her with it.

Tina's husband had recently shopped, so we mostly browsed. I helped her get some Valentine cards for her daughter to pass out at school. She had absolutely no idea and this, and I did not want her to be left out. The daughter knows little English, too, and may not have known that the kids would be passing out cards. I also bought some things to make guacamole. I wanted her to be familiar with some of the produce (limes, avocados, tomatoes) that are prevalant here (and inexpensive), especially at the discount grocery stores in their mostly Hispanic part of town.

When we returned home, she showed me the spice bottle. It contained MSG. Nothing else; only MSG. I had no idea how to communicate what MSG is in very simple English. I just told her that it was a chemical, and that it was bad! I did not want her to pour it on foods she was giving to her family!

She also showed me a note that had been left on her door. She had no idea what it said. It was a carbon copy and was difficult for me to decipher. I figured out that they had left a bag of trash outside their apartment for a short time. This was a note warning that a violation had occurred. It has to be indimidating to live in a foreign country like this. There is only one other Iraqi family in the apartment complex where they live. I'm excited to help make their transition here easier!

Early Riser

I am not a morning person. Ryan and my parents all agree on this! I wouldn't normally be a really late riser, but 7:30 or 8 is much more my preference than 6 am! Molly, however, wakes up consistently around 6-6:30. I hate the first ten minutes or so, but I'm coming to appreciate the morning. I'm glad that Molly gets to see her daddy before he goes to work. Another great payoff of her early wake up time is that she still takes two good naps (about two hours each), and she goes to bed at 7-7:30!

We have a little routine in the morning. When he first hears her, Ryan runs to her room to get her up. He then brings her into our bed where we snuggle, and she nurses. She then looks for interesting things, like pens, cell phones and cups, near our bed and on the nightstand. After retrieving these things from her, she hurries out to the living room to play with her daddy. If I tarry too long in bed, which I consistently do, she comes back in to get me up. Then it's time for a diaper change and breakfast.

Molly is becoming a great helper at mealtimes. She likes to carry things to the table, like the salt and pepper shakers. She's pretty good at holding them upright. She just started wanting to help push in our chairs when we get up from the table.

I tried to get Molly to take her nap a little while ago, but shortly after putting her in the crib, the Fed Ex man pounded on the door. One of Molly's Valentine gifts was arriving. So, she was up for awhile after that. I'll post a picture tomorrow of Molly with her Valentine's Day treats- I'm sure they'll be numerous!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Just today we noticed that Molly started bowing her head when we pray together. At breakfast, I said a short two or three sentence prayer while Molly sat in her high chair alongside Ryan and me. When I said, "Amen!" I looked over at her. She raised her bowed head, brought the fingers of both hands together (sign language for "more") and said, "More!" I smiled, and then said another short prayer, again ending with an Amen. She repeated her request for more prayer. Ryan and I giggled because it was so cute that she wanted me to pray longer. Finally, my last few inquiries to God satisfied her, and she was ready to eat!