Thursday, November 25, 2010

You wanna piece o’ me(at)?! - a turkey and a baby duke it out

Turkey1Little Miss was only two weeks old here. Turkey, 26 lbs. Baby, not quite 6 lbs. 
“I’m not taking on something four times my size - are you kidding me? Maybe next year.”

 

 Turkey2
At just over a year old. Turkey, 24 lbs. Baby, 20 lbs.
“Err…not quite. Man, this is humiliating!”

 

Turkey3
Two weeks after second birthday. Turkey, 13 lbs (and cooked – she was napping when it was ready to go into the oven so we missed the photo op). Baby, 27 lbs.
“A-ha! Look who’s tiny now, sucker!”

 

* * *

Hope you had a wonderful, coma-inducing feast with your family and/or friends. Tomorrow: Operation Black Friday. Woot! Do you get into the frenzy too? Any good deals I should know about? Any I’ve missed?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Will you have coffee with me? I have news...

To find out more about this wonderful Virtual Coffee series, please go here:

 join me for coffee!


If we were having coffee today…

I’d be a little breathless from my hectic week as I breathe a sigh of relief and plop myself across from you at our favorite neighborhood coffeehouse with a mug of hot caramel latte in my hands (because Pumpkin Spice is so last month). With my dog’s eye surgery last week, from which she’s slowly recovering, we have a post-op appointment this week, and canceled Thanksgiving plans where we were supposed to travel eight hours to join my best friend for the holiday. Instead we decided to prepare a feast for just the three of us in our home. No fuss, no stress. A 13lb turkey is sitting in our fridge as we speak, and you’d see my eyes light up as I describe how delightful it would be for me to spend the day in the kitchen this Thursday.

Between the grocery shopping, menu planning, the dog’s vet appointment and of course working full time, I would also add that I have to get to a doctor’s appointment myself; at your quizzical expression, I would then hand over this little sheet to you with a sheepish grin.

IMG_2424

I’m sure I would then be pelted with the requisite questions, which I would cheerfully answer: No, it’s not a prank. Yes, I’m pregnant. I’m 13 weeks along (although this ultrasound was taken around 7 weeks, so the little speck you see here has probably grown a few times its size). The baby’s due late May and yes, we will find out the baby’s gender this time, unlike the last. It was an agreement between My Guy and me – I get the first surprise baby, and he gets to find out with the next.

I would confess that the first-trimester fatigue has been kicking my ass, followed by an apology for not being as available as I used to be. With a toddler around this time, rest and recovery have been scarce, and I’ve not been feeling up to anything. Blogging has become a chore for awhile, so I changed my schedule from posting thrice to twice weekly. Then I couldn’t even keep up with that! And finally I just had to let it go and be kinder, gentler with myself. Now I post when I can, and believe me, that is just as hard for someone like me, who thrives on routine and predictability.

What I need most every day these days is sleep, and I’ve given myself permission to slack off. It’s nice really, to be rid of guilt because what I’m doing is actually for my baby’s health. For our health.

As far as the pregnancy goes, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. There are food aversions that annoy the food lover in me - one day I’m craving blackened salmon, the next day I can’t even look at it. But I’ve been fortunate that I can at least keep my food down with no real “morning sickness” to speak of, just waves of nausea that hit me at the most inopportune moments (naturally) but as long as I keep snacking, I’ll feel fine (only I don’t always know when to stop, which could be a problem).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s so much easier to converse with friends and to write when I can express what’s often foremost on my mind. Our family has much to plan for our future, but until I have a better idea myself, we’ll just leave it at that for now.

As I absentmindedly swirl the last of the latte in my mug, the topic moves on to Little Miss, and I’d apologize for not having any pictures of her birthday party to share with you. Again, I blame my pregnancy blahs but I assure you I’ll have them soon. We told her about the “baby in mommy’s belly” just recently (because we were worried Little Miss Blabbermouth here, whose current skills include word-for-word parroting, would unwittingly spread the news when we weren’t ready), so when you ask her now what’s in mommy’s belly, she’d say “baby”. And if you asked what baby she would like, she’d gleefully respond, “baby girl!”. Yes, she has already put in her request. I doubt she comprehends these conversations, but I’ve seen how gentle she is with little babies and how excited she is by them, and I’m hopeful. The way she nurtures her baby dolls (feeding, diaper changing, bathing) is perhaps a good sign that she just may handle her role as Big Sister well. Perhaps.

This is the point where I’d prod you about your life, your family, your Thanksgiving plans. You regale me with your own stories as I sit back and bask in the light of our friendship. It’s wonderful to be able to share these details with each other like that. However, this week is not one that affords me a languorous date at the coffeehouse - there are doctors to visit, out-of-town friends to meet for dinner one evening, last-minute shopping to do and a Thanksgiving meal to prepare. Reluctantly, we bid adieu with a lingering hug and part with a smile on our face and a promise for a coffee date after the holidays, when the frenzy evaporates.

We don’t do this often, but when we do, it nourishes my soul. I can’t wait to do this with you again.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my friend. May your life be as full of love and joy as the bounty on your table that day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The aftermath

First, I’d like to say just how much I appreciate all of you who reached out to me with your kind words, advice, support and hope in response to my post about my dog’s surgery. These are dark days indeed (oh dear, no pun intended) and your voices have helped carry me through some of these difficult hours. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kirby is convalescing now; her surgery went well. My Guy and I picked her up on Tuesday, and while I held it together at the doctor’s, I bawled in the car. The sutures in her eyes were just too much for me. But then again, when I imagined what it was like for her, I felt worse. I’ve been surprisingly emotional these few days. While I’m often easily moved to tears, I usually feel strong enough to face whatever it is that I have to face. This, however, is not one of those times.

On Friday, when I had to make the impossible decision to have the surgery to remove both of Kirby’s eyes, I cried at the doctor’s office. When I got home, I was too immersed in work to dwell on it, but when My Guy came home from work, I lost it. In front of Little Miss. I frightened the poor girl, who murmured in quiet desperation, “mommy, mommy” as she wiped my tears. When she saw that I was inconsolable, she started to cry herself, and I felt awful. That pretty much ended my sobfest right there. Note to self: Don’t cry in front of your two-year-old.

Yesterday when we brought Kirby home, Little Miss was acting out in ways that made her unrecognizable. My sweet little girl became an absolute terror, and we suspected it had something to do with the fact that Kirby was getting all the attention, and that she didn’t quite understand what was going on with the e-collar around the dog’s neck and the sutured eyes that she kept referring to as “Kirby’s big owie”. Explaining to a two-year-old that Kirby could no longer see was like talking to her about what happened in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 - an exercise in futility.

Little Miss was so belligerent that when she wanted to go to bed at 6pm, an hour before her bedtime, and even though she had only taken a bite of her noodles when she asked, I couldn’t get her there fast enough. For once in my life, I didn’t plead with her to eat more and I didn’t worry about her not eating a meal; I just gave her some milk, sent her to bed and there she stayed until 7am the next day. Thankfully.

Because I just wasn’t equipped to handle anything that evening. My body betrayed me too. My stomach was upset, I felt nauseated and dizzy all evening and ended the night by throwing up in the bathroom. Stress does funny things to the body doesn’t it?

My family was in all sorts of funk yesterday, and the only one who held us together was My Guy. He was the rock who dealt with the demanding toddler, the ailing puppy, who was disoriented and mostly kept to herself, and the useless partner, who spent the evening watching Law and Order: SVU reruns on TV because that was all she could manage. I’m ashamed that I didn’t couldn’t handle it better, but I’m grateful that he was by our side. I don’t know what I would’ve done without him.

The thing is, I’ve usually handled bad news pretty well (like the deaths of both my grandmother and grandfather who were in Malaysia while I was here in the States) and dealt with many horrible situations with strength I didn’t know I possessed, which was why my reaction this time surprised me. I guess trying to predict our emotions is another exercise in futility.

While my body may have failed me, I know that I won’t fail Kirby. This is the beginning of a very difficult road ahead of us, but she will get better, and I know that because we’re committed to get her there. She may not have her sight, but she will have our love. Hopefully that will be enough to get her back to the active, happy little pooch she once was. And us back to the somewhat sane, slightly off the wall little family we once were. Dog, cats, toddler and all.

For now, thank you for “listening” and I promise you, I will have a lighter, brighter post for  you next week. In fact, I have joyful news to share. Stay tuned...

 

TheLastNight Taken on the night before the surgery. Hoping to remember Kirby the way she was…

* * *

How do you respond to stress? Have you ever surprised yourself in how you handled a particular situation? Who is the rock in your family? Have you ordered your Thanksgiving turkey yet?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Please forgive me

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for my family and me. There were highs but when we hit the low, it was unbearably low. I’ve not been able to write much this week. I was often short on time or low on energy, but for the past few days, I couldn’t even put into words the fluctuations in emotions that I’d experienced.

The thing is, there’s so much positive news to share, but I just can’t indulge in them now. Not when my 10-year-old dog, Kirby, who’s been with me since she was a puppy is going into surgery tomorrow. To remove her eyes. As in “orbit irrigation” – the medical term that made me sick to my stomach when I read it on the estimates sheet that the eye care specialist handed me last week. It was the point at which I was supposed to decide what they needed to do with her.

You see, when I came home from work one day last week, I discovered a very different dog. One who wouldn’t budge from her spot, one who goose-stepped her way along the periphery of the rooms, and one who ran into doors and walls. Then I realized she couldn’t see, which was a shock because just the night before, she seemed perfectly fine.

I took her to the specialist and after some tests, they explained that she has glaucoma in both eyes and severe retinal degeneration in one eye. The other could be saved but it’s a fifty-fifty chance that it would be back to normal. In fact, they couldn’t guarantee anything apart from a lifetime of treatments and perhaps more expensive surgeries. In essence, I could save one eye but possibly bear the brunt of future complications, or I could just remove both eyes now to save her from an unknown future but in the short term, will have to help her adapt to her new disability. I also have to come clean – the latter surgery is the more financially viable option for us too.

In the end, I had to make a very difficult decision and opted for what made sense for our family. Financially, we were already tied to so many places, especially in the near future, that having a surgery that provided no guarantees didn’t seem to be the right course for us. Yet, the thought of being responsible for the decision to remove sight from Kirby’s future stabs me at my very core.

She’s been my constant companion longer than any living person or animal I’ve known, save my mom. Now, every time I look at her I want to memorize her face, because when I pick her up Tuesday evening, she will no longer look the same. Her eyes will be sutured shut and behind the lids will be silicone orbits in place of those beautiful brown ones that always look up at me, doe-like, as she begs for scraps under the table. That face always wins. Hence the extraneous 3 pounds on her body. And her enormous booty. Well, those she will probably still have. But not those eyes…It breaks my heart.

What makes all this even more difficult is that I can’t even explain to her what is happening, and I certainly can’t ask her opinion on the matter, even though they are her eyes. I am better equipped to execute someone else’s wish than to make the decision for them because then it is I who has to live with it. And I don’t know if I can.

I know it’s for the best. I know with the right tools and care, she will cope. But when I closed my eyes for a few seconds to imagine what it’s like to walk down the familiar hallway of my house in utter darkness, I felt disoriented and anxious. And I crumpled to the floor. I couldn’t believe I was subjecting Kirby to that. I don’t think I could ever come to terms with my decision. I don’t think I could ever feel “right” about it. I don’t even know if I’m doing what I can do or what I should do. All I know is, it will be done.

I could only hope she will forgive me.

 

Kirby

 

* * *

Have you had to make a difficult decision like this? What was it like for you? How did you cope? 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Did someone say cake?

This is a big week for us. Little Miss will be turning two this Saturday, and there will be a party at our house. That also means I have about three nights to get the stuff I need done, DONE, which means it’s time for the last-minute crazy shuffle. That’s what happens to procrastinators like me. Could I have done some of these things a few weeks earlier? Sure. Could I have spent the last week leading up to the shindig a little less frazzled and a little more organized? Of course. But if I did, I wouldn’t be me.

I’ve crammed for my exams in school, started 40-page research papers the night before they’re due and completed a project at work minutes before its deadline, and since I’ve done relatively well most of the time, I haven’t seen the need to change. My Guy is the same as I am, which means our daughter is out of luck. While I feel the need to apologize to her, I also know that she will find her groove and make this work to her advantage.

The adrenaline from procrastination has fueled my fire, and I have faith it will do the same for her. In high school, she will learn to live with less sleep, in college she will learn to love the thick black sludge of black coffee at the wee hours of the night and later on, she will thrive on the merits of working smarter, not harder. I think she’s going to be OK. Although that doesn’t mean she won’t exasperate me when her procrastination affects my own agenda.

As for me, in just these three days alone, there will be some crafting, baking, prepping, decorating, cooking, shopping, organizing and housekeeping. But compared to the paper I did on Hamlet for grad school in one night, this week is going to be cake.

Speaking of, what makes all this worth it is that there’s going to be cake at the end of it! Oh and to see my daughter’s joyful smile. Of course.

JoyfulSmile

Isn’t that why we, parents, do most of those crazy things that we do anyway?

 

* * *

Are you a procrastinator? How has that affected your life? Is there even a cure for it? Are you a birthday cake junkie too?

P.S. This may also mean a more sporadic blogging schedule for the next week or so. Not only will there be a party, Little Miss is also starting a new pre-school/daycare next Monday. I’m a bundle of nerves, so forgive me for being a little more unreliable and unavailable than usual.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Festival of Lights

In my walk around the city these days, I’ve noticed the wreaths, a million twinkling lights among barren trees and even candy cane! There’s no denying that the holiday season is finally here. I usually enjoy the festive atmosphere and when the air is saturated with Christmas music and gingerbread candles, I can’t help but feel embraced by warmth despite the chill in the air.

However, when I saw the decorations for the first time this year, I wasn’t thrilled. Something felt amiss. While this part of the world busied themselves with the impending holidays, another part of the world is about to celebrate a grand festival that does not make the slightest bit of impact here. At least not on the window displays in the middle of the shopping district.

On Friday, November 5, Hindus around the world celebrate Deepavali. It is a celebration I grew up with, and I remember many years of noisy family gatherings at my grandparent’s house. It’s the good kind of noise – the kind that reverberates in your heart long after you’ve heard it. Years later, I can still hear the laughter, the banter and of course, the fireworks. It was always so full of life.

This year, my family will continue that tradition without me, as they have for as long as I’ve been here. I will call and greet my mom, grandma and whichever relative that happens to be by the phone, and I will hear the noise that was once so familiar to me in the background. And my heart will ache. I’ve not known a gathering like this since I left home. Not for Thanksgiving. Not for Christmas.

It’s just not the same over here. The celebrations I’ve experienced in the States are generally more subdued and rather exclusive. It’s mostly the immediate family members that congregate on special occasions. In Malaysia, because Indians are only one of the three major races, we usually open our homes to the other races, the Malays and Chinese, on our holiday so everyone can partake in the joys of our celebration, and they would do the same in return. We’d invite neighbors, co-workers and friends, and all day, there’d be people coming in and out of our homes. And of course we would feed every single one of them. What’s a festival without an overabundance of food right?

Those were the days…

On Deepavali this Friday, it will be business as usual. There will be work. Then I will pick my daughter up from daycare, and if My Guy comes home early enough for all three of us to have dinner together (which rarely happens these days), we will have homecooked Indian food. I will light some candles in honor of the Festival of Lights and my daughter will go to bed at her usual hour. The house will soon settle into its usual evening calm with the exception of the occasional meowing cat. This will be our celebration.

It may be quiet, but for me, it will be no less heartfelt.

 

Diwali Lights


Happy Deepavali to all my friends and family. May you have a bright and joyful year ahead. I miss you and love you. Always.

Image courtesy of Peromyscus.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

That’s my girl

I’m not sure if anyone noticed but I am off my regular schedule this week. I didn’t have a Monday post as I normally would. Nor will I have anything for Wednesday or Friday. In fact, this is going to be a Tuesday/Thursday week, and I think with two house-related projects, two special birthdays and THE HOLIDAYS in my near future, I may be sticking to this new routine for awhile. For my sanity.

Speaking of holidays, Halloween weekend was incredible. We left the city for a brief respite from urban life in Small Town, USA with some friends – the kind who are more family than friend - in their lovely home. There was plenty of scrumptious homecooked food and intimate, wonderful conversations while their kids and ours had a blast together. Well, when the two-year-olds weren’t fighting over the same things that is. We attended a Halloween party, leaving the house right at Little Miss’ bedtime and didn’t come home until a couple of hours later. We braced ourselves for a meltdown.

Except
there wasn’t any. In fact, when we got there, she let go of our hands and explored the strange new place full of strange new faces (in costumes nonetheless) all by herself in her Abby Cadaby from Sesame Street costume – our own little fairy with wings who literally took flight from our sides and into the chaos that only kids high on Halloween candy could conjure. 

Abby1

That night, our little family of three shared the same guest bedroom although Little Miss was in a pack n play by herself. She awoke in the middle of the night and groggily said “Hi Mommy!”, “Hi Daddy” to us. I thought it was going to be a long night if I left her in there so I picked her up and placed her between her dad and me. We normally don’t have her in bed with us, but I was tired and didn’t feel like fighting her so I brought her in for some delicious snuggling. I was secretly thrilled to have her in my arms.

Except two minutes later, she asked to go back to her own space, much to my surprise. I was delighted that she didn’t think she needed to attach herself to us, but I was also slightly disappointment to lose the rare opportunity to cuddle with her in my sleep. Oh well, at least we all slumbered comfortably for the rest of the night.

The next day, we did more lounging and eating (don’t you love that?) and relished not having to do a single chore or run any errands. Little Miss made up for her lack of sleep with a long nap so we could indulge in more adult conversations and even a movie! I don’t remember the last time I watched a movie at home with friends in the middle of the day. When it came time for trick-o’-treating, she donned a giraffe costume that we thought would be more comfortable for her in the cold. My heart wasn’t the only one to melt when she said her “cheek o cheat” and politely thanked the candy people. She was the littlest in our troop of girls and boys between five and eight years old (all friends of our friends), who were probably competing for the biggest candy haul that would hopefully last until the next Halloween; it was easy for Little Miss Tiny to get lost in the shuffle.

Giraffe1

Except when the kids placed themselves in front of her to get their baskets filled, she nudged her way around them, lifted her basket higher and demanded “This! This! This!” That pretty much guaranteed her share (which we would later imbibe in her sleep, although she didn’t know it then – hey, she had some Kit Kat for the first time and loved it. We kept those for her).


Giraffe2 

Finally, with a heavy heart and quick goodbyes (because we were already close to my daughter’s bedtime, and we were 2.5 hours away from her bed), we left the quiet pace of the country and drove home in the dark. While Little Miss was lost in a Barney episode (or two), I was lost in my own thoughts. She will be two in a couple of weeks, and I already feel like she needs me so much less each day. It’s hard for me to reconcile the difference between the baby who once clung on fiercely to my one finger, when that was all she could manage to hold, and the little girl who doesn’t even think twice before letting go of my hand to explore the world before her. While I admire her fortitude and her independence, it doesn’t make it any easier for me to let go when she does.

Except I have to. And I will just have to trust that she will always need me and come back to my side when she does.  As a parent, my job is to make sure she will always know that I will be here. Waiting. Hoping. Smiling. And feeling so very proud as these words echo in my head, that’s my girl.


Abby2


* * *

How was your Halloween? Did you dress up? If so, what were you? How about your kid(s)? Are you still enjoying/stealing your (kids’) candy haul from the weekend?

 

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