Monday, January 28, 2013

Till We Meet Again -- Goodbye Sweet Mew Mew

Mew Mew napping in 2010

Last night we euthanized our sweet old kitty Mew Mew.  It was time.  She was but a wisp of her formal self, skinny and with no reserves.  She'd been sneezing for months and yesterday her nose clogged completely.  She couldn't properly breathe nor would she eat.  She was weak and wobbly.

And yet, despite her struggles, she remained affectionate.  We sat as a family on the kitchen floor, ignoring the escaped onion peel, the random popcorn kernels and the dirt.  We rallied around our kitty. We pet her, scratched her chin and cried.  The dogs were curious and lay nearby.

She let us pick her up and hold her (not typical Mew Mew behavior).  She rode on my daughter's lap to the clinic.  I tucked my family into the euthanasia room and brought Mew Mew to the back for a catheter. Then we rejoined the family. My husband held Mewey as I gave her the injection.  She went quietly, peacefully and in the arms of those who loved her and whom she loved.

Mew Mew was a week shy of nineteen-years-old.  We've known her since the day she was born (her mama gave birth in the very first veterinary clinic I worked at).  She preceded marriage and children.  She outlived a multitude of kitties and a few dogs as well.

Last night there was a conspicuous absence as we lay in bed.  No soft thump as she jumped up to join us, no gentle purr to lull me to sleep.  She will be missed.

*** *** ***

We got home from the clinic just before 9:00 pm.  I was ready to escape and snuggled in on the couch for an hour of Downton Abbey.  How was I to know (spoiler alert here if you haven't seen it) Lady Sibyl was to die?   Another hour spent sobbing my eyes out.  

My heart ached for the characters (and for the actress as she was out of a job -- later I googled it and discovered it was she who quit the show so at least there's that).  

Then I went to bed, eyes swollen from too much crying.  Should you see me today -- extra puffy about the face, a bit peaked, you'll know why.  

This is a strange world we live in.  So much sad along with the good.  I suppose one must have both the yin and the yang.  All I can do is appreciate the moments, both good and bad, and accept them for what they are.   

Today there's cleaning to do. I have a book on tape.  I'm hoping for quiet contentment; if you see her tell her I'm looking for her.  And then send her my way. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

How Starbucks is Teaching My Children

I have a twelve-year-old child, nearly thirteen.  She's recently been diagnosed with ADD and her attention deficit (or rather attention overload if you want to term it properly) is the cause of much angst.  She's smart as a whip but rarely does her homework.  As such her grades are not reflective of her intelligence.

Now I could stand over her, tap my foot and demand that she complete her projects.  I could cross my arms and huff and puff.  But, truly, that's not the person I want to be.  

I could do the work for her.  But that's not the person I want her to be.  

I could medicate her and shove a square peg into a round hole.  Somehow this doesn't seem right.    

Or I could try something different; unschooling.  And I'm seriously considering it.  You see I want my children to find, and maintain, a life-long love of learning.  And I'm worried Middle's current circumstances may be doing just the opposite.  

This is not to say the schools are failing.  In fact my other two children are thriving.  But they are natural pleasers who are ready and willing to conform to the classroom.  Middle not so much.*  

Last week my kids were out sick with the flu.  I decided to try an unschooling experiment.  We went to Starbucks.  

Middle pointed out that the Starbucks logo was a mermaid with two tails.  How many times have I stared at that sign and never, ever, noticed what it was?  We googled it.  Turns out the logo is a siren from Greek mythology. Interestingly sirens are not benign creatures. Sirens sing sweet songs to sailors until the sailors crash into the rocks and die.  Hmmm.  

Today, again, Little was out sick (there are some nasty bugs going around).  Once more we went to Starbucks (clearly lured by the sirens).  We began discussing the origin of "venti", which is Italian for twenty, thus a 20 ounce drink.  And we discussed Italy in general and how Italians love their coffees (especially espressos and cappuccinos).  

"So," Little says, "Starbucks is an Italian place with a Greek symbol."  Little is nine.  She remembered last week's conversation. And, like her sister, she clearly has a brain.  

Little ordered a frappuccino (her tummy hurt -- how could I deny her?).  Then she asked the origin of the word frappuccino.  Good question.  I did not know the answer but thought that frappe had something to do with being whipped.  Once again we googled it. 

Frappe means chilled or partly frozen.  It is derived from the French "fraper" which means to strike.  

Therefore Starbucks is an American company started with Greek, Italian and French influences.  

While getting our coffee we also did a bit of math to figure out a tip.  My nine-year-old was able to tell me that 50 cents was fifty percent of a dollar and 10 cents was ten percent.  Nice job sister.  Nice job.  

So from a trip to Starbucks one can learn about Greek mythology, French word origins, the Italian language and percentages.  Not bad for a quick jaunt for coffee.  

Unschooling may be the road less traveled but, based on my observations, a road worth taking.  

*** *** ***

* The questions arises -- what of the real world?  What happens when Middle must go out and get a job?  Does she need to conform then?  By pulling her out of school are we simply compounding an issue (her inability to complete tasks not pleasing to her)?

I do not have the answers.  By the time she has a job she will be older and therefore, hopefully, more mature.  And who is to say she'll work for somebody else?  Perhaps she'll be her own boss and therefore mold the workplace to suit her needs.  

*And will she learn all that she needs to learn to be successful in life?  Yes, I think she will.  In fact she might learn more than while in school.  She taught herself to read at four.  She taught herself to use a computer and video production.  She has a crazy memory and retains what she learns.  

*What about college?  See here.  If she wants to learn, if she loves learning, she can definitely go to college. 

* Might I go crazy having her home all the time?  Yes.  Yes indeed.  

*** *** ***

Oh and PS -- I am pleased to report that after six long weeks my sore throat finally went away. And on to nurturing ... 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Word: 2013

Simply, Imagine, Appreciate and Shine.  Four years and four words.  The world has once again circled the sun.  The clock has struck.  It's time for a new word.

I entered this year with a sore throat; the persistant remnants of a December cold.  It's a reminder that I am not fully in control.

I've been to the doctor (I have an in with an ENT).  He couldn't find anything wrong with my throat.  I'm on a trial of sudafed and antibiotics.  He suggested that if this doesn't clear then I'll need endoscopy to look for, you know, cancer.  Now the chances of me blowing with a cancerous lesion immediately after a cold are slim to none. This is likely viral or bacterial or a combination of the two.  Or it could be reflux or allergies or a number of other things. But there's that word.  The big "C".  Another reminder that I am susceptible and fragile and at the mercy of the Universe.

Then I was left alone for a bit too long.  Long enough to contemplate what I would do if I actually had cancer.  My first thought?  I'd like to make a quilt for each of my children and knit Christmas stockings for all of my potential grandchildren.  A physical reminder of my love; something to remain after I'm gone.  And I thought, perhaps, cancer or not, my word for 2013 should be "create."

But then I thought some more.  And I realized I am not afraid to die.  However I am not yet ready.  There are people who need me. Here.  Now.  People who need help growing.  People who need tending.  People who need to be nurtured.  And thus came The Word for 2013:  Nurture.

To nurture means to care;  for my family, myself and my home.   It means to love and to extend this love to my community and the world.   It means taking what we've got, what's already available to us, and growing it.  And that's just what I'm going to do.

Perhaps next year's word will be "blossom" - a natural extension of nurture.  Then again, perhaps not.

For now I am simply looking forward to 2013.  Here's to a happy, healthy prosperous year!