Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lola's New Purchase

Lola has been saving her money since last fall with the intention of someday purchasing her own laptop computer. With cash gleaned from the Tooth Fairy, Christmas monetary gifts and her weekly allowance she had saved almost $250.00. The Laptop Fund was still growing when one day last week as we were wandering through the aisles of Costco she said, “Mom, I decided I don’t want a laptop. I want an iPod.”

I said, “You have an iPod - - the MP3 you got for your birthday last year.”

“No, I want one that plays video, too.” She pointed to the rack with the brightly colored Apple iPod display. “Like those. I want an Apple iPod.”

I thought about it and told her I’d help her research the best price for what she is looking for. We checked the price at Costco, then I checked the price at Apple to get a baseline as to what the normal price was, then looked online at the different stores’ prices. Lola decided she didn’t want to mail-order it over the internet, but instead she wanted to take her money to the store and quite literally make the purchase herself.

Last Friday I was talking with my boss about electronic devices and I remembered that Lola was enormously mesmerized by the iPhone that had recently come out. She was most enamored by the fact it could play music, store games, show video, surf the net and make calls. I also remembered that the iPod Touch was just like the iPhone, but minus the phone part. From my research talking to others and checking online, it seemed that perhaps Lola would be most satisfied with this device. That evening I asked her if she still liked the iPhone. Her response was, “Well, Duhhhhh,” with a huge laugh. I told her about the iPod Touch that has all but the phone and she was nearly drooling. “Oh, MOM!!! Can we go get one NOW???” She ran upstairs and brought her money down to re-count it. I reminded her of the 7% tax here in the state of Georgia and she immediately got pencil and paper and figured out how much she would have to add to the cost of the iPod to get the total cost. Once figured, she counted out that much rounded up to the nearest dollar and off we went to Costco (which seemed to be the best deal around).

Once we got the iPod home and charged up/registered and set up on iTunes, I found that this is a pretty amazing little thing! Games can be added to it from the website, many of which are free. She has accessed YouTube to bookmark some of her favorite Russian music videos. Later when we have some time on the weekend I’ll upload some songs for her on it. We can store photos and movies and all kinds of things on this device. She absolutely loves it and understands very well that it is not to ever leave the house unless we are on a weekend trip or vacation. I am actually so impressed with it now I want one, too!!! I told Lola I will do the same as she did and save up my spare change and create Mama’s iPod Fund!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pet Peeve

Can someone PLEASE tell me how a cell phone call can be so important that it is necessary to take the call while sitting on a toilet in a public restroom? There are a number of reasons I can list to justify the rudeness of this action, but for the sake of brevity and me not getting up on the soapbox, I'll include the most obvious ones here:

1) No one else in the bathroom wants to hear the telephone conversation.

2) This is just a guess, but the person on the other end of the call does not want to be subjected to the detailed sounds of a public restroom.

3) Isn't the person in the restroom on the phone even just the slight bit embarrassed about any possible 'accidental' noises they may emit?

4) What if the person in the restroom drops the phone in the toilet? I guess this one would be the solution to all of the above...

The biggest question is - - - IS NOTHING PRIVATE ANYMORE!????

The Greatest Consumer-Driven, Overpriced, and Overly Dramatic Show on Earth

Ok, in spite of Lola aching from her riding mishap, she felt well enough to go to the circus yesterday afternoon. I had been able to secure a couple tickets a few weeks ago by making a small charitable donation to a rather well-known organization and for doing so two tickets would be held at the will-call window for us. Lola had mentioned every now and again over the past few months that she loved going to the circus in Russia and would like to attend one here.

So we hopped on the MARTA train and went to Philips Arena to the circus. Thankfully the seats were like movie theater seats and very cushy, so Lola was fairly comfortable. Aside from the food being outrageously overpriced ($12 for cotton candy and a silly Dr. Seuss-looking hat included and $7 for a box of popcorn) and the ringmaster being a personality double for William Shatner, complete with the ego and overdramatization of his lines, the circus was quite enjoyable! Lola laughed at one of the silly characters so much that she hurt more from laughing than from the tumble off her horse! We enjoyed acrobats, tigers, elephants, horses, dogs and even a porcupine! We took lots of photos and a few videos so we could show both Chris and Kim the next time we saw them.

It really was a fun afternoon, and on the way home Lola sat in my lap on the train and waved out the window at all the cars driving on the freeway.

That evening she was still quite sore so she sacked out on my bed and later Sabbie came up and did his kneading routine on her tummy (this cat does it with all four paws - - quite an interesting approach) and fell asleep right beside her as we watched TV.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Horse Mishap

Lola had a wonderful surprise this morning during horseback riding lessons. Rather than riding Bandit, her usual horse since about October of last year, she was excited to find out she was going to ride Apache, her all-time favorite horse. She loves Apache more than all the other horses because he likes to trot, and does so willingly, whereas it is necessary at times to almost kick the tar out of Bandit to get him to do even a lazy trot.

Toward the end of the lesson Lola was at a comfortable trot on Apache around the ring and the next thing I knew Apache had begun to canter! Lola has not yet progressed to the canter so she was totally unprepared for the shift in movement. I was sitting a few yards away on a wooden bench in the sun trying to stay warm and when I saw this change in pace I was puzzled as to WHY she had the horse in a canter, but at the same time marveling at how much she looked at ease up there. By the third or fourth stride the teacher verbally instructed Lola and Apache to slow down and/or stop, and while doing so, instead of shifting her weight back a little to accommodate the movement of slowing down, Lola instead leaned forward as if she was going into two-point position. This puzzled me even more, because the laws of physics were becoming pretty evident in my mind right then so when I saw her head pitch forward I was already off the bench and sprinting to the gate. From where I was it appeared that she landed on her head / neck area. I rushed into the arena and the sounds coming from Lola scared me to death. By the time I skidded on my knees to a stop in the dirt beside her, I had composed myself enough to realize the fall had mostly knocked the breath out of her and the sounds she was emitting were frantic gasps for air. I took her hand and while stroking her hair I softly coaxed her to relax and try to breathe more slowly so the air could come back into her lungs. I could hear her instructor’s voice drifting above us reinforcing this. When she finally could breathe normally, she was able to slowly move her arms, legs, fingers, toes, and then her neck. Imagine my relief when she was able to move with no difficulty! She then sat up, then got up, and walked! Hooray! My baby was going to be all right! She even decided to get back up on her horse to finish the last five minutes of the lesson.

Her teacher told her that one cannot be a horseman / horsewoman unless you fall off the horse at least once, but always make sure to get back on, even for a few seconds!

Amen to that! Been there, done that.

All I know is that my heart stopped to see her land in what I thought was a very awkward position.

Some of the mothers who were watching from a different angle said they saw Lola tuck her head and roll when she landed on the ground, and it was really quite a relief for them to see she had done that.

Things are all a matter of perspective. I saw it one way and they saw it another.

Later when we were having lunch at her favorite noodle place Lola shook her head and said “Mama, I cannot believe I fell off Apache! I don’t remember anything except trotting, and then waking up on the ground and hurting and everybody looking at me!”

The ‘everybody looking at me’ part was what disturbed her more than anything. Yes, that is proof positive that my girl is becoming a bit self-conscious as she enters the lovely phase of growing into a young lady…

Later in the car she remembered that she was so used to urging Bandit to keep moving past the gate when they were trotting (Bandit slows and stops when he goes by the gate every time he and Lola go around the ring, perhaps wishfully thinking he can go back to his stall) that she momentarily forgot it was Apache she was on that time, who needs little or no urging to trot. So when she gave Apache that little extra nudge he took it for a request to shift gears into canter mode.

Bless his little palomino heart, he stood like a statue when Lola fell. He stayed put until led to mounting area for her to get back in the saddle.

And if it’s possible to love that horse more than we already do, we DO!!

When we got home from lessons she announced to our cats, “Hi, guys!! I fell off my horse today - - can you believe it? Man, do I HURT!”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Petie Talks To God

This morning Petie and Sabbie went out to the courtyard to get a bit of fresh air and Petie wandered over to the fountain that sits in the corner. There had been a couple big rainstorms this past week, so one of the basins in the fountain had water sitting in it. What water had been captured there had mixed with dirt and bugs and who knows what other debris that blew in. He began to drink from the fountain, and upon noticing this out the window I said rather loudly, “PETIE!! Do NOT drink out of that fountain!” He stopped in mid-slurp, looked up at the sky and said, “Meow?” (please bear in mind I didn’t actually hear him meow, but could clearly see that one was uttered). He kept looking up at the sky, then decided he needed to be closer to ‘the Voice” so he climbed up the fountain, all the while trying to see from where it came! He continued to gaze expectantly up to the sky as if he expected God to give him further instructions!

A few seconds later he must have realized the scolding he heard was coming from the house, so he peered in the window to see…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 'Gray Boyz'

Sebastian (aka Sabbie) had tapeworms so we had to get him de-wormed as well as getting all his shots updated. Needless to say, he has not been a happy kitty about going to the doctor. He hid out for a day or so afterward, quite indignant, but this morning came out to join us at breakfast. He is quite the snooze-monster! He loves to sleep! Petie is always playing and Sabbie is always sleeping!

Anyway, this morning he decided he still loved me even though I took him to the vet. He’s a sweetie just like his brother. He and Petie are best buds now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Fuzzy Valentine

We miss Scooter very much, and Petie misses him too, but for the last couple months we realized Petie needed someone nearer his own age to romp with, especially during the time Scooter was ill. I felt that it would be too stressful on everyone (including Scoo and Petie) to obtain another ‘brother’ into the family, especially since Scooter required such intensive care and undisturbed rest. Lola and I had often spoken of Sebastian, who is actually Petie’s biological brother (same litter of kittens), and Petie’s best buddy at his former home. We decided that someday we would adopt Sebastian, but of course we were hoping all along that Scooter would go into remission and start getting BETTER, and then once he was well and stable for awhile we’d bring the ‘new guy’ in.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Scooter is now in Kitty Heaven and Petie, although he is the consummate expert at entertaining himself, really seemed like he missed having a buddy. When Lola and I would say “Sebastian” Petie’s ears would pop up, and he’d look at us as if to say “Where??? Where is Sebastian?” We decided to go ahead with the adoption of Sebastian. On Valentine’s Day we made the trek over to bring Petie’s brother home.

The first day he found all of Petie’s same hiding places from when Petie was the ‘new guy’, then by the next afternoon he was out exploring. Petie constantly followed him around meowing “Hey, dude, it’s me - - your BROTHER - - -remember me??” Sebastian was not buying it. He was clearly annoyed at Petie for following him all around the house!! Petie remembers Sebastian but Sebastian is not too sure about Petie. I do definitely know who the Alpha cat is, though - - Sebastian!!

Sebastian (aka Sabbie)
Sebastian and Petie

Lola's First Year in America Dec. 2007-Dec. 2008

View Project at Shutterfly

Friday, February 13, 2009

Holy Guacamole

Last night Lola had NO homework. PRAISE THE LORD!! Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with myself!! She was assigned a project for her Home Ec class which wasn’t due until next Friday, but she wanted to do it anyway. The assignment was to make a food item of her choice, and it was up to her to do all the preparation, creation and clean up. She decided she wanted to make guacamole. It was my duty to critique her on all categories. These categories were Safety in the Kitchen, Preparation, Taste, Clean up, and Overall Critique. The total number of points possible is 90. Lola got an 87. I took off three points due to her trying to mix it with a spoon (mushing up the avocado is more difficult with a spoon than a fork) and pushing the bowl toward me and saying “Here, Mom, can you stir this?” Rather than stirring it for her I offered her a fork as an alternative to the spoon and she then had no problems mixing it.
The taste - -FANTASTIC!! Reason? We have perfected the same mixture of ingredients as the “Guacamole Live!” at the restaurant On the Border.

We had picked up the mail on our way to the house and discovered that the Animal Hospital that treated Scooter's lymphoma had send us a pet sympathy card. I almost cried after opening it; in preparing this card, the staff had written their thoughts about Scooter and signed their names. In addition, someone had taken Scooter's pawprint and put it on a card that said "Angel With A Tail". That was very touching and quite thoughtful on their part. The pawprint was a wonderful way to remember Scoo as well.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Russia Rocks!!

While driving to work today and missing Scooter with all my heart I put a Russian pop music CD in my car stereo and marveled in how I truly and passionately LOVE the Russian language. Even though my level of fluent daily conversation is still in process, I can identify words and phrases here and there, and I feel a deeper connection with it than the other languages I’ve learned in the past. And, strangely enough, my love of Russia and its culture and people began as far back as my childhood! I recall being totally fascinated with both Russia and Egypt while still a child and in high school taking a music composition / appreciation class with all my original compositions turned out sounding Russian (so evident that the teacher even made mention of it).

While in college I took a Russian language course, and loved it. Sadly, after college I had no opportunity to utilize it on a daily basis and all but a couple phrases of what I had learned was lost.

My love of Russian was still always lying dormant in the back of my mind, and when I made the decision to host Lola during the summer of 2006 I purchased the Pimsleur Method CDs to play in my car to and from work. I found that much of what I had learned in college came back to me. The strange thing is that I know I could count and speak in full sentences in Russian back in college, so why did learning it again not spark a glimmer of recollection? The only thing I can attribute the memory loss to is that in the summer between my junior and senior year of college I attended summer school and lived in a high-rise dormitory. A few weeks into the summer session there was a fire in the dorm. It began in a room on the next floor up from mine and all I truly remember was that the boy living there was hanging out the window at 6am and fell 6 stories to his death, with a blood alcohol level many times above the legal limit. The rest of what I know about that day was what was later told to me by my friends, and later on I found that things I should have remembered about that summer were suddenly erased from my memory. As the years have passed I find that little pieces of the events of that summer and the school year before have come back to me, but unfortunately, my knowledge of the Russian language seemed to have been obliterated from my memory bank.

Lately while at the office I have been listening to Russian music exclusively - - for the entire eight hours I am there- - - and talk about sparking the endorphins!! WOO-HOO! This is better than champagne on New Year’s Eve!

The Russian language is not fluid like French, nor guttural like German (both of which I had studied), but has a sound all its own which I find oddly comforting - - as if by just hearing the sound of it I feel like I’m home. The same feeling came over me even more so when I set foot on Russian soil…I welcomed each time I visited Russia, with a mixture of excitement and anxious apprehension and just being in Russia was like stepping into a wonderful new adventure. The food, the history, the people and their generosity were overwhelming! During the adoption process I was advised prior to each visit to provide ‘gifts’ for the various people in Russia who were involved in part of the process, but I came home with gifts from some of them as well (which I had not at all expected).

Lola and I hope to travel back there after school is out for summer, but we are not yet in the planning stages. Much depends on what's going on with my workload at the office and finances...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Loving Memory of Scooter

In Memory of Scooter – 4/27/1994 – 2/8/2009

It is with great sadness I write this… our wonderful, dear kitty Scooter passed away on Sunday, February 8, 2009. As referenced in prior entries, he had been diagnosed with FIV in October (which I’m guessing had been present since before 1998 when I adopted him) and had recently battled lymphoma, undergoing chemotherapy for the last 10 weeks or so. He had lost quite a bit of weight due to the treatment, but was a sweet and happy little guy, doing his best to interact with us. During the last couple weeks we rolled him up like a burrito in a towel and took him into whatever room we were occupying at the time so he was still part of the family’s activities. He LOVED this, and spent endless hours on our laps. Friday was scheduled as the day the oncologist would evaluate the success of treatment, but poor Scoo took a dramatic turn for the worse on Thursday. We took him in on Friday and the doctor kept him for the day to run some tests and ultrasound to see how he had fared with chemo. The determination was that Scooter was in complete remission!! But the other question at hand was “Why, then, is he sooooo sick now? He hasn’t had chemo for two weeks!”

We took him home that evening and I was vigilant (as usual) during the night, listening while half-asleep for any cries from him that indicated he was in any pain or discomfort. By Sunday morning he was unable to walk or move without extreme difficulty, and had the blank stare of one who was ready to leave this world.

Lola told me she was prepared to say goodbye to Scooter but she chose not to go to the vet for the final goodbye because she was so sad when Boo Boo had to be euthanized. I respected her decision, so Kimmi volunteered to come with me for moral support and because she loved Scoo as much as we did. Chris was unable to be there due to his work schedule, but he was definitely with us all in spirit.

Later that afternoon, Lola and I were coming home from the supermarket and she looked up in the sky and said, “Look, Mom, there’s Scooter going to heaven.” In the midst of many clouds there was a break between them and a strong beam of sunlight shone down for several minutes. It was really a beautiful thing to see, and Lola’s summation of why it existed was both eloquent and touching.

We will miss Scooter with all our hearts. He was a wonderful personality and quite a comedian. I’m certain he and Boo Boo are now chasing each other, grooming each other and sleeping in each other’s arms (paws) just as they did here on earth.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It Always Hurts Worse the Next Day...

Lola woke up yesterday with a bit of pain in her neck. She was able to move everything all right, but seemed a little stiff, so I gave her an Advil and dropped her off at school. I asked her to call me later in the day to let me know how she was feeling.

About 2:30 I received a phone call at work. Lola was on the other end. “Mom, I hurt so badly I cannot sit in class. Will you come get me?”

We got her home a bit later and put her in the bed with a heating pad and another Advil. She was hurting quite a bit, but seemed to relax a little as the evening progressed. She fell asleep, but was quite restless most of the night.

This morning she woke up and literally could not sit up in bed without help. We got her up and downstairs for breakfast, but she said she hurt so much she was not hungry at all. Not only did the neck hurt, but she had a whopper of a headache and her ribs on the left side were very sore and tender to the touch. It suddenly dawned on me that her pain was a result of her taking those few penguin dives on the ice Sunday. I decided to take the day off work (this is the fourth day of vacation I have used for illness/injury/car repairs rather than that for which it is intended - - yes, I know - - welcome to motherhood) to get her to the doctor to make sure she didn’t have any fractured ribs/vertebrae, etc. I managed to get a doctor appointment for her at 10:30am and we finally left the doctor’s after the exam and x-rays at about 1:30. I was hoping perhaps to go to work for at least four hours, but since Chris wasn’t available to stay with her I took the whole day off. They called me later from the doctor’s office to tell me that Lola didn’t have any breaks or fractures, thankfully, but she did strain her neck (much like whiplash) and she needed to stay out of PE class (luckily there is no PE this semester) and no horseback riding or skating for at least a week or until her neck is recovered.

I set her up for a therapeutic massage session which may hopefully help her recover more easily by relaxing those muscles…I set one up for myself as well!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Ice Skates

New Ice Skates

Lola got new ice skates via UPS a couple days ago. We decided to get the adjustable skates so they’ll be easily adaptable as her feet grow. She was so excited and could hardly wait to try them out.

Today we went to the ice rink and she spent quite a bit of time making minor adjustments, but finally got out on the ice. I was in the midst of lacing up my lovely rental skates (the skates I had purchased for myself the same time I ordered Lola’s were not true to size so they had to be sent back for an exchange. Sadly, I was stuck with stiff old brown rental skates for yet another week) when Lola came back from the ice and said, “Mom, I fell down already! These skates are not working!” I finally got my skates laced and went out on the ice with her to observe her in action. She took a couple strokes and seemed to be ok, then when she put her right foot forward to gain speed, the toe pick caught the ice and down she went on her tummy, not unlike a penguin on one of those nature documentaries on TV.

By this time poor Lola was so frustrated she said she wanted to stop skating and go home. We sat down for awhile and I told her what I saw happen and explained that she needed to tell her feet to step higher because the blades on her skates are now similar to hockey skates - - there is at least an inch increase in blade height due to the plastic casing. We went back out to skate, this time on center ice to work on skating backward. She was fine with that and I thought if she works at that her feet will adjust to skating forward as well. After a little while we were advised to leave the ice due to ‘zamboni time’. I LOVE the way the ice feels just after the zamboni has smoothed it out!! It is an amazing feeling! After the ice was nicely polished we went back out and suddenly she realized she knew her feet were adapting to the new skates. “Mom, I can now skate easily on these! I really love these skates!”

While we were skating I saw a man who appeared to be in his early 40’s struggling to teach himself to skate backward. He pushed his legs out and forced them back in and it was evident that he was exerting excess energy to do this, but he appeared to be the type of guy who was going to learn it if it killed him. I have seen him almost every weekend since we began skating, so to me he was a familiar face. I skated over and said ‘Hi, I’m teaching myself to skate backward, too. My daughter’s teacher said the easiest way to learn is to wiggle your butt! It sounds funny, but it really works!” I demonstrated as best I could, even though I’m not very good at it yet. He tried it out to see if it was a little easier. He then spoke to me and I detected a familiar accent. I asked him if he was from Russia, and with a bit of surprise he said yes, from the south part. He said he has been in America for 20 years. I saw Lola and introduced her to him. His name was Boris. Lola was a little shy at first, but then took the initiative to help Boris master the art of skating backward. How cute is that! She hovered over him to make sure he understood, speaking to him in Russian. Later on when we left the rink we saw him with his wife, son and another woman. We waved farewell and told them we would most likely be seeing them again soon.