Monday, June 30, 2008

A Great Wolf Day

Have one. That's the message Great Wolf Lodge tries to ingrain into your brain.

We're back from our mini-vacation, and it was nice to get away. I think my favorite part, though, was not Great Wolf Lodge. It was the outdoor shopping center nearby where we spent time both days we were there.

My friend and I took our kids to this Disney-esque dinosaur restaurant called T-Rex Cafe Saturday night. It was filled with oversized animatronic dinosaurs that howled and moved. You just couldn't stop looking around. It was super cool, if completely manufactured and expensive.

Yesterday, the seven of us ate lunch at a different, more adult restaurant in this same outdoor mall. We sat outside in the sun. This was maybe my favorite part of the weekend.

The swimming was fun, too, of course, especially the giant water slides that Rye got to go on with us. The two of us only fell off once -- and lost our sunglasses once -- so that was pretty good!

Today was back to the same old routine of work and battling traffic and stopping at Hy-Vee on the way home.

I'd have traded it for another Great Wolf day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happier news

So my mom and I were wrong. Sort of. Maybe. At least for now.

The vet says Nike is doing OK and seemed interested in food today, though she didn't eat. Her fluids were good, though, and they decided to put her back on the hyperthyroid medicine she'd been taking a while ago. Her thyroid not working properly may have contributed to the liver failure, but it isn't that likely that the medicine will reverse it.

Still, my mom said she will likely live at least a while longer. If Nike eats at the vet tonight, my mom can take her home tomorrow.

I'm just happy I didn't have to do the final farewell I'd been dreading tonight like I'd been planning.

We're going to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City tomorrow, and it will be oh-so nice to not feel as sad as I've been the past few days.

Happy weekend. (And thanks for your thoughts, everyone).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's just about time

Tomorrow, we will put Nike to sleep.

It is just time.

She has liver failure and is hooked up to IVs at the vet tonight. The vet said we could put a feeding tube in to prolong her life.

But that's not right.

Why would we do that to her?

It's just time.

I'll miss her.

UPDATE: We decided to wait and talk to the vet in the morning. If he says she's not in pain, we will bring her home and let her go there when she's ready. That is what's really right. I think.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Saying goodbye

This was taken eight years ago. It's my sister, Ashley, and my cat, Nike.

Today, they are both on my mind.

I've been meaning to write about Ashley, and how she baby-sat Rye all by herself on Saturday.

I've been meaning to tell everyone how great she did. How she put him to bed all by herself when he told her he wanted to take a nap, how she played with him and got him more milk and helped him go potty and read him books and got up with him the next morning so Mommy and Daddy could sleep just a little bit longer.

I've really been meaning to do that.

Because she really did great. And I was so serious when I told her we'd love to have her spend the night MUCH more often.

But I haven't done that yet. Because my dad's visiting this week, and we're gearing up for a mini-vacation this weekend and I've been busy at work and I'm taking RSVPs for our class reunion in a few weeks. And I just haven't made time.

But I appreciate it. A lot.

My mom called this morning. She was crying.

One of Ashley's hamsters attacked another one, wounding it pretty badly. My sister discovered it when she went to clean the cage yesterday. They set up a triage in another room, and my little sister got up at 3:30 in the morning to check on it. They surrounded it with cotton and took some solace that the little guy was still breathing.

This morning, my mom called the vet. They were too busy, they said. She said she was bringing it in anyway.

But when she got to the car, it had stopped breathing.

A hamster funeral was planned for this evening.

For Ashley, I feel bad about this.

For me, I feel bad about this: The cat that I've had since I was 12 is dying. My mom told me this this morning, too.

Nike was a kitten when my mom and I picked her out at the humane society. She was a replacement for Cleo, the cat my parents got when I was 2 and stuck by my side through everything. I don't know if now, even as an adult, I'm completely over Cleo's death.

I named the fluffy orange kitten Nike because I had fallen in love with basketball and Michael Jordan and the Bulls and playing the sport as much as I could.

Nike slept with me at night -- throughout junior high, high school and the weekends when I came home from college. I used to think we talked to each other with our eyes.

When I got married and moved away, I considered many times taking Nike with me, but I never did. She seemed OK where she was, for the most part.

But now she hasn't eaten for a week, and her eyes are cloudy. She is frail and skinny. A skeleton, my mom says.

It is sad.

I know it's "only" a cat. And I can't pretend to imagine the horror of losing a child -- that must be a million times worse than this.

But still, I miss her already. And this sense of loss is also very real.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

All grown up

I woke sort of lazily this morning and was surprised to see the red numbers on the clock beside my bed.



I heard Rye through the monitor; he was obviously awake, but I didn't think he'd been calling for us.

By the time I got upstairs a few minutes later, he was yelling, "Daddy! Mommy! It's time to get up!"

I turned the corner to his room and was surprised to see:
a) his door wide open
b) him sitting up, cross-legged, smiling in his bed
c) his lamp on

"Well, hi!" I said. "Did you open your door and turn on your light?"

"Yeah!" he said. "And I went potty all by myself. And I went poopy. But I didn't flush. And I took my shorts off."

I couldn't believe it.

The evidence was there in the bathroom, and he even did a darn good job wiping.

Wow. My 3-year-old now no longer needs me for anything really than getting him things he can't reach, using the stove to cook him things and loving him, of course.

That's most important, but still. I wasn't quite ready for this transition to so much independence.

Even when we went downstairs, he insisted on opening the refrigerator to get him some apple juice. And he chose a juice box that he opened himself instead of juice I would have had to pour into a cup.

Later, he was playing by himself and announced: "Look, I made a rocket just like Boba Fett's."

And, yes, there on the floor, he had used his six light sabers to make a giant replica of the rocket Boba Fett, a Star Wars character, carries on his back.

I asked Dane if he had shown Rye how to do that.

No, he hadn't.


Guess we better hold on and pay attention. Our babies grow up in the blink of an eye.

Friday, June 20, 2008


My sister called yesterday for advice.

Here was her situation:

A co-worker who she is friendly with took the day off. She and her family were having a garage sale, her son was selling lemonade, etc., so at some point during the day, my sister stopped by to say hi.

While there, the child brought her into the house to show her the turtle they'd found on the side of the road.

My sister, an animal lover and vegetarian like me, was skeptical but followed the boy inside.

And there indeed was a gigantic snapping turtle inside a cooler with about an inch of water. The cooler was closed. There were no holes to let air in.

My sister was horrified.

And then it got worse.

Her co-worker's husband announced they were going to eat it that night.

My sister went back to work and couldn't shake what she'd just seen. She called a local conservation board, who told her it was illegal for them to keep the turtle. At this point, she called me.

Should she turn them in? Should she say something to her co-worker about how wrong this seemed?

Should she do nothing?

Ultimately, I suggested she do nothing.

But I hate that answer.

Later, my sister did call the Natural Resources District (that turtle doesn't have a voice, she decided). And they told her that, if you have a license, you can in fact trap and kill snapping turtles.

This person likely does not have a license, but the legality of it clear, she let it go.

We talked on the phone later that night and I said, "Well, if it was a cat or a dog, of course, you would have said something right away."

And almost as soon as I said it, while I knew it was true, I thought, "Wait. What? Really? Why is a turtle's life less valuable than a cat's?"

But in society, it just generally is.

It's the same reason people eat cows and pigs and chickens and turkeys every day - sometimes all three meals - without blinking an eye.

But they wouldn't eat Sadie the Cocker Spaniel or Fluffy the Maine Coon.

It's one of those realities that just is the way it is.

But I wish it wasn't.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Baby fever

I've got it.

I'm not dangerously burning up yet, but this fever ... it just keeps hanging around. I can't shake it.

It seems to get worse when I see people I know with babies.

Or when I see adorable little girls in any of the millions of adorable little-girl outfits.

Or when Rye is being so precocious I just can't help smiling. (So far, 3 is, like I thought, a really, really great age).

We ran into Rye's old daycare provider last weekend. She was pushing a stroller. I knew there had to be a newborn inside.

We were in the car, but she and her husband saw us and they invited us to take a peek at the baby.

How could I say no?

So we pulled over and got out and when I saw the baby, I think I sort of silently gasped. He was SO TINY. I had forgotten they are ever that small. And he was sleeping. Is there anything better -- I mean, come on, really -- than a sleeping baby?

Rye's current daycare provider is also expecting a baby. It will be her second, and I can tell she is so excited. Slowly, her tummy is growing, just like the baby's wardrobe. Already, this baby that's due in JANUARY has cuter clothes than I.

And suddenly I find myself thinking more and more about babies and baby things.

Even maternity clothes.

That must mean I'm really ready.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's a twister

The wind is blowing outside, and hail and rain are pelting our house.

The tornado sirens started blaring halfway through dinner, around 6:30 tonight. No one was wasting anytime today, after the tornados that wreaked havoc with little to no warning in the middle of the night Sunday.

Dane turned on the TV upstairs, and I waited about 30 seconds before heading with Rye downstairs. So we are here.

Just waiting for it all to pass.

We are glued to the TV and the computer. The World-Herald has a pretty cool live update going on. Readers are asking questions and a Webmaster is answering them.

On Sunday, we all lucked out. Some people lost their homes, yes. But nobody lost their lives.

Tonight is different.

And it's potentially heartbreaking.

Authorities have already said four people were killed at a Boy Scout camp in Little Sioux, Iowa. We don't know who they are or where they're from. But I can't get the thought out of my head: They were probably kids.

I've been keeping Rye closer, and even though he's squirming and wiggling and bumping my arms as I try to type right now, he's right where I want him.

Be safe, everyone.

Da-da Da-da Da-da Da-da Batman

When I was little, my dad and I would walk to a nearby park in Wisconsin where we lived. We'd slap plastic bands on our wrists and instantly become superheroes.

I was always Wonder Woman. My dad, if I'm remembering correctly, liked to be Batman or Robin. We always had a soft spot in our hearts for Robin.

We'd run around the park, spinning on the merry ground, scaling the monkey bars, jumping and saying things like, "Kazam!"

I loved this game.

Fittingly, my dad gave Rye this Batman mask for his birthday last month.

We also like this quite a bit. In fact, we've all taken turns wearing it.

There's just something totally empowering about pretending to be a superhero.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nosy neighbor

The wind blew tiny wisps of hair that had slipped from my ponytail, and I squinted a bit in the bright light that shone on the softball field.

Out there, adults played like children, swinging and missing, swinging and pelting the big, round ball to the outfield, running and sliding and laughing and being too serious about a strikeout.

My close friend and I sat nearby on the metal bleachers. They were the kind that would surely leave my legs red and imprinted with lines had I not been wearing jeans.

We leaned forward, hands cupping our legs, a sort of huddle against the too-cool-for-summer evening breeze.

This was her game to be at. They were her employees playing. And since we often struggle to make time for each other, she invited me along.

I was happy to go, and I left home with little guilt. The game was late enough, I still put the boy that life revolves around to bed.

So there we were, cold but happy and carefree, with enough time to catch up.

She mentioned the shirts her players were wearing. That reminded me of the company T-shirts many of us had worn to work, at our boss' urging, that day. The group photo we'd taken. I told her about it.

Then we talked about the high school reunion that's coming up, the one I'm helping plan. I recruited her to be THE decorating committee and we debated even wanting to go at all. There is courage in numbers, though, and we agreed to attend.

We talked about other things - her sister's lucrative new marketing job, for one - and then the lady who was sitting next to us interrupted.

It was quickly clear that she'd been listening closely. To every single word we said.

She offered suggestions for the reunion decorations, which involved asking my employer to print pictures of all 300 classmates (um, no) and borrowing crystal vases from the wedding of one of my friend's co-workers (again, I don't think so).

While they weren't bad ideas and this woman was nice enough, I couldn't help but feel a little violated. After all, it wasn't her conversation. My mind scanned back through everything we'd said. Did I say anything awful?

Afterward, we turned to watch the game that by this time seemed like it would never end. I wrapped the bottom of my jeans around my toes to try to stay warm.

And we sat mostly in silence.

When we did talk, our voices were low, and we chose our words carefully.

Later, over a drink, we both immediately vented about the situation. We used words like awkward and uncomfortable. Harmless? Probably.

But still.

When old friends get together, others should -- most of the time, at least -- just let them be.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Animal lover Ashley

My sister has a blog now, too.

She is 12 ... going on 16.

Her name is Ashley and she loves animals. Appropriately, her blog's name reflects that.

So far, she has a couple posts; the most recent one begins, "My brother, Justin, is bugging me right now."


And she promises to tell us more about the hamster city she has built at her mom's, dad's and grandparents' houses. (It all started with an innocent plea for just two hamsters who could be friends. They didn't know the two innocent hamsters would reproduce like crazy.).

She's also going to fill us in on her move to the basement, which has been a year or more in the making.

And I'm sure there will be more tales of adolescence to be found there as well.

Anyway, visit her here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm feeling hot, hot, hot

It's finally warmed up in eastern Nebraska, and the humidity is in full force.


Where are my western Colorado dry-heat summers?

I ran over lunch today and did not think I was going to die but did feel very uncomfortable from about 20 minutes in and on.

As I ran past the fountains and lake in a park, I could think about only two things: Jumping in and drinking it.

I did neither of those things, but I did end up lengthening my normal route by about 3/4 of a mile. Bad idea on such a hot, humid day.

I finished just fine but just felt SO HOT.

I laid down on the locker room floor when I was finished (I know, but it seems very clean) just to let the coolness of the tile cool down my insides.

Then I showered and realized I'd forgotten a towel.

Still sweating after the shower, I used paper towels to dry off.


I will not forget my towel again.

Then I put my nice New York & Co. work clothes back on and ventured back into the heat.

At my air-conditioned desk, I was still sweating.

At home now, I am hot. We broke down and finally turned on the air conditioning the minute we got inside, though it's going to take a while, I fear, for it to really feel comfortable.

I am drinking Gatorade.

Summer has arrived, sort of just like that. Late but recognizable. Hot but good.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

NKOTB update

New Kids on the Block are coming to Omaha. I wrote a month or so ago about the Chicago concert Jenny and I almost attended but couldn't. Why? Because it sold out -- in about 10 minutes. And the despair I felt.

But fear not, friends. Because I totally scored good tickets yesterday to their Omaha show, which is way better than traveling to Chicago for a concert anyway.

I showed up at the Qwest Center about 90 minutes before tickets went on sale, hoping to secure a good spot in line. I had no idea how many people would be there. Turns out, there were five. But -- and I should have realized -- the arena did a lottery to see who would buy tickets first, second, third and so on at 9:30 anyway. So when I arrived didn't matter.

Eh, no big deal for me. So I wasted an hour. But I did feel for the woman had who had been there SINCE 4 A.M. with her 2-YEAR-OLD. She ended up last in line.

Yep, last. Out of about 30 people, so she still got good tickets, I'm sure. But still.

I, on the other hand, was second in the lottery!

Things were going my way. And that was awesome.

I didn't get front-row seats, or even second or third or fourth. No, somehow the first 20 rows of seats were already sold before tickets went on sale. I didn't question it. Rather, I've decided to be very happy with seventh row in the lower balcony section right next to the stage.

As Jenny pointed out, not only will we be able to see them better from that vantage point, we'll also be able to breathe more of their air (than if we were 20 rows back). Either way, we'll be WAY closer than we were the last time we saw them, Nov. 9, 1990, in Ames, Iowa. We were in the fifth grade, and we were way up in about the highest seats in the house (similar to when I saw Michael Jordan play his last home game as a Washington Wizard in 2003). Still, we were there then and that was awesome, too.

But a much better view and more of their air?

I'll take it.