Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas "Break" Continued

Last night, my friend Brittany invited me to get pho with her and some of her friends. It was my first time, and it was delicious. I had chicken pho, which I guess isn't "real" pho, but it was really, really good. It was fun to see her and give her her birthday/Christmas presents.

I came home and slept really well although I was worried about my cat. I actually was pretty anxious just to hear them call and tell us, "OK, we relieved his constipation. He's eaten something. He's doing better. Come pick him up."

So this morning I texted my friend to make sure we were still on for lunch. She asked if we could switch to breakfast. That was OK with me. We had a great time talking at Peppertree Cafe. It is so fun talking with and feeling comfortable with people you haven't really talked to in a couple of years, especially when you live so far apart and have such different lives. I still connect with her and feel so much love and connection there. It's nice to be reminded of it, and those types of conversations always energize me.

I came home super happy about my breakfast. I was ready to have a good workout.

But my mom broke the news that the vet had called. The cat had feline leukemia and a failing liver. They had tried to medicate him, but he had thrown up even more.

We all knew what that meant pretty immediately. One at a time we cried in the backyard.

We waited for Therese, Jake's on again off again girlfriend, to come with us because she has been close with our cat the past five years. All of us except Jason headed to the vet.

The doctor brought him out of the cage and set him on the table. He was really confused seeing all of us. It was a lot of commotion for him. He was still low energy. Dogs were barking the next room over, staying in the cages in the back. I finally had them shut that door, like this moment wasn't chaotic enough without the noise.

He gave him an initial shot which basically paralyzed him. They called it "relaxing," but it forced him to lie down and become immobile. That was awful to watch. We all were sobbing. Jared had the hardest time. That cat has been around for 14 of Jared's 17 years. It was painful touching his beautiful, long tail and feeling no response.

The doctor came back in and basically seemed to be rushing us through everything. He put a band around our cat's paw and administered the shot. He was gone within a few seconds.

We stayed around another couple of minutes saying our goodbyes to our amazing cat. We filed out, dad, then Jared, then mom, and me. Jake and Therese stayed behind, much to the doctor's frustration. He wanted us and them out.

As we walked to the car I expressed to mom how very sad I was that he had spent his last night in a cage in an unfamiliar, noisy place with dogs. My mom reminded me how hungry and dehydrated he was, and explained that he would've died at home from dehydration if we hadn't taken him to the vet to get him an IV. We wouldn't have been able to say goodbye.

I don't like that I sat and watched him starve for three days. It was very upsetting and stressful. I was on watch every hour, making sure he hadn't moved, making sure he was still alive. Not fun.

After getting home, I ran two miles and did another 10 minute workout. I found a quarter on my run. I don't know if that means anything. I do know that I had to run after what happened. I missed my cat, and the morning had been completely overwhelming.

As I waited for Kristen to arrive, I went through all my old photos looking for pictures and videos of our kitty. It's been fun to look through them and see him when he was younger. I now have them all in one folder, so they're easy to find.

My friend Kristen asked if she could come from Thousand Oaks to hang out with me. I could certainly use the company on this awful day, so she arrived around 2:30.

She brought me some beautiful flowers. So sweet and thoughtful, as usual.

We hung out, ran some errands--Payless, Target, and Stater Bros. Then we went to dinner at Legends, and came home and talked some more.

It's been a pretty rough day, and I miss my cat. We're all struggling with the loss.

We feel your absence, Shibby Kitty. We love you.

Our cat's famous "trick." It's how he asked for food. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Christmas "Break"

It was only two hours of being home before mom and I couldn't stand it. It was overwhelming. It was pungent. It was sickening.

It was the couch.

The boys had been living with the couch for several months while my mom was away. She insisted she could clean it with Nature's Miracle treatment. One whiff of that thing would straightaway tell you otherwise.

It had absorbed cat and dog urine repeatedly. It was lain on by dogs.

Every time I walked by it, I started to involuntarily gag. It was that bad.

So mom made her executive decision: the couch had to go.

The adventure began.

As Jake and Jared headed toward the couch to start moving it out, Jake yelled out, "What the hell?" He pointed toward the pillow on the arm of the couch. It was leaning against the wall. There was a brown, stinky pile on top of it. Jared slowly pulled the pillow off to take it outside, trying not to let the droppings fall onto the floor. It didn't work. As Jake started to move the couch, he realized that he had stepped in some.

The smell was unlike anything I could ever describe. Maybe you could take the worst feces smell imaginable, add some sickliness to it, maybe some vomit, and you'd get the idea. Poor Jake got some paper towels and tried to clean up the smeared, stinky mess off the floor. As he was doing so, he had to cover his face with his shirt. When his shirt fell down, he started to gag. Jared came in to start helping to move the couch. Then he had to run outside as he was gagging and trying not to vomit. I was standing there laughing.

Dad came in the house, wondering about the commotion. As he smelled what everyone else was smelling, he started to gag too. He ran outside and leaned over the grass, trying not to vomit.

I cried and coughed from laughter in the hallway as they moved the couch out piece by piece.

This was all in the first few hours of being home. It's always an adventure here.

That same night, as my mom attempted to organize the presents, she opened one without a tag to find out what it was and who it was for. She quickly realized she had done something bad and yelled for someone to come rewrap the present because she "Didn't want to see anything she wasn't supposed to." So basically she learned that night what her gift was from my dad: a KitchenAid.

I went for a run and did a quick arm workout. I wanted Casa del Rey for dinner. So I showered and got ready, and when I was done, my mom and Jared were having an emotional talk outside.

I learned just as we were leaving for dinner that part of the emotional talk was Jared sharing the photo calendar I made my mom FOR HER CHRISTMAS PRESENT! I don't know what the kid was thinking, since I texted him, and I quote, "I shipped mom's photo calendar for Christmas to you. Be sure to get it out of the mail for me." And he responded, "You got it, Nae!"

How he forgot that it wasn't for him or the family, I don't know. But he did. And he showed mom her Christmas present. So now she had nothing to open on Christmas. I was furious, and I verbally assaulted Jared. I apologized later for being so upset about it. Even though I was the one who put all the work into it, and I wanted to see her reaction to it. :( I'm still pretty disappointed.

We went to Casa del Rey and had quite a good time, actually. I helped add some decorations to the tree, and it looks amazing.

On Sunday, I headed to church at my parents' ward at 9 AM, where some original 4th ward members still reside. It was a small Christmas program, and the Relief Society lesson was on Christ's birth. It was great. It gave me lots of ideas for Christmas Eve's activity. The Merkleys came by with a plate of goodies for us that afternoon as I was practicing piano.

I helped mom by adding ribbons and bows to the presents she wrapped. They looked awesome, if I may say so myself. Mom decided she wanted Peppertree for dinner, so Ashleigh came with the boys, my mom, and me. Jason was pretty rambunctious and inappropriate--super surprising, I'm sure. Hopefully we didn't bother too many people in there, but we had some fun.

On Monday, I worked out--just ran two miles and did the last 10 minutes of the 15-minute workout I like to use. I ran some errands--namely to Dollar Tree to get stuff for mom's stocking. I also got myself a donut, and got a few groceries (spinach, cucumber, dressing, bananas, clementines, you know...). Later, Mom, Jake, and I went to the bank, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, PetsMart, and Stater Bros. to get baking supplies. Dad made dinner that night as we were out doing errands--he did a stir fry with chicken, bell peppers, and other yummy veggies, plus brown rice. It was pretty delicious.

That night, I doubled my recipe for oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies. It ended up being somewhere around 120 cookies, probably. I made over 90 Chinese chews while the cookies baked. I made a batch of sugar cookie dough. And I made a batch of fudge without any guidance from my mom. That's right. I did all the Christmas baking myself, folks.

On Tuesday, I ran a mile and did workout 1 from Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.

As I rolled out the sugar cookie dough on Tuesday, mom's visiting teacher dropped by with a loaf of poppyseed bread. Rick Ingram dropped by with a plate of amazing treats. I got the sugar cookies done relatively quickly.

I arranged, wrapped, and labeled around 20 plates, and mom drove me to deliver them to everyone on our list. We tried to calculate a route in advance, and I'm proud to say that with one minor difference, the route I planned matched the one on this website. I am the queen of efficiency. We saved the addresses and the delivery route on my Word document so it'll be easier next year. It was fun seeing everyone. It took about three hours, which is longer than I'm used to, but it was good that everyone was home, and it's always fun saying hi.

As we were out that evening, my dad again made dinner: bleu cheese burgers and fries. They were delicious. I can't say I felt awesome afterward though.

My mom and I made the turkey marinade after dinner. I had to go get lemons from the tree down the street and got ants all over me. I'm not a fan of bugs in general, but I especially dislike ants. I don't know what it is. Don't ask me to explain. So we covered the turkey, and dad injected it. It sat marinating all day on Wednesday in the fridge! Yum.

Tuesday night, my cat got really sick. He threw up all over the entryway. He started acting funny. He was wobbly, meowing at nothing, and had low energy. I moved him onto a towel in the family room. He drank a ton of water. He woke me up twice in the night with more vomit. The first one was around 2 AM, and it had specks of blood tissue in it. I was getting really worried. The second time was around 5 AM, and it was all the water he had drank, plus a bloody color. He got upset if you tried to touch him near his rear end. And his tail was twitching erratically. I was really worried.

The posture of a suffering animal :( 
I'll spare you the vomit pictures I showed the vet.

On Wednesday morning, my dad and I took the cat to the vet. They did an X ray and gave him some medicine, along with a blood test. His X-ray came up clear, showing a bowel movement ready to happen. Satisfied that nothing was seriously wrong, we brought him home.

I ran 5k (3.1 miles) just because I didn't feel like doing any resistance training. I had a lot of neck pain. I made a delicious salad for lunch. Then I had my dad take me to the grocery store so we could buy some things for dinner. I made my family and Kellie some coconut butternut squash soup. It is so good. Everyone added stuff to it, so I guess it was pretty bland for them :( But I like it prepared by the recipe. I think it's subtle and creamy. Oh well.

We cleaned all that up. I chopped up some onions and celery to get that ready for the stuffing the next day. My mom had the yams ready to go. The boys helped get the breakfast casseroles ready.

Then we had a little Christmas Eve talk, where I read a lot of what was in the manual on Sunday in Relief Society. We opened our presents. The boys all got slippers, and I got a new cervical pillow. It hasn't worked for me so far, but that might be different once I get to sleep on a real bed. Also maybe once I feel better in general, it'll work.

The cat spent all of Wednesday after the vet hiding under my brother's bed. He wouldn't eat or drink anything. I was pretty worried.

On Thursday, I got woken up early by Jared coughing, of course. I looked through my stocking. I made some tea with honey as I started to not feel very well on Wednesday night. I started the breakfast casseroles in the oven and got the cinnamon rolls ready. We went and picked up Jason. We ate breakfast and finished watching A Christmas Story.

It was a great Christmas. We opened presents. I peeled potatoes. Jason helped mom stuff the turkey. Jason got it in the oven. Dad and I tried to shove medicine down the cat's throat. We started Remember the Titans, relaxing for a bit, and then I went back in to help mom with the tail end of the gravy and mashed potatoes. I helped her start the zucchini and carrots.

We ate by a little after five PM. It was all delicious, as expected. We had a nice time at the table just talking and stuff.

Dad and I cleaned up dinner. He put food away, and I did all the dishes.

Jason and Kellie put on The Patriot. They left around 10:40. I spent the rest of the night watching and worrying about my cat. I cried thinking about him hurting, and thinking about him dying. He slept with me on the couch last night. I woke up and decided to do a Google search, since I suspected all along that he just needed to go to the bathroom. He hadn't gone at all, even after the X-ray. He had a majority of the symptoms listed on webMD. A loss of appetite. Lethargy. Vomiting.

The vet called dad this morning to tell him the blood results weren't in yet due to the holiday. But we brought him back in, insisting it was a blockage. Watching my cat starve to death hasn't been the best experience of my life. He lost a half a pound, which is a lot when you only weigh 11 lbs to begin with. We left him at the vet this morning, and hopefully he will feel better tomorrow when we come to get him. Also I hope it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, since my dad paid a bunch of money on Wednesday for things that weren't even necessary.

This morning, I tried the step-by-step DVD of my Zumba pack I got for Christmas. It was fun learning the names of things I've already done in class countless times. It was good to get moving after my rather inactive day on Christmas. I also tried 25 minutes of one of the Zumba workouts. I took it easy because I have a killer headache today. Like, one of the worst I've ever had.

I made a deposit at the bank and got myself a Starbucks in an attempt to help my headache. It helped a little bit. But it gets horrible when I walk, when I bend over, and when I swallow. My ears also hurt when I swallow. Besides that, I can breathe, my throat feels OK. Hopefully it will stay out of my chest since my youngest brother (who got us all sick) has bronchitis. I feel like my family gets me sick every Christmas.

I have a few days left here at home. Hopefully I get to see a couple of friends before I head back, which will probably be on Tuesday. We're supposed to get some sibling pictures taken on Sunday since our last ones were done about six and a half years ago. I am hoping we all feel better by then.

A night of good sleep without a painful neck would also be very helpful for me. I guess you could say I'd prefer to sleep in my own bed. Who wouldn't?

It's been a pretty good trip so far, one of the better holidays in the past five years. I've done a lot of work and spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my feet hurting; my mom can't do everything with her bad wrist. It's been pretty tiring, as I did all the Christmas baking, plate making, ribbon/bow wrapping, dinner on the 23rd, and prepping for Christmas dinner with the marinade and chopping. But I'm happy to help. Of course, there's also been a considerable amount of contention and hostility that come with every trip home, but I try to stay positive and love my family for what it is. After all, we are pretty fun. And while we lack a lot of function, and though we may not always like each other, we do love each other.

My Christmas Haul

I mention every year that I don't know why I make a list of everything I received for Christmas. I know that Christmas isn't about the things. I'd still be a happy girl if I got nothing! I really would. Even just Christmas cards or letters would make me happy. So it's not about listing the number of things or how many material items I got. I guess it's a way to account for everything. Maybe to make sure I make full use of it all and to show I'm grateful for all of it.

Also it makes it easy to do thank you cards. :)

From my parents:
A tri-core pillow for my awful sleeping positions
4 sports bras
2 pair of workout bottoms
A Zumba DVD pack  <3 nbsp="" p="">A mezzaluna chopper
A collapsible salad spinner
A stainless steel serving set
A candy mold
21 Day Sugar Detox
Pajamas that say "I know I'm not perfect but I'm so close it's scary"
2 Victoria's Secret bras
Forever 21 socks
Remember the Titans DVD
Cinderella DVD
Black flats
Scrapbook supplies and album (?)

Stocking stuffers:
A silver necklace that says "daughter, my love for you has no end"
A red phone charger
A shell puzzle and glue
A "no" button
Nail polishes
Two magnets
A gloved ice scraper
Fuzzy socks
Candy (kisses, Dove, M&Ms, Candy Cane kisses, Lindor)
A loofah
Torani caramel syrup
A massager thing
A hot chocolate kit
LED book light

From Patrick:
$40 gift card to Target (for curtains, he says)
A new shower head (it's glorious!)
A jump rope
A braided resistance band
Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown

From Rachel:
Trader Joe's coconut spray oil
Trader Joe's chocolate covered Jojo's
Trader Joe's dark chocolate cookie butter cups
Trader Joe's coconut pancake mix (YES! so excited)
Ghirardelli 60%
People Magazine featuring Chris Hemsworth (oh so lovely)

From my students:
A cute homemade card from Che'anne
A cute homemade card/letter from Bradley
A reusable cup with candy and cocoa from Ilyssa
A $10 Starbucks gift card from Chasiti
Ghirardelli dark chocolate and mint from Griselda
Dove dark chocolate from Amanda

From Work:
A $15 In-N-Out gift card from Randi
Two scented waxes from Tracy

From PTSA:
Cherry Chapstick (for a "chappy" new year..?)

From Carmen (my childhood nanny):
A sewn patch blanket
Three "easy meals" cooking magazines
A Marie Callendar's pancake mix and pan

From my grandpa Gabe:

From my grandpa Mike:

From my roommate Mariah:
A box of hot chocolate mix packs
A box of apple cider mix packs
Two mugs
Cinnamon sticks
$25 gift card to Starbucks (holy moly!)

Monday, December 1, 2014

You're Not Enough

I saw {this article} going around sometime last week, called "21 Women on the Simple Act of Chivalry that Men Don't Do Enough."

Honestly, I still haven't read it. Don't worry, I will before I finish this post. The thing is, I don't have to read the article in order to make my point.

Does anyone besides me feel like men get criticized a lot? I see memes get passed around about "cute things girls wish you'd do," and all this other garbage. And I see more of them attacking men than I do women. That is, if I disregard all the jokes about how women don't make sense or don't know what they want (cue the "it's not that simple" clip from The Notebook).

I've heard multiple times throughout my life that if you want to encourage good behavior, you have to proportion your positive to negative comments at 7 : 1. I was curious if that was actually the case, so I found {this article} that suggests a 5.6 : 1 ratio. I don't know how you can give .6 of a positive comment, but there that is.

On one hand, I can't fault women for directly suggesting something they want a man to do. I think women could use more directness in general, and men appreciate that kind of straightforward feedback. But when it's overwhelming, like a list of "21 things you're failing at" in so many words, where is somebody even supposed to start?

As a passenger in his car, I've noticed that I frequently order Patrick to signal. I try to be a considerate driver, and I like to give people notice of what I'm doing. So when he doesn't signal (until he's turning, guys), I get frustrated. After ordering him to signal repeatedly, he's actually started doing it! Guess what I switched my comments to recently? "I'm so glad you signaled so early! That tells that guy he can turn sooner! Good job, honey!" It might sound condescending, but it doesn't seem to bother him (or maybe he just hasn't told me because he thinks I'm a monster or something--sorry babe). The point is, I've switched my comments to positive versions now. I probably should have been doing this all along.

The article I noted above says, "Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they’re doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity."

When the bell rings in my class, students are expected to start a journal immediately. So when that bell rings, I instantly start picking out individuals doing what they're supposed to do, and I thank them for that specific behavior. "Oh, I see ______ is starting his journal, thank you! And ______ has her pencil ready to go--nice job!" Suddenly, the kids who are slacking start panicking to get started. And the kids who got praised want to do the same thing next class.

I can attest to the truthfulness of the positive to negative ratio based on my job alone. So ladies, if you see anything on that list of 21 things that your man already does, let him know you appreciate it. It will go a lot further than listing the negatives. It will work in your favor, by the way, because when men want to do something awesome with more vigor, determination, and creativity--you're going to notice!

Forgive my public display of appreciation; you can stop reading here if you don't want to see it.

He's great with babies, too ;)
To my Patrick: I found nine things on that list of 21 that you're great at. I love that you called me regularly when we started talking again. I appreciate you opening doors and offering me your coat even though you think I'm silly for not bringing one with me. You always walk on the outside of the sidewalk--not saying anything about it, but maneuvering so that that's the case. Thanks for coming to my door to get me, and for patiently waiting if I am not ready. You're a great tipper, and I love that you have cash on you for tipping and just general spending. I love that I never have to pay for our dates, and that you never make me feel bad for ordering a soda. I appreciate that you respect our relationship and our privacy. You are thoughtful and are so good to me, and I'm publicly thanking you so you keep being wonderful. You often joke that you're a terrible boyfriend. It is entirely the opposite. I am lucky to have you. Thank you for setting the bar so high.