My Friend Susan

I love her smile.

My friend Susan is all I have been thinking about for the last few days. I love that woman so much.

You may have seen the slide shows that Teach Mama put together for her to watch. They’re full of photos of friends of Susan’s. They are beautiful. When making them, she suggested that we take photos of ourselves with a word that we felt describes Susan.

For a lot of reasons, I chose “THOUGHTFUL.” I chose that word because it combines two things that Susan has so much of: brains and heart. There are so many times that I have watched her make thoughtful, active decisions when so many others (i.e. me) would just flail away and hope shit worked out. There are also so many times when she could have legitimately been focused solely on herself only to reach out to me about something going on with my family. I’m not the only friend she does this for either. She is an extremely giving person.

As I’ve been thinking of her so much over the past few days, so many stories and memories came to mind. I remember back in the day when I first knew her and her older son was such an adorable little guy then (still is, although bigger now) who would wander around during our moms’ club meetings, winning the hearts of all the moms there. There was the night she and I and another friend got together to share our wedding photo albums with each other. I spent a big chunk of that night cuddling with her sweet second son, who was just a baby at the time. Recently, I would go over to her house with Big Gulps for each of us and we would drink them and talk. It’s kinda our thing.

So many good memories. So much laughing. And every time I hang out with her, I swear I learn something. Her husband is such a great partner for her and has always managed to be charming and delightful when I’ve been around. (Even that day years ago when he was trying to work on his important, you know, SPACE STUFF on his laptop on the couch as I chased my three recalcitrant kids around their living room in an effort to extract them from his house.) I am grateful to have gotten to know him as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I was there when the sun came out from behind a cloud, activating this little solar powered rotating prism he had gotten for Susan. We sat in the swirling rainbows that her husband had given her. It was really cool.

And her kids. Everything is for her sweet, beautiful kids who have always been so kind, creative, and fun.

Susan is an extremely loving, present, smart, fun, brave, wonderful, strong woman. I love her dearly and am so grateful to have her in my life.

Susan has given a lot, be it to her family, to her friends, to women in science, or to women fighting cancer. It’s our turn. I know a lot of you want to share your love with her too. If you are so inclined, share a memory or a love note with Susan on the WhyMommy Love Fest Facebook page. Send mail to her at her P.O. box: Susan Niebur; 11006 Veirs Mill Road, Suite L-15 #112; Wheaton, MD 20902. If you pray, know that she does too, and I’m sure she would welcome your prayers.

As for me, it’s simple. Here is what I have to say: Susan, I love you. Always. I just want you to know that.

The Izz-Bird

I had a cat named Izzy. She used to be Isabella, but about five minutes after I brought her home, I realized that Isabella was way too sophisticated for her, and Izzy she became. Also, sometimes Izz-Bird, or more accurately, The Izz-Bird.

This is her:

Now, I’m sure YOUR cat is awesome and all, but Izzy is the best cat. She spent the first half of her life being a silly, playful cat and then she relaxed into a wonderful, cuddly cat for a long time. I used to have to fake sleep in the morning, because if she caught me with my eyes open, she would poke at my face with her paw so I would pet her.

She also spent a couple of years as one of Jack’s best friends.

About a year and a half ago, Izzy got sick. Really sick. We weren’t sure she was going to make it. She was in renal failure and it was touchy for a while. Soon enough though, we got her medicine and fluids under control and she stayed happily healthy on her maintenance plan. She was expensive as hell, what with her four twice-daily medicines, her special food, and her daily subcutaneous fluids, but she got her energy back and was fun and happy for 18 months.

We had a little routine, Izzy and I. Every evening for the past year and a half, I would go upstairs to my bedroom, where she mostly stayed, and I would feed her. I would lie on my bed and she would eat and then she would come sit with me. I would hang out with her for an hour or so and give her the medication and fluids that kept her healthy. I would scratch her under the chin and she would purr.

That cat purred all the time.

Then, a week or so ago, she started getting noticeably bonier. And more lethargic. And I couldn’t not take her to the vet. So yesterday, I took her in and the vet did some tests and the results weren’t good. Our options were to go “all in” with a blood transfusion, hospitalization, and IV fluids or to…well, that part was sort of left unsaid.

But even if we did go all in, there were no guarantees. It seemed like a lot—for us, for Izzy, for our kids—with little chance of long-term success. I had known for a year and a half that this decision was coming. I knew there would come a day when I would be sitting in an exam room and have to make the last appointment I ever wanted to make. But it was the right choice for my family and it was the right choice for Izzy.

She was cuddly. Always cuddly.

I made an appointment to come back the next morning, because I needed my kids to be able to say goodbye. They have all known Izzy for their entire lives. They deserved to say goodbye. And I needed to do so as well.

My kids were sad. Alex was sad. Sam was brokenhearted, but always practical, noted that he would have to try to make friends with Denali, our other cat, who does not like children. Jack went upstairs and laid down next to Izzy, put his finger out for her to sniff and said, “I love you, Izzy.” Quinn giggled at how cute Izzy was and patted her on the head over and over and asked if we could make a poster to remember her.

I spent the whole evening with Izzy. The rest of Team Stimey came to visit now and again throughout the evening. Sam, Jack, and Quinn all made notes for Izzy to tell her she was the best cat. They all let her know how much they loved her. They were all very gentle.

This morning everyone said goodbye to Izzy before they went to work and school. I came home and sat with her until it was time to take her in. The whole event was very gentle. The vet gave her a sedative so she would fall asleep and I scratched her under her chin as she did.

She fell asleep purring.

I’m going to miss her. I’ll miss her soft fur. Tonight, when I didn’t have my excuse to spend a quiet hour upstairs with my furry buddy, I missed her a lot. But I’ll be okay. She lived for almost 16 years, and she had 18 months of healthy life more than we thought she would. The munchkins are all very sad, but we’re talking about it and they’re going to be okay.

And that poster? The one Quinn wanted to make to remember her by?

It’s beautiful.

Rear Window

My family is having a little bit of a pet crisis today. It will be “resolved” tomorrow, but not in the happy way. I’ll tell you about it later.

I decided to tell you about something different and light and funny because it is less sad. Somewhere along the line, I decided that the light and funny post should be about my rear windshield wiper. Because that is a logical leap.

I think I mistook “light and funny” with “stupid and boring.”

I even Photoshopped a whole graphic about the rear windshield wiper story.

Then, I got ready to actually write the post and I looked at the notes that I’d scribbled earlier today that I thought were really funny at the time and it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I thought the windshield wiper story was funny just because it was not tragically sad, like my cat story.

Mental note: Don’t judge humor whilst crying and clutching your sick cat.

Really, here is the story: The wiper was broken and loud. Alex told me how to fix it. I fixed it.

I am going to go cuddle with my kitty tonight. See you tomorrow.

*****

Remember the playground? You know, the scary one, where I rolled my kids in bubble wrap and refused to let them play, taunting them with the joy of the non-helicopter parented kids? I wrote about it again, this time over at the local Patch.com site I write for. I have a new friend over there in the comments section who HATES ME.

Finally. A Good Parenting Decision.

You know how I always dress Jack in camouflage, which is the dumbest thing ever because he likes to explore plants and dirt and whatnot, but always at the periphery of whatever location we are in? Well, Alex and I smartened up. After Jack took apart the zipper on his last winter coat (which was black with camouflage-y markings), making it substantially less warm, we bought him a new coat—in the brightest color the store had.

It’s even brighter than it looks. We will never lose him again.

Also, because January is apparently spring, all winter coats seem to be 50-70% off. Awesome.

And, yes, Jack is giving the dog bunny ears for the photo above. It is endlessly humiliating to be our dog.

A Little Bit About Everyone

I’m kind of avoiding a lot of stuff right now, so I decided to tell you about a few things that have been happening around here, things that might not make their own successful post, but will do nicely when stacked together.

Hey, do you remember Quinn’s school photo? The one that was so bad that I had it retaken? The one wherein his eyes were closed? If you don’t remember, you should go look at it now before you continue on.

Well, I sent him in for his retake and told him to try to keep his eyes open. Then I sat back and waited for the arrival of a retake photo in which Quinn’s eyes were almost comically open.

It is even better than I had hoped.

I do believe someone combed his hair as well.

*****

The principal at Jack and Quinn’s school is leaving for another job. And since he was already gone on a short-term assignment, that means he is just GONE. He’s not coming back. I have feelings of distress about this for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggies is because I knew Jack was going to be sad.

See, for the first couple of years of elementary school, Jack was sent to the office on a regular basis, but the principal, you know, got it and managed to make Jack feel good about himself. Sometimes when Jack just needed to calm down a little lot, he would get sent to the principal to chill out. The dude was pretty much Jack’s best friend for a while.

I told Jack this morning and he started to cry. I felt like joining him.

*****

As for Sam, well, he gets cooler every single day. I had no idea how fun age ten was. I also had no idea how much better ADHD medicine could make Sam’s life. That dude has gotten so much more chill since starting his meds this fall. He’s happier, he’s less anxious, he talks more, he lets people do things like hug him. It’s really amazing. If you would have described current Sam to me four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Honestly, on a day-to-day, practical, count-the-meltdowns basis, he used to be my hardest kid. Now he is an absolute delight. He smiles more too. I love that.

Love that kid.

*****

I got a haircut today, but because I live with four boys, no one really noticed. I mean, I cut off probably 8 inches and now I have bangs, but my kiddos still haven’t noticed. To his credit, Alex figured it out in under an hour.

I had to suffer through almost an hour of small talk for it (I think maybe that’s why I only get my hair cut once a year or so), but I’m happy with the results.

*****

Alex did some stuff too, but they were fancy lawyer things, so I don’t know what they were.

I Wish I Had Something to Say

I was hopeful that I would write a really fun post today, something to get us over the controversy of the playground, but I got nothin’. My kids are in school instead of being at home doing amusing things for your benefit.

Also, Jack falls apart at school every January, which means that school is kind of a shitshow right now. Which is kind of a bummer.

I also have this cyclical, chronic, low-level depression thing going on, but that isn’t a lot of fun to talk about either.

Here is what I DO have:

• You guys, there is this awesome show that I’m sure none of you have ever heard of before, but holy shit, I’ve been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix streaming (*I* still love you, Netflix!) and I am in love. It’s fortunate that I’m not sixteen years behind the trends or anything.

• As if living with other human beings isn’t noisy enough, my dog, who spent the day right next to me, had a near-constant stomach gurgle for several hours today.

• We hired a cleaning service because I am terrible at, you know, house upkeep. However, the stress of avoiding them on the day they come is reaching epic proportions. This is mostly because I feel bratty for being home during the day, but not cleaning. The other six days of the week, however, are spent in sparkly clean joy.

• I had to go see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. THAT was the longest six years I ever spent in a movie theater. I wrote about that movie in terms of the sacrifices of parenthood over at Patch.com.

• I’m hoping that that link right up there (^) can count as your post for today if this one doesn’t.