Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

This year I have so much for which to be thankful.  Since last Thanksgiving so much has happened and a lot of it had me in a doubtful state.  It was a hard, hard year.  Someone once told me that hard was not bad, it was just hard.  I disagree.  Sometimes hard is bad.  The good may come of the bad, but the bad is still bad.  I knew I would come through it, but I was not sure where I would land.

In the past several weeks I have been really trying to welcome and be open for the blessings that were coming into my life.  It can be really hard to accept blessings and good things when life has been so challenging.  I was questioning, thinking I did not deserve these wonderful things to happen to me and mine.  But, of course I am deserving of blessings and good things.

Here are some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order.

#1. Lilly's seizure testing last December did not show epilepsy.  While we know that it does not mean it will not develop, I can breath a little deeper knowing my baby is okay.

#2. Vinnie's new job. Hallelujah!  After nearly two and half years without being able to find a job, countless interviews, and probably thousands of sent resumes, Vin has a job.  We are all so grateful.

#3.  My family and friends who have held me up and together over the past year.  There were more than a few moments when I had to lean on others.  Sometimes it was emotional support and sometimes it was a ride to and from work.  It was humbling for me, but in a good way.  I learned that being strong sometimes means asking for and accepting help.

#4.  Nanny is at peace.  Of course I do not mean that I am glad that Nanny is no longer with me here on this earth.  I miss her terribly.  But I know that she was in pain in her last several weeks/months/etc before her death.

#5.  My therapist.  Yeah, I said it.  I have a therapist.  I love her.  I know so many people who have had to try out a few before they found someone with whom they had a good connection.  I was lucky to find her on the first try.  She continues to help me handle my grief, my challenges, and my blessings.

#6.  My furbabies.  This year we gained one furbaby and I recently lost one of my boys.  Losing him has been so, so hard.  But I would not give up the past 12.5 years for anything.

#7.  My summer job at Camp Riverbend.  I loved working there this summer. I love the family who owns and runs it.  I loved watching Lilly thrive and grow over those 7 weeks.

#8.  My mom.  My mom very recently, as in my first day of school, had open heart surgery.  I know it is the hardest thing she has done and she is still recuperating from it.  It was lifesaving for her and without it she may not be here today.

Well, I think that about does it for now.  If I keep writing I will keep thinking of more things for which I am thankful.

Oh, and don't forget to check out my cooking blog for some yummy Thanksgiving recipes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

RIP Mr. Hobbes March 2000-November 2012

We had to put my poor kitty, Mr. Hobbes, to sleep today.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make as an adult.  He was a very sick kitty, most likely lymphoma.  Neurologically, he was not right.  He had been having some behavior changes over the past month or so, but I attributed them to the dog.  Hobbes was the alpha animal in my furry household of 3, including Blue, our american staffordshire terrier.  I thought that maybe Hobbes and Blue had gotten into a tiff when we were out one day and that was why Hobbes was hanging out in the basement.  Maybe his head honcho status was changing.  His litter box is there, along with food and water, so it is comfy down there.  He still came up when I called him and he was eating and drinking.  It's hard to gauge just how much an animal is eating and drinking when you have three of them, and any water bowl is fair game for any animal.

Right before the Hurricane was due to arrive he was not coming upstairs as much.  He ate and drank in front of me and the litter box had normal "stuff" so I figured he was sensing the storm arriving.  We went to my in-laws for a few days when we had no power.  When we came back Sunday, the changes in Mr. Hobbes were very apparent.  He was declining before my very eyes.  It was almost like he waited for us to come home.  He got himself onto the couch and did not move all night long.  I took him in 1st thing Monday morning.  We did blood tests which showed elevated levels that generally mean lymphoma.  To get a definitive diagnosis would have been a lot more money.  And truthfully, he was so far gone that any treatment would not give him, or us, much more.  He perked up when we went in to say good bye last night, so the vet said we could try mega doses of steroids.  He seemed to be responding to them but through today he declined even more than the day before.  His breathing was getting shallow.  

Vinnie went to sign the paperwork and then to be with him when he was euthanized.  I really wanted to be there for my baby boy, but I was beside myself.  I did not want to upset him, either, by my anxiety.  He has always been sensitive to my emotions.  He and Calvin were just like that with me...always in tune to me, sleeping next to me and comforting me during every major break-up or life event in my adult life.  So Vinnie went, so that he was not alone.  It was a kindness to him and to me, to know that my husband was there with him.  Hobbes responded a bit to him when he was speaking to him, but he was not the same kitty.  He died peacefully.  I wish I felt the same.  Lilly is just undone.  She was sobbing out loud tonight.  And then she stops and asks for a kitten in the next be 4 again.  His brother (they were litter mates) seems a little lost right now.  He slept with me last night.  I have not allowed that in about 8 years.  I felt like he needed it last night, and he curled right up with me.  Maybe he will start sleeping with Blue.

Mr. Hobbes's vet, Dr. Knight of South Orange Animal Hospital, was kind and compassionate.  She told us that we were making the right decision and that she would have done the same.  I thank her from the bottom of my heart.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from over the years.  Their kitten pictures are not digital, yet, so they are not on here.
They almost always slept together like this.

Or like this, hugging...

He was not sure what to make of this kicking, squealing baby.

But they became fast friends.

He would stay by her side.

He let Lilly feed him.  

He let her cover him, and give him check-ups.

He wore royal necklaces and pretended to be Princess Hobbes. 

He kept my books and paperwork warm.

Mr. Hobbes, a piece of me is missing tonight.  Your paw print is forever in my heart, and of all those who knew you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


My Jersey Shore

I put off writing about this.  The truth is, I have not been emotionally able to do so.  I have been in a state of disbelief and sorrow.

How I wish that Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy was the flop that people were saying it would be.  How I wish that I never got to witness the greatest storm of my lifetime, maybe my daughter's lifetime.  I never, ever thought that I would be witness to such devastation in my home state.  There have been storms, sure, that have knocked down trees and power lines.  But nothing even rivals the destruction that Sandy brought with her.

Sandy has re-shaped the Jersey coastline.  The Jersey shore, as I know it, will never be the same.  My childhood memories were created in the sand and waves of  the Jersey Shore.  Ocean City, Avon-by-the-Sea, Ocean Grove, Seven Presidents, and Long Beach Island, to name a few, were all beaches I frequented.  My grandparents lived near Ocean City, NJ and so many a day I was covered head to toe in sand and spent hours at a time in the waves.  On hot summer days my mom would pack us up and we would drive down to spend the day on the beach, often meeting friends there.  I spent many, many wonderful times in Avalon with my aunts, uncles and cousins.  I vacationed on LBI, pretending I was Ariel, singing "Part of this world" as I floated on a boogie board.

Introducing Lilly to the shore has been one of the greatest pleasures of motherhood to me.  I have pictures of Lilly each summer down the shore and they are some of my favorites of her.  Seeing Lilly get as much pleasure from the sand and waves as I did makes my heart happy.  Here are some of posts about the Jersey Shore.  2012  2011  2011 #2 I am not sure this wil work, but this is a link to my facebook album from Lilly's trip to Aunt Cathy's house.  Let me know in the comments if it doesn't!

August 2012, Normandy Beach

Leading up to and through the storm I was able to follow what was going on through my local message board MaplewoodOnline.  Now it is a source of hope and resources as we were without power and for gas and food.  (I used my phone.)  I am immensely proud of my hometowns of Maplewood and South Orange.  Local businesses have been donating food, coffee, warmth, electricity to charge phones  and perhaps most importantly, community.  My salon was washing the hair of people who had no electricity (ergo, hot water) free of charge.  The owner of the local deli (my old neighbor) has stated that people who are hungry but have no money just need to ask for him and he would take care of them.  The local churches have opened their doors for warmth and food.

Janice and Lilly 
Jane's beautiful house
I have stayed many days with my friend Jane in Normandy Beach at her beach bungalow, which she then rebuilt into her full time residence.  I am not sure how Jane's house is.  Her area, in particular, was hit severely.   I also spent time with my friend Janice at her beautiful house, only a few blocks from Jane's, in Mantoloking.  She and her husband retired last year from my school district.  On Tuesday she posted on Facebook that the Hoboken Little League field house cafe was open and serving food.  And her beautiful shore house....gone.  It was one of the houses that exploded because the gas lines were not turned off right away.  In the midst of her own personal tragedy, she was helping others.  
The view from the bay, by Janice's house.
If you don't know, I am a teacher in Hoboken.  Hoboken was completely flooded during this storm due to the storm surge.  It is still drying out.  School is closed through Tuesday, hoping to open by Wednesday.  There are many residents, including  some students and co-workers who have lost everything.  Our school buildings have been turned into shelters.  The train station was under water.  I don't think I could get there if I tried, right now.  
The streets of Hoboken

As for me and my family, we got out of the storm with power outages, a fridge full of spoiled food, and trouble getting gas.  My father-in-law met us on the highway with a can of gas.  We coasted on fumes into a gas station in Pennsylvania.  We have been staying with my in-laws in the Poconos so that we can avoid the choas of my area.  Stores are without food; gas lines are 3-4 hours long; tempers are flaring.  We are going home today.  Vin starts his new job tomorrow.  I have to figure out how I will get to work on Wednesday.  But my power is back and I can buy new food.  We will be fine.  

As for the Jersey Shore, I am not sure what is going to happen.  My whole state is a mess right now...power still out in many places, gas rationing, curfews.  I am not going to post pictures of the destruction.  If you want to see them, go here or here.  I spoke (via text) to my Godfather who is a minister at a church down near Long Beach Island.  His church King of Kings has opened their doors as a shelter.  I asked him if I could bring him donations of clothes, etc.  He said right now the emotional giving is happening, but the real needs will show in the next few weeks.  Peoples' lives were forever changed by this event.  But I know that we are not only strong, we are Jersey Strong!!