Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I've enjoyed reading many blogs this Christmas and seeing the different traditions and fun that various families have in their celebrations.

I drove 2.5 hours to my aunty in Fresno to bring holiday cheer. This is the first Christmas without my TuTu (grandmother). My grief was heavy at the beginning of the month and then I perked up, while my aunty was having her heavy time this week. We all pulled it together, though, with tiny fake trees and a few token gifts, but lots and lots of great homemade food. I made 2 pumpkin pies, a huge sweet potato pie (for the first time), and 2 cranberry pudding cakes with hot butter sauce. I now need a LOT of exercise!

I brought Merlin, my 6m old kitten with me and left my other 6 cats with two gravity feeders of dry food and one large one of water. I was only gone for 48 hours and they ate every bit of the food (3 pounds!). Velvet looked like a fatted cow! She must have gorged herself. Her sides are still bulging! There was vomit in about 6 places and all four litter boxes were full of the worse. The house still stinks, even though I opened the door and windows and put on fans and I'm still cleaning. I blasted the heater since it's unseasonably cold here right now. We've had snow in places that hasn't ever seen snow.

I need to say here that I don't expect sympathy for those of you up north, particularly in the Great Lakes States, but empathy. Do keep in mind that we have small heaters; some of us not even central heat, but a unit mounted on a wall in one room that's supposed to heat, in my case, a 2 bedroom apartment. I have single-paned windows and very thin walls. I'm lucky enough to have thick mittens, but I don't have a hat, and coats here are more for fashion than warmth. Add to this the fact that my car doesn't have a working heater. When I drove home from Fresno, I had on, all at the same time, fleece leggings, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, an undershirt, turtleneck, angora sweater, a thick sweatshirt, earmuffs, mittens, I added my coat halfway home, and had two blankets over my legs and lap. My toes and nose were still little icicles by the time I reached home.

The drive was very beautiful though. I cut through farmland to get home and the stars were super bright without the city lights dimming them. I pulled over at one point and stuck my head out the window to peer up at them. Orion was right over my head.

On the way down, Christmas Eve, I saw a spectacular accident. Through the darkness in the middle of the highway between the lanes I saw what looked like a huge flock of black birds flying toward me. As I got closer, I could see it was actually a small truck rolling over and over, air born, like a toy, with bits and pieces flying off of it. I pulled over and got out to help. Both the driver and passenger had been wearing seat belts and were unhurt!!! Both were young men, maybe 20 yrs. old. The truck came to rest on its side, driver-side-down. The men climbed out where the windows had been. The battery and a large speaker was several feet away, each in a different area and as cars drive by on both sides of the highway, they hit various car parts and sent them flying. It was not a safe place to be standing. I checked the passengers of the car the men had hit and they were crying, but walking. I think the truck was going VERY fast and changed lanes without looking, clipped the white car, which launched the truck into the air. Fortunately, the white car never went out of control. All involved were hispanic, but spoke English a bit and the truck men spoke it well, but they handed me their cell phone and bluetooth ear thingy with Highway Patrol on the other end but I didn't know how to use the ear thingy. It was too dark to see how it fit, so another guy passed me his phone and I was able to give our location. Help arrived within five minutes and I had the family in the white car get back in it to avoid flying debris. I left as the CHP arrived. It was a Christmas miracle that no one was hurt, much less killed. I felt the hand of God over those boys when I prayed at the outset of my journey for a safe trip for me and others travelling without realizing I'd be witness to the answer to my prayer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fashion Friday #7

This pram suit is super soft and medium-weight so I'm sure to get a lot of use out of it. I'm a great walker. My neighborhood is perfect for walking so Apple is going to be getting a lot of fresh air and in this area we have fog. That means we have cold evenings, even in summer, so whatever time of year Apple arrives, she will need this kitty pram suit.

I'm knitting again. This time it's a slightly more complicated pattern with cables and twists. I originally chose a lavender bamboo yarn but it was too stringy and the pattern didn't show up so I'm now going with a periwinkle blue cashmarino wool and I envision it with rhinestone heart buttons. I hope I can find some.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Little Brown Shoes

I'm not a shoe monger for myself, but for Apple I've outdone any serious shoe shopper. She'll never wear all the shoes I've got for her, but I hope she'll wear these because they are one of my favorites. New, they are $38. At my friend's baby resale store, I got these for $6.50!!! I've been wanting these for over a year. And yes, I do plan to load up on shoes in China.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Traditions

Catherine has put out the Christmas Traditions Challenge on her blog where we share the traditions we have with our children or ones we will have once our children are with us. One of the things I'm looking forward to most is taking Apple ice skating at the outdoor rink that is set up each Christmas season in downtown San Francisco. I went skating there tonight for the first time in a few years (due to rain and illness, I missed a few years) and it was great despite the fact that the Zamboni machine was broken and it was like skating on gravel.

Earmuffs, Aspen sweatshirt, and thrift store skates, four shirts and two pairs of pants, mittens already in the car, and I'm ready to go!

This isn't my picture, but this is the rink. Isn't it beautiful with the Ferry Building clock tower right there? I wish it was this empty when I go, but...'s usually crowded like this...

...I prefer to go at night when it's like magic...

Because this is what you see at night during the holidays. The ice rink is just behind the Belle (big boat on the left) and across the street. On the right edge of the top of the Belle you can see 2-3 rows of horizontal lights. This is the Hyatt and the rink is in the courtyard right there between the Hyatt and Embaradero 4 which is the first building of vertical lights in the foreground of the Hyatt.

Now, while I was browsing the net for these photos, I came across this one of a holiday rink in San Jose. It looks awesome and I'm going to go there next weekend!

I made this advent calendar years ago. One bell for each day of Dec. toward Christmas and the Santa at the top on Christmas morning.

I might make a new one when my daughter comes home that has fun things to hang instead of just bell. Who knows?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fashion Friday #6

Here it is, my first wool bum sweater, or soaker, for use over cloth diapers instead of "rubber pants" or a polyurethane diaper cover. I've got to guard it with my life, though, because my young cats love to chew on wool.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Still Knitting

On Wednesday, I made a little hat for my nephew. I was actually disappointed that I finished it so quickly. I'd planned to knit all evening. I'm getting faster.

Tonight I started a wool soaker. This is what was used over cloth diapers before nylon, rubber and all the new polyurethane fabrics were invented. Wool is naturally water resistant and anti-microbial.

I'm using this pattern:

I've already designed a pattern in my head, but wanted to do one already tried and tested first and I chose the curly purly pattern because it's well-written and looks like it will be a great fit.

I'll post a picture when it's done.

Babies Available Domestically

I just read this on my agencies website:

"DOMESTIC ADOPTION is such a wonderful choice! ...At this time, we have many expectant mothers and not enough adoptive families!"

If anyone is interested, here's a link to my agency. I highly recommend them. I have enjoyed working with everyone there and they've been very attentive in returning calls, etc....

Heartsent Adoptions, Inc.

Last Holiday Season without Apple?

As I drove 168 miles south to spend Thanksgiving with my aunt, I wondered if this would be my last Thanksgiving alone. I realize that the wait and referral rates indicate that I have a long, long way to go still until I have Apple, but anything can happen in a whole year. After all, the wait went from 9 months to 24 months in just a year.

I imagined timing the trip to Apple's nap, packing her things as well as mine and those of any cats that may be coming along. This year I had only one to bring, little Merlin, who is still with me. The others stayed home alone and did well.

It was nice to be in the car with nothing to do but entertain my thoughts. At such moments, my mind inevitably turns to my future with Apple.

As I drove home, I realized I would have to drive more carefully once I have Apple. I'm a very good driver, but did keep up a speed last night just a bit too fast for the strange fog that hit in sudden patches for most of the way. Every time I hit the cruise control, I said to myself, "You can't do this with your child in the car."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Second Round

I've spent the last hour catching up on some of the blogs I follow but haven't read lately. I am surprised by the number of families who had brought home their child when I was first logged in 19 months ago at CCAA who are now in the process of a second adoption. Some families had just had one biological child at the start of my wait and are now expecting another or have even had another. One family whose blog I follow did all three: first child adopted, second child adopted, third child born to them. A lot sure can happen in 19 months.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Toys of Yesteryear

Anyone remember these? I had toys like this when I was a very little girl. I recently hit Ebay for them. I remember when I finally was able to turn the knob on the record player enough that it would play the whole song before winding down.

The beauty of these toys is that the kids actually have to do something to them to get them to work. The record player must be wound up, the record placed, the arm moved over and the on/off switch activated. Then the child gets the reward of hearing the music. They feel such a sense of accomplishment and I remember that feeling.

I bought some doubles for my daycare, the record player, clock and wind up music boxes, and the kids LOVE them. They are some of the best toys I've bought.

I also bought Apple three musical wind up dolls and I love them! Most likely, as part of her bedtime routine, she will get to pick which doll she wants me to wind for her to listen to after I turn out the light. The two in the pictures below are tiny and super cute. The heads move as the music plays. I got another one that is larger on Ebay that has pink curls and plays Nadia's Theme and the head also moves as it plays. The dolls can be found here and here along with some other places I ran across, including Ebay, which was the least expensive.

Fashion Friday #5

I've been knitting instead of buying. It takes a lot longer to add to Apple's clothing stash if I have to knit, which is a good thing since I've got so much collected now. This picture doesn't do the set justice. The tights are a solid lavender that looks great in natural light. They have an empire waist and straps that cross in the back and button in the front. These are a European classic. The sweater is a matching lavender but with a white rayon thread added for some shimmer. The yarn is also crimped for texture. It's a size 12 months. The tights took 3-4 days because I had to alter the pattern. The first pair that I made using the pattern's recommended size 12 months fit a large 2 year-old! I made the newborn size next and just added a little length to the legs and they are perfect. I measured them against a 6 month-old in the 70th percentile for height. The sweater pattern was right on for size.

This little set began when I saw the pattern for the hat on the yarn label. Then, I noticed a little pattern booklet with the matching dress pattern. The yarn makes the color patterns as one knits. If you want to see the detail, click on the photo. I left the photo large so you can see it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

19 Months Logged In

It seems like a long time to wait when I say it, but it still doesn't feel long. Well, except that many of my friends are about to give birth and they weren't even pregnant when I was logged in at CCAA and started The Great Wait. Which would you rather have a Great Wait or Great Weight?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here I am with all the little ghouls I take care of each weekday, Po, Vampira, Bones (he had a ribcage part but I put it on later), 'Lil Punkin, Miss Cat and Dorothy with little Toto in the basket. I had a party for them and took them Trick-o-treating in the shops along the main street nearby and they had a very good time despite being limited to 1/2 a cupcake and one piece of candy.

*I don't like showing pictures of my daycare kids, even with parental permission, for their own safety so I blanked them.

Fashion Friday #4

I have a new favorite brand, Pumpkin Patch, but it's pricey. Nordstrom carries it at a slightly lower price than the brand store, even in the same mall, and Nordstrom also had them on sale 40-50% off. These are a size 4.

Macy's also had a great sale and I got this beautiful dress, which looks much, much prettier in real life, for only $4.99.

I'm not sure about this Gymboree skirt yet. H&M had a prettier one, but this one has sparkles in the tulle and I have pieces from a line called City Kitty that will be perfect with it. This super-soft chennille sweater is by Heartstrings, size 5, and matches the Gymboree neopalitan line.

This sweater, size 3, is by Baby Gap. You can see that the skirt can be worn in several sizes.

I couldn't resist this snuggly, cuddly Carter's sleeper, which was also on sale at Macy's.

Knitting Tunic Update #3

So far, of all the things I've knitted, this is my favorite. Voila, the final result! BTW, this mannequin is a size 3/4 and the tunic a size 2 so if Apple is tiny, it will fit her like a dress and the tights will be appropriate. If Apple is not tiny, I'll put leggings or skinny jeans under the tunic and a shirt, if the weather is cool.

It's not a good picture, but you can see I added crocheted bobbles. I didn't want my hair getting caught in the buttons when I held Apple and I think they are more fun.

I actually finished this Oct. 14th or 15th and then did the bobbles and started the hat. I had only about 3 feet of yard left when I finished.

I've already begun my next project... The hat was finished today.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm In the Review Room!

March 2007 just got out of the Review Room. What does this mean for me? This means that my dossier (paperwork) is entering the Review Room at CCAA. If I don't hear anything it means that my dossier is in perfect order and the next thing I will hear from CCAA will be my referral, or which child I've been match to. This isn't to say that this happens back-to-back. I'm still looking at 18 months more of waiting, possibly more, perhaps less.

Update: Oct. 17, 2008
I just heard that there might be some March 2007 dossiers still in review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

18 Months In, 1 1/2 Years Down

I picked up this doll in San Fransisco's Chinatown last Saturday. I thought it was the perfect Mother & Daughter mascot to mark 18 months of being logged in at CCAA.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Knitting Tunic Update #1

Bianca's Passed On

Earlier today (Oct. 11), I took Bianca to the vet and had her euthanized. She could not longer eat. The vet is only a half block from my doorstep so I wrapped her loosely in a soft blanket and put her on her favorite cushy and picked it up with her in it like a taco. The day was clear and the air super crisp, warm with the scent and nip of fall in it. It was perfect. I deliberately walked slow and Bianca was looking right at me and smelling the air. She was very, very relaxed and started purring. I was soooooo glad and relieved that she was comfortable and content.

When I walked into the vet, the door chime went off and Bianca immediately stiffened and tried to look around. I knew that she knew that the chime meant VET. I started singing to her and she settled back down. I took her back outside when I realized we had a short wait. We got put into a room after a few minutes and waiting another few. I didn't like that we waited in there because we could hear a dog and a man's voice and Bianca was unsettled. I sang again and that helped.

Once it was quiet, Bianca was relaxed and stayed that way. The doctor came in and explained his procedure which is to inject the solution like a vaccine instead of into a vein. That way there is no trauma of trying to find a vein or of using a tranquilizer first. She didn't even notice when the needle went in.

I had less than 30 seconds, which was perfect. The vet left and I held her so I was alone with her when she actually died, which is how I wanted it. He'd said it could be up to like 10 minutes and I told him I wanted to walk her home in that case before she died. He didn't like that idea but it was a mute point since she passed so quickly. I also had arranged to be billed rather than pay then and there. I called him back in once I was sure her heart had stopped and he confirmed it. He wanted to look in her mouth at the damage since we'd not seen it, but I told him that I didn't want to disrespect her that way and he understood.

I put Bianca back into her blanket and "taco" and walked home. I let my other cats see that she was dead. Again, Sammy took a long time smelling her all over. I got out my shovel and prepared her final resting place then buried her. I now have four "garden kitties."

For each cat that has passed away, I've made very careful plans for how they would die and a ritual for each one emerged.

White was euthanized at home. I bought a live houseplant the same day and had it in the room with us. I still have the plant. I also saved the shirt I wore while I held her. It smelled like her for a long time. Recently, I took it out and it didn't smell like her any more so I washed it and wore it again.

Max's passing didn't go as I'd hoped. I believe he suffered too much, due to the vet (different one than I have now) grossly misinforming me. Thankfully, I was home with him and able to be with him and tend to him. I didn't bury him for awhile after he died, over an hour. I buried White faster than I needed to. I'd been afraid of rigormortis with her. Now that I understand it better, I didn't worry about it with Max. It was also the middle of the night so it took me awhile to dig his grave. With Max, I cut a lock of his curly belly hair to save. I'd have loved one of his luxurious long wiskers, but couldn't bear to pluck one from him. A friend brought me flowers for Max's grave the next day.

Darling had the most perfect passing a pet owner could ask for, in my opinion. She had a brief decline at home, a few days are labored breathing and not eating, then she passed without me with her, but went to the spot I'd prepared, laid herself down on her pillow and died. I buried her near Max. The ritual with her pertained to how she let me know telepathically that it was her time and that she'd gone to the spot I made for her. She showed a strength and grace I didn't know she had in her last week of life.

This morning I put on the shirt I'd worn with White for Bianca. It was appropriate. I pet her and held her a lot before, during and after her death. I talked to her and sang to her. I told her that White, Max and Darling are waiting for her. After I buried her, I went to San Francisco's Chinatown and, while browsing, found this wood carving of a cat that reminded me of her.

Each cat was buried in a 100% cotton receiving blanket and nothing else. They were truly returned to the earth.

I do the best I can to celebrate the life of my pets, but I'm sad, too, and miss them. Feeding time is the most difficult at first because I often forget and get out their bowl and then notice I've got one extra after I've served the food. Tomorrow I'm going to put the rocking chair that Bianca claim as her spot into storage. When next I need it, it will be my spot for rocking my daughter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frou Frou Fashion Friday

This is the first very froufrou dress I've bought for Apple and I bought it mostly for the shrug, which will go with some of the other things I've bought. The tags are still on, but it came from a second hand store.

Also new, with tags, from the same store, is this ivory eyelet twirl dress. I've seen it on the rack for several weeks and I've had it on my mind a LOT so today was the day I finally bought it. It's not my usual taste, but I can easily imagine Apple wearing this for her first professional photo shoot.

The following beauties from Le Top's boutique lines, Flower Power and Flower Garden remind me of Chez Ami styles. I saw them one evening at a Nordstrom rather far from me and they'd just been marked down. I told myself not to get them, to think about it, because even marked down, they cost more than I like to spend on kid's clothing. I got into my car telling myself I should have gotten them. The next morning I knew I wanted them a LOT, so I phoned my nearest Nordstrom store, then the next and next ones, but they didn't have them. I called the original store and was having them shipped, but the woman kept making mistakes so I knew I needed to get them myself or I'd never see them. I jumped into my car, as soon as I got off work, and drove 27 miles over the bridge, across the Bay and go them. Because...I also bought a used, but like new, red dress that would match with the overall top perfectly.

The overalls are size 18m and look very big. The red dress is size 24m and looks about right. My favorite, the pink dress with the coordinating tights, is size 24 and also looks like it runs big. The pictures with the models are Le Top pictures.

New Knitting Project

I decided to get back to knitting. The creative outlet helps me feel good. This is a simple pattern, but I'm changing it to be knitted as one piece in the round instead of making a front and a back and stitching them together. It looks best with a shirt underneath. I got the pattern from the grandmother of one of my daycare kids after the child wore it and I saw how cute it was on her.

I'm thinking about doing little some kind of bauble edging on the hem, around the neck and arm holes. I think it will help it keep its shape and make it classier.

This is Bianca

She's actually looking very good tonight. I washed her up. She ate a tiny bit. I didn't dare take a picture of her yesterday because she looked so bad it would have dishonored her.

She's had a good day on her rocking chair. She was very relaxed and comfortable. When she's in pain, she kneads her cushion for a long, long time, tries to rest, then starts again. When she's comfortable, she kneads for a short time, curls up and goes to sleep.

You can click on the picture and view it larger to notice that her face is not symmetrical. Her tongue is in her mouth and not hanging out like it tends to do lately, and you can't see her extremely swollen right cheek behind the sunken in part.

She is not a kitty for the squeamish now. Cancer disrupts normal vascular function because it requires a lot of nutrition to grow and spread. Right now, Bianca bleeds easily from something inside her mouth and, two days ago, from a tiny sore on the bridge of her nose. Her right eye is there, but the surrounding tissue is very swollen and stiff, including her second eyelid. I keep ointment on it to keep it from drying out, becoming infected, and too swollen. Today, the second eyelid of her "good" eye came up for the first time.

When she bleeds, my heart stops. I want to panic and "do something," anything, but I force myself to remain calm, remind myself that saliva always makes it look like more blood than there really is, and see how Bianca herself is reacting. I cry, already mourning for her, and I cry because I'm sorry she's going through this. She's weak today, it was the first time she didn't get off the rocker to go to her food.

As long as she is comfortable, eats (even a little), purrs in a normal fashion (not her manic kneading), and responds possitively to me, then she's still herself and I'm not ready to end her life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One Year Ago

It's hard to believe it, but one year ago today, my cat Max died. Now, it looks like by the end of this week, my cat Bianca will be gone, too. I'm going day by day with her, but she's having a hard time now and looks really bad.

This also marks the time that my grandmother's decline to the end of her life started. It truly only feels like four months have passed for me since this time last year. On one hand it's nice because I don't feel the time as I wait for my daughter. On the other hand, my grief is refreshed as I start grieving for Bianca.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Merlin the Kitten

This is Merlin a few weeks after being rescued...

He was rescued from the gutter (for real) when he was about 4 weeks old. He should have weighed at least one pound but he only weighed 9 ounces. He had over 100 fleas and was too weak to swallow kitten formula dripped into his mouth. He could barely lift his head and had lost his meow, probably from crying for help for a very, very long time. He was having trouble breathing and was breathing through his mouth.

I gave him a subcutaneous infusion of fluid and bathed him to rid him of the fleas and the water turned red with his blood. After three hours of no improvement, I took him to the emergency pet hospital. He had been attacked by so many fleas that he was severely anemic. He barely had enough red blood cells in his body to carry enough oxygen to sustain life. He stayed the night in the hospital and received an immediate blood transfusion. He is the "Six Hundred Dollar Man-Cat."

Throughout the next day, he improved every few hours. By the end of the day he was vigorously sucking down kitten formula. By the end of the second day, he could walk. He gained about one ounce per day for a week, finally hitting the one pound mark. He continued to gain for another 5 days, putting on some fat. Suddenly, he slept for nearly 12 hours straight and when he woke up he was taller! He now had enough reserves to grow. Over a month later, he got his meow back. It didn't come suddenly, but little by little and it's still getting stronger.

In all of these pictures, Merlin weighed what Gwyneth Rose weighed at birth. Gwyneth was born 15+ weeks early. You can see his size when compared to a full-grown Sam. Can you imagine a little human baby the size of a 6 week old kitten?

This is Merlin playing with Mischa, a four month old kitten I rescued after he tried jumping head-first through a chainlink fence. Thankfully, he didn't hang himself. He now lives with a nice family all his own.

And this is Merlin with my Velvet. Velvet is full grown and is average in size, but a little stocky. Not to be mistaken with overweight. She's just as stocky as my Sammy is lithe.

Merlin is now over 2 1/2 pounds and will be getting neutered soon and adopted to a new home. He does have a strange thing going on, his all black fur has slowly been turning white. At first, just at the base of his tail, then up his back in two stripes like a skunk, and now the only all black part he has is the top of his head and his ears. I'll be consulting a vet this week because it's very strange, though otherwise he seems perfectly healthy.

And that is the story of Merlin and how he survived and is turning from a black cat into a white one.