Friday, September 26, 2008

Tenley Turns 4!

A couple of weeks ago, the Tenster celebrated her 4th birthday. Being the award winning parents that we are, we’re just now getting around to telling you about it!

Having just recently discovered that starting next year in Kindergarten I will no longer be able to bring cupcakes to class for my little girl’s birthday, I went all out and made ice cream cone cupcakes this year. The reason this is “all out” is that you really can’t make these things a day ahead of time- the cone gets disgusting. So this necessitated me getting up at 4:30 in the morning to bake-cool- and frost with the star tip in the pastry bag so they look like real ice cream and we could take them to school at 8:30. They were a hit.

The big day began with opening presents from Mom & Dad while waiting for Grandma & Grandpa to come over so we could go to breakfast. She was underwhelmed with her Sonya Lee doll, liked her Map of the United States puzzle, very excited about the Barbie watch (she’s been asking for a watch for a couple of months- and no, she can’t read it accurately or tell time), and over the moon with joy about the plastic knight’s sword with sheath I bought for her at the $.99 Only store. Go figure. Grandma and Grandpa arrived, and were greeted at the door by the birthday girl clad only in Tinkerbell underwear with a sword stuck in the side of them. We eventually managed to get the sword out of her undies and get clothes on her so we could go to Ruby’s for breakfast.
We returned home and Ten went outside to play on the swing set that Grandma & Grandpa had given her as a present. It had arrived before her birthday (actually it arrived the day after we left on vacation, and the giant 150 lb. box lived on our porch the whole time we were in Atlanta) so it was already set up and in daily use. Then Grandma Suzie arrived with her present…and we all trouped out to the front yard for the presentation & to see how it was received.

From the moment my Mother saw that Tenley sized Formula 1 car, she knew she was going to get it for Ten- just as soon as they had the Team Ferrari red one back in stock. And now here it was (it had been in it’s box in our garage for 3 months) all put together, charged up, and absolutely adorable. We were a little worried about her reaction, because best bud Jaxon has a Power Wheels 4x4 Jeep that she’s afraid of. Turns out that we had nothing to worry about. She jumped right in and with minimal instruction she was on her way up the street. She spent the better part of an hour going back and forth and doing donuts in the neighbor’s driveways. The thought of her 16th birthday causes me to shudder. The only way we actually got her out of the car was to remind her that we were going to the fair. That was sufficient motivation to step out of the vehicle – but only after reassuring her that it was staying at her house and she could drive it again when she got home.

It was a very tired and already over stimulated Tenley that arrived at the LA County Fair. She actually handled it pretty well, but the were several times that I kicked myself for not bringing the little stroller so that she might have been able to sneak in a cat nap. Her unlimited ride wristband let her hit all her favorites – although she was very put out that she couldn’t ride the Tilt-a-Whirl (not even with an adult) and that she was still too short for some of the more thrilling kids rides. There was also the annual trip to the cows (and drinking of the world’s greatest chocolate milk), she got a henna tattoo just like Mommy’s (ruining her shirt in the process), and we took her to the Winter Wonderland building where she played in the “snow box” and went sledding with her Dad. I foresee a trip to the snow this winter.

Eventually everyone was exhausted and we decided to call it a birthday. Ten ended her special day by blowing out the candles and feasting on the giant chocolate cupcake we bought her. She collapsed into bed not an hour later, and the first thing she wanted to know when she woke up was if it was still her birthday.

Happy Birthday little Warrior Princess!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dragon Con

My favourite author in the world is Anne McCaffrey. She has more than 100 books to her credit, is now 82- lives in Ireland- and has broken both hips- had a heart attack and a stroke. So when I found out that she was “crossing the pond” to attend Dragon*Con, there was no way I was going to miss what might be my last chance to meet this woman and get her to sign my books.
Dragon*Con is a 4 day sci-fi/fantasy/pop-culture freak fest that takes place over Labor Day in Atlanta. I actually went to DC back in ’94 (for the same reason, but Anne fell and broke her hip and didn’t get to come) – and my has it changed! It is now the second largest convention of its type in the US (right after ComiCon), and it focuses on science fiction and fantasy, science, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film. It is attended by all manner of fans. Some who are merely interested and some who live the life! Can I just say that the people watching was amazing. People dressed up as their favourite characters, authors, actors, aliens and even some original ideas (DO see the pix below).

There’s so much to see and do- and now that the Con is so big and so crowded there’s very little time to do it. I had no trouble getting a 3rd row seat for the reading that Anne did on Friday, but I had to get in line 2.5 hours before her book signing session on Sunday (and I was still #67). Lines meant we had to make some choices about events. Since I was in line for the book signing, I missed getting to attend the Miss Klingon Empire beauty pageant ( because the line to get into the pageant started at about the same time. Jeff, however, used the 2 hours of down time as an opportunity to do something good: he hit the blood drive and opened up a vein for the Red Cross- netting a t-shirt and winning a lightsaber in a donor raffle in the process. We also had to divide and conquer: on Sat. morning Jeff went and watched (and photographed) the parade, while I went and got in line (1.5 hrs early) to get seats for the Torchwood panel (apparently there are A LOT of women out there who are warm for James Marsters form).

We did make it to the Mr.Star Wars contest, the MST3K panel and viewing, the Ghost Hunters panel, a random reading of a script by an author who commandeered actors from the audience, the art show, the build-your-own-droid demo and contest, all three dealers rooms and a concert by a “darkwave” band called The Cruxshadows and found that we really liked the Goth/NewWave/Sudo Vampire music. We even bought the current CD. Most of our time was spent happily wandering around with large drinks in our hands taking pictures of the various costumed freaks.

The weekend was made more interesting by the fact that we weren’t the only people in town. Chick-Fil-A decided to hold a pre-season bowl game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson University. So the town was awash in 70,000 normal unsuspecting people swathed in red or orange circulating among the various fairies, cylons, jedi, etc. These poor people had no idea about the Con, and clearly didn’t know what to make of it. It was also Black Gay Pride weekend. Need I say more?? Clearly, this was the city to be in if you were looking for a photo-op.

Jeff had a great time and says he’s totally willing to go back. I’d love to go again and do the Writer’s Track…we’ll see how this year goes. Watch the slideshow below to see some pix we snapped during our weekend. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

1st Loss

Beeps McNutt
Sept. 3, 2003- Sept. 11, 2008

We came home from vacation (which is a post & Flickr album all by itself) on the 2nd, and noticed that something was seriously wrong with Beeps. She was always a skinny, dainty little thing; but she was incredibly thin, her eyes were gooey and looked sunken, and she was obviously really really dehydrated- despite the fact that she was drooling and vomiting

As soon as the vet opened on the 3rd- her 5th birthday- we rushed her in. She was indeed dehydrated... and jaundiced. They admitted her and began administering sub q fluids, antibiotics and tube feeding. A blood panel revealed that she was experiencing liver disease/failure an an alarming rate. Unable to get her re-hydrated and to keep any food down, they began IV fluids on Friday the 5th.

A new blood panel on Monday the 8th showed that we had arrested the liver deterioration, but she was still drooling and vomiting. She would not eat or drink on her own.

On Wed Sept. 10, our vet explained the full situation: liver disease in kitties is a tricky thing. It can take weeks (sometimes more than 10) to get it under control -if it can be controlled and managed at all. Beeps was now beyond the ability of his clinic- she needed a specialist, a little kitty internist.

The practical problem with this is that the nearest internist is 35 miles away, is $100 just to examine her, $1000 for a sonogram of her liver, and God knows how much per day as a hospital inpatient...we were already trying to figure out how on earth we were going to pay her $100ish a day bill at this clinic. The emotional problem is that even if we won the lottery, we could put her through all the things the internist would try...and still be in the same place. Her prognosis was not good to begin with, and we could do weeks and weeks of treatment and still get nowhere. We were really left with no choice. I was up until 2am Wed night crying, and the tears started as soon as I left Ten at school on Thurs. morning.

She was happy to see me as usual, and for the first time in a week she "spoke". We had a nice long scratching and ear rubbing session- and when I would stop, she would stretch out the paw that didn't have the IV and rest it on my hand and gently hold my hand with her claws and purr as loud as she could manage without choking. I just stood there sobbing and petting, telling her I was sorry.

When the doctor came I asked if there wasn't anything else we could try. No, there really wasn't- and he wasn't at all convinced that an internist could save her either. I told him that I felt as though I was just giving up on her, and that I had failed her as an owner. He tried to make me feel better, and assured me that this was hardly giving up- and that were this his pet, he would be doing the same thing- it came down to the poor prognosis and the quality of her life.

Jeff came from work to say goodbye, and after they had a nice little lovefest we moved her to a place where I could hold her... as hard as it is for me, I refuse to let anyone cross The Rainbow Bridge alone. The IV made it easy, and it was only a matter of moments before I felt her go limp and her heart beat ceased beneath my hand. I just held her and sobbed until even her light little body got heavy for me.

I miss her. She was only 5- far too young for her little life to be over. I still look for her on the end of my bed, in the bathroom window sunning herself every morning, and I still check to make sure she isn't asleep in Tenley's bathtub before I close the bathroom door.

She was Mr.Smudge's (our 11 yr. old male) favourite. He adopted her, and gave her a thorough bath every day and cleaned her ears at least once a week. Sadly, this probably explains why he has it too. We think one of them got it, and shared with the other. So despite my grief over losing my soft spotty girl, this isn't over yet- I'm still medicating my old kitty and trying anything and everything to get him to eat.

We didn't explain all of this to Ten- she doesn't understand. We explained that Beeps died, and Ten says she misses her...and wants to know when she's coming home. I wish she was.

Rest in peace my sweet friend.
We will miss you always.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Weeks ago, during the great Internet Crisis of '08, we got a bee up our butts on a Saturday afternoon and decided to take Tenley bowling. As random activities go, bowling is pretty Tenley friendly: minimal down time, minimal parental assistance, special Tenley type devices like a ramp and bumpers, and instant results of her actions.

We secured a lane, had the bumpers raised, got a ramp, a Ten sized 4lb. ball, and some shoes and heavier balls for Mom & Dad. Tenley was extremely bitter that there weren't any shoes small enough for her- she really wanted those, and we heard about them for all 3 games. I predict that I will find stolen bowling shoes in her closet by high-school (not that her father or I would ever have done that...)

We let her go first (of course). She insisted on carrying the ball herself, and her dad lined up the ramp for her.

We taught her to give it a good shove...which she did with greater and greater flourish as the game went on.

Thanks to the handy-dandy bumpers, she usually knocked down several pins- and even got a couple of strikes!
Despite the fact that there were only 3 of us playing, and she got to go first, it was apparently (in her mind) still too long between her turns as during her Dad's turn she would always climb into my lap and complain "Daddy's not being nice. He's not sharing. He's not taking turns." I would patiently correct her and explain that he was taking turns: it was her turn, then mine, then Daddy's- and it was her turn again next. My explanation fell on deaf ears.
Now, we had the bumpers up and Tenley is only 3...and we - the adults who have gone bowling since childhood- LOST TO THE 3 YEAR OLD!!! Not once, mind you, but twice!!!
Oh, the shame......