Thursday, December 11, 2008

It crept in on little cat feet...*

I will suffer in silence no longer. You want to know more about what it's really like? You want all the hidden things revealed? Your wish is my command. I will give you a glimpse into the daily terror I face and have -- thus far -- survived to share with you all.

It has a (furry) face. It has a (ridiculous) name.

It is: Jim the Cat.

He had us all fooled at the onset. He seemed so sleepy. So peaceful and blissfully domestic. All snuggly and warm and lovable.

And purring.

That's what gets you. The happy motor going strong as he rubs the side of his face against your petting hand and flops over to give you belly.

But he was just sick. It was all a horrible facade. He had caught a terrific cold at the shelter. That was what accounted for the false pretenses and miscommunications.

Now he haunts my waking (and sleeping) hours and I mean that literally. He tracks me throughout the house. Even in that most sacred of places I am not safe. That's right, folks, not even the bathroom.

Jim the Fastidious:

He is an agile beastie: with his little pawtoes he whaps open the sliding bathroom door (don't I get ANY privacy?) and then whaps open the shower doors to contemplate joining me.

Cats are supposed to HATE water. Hnph. Not only does Jim continually dabble his furry paws in it any chance he gets, he has been completely doused several times. And yes, I laughed when I heard the ruckus. Most diabolically I laughed. It was ENTIRELY his own doing, I might add. I didn't give him even the slightest nudge.

And speaking of things cats are supposed to hate, let's talk about toothpaste. The vet says normal cats hate it. He's never met one that doesn't shrink away from that minty-fresh smell we humans crave as part of our eternal quest toward improved personal hygiene.

Apparently Jim the Cat is on this quest as well, because when I brush my teeth (yes, I do!), I will more often than not suddenly feel the delicate (i.e. razorsharp) clawtips as they patter delightfully (i.e. rake painfully, leaving bloody furrows) up the entire length of my body so that Jim the Cat can nestle on my shoulders. He even -- and don't get too grossed out here, folks, you're the ones who wanted to hear more -- gently paws open my mouth when I'm done brushing so he can (try to) lick any residual Colgate with Whitening Power off my lips.

And mouthwash? Oooooo! (delicious shiver) Nectar of the gods!

We have to hide the toothpaste tube and the toothbrushes because he will lick them clean. Who'd of thunk we'd have a Battle Royale over sink/bathroom time. With a cat.

Jim the Night Stalker:
Another darling tactic of Jim the Cat's is to hide in the corner of the stairway and then launch down on me when I go upstairs to say goodnight to Jesse. I can tell you, there's nothing quite like an aerial cat to make you Air Jordan.

Jim the Reconnaissance Man:
Jim the Cat is regularly on a Search & Rescue Mission for milk tabs, Tonka truck wheels, and loose toy parts, busily retrieving small items from Jesse's stockpile. His favorite? The little plastic cup that comes with Children's Tylenol.

Again, who'd have thunk I'd have to reassure a tearful 4-year-old that "Meow Meow" is not really going to eat his toys.

Probably not, anyway. I try not to make any guarantees.

So three guesses as to who was responsible for the precariously tilting Christmas shrub which greeted my bleary eyes at 6:00 this morning:

*Was that T.S. Eliot? Somebody help me out here....

O Christmas Tree

I think we all suffer from Griswold Tree Syndrome at this time of the year.

After tromping around the vast outdoors at the tree farm or hunting through the towering heights of Christmas trees at the local tree stand, you finally find THE PERFECT TREE! After endless hours of deliberation, you both finally -- miraculously -- agree that not only is it perfectly conical and aromatic, it is also "just the right size" (and price) and there is great rejoicing.

Then somehow on the 10-minute trip home THE PERFECT TREE overdoses on vitamins, or maybe you pass by a nuclear power plant that accidentally surges and by the time you bring it home, THE PERFECT TREE barely fits through the front door. You end up having to hack off, like, ten or twelve feet of that so-called perfect tree just to clear the ceiling. It's like on the National Lampoon's Christmas movie: the Clark Griswold Syndrome.

Well, Jason and I had the opposite problem.

Our house has the lowest clearance of any house I've ever been in. Jason practically has to duck his head to get under the beam in the living room. It's like the previous owners were Bagginses. Bagginsses. Baggins'es's. Bagginsii. Whatever... The point is, we knew we wanted a small tree. I just wasn't thinking it would be QUITE this small.

I introduce to you: our Christmas shrub.

I know that Jesse's had a growing spurt, but I assure you that when he can reach the top of the Christmas tree, you know you have a small tree.

Jesse put up the ornament he made at school (his first Christmas ornament).

Then he puts up Baba's first ornament (from Jason's childhood) on top of it.

Our magnificently decorated Christmas shrub:
(SPECIAL BONUS: we only had to use HALF our allotted ornaments to fill up the entire less than HALF the time it normally takes to decorate...with only a four-year-old working on it.)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Silent Night


Jesse's first time wearing a tie was a huge hit. He was struttin' around the house before we left for the program, proud as could be in his fancy duds. Very suave indeed, my little metro man. Cousin Abby also had a new outfit for the program, along with French braids in her hair. All Cousin Anna wants for Christmas is her two back teeth to come in so she can stop gnawing her fingers.

I am happy to report that although he looked a wee bit skeptical about standing in front of a roomful of strangers, Jesse at least remained standing (or occasionally leaning against the fence post) for the required duration.

He did not run screaming from the platform or do any of the myriad public antics parents so dread. For instance, my friend's son spent the bulk of the evening performing the Robot. Solo and unscripted. But he's five. I thought he pulled it off nicely.

Another child the music I guess you'd say, the whole upper body wrenching side-to-side, back-and-forth in surprisingly rhythmic 4/4 time. But he was a sheep at the manger. A violently spasmodic sheep, but there you go.

Another child plunged off the top tier of the staging, costume flying helter-skelter. She quickly found her way back up onto the stage, safe, if a little flustered.

Abby was overwraught, knowing she was going to get up and sing with her classmates in front of everybody. But Jesse was blissfully ignorant of what lay in store for the evening. And of course, there is that small detail: he doesn't really sing yet. At all. Sometimes I catch him humming, which is pretty cool. But definitely no singing.
Somewhere inside I was secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, I would see his little mouth moving along with "Away in a Manger," once he had the voices of all those other kids behind him.

But no, he simply stood there rather pensively, sort of taking it all in wide-eyed. The lights, the Christmas trees, the people.

It was a good night. A silent night, but a good night.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Santa the Firefighter

The Christmas Parade we went to on Saturday afternoon was a huge hit! I told Jesse there would be fire engines and lots of cars with lights. And NOISE. I told him it would be very loud.

His eyes lit up. Of course he couldn't have been more thrilled at the prospect of cacophany and auditory mayhem. (And I couldn't be more thrilled at the opportunity to trot out "cacophany" and put it to good use in a sentence again.)

Out Jesse went with his warm hat and mittens to enjoy the show - the best part being the "cloud hire engine" (aka "loud fire engines").

Here he is scoping it all out with his grandparents, waiting patiently for the fire engines' approach.

Ahhhh, we just caught sight of the firefighters in full regalia, with the fire engines trailing along behind in all their splendor.

While they were standing there in front of us, the firefighters got an emergency call. All of a sudden they were pulling out their radios and rounding each other up to head out. Poor Santa almost took a nosedive off the firetruck as it yanked left out of the parade route and took off down a side road. I was happy to see he didn't strip out of his red suit to get into his other uniform right then and there. How many children were spared that potentially traumatizing revelation...

And I completely forgot about the paraders passing out candy to the kiddos. Jesse was pretty excited with his pocketFUL of "tandy." I have a video of his recounting the parade; I'll see if Jason can figure out how to load it on the blog. But here's Jesse's summary when it was all over: "More hire engines, Mama! More tandy!" When I told him it was all over, he frowned and tried to bargain with me: "Hamorrow (tomorrow) more hire engine and more tandy, Mama."


I was going through Jesse's school papers just now and came across a few pieces of his handiwork that I thought you'd enjoy.

Here's his Thanksgiving Turkey: (notice the different colors and the fact that he's doing better about staying inside lines)

And this was the first page of his "Thanksgiving Book."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Magic Carpet Ride

On Thanksgiving morning, I (Emily) decided to go for a run. After blasting through an easy 10 miles at an astonishing 6min/mile pace, I arrived back at the house -- invigorated -- and tucked in to my organic banana and oatmeal.

Or maybe it was a barely-three-mile halting jog and I had to skip breakfast altogether...

...because this is what Jason and I spent the following 45 minutes staring at when I got back to the house after my run:

Are you seeing it?


Look closely at the curved branch of the tree, letting your eye travel three-quarters of the way down the length of that branch.

Do you see it now? That little bulge perching precariously and yet with dignity and disdainful haughtiness intact?

Still no? Well, here it is a little closer:

Maybe Jim the Cat has been doing too much reading up on turkeys and their untimely demise at Thanksgiving. Maybe he read too many heartwarming tales about the Thanksgiving Pardon and started getting ideas, fearful that it wasn't just turkeys whose lives were in jeapordy.

But for whatever reason he saw his moment of opportunity when I heaved myself across the threshold of the house like so much wobbly cranberry sauce. Jim the Cat made good his escape (Lam #2, for those of you keeping record) as I careened, gasping, through the front door.

The situation was further compounded by the fact that it was 6:45 a.m., and in our neck of the woods the weather's been frosty and wet. So when I tried to convince the cat that it was in the best interests of his health and longevity to retrace his pawtoes down the length of that dratted tree this very minute, he started sliding precipitously downward:

If I had been in a better frame of mind (or breathing normally and getting the mandated oxygen levels to my brain), I would probably have enjoyed watching what happens when a feline of the species sees that he's lost that all-so-important control over his environment and starts slipping and sliding while suspended 15 feet above ground. Saucer eyes, wild scrabbling, general terror and pandemonium... And that was just me. You should've seen Jim.

But, if you're wondering, it's not all that fun: standing (more or less, that is. Remember it was 10 miles, people. TEN!) in workout clothes as pools of sweat -- I mean, glints of perspiration -- slowly freeze into icicles all over your too-quickly-cooling body. It's what happens when you imagine you've pounded out 10 miles of cross-country terrain at a blistering rate of 6 minutes a mile and then stand stupidly at the base of a tree for 45 minutes watching Cat square off against Angry Squirrel Whose Territory Has Been Impeded Upon. If I get pneumonia from trying to rescue a stupid cat, I swear...

Anyway, I swiftly contemplated and then declined the opportunity to add Tree Climbing as the finale to my stimulating morning workout routine.

Instead, I might have made the suggestion it was time to call the Sanford Fire Dept. and put our tax money to good use.

And Jason might have spat, "Over my dead body" or something along those lines. (My heartrate was still kinda high, and the blood pounding in my ears made this wierd sort of whooshing sound in my head that made it hard to hear. I think it's normal though.)

So we continued our current course of dubious action, which primarily consisted of plaintive, cooing noises to encourage the cat to come down, alternated with daggery glares. At the cat, mostly, but I think I caught a few accidental barbs from Jason. It must be that I was standing in the way of the crossfire...Uhhh...even though the cat and I were in opposite directions, now that I think about it. Hmm.

Well, accidental, like I said. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I dragged Jason out of a warm bed to deal with the "emergent cat" situation. A situation that, I might add, was degenerating quickly.

I think I started hissing at Jim. Delirium.

And did I mention I was starting to collect frostbite?

Finally we compromised. Jason grabbed a ladder from Jesse's yet-unassembled swingset. I grabbed a rolled-up section of our carpet remnants, and we started a new tactic to cajole Jim into our loving arms before Jason brought him down with a shotgun.

Voila, magic carpet ride. Aladdin, eat your heart out.

Once safely back inside the confines of his prison walls, Jim contemplated what could have been.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! (Incidentally, I ate two turkey dinners to make up for the 10 miles it felt like I ran.)