Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stuck between a rock and a really hard place

Many of you know the troubles my cat Ollie has given me over the years. He's a loving, affectionate cat, when he's not being a grumpy old man, but he's becoming a real pain in the ass lately. And not just the 'get out my way' kind of pain in the ass but more the 'I don't know if we can keep you around much longer' kind of pain in the ass.

And that's the rock and really hard place.

Ollie is nine and a half years old. Old but not that old for a cat. I got him soon after I moved to Peterborough -- by myself in a one-bedroom apartment. I'd always wanted a cat -- ever since we had to get rid of the one and only one we had when I was a kid -- and getting one almost as soon as I had my own place was a top priority.

He was supposed to be a barn cat -- born to a barn cat mom. Apparently he decided he didn't like sleeping in a barn and would sneak into the house and sleep on the couch. So, since the owner didn't want cats in her house, she opted to put him up for adoption. That's where I came in.

Over the last nine years, a lot has changed. Ollie and I have lived in four different places (including the Peterborough apartment). But after every move, he developed a 'problem', something that was later attributed to stress and a dislike of change. He would pee in inapproriate places -- basically places other than the litter box.

This problem was fixed with drugs and for years, my cat has been on kitty prozzac to reduce his stress and anxiety so that he'll only use the litter box when he has to go.

Then the kids came along. And he wanted nothing to do with them. Which is fine, because really, he just ignores them or runs out of the room when one of them comes in. But over the last three years (since Austin was born) the peeing problem comes and goes.

It was to the point 18 months ago that we were getting to the rock and a hard place point when it was discovered that he had a medical condition. Bladder stones. This led to a costly operation and permanent costly food to prevent recurrence. But the peeing stopped. For awhile.

When Alex was born, he started it again, then stopped for awhile. Now he's at it again and I don't know what to do about it anymore. I'm tired of walking into a room and realizing there's cat pee on the floor/the carpet/the couch/the dresser. I'm tired of cleaning up cat pee all the time. I do it so often it seems that my house doesn't smell like cat pee (I don't think), instead it smells like the disinfectant I use to clean it up with. And I'm so frustrated with the whole thing that I'm ready to have the conversation I don't want to have.

What to do with him.

If the peeing is a result of the bladder stones returning at least he has a reason for it. But, we already decided 18 months ago that we don't want to go through another costly surgery. And if it's not the result of bladder stones and is just because he's a pain in the ass -- well I can't keep living like this. I can't have my cat hold me hostage anymore.

Which, sadly, leaves just one thing we can do. Because who's going to want to adopt an almost 10 year old cat that pees on the furniture?

And that's the really hard place.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Running to nowhere when the streets are snowy

After looking at a few different places, I finally got around to joining a gym last week. Well, sort of. Because it's not much of a gym.

It's a City-run facility less than a five minute drive from my house and it's really just a room with some equipment. There's four treadmills, two rowers, a handful of bikes, a universal weight machine and a bunch of free weights all packed into a room about the size of my basement.

In other words, it's the worst place I looked at of the two or three gyms I looked into joining this winter. So, why did I join? Because I could buy a three-month membership for the same price as the first month's payment at GoodLife.

And, in reality, all I want to do is use a treadmill so that I can keep running when it's too cold and too snowy to run outside. So who cares if the treadmill is at a fancy club with TVs in front of each machine or in front of a mirror in a small room.

When my membership expires in mid-April, it'll (hopefully) be warmer and far less snowier, at which point I can go back to running along the streets in pursuit of my 10 kilometre goal.

I did 4 km today.

Three months of running nowhere on a treadmill should get me closer to the finish line.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Eating out in the company of kids

On Friday night, we tried something new -- we took the kids out to a restaurant for dinner.

Now, it's not like either of them had never been to a restaurant. Alex has been out for lunch with me a handful of times, as had Austin when he was the baby. But that doesn't really count, because the baby just sits (or sleeps) in the stroller or the Bumbo chair while the adults eat.

The last time we had tried to take Austin out for dinner, he was 18 months old. He was very well-behaved, but it wasn't exactly a relaxing dinner. In fact, we were quite thankful that the place we were at had a garden off the back patio where we took turns wandering around with Austin while waiting for our food and while we took turns eating.

But now that Austin's almost 3, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce him to the idea of ordering food and having to sit patiently until it arrives. It's a good skill for children to learn. And, recently, I met my parents and sister for lunch with both kids and it went quite smoothly.

But at that lunch, the ratio of adults to children was four to two. And lunch can be very different than dinner -- mainly because dinner is usually busier and it's closer to bedtime, meaning it ups the ante of having tired and cranky kids.

But we decided to go for it. I packed a bunch of toys for each kid, food and a bottle for Alex, an emergency snack for Austin (in case the food took too long) and we headed off to a kid-friendly restaurant -- Jack Astor's.

The whole dinner went perfectly. Austin was well-behaved, loved the idea that he could order a pizza by himself and colour on the table with crayons while he waited. Alex on the other hand was too busy flirting with the people next to us to pay attention to eating all her dinner. But, no matter, she barely made a peep the hour and a bit we were there.

In fact, it went so well that Ryan and I even managed to sit and enjoy a pint of beer with our burgers. Maybe next time we'll brave it and try a restaurant a step-up from burgers and beer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting organized

We have a fair bit of space in our house but lately, mainly thanks to all the kids stuff, it's starting to feel rather full. So, over the last few weekends, that has left just one thing to do -- get organized!

I'll admit, although I like things neat and tidy, I live in the real world. And that world is one with two young kids and a busy lifestyle. So, stuff doesn't always go where it belongs -- or it doesn't even belong anywhere and just gets shuffled from place to place over time. Stuff gets thrown in closets and the door gets slammed shut or put on top of a table or desk because there's no shelf or drawer to put it in.

But, now that Christmas has come and gone, and there's once again a lot of stuff without a home, it was time to get organzied. Two weeks ago, Ryan cleaned out a few of our kitchen cupboards all in the name of making room for two new frying pans. To make room for the pans, he had to clean out the drawer under the stove. To make room for the stuff he cleaned out of the drawer, he had to empty the cupboard above the fridge. To make room for the stuff above the fridge -- well, actually, I think he opened the garbage can for a lot of that stuff. It seemed that that was where we sent things to die in our kitchen.

But the good news is is that he made room for the frying pans and he found a glass baking dish that we forgot we had!

Then we did the unthinkable -- we went to an organzied living store! After all that work to clean up and clean out, we were going to find a way to make the most of the little space we have in our kitchen. We bought racks and storage boxes and even little things like sponge holders. We spent an hour and a half just wondering the store, and I think I fell in love with it.

When we came home, we installed it all and suddenly realized we now need more racks and more storage boxes.

With my kitchen finally feeling a little more organized after four years of living in this house, we moved on to cleaning the basement. I'll admit, we didn't actually buy anything to get organized in the basement -- although we need to. But we cleaned closets, nooks and cranies and suddenly the place doesn't seem so cluttered. We even cleaned out a box that hadn't been unpacked since we moved in.

Yup, we can be that lazy.

This box has been shuffled around for four years with the 'we'll do it later attitude'. After four years, most of the stuff -- which was mainly pictures off the wall in the apartment -- could go in the garbage or Goodwill. Although there was one item in there that I had wondered what happened to (now I know!) and a framed picture from a wedding that was a blast from the past.

After all that work, I took three boxes and two garbage bags full of stuff to Goodwill on Monday. In there were books that I read and didn't like, three or four old winter coats, old winter boots, some toys and dolls that are no longer played with or that seriously drove me crazy, some knick knacks and do-dads and clothes. And, tomorrow, we're going to have to use an extra garbage tag or two to get rid of the other stuff.

But it felt good to clean out. After all, it was either clean out or move out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wii Fit workout

We got a Wii Fit for Christmas. Actually, it was Ryan's gift but I was as excited to receive it as he was. And to date, I've gotten as much use out of it as he has -- maybe even more since I'm home during the day and, when I'm lucky, get half an hour or so of kid-free time in the afternoon.

It's a fun toy but in a weird sort of way, you're crazy enough to think you may actually be able to squeeze in some real exercise from the privacy of your basement. In other words, it's sort of like the new workout video.

The little mascot tries to encourage you, in an annoying sort of way, to 'come back every day for best results'. And your own personal trainer guides you on how to do strengthening exercises and yoga poses. Heck, there's even a 'game' that lets you go for a short, long or distance run!

Although I don't quite understand why, if it's trying to get you motivated and in shape, the background music has to be bad elevator music.

Now, I'm not foolish enough to believe that I can get in shape and lose weight just by playing Wii Fit, but it certainly is a fun way to spend half an hour or so. And it's a heck of a lot more active than sitting here and writing this.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Who did I piss off in a past life?

It's been 18 months since I last had a period. Nine months of pregnancy and, lucky me, I got thorugh her first nine months without a symptom in sight.

Then, yesterday afternoon, there it was -- along with the leg cramps, the back cramps and all the other annoying cramps that come along with it.

Now, I knew it would come back eventually, but couldn't it have waited a day and a half until AFTER my birthday? I must've seriously done something to piss someone off to go 18 whole months without, only to have it show up six hours before my birthday.

Sigh. On the bright side, the kids both slept until 8 a.m. this morning, so that was nice.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A good night's sleep is all I ask for

I'm well-aware of the fact that the thing I crave most these days is sleep. More so than time alone lying on the couch watching TV; more so than a peaceful afternoon reading a book; more so than an uninterupted shower.

After months and months of waking in the middle of the night, sometimes three or four times, I want nothing more than to sleep for hours on end, waking up only when I choose to, not because one kid is crying or the other is yelling 'mommy'.

My lack of sleep these last nine months is partly my own fault. I'm a light sleeper. Most nights, Alex will barely need to squeak before I'm out of bed and walking down the hall to her room. Sometimes it's almost automatic -- and when I get there, I'm not only barely awake, but she's also sound asleep. What I end up with is a full night of sleep foiled because my daughter talks in her sleep.

Ryan, on the other hand, sleeps so deeply that some nights he doesn't hear her at all. So much so, that he'll wake in the morning and say 'she had a good night'. At which point, I grumble something about her waking up three or four times.

Two nights in North Carolina without the kids was a much-needed break from sleepless nights. Unfortunately, the first night I still woke up twice (for no particular reason) and the second night, although it was uninterupted sleep, it was only six hours long. Being away from the kids is a bit of a double-edged sword afterall, because I may want to sleep a lot, but really, who wants to go to bed early when you can go out drinking instead?

Although, I'm not the slightest bit embarrased to admit that on the first morning, I woke up at 10 -- in time for us to wander down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast -- only to go back to bed at 11 and sleep for another hour and a bit before we had to go out for lunch.

And at home, I've started making the most of my sleep-in mornings by popping in a pair of earplugs as soon as Ryan gets up with the kids.

Now, if only I could wear those at night without feeling guilty.