Mikey and the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Preserve

My mother in-law is a nature person, a hiking/camping former Colorado girl. Several times a year she hikes the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Preserve with her grandchildren. It’s something she does with each of them once they turn 8 years of age. Last year was Mikey’s first time, and he loved it. This year, I thought it would be fun to send him with my old iphone. I told him to take all the pictures and videos he wanted.

The first few pictures were what I was expecting.

SR selfie Collage

Behold: Mikey’s first #selfie! Chin up? Check. Smirk? Check. He still needs to work on eye contact portion.

I once read that, despite wanting to minimize the gender differences in boys and girls, researchers found boys and girls had typical, ingrained actions and reactions to certain stimuli. Erik Erikson’s study on block play (boys build up and girls build enclosed/interior spaces) is probably the one I’m thinking of, but that’s a controversial study many researchers haven’t been able to replicate. Interesting fact: it took Lego years to figure out how to get girls to play Legos. They relied on Erikson’s research as well as their own to create a product that would sell, and it’s why the Lego Friends sets for girls focus on interiors and details.

Selfies are the new Legos, and boys will smirk while the girls duckface. Shhhhhh. We’ll ignore the fact that I’m a girl who almost exclusively smirks in selfies for the purpose of this post.

The rest of Mikey’s pictures shocked me. They were good. Some of them really good. These are unedited, straight out of the iphone.

SR Plateau, 2

SR Plateau, 3

SR Plateau, 6

SR Plateau, 8

SR Plateau, 9

SR Plateau, 10

SR Plateau, 7

These I edited, but only slightly. I increased the saturation just a bit because the sunshine washed out the colors. The second one is my favorite. I love it.

SR Plateau, 5

SR Plateau, 4

And now, the videos. You guys, the videos. It’s like The Blair Witch Project meets Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

This first one is mainly Mikey commenting on the scenery, my mother in-law warning him (several times) about poison oak, and Mikey not really caring about poison oak.

There is a historic ranch adobe on the preserve. Mikey did a video tour of it for us and he is so confident, so excited, so completely full of it. I can’t stop laughing at his comments. It’s clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but heck if that’s going to stop him.

This last one, though, is our favorite. The Mister says it’s the kid’s version of Double Rainbow, but with bunnies and squirrels and a high speed chase.

Good job, Mikey. Maybe we’ll him a camera for his 10th birthday.

SR Plateau, 12

Trust Me, I Know What I’m Doing

potting table

Yesterday I started my post with a link to my latest Wayfair post about plants and gardening, this one being about potting tables and the features to consider before you buy one. I’ve since edited my post from yesterday and removed the link to my Wayfair post. Here’s why.

I’ve been so happy blogging about plants over at Wayfair, and they’re a great company to work with. I’m terrible at self promotion and my contact at Wayfair, Lindsey, knows this, so she always sends me gentle reminders to promote my latest post. I have no problem with this because I really do need the nudges to put myself out there. Therefore, I was so proud of myself on Wednesday when I promoted the potting bench post without Lindsey having to send me another reminder email. Then, I checked the link. Not working! I emailed Lindsey about the broken link mainly to show how on top of things I was because I knew the link would eventually go live.

Below is my actual email conversation with Lindsey. I started a few days earlier to set the scene and humiliate myself further.


From: Lindsey Bachelder
Sent: Mar 25, 2014, at 8:32 AM,

To: Jules | Pancakes & French Fries
Subject: Potting Benches

Hi Jules,
Here is the link to your potting bench post that will be live on Thursday! We’d love if you could share it then as well. :)

http://www.wayfair.com/IdeaLounge/How-to-Pick-the-Perfect-Potting-Bench-E4228

Hope your week is going well!
Lindsey

From: Jules | Pancakes & French Fries
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:33 AM
To: Lindsey Bachelder
Subject: Re: Potting Benches

Of course! :) Thanks for being so great to work with and for letting me geek out on plants.

All the best,

Jules Kendall
Pancakes and French Fries

Twitter: @TheMrsKendall
Facebook: Page

On Mar 25, 2014, at 8:39 AM, Lindsey Bachelder wrote:

Of course! Can’t wait for your gardening tool roundup for April. :)

From: Jules | Pancakes & French Fries
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:04 AM
To: Lindsey Bachelder
Subject: Re: Potting Benches

Lindsey,

When does the link go up? I linked to it, but so far it’s a broken link. :-/

All the best,

Jules Kendall
Pancakes and French Fries

Twitter: @TheMrsKendall
Facebook: Page

On Mar 26, 2014, at 11:04 AM, Lindsey Bachelder wrote:

It’s not Thursday yet! ;)

From: Jules | Pancakes & French Fries
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 11:11 AM
To: Lindsey Bachelder
Subject: Re: Potting Benches

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

Do you see how crazy I am lately? I’m presenting a huge report today and the days are starting to blur!!

All the best,

Jules Kendall
Pancakes and French Fries

Twitter: @TheMrsKendall
Facebook: Page

On March 26, 2014 11:20:35 AM, Lindsey Bacheldor wrote:

Haha no worries. Happy hump day!!

I mean, honestly. You guys, I don’t know what is up with me lately. I’m so scattered and just…ditzy. I can’t tell you how many times in the last two weeks I called out a student’s name only to find out they are right in front of me, book in hand. It’s like I have two braincells left and they’re fighting.

Anyway, if you are interested in potting benches, please check out my post. Not interested in potting benches? Check out the link anyway because you never know–the way my month is shaping up, it’s quite possible I just accidentally linked to a post about a Norwegian teen who tattooed a McDonald’s receipt on his arm as punishment for being “too active with the ladies.”

And So it Goes

B+B

I first heard of Dr. Kevorkian during the first of his highly publicized murder trials in the mid 1990s. I was twenty years old and uncompromising. What he did was wrong, inexcusable. I could only see it from my perspective as a young, seemingly immortal girl who saw illness and age as a concept. Think of the families, I argued. I was positive they would want to spend every last minute with their loved ones, and this guy was taking matters into his own hands. It isn’t right to play God, I said.

My father had a different perspective, one formed by experience and a familiarity with death.

He did his internal medicine residency in 1970s New York. It’s where he did his first lumbar puncture, an abysmal failure that ended prematurely with a screaming patient running down the hallway as the spinal needle bumping wildly against his exposed backside. It’s where two drunk fraternity brothers pulled up to the emergency room doors and rolled their unconscious friend into the snow before racing out of the parking lot. It’s where a woman in the final stages of cancer showed up emaciated and with unmanageable pain. Her screams filled the emergency room. She begged the attending physician to take her out of her misery. It’s where he heard someone plead for death for the first time.

Saying goodbye

She was a regular who was coming in more often as she approached the end. Her pain was a near constant thing, and she was tired. My dad assumed his role as resident and started reciting to his attending the patient history, prognosis, treatment. He was anxious to help this woman. Her screams were awful.

His attending turned to him and with a dismissive wave of his hand said, “I’m thirsty. Go to the cafeteria and bring me a coke.”

My dad was stunned, and maybe a little belligerent. After so many years of study and sacrifice, his attending–with whom he thought he had a good relationship–was placing drink orders and treating him like a candy striper. They had a nonverbal, motionless standoff that ended with the attending saying over the din of screams, “I told you get me a coke. Don’t make me ask you again.”

So that’s what my dad did, walking out of the emergency room and towards the cafeteria dozens of yards away from all the action, all because his attending wanted his soda in a cup with ice.

When he returned, the emergency room was quiet, or at least the patient was no longer screaming. My dad went to her bed, curious to see what combination of medication they used this time. Instead, he found the attending charting his notes. The patient had expired while he was in the cafeteria.

“What happened?” he asked. “She was fine when I left.”

“She wasn’t fine,” his attending replied. “She was dying and in an incredible amount of pain. You just didn’t realize it.”

My dad looked around to see if anyone else was losing his mind along with him. No, everyone seemed fine; no one seemed scared or shocked or even curious. Later, he looked at the chart. Everything seemed in order. When he asked, no one had much to say, other than the patient died after a long battle with cancer. To this day, he doesn’t know what happened when he left to get the coke, “But,” he says, “I know I didn’t know crap about what it meant to be a doctor.”

He didn’t agree with everything Dr. Kevorkian stood for, but he did say that if he ever got a terminal illness, he wanted to go out like a dog: peacefully.

Buster, 1

Buster responded well to steroids for the first few days, but by the 6th day we were back to coaxing him to eat. He was always close to me, laying at my feet and following me around the house. When the Mister was out of town, he always slept with me. Last week, he didn’t want to sleep with me. He wanted to be by himself or, on the one day it was cold, huddled up against Buddy.

On Saturday he refused to eat breakfast and later woke up from a nap panting. I walked into the kitchen to see if I could tempt him with people food while I called the vet. He followed me with his head down, still panting. I knew.

I went outside and told the Mister, who was clipping roses. We agreed he would take Buster to the vet while I ran errands with the boys because of the probable outcome. I yelled at him for clipping the roses all wrong and then he clipped three more roses as if each long stem was my neck.

An x-ray of Buster’s abdomen showed a mass in his stomach larger than a baseball. It was one of the largest masses they have seen in their practice, and this mass along with his bladder and his age…

IMG_7982

There have been many times over the last 4 weeks that I felt silly getting so worked up over a pet when there are people watching human loved ones suffer from a terminal disease. I understand all this is trivial when compared to that, and if it was between my boys and my dogs, there wouldn’t be a choice. I get it. I get it, but I can’t help it. “I’m not fat,” I joked to the Mister last week before Buster got so sick. “This is just my really big heart leaking into my extremities.”

I wouldn’t wish the loss of a beloved pet on children, but I’m so happy I got a glimpse of the compassionate men Mikey and Nico will one day become. They took care of Buster without complaint. They fed him by hand and cuddled with him constantly when he would allow it. They got up from the couch a million times a day to let him out to go to the bathroom and gave him cookies when they thought I wasn’t looking. They prayed for him relentlessly.

If there is a silver lining, that is it.

BUSTER
The last picture of Buster. It’s an unstaged picture of Mikey saying goodbye to Buster before he got in the car to go to the vet. Mikey had no idea what was going to happen, of course, but I did.

On Saturday I cried so much that I got a terrible migraine. On Sunday, I cried when I allowed myself to think about Buster. I’m sad, but I know we did the right thing and I’m happy we let him go out like a dog: peacefully.

Buster and The Doctors

Buster, steroids

Buster is doing well. He’s still dying, but he’s comfortable. His appetite is greatly improved since starting the steroids, and he seems to have more energy. His bladder infection is still there, but we’re making do with more antibiotics. It’s a little tiring getting up with him to go to the bathroom, especially since it takes him about 20 minutes to urinate. Lots of stops and starts. I end up going to bed late to let him out one last time and the Mister gets up with him around 5:00am. He’s worth the interrupted sleep.

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The boys are now both obsessed with Doctor Who. Nico has a collection of daleks, and they both have sonic screwdrivers. Last week it was “dress as your favorite book character” at school, and Mikey argued that since we have a Doctor Who character encyclopedia, technically Doctor Who is a book character. Flimsy logic, but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to put Nico in a tweed sport coat and bow tie. Mikey is the 10th doctor. We tried squeezing him into his Communion suit, but it was way too small. We were able to cobble together an outfit from what he had in the closet. That’s his Communion shirt and school tie!

Doctor Who has now become our family show. Before it was just me and the boys while the Mister found something else to do (work), but eventually he got sucked in like the rest of us. He was dutifully watching an episode with us, The Silence*, when all of a sudden he said, “You know, this show isn’t bad.”

Of course it isn’t! How can you not like a show with quotes like these?

Doctor Who

*Blink remains my favorite episode of all time. So freaky, so creative, so good.

Ash Wednesday and The Library for Easter

Easter Library, 1

Easter Library, 2

I didn’t realize until after I was almost done decorating the library for Easter that it isn’t until the 3rd week of April this year. That’s okay! This gives me more time before I have to think about decorating summer, which I swear won’t be much since we’ll only have 6 weeks left of school. I stuck to the 99ยข Only Store except for a few items. The flowers are recycled from the fall, this time with tulle ribbon. I tried to get ribbon I could use for Valentines, Easter, and summer. I don’t love the color, but it’s hardly worth throwing my hands up in the air over a funky looking fuscia. The Stations of the Cross cards are from The Bookworm. I printed them on photo paper and glued them to clothespins so they would stand upright. If you decide to do the same craft and use photo paper, go easy on the glue because it soaked through to the image and caused some color bleeding. The “He Is Risen” print is a free download from Heidi Stock. I put it in a frame I bought for the Valentine print I made. The frame is a $6 clearance item from Michael’s. I think the original print inside was of a bowl of fruit or an innocuous bouquet of flowers. Each season I try to find or create a print I can fit in the frame. Super easy, super cheap, and the kids look forward to seeing what I put in next.

I also have hanging from the ceiling paper lanterns, signs, and honeycomb balls of various sizes. It’s…ridiculous. Garish. Phenomenally twee. The kids loves it.

I’m surprised by how much the kids like the decorations. Not all of them–some really don’t care and some are horrified. I had one 7th grade boy almost recoil in terror when he saw the library decorated for Valentine’s.

“Oh, God,” he said, wincing and shaking his head. “This looks so…so…foo-foo romantic.” The girls defended me.

Whatever. It looks awesome. You’re just a guy and have no appreciation for pretty things.”

“Well, yeah. That’s what I just said.”

“Okay, what you just said makes no sense.”

“None of this makes sense!”

Others like to ask me where I bought this or that. The assumption, oddly enough, is that I make everything. I’m flattered, but I have no idea how they can think I know how to mold plastic into bees and butterflies that glow technicolor at the flip of a small switch.

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Mikey and Nico noticed how differently I decorate the library and our home. They wanted to know why I didn’t put up holiday decorations at home. Sigh. I went back to the 99 Cent Store and bought some garlands. They love it; they think the eggs look like Minecraft swords or axes, but cut out.?.to be honest, I have no idea what else they said. I heard “Minecraft” and it’s like the hand of God reached inside my brain and pressed Ctrl-Alt-delete.

Ash Wednesday is this week, and I still haven’t decided what I’m going to sacrifice for Lent. I thought of doing an internet fast, but I’m blogging so little as it is that I’m afraid I’ll have trouble coming back if I stop. It’s a similar problem I’m having right now resuming my daily walking. I seem to have fallen into an every other day habit. I don’t like it. I asked the boys what they planned on giving up for Lent, and Nico said, “Definitely not chocolate or video games. I’d like to give up showers.”

“Try again,” I said.

“I’m giving up farting,” Mikey said.

Nico snapped his head in Mikey’s direction, his eyes wide with shock and the Legos in his hands forgotten. “Dude,” he said. “You’ll never make it.”

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.