Kittens!

For the past few years, J and I have toyed with the idea of getting a second feline friend for our dear Lily (ok, by “dear,” I mean she’s a beast…but anyways). However, we were always caught up on whether it was a good idea to add another cat into the mix, or should we just leave Lily as a single cat in the house. We’d go back and forth quite a bit, and while we lived in the Netherlands it was always sort of wishful thinking, because the last thing we wanted to do was get a cat there and then move the cat overseas back to the US with us. In addition, we lived in a shoebox in the Netherlands…we didn’t need another living, breathing thing in that apartment.

So, a few weeks ago (as I mentioned in a previous post), I joined the City Band. After my first rehearsal, one of the clarinet players announced to everyone that she had a litter of kittens she was trying to find homes for. A stray momma cat came to her neighbor’s house and gave birth to a litter of 4 female kittens, and she had taken them all into her home, but could only keep the momma cat. So…I immediately thought about our previous considerations on taking another cat into the home…then went home and started the discussion with J. We tossed it around some more, back and forth, and then finally decided that it would be good for our home (and hopefully for Lily) to bring in another cat. Then…J throws a wrench in the works. The lady was on her way over with all four kittens (and momma) so we could pick ours, and J was like, “well, after we see them, we can pick which one and how many.” So…apparently not only was ONE kitten on the table, the option for TWO was as well!!! Twist my arm!

So the lady gets there, kittens in tow…and boy were they all adorable! However, the two tabbies (there were two tabbies and two full on grey coat kittens) were by far the more adventurous and outgoing. They were all sweet and loving, but I just felt like the tabbies would be a great addition to our house! We told Ellen that we’d take the tabbies, and she then took them all to C.A.R.E. to get their first round of immunizations. We’ll get the two new beasts on Monday!

In the meantime, I’ll post what I have in way of photos for you all! I’m sure I’ll have a ton more once we get them full-time, but for now this is what Ellen sent to me before I met them. And no, we don’t have names yet.

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It probably doesn’t look like it, but those are two different kittens.  They look remarkably similar, which is why I’m getting different color collars, so I can tell them apart (until I get used to their personalities).  They’re about 9 weeks old…1.5 pounds!  Just little bundles of love!  I can’t wait to see how they interact with our other cat, Lily…I just hope it’s a good experience!  If any of you have any experience in bringing another cat into a single cat home, please let me know!

K.

All the colors.

So, in my quest for new hobbies and connections, I decided to go to one of those painting activities where you show up, they have everything ready, and you basically drink wine and paint for a few hours. I went through a company called Wine and Canvas…and it was amazing! Obviously, I picked a date where I liked the painting that we would be making, so that part wasn’t an issue. I was worried that it would look completely childish, since I’ve never painted with acrylics before, but it was super easy and lots of fun! I definitely think I’ll do it again, especially because it will a) give me a chance to go do something that is just “me” and b) help me decorate my craft room! And really, what’s more crafty than hand painted pictures on the wall.

Here’s my finished painting…what do you think?

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Much love!
K

The gift of my heatbeat.

Talk about a weekend from hell. Saturday was J’s birthday, and what a day it turned out to be. We went to the gym, then out to lunch, and as we were leaving we got a frantic phone call from his mom, letting him know that his father was in the ER and we were needed there immediately. We were already in the car, so we headed straight over to the ER and ran inside. We were immediately taken back and were told that Jim (J’s father) had had a heart attack and we needed to see him right then (I think at this point, they might not have been sure of prognosis, so they wanted us to be able to see him, in case things didn’t turn out well). We went in, J was choked up and was able to tell his dad he loved him, and then we were ushered out.

Apparently, Jim started having chest pains early that morning, but they weren’t bad and he didn’t think anything of them. As the morning wore on, they got worse, and he went to lay down. He came back from their bedroom and told Pam (J’s mom) that he needed to go to the ER, because the pain was really bad. Pam drove him to the ER, where he then passed out. During this time, they hooked him up to all the machines they could find, found out there was a problem with his heart and that he was having a heart attack, and shocked him (twice) in order to get a good rhythm. After that, we showed up, spoke with Jim (he was conscious by this point…but very groggy) and then we were taken to the ER waiting room. The doctor immediately called the Cath Lab team in so that they could do a heart cath on Jim, to see if there was a blockage.

So…once the cath team got there, we were taking to the heart cath waiting room and basically waited for the surgery to be over. They went in, did a heart cath, found the blockage and was able to put in a stint. Jim was awake briefly after that (more like conscious sedation, because he remembers nothing about it), and then they whisked him away to ICU where he was kept intubated and sedated for the rest of the evening/night.

Sunday morning, J went in to the hospital around 4:30am to be there when they woke up his dad. Jim came out of sedation just fine, and a few hours later they took out the intubation tube. By the time I got there (around 8:00am), Jim was talking and seemed like a slightly more exhausted version of his normal self. We stuck around for a few hours, then ran home to do a few things, then came back after lunch and stayed through dinner. By the time we left that evening, Jim was eating, sitting up, talking (and harassing the nurses), and walking the corridors. Today was even better…they took out all the IVs and all he has right now is an external heart rate monitor that is keeping track of everything going on inside.

I never really realized just how scary it is…seeing your parent (through J’s eyes) facing possible death. I mean…we all wonder what we’ll do when our parents die, but on Saturday, J was as close to that possibility as he’ll ever be, short of actual death. It was scary. It was an eye opener. It was one more reason to focus on being more active, eating a healthier diet, and taking the time to be with loved once, because you never know how much time you’ve got. Saturday sucked, but today is a good day. Hopefully, Jim will be released later today, or tomorrow, and we can get back to some degree of “normal.” He actually needs two more stints put in, but they will wait a month or so before they do that surgery, to give him time to heal. The next surgery should be a lot better, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed. In the meantime, we’re all incredibly thankful to be given more time with such a wonderful guy.

K

Music

One thing that has always gotten me through anything in life has been music. Ever since I was a very small child, music has been hugely important to me. I sang for several years in school, and play a few different instruments (flute, saxophone, percussion, marimba, and violin). I’ve played the flute the longest (since 5th grade) and the violin the least amount of time (I started right before we moved to the Netherlands)…but I love them all! I really get such joy from playing music and interacting with out musicians.

So…brings me to the point of the post! This week, I joined the local city band here! I went to my first rehearsal last evening and it was SO much fun! It’s been years since I picked up my flute to play in an ensemble, but a lot of it came right back. I absolutely loved every minute of it (and practice lasted 2 hours). They actually have a performance next week, the last one of their “season”…and then a month or so break before fall. I’ll be playing with them…though I’ll definitely need to practice a bit this week before playing at the performance! It’s at a local county fair…some patriotic music, a few crowd favorites…all fun music! Then, all new music in the fall, which will be exciting as well.

I’m just really glad I decided to do this. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve struggled with getting out there and getting involved. It used to see so easy and effortless, and now it’s an actual struggle to meet and befriend new people! But, I really think this will be good for me! Plus, I start as a co-leader for Girl Scouts at the beginning of August, so that will also be really good! I’m trying my best to put myself out there in the community and really carve out a niche for myself. I think helping others and being involved will really help me feel useful outside of work…plus hopefully it will help me limit the amount of time I work over.

So…how about you all? How do you get involved in the community now?

K.

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One Phone Call.

She got the call today, one out of the grey, and when the smoke cleared, it took her breath away. She said she didn’t believe it could happen to me. I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.

It’s amazing how one moment can act as a catalyst in your life, leaving you irrevocably changed. In the span of 24-hours, I watched two people that I love and care deeply for, hear some of the most devastating news one can ever get. And it all revolved around one, single word. Cancer.

We’ll start at the beginning…because honestly, where else is there to start. J’s father has been having trouble with a mass that was growing in his neck. One biopsy came back benign, but a second opinion wanted to do another biopsy, coupled with an MRI, to ensure they were pulling from the right area. Thursday evening, J’s father called with the results. The biopsy came back cancerous. The prognosis sounds good, but the specialists are meeting this week to discuss the full diagnosis and treatment plan. Surgery should occur the week after this upcoming one. The idea is that the tumor is growing around his salivary gland, so they’ll go in and remove it, then treat residual with radiation. All in all, while incredibly crappy, and scary as all hell, if the doctors are optimistic, who are we to argue. J got off the phone with his dad and just sort of sat there, not saying anything, for the rest of the evening. His dad is his best friend…the one constant in his life for his entire 34 years. In that moment, facing the fact that his father is facing serious health issues, J’s entire world was shaken. And all I could do was sit there, offer my optimism, be close, and be strong for both of us.

And then, Friday morning, another call (actually a text). My good friend’s mother was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer about a year ago. They went in, did a full hysterectomy, and were treating the residual with heavy chemotherapy. It wasn’t going well, but they were optimistic. We all knew that she wouldn’t have a full life, living until 90+ like adults are prone to do now, but we definitely thought we were in the “years” left category. But, like so many things, it doesn’t always go to plan. Friday morning, the doctors came back with the test scans, told my friend and her family that the cancer had spread, and that there was nothing they could do. They’ve stopped chemotherapy and moved her mother home, to hospice care. To make matters worse…the “years” we thought we had didn’t go down to “months.” Instead…we have weeks…and not many at that. Probably less than a month. The cancer is severe and aggressive, and in a short while, my good friend will be without her mother. It’s devastating and beyond comprehension that someone so vibrant, so full of love and life, will be gone in no time. And my heart absolutely breaks for my friend. I cry for her, because she can’t seem to cry for herself yet.

And so, I was sitting here, thinking of how to write this post, when my iTunes playlist popped up with the song “Closer to Love” by Mat Kearney. That’s the lyrics above that I’ve typed. And it fit, those first few lines. We never think it’ll happen to us, that our lives will be the ones changed so drastically. It’s a coping mechanism, born of millennia full of love and loss, to protect ourselves to the utmost degree by living in a delusion that it will always be someone else. Never you that will go through the hardship, but always someone outside your circle of loved ones. Until one day, you wake up, and you realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the chaos, and you find yourself wondering how you managed to escape it for so long in the first place.

So tonight…hug and hold your loved ones tight. Don’t wait a minute longer to tell someone you love them. Mend your bridges (if they’re worth mending) and keep close to those that matter. Because, like I’ve realized, you never know when that rug is going to be yanked out from under you.

K.

A never-ending struggle.

Ever since I was a child, I have struggled tremendously with my weight.  I was a hefty little bugger in elementary school…often though of as an Oompah Loompah (very round, very tubby).  Didn’t help matters much that I was a huge nerd.  I always had my face in a book and was reading ahead in my school work.   Basically, I unknowingly painted a giant ass sign of my back that said, “Please make fun of me, I love it!”  But then, puberty hit, I grew five inches, and dropped a ridiculous amount of weight through some less than healthy ways.  And the positive reinforcement was overwhelming!  Suddenly, more people wanted to be my friend.  Boys wanted to talk to me and dance at the middle school dances.  I would get compliments from everyone, including my family, about how much better I looked now that I had “slimmed down.”  It was awesome!  It became a goal to see just how small my jeans could get (“I can wear the size fives just fine, but I wonder if I could fit into a three”) and with each smaller size, the positive reinforcement just grew and grew.

I had always been pretty athletic.  I played softball for several years, then volleyball, and finally ran track in high school.  I wasn’t emaciated by any stretch of the imagination…I had developed quite good muscle tone and was very fit during those years.  Luckily, about a year or so after my initial drop in weight, my weight stabilized, and I lost interest in the “game” to see how small I could make myself.  I was at a healthy weight…but I still felt ridiculously fat, as though I’d never lost any weight at all.

Throughout college…same struggle.  I never gained the “Freshman 15” because I was working out every day of the week at the gym (and I never really got into drinking, which I’m sure helped with the weight gain).  I participated in our school’s huge bike race my Junior year of college (Little 500…fantastic!), and then my senior year I had a ridiculous schedule and started interning an hour drive (each way) away from where I lived.  That allowed for little exercise, lots of take-out, and lots of time spent sitting on my butt (which, by this point, was only getting larger).  I gained around 20 pounds my Senior year of college, which only served to remind me how fat and unattractive I was.

Right after college, I started law school.  The stress of law school really pushed me to start exercising again, and I was keeping a really healthy diet, so the weight came off again.  I would probably say that first year of law school I was in the best shape of my life.  I was feeling happy, successful, and once again sort of attractive!  All great positives!  Then, my second semester, I had a few issues with anxiety and depression, lost even more weight due to having stomach ulcers, and had to quit exercising for a while.  Funny thing about exercise…once you stop, it’s a bitch to get started again!  I stayed at a pretty stable weight for about 6 months, then slowly started putting it all back on.  Plus, at this point, I had met my now husband, had gotten engaged, and was quite content with my life.  I guess it’s called “getting comfortable” in a relationship. 

Fast forward to today.  It’s nearly 8 years later, and I’m still struggling.  I take it off, I put it on, I take it off, I put it on.  I feel like I can’t stick to the lifestyle changes that are required to be healthy and happy!  Plus…it’s a never-ending cycle of self-abuse.  I eat because I feel fat, and I’m fat because I eat crap!  Stupid mind games.

But…I really, honestly, feel like I’ve turned a new corner by going vegetarian.  I feel like I have more control over what I put in my body, and I’m happy with the way I’ve been feeling since I stopped eating meat.  I eat a ton more fruits and vegetables, and I pay a lot more attention to reading the labels on the food that I do buy.  Plus…I’ve started to track my calories again (which is a sure way to actually lose weight, so long as you don’t lie to yourself).  After two weeks in, I’d down nearly 6 pounds, which feels really good!  As much as I’m pleased with myself for losing the weight and working on my health, I still have this beast in the back of my mind, reminding me that I’ll always be fat and unattractive.  It’s such a mind-game, and I hate that I do it to myself, but I honestly don’t know how to get past it!  I’ve talked to a therapist, I’ve tried working it out on my own.  I just feel like this crap body image is always a struggle for me…one that I just don’t know how to get out from under.

So…there’s some info about me.  Like most people out there, I struggle with my body and how I view it in my mind.  But, I’m going to do my damnedest to get past it.  If anyone is interested in friending me on MyFitnessPal (what I use to track my calories), feel free to respond to this post and I’ll add you!

K.

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A whole lot of Orzo…

While living in the Netherlands, I managed to keep myself up-to-date on my love of food with FoodNetwork episodes on iTunes, and a million seasons of Rachel Ray on DVD. One of the things I would see made quite often were salads with orzo. Little tiny rice-shaped bits of pasta, delicate and delicious…always paired with some ripe tomatoes and feta (and really…pasta, tomato, and feta…could life get better?!). However, the only little damper in this plan was that I couldn’t find orzo ANYWHERE in the NL. Now, I’m sure it’s sold at some places, but seriously…I could never find it. So yeah…no orzo for me.

But then, I moved back to the land of milk and honey, and found orzo! And holy crap…is it tasty! Sure…it’s pasta, but it doesn’t seem like pasta (which probably makes no sense whatsoever). It’s really yummy, very filling (ahh..carbs), and so simple to make. My favorite recipe, so far, has been one from Giada de Laurentiis…an orzo salad. I’ve made a few tweaks to it, but good lord, it’s a keeper! I have taken the recipe and added feta (YUM!), sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives. In addition, I cooked the Orzo in vegetable stock, instead of chicken, to keep it vegetarian. It makes a ton, but it’s great for leftovers!

Here’s the recipe! Seriously, go out and give it a try…you won’t regret it!

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