circle of life-ish (or live fish)

I wasn’t sure how Catie would deal with the loss of Teenie. She’s known that cat her entire life. We talked for several days beforehand about how Teenie was very old and sick, and how it was almost time for her to go to Kitty Heaven. But I was dreading telling her about it when it happened. The poor kid has been through quite enough over the past year, she deserves a break.

She took it all really well at first. She knew it was coming, so it wasn’t a total shock.

But the next day, she walked into the room and said, “Mommy, I just don’t feel like myself without Teenie here.” I told her that I knew exactly what she meant. Then she burst into tears. There wasn’t anything I could do except hold her while she cried for a long time.

She asked if since Teenie had died, could she get a puppy?

I said no way, kiddo, sorry. Mommy is responsible for cleaning up quite enough poop around these parts. We aren’t adding a puppy to the mix.

She said, then can I get a hamster?

I said no, because hamsters stink and Mommy doesn’t want to clean its cage.

She said, then can I have a fish?

Sigh. Damn it.

I’m not made of stone, y’all.

Internet, meet our newest family member(s)…

(See the 3 blobs at the top of the green aquarium plant? Yeah. Them.)

Their names are Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. Catie named them herself. Obviously.

So, yeah. Fish. At least they’re really low-maintenance pets, right?


Not so camera-shy Teenie

I found my cat, Teenie, sometime around my 21st birthday. I don’t remember if it was a few days before or after my actual birthday. It doesn’t really matter.

What I remember is that I was living off-campus in a house that I rented with two other girls. There was an ice storm, and I came home really late, like at 3 a.m. (I don’t remember why I was out so late – again, doesn’t really matter.) As I was walking up to the front door, I saw something run from the front porch. It was dark out, and the blob that I saw running was so tiny, I thought it was a squirrel. Then I thought I heard a meow. Just to be safe, I said, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty?” She came running to me.

I searched all over the neighborhood for her owners. It quickly became apparent that someone had dumped her during the ice storm, probably figuring she wouldn’t last through the night. My parents told me that they were already helping to support my living expenses while I was in college, and I was not allowed to keep a cat. I lied and told them that my roommate had decided to keep her. But Teenie was mine from the moment I found her.

(For the record, she got her name because compared to my roommate’s three humongous cats, she was this wee little kitten, so she was, quite literally, teenie.)

I’ve had Teenie for over 15 years now. She’s moved all over the country with me. I found her in Memphis, TN, but she’s lived in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, and North Carolina. She travels like a champ. I used to joke that she needed her own frequent flyer account for all the times she flew home with me.

When Catie was born, Teenie would stand guard in front of me while I was nursing her, and hiss/growl/swat at anyone who came near me and the baby. That included Dave too. She just knew that Catie was “ours.” The same was true with Lucy, too.

a girl & her cat

Teenie hasn’t been doing well for a while, and her health has taken a serious turn for the worse in the past couple of days.

This is part of the deal with pets, right? They typically live shorter lives than their owners. And it’s horrible and heart-breaking, but that’s what you sign up for when you adopt a pet.

I’m having Teenie put to sleep this afternoon. It’s a horrible decision to have to make, but it’s time. She’s been a really good cat and a great companion, and I will miss her terribly.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m just really damn sad about it.

May you rest in peace, Teenie. I hope Kitty Heaven is full of bologna and cheese.

Best! Friday the 13th! Ever!

(One of Catie’s favorite lines from the movie “Tangled” is Rapunzel swinging around a tree, yelling, “Best! Day! EVER!” She repeats that a lot. Hence the post title.)

Why I love this particular Friday the 13th, superstitions be damned:

1. Catie got dressed and left for daycare without any fights this morning. Hey, it’s the little things.

2. Beaumont is currently at the vet getting shaved. (Insert your own shaved p***y jokes here.) We have to do this every summer because his fur is so long and it gets all matted and nasty. And yes, he looks ridiculous afterward:

Beaumont post-haircut
(Exhibit A: his first haircut, 2 years ago.)

But he’s also a lot happier. And since he is currently in “Guard the Pregnant Lady” Mode and is all over me constantly, I’ll also be a lot happier when there’s less fur on him. Hopefully it means I’ll stop having the recurring nightmare about being attacked by a bear, when I wake up and realize that it’s because I’ve got a ridiculously furry cat sleeping up against my face, suffocating me.

3. The housekeepers are coming today! I always feel a little weird mentioning that we have housekeepers, because it feels so… I don’t know. Snobby? Elitist? I get oddly defensive about it. But you know what? Whatever. For the mental health benefit alone, I consider it to be a totally worthwhile expense.

Oh, also? Knowing that the house will be all sparkly and clean should I happen to go into labor in the immediate future? HUGE load off my mind. You can’t even imagine.

4. I’m getting a massage this afternoon. All of y’all who’ve had babies know how late pregnancy can make you ache all over. My back and shoulders are currently a disaster zone of knots and pains. Then Catie’s daycare teacher Mandy informed me that a new massage therapist opened up shop in the building next to the daycare, and she had left a stack of coupons for them to pass out to the parents. When I checked it out, saw that this lady is certified to do prenatal massage, and that the coupon was for 50% off her normal hourly rate? Hell yes, I booked that sucker. I cannot wait.

5. It’s Clean Sheet Day. Between the massage and the fresh sheets on the bed, I’m already looking forward to bedtime tonight. It’s gonna be so good, y’all.

6. Our sixth wedding anniversary is on Sunday, the 15th. Awww.

Still laughing.

And we’re still laughing. (Most of the time.)

The solo parenting gig, thus far

Dave left for England on Tuesday night, which means I’ve been doing the solo-parent thing for the past three days. So far, it’s going ok. Catie and I kind of have our weektime routine down: we get up, she goes to daycare and I go to work, we come home, have dinner, and do the whole bedtime routine. It’s been pretty easy to just coast on auto-pilot, honestly.

I told her I'd turn on cartoons if she smiled.
“I’m just taking it easy on her for now. Next week I unleash hell.”

A few things I’ve noticed, though:
1. I don’t sleep well when I’m the only adult in the house. Now, look, I didn’t meet Dave until I was 28 years old, so it’s not like I’d never lived alone before. But I was always in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. In our current house, I lie in bed and think things like, “Hmm, if someone broke in through the garage door, would I even hear it upstairs?” And I worry about things like what would I do if a fire broke out, things like that. Not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep, obviously.

Oh, and related: I get very jumpy about unexplained noises in the middle of the night. Which is why I’m just about ready to throw Beaumont outside for good. Seriously, cat, it’s 2 a.m. Do you have to jump up on the kitchen counter and knock over a whole bunch of stuff now? (To be fair, he is totally thrown off by Dave’s absence. The past two nights, he’s been asleep in the hall when I got up in the morning. It’s like he’s trying to keep an eye on both Catie’s room and mine at the same time. “We lost one human, gotta keep a watch on the last two!”)

2. While the routine itself is pretty manageable, I forget how much Dave does in the evenings to help out. Because I’ve noticed that by the end of the day, my body just aches. I know it’s pregnancy-related (since it’s mostly my lower back and hips that hurt), but it’s like I hadn’t taken into account how little “sitting on my butt” time I would get while Dave was gone. I miss my sitting-down time. A lot.

3. I’m really lazy about meals when I’m the only one who eats “grown-up food.” Last night we had mac & cheese with a side of broccoli. Not exactly health food, but whatever, it was easy. (And I love that Catie will eat broccoli.) (Although we did have cupcakes for dessert. You can’t be good all the time.)

4. Trying to wash a four year-old’s hair in the bathtub when you’re 7 months pregnant. I have nothing else to add to that, except: good GOD. And, ouch.

7 months. Holy Moses.
This is not a shape that is meant leaning over the side of a bathtub.

5. As for housework: I give up. I’ve called in the housekeepers. I can’t do it all by myself, so I’m just going to throw some money at the problem and stop worrying about it.


My brother is on his way here from Charlotte to hang out with us this weekend, and Catie and I are both really excited. My brother is a great guy and Catie adores him, so it should be fun to have him around. No big weekend plans, just hanging out and enjoying some nice springtime weather. Should be fun.

Hope y’all have a nice weekend too, wherever you are.

the story of how my cat ended up on mood stabilizers

For those of you who don’t already know this, we have two cats. Beaumont was Dave’s cat way back before we started dating, and I’ve had Teenie since right around the time of my 21st birthday. (Dave also had 2 other cats back when we lived in Washington, but we re-homed them a couple of years ago, before we moved to North Carolina.)

We’ve kind of done that thing of realizing after we had a kid that we don’t much like cats anymore, but they’re ours and we’re stuck with them. It is what it is. But even though we find both cats pretty annoying now, the one thing about Teenie that’s been driving me absolutely insane? Her neurosis. OMG, that cat is a weirdo.

Teenie was probably always supposed to be an “only cat” (like an only child). She has never jived with other cats, and it’s only gotten worse in her old age. When we lived in Washington, it wasn’t so bad. She basically lived in our bedroom and didn’t interact with the other cats much at all. Then we moved to North Carolina. (Dum-dum-DUUUUM!!!)

Not so camera-shy Teenie
Can you sense the foreboding yet?

A big part of Teenie’s neurosis involves the litter box. If another cat has used it, she’ll go elsewhere. Like the floor. She had a few accidents in our house in Washington, but really, she pretty much had her own litter box there, so it wasn’t often. Then, after we moved to NC, she and Beaumont were sharing a litter box, so we had a lot of incidents where Teenie would go pee somewhere else. Her favorite spot was a corner in the dining room. Which is gross, but the floors were hardwood, so I’d spot the puddle, clean it up, and we were fine. No major damage.

Now, we’re in our new house. My beautiful, beautiful dream house that I adore. And within a couple of weeks of living here, Teenie started peeing in the corner of our family room. Which has white carpet. Oh. My. GAH.

(Ok, to be fair, that carpet had about a million other stains within the first month. I don’t know how the previous owners kept it so clean, but they obviously did not have two cats, a toddler, and a Dave. That carpet is going to have to be replaced someday soon, and it’s going to have to be with something at least a couple shades darker. It’s pretty – or rather, it WAS pretty – but it’s completely impractical.)

I tried a million different things to make Teenie stop peeing on the carpet. I made sure there were two litter boxes in the laundry room and that I scooped them at least once a day, so there was always at least one clean litter box available to her. I got one of those Feliway diffusers that’s supposed to help with feline anxiety. I tried spraying that corner of the room with citrus smells that are supposed to repel cats.

Nothing worked, she kept peeing in that one corner of the room. Finally I figured, ok, Teenie, you win. I set up another litter box in that corner (if you’re keeping track, that’s 3 litter boxes for 2 cats). I didn’t want a litter box in my family room, I think it’s disgusting, but I didn’t see any other options. Guess what happened? Beaumont started using it, because, hey! Litter box! And then Teenie found a new corner of the family room and started peeing there.

GAAAAHHH!!! *gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, lots of mixing distilled vinegar with carpet cleaner and scrubbing the floor within an inch of its life*

Finally, I took Teenie to the vet and explained what was going on. As much as she annoys me, I DON’T want to have my cat put to sleep because of a behavioral issue. And she’s too old and neurotic to have her re-homed at this point, she’d never adjust. But at the same time, we couldn’t keep living that way. I was embarrassed to have people over because no matter how much I scrubbed, our house always reeked of cat pee. And there is not much worse than cat pee on the Gross Smell Scale.

The vet suggested Kitty Prozac*. I know how hard it is to get this cat to take a pill, so I asked about other forms that it’s available. And lucky me, there’s a local pet pharmacy that will get me the Kitty Prozac in liquid form, and they’ll even flavor it with something called Triple Fish Flavor (gag!) (and please don’t tell me what the 3 fishes are, because I’m sure I don’t want to know), so it makes it kind of tasty for the cats.

Teenie doesn’t particularly like the Triple-Fish flavored Kitty Prozac, but she takes it. And you know what? She only pees in the litter box now. Seriously, not a single accident since we started her on the meds a month ago. NOT EVEN ONE. I can’t believe it.

Of course, this means that I’ll be shelling out $50 a month for Kitty Prozac for the remainder of Teenie’s life, which sucks. But if it means no more pee-stained carpet, I’ll take it.

* Not a paid endorsement. Although if the makers of Kitty Prozac happen to read this and want to spot me a month’s supply for free, I sure as hell wouldn’t say no.

and yes, we're getting a baby-sitter on Saturday night

Stuff from this week:

1. Mother’s Day was almost a week ago, and I sort of completely forgot to mention anything about it. But it was lovely. We went to Charlotte to hang out with my sister, and had a great time. We took Catie to a Children’s Museum on Saturday, which was a lot of fun, then went out for a fantastic dinner.

Catie playing at the kids' museum in Charlotte

And my sister, who is awesome, got me roses for Mother’s Day. It would’ve been nice if I’d remembered to take them with me when we left her apartment, but I forgot them at her place. Oh well. They were lovely.

On Sunday, we went out for brunch, then walked around downtown Charlotte for a while.

Tracy & Catie walking down the street in Charlotte

one of my favorite pics from our weekend

me & Catie on my fourth Mother's Day

It was a great weekend.


2. My stupid elbow still hurts from where I fell on it, and the scab on it is absolutely revolting, but I’m still working out almost every day. I’m just being careful not to do things (like certain yoga poses) that involve putting pressure on my elbow. I’ll be fine. It’s really the food part of the whole diet/exercise thing that I need to work on. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to tackle that. I have a lot of ideas and I’m still trying to sort them out. I’ll write more about it when I figure out what the heck I’m doing.


3. Catie is in this phase where she goes back and forth between being absolutely fun and delightful and amazing and wonderful, and a 37-inch tall hellbeast demon. And you never know which kid you’re going to get at any point in the day. I don’t really know what to do about that, other than just ride out the bad moments, implement discipline when necessary, and try not to lose my temper (that last part is the hardest one). It’s just difficult when she’ll go for like a week without needing to be put in time out at all, then all of a sudden we’ll have to do four time-outs in a single day. Which may be average for a toddler at this phase, but it feels like a lot to me.

But, you know, then she’ll say something that’ll have Dave and me doubled over laughing, because she’s an absolute riot. So I guess we’ll keep her, in spite of the occasional tantrums.

Catie next to (yet another) fountain in downtown Charlotte
She’s kinda cute too.


4. I had a little moment of panic there on Monday, when Teenie wouldn’t stop barfing. Everything she ate came right back up (and this was after she coughed up a big hairball). I called the vet’s office, they said to bring her in immediately. They gave her a shot of some anti-nausea meds and an injection of fluids under her skin so she wouldn’t get dehydrated, and they ran some bloodwork. She’s borderline hyperthyroid (she’s also dropped over 4 pounds since we left Washington in 2008, which seems like a lot for a small cat – she went from 14 pounds to 9.8), so we’ll keep an eye on that and address it as necessary.

The whole thing was pretty upsetting and scary, and it reminded me of this post I wrote a while back, and oh god, if something is really wrong with the cat, how on earth am I going to explain it to Catie? I had a pretty big freak-out about that. But it seems that Teenie is ok. She stopped barfing, so either the meds worked or she got it out of her system. And her bloodwork is otherwise normal. So I’m thankful that I get to postpone that particular horrible (and yes, inevitable, I realize) conversation for a while.

Of course, if the damn cat doesn’t stop pooping in random corners of our living room, she may not be long for this world anyway. Argh.


5. Dave and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary on Saturday. Five years. I can’t even wrap my head around that. It’s not that much time in the grand scheme of things, is it? It’s almost like, “Really? That’s it? Only five years?” Because in a lot of ways, it feels like we’ve been together forever. (In a good way. I promise.) So, I’m a little early, but happy anniversary, babe. Love you.

P.S. Apparently this is the “wood” anniversary. I swear I’m not making that up. And yes, I giggled when I read that, because I’m a 12 year-old boy.

Photo Essay: Mornings at Chez PooBou

Catie: "Mommy, take my pitcha wif Beaumont." Beaumont: "Is she touching me?"
Catie: “Mommy, take my pitcha wif Beaumont!”

Beaumont: “Is she touching me? Why is she touching me? Make her stop!”

Catie: "Beaumont, say cheese!" Beaumont: "MOW! Now make her let go of me!"
Catie: “Beaumont, say cheese!”

Beaumont: “MOW! Now make her let go of me!”

Catie: "C'mon, Beaumont, we take a pitcha!" Beaumont: "Get this kid away from me, I just want my kibble."
Catie: “C’mon, Beaumont! We take a pitcha! Smile!”

Beaumont: “Get this kid away from me. I just want mah damn kibble. Can’t a guy eat breakfast in peace around here?”

Catie: "Mommy, why Beaumont not smile for the pitcha?" Beaumont: "I will have my vengeance."
Catie: “Mommy, why Beaumont not smile for the pitcha?”

Beaumont: “I will have my vengeance on you, woman.”