Saturday, December 27, 2008


That would be us - with ice though instead of frosting! Rich's family Christmas has been postponed a day due to the slippery stuff. We'll most likely have a smaller group and miss a few people we don't get to see often, but walking outside is more like skating at the moment - definately not safe for travel.

We'll manage to have a fun day though, playing with our Christmas Legos, games, and dollhouses. Rich is currently working on building Sarah's Dollhouse, having finished Mira's yesterday. Well, finished as in assembled. We'll wait on adding the gingerbread until it is painted, and painting will wait until all are built and the girls decide on colors and the shingling will happen after that, but the first order of business is actual playing. I'm actually a little jealous as two of the houses have milled hardwood floors already installed and the siding is size appropriate. Then again, I get to play with all 3 and help each girl paint & I can sew them bedding and curtains - even more fun playing with them than just working on my own dollhouse!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!

Everything here is ready for the holiday. Cookies and bread and all sorts of yummies for tonights Christmas Eve Dinner - you should have smelled the house yesterday, especially when we had the dried fruit stewing with it's lemon peel, cloves and allspice, and the rye bread with it's grated orange peel, cloves and ginger. Heavenly. Even better was having the girls 'help'. Natasha and Sarah can both claim a dish as being 'theirs.' Never thought I'd be handing duties over so quickly but it's wonderful having them in the kitchen. Yes I took photos, and no, you probably won't see them until I make my December album after Christmas.

Need to wrap a few presents with the girls yet. The Traditional Polish dinner will be mid afternoon. No guests this year, just cozy with us as my parents are with my sisters family in Georgia preparing much the same meal - how comforting is that? Family presents will be exhanged this evening under the tree & by the fire. Probably not soon enough for the girls, espcially as they did some of their own shopping for family members this year.

After that, church. Mira is old enough that we'll be able to attend the late service this year with it's beautiful pre-service music. Actually, we've realized that as full and warm as the church gets combined with all the excitement of the day, she'll actually sleep through either service. So we may as well go to the late service where Natasha will be acolyting and I'll be helping with communion. A beautiful way to end the day, bringing focus back to the reason for the celebration.

Wesoyich Swiat! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crash! and a good Ramses update.

Yesterday I was in the living room and heard a snap. then the tree started to fall. Luckily a small table caught the top, keeping the entire tree from hitting the floor or we would have lost more ornaments. My neighbor helped prop the tree up so I could wipe up the water underneath the tree and the lego base plates - had to dismantle much of the lego village we build every year to get at the water. Then we managed to loosen the bolts, lean the tree into the corner, and tighten everything again. It's still standing with a small cutting board wedged under the bent part of the base to keep it level and all our handweight/dumbells weighing it down, just in case.

Turns out the 'crack' I heard was the baseplate of the stand giving way. Rich thinks there was a stress problem with the steel, and that it wasn't high enough guage. Ok, so we did have all the ornaments on 1/2 of the tree, given that it was in the corner. And it IS a heavy tree given that it has been drinking a gallon of water a day. Still - did it have to fall on the ornament side? At least 50 ornaments fell off, and we lost a good few, though at least 20 breakable ornaments on the floor and table were unharmed - only separated from their tops and hangars still on the tree. We collect ornaments every year and everyone here has ornaments from when they were babies. Each and every one holds memories of Christmases past. Thankfully none of the 'vintage' ornaments broke. I do remember buying the ones that broke - a large raspberry, a golden walnut, a sparkly plum -half of which is still missing, somewhere in the tree I think! A beautifully shaped golden and glass ornament, one of the old old old gold glass balls that glitter from way inside the tree, and a few others. The ones that make me saddest are the glass ball handpainted with a Polish scene on the inside (If I'm not mistaken it was actually made in Poland) and a heavy glass ball, painted with a snowy night and a santa-hat wearing cat atop a chimney. That one must have hit the edge of the table as it was quite thick. And the little white church with steeple and gold windows and doors that Rich & I purchased together was smashed too.

When Rich came home at lunch to survey the damage I joked about wanting to buy a package of clear glass ornaments and put the crushed pieces of ornaments inside and hang those on the tree. You know, I just may do it!

Ramses is doing well. We decided that as his cancer is an agressive one and not curable, we couldn't risk making his last few months miserable with surgery and chemo. We're told the average GOOD, quality of life time he might get out of that would be 6 months, and that is IF he goes into remission. As when he was ill last Spring, his back legs have started to not want to cooperate, making getting on & off the couch & beds difficult at times. Dr. Allison thinks he probably has an infection somewhere, so we'll start him on tuna-flavored antibiotics today to help with that. Otherwise he is asking for wet food several times daily, going outside to explore on nice days, doing his business quickly on nasty cold days, and cuddling and purring and generally being happy. I believe he knows - sometimes he just sits on my lap looking seriously into my eyes. The drooling irritates him too but getting his chin wiped and head scratched generally sets him purring again. Having this extra time with him is a gift we all appreciate.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We've been enjoying December and Advent, setting up the tree, St. Nicholas came to visit and so much more that I want to document. I actually have been in a little notebook, but haven't much felt like posting as planned. Really, I was going to, seeing as we are staying home now for who knows how long, and I LOVE Christmas traditions.

Remember last spring when Ramses went through all sorts of tests, but ended up only needing 2 teeth pulled? (they were very very infected). When we came home from Thanksgiving he was again drooling blood onto my comfortor. Scared my poor best friend who had been watching the cats over the weekend. Thought, "Ok, it's that tooth Dr. Tom told us to watch out for." As it was I just couldn't squeeze it in to call for two days, so finally last Wednesday I dropped him off so he could be seen while I was still running around with the girls activities. We have the most wonderful caring vets.

That same Wednesday, Dr. Allison called back with the news that his remaining teeth are perfect, not even tartar present, and he's 13-14 years old! He has a tumor on his palate, looks like a HUGE canker sore, and deep. I agreed to some X-rays which came back clear, and his lymph nodes feel good. She gave me some faint hopes and we sent off a sample for biopsy. Unfortunately due to various reasons I didn't have much hope for the faint hopes, but they helped me hold it together for the girls this past week. We really haven't said much to them while waiting for test results, but he is receiving extra caresses and wet food.

Ramses was actually down a pound in weight, and now I realize that when he looked up at me in the kitchen the previous week he was not asking for fresh water (as he often does) but for wet food. Since being on the wet food he appears to have stopped bleeding from the lesion. He still drools about as much as some teething toddlers, but otherwise he is still himself, if not a little more affectionate after finally getting over being mad at me for bringing him to the vet in the first place. If you don't receive a Christmas Card this year it'll be because he has occupied my lap every night and I haven't the heart to put him off.

So, to today's news from Dr. Allison. It is mouth cancer - squamous cell carcinoma. Which is usually agressively invasive. They can surgically try to take as much as possible, but due to location know they will not get it all. Then we'd need to try Radiation or chemo. In the end, this would only buy him time. How much, no idea. I certainly don't want him to suffer more just for a few months. It's really hard to think about making these decisions when the only change you see is drool. We'll be finding more in the next few days as we hear from the internist who participated in his care last Spring who also happens to have an interest in oncology. Natasha has a band concert tonight and Rich is out of town, so we'll wait until Wednesday to start talking to the girls. Wish me luck, I cry at sappy commercials so this will be tough. And I've had a week to process some of the info.

Until then, any loud purring you hear would be that of Ramses getting extra loving and head scratching.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving and a list

Another happy car trip, except for the snowy stop & go traffic on the way home. Yes, stop and go in IOWA people! But we made it home and were not one of the people in the ditch. Yay!.

We spent Thanksgiving at the White Eagle Restaurant (wonderful dinner, pierogis, sigh) with family, celebrating my Aunt & Uncles 50th wedding anniversary. It was lovely catching up with everyone and watching the 8 second cousins go from sitting across the table staring at each other to running up & down the (wide) hall outside the banquet rooms to pouting that it was time to go home. Hours later.

The rest of the weekend?
  • Our standard stop Dollhouse/train store is gone gone gone. So sad.
  • Lego store stops (yes, multiple!)
  • Running Grandpa around on the playground, heehee. We ALL slept well that night!
  • An EARLY morning for breakfast at the Walnut Rooom at State Street Marshall Fields, oh all right, Macy's. Of course we the first in line. Aren't we always? Tradition is lovely.
  • Visit with Santa
  • American Girl Place where Natasha could scarcely catch her breath.
  • Free Michigan Avenue Trolley Ride.
  • Christkindlmarket at Daly Plaza for potato pancakes and applesauce, bratwurst, hot spiced Gluhwein and keepsake mugs. Shopping the booths for pewter oranements and more.
  • Playing games with Grandpa and building Fairy houses for Oma's Fairies.

The list? I lifted it from Amanda (look for her blog over on the right, she's the sweet friend who occassionally posts, hint hint you family who are reading!) who lifted it from Heather's blog. The things I've done are in bold/italic and I have to echo Amanda's thought that some of the things NOT bolded are not all things I would want to do. You 'll know which ones. How about you?

  1. Started your own blog
  2. Slept under the stars
  3. Played in a band. YES, Marching band does too count!
  4. Visited Hawaii
  5. Watched a meteor shower
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity . More than I thought I could afford. Doesn't count though.
  7. Been to Disneyland. World, not Land.Twice.
  8. Held a praying mantis
  9. Climbed a mountain. Does on a barely there path count?
  10. Sang a solo. Just not in public!
  11. Bungee jumped
  12. Visited Paris
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
  15. Adopted a child
  16. Had food poisoning
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (well, as far as you can nowadays)
  18. Grown your own vegetables
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
  20. Slept on an overnight train
  21. Had a pillow fight
  22. Hitch hiked
  23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
  24. Built a snow fort
  25. Held a lamb
  26. Gone skinny dipping
  27. Run a Marathon
  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
  29. Seen a total eclipse
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
  31. Hit a home run
  32. Been on a cruise
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
  35. Seen an Amish community
  36. Taught yourself a new language
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
  39. Gone rock climbing
  40. Seen Michelangelos David
  41. Sung karaoke
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  44. Visited Africa
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
  46. Been transported in an ambulance
  47. Had your portrait painted
  48. Gone deep sea fishing
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
  52. Kissed in the rain
  53. Played in the mud
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater
  55. Been in a movie
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China
  57. Started a business
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia
  60. Served at a soup kitchen
  61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (with my daughters)
  62. Gone whale watching
  63. Gotten flowers for no reason
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
  65. Gone sky diving
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
  67. Bounced a check
  68. Flown in a helicopter
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
  71. Eaten Caviar
  72. Pieced a quilt Halfway there? My mom is great at this!
  73. Stood in Times Square7
  74. Toured the Everglades
  75. Been fired from a job
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
  77. Broken a bone
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
  80. Published a book
  81. Visited the Vatican
  82. Bought a brand new car
  83. Walked in Jerusalem
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper
  85. Read the entire Bible
  86. Visited the White House
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  88. Had chickenpox
  89. Saved someone's life
  90. Sat on a jury
  91. Met someone famous
  92. Joined a book club
  93. Lost a loved one
  94. Had a baby
  95. Seen the Alamo in person
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit
  98. Owned a cell phone
  99. Been stung by a bee
  100. Read an entire book in one day