Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Real Life Thanksgiving

I’d like to know who creates the commercials for Thanksgivings….the ones you see where everyone is dressed up and a multitude of shiny perfectly cooked side dishes lounge peaceably on a cranberry damask tablecloth. Each person in the family is smiling—or laughing at an uproariously clean and good-tasting-joke—while the Head Female in the house leisurely sets the golden-oven-roasted bird on the table. That commercial where no children are screaming, the house is clean, the oven works and it is pretty obvious that someone here has been prepping for this one-day meal for at least three weeks. I’d like to meet the people who create these commercials and then I’d like to share Thanksgiving dinner with them and see exactly where they get these beautiful ritualistic ideals.

My problem, you see, is there is a part of me that actually expects (or at least strives for) some sort of ceremony and perfection from a day like Thanksgiving. I’d really like to be that Head Female, nary a drop of stress and holding 25 pounds of succulent fowl. But the reality is Thanksgiving isn’t that way for me most years. Well, okay, every year.

Last year my husband and I decided to invite his parents and grandparents to our house for the November holiday. We had just found out we were expecting baby #3 and thought it would be incredibly fun to have everyone here for an East Coast celebration.

I’m not sure if I’ve previously mentioned that my husband is Italian. Over half Italian as it turns out, not simply a smattering of Italian, not he-was-run-through-an-Italian-kitchen as-a-newborn Italian, but actually over-half-real-life-genetic-Italian. Which means that his dad is full Italian and Nana and Papa are well, full-Italian with parents who came over from Italy. And what this means to Thanksgiving is that Tom Turkey is an afterthought.

Any holiday celebration with my husband’s family is a big Meat Fest and must include: Nana’s stuffed rigatoni, sausage cooked in spaghetti sauce and what my daughter affectionately refers to as “Nana’s meatbulbs.” Now, Nana’s meatbulbs are known far and wide as the best meatbulbs ever and my kids can inhale 2lbs of cow each when Nana gets those things cooking. I will admit—Italians brace yourself—that I’m not a big meat eater. I’m no vegetarian, but I don’t typically seek out meat as a comfort food. Unless you count bacon, but as everyone knows, bacon isn’t really meat. I don’t particularly care for sausage on any level and only have recently begun eating it on pizza. I’m also not one big on meatbulbs, however I can put away a few of Nana’s. They really are that good.

So, day before Thanksgiving 2006, sausage and sauce are simmering on the stove top for about 12 hours (which is a great smell when you are pregnant), meatbulbs are cooked and I had prepared a fresh raspberry pie for the next day. (With the last of the freshly picked raspberries from local New England farm.) Pie is in the oven. As I’m checking on pie, I notice a small flame coming from the heating element at bottom of oven.

“Um, there’s a fire in here,” I say outloud.
“Put some baking soda on it,” my mother-in-law suggests. I grab the baking soda. Sprinkle, sprinkle. Nope. There’s still a fire. I’m thinking that those are pretty stubborn berries aflame in there. The pie probably leaked and that’s what’s burning.
“Put some more baking soda on it,” she suggests again. I dump more on.
And I’m dumping on baking soda, and the fire is still burning, and now moving up the heating element, and currently there’s four adults staring into the hot open oven wondering what the hell is going on, and the box of baking soda is empty, but it looks like a blizzard has materialized in my oven, and with looks and nods, we all decide: the heating element has had it. Current time: approximately 6 p.m.

Now, in my next life the first thing I’m going to do is open a 24 hour appliance-parts-store that is open year round, for sorry saps like me whose heating element kicks-it the night before Thanksgiving. I really believe this is an untapped market. So off goes my husband and father-in-law, rusty muskets thrown over shoulder out to harvest one new stove element for Magic Chef stove. (Yes, Magic Chef is an appliance brand name—it’s top of the line, haven’t you heard?)

I’m inventory-ing the Thanksgiving meal: Rigatoni? Check. Meatbulbs? Check. Sausage and spaghetti sauce? Check. Turkey breast? Nope, was going to cook it tomorrow. Raspberry pie? Nope, it’s half-baked. Bread? Nope, tomorrow. Stuffing? Nope, tomorrow. Pumpkin pie? Nope, tomorrow. Now the stress is starting to build a tiny bit. This isn’t looking like those Thanksgiving meals on TV. Not even a little bit. It’s more “A day in Italy,” than anything else. But I’m trying to put on a happy face. We are together after all. And I have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak. And I have one half-baked raspberry pie. Which my mother-in-law still thinks we can salvage, and if we can’t, well, she’ll be happy to eat it anyway. (She has a thing for uncooked pie crust.)

So, arrive home the Pilgrim men sans heating element. Oh, the local hardware store had one, but not that fit a Magic Chef stove (again, top-of-the-line I tell you). I’m about in tears but the Pilgrims are happy to go to the store and get the rest of what we need.

Well, suffice it to say that later that night, after only crying for a few hours (in my defense, pregnancy hormones were to blame for some of this), I had come to terms with the fact that this Thanksgiving, like so many others, still was not going to be commercial-perfect. The good thing about my in-laws is that they have no expectations of perfection. As long as there is rigatoni, meatballs and a fresh pot of coffee, all is good. My husband and I decided to 86 the raspberry pie on the sly, because we knew mom would eat it, and well (having diabetes) mom needs a half-baked raspberry pie about as much as I needed a big sausage sandwich.

Thanksgiving morning, having no oven, we eat: microwaved stuffed rigatoni, sausage and spaghetti sauce, meatbulbs, one Ronco-Rotisserie cooked turkey boob (both breasts wouldn’t fit), store bought French bread, store bought pumpkin pie, and Stove Top stuffing, cooked ala stove top. We wore sock feet and jeans to dinner, and most of us had on clean shirts and sweaters. And after my mother-in-law forgave me for throwing away her soggy raspberry crust breakfast, a good time was had by all.

But there were no shiny side dishes. No beautifully glazed turkey. No ceremoniously made pumpkin pie or secret family recipe stuffing. Those dammed commercials set me up. Like I said, I want to meet the people who film those advertisements. I’d like to invite them to Thanksgiving with me sometime. Maybe they’ll create a scene a bit more realistic, with real life stress and missing pies, and ovens that don’t work. What was Thanksgiving like this year? Well, that’s another blog entirely.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Birds and Bees Part II- Truth and Evasion

I suppose I should be celebrating that my son is so inquisitive and precocious. The fact he really likes to know how things work and how things are all interrelated–and that usually he really does understand how things tie together in this world—could be a great sign that he will be a scientist, or philosopher, or even one of the greatest thinkers of his generation. Or it could be a sign that he will inevitably know all our family secrets way before I am ready to divulge them.
Let’s hope for the former.

I managed to evade (to some degree) his questions about how those pesky little mechanical sperm get inside the mom, why some die off, and how moms don’t have a baby every year if they always get new sperm—only to be hit with the following question at 8:30 a.m. Why do these questions always surface at meal times?

“Mom, how long were you and dad married before I was born?” I choke on my bagel. This sounds innocuous, you say. What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that David and I were married for four short (or long, depending on how you look at it) months before our little boy blessed us with his presence. The fact that I was five months pregnant when we tied the knot is no family secret. It was fairly obvious to all at the wedding as well—even if I wasn’t really showing—because I couldn’t stop rubbing my belly all night long. I haven’t seen most brides do this, so unless my guests thought that the stuffed chicken was giving me indigestion, I’m sure they figured out the news as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I had (and have) no intentions of keeping this some deep, dark family secret only to be revealed at my death. But I also had no intentions of telling my (then) second grader exactly how long it was before he was born. Not at age seven.

“Why do you want to know?” I asked.
“I just want to know how long you and Dad were married before I was born.”
“Well, Dad and I were married in December and you were born in April.”

I was thinking that maybe he wouldn’t count the months. I was thinking that he probably doesn’t even know how long a pregnancy is.

“December, November, October, January,..” he kept going, looking at me for some direction. “Is that the right way to count them?” I knew he had the concept down, thank God he kept getting the months wrong. Finally I had an answer.

“Eli, Dad and I were married in 1998 and you were born in 1999.”
“Wow! That’s a long time!” he answered and skipped away.

I realize I have only bought myself a few weeks. At most. The main problem now, is that when we finally have the conversation about mechanical life forms getting inside mom, all these questions are going to surface again.

Stumped on the last questions and how to go about explaining them, I took the kids to the public library. While they were glued to the computer games I silently whispered to the children’s librarian, my face behind an open picture book, “Do you have any books on the facts of life; something I could use to help explain it to my second grader?” No matter that I am a 34 year-old mother of two and clearly expecting my third. I felt like an embarrassed teen-ager who just told her mom she got her period. The librarian had that sympathetic look and sigh, as if she had heard this question a million times, and led me to the section where all the SECRET BOOKS are kept. Actually, it was right there, third shelf down, within a toddler’s reach. Across the isle from astronomy and right above cooking. Shouldn’t these books be kept behind glass? With the Playboy and Hustler magazines?

Each book was a tad different in its approach, from glazing over the whole making-love/sex part, to actually describing in full detail, exactly how the man part gets in the woman part. I chose three books; one with specific facts and fabulous 70’s color pictures, one that glossed over the sex and focused on the development of the baby, and one by Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that she wrote a book for children on the subject of sex. I was a little skeptical of a book from Dr. Ruth, because she is such an advocate of being open about sexuality and about sex being a healthy part of life. I’m one of those moms who wants to tie sex to marriage, as well as all the baggage that accompanies unmarried sex. Sex isn’t sex without the guilt. This is one of those times in my life when “Do as I say, not as I do,” comes in really handy. But Dr. Ruth’s book handled the subject well:

“When boys and girls grow up, they become adults. And when adults love each other very much, they get married. At some point, the grown-ups might decide to try to get pregnant and have a baby. So, the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina. This is called having sex.”

Direct. Straight-forward. Pulling no punches. Now I like the fact that sex and the baby are mentioned after the love-each-other-very-much part and the marriage part. But let’s face it, as an adult—even a good Catholic one—not all stories start (or end) like that. So, my problem? Later Dr. Ruth says, “After growing inside the mommy for nine months, the baby is ready to be born.”
Ah, there’s the rub.

I can pretty much bet on the fact that after reading this story with my son, I will get the question again. Oh, it might not be for a day or two, maybe even a week if I am lucky, but it will definitely be before he turns 18. I was hoping to hold out until at least 18. The conversation will probably go something like this:
“Mom, a baby takes nine months to grow, right?”
“Yep.”
“Well, you and daddy got married in December and I was born in April. That means… (silence while he counts) I was only in your tummy for 4 months?” You were a miracle child, I want to say.
“No, you were in my tummy for nine months.” I hate telling the truth.
“Well, the book said that sex happens AFTER mommies and daddies get married, right? Then how did you have me only four months after that?”
Well….

My mother is probably sobbing with hysterical laughter right now. On the floor. Holding her sides. There’s a reason I told you to wait, her eyes giggle. There’s a reason the church says to wait, too. I told you so, I told you so, I told you so.

Apparently, it’s so you don’t have to try and explain the intricacies of sex and life to a second grader who wants to know how everything works.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wanted: Kids Who Don't Need Food

I have to admit, out of all the responsibilities of parenthood, the one I loathe most is feeding my children. In fact, parenting could be a much more enjoyable experience if kids were more like pets and you could place a bowl of food and water on the floor (okay, fine, the table) and let them do their thing. In fact, that’s one of the best features of my $707 cat.

I do not understand how we can live in a society that has a working space station, has mapped the human genome, has figured out how to power vehicles using corn, not to mention has created an electronic device roughly the size of a credit card that can be a phone, computer, ipod, photo album, and wireless internet, but no one—no one—has invented a way to only feed the children once a day (weekly would be even better). They make these things for plants for heaven’s sake, why not people? Perhaps a slowly dissolving stick you can jam in a kid’s ear that is activated every time they shower. It could deliver all the essential nutrients a growing kid needs, and possibly even come in a variety of smells. Willy Wonka had a prototype, why isn’t R&D on this?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the little darlings to starve. But there has to be an easier way to get the job done than actually cutting, assembling, preparing, cooking, and locating food for them seventeen times a day. And be honest, that’s about how often they eat. Breakfast cereal has to be the closest thing to a perfect food. It’s fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. That cup of milk takes care of bones and teeth. And most times, the cereal comes with a toy. A 17.5 oz slice of heaven. As long as I have a bit of milk and a box of cereal, we are okay.

Not that the kids always feel this way. One particularly harrowing evening two years ago, the kids were hungry. Loudly whining, moaning, complaining. It had been a long day teaching 8th graders and my husband was working in Russia. The house was trashed, I was exhausted and it was already 6:30 with no meal in sight. I decided we were going to have cereal for dinner. I set the table. Three bowls, three spoons, one box of Chex, and…
No milk.
No milk, no milk, no milk.
No bread, no peanut butter. No juice, no eggs, no cheese.
One soft, wrinkled apple. One slice of shiny, rainbow lunch meat. A can of beer. Food poisoning and under-age alcohol consumption do not a dinner make.

The thought of loading up my (then) four and six year old, going to the very large supermarket to buy one pathetic gallon of milk at 6:30 at night made me want to vomit. What’s a desperate mom to do?
I called my grandma.

Yes, my motherhood had reached new lows, since what able-bodied, educated, mid-30’s mother calls her 70+ years-old grandma to rescue her from grocery nightmare? Especially when that grocery store was in fact, closer than grandmother’s house?
I know. Bear with me.

So I call grandma, who happens to not only have regular milk, but also soy milk (grandmas are always prepared) since my daughter has dairy allergies (another reason I hate feeding children). Grandma drives the four blocks to my house with two recycled jam jars of assorted milks. I thank her from behind tears. She leaves.
Kids are still loudly whining, moaning and complaining. My head is about ready to spin in circles.
I yell at the kids that food has arrived. WE ARE GOING TO EAT NOW! I announce.
They make their way to the table as I not-so-gently set the jars of milk down. (Kids are soooo needy these days).
As I’m pouring the cereal into the bowls and angrily sliding the spoons across the table at my son and daughter, their eyes are wide and glistening with sadness. (Guilt is just what I need at the moment.)
“WHAT?” I say a bit loudly. “WHAT IS WRONG NOW?”
I don’t like tonight,” my son whimpers as he tries to eat his Chex. “It feels like we are homeless or something.”
I cackle. Laugh-out-loud-witch-cackle. Homeless? He feels like he’s homeless? I’ll show him homeless
“EAT YOUR CEREAL!” I announce.

It’s been two years since this event, but I’m pretty sure it’s alive and well in my kid’s psyche. If they had an easy-melt dinner tongue-strip, (like I’ve suggested) this whole scene could have been avoided.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hoochi-Mommas and Reapers and Blood, Oh My!

Warning: This blog rated PG-13 for sarcastic humor.

My son always wants to be something gross or scary for Halloween. Having not grown up with brothers I figure it’s a boy thing. He is pretty well versed on my stance on violent weapons, blood, and costumes that look evil, since I must replay the diatribe every time he asks me to be one of these things. This year he wanted to be the Grim Reaper.
“But I won’t carry the big curved sword so it’s really just a big, black cape and hood.”
Not having the energy to go into the plethora of reasons he was not going to dress as the Angel of Death, I just said “No.” (okay, you got me, it was a few hundred No’s) We finally settled on a Mimja costume (He insists it starts with an “m”) for Halloween this year. Fine, I said, but no violent weapons.
“But it isn’t fun being a Mimja without violent weapons,” he whined.
“Well then you can wear the clown costume we already have at home in the dress up box,” I retort. He stayed with the mimja, sans weapons.
My daughter wanted to be anything as long as she could wear a wig.
“How ‘bout a Gypsy?” I asked.
“What’s a Gypsy?” She asked back. (Don’t they teach those kids anything in school?)
She wants to be Hannah Montana. I’m not letting her wear hoochie-momma-teen clothes.
She wants to be a Cheetah Girl. Again, I’m not letting her wear hoochie-momma-teen clothes. I’d really like her to be a gypsy. So what if she doesn’t know what one is? For one thing, we have most of the costume at home. For another thing, we have most of the costume at home. I’ll download some gypsy pics off the internet, we’ll have a brief lesson and she’ll be good to go.

But as I’m wandering the isles of Target trying to find gypsy accessories, I realize that 1) this is taking way too much time, 2) this is going to cost more money than buying a new costume and 3) I’m the one who wants this; she doesn’t even know what a gypsy is. So I head to the pre-fab Halloween costume section, pick up one mimja outfit, and also score a cheetah print dress with cat ears and tail, (the literal translation of “cheetah girl”) all on sale. Done. (And she didn’t get to wear a wig, by the way.)

And there I am, watching the kid’s Halloween parade at school. There are a few princesses, a Harry Potter, a sprinkling of police and fire-people, and a couple classics, like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. But by and large the greatest costume populations were singers in hoochie-momma-teen outfits and grim reapers. Of course.

Now call me what you will, but there is something unnatural about seeing a line of black hooded seven and eight year-old grim reapers. Some with sickle. Some with fake blood that you can pump-action down the ol’ reaper face. There is also something disturbing about seeing all the little seven an eight year-old girls half dressed with microphone head pieces. I even saw one girl, dressed all hoochie-momma with a sign around her neck saying, “Paris Hilton-Prison.”

Now parents, if your 1-3rd grader knows the detailings of Paris Hilton news and asked to be this for Halloween—and you let her—shame on you. If your 1-3rd grader has no idea about the Hilton escapades and you thought it would be a funny parody at her ignorance, shame on you twice. And the pumping blood? PUMPING BLOOD I ask you. Who needs to see the grim reaper, let alone his face awash in blood? Perhaps each year’s popular Halloween costumes are a testament to where we are as a society. I remember growing up with the vinyl Sesame Street characters and Princess Lea, and you know what a bunch of pansy-asses my generation turned out to be. Kids these days are so much more knowledgeable and worldly—let’s just call it street smart. I suppose you need that growing up in our world today. So I made a list.

Yes, a list. For parents who may need some more societal inspiration for their children’s Halloween costumes for next year. If your children don’t know what the costume is, you can call it a teachable moment and let your child in on how the world really works. Not only that, but your child just might win the “Most Creative Costume” award next year.

Rachel’s Top Five Most Inappropriate Child Costumes for 2008

1. Hooker- It’s a classic really. They have been around…well…probably since Socrates. Nothing is cuter than a small child in fishnets and tight leather. If you really want to be PC and open-minded, have your boys use this costume too. Nothing says “tolerance” like a small cross-dressing boy hooker.
2. Forensic Pathologist- Have your little muffin dress in a white lab coat, latex gloves (or latex free if they have an allergy), and drag behind them a mutilated body. If you have time and money, you could construct a small gurney on wheels that your child could push, but dragging the body along the pavement will work just as well. It’s already dead after all. This costume would be good for CSI-addicted parents.
3. Meth Lab- Attach a bunch of empty bleach bottles and Sudafed packets to your child’s clothes, and have them carry a couple empty beakers and flasks. You’ll need to get a jump start soon with this one, since the pharmacies now ration Sudafed like bread in Russia. Sick people (like me currently) can’t get a decongestant to drain our pounding heads, but meth labs are having a field day. So, if you and your spouse both start purchasing them now, by next Halloween you could have a good collection of packages to attach.
4. Hazmat worker-The next generation of “Dirty Jobs!” Have your child dress in a white sweatsuit with helmet and breathing apparatus. This could be for cleaning up those messy meth labs, or for cleaning up toxic waste and/or chemical spillage.
5. Polygamist-Wife- This is the easiest costume ever! Have your daughter don a simple peasant style dress, wear a long braided wig (recycle that Hannah Montana wig from this year), and have her carry 10-12 of her favorite baby dolls around. This could also double as a good geography lesson about where Colorado City is located.

These costumes would not only get a good laugh from all those parents and adults who watch the kiddies in the parade, but would provide hours of quality family time while you explain the intricacies and history behind each outfit. What? You say? Your children aren’t ready for that kind of information? Mine either. But apparently there is a large parent contingent that doesn’t have the same kind of filter I do. In fact, I’d love to keep my kids in Elmo, Spider Man and Dorothy costumes forever.

So, weigh in. What inappropriate costumes did you see this year? Any you want to add to the list?

Monday, November 5, 2007

What's your cat worth?

So I come home from the bus last Friday to find my cat lying listless on the hallway carpet. Upon further inspection I notice that it sounds as if she is breathing under water. Figuring she is not trying to re-create the liquid-inhaling scene in The Abyss, I call the vet and lucky for me, I can bring her down in 15 minutes.

[Backstory]
The previous night my 5 month-old daughter finally slept through the night. In fact, she slept until about 8:00 and I had to wake her to take our other kids to the bus. So you can imagine how excited and hopeful I was that this would be the start of a new sleep-all-night plan. You can also imagine that after not having nursed her for 12 hours, my breasts were right up there with Sandra Lee. (see Cooking 101 blog) I figure that I’ll feed her when I return from the bus; sit down with my coffee, watch a little Ellen and drain the girls.

[Real time]
I find the cat carrier downstairs, quickly wipe all the dry wall dust from the outside, shove my cat into it, put my daughter in her car seat, quickly make a 4 oz bottle of formula to tide her over (at some point she’s going to start screaming), and head out the door for the vet. Luckily the office is only about 7 minutes from my house and we are there in no time. I park, grab the 25 pound car seat, my purse, grab the 20 pound cat carrier and hunch-back-lumber myself to the door, up four steps and into the office.

Let me fast forward (for the sake of time). We are called back, vet checks my cat, listens to me describe her issues—which also includes two random and unexplained episodes of collapsing and spontaneously urinating on the floors this summer—and yep, he says, I hear fluid in her chest and it sounds like a heart condition and you better….5-month-old daughter is now screaming and flailing her arms, so like all good WT moms I prop up her bottle with a blanket and jiggle jiggle jiggle the car seat with my foot so she’ll stop crying all the while trying to grasp what the vet is saying…take her right to the Animal Hospital it’s only four miles down this very street where they’ll run a few tests to determine what’s wrong with her and listen to her heart…and the bottle is empty and now my daughter is wailing again, and my chest is like two over-filled water balloons and I’ve sprung a leak, but I manage to croak out what tests and how much…and they’ll probably do a chest x-ray, an ultra sound and maybe EKG on her heart, and they may need to drain some fluid right away, those tests are around $500…and it seems like an inappropriate thing to ask how much it costs to just put her down, because what if it is just a cold or a stuffy nose and then I killed my cat for something silly that could be fixed, and then you start to philosophize the word value, and worth, and is my cat worth $500, and if she is, then is she worth whatever it costs to fix her? And if not, then I should have just had her euthanized in the office back there…
[deep breath]
…but now I find myself driving like a bat-out-of-hell to the Animal Hospital, my daughter still screaming, my cat barely breathing, sharp stinging pains shooting from my breasts, and the thing I am really pissed about is the fact that I only got one cup of coffee before I left the house and I missed Ellen. But I get to the Animal Hospital (after driving right by it the first time) and I’m expecting to see a huge white building of sorts with maybe a big red cross and some animals on a sign, but find only a tiny, dark grey ranch style house, with only four parking spaces to it’s name—which by the way you have to back out into the street to get out of—and this should have been a sign about how many people can afford to use the Animal Hospital. But I grab all assorted animals and children again and hunch-back-lumber myself through the parked cars and to the door, and now the cat is being whisked away and I’m signing papers, and they will call me they said, when they run some tests and know more. I’m driving home. I’m teary eyed—yes for the thought of my almost dead cat, but also the fact that this has all happened in the span of one hour and I’m not quite sure if I’m awake or dreaming.
I get home.
I decide that since my daughter only got four ounces of formula she must still be hungry, so I decide to use her as a leech of sorts and relive some of the chest pain I’ve been experiencing. While nursing her I have a few (small) moments to breathe and now can contemplate how I’m going to tell my husband about the cat and the $500 bill, which leaves me feeling rather nauseous because he doesn’t really like to spend money let alone on a cat he only tolerates. So I’m thinking that my day has calmed down a bit. One fed baby. One hospitalized cat. The calm and quiet are soothing me a bit. I set my daughter in her exer-saucer-thing and head for the sink to start some dishes…the phone rings, it’s the animal hospital, my cat is resting quietly on oxygen, (oxygen???) did well during the x-ray and the ultrasound she has a…while I’m listening to the vet I hear weird noises from aforementioned baby who apparently got too much to drink and now she is like an over-filled water balloon that has sprung a a leak, and she’s puking, once twice three times for good measure the entire contents of her stomach all over her exer-saucer-thing…enlarged heart and some fluid in her chest the disease is called lkjofiwjaoeijcardiomyopethy…which is what I think he said, because it was a really long name and now my daughter is covered in puke and screaming…daily medication should help it but we need to monitor her and you can come pick her up later today, oh and by the way there are two other blood tests we should run to make sure it’s not her thyroid but we can discuss that later when you pick her up…again I manage to croak something about costs while extracting my dripping daughter from said play-thing…about $957 with the blood work…and once again I don’t know how to politely say how much does it cost to just put her down and instead wonder what a divorce costs these days because after my husband hears this new balance that’s where I’m headed…but I say I’ll pick her up after the kids get off the bus about four or four-thirty and can you tell me the bill so far…fine, he says we’ll see you then, by the way, it’s $707.

[deep breath]
I’ll skip the part where I call my husband and tell him what is going on.

Three-thirty. One angry husband home. Out chopping wood in the backyard. One sleeping baby sans puke. Two children off the bus. One tired, nauseous, barely-holding-on mom en-route to Animal Hospital.

Pick up said cat look at bill its $957, what’s this I ask I thought it was only $707…well that’s with the other blood tests (implied: because a good pet owner would want to run all the tests possible to find out what is wrong with their beloved family pet you horrible-pet-owner-you)…and once again I croak out I’m sorry I can’t pay for those tests, we’ll have to wait and see how she does, and now I manage to ask the morbid details of euthanizing her—which by the way is only $50—and if she dies at home then what…let’s schedule an appointment for next week to see how she is doing, oh and by the way, this condition does carry with it the possibility of sudden death.
What?
Yes, your cat’s heart is large and damaged and she could at any time have a heart attack and suddenly die, just so you are aware, but here is her medication twice a day and we’ll see you in a week and then a week after that to monitor her…and I’m thinking so I just paid $707 for them to tell me what is medically wrong with my cat and give me medication and she could fall over dead any moment anyway, and $707 would have probably bought seven new cats from the humane society, would have paid for two round trip plane tickets to Arizona, would have covered the cost of a stainless steel dishwasher and microwave for our kitchen remodel, would have not only bought new shelving for our playroom but also wall-to-wall carpet to boot…
But I have my cat. One, barely breathing cat who laid on the bed for two days and didn’t eat or drink anything for 48 solid hours.
I’m still married.
Cat rallied.