Bunny and Mouse

Milestones: Of House Cats and Houses

MouseOn December 30, we said good bye to our cat, Mouse. She was 18 years old and lived her long lucky life indoors, mostly trying to snuggle with Bunny, and not always succeeding.

In the fall of 1996, a friend's alley cat had kittens and since I already had Bunny and was working a million hours at Sony, I thought a new cat would be good for Bunny, so I adopted Mouse. She got her name from the fact that when she was just days old I saw her for the first time and she was grey all over and looked like a little mouse.

It was purely coincidence that I named both cats after other animals.

Mouse was an odd cat. She never slept in your lap or curled up and slept next to you. She liked attention but always seemed riled up and a bit frantic when asking for it. She sort of liked to be petted, but not in the usual cat ways. In her old age she would ask for attention, you would pet her and then she would bite you. That got a little tiresome, I'll be honest.

Bunny151Bunny died about six weeks after Harper was born and poor Mouse grieved heavily for the loss and massive changes in the house. Every night for almost a year she would yowl in the wee small hours of the morning. The first few times I thought something was horribly wrong with her and would leap up and come and see but she would just be sitting in the living room (not unlike that photo above).

She seemed comfortable this last year, though clearly getting quite old. Rather quickly, her heart gave out during the day on the 30th and we made the quick call not to resuscitate. Her time really had come and with average life span of cats at 10-15 years, she had a lot of time on this planet.

We tried to explain to Harper, very directly and honestly, that Mouse had died. Harper didn't seem too interested, just wanted to watch Curious George. But a couple of days later she and I were having breakfast and she told Willoughby not to play with a cat toy. I told Harper it was okay for Willoughby to play with it. Harper said, "It's Mouse's toy." And I said, "But Mouse isn't here any more." She said, "Mouse is in the hospital." And I said, "Well, I took her to the hospital, but Mouse was very old and she was sick and she died." Harper thought about it for a minute then she said, "Can she get a new battery?" That just warmed my heart. I said, "No sweetie, only toys can get new batteries when they die. Animals and people only get one battery." She then moved on to another topic.

Good bye Mouse, thanks for being part of our lives, sorry you only had one battery.

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Another milestone is that January marks 17 years that I've lived in this house. I'm amazed it's been this long already! I'm also amazed that we've made it work all this time with very little change. I'm proud of myself for buying it all those years ago (when houses were affordable!) instead of blowing my down payment on a car. But in those days (like it was 50 years ago) this would have been considered a "starter home" and five years later I would have upgraded to a larger one. But five years later we were already two years married and both freelance, so we made the space work.

Now that there are three of us, the house does seem to be getting smaller and smaller! I have to remind myself to put on my "perspectacles" because we own a house with heating and plumbing and modern appliances in a great school district. Okay okay, but I'd like at least another bathroom soon (now that all three of us are potty trained) and modern sized counters in the kitchen (they are still original to 1938).

The house is cozy and has a working fireplace and sweet period details. I am so glad I found it and bought way back when. Happy anniversary little house!

Life With Harper At Eight Weeks

Only eight weeks?? It feels so much longer than that. But in a good way. She's already outgrown so many of her clothes, though this is not a surprise as she was a week late and over eight pounds at birth. Thank goodness for all the amazing hand-me-downs we got from everyone!

Harper is so alert now, looking right at you, smiling, chatting. She looks directly at toys and colorful things and spends a lot of time on her jungle play mat, wiggling and reaching out. I've seen her grab an object and pull it toward her two times now. Excellent developmental progress!

We are very lucky. Harper is a good sleeper (knock wood) giving us at least 5-6 hours in a row before waking up to eat again. Then she'll sleep for another 2 hours or so. I feel rested most of the time and I am soooooo grateful! During the day she eats fairly constantly and hasn't gotten into a regular rhythm of naps yet, but that will come in another two months or so. I am just taking things day by day.

I am also very lucky that Kurt works from home and is flexible, so I can get a break when I need it. Yesterday I went to run errands on my own (TJ's, etc) and loved being out and about. Next week I'm getting my hair done after about 4 months of neglect. That's going to feel good.

Twice this week I went out alone with Harper. The first trip was to Babies R Us for a few sundry items that were on major sale. (I've gotten quite used to buying from Amazon with my free "Amazon Mom" prime shipping. Getting stuff in 2 days without paying extra is awesome.) Today I went to a Baby Play class in Santa Monica at a place called Books and Cookies. I figured I have to start getting out and getting practise with Harper -- lugging the gear, getting in and out of the car, breastfeeding in strange places without all the pillows, etc. Learning new motor skills is always a challenge! I liked the class and it was nice to see other moms and babies out and about. Harper was the youngest in today's class, the next oldest was four months. I know the more I do it, the easier it will be and hopefully Harper will get used to all the comings and goings and be chill about it. So far she likes riding in the car, generally snoozing.

Our two month doctor check up is next week and I can't wait to find out how much she weighs and how tall she is. As for myself, I have lost all the baby weight and more. I gained 27 pounds and have now lost 32. No, I don't know how I did it! Breastfeeding really takes it out of you I guess. Again, very grateful!

We've had a good time these last eight weeks, and we've had very hard times. Saying good-bye to Bunny was just gut wrenching. We are still grieving her loss. She was such a good spirit and added so much richness to our lives. Sweet Bunny is already missed so much and will be forever.

As for life aside from Harper, I'm slowly building momentum back on my/our writing projects, having meetings here at the house with partners and emailing people about my feature script. While I am not able to jump right back to writing, I am moving other projects forward, small steps at a time every week. It feels good to do, reminding me there are things in the world other than diapers and feedings. (Sometimes it gets overwhelming!)

We are oh so lucky and I am grateful every day for all that we have and how amazing Harper is. Grandma Jane (this will not be her official "grandma name" - we'll have to see what Harper calls her) comes to visit soon and that will mean more outings with Harper, more practise and strengthening of other mommy muscles. I'm really looking forward to it!

366/2012: Day 28 Sad Sad Day

Today we had to say good-bye to our cat, Bunny, and we are so sad.

Here is her last morning in her favorite sunbeam.


Almost 17 years ago I went to the West LA Animal Shelter looking for an adult cat. There, in one of the little cages, was this little cat, curled up but alert. I asked to see her and hold her and found she had a goofy little face and no tail. (She's a rumpy manx, as it turns out.) She sat in my arms, not afraid, but not terriby pleased to be where she was. I knew she was for me and it turns out I could not have picked a better cat.

When Kurt and I got married, he had just said goodbye to his 18 year old cat, Wookie. Bunny took an instant like to Kurt and they became good friends. I'm so happy we had ten years together.

Bunny was almost 19. Practically unheard of in Manx cats. Right around when Harper came home, Bunny was not doing well. Turns out she was in kidney failure. We got her stabilized and worked every day to keep her healthy. She did well for a month, but took a turn for the worse this past week, the doctor thinks she had a stroke. She was still walking and eating with Kurt's help, but she was clearly not well. And she was not the Bunny we knew and loved. It's such a hard decision to make - when do you say good bye. We couldn't let her go like this any longer and today was the day.

We had a nice woman vet come to the house to put her to sleep. Kurt was feeding Harper and I held Bunny just as I did the first day I met her. First she was sedated and Kurt and I pet and pet her, telling her how much we loved her, then she got the final shot and in a few peaceful minutes she was gone.

I've been crying on and off all day. It's strange that having been through family deaths and even the birth of a child, this was one of the most grown up things I've ever done. There is something powerful about being a custodian to a gentle being that is dependent on you. You have to do right by them, even when it's the hardest decision.

She had a good long life and we will miss her so much. But we are so glad that there was a good month of her spending time with Harper. We know Harper got the Bunny blessing before Bunny moved on.

God we are going to miss Bunny.