Monday, 23 May 2011

Tribute to Eric

The early hours of this morning found us having to make the difficult decision to have our beautiful, 1.5 year old cat Eric put down.  :-(

Eric came to us with his sister Sookie back in November 2009, two little bundles of fur, who hadn't had the best start in life. We had been toying with the idea to get a kitten for some time, so when a friend posted on Facebook that a home was needed for two little abandoned Kittens, we put our hands up. It seemed meant to be, and we got two for the price of one, as they couldn't be separated.

We fell in love with them instantly. Despite their rough start they were affectionate little bundles of fun, if riddled with fleas and suffering from diarrhoea. Nothing that a check up at the vets, some tender loving care and a change in diet couldn't cure mind. Never having had kittens before we were in for oodles of fun. (Our previous cats had all been adult rescue cats) I don't think we have ever laughed as much as we did in those fun filled first few weeks.

Eric and Sookie had very distinct characters. Eric was so easy going you could literally do anything to him and was always up for a cuddle. His sister Sookie is more aloof and sometimes contrary. She also loves her cuddles, but only on her terms and the only person she has really truly bonded with is our 18 year old son. She spends hours cuddled up with him on his bed. 

Eric however loved everyone and never strayed far from home. He would be the one to plonk himself on the key board when he wanted a cuddle, curl up with you watching the telly, stalk me on the loo every time and wouldn't leave until he had a cuddle. He also LOVED water. If you let him, he would literally join you in the bath. A leaking tap would provide hours of entertainment and the amount of pens he spirited away defies belief. For some reason only known to him, he used to love chasing pens around the room. And one of his favourite sleeping places was the top of the boiler!

When I fell pregnant with Markus he went through a rather peculiar phase of wanting to hump everything in sight - despite having been neutered as a kitten. A particular favourite were my shoes and the loo roll. The amount of times I would come across him and the poor traumatised loo roll you would not believe. I felt like apologising a few times I tell you ;-)

Fortunately this was a short lived phase and he settled for simply shadowing me and plonking himself on my bump, whenever he was able, until Markus started to kick him off anyway. I reckon Markus and him would have been the best of friends....

Just like Tj and him always were. The things he used to do that poor cat and Eric wouldn't even as much as miaow. I think he actually thrived on all the attention. Our German Shepard cross was another firm friend.

Yes they are playing in that picture. :-)

The minute you walked in the door Eric would be there, saying hello, winding himself round your legs until he had a cuddle. Our eldest has fond memories of Eric greeting her when she stumbles in worse for wear in the early hours of the morning.

He was simply put a very special, adorable cat and a much loved member of this family, full of life and mischievousness and he is leaving a big hole behind.

Which brings us to the events unfolding yesterday. He had wolfed his dinner down Saturday night, settled down for the night in the living room and went out in the early hours of the morning, as he does. Kiyo alerted us to something being wrong about 10.30 in the morning. Eric was lying on his side on the patio, with Kiyo nudging him and licking him and Eric just calling out and looking pathetic. We brought him in and he couldn't bear weight on his hind legs at all. Our first thought was that he must have fallen off the roof (we live in a bungalow and he is forever scrambling across it). We did wonder whether he had fractured his pelvis, but he could move his hind legs and his tail and there were no obvious breaks, nor did he seem in pain when touched. We assumed he must have badly bruised something and kept him propped up on a cushion and keeping an eye on him. He was with it and seemed himself, even managed to crawl off the cushion a few times, land on the floor and then look at us sheepishly to be picked up.

We wanted to take him to our own vet come Monday morning, so opted to just wait. However, towards the evening, things changed. He would jump up in the air for no reason, snarling and hissing and then settle down again. Then he had a fit, followed by another an hour later. We were getting really worried by then. He also started calling and seemed in a lot of pain. When he had several fits minutes apart, with his whole body going rigid, we rushed him off to the Vet hospital, twenty minutes drive away. Those fits were the most horrifying thing ever to witness and will haunt me for a long time.

He settled down again during the drive and was floppy when we got there, unable to bear weight on his legs and not very responsive to pain tests. The vet was stumped. There were no visible signs of any injuries or trauma. Eric was however severely dehydrated and shaking and very cold. This was when the vet first mentioned poisening. Something that hadn't occurred to us until then. Eric did eat anything off the floor. We always joked he was species confused and used to think he was a dog.

In the end that is what killed him. Someone in our close neighbourhood must have put some sort of poison down and  Eric ate it. He never stood a chance, from the minute he did that. The vet gave him a less than 50% chance of survival as his condition was so poor and we didn't know what sort of poison he had ingested. To say we were shocked was an understatement. To top it all the insurance had lapsed and we had not got round to renewing it (stupid, stupid, stupid!), so we were faced with a huge vet bill. He gave us an estimate of £483.00 with no guarantees that Eric would pull through.
Needless to say we had to give him a chance and we signed the papers and he was whisked away to be put on a drip and to check his kidney functions. If they were failing it was decided that we would put him down, as he would not be able to recover from that.

The vet promised to have preliminary results within 40 minutes and we had only been home a few minutes, before the phone rang. Initial results were promising.His kidneys had been affected, but he was a young, fit cat and he should pull through. The electrolyte levels in his blood were sky high, which was causing the paralysis and fits, but they were starting him on drugs to counteract this and he was responding to the drip. This was all caused by whatever poison he had ingested. So we were more hopeful.

However the early hours of the morning brought another phone call from the vets. Despite the meds the levels were not going down and he was going into kidney failure. The only option was to put him down :-(

So Tony legged it up there as fast he could, held him whilst he went to sleep and then brought him home. I will be eternally grateful to my husband for acting so quickly. He managed to get Eric back to us in time for the high school children to see him. Eric was still warm and just looked as though he was sleeping, so everyone in the family had a turn holding him and saying good bye. Our eldest son even made sure that Sookie could say good bye to her brother in her own way. She sniffed him, nudged him, licked him and then went her merry way. I am sure this will help her as the two of them were extremely close and she had been hovering by his side anxiously the day before.

Tj, being only three couldn't understand why Eric would not wake up and our ten year old broke down in floods of tears and sat with him for ages. Such a tough lesson to have to learn.

Our six year old broke down in tears at school and is now star of the day for being so brave. So not only do we have to deal with our own, very real and raw grief at losing Eric, but there are also the kids.

By the time I came back from the school run, Rigor Mortis had already set in and he didn't look like Eric any more :-( Again I was grateful for Tony's quick thinking, which meant that the children at least could remember him in a good light. For our part we wrapped him in a fleece blanket and Tony made him a coffin and Eric is now buried next to the decking, where all the other pets have found their final resting place.

We have lost plenty of pets to old age over the years and that was bad enough. But you almost expect this is going to happen and it's easier to accept. To have a perfectly healthy, young animal snatched from us in such a cruel way just isn't fair. And it's also extremely difficult to explain to the children :-(

However life marches on as it does and Eric will never be forgotten.

So RIP Eric and thank you for being such a big part of our lives for the last 1.5 years. I just wish it could have been longer....

Friday, 20 May 2011

Another Friday, another R...

I am getting used to this!

I woke up to a rejection for Too Hot to Handle, but as far as rejections go it was a very positive one. I received some encouraging feed back, so I know my writing doesn't suck, even if grammar issues let me down this time.

I did feel horribly embarrassed at the amount of red in the pages she sent back to me. I know all this, so how did I miss it the first time round? Still it gives me a chance to polish the ms some more and send it off again. I will get there, one day...

No one said this was going to be an easy process after all.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Happy Birthday Molly

Today marks the ninth birthday of our sixth child, Molly.

Molly laid a lot of ghosts to rest for me, as she is the first one of my babies breastfed full term. It had all gone a bit pear shaped with the previous five. I tried with all of them, but the shortest time had been two weeks, the longest six weeks and that with mix feeding thrown in almost from birth with some of them. Molly on the other hand nursed for four years eleven months exactly. I discovered the wonderful support network of La Leche League (LLL) when I was still pregnant and we never looked back.

So today not only marks her birthday it is also a personal milestone for me. I will have been nursing for a staggering nine years over three children and I expect with baby Markus due in August I will be totting up another five years or so on the top of that. Not bad for a woman, who was once told that I would never be able to breastfeed my children, because my nipples were too flat...
Yeessss, right. Or that my milk was just not enough for my hungry babies. Breastfeeding would always hurt, because I am fair and have sensitive skin. One bottle won't hurt, because nipple confusion does not exist. Hah, tell that to my babies, who refused the breast almost from that first bottle!
I could go and on, but shall not bore you with the details.

The most disparaging thing about all that is that even today mothers still get told the same thing, when the actual percentage of mothers, who genuinely can't breastfeed is very small indeed.

Things are improving of course, but we have a long way to go, before every mother, who needs it will get the support she needs to enable her to breastfeed her baby for as long as she chooses to do.

Right, will step off my soapbox now ;-)

Without any further ado.


We love you lots, gorgeous girl. Have a wonderful day :-)

And for those of you interested in these sort of things, Molly's birth story can be found here.

Brain, where art thou?

As the title would suggest, I seem to have misplaced this particular part of my anatomy. Well, it's either lost or Markus is sapping all of my brain power.

Unfortunately the missing brain goes hand in hand with a complete inability to write. It's all up there, well wherever my brain is atm, but can I get my thoughts onto the screen - urm - no! Don't know why I'm surprised really, as I can barely string a coherent sentence together or do the simplest thing. My patience is non existent and some day soon I will be booked for road rage I am sure *blush*. I feel a bit like a grumpy old woman. In fact I am sure I could give them a run for their money.

Add to that the fact that I cannot breathe, walk any distance or heaven forbid pick anything off the floor and need a crane to lift me off the sofa or take half an hour trying, oh it's fun.

On the positive side am loving the kicks I am getting and playing chase Markus round the belly is great fun. Tj regularly complains, mind, because he gets kicked off. Having a foot stuck under my ribs is also not quite so much fun, but hey it comes with the territory and at least I know he is ok in there.

How I am going to last another thirteen weeks without exploding, I am not quite sure really...

Ho hum, I shall go back to putting my feet up and catching up on my huge TBR pile. At least I can still do that, even if my creative juices seem to have dried up. Guess I can't grow a mini elephant and write at the same time. ;-) I will just have to sort nappies and baby clothes instead, what a hardship...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Licking my wounds

I feel a bit like one of my cats when they have hurt themselves and hide away in a corner. Why the whole woe is me attitude you might ask?

Well Friday found me eagerly opening an e-mail from my editor for Scandinavian Scandal, only to come crashing down to earth with a mighty bump. She really liked the premise of the story but was unable to take the manuscript further. There followed some feedback as to why, which left me rather confused, but the upshot of it was thanks, but no thanks.

Now this is by no means the first rejection I have had and I am sure it won't be the last, but for some reason this one hurt the most. I really had high hopes for this manuscript and maybe that's why this has hit me so hard. A lesson in humility for me perhaps. Just because I think it's some of the best work I have ever done, doesn't mean an editor is going to agree with me!

Having said all that she has kindly offered to send me specific examples of where she feels I need to improve in the manuscript and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity for feedback. I will set it aside for a few weeks and then look at it all again with fresh eyes and hopefully everything will be clearer, I will work on it some more and re-submit.

That's the rational side of my brain talking. The hormonal, emotional side of my brain has cried lots and has taken a huge knock to my writing confidence, but I will get over it...

So for now, I will indulge in chocolate and reading and just taking it easy for a bit. Some day I will look back on this and laugh I am sure!

And hey it's all part of the process right?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Book Review - Road to Recovery by Alyssa Fox

Yesterday saw the release of the debut novel of Alyssa Fox. I am fortunate to have Alyssa in my Crit group and I foresee big things for her. She is also one of the nicest people I know. But enough of that, before her head swells and onto the book ;-)

Dr. Erin Miller’s life was going great; for the most part, anyway. She was single, had a career she loved, and a cherished circle of friends, but something was missing. When a mentorship with the Chief Pediatric Surgeon becomes available, she couldn’t be more thrilled. Maybe this is just what the doctor ordered! That is, until the handsome and charismatic Dr. Kyle Reynolds decides he wants the mentorship as well.
Kyle Reynolds has lost everything including his wife and daughter. With nothing left in his life except for his job, he sets his sights on the new mentorship position with single-minded determination. The only obstacle he faces is the sexy Dr. Erin Miller.

Read an excerpt. (Opens in a new window.)

I stayed up late to read this, because I could not put it down and I had a smile on my face when I finished it. This is an emotional story with a few twists and turns and the love scenes sizzle, just what I like in a Romance.The hero is arrogant on the outside with a soft heart and hidden depths that Erin brings out of him and together they find their way to their HEA.

There are some truly heart warming scenes in this book, some of them will make you cry and some will make your other half happy, put it this way ;-)

You can buy Road to Recovery at Pink Petal Books and Alyssa is running a Prize Package give away on her blog. You can win a fabulous necklace, so go and check it out.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Are you sure its not twins...

has got to rank right up there with the top five of what not to say to a pregnant woman!

Over the last couple of days I have heard that three times. I have had two women literally stop and gawk at me open mouthed (these were mums at school, who really ought to know better imo). I have lost count how many times I have been asked when the baby was due, or how much longer I've got to go etc. etc.

I am beginning to think  I should make myself a  plaquard!

Yes I am pregnant. Yes I am big. Yes I am going to get bigger. DEAL with it!

I am only half joking. I know most folks mean well and everyone always forgets how big pregnant women do get and pregnancy seems to make a woman public property, but really.

As far as I'm concerned the only acceptable thing to ever say to a pregnant woman is. 'What a lovely bump.'

Because every bump, no matter how small, how big, how low, how high is a small miracle of creation. Every pregnancy is different, every bump is different and there is no right or wrong shape. Pregnancy is a lovely time, but it is also exhausting, worrying and at times overwhelming and simply painful.

I have jokingly started calling myself Jemima Puddle Duck, because I waddle. SPD has kicked in with a vengeance and I have to see the funny side of it, or else I cry, because it REALLY hurts. Sitting hurts, standing hurts, walking is sheer agony at times, so the last thing I need right now is comments about my bump.

And really nearly every woman nowadays has scans. I have had four so far, two private ones and two NHS ones, so you can be darn sure there is only one baby in there. And if there were twins in there, what is it to you?

Rant over ;-)

I just wish folks would spare a thought to us pregnant ladies, bar the gawking and exclaiming and oh so witty comments, because they really aren't!

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, but it is also challenging, hormones are going hay wire and feelings get hurt very easily. I have a thick skin and most things bounce off me, but when you're in pain, you have heartburn etc.etc. the last thing you need is silly comments.

A Wow is nice, a smile is lovely. Asking how you are is fine, offering to help with whatever even better. And for pity's sake if you want to touch the bump, ASK!

Right, will really stop ranting now, lol!

On other and very exciting news. My re-write for Scandinavian Scandal is completed at a word count of just under K59, so am pretty pleased with that. What's more the partial is now sitting on my editor's desk *small squeal* and I have started a new WIP, which seems to be going paranormal, which is a first for me. Well, we shall see.

It's all happening in this house, I tell you :-)