Wild Life Of A Little Monster

Others are scared of me because of all the fun I have. Considered a vigilante by my Eponine.

Chicken, Chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Chicken

Car celebrates getting olderNoted in the most prior post that gifts were given to the Schramwiches. Prior to the gift giving, we had a Japanese steak house adventure to celebrate Car's birthday. I had all seven kids, two wives and the Schramwich dads in tow as we headed to the suburban restaurant location.

At first, I couldn't believe we were even attempting to make this happen. Especially after arriving on time for our 7 p.m. reservation on a school night only to learn that we had about a 20 to 30-minute wait. However, everyone stayed calm and we were all situated around the table, with chop sticks in hand, ready to order.

"What is teriyaki chicken?" El asked me. We decided to keep it simple. It was great listening to the order taker go child by child writing down the preferred meat choice for each. The chef actually shared, though. He made sure each child received their main course, but also got to try a bit of each of the others. It was cool.
The kids are captivated by the chef's cooking prowessR makes good use of his chopsticks
It's been years since I've done the Japanese steak house scene. So, the chef's routine was fun to watch. Not to mention that it fully captivated the seven children. Several of the youngest ones jumped out of their seats, clinging to the wall as the chef lit the grill into a huge flame. The little volcano out of some sliced onions was popular.

The meal was very tasty. The kids of course loved every attempt to catch a piece of shrimp tossed by the chef. He went around the table, from oldest (I think that was me) to youngest (that was R) tossing a little morsel. We looked like baby birds. It took several attempts for some of us, with some never being successful. If you look closely at the pic, you can see a shrimp that passed by Car.

Car tries his hand at catching a shrimpHe mentioned to me that it was an awesome birthday outing. It was worth missing basketball practice, he said. He also said that he didn't want any of his dad's other friends to come along, except for me. He said I was "cool."

Car, the two dads and I all share December as our birthday month. I am very lucky and blessed that somewhere in the midst of all the holiday craziness, we almost always have made it a point to gather for a birthday outing. It usually includes a holiday element too. It makes our gatherings extra neat.

A funny side note ... Schramwich and Schramwich Wife explained to the server who belonged to whom as far as the children were concerned. Then she asked, pointing toward me, "What about this one?" "He's the baby," Schramwich said. When we were leaving, she praised the behavior of all the kids. She said they were all very good. "Except for the baby," she said.


El with Webkinz and a golden frogO and Mad over Thanksgiving weekend introduced me to Webkinz. These are hugely popular. At least with the ultra-young crowd.

What are they? Little plush animals made by Ganz. Evidently they've been around a few years, but I knew nothing about them. Each little stuffed creature includes an individual code. Kids go to the Webkinz website to register their pet. Then the kids can feed and take care of the online version of their stuffed pet.

Plus, the online pets can go to visit other pets. It is Webkinz social networking for children. Nice, huh?

I decided on a few as Chrismtas gifts for the Schramwiches. It was incredibly priceless the excitement I witnessed as each Webkinz was unwrapped. A penguin, pony and something else, I can't remember right now what it was (note on 1/7/08, it was a panda), were given to Z, P and R. El and Liv received dogs. All were perfect gifts that the kids loved receiving.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

It was July 24, 2007. Many of you refer to it as "Gotcha Day." It's my father's birthday and is the day Gabby picked me.

I never got around to sharing specifics of Gabby picking me. So, I set a goal to publish this post on Christmas Eve in honor of the past five months. Computer problems prevented me from meeting that deadline. Anyway, here it is now.

Earlier in the day on July 24 I attended a meeting at a different office location. When I pulled into the parking lot at my office, the beast was spotted. I did feel a panic as I sat in the car. Then said a soft prayer, "Dear Lord, please let this monster pick me."

Usually a feline wandering a work parking lot will quickly dash when approached by a big ol' human. They don't run away when they want to pick you, though. My Eponine walked right up to me in a work parking lot back in 1990.

I asked the creature to follow me into the building. "C'mon sweetheart, come along." Noticing she was starved, I took her right to the breakroom/kitchen and found her something to nibble on. Then I let her roam the building. I remember a co-worker saying, "I think there's a cat in here."

About three hours later when it was time for me to leave, I said, "Let's go if you want to come with me." The little monster very loudly said "Meow." I opened the door and instructed that she either needed to follow me or be on her merry way. "Meow." At one point she started to walk a different direction. I hollered, "this is your last chance!" "Meow," she said and continued her march toward me.

She walked to the car but then opted to go under it instead of going in the open passenger door. It was only then did I pick up her tiny frame and put her in the car. Meowing all the way along the 30-minute commute, she hopped around the passenger seat and me and stared out the window at the world passing by. Having never discarded the remains of Eponine's food, the beast was able to have her first meal within minutes of arriving at Cowboy's.

I made her comfortable and secluded her in the laundry room that first night. I took her right to Ep's vet on the way to work the next morning. When he called that afternoon, he went on and on with the results of his examination. I told him I only had one question ... "Is she going to die?" "No" he said.

My prayers were answered. I knew right then. The Good Lord gave me the reassurances I needed. And just like that, Gabrielle picked. She is such a gift.

She's not even recognizable from these pics from our first day. She was so bony and sad looking. But even then she was still loving, talkative and a sweetheart. Those things won't ever change, I think.

Dec. 20 was two years ago that Eponine had to leave me. I still miss her. There's no denying that. But I am certain she was ready for me to get picked.

A Little Behind

Over the Christmas holiday read an article in the Tulsa newspaper about various Christian faiths that don't celebrate Christmas and how the holiday has evolved for Americans. According to the article, in the early days of the U.S., Christmas Day was quietly observed. Most places stayed open for business, the U.S. Congress still convened and it was not a huge deal. Puritans banned it because the day was known for alcohol consumption and craziness.

The article indicated that it was Dickens and others in the mid-1800s that introduced the world to stories about family gatherings and other events.

The article also noted that some faiths state that the Bible never mentions or provides guidance/direction to "celebrate" Christmas. The news article said that some faiths consider many of the holiday traditions as pagan and as inventions from the European world. However, the quote I liked best was from one expert that pointed out that nor is there Biblical instruction not to celebrate!

A friend of mine and his family to this day never put up a Christmas tree. Although very religious, their church instructed members that a Christmas tree and other gestures like that were inventions by others who's goal is to take away from the real meaning of Christmas.

I do hate all the commercialism, stressing out, financial debt, family drama and other issues that are often associated with the holiday. But I do have fun checking out the lights, catching up with folks via holiday notes and gestures, finding fun and occasionally "the right" gift, and have a reason where we have to make it a priority to stop to visit with family and friends.

For those so inclined to celebrate it, I hope your holiday was out-of-the-ballpark fantastic! Thank you to you cats and humans that took a moment to provide Gabby and me a greeting. It is much appreciated. Details about our holiday currently are drafts. :)

I apologize that we are behind with our greeting. We had a computer glitch on Sunday and then hit the road to Oklahoma. Just now getting life back to a small amount of normalcy.

Being Like Jesus In Santa Fe

Saw this article in Saturday's New York Times. It is about hanging out in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a budget. The writer, Matt Gross, details how he and his mother took on Santa Fe on a $500 budget. It included good eats, a comfortable hotel stay, visiting O'Keeffe's and other galleries, enjoying nature, and a communal (clothing optional) bath.

Articles like this are very entertaining and interesting. Neither of The Feds that recently were visiting the workplace had ever been to Kansas City. They indicated that their familiarity with the city was based on "36 Hours in Kansas City," an article that was published in The Times back in 2003.

Prices have gone up, some places have closed, many have opened, but the gist of the article is still true. It doesn't include all my favorite haunts, but it does mention good ones.

I can't wait to return to Santa Fe to visit family and check out some of what Mr. Gross suggests. Maybe not the communal bath.

Much like Jesus, I always have a goal to save. Just saying you're from Connecticut can get you a free tickets to the International Folk Art Market. On a Sunday, at least. Tips on how to enjoy without spending your life's savings are always good to have in the back pocket. And knowing what are the don't-miss spots is very useful. In any city!

Thanksgiving Pancakes

Another draft post finally coming to life. Am I the only blogger that has about 15 to 20 draft posts? Surely not.

I get an idea and start to write, or upload pics intending to detail the excursion, or create a headline in order to capture a memory (only to totally forget what I meant to write about it), and then they all just sit in the bank. Drafts. Waiting to go live. For the "publish post" button to get clicked. Or deleted forever.

These pics are from Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The Artist, The Wife, O and Mad spent the night before hitting the road for Moberly, Missouri to visit other family for Thanksgiving. Our goal on this morning was to make wheat pancakes that look like the fall leaves. It required many bowls, lots of pancake batter, and much experimentation with the food color bottles. Of course, everyone said the orange pancakes tasted the best.

As has become our tradition, I saw them all again on Sunday on their way back to Oklahoma. We had breakfast at MMcB's favorite, Classic Cookie in Waldo, and then enjoyed fun times in Crown Center. That included singing Christmas carols and "Oklahoma" in the parking garage under The Westin. It's surprising how much better your voice sounds when it is echoing through a parking garage. fyi, the echo is not as good in the Crown Center garage.

Fall Visitors

Catching up by publishing some old draft posts. These pics are pre-Thanksgiving. Gabby and I were enjoying the early evening by hanging out on the deck. The leaf colors were spectacular this year.

While outside we discovered a new friend. He's pictured below. I think it is called a praying mantis. Gabby kinda sniffed at it. He seemed a little scared of us, but held still as if to fool us into thinking he wasn't there.

We moved on shortly to our own tasks and forgot about him. Our priorities were to smell the air, pet, and purr. Stuff like that.

Inspiring Television

The ongoing strike by union writers bums me. I'm not taking sides on the matter. I'm just pointing out that I'm sad to see my favorite shows fall into repeats. From what I understand, new episodes from some shows likely won't occur this season. We'll have to wait until fall 2008.

I'm not that big of a tv groupie, but I am addicted to certain shows. Just a few here and there. For now, with the holidays fully upon us, none of should be watching television anyway. Just hanging out with family and friends. OK, maybe a bowl game or two. And I suppose some folks like NFL games (not my passion at all).

"Pushing Daisies" has been my favorite this season. I smiled when I saw it received Golden Globe nominations. Kristin Chenoweth and Digby were cheated out of supporting actor nominations, though. In the last episode, Kristin (Olive) and a little crab on her shoulder drop their mouths open in unison when the heard a new revelation. I chuckled.

A few episodes ago I heard Chuck's aunt sing "Morning Has Broken." It suddenly dawned on me that I recognized her voice. It is Ellen Greene. She was in the film version of "Little Shop of Horrors." Her rendition of "Morning" was great. That whole episode was beautiful. How often can one say that about a television show?

It is very quirky, much like me, so I know no one will be shocked that I like it. That said, I fully understand why someone else might not like it.

Choir Boy II

Last Thursday the Feds announced they wouldn't come into the office on Friday. That was music to my ears. To celebrate, I accepted an invitation to trek out south to attend Car's choir concert.

He's in the sixth grade choir. Music is a requirement at his school. Choir or strings. He selected choir. I noticed the eighth grade choir was about one-quarter the size of the sixth grade version. I'm guessing it is not a requirement for them.

It was a fun event, although Schramwich logged it as one of the most painful events of his life. Schramwich Wife and I enjoyed. Car seemed very satisfied with our support, but he blushed a bit when we asked him to point out his girlfriend. Sixth grade love is special.

Next stop was the custard place because that's where the kids were going. When we realized that our tummies were still growling, we made a 9 p.m. Burger King run with all four kids. Then on home for stomach rolls and silly acting before making sure teeth were brushed, pjs were on and all were nestled in their beds.

Choir Boy

Mom had patterns and other designs that she would place in wooden frames to hold the material tight, like a needle-point frame, and then used acrylic paint pens to make the patterns come alive. They were tubes of paint with a little roller point. I remember she had a special container of all sorts of various paint pens. I think I even recall a sales person that stopped by the house to make sure she always was stocked.

I was in my single digits seeing her work to create an entire collection. Pilgrims, turkeys, choir boys, angels, Christmas trees, stars .... it went on and on. I was jealous. Nothing I colored ever looked that good.

The Sis and I helped Mom clean the front picture window using a water and vinegar mixture and newspaper. Then we'd gently tape the different items to the window. We had the same routine in our old two-story home too, but with more windows! It was part of our holiday decorating tradition.

A couple years back I saw some of the collection at Mom's. I asked her if I could have something. This choir boy was my gift. Each year, he now receives a place of honor on my Christmas tree. Easily 30 or more years old, he looks just as special as the first day he received his color.


Wednesday night's dinner was a Subway sandwich to go. It was a perfect complement to my "Pushing Daisies" fix. Love that show, by the way. Dinner and Daises had followed another long day with the Feds and a Target outing for one Christmas gift. Specifically, Hannah Montana dolls for Mad.

No luck on the dolls. The next choice was a glowing bear. Plus I have some Dora items. Mad will love them.

Didn't leave with just the gift ... new air filter for the heater, laundry detergent, a Christmas gift for myself that I'll work to convince someone else to give me, a picture frame, and a few other small items that one can't live without. The joys of stopping at Target for one thing.

The evening's other treat --- a brand new, shiny state quarter. Utah's entry in the state quarter collection has now officially been entered into the quarter board. The collection is 90 percent complete!

Do you know what that means? You guessed it, No. 46, Oklahoma's quarter is just around the corner come 2008. I know you're just as excited as I am.

Birthday Gifts

Here're pics of those birthday gifts. That gray cat ornament is made from bells. A larger bell for the body with little bell feet. The whiskers are awesome.

Can't wait to don the new OSU shirt. It arrived in the OSU package pictured below. The shirt is fat-and-sassy size, so that's an added bonus. The wheeled orange bag ... might have to hire a security entourage just to deter those wannabes that I'll pass in the airport and other places.

Fat And Sassy

Sexy Lady made it back to Kansas City on Tuesday night. She arrived home safely through all the ice and adverse weather conditions.

Before dashing home with the little Daphne, we decided to zoom out for a quick dinner. I had to sneak out and meet her in the driveway so that Daph wouldn't get out-of-control excited seeing the Sexy Lady.

After a tough and stressful day with the Feds, my preference was comfort food. That led to "Streetcar Named Desire" in Crown Center. One can never go wrong with a BLT from SND, a side of mayonnaise and a Long Island Tea concocted by bartender Duane. A mighty great meal. Plus, with two huge tomato slices, lettuce and wheat bread, I know it is super healthy.

We ran into our friend Jenna while in Crown Center. Sexy Lady hadn't seen her in quite some time and asked what was new. Her reply, "Just getting fat and sassy!" I jumped in and pointed out that only half of the statement was something new. And that half wasn't even true!!
After Streetcar, the SL insisted we have dessert and that it was my pick. Why? Because this was Cowboy's day that he popped onto the earth. You should thank my mom for that. It's true. I'm older.

My selection ... bread pudding at Classic Cup on The Plaza. It was mighty fine. And it arrived on an orange plate! I was in heaven.

We came to my home to great Daph and Gabby and then opened a few gifts. Daph gave me a tremendous orange bag with wheels to pull files and a laptop. It is brilliant! SAK and fam sent a little gray kitty ornament and included a sentiment about my Eponine. Very nice. While VMc, RMc and family sent a super-fantastic OSU shirt. There is nothing better. Several cards and e-mails too, including the annual ones from the OSU Foundation, Hallmark and Southwest Airlines.

Here's to another year of getting fat and sassy. However, I'm declaring now that a SERIOUS DIET is beginning Jan. 1.

Gabrielle Eating

As noted in a previous post, Gabby's food dishes currently are on a chair. She seems to not mind, but occasionally has a look on our face like "Why am I having to do this while Daphne's dishes are right over there?"

With the last two pics below, I'm standing behind Gabby. I leaned over and put the camera on the table and just took a snap. The red beam of the auto focus helps to get things centered, but Gabby did all the rest to make the pic look perfect.

My Christmas tree has flickered twice. I've seen some bursts of light in the low-lying clouds. I think all the ice is causing some power lines to fall and transformers to blow. My neighborhood has underground lines, but I know even with that a neighborhood could still lose power. I hope not.

Slipping And Sliding

Daph was supposed to go home Monday night, but the Sexy Lady is stuck in the state of Washington. Most flights in or out of Kansas City's airport have been cancelled. We're getting hit with an ice storm.

Slipped while retrieving the mail. My block's mail box unit is across the street. With the mass force of my girth plunging to the pavement, it is amazing I didn't break a bone. Just barely made contact with the ground actually. Didn't even shout an expletive during the process. Very proud of that fact.

Visited with VMc and his mom, JMc, this evening. Also talked to Macy, the eight-year-old. Her questions from the updates her cousin O provided made me laugh. ... "O said you have a new kitty....O told me you have a trundle bed....O said you made pancakes that were all different colors." All true. Well, it's a sofa sleeper. Also talked to MMcB and the North Carolina sis.

I asked Macy what she wanted for Christmas. "Anything you might think I would like because I can't really make up my mind," she replied.

Stayed up until 2:30 Sunday night/Monday morn. Anticipating the Feds arrival on Monday, I was a nervous wreck and couldn't relax enough to sleep. Did laundry, worked on Christmas cards, paid bills and completed a few other tasks instead. Gabby and Daph followed me throughout the house as I worked on various tasks, just to promptly find a place to snooze if I was stationary for any amount of time. Normally as close to me as possible.

Nice enough people, but I half hoped the plane carrying the Feds to town would skid off the runway. I didn't want them maimed. Maybe just knocked unconscious for a few days. No go. They arrived and Monday was spent in meetings and progressing through stuff that Feds require folks to do when they come to visit. More of the same is on the week's agenda.

Fine Dining

Gabby is having to eat from a chair. She's getting used to it, but still kinda looks at me like "Why the heck do I have to jump up here?"

The answer, Daphne is visiting for a spell. The two get along remarkably well. But that Daphster can throw down some all-natural, papaya and banana-chip, gluten-free cat food. Not to mention she can lap up a few spoonfuls of moist food in Guiness World Record timing.

She won't jump up in the chair though.

I remember a friend that had a feline that ate from a baby high chair. Just jumped up there and turned around face forward to eat from her bowls sitting on the high chair tray. It was a riot to see.

The Best Voice Mail

The Wild Wife and The Wild Husband are flight attendants. On 9/11, I worried myself sick about the two of them. When I finally was able to get through to their home phone, I was greeted by a home answering machine recording that let everyone know they were sad, safe and sorting through everything.

In October while in Denver, I asked about their whereabouts on that day. Wild Wife says she was commuting to her work flight that would be leaving from LAX. She was lucky that her flight returned to Denver and she didn't end up stranded anywhere. Wild Husband was at home with their boys.

I recall that Schramwich told me he was attending a conference in New Orleans. When it was determined that there would be no flights, a bunch of the conference attendees rented buses in order to get home.

"Hello. I'm not dead. Call me back."

MMcB left me this voice mail Wednesday night. She's living in Omaha and strangely there was a shooting in a shopping mall there. Just last week she and I talked about that Westroads Mall and the Von Mauer store. Based on that conversation, I was reasonably confident she wouldn't be at the mall. Besides, a high-powered lawyer for a foodie like her would never leave work mid-day just to shop. Unless the folks at Tiffany called.

Her voice mail was the best kind to receive. We always pray our loved ones are not at the wrong place and the wrong time, are very thankful when they are not, and have to hope for peace and comfort for those who experience such tragic loss.

Not That Unique

Heard a story on NPR this morning that must be shared just in case you didn't catch it. Reporter Rene Gutel shares details about how more and more Americans are opting to have a funeral service for their pets. Even some "traditional" funeral homes are opening their doors to hosting a memorial for a little monster.

The story on the radio also talked about a new franchise opportunity for pet funeral homes. Just might be an interesting option if I am to lose my job anytime soon.

Click here to access the audio link for the story on npr.org.