Because I don't want to forget ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

This post is dedicated to my sweet, "white kitty." For those of you who don't know, Andre adopted us. He frequented the cottage where Steve's family fed him. He kept coming back to visit and would lay immediately at anyone's feet who approached him. He was hungry for love and attention (as well as food; he was emaciated). He had some cuts and sores on him that showed he wasn't exactly "fit" for outdoor life. I took an immediate liking to him, and he took an immediate liking to Steve. After about a week of begging, I convinced Steve that we were ready for a cat in our lives. And, so, in the fall of 2005, we brought him home. The first night was hilarious - neither of us knew just what to do with a cat. We weren't sure he was litter box trained, so we tried to "block him" in the basement with a table on its side (laughable). He stayed down there until we went to bed. But, when we woke up the next morning, there was Andre, perched on the guest room bed as if he'd found his new home for life. In a sense, that's how his life continued. By the end of that day, he'd convinced us he was house trained and could be trusted. It was also one of the last nights he slept anywhere but at my feet (or a year later, snuggled up by my chest).

Andre was unusually affectionate for a cat. He HATED it when we left him. He'd simply stop eating and drinking in his protest at being left alone. So, we had cat sitters come anytime we were gone for more than 24 hours to play with him and make certain he'd eat. Andre would spend hours snuggling at my feet as I did school work, graded papers, read a book or just plain sat on the couch. He'd snuggle up and "spoon" if I was laying down, purring incessantly. At anytime I asked for it, by simply clicking my tongue, he'd run over and give me "kisses" (nuzzles) on my nose. In fact, each morning for 3 years as I got out of the shower, he would be waiting, on the ledge of the tub, to greet me, with loud purrs and two morning "kisses."

It's that same image that Andre left me with today. Just before they gave him the shot to sedate him, he lay in my arms (still clenching and unclenching in pain) PURRING LOUDLY! Before I sat him down, he reached up and kissed my face, twice. The nurse and the vet saw it and burst into their own set of tears as I just continued sobbing. He really was the sweetest, ever loving thing ... right up until the end.

As a way of remembering the best parts of my beloved pet, I thought I'd give my top 10 memories of Andre Van Dyk:

10. Hearing him roar and SQUEAL with delight whenever we arrived home from an overnight vacation ... he'd purr for at least the first hour we were home, simply delighted to have his family back.

9.  Watching him choose the foot of our daughter's bed as a favorite resting place, as soon as he realized she loved him too.

8. Having him sit at my feet while I graded hundreds of papers, for hours on end, simply purring and sighing, and being completely content

7. Seeing him crawl up into my brother's lap and park it despite the fact that my brother swore he hated kitties

6. Having him rub up against me, begging for scraps of chicken, tuna, or cheese and hearing his excited reaction each time I left him a few in his dish.

5. Opening the windows each spring to let him feel the breeze, sniff the air and get his fix of "outside" life.

4. Brushing him to unbelievably loud purrs and squeals of delight (and many more kisses)

3. Watching him melt Steve's resolve to "not enjoy" having a kitty.

2. Getting "Head butted" at all hours of the day and night, whenever 'Dre felt like he wasn't getting enough attention. It was his "attention getting mechanism."

1. Learning that Andre possessed a "secret" talent for determining pregnancy. We didn't know his cues the first time around, but Andre was the first person in this house to know that Benjamin was on his way. In fact, Andre's the reason I took a pregnancy test so early.

I know Andre had a great 5 years with us (he took us from newly weds into parents of two little kids ... and he stuck with us through all of the sleepless nights ... he got up each time I did!!)  and that we will miss him so much. I have to believe that he would be happy to be free of pain, as much as he would miss us. I'm thankful for the great time we did have while he was here. I couldn't have dreamed up a better pet. We love you Andre!

[caption id="attachment_929" align="aligncenter" width="764" caption="Andre in his favorite spot of all, on top of a blanket (and Mom's legs)"][/caption]

Making Friends

by Kristi Van Dyk in

We haven't been on tons of playdates with new people lately. BUT, we have been working on forming better bonds with the "friends" that live in the same house with us. Here are my two sets of little "friends."

[caption id="attachment_827" align="aligncenter" width="482" caption="My babies having lunch together"][/caption]

My furry children sharing the window:

[caption id="attachment_828" align="aligncenter" width="458" caption="Rafa and Andre"][/caption]

Tired Little Ones ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

These last few weeks have been so insane. I thought fall and regular schedule would bring a slower pace of life. It hasn't really turned out that way. BUT, that's alright. We're all enjoying ourselves, growing, and learning. Here's the result of constant change ... (I don't have one of Benner, but he's just as cute when he sleeps too!) [caption id="attachment_816" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Throw your hands up in the air..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_817" align="aligncenter" width="224" caption="In his 2nd favorite spot in the house (first is the foot of the bed with electric blanket turned up)"][/caption]

Even the youngest (and easily most fiesty of all of my kids) has to rest some times.

[caption id="attachment_818" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Crazy Rafa sleeps sometimes too."][/caption]

Andre's Gift

by Kristi Van Dyk in

This summer Andre got into drinking dirty water from Kayleigh's old baths. The tub drains slowly and he'd race in to see what he could lap up from the "moving water." If there were cups or bath toys that didn't get emptied, you could be certain to find him later that evening "cleaning up the mess." He always had water, but it seemed he preferred the moving water. So, like I always do when I have a question, I consulted "The Google." I found that cats much prefer "moving water" to still/stagnant water because it's better oxygenated and helps hydrate them more effectively. Then I saw ridiculously priced cat fountains over $150 each. I wanted my cat to be properly hydrated (and really wanted him to stop drinking from the bath water), but I wasn't going to spend $150. I did a little more research and discovered I could be a lower end model for just $29.99. I realize that's still a lot to spend on a water dish, but ... we haven't purchased anything new for Andre since Kayleigh was born. I figure since he put up with two new babies without ever once coming close to harming a hair on their heads, he deserved a great gift.

He's thanked me by completely avoiding the tub, and be even tolerating Rafa's adoption without much fuss. Here is, happily lapping up water from top of the waterfall.

[caption id="attachment_705" align="aligncenter" width="224" caption="$29.99 well spent"][/caption]

Friday Photoshoot

by Kristi Van Dyk in

This morning I intended to take fun pictures of Benjamin. EVERYONE (Dre and Rafa included) was up and at 'em. Therefore, I got to snap pictures of a variety of subjects. Some of my favorites: Kayleigh - "Sometimes her beauty stops me dead in my tracks"

[caption id="attachment_693" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Kayleigh"][/caption]

Benjamin: "His smile brings me unspeakable joy"

[caption id="attachment_694" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Benjamin"][/caption]

Andre: "Just staying sharp"

[caption id="attachment_695" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Andre"][/caption]

Rafael: "Missin' my brothers ..."

[caption id="attachment_696" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Rafael"][/caption]

And of course, what mother couldn't love a few of them getting along:

Kitten + Toddler = too cute

by Kristi Van Dyk in

As I was attempting to persuade my husband to allow me to adopt this new kitten, I used many tactics (some below the belt ...). It NEVER occurred to me to play the toddler card. "Kayleigh would really love to play with a kitten, etc." This is probably because I really didn't expect her to want to play with a kitten. She moves so fast and isn't generally tender (the moments with her brother still shock me), so why would a kitten catch her eye? Because they are in the same life stage ... exploring their world, trial and error, curiosity about EVERYTHING, no problem with a mistake because life is full of time to try and try again, completely devoid of the fear of the unknown because everything is unknown! Together Rafa and Kayleigh give me more to laugh about than I ever imagined ... Interestingly enough, not only are Kayleigh and Rafa in similar stages of development, they have very similar personalities ... active, constant, don't stop until I slam into a brick wall of exhaustion and fall over into a coma. Snuggling is a thing to do ONLY when exhaustion keeps you from doing more "exciting" things. So, Kayleigh and Rafa are my two "Actives." Benny and Andre ... my two "mellows." Both of them are content to take a safe and comfortable view of the action and let everyone else have it out. Sure they let me know, quite forcefully at times, what their needs are, but more often than not ... watching is just fine with them ... Sit back and enjoy the show :).

Here's the show we got from Rafael these past two days:

[caption id="attachment_669" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="A bed is wherever you crash land"][/caption]

This other one warrants a little story. Benny and Andre are safely perched, watching the action. Kayleigh is chattering away to her Rafa. I'm scrubbing a few bottles in the kitchen, where I'm not more than a few paces away from all of the "dependents," as I call them.  I hear the following: K: Rafa on snack table R: chirp, chirp, MMMEEOOOWW (his sharper cry brings me to peer around the corner. She has him with two hands by the belly and is lifting him unto the television table where she eats her snacks). K: No? No snack table??? Rafa sit on couch R: chirp, chirp, chirp (as she toddles him to the couch) MMMEEEOOOWW (still unharmed just not exactly happy) K: No? Okay ... Rafa in Benny's Bumbo (Yes, she knows a Bumbo by name). Rafa in Bumbo. (IN she plops him and there he stays ... for quite sometime, resting and watching her eat her snack.)

Rafa's new comfort spot aside from his pregnancy pillow turned cat bed??? Benjamin's Yellow Bumbo

Sometimes I'm positive that I'm certifiably insane ... you know, committing to house training a kitten and introducing him to an existing cat who is quite possessive while caring full time for an almost 4 month old and a nearly 2 year old ... but, these quiet moments with the snugglers seems to make it worth it. (The kids snuggle too just not nearly long enough to snap pictures!)

[caption id="attachment_671" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Not too bad for just the end of their first full day together"][/caption]

Amazing morning traditions ...

by Kristi Van Dyk in

As fall began I made myself a routine ... certain days I push the kids a little and get a morning walk in. Other days we take it slow and have mornings to ourself. Other days I have afternoon walks and morning errands at their pace. Either way, we have something to look forward to each day ... Yet, despite each day's different activities, there is something that NEVER varies: our morning traditions, and they involve the entire household (minus Daddy who is always at work). Mommy wakes at 6 a.m. to feed Ben and put him back down for a short nap. Then, I grab a shower, make a latté, and have my personal quiet time. By 7:30 Ben is up and ready to play, so he gets dressed and plays on his mat (still working on that rolling stuff). I make Kayleigh's breakfast and do a few dishes, then get Kayleigh dressed and up at 8:00 a.m. Starting at 8:00 a.m., we turn on Mickey Mouse clubhouse and have family togetherness (whether Mommy sits or not). Everyone keeps their blankets from the cozy night, eats and watches together on or near the couch. Ben usually sits on my lap, or in his rocking chair just below the couch. Kayleigh snuggles right into my arm, and kitty sits either on Kayleigh's lap, my lap or in front of the couch by Ben. We're all together for those two 30 minute segments and then it's time to get moving ... to whatever our day brings. BUT, for one hour, everyone is close, very close, almost on top of each other close :) And Mommy cherishes these moments.

I got up to get more juice and everyone stayed right where they were, so I snapped a photo.

[caption id="attachment_642" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Morning traditions ... "][/caption]

I know that very soon I'm going to lose my comfortable, snuggly mornings and have to packing the kids off to school. I'm reminded by that as I hear the neighbors leaving each morning ... BUT, for now, I'm going to cherish these times. :) Thanks Lord, for my beautiful little treasures (even the adopted furry one who makes me smile so much).