Blog post #33 – June 25, 2017 Little Surprises

Good morning, Cuddlers!

This week my cats kept me laughing for all of their little, silly moments. Otis was playing with one of the toy mice that Abby usually plays with. Did he learn something from his little sister? Striker initiated a game of tag with Reggie and Abby, which hasn’t happened in a long time. One day this week, Reggie came back into the apartment on his own after playing in the hall. I thought for sure that was a joke…Reggie never comes back on his own. And, I kept catching all of the cats in sleeping positions or sleeping places they don’t normally sleep. I found myself repeating the phrase, “You guys are cracking me up!”

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Reggie, what are you doing to Otis! HAHA!
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Reggie and Striker love sleeping on the warm towels. How can I put the linens away now?
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Abby hasn’t slept on the purple chair in months. This is a usual spot for Otis – you can see by the white cat hair.
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Otis was sleeping up next to the window. He was snoring and looked so relaxed.

Sometime in the middle of the week – perhaps in light of the Summer Solstice – I was a little more aware of the little surprises in my own life. I guess the biggest surprise (which wasn’t little at all) was my mixed emotions on the last day of school. I have a new teaching job for the fall, and after 15 years at John Hope HS, I was leaving the building for the last time. I’m excited for the new adventure, but was caught in a mix of strange emotions from 15 years of memories.

Again, as the cats kept surprising me, I was taking note of the list of little surprises in my week. The strangest little surprise was a $25 check from a physical therapist’s office from an overpayment on my last PT appointment. Okay, maybe not such a little surprise, but this appointment was two years ago! In the six months that followed my 7 sessions of PT, I had to resolve a few things with the insurance company about a miscoded PT appointment (which was an error on their part). Well, that was FINALLY resolved which is why I received the $25 check. So, maybe that should fall under the category of “bizarre surprises.”

As I’m writing this I can’t help but notice Abby snoring and looking so peaceful. She is recovering from an ear infection and she seems to be 100% better. It’s nice to see her looking so peaceful and happy. This was another one of my little surprises, Abby feeling and acting better. I hope we all have a week of “little surprises!” All good surprises, of course.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #31 – June 11, 2017 A Place I Love

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Some of you may know that I was off last week to attend a writing conference. This is no ordinary conference. It’s a retreat, a chance to re-connect with nature, make new friends, and re-connect with old friends.

The Bear River Writers’ Conference first entered my life in 2015, and I was blown away by the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by like-minded, friendly people for five days. The conference takes place at the University of Michigan Alumni Association’s Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake. During the summer, Camp Michigania is host to Michigan Alums for weeks of family camp. The week before family camp starts, 100 writers and 10 authors/instructors invade the camp for several days of writing and camaraderie. After my first year at Bear River I would say, “It’s time for writing camp!”

This was my third year attending the Bear River Writers’ Conference. For the third year in a row I had a magical time and realized how much I missed the setting as soon as I drove around the bend and saw Walloon Lake. I love everything about it – the intense hours of writing, working hard with your fellow group members, the wonderful food in the dining hall (and soft serve ice cream), staying in a cabin, being disconnected from TV and internet most of the day, being in nature, and the list goes on. For the third year, I felt a little bit of pain in my heart as I left because I didn’t want to leave.

Upon my return home after the 6-hour drive, my cats greeted me with a lot of purring and meowing. I kept saying, “Did you guys miss me?” When they meowed in reply I was thinking they either said, “Yes! We missed you!” or “Hmm…not really…we just want you to feed us.” Well, even though I love going on little trips (and I absolutely love going to the Bear River Writers’ Conference), I also miss my cats when I’m away.

At this point, I’m carrying my positive energy I gained at Bear River this year with plans to return in 2018. It will probably hit me some time in April of 2018 how much I miss Bear River and I’ll start doing the countdown once again. I love the peace and serenity of Camp Michigania, and connecting with so many amazing writers. I’m sure all of my “cuddlers” have a place they love, too! Hopefully, this post has brought you to the place you love.

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Looking out onto Walloon Lake from the Education Center at Camp Michigania.
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On the walk from my cabin to the dining hall I kept thinking I was seeing a sleeping cow in the distance.
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The Nature Center – this is where my group met.
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Camp Michigania has about 20 beautiful horses on the property.
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Camp Michigania and Walloon Lake – the first view after coming around the bend on the dirt road.
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A wonderful friend, author, and fan of the Sunday Morning Cuddle!

Blog post #25 – April 23, 2017 Miracles Can Happen!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

First of all, I hope everyone who celebrates Easter, had a wonderful Easter last week. My intention was to post this blog post last week, but I was slowly (very slowly) recovering from getting all four of my wisdom teeth extracted earlier that week. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

I’m super excited to share some wonderful news with everyone. April 7th I took Striker to the vet for a follow-up with his kidney level test and other blood work. He had been doing better the previous few weeks and I was hoping that the test would show what I knew in my heart. It was obvious to me that Striker gained a little weight and had a little more pep in his step. I prayed that the kidneys showed improvement, even though the vet warned me that it is extremely rare to have a cat improve from kidney failure.

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Striker – right around the time when he was under 7 pounds and very weak.

On Monday, April 10th, I got the call from the vet with the absolute best news. Striker’s kidney level went from a dangerous level of 8 (back when I asked for prayers and happy thoughts), to a 2.4 (normal/mild)! The vet has never seen that in all of her years practicing veterinary medicine. All of Striker’s other levels are normal, and he gained a little over a pound in the matter of 6 weeks! The vet asked what I thought “did the trick.” I told her that the fluids helped, and the appetite enhancer pills may have helped a little (maybe, because Striker only managed to get about 3-4 of them down without spitting them up). But, what helped Striker the most were all of the prayers and happy thoughts sent his way, and feeding him shrimp (Thank you, Aunt Karen, for the suggestion!).

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Striker – right after hearing the great news about his health from the vet.
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Striker – taking a “happy nap” after the great news from the vet.
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Striker cuddling with me the day after his clean bill of health, and after eating some shrimp.

There was a solid week where I would hold Striker, pray for his improved health, and cry tons of tears because he sure looked like other cats I’ve had in the final days of their life. Striker is quite the fighter and definitely has a strong will to live. In fact, he just had his 5th birthday a few days ago. Now, he is not only his “old self,” but he’s playing like he used to play a few years ago. His expressions are priceless, his adorable meows melt my heart, and his goal to sit on my lap and purr have new meaning to my day.

Otis, Reggie, and Abby are also happy again, too. Abby and Striker often have a 20-minute game of tag in the morning (which was fun to watch as I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery). And, Reggie and Otis seem to be more relaxed knowing that Striker is healthy.

My wish for my “cuddlers” is that you all have an experience of some type of miracle in your life. And, I can’t thank you all enough for sending well wishes our way for Striker’s health. If Striker could, he would sit on everyone’s lap, purr, and ask for more shrimp.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #23 – April 2, 2017 Jokes and Games

Good morning, Cuddlers!

So, I know April Fool’s was yesterday, but I can’t stop thinking about practical jokes from our human friends and fur babies.

On Friday I gave my students a spelling test of fake words. I saw it posted on Facebook; a teacher gave this test to his middle school students. My students kept saying they thought the words were fake, but I convinced them otherwise. When I revealed the answer to #11 to be April Fool’s, the students broke out into laughter and gave me props for a good April Fool’s joke. It was a nice way to end the week as we approach a week of upcoming standardized tests.

This made me think of the “jokes” our furry friends play on their humans. I’ve played with many dogs in my time and have had it happen to me when they’re about to give me their toy to throw, and they decide to hold onto it or run away with their toy instead. I remember watching this dog and his human on an early-morning run…the human was trying to leave the beach, but the dog was having none of it. The adorable dog would go next to his human and act like he would accept getting hooked up to the leash, and at the last second, would run off wanting his human to play another game of chase. It was so funny! If dogs could laugh, that cute dog was definitely in hysterics!

If you were part of a April Fool’s joke, hopefully it was as innocent as being asked to spell Rol-Aska-Tox or Tangeteen. Or, maybe your fur baby decided to play a joke on you. Either way, I hope you made it through the day with a lot of laughs, and are taking this morning to relax…and cuddle.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #16 – February 5, 2017 Hugs and Cuddles

Good morning, Cuddlers!
It has been a bit cold and dreary in Chicago the last couple of weeks. In fact, this January was the second least sunny January on record. The lack of sun has a lot of people feeling this rough patch of winter blahs. So, last week I decided to take a walk with a friend to the Lincoln Park Zoo!

For those who don’t know, Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo about two miles north of Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile. It’s in the heart of Lincoln Park and right near Lake Michigan.

My friend wanted to see what the new polar bear was up to since the last time she went, the polar bear was inside the whole time. We were lucky enough to see this gorgeous creature having a blast playing with his blue tub. He was splashing in the water and playing with his tub for a good 15 minutes. Whenever he would come up to the glass to push off, it made me want to pet him. Can you imagine giving a polar bear a hug? (Of course, without the threat of dying.)

Then, we ventured over to see what the family of Japanese Macaque’s were doing on this cloudy and cold Chicago day. They are snow monkeys after all, so I imagined they were enjoying this weather. Soon after we walked to their enclosure we saw the cutest thing happen. One of the moms, with baby on her back, ran over to the male (perhaps the dad) that was sitting near the glass. As soon as she reached the male they embraced with the baby snow monkey in the middle of them. They were hugging for a good 3-4 minutes with the baby cuddling in between them the whole time. The mom and baby were alternating grabbing the dad in an affectionate manner, as if to offer a calming-type of massage. It was the cutest thing I’ve seen, especially because the baby was nestled in between them. My friend and I couldn’t get enough of how adorable it was that they were hugging for so long. We were sure it was to stay warm, but it also seemed to be very much a sign of affection. (To be honest, we also thought they were about to get intimate.)

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The snow monkeys at Lincoln Park Zoo cuddling with baby in the middle.

When we were walking away from the monkeys we both said that their hugging reminded us of when someone you care about gives you the best hug ever. Or, those moments when someone you care about gives you a hug because you must have that “I need a hug” look on your face. Aren’t those the best?! After seeing the polar bear “hugging” his giant blue tub and the snow monkeys giving each other the most adorable hug, I couldn’t stop thinking about just how sweet a hug can be from those you love. Maybe we can all claim this as “give a hug week.”

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #10 – December 4, 2016

Food and Friends

Food and Friends

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Just about every evening Otis and Reggie have a 10-minute chasing and hissing fit. Otis is the one being chased and the one hissing at Reggie. It sounds terrible, and maybe doesn’t always last 10-minutes, but it sure feels like it. It seems like they are at a point where they will never cuddle again or be able to walk by each other without some hissing being involved.

Then, something magical happens. Food. It’s usually about this time when I give the cats their “desert” can of food. Reggie and Otis eat next to each other without incident all the time. There is no hissing, no stalking, and no growling. They’re just chomping on their can of Friskies and enjoying every minute of it. When they’re done eating, they go off to their own corners or might even cuddle with each other. It’s almost as if the so-called “cat fight” only 30 minutes earlier didn’t even happen. Food brings them together every time.

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Abby, Reggie, and Otis enjoying their “desert.”

The visual of the cats eating and looking so happy made me think of how food brings friends and families together. Does your family have a regular Sunday dinner? Growing up I had a friend that had a regular Sunday dinner…they must have had about twenty family members over every Sunday evening for a meal. It has always brought me joy to see how food brings people together. Whatever troubles you may be having, or frustration in life, there’s something so comforting about having a meal with friends and family.

Whether you have a meal with one other person this week, or twenty, I hope this week you’re able to enjoy a meal with friends or family.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #8 – November 20, 2016 Resting and Writing

Good morning, Cuddlers!

We’re entering that time of year when friends and families will get together, decorations will adorn the house, and shopping will seem endless. I love this time of year and the memories of Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I do hope everyone is able to soak in the good moments this time of year brings.

One reason November has been an interesting month for me is that I’m participating in the National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that focuses on writing programs, and has special events for November’s National Novel Writing Month. I finally decided to take on the challenge! There have been days that I’ve said to myself, “Ugh…I’d rather run a marathon right now.” And, there have been some writing sessions when the words were just flowing through my fingers (thank goodness). The goal is to get to 50,000 words by November 30th , which I must admit seems tough to reach at this point.

The countless hours spent writing (and staring at the computer) have been a challenge for my cats. Striker hasn’t had much lap time, and probably secretly hates my laptop. Abby hasn’t had as many cat dancer toy breaks. And, Otis and Reggie just get the quick pats on the head when I’m intently working.

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Striker hasn’t had much lap time recently, but he does enjoy his favorite comforter.

One day I noticed Abby sitting on the purple chair with a look on her face like, “Sigh…all this work you’re doing is making me tired.” A little later that evening my sister sent a text with a picture of her cat exhausted from all the knitting my sister was doing.

I also had this image of two of my grandparents’ dogs sitting in the field to watch my grandpa walk his 2 miles on the path from the house to the woods. The dogs were so tired watching grandpa get his walk in each day. It’s exhausting for our pets to watch us work!

Whatever your “work” is in the coming week, I definitely hope you have time to rest! Take a page from our fur babies…they will tell you in a heartbeat to get comfortable on the couch…and cuddle!

Enjoy the cuddle!