Suzi Beech and Family

This blog is about my family and my trials and tribulations as a work-from-home mom of twins.

R.I.P. Yuji Beech September 28, 2009

Yuji sleeping in the sunshine

Yuji in healthier, happier times

I had to put my cat, Yuji, to sleep on Saturday.  It was a choice I had been struggling with for months and it did not come easily on Saturday, either. Yuji was a beautiful long-haired, buff colored cat.  He was very shy and skittish and had been from the moment we adopted him.  He spent his first hours at our house hiding under a shelf, hissing at us. I thought he would mellow and relax as he got used to his new surroundings, but that was basically his personality in a nut shell and it didn’t change much over the last nine years.

We adopted him during our struggle with infertility.  My cat, Kiki, had gotten sick and I’d had to put him down.  I decided that our other cat, Fritz, needed a new playmate and I needed something to mother.  I had never had an orange colored cat, so I sent out feelers to see who was available for adoption.  It was fall and there weren’t a whole lot of kittens to choose from, but I got a call about a beautiful, light orange colored kitten and arranged to meet him.  He was more blonde than orange, and very pretty.  Even though he hid and hissed at us, I was smitten and agreed to adopt him.

He became more friendly, at least toward me, as time went on.  He was never a cuddler and was extremely particular about who he chose to let near him, but I knew he loved me in his own, stand-offish way.

It was pretty clear from the get-go that Yuji didn’t want anything to do with our twins after they were born.  Our other cat at the time, Fritz, didn’t mind them petting him and crawling around after him.  Yuji freaked out and hid under the bed until the kids were safely back in their cribs.  That’s how he dealt with them for years.  He made it very clear that he didn’t like kids – not our kids, not neighbor kids, not any kids at all.  They made him very nervous and he would hiss and swipe at them if they would happen to wander into whatever room he was in.  They were much too loud and unpredictable for Yuji’s delicate sensibilities.  He mainly slept under the bed when they were around and came out at night, once they were sleeping.

Such a beautiful kitty

Such a beautiful kitty

We brought Yuji and Fritz with us when we moved from Los Angeles to Portland in 2003.  Fritz became very ill shortly afterward and had to be put down.  Yuji was an only pet for a short time, then we adopted George.  George is a kids’ cat.  He loves to be involved in their games and is tolerant of being picked up, dressed up, covered up…whatever the kids do, he rolls with it.  He just loves being included.  Yuji and George got along very well.  Yuji even did well when we adopted our dog, Nico. I was so worried he would freak out, but it turned out that he really liked the dog and tolerated her much more than the kids.

In recent months, Yuji’s physical and mental health took a turn for the worse.  He had always had a sensitive digestive tract and could only tolerate one kind of food.  This year, though, even that food didn’t agree with him and he had constant diarrhea.  I had taken him in for every test on him and his poop the vets could think of.  No bacteria or parasite was at fault.  At the same time, his mental health took a dive.  He stopped taking care of his fur and became matted and dirty.  He didn’t allow for much brushing or hair care and was looking very shabby.

Most distressing to me, was that he began peeing where he shouldn’t.  I first caught him peeing on the floor in December when he peed on the Christmas tree skirt, right in front of me.  I knew this was his way of telling me he wasn’t happy.  I took him back to the vet where he was tested for infections and kidney problems, but nothing was found.  As the months passed, he became worse and worse.  The peeing was intentional.  I tried treating him with oral anti-anxiety medication.  After the first two days, he would see me coming, growl and hide under the bed.  Oral medication wasn’t going to be an option.  His weight dropped, his behavior became worse, and I came to the end of my rope.  He wasn’t a happy cat.  He wasn’t well, although we couldn’t determine exactly what was wrong with him.  After months of struggling with what would be best for him, I decided to put him down.   My 8-year-old son said Yuji is now in a place with comfy beds that are always in the sunshine and a giant, always clean litter box just for him. I think that is exactly what Yuji’s vision of heaven would’ve been.  Quiet, sunny, solitary and clean.

Yuji is not the first cat that I’ve had to put down, but he is the youngest at age 9.  My oldest, Missy, lived to be 18.  My next oldest was Tina, who died at 17.  Then there were Al and Baby, who both died in their 15th year.  Kiki and Fritz were both around 13 when I had to let them go, although their true age wasn’t known because they came into my life as full-grown strays.  I will pick up Yuji’s remains in a couple of days.  His container of ashes will be placed with the others in our “kitty shrine.”   Rest in peace, Yuji Beech.

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I made it through Camp! August 3, 2009

Cub Scouts at campfire

Cub Scouts at campfire

Let me start by saying it has been one hectic month!  We went from the fun and games of the kids’ 8th birthday, straight into some new experiences for us.  The first was Gus’ first time at overnight camp.  He and his Cub Scout den went to a two-night, three-day camp called Cub World.  They had a blast.  He came home exhausted and missing a few shirts, but happy as a little lark.

Happy Cub Scout

Happy Cub Scout

My hat is really off to the adults who chaperoned.  I can only imagine what it was like to be in charge of those 11 young men.  The chaperones had to pitch and sleep in tents (on the ground, in the heat!!).  This alone, I fear, would’ve made me so grumpy that I would’ve been a not-so-patient Mommy helper. Good thing I didn’t go along!  I’m not really much of a camper.

Philip, Ruby and I drove out to the camp on the last day so Gus could give us a tour of the place and show us all the cool activities.  They boys got to sleep in a giant wooden teepee with built-in bunks where they could put their sleeping bags.  It was a cool structure, but in full sun and very hot.  They also happened to be near the end of the giant slip-and-slide the camp had set up.  This, apparently, led to some flooding issues.  The boys thought this was hysterical, the parents found it not so funny (especially when their own tents began flooding and had to be picked up and moved…).

There was a little “trading post” where the boys could buy inexpensive junk…I mean little treasures…which were scout with bow and arrowpromptly lost, eaten (candy!!), or broken.  We did have fun shooting bb’s, winging garbanzo beans with slingshots and trying to shoot with a bow and arrow.  The boys also did some leather working, whittling (earned their whittling chips and now can handle and own knives…or, at least, so say the Scouts, this mom’s not going for it!) and branding on wooden pieces.

We had only one night to go from Cub World onto our next first – Girl Scout day camp.  I was a week-long, full-time volunteer, which got me a discounted rate and meant Gus got to come along and be in the boys unit.  This was Ruby’s first year attending camp and we had been looking forward to it for a very long time.  Unfortunately, it

Camp - this-a-way

Camp - this-a-way

coincided with a record-breaking heatwave here in Oregon.  Even though it was hot, it was still lots of fun.

I am both happy and sad that our camps are over for the summer.  They were both fun experiences and definitely the stuff childhood memories are made of, but I’m happy to have my kids and “normal” life back!

I have pictures of both activities and will get them posted very soon.  I’m going to save telling all about Girl Scout camp for another post.

 

My twins were born 8 years ago today… July 8, 2009

My family on the kids' 8th birthday, 2009

My family on the kids' 8th birthday, 2009

If you read my post about our struggle with infertility, you know that getting pregnant took many years of tests, procedures, heartache, perseverance, tears and money.  We finally conceived on our final attempt at in vitro fertilization or IVF.  I have many stories that I will share about our roller coaster ride with infertility treatments. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of our babies, I want to reflect on the 5 weeks I spent on hospital bed-rest before they were born.

While twin pregnancies are becoming more common, they still are not without risk. I didn’t have a care-free pregnancy. I first had what’s called a subchorionic hemorrhage during my 9th week of pregnancy. That is like a blood clot that forms between the placenta and uterine wall. I started bleeding at midnight on New Years Eve, 2001. I called my doctor in a panic (that’s right at midnight on New Years Eve…and he wasn’t even mad!).   He was very reassuring and told me to lie down with my feet raised. Looking back, I’m sure this didn’t actually do anything other than give me the feeling that I was doing something! Anyway, that’s what I did. I barely moved for two days until we could get in for an ultrasound. We found both babies doing well with strong heartbeats. The blood clot dissolved on it’s own over the next couple of weeks, just as the doctor predicted and I was allowed to  resume normal activity.

From my 11th week to my 28th week, things really went along very smoothly.  A couple days into my 28th week I began having contractions.  I called the doctor who told me to meet him at the hospital.  I was given a shot of a drug called terbuteline and monitored for several hours.  I was then sent home with a prescription for “terb” in pill form to take if I felt any more contractions.  I  was also put on bed-rest, where I was allowed to spend one hour a day sitting in

Gus' Lego Explosion

Gus' Lego Explosion

an upright position, make brief trips to the bathroom, and walk as far as from the bedroom to the couch.  Basically, I was told to keep pressure off my cervix as much as possible.  Between my 29th and 30th week, I had contractions that didn’t stop after I took the terbutaline.  I spoke with my doctor and was told to go to the hospital for monitoring again.  I was given another shot of terb and had the babies monitored, along with my contractions, which slowed, then stopped.  I was sent home for more bed-rest.

Contractions started again at 31 weeks.  I took my terbutaline and called the doctor.  I was told to take another dose of terb but it did nothing to stop the contractions, which were now coming along at a steady pace.  Again, off to the hospital I went.  This time though, I was put on an intravenous drug called magnesium sulfate.  It made me feel as if I’d been hit by a truck.  I was so out of it, slow, tired and nauseous, and felt as if I were burning up from the inside.  On the upside, my contractions began to slow.  I thought they would monitor me for awhile, like the last time, then send me home.  This was definitely not the case and I didn’t step foot in my house again for another 6 weeks.  I was moved into a room where the doctor on-call told me I’d probably deliver that night.  I was given a steroid shot to help the babies lungs mature and Philip and I talked about the possibility of having tiny preemies.

Ruby, Star and Chelsea

Ruby, Star and Chelsea

Morning came and I was still holding my own.  I was being heavily monitored both for contractions and for the side-effects of the “mag” as we called it.  It is a horrible drug to take.  It makes you feel very hot and very thirsty but, ironically, makes you retain fluid so everything you ingest has to be measured as well as everything you…er…eliminate to make sure extra fluid containing magnesium isn’t being stored in your tissues.  It’s a real catch-22.  So thirsty, so little to drink!  I think mag could be used as a form of torture for prisoners of war.  I wasn’t a prisoner of war though, I was just another bedrest mommy-in-waiting at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.

It was a sort of “best of times, worst of times” scenario.  The best parts were that I could listen to my babies heartbeats all day long and knew I was in the right place should they or I need care.  I was also off the hook from doing any sort of housework, chore or cooking of any sort and had people around me 24/7 willing to bring me things and help me if I needed it.  There was also the glorious air conditioning.  Our house was a small, California-style bungalow without a/c.  This was summer in Los Angeles and I was hugely pregnant.  I shudder to think how miserable and puffy I would have been if I hadn’t been in a cool room!

One of the saddest things for me was that I didn’t get to finish decorating my baby nursery.  I had spent so many years listening to every else’s plans and looking at everyone else’s fnished products and here I was, missing my one and only chance to decorate a baby room of my own.  Philip and my mom had to get everything finished during the 5 weeks I was in the hospital.  They would both spend hours a day with me at the hospital.  I’m sure they were bored stiff, but they did it.  We would talk about all the progress made in the nursery – the valances were hung, the tiny clothes were washed and put away, the crib mobiles has been ordered…On day, after Philip went on a Babies ‘R Us shopping spree he went home, put up a few finishing touches and filmed a video of the babies’ room to bring to me.  Oh, how I cried when I watched it…every time.  So much so, that he threatened to take it away from me, but I cherished that video.  I still get teary-eyed when I see it.  I loved their nursery.  It was so peaceful, with the pastel polka-dots and the mobiles playing “Imagine” by John Lennon.  It was a dream realized, that’s for sure.  My own babies, living in my own house.

During the first week of July, my 35th week of pregnancy, my “Baby A” (they refer to multiples in utero by the A,B,C’s to

Ruby and Gus at their Birthday Dinner

Ruby and Gus at their Birthday Dinner

keep track of who is who) had virtually stopped growing.  “Baby B” was good sized and head down, prepared for birth, but Baby A (who we call Ruby now 🙂 ) was sitting on my cervix, blocking the door out, as it were.  My doctor decided it was time for them to come out and our C-section was scheduled for July the 8, which also happens to be my brother’s birthday.

They were born at 36 weeks gestation.  Ruby was first and weighed in at 4lbs15oz.  Gus came out a minute later and weighed in at 6lb4oz.  They were finally here, our long awaited babies, healthy, pink and screaming.  Gus spent his first

night in the regular nursery because he swallowed fluid during birth and needed monitoring.  Ruby was able to room in with us.  The Beech Family was born!

That was 8 years ago today.  Time sure has flown by!  For their birthday today they opened cards and presents then we went shopping at the mall.  Gus bought a new Star Wars Lego set and Ruby got two new Build-A-Bears.  We watched a movie and went out for our traditional birthday sushi dinner.  We took a little stroll around downtown, then headed home.  Although their actual birthday has now come and gone, the celebration will continue with their big “Survivor” themed birthday party this weekend.  It’s going to be a blast.  I am one lucky lady!

 

Defeating Infertility and Feeling Nostalgic June 30, 2009

Infertility Awareness

Infertility Awareness

I have been spending a lot of time thinking back about our battle with infertility and feeling very nostalgic lately. Certainly not nostalgic about infertility itself, but that solid, concrete, must-attain-goal of getting pregnant and successfully delivering a healthy child (or children as it turned out). I think it’s partly because my “miracle” babies are about to turn 8, but I know it’s also partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about goals and desires.

My struggle with infertility was an unexpected, life-changing, soul-searching roller coaster. I knew, from the time I was a little girl, that I wanted to be a mommy. That was my number one goal, my whole life’s plan. Everything else to me seemed secondary.

My husband and I met when I was 19 and started trying to get pregnant when I was 23. I wanted a bunch of kids and I wanted to have them while I was still young enough to have the energy to keep up with them all. After the first couple of months of unsuccessful trying to conceive, friends and relatives began giving their advice: gain weight; go out and get drunk; take a vacation; stop trying so hard; relax. As the years went on, the well-meaning advice slowed to a trickle and then stopped. No one really knew what to say anymore. Close relatives were afraid to tell me of their own pregnancies and friends were hesitant to invite me to their baby showers.  I was always happy for them, of course, but they were all very aware of our struggles to have a baby of our own.

I saw doctor after doctor, had many painful tests and procedures and spent thousands of dollars. During this time I went from being a student and food-server to a feature film production coordinator to a talent agent for cinematographers. I had found success in my professional life, but still hadn’t achieved my number one goal. So, while the professional part of my life was flourishing, the personal one was still stuck.

It was during this time that I happened upon one of the most supportive online communities I know of. It’s called Fertile Thoughts.  I stumbled upon the site while I was researching in vitro fertilization and endometriosis.

Fertile Thoughts

Fertile Thoughts

Finding the infertility forum was a real blessing.  I was able to talk with so many other women and men struggling with the same problems I was.  I made great friends with many courageous people.  I met some of them in real life and others were friends online only.  It was on one of those bulletin boards where I learned to apply one of my favorite sayings,  “keep your eye on the prize”, to my life. It was those six words that helped me refocus and regain perspective during what was one of the most difficult periods of my life.

I was so fortunate that I was, after eight long years of struggle and heartache, able to conceive my children and bring them into this world.  It wasn’t easy – the conceiving or the pregnancy (I will tell you all about my weeks on bedrest in another post) – but we did it.  These days, my twins are gearing up for their 8th birthday, their first time going to summer camp, their traditional California summer vacation and the 4th of July celebration.

I have been thinking long and hard about goals and achievements.  Those six words – keep your eye on the prize – are back strong in my life.  I am striving to deliver that prize once again.  Although my “prize” is different this time (I’m done trying to have babies, thankfully!), keeping my eye firmly on it is proving, once again, to be the motivation I need.

I hope you are able to focus in on your dreams and desires and continue striving to turn them into reality for yourselves.  It’s not always easy and sometimes might not seem likely, but maintaining focus is crucial to achieving all goals, no matter what they may be.

 

Six Things You Can Do to Maintain a Positive Outlook June 17, 2009

I have decided that, no matter what, I am going to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Now, I have troubles, my life hasn’t all been a bowl of cherries, but I have learned that how I react to negative factors is really all that matters.   Sure, bad things will happen, it’s a fact of life.  On the flip-side, so will good.  I believe it’s high-time I start placing all my focus on the good and let the bad slip away.  Life isn’t going to be perfect, but enjoying all the goodness will certainly help!  So, in that vein, here are six things I’ve been doing that are helping me stay positive and focused on the good.

Try to remain positive!!

Try to remain positive!!

1.  Count your blessings.  Seriously.  Wake up in the morning and, if nothing else comes to mind, be happy with the fact that you’ve woken up to another day.  It sure beats the alternative!  Today is another opportunity to feel good and accomplish positive things.

2.  Look outside.  Is it raining?  (I live in Oregon, so this is a very common occurrence!).  Think how happy all the flowers and tress will be for the rain.  Is it sunny?  Think about all the good Vitamin D you can soak up free, thanks to Mother Nature.

3.  Read something inspirational.  This is my favorite sight for quotes:  inspirational; motivational; humorous; etc.:  http://www.great-quotes.com I often browse through them!

4.  Make a list of things you are grateful for and refer to it whenever you’re feeling down.  Keep it handy!

5.  Choose to look at the silver lining.  This is NOT always easy.  It is something I have to continually and consciously make an effort to do.  I can lean toward being a pessimist and work constantly on turning my focus to the positive, optimistic point of view.  This is an ongoing process – something I work on each and every day.  Like everyone else, I am a work in progress! 😀

6.  Surround yourself with the most positive people you can.  Negativity seems to rub off.  Conversely, positivity is contagious, too.  If you notice you have more negative influences in your life, try to seek out new relationships that will bring more positive energy into the mix.

This list is a small compilation of some things I work on and think about.  In the end, I believe that maintaining a positive outlook has to come from within.  I am striving to bring out the most positive aspects of myself.  I hope you can, too!

 

It’s only the 2nd day of summer vacation…really?! June 16, 2009

Filed under: Personal Stuff,Working from home — Suzi Beech @ 2:17 pm
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Today is the second day of summer vacation.  OMG!  Two days in and I’m going a little crazy already.  I’m sure Philip and I will work out some kind of schedule…at least we’d better.  I only have one of my kids home right now (and he has a friend here, keeping him busy) but it feels like everytime I sit down with the computer, somebody needs something:  food, towel, band-aids, the dog needs out, the cat needs in… Oh, you’re thinking “what on Earth

Recording in progress

Recording in progress

are they doing over there!”  The boys are outside.  They were playing with water squirters and got soaked, so I threw some towels and a can of root beer out onto the patio, told them to stay outside until they were dry, grabbed my computer and headed upstairs.  I even made myself a home-made “keep out or else” kind of sign…Not two minutes after my sign was hung was there some yelling at the door.  “Band-aid, we need a band-aid.”  Really? Already?  You guys were just sitting there!  I got up to make sure Philip was on top of it and I wasn’t needed.  He was.  Phew.  Back to the computer.  About 15 minutes has passed.  Gus’ friend was picked up, right on time, by his mom.  Gus has knocked on the door (right next to my neat sign) twice already.  The first time I told him to read the sign and take any requests downstairs to his dad.  He said, “Ok.”  Not five minutes later, he was back, knocking at the door again.  Ah.  It was an urgent announcement that the towel his friend was using will be returned to me later.  That’s a relief!  It’s a good thing I’m not really recording anything!  Is it really only the second day of Summer vacation?

 

Fishing Trip with the Cub Scouts June 12, 2009

Welcome to Horning's Hideout

Welcome to Horning's Hideout

I tagged along on my son’s Cub Scout troop’s fishing trip yesterday.  We went to a beautiful place in North Plains (Oregon, where I live) called Horning’s Hideout.  There were the two troop leaders, myself and 11 Cub Scouts.

Horning’s Hideout is a beautiful place about 25 minutes or so from Portland.  They specialize is outdoor weddings and have a couple of ponds for fishing, camping areas, paddle boats, Frisbee golf…all kinds of fun outdoor things to keep folks busy.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent pictures of the many pretty peacocks on the grounds.  Every time one of them would get close enough for a decent shot, my dog would try to get at them, so I had my hands full!  I did get a pretty picture of this butterfly, though.

Butterfly on Rhododendron

Butterfly on Rhododendron

Two of the boys (brothers) had brought their own fishing poles and tackle boxes.  One of them wanted to use his stuff, the other chose to use the gear provided by Horning’s.  All the boys who used the rods and bait provided caught fish within minutes of tossing in their line.  Seriously, half the boys had already caught their quota (one whole trout!…each!…woohoo!) before the other half even got bait on their hooks.  The boys who wanted to use the fake, neon green “worms” out of the personal tackle box had absolutely no luck.  We waited and recasted and recasted…no bites at all.  Finally, even though they didn’t want to hurt the wiggly little wormies, we convinced them to use the live bait.  Minutes later, their fish had been caught, too.  It was a wild 30 minutes of lines flying, hooks being baited, fish flopping on the dock and much, much, squealing, yelling and shouting.  There were only a few hook mishaps and tangled lines – not bad considering the pace the fish were flying out of the water!  Those red hook-puller things did a great job of getting those hooks out of the fish.  I don’t remember

Nico tied up on the dock

Nico tied up on the dock

having those when I was a kid.  Very handy!

I had to tie Nico up on the dock so I could help the boys.  She didn’t like that very much and cried until some of the boys went over and played with her.  She’s such a baby!

Before we knew it, it was time to head back up the hill and clean our fish.  The boys were pretty much horrified, as was the one leader who had never been fishing before.  I like fishing and gutting the fish doesn’t bother me at all, but it’s not my favorite thing to do, especially with the number of fish that needed cleaning.  Luckily, our hostess at Horning’s came to help!  She was terrific and tried to get the boys interested in the fish insides.  She pointed out their “parts” like liver, gullet, lungs…I think our

How to Clean a Fish

How to Clean a Fish

inexperienced leader almost threw-up at that point!  They did have this helpful sign with instructions posted near the cleaning stations.  I thought they were pretty funny.  I was

Gus holding his big catch

Gus holding his big catch

surprised the Scouts were so standoffish when it came to holding onto their fish.  They all thought they were too slimy.  One boy told me he wouldn’t eat “that kind of fish.”  He only ate the kind from the grocery store.  It’s odd how out of touch they are with where their food comes from!  I hope the rest of the families enjoyed eating their son’s catches as much as we did (well, when I say “we” I mean Philip and I…Gus had a couple of bites Ruby might’ve tasted it, but that was it!).

It was a pretty exhausting couple of hours. Those boys are full of energy, let me tell you!  I was really glad I got to join them on the trip.  I spend so much time with the Girl Scouts, I was afraid my son was going to think I didn’t want to hang out with the Boy Scouts.  I am so lucky to be my own boss and have the flexibility to be able to take time to do these things!