During the last full week of July, I went on a Disney cruise with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins, and I had a blast! The ports of call for the 7-day cruise were Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay, but we only got off in Grand Cayman to eat lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and in Castaway Cay to spend some time on the beach, both of which were very nice. The rest of the time, we stayed on the ship and enjoyed ourselves there. I spent most of my time with my Uncle Craig, attending various music/movie trivia events, watching several movies in the on-board movie theater, and going to all of the stage shows every night, though we were often joined at these shows by my Aunt Brenda and my cousin Summer. My other cousin, Carson, spent most of his time either a) in the kids club; b) eating ice cream; c) watching the on-demand TV in our stateroom. At dinner, we shared a table with a family of three who had a daughter who is about Summer’s age; our two families got along really well and enjoyed each others’ company.

This was my fourth cruise overall and my second with Disney, but the ship we were on, the Disney Fantasy, is the newest of the Disney fleet, so it was super nice. There were lots of interactive things around the ship, such as a sports simulator, a mini-golf course, a water slide that circles the top deck, and a detective game in which you interact with photos around the ship to solve one of three cases, each of which is different every single time you play again. So cool! Overall, it was an awesome vacation, and I was very fortunate to have them take me along. It’s a shame that, unless they visit Lubbock again sometime this semester, I won’t be seeing them until Christmas, since they live a few states away in Alabama.

The past two weeks, I’ve resumed my post as the horn teacher at Poteet’s summer band camp, as well as helping out on the marching field with fundamentals and setting the drill for the marching show. It’s great being able to contribute to the band that was such a big part of my life for four years, and it’s definitely good experience for me in my future career. I’ve stuck with my tradition of only wearing sleeveless shirts to summer band camp, so I’ve built up a nice tan line at my shoulders, and I’m also sporting an awkward tan line on my feet in the shape of my flip flops. Oh well.

In my last post, I talked about how I had started using Tumblr as a medium to share my opinions on films and film scores. I still use that Tumblr page, but I’ve since upgraded to a new WordPress account where I review films, soundtracks, books, and graphic novels. It’s off to a great start, with nearly 650 views in the 6 weeks that I’ve had it; my posts have been shared by MovieByte.com, DallasMovieScreenings.com, and my favorite entertainment news website, Hypable.com. Cool! My website, ChadLikesMovies.com, can be found at this link. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I leave for Lubbock for the semester this coming Tuesday, which I have mixed feelings about. I wish I could spend more time with my family, but, at the same time, I’m really excited to see what being part of the leadership team for the Goin’ Band is like. I’m even a little bit excited for my classes; since I’m done with music theory, aural skills, piano, and music history, I’ve got an entirely different course load that will really start to focus on individual techniques that I’ll need for my future career, techniques such as conducting, form and analysis, and music for children…just in case. I’ll miss my family, but I’m excited for the new things to come.

Speaking of my family, I have a sort of announcement to make. For those of you who don’t know, I have a cat named Noel who has been a part of my family for more than 10 years. I received him as a Christmas present when I was 9 years old, and he’s been my best friend ever since. It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you all that he’s been struggling. Back in November of 2011, he got sick, so my mom took him to the vet to see what was wrong. He was having some problems with his kidneys, but the pet doctors were able to fix him up, so he came back home, seemingly fine until the week I was gone for the cruise. He started vomiting and having some diarrhea, so Mom took him back to the vet and learned that he was having problems with his kidneys again. They kept him in the hospital for a few days, giving him some fluids and trying to get him back to normal again, but, even after coming home, he wasn’t the same. He wasn’t eating much, he was laying around a lot, and, as a result of his lack of food, he was weak, giving him trouble with jumping up on the counters and stuff like that.

We took him back to the vet earlier this week and tried to figure out exactly what was going wrong; he still wasn’t eating, and, despite his love for ice water or water from the faucet, he wasn’t drinking anymore either. The vets took a couple of X-rays to see if they could identify the problem, and they think they found it. Noel has a couple of kidney stones in his kidneys. Normally, kidney stones aren’t issues in animals, but, in Noel’s case, they are causing kidney failure. The only solutions cost an insane amount of money that 1) we don’t have and 2) might not even work because, on top of all that, we learned that he has a small heart that likely wouldn’t be able to handle anesthesia. So, we’re in a difficult situation.

Noel isn’t feeling well, and he’s been struggling with these kidney problems for quite some time now. The long-term prognosis isn’t good; the vets don’t think he’ll ever get better. Our decision is this: he is at the pet hospital tonight, getting some fluids that will hopefully make him feel better for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’ll pick him up in the morning and bring him home, where he can lay beside me on my bed at night a couple more times. On Monday, we’ll take him back and get him put to sleep so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.

Noel has been part of my family for 10 long, wonderful years. Though we had two dogs before he came into my life, Noel was my first pet, and he was mine; for those who were wondering, I named him Noel because I got him for Christmas. I remember the first night after getting him when I insisted on sleeping in the same room with him, only to start bawling because he wanted to play rather than let me sleep! He’s about as spoiled as a cat can get. He’d follow us to the restroom, hop up on the counter, and beg us for a trickle of water from the faucet that he could drink from. He also loved iced water, sprinting to the kitchen every time he heard one of us filling a glass with ice. Whenever I was home, he’d sleep on my bed with me, curled up next to my chest. Yeah, he’s a special cat.

A few years ago, my cousin’s cat was found dead in a closet, and it was completely unexpected. From that point on, I would take Noel, look in his eyes, and tell him to “wait for me”. I wanted to be there to say goodbye when it was time for him to go. I’ve been saying it for a long time now, and, now that it’s about time for him to go, I’ll be there to say goodbye. During the cruise, Noel’s troubles at home unknown to me, I had a conversation with my uncle about how I hoped that he’d be around at least until I finished college. Sadly, he won’t be around that long, but I’m just glad that this didn’t happen while I was gone. I’m thankful for my time spent with him; he is the best first pet a kid could have, and he has been my companion and best friend for a long, long time. I’m very fortunate. I love you, Noel. Goodbye.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know what was going on. I won’t be posting again until I’m settled back in Lubbock, at which point I’ll do my best to get back to posting at least once a day. Please pray for my family and me as we struggle through the loss of Noel, and pray that his last weekend with us is a good one. Please also pray for safe travels back to Lubbock on Tuesday…I’d really appreciate it.

Thank you all so much. God bless.

Chad

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