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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discussions I never thought I'd have

Bug has a birthmark on the right side of his nose, kind of between his eye and the bridge.  As a baby it was puffy and very dark red; it couldn't be missed.  It started to show up about a week after he was born.  At first we thought it was simply a scratch he had gotten from his fingernails being too long.  Then it didn't go away and Hubby said he thought it looked like it might be a birthmark.  Gradually it grew bigger to become about the size of a penny.  The doctor said it would eventually fade and go away, which it has.  People still comment on it but they don't have quite the same reaction to it as they did when he was younger.

When Monkey was around 3, he acquired a beauty mark on the right side of his nose.  It is in the exact same spot as Bug's birthmark.  The first time I saw it I mentioned it and said something along the lines of, hey, you have a beauty mark in the same spot as Bug's birthmark!  He asked what a birthmark was and thought it was awesome that he and his brother were "twins".

Fast forward a few years.

The other day in the car Sunshine mentions that it looks like Bug has a new freckle.  Bug doesn't have freckles and the spot she saw it was on the underside of his arm, not the spot where you would suddenly start to acquire freckles.  I told her it probably wasn't a freckle but a beauty mark, and then this happened:

Monkey: I have a beauty mark just where Bug has one.  We're twins.
Sunshine:  Why does everyone say that Monkey and Bug look the same?
(Before I can answer)
Monkey:  It's because we have blonde hair and we both have birthmarks on our noses in the same spot.  (how convenient that his beauty mark turned into a birthmark)
Sunshine:  That's not fair!  Why do they both get one and I don't?!
Me:  Really?  Are you really getting upset about this?
Sunshine:  What?  Why do they look alike and I don't?  It's not fair!
Me:  I believe you do have a birthmark, don't you.  In fact, don't you have two birthmarks?
Sunshine:  Yes, but it's not the same.
Monkey:  I want a birthmark too!
Sunshine:  You already have a birthmark!
Monkey:  No, it's a beauty mark!  I want a birthmark!  Why don't I have a birthmark too?!
Me:  (Not believing that we are having a discussion much less an argument about this)  Both of you be quiet and stop arguing.  Let's play who's the quietest!
Sunshine:  Yeah!
Monkey:  NO!  I hate who's the quietest.  You know I'm not good at it.  Let's play who's the loudest!
Sunshine: Quietest!
Monkey:  Loudest!!
Me:  I will turn this car around and we will go back home if you 2 don't stop arguing!

These are the arguments that no one tells you will happen.  People may tell you they argue about ridiculous things, but you don't really know until you are in the midst of it.  Driving.  For 20 minutes.  By yourself.

Vicky

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The circle of life

The other day Monkey and Bug were eating lunch, I was unloading the dishwasher with my back turned to the boys, the TV was on in the other room.  The boys were being fairly well behaved, eating their PB&J sandwiches and strawberries and milk.  

Did I mention the TV was on?

Monkey was watching Planet Earth earlier and apparently it either wasn't over yet or he started a new episode.  He kept leaving the table to go watch the show.  I wasn't too concerned, the sound wasn't even on, he was just watching the animals run around and in this episode, it was all sunshine and roses.

So there I was, with my back to them, emptying the dishwasher (did I mention I was also on the phone), and Monkey comes running up to me in hysterics.  He is absolutely sobbing and I must admit, he's been in this crying phase lately so I wasn't too concerned and was about to tell him to go finish his lunch.  He was attempting to tell me something though and he really was upset and not just the kind of upset he gets when he thinks he can get his sister or brother in trouble.

Me:  "What's wrong?"  (This is said sincerely by the way).
Monkey:  "He ate the apple!"
Me:  "What?  He ate the apple?  Ian?  You didn't have an apple.  You mean the strawberries?"  I double check his plate to see if I somehow forgot that I gave the boys apples.  Nope, and their strawberries were long gone.
Monkey:  Still in hysterics, "NO!  They ate all the apples!"
Me:  "What?  Monkey, you need to calm down a bit so you can tell me."

Incapable of calming down I am still not able to understand this apple predicament.  Every once in a while, I still have problems with Monkey's speech, especially if he's upset or if he comes up to me with a random statement or question.  This was apparently one of those times.  I ask if he can explain it differently or use different words.  This calms him down enough for him to announce, "They ate all the animals!"

Oh.  No.  Did I mention he was watching Planet Earth?  Just to be clear, "They ate all the animals?"

Monkey:  He starts sobbing again, "All the animal are eating each other!"

I had visions of animal carnage with dozens of animals randomly eating each other.  I was pretty sure it was a zebra or a seal but at that point it was over.  "I don't ever want to watch that show ever, ever again.  I HATE it!  It's awful!"

We cuddle on the couch while I try to explain to him why things happen as they do without freaking him out and making him a vegetarian.

Fast forward to later that afternoon.  Sunshine says she wants to watch something.  Monkey has the remote and asks what a particular item is reading.  I tell him it's Planet Earth (the irony).  Sunshine asks what that is and Monkey tells her it's about animals and they should watch it.  Sunshine seems gung ho about it and then he announces that animals each other.

Horrified, Sunshine is on the verge of tears and says she doesn't want to watch it.  She questions me if it's true and if we really have to watch it.  I tell her yes it happens and no we aren't going to watch it.  

I then ask Monkey, "Why would you do ask her if she wants to watch it?"
Monkey:  "Because I want to watch it."
Me: "You said you never wanted to watch it again and that you didn't like it."
Monkey:  With a very smug look on his face, "Now I do like it."

*Sigh* and this is how my life goes.

Vicky

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Losing our rights - The First Amendment

I'm not the most religious person.  I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and heaven and hell, but I'm not one to be overly open about it.  We don't go to church like we should but we're raising our children with a Lutheran background.

I do not need to be a right winged conservative to recognize a problem though.  The other day, my sister-in-law posted on Facebook a link to a Christian blog with the post, "Intolerant Atheists Viciously Attack Christian School".  As I said, I may not be the most vocal about my religion, but attacking religions is just plain wrong and deserves to be vocalized.

So I went ahead and checked it out and saw, in black and white, what I've noticed happening for quite some time.  Reverse prejudice and this time toward religion.

I am an American, I have every right to teach my child my beliefs of my religion.  Many of the beliefs they talk about in the blog I do not agree with BUT I do believe that it is, without a doubt, their religious right.

Our government, our country, was built on religious freedom.  Freedom from persecution.  Freedom from intolerance.  Freedom to choose.  As a Christian I have as many rights as every other religion and that includes teaching my children how I want them to be taught.  I have every right to teach my child, as long as it does not harm or suggest harm to themselves or others, as I see proper and right.

Believing in someone's religion is different than agreeing with it.  Accepting it as the right way is different than accepting them as a citizen with rights.

For those who are questioning what exactly are those rights?  Where can you find them?

The United States Constitution - First Amendment - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I think many people forget the freedom of religion in the First Amendment, often remembering freedom of speech and press, but forgetting that the very first thing that is written by our forefathers is about religious freedom.  Before the freedom of speech to slander another's religion comes another's freedom to choose that said religion.
--
It's not just the US either:

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, Article 18
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

According to United Nations Website the declaration was a direct result of WWII to prevent the atrocities that occurred from ever happening again.
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Why is this school being persecuted?  Because it's an easy target.  They're not teaching what is the norm.  They aren't teaching what is accepted by the mass of Americans.  No, instead, they are teaching what they believe in.  The parent that started this all was mad because of their own failure.  They chose to not look at what their child was learning.  They didn't ask the school what their belief was on evolution, science, and history, both geological and human.  This is a failure of the parents, not the school.

Is it the press's right to talk about it?  I suppose.  Is it their right to attack them?  No.  Is it other American's rights to talk about it?  Sure, what do you think I'm doing.  Is it their right to send hate letters and threats?  Absolutely not.  Is it the parents' choice to ask about their child's education, question what they are learning, and decide to send or not to send their child to this private school?  Of course.  Is it the school's right to continue to teach their beliefs to others that share their beliefs?  Absolutely.

As a matter of fact, it's not just their right, it's their freedom.

Vicky

Friday, May 3, 2013

Saving a life with Safe House

After losing our cat Riesen, I've been checking out the cats and kittens on craigslist.  I saw an interesting ad stating Barn/Shop/Warehouse Cats Looking for Work.  I was intrigued and decided to take a look.

I was nothing less than surprised.  The listing brought me to a site called Safe House, a program committed to sterilizing, vaccinating and rehoming cats.  What surprised me was the program that they offered that I have never seen before.  Safe House has a special Barn Cat Program.  These are cats that have been brought to shelters and have been deemed unadoptable.  Safe House will come and rescue these cats and get them in this program.  Safe House does not take feral/wild cats off the streets, rather they save those cats that have been brought into shelters.  In regards to finding feral cats, Safe House's site states, "The most important thing to remember is that feral cats should never be taken to animal control pounds or shelters.  Because feral cats are not socialized, cannot be socialized, and are wild animals unsuitable for adoption, even no-kill shelters are not able to place feral cats in homes - they will almost certainly be killed immediately."

The Safe House barn relocation program works solely on donation.  These cats are free with the promise that they will be taken care of, however, donations are welcome and very much needed.  If you live in IL from Rockford, to Princeton, to Joliet to McHenry or anywhere in between, Safe House will bring you your new, neutered/spayed/up-to-date vaccinated mouser to your barn, shop, or warehouse complete with the kitty condo and litter box she will need during her 2 week acclimation period.

In addition to the barn program, Safe House also has cats that are looking for homes with people to call their very own.  These are cats that have been given up by their previous owners for different reasons.  Safe House works with foster homes, cats live with a family, in a home, awaiting adoption.  The foster parents will be able to give you an honest description of the cat's personality so you may make a proper decision on whether a particular cat is a match for you and your family.  Adoption for these pets is $50, the cats will be spayed/neutered, up to date on their shots, dewormed, microchipped and tested for FIV and FeLV.
Ernie is part of the Barn Cat Program.  He is a young, medium sized, orange tabby.

Jim Bob is part of the Barn Cat Program.  He is a young, medium sized, white and gray tabby.

 
Kevin is a medium sized, adult, male tabby.  He is available for adoption

 Bessie is a large, adult, black and white female.  She is available for adoption.

Safe House is a nonprofit organization, run exclusively on volunteers.  "We focus on rescuing at-risk pets, adopting these pets into loving homes, practicing Trap Neuter Return as the humane and effective solution to community cats, and offering impounded feral cats a second chance at life as working mousers through our Barn Cat Program. Safe House is a no-kill organization where no pets are ever euthanized for space."

To learn more about Safe House and the organization or to view the other adoptable cats, please visit their website or Facebook


Taking home a pet is a big commitment, one that should not be made lightly.  If you are not sure if you are ready or if you are not able to have a cat but would still like to help, visit their "Get Involved" page here.

Vicky

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aaawww.... young love

Sunshine has been best friends with this boy J, she has been playing with him since November.  She talked about him and his twin brother S during Thanksgiving and Christmas break.  They were invited to her birthday party and she to theirs.  The 3 of them play on the playground all the time, although it is mostly Sunshine and J who play together and S tags along.  Apparently chasing, poking, yanking and giggling is great fun.

A few weeks ago, they invited Sunshine to one of those bouncy places that happened to have one of those fight ring things where you can knock the other with one of those padded gladiator jousting sticks, which is just awesome.  And by awesome I mean stupid and a black eye waiting to happen.  So there they were, at this bouncy area, and Sunshine decides she wants to try these gladiator jousting sticks.  It's funny, she doesn't like to rough house at home, but with J, she is all about it.  Well apparently she was in this ring area and a not very nice boy "the-boy-with-the-red-shirt" kept taking her stick from her.  J and his twin brother S, continued to get in front of their friend and keep her safe and allow her to play with these jousting sticks.  The act made the mom of 4 boys proud and this mom feel better about having her daughter hang out with the 2 boys who were willing to protect her.

Two weeks later, Sunshine wanted to invite the boys somewhere for a playdate so we decided a different jumpy place.  This one didn't have the crazy jousting area and I knew it would be good for both Sunshine and Bug since Bug and Monkey would be joining us.  Well, Sunshine decides that this is not a playdate, it's just a date and she and J would be kissing in the bouncy house.  Uuhhh, excuse me?  She blushes a color I have never seen on her before and giggles.  "What did you say?"  In this high pitched, squeaky voice, she says, "We're going to kiss in the bouncy house." (hehehe-giggle giggle giggle).

We had a discussion about this and I'm sure she didn't listen since "all the other girls in school have been kissed" (when I asked who, she was able to name one girl and the one boy who kissed her on the cheek - whew).

Later in a different discussion she says that J is her best friend and yes she loves him.  She announces she is going to marry him.  She also said she wondered if J was allergic to cats or dogs because they don't have a dog or cat.  The names of their kids will be Liam and Rosie.

I asked her when she was planning on getting married and she said "not until I'm a grown up.  Like when I'm 16."  Haha, maybe a few years later.  She has written in her journal, "I love J", "Sunshine and J" with a picture of 2 people holding hands with giant eyes staring at each other with a heart between them, and "I have a boyfriend, his name is J."

I suppose I'd better start working on their wedding present!

Vicky

Monday, April 29, 2013

Nurse Child

Every child has a different sense of empathy and sympathy.  Having three kids with a mix of boys and girl, I'm able to see how my daughter and sons behave and question: Is this a girl thing?  a boy thing? or a birth order thing?  I have 3 kids and they all have different responses to when Mommy isn't feeling well and wants to rest on the couch with her feet up.  Kids being kids though they can only be on their best behavior for so long.  Here is a typical progression of their own responses and their responses when they are with their siblings when mommy is sick:

Sunshine, she is 7 years old:  With concern in her eyes, she will come up to me and ask if I am ok.  She will proceed to get me a glass of water, and a snack for me if I were to ask.  She will sit next to me on the very edge of the couch so she doesn't disturb me.  She will proceed to do the very motherly act of caressing my cheeks or hair and make sure I'm comfortable.

Monkey, he is 5 years old:  He will see Sunshine over by me, come over and ask me if I am ok.  He will also get me a glass of water.  Sunshine will tell him, "No, she already has some."  He will ask if I am cold or not and will proceed to get me his special blanket, his pillow, and one or more of his special stuff animals.  He will cover me up, put the pillow under my head and crawl under the blanket and cuddle with me.  He will then wiggle his feet and toes back and forth under the blanket.

Bug, he is 2 years old:  I am now lying down on the couch and cuddling with Monkey.  He has taken this as an invitation to also cuddle with me.  He crawls up on me, cuddles for about 5 seconds, and decides that it is much more fun to use me as a stepping stone to get to the back of the couch.  He will slide down from the back of the couch and land on my legs and stand there, rocking back and forth, watching TV (use TV to distract the kids while you rest).  When I tell him not to do this, he will walk along the length of my body, using my thigh, hip, side, and head/face as a balance beam.  The best way for him to turn will be for him to stand on my cheek and hair.  He will also decide my  side is an awesome horse and will bounce on my side.

At this point, Sunshine has seen the commotion, she pushes Bug out of the way and lays down with me as well.  Sunshine and Monkey proceed to argue and push each other back and forth trying to get the best view of the TV which has now become my enemy.  One of them has decided to give and is now laying behind my knees, using my butt as a pillow.  Bug, the one who needs the most supervision, is now standing 2' from the television.  He will become distracted in a few minutes and I will then have to get up to go chase after him as I realize someone left markers on the kitchen table and the gate to the upstairs was never closed.

I drag my sick self up off the couch go chase down Bug and find him in the kids' bathroom with his brother's toothbrush in the toilet.  When he sees my, he promptly shoves the toothbrush in his mouth and then cries when I yank the nasty thing from his grasp.  The crying and toilet water leads to drooling and a snotty nose, he realizes the best towel is my clothes and am now covered in toilet water drool and boogers.

With soiled toothbrush in hand, to be disposed of downstairs where Bug will not dig it out of the bathroom garbage, I head downstairs.  When I get there I find Sunshine laying on Monkey's pillow and blanket and the two of them arguing.  They are both holding a bag of fruit chews and as soon as they see me, they ask if they may eat the said fruit chews.  When told no, they continue to fight and tell me every single detail that has happened while I were away for 3 minutes upstairs.

I take the fruit chews from them and as I walk past the kitchen table I look at the kitchen table.  Sure enough, Bug got ahold of one of the markers and decided he needed to show his creative side on the table.  I thank God and Crayola for washable markers and wash off his masterpiece.

It is now 4:30 and dinner needs to be cooked.  I take some Advil and call Hubby to see what time he's going to be home.

And this is the reason why I can't rest when I'm sick.

True story.

Vicky

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Deadly bouquets that live in your own front yard!

The other day, Sunshine, Monkey and the 2 little girls (N &M and their mom K)2 doors down, were outside playing.  At one point Monkey runs in saying, "Mommy!  I have a flower for you!"  I instantly think of my tulips that had just the beginnings of buds, picturing them being yanked from their stems.  "What flower?"  He comes into the room holding a dandelion and proudly announces, "It's a dandelion!  I picked it because I know they're your favorite."  Aaawww, how sweet, how could I think anything but?

Fifteen minutes later Sunshine comes in and announces, "Mommy, I have some bad news about Bug."

Bug was right in front of me so I wasn't too concerned.  "What's the bad news?"

"K says that dandelions are poisonous and we shouldn't touch them."

"You must have misunderstood her.  Dandelions are not poisonous.  People eat dandelions, they're not poisonous."

"K said they are.  She said don't touch them, they're poisonous."

"Well maybe they put fertilizer or some kind of chemicals on their lawn and now there poisons on the lawn and dandelions.  But dandelions aren't poisonous."

"I'll go tell her you said she was wrong."

And off she went before I could tell her to rephrase what she was about to blurt out.

A half hour later and it's time to come in for dinner.  We're about to sit down and Sunshine says to me, "Mommy, you were right.  K said they put stuff on their yard and we shouldn't pick their dandelions."

Monkey (who listens a lot more than he lets on) pipes in all happy to be part of the discussion, "I can touch the dandelions."

To which Sunshine responds, "Monkey, no you can't touch them!  K says they're poisonous and you could get sick!"

Monkey, quite confused now, "I touched them.  I'm not sick."

Sunshine grabs ahold of Monkey's wrist and starts dragging him.  She is frantically yelling, "Monkey, come on!  You have to go to wash your hands!"

Monkey calmly replies, "No, I don't."

Still frantic, she screams, "Monkey, if you don't wash your hands YOU COULD GET SICK AND DIE!"

Rather than freaking out at the concept of dying, he tells her he already picked a dandelion for me and yes he already gave it to me.

Poor Sunshine, she is practically in tears, "Mommy,  you have to throw that dandelion away!  Don't touch it though!  What if Bug or Lily ate it?!  I don't want any of you to die!"

What was discovered/learned from this event:
Don't touch other people's dandelions, trespassing won't be an issue for quite a while.
Yes, she really does love her brother.
I may have lost my 2 dandelion pickers for the summer.

Vicky

Friday, April 5, 2013

The name game

My kids are obviously still little and are part of the ever-growing trend of unusual names and/or unusual spellings.  I've seen some weird spellings and heard some different names.  This got me thinking, would it seem weird if someone, like, say, Walt Disney, decided it would be fun to have unusual spellings.

We have Syndirehllah, a story about a young girl and her 2 stepsisters, Aynastaysha and Drizella (that one deserves it's "normal" spelling).

Then there is Ahrawrah, a beautiful princess and the evil sorceress, Muhlehficynt.

Sweet Snohe Wyte is next.  You'll find her dead body in the glass coffin; awaiting Pryns Kharmeeng.

In the world of people marrying anorexic fish; huge eyed Aihreyal and her equally huge eyed love Aeiric fall madly and deeply in love.  

Then there's that crazy girl Moehlahn and her claim to be talking to a dragon.

And last but certainly not least... Aylyse.  Her addiction to magic mushrooms will no doubt lead her to years in rehab.

So there you have it.  Mr. Disney completely missed out on setting this naming trend and is now stuck with the boring names, like Rapunzel.

Vicky

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good karma

How often do we do things for people?  Nice things, no strings attached, I'm-doing-this-just-because-I-want-to things.  Have you ever experienced the gratitude from someone when you've done something nice for them, just for the sake of being nice, how truly thankful someone is when they are sometimes just being nice?

Sometimes giving can come in the easiest and simplest forms.

I've handed people my coupons at the grocery store before (usually for formula or diapers) but what I experienced the other day at Target cannot be compared to the piddly $2 off swim diapers coupons.

I was at Target the other day and was standing in line, listening to the beep. beep. beep. of the checkout scanners.  I was just about to pay when the lady behind me said she had a coupon I could use, it was $10 off if you spent $100 or more.  She pulls out her smart phone and has an app with coupons on it.  The checker scans it and I thank her about 3+ times.  Then she says, hang on, I've got a couple more.

She continues to show him more and more coupons until she has suddenly saved me $23.  I thank my new best friend another dozen times and wish her a Happy Easter.

I left Target with a smile and a reminder of how easy it is to make someone feel good and what a wonderful feeling it is.  Bringing happiness to others will bring happiness to you.

Vicky

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Washing up

I found this in my drafts of posts to be finished.  I'm not sure what else there was to it, but it is Monkey true and true.  I love that this is really how he spoke.  His speech has gotten so much better, he has dropped what some may call baby talk, he's 4 1/2 at the time, about 6 months shy of officially ending speech.  It's like watching videos of your babies and hearing their little voices.

Written on 6/5/12

I was kissing Monkey's hand and flipped it over to kiss the palm of it and sniffed.  It smelled kind of... icky.  Kind of... I don't know, just, icky.  So I told him,

Me:  "Your hands smell kind of stinky.  You need to go wash them."

Monkey:  Takes a deep sniff of his hand, "Dey, don't mell dinky to me."

Me:  "Maybe you should go wash them."

Monkey:  In a very calm voice, "Nooo, dat's ok.  Dey don't need to be washed."

Vicky

Monday, March 25, 2013

Is it a lie or a very detailed story?

Monkey has a wild imagination and has always been willing to tell you stories in extreme detail.  He has always been able to tell you some wild story and 2 hours later tell someone else the same story with the same details.  He never seems to forget how the story went the first time and if you ask him the same question each time, he'll have the same answer.

Some day Monkey will be a teenager and this skill has me very concerned.

This is Monkey's story:

I was taking a shower, Bug was napping, and Monkey and Sunshine were watching TV.  I took a fast shower because all sorts of things can happen when you're in the shower.

I got out of the shower and heard Bug awake, the older 2 were in there keeping him company.  I can only assume that me walking around or the shower itself woke him up.  Either way, he was awake and his siblings were keeping him happy.  What a great brother and sister!

Then I heard squeals and screeches of laughter, thuds on the floor, the bouncing/squeaking of Bug's bed, and the clunk of the gliding chair banging against the wall.  This is obviously not good so I dress as quickly as possible and go in there to assess the damage.

Sure enough, it's not pretty.

Every single book and stuffed animal from his shelf is strewn across the floor.  There are no blankets, toys or pillows in Bug's bed and he's standing there in his crib wearing only his diaper and Sunshine is flinging herself back and forth on the chair making little dents on the wall.

"What's going on in here?!  Who threw these books and toys all over the floor?"

Sunshine sees me and immediately stops rocking and quickly blurts out, "It wasn't me!  Monkey did it!"

I look at Monkey, not completely believing Sunshine.  I'm pretty sure she's had something to do with it as well, but then I get this;

"Bug did it."

"Bug did it?"  Now, please remember, Bug is still in his crib (naked save his diaper).

"Yes, Bug did it."

"So after he climbed out of his bed, he crawled back in?  How did he do this?"

"WELL... He climbed up on the side of his crib and stood on this thingy (the bar for the side of the crib).  THEN, he jumped and grabbed hold of the fan (ceiling fan) and swung around the room and landed on this (a little bitty nightstand).  Then, he jumped onto the floor, walked over to the bookshelf and took everything off the shelf and threw it around the room.  THEN, he climbed back into his crib."

Now I ask you, is this an elaborate lie or a storyteller in the making?


He may look sweet and innocent sleeping there, too bad he wasn't sleeping.  He saw me with the camera and asked me to take his picture.  "Wait, wait, wait," he said.  He closes his eyes for the above, "Ok, now."

Vicky

Growing a greener life

I am amazed at how my life is changing and how easily Hubby goes along with it.  I've always wanted to do greener things.  Growing up I wanted to change the world.  In sixth grade I was first exposed to recycling when I took a recycling/planet/general healthy earth class, I wanted to do something to help the world.

In college I decided I was going to major in environmental geology and geoscience.  For various reasons (only one being me realizing that the degree wasn't what I was looking for), I left college.

This left me in a predicament.  How was I supposed to change the earth if I wasn't fixing it on a grand scale?  Recycling wasn't enough, everyone recycles.  I knew there was more I could do, I just had to find it.

Around this time I discovered cloth diapers, mama cloth, cloth wipes, and homemade/organic/or concentrated cleaning supplies.  Some have worked better for me than others, but they were all working towards the same cause.  Throughout this though, one (of many) that has continued to bother me is the disposal for food, food scraps, and other organic waste.  We've used the garbage disposal but I keep hearing about the negatives to the water treatment plants not to mention my pipes.  I cringed every time I threw something in the garbage can, those items that should decompose in days will last in landfills for years, sometimes decades.

This left me with one solution: composting.  I looked and decided doing a compost pile probably wasn't what I wanted to do, but a tumbling compost bin sounded perfect.  I was able to keep everything contained and turn it without the aid of a pitchfork.  A few spins every few days and it was good to go.  We're able to fill up our plastic collector container in 2-3 days; the recommended number of days you should leave the bin without spinning.

I was absolutely amazed at what I was able to put in my tumbler.  It wasn't just food scraps, paper products such as paper towels and egg cartons.  Odder things that I hadn't thought of such as pickles and alcohol, and very strange things like moldy soy "milk" and dryer lint.

We keep our container in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.  At first I thought this sounded gross, keeping old, yucky food in the 'fridge.  Then I realized that I've had food go bad in there before, this was being stored for 2 days and in 2 days it wasn't going to go bad or get moldy.

Tumbling composters take far less time simply because they are in an enclosed black container.  I have little patience when it comes to some things and when I decide I'm going to do something like this, I want to do it now... and I expect it to work.  Now.

As I said, Hubby was a bit leery of getting it, especially in the middle of winter when the temperature is usually below 20 degrees.  I think I've turned him to the crunchy side enough that after watching the amount of food scraps go into the garbage that he finally decided that it was a good idea.  He still thought I was crazy and teased me about being excited BUT he was the one who rushed to put it together when it arrived in the mail.

I'm hoping the location works out.  It's right off the deck, next to our clothesline.  I knew I wouldn't want to go out all the time when there was a foot of snow out there if I had to walk across the yard.  I have a feeling it won't be easy to move if we don't like the location.

Only time will tell how our composting excursion goes, but for now, I'm looking forward to using it in our garden this summer.  (Our garden is a whole different issue!)

Vicky

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Riesen

I may not mention her a lot, there's not much to mention, she's a cat, but Riesen is MY cat.  She was given to me as a gift when I was 17.  She sleeps with me every night.  If for some reason I go to bed after Hubby does and she has gone to bed with him, she will get up and move to sleep on me.  I think she's crazy, I've sent her flying on more than one occasion with my sleep habits and out of controls dreams.  But back into bed she crawls.


Every night she likes to come down after the kids are in bed.  She waits.  When the doors are closed and we're reading books, she sneaks downstairs and is waiting for us.  She'll sit on our lap, on the couch, sometimes just sitting in the middle of the family room floor.  She just likes to be with us and the time she lost hiding during the day, she makes up at night.


Did I mention I got her when I was 17?  This means she's 16.  Yes, that's how old I am.  Now I'm not a vet or anything but I'm also not stupid and I know how old cats live to be (I am capable of Googling things).  She is so little, only 6 pounds, if she were to get sick she doesn't have any meat on her bones to keep her going.  I worry about how I will handle telling the kids that their cat, no my cat, is gone.  Of course, if I think about it too much I get all teary eyed and start to cry.

So this post is simply about how much I love my cat.  That's all.  She's not a playful cat, she hides from just about everyone and slinks around the house so much that when she stands up and walks like a normal cat, she seems to have grown 3".  If you want to find her it's almost a guarantee that you will find her in my bedroom either sleeping on the bed, on the floor under the bed, or in the closet.  But she's my cat.  She's beautiful and as I type this she is sleeping on the couch behind me.  Purring.

********************************************************************************




I originally wrote this on 9/16, I didn't post it because I didn't figure anyone really would want to read it.  I wrote it for myself and  have since realized that I want everyone to read it.  Besides which, it's my blog and I can write about whatever I want!

Two weeks ago things changed with Riesen.  We noticed she looked thinner and she seemed to be slinking around lower than usual.  I weighed her and she weighed a whopping 5 lbs 1 oz.  I haven't taken her to the vet in forever and was concerned about bringing her.  She is so scared I didn't want to stress her out even more.  She was still eating, just not keeping the weight on.

The vet told us to give her wet food, either for seniors or for kittens since they both have a higher fat content and to give her plenty of treats.

Off to the pet store I went to buy a variety of canned cat food and more treats.  The treats she had has a lower fat content than others and we were looking to fatten her up.  With food and treats in hand we went home to give her this new (disgusting smelling) cuisine.  Well she did not want to eat it mixed with her dry but she ate it plain but then she wasn't.

She slowly stopped eating as much of her food and wasn't touching the dry food at all.  Can after can we'd open and she would only lick at the gravy.  We took her to the vet in hope that she had only a tooth abscess, they would yank the tooth and she would be fine.  Deep inside I knew this wasn't the case, but the glimmer of hope was still there.

The extremely mean vet told me that she was in the final stage of renal failure and was anemic and if I had brought her in sooner she may have been ok.  He said she was in pain, dehydrated, and did I want to put her down right then and there?  At this point I was sobbing, I told him no, asked him to give her some fluids, and said I would bring her home for now.

When I picked the kids up after the visit, Sunshine figured it out immediately.  She asked if the vet told us that Riesen had to die.  How do you respond to that?  I couldn't lie but it broke my heart to tell her yes.  We both cried as I told her she was very old, very sick and it was almost her time to die.

I brought her home and we kept her with us for the weekend.  She stopped eating altogether, and was only drinking water when it was coming from the faucet.  She slept in her bed in our closet and uncharacteristically let the kids hold her.  We took picture after picture of her and every night we made sure we said good night to her and every morning we said good morning.  We made sure we reminded the kids that she was sick and it was important to remember her good morning and good nights.

Hubby and I had decided that Monday would be the day.  If God didn't take her sooner, we were going to help and make her pain go away.  At night she came down as always and laid on my lap.  She didn't perch on my lap, but laid down and rested her weight on me.  Laying her head on my hand or arm, she only moved to switch positions.

We had decided Monday since the kids would be in school.  We would take her then and tell her she passed during the day.  I had already told them that she died while they were gone that I was going to bring her to the vet.  Sunday night Hubby and I told them to say good-bye to her, we said we weren't sure she would make it through the night.

The kids saying good-bye was awful.  Sunshine didn't want to leave the closet where Riesen had been sleeping most of the day.  She laid there while Sunshine gently stroked her telling her how much she loved her and what a wonderful cat she was.  She told me she never wanted another cat, she just wanted to keep Riesen.

While we were putting the kids to bed, Riesen went downstairs to wait for Hubby and me, just like always.  She sat in the family room, watching us.  As I had every night, I fed her.  I gave her a fresh can of cat food that she no longer even sniffed at and let the faucet run while she drank more water.  Then I picked her up and we sat and watched TV.  We sat and watched TV for 3 hours, long after I would normally stay up watching but she stayed there on my lap the whole time, letting me pet her, while I thought about 17 years of love and how she now had less than half a day left.  At midnight she finally got up when the couch was bumped into.

Hubby, Riesen and I went up to bed and, again, she sat and watched and waited.  I brought her into bed because she was having a hard time making the big jump, and she slept with us for one last night.  She slept perched on me and by my stomach, something she hasn't done in years, she stayed with me all night long.  When she would normally have jumped down in the morning, she was still there, sleeping by my feet.  I wanted to stay in bed and never move, I didn't want the day to begin, I wanted to feel the weight of her against or on me for as long as possible.

The kids of course saw her and were extremely happy that their good-bye wasn't really a good-bye.  I made sure Sunshine gave her extra hugs and kisses though.  At this point I think she didn't believe me.  I think she really thought that she would still be there when she came home and the next morning when she woke up.

The worst part of making the decision to put your animal to sleep is deciding when.  When do you go to the vet?  8:30?  9:00?  9:30?  Which time is the right time?  Then when you get there, when do you say now is the time?  After 5 minutes of holding and cuddling?  10 minutes?  There will never be enough time because you want the time to last forever.  You never want to say good-bye, you never want to let your pet go.  That selfish part of me was saying that maybe she wasn't so bad because, look! she's wandering around sniffing at things!  Never mind that she hasn't eaten or pooped in a week or that her eyes are no longer bright and shiny.  I was scared to weigh her because I didn't want to know what the scale would read, why bother?

She was dying and it was going to happen, it was merely a matter of when.  The next day?  In 3 days?  How long can a 5 lb cat go without eating?  Probably not very long.  I knew she had to be hurting, how could she not?  Starving, dehydrated, and in pain is not a life or a death I would want to endure, how could I expect this of her.

We saw a different vet at the office, (complained about the first, this vet apologized and apparently that vet is known to be a jackass, but is the owner of the clinic), and we waited.  They let us in the side door.  The door that no one wants to go in and let us go into the room that no one else wants to visit.  They let us sit in there as long as we wanted before anyone did anything and let us get ready.  We cried and said our good-bye and held her, cuddled her, kissed her.  When she wanted to look around, we let her down to wander the room for a minute, I couldn't get the thought out of my head that these are her last minutes as well, even if she doesn't know it.  We cried and when they came in to put in the catheter, we cried even more.

The absolute worse feeling in the world is looking at your animal and knowing that they trust you, thinking that you are going to take care of them and you knowing what is about to happen.  I sat there with my cat as the anesthesia almost immediately took effect.  She laid on my hand and, as they described, pretty much "went to sleep".  But it wasn't sleep, and it wasn't how she ever fell asleep, and I couldn't change my mind.  I wanted to scream NO, I'VE CHANGED MY MIND!  Please, please don't do this.  I cried and apologized to her.  I apologized for not taking better care of her, I apologized for betraying her trust when she needed it most, I apologized for ending her life.  I questioned God and my beliefs.  I questioned what was going to happen.  I didn't care that she was 17 and sick, she wasn't supposed to die this way.  This wasn't humane!  I betrayed her!

We stayed long after, petting her and taking in every hair and spot on her.  When she died she rested her body on my whole hand.  I kept my hand there, remembering the weight of her and pretending the warmth that I was feeling was real.  I knew once I removed my hand, I couldn't put it back under, lifting her body up was not an option for me.  I didn't want to feel her limp like that.  We cried some more but neither of us wanted to leave.  To leave meant leaving for good.  Leaving her and never seeing her again.  Before we left, we wrapped her in the blanket they had her on, gave her one last kiss, and left our Riesen forever.

The kids handled it fairly well.  I think Sunshine was surprised since she was still there this morning after I said she might not make it the night before.  She kept saying she wished she could have just one more good-bye and to pet her just one more time.  I kept telling both of us that "just one more" is never enough and we would always be asking for "just one more".  I told her she had that one more good-bye that morning but I know it wasn't enough.  Because, one more will never be enough.




Riesen: April 1996 - March 18, 2013

Vicky

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Diapering for under $150?

Is it possible?  Diapering your child from birth to potty training for $150, it must be too good to be true because surely the only way this is possible is by either practicing elimination communication* or, or, or what?  It must be impossible.


It is indeed possible and it isn't an unrealistic idea.   Even better, if you continue through the post, you will find even more ideas to save money.

If you haven't figured it out, it does involve cloth diapers.  Not a terrible choice and not something that needs to be difficult.  Cloth diapering is becoming more popular and more and more parents are choosing this green option that saves the planet and money.  (How often are you able to be green AND save money?)

Although I was able to get the number under $100, I felt $150 was more realistic.  You might be thinking, "Yikes!  Buying all those diapers for $150.  I can't afford to pay $150 upfront."  Lucky for you, most women find out they are pregnant early on in their pregnancy.  Start saving $5 a week and you will have saved the $150 by the time your bundle of joy arrives.  A pack of middle of the road diapers can cost you around $.12/diaper if you change your baby 10 times a day (as newborns tend to pee often) you will pay $1.20 a day on diapers.  At $1.20 a day or $8.40 a week (versus the $5 I mentioned) you will pay for all of your cloth diapers and cloth diapering gear in 125 days or 4 1/2 months.

This list does not include changing pads or a diaper bag as these are things you would already be needing or using.  That said, I say use an old towel and backpack work great for a changing pad and diaper bags (this is true for cloth or disposable).

So, let's begin!

$48 - 24 flat diapers
$45- 5 one size diaper covers at $9 each
$1.50 - 4 diaper pins
$15 - 1 diaper pail liner or wetbag
$24 - 2 overnight diaper

Grand total = $133.50

This will diaper your child for 2 days.  Wash the diapers on the second day and use the second overnight diaper while most of the other diapers are in the wash.  

Flat diapers are a great deal.  They are a single layer of material folded into a shape to fit onto a baby of different sizes and genders.  Different folds leave more material in the front versus the middle and you are able to make the diaper smaller to fit your small baby.  The flat diapers I bought when Bug was a baby still fit him today.  Yes they come in toddler size, but at this time, I have not needed to purchase them.




The picture on the left Bug is about 3 months old.  It is an angel wing fold, basically the square flat fold twice and wrapped around the baby.  The picture on the right is the same size diaper.  This was taken a few days ago, Bug is 2 years and 3 months.  It is folded in an origami fold with an extra doubler.  He wandered around for a while without a cover.  The absorbency of a flat is surprising.


<--The back of an origami fold.



Bug wearing a flat under a cover. ---->













Other ways to save:

-You are able to use cloth wipes as well!  Make your own with repurposed material.  I cut up a pair of old sweatpants with shot elastic.  There are sprays and solutions you can make out there or use warm water to wipe your baby's bum.

-Instead of using a wet bag or pail liner, use a plastic garbage bag.  These will not be machine washable.

-For an out and about wet bag, use a gallon sized wet bag.  As most of these commercials claim, they are leak proof, they can hold 3-4 dirty flats and you can wash these by hand.

-Don't buy fancy diaper detergent.  Many people like Original Powder Tide.  I've used Purex Free and Clear with no issues.

-Lengthen the life of your covers by hanging them or laying them out to dry.  Flats and covers dry fast.  If left out overnight they will be dry in the morning.  PUL covers should not be left in the sun for long periods of time, the sun will eventually ruin the material.

There are other things you may wish to buy:
- Extra absorbency pads, as your baby grows and wets more, extra absorbency may be wanted, or you can just use 2 diapers at once
- Liners for the inside of the diaper (makes flushing the poop much easier but completely unnecessary)
- Different fasteners - You may wish to buy a different fastener.  Many people find them easier than pins and is why you will pay between $-$6 for them
- A diaper sprayer**

Now you may be thinking, "But Vicky, what about all that water we'll be using and wasting and paying for by having to wash our diapers?"  I will say, I was quite surprised how little our water bill went up.  So little in fact that when I asked Hubby about it, he said he didn't even notice.  If it did go up, it was no more than a couple of dollars a month, or 2 days of diaper changes.  "But Vicky, what about all the extra time to wash those diapers?"  Well, it does take time to wash them but I put ours in the washing machine at night and in the morning I stick them in the dryer.  Doesn't take up any of my time.  I have found that the biggest time spent with the laundry end is the spraying and the folding.  "YUCK!  I hate folding clothes."  Well, if you're doing flats, they're no different than folding a square pillowcase.  There's no folding involved with the covers.  "YUCK!  Spraying poop!"  Yeah, well, poop is gross but I've had poop ooze and drip out of disposables, squish out onto car seats, get my shirt, pants, robe, socks.  I still have to deal with poop and until they're potty trained and able to wipe their own butts (and wipe them well) I will be dealing with poop.

There is one more issue that I am not able to say I've had to deal with: a laundromat.  I've always had access to my own washer and dryer.  If you do not, you may wish to buy 3 dozen to cut back on how many times you have to head over to the laundromat.  Bringing them home wet and hanging them dry, be it inside or out, will save you money on each load.  For those who are a bit more daring, hand washing is also an option.  Make sure you rinse any poop off in the toilet and wash all soap out until there are no suds.  Soap residue will cause diaper rash and will cause the diapers to stink when they are dirtied again.  This is when being a single layer is also useful.

Now you may be thinking that you remember seeing pictures or posts of my kids wearing different diapers, not just flats.  Very true.  (Thanks for paying attention and being a loyal reader!)  Like most things in life, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  There are many different types of diapers but if saving money is what you are  want the most, flats are by far the way to go.

Good luck and happy diapering!


Vicky

*Elimination communication: starting at a very young age, parents watch for signs of child eliminating, including, but not limited to, grunting, timing, and other things I don't understand.  (I do not recommend following this description to teach your child elimination communication.)
**This is not at all necessary but I will say I like ours and it has kept Hubby from changing his mind against cloth diapering.  It has also helped wash puke out of clothes, sheets and winter coats.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Teasing

There are few things that bring out the mama bear in me, teasing is one of them.  A little kid teasing my kid is just too much.  Monkey hasn't had to deal with it yet, he's only in preschool, kids don't tease and if they do he hasn't been the brunt of it.  Everyone's friend and oblivious to most things around him, Monkey wouldn't be bothered by a few teasing comments and the kid teasing would leave him alone.

Not true with Sunshine.

Sunshine is just that.  A ray of Sunshine that is sweet and innocent.  Now I'm not saying my child doesn't get in trouble or doesn't do her fair share of fighting with her brother, but suggest that she may have hurt someone's feelings and she will break down in tears.  Things are not supposed to be yanked from people and manners remembered.  In return, she expects the same courtesy and respect-don't we all?

So when a peer is not nice it doesn't make sense.  Why would someone do this?  Why was this random boy at the bouncy area taking this toy?  Even worse though is when a friend, or someone she thought was a friend, isn't nice.  Her heart breaks a little bit more with each comment.  Sweet, confused, easily upset, and innocent, she makes an easy target.

Like everything, there is a hierarchy and sadly, in first grade the mean kids are on top.  Fear of being told they won't be allowed to play on something or with something will keep these targets playing with the mean kids, only encouraging their behavior.  Comments beginning as, "You have to do this if you want to be my friend." escalate to "I thought you were my friend." to complete teasing and making fun of the child that questioned them.  After all, questioning can lead to one thing and one thing only, complete revolution and walking away with all the other kids that are still willing to follow in their shadow.

Unfortunately, Sunshine's been being teased.  It started in November with a boy.  I'll call him N.  In November she and N had been playing with about 6 other kids.  He would make random comments that began with her glasses.  Still believing they were friends, she didn't mention it for quite a while and when she did she was in tears and all sorts of comments came spilling out.

Along came her birthday and N had not been mentioned except in passing.  They played together as a group and she told us about the obnoxious stories (absolute lies) that he claimed were true.  Not understanding why a friend would lie to her when she questioned him, she was willing to believe him.

Unfortunately, the small jabs had continued and I had not known about them.

Recently the comments have been about her lunches.  This makes no sense to me except that being different and not standing up for yourself makes you easy prey for children with low self-esteem and N , T, ( T is in the "I thought you were my friend" stage) and S, have decided to make fun of her healthy lunches.  Tomatoes, dried bananas, and other vegetables, are disgusting and why would she eat them?  She tells them they're good and they should ask their mom to buy them.  It's unfortunate the school doesn't allow sharing, although I doubt they would admit they liked the bananas.  Now she doesn't want to pack those snacks because she is worried about upset about what they will say.  When asked what they bring for lunch, cookies, popcorn, and candy are always on the list.  They also tease about what she watches on TV.  Also extremely unfortunate since I know what shows they are watching and I'd rather not have my daughter watching them.  Her 2 younger brothers are in the same room and they don't need to be exposed to them either.

So I tell her she needs to ignore them and tell a teacher, be it her teacher or the teacher in the lunchroom or playground, as well as ignore them.  Yesterday she comes home, proud of herself for the first time in a while and announces that she ignored N.  He tried to tell her another of his tall tales and apparently she just ignored him.  When he attempted to get her attention, she gave him the cold shoulder.  I hope she remembers to also tell a teacher, she can still hear those comments and I don't want her to develop a low self-esteem, but for now she is standing up for herself and that is something she will need to be able to do for the rest of her life.

I still don't like the kid and wish he moved - just like her told Sunshine he was doing.  I have a feeling the story of N and S moving in together to the city is just another story though.

Vicky