Thursday, December 16, 2010

Healing a heart~The story of Gretel

A week and a day after losing Scout, I couldn't hardly stand myself..And my poor husband. Bless his heart, he didn't know what to do with me either. I know it was painful for him to see me sad. With each day I cried less of course but my heart hurt almost constantly. Especially in the evenings when she wasn't here to lay on the couch with me while watching tv.

I contacted a lady who was fostering a pair of white kittens and arranged to meet them at Petco. I had prayed that when I found the right kitten/cat that I'd know it. I'd have a sign. I didn't want to take someone home just because I felt sorry for them or because they were cute. I wanted, no I needed, to feel a connection of some sort. It's a long term commitment & I had to be sure.

Well these two little ones were gorgeous. But as she opened the carrier only the little boy wondered out..The little girl although not seeming scared, just seemed content to lay in carrier...Ok I thought, that eliminates her. Apparantly she didn't deem me worthy enough for her to even come out to meet me. The little boy, well he was so soft and cute, but the little stinker wouldn't even look at me. And when I loosened my grip he tried to jump out of my arms...I told the lady I'm just not 'feeling" it. I don't feel anything. Plus I would've only been willing to take one of them and there was another family interested in them that would take both. I was happy for them to stay together.

Later that day my dh & I ventured to a shelter where I'd found a few potentials on petfinder. Again before going in I prayed for guidance & a sign. And I must say I was hoping for a drastic sign like it rubbing my chin with it's face like Scout always did...something, that told me, it's ok. I told the staff that we were open to any & all. It didn't matter what color, sex or age. If it was right, we'd know it.

It was overwhelming to be surrounded by dozens of cats. I asked by name for the 5 cats that seemed like good candidates. The one I was most interested in had just been adopted, of course.... As we were introduced to the others they all seemed nice enough I guess. We petted them and gave our salutations.

I sat on the floor with the thought that whoever came over to me would most certainly be THE one. Would you believe NO ONE, not one cat in that two dozen roaming around the room came over to me even to pet them or to rub up against me!!! Wow! Are you kidding me?! What an ego cruncher that was!!!

The staff decided to take me into another room where it was easier for me to sit on the floor. They were going to bring in a cat at a time from other rooms for me to meet. Perhaps a one on one would be better,or so they thought. With each one that came in my heart kinda sank. IF they let me pet them it was short lived before they ran to explore the rest of the room. Just seemed like no one cared I was there. By this time hubby had gone to the car. The smells were getting to him & his thought was "it's you that has to be satisfied". I felt badly for taking up their time. It really just seemed like a waste for all of us.

It was so disappointing not to feel anything. I know, I know, I prayed for guidance to find the right one...I was ok that I hadn't however still disappointed ya know? Just before leaving the lady asked if I'd consider a kitten....ummmm, hello? I'd said at the gitgo I was open to they brought in this 4 month old calico-tabby that was here with her brother that had recently been adopted. As I held her in my arms she just cuddled in. Never trying once to get out of my arms & occassionally she'd look up at me too! I had the staff summon dh from the car to bring his phone to take a camera and to meet this little one. She was just as sweet with him...good sign.

Believe it or not, I was so emotionally exhausted from the day that at this point I still could not tell them 100%....We had spent sooo much time there and well my head was swimming. Hubby went back to the car & they took the kitten back to her cage. The shelter was busy and I'd already taken so much of their time. I stood in the dinky hallway asking the worker if I should fill out the paperwork when I'm not 100% positive. It was almost closing time so she said I could bring the paperwork back on Monday when they opened if we decided.

At this point the emotional rollercoaster was too much and I started to tear up. The worker however understood and was able to sum it up for me. It was being hard for me because I hadn't found my Scout in that room!!! YES, YES that's it...I was looking for her and she wasn't there!

Hubby & I drove home in silence. Then I looked at the pictures he'd taken. Oh my goodness! She was looking right at me, straight into my heart!

Gretel has now been here almost 3 days now. She seems so happy to be here and is so sweet. And one of the best things she could've possibly done?...she was laying in my lap & almost like being compelled to do so, she jumped up & put both her paws on each side of my face. Yes, like she was holding my face in her hands. I thought for sure I was going to get scratched but instead she rubbed my face with hers. "Is that you Scouty?", I thought to myself.... Yep, I think we're going to be just fine.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Scout Aug. '95- Nov. '10

As I sat in the sunroom of our house in Missouri, little did I know I was witnessing the birth of a dear, dear friend. It was Aug. 10, 1995 and our stray cat named Jamima was giving birth to her second litter of kittens. Poor Jamina was exhausted after already delivering 5 of them and the last one had taken it's toll on her. She just didn't seem to have the energy to be able to clean that last kitten & get it being the mom & helper that I am I had to intervene. I was a bit reluctant as I'm aware that even the nicest cat may become nasty when someone interfers with her babies. So I waited and gave her a chance to do it on her own. When she didn't I ever so gently brought the sack enclosed kitten up to her, so she could take care of of the newest bundle. And so our life together began.

Scout had us wrapped around her finger from the get-go. She loved to be held & get attention. It was so bad that even when we wanted to run the sweeper she wanted held & she cried!...So my daughter & I accomodated her by using a Cabbage Patch doll baby carrier so she could be close to us..Well we HAD to get the sweeping done, afterall.!

I wondered what I'd gotten us into when one day she decided to devour a ribbon!..You know the kind you curl with scissors? Yep well it doesn't curl when it's sticking out of the backend of a cat! She ended up having to have a sedative so the vet could pull out the 3 yards of ribbon! He'd never seen anything like it! Afterwards we knew we had to be careful with stuff like that. We witnessed her actually getting the lid off a rubbermaid container to get at the stored ribbons! I kid you not! But look at that face? How could you be upset with that?

A few years later our family moved to Alaska. Driving up the Alaska/Canadian highway was a real trip with two vehicles using walkie-talkies, a geriatric dog, a Rex bunny, Scout and a husband & daughter.

Even while in MO. Scout was accustomed to having other critters around; our geriatric dog, Cody, her half-brother Newton, her mama Jamima, Hootie the bunny, gerbils and numerous ducks. While in Alaska though we also had 10 fancy rats! How did she react you may wonder? Well, all the animals seemed to know that everyone belonged with us and this was no different. Scout would lay along my legs while I was sitting in the chaise chair as we had one or two of the rats running back and forth across my lap! Scout would sniff noses with them then turn her back on them reclining there like she knew she was still the queen.

Then we got orders to go to Germany. Oh my! By this time we only had the rats and still the geriatric dog in addition to Scout. We knew the rats couldn't go for obvious reasons & our dog didn't have the health to withstand the trip. (she was 16 1/2 yrs old) Fortunately our daughter was married by then and still living in AK. so they were able to live with her. Scout came with us.

What a trooper she was...there was a massive screw up when it came to shipping her over there. I was still going to be able to have her as my carry-on however the military plane we were taking over had different rules than a regular commercial flight. So the case I had so painsakingly researched and bought was not going to cut it. Aaaarrgghhh! We are standing at the airport waiting for our flight!!!! Are you kidding me? They actually had the gall to suggest that we just let her loose in Washington D.C....What? In the entire airport there was only ONE hard shell case we could buy and it was for an 8 lb animal...Scout was 13 lb...We had no that dear cat curled up, cramped in that hard case for 12+hours !!!! Without a complaint I might add. She'd have an equally devastating trip back to the states which was close to a 30 hr. trip, with missed flights and mishandling from the airport people as they nearly passed her through the x-ray machine!.

She was my constant and usually only companion for the 2 yr. we were in Germany. My dear hubby traveled alot. Poor Scout had to listen to me confiding in her alot. Course she always held up her end of the conversation. She was a talker let me tell ya. But we totally understood each other. And she always knew when I needed her attention. She was no longer the cuddly kitten she'd been. As an adult she didn't like being held. However she'd always lay on my stomach while I was reclining or in my lap while I was sitting at the computer, rubbing my chin with her face & purring. She also sit very politely on the seat next to me while we were eating dinner..Almost like she knew the three of us had to stick together. She never got on tables or tried to get food.

These last 4 1/2 yrs. here in PA were a relief of sorts. No more traveling for her. She did however develope diabetes 8 months before her 12th birthday. We were soooo scared at the thoughts of giving her twice daily insulin shots but Stephen & I did that for a year. I remember saying to myself, "if we can get you to your 12th birthday then anything after that is just gravy". I researched & found a vet willing to work with me & I changed her diet which helped to put her into remission for just shy of 3 years.

Over the past few months I've noticed her subtle decline...she lost a little weight & some other things. This Thanksgiving, well let's just say she was far from herself. And I feared what this would mean. She was now 15 yrs and 3 mo. and the next day, after an unpleasant night I might add,we had to make a decision whether to prolong her life by means of meds, shots and possible surgeries if she could even withstand any of it.

I thought I'd prepared myself for this. I mean I was grateful for every minute of the extra 4 years we had after her diabetes diagnosis. But I still wanted more time with her, ya know?

In this past day & a half without her here just as I think I'm doing well & have gone through maybe an entire hour without crying, something else opens the floodgates. There was no one meowing at me this morning demanding food so I cried. When I reached into the fridge I saw the industrial sized parmesan cheese that I used to sprinkle on her food to entice her to eat it, so I cried. When I was putting up our holiday decorations and she wasn't underfoot trying to chew on plastic bags, the artificial tree and the ribbons...yep you guessed it, I cried.

My dear husband volunteered to go through the house meowing occassionally to make me feel better but he said he had to draw the line when it came to nibbling bags and the other decorations. LOL At least he makes me laugh.

Why am I going on and on about a cat you may wonder? Cause I have found that it's not every day that you can look into an animal's eyes and feel a special that makes you feel like you know what they're thinking or feeling. It goes far beyond the normal owner/pet relationship. I have been so very blessed to have had that with our almost 17 yr. dog Cody and I felt that with Scout.

It is cathartic for me to write about her. As if saying it out loud validates this very unique bond we shared. It's a tribute. Perhaps saying out loud how special & unique she was makes her somehow closer to me. I pray that by doing so my voice is loud enough for her to hear me in heaven where I know she must be.

Shutterfly's free Christmas cards AND more

I love this time of year when other people take the time to write a yearly newsletter catching me up on their family "doings". I especially love reaching into the mailbox and finding that oblong envelope indicating a special photo card! They usually start after the first of Dec and it's like opening a present with each one! I love it!

And with that in mind, it was brought to my attention of Shutterfly's invitation to some free Christmas cards of your very own. Another gift for the upcoming season! Woo hoo!

Of course I have my favorites. I love to surprise people with special gifts so what better than a wrapped photo of your family? I love to unwrap presents and I'm sure other people do too!

Depending on my mood, there are times I am drawn to the simplicity of some cards like this one.You can be so creative with your picture taking and it doesn't have to be in your best Christmas sweater or in front of a decorated tree to get a beautiful holiday effect.
I have been writing a monthly newsletter for the past 9 years or so. Oh yes! The old fashioned snail-mail type where you put it into an envelope, add a stamp and take it to your mailbox, kind of newsletter! I started doing that when we were moving from Missouri and headed to Alaska. I had many friends that were in the local nursing home there and they wanted to keep up with our lives as we set out on a new adventure. I've always tried to make the newsletters, well,newsy and fun. Many of these folks had few visitors & probably little mail in this new age of computers and email. So pictures of various things brighten their day and give them something else to think about.
I try to get my newsletter out the first of each month kinda recapping the previous month so often our holiday pictures are taken as early as summer and as late as the end of November. That's why this card is one of my favs. Regardless of when you take your picture you can still add that feeling of snow, winter and Christmas!!!

Of course don't take my word for it for the most beautiful and fitting cards. Go here to see what all they have to offer and find one that suits your needs!
And don't forget these kinds of cards are awesome for birthday cards & thank yous and a whole lot more! Since our family is scattered throughout the U.S. my daughter regularly sends a thank you to family with her girls' holding the gift they'd been sent or standing with their birthday cake. Sooo much better than an regular thank you! And if cards and newsletter aren't your thing? Well there's something for you too! Make a calender that can be used all year long!!!
It's worth your time to check them out. Use your imagination & send folks something they'll really appreciate. Ü

Saturday, November 13, 2010

American Girl~step into the past

I remember when my young daughter & I were first introduced to the American Girl dolls. Oh my! Even I would pour over the catalogue making a wish list for things I wanted her to have.

She was just at that age when some girls her age were growing up too fast and not being interested in 'baby' dolls, so this was one way to satisfy my daughter's (ok, and mine!) love of dolls without it being so obvious to her friends. This was a specialized 'big girl' doll whilst still being able to be played with! You just can't get any better than that!

There was a special anniversary coming up between her and her dad so what better gift for her than this doll! Since we were huge fans of everything old fashioned & "Little House on the Prairie-like", she chose Kirsten. Oh the sewing that went on to also surprise her with clothes and a quilt & also a hand-made wooden table set. Not to mention all the little cool ad-ons, like a bucket, apples, pies etc. Little did we know at the time that these dolls would later grow into the franchise they are today!

I remember thinking at the time she got Kirsten that this would be an heirloom doll. That one day she'd be able to pass her down to her own daughter. A doll that would hold the loving endearments from her dad on their special day along with the clothes that were lovingly made by me. Well fast forward almost 20 years and that time has come. My daughter has two adorable girls of her own and the time is coming fast that she can pass this beloved doll to them...but to which daughter?

In comes Mom's Best Bets to hopefully help us out with this. The colonial doll, Felicity is going to be retiring soon. MBB is offerering her to one lucky reader!

My granddaughters are homeschooled as well so she would make learning history all the more fun in addition to eliminating a tug-o-war between two little girls and a just one doll!! This Oma would be so happy to win this for them. That way each girl would have a special doll from their Oma & Opa.

So, as much as I would like to keep this giveaway secret and win it for myself...I feel compelled to share it with all of you (plus I get extra entries for doing so! lol)...
And if you just happen to not have a little girl to give it too, well you just let me know and I'd be happy to help you out with that dilemna! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reduce, reuse, recycle then REPEAT

Some people say "oh I don't have the time to recycle" or "it takes too much effort". I have to look at those people sideways with a creased brow. I have to wonder how many minutes in the day are spent waiting for their supper to cook, waiting on the hubby & kids to get home, waiting on a call or even worse yet, time spent on hand held gadgets (phones, games, music).

Any of that time, is all you need for some of the basics of reduce, recycle, reuse. Our family has been recyclers for 25 years. Just like anything else that you do on a regular basis it's habit for us. We make sure we have easy access to the recycle bins & our compost (inside & out) so it doesn't take more time. We do it without thinking.

Just yesterday I found that even our wildlife have gotten into the groove of recycling. They've taken it upon themselves to re-use my fall decorations on the porch as their lunch!

In recent years we've become interested in expanding these principles. Learning where our food comes from (the Food Inc dvd is awesome!) and what's in the stuff you buy. We are fortunate enough to be able to buy eggs locally from chickens that are allowed to be chickens as well as cow & pig. (ie. humanely treated, free range, not injected with bad stuff)

So now we are branching out further to include an awesome Giveaway to help even the most seasoned recycler to expand this theme. I am so excited at the prospects of winning this!

Do you wonder HOW to go green? Here's a good place to start. Check out Sustainable Baby Steps for great ideas.

Just remember that you've spent your whole life learning to be the way you are. You can't change everything over night. It takes baby steps but I know you can do it!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You're my cuppa coffee!

My coffee tastes so much better in my yellow happy face mug that says 'stupid is as stupid does' mug. My husband bought it for me on his most recent trip to NYC where he got to eat in a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant.

I love the movie Forrest Gump. We have watched it so many times, have quoted it, imitated it & even watched it in German while we were living in Germany! We'd seen it so many times that even though we are far from fluent in German we knew what was going on!

It's rather funny that he would add to my mug collection because on so many occassions through the years he's questioned, "How many mugs does one person need?" but he realizes the pleasure they give me.

When I made the comment to some friends I was pleasantly surprised by their responses. One said he & his wife bought big, beach-scene coffee mugs at Sunset Beach this summer. "As we drink coffee, we can smell salt water and hear ocean's magical!"

Another shared, "Isn't it great how your choice of coffee mug can make a difference. Mine is lime green with yellow polka dots and a black bow on the handle."

What lovely sentiments! And to think that such expression is found from something relatively cheap!

Depending on my mood is how I choose that morning which cup to partake from! It's as if it's an expression/extension of myself. LOL I know that's a little too dramatic and deep, but it's true!

I've thinned mine out with each household move to include only our souvenir mugs & ones from friends, so each one has a 'story' just like everything else in our house!

My friend said, "You've just described a well-lived life, Kathy: a collection of souvenirs from friends, beautiful places and happy moments." I do believe he gets the Quote of the Day award! LOL

I've always thought of souvenirs as memories you can touch. Just like my friend said it gives you pleasure because it brings to mind a special person or transports you to a happy moment. The best part is it doesn't matter what these things are. Doesn't even have to be from a collection or cost alot of money. Could be a cowbell that a friend gives you as a gag gift, a piece of driftwood from a beach in Alaska or a box made from toothpicks by a small child.

My challenge for you is to find your own 'smiley mug'. Let the things you love be your escape. What gives you a warm fuzzy? I'd love to hear.

Friday, October 15, 2010

RIP our little Liesl mouse~Oct 13, 2010

I've been keeping an eye on Liesl for a few days now. (shown here before she even had her eyes open) I wasn't liking her body language & slight weight loss. Yesterday morning she was very lethargic & she was wondering around the cage aimlessly. At one point Chigger rather violently was 'turning' & 'flipping' her with her hands. Liesl barely moved after the trauma. I didn't know if Chigger was trying to revive her or kill her. It was very disturbing to see and after I saw her do that a couple times, I was like huh-a no more of that!! I fixed a container for her and she just laid there. I prayed that God would take her quickly as it was painful to see her laboring to breath. I checked her constantly thru the morning, then some time during when the ladies were here for a Bible study she finally passed away.

You know I still have 9 mice left but she is really going to be missed! How silly is that, some might comment? She was the runt though so it's not too much of a surprise. Her and sister Lilly were/are my sweetest babies though. They both loved to come get scrambled egg from my hand & to be petted. Although I must say that Re-Pete & Jonas are close seconds when it comes to that. Most of the remaining 9 will let me pet them without running off. I really do love them all.

I put her in a little bracelet box I had that fit her perfectly and waited til Stephen got home for us to bury her together. The box seemed appropriate since she was a little jewel too. When he got home that night, I wasn't home but he told me he opened the box to tell her goodbye. I was so touched by that gesture. He never ceases to amaze me with his sweet & gentle heart. I mean I knew he loved them but I kinda figured it was a little different than me cause he's been away so much.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the people that have expressed their condolences. I know that many do not share or understand our love for these little critters, but I am touched that they can appreciate our loss all the same & that they cared enough for US to let us know that.:)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mouse antics & other useless information

Don't think for a moment that just because I haven't posted anything about the meeces that we are no longer having a good time with them...Oh contrare! They continue to be a source of entertainment here. Ya, ya, perhaps we should get out more but why leave the house when you have four cages of fun here!

The only real downside since writing last is that our little Chigger has gone blind in one eye. I'd noticed about 3 or 4 weeks after getting the original four, that her eye was kinda bulging. I thought perhaps she'd scratched it so I kept watch over her. As the days wore on the swelling went down to then be replaced with a milky film over her eye (much like I've seen with someone with bad cataracts). Then that changed to a little white dot right in the middle of her eye.

No need to feel too sorry for her though. It does not slow her down one bit. As a matter of fact she is one of the more active girls. And she continues to be one of the matriarchs of this entourage. Here she is praying over the rest of them the last day that the boys & girls were living together. Oh yes, ALL nine of the rest of them were huddled in there!

She is always involved, usually with Skunk & sometimes Halo in redecorating their cage. I think toilet papering their house was an attempt at early Halloween decorating!!! That was hysterical to watch her with just a little bit of paper left on a roll!

She is also the only one to take a daily stroll across their screen lid, upside down!!! Yep, I've seen some of the others try to shimmy up the wire that holds their zebra hanging bed, but Chigger's the only one to actually make it up then walk the entire length of the lid, holding on with her toenails! Almost like someone trying to get their 10,000 steps in a day.

About a week after I'd separated the boys from the girls I noticed that Pete, one of the white twins, seemed to be picking fights occassionally. One morning I barely had my eyes opened when it became clear that he was going to have to go to his own cage. Too much testosterone, I guess. Of course I had to be sure I had the right white twin, because he kept doing a switcheroo with his brother Re-Pete by running into their house! SOooo, I put green food coloring on a Q-tip and attempted to rub some on his back. I think it was about a week before he didn't run away from me every time I approached his cage!!! See I kid you not, he'd hide! See him peeking out of the skull nose? LOL

I know it may look like he's being punished but he's not. Although it's not exactly my choice in decor, it was donated to 'the cause'. And I must say it does make for a neat effect! LOL

About a week after this, his brother Willie Wonka also got a bee in his bonnet and thus he moved into his own cage too....He's a happy boy now. I noticed that the boys don't do near the decorating as the girls do but W.W. did make himself an extended igloo out of his little grass hut.

Oh and little Jonas and Re-Pete have continued to be fast friends. I regularly find them cuddled together. I hope it stays that way!

Would you believe I've had 2 different people show interest in adopting one of the boys? Yep, why now? Where were these people when I *might have actually been able to part with any of them! Initially (for like 30 seconds!) I was excited at the prospects but then I started to feel nauseas! LOL I know, you probably don't understand that...But after you have cared for these little guys feeding them scrambled eggs & doing everything in my power to make sure they were healthy & had a good life, I just couldn't chance them not having as good a life that I could give them. Thank heavens I have an understanding husband that feels the same when it comes to these kind of things. It was with his blessing that I told the folks that I couldn't part with any of them! To think I went from having one cage to clean & four mice to feed to cleaning 4 cages (much more time I might add) and 10 mice to feed. Oh ya, not exactly what I signed up for...but what in life is? You just gotta make the best of it sometimes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Handmade Potholders Giveaway

These are very pretty and something I could really use...but I'll give you the opportunty to win them too!

Look here for the details for chances to enter!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our 24th wedding anniversary~Nov. 2

My dear husband wrote in my card, that our relationship may not have always been perfect but it was always "right". And how blessed we were that even all these years later we were more in love than we even were way back then. Who'da thunk it possible?

We spent the day traveling up north towards Cook Forest and Clear Creek State Park. Our main destination was to be Beartown Rocks at the latter. The GPS had taken us on a couple wild goose chases in the past couple days and this was to be no exception. Thank goodness we came upon a nifty gift shop with some folks that knew the area and they pointed us in the right direction.

Plus I saw this puppet and knew he had to go home with us. Ever since we lived in AK whereby the raven was a representative of the Tlingit clan, I have been fond of ravens. We also had them in Germany and they helped me not miss Alaska quite so much. In restrospect, I realized we also had them while living in S. CA but we'd given them the moniker of Dumpster Doves! LOL That was obviously years before I came to have an appreciation for them!

Beartown Rocks was a gentle little hike but gave us the opportunity for a few nice pics. I got to take advantage of that since our anniversary is the one time my dear hubby humors me when I want to take a ton...aside from trying to get the perfect shot for our Christmas card. I love the challenge of finding a rock, tree stump or bridge to prop the camera on and setting the timer, then frantically running to get in the picture!!

The day was the perfect temperature with some clear sunny skies, as we found a petting zoo, Amish furniture shops and a place to eat supper.

From all indications it seemed that most if not all the animals, had at one time been a pet in someone's home. Naughty,'d think in this day & age people would be smarter than that..

Here is Sara, a bobcat, that has been declawed and had her teeth filed down...apparantly after all that, as she grew bigger, she still wasn't a good housepet. Go figure!! She even had to get use to stepping on grass as she was use to carpet!! But when the lady came near the fence she came running as any loving cat would do so she could get her lovins'.

There was also this big cat that was in the black panther enclosure however he has the markings of a cheetah...very cool & funky looking. There were dozens of animals (fox, lemurs, cavies, goats, iguanas etc) including what had started out as a little turtle in a petshop that was now big enough for a small child to ride on, trekking around their beaten path.

I normally have issue with some of these places (housing wild animals that should be in the wild etc) but I'm glad they had somewhere to go after already being taken from their homelands. The place was clean and the folks working there really seemed to like being there & loved the animals as well.

After all the looking & shopping & washing our hands, we went to eat. We were so excited to find that the Farmer's Inn, served prime rib...Well we were in cow country, ya know....Being that it was our anniversary we didn't hesitate to pay the premium price for something we loved and rarely got. What a surprise when our charcoaled steak came to us with a slice of tomatoe & pickle on the side, plus the bottle of A1 sauce...What?!!! Where's the juicy very pink meat with aus ju sauce on the side...Nada! A bit disappointing I must say.....we ate the meal in relative silence. Not that it was bad mind you, it's just not what we were hungry for or expecting. As we chewed, we smiled at each other shaking our heads in knowing one point Stephen did add, Well a year from now this will be a funny story...just not so much now.

Then it kinda hit me. Although we'd had a beautiful day it may not be the flashy kind of anniversary day alot of people would expect. But that's the beauty of our's not the place you go or the food you eat that makes a day special, it's the people you share it with. And I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone else. Ü

Thursday, September 30, 2010

$35 Gift card give-a-way

My friend has some of the best give-a-ways. Check it out! If I don't win I hope that you do!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I love a good illustration

Ahhh the evils of forget about your blog readers thinking you've already shared things with them. Oh contrare! LOL
But to be totally honest, as exciting as my life is (dripping with sarcasm) sometimes I just don't feel inspired with anything I feel is worth saying. You know, like sharing the details of the raising of butterflies & baby mice! Knowledge that you KNOW WILL make the world a better place!
Ahh let's face it, sometimes life is hard & you just want to get through each day with some semblance of sanity and not causing injury to others in the process.
Such has been my little stretch of a bumpy road for the past while. Without boring you with all the gory details lets just say that when you take antibiotics they aren't necessarily a miracle cure. In fact, if they happen to miss a particular 'something' in your system the results are actually much worse than if you hadn't taken them at all. And then it snowballs making it all the worse! Needless to say I've had very little energy to deal with much of it physical, emotional or mental.
But with that said I haven't been able to be as idle as I would like. (Preferrably curled up in the fetal position under my warm down comforter.) The world does not stop turning and there's still things that have to be done..much of it isn't fun either. Now at this point I started to write the high points, if you will, of all that isn't or hasn't been fun in my life lately but then I realized I was too tired to count that high. Plus, everyone has stuff & we are all overwhelmed with too much of 'it' at some point. I have always tried to be an optimist, finding the lesson in whatever I'm going through. Sometimes that is easier said than done, especially when your list is long!
But something hit home today while at a women's Bible study. A friend witnessed something that became a perfect illustration for me. She had to stop while a schoolbus left off children. She saw a father running down the driveway to meet the young son. As the boy started to cross the road the father placed his arm around the boy's shoulder for a warm hug & to guide him across the road. He then took the backpack that hung from the boy's back & his books and carried it all for him. His other arm again went around the boy's shoulders. It was pointed out that sometimes we approach God with an attitude of 'what burden do you want me to carry now Lord", instead of asking him to carry those burdens for us. And when we do ask it's like his arms go around us in a warm hug as he guides us through it. It's ok to ask. It's not being selfish to ask for something for ourselves for a change. It's just showing that we are aware of who's really in charge.
So it's late & I'm tired. I had every intention of this being not much more than an update on the critter crew....that's going to have to wait for another day. Ü

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Woo Hoo! We got a couple little girls!!!

As I said before overnight things can change. On the evening of Day 9 I did my daily inspection on the baby mice. I couldn't believe my eyes! I could clearly see little nipples in a row, just as they should be...Clearly a girl! Woo Hoo! One down and 5 more to go. Then I check the second one....A girl! Now my hands start to shake with excitement, although it was shortlived....unfortunately that was it, the other 4 were boys. But hey, that's a couple less cages I'm going to have to get.

The girls~ Lilly on the top and Liesl on the bottom.

The boys~The one with the white diamond on his head is Jonas named by our 6 yr. old granddaughter. I'm waiting on the 3 yr old granddaughter's contribution now before naming any of the others.

I've tried handling them to get them use to human touch not only for myself but also for any potential adopter. Haha...I say that like I'm actually hopeful of finding any homes for these guys even though I've had almost no interest in them. A woman I met said her teacher husband might be interested for his classroom however that was a couple weeks ago and I've heard nothing.

I even showed pictures to a few teen boys at church and they just got a questioning look on their face as they wrinkled their noses & said, 'they just look like mice" and walked away..My response to them was, "and you call yourself BOYS?! You're suppose to love stuff like this"Tell me WHO wouldn't think these little faces are sweet?!

So I have just kept plugging along preparing for having a total of FIVE cages (that's 2 better than 7!!) in a room that's already cramped. The cages thus far have been donated to the 'cause' although I've had to buy screened lids for them..not to mention 'stuff' to go inside the cages. UGH!

I've also had to improvise since the biggest tank that will go to the 6 girls would not clean up to my satisfaction. So I painted it faux stained glass to cover up the unsightly stuff. For the first time using this medium I was pleased with the results although I doubt the girls will care or even notice.

By Day 15 the babies were starting to open their eyes. They also like crawling out of the nesting box but they didn't venture far. That was about to change!

Day 16 they all had their eyes open and they started 'popcorning' as they entered the 'flea' stage..This makes it VERY difficult to handle them. That is IF you can even get hold of them because they are sooooooooo fast. Have you ever seen a flea jump? That's exactly how they are if you're able to pick them up. They are so fast and jump without regard to safety! Yikes! They run hither and thither between the little buildings in the cage.

Needless to say, it's next to impossible to get much in the way of pictures now either, unless they are sleeping. Which by Day 17 they were ALL found piled up sleeping in the hanging zebra bed! Oh yes, all 10 are in there piled high on top of one another. It's got to be hot in there with all that body heat too!

At the age of 28 days the boys will have to be separated from the girls, so they only have a week left all together. Although I certainly didn't really want nor plan on this little adventure of mouse rearing, these little creatures surely have given us some quiet 'down' time added to our otherwise chaotic life. Taking a few minutes here and there to watch them has been plain old fun. And they've given us chuckles and outright laughter along the way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I wonder, I wonder...

With each day that passes you never know what you'll see with these little ones. One day they don't have fur and the next day they do.

Here they are at 6 days. All soft and peach fuzzy.

It's been fascinating watching this little mouse community. If people could just take a lesson from them. It didn't take long for me to notice that at any given time either Mama Skunk or one of the 'aunts' as I've come to call them (partly inspired by a friend's own 4 aunts that lived together but also just based on my own observations of them) were with the babies in the nesting box. They took turns babysitting. And I noticed that Skunk was given a break from them to come out and eat for herself, take a jog on the wheel and get some much needed sleep in the zebra hammock.

I wait each evening til Mama Skunk and the 'Aunts' are out of the box before looking in on them. The adults are oblivious to me really. They are more concerned with having a good time. No kidding, observing them, they really don't seem all that different than people. They need to get away from the kids and cut loose too!

There've been times I've looked into the box and Moo was 'nursing' the babies! I don't know if she'd spontaneously produce milk for them or if it was just to comfort them while Skunk was out. I've not been able to find the answers to that in my research, but I thought it very sweet all the same. Moo was the midwife during delivery & that first whole day, don't ya know.

I did notice too that I never saw Halo go in to the box to see the babies or to babysit. I wonder if the others felt the same as I projected, she was just a little too crazy and irresponsible for such a job? Maybe she was nervous? Can you just hear a little mouse saying in the southern accent of Butterfly McQueen in Gone with the Wind, "I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies!" After about a week though I finally saw her going in...I think she may have had some scrambled egg in her mouth for a baby gift..(just kidding) I'll be curious to see how she reacts when the babies start crawling out on their own.

I've totally depressed myself too. I've tried 'checking' over the little ones trying to figure out what they are. This is no easy task when they are this little and add to that, you don't know what you're doing. LOL No it's NOT obvious and all their little parts are miniscule!

They are very hard to hold and most of them aren't very cooperative. They don't like being turned over on their backs...then for me to try and scrutinize their little bottoms...forget it! Keep in mind too I wear bifocals which don't help me at all. Talk about trying to find a needle in a haystack?! I actually have to take the glasses off and look real close...good grief! I feel pathetic! With them wiggling around so much, I'm afraid I hurt them...I end up breaking out in a sweat until finally I give up.

At this point, I don't see any signs of nipples on them (my only true sourse of sexing them & a sure sign of them being girls cause the boys won't have them at all) and am fearful. The reason being, boys tend to be territorial and will fight with each other. There's a good chance they'd have to have a cage all their own...while the girl babies can live with their mama and aunts with no problem. If all 6 are boys, I wonder if the dear husband would mind building onto the house so we have enough room for 7 mouse cages? What do ya think? LOL!

Here they are at day 8 all furry.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Special Delivery

It's been interesting watching Skunk prepare for her new arrivals. I bought a wooden box with a cutout door in the front, that I hoped she'd use as a nesting box. The ceramic shoe already in the cage has a hole in the bottom and I could just imagine picking that up & having babies fall out! Not good.

I bought special fluffy cotton that I put in in hopes she'd use it as nesting material. Numorous times I saw her moving bedding around here and there but she really didn't seem to know what she was doing with it.

Then on July 21 at 8 am while working on the computer, I heard a squeaking! OMG! It's time! I tried to give her 'space' not staring at the cage (they say this can stress them out and they might hurt the babies) After an hour or so I tried to peak in the open door of the nesting box (which looks like a flat pyramid) I could see two little pinkies in there!! "Oh maybe that's all she'll have", I was thinking ....AND desperately hoping....

I have to add at this point, that during this time, Chigger & Moo were in the nesting box with Skunk. I called them her nursemaids. Halo however stayed outside the box running on the wheel as only Halo can do. Maybe she was pacing with worry? Actually I think of her kinda like that crazy, eccentric Aunt that everyone loves but she has the smell of too much perfume with a dab of medicinal brandy on her.

As I was hoping to get a picture of the pinkies through the door without disturbing anyone Chigger happened to see me looking. She walks out of the box with such purpose that I laughed out loud. As she stood on the outside by the door, she very strategically pushed bedding with her front paws, sometimes carrying some in her mouth too, TOTALLY barricading the open door, so that I couldn't see in! I couldn't believe it! And then after her job was done, she very innocently ran up into their hanging bed in the corner with Halo and went to sleep.

So within a mere 7 days from the time I saw Skunk's belly growing, we had a special delivery. Later in the day, I was able to very briefly lift the box to do a head count & to be sure everyone was ok.

Here they are four days old. I hadn't taken any pics the first day cause I was too nervous and didn't want to upset Skunk. Just picture them 4 days smaller which at this age is major!

Whew! There were only SIX! Now I was anxious to know if they were boys or girls!!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You're kidding right? NO, please tell me NO!

Remember those sweet little innocent mice I brought home on July 1? Uh-hem (clearing throat) well, on July 14th I noticed a change in Skunk's body shape. Just the day before I'd commented that we had nearly "made it". Even if one of the girls had gotten impregnated on the day I bought her she'd give birth by July 22 at the latest...Mice have a 21 day gestation period.
We were close but that only counts if you're playing horseshoes. I feebly hoped that perhaps she was just gaining weight with all the good food I was giving them. (hmmm flashback that SHE'S the one that quite easily takes food from my hand...well, duh, how many pregnant mother's DON'T eat all the time?!) But with each day it was apparant that she was going to have babies. From all the research I did, it confirmed that during the last week before delivery they would get the look of having swallowed a ping pong ball. Yep, that about sums it up.
But having her pregnant wasn't the scary part. What really got me was that she could have up to 20 little cherubs!! Uh-oh!! We might need to get a bigger cage!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A house is not a home without a mouse!

So I guess "the girls" are getting settled in. They no longer run around willy nilly like they're lost and they seem to be getting more use to being the foursome. I often find them sleeping in their hanging bed. They are so sweet. I even have Skunk eating from my hand!
Not to mention the interaction of the other furry family members. Zoey the BWD (that’s Big White Dog) doesn’t seem overly interested in them at all...And only occassionally does the almost 15 yr old cat, Scout, care either...but when she does show interest it doesn’t seem to bother them. Mice by rights like peace & quiet and nothing to stress them out. But they really don’t seem to care when she’s there.

And when she does sit there it’s one of laid-back leisure not in a predatory mode. She will however lay close by almost standing guard over really, I kid you not! LOL Course I couldn’t help captioning this picture, “Dear Lord, please let one of the mice get out of their cage. I will not hurt it, I only want to play with it a little bit. I promise. Amen.”