Max's 7th birthday is fast approaching. 21 October. Lately he's been insisting that his birthday is October 1st, brushing aside my insistence that I remember the day very clearly and it most definitely wasn't the first of the month. Lately he seems to have accepted reality, I think that setting the party date was what did it.
Instead of listening to the VP debate last night, Max and I had a great time making invitations. I think it was a good decision.
In contrast to last year's huge party, this year the party will be smaller and simpler. We alternate, big and small. Every other year it's a huge exhausting thing, after which we say "never again" by which we mean "not again until 2 years hence".
We're having this year's party at the local (no-kill) animal shelter. Their setup for the animals is really nice. The cat room is a free-range set of 4 connecting rooms with all sorts of kitty divertissements. The dogs get to go to outdoor runs during the day and play with other dogs.
We'll have a separate party room with crafts (provided by them! I don't have to plan it!) and a tour of the shelter. Max also gets to have an animal "guest" at his party, he picked the tortoise. Other choices were bunny, hamster, rat, guinea pig, ferret, and snake. He was really torn between the tortoise and snake, but finally decided on the tortoise as it's something he hasn't interacted with much. I was pulling for the bunny, but didn't say anything.
The base cards are a robin's egg blue scallop-edged, textured card over a plain red card. Max got to work the glue roller and stick these two pieces together.
Aren't the die cuts cute? Every time I go to Michael's I drool over those die cut systems but they're so expensive. Plus, if you've ever seen my craft room, you'd know that I'm being reasonable by not bringing more stuff into it. So instead I searched on etsy and found these from Beth at BethMarie10. She was so wonderful to work with. She had these listed in her shop and popped them into the mail really quickly for me. There are two different sets used here: one with cats, dogs, and mice, and another with party hats, cupcakes, and presents. The party hats and cupcakes were used here, the presents will be used for thank-you notes. I also did a custom order for some coordinating gift tags and a set of spiders to put up around our house for Halloween.
Now I "just" need to finish making the party favors and talk myself out of making kitty/puppy ears for all the party guests. Wish me luck.
Is anyone there?
I've been gone for a while I guess. Just living life. Nothing particularly bad or good. It just is.
I've been thinking about posting again for some time, you know how it goes. But then Liz, who I discovered just a little bit before I stopped blogging and reading blogs, pinged me with the "6 things" meme. That's as good a reason as any to post again. Thanks, Liz!
So here goes.
The "rules" of the game are as follows: 1. Post the rules on your blog 2. Write 6 random things about yourself 3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post 4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag
My 6 random things:
1. I like mayo on tomatoes and salt on watermelon.
2. I am a habitual volunteer. If something needs to be done, I can't stop myself. (Only if it's someplace other than home. Lots of things need to be done at home, but I can't get myself to volunteer for those.)
3. I've considered (and am still considering) taking my violin lessons far enough that I can begin teaching.
4. (This is hard for me, I guess I'm out of the habit of blogging.) I used to love my cats like children, until I had a child. Now they've been demoted.
5. I need lessons in walking. And posture. It seems like this should be natural, but my back/hip/neck pain suggests I'm doing it all wrong.
6. I'm currently having a crisis of identity: mama, scientist, PTA activist, crafter, what do I want to be? (OK, this partially explains my absence from the blog.)
and 7. I've been out of blogland so long that I have no idea who's already done this. Plus I don't like tagging. So I'm not going to tag people here. Sorry for breaking the rules!
I have another post coming soon (I finally took pictures). See you again soon!
I'm learning to not get all hot under the collar about honesty, particularly as it pertains to a certain 6-year-old boy. Because it seems that his definition of honesty is quite a bit different from mine.
This morning he locked himself in the bathroom for about 30 minutes. This isn't unusual, the bathroom is a favorite play-place of his. But normally there are sounds of water, or at least of toilet paper unrolling and being stuffed into his clothes to make padding so he can bounce off things without injuring himself (at least that was the theory).
Today there were no water sounds. After a little while, just a little tinkle, like of glass falling and hitting the counter.
Using my super-mama hearing, I decided it sounded just like my glass thermometer falling onto the counter. So I called in: "Max, that wasn't the thermometer, was it? Did it break?"
OK. Maybe it just fell and didn't break. That's fine. I go back to cleaning the cat litter boxes--fun! More time passes, child is still sequestered in the bathroom, still there are no sounds of water. You know how you know something is wrong because it's too quiet? Well, my mama senses were tingling. "Max, are you sure everything is OK?"
There's not much more to this story. He eventually came out of the bathroom and went into his room. I went into the bathroom to find a broken thermometer and a large bead of mercury on the counter. Then I went into his room to find him sitting on the bed, with a few beads of mercury around him on his bedspread. They must have gotten onto his pajamas and then fallen on the bed.
A call to the pediatrician, a call to poison control, looking up mercury clean-up on line. An hour later and we're mostly contained, rooms are ventilated, and we're off to clay class, where my still mercury-sensitized eyes are noticing every shiny thing on the side of the road and noting it so I can come back and pick it up with my eyedropper and take it to the hazardous waste facility. I still need to get powdered sulfur to bind any remaining mercury, and take everything (bedspread and pajamas included) to hazardous waste. And get a new, non-mercury thermometer.
It seems that honesty is situation- and age-dependent. At 6, being honest means telling the truth unless doing so would mean you don't get to play with the really cool mercury bead anymore. I had assumed that he wouldn't be able to lie so easily to a direct question, but I failed to take into account the allure of the mercury bead. I'm assuming that this will change as he gets older, but for now I must remember to not necessarily accept verbal assurance. If it's a case of health and safety, I'm going to require additional proof.
These are my first glasses ever, acquired at age 43. OK, that's not exactly correct, I had a pair for close-up work, that I got when I was pregnant and my eyesight seemed to suddenly go bonkers. But those were just for occasional use, for needlepoint and such, and these new glasses are to wear most of the time. They're not very strong, but I'd been blessed with great eyesight and it has steadily degraded with age (ah! like so many things!) so that I found myself squinting most of the time. I was pretty excited to get these, to be able to see well again.
This is a good self-portrait of my camera, not so much of me. I can't get the hang of taking pictures of myself in the mirror. What was I looking at and why do I look so glum and serious?
This is one of a set of 7 hats for a special order. The order was for 4 child/teen sized hats, but then I had bits of yarn left over so I made 3 doll-sized hats to include. My customer is amazing: these are part of her Christmas shopping!
I desperately need a head mannequin for hat photographs. These just don't look very good all flat like this, and Max is no longer interested in modeling. I looked on ebay and found some vintage millinery forms, but I keep getting outbid. Does anyone know where else I can get one? Or maybe I should just make one. How hard could it be? (Famous last words.)
Gertie update: Thank you all for cheering Gert on! She says thank you too, only it sounds more like "purrrrrr". We have big news: yesterday she ate her first food in about 3 weeks! It was only a teaspoon, but it's a step in the right direction. She didn't repeat until this morning, and now isn't interested again. We're going in for her check-up tomorrow. Hopefully we'll keep taking small steps in the right direction.
Gertl is feeling much less yellow (jaundiced) now, and much pinker. Even her neck wrap is pink!
Gert stayed at the kitty hospital for 11 days. She was incredibly lethargic, very jaundiced, and looking like she was not long for this world. They put in a feeding tube and fluids IV, and basically brought her back to life.
She's been home for 6 days now, and while she's none to happy about the neck wrap, she's definitely happy to be home and getting more active every day.
Feeding her has been a challenge, she needs to be fed 4 times a day, every 4 hours, plus one water-only feeding at night. All through the tube, since she still won't eat or drink. They say the usual time to have the tube in and get them eating again is 4-6 weeks.
The food is watered down and then goes through the blender. I have to bring it to about kitty-body temperature and feed it to her through her tube v-e-r-y--s-l-o-w-l-y, otherwise she vomits. Or, like this weekend, sometimes she vomits her entire feeding all over the living room for no apparent reason. It's very challenging, and I'm completely exhausted.
But seeing her happy and alert like this is wonderful.
These little needle-felted wool felt motifs are destined to be decoration patches on felt needle books, end-of-year presents for Max's kindergarten teachers. After Max finishes the needle felting (he's been doing all of it), I'll trim them down a bit and attach them to the books.
Except for the danger of 5 super-sharp barbed needles going through a little finger—and that's a pretty big "except"—this is an fun activity for kids. I got the Clover needle felting tool and mat for Christmas, and after a 3-day frantic search through the house for it, it took us all of 30 seconds to get going. The Clover tool has a little safety cover that theoretically prevents one from puncturing one's body. In reality, we found many ways around this safety feature. Not because we were looking, but just because they came up. Ocassionally the cover would stay retracted and not come back down to cover the needles; disassembling and cleaning the unit seems to have helped. There's a "lock" position, but it very easily wiggles out of lock and into the open position. So we've stressed keeping fingers away and never testing whether it's locked or open on your hand.
The only problem we're having is that the felting tool leaves pretty big holes in the felt. Can you see them in the photo below? They're most obvious in the door and in the light felt to the lower right of the house.
I'm wondering if perhaps we poked more lightly (don't push the needles all the way in), maybe it would make smaller holes. The felter says it has fine weight needles, so I wouldn't image that needle size is the problem. On the yellow flower I was able to sort of brush the top of the flower and make the holes less obvious.
Does anyone have experience with needle felting and can give me any tips on this?
Gertie update: I just talked with the vet, he said her blood tests show that she has hepatic lipidosis. The infectious diseases panel showed no FLV, FIV, FIP, so that's good although it means they don't know what led to this problem. She's on IV fluids and antibiotics, and he suggested either a feeding tube or home care with appetite stimulants, anti-nausea meds, and special foods. I'd much rather try the less invasive technique, but not if she's so far along that any failure with this method would be Really Bad. Unfortunately, the vet was unable to say if this was the case, I guess the blood test results are not that specific. He could only say that her values were elevated, but not the worst he's seen.
So we're going to try home care first, to see if we can get her to eat with the extra pharmaceutical support. I hope it's the right decision.
We brought Gertie to the vet this morning and they admitted her to the kitty hospital right away. She hasn't been eating or drinking since Monday, and has been very lethargic. We were certain something was wrong when Couga curled up next to her, and Gert—the self-proclaimed alpha cat—didn't kill him.
The doc looked at her for about 30 seconds and pronounced the situation dire. She was very jaundiced. I didn't know how to look for jaundice in cats, its difficult because they're covered in fur. But her nictating membrane (third eyelid), gums, and inside her ears were yellow. This indicates a liver problem, which is consistent with her not eating for a few days.
Cats can't fast, they need to eat regularly or their bodies will begin to do things that lead to total failure. One step along the way is hepatic lipidosis, which is a buildup of fats in the liver. Because of her fragile state, he wanted to immediately put her on fluids, get some bloodwork done, and perhaps start alternative feedings.
We don't know what caused this. She's been on a low-calorie diet for about a year. All the cats have been on the same diet, how does one give just one cat out of four a special diet? The others have shown some weight loss, but not Gert until now. Her weigh-in today was 12 lb. and 14 oz., compared to 17 lb. a year ago. We haven't weighed her in the meantime, but she never felt any lighter. In fact, in recent months she was starting to feel heavier. If she has lost 4+ pounds in a week or two, that's serious.
The doctor said this could be due to liver disease, or diabetes, or gastroenteritis. Hopefully we'll know more tomorrow after all the tests.
These pictures were taken this February. I really hope we can get her looking all happy and healthy like this again.
Two weekends ago we went out to Wupatki National Monument for a photo shoot. A friend of ours wanted to take a family picture of us. Sounds really nice, doesn't it? Well, we're a photo-phobic family (except Max), so we whined about this for a very long time.
But in the end, Wupatki at sunset was absolutely beautiful, getting to spend unhurried time together as a family was wonderful, and seeing our friends was great.
The Grand Canyon is the obvious landmark of northern Arizona. There are also a bunch of smaller national parks and monuments nearby. While the canyon is indeed grand and pretty much beyond words, I find that I prefer these smaller parks. They're smaller in scale, they have fewer visitors, and they're much easier to get to know. Wupatki and Sunset Crater are like friends I'd have over for a potluck, while the Grand Canyon is a celebrity who I wave to as she drives by in her convertible. This isn't really fair to the canyon, lots of people get to know it "personally", but until Max is more interested in the canyon than in the bus system serving it, we're sticking with the smaller parks.
Do you have a favorite "close friend" park/monument? Please tell me about it in the comments. (Especially if it's on one of our favorite driving routes between Flagstaff and Boston.) Let's advocate for the lesser-known places!
Wupatki is thought to have been occupied as recently as 800 years ago. There may have been 100 people living just at Wupatki Pueblo, with several thousand more within the "metropolitan" area (within a day's walk). There are 5 accessible pueblos (clusters of buildings in various states of preservation) with many more scattered over the large area of the national monument.
The photo at the top is Wukoki Pueblo, built atop a rock outcropping. The tall building has multiple storys, you can see the remains of the logs used as ceiling/floor. The doorways are very short and narrow, to minimize heat loss. The view from up there is spectacular.
We enjoyed the view for a while, but then got back to the business of taking our picture. Corey decided he would rather go to a different pueblo, so we packed back into cars and drove to the Citadel. It doesn't have the tall buildings of Wukoki, but it does have an equally spectacular view, and there are fewer precipices over which we might lose the children. Here's Corey checking the light:
Results were delayed until this morning, as the number crunchers carefully examined the really close entries. In the end, we won!!! It was a really fun week-long competition, and I'm really glad I did it. I'm taking my bike in this week to have new brake pads put on, and then I plan to be back on the bike.
The photo above is our bike team (resolution degraded, to protect the innocent). I'm the one on the far right, with all the hair. One of the things I think it's really great about this bike team is that we're all ages, all fitness levels. For the week, we had 36% of the staff ride their bikes. Pretty damn good!
And finally, here's another reason why riding your bike is good: (Warning to Heidi, I don't think you'll like this!)