Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby!

Today is Little's birthday. She is seven. SEVEN! It's shocking really. 2010 has come and gone. My baby is no longer a baby. And I'm pushing forty. Forty. Eeek!

I must admit it gives me pause -- this business of time. Where has it gone? I am reminded of Mary Oliver's famous quote, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

What indeed? I have many many plans for 2011. Resolutions of sorts. But that's for another post.

I want to talk about today. Snow is periodically blowing from the west and baby it's cold outside!

Given the weather it's all about snuggling and nesting. This, of course, starts in the kitchen. Meat is boiling for tamales (to be built tomorrow). Alfredo mac 'n cheese is on deck for dinner. No knead bread is fermenting in the kitchen. Chocolate cherry cupcakes will soon be done. We have a family movie for tonight (How to Tame a Dragon). And Mama and Papa have a lovely bottle of wine.

This morning Little opened her gifts. With frugality in mind her present was homemade-- a cash box for lemonade stands (yes, yes -- I am aware 'tis hardly the season but summer will be here before we know it!)

What started as an ugly thrifted cash box turned into this:

I think it turned out pretty good. It's amazing what some spray paint, printed labels and mod podge will do. Now we wait for warmer weather. In the meantime Little has turned this into her piggy bank for safe money storage.

Love the labels? I found many of them here.

I hope you are having a wonderful cozy winter's day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December? Already?

This season has crept up on me. Can it possibly be December? Already? Where has the time gone? Where has the year gone?

In absolute denial we put off decorating. Christmas won't come without ribbons or tags. Could it possibly come without boxes or bags? I believe you know the answer to that particular question.

Fah-who-for-aze. Dah-who-dor-aze.

Anyway last week my youngest daughter asked, "Mom? Why aren't we jolly?" referring to our lack of Christmas decor. Why indeed. Clearly decorating was in order.

In response to the six-year-old inquiry we stepped up our game. A tree was chopped down from our front yard (seriously). Here's the before shot. The tree was too large and blocking the view of our porch. Thus we killed two birds with one stone; clear the yard and procure some holiday decor.

Then we put up lights across the porch. The roof was too snowy and icy to do more. Now half the lights are not working but hey -- it's the thought that counts.

We strung popcorn and cranberries for the tree and made a few of those mushroom ornaments I've been lusting after. And I'm still loving the pine cone ornaments from several years past.

And I found the wherewithal to make Mexican Wedding Cookies. My favorite. I still have several things I hope to do -- make felted holiday acorns, bake for the neighbors, wrap presents, make a few additional gifts and, of course, get those holiday cards and dvds out (New Year's mail anyone?).

To be quite honest I'm shocked at how short a year truly is. If I am extremely lucky, I have sixty or so of these years left. How can that possibly be? The moral of the story? Enjoy each and every moment.

Now I'm off to make banana bread. Infused with chocolate chips -- of course. It's about the moments people. The moments. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One final post on Oliver

Hobbs, our darling replacement kitty

So. I got the surgical bill for Oliver. $1745.00. This is my cost after the 30 % professional discount. This for a stray cat; a cat that was not under my care when injured. Do I regret it? No. Do I wish I knew the outcome before pursing surgery? Of course. But life isn't like that. Sometimes we take risks. Sometimes we make judgement calls that don't quite work out in our favor.

I did learn a few things and I'd like to share them with you:

  • First off -- emotions and finance do not make a good combination. Oliver was an AMAZING kitty and we fell in love. Head. Over. Heels.
  • Kids wreck havoc on one's ability to make financial judgements. I had to take Oliver to surgery because I could not look into those sweet little doe eyes and tell them it didn't make financial sense (see point one).
  • Third -- veterinary medicine is expensive, even for veterinarians. If you have a pet that you would go to any length for you should either a) start a savings account or b) get pet insurance (or both).
  • If you are not going to adhere to the third point then by all means make sure you have good credit. Fortunately I have a year to pay off this bill without interest thanks to Care Credit.
  • If you do get Care Credit be sure to pay off the ENTIRE balance before the introductory rate ends. Otherwise the interest rates are astronomical.
  • Sometimes the free pet ends up being the most expensive. This is not to say you should purchase a pet. There are many nice animals at the humane society which can be had for a nominal fee (see photo above). Pets from the humane society come spayed or neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and often with a month of free pet insurance.
  • A new kitten of the same color variety lessens the sting of loss.
  • 4-month-old kittens are CRAZY. Our tree will likely be knocked over more than once this holiday season.
  • And finally, though some of you disagree, I am a sucker (in the nicest sense of the term). There are some animals that just get under my skin and I am compelled reach out and help them. See examples A, B and C. As such, after this bill is paid, I will start an "I AM A SUCKER FUND" so that I will be able to help the next creature with less financial strain.
And now, because I've neglected to do this for a while, I wish to post a list of gratefulness.

Today I am grateful for:
  • Amazing, caring, sweet and resilient children.
  • All the folks who reached out financially and emotionally to give Oliver a chance.
  • The thought that if nothing else I am supporting the local economy as Oliver's surgery was performed in town.
  • Professional discounts -- every little bit helps!
  • Delicious left overs that make eating at home worth the effort.
  • Library books and wool roving.
  • My small shop that helps me to meet my obligations.
  • Holiday cookies and lights on trees.
  • Snow on the ground and icicles on the roof.
  • And the love and joy that my family brings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Holiday Gift Idea

This is hardly a new idea. It's been floating around the web for quite a while. Last year I made a set with photos from an old fairy tale book. For this particular game I used scrapbook paper. Truth-be-told I like working with the scrap paper better -- it is thicker and less prone to bubbling. If you choose to print your own photos perhaps print them on card stock.

This craft is easy -- scrapbook paper, a paper cutter, card stock, wooden tiles and mod-podge. Cut your paper to size and glue on the blocks. Easy peasy. If you want to add extra protection follow up with a coat of clear acrylic spray paint (it's probably worth it but a bit smelly). Top it off with fun drawstring bag like this one and you are ready to go; a frugal, fun and educational gift.

This is a birthday gift for a seven-year-old. Last year we gave this same girl an I Spy Bag. As my children's friends continue to grow I'm going to have to get more and more creative. Ideas are always welcome!! I'd love to hear what you make and do!

And now I must go get ready. Middle and I are going to participate in our town's annual Jingle Bell Run. It is chilly outside -- all white and gray. Off to find the wool handknits -- hats, gloves and scarves. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 3, 2010

If I die young.

Yesterday I was making a memory game for an upcoming birthday party. As I am often wont to do I left my stuff out on the table.

Last night, while at work, Middle called and asked if she could use my supplies. She needed one piece of craft paper, mod podge and a wooden square. I asked what for and she was rather vague. However I was busy and therefore didn't push matter. Of course I let her use the stuff (it's amazing she even asked permission).

Well this morning I found this:

A note to Mickey and Oliver, nestled alongside Oliver's foot print*.

The words are the lyrics to If I Die Young. It reads as follows:

To Oliver and Mickey,

If I die young, bury me in satin,
lay me down on a bed of roses,
sink me in the river at dawn.
Send me away with the words of a love song.

Oh how I adore these kids of mine!

*At the clinic we make clay footprints of deceased pets. I've found these to be of great comfort for my children. We have amassed quite a collection and I suspect our Christmas tree will be decorated with these charms. On any given day a paw prints will turn up unexpectedly around the house. Oh -- there's Herschel sitting in the bathroom! Even though these pets have passed on they are still with us in spirit.

❊❊❊ ❊❊❊ ❊❊❊

I'd sincerely like to thank everyone for their kind words and sympathies. Though we only had Oliver for a short period of time we were smitten. He will be missed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Not every story has a happy ending

Sometimes you try. You do all you can do and it's not quite enough. Sweet little Oliver has now moved on from this world.

He had a urethral tear and we took him to surgery with the hopes that it could be repaired. It was too deep. Inoperable. He was euthanized on the table.

I've yet to tell my kids. Their hearts will be broken. Yet again. Being the child of a veterinarian, if nothing else, teaches the frailty of life. Tonight we will have a talk. We will talk about life and death. About planning for the future but living in the moment. About being willing to love even if it means sadness and pain. And we will talk about going to the humane society to get another kitten.

I am responsible for this fiasco and really should have known better. Usually I'm pretty good at hardening my heart. But every once in a while there is a crack and some creature sneaks in. That was Oliver. Such a good kitty and I am sad to see him go.

And if anyone has the letter "S" sitting around the house you may send it my way. S is for sucker and I need to update my wardrobe. Dagnamit. What a world. What a world...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Oliver Update (and an eensy weensy little freak out)

Overall Oliver has been doing well. He is eating and drinking and urinating and defecating (all good things). He is completely unaware of his broken pelvis and would just as soon roam about the house and cavort with the dogs. Only we have a little problem.

Earlier this week my son noticed a small wound on Oliver's tail base. I, thinking it was chewing secondary to pain from his healing pelvis, didn't worry about it too much. He got his e-collar back on, I brought him to work and shaved the area and we started another round of antibiotics.

And then today I saw it. The clear fluid drip drip dripping from this wound. Crap. This is not an infection. Now I suspect he has a fistula connecting his spinal column bladder/urethra with the outside world and he is dripping cerebral spinal fluid urine out the hole (from the top of his tail!!). Crappity. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Hopefully this little problem can be cured by surgery with prolonged urinary catheterization (bummer for him). He has an appointment tomorrow with a specialist for a contrast uretherogram to determine if this is indeed the case.

And here's where I am with my thinking.
  • Am I crazy? What have I gotten myself into? This is an unexpected expense right when money is the tightest (i.e. the holidays).
  • Oh Mr. Peculiar is going to kill me (not literally of course but he won't be happy)
  • Thank God my sister and her family doesn't mind thrifted gifts.
  • What am I going to tell the kids? I hope this is a correctable problem. Please please be correctable.
  • Am I crazy? Why do I do this to myself?
  • What ever on the planet am I going to get my children for Christmas? What does a teenage boy want that's a) homemade or b) thrifted. (ideas more than welcome here!)
I already know that if this is surgically correctable I will have the surgery done. This is not a financially astute plan of action (I can just see Dave Ramsey shaking his head in disappointment). Criminy.

So here's my plan.
  • I emailed a day practice (i.e. not an emergency practice) to see if they had any shifts I could pick up.
  • I'm going to continue to list new and exciting items to my Etsy shop with the hopes that folks will want to buy them.
  • I'm going to scour the house and see what we can put up for sale on Ebay.
  • And finally there is a donation button on the sidebar of the blog should others want to continue to help with Oliver's care ( I am soooo grateful for all the help I've already gotten. You people are AMAZING!!).

And here's what I am determined not to do: feel sorry for myself. There are many reasons why. First and foremost Oliver does not feel sorry for himself. He has a broken pelvis, is stuck in a cage and now has a spinal urinary fistula. Yet he remains a happy kitty. Animals are amazing in this way. If this were a human we'd be moaning and groaning and generally no fun to be around. Second -- this situation was one of my own choosing. Something akin to making my own bed and laying in it. As such I am going to pull up those boot straps and do what I need to get things done. Looks like my family is getting a cat for Christmas.

Thank you for listening to me grouse. It feels good to vent. I'll update you after Oliver's appointment this afternoon.



And the update is this may be a urinary fistula rather than a spinal fistula. Which is funny because I originally thought the fluid might be urine but then talked myself out of it because it is anatomically quite strange. But, of course, veterinarians can't have animals with simple problems.

The good news is: if this is indeed a urinary fistula it may heal with prolonged urinary catheterization (i.e. several weeks) and not need surgical repair. Emphasis on the might. So I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping against hope this is the case. Tomorrow he will have a contrast urethrogram (radiographic dye in the bladder) to determine just what is going on. I'll update again tomorrow.