For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Outwit, Outsmart, Outlast (Part 2)

It was about 2 years ago that I introduced you to the newest member of our family, Maddie.

She was an adorable, spunky and fearless kitten.  She loved to surprise family members by springing out of hiding places as we walked by.  While this behavior was funny to the human members of the family,  the feline members of the family were not amused.

At 2 years old,  Maddie has calmed down somewhat, but she is not a cat that likes to sit around and do nothing.   She still is very active and very curious.  She still likes the element of surprise too.  She makes me laugh every day!

The grande dame of our house is Momo, a beautiful 10 year old long haired calico.  Momo has always been somewhat of a recluse.  She rarely comes out of hiding when strangers are in the house.  She doesn't go outside much anymore, content to spend her days eating and sleeping.  She loves to sit in my lap!  But there is one member of the family that Momo cannot tolerate - and that's Maddie!  If Maddie comes anywhere in her vicinity, Momo growls to ward her off.  Cat fights are not uncommon, usually beginning with Maddie chasing Momo at high speed around the house.

Last summer, bigger problems began.

Momo started peeing and pooping around the house.  Not all the time, but pretty often.  Her favorite spot was in one of the dog beds in our bedroom.  After throwing away 3 dog beds, we've improvised and we now "make" our own dog beds out of foam covered with a piece of vinyl and then a soft layer on top.

If Momo chooses to pee, we can just replace the top two layers.

I've spoken to our vet and we believe Momo is trying to let us know that she is unhappy and stressed.  Most likely due to the presence of Maddie.   The vet recommended a product called Feliway.

We have 3 of these Feliway diffusers plugged in outlets around the house.  Feliway is a synthetic copy of feline pheromones used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.

The vet also recommended a calming treat to give to each cat every day.

And I bought a special cat litter containing a scent to attract cats to use the litter box.  
And I make sure I clean them every day too.

The Feliway has greatly lessened the fighting between the two cats.  I can tell when the diffusers have run out because the fighting starts up again.

Even though Momo has been much better, she still pees once in a while.  So I read a book on cat psychology recently to see if there is anything else I could do to make Momo's life less stressful.

I read that expanding the cat's territory vertically often helps cats get along.  So I have done that.

These shelves in the family room are for cats!

Maddie has begun to lay up there!

I also bought two cat beds that are held up by suction cups to window.   I put a fleece blanket on each one and Momo really likes these!  One is in the family room on the french door.

The other is on the window near our dining room table.  

Momo even sleeps there at night, now.  I think she feels safe from any surprise attacks from Maddie when she's up high.

Hopefully, with a little more time and patience, Momo will become less fearful and less stressed.
Hopefully she will eventually use her litter box 100% of the time.
Hopefully Momo will stop growling at Maddie.
Hopefully Maddie will learn to leave Momo alone.


Outwit, Outsmart, Outlast (Part 1)

"Don't own pets unless you're convinced you can outsmart them." 

Who can I give credit for that quote?  ME

We only have two dogs and two cats. I've had pets all of my life.  Wouldn't you think by now I'd have it all figured out?

Sure, there are times when everything goes smoothly.  
Times when you think you have them outsmarted.

And then you realize you really don't.

Two days before Thanksgiving, I drove to Rochester to pick up Annie.  We got home, and I left my toiletries bag on the bathroom floor, too tired to unpack it right away.  The next night, we all went to see the new Hunger Games movie, leaving the dogs at home.  

After the movie, we discovered a torn and now empty ziploc bag of Truvia sweetener on the bathroom floor.  It had been packed with my cosmetics.  Panicking, I called the vet and was told that Truvia is not toxic to dogs (Xylitol sweetener is). Phew!

On Thanksgiving morning, I let the dogs outside and noticed Halle had a very hard time walking.  Her legs were stiff as boards.  When she came back in, she wouldn't lay down.  At about the same time, I noticed a few vitamins on the bathroom floor in the corner.  I checked my bag, and they were not there. So in addition to the Truvia,  a ziploc bag full of Vitamin D, Fish Oil and Magnesium supplements were gone!

Halle spent the next 24 hours at the emergency veterinary hospital where she was put given activated charcoal, put on an IV for fluids, and had blood work done multiple times.  She also shit her guts out multiple times.  When I picked her up, the bill was just shy of $1000, but she was fine.  

I learned never to leave my toiletries bag on the floor again.

The Truvia must have tasted REALLY GOOD to Halle because since then she has eaten though a ziploc bag holding my sister's make-up, found and eaten a box of chocolate/mint candies my son didn't even know he had in his bedroom, and eated 6 Rescue Sleep supplements which she punched out of a foil case after removing the foil from a box:

How difficult must that have been for a dog?

She has also started going through garbage cans in search of tasty treats.

To avoid another major vet bill, or worse, a dead dog, I had to come up with something to keep her safe.  

Closing doors isn't the answer, because our other dog, Sami, figured out how to open them when he wanted to get into Adams room to sleep with him at night.

So this is what I came up with.

I put a strong string on the inside lever of every bedroom door.  I then put a screw into the door trim inside the bedroom.  The string has a few loops tied onto the end so that it can be hooked around the screw. The opening is wide enough to get a hand through to get into the bedroom, but not wide enough for a dog to get through.

Now, even if Sami unlatches the door for Halle,  she won't be able to get in!

I also put one on the door to the basement where the cat litter boxes are.

Because if the dogs are able to get to the litter boxes, they look like this (replacing the snow with cat litter):

and their breath smells really bad.

The cats - well - that's a story for another day!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Landing strips, Deliveries and The Jetsons

I won't need to do it for a few more years.  Maybe longer.

Eventually I will need one:  a landing strip.

Hmm. I think I should make myself a little more clear!

I need to make my driveway look more like this:

A landing strip.

You may not know this about me, but I'm the queen of online ordering.  Long gone are the days that I drove all over town (or farther) to buy something I need.

If it's sold online, most likely:
1) It will be less expensive than anything locally
2) There will be a better selection to choose from
3)  I will spend 75% less time finding it

Often, if I see something I need or want in a store,  I'll check the price on Amazon on my phone.  If I can save money, I will go home and order it online instead.   I can usually get free shipping, save on sales tax and have the item on my doorstep within a day or two delivered by one of these trucks.

But it seems like the days of packages being delivered by people and trucks are numbered!

This blows my mind!  It's like the futuristic cartoon from my childhood, The Jetsons, happening in my lifetime!
Thinking back to my childhood in the 1960's,  we didn't even have packages delivered in the mail.  Even if my mom ordered something from the Sears Roebuck catalog at Christmas, she picked it up at the store!  Besides, the mailman walked the neighborhood - he had no way to carry boxes with him.

It wasn't until the 1980's and 1990's that mail order catalogs began filling our mailboxes and we called the toll-free numbers to speak with a human being who would take down all of the information necessary to send us what we wanted.

Now, in the year 2014, many companies don't even print catalogs anymore.  Online websites are used by most people for mail orders anyways.

If you watched 60 Minutes recently, you might know about this already.


Drones are already being used in Australia by a textbook company for deliveries.

Amazon is hoping to get the FAA rules changed sometime in 2015 which would allow the company to use "octocopters" in the United States.  Amazon said the octocopters will have a 10 mile radius, so you'd have to be close to an Amazon distribution center to qualify initially.  And they will only carry items up to 5 pounds, which is about 85% of all Amazon deliveries.  They will fly to a destination given GPS coordinates.  But listen to this - you would have your package within 30 minutes!

Of course there are a lot of logistics yet to be worked out.

What will prevent people from shooting them down and stealing the cargo?
How will they know not to land on someone's head?  Or roof?  Or car?
Can they fly in bad weather?  Snow? Rain? Wind?

Amazon isn't the only company toying with the idea of using drones.  Dominos thinks it would be a fantastic way to deliver pizzas!  There are a ton of very good uses too - like transporting medical supplies to those in need.  And how easy would it be for Jesse Pinkman to transport some crystal meth to his dealer??? (We just finished watching Breaking Bad!)

The FAA has just approved drone testing in 6 states.  The testing is expected to cover a variety of uses of unmanned aircraft including Amazon Prime Air shipping.  It is thought that the testing phase could go on for 3 or more years.

That should give me plenty of time to finish my air strip.
And maybe hire an air traffic controller too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Kids are Crabs

I am writing this post after having my kids home for almost a month for winter break.
By the end of this week, they will all be gone once again.

Whenever they come home after being away for a while,  I am amazed at how much time they spend in the house.

Kerry has "her spot" on the couch in the family room where she can be found at least 75% of her waking hours.   

Annie spent most of her break reading books - I believe the final count was nine books.  At first she would read in the family room where everyone hangs out.  Then I noticed she was isolating herself in the basement for large chunks of time.  

Adam's spot is at the kitchen table.  He will do work, read, eat.  He also spends lots of time in his room, but tends to fall asleep when he does.  

Don't get me wrong.  They have friends.  Often, their friends come over to our house to spend time.  Sometimes they go out to meet friends for breakfast.  I can entice the girls  to go to the mall with me sometimes if they need to buy something.  But they are not the type of kids that come home and are on the go all the time.  They're happy to just chill.  Can you believe that we have watched 4 seasons of Breaking Bad together since Christmas?

I used to think our town was just too boring for them.  There really isn't much happening here -   but that's not the reason either.   I think they just need to recharge.   They are introverts, after all, just like me.   I like being with people, but not all the time.  I need my alone time.   It wears me out to rush from one activity to the next.   I love to read, think, explore ideas and be creative - and it's often easier to do these things by myself.  In my own little world.  In my own little shell.

So I totally understand that they need to be more like hermits when they come home.

The nuns in school used to tell my parents that I needed to come out of my shell.  While I agree it's good to get out of your comfort zone, I see no problem having a nice cozy shell handy to retreat into when you need to!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Christmas Story

He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming--it came!
Somehow or other, 
it came just the same.
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, 
he thought, 
doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, 
means a little bit more."
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"He brought everything back, all the food for the feast.  
And he, he himself, the Grinch, carved the roast beef."
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"Then the Whos, young and old, will sit down to a feast.  
And they'll feast, and they'll feast.  
And they'll feast, feast, feast!"
~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"Welcome, Christmas, bring our cheer.  
Cheer to all Whos far and near.  
Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. 
Christmas Day will always be, 
just as long as we have we."

~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Monday, January 6, 2014

Before Christmas

Before Christmas.

Isn't it true that the anticipation of Christmas,
the time BEFORE Christmas,
is often more exciting than Christmas Day?

Buying gifts for loved ones, wrapping, planning, decorating...

This year, the time before Christmas was extra special.
With my sister and her family here, there was time spent in NYC and Vermont,
a marriage proposal,  gingerbread house competition
and lots of time spent with family and friends,
just  being together.

There were unexpected visits from good friends...

bearing thoughtful gifts!

After church on Christmas Eve,  we had an Asian dinner of ginger chicken, fried rice and egg rolls.

Then we decided we would each opened one gift.

The gift I made for my sister got the expected reaction!

It was a photo book of all the times our families have spent together since our children were born. 

The tears came as Emily read the foreward.
(see end of blog post for details)

Vance's brother and his wife visited too.

and Ravioli.

The end of the evening was spent looking at Bride's Magazine
in search of a wedding dress for Emily!



In truth a family is what you make it.  It is made strong, not by the number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.