Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kittens

I have resisted getting a cat for years.  Hubby had cats growing up,  and has brought up getting one occasionally but I did not because my mother is allergic to them. My Grandma had cats and we would often sneak one home in an old ice cream container after a visit to Grandma's, but since my mother was allergic the cat would live outside until we forgot to feed it and then it would disappear.

On the excuse that my mother visited every couple of weeks during the summer, and that I just don't want to deal with another species, I have not wanted a cat. 

There are times I have started to think about another dog.  But since Kelso is so non-dominant, I am afraid another dog, especially a small one, would be likely to try and dominate him and then he would become unhappy.  A large dog is, well, a whole other large dog.  And as I'd love another collie and think a matched set would be great, there is no guarantee it would be cuddly and particularly playful, which is what the girls want in a dog.  Kelso is the perfect dog for me, but he isn't cuddly, doesn't particularly want to be petted aside from wanting his butt scratched, and the girls would love a cuddly dog.

The real break down of my non-cat defenses came when Red started asking for a cat.  She has a friend with cats and has visited her house and listens to her friend talk about them.  So Red started on me.

I told her the big obstacle would be getting one that would tolerate the dog.  Kelso goes to the barn and is used to cats, but I don't want to have to deal with a battle so we would need a cat that would put up with him.  I figured a kitten would be more likely to do that.

Long story short we took Kelso to the rescue shelter and through a long process of watching kitten after kitten freak out when they saw him, we finally found two that didn't have a literal hissy fit when they were brought into the room with him.  A black male and a cream colored female.  While we were at the shelter the cream one sat calmly in Blondie's lap and the black one played on the floor under Kelso's legs with Red.  It seemed obvious to me that if I'm getting a cat for the girls, I need to get both of these two.  And I also let the shelter people convince me that two kittens is better than one.

It has worked out great.  Neither cat cares about the dog - they have started playing with his nose when he comes over to sniff at them.  The cats play a lot with each other.  I find them hilarious, unless it's in the middle of the night.  Hubby and Red and I have taken to shutting our doors at night.  It disrupts the airflow through the hot house, but it does mean we won't get woken up in the middle of the night by a curious kitten.  Blondie is more interested in having cats on her bed than in getting a good night's sleep, so she leaves her door open.

We named the creamy one Pangur Ban - after the cat in the 9th century Irish poem.  I had first heard about it in the movie The Secret of Kells, where they have a fabulous song about Pangur Ban, who is the abbot's white cat.   Blondie was somewhat resistant to name the cat this, because I guess when we saw the movie a couple of years back I had said something about that being a fabulous name for a cat, and she wanted to have more input into the cat's name than me predestining it back then.  But we all started calling her Pangur, even Blondie, and it kind of stuck.

The black cat the girls named  Neko because that is "Cat" in Japanese and the girls watch so much anime it seemed natural.

Neither name is very common, Pangur especially takes some explanation and repetition.  Blondie said she told someone we didn't want to just name the cats something completely ordinary.  There is a family nearby with two dogs named by the kids - Snuggles and Fluffy or something like that, and we have always wanted to make sure our pets are not named something so pedestrian.  I can't remember who it was, Hubby or Blondie, but one of them said something along the lines of "We're not just going to name the cat Friggin Mittens!"  
Mittens, no.  But Friggin Mittens, YES!!!   If we hadn't already settled on Pangur, her name would have been Friggin Mittens.


I have gotten so used to their littleness that I am not sure I'll know what to do with them when they're big.  I guess we'll find out.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Dog Proof Cat Feeder

We just added two kittens to our family.  I have resisted cats for a while, as I am a dog person really, but I have to admit it has been a fairly easy and amusing adjustment.  
Except for one thing.
The dog loves the kitty food.  
He is a good dog, but training him to stay out of the cat food seemed like a pretty hard thing when buying a dog proof cat feeder seemed like an easy thing.
Except they cannot be bought.  
I found one I liked on the internet, but alas and alack it isn't available anywhere I looked.
Here is the one I wanted.
I found it listed multiple times on pinterest, and the blog where this picture came from described it as prohibitively expensive, so they made their own.
I am not particularly handy and was kind of stuck.
Until I found this at IKEA

I bought two.  I figured it's a little small and I'd need a double wide.

Here's how I assembled it:

I attached two back pieces together using some 2 inch brackets from Home Depot.  The brackets fit just fine in the holes provided for regular assembly.  For steadiness I drilled some holes and added some dowels in between the two pieces, but you can't see that.


Then I assembled it according to the instructions, leaving out the middle piece and just making a rectangle instead of a square.

 There is a floor piece that just rests on the bottom - I cut off part of it with a hand saw so the kitties could climb up in the bottom.

I cut some IKEA placemats to cover the bottom, so the kitties wouldn't have to jump across the gap, and drips and spills wouldn't fall through.  I cut them with scissors, and went back and forth trimming just a little bit here and there, so it would be a pretty tight fit.  It ended up stabilizing the floor pieces, which just rest in there on a lip against the side.  I thought I'd have to nail or glue the floor down, but the placemats are holding it in place just fine.



The kitties can come up through the bottom and the dog can't get in.  I am so proud of myself I could bust!

I don't know what the fancy one on Orvis would have cost since it is now unavailable, but this cost me $80 for the two IKEA storage stools, $3.00 for the IKEA placemats, and about $5.00 for the brackets and dowels at Home Depot.  Roughly $88.00 total.  


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Almost a Year gone by

My sister asked me if I'd stopped blogging.

Not intentionally.

A couple years ago I told a friend to check out my blog to see what we're up to, and he said he didn't have time to read blogs, he kept up with people on Facebook.  I still think Facebook is ... not for me, but I have resigned myself to getting an account.  And now I post entries on Facebook more often than I blog.  Which is sad.  Facebook is this quick stupid dump, (for which I prefer Instagram, having joined both) and blogging is thoughtful and informative and ... and time consuming.

But here we are.

It's been a wonderful year.  The girls get out of school in just over a week.  This has been a hard year. Red was just telling me her grade in English has plummeted.  A couple of late assignments, a couple of assignments she didn't realize were supposed to be turned in, and BAM she has a nasty grade.  She is worried they'll hold her back.  She read me her previous grades - the first three quarters her grade is in the 95% or above.  Honey, you just get through the year.

She has had some struggles personally, she lost a good girlfriend, and it was unresolved, and she just wanted some closure.  It never really came.  School-wise, except for this one English grade, she's been bringing in her regular high performance.

Her art has been wonderful.  She's done a couple of pieces that just tickle me pink.  Bianca arranged for her to meet with an artist friend of hers, and we drove to her studio and Red got to talk to her for almost two hours... it was wonderful!!!  This friend of Bianca's is a fabulous artist, but more than that she's a lovely person and an excellent teacher.  She is said some very inspiring and supportive things to Red, who came away just floating.  There have been a couple of experiences at the Young Artist Academy that lifted her up in similar ways.

Blondie has had a really good winter with the horse.  They won the Beginner Novice Junior Champion of the year for the local region, which is a pretty big deal.  They are doing great and having a grand time together.  She is competing at the Chicken this weekend, she had to miss a registered horse trial at the beginning of the month because Bones had an injury, but they're back and should do well.  

She has also had some friend struggles, her best friend from last year seemed to out grow her, and decided to befriend the popular group.  This absolutely broke Blondie's heart, but she came out of it with some other friends, who seem a little more stable.  Both girls are a little wounded and gun shy, though.

We had a wonderful spring break, took a cruise to the Carribbean, and had a ball.

That's about it.  Everything good.  I should really blog about little day to day experiences, because the girls are growing up so fast and I want to record it all.  But...  I barely have time to get on Facebook.

A few highlights:  October we took a trip to Chicago.  The Art Institute was, of course, one of my favorites.  We also were able to meet up with a friend of Grace's who moved from Park City a year ago, and her mother.


Halloween costumes.   Red was an Apocalypse survivor.  Blondie was Link from Legend of Zelda.  Kelso was Lassie.  We went to Downtown Park City for the first Halloween ever.  Hubby was a western Dude, and I was... a pirate or something.  And of course the dog was the big hit of the day.


 

Blondie and Bones have been doing great




Hubby got eye surgery to correct his misdirected eye.  It has since wandered back a little, but is a vast improvement over what it was.



We had a marvelous Christmas, as per usual



After years of saying we would and not, we finally painted Blondie's room




Oh Oh!  It looks like that's all the pictures I had on the computer.  Time to get the girls to bed. I'll have to fiddle with this another day.  That only got us through January or so.  Sigh.





Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer wrap up

We had a busy summer.  
We haven't gone to Vegas for the Better Software Conference for a couple of years, but we went this year the week after school let out.  Instead of limiting ourselves to one big show, we did two big ones and a little one.  We saw The Beatles Cirque du Soleil show, the Blue Man show, and an animal show.  The last one was a little disappointing, maybe our kids are too old.

The end of June was our third annual trip to Oregon.  The first year was so magical, the 2nd year was a little frustrating, partly because nothing could match the magic of the first year, but this year was solidly lovely.  Some of us made it all the way to the top of the mountain we hiked, the little girls actually got Red to boogie board with them, we just had a great time.

Right after we got back from Oregon I drove Blondie to Wyoming for her first real Horse Trial.  She bobbled her dressage and was 8th of 8 girls in her division, which was very disappointing for her. They did Cross Country the 2nd day and she jumped the wrong jump - she jumped the higher one next to the one she should have jumped, and was given a "Technical Elimination."  However there was some miscommunication with the judges and they didn't stop her like they should have, and she was able to continue on and finish the course.  It was complete serendipity in our favor.  Because it was a "technical" elimination she was able to petition to ride in the final round on the last day, so she got to ride the show jumping round, which was fun.  She learned a lot.  Blondie was of course hugely disappointed to be eliminated, but she took some comfort in the fact that five of the twelve riders in the group we came with from Park City were also eliminated, and only 2 of the 8 girls in her division ended up finishing, all the rest were eliminated.  It was a tough course, but she did well and had a great time all in all.
This is the first time she's had to compete in full on eventing clothes with the jacket and light pants and tall boots.



While Blondie and I were in Wyoming, Hubby flew to Dallas with Red to pick up his new car.  He has been wanting to move up from the Passat for a long time, and has been looking for easily a year to find what car he wanted.  He finally settled on a particular BMW and found one that matched and had to go pick it up.  I have kind of put up with this because 1) we are calling this his mid-life crisis 2) he did earn it, sort of, by publishing his book.  However I have been kind of mocking him, maybe quietly, I hope gently, because the car he settled on is a 2 door convertible.  I have pointed out that we live in PARK CITY next to a SKI RESORT and he has TWO CHILDREN.  He was undaunted.  I voted we keep the Passat and he could just drive that to and from the airport, and garage the BMW.  HIs reply was most weeks he'd only drive it to and from the airport.  He does make a good point.

And then I drove the car.  It is so much fun to drive, I had to shut up about it and while he's been in Australia this week I have been driving the BMW on all my errands except to the barn.  I will not drive that to the barn.

We were going to go to Australia and New Zealand with Hubby but when we came back from the horse trials we talked and since my passport had expired, the girls' expire in September, and we hadn't bought tickets, and the whole trip would be wedged between a church girls camp and going back to school and we'd only have about seven days non-travel time to do this, it was just getting less and less appealing.  So we decided not to go.

I had three big projects to work on this summer.
1) Paint Blondie's room.  The sample color patch has been on her wall for over a year.  But I told her I'm not just going to clean up her room, clean out her room, and paint it, without some help from her. It's a decent but not monumental mess in there.  She hasn't seemed to want it bad enough to clean her room.  So it didn't get done this summer.

2) Clean out the garage.  We bought a work table for one wall to hold tools and stuff and put peg board on the wall, but the organization and clean up part was started but not really finished.

3) Finish up landscaping the front yard and plant the grass.  This involved relocating some plants that I had planted too close to the existing grass line, and moving the grass line back much further back toward the house, and removing a whole bunch of Bishop's Weed and planting the grass in the space to fill it in.  I ACTUALLY DID THIS!!!  The grass is planted and little tufts are starting to come up.  

School started last week.  Red is on the early bus, and leaves the house at 6:40 am.  Blondie is on the late bus, and leaves the house at 8:26 am.  I have found that there area several hours in the morning that I didn't even know existed.  I am certainly not naturally an outrageously driven or productive person, and I do not feel compelled to pack something into every minute of the day, but I have found this time in the morning to be a great time to get some things done so I have less guilt when I get less done in the rest of the day as I often do.

Red is quite happy with her classes, she got most of the electives she requested and has been enjoying school well enough.  She'd rather stay home, of course, but she is resigned to it, she has some friends, and she is okay.  Blondie was devastated that she does not have any of the friends she made last year in any of her classes this year.  There are people she knows, but her little circle of friends are not in her classes.  She is much less concerned with the actual classes themselves, for her it's mostly about her friends.  Since she's been going for a couple days now I have discovered she does have friends in some of the classes, she tells me stories about this person or that person in her class who she knows, and I think she'll be fine.  

The Fall Pumpkin horse show is this weekend.  I should in fact be packing the car instead of blogging.  I guess I better go do that.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Immunization

Before students in Utah can attend 7th grade, they must prove that they have received a barrage of immunizations.  Or vaccinations.  Or both, I don't know the difference.
Last year I took Red to the clinic and got her shots, but then when I went to register her for 7th grade they informed me her records showed she did not have the necessary vaccinations.  I was very mad, I'd gone to the trouble to get her to the doctor over the summer, and granted I forgot the list to wave in the doctor's face, but good grief it's a state requirement, shouldn't they know?  I had to make an appointment with the clinic nurse for their next appointment, which was the next day, then rush her back to school afterward so she could register and get her laptop and her schedule.

I decided I am not going through this hassle with Blondie.

I made Blondie's appointment right after school got out in June.  She was very upset about getting the shots, but there's not a lot we can do about it.  They forgot to give me her proof of vaccination printout, so I had to go back and get one, but I was prepared.

I went to register Blondie today armed with our proof of residence and proof of vaccinations.  Imagine my alarm when the school nurse looked at my vaccination certificate and told me "You don't have one of the vaccinations.  I can't register her."  "You are KIDDING MEEEE!!!!    BAAAHHHHH!!!"

I had an appointment with the optometrist myself shortly to get some new contacts so before I raced off to that I called the clinic where I had taken Blondie in June to see if she really had gotten the shot and it just hadn't made it to this print-out somehow, or if she really needed to get another shot.  The secretary said she couldn't find the info and the nurse would have to call me back.   I raced to my eye appointment, where I got some bad news - an irregularity that I have on one eye I now have on BOTH EYES.  Which means it is getting worse.  Anyway.  Not a huge deal now but something to watch, the doctor told me to go see a cornea specialist, and I was sorely disappointed in my body's lack of ability to perform like a super hero.   It has pulled through for me before, being very healthy and stuff, but today, well, today it failed.  I picked out new glasses but my heart wasn't really in it, I ordered "Daily contacts" because they are less likely to cause stress on my eyes, and came home somewhat defeated.

The nurse didn't call me back, so I called and made an appointment for Blondie to get the shot, 45 minutes from then.

We drove to the appointment and were a few minutes late because I made several copies of the paper the school nurse gave me indicating which vaccinations an incoming 7th grade student needs.  When we checked in I gave them to the front desk lady and suggested she post them around because this was my 2nd time having to come back and get a vaccination that had been missed in the 1st appointment.  Blondie could not believe I had actually given the copies to her.  We were sitting in the waiting room, and finally a nice lady comes out and calls Blondie's name, and comes over to tell us they are out of that vaccination.  I remember thinking "I should close my jaw.  I am sitting here with my mouth open, which is probably rude."
So I closed my mouth.
She told me they would probably have more on Monday.
I could feel tears pricking my eyes...
The nurse told me I could go to the public health clinic.
I flipped out.  I was so mad and didn't want to be caught crying.  I don't know why but I smacked my forehead dramatically three times with my phone.
I think I said okay, but I stormed out of there with Blondie following behind.
I was crying before I got to the car.  I still am not sure why.  I guess sometimes you have to act like a spoiled two year old.

I sat in the car trying to get a hold of myself, Blondie was scared and asking what was going on, why was I so upset.  I don't know.  I told her about my eye, and then she got upset and asked if I was going to go blind, no, well, I don't think so, probably not, they can operate for this but they don't like to operate on your cornea unless they absolutely have to.  I googled the public health clinic and considered calling to make sure they had the vaccination but decided my voice would crack, so I drove Blondie over there to give myself time to calm down.  Blondie was pretty stunned.  I apologized for embarrassing her in the clinic, and told her I think I flipped out because I was afraid I might cry, and she told me crying might have been less embarrassing than smacking myself in the forehead with the phone.  "Then everyone in the waiting room watching might have thought she told you you have some horrible disease or something.  Hitting yourself with the phone just makes you look like a crazy person."

I calmed down on the drive and we made it to the public health clinic where I was informed that they did have the right vaccine but they don't take my insurance.  It would cost me $115 but I could probably be reimbursed by my insurance if I submitted the paper work.   Fine.  Get this over with.  I should add that no less than three times while we were there I had someone ask to make sure we didn't need the OTHER big vaccine for incoming 7th graders.  No, thanks, our clinic already gave us that one but they're NOT AS SMART AS YOU GUYS and they totally bungled the OTHER vaccine, which is why we're here.

The nurse called Blondie back so we went to the exam room, where the nice lady proceeded to ramble on at length, telling us all the possible side effects, then explaining how exceedingly rare it is that anything should happen, but she is required to tell us anyway, then apologizing for rambling on.  She was really quite lovely and nice.

When the shot was all over she told Blondie that despite being 12 and no longer a child, she could still choose from the tacky gift bag for "being brave."
She pulled out several bulging kitchen trash bags and said Blondie could choose from some school supplies, from some of those tiny foamy critters that expand when you get them wet, or a little stuffed animal.  She opened the bags and right on top of the stuffed animal bag was Chubby, a little stuffed dragon that Blondie had given up in a room purge at least three years ago.
It had originally been Red's, as she is the big dragon fan, but Blondie had taken it when Red purged at one point.  It has lived in Blondie's room for a while, but it was purged quite a while ago.  
We could hardly believe it.  Blondie figured it had come to her again, it was fate, so she chose Chubby as her prize.  I told her she can't ever give him up now.

We'll have to try again to register Blondie on Monday.  I can't think of any more problems we may encounter but maybe I'll tuck Chubby in my purse for good luck just in case.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Sad Day

The girls went to Girl's Camp last Monday, just got home today.
I had thought that maybe Hubby and I could have a romantic get-away, but he scheduled work a long time ago, so he was out of town.  Also got back today.
I decided to go visit my parents, 80 miles north, since I am the only one who really wants to do this anyway.  I had a nice time, a couple of my mom's brothers and their wives were also visiting, I got to see my sister, shop with my mom, it was a nice relaxing time as it usually is.  Without the hassle of entertaining Hubby and the kids.
I took the dog and the remaining guinea pig with me, rather than board them or get someone to come watch them.
Wednesday my mom and I went to Sam's Club.  Before we left I put the guinea pig on the grass so he could graze.  I put the top of his cage out so he couldn't run away, and put his igloo and water there too.
When we came back I went to check on him and he had flipped his igloo upside down, and was lying limp on the ground gasping.  I picked him up and raced him downstairs where it was cool, wondering if he had over heated.  He did not seem to be improving.  I called my sister and asked her where a good vet is, and raced over there.
He had already died before I got there.  They said without an autopsy, they couldn't really determine the cause of death.  They'd have to ship his body out for the autopsy, and they'd send me back the report and the cremated remains.
That just seemed gruesome.  They gave me a nice little cardboard casket, put a hand towel in the bottom, and laid the guinea pig on it.  She closed his eyes for me.

I came home that night and decided to put him in the fridge.  Freezing him would have meant I had to cram his body into a zip lock bag, and make freezer space.  I had room in the downstairs fridge to put him in his little casket box.

I picked the girls up today and Blondie, whose pig this was, chattered all the way home, full of experiences to share from camp.  As it was Red's 2nd year, and she didn't have some of the dramatic experiences as her sister, she was quieter.  Hubby's plane had landed and he had arrived home while I was picking up the girls but he had to get on the phone, so we told them we had some bad news as we were getting out of the car, so it ended up that we told them that the pig had died as we were all standing in the garage in front of the car.  Of course Blondie was devastated, Red was sad too, as her pig had died this spring.

Blondie went downstairs and sat on the storage room floor with the box on her lap, petting the pig and crying for about half an hour.  We will have the funeral later, when Hubby gets off the phone.  I started digging a grave in the back yard, next to Red's pig's grave.

The problem with having these animals we love is that they don't live forever.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Chicken

There are two big schooling shows for eventers each year - eventing being what Blondie does where she rides dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country jumping.  Anyway there are many smaller shows but the big ones seem to be the Spring Chicken and the Fall Pumpkin, both held at the Golden Spike fairgrounds.
Last Fall she went to the Pumpkin and took 2nd place in the Junior Grasshopper division, which is the entry level division
The Chicken was yesterday, and she decided to level up and compete at the Beginner Novice level, which is 2'7" or lower.
She was pretty nervous, and expected to not ribbon as she was competing against up to 19 year olds.  The Junior Beginner Novice had the most participants in it, with 22 kids.  I think I might have mentioned in a previous post, the scoring ends up being a lot about the dressage.  If you can nail the dressage, and make it through the jumping rounds, you do okay.  Bones and Blondie are really good jumpers, I think she rides him well, and I think he is really good about jumping most anything she can get him to.   I think they are a little more wobbly at the dressage, but he steps out really pretty and holds his head nice, and they generally look good. 
I have a hard time with this in my head, because a lot of the time I give the horse a lot of credit.  I think he is an excellent horse and we kind of lucked into finding him.  He has a lot of experience and he knows his job and seems to be kind of paternal about it, and I think he takes care of Blondie.  However, I think she does ride very well, and certainly does everything she can, and seems to listen to her instructors, who I do think are wonderful.

Of course it's not about who wins or doesn't, it's about how well you do against yourself.  However it's always nice to bring home a ribbon.  My parents came down to watch, I kind of emphasized that this is probably the closest show she'll do, and since it's a mini event they can see everything in one day, so they made the trip.  Because they were there, instead of mostly following Blondie and Bones around and running support for them, I kind of sat with my folks and narrated what was going on for them, and let Blondie kind of take care of things herself.  Hubby spent more time shadowing Blondie.  Because of this I got to watch more of the other girls in her division do their dressage, and I thought it unlikely Blondie could win against some of the better ones of them.  But she's had a couple of dressage lessons where the teacher has been working on the finer points of what they do, and I have to assume that these little details that I can't even see must be what make the difference between a good rider and a great rider, because after the dressage round Blondie was in 2nd.

They kept their 2nd place through the day - The only thing that would make them go up would be if the girl in 1st messed up, and of course they could have dropped if they messed up on the jumping rounds. But they didn't.  She came out in 2nd place and was tickled pink.

It was a great day and she had so much fun - the cross country ride was one of the best rides she's had in her life.
This is from schooling on the course before the event - something you only get to do if it's a "schooling show."


This is her dressage.  It's hard to get good pictures, as they're just kind of walking walking and trotting around.  


This is from her stadium jumping.



I spent half an hour trying to figure out how to make the video of the cross country smaller so I could upload it.  Apparently I am not technically savvy enough and I have run out of time for the day.  Someday if I can figure it out, I'll load it.
Yay Blondie and Bones!!!