Monday, July 29, 2013

An Epic Tantrum

That's another whirlwind weekend under our belts.

Friday we had a cook-out to say "goodbye" to a lovely family from Jack's school that are moving to go to Texas. They are moving to a town called Nacogdoches, in the middle of nowhere, with black poisonous snakes that chase you. No thank you very much, I'm not living anywhere I can get chased by a snake. My mornings are stressful enough trying to get two kids, a laptop bag, my lunch box and a hot cup of coffee to my car without having a snake chase me across the front yard as well.

Saturday we met visiting Nashville friends for brunch, then did an indoor play area for the kids, then did a local parish festival. By 10pm I was dead on my feet. Of course that didn't stop me & Craig from staying up till 2am watching the original 1983 version of "The Evil Dead".

Sunday we got up super early and went to the cabin to see Char & Jan. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid-70's and we couldn't wait to spend time with them.

Me & Danny at the cabin
Happy Kids

Char & Skipper Jack
The time between the above pictures and the below picture will from now on be referred to as "the time Daniel lost it at Indian Lake".  I have no doubt the other 9 people on the boat are still talking about it. Daniel had a tantrum of such epic proportions that we had to leave and I have never been so embarrassed or so at a loss of how to handle a situation. It started because he had to sit down on the boat. All kids had to sit down, it's the rule. He refused so we had to hold him, and restraining Daniel, to him, is awful and unbearable. Books about tantrums will recommend holding a child tightly and saying soothing things until they calm down, but they will also say that if your child is one that hates to be restrained then the holding technique just makes it 100 times worse and in that situation let go and let them have space. So Daniel hates to be held or restrained and we hate that he might launch himself off the boat, so we were stuck: him flailing, arching, shrieking and crying. Us trying everything from talking, soothing, threatening & ignoring.  Nothing worked. It was AWFUL and it went on for a full 30 minutes while they took us back to the boat ramp. Jack was driving the boat with Char and broke his heart crying when we had to leave. I felt so bad for him. At one point, 30 minutes into his melodramatic episode I was somewhat in awe that a human being could carry on like that, so crazy and loud, for so long. I just don't have the energy. So then we got him to the car, strapped him in, and 5 minutes later...

The Little Terror Sleeps
It's Jan's 60th Birthday this coming weekend and I'd love to go back and see her but this lad is banned from boats for a while (among other things he's banned from).

Hank is doing okay - not great. Mostly because Ben is being over zealous and chasing him or bothering him. So Hank is doing a lot of hiding but we are all doing our best to play with him and bring him out of his shell. It's only been 2 weeks since he came here so hopefully he'll get his confidence soon and give Ben a thick ear.

The hamsters are doing great too. They both have a ball that they can run about it. It's actually pretty funny watching them scoot all about the house.

Lastly I have to note that it's wonderful that Jack rings me half a dozen times a day. He calls to sing, to tell me stories or sometimes just to say he loves me. I wish I could save every single phone call we have (though I have saved his voice mails) because there's nothing so great as your 7-year old calling you at work and singing you a song.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In my Nature

Do you remember that scene in "The Crying Game" when Forest Whitaker tells Stephen Rea the story of the scorpion & the frog - basically that it's impossible to change people's nature? I wonder if it's true.

The reason I'm waxing philosophical about that is that I've had to go to several medical places recently and had a lot of advice flung my way and I have come to the conclusion that my nature, my personality, is such that doing anything in moderation is going to be very hard for me. I know that I'm a type A person and I actually like that about myself.  But it's not good for my health. What I need to do it stop drinking wine and exercise more.

But here's the problem:
I like wine
I hate the gym

So there you are. Any advice?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

We had a flood (3 inches of rain!!).

Going back to work was hard, leaving my boys.

I watched CNN run a story that George Zimmerman was a "hero" for rescuing a family from an overturned car. At the same time I read that his cousin has accused him of molesting her since she was SIX and that his ex-fiance has an order against him for battery.  Are these things true? It's hard to believe the media these days but I'll be trying to follow it.

There's a new Royal baby. I like the name Henry.

When I got home I was: cooking sausages on the grill, unloading the dishwasher, dealing with questions from both boys, then the grill SET ON FIRE. I'm not talking about a bit of smoke or a lick of a fire I'm talking full-on fire to the ceiling! I screamed for Craig and rang 911 and Craig came running and put it out. Phew! I have felt horrible all night and am so thankful that Craig was here.

So that was my Monday. Glad it's over.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friends, Vets, Unfriendly Parties & Festivals

Last night I met some girlfriends (originally PTA ladies but actually now my "go to" friends) at a local pub for some beers. It was so good. Just 2 and a half hours of girl-time but worth a million $. I need to put that on my monthly "must do" list, along with a date with Craig and a pedicure. Those 3 things alone make me HAPPY. Genuinely happy.

This morning, not having heard back from Katy, I took Hook to our vet. Yes he has fleas, no he does not have an ear infection. From what they see today, he's very healthy and a good soul. I asked them to call the other local vet to get his medical records because Katy had told me & Craig several times that he went to that vet and that they had his records.  The other vet did indeed have records - they faxed over one page that said she took him once, last December, because he had a bad case of fleas. So Hook's had no rabies vaccine and he could have feline aids or leukemia for all we know. She downright F****** lied to me! But actually I'm not mad, I'm just very sad about the whole thing. She looked me in the eye and lied to me. Why? Did she have no money? Or did she just want to unload him?  She seemed like a very nice, genuine person that loved her cat. I must be a really bad judge of character obviously. Moving on - he is now on flea meds and on a regular vet program. He's happy but dying to leave the office - maybe tomorrow. His new name is Hank because he and I both need a new beginning with all this nonsense. I'm still not 100% sure on whether I'll have any more communication with Katy. I had promised her that she could visit him before she leaves mid-August and that I'd send her photos now & again (she asked I didn't offer). So I'm not sure what to do about that. If it were me, I'd be devastated leaving my animal with someone else, but I have to stop thinking that people think like me, right?

So anyway, after the vet visit we went to an outdoor party to do with Craig's work, hosted by the big boss. And OH MY GOD it was the most unfriendly, messed-up party ever. Last year I promised myself I would not go to this party again because of how bad it was,  but of course I did. The boss came over to say Hi then walked off. His wife did not welcome us. They have 5 grown daughters who ignored us until the end when one asked "who are you?" There were 30 people there and not one person laughed, was friendly or had manners. The entire time we were there (4-8pm) no one offered us a drink or food. Thank God we had two lots of friends there that we knew and loved. If it had not been for those friends I would have left immediately. As we were leaving at 8 pm we went over to say thank you to the boss and the entire time we were with him his wife was stood next to him, ignoring us but berating him, ridiculing him, and putting him down. It was unbelievable. Wow. Worst. Party. EVER.

At least the kids had fun
On the way home both Craig and I were dog-tired but I was driving so doing that thing where you stretch your mouth and say stupid things out loud, just to stay awake. Jack begged to go to our local parish festival. Cried genuine tears, not crocodile ones, when I said no. So I took him. You might say I'm a mug, but I remember the excited feelings of local parish festivals. I can still feel the excitement of them. You can't bottle it. So off we went, and Craig and Danny were couch potatoes at home.

Friends + Festival Rides = Kid Bliss
We got home at 10pm with a funnel cake in hand that Craig, Danny  Jack devoured like hyenas! Ben did the helpful chore of cleaning the coffee table of icing sugar...

I'm absolutely exhausted. What a day.  Tomorrow we REST and have FUN!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hook: Day 5

It's such a shame that this kitty has fleas because he's dying to be with us and start exploring the house, but we've combed him a half-dozen times and still keep finding them. I think he has an ear infection too. I've sent lots of texts to Katy asking if she is indeed coming to take him to his vets tomorrow. I even offered to take him for her, or at least pick up flea meds from there. No response. It is so annoying.  If she flakes on us then I  guess we'll be dropping a couple of hundred $ on vet bills this weekend.

He's going to be a great cat though. He loves people and he's already great with the kids (well kid singular, Danny has no interest in anything but watching videos of people playing Super Mario on You Tube, which is a whole other story).

You probably think I'm a sucker. I do feel a bit "duped" to be honest, but I also feel good for Hook, that we can offer him love and a home where he'll be taken care of and be part of the family. And I have to say, if Katy really doesn't care about him and she truly has tricked me, then she deserves an Oscar.  Maybe she'll come through tomorrow - I'm hoping she does.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Five Hours at the Pool!

I took the lads to work again this morning then got them home for lunch and we spent 5 hours at the pool. Now I am bloody exhausted & sun burnt. Jack learnt a new pool trick today - he calls it his "eights" It was only seven but by the look on his face when I told him that I think I'll just always tell him that yes - it was eight.

Swam like a lunatic

It took 100 shots to get these two good ones
Tomorrow they are going to the pool without me and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm nervous about it. I'm trying not to be a paranoid mum.

Not much progress with Hook today. His mum sent me a couple of lame texts. She's out of town. Told me that he was on flea meds but he got out and well you know, probably got fleas then. The term flibbertigibbet comes to mind.

So last night I bought "Sentry" flea shampoo and medicine because the vet was shut and the pet store person recommended it (didn't I say recently that I wouldn't listen to them again? Guess I didn't learn my lesson). Tonight I read a Consumer Report review where 157 people said it caused death, hair loss, severe skin irritation and at best foaming at the mouth. FFS! I cannot get a break with this cat! So at 9pm we had to give him another bath - this time to wash off the meds. I also combed him a half dozen times today and still keep getting fleas off him. Here's something gross - the only way to kill them is to squish them so hard you hear a crack. How awful! No wonder no pesticides kill them these days.

I am working tomorrow but will get him to a vet on Friday. He's endured so much this last few days - surely this little fella is due some good luck?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Cat has Fleas!

It has been such a full day. I took the boys to work with me this morning, along with a a local high school student who sometimes babysits for us. She is going to do some work for me at my office so I took her along to get her paperwork done and get started. She's just working 20 hours a week for me but I'm so glad to have her help. At lunchtime we left and I took the boys swimming then when Craig came to the pool I took Jack to soccer practice. I'm not complaining about it being a busy day - it was fun but just oh so full.

When I got home at 7pm I went and sat in the office and thought I'd snuggle with Hook for an hour - to give me a chance to wind down and hopefully make him feel more at home. After about 10 minutes I noticed my t-shirt covered in small back spots. Uh-ho. Then I started rooting around in his fur like a chimp and found fleas. Lots and lots of lots of fleas - adults, eggs and larvae. Ewww!

So off to the shops we went, Jack and I,  to buy flea shampoo, flea medicine, and Borax to clean the rugs and futon and everything else that didn't fit in the washing machine. In the meantime I sent a long text to Katy and also left her a voice mail explaining that her cat was riddled with fleas and I didn't appreciate it very much and please get back to me asap. I was livid and didn't hold any punches on my message. That was at 7.30pm and I am yet to get a response at 11.30pm.

This poor cat was absolutely covered in fleas and I've noticed his claws are so long they are curling back on themselves and I am surmising from the conversations we had with Katy and her roommate last Sunday that he was pretty much ignored the last 12 months. They made him sleep in the basement each night because he meowed. I think he meowed because he wanted some attention and they locked him in the basement each night.

So tonight at 9pm we gave him a flea bath (you can imagine how much he loved that), then we kept him in a dog crate for an hour and watched the adult fleas jump off him. I spent an hour dusting the room with Borax, brushing it in, then hoovering it up. We have washed all other textiles and scrubbed the room. We can't put his medicine on his neck for two days, until his fur is back to normal after the bath, but I think most of the fleas are now gone.

He is back in the office now, all clean and hopefully in a clean environment. I just went in to see him, expecting him to run away and never come back after all he's been through but guess what? He came to me, rubbing against my legs and purring. He's a different cat altogether.  He must be feeling so much better now that he's not being bitten and irritated to death.

I wonder if I'll hear from Katy? I wonder how I'll respond to her if I do? I tell you what - she's not having any kind of say in how this cat gets cared for anymore. I think she considers herself a kind person and I think she "loves" him but I think she's a young person who has no time for a pet and no desire to learn what it takes to do it properly.  She brought me two plug-in scent things that mimic a female cat pheromone that I saw tonight at the pet shop for $50 each. She also brought us expensive urinary tract food, an expensive cat carrier and she gave me elaborate instructions on the placement of his litter tray and food. Too bad she didn't consider investing in some flea medicine as she might have saved him a lot of pain and irritation.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Week for the Boys

This week the boy's babysitter Linda is on vacation so I am taking some vacation time, taking them to work and organizing other babysitting help. Today we ran some errands then we went to a local pool with friends. It's not the pool we normally go to where we are members but one that's very near to my house where all our friends go. I have a feeling we'll be joining this pool next year.

Jack was straight on the slides and diving boards.

Danny loved it all, especially since they also had a sand volleyball court that he could dig in, between swimming. He finally decided to try a diving board and I waited with baited breath then the lifeguard blew her whistle and told him he couldn't go on with floaties on his arms! Bloody hell I thought - that's his confidence dashed. He is allowed to wear a life jacket on the diving boards at our regular pool so we can try again.

There's been a bit of progress with Hook today. He has eaten and drank and used his litter tray. Jack and I have cuddled him a dozen times and he seems more relaxed but he is still hiding under the office futon. Baby steps are the name of the game. His human mum Katy didn't come to see him today. After I texted her to ask if she was actually coming because were were waiting to go out, she texted back & said no, that she forgot. Maybe it's a good thing that we aren't stretching that out, I don't know.

Lots of cuddling going on

Handsome lad

This picture makes him look huge. I told Jack maybe he's a real jungle cat.

The heart-shape mark on his right leg. How cute.
So the next step will be opening the office door and letting him explore the upstairs of the house, but I think that's going to be a few days yet. I also have to work out how to get him & Ben together again without Hook being traumetized. Ben shoves his nose under the office door & whines  like he's saying "Come out and play! Let me show you the hamsters". He's such a muppet.

Lastly, I'm not keen on the name Hook. I keep forgetting it and calling him Hank. Would it be too weird for him I wonder if I changed his name?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meet Hook

Hook & Katy
Meet Hook. His human mum (Katy) is a recent graduate who just got offered a big job in Chicago and will be working 80 hours a week, so she can't take him with her. He's two and both Hook and his mum are devastated by the separation.

That's where I come in. I am going to adopt him and with the help of his mum we are going to make the transition as easy as we can. She leaves for Chicago mid-August.

He's bonkers - just like Frank was. He's vocal and loves humans and is an all-round fabulous cat. Usually.

Right now, his first day with us, he is traumatised. He is hiding under the futon in the office so I have set him up in there on his own with his food and toys and bed and I'll leave him alone for a while. He was so upset when he got here that he hid under the couch and went into shock, panting. And he vomited on himself. Poor baby.

Katy is coming over tomorrow to see him and she and I are texting back and forth. I know it'll take a few weeks for him to feel comfortable here, I just wish he could understand that we want to help him and that even if we are a bunch of noisy buggers we mean well.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Furry Friends

The day that mum & Tom left we liberated the frogs, those that were left. I have come to the conclusion that rearing tadpoles is a walk in the park but rearing frogs is near impossible. A frog expert friend told me this fact and said that frogs generally die in captivity - but they still have a better chance than in the wild. Well I'm not much keen on animals dying, so our frog rearing days are over.

So as far as pets go, we have Ben, our most wonderful dog who turned 3 this month...

Loved by all of us. 

"Can't help myself mum"
Ben is such a good lad. He'll be as perfect as Cody in a few years but right now he still has his mischievous & downright naughty side. I like that though.  We still miss Cody a lot of course, but  it's only been a year since we lost him & that's normal.There's no way we could spread his ashes yet and neither of us can talk about Cody without crying, so there's still a long way to go, grieving for our boy.  We'll probably miss him and Frank our whole lives actually.

Well moving on  - we have two new pets in the house!   Whitey (Danny's dwarf hamster) and Luke (Jack's regular hamster) joined us last week.
Whitey doesn't bite, is tiny, and cute as a button - perfect for Danny. Unfortunately they only live about a year but I'll deal with that as it happens.
Luke is awesome. I like him a lot - feisty, cute and conquered the odds. He had a very nasty wound in his belly, right down to his intestines, that has healed. Between us applying Savlon and him cleaning it's almost gone (other hamsters bullied him at the pet shop).

Hamster love

I like this cheeky little guy
Luke spent 30 minutes filling his cheeks with his bedding, travelling up the tube to the upper level of his cage and making a new bed. It was great to watch. What a character.

Eat them or play with them? 
So there we are. A dog and two hamsters. I am still hankering for a cat to lay on my lap, but that's for another day.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Jack's 7th Birthday

It was Jack's 7th birthday on Wednesday. Instead of having a traditional kiddie party we invited adults and kids alike for a open-house party where they could swing by and say hello or stop for longer. I think we ended up with about 40 people and it was a tad manic at times but a good time overall. Mum & Tom enjoyed meeting everyone and of course Jack was lapping up the attention. Although he did go shy when we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

We got him an Avatar Air Bender cake with his favourite character, Ang, on top.  He had asked for an iPod but we got him roller blades instead. Between the iPad, laptop, Wii and phones he plays too much on video games as it is. I can't bear the thought of him having an iPod in his pocket the whole time. He seems okay with it and went out oh his roller blades already.

Roller blading, with some help from Grandad Tom

So who is Jack at 7? Well he's still a social butterfly, talking non-stop. He wants to do everything and see everything and can be a bit exhausting at times but his personality is infectious. He loves people and animals and he has an amazing imagination. One minute he's pretending to be an animal catcher and the next he's chasing dragons or building a fort. His Grandad Tom has told him that he comes from a long line of Pirates, dating back to Blackbeard, and he totally believes it. I am playing along with it but have put my foot down at the mention of a pet parrot. 

Opening his presents - a kite from Grandma & Grandad Lewis! 
 He's an outdoor kid and loves to mess about with insects and climb trees and dig in the dirt. He gets that from me. I was not surprised to get a letter from his school this past week telling me that he is going to be in a gifted and talented program this coming year in "science".  He still doesn't enjoy reading and writing and I need to help him more with that, but he obviously loves science so that makes me happy.

He has a typical sibling friendship with Daniel - playing one minute and fighting the next, usually over a revered toy or the iPad. Daniel adores him though and will always ask for the same things as Jack - ice cream flavors, toys, you name it, it's always "I want the same as Jack". I hope they are lifelong friends.

Happy Birthday My Love
So I asked Jack "What's the best thing about being 7?" And he said "Being taller". Then he asked for a hamster and what time are we going to the pool and can he have an ice lolly and can he play on the iPad...........

Today we are going to go to the pool and and then we are just going to enjoy the weekend. The last two days have been absolutely manic and stressful, with July 4th celebrations, parties, saying goodbye to mum & Tom at the airport, and rearranging the house. I also have a nasty viral chest infection so have been coughing so much my ribs ache. I think an afternoon at the pool will do us all wonders.

Monday, July 01, 2013

A Most Wonderful Holiday to South Dakota

We just got back from a 3,000 mile round-trip and I have a terrible head cold so am feeling too tired to write much, but wanted to get these pictures up straight away before Jack's birthday celebrations.
So here's tons of pictures with captions. They are not in chronological order, but that's okay.

Most Wanted (Danny absolutely would not join in)

Mount Rushmore, SD

De Smet, home to Laura Ingalls and her family, SD

De Smet had a barn full of kittens that were a hit with the kids

Foal at De Smet

De Smet

On arriving home: crashed out
Play area in Deadwood, SD

Play area, Deadwood, SD

Deadwood, SD

Sturgis, SD

Pool at our hotel

Crazy Horse Monument, SD

Trading Post in Buffalo Gap, SD

Hidden treasure, Buffalo Gap, SD
Buffalo Gap, SD

Buffalo Gap

Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation, SD

The Badlands, SD

The Badlands

Craig in the Badlands

Feeding the prairie dogs

Danny & nana feeding prairie dogs

Game of put-put at Yogi Bear Campsite, Wisconsin

Yogi Bear campsite

Horse ride in Wisconsin

The worst restaurant in the world, Badlands, SD

Mum & Tom
Wall Drug, SD

1880 Cowboy Town

What a fabulous week. When I have some more time I'll write a few stories.