Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lucky the Kitten

What on earth have I been doing lately, that is SO DARN important that I can't even take a few moments to jot it down?

Well, it's kind of death by a thousand tiny cuts...nothing catastrophic, but an accumulation of busy-ness that has kept me...well...busy!

For example, last weekend, we discovered a batch of kittens in my folks' garage...the fourth litter this year. This is hard to understand if you don't live out in the country, but cats come and go at an astonishing rate. So much so that most people do not fix their cats, because they are likely to disappear the next week. In this particular case, the mother was born and raised at my folks' house, but remained quite wild, and must have either abandoned the kittens, or died. By the time we figured this out, it looked like the kittens had expired, so the whole box was removed from the garage for disposal of some sort. Later, my sister noticed that one kitten was in fact alive. The box must have warmed up in the sun, and given this guy just enough energy to say "I'm not dead yet". My sister, who got the vast majority of the nurturing genes in our family, brought the little baby inside. She borrowed some kitten milk replacement, got some into him, and wouldn't you know it, the little guy rallied, squirming and crying for more, truly a testament to the tenacity of life.

Great, what? We have a week-old kitten with eyes still shut, some milk replacement, and some poor sucker to warm it and feed it through the night. Yes, that last component was me, sleeping with the little creature on my chest, waking when it cried, trying to feed it with milk replacement, and wiping its bottom with a warm wet paper towel to get it to go potty.

Did I mention this was every 2-3 hours?

After the first night, let's just say I was REALLY inspired to try to get the other nursing mother cats to adopt this baby. They had shown no interest the day prior. But eventually, one of the mothers, a fantastic cat who has co-mothered other litters, did break down and allow the little baby to nurse, and started to clean him. Giddy with this first success, I concocted a plan to keep the baby warm by making a nice, comfy box that all the other kittens would want to occupy. The plan worked!

So now, one week later, we have two cats co-mothering all eight kittens, including the little baby. His eyes are barely open, but he stumbles around, gamely trying to hold his own against the other kittens, many of whom are three times his size (and age). Here they are in a moment of peace.

At the top of the picture is the alpha mommy, Sassy, a dark brindle. The orange long hair to the right is the other mommy, Big Kid. We actually had misclassified her as a male, until we caught her in a compromising position that removed all doubt. She is a teenage mother, but has followed Sassy's lead, and is co-mothering the brood, including the baby. The baby, black and white, is sprawled on top of Big Kid here.

So...what do we call him? I say him, but in fact I don't really know, even after our quality time together. In fact, after the Big Kid fiasco, my confidence in gender ID is shot. I'd really have to ask someone else. But anyway, assume it's a boy, and think...what to call him?

Lucky? Chance? Lazarus? Phoenix?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Caution: Wild Flowers

This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of the girls, taken in the summer of '08.

Now that I finally caught up with my stories about birthdays and Mother's Day and rodeos, I'll share a little adventure that we had a couple of weeks ago. A friend of mine mentioned that she had gathered flowers from her 5 acres, pressed them, and sent them to her mother in Scotland. She said she must have found 15 different types. I thought "What a great idea--The girls will enjoy that!" So the next weekend, we took some baskets, and went out scouring the 50 acres. What a blast!
My nephew Scotty came with us, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the hunt as well.

I brought my camera, intending to capture each of the different flowers, but had distinctly limited success with my point and shoot. Here are a few of the highlights.

Most of these I do not recognize, but my intent is to make a little compilation for myself of pinks, purples, yellows, etc. and identify them one by one using my handy-dandy wildflower book (thanks, Nick and Judy!).

We found 31 different types of flowers!

Some of them did not journey well back to the house, but I did get to press quite a few for future reference.

I'm hoping to get back out and try again before the end of the season. Which is coming shortly...the hills are already fading from green to golden.

And my baby wildflowers are about to graduate from kindergarten.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Relaxing Mother's Day

Sunday marked our return to the Mother's Day Rodeo. Doesn't everyone attend a rodeo for Mother's Day? Relaxing with the sounds of barrel racing and wild cow milking?

It does sound like an odd choice, but it is a lot of fun. The girls took their position right up close to the action. Pole racing is about to start. The flag is up...

This is serious business.

The tension is high.

Next, I see we are about to observe a real, live goatrope. In the Air Force, that's what we called any activity that entailed a lot of effort, a lot of confusion, with a seemingly futile outcome. NOW I see how true that analogy was!

There goes the unfortunate creature right now.

Next, we have "dummy roping". Now doesn't that raise some questions in your mind?

It's the littlest ropers, practicing on a cow that won't fight back...much.

What's going on here. Why are all these people lined up?

It's for the next exciting event...mutton bustin'!! The kids see how long they can ride a sheep!

The girls wanted to participate, but (oh so unfortunately) we were too late to sign up. You can mutton bust until you are 10 years old, so they'll have another chance.

But I'm not sure that's what I want to see on Mother's Day. I do have my limits, you know!

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Seamless to Me!

Still trying to catch up from last weekend. Because in addition to hosting a birthday party on Saturday, something else was going on.

Something big.

Literally and figuratively.

Because we have a BOATLOAD of countertops.

Yes! The kitchen countertops were installed. We did go with the Corian, despite some negatives (which I'm grateful you pointed out, Jackie and Corrie, so I know now). I just fell in love with one sample, and after much soul searching, we decided to splurge. Now that it is installed, I would have to say "Yes, it is worth the extra money". It is really, truly gorgeous.

Check this little detail at the fancy!

Mark and my niece Casey went around looking for seams.

They gave it their all.

OK, they found some, but they had to look really, REALLY hard!

I can live with that!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Party of the Century

I can call this "The Party of the Century" because it is our FIRST party for the girls. And although I made every mistake in the book getting ready for it, the event itself was fun (I think) for all.

We had a small group, six kids, because the girls wanted to do a hot tub & swimming party, and that was the max I wanted to handle for that type of party. The pool is still pretty cold, but we had a series of sunny days that week, and it made things a little more bearable. I think the water got up to 70 degrees. And heck, we swam in the ocean as kids when the water was colder than that, with no hot tub to warm up in. And we liked it!

In keeping with the pool theme, I found a cake design that seemed manageable. I chickened out at the last minute and asked my mom to make it. She was game.

The cake had a swimming pool made of Knox blox, with teddy graham swimmers. My mom, in a stroke of evil genius, added gummy sharks to ominously menace the hapless teddies in their gummy life preservers. Nice work, Mom!

The girls enjoyed the cake, sharks and all.

For the party, they insisted on wearing their favorite dress up dresses. Grandma Fran had gotten these at a yard sale for the girls to play in, but they ended up wearing them to church at Easter! They did look festive. Note the shark in the pool in the background? Now it's all becoming clear...

The party consisted of game time, cake and presents, then pool time. The kids loved the hunt for candies in the yard.

The rest of the games were kind of a flop, however. It seemed as though the games were too high pressure for the kids. Maybe it was the drill sergeant leading them. I tend to have that effect on kids. My own kids are, of course, immune to my pressures.

Of course, the other factor might have been that the kids were anxious to get in the water. What could be more fun than kid soup?

Now that I have one party under my belt, I'm actually looking forward to hosting more. In a year or so.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Treasure Hunt

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the event that changed our world. We moved from a family of two to a family of four in one fell swish of a scalpel.

Sorry, but I couldn't resist. Yes, it was the girls' sixth birthday. Events consisted of my once again plying my cupcake making and decorating skills, bringing enough for the class to enjoy in the afternoon. The girls gave me specific directions: chocolate cake, purple frosting, jellybeans on top, smiley face.

Here's what ACTUALLY happened:

A grayish-lavender pallor with an unsettling, scary, bead-filled grimace.

The kids seemed to like them, though, so no worries! Here are the girls drooling over the last three.

I then made up a treasure hunt for them to find their gifts. This is a great way to stretch things out and make a small gift seem like a real treasure! I tried it last year, and it was such a hit, I did it again. Unfortunately, during the hiding process, I lost track of which clue led where, and had to retrace my steps several times. Note to self: start with the LAST present and work backwards!

The girls surprised me by actually READING all the clues themselves, with Mark only adding assistance. If I had properly anticipated this, I might have tailored the clues a little better! But they did just fine.

I tried to make the clues a little oblique, but they were pretty quick to solve them. I can tell this is going to get more challenging if I try it again next year!

Which I will...I love it as much as the girls do!

Now to prep for the small party we'll be hosting tomorrow. Six kids, a hot tub, and a cold pool. I think we'll ALL sleep well tomorrow night!