Saturday, March 30, 2013

You spin me right round, baby right round

I remember doing this when I was younger, before the inner ear put a big stop to spinning around. Now I get to watch my kids do it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mud - it does a body good

Nah, this is not a post about a high priced spa treatment (although I could use one), this is a post about having fun with your kids for little or no cost. Outdoors even.

I live on the "Wet" coast, so named because there are months when it seems like all it does is rain. Sure, the view and those 3 months when don't get a drop of rain make up for it, it's still hard during the rainy season.

So what do you do with kids on rainy days. You can stay inside, play games, do crafts or watch TV (we do all these). You can go to museums or play time drop ins (we also do these). But just as fun and often over looked, you can just go outside and play.

We have been going  out and playing in the mud and rain before the kids could walk. They know that as long  as they have boots on, they are welcome (and encouraged) to splash in puddles. If I have my boots on, I will join them. If they need a break but want to keep playing, we'll go to a covered area and just hang for a bit. There have been many afternoons when we are the only ones at the playground. I don't get it. Sure, we throw on rain gear, but when they sit in the water, there is only so far it goes to help. Plan some playtime in the bath after and just let go and be free.

Here are some of my favorite pictures over the years of rain and mud play. It's free and it's good for the skin. (fyi, for their rain coats and pants, I buy 2 sizes too big, they can wear it over other clothes at first and it lasts so much longer, only on our second set now which should last at least 2 more years)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jig a Jog, Jig a Jog, Jig a Jog, Jee

We went to a Pet Expo yesterday. It was fun. Along with all the expected vendors and rescue groups, there was a mobile petting zoo and Pony rides.   Corwyn saw the ponies and dragged me over. Then he ran back to Nathan and grabbed him. He was all in for a ride, until it was his turn. So Corwyn rode the little rocking horses they had. But Nathan wanted on the pony. He loved it. He got a bit more sure each turn around the route and would have liked another ride (and would probably have asked for faster then).

Corwyn takes a bit more time to warm up to something so he may try it the next time around. (He freaked on merry go rounds the first 4 times but now likes them). It was the same way with the other animals. He loves to watch, and tries to come close but has a hard time touching.  With dogs of the small to medium variety, he's pretty good to pet a couple times, before backing away. Not a fan of big dogs. Nathan was right in there, hugging, offering treats etc. In that way, Nathan is like me and I think would bring home every animal he found. Corwyn would want to bring them home, but would ask someone else to do the touching.

Even reptiles. The Reptile Guy was there and for a donation you could take your picture with a reptile of your choice. Nathan picked a snake, but not the big python, he wanted the smaller red and black king snake. He didn't want it around his shoulders/neck so we started out with it around my neck (yes, I will do almost anything for my kids) and then progressed to holding the tail while I had the front half. Corwyn snuck in a couple of quick touches too. They are emailing the pictures so you'll have to wait for those. As we continued walking around, Nathan wanted to go back and have the snake around his neck - next time I guess.

Overall it was a good event. I feed raw food to my cat so not a lot of the samples would go to good use in my home. I passed those along to friends who feed dry. It was nice to see the kids with the different animals and their reactions. Nathan even got to pet a hedgehog (while Corwyn looked on).  A friend got us tickets so I wasn't out of pocket. I was a nice morning with the kids anyway and would consider it again next year when they are older (kids are free until they are 12).

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets

I read this article yesterday and it really slammed home to me how bad it is to ask kids to keep secrets, even innocent ones.

Philosophy on keeping secrets

I posted this small summary of it on my personal FB page but think it's important enough to put out here too.

So to those people who have friends/family with young kids, please do not ever give the kids a treat and then tell them "not to tell mommy" or "it's our little secret". You mean well of course, but not only are you giving food the parents might not approve of, you are grooming the child for a predator. It's a very common practice with predators to use these words while offering treats and rewards, leading up to abuse. Do the child a favor and don't give them any treats without asking. Make mom and dad the bad guy if necessary ( "mommy said no" ) Remember, secrets are bad.

I  know I've done it. I can remember a time a couple of weeks ago when Corwyn was sleeping. Nathan wanted the last homemade muffin. Normally if they were awake, I'd make them split it. But I gave the whole thing to Nathan and asked him not to tell Corwyn. Of course being 3, he told Corwyn the first chance he could get ;-) But it was wrong of me to say that even though I didn't use the word `secret` it was what I was asking him to do. And I didn't even think twice when I said it to him.

As a single parent, I`m not in the position to say "don't tell [other parent]" that:
  • I gave you a snack before dinner
  • broke something
  • bought something expensive
  • had a car accident
  • used a swear word
  • etc
So while I was not encouraging keeping secrets from another parent, I was encouraging secrets. And as the article mentions, this can lead to making my kids vulnerable in so many ways (not to mention it makes it seem like lying acceptable if I tell them to do it)

I'm starting by working on myself, making sure I don't find myself doing something like I did above and ask one child not to tell when I do something special for the other. I'm also going to ask those around me to do the same thing. I know I will slip up. I know other people will too. As long as we all make an honest effort, we'll get there quickly and secrets will be a thing of the past.

At the same time, I'm trying to teach my kids that secrets are wrong. I want them to know that they can always tell me anything, that I will always love them, not matter what (even if they get drunk at 16 and crash the car, I'll be mad as all Hell but I will still love them).

So how can will I handle things like surprises? Right now, at 3.5 not a chance in Hell of getting them used to the idea of waiting for anything. But I want to teach them that surprises, are something you know but don't tell 'yet'. Something that is good to share with someone, but you have to wait to share it.

How about at your place? How do you handle secrets?

(I'm also addicted to Dirty Little Liars on Netflix and wow, talk about the consequences of secrets!)

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Different Kind of Cinderella Story

Meet our Cinderella - called Cinda.

I think pets are wonderful companions and also help kids learn routine and responsibility. Back here Max when we dog sat, I went  over why we couldn't consider a dog. And since we all liked cats, that was the direction we would go.

I knew about VOKRA and loved their philosophy so my first stop was their site. So many cats and kittens, too many, when will people learn to spay/neuter?

I knew we wouldn't get a young kitten. Kittens are great; kittens are fun; kittens are hyper! Plus, everyone wants kittens so they find homes faster than 'cats'. Plus, younger kittens should not be alone much and while the kids were home most of the day, they were not home enough of it. I also didn't want a senior cat, for a fairly selfish reason, I didn't want to explain death to the kids anytime soon (this was not knowing my dad would pass away suddenly).

In October, I filled out the application form and started the search while I waited. I poured through the pictures and write ups. No matter how 'cute' I didn't consider any cats that said "no kids" or even those with "no dogs" since one day, we may get a dog. I did look at the special needs animals and of the 4 at the time, 2 really 'spoke' to me.

I had some follow up questions via email and a couple of phone interviews with VOKRA before I was approved. I worked with Peggy and Valerie to narrow down the list of cats I would like to meet first. Top of the list was one of the 'special needs' cats Cinda along with two others. I made an appointment to meet Cinda.

And that was it. I loved her. To say she was shy was an understatement. I watched her in passing and held still when she ventured close enough, taking fly-by sniffs at me. But there was something in her eye, that caught me. And her foster mom told me how she took a while to get comfortable but would come for pets now. I was up to the challenge.

I finished the adoption process. The fees include Spay/Neuter any shots needed, tattoo and the first vet follow up visit. This is more than worth the cost. Then I was free to pick up our cat.

Cinda was understandably scared when she first came home. And from her foster mom, I honestly expected it to take months before she'd come around. Her second night, I was her best friend. Within a week, the second the kids went to bed, she was out, howling and pushing on me to pet her. This was followed by her coming out when the kids were sitting quietly (eating, TV, art, etc) but still scurrying away at any sudden movement. Then she started to come ask for pets with the boys at bedtime. Now she curls up on the bed when the boys first go to sleep and comes back and spends at least some time when I go to bed. She meets me at the door when I get home from work. And now she is very aggressive about being pet when she wants it. She is still shy and skittish and even if I make a sudden movement, she dashes away. 3 year olds make lots of sudden movements.

These pictures are from her second night at our place.

This video was a couple of weeks after she joined our family. If you can play this with volume on, I love her purr.

This was her bio:
Lovely little Cinda has had a very difficult start to her young life. She is a young cat who was out on the street, pregnant and alone. She had a terrible delivery, out in the cold alone and as such lost her kittens and almost lost her own life. A caring passerby found Cinda and called animal rescue who came and got her, performed surgery and gave her antibitotics. She was to stay with VOKRA to recover but upon arrival we could see that she was still deathly ill. She was emaciated, she had a terrible infection, toxemia and other health issues. The VOKRA team sprung into action, taking her to an amazing vet at Alta Vista Animal Hospital. 8 weeks later and Cinda is a completely recovered kitty cat. She is still slender and I dont think she'll ever be a big cat due to the terrible issues she faced. Today, however, she is healthy, loving, quiet and affectionate. She absolutely loves to be stroked and will almost jump up into your hands to be cuddled. Cinda's future health should be easily managed with a really great diet and tender loving care. 

And this video was taken last week. She clearly adores her loves and cuddles. 

VOKRA feeds their cats Wellness Chicken canned food and ask that you not change their food for 4 weeks post adoption. No problem. But I knew I would want to transition her to raw. Some cats find this easy, some resist. Cinda was all for the raw food, and I didn't even have to transition, she gobbled it up - but only chicken. She has started to put on a bit of weight, I think she might weigh 5 lbs now. She runs if you have treats but other than freeze dried shrimp, I have yet to find a cat treat she enjoys. Oh, but yeah, she is a catnip addict.

If you read her bio about her rough start added to VOKRA's requirements, you'll know that she is spayed. So you'll probably be saying WTF when I say she still goes into heat. Her foster mom told me about it and said she looked it up. I did too. It means that there is in her, somewhere, a small bit of ovarian tissue. I talked with the vet about it and he said it may be very difficult to find and could require multiple surgeries. He said there is no medical reason why she needs it. We might have a reason. She went into heat the week I brought her home and has had one more since. I can live with the caterwauling. And sure her butt is in the air, but she's very affectionate during the time. However, it also seems like she has a hard time controlling her bladder. Cat pee is rank, very rank. When not in heat, she's peed on the sofa once and the floor quite a few times and the even the bed once. But that was months ago when I think she was also a little less stable emotionally.  So maybe, just maybe, she'll make it to the litter box more during her next heat. If it becomes a problem, then I'll be looking for a vet with experience with this specific condition. She is such an amazing cat that we'll find a way to make it work.

Her foster mom is amazing. Along with Cinda she had 3 kittens that I couldn't believe hadn't been snatched up. I found out that even tuxedo cats (black and white aka cow cats) are almost as hard to adopt out as black cats due to superstitions. Seriously people - it's a cat! When I look at the 22 kittens currently available - only 4 don't have black in them. Get over it people, they are cats, not spawn of Satan. (I am happy to see 'only' 22 kittens though, in the fall when I was looking there were pages and pages and pages). I know it was with mixed feelings that I adopted Cinda. It has to be hard, caring, but not caring too much.

Adopting a pet from a place that does fostering is great for so many reasons. The foster parent gets to see you interact with the pet and can add input to 'fit'. Plus you get to talk to the foster parent and get more info than can fit in a little bio.You get to meet the cat in a home setting where she feels more comfortable and safe than she would in a cage in a shelter.

Vokra is 100% volunteer run, not a single paid staff. They run on donations. And while not everyone can donate to every cause, there are others way you can help support them. Get the word out. And hey, do you shop? Ever? Buy food? Like Startbucks? Ever give giftcards as gifts? Then you can support Vorka with no cost to you (no tax receipt either, but hey, you can't have it all). Vokra is part of the Gift Card Fundraising Program. All you do, is buy your giftcards through them and they get to keep a portion of the face value of the card. Gift Card Program

While pets should be for life, sometimes shit happens and you may find yourself needing to find a new home for you pet(s). Check with friends and family first. If that doesn't work, for dogs with a known/noticeable dominate breed, go through a breed rescue. Consider a no-kill shelter next. For cats, try to find a local rescue group like Vokra where the animals are fostered and socialized and new homes scrutinized. Yes, places like Craigslist are possible, but prepare to be slammed by people who don't care that your spouse has cancer or your child has severe asthma and will die, dammit the pet comes first. And then you have to screen the people who want your pet, who is probably like a family member and don't get that this is a horribly hard thing for you to do.

And one last thing. If you get a dog or cat, please spay/neuter them. Even if you plan for your cat to be an indoor one, things happen (a cat in heat can be pretty determined as can be an unaltered male on the scent of  a female).  It is not cruel to your pet, it could even save her life.