August 27, 2008

The weird things that cats do

Posted in cats tagged , at 6:23 pm by Lauren

It’s really fun having the cats around. Sometimes they want to snuggle, and sometimes they’re racing around the house, but there’s always something interesting going on.

Pax has started a small collection in the dining room. So far he has contributed an empty tape roll, a tube of lipstick, and two cork coasters to it. He picks them up around the house and knocks them back and forth until they end up in what’s turning into a little pile on top of our drop cloth.

Trouble has slept curled around my head or butting up against me for the past week. While Pax will sleep at the foot of the bed, Trouble must be actually touching me. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able to sleep with a warm, purring cat next to me, but it hasn’t been disturbing me nearly as much as I’d have thought.

Last night I took a look at Pax’ claws again, and one of them was long and sharp again already! I had to clip it, but the others were still growing back out. Trouble, on the other hand, just got his claws clipped a few days ago, when I figured out how to subdue him during the clipping: sit on him. Trouble will straddle a lying down Pax to clean him, so I tried straddling Trouble, and he was calm and unmoving (unlike when I tried to hold his paw and clip the claws that way).

Yesterday, Cate came over to cross stitch, and we shut ourselves into the cat-hair-free guest room. The cats sat outside the room the whole time and ran to the door any time we came out. I got a kick out of the guard duty.

And the same kind of attention applies just about any time I’m in the house. They have to be in the same room, and they’ll wake up to move and sleep in another room if you move. They run to the door, tags-a-jingling, when we get home and stay at our feet no matter where we go. How did we get so lucky with these cats?

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August 21, 2008

Update after the orthopedist

Posted in Daily life tagged , , at 5:48 pm by Lauren

The orthopedist didn’t think my fracture looked messy or complicated or troublesome in any way. He asked me a few questions and said that the general rule for broken toes is: do what is comfortable and wear what is comfortable. So I can exercise or wear closed-toed shoes, as long as my foot feels fine. (However, this sounds like a great excuse to wear sandals to school for 4-6 weeks while my toe heals.)

And that’s that! No more visits, no treatment or restrictions. Well, except one: he said I shouldn’t kick my husband any more.

August 20, 2008

Toe woes

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:38 pm by Lauren

Monday morning, I called my doctor’s office, asked to speak to one of the doctors, and explained what had happened with my toe to see if the doctor thought I should come in. I know that broken toes are rarely treated because there’s just not much you can do. But the doctor thought it would be a good idea if I came in that day, so I set an appointment to go there after teacher orientation.

In my appointment, I explained the basics of how I hurt it and showed the doctor the ugly bruise on the inside of my toe. I told her that it didn’t really hurt much when I walked, and that I wasn’t taking any painkillers (not one Advil!). She recommended an x-ray to confirm whether I had broken it and to make sure everything was still lined up properly.

Then I headed down to radiology, which was a strange sort of deja vu. The last time I’d been in the hospital center, I’d returned two consecutive days to get my foot checked out, and I ended up in x-ray on the first. On the second, I ended up with crutches (not a fracture, but gout so painful I couldn’t put my foot to the ground), being wheeled in a chair into Stephanie’s room to meet my brand new niece.

I had my foot x-rayed, and the tech said she wanted the radiology doctor to give his opinion on the x-rays. She put me in a room where I waited for him to look at them, then call my doctor, then have my doctor call on the small phone in the room. I’d heard that they call your doctor immediately if there is a fracture, so I figured this was just a method of letting you hear the news from your own doctor. Indeed, when my doctor called, she said that the radiology doctor had said I had a “pretty significant fracture” and that I must be “in quite a bit of pain.” She confirmed what I had said about not really being in much pain at all and referred me to an orthopedist to ensure that the fracture would heal properly. My understanding is that the orthopedist will take a look at the x-rays, talk the situation over with me, and monitor the healing to make sure it heals cleanly. In the meantime, I’m just walking around like nothing happened, just with an ugly bruise and a slight limp.

Meet the beasts – Trouble and Pax

Posted in cats tagged , , , at 4:45 pm by Lauren

I spent a good week brooding about cat names, and now our boys finally have some! When they arrived, we tried out Cyrano and Darcy, but found that they didn’t fit well or roll off the tongue. After one day of throwing those names around, we tried a different tactic: waiting. We didn’t call the cats Spark and Toby; we didn’t call them anything. I’d say, “Hey, dudes,” or “The black one did the cutest thing!” or “Where’s the orange guy?” Allen was slightly fearful that they’d just end up The Black One and The Orange One.

Trouble, our all black cat, got his name first. Within a matter of days, it was all I could think about when I looked at him. I don’t mean to say that he is actually troublesome or annoying. The name is more in the spirit of “Here comes trouble,” and “He looks like trouble.” He has a look about him that suggests that he’s always thinking, and he’s using that brain power to either plan or execute some kind of mischief. (Favored mischief includes jumping on the kitchen counter, seeing how high he can get in our house, and pouncing on his brother.)

Trouble, earning his name, has actually gotten stuck on the ottoman because his claws are too long.

He’s quite an adventurous character. I’d describe him as being very cavalier. He’s not afraid to climb any height, and he’s not too responsive to a firm “no!” if he jumps on the counter. (And honestly, most of the time I think he’s just trying to get closer to us.) He’s not afraid of anything, not the front door or the vacuum cleaner or his brother. But his strong self-assuredness also comes out in affectionate ways. He follows us around the house the way that a puppy would, sleeps next to us on the couch or in bed (often, he’ll climb into the bed in the middle of the night and sleep touching one of us), and sits contentedly on our laps while we type.

Being fierce and mischievous is very tiring, so Trouble curled up on my feet while I cross-stitched.

Pax, our orange and white tabby, took us longer to name. We kept waiting for him to do something that would make us come up with his name, but we actually came up with Pax when we were thinking of good names to go with Trouble. (We named him for his peaceful nature, though he is certainly happy to get into it with his brother! We liked the contrast in the names.) It’s hard to say something like, “Pax is the sweeter of the two,” because then you really have to stop and think about it; they’re both so good-natured. But Pax is more relaxed and more reserved. He’s eager to please and afraid of getting caught doing something bad. I think of him a little like a nerdy and nervous teen who hasn’t quite figured out how to be comfortable in his own skin. He hangs back a little, but runs to you when he realizes you want to pet him or pick him up.

Pax has got his big golden eyes fixed on me, and he’s climbing up to “let” me pet him.

He is always in your peripheral vision, as he loves to be around humans, but sometimes it’s as if he doesn’t want to be a bother, so he’s several feet away or watching you from around a corner. But if you pull him up onto your lap, he puts his front legs around your neck (I am not personifying him; he actually does “hug” you around the neck) and nuzzles your chin and ear. (I’m trying to break him of the ear nuzzling habit, as he drools or drips from his wet nose, and it’s just a little too much.) Unlike Trouble, he won’t just sit on your lap quietly; he’s shifting and angling and trying to encourage you to pet him or cradle him the whole time. He too will sleep on the bed and follow you around the house, happy to be in whatever room you are.  

Pax is waking up from a little cat nap here, so that he can follow me into the other room.

Something about this picture (his head butted up against the candle holder) really shows how sweet Pax is.

Since the two of them are brothers (though we think Pax is a few months older), they interact constantly. Trouble is always taking care of big brother Pax, though he usually gears up to lick him by jumping on him first. Pax can put up a good fight though, and the two of them race around the house. (Fortunately, they do plenty of this during the day and tend not to wake us with their antics at night.)

Here, the beating has stopped and the licking begun. They alternate beating and licking.

The two of them seem to have worked together to get comfortable here, usually with more dominant and fearless Trouble exploring and showing Pax that everything’s cool. This was the case with the cat condo we got (as we’d seen that they enjoyed them in both the pet store and their foster home). Trouble, who thinks very vertically, was the first up it, pulling himself up onto the top with some Mission Impossible moves that included his mile-long claws. Pax started more cautiously on a lower level, but now sleeps on the top of it too, once he observed Trouble playing around up there. (This, of course, works in other ways too; Trouble also showed Pax that the kitchen counter is accessible.)

Thwack! Trouble uses his higher ground advantage to get in a hit on Pax.

Anyway, they’re both doing really well, and we’re really enjoying having them. I was home with them all last week (before teacher orientation started this week), so I think that helped them settle in, and now Allen is home with them all this week. Allen’s making up lost ground, since they still tend to leave the room to follow me or try to get up on my lap instead of his. But with him around all week, I’m sure he’ll tip the balance with them soon. I came home today to find him covered with white hair, a dead giveaway that Pax had been on his lap for a while. (Note to self: wear less dark colored clothing.)

Now where did those kitties get to…?

August 16, 2008

Break me off a piece of that…tooth? toe?

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , , at 11:34 am by Lauren

I am literally falling apart these days. Last week, I was flossing (yes, flossing!) and a piece of my tooth fell out in my mouth. Talk about negative reinforcement. I mean, if I’m flossing, I should be finding a $20 bill that I forgot about in my pocket – every time. That would be better for my flossing habits. Having a tooth chip out while flossing is just bad policy.

I finally got to the dentist yesterday – fortunately, it didn’t hurt – and they said I had a filling in that tooth, and a piece of the tooth fell off the side, leaving the filling intact. They were able to fill just the part of the tooth that I lost, which is a relief because I am no stranger to huge dental bills (like crowns). Happily, my dentist had had a cancellation, so she filled the crown, and did my check-up and cleaning right then, so I’m set for another six months. (In other good news, no new cavities or other problems! On my last visit, that happened to me for the first time since I was 12, and I’m happy that a year and a half later, I’m still problem-free (if you don’t count teeth chipping out on a whim).)

But after having my tooth fixed yesterday, something else had to go. In a freak toe-stubbing, I started to walk around Allen, misjudged the distance between his shoe and my foot, and whacked my little toe into his shoe. It bent at a right angle away from my foot and AUDIBLY SNAPPED! Not only was the pain immense, but I thought I was going to be sick from hearing the toe actually crack. I started breathing a little too fast, and Allen was looking at me with concern. He got me some ice and some food, and I calmed down. However, when I woke up this morning, my toe was still swollen, and there’s a bruise inside my pinky toe (where the snap would have occurred). I will call the doctor on Monday to see what, if anything, I should do if the toe is actually broken.

I hope I can hold myself together when I go back to work on Monday!

August 10, 2008

Master of Education: Checkmark

Posted in Milestones tagged , , , , , at 3:54 pm by Lauren

Technically, I graduated yesterday! I completely forgot until just now, so I thought I’d go online and see if my grade was posted for my last class. (We did not get any feedback in the form of grades on assignments throughout the course of the class, so I was slightly uncertain about my grade.) The grade was posted, and I got an A, so not only do I have my masters, but I got a 4.0 while doing it. (Yay! But though I worked hard, I don’t know that I worked 4.0 hard.) And now I can print off my unofficial transcript and send it on over to my new employer and let them give me a raise before I even start. Hooray!

August 7, 2008

Illicit painting and a slumber party

Posted in Daily life, Home Improvement tagged , , at 11:58 am by Lauren

I was so excited about painting that I snuck it in to two too-short-to-paint times yesterday. Before meeting Jenna for some back-to-school shopping, I painted for an hour and fifteen minutes and got the main first coat on. Then I had to clean, clean, clean and run out the door. Later, I returned home with too little time before Catherine was coming over to stay the night. I painted for 45 minutes before she arrived, working on edging around the trim. (And then, of course, clean, clean, clean.)

Catherine and I ended up going back to Ann Taylor Loft because after I’d bought all kinds of teaching-appropriate clothes (I’ve been highly casual in the last year), I got a 20% off coupon in the mail the same day. Argh. Usually Loft won’t make an adjustment, but I brought the clothes back to the same store and asked nicely, and they did, saving me almost $40. Phew! “Enough for dinner,” Catherine said, and sure enough I spent a chunk of it on our dinner at Faccia Luna. We shared a delicious plate of grilled calimari with a slightly spicy marinara sauce and then a mouth-watering chicken, bacon, and barbeque pizza.

Afterwards, Catherine and I talked and talked and talked, until we were both exhausted, and that was the end of a very good night. And in the wake of that, today I’ll be painting all day, covering the rest of the white spaces, putting on a second coat, and cutting in to the trim. Off I go!

August 6, 2008

Longing for color

Posted in Home Improvement, Moving on up tagged , , , , at 12:22 am by Lauren

Last week we finalized the paint colors for the house, so this week we’re going to see some change! I wanted to use the Benjamin Moore historical color palette, but when I went to the store to buy it, I decided to be a little cheap instead and stood there pulling all the little color chips off the shelves. (Still, can the Benjamin Moore sellers blame me? I’m about to drop a mint on paint!)

Catherine and I picked out preliminary choices last Tuesday night after shopping, and then I waited for the weekend to show Allen. But in the meantime, I noticed that the red we’d chosen for the dining room really didn’t go with a tablecloth we’d purchased in France. So every time I walked past the dining room, I’d compare another color to that tablecloth. I know the whole world doesn’t need to match, but the paint colors do need to coordinate with the furniture and decor that we’d like to use often. (And all the paint colors in the house need to coordinate with each other, whether they’re in adjacent rooms or not!)

This weekend I showed the colors to Allen, and Rebecca and Chris helped us make our final selections. We kept a medium beige in the living room, chose a medium-dark brown in the dining room (be still my heart!), and agreed on a sunny yellow of the type you find in all my abodes for the sunroom (next to brick) and hallway (upstairs and down). Then we adjusted the kitchen colors, keeping the original gray-green that I’d chosen for the kitchen walls, but toning down to a lighter gray in the same family for the intermediate office area between the kitchen and the rest of the house. That gray will also go in our upstairs bathroom (next to black and white tile), and the upstairs room will be blue (craft room/requisite Arlington “nursery” – all the houses have this particular small room for that purpose), green (guest room), and light brown (master bedroom). Phew! The only adjustment we made upstairs is that Allen preferred that our bedroom be brown, so the guest room will be green.

Since we’re using Benjamin Moore – hoping it lives up to everything everyone says about it covering better and therefore saving you money, and also about it looking better and cleaning better and so on – I’ve been given a painting budget of only $100 this first month. So that’s two rooms. I bought the paint for the living room and dining room on Monday. This month’s painting adventure begins!

But when I got home, I realized I wanted to do a lot more preparation than I usually do. (I am using fancy paint after all; shouldn’t I make sure it looks as professional as possible?) So I washed the walls with a TSP substitute on yesterday and started to sand out past drips. There wasn’t much I could do about the bumps left when the former owners painted over the wallpaper, but I sanded those out as much as possible anyway. I continued the sanding today, and then I vacuumed the entire surface of the walls. Then I tackled the gaps between the wall and trim – unfortunately, there were quite long stretches of gaps in the living room. That literally took me hours.

So, I’m ready to paint now. I’ve got the caulking calluses to prove it. But you really shouldn’t start painting at ten o’clock at night.

August 3, 2008

Two beautiful kittens still looking for a home

Posted in cats tagged , , , , , , at 6:50 pm by Lauren

I wanted to put up a separate post about Shadow and Boo, two of the kittens we met yesterday. This adorable pair is still looking for a home, and they’re just about the cutest cats I have ever, ever seen.

Shadow and Boo are not brother and sister, but bonded at their foster home, and they stick close to one another. Shadow is a couple of weeks older, but both of them are around 4-5 months old. Shadow is pure black and moves like a panther. Boo has truly beautiful tortoiseshell markings, and both of them are soft and sleek.

These guys were a little skittish around us at first, but it was clear that in less than a week that they’d be as comfortable with a new owner as they are with their fosters. Both of them love to play, but Boo dominates Shadow, even though she’s the smaller of the two. Boo leaps and bats the feather toy, and Shadow waits until she’s tuckered out to have a go at it himself. At one point the two of them pounced on each other for a little wrestling match. And when Boo got tired, she laid down on my purse, as if claiming it, which really tugged at my heartstrings.

Playing warmed them up to us, and they allowed us to pet their faces and backs – the longer we stayed, the more comfortable they were with us. Boo even forgot herself for a minute and let me pick her up. She relaxed in my arms for a minute before remembering I was still a stranger! Shadow flopped over and purred loudly as I pet his belly – and during our play session, he kept going over to the fosters to get some petting from them. It was so obvious that they’d settle in comfortably once they found their new home, and that they’d both be really loving and affectionate once they trusted their new owners.

It really tore me up to have to choose between the two pairs of cats we met because they all had great personalities. The hard part about choosing to not adopt Shadow and Boo was to know that we wouldn’t really be watching the cats we chose grow up – and these guys are at a point where they’re litter-trained (so not as much work as a little bitty kitten) but still just as fuzzy-cute and rough-and-tumble as the next kitten. I’d have to say that they’re the perfect age for kittens!

The good news (for you, the cat lover!) is that these guys are still out there for adoption. If you’re thinking of adopting cats or kittens, you should really consider adopting a pair because cats behave a whole lot better if they’ve got a partner, particularly if you are at work all day. And I’d argue that you should really consider adopting black or partially black cats because they have a harder time getting adopted – and you can’t tell me there is any cat alive cuter than these two blackies.

If you do want to know more about Shadow and Boo particularly, they’re being fostered at Homeward Trails in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, and their Petfinder page is here: http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/displaypet.cgi?petid=11093467. On it, you’ll find contact information for their adoption coordinator, so you can get in touch and set up a visit with them. You should note that though the adoption fee for the pair is $150, a representative from Homeward Trails suggested that they would be willing to get them altered before you adopt them (Shadow is old enough, and Boo is just getting to that age), so that you could adopt them with spaying/neutering already done for just $50 more (which is much less than you’d pay a vet to alter both animals).

I’m just hoping for a good home for these little darlings. After meeting them and Spark and Toby, I really just wanted to adopt them all! If you do inquire after adopting them, tell their foster that Lauren sent you.

Adoptive parents…of cats!

Posted in cats tagged , , , , , , at 6:14 pm by Lauren

Saturday morning, Allen and I went to two different foster homes to visit some potential cats! After both visits, we decided to adopt Spark and Toby (who will need new names – at least Toby will for sure), and we expect to bring them home next week!

Spark and Toby are year-and-a-half males who bonded the first time they ended up at Homeward Trails rescue. One or both of them ended up there because of a death in their family. Then they were adopted together – on a trial adoption because the woman knew she had allergies. Their adopter hoped she could contain her allergies, and she tried until the very end, when those allergies landed her in the hospital. (It’s telling that she’d go that far to try to keep them – and understanding that she had to return them to the rescue.) So Spark and Toby returned to Homeward Trails, where they’ve been living in PetMAC, Homeward Trails’ pet goods store (which also serves as a sort of pet store, with all adoptive animals).

For all that, these guys have amazing personalities. With all that disruption, you’d expect them to be withdrawn or at least hesitant. But when I visited PetMAC a few weeks ago, Spark met me at the door and allowed me to carry him across the store within 30 seconds of my arrival. Toby climbed up onto my lap when I sat down, and he rubbed his face against my chin. They’re friendly to the nth degree, and the only conflict when they meet a stranger is determining which one will be first to get petted. We liked how well-adjusted they seemed and how easily adjustible.

Here are some pictures, taken when they were a bit younger; they’re almost full-sized cats now. Toby is the orange and white tabby, and Spark is the black cat. We’re open to suggestions for new names!

I should mention that there are a couple of other reasons we decided to adopt Spark and Toby. For one thing, people don’t adopt black cats (or black mixes – tuxedos, torties, etc) as often as they do other colorings. Allen had a black cat growing up, and we both think they’re adorable, so we specifically looked for at least one of the cats to be black. Secondly, these guys are a little older, which means it’s harder for them to be adopted than for kittens. And finally, we wanted a pair who had already bonded (siblings or not, which these guys aren’t) so that they’d keep each other busy and happy during the day.

Now that you’ve heard all about the kitties we chose, I’m going to write a post about the kitties we didn’t choose. They were so adorable, we had a really tough time deciding between the pairs, and we’re hoping for a great adoptive home for Shadow and Boo too.

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