November 12, 2008

Kitty cutes

Posted in cats tagged , , , at 3:38 pm by Lauren

Almost every morning, Trouble and Pax are curled up on my bed next to me (for some reason, they’re more likely to be curled up next to me than Allen – does he toss and turn? is it the extra blanket I have?), but this morning was particularly cute. Trouble was laying on his back with feet in the air, front paws curled up near his chest, just dead to the world. He is adorable all of the time, but I think he may be cutest when he’s asleep. Something about the way he curls up right next to us, or the way he will sleep right on our legs if we have them propped on an ottoman, or how he’ll display his furry belly just makes me feel so protective and adoring of him. I just wish we had a camera so I could show his cuteness off!

I’m beginning to think it’s a hierarchical thing that has Trouble sleeping near the upper half of my body, but keeps Pax always at the foot of the bed. I’ve started reading this book called Cat vs. Cat, which talks about cat behavior. It covers cat social hierarchy (the book is focused on multiple cat households), explaining behaviors and how to modify them if needed. So far it has confirmed what we thought about Trouble being the dominant cat. He definitely is! One of the indicators is which cat jumps or climbs physically higher than the other. And we’ll often have Trouble sitting on the back of the chair one of us is on, with Pax in our lap or on the floor. Trouble is always the first to explore a new vertical space, and Pax is more reluctant to jump up or to stay in a high position.

The descriptions of how you can tell what a cat is feeling – relaxed, aggressive, defensive – are really interested, and I’ll be watching the cats very closely in the next couple of weeks. I suspect that if we had a closer understanding of cat body language, Allen wouldn’t have gotten a bite on the nose for sniffing Trouble’s ear the other day!


Doing good – A challenge for my readers!

Posted in Blogging, Daily life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:44 am by Lauren

Around Thanksgiving time and stretching on into the new year, I tend to realize how much I have and how fortunate I am to have it. This always inspires me to want to do something for others.

I’d like to extend that giving feeling by supporting two good causes on my blog.

First, my brother Alan (also of Bad Habit Ultimate) is growing a mustache to raise money for cancer research. If you know my brother, you know that he will use any excuse to grow some manky-looking ‘stache (remember “No Shave November?”), but this is a great cause. Here’s his site: It even has updates on the progress of his mustache, including a recent one of him in costume as Luigi of the Mario Brothers.

Secondly, just had their Blogger Challenge 2008! We totally missed it, but I’ve learned that I can create a giving page ANYWAY, so I’m putting this out there to the world. DonorsChoose is an amazing organization that allows teachers to write proposals for classroom materials or field trips for their students. Then individual or corporate donors visit the website, browse the proposals, and fund the proposals of their choice. When I worked in DC, my students benefited from many resources and experiences provided via DonorsChoose. Those materials continue to enhance my teaching and my students’ learning. One of my favorite funded proposals was for a classroom set of Whisperphones, for which my school and I later ended up in the Washington Post!

DonorsChoose allows bloggers (and ordinary citizens) to create a Giving Page, highlighting proposals they select. You can get to the Chez Schmanz giving page by using this link: Please let me know if you’d like to nominate any other proposals for the list, and I will add them. I’ve added over $5000 worth of proposals to the list (in the interest of choice!), and I’d love to see what good we can do by January 1, 2009!

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I’ve added one of my proposals to this list. I thought that some of you might prefer to contribute to something that would benefit someone you knew. Or, you may want to avoid giving to me; I give you the choice. My proposal is Sounding Out Success with Jolly Phonics. Another proposal on the list, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, belongs to another ESOL teacher at my school. I have no connection to any of the rest, and I chose them to span a range of grade levels and types of proposals. All these proposals focus on teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) because that’s what I teach.

All donors to DonorsChoose receive a thank you letter from the teacher. Those who donate $100 or more also receive thank you notes from the students and photos showcasing the materials during classroom time. The minimum donation is just $1! If everyone who reads this blog gave even $1 or $5, we’d definitely make a dent!

So, mustaches for cancer, materials for schoolchildren…let’s make a difference!

Orange and white and yellow

Posted in cats tagged , , , at 12:16 am by Lauren

I knew it was stupid when I left the top of the paint can on the cat tree. Sure enough, Pax jumped onto the cat tree and straight into the paint. First was the panic as he realized he’d landed on something foreign. I sensed the chaos and turned towards the cat tree just in time to see Pax leap to the ground and tear out of the room, leaving yellow pawprints as he went.

“Catch that cat!” I hollered to Allen, who took up the chase with a paintbrush in hand. Pax ran faster, retreating to the quiet of the basement.

We started to to wipe wet paint off of the hardwood when I realized that perhaps we should assess the damage to Pax’ coat first, to make sure it had all come off as he ran through the house. One paw was soaked underneath in yellow paint, and streaks of yellow marred his orange and white fur. So up he went to the kitchen, where the light was better for cleaning. Allen and I took turns holding him tightly while we wiped him down with wet paper towels, then cut off some of the yellow fur (so he wouldn’t clean himself later and end up ingesting the paint), and finally used a mild detergent to get the last bits off that we could. He still has some minor paint specks, but we did the best we could.

Now that he’s just orange and white again, I’m watching his behavior closely to be sure he doesn’t get sick when he licks himself clean. But everything looks normal: he’s deposited the catnip mouse into my shoe and is batting the whole shoe around. Par for the course.

November 2, 2008


Posted in Daily life, family tagged , , , , , , at 3:10 pm by Lauren

Yesterday, we drove back to Virginia, disappointed that our trip was cut short. Even if I had gone to an urgent care center in Connecticut, if it were strep, I’d still have been contagious for a few days.

We got to the urgent care center just after 7 pm. My fever turned out to be higher than in the morning: 100.6. They took a rapid strep test, which came up negative, but the doctor thought it looked like strep and gave me antibiotics anyway. She also suggested (as my mom had earlier in the day) that I should talk to my regular doctor about having my tonsils removed because I get strep so often. However, we all know it comes from the kids, so they may just say I’m out of luck.

Today I’m staying home and resting out the contagious period, if that’s what it is.  The good news it that I can go to work tomorrow; the bad news is that I HAVE to go to work tomorrow, even if I’m not feeling well still because I had not yet registered for the substitute teacher network and there’s a problem doing it. Guess I won’t be spending time on sub plans!  

Now we just need to figure out when we can get back up to Connecticut!

November 1, 2008

It was bound to happen…but now?

Posted in family, Travel tagged , , , at 8:34 am by Lauren

We had a pretty exciting weekend planned, driving to Connecticut to visit my grandma, uncle, great aunt, and other extended family. We are finally returning my grandmother’s car because we bought a used Toyota Matrix.
We drove all the way up to CT, and on the way, my throat started to get sore, like being in the car was extremely parching. I thought that was strange, but I got a sore throat about a week ago, which was accompanied by a lot of snot and eventual coughing, so I thought that this was just an aggravation of that same problem.
HOWEVER, last night when we got here (midnight), and stayed up a little (until one), I realized that it hurt to swallow, and that two glasses of water weren’t making it feel better. I then realized that my lymph nodes are swollen and that the back of my throat is bright red.
I called it a night, thinking that would improve it, but then as I pulled the covers over myself, it occurred to me: this is probably strep. A night of tossing and turning (I woke up at least five times because of throat pain), plus hot and cold chills is all the confirmation I need. I’m 95% sure it’s strep. This morning my lymph nodes are more swollen, my throat is more red…
What a mess.
Everybody else is sleeping, but when I woke up at 7:30 am, I just couldn’t see falling asleep again, and I got up and hit the couch to explore out-of-network medical expenses. You know if I’m awake at 7:30 am on a Saturday – the only one awake! – that there’s a problem. And there’s another problem: my out-of-network deductible is $500. I don’t know how much a rapid strep test would cost at an urgent care clinic up here, but I don’t really want to chance it.
I honestly think that our best option at this point is to drive right back down to Virginia, where I will go to an urgent care clinic and beg for antibiotics. I don’t feel like I can justify staying up here and seeing everyone, knowing that I am contagious. In particular, my great aunt Camille was going to cook dinner for us tonight, but she’s babysitting two small children (one may be a baby) in her house overnight. I can’t expose two small children to strep. However, THIS SUCKS.
So, this is me, sitting on the couch with strep, trying to decide what to do and waiting for everyone to wake up.