Category Archives: Life

Newest Member of the Family

Bradley and I decided to finally find a puppy.  We have always wanted one, but having a crippled cat meant that a puppy was on hold.  After losing Wibble, we began our search the first weekend in March, thinking it would take a while to find just the right fit for our family.  We went to Cobb County Animal Control, Cherokee County Animal Control, both of the Atlanta Humane Society campuses, and several other rescue organizations.  We ended up back at Cobb County because of a couple of the puppies we had seen there.  I knew I wanted one that greeted us at the front of the cage without being wild, and did not cower in the back of the cage.  One puppy stood out on our second trip.  He was wiggly (like any puppy), but never barked at the other dogs, even though they were going crazy.

After signing the paperwork and paying for the little man, we had to leave him to be neutered the next day.  So far, he is a great car rider – curling up in a ball in the back seat almost immediately.  He seems to love all other dogs and people.  We have had him in training classes for the last month, and he is a quick learner with most of the commands we have worked on.  He does get distracted (puppy energy) and it is hard to get and keep his attention when he gets that way.  He has had a few accidents in the house, which is to be expected, but he has gotten very good at going outside almost immediately when we take him out.  He loves to cuddle and loves every toy we give him.  He hasn’t tried to chew on much that we don’t want him to, and is easily diverted to a toy on the occasion that it happens.  He loves playing fetch and has gotten good at bringing the ball to us and dropping it for the next round.

So far, he has not been overly concerned that there is a cat in the house.  Our cat has always stayed hidden while we are at home even when it was just us, so nothing has changed there.  When their paths have crossed, he is interested and sniffs her, but not hyper with her, and she doesn’t freak out, just tries to quickly get back to a ‘safe’ place.

Naming him proved to be extremely difficult.  I wanted his name to fit his personality, but we ended up just calling him Buddy, which is what I call all male animals by default.

We ordered a dog DNA test for him and the results came back yesterday.  He comes from a Cocker Spaniel mixed line and an American Staffordshire Terrier mixed line.  From initial inspection of the included descriptions, I think he gets his overall size, head shape, and eyes/eyebrows from the Cocker Spaniel side and his coat, tail and ears from the AmStaff Terrier side.  We think he is pretty much full grown by his guessed age: 8 months.  The last time I weighed him, he was 20 pounds.

Say hello to our new Buddy!

Valentine’s Day 2013

Bradley and I decided years ago to forgo dining out for Valentine’s day.  The restaurants are packed and usually there is a ‘special’ menu for the evening that is priced above normal.  This year he picked up some steaks at Harry’s and we cooked them up using this method (mouth watering).

 

I had found a gift card on ebay for Bone’s here in Atlanta at about a 25% discount for Bradley’s gift.  So we will get to have really good steaks again soon.  I put the gift card in a Valentine’s chinese takeout box filled with Kit-kats – his favorite.  Bradley gave me a new white gold chain for the pendants he has given me over the years.  The few chains I have were all 18″ long and I really wanted one that was 20″.  This one is adjustable up to 20″ and is a nice thick wheat chain, which I have decided is my favorite – though I also liked a foxtail chain we looked at.

The Story of Wibble

Wibble came into my life in the fall of 2001.  I was at my high school/college job at a Veterinarian’s office.  A kind woman brought in a tiny deformed kitten that had been abandoned under her porch.  She was allergic to cats, so one of the vet techs took him in and nursed him for a few weeks.  I convinced my parents that we needed to be his forever home.  The vet tech had named him Egor, but my mom hated it so his name changed to Wibble because he wibble-wobbled when he walked.

My dad took him to a specialist, because he is a complete softy about animals.  We learned that he was basically missing the major bones in his back legs.  The back right leg was completely turned upward, the back left leg was skinny and limp, he had crooks at the base and tip of his tail, and his left front leg was turned in above the paw.

From day one, we learned what the attitude associated with Siamese cats is all about.  He was a punk and a total diva about having things his way.  We were always accommodating – how could you not be, he was broken!  Surprisingly, he could run around the house, climb stairs, and even claw his way up onto a piece of furniture as fast as a normal cat could jump onto it.

His coloring got much darker over the first couple of years and his face shape elongated, but the crystal blue eyes remained the same.  He never seemed to even acknowledge that he had limitations.  We figured he felt that we were there just to lift him on the furniture whenever he wished.  If there was something on the floor, he would somehow find a way to lay on it, whether it be a shoe, a box, a plastic bag, or just a piece of paper.  His other quirk was something I researched and found is commonly called wool-biting and is evidently something a lot of Siamese cats do.  He would get completely caught up in suckling on a blanket, or shirt in some cases, and rocking back and forth like he was in a trance.

He stayed with my parents when I transferred to UGA my sophomore year of college as well as for the first two years of marriage while we were living in a one-bedroom apartment.  He came to live with me again in 2007 when we moved into our first house.  His punk Siamese attitude really mellowed and he became more like the loving lap cats we always had before him when I was growing up.  But there were still times that he would just give you a look that we called the ‘What the hell’ stare.

From the very beginning, we had no way of knowing how long his life expectancy was.  Cats born with his type of defects never survive because they are abandoned and die.  He had just been very lucky.  In 2010, he started having mouth pain.  I took him in every six months for another round of antibiotics and steroids.  That wasn’t a good long-term plan for a chronic problem, so when the mouth infections were cropping up within a few months of one another, we decided to have all of his teeth pulled.  It was a scary prospect, not to mention expensive, but it was the best plan for a case like his.  That happened in July 2012.  He bounced back amazingly!

Unfortunately his problems weren’t over.  In October, we noticed that the normally small pad he had built up on his twisted back leg was growing.  I took him to the vet, where the leg was drained of a very viscous liquid like joint fluid.  It never went back down completely and after another draining, it ended up rupturing on its own.  My cousin’s wife became his doctor during all of this and she put his x-rays and pictures on a consultation board and the response she received over and over was that no one could believe that he had survived, much less for 11 years and with as much mobility as he had.

He wouldn’t leave the rupture opening alone and it opened into a huge sunken sore.  That filled in with tissue and we could finally take a biopsy.  Unfortunately, it came back positive as cancer.  After consulting a specialist, we learned that it was a very localized type of cancer, so in a normal cat, the course of action would be removing the leg and doing radiation.  Losing a leg when he is already so broken seemed like it would be too much for him.  After thinking over the options and what would be best in our special case, we decided to take no further action other than making sure his last few months were as comfortable as possible.

The cancerous area continued to open sores and drain.  He was eating fine and extremely loving, but his mobility decreased and he lost weight.  Every morning I would carry him downstairs, put him on a special area I had made for him to go to the bathroom, feed him, and make him comfortable on the couch.  When I got home from work, we would go through the same bathroom/feeding routine, then at night I would carry him upstairs to sleep with us in a nest of old blankets on the bed.  He seemed content and happy up until the very end.  We decided to go ahead and put him to sleep when we could tell the tumor had started to outgrow the blood supply by the smell of the afflicted area.  We wanted to make sure he was gone before we saw signs of real pain and suffering.  Thankfully, we were able to be at home when he was put to sleep – less stress for him and for us.

I have never been a part of the decision-making and actual euthanasia of any of our childhood pets, so this was a first and has been extremely difficult to process.  I know we made the right decision and that the timing was best for him.  I think I am thankful that I knew it was coming so that I was able to prepare and spend a lot of time with him.  I won’t ever regret neglecting the dishes in the sink in order to just sit with him on the couch the last couple of months we had him.   The first couple of days without him were the hardest, because he was so integrated in my routines.  I had to cope with all the ‘firsts’ of not having him around.  As trying as he could be at times, all-in-all he was a great companion and I am so thankful that he was in my life.  He has now joined the small group of wonderful pets from the past, all buried lovingly in my parents back yard.

Christmas Gifting

I had fun with Christmas gifts this year.  Some were just mundane, like a book for my brother-in-law, grilling accessories for my in-laws, gift cards for my sister and her husband because they have to travel home, and computer speakers for my dad.  But for my mom and other friends, I got to be a little more creative. And as always, I churned out a load of Amish Friendship Bread!

This year I decided to try my hand at making homemade vanilla extract.  I used two types of vodka: one organic and the other potato vodka (for gluten free).  I purchased the Avery labels from Amazon.

I gave this to my mom along with some homemade Lavender Gardener’s Hand Scrub and Hand Cream.  I also found a neat little potmaker for starting seed that uses newspaper.

For my best friend, in addition to some homemade vanilla, I got my mom’s help to make a scarf that was inspired by the one in this post.  I found lace curtains at Goodwill and the scarves (I made two and decided to keep the color she didn’t want) at Target.  The fabric of the scarves I chose was scrunched, so sewing the curtain lace on proved a little more difficult, but in the end they turned out super cute.  The one I gave her was a lime green, so I kept the black one.

And speaking of sewing, my mom got me this for Christmas:

I don’t know how involved I will get in sewing, but just being able to hem or mend seams and make simple things like curtain panels or pillow covers on my own will be nice.

Anniversary Weekend

We had a whirlwind of an anniversary weekend!  It began on Friday when we decided to take a look at a VW Golf TDI (diesel) in person after a lot of research online.  After what seemed like forever, Bradley drove his new car off the lot, replacing his 20 mpg truck with a shiny 40 mpg hatchback!  On Saturday, we cheered on the Dawgs as they pulled out a victory over Florida, unlike on our wedding day 7 years ago.

Our anniversary was Monday and we spent it at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC.  We traveled north on Sunday, stopping at The Dillard House in Dillard, GA for breakfast.  Food is served family style, even if it is just two of you.

Later on Sunday, we took some time to roam around the North Carolina Arboretum.  Because of Hurricane Sandy, the weather turned cold very quickly and the wind was awful, so we only toured the inside of the Biltmore and did not spend any time on the grounds.  You are not allowed to take pictures inside the Biltmore, so we actually have no photos of our visit.  We took the audio tour and a smaller ‘Butler’s Tour.’  If you only wanted to spring for one extra thing on top of the general admission fee, I would recommend the audio tour.  It made everything much more interesting as you wind your way through the home.

Our trip was supposed to last through Tuesday, but the threat of snow made us decide to leave a day early, so we headed home after our Biltmore tours and stopped for dinner at Soby’s in Greenville, SC.  They had fantastic she crab soup and the pork tenderloin I had was the most tender I have ever encountered.  The restaurant had a great downtown, nice-but-not-too-fancy feel.

On Tuesday night we had a small group Halloween party, so I spent a good part of the day making treats and costumes.  The theme was classic horror cinema, of which I have never seen any films, so I went for a safe costume – mummies.  I applied strips of cheesecloth to Goodwill clothing with a hot glue gun.  We ended up winning the best costume award – inevitable since we were the only ones to dress up besides the hosts of the party…

I made monster eyeballs (oreo truffles with red M&Ms), hummus, and caramel apple spice drinks for the party.