April 30, 2013

Saying Good Bye To A Really Lucky Cat

Things you need to know. We have some best friends. Their names are Stephen and Libba. Libba is a vet. 

There is a cat of legend from Chris' childhood. A black Tom cat named George. George was more dog than cat. He followed Chris to school every day and would sit outside the window of his classroom. Before George died he hugged all of his people good bye and disappeared.

We lost our cat Lucky yesterday. It was very sudden and very sad. 

Lucky came into our lives very unexpectedly. With four dogs, one cat and a baby on the way the inn was full. We had no real intentions of adding another pet to our family. 

One early Fall afternoon Chris and I went to Holly Springs to visit our friends. Libba had a few patients to check on at the clinic before we all went to dinner. Being a former vet tech I informed Chris that I was going to ride with her, "just in case she needed help." I knew there was a litter of kittens there and had heard that there were a few orange and white tabbies. I've always wanted an orange white tabby and thought maybe there would be one that I could convince Chris to take home. 

After we arrived at the clinic and visited with the kittens for a bit Libba said, "You've got to come see this little one. She's so sweet and sad." I walked over to a cage and inside was a tiny black kitten with bright yellow eyes. Libba told me that their preacher, Bruce, found her outside the VFW starving, full of fleas and worms and unable to bear weight on one of her rear legs. Bruce brought her to Libba. The leg would have to go, but Bruce agreed to pay for the amputation, spay and shots if Libba could find her a home. It would be a long shot. Black cats are a dime a dozen and hard to adopt out under the best of circumstances.

As I peered back at the kitten currently staring at me she made a mewling sound, made her way to the front on the cage and started purring so loudly you could hear it in the next room. I fell for that tiny neglected kitten instantly. Somehow I convinced Chris that she was so much like George and that she needed us as much as we needed her. Being a smart man, and recognizing that denying his pregnant wife the rescue of this baby animal would be a bad idea, he agreed. We would name her Lucky and wouldn't that be a funny name for a three legged black cat (as if we were the only ones clever enough to come up with that)?

After a small miracle and lots of steroids and TLC Lucky regained the use of her lame leg and about a week later came home to us. The first few days were a bit interesting and fur occasionally flew as she adjusted to her new brother and sisters, and they her. However, it became very clear that giving Lucky a home was a good idea. She proved to be the sweetest most loving cat. She always wanted to be in your lap, wrapped around your neck or getting her belly rubbed. Like George it was clear she was more dog than cat. She had nerve damage from whatever trauma caused her to be lame as a kitten and her tail dragged on the ground and she had trouble retracting her claws, but we didn't care. We loved her dearly. I told her (as I tell all of my animals) that she was really Lucky. She fell into roses and didn't do anything to deserve it.

Yesterday after mystifying Libba and her associates Lucky died. Sunday morning she began meowing pitifully and started throwing up. After a few text and phone consultations I called in the favor of having a best friend who is a vet and picked Libba up and headed to the clinic around 9pm. All of the radio graphs and blood tests were inconclusive but it was clear we had a very sick kitty on our hands. The only thing she tested positive for was a UTI. After hooking her up to IV fluids and giving her a few shots of antibiotics and some meds for vomiting I headed home. Before I left I made sure she was curled up in her blanket from home and reassured her over and over that we were not abandoning her, that we loved her and once she was fixed up she'd be back at home with us. Maybe some people think I'd be silly to have a conversation with a cat, but I truly believe that animals have feelings and know on some level what we are trying to express. They know the difference between comfort and anger. I was so worried she would think she was being abandoned on top of already feeling terrible.

The news yesterday morning wasn't good. She'd deteriorated over night. After a few more tests the diagnosis was still unclear. Lucky's health continued to decline throughout the day while Libba sent me text updates. Libba said she would hold off on euthanasia just yet. I told Chris if she made it through the night, but did not improve and there was no clear diagnosis that we'd have to make a decision on euthanasia. I couldn't prolong her life for me (or anyone else) if it was clear she'd not pull through and was in pain. I made arrangements for care for Evie and planned to go to Holly Springs either to visit her or be with her as she died on Tuesday. I've held countless animals as they've been put to sleep and comforted them when their owners couldn't. I was determined that if she was euthanized that she would die in my arms. 

I turned out that I needn't have worried as Libba and I spoke shortly after and I learned that Lucky was already gone. It was incredibly sad. Libba offered to autopsy to try and determine cause of death, but really, it won't bring her back. It won't let me hear her purr again. So I guess we'll never know. 

One thing I do know though is that for her name and all the times I would tell her that she was lucky to have found us, that she had a great life for a former dumpster cat, we were the lucky ones to have her in our life even if it was only for a short while. 

Be peaceful Lucky Cat. 

"You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats."
-Colonial American Proverb-


April 29, 2013

Rage Against the Muffin Top: Week Six with Revolt Fitness

Week six was interesting to say the least.
Chris was out of town all week which left me scrambling to find time to go to the gym, but luckily I was still able to go four times (thanks to the inlaws).
I didn't eat the meal plan basically due to lack of time before Chris left. I stuck to a low carb, low fat, high protein and high fiber diet though and seemed to do ok.

It's always hectic when Chris is out of town and I'm left in charge of a toddler, four dogs and two cats, but I still managed to make it work for me.

One weigh in day I the scale read 145.3. So not a huge loss -- but a loss all the same!

Starting Weight: 158.1lbs
Weeks 1&2: 149.0 lbs -9.1
Week 3: 149.2 lbs  +0.2
Week 4: 147.2 lbs -2.0
Week 5: 145.8 - 1.4
Week 5: 145.3 -0.5

Total Lost: 12.8 lbs!

Weight left to go: 20.3 lbs
Here is to the second uprising and really dropping the number on the scale and toning up!
Thanks to Revolt Fitness for sponsoring this post. My opinions are real and my own. I think the results speak for themselves.

April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Birthday Redo

Since Evie's birthday party turned out miserable due to the crappy weather I, of course, waited until the first sunny warm day and put her back into her birthday shirt from Embellished Bayou* and her ridculously cute tutu from The Hairbow Company to take some pictures!
I was super excited to get these photos of the tutu, because who doesn't love a good tutu and also because it came in a big box of girlmom goodies from The Hairbow Company! It was filled with bows and pettiskirts, flowers and tutus. I really like their company because you can get all sorts of girly things at wholesale prices, which means more bows and photography props for this momma!  
We saved her present from Grammie and Grampie for picture taking purposes!** There were also bubbles involved because, duh. Bubbles.

*I was not compensated by Embellished Bayou. I purchased Evie's shirt myself. I just really want to give Christy a shoutout because she is awesome and helped me out. Basically the chick who was supposed to make Evie's shirt flaked at the last minute, and I could not find a shop to work with me on turn around times. I put out the SOS on twitter because I had that Eviesaurus shirt stuck in my head. I knew it was a big fat first world problem, but I was like a dog with a bone and could not let it go. Sure enough Twitter came through and my friend Andie hooked me up with Christy. Christy graciously agreed to rush the order (even with all of her Easter orders she had to do). Within an hour she had emailed me a design that was exactly what I wanted! Less than a week later the perfect shirt was in my hands. Evie loves it and always wants to wear her Bihosaur shirt!

**In case any of you were wondering Evie's present from Grammie and Grampie was a pull behind for the boat. Now if it would only freakin warm up so the boat could open she could use it!!!

Disclosure: I was not compensated by The Hairbow Company. A product was provided for review purposes only; my opinions are honest and my own.

April 22, 2013

Live & Unplugged

It may be an unpopular stance but when the news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon broke I chose to unplug. I made the same decision when the fertilizer plant blew up and then again when the avalanche happened in Colorado. 

It is terribly easy to become addicted to the news reports in times like these. It's even easier to become bogged down in it, clicking, clicking, clicking away only to read the same story rehashed again as each new detail emerges. If there is one thing the American news media has down pat it's sensationalism. I'm not saying it's right, and I am not saying that these stories don't merit media attention (they absolutely do). However, in these times when ratings rule it is their job to suck you in with gruesome details that may or may not be accurate. I fell prey to this trap after the Newtown, CT school shootings. I ravenously devoured every media update I could find, and in doing so put myself in a position of being consumed with anxiety for weeks. 

I still pray for those children and educators that were lost in Newtown, just as I've been praying for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, the West Texas Explosion and the avalanche in Colorado. I've prayed for friends in Boston, Texas and Colorado. I have people I love in all three states. I've prayed especially for the service men and women as they engaged in a dangerous man hunt through the city of Boston. I've been praying for them, but I am afraid that I cannot engage in their story. 

It's too simple to jump from tragedy to "what kind of world have I brought a child into that this must be her inevitable fate?". If you live with anxiety that jump is terrifyingly simple, and I bet a lot of people made that jump. 

I however made a decision to unplug from social media and live in order to prove that there is still good out there, that this world that contains such vileness also is home to ice cream cones, days at the zoo, time with family and hot afternoons perfect for playing in the sprinkler. 

We have to believe we have brought our children into a world that is still essentially good. Sometimes in order to do that you have to allow yourself to live fully in the moment to enjoy the simple pleasures of today. You have to revel in the unsullied silly innocence of a child and realize what a beautiful world we still live in. 


April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Girl's Dinosaur Themed Birthday Party

I knew when I planned Evie's birthday party to be outdoors at the city park I was taking a risk. March down South is a fickle fickle creature. You are looking at anything from snow, freezing rain, warm sunshine, tornadoes, thunderstorms to cold spring rains. So I played the weather roulette game and I lost, miserably.
It rained all. day. long. on the day of Evie's birthday party. It was windy and freezing cold. Since my house was a disaster I am really stubborn I am perserverent I decided to go ahead and move forward with the park idea. So what if it was raining? We rented a pavillion, we would be dry and just fine thankyouverymuch.
Haha. Oh, hahahahahaha.
No. Just no. It was complete and total misery.

Long story short, all of the signs I made for the food were droopy and ugly from the humidity. The kids (the ones who bothered to show up)* were freezing (so were the adults). I am amazed that somehow my father-in-law and husband manged to get the (non-sheltered) grill to work. This was clearly not their first rodeo. The chips? We went through two bags, and not because we ate them. The first bag got stale before the dogs were already done so I had to open a second. The table cloths had to be taped down because they kept blowing away. Even the helium balloons were lying on the ground when they got too bogged down with water from the rain.The shirt that I panicked over and Embellished Bayou rushed in and saved the day with was never seen because it was under Evie's fleece jacket. The cute tutu that The Hairbow Company sent for Evie to wear to her party was barely even visible as well. 

All my hard work - for patootie. Anyway, here are the details:

The invitations were made by my awesome friend Christine. She doesn't have an etsy shop, yet. More on that later, I hope!

The cake was inspired by this Betty Crocker tutorial and took 3 lbs of butter, 2 bags of confectioners sugar and countless amounts of food coloring to frost. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I did make mine from two double layer round cakes instead of a single layer. We didn't even bother with blowing out a candle because well, we couldn't even get the darn thing lit. So we gave up because basically everyone just wanted to eat cake, open presents and leave. I can't say that I blame them.

All of the food was labled with a dinosaur theme! I wanted to print these labels but our printer was on the fritz! We had things like Brontosaurus Bites, T-Rex Treats, Stegosaurus Snacks, Echinodon Eats and Raptor Refreshments! The goodie bags were labeled Gadolosaurus Goodies (I really really like alliteration).

For activities I had crayons and dinosaur coloring sheets, which of course were damp, and I did a fossil "dig" basically I got a large shallow tub, filled it with small animal bedding and buried plastic dinosaurs in it and provided plastic shovels and rakes.

Basically all of it would have been way cooler if it wasn't freezing cold and raining. I am very seriously considering ordering a cake and doing a "redo" sometime in May, not a party just a fun cookout for our family and close friends.

So yeah. To close here are some pictures of Evie. And yes we did do a redo photo shoot of Evie in her tutu, shirt, and bow. I'll post those next week!

*What is up with people's lack of ability to RSVP for something? For the love of God, it's not hard. I provided you with my email address. So freaking rude. If you are invited to a party and an RSVP is requested take the thirty seconds out of your day and either call or email. Geeze.

April 16, 2013

Is She Hearing Me?

Every day, at least once a day, I talk to my daughter I would talk to another adult.
The topics of conversation vary somewhat, ranging from scientific topics like weather or nature to my thoughts on baking or cooking like how to reduce a sauce. Invariably though, I find myself talking to her about her self worth in an effort to combat a world that is already telling her that her looks determine her value.
It's a weighty conversation to have with your two year old. Maybe. I'd posit however that it's probably the most important one I have with her on a weekly, if not biweekly, basis and that all mothers of girls should be having similar conversations with their girls.
I find myself starting off with the question, "Evie are you a smart girl?" After she nods her head I always reply that, "Yes! You are such a smart girl." Then we talk about how beautiful she is on the inside. I tell her how much value she has as person and how much her father and I value that. I tell her she has such a kind heart, that it's loving, and we talk about the importance of being gentle with other people and their hearts. We talk about the importance of compassion and being a cheerful helper.  We talk about the signifigance and consequences of her actions. Then I ask her another question, "Evie, are you such a pretty girl?" After she nods her head in agreement I tell her that she has the most beatiful eyes I've ever seen, how gorgeous her blonde curls are and how bright her smile is. Then I tell her she is never to let anyone devalue just how wonderful she is inside and out.
She smiles at me and sometimes I wonder, if it matters. I wonder if having these conversations early and often with my daughter will make a difference. I sometimes wonder if my darling two year old daughter who loves dinosaurs, bubbles, sunshine and her puppy dogs is even hearing me.
I have to believe she is though.

April 15, 2013

Golden Hours

Saturday after Chris left to go to the gym Evie and I ventured outside to soak up some vitamin D and enjoy the fading Spring sunlight with a tub of sidewalk chalk and bubbles. After a brief nature walk down the sidewalk and through the front yard to look at leaves, sticks and rocks I asked Evie if she wanted to go color and blow bubbles.

As of late I've been obsessed with my DSLR taking every opportunity to practice and document Evie's toddlerhood. I figured this would be a great time to practice outdoor shooting in the golden hour.

Instead Evie looked at me with her blue eyes wide and asked, "Momma lap?"

"Yes baby. Momma lap", and I patted my legs. She walked over sat down and leaned her back against my chest to happily blow bubbles. I gently set the camera down and instead of clicking away leaned in to bury my nose in her blond curls and breathed in a combination of the fading scent of Johnson's baby shampoo, little kid, the strawberry milk her Daddy gave her earlier and the smell that is unique only to her, the one I recognized the first time I held her in my arms. Once again I thought, oh my heart, and felt the peculiar combination of utter joy and bittersweet that is the hallmark of motherhood.

The realization that capturing the golden hours of our lives through living them instead of photographing them came to me swiftly and I left the Nikon on the ground and instead concentrated on the smell of Evie's hair, the warmth of her back, the smoothness of her skin and the sparkle in her smile. I couldn't resist grabbing my phone for a quick snap shot of the moment, but didn't press it further realizing that no photo, no color representation and no picture in frame could be as perfect as that moment right then.

It may have only lasted twenty minutes before Evie was up running back to the yard yelling "Sticks! Leaves! Rocks!", but it was truly a golden hour, and the smell of Johnson's, little kid, strawberry milk lingered long after my darling girl was off to dream dreams.

I still love you beyond words or measure my baby bug, and my heart is still full from you.


April 12, 2013

Rage Against the Muffin Top: Week 5 With Revolt Fitness

This week I want to talk a little about exercise and anxiety.
I'm pretty frank about living with generalized anxiety disorder. I have a very mild case and control it very well on my own without medication using deep breathing and visualization techniques. Now, I can add exercise to that list.
Over the past six weeks working with Revolt Fitness I have noticed a huge drop in my anxiety. I'm more relaxed and I smile and laugh a lot more (not that I was always cranky and on edge before, I'm not Daria). I've been told for years by doctors and friends alike that exercise would help with anxiety, but I never really got on the bandwagon. I guess I thought they meant you would be too tired to feel anxious or something. Either way I was entirely wrong!  
Turns out, that not only does exercise release endorphins (which is why you feel awesome after a workout), but it also helps your brain produce more serotonin (which I always refer to as the happy neurotransmitter). For a person dealing with anxiety this is huge.
Since I started this program I feel less and less touched out and more receptive to giving and receiving hugs. I feel happier and lighter and intrusive thoughts are almost gone. That feeling of worry in my gut (if you deal with anxiety you know what I mean) doesn't happen so much anymore.
Now let's get to the good stuff, the numbers and such!
When I got on the scale for my weigh in I saw this number 145.8!!! Sorry friends I forgot to take a picture this week. But still! 145.8! I am crazy excited!
Starting Weight: 158.1lbs
Weeks 1&2: 149.0 lbs -9.1
Week 3: 149.2 lbs  +0.2
Week 4: 147.2 lbs -2.0
Week 5: 145.8 - 1.4

Total Lost: 12.3 lbs!

Weight left to go: 20.8 lbs
Here's to finishing off week six and this uprising strong! I am looking forward to starting the next uprising on Monday!
If you want to start your own Revolt with Nichole Huntsman email me for more info!
Thanks to Revolt Fitness for sponsoring this post. My opinions are real and my own. I think the results speak for themselves.

April 11, 2013

BlogHer 2013: Chicago Conference Sponsorship

It's a Vol! is currently seeking sponsorship for BlogHer 2013. BlogHer is annual conference for bloggers who are seeking to grow their networks both professionally and personally, expand their blogging knowledge through attending various classes and learn how to better serve their readers and the brands that they work with. This year BlogHer is taking place in one of the most exciting city America has to offer, Chicago, IL. Along with over 5,000 other bloggers I will travel to Chicago for a weekend of networking and growing, and I need your help to get there!

I want to be YOUR brand ambassador during BlogHer '13! There's a lot to be said for media advertising. However, a bouncy, smiley, relatable person is even better! I would love to put my skills to use for you and your company as your brand ambassador. Please take a minute to select which of the following packages works best for you and your company. Don't see something you like? Email me and we can talk more! I would LOVE to work with you!

The Cost Breakdown:
HOTEL: $300
FLIGHT: $450
MISC (food, cabs etc): $250

TOTAL COST: $1,000

You will notice that I did not include the cost of the ticket in the sponsorship price. I'm shouldering that responsibility myself!

Sponsorship Packages

  • Vol Nation Advertising for one year.
  • Two full length posts with links to your site and social media leading up to the conference, and one full length post after the conference.
  • Mentions on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram leading up to the conference.
  • Live Tweets, Facebook mentions and Instagram posts during the conference.
  • Weekly Twitter and Facebook mentions of any sales or events from now until July 2013.
  • Your name on the back of my business cards.
  • I will carry any swag that you provide with your company logo on it, such as iPad/iPhone cases, laptop bags, tote bags etc.
  • I would be willing to run a giveaway near the time of the conference to help generate buzz for your company and brand. 

  • Vol For Life advertising for one year.
  • One full length post featuring your business with links to your site and social media before the conference and one full length post after.
  • Mentions on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram leading up to the conference.
  • Live Tweets, Facbook mentions and Instagram posts during the conference.
  • Weekly Twitter and Facebook mentions of any sales or events from now until July 2013.
  • Your name on the back of my business cards.
  • I will carry any swag that you provide with your company logo on it, such as iPad/iPhone cases, laptop bags, tote bags etc.
  • I would be willing to run a giveaway near the time of the conference to help generate buzz for your company and brand
  • Daddy Vol advertising for six months.
  • One full length post with links to your site and social media sites before the conference.
  • Tweets, Facebook Mentions and Instagram posts leading up to the conference.
  • Live Tweets, Facebook & Instagram mentions during the conference.
  • Monthly Twitter and Facebook mentions of any sales or events from now until July 2013 (two per month)
  • I will carry any swag that you provide with your company logo on it, such as iPad/iPhone cases, laptop bags, tote bags etc.
  • Mommy Vol Advertising for six months.
  • One short length post with links to your site and social media sites before the conference.
  • Live Tweets, Facebook and Instagram mentions during the conference.
  • Facebook & Twitter mentions of sales or events from now until July 2013 (one per month).
  • I will carry any swag that you provide with your company logo on it, such as iPad/iPhone cases, laptop bags, tote bags etc
If you have a smaller budget but still have a business to promote, this is the one for you! If you'd like to provide a service such as business card design, luggage, clothing, electronics or accessories, this is the one for you! Includes:
  • Three months of Mommy Vol advertising.
  • Mention in the group sponsor post with one link back to your site.
  • Live Tweets, Facebook mentions and Instagram posts about your company during the conference.
  • Facebook & Twitter mentions of sales or events from now until July 2013 (one per month).
Select the package that fits you and email me today to save your spot!

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April 10, 2013

I'm Late

Ok ok. I'm late to this party I know.
We've all known for weeks now, but GOOGLE READER IS DISAPPEARING INTO CYBER SPACE!
So what are we all going to do?
It appears the blogging powers that be have decided that Blog Lovin is to be the next big thing in blog following.
So if you wouldn't mind pretty please follow me over at Blog Lovin so you don't miss a thing. It really is super easy to use and honestly, it's where I've been migrating my reader to over the last few weeks. My google reader is out of control.
It's easy just click the button below!
Follow on Bloglovin


Wordless Wednesday: Just Because

Just because sometimes you open up the new boat bath toy that your kid got for her birthday, break out the Nikon & Speed Light on a Thursday night and you get this.

In case there was any doubt, I know this erased it: I officially have the cutest kid ever.

{I love this picture more than words can express. I absolutely hate that the top of her head is cropped off. I was sitting in the bathroom floor taking the pictures. She was slowly leaning forward towards me and saying, "nooooo momma. nooooo camera." and I just couldn't pull the zoom back fast enough. Maybe my MIL can photo shop her head on.}