My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Softer side July 29, 2019

 

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When we bought our house, we used a VA loan.  They go through extra steps to ensure your house is sound.  Some people won’t sell to people using the loan because of it.  And honestly, sometimes the extra steps can seem a little crazy.

When they did their testing, they almost didn’t allow us to buy the house because of the water.  We didn’t understand it at the time, but soon figured it out.  They fixed the “stale” water issue with bleach before we moved in, but they were still on the fence due to the hard water issues.  We didn’t quite understand.

A few months ago I finally found a water softening company that would actually call me back.  (Nice to know business is so good, you can ignore phone calls.)  When they tested our water, it was 25/411.  For those like us, who those numbers mean nothing, the healthy zone is under 10/180.

 

WOW!

 

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Which would also explain why everything in our house is crazy crunchy.  Including our skin and hair.

We recently finished our spare bathroom renovation.  I turned on the water once to test the new fixtures and it stained it with that one use.  There was no way I was going to actually use my fancy new bathroom with this issue happening!

But that left me at an impasse.  We still have the kitchen and master bath to go, but then wouldn’t be able to use them.

For the last few months I scrimped and saved (kids don’t actually have to be fed right?), and Friday we finally got our water softener installed!  A surprise to my dentist man.  Part of his Father’s Day gift.  He’s been a dad a while.  We’re running out of idea’s.

 

So far it’s been interesting.  The first night our normally sweet tasting well water tasted more like the plastic water softener container.  That made us a bit worried.

They did tell us to use *a lot* of water over the next 2-3 days, a bit of a challenge since both of the boys remaining in the house left for the week.  But the fourth born did what he could before he left.

A few showers and dishwasher and laundry loads later and I’m glad to say the plastic taste is gone.  The salty taste still remains.  Not like, salt lick salty, more like… “is that salt I taste?”  But I think the only reason why we notice, is because we’re used to good flavored water.  Something a lot of people don’t have the luxury of.  We won’t be complaining.  (Our outdoor spigots aren’t connected, so if we’re really desperate for that sweet well water flavor, we can always fill our glass from there.)

 

I am happy to say though that our showers have been *amazing*!  As in, they felt so good we were a bit weirded out when the softened water finally made it through the system.  My dentist man came out of his first shower and said “The water feels slippery?  Slick?”

 

Well it’s water… of course it’s slippery?

 

I took a shower.  He was right.

 

So, can I say I would spend that much money for salty water again?  Yes!  Our dishwasher is already getting cleaner.  Our clothes are already coming out cleaner.  And my hair feels amazing!  And the fact that we didn’t know water was slippery says a lot about how long we’ve lived with the hard water.

 

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Wavo

 

My entire next week will be spent updating the kitchen counter, sink and faucet (back splash will come soon).  Finally.  Do I know how to party or what?!

 

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Cat got your home July 22, 2019

Filed under: Animals,Moving,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:27 pm
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This is “the black cat”.  Any cat that comes on our property gets fixed now.  After a litter of kittens were born in our bushes, we weren’t going through that chaos again.  So far this year we’ve fixed 9 cats.  Including this guy.

Handsome fellow!

We got him fixed a month ago and he was very not pleased.  He actually escaped the very large kennel we had him in for recovery.  That had never happened before!  And off he went.  And we expected it to be like normal and we’d never see him again.  He’d be out in some field near by hunting mice for me like the rest of the feral’s.

Two weeks ago he came back.  Skin and bones, with a scar on his nose and begging for help.  I made sure he had food outside and figured that would be the end of it since he wasn’t friendly.

Apparently being mean goes out the window when you’re hungry.  He figured out how to get in our cat door, or meow out front until he got in.  My husband was not thrilled.

With four cats already, two more than we had planned on, and a move to a studio apartment over a dental office in our near future, a fifth cat wasn’t happening.  And frankly, I am ok with that.  However, I’m not willing to just chuck him out either.

 

We contacted our vet and got several rescue numbers, most of which didn’t want him because he was about a year old.  I appreciated their honesty on why they didn’t want him.  (People don’t want cats, they want kittens.  They don’t have room for cats that stay that long.)  One did say to come in so they could look him over.

I went in last Wednesday to a small building behind several others.  Hard to find, but once I saw the kennels I knew I was at the right place.  I walked up to the door to my “appointment” and realized there were about 15 other people in the tiny front room.  The woman inside yelled “Come in quickly!”  So I did.

I found a seat and placed the carrier on my lap.  For an hour I watched the large woman wheel around the room in her office chair going between sick, tiny kittens broken up by an adult cat or two.  She’d sit at her desk, pulling them out of their kennels one-by-one to inspect eyes, noses, and ears.  Often giving medications to the ones they decided to keep.  Others were sent home to wait for pick up the next week.

Between each feline check, she would spray herself down with Lysol, filling the room with a thick fog.  Since I had never used Lysol, I hadn’t realized I was not compatible with the product.  As my throat swelled up, lungs started burning and voice started leaving, I wondered if I should sit out on the hot porch while I waited?

One woman announced to the room that she couldn’t make it the week before because she had a mental breakdown and couldn’t make it.  Fair enough.  Not something I was prepared for in this setting however.  They went on for about 20 minutes between talking about her breakdown and discussing how amazing the cat’s eyes were.  It was decided that he’d be on the next transport to the closest rescue.

A few more people later, and we were down to myself and another woman who was very pleased with herself and her abilities as a rescuer.  “I’ll go last.  I think we have a lot to talk about.” she declared to the person checking the animals.

“I guess it’s your turn.” the rescue worker said as she pointed to my kennel.  I moved the kennel to the desk and set it down.  Without even opening the door, she shined a light on him and said “I won’t even take this cat out.  He’s got ringworm.  Highly contagious.  It takes weeks to see if he actually has it, and weeks to cure it.  Take him to a vet and bring him back once it’s treated.”  I was a bit shocked, but that’s their rule.

I went home and made the appointment with our vet.  A few days later, he was in the kennel again headed to the vet.  He was loved on by all the workers because he really is pretty awesome.  The vet got out his light, and checked the scar in question, which was nearly gone by this point.  He went over the crusty nose issue with the light, and a swab.  Nothing showed up.  The vet was stumped.  “I don’t know what she saw?  There isn’t anything now?  I mean, maybe?  Could be?  It’s possible?” he stood there looking at the handsome cat in front of him.

“Ok, lets do it this way.  I need this cat to be adopted.  Would it hurt him if we just gave him the meds for just-in-case?”  He looked at me not expecting this response.  “Well, no?  And it would probably clear up the crusty nose issue?  It’s probably just some sort of cat cold he picked up in the wild, so I can give you the meds and it should clear everything up?”

“Excellent – lets get it going!”

I walked out with a healthy cat, but toting meds.  For someone who rarely uses medication, this was new for us.

I waited over the weekend, frustrated at the situation, and listening to a grouchy dentist man.

Today I posted him one last time on our local FB page.

I am happy to say, there are at least seven people asking to look at this handsome boy!  And one crazy man who keeps asking why I didn’t use that particular rescue.  There always has to be a crazy one.

Definitely a new experience for us, but he’ll be going to a fantastic home by this weekend.

 

Floored July 15, 2019

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If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that we’ve been attempting renovations for the last 6 years.

We bought our house knowing it would need massive updating from its original 1979/1980’s interior.  It was a challenge.  It was made even more of a challenge when “that house” started to take over reality.

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Reality fought back for control and we’ve started to actually get things done!

The family requested floors first.  (If I had to do it over again, it would be far, far lower on my list… like after plumbing.  Seriously.  Do plumbing first.)

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For 5 years, we walked around on subflooring.  And I have to admit, it started to grow on me.  You could spill anything and it didn’t matter.  I even started toying with the idea of just sanding it down a bit and leaving it.

Yeah, I was getting desperate.

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But we got a break after I quite work and had a little extra money left over to finally buy some flooring.  It took about a year to get it in, but… it’s in.  And it’s fantastic!

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Let’s start with the fact that we have two dogs.  Two dogs that NEVER leave my side.  Seriously.  If I leave the house, when I get home, they are up my keester.  The big dog actually left a nose print on my “crack” last week after I got home.

So, I had to do the floors creatively.

We’ll start off with the boards.  8 ft by 8″ pine from Lumber Liquidators.  They were amazing through the whole process!  We paid in installments and when I came to pick it up in my old truck, they had me call when I got home to make sure I made it all the way (an hour and a half drive in a truck with a broken speedometer.)  We wanted lots of knots and weird marks.  I would have preferred just boards, but they came interlocking.  We rolled with it.

The “stain” is coffee.  We used free coffee grounds from the local coffee shop.  (We’ll also be using it for the trim now too because we can’t get a good color match with actual stain.)  The darker you want the color, the more coffee “brew” you “paint” on.  Our floor took about 11 coats.  (The trim is taking about 13.)

The final protective coats were Tung oil and Waterlox.  I was trying to keep it as natural as possible since the pets would be on it all day long and we’d be smelling it for weeks before it dried.  I don’t have babies any longer, but it would be safe for them also.  Tung oil is what they used to use to waterproof boats.  It smells yummy!  Like chocolate.  So when I used D-Limonene to “water” it down for the first few coats it smelled like a chocolate-orange factory!  Fantastic the first few days, not so much after a month or so.  And finally Waterlox for the final two coats.  It’s not completely natural, but it’s about as natural as you’re going to get for durability and shine (along with it’s waterproofness for the big drooly dog!)  My dentist man wanted it “super shiney” as his only request and Waterlox has that!

I spent 5 years researching.  I am very satisfied with my choices.

To be honest though, I didn’t want perfection.  I wanted cracks between the boards.  I wanted scratches to happen.  I wanted discoloration over time.  I could have put on a few more coats for perfect protection, but I really didn’t want that.  I wanted an old, lived in look.  It was going to happen with any floor we put it, so we might as well make it a feature!

I picked underlayment that was recycled, “slightly” natural and helped cut down on the noise between floors.  A huge issue we have.

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Because of the dog/butt issue, I couldn’t just put the floor down and then stain it.  No.  No that would have been entirely too simple.

So, instead, I did 15 stained/coated boards at a time, and then tilted them up against any available wall.  ANY wall, while they dried.  Boards were everywhere.  The family loved it…not.  But they could at least see progress.

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I am VERY satisfied with the final product!  They turned out great!  And other than a massive flood in the bathroom, they’ve done perfect!  The dogs drool all over the floors, new kitten accidents, leaking plants, a leak in the kitchen, it’s taken it all without any issues.

The only thing I’d change – I wanted nails for the “authentic” look, but should have just put the holes in for the look instead.

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Our final touch, before sealing everything up, was of course…

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I managed to get two boys to let me paint chalk outlines of them before laying the underlayment.  It’s awesome – love my boys!

 

 

Getting …. stuff done! June 24, 2019

 

 

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I have honest to goodness, seriously been getting a ton of stuff done!  I mean, like, super duper getting things done!

Graduating children, of the male variety in our house of course.

Growing kittens to their maximum size – can we say giant kitties?!

Working on the house – which includes several new skills!

The garden of course – ’tis the season.

Teaching the last child to drive – (“But did you die” should never be the theme of a drive.)

I’ve gotten so much done, that I finally have things to post!  Good things!  Things you’ll actually want to see – ’cause they’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

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We’re at a pause, we can’t move forward with some of the bigger changes until the water softener is put it.  So… we wait.  Until then, I have time to set aside my hammer, nails, glue and bandages to finally sit down and type.

I’ll start with the simplest tonight.  The graduating third-born.

 

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At his graduation party at church, they asked for a small bio of each kid – this is a slightly edited version of his –

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“Harrison, middle name is after all three of his grandfathers. The third son of four. Our “Pooh-bear”. And known as his dad’s “mini-me”. He started his life the way he continued it – relaxed. Nearly three weeks late, he decided the night before induction that maybe he should in fact, make an exit and came out on his own. But what he lacked in promptness, he made up for in expedience. Something that continues to this day.

At 10 lbs even, he made a big entrance into our family. Over the next few years, his quiet and relaxed disposition, chubby smile, demand for exactness and the love of ALL foods made him stick out from his brothers. Often times making sure even his older brothers stuck to the rules, but also protecting what was his by any means possible – heaven help the brother that moved his toys from their carefully aligned position!

After discovering him hiding his toys, and food, in his diaper so no one else could touch them, he was given a rolling backpack that he was known for for years by anyone who knew him. Carrying it every where he went with all of the life possessions that any a small boy could ever need. Most notably – his snack and the Honey Baked Ham catalog he learned to read with. To this day he still protects his most prized possessions and favorite books, but on shelves thank goodness.

If you were to ask his four year old self to help out with chores you’d be greeted with a “sleeping Harrison” with his head tilted back and a fake snore – “Honk-shoo, Honk-shoo”. Today, he still has an uncanny knack to “not hear you” if necessary, but he’s also one of the first out the door to get his chores done.

As he got older and started to read something other than his catalogs, his love of learning leaped ahead of his brothers and he started school two years earlier than the rest. The only one to never argue about or skip an assignment, or send one back undone, he was a breath of fresh air to teach. He will gladly share his love of history, geography, languages and politics with anyone near. And will try just about any food offered for the sake of the experience.

While his insistence to be right can sometimes make you want to bang your head against the wall, his dimpled smile and soft hugs make all things right again.

He grew up in church, and going to church camps. But made his commitment the summer of 2015 getting baptized. Jumping into the lake with 100’s of people watching, with all his clothes still on – he was ready! Then he learned he could share his faith, and meet new people from around the world, and that’s when his faith really took off. His passion to spread the word has been ignited!

He’s a military brat from birth and has enjoyed, or not enjoyed, several places in the US. With each move, he quietly discovered the world around him.

As we watch him make his next move, this time on his own, we can only imagine what he’ll discover. Whether he decides on law, pastorship, military, teaching History, all of the above or something he hasn’t even thought of yet – what ever he chooses, his relaxed disposition, thirst for knowledge and ability to casually lead those around him will take him to places he could never imagine and we can only dream of.”

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He’ll be with us for a few more months – rent is high in our house.  But we’ll enjoy him while he’s still hanging out with us.

 

And while my dentist man and I chant “Three down, one to go!” I am also very well aware at how much I’m going to miss each and every one of them.  “The days are long, but the years are short” is all to true.  But we don’t discover that until it’s too late.  But with that said…

…three down, one to go!

 

 

 

 

Recalibrating December 30, 2018

I am recalibrating my system

 

2017 was a whirlwind of crazy, crazy ups and downs that left me at rock bottom.  Which can be a good thing… When you’re down, you only have up to go right?  So I took 2018 to get back on my feet.  Recuperating takes time my friend.

This year was a great year to figure things out.  Recoup.  Learn.  Gather.  Recover.  Gain back strength.

Which means next year, I can start stronger.  More confident.  More knowledgeable and without the fear I carried for far too long.

When people talk about getting older, I’ve always laughed.  I don’t fear getting older.  It means I don’t get mistaken for a teenager any longer (yes, this can be a very good thing!) and it also means I’m one year closer to fully not giving a care about others opinions.  While I’m not totally there – I still wear a bra when I go places.  I do have a new sense of “What-evs!”.  My boys can attest to this.

 

The old thoughts, going back to childhood, went away.

Teachers telling me I would fail, merely for being me, went away.

Harsh words from strangers, that have held on for years, went away.

Worry about massive failure, went away.

Thinking I had to fix all the problems, went away.

 

They fell off on the way back up from rock bottom.  They’re still down there, but they were too heavy to bring back up with me.

 

A sermon discussing Job has been going through my head the last few months.  The pastor talked about Satan telling God that Job failed because he railed against Him.  He complained, and groaned.

God told Satan, “Yes, but he still came to me to do those things. He never turned away from Me, and he never disobeyed.  He did not fail.”

 

Failing isn’t going through hard times.  Failing is quitting during the hard times.

 

We started work on the bathroom – we were trying to get it done before a mission kid came from Costa Rica.  It won’t happen.  I discovered I have to change out the plumbing behind the wall before I can even think about tiling.  Which means learning a new skill, and possibly setting the house on fire.  After a day of researching, sweating, getting stressed.  I finally just ordered the parts and figured – if they don’t fit, I can send it back.  If my plumbing skills don’t work, I call in a plumber to fix it.

Asking for help is not failure.  Not having it work the first time is not a failure.  Giving up before even trying, is a failure.

Worst case scenario – I scorch the inside of the wall, lose water for a day (or so), and have to call in a plumber.  But I tried.  Better to have tried and failed, then to have never tried.  I’d rather fail at dozens of things, than do nothing, safely, having not learned a thing.

 

One more year.  Getting a little older.  A little closer to just not caring.  Learning a few more important lessons.  Letting go of a few people who needed to go, and gaining a few more that are needed.  I can’t think of a better way to remember a year.

 

What are your best memories from this last year?

 

Michael Broom

 

Just me September 23, 2018

Filed under: Boys,Dentist,Family,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 11:32 pm
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Picture this –

Me, pulling out of my long, multifamily, gravel driveway, onto the winding main road into town.  The road is 40 mph (64 kph), and we pull out behind a blind corner.

This is also the same corner that several car accidents have happened since we’ve been here.  I’ve called on two myself.  One guy clipped a power pole about 3 feet from the top.  Quite the sight to see.

For our neighborhood, besides the risk of getting hit when pulling out, these accidents cause power outages, which is frustrating because we can’t use our toilets (or anything using the well) when the power goes out (pretty much the only downfall to living in the sticks for me).  For the people living on that main road however, it could mean their fences, livestock, or even house or family could be taken out.

 

As I pulled out a few days ago, one of the people on this road jumped out from behind her fence to start screaming at me to slow down.  Looking down at my speedometer, I wasn’t even going the speed limit yet.  Actually, my ancient vehicle really can’t make it to the speed limit by her driveway, but I appreciate her faith in my van.

I fully admit, in my startled state, I stopped, turned around and may have exchanged word with her.  (No cursing!)  After she tried her best to insult me – calling me a young mother – at 42, I drove away.

After thinking about this though, I realized she did have a very valid worry.  She was however, going about solving it in a very poor way.  Causing another accident by scaring the pants off of someone probably isn’t what she was going for.

 

Here’s my bigger issue –

 

I realized after this happened that, on any given trip out of my house, I fully expect someone to either yell at me for some random thing, or expect me to explain myself for some random thing (that’s usually none of their business).

 

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Like what you say?

I’ve had a teacher yell at me for cheating, after she said I could ask for help.

I’ve been yelled at for asking for my child’s blood type.  “If you wanted to know who the father is, you need to pay for that yourself.”  (The pediatrician was NOT happy about this.  Same nurse later yelled at me because said child pooped while I was changing him.)

I’ve been yelled at walking my (very young) boys down the street to “Stop having kids” from a passing car.

I’ve had someone stop me and my (very young) boys so they could tell me what a horrible mother I was because one ran ahead of me, and threaten to call the police.

I’ve had a random person walk up and ask if all the boys are from the same father.

I’ve been asked if I was done having children while shopping for an oven.

I once had a customer ask about a recipe I make, and after I told them the recipe, they said they couldn’t make it because “they work”.  I literally had to check my outfit to see if I was wearing my uniform.  (Apparently working at a grocery store wasn’t actually “work”?)

I had a checker yell at me for taking too much of her time with the amount of groceries I had…  (that was seriously a weird one).

“You have to work and your husband is a dentist?  He must not be very good.”  (Someone who apparently thinks dental school and dental practices are free.  And who has never experienced a flood/bad renters… or, real life.)

 

This is just a *very* small sample of weirdness.

 

This can’t just be me, right?  Other people get yelled at randomly?  I know people say stupid things.  I know we ALL say stupid things.  But I seem to be a magnet for weird, bizarre, rude, intrusive behavior.

 

So what happened with the lady at the bottom of the hill?

 

I came back the next day with flowers and a note, explaining the situation better –

  • I dealt with the situation poorly, however… popping out to yell at people isn’t very wise.
  • I wasn’t even going the speed limit yet.
  • We have to speed up quickly so we don’t get hit from the blind corner.
  • It’s NEVER “young mom’s” causing the accidents, it’s dudes in their early 20’s (but I appreciated the compliment).
  • I wanted the problem fixed too, so I called the police to see what they could do to help the situation – they’re working with us now.

The comical sad part, was her sour-puss face and angry hands on hips as she stood behind her screen door, when I dropped them off.  I then realized she’s just not a happy person.  No note, or flowers can fix that.  But I’ve done my part.

 

As for myself, I refuse to let the sour-puss, cranky, rude, intrusive people of the world to make me the same way.

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But I could really do without the yelling…

 

What weird, rude, intrusive questions have people felt they needed to ask you?  Or things people thought were appropriate to randomly yell at you?  (Keep it clean please.)

 

 

A purrrrrfect way to end the summer September 9, 2018

Filed under: Animals,Family,Hubby,Moving,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:36 pm
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Among our other comings and goings of the summer, most of which all came in August, were a several sets of animals.

 

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Spare – the cat that adopted us, and helped ease out our much loved cat of 21 years, disappeared late last Spring.  Not uncommon where we live.  Coyotes, various eagles, large owls, skunks and other bigger, grouchier animals make it a dangerous life out here.  He was one handsome fellow – and an amazing hunter.

 

He is very missed.

 

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Sammie the Bearded Dragon – I was totally in love with this girl!  She roamed free around the house during the day.  Having a ton of windows paid off  with her – she sat in each one!  She got along great with the dogs.   And kept me company in the kitchen (not on the counter – lots of hand washing).  She came outside with us to do yard work and gardening.  Her favorite place of course was the open pasture outback of our house – where she was nearly impossible to find.  She was about 3-4 years old by the time we got her, and we had her about 6 months when she passed.  She died very happy I’d say though – running back and forth through the soaker hose out front.  Vet said is was just her time.

 

She is very missed.

 

Come August.  When we were scheduled to be gone every weekend.  (For people who rarely take trips other than to move, this was a crazy concept!)  A kitten popped out of our bushes near our house.  We looked for more, but none could be found.  We got ourselves a new cat!  One very brave little boy, about 4 weeks old, who adores the dogs, even if they don’t appreciate him quite the same way.  We had been himming and hawing over getting a new one; the cost, a 20 year commitment when the boys were going to be moving out soon, a smaller place in two years.  That sort of thing.  But we also had a major mouse problem thanks to the people behind us doing massive construction out in their field.  So, I prayed on it a bit.  Be careful what you pray for – God is a generous giver!

We left for a family reunion.  Big dog, little dog and new kitten in tow.

When we got back, we could hear at least one more little one in the bushes?!  And when I went to look – there were several bodies moving through the branches of our huge evergreen.  I bought a trap ASAP and first thing we caught was mama.  And BOY was she thrilled with this!  We didn’t intend to catch her first, but we rolled with it.

Mama cat will be getting fixed here shortly and released back into our yard.  Not friendly, but didn’t rip my face off either.  And she’s an excellent mouser, so we didn’t want to lose that.  She’ll be well taken care of as a “barn cat” on our property.

Two days later, two more kitties.  One boy and one girl.

Next day, two more kitties.  Two more girls.  One completely different than all the others, and the runt (runts are always my favorite).

That evening, the dad.  We’d never seen him in our yard before – stealthy big guy!  And we had no intention of catching him, seems as how we didn’t even know he was there.  But he was promptly fixed the next day by our awesome vet and released back into our yard.  Hey, we need all the help we can get with those mice!

 

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While all this was happening, we needed to leave again for the weekend.  The thought of spending two nights in a hotel room with two dogs and five kittens was just a bit much, and we couldn’t call off our trip.  We managed to find some poor kid at the very last minute to come watch the whole herd without so much as a plan!  “Just keep everyone alive until we get back and can figure out what to do with them.”  And he succeeded.  He even picked up the dad cat from our vet and released him for us, and found a home for one of the kittens.

One geriatric mastiff, one asthmatic pug, five 5 – 6 week old kittens, one ticked off mama stuck in our garage, and one probably not so happy dad.  All still alive and (mostly) happy.

Not bad for a 16 y/o!

I’ve never seen my husband become such a moosh before?  But really, five puff balls are hard to resist!  (Unless you have allergies.)

But if we’re going to be honest, four remaining cats is a bit much.  Especially when we move to our studio in a few years.  So we’re looking for homes for two.  In the middle of “kitten season”.  No worries – they will be taken care of no matter what.  Like I said, we need “barn cats”.

 

Instead of a mouse problem, we have a kitten problem.  Which is not too bad of a problem to have.

 

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Our trips are over.  School has started back up.  Pitter-patter of tiny paws can be heard all over the house.  And not a mouse to be found.

Not a bad way to end the summer!

 

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