Monthly Archives: March 2011

Goodbye, Kitty

We may have found a new home for our kitty.

You probably remember when I brought him home months ago. It was kind of a battle. He lived at the store where I worked and they wanted him to go with another kitty. We had fallen in love with each other, he would follow me around the store and respond to me better than anyone else, I loved to see him and the joy and life in him made me happy. I won the battle and brought him home.

And discovered that I am not a cat person.

I like cats. I like other people’s cats. I like visiting cats. I loved seeing Parker at the store. This morning I was getting teary-eyed, remembering how much I loved seeing him at the store and what a great connection we had there.

But that doesn’t mean I want to live with one. I love animal cuddles…but cat cuddles just don’t really do it for me that much. We don’t interact in the same way. Parker is desperate for something from me, more attention, more cuddles, more interaction, and I try to give it but I don’t give what he wants, either. So we’re both lonely and frustrated. It’s been only 7 months, but that part of it is only getting worse.

Then throw in the clawing, the spraying, the getting up on counters to get into food and other things I thought were safe, and it’s frustrating.

There is a lot of good and joy from living with Parker. But there is more frustration. The net result is not happiness.

And if that was all it was, I’d stick it out. We promised him a home when we took him in.

But he’s unhappy, too. He is a total person-oriented cat. He wants to spend all his time with you. He cries when he is separated from us. And we just don’t give him the kind of amount of attention he wants or deserves. You can tell how miserable he is in many ways, even though he loves us desperately.

So slowly we’ve been toying with the idea of finding him a new home. A home of true cat-lovers who could respond to his needs.

Finally, yesterday, I put up a Craigslist ad describing our kitty’s personality and what we wanted for him. That we wanted him to be an only pet ideally and definitely in a home of real cat-people, because he is so people-oriented. After I submitted it but before it posted there were two “free cat!” ads that went up. So mine was the third you’d come across right then, not to mention all the other cat ads that are on Craigslist. I figured we wouldn’t hear anything, and in a few days I’d post again. No big deal, this was a first tentative feeler. Not really expecting a response.

Until a few hours later, when I got a response.

Young woman whose boyfriend and her are looking for a cat, since their 15 year old cat died last month. Very, very much cat people. Want a cat who is indoor-only. No other pets. Want a cat they can snuggle with all day. Want a loving companion who sounds just like our man. She wrote me a very nice e-mail explaining what attracted her and her boyfriend to our kitty, and how everything just seemed to line up perfect the more they heard after we’d sent some inquiries back and forth. Made me feel better. They’re the real deal. It sounds like a perfect home for our kitty. And when I obsessively and creepily stalked her on the interwebs and facebook I can see she’s a real person which lines up with what she’s saying.

They’re coming over tonight to meet him. And, if things work, take him home.

Holy shit. That happened fast. From tentative-first-feeler-OK-let’s-look-into-finding-him-a-new-home-we’ll-have-weeks-of-sorting-through-whack-jobs to he-may-be-leaving in just over 24 hours.

It’s too soon! I’m not ready!

But…if this is the right family…I am. The hubby and I may be losing out on the opportunity to love a very sweet and wonderful individual. But we have others to love. And while Parker and I have a special bond, I honestly think he’d rather be with people he maybe has less of a uniquely strong innate bond with who will shower him with love and affection all day long in the way he can respond to. I really, truly believe that he would be happier in another home, if it’s the right home, and that’s why I can do this. I really think it will be for the best. For everyone.

The next 24 hours will be very hard. Dealing with this decision, following through on it, saying goodbye to the kitty I love with all my heart, probably forever since these people live almost an hour away (have I mentioned they’re willing to drive almost an hour to visit a potential not-free cat? Yeah, definitely cat people).

But when all is said and done, I think that if you looked a month out, we’d all be happier for the change.

We’ll see what happens tonight.

Oh, and because when I adopted this kitty I told the crazy cat rescue I would NEVER rehome him, if I couldn’t keep him I’d return him to them (not a chance in hell crazy cat rescue, I love him too much to doom him to another year of living alone in a room with maybe an hour of human contact a day) I will not be confirming or denying for sure what happens. I may say I miss him, I may even say he’s gone..but of course, he could run out the front door and get hit by a car when I go to greet them. He’s been interested in outside recently. Who knows?

One final thought. I am noticing a pattern of slowly getting ready for something, deciding to start feeling towards it figuring it will be awhile, and BAM!, it happens. First with leaving the pet store; I applied for a tutoring job on a half-whim, first place I’d contacted, heard back for an interview in minutes, had the job the next day. Then with Parker (potentially). Can I say I hope having a baby goes the same way? We hit the point where we’re ready to start trying…and BAM, pregnant! *sad smile*

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More books: Midwives and Empires

I’ve been moving slowly that last month or so with reading. I’ve kind of been up-in-the-air between series; even though I have new ones I just couldn’t decide where I wanted to go. Throw in some non-fiction, which takes longer, one of which I’m about 3/4 of the way through but is still quite a long book, and my number of updates is not speeding along! That’s OK, my goal is to enjoy my reading, and I still have 11/26 of the letters down by the end of March! And I still have 2 book updates to share now. As always, click on the picture to go to the Amazon page.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May Gaskin

I had heard Ina May referenced by many natural-birth proponents, and finally decided to look up her work. This is the only book of hers I have read…but I loved it. Ina May is a total hippie who was part of a commune that was started decades ago where they decided they were going to go back to a more naturalistic type of birth; women attending women, with trained midwives rather than OBs. Her statistics are phenomenal, and she is respected by midwives and OBs around the country (and even around the world). The first half is nothing but birth stories. All kinds of birth stories from births she (or her team) attended. You see, women in her community don’t fear birth, because it is not a topic of horror stories. It is presented as hard, tiring, and painful, but not something to be scared of because basically everyone they know has done it and has found peace and joy in it. In our culture, however, the culture of birth is full of fear. So to counter that, Ina May presents her readers with a large number of birth stories from all different women with all different experiences, from short, easy labors to ones that took days, from unwed teenagers to “high risk” older women. She is trying to share her culture of confidence with the reader by sharing all of these stories. And since her c-section rate is under 3%, and forceps and vacuum extraction rates are even lower, and maternal death is almost unheard of, these stories really are typical of what she sees (and if I remember correctly, I believe there even was an assisted birth story in the tens her former clients shared).

The second part discusses her views on birth, including many tips for coping and many techniques she found to work, along with attitude. She wrote this book because after the stats she gave at the end of her last book an OB came up to her and said he wanted to know how she achieved those stats. This book was her answer. She describes “sphincter law” which she follows (along with the “law of 3 Ps” which OBs follow). Basically, she says that the cervix and vagina are sphincters, just like the rectum or urethra. And just like how it is hard to poop in front of a large group of hostile strangers, it is hard to let your cervix dialate and let your vagina relax to avoid tearing in front of a large number of strangers (or really any other situation in which you are uncomfortable or stressed). This insight alone I thought was really cool and worth reading the book for (trust me, she explains it better). The information and techniques she shares in here are really interesting, but her view definitely is one-sided. She is definitely not advocating for episiotomies or c-sections, though she is glad they exist for the women who need them, and while she doesn’t bash hospital birth she does point out many potential downsides from it being standard.

Overall I found this book very, very empowering. That seemed to be her biggest point. Throughout the whole thing there is this message that women can birth. We are made for it. And, generally, we can do it just fine. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant or thinking of becoming so, but it’s one you have to pick up on your own. I would never give it to a friend unless I knew she was open to natural birth because it is so one-sided, and what feels empowering to someone open to that may feel pushy to someone who wasn’t. However, looking at reviews, it seems that if a women comes to it on her own even many very pro-hospital-birth women thoroughly enjoy the book.

Hidden Empire

Orson Scott Card

This book is the sequel to Card’s Empire from 2007. In the first book there is a civil war in the US. In this book there is a world-wide epidemic. Are the conspiracy theorists right? That’s what we get to find out. The main character is a special ops agent who runs his jeesh of highly specialized soldiers. Other semi-main characters is single mom who is an advisor to the president and a young African monkey-catcher. This book is very action-packed and full of excitement. It was enjoyable and I did get somewhat sucked in, but it was nothing special. Good, not great. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, so that can ruin a book for me, but if you want some brain candy and like good action, then this is a pretty good choice.

You can tell my apathy by the length of my commentary.

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Portland Art

This weekend I spent some wonderful, relaxing, escapist time with my sweet hubby enjoying the nearby city of Portland. Saturday we went to the Saturday Market, and at one of the last booths I ran into artist Tricia Beck who runs Red Parasol Productions. And completely fell in love with her work.

I was in love with so many of her paintings it was hard to pick. She had gorgeous prints, for a very reasonable $10-$20. But she also had something extremely unique, textured prints on 1/2″ wood painted black, totally sealed and finished, ready to hang on the wall. They looked like original art because of the texturing and vibrant color, and I wouldn’t have to get them framed (one of my big downfalls).

I love her pieces. The colors are stunning. The more I looked at them, the more I found to like. If you live near Portland I highly recommend seeking her out at the market, as some of her prices were lower there, but if not I still recommend checking her out online. Some of the colors aren’t quite as vibrant online, but your print will be!

We considered getting a few. Like this:

"Spring Fever"

The colors are so vibrant. She also has a triptych based on this design, and we thought it would be a stunning focal point for a room with the gorgeous color and print.

Or this:


"Today is the Day!"

Which I loved in triptych. It splits beautifully, and you just see more the more you look.

Another of my favorites isn’t on her website (another reason to go visit her!) but I did get a little card of it which I totally intend on framing and putting up.

There were lots of others I liked, even if I wouldn’t necessarily want them as her only piece in my home, like these:


“Under the Maple”

So complex and stunning.

"A Round Conversation"

Stunning if macabre.


"To Survive"

Just cool.

I love her work because I just want to keep looking at it. Discovering more. And as I said, there was even more to look at and dive into and enjoy at her booth in Portland.

So what did we end up getting?


"Through the Trees"

I love it. The colors, the branches, the hills, everything. Love.

It went up in our living room as soon as we got home. Impressive, since we have prints from previous trips a year ago which are still waiting to be framed and have their spot found.

Art makes me happy. It makes my house feel like home. And I am so glad to add this piece to my collection. Especially for how unique it is with the texturing at such a very good price!

Whatare your favorite pieces?

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Positive training, it’s all essentially the same

I had today off and I have spent it enjoying some positive training shows.

One is It’s Me Or The Dog, showing Victoria Stillwell using positive training methods to train problem dogs (and their owners).

The other is Supernanny, showing Jo Frost using positive training methods to train problem children (and their parents).

I was just introduced to Supernanny by a friend, and I marathoned 5 episodes in a row. Watching it, I was struck over and over how much what she does is similar to what I do when I go into people’s homes and help them train their dogs. The standing and giving them instructions while the kid is having a tantrum on the floor was eerily reminiscent of my regular life working with clients while their dog is misbehaving in front of them. “Lots of praise, lots of encouragement,” comes out of my mouth constantly, just like hers. And so many of the techniques and advice are essentially the same as what I recommend to my clients for their dogs.

Basically, the show has helped confirm for me that raising children is much like raising dogs. Positive training is positive training! Here are just some of the similarities I saw:

Give appropriate outlets for energy

For dogs this means the owner takes them on lots of walks, runs, plays games of fetch, goes to the dog park, and does training. For kids this means the parent has to spend time playing games with their kids to have fun together and give them physical and mental exercise. This is the number one things that almost every person with problem children/dogs needs to improve on.

Set up rules with consequences and always always always follow them

Define the problem behaviors, decide on consequences for the behavior, and be 100% consistent in enforcing the rule the same way every time.

Use time-outs

Separate the offender from the fun of the family as a form of discipline; for many problem behaviors this is taking away what the offender really wants most and is thus the most effective punishment.

Make the offender choose to accept the punishment

With kids this means not locking them in time-out, but allowing them to choose to get up/out and being there to put them back every.single.time they choose to do so. The punishment is internalized when they acknowledge it enough to choose to stay in it. With dogs it’s often much the same, for example, holding them in an “alpha roll” proves nothing. Intimidating them into an alpha roll (they choose to submit and roll over without physical contact) at least conveys a message. Similarly, when your dog refuses to listen, getting firm and waiting them out, being calm but not backing down, insisting they listen to you at least eventually, is far more effective than just shoving them into position.

Don’t hit

Hitting only escalates the situation and doesn’t convey any lesson.

Stay calm

If the owner/parent loses it and gets angry, the battle is over. There is no longer any productive comunication happening. To stay in power and control of the situation stay calm and follow through on your planned discipline.

Acknowledge the good behavior that’s easy to ignore

It’s easy to ignore your child/dog when they’re being good, because you have a break. Instead, make a conscious effort to notice that good behavior and praise or reward it somehow.

Yup, pretty much the same. Now imagine what Jo could do if she had a clicker!

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Stupid depression stupid

My dysthymia has gotten better. My average mood is not as low as it used to be. And my dives into deep depression are not as deep, nor as frequent.

All of which is fantabulous.

But the downside I’m being reminded of now?

It means I’ve lost many of my coping mechanisms.

So this deeper bout I’m going through today I am totally stuck by. I’m not as practiced (and thus as good) at shaking it off.

Stupid depression stupid.

Can’t better just mean better?


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Birth Plans Pt. 2

A commenter on my first birth plans post helped me illuminate much of what I find so frustrating about the birth plan discussion and attitudes towards birth plans in our culture. She didn’t mean anything by it, but she tacked on the end of her comment:

You read Tulpen @ Bad Words right? If anyone can tell you that the first lesson in motherhood is that we do [what] it takes, it’s certainly her.

Again, in her comment this was totally fine and I’m pulling it out of context, nothing at all against her, but it helped me clarify for myself a sentiment that many people do say, obviously or not, to mothers who exhibit an interest in a birth plan.

“Don’t be too rigid, you don’t know what birth will be like!”

“You can’t plan your birth, you have no idea what you’ll be getting into!”

“I just want the doctors to do whatever is necessary for a healthy baby.”

Do you see that? The implication there?

It’s that mothers who make birth plans are selfish, caring about themselves above their babies, that they wouldn’t want the doctors to help them ensure a healthy baby.

(The same is often said of mothers who birth out of hospital with trained midwives, but that’s another story).

It’s that mothers who make birth plans are unreasonable, and unwilling to accept whatever sacrifices are necessary for the good of their child.

(Ironic, since most mothers with birth plans want to deny induction and pain meds, which have been proven to be sacrifices which make things safer for the child that mothers are often derided for making).

It’s that mothers who make birth plans are control freaks, refusing to submit to whatever may happen.

(Also ironic, since most mothers with birth plans want a more natural, going with the flow type birth as opposed to a more managed one).

It’s that mothers who make birth plans are trying to stop doctors from helping their child if it is needed.

I don’t think that is the case for most people who want a birth plan.

They just want to be a part of the birth. They want to have a voice. They want to be treated with respect and dignity.

If I put in my birth plan, “Please do not cut an episiotomy without gaining verbal consent, and only offer it in the case of a true emergency,” that does not mean that if my baby was in distress and needed to get out now I would stop the doctor from cutting an episiotomy. It just means I don’t want to end up like my cousin, whose doctor after one push while she screamed, “Don’t cut me!!!” cut an episiotomy in order to hurry things along (no respect of her shown there). It also means I am not like some women, who might prefer an episiotomy being cut in order to shorten the pushing phase. It is not unreasonable, it is a completely legitimate preference in the face of all things being OK.

If I put in my birth plan, “I do not wish to have any type of narcotic, epidural, or other medical pain management during my birth. I will be very disappointed if I end up accepting it. Please do not offer it to me unless I ask; I am aware that it is available,” it does not mean that if I have a 36 hour labor (that is somehow allowed to happen in a hospital) and am exhausted and unable to continue, or if I am too nervous and shaken by the pain and it is stopping me from progressing, I will not request pain meds. It just means that when I am feeling vulnerable at the height of a contraction I do not want a nurse to look at me and say, “You know, I could just make this all go away,” as one did to my mother in law, or to say, “Don’t be a martyr, just accept the epidural,” as countless women have heard. There are many ways to have a successful birth. Pain medication certainly does not increase my chances of a healthy, alert baby in most cases. And I would rather be supported in my completely legitimate decision to try to forgo pain meds than to have something I know about but do not want offered to me when my will is weakest. Think of it this way, if you were on a diet and had cut down on your number of calories, and one day after having to rush out the door and miss breakfast and then being held up and not getting to lunch until late leaving you starving someone offered you a big slice of chocolate cake with more calories in it than you were trying to eat in a day, would you thank them for it a few hours later? It depends how strongly you felt about your diet. For some, it would be extremely demoralizing, especially if they had been struggling with weight for awhile. For those people it’s a lot easier if their friends know not to offer that piece of chocolate cake when they’re starving. Is it being unreasonable to let them know you’re seriously trying to avoid dessert? No. So why is it unreasonable to make similar requests in labor?

I guess I just resent the implications that people with birth plans are selfish and unreasonable and don’t care about their children. Typically these women are very reasonable, and will accept and be happy with deviations from their original birth plans as long as they felt they were an informed, respected part of the decision making process for where to depart.


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One thing my house lacks

In high school and college I loved the bath tub. Soaking in warm water, letting my whole body relax, while devouring a good book or watching some Star Trek on the laptop? Priceless.

Of course, there was no bathtub in the college housing, so I would bask in them on breaks while at my mom’s house.

I love me a good bath. It is my favorite (close to only) way to relax. It is the only thing I have really found to provide reliable relief with killer menstrual cramps. In a bath I can let go of my worries and just float.

So when my hubby and I were looking for a house, one requirement was a bath tub.

Now, it was our first time buying a house. So I made sure our house had a tub. It does!

What I didn’t know enough to find out was that it is literally the smallest tub made.

It holds 7″ of water. Max.

Great for bathing small children.

Not great for adults to relax in.

Plus behind the overflow cap there is a lot of grossness we can’t access, since that thing is cemented in.

Shivering soak in gross water? Not the relaxing escape I dreamed of.

So yeah.

I miss having bath tub!!!!!!!

This alone makes me want to move sooner than I probably would otherwise.

I miss baths. Sooo much.

Right now I just want to go soak and relax before taking my shower.  *sigh*

This will be my number-one requirement in our next house!

Do you have any petty things that you miss more than you probably should?

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