Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our New Baby

Our first baby turns 18 today, no longer a child. (Legally, anyway.) On her heels we'll be adopting a new "child", the retired racing greyhound I wrote about earlier. When we went to the adoption center last week we found the perfect girl, only we haven't gotten her yet. She was peeing all over the office when we took her in to visit with her; it turns out she has a urinary tract infection. The head of the adoption group didn't want to release her to us in that shape so she's got her on antibiotics to try to clear up the problem. The girls and I went to visit with her again today to check on her and see how things are going. We also spent a couple of hours down there just hanging out with her so she can start getting to know us before she comes home. Greyhounds are raised in such an unusual way that it is quite a traumatic event to leave their kennels and move to a regular home. They don't understand at first that the move is a good thing, all they know is everything is different. It kind of freaks them out, but they get over it and become the best pets ever.

There are some unique quirks to greyhounds. They live their early lives in kennels with a ton of other dogs, being handled by trainers, so they are somewhat socialized. They don't necessarily understand about kids, but they are easy going enough that they adjust quickly. (They aren't great with little kids, though; the adoption people recommend the youngest age as at least 5 or 6.) They have to learn a lot of things that other dogs learn as puppies, like how to walk on a leash and how to play with toys. They are never able to go off leash like a golden retriever or other types of dog that will hang out with you. If they spook or decide to chase a squirrel they run so fast that they get lost! They are sight hounds, which means their sense of smell is weaker than a lot of other dogs, so they can't easily track back to home.

As to our girl, we chose a sweetheart of a dog. She's friendly and smiles. She walks nicely on a leash which is one of the main characteristics I was looking for. She figured out the toy thing quickly (some greyhounds never play with toys) and spent a lot of time squeaking a toy today! She seems to be very playful compared to the other dogs that were hanging out in the office with us. (And no peeing inside today, a very good sign for future house breaking efforts.) (They are all crate trained, but since they've never been in a house they have to be taught that the house is their "crate" when you get them home.) She stood with us for pets and "lovies" and Martha Jr. gave her lots of treats. I think it was a wonderful visit and will help her when she transitions to our house. Hopefully she'll be well enough that we can get her in a few more days!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Green Smoothies

I've been hearing about green smoothies for a few years now from many, many different sources. They are touted as the latest health miracle, keeping cancer at bay and doing all sorts of good things for your body. While I can't verify or deny the health claims, I do think it's a good idea for all of us to up our intake of greens. I've made a few green smoothies with that end in mind but it's such a pain to try to keep fresh greens on hand. Well, today I made a discovery. (And there are probably tons of people out there who already know this, but it's new to me.) FROZEN GREENS WORK IN GREEN SMOOTHIES! They are so much easier to buy (I can get them at my local grocery instead of trucking out to Whole Foods) and keep on hand. (Frozen lasts a lot longer than fresh.) I can make green smoothies whenever the mood moves me, much to the chagrin of my children. (They just want regular fruit smoothies, hold the greens, please.) Today I made one that was absolutely perfect! I'll give a sort of recipe here, but it's one of those "throw it all in there" kind of things. I don't have amounts for you for every ingredient, but I'll estimate a few of them. It also helps to have a high powered blender; I have a Vita Mix that I love, love, love.

Here's what I blended up:

~ 4 to 6 pitted dates (they are the sugar for the smoothie)
~ frozen collard greens (about a cup)
~ pineapple juice (enough to wet everything down so the blender would work and not freeze up)
~ 1 banana
~ about a tablespoon of coconut butter, maybe a little less (it was the bottom of the jar so I just threw in the remainder; it gives a nice pina colada flavor)
~ frozen fruit to fill the rest of the blender jar to about 3/4 full: strawberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, mango chunks, peach slices

The dates don't want to blend up with the whole batch or by themselves (they stay too chunky with everything or stick to the sides of the jar by themselves) so I threw them in first with just one or two of the next ingredients and some of the juice and blended that up before proceeding with the rest of the ingredients. With so much frozen fruit you have to use the plunger to get it all going. Blend it all to smithereens and don't look at the color. If you use blueberries, it's not really a green smoothie, it's more... brownish purple. Drink in a dark room. If you don't use the blueberries it's a neon green, also not normally a color you would think of for something you eat, but it works. It's amazing how something that looks so odd can taste so absolutely delicious, but it really does!!

There are a lot of other green smoothie recipes out there that use a lot more greens than I do, both leafy green veggies and green fruits like grapes, honeydew, and apples, and a lot of them come out with more visual appeal than my recipe, but not more flavor! Some of them are sweet like mine, some are more grassy if you like that kind of thing, but they are all so good for you. Cure cancer? I don't know, but a yummy glass full of fruits and veggies can't hurt!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Water Bottle Thing

I am a water drinker. I drink water exclusively, usually sparkling, but plain if that's all I can get. Usually bottled. I prefer glass bottles for both health and environmental reasons and pay the extra bucks, but I can only get one brand in glass. That's what I drink at home. When going out, I used to grab a plastic bottle. Lately, I've switched to pouring my sparkling water from the glass bottles into a reusable water bottle whenever I can, so as to reduce my use of plastic.

I am so torn on the issue of bottled water. On the one hand, I understand that those plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare. On the other hand, I want my bottled water!! I can taste the difference in water, even from one brand to the other, and I can't stand tap water. I never have been able to stand tap, even as a kid. I remember one time when there was a problem with our tap water and the military sent out water trucks for everyone. We got a few pitchers of water from the truck and I drank it like there was no tomorrow. My step father teased me because I wouldn't drink tap, but I drank that military water. It's because it tasted better.

Back in the day, you couldn't get water at movie theaters. If you asked for a cup to get water from the fountain they would still charge you full soda price. Then came the bottled water phenomenon, and hallelujah, I could get something to drink at the movies! (Well, until Desani became all the rage. That water tastes as bad as tap because it probably is; yuck.) It was so refreshing to be able to get a water to go with my popcorn. Then they started selling ice cold bottled water at all the outdoor events, which is so wonderful on a hot Florida day. And you can even get bottled water from the shops on the other side of the security gate at the airport!

What's to become of all that, I ask you? Why are the water drinkers being picked on? Why can't the soda drinkers bear some of the blame for the plastic bottle problem? Yes, there are brands out there that are just tap water and taste like it, but there are good brands of water that taste immeasurably better than tap. Are they filtered and clean and free of yucky stuff? Well, I hope so, but I realize some of them aren't. The same can be said of water from a fountain, though; they aren't the cleanest of water sources. Have you ever seen a backed up, spit filled, disgusting water fountain? I've seen plenty of them; I wouldn't let a dog drink from them. Plus that water is warm; there aren't very many chilled water fountains out there.

Then there are security and safety issues. You can't take reusable water bottles into events 'cause they're all afraid you'll be sneaking in booze. You can't take glass bottles to most events or parks or public pools or the beach either since they could break and cause injuries. So the only option is to buy whatever is being sold at the event or park or what have you, and now with all the water bottle bans taking place everywhere, I am to be relegated back to going thirsty since I don't drink soda? It's just not fair.

So I say, if you ban bottled water, you need to ban bottled soda too. Switch back to glass or cans or allow people to use their own reusable bottles everywhere. Don't punish me and leave me thirsty and not punish the soda drinkers, too. (Because if you start punishing all of us, some of us, like Corporate America, will come up with solutions darn quick.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slow Recovery & Update on The Wild Child

This stomach bug really wiped me out. The worst of the actual symptoms you would associate with a stomach virus (ie, tossing of the cookies) was over in about half a day. The recovery took about 5 days. It took a good 4 of those days to be able to eat again; I'm only just back to regular food. The worst part was the weakness; just like a bad fibro flare up. DH got impatient with me after a couple of days. If he couldn't see me throwing up or running a fever then I must be fine, only I wasn't. The kids needed a lot of shuttling around (the kids ALWAYS need a lot of shuttling around) and it was hard to pitch in and do my share of that. We got through it, though. One foot in front of the other, one errand at a time, dropping as much as possible and putting out only the most immediate of fires. All things considered, we managed without too many disasters. Thank goodness DH is able to work from home some of the time; that really made a difference.

But now I'm 95% better, so onward with the busy days!

The Wild Child:

The Wild Child started a special summer camp (run by the folks who did his testing) where he spends an hour every day with a reading specialist then gets to participate in some enrichment activities. I was able to speak with the reading tutor today and I was very impressed. She told me she's using the Orton-Gillingham method to get his brain going; he should do well. It's been so frustrating for him. I was taught to teach reading using whole language methods but he wasn't retaining the information presented that way. I tried sight words and he would get some of them, but the retention again just wasn't there. I know enough to do some kinesthetic work, which could have been successful, but I don't have the specialized knowledge base to go far enough with it. We had a sight word list that he reviewed over and over and over, and he would KNOW those words cold even when I mixed the list up, but when he saw them somewhere else he would blank. He also struggles with the alphabet, again something we've gone over time and again, and he does not retain it. He knows most of the letters but there are about 4 or 5 that stump him every time. He also has issues with upper and lower case; he knows upper case letters but can't match them to their lower case counterparts.

Why Test The Wild Child:

I felt a bit of panic before The Wild Child was tested whenever I thought about his struggles. I knew where he should be, even if he was a slow starter, and how he should respond to instruction, but it wasn't happening. Since The Eldest was slow to start reading then took off and leap frogged over her peers when she was 8, I tried to tell myself to relax, it would happen in time. There was one difference I couldn't ignore, however; The Eldest knew her alphabet from early on. Now that The Wild Child is almost 9 and still doesn't know all of his letters, and seems to be unable to learn despite all of my efforts, I made the decision to have him tested. I called a local children's hospital to get a recommendation and I'm happy with the group they sent me to. It's a relief in a way; there is something wrong but it can be addressed. He can learn to read if he's taught in the right way. Of course I would rather he didn't have these challenges to face, but they are part of who he is and I love him top to bottom, learning disabilities and all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Busy Days Come to a Screeching Halt

Wow, what a miserable weekend. We were supposed to go pick out our greyhound on Saturday but I spent all of Friday night and into Saturday morning tossing my cookies. That can really slow things down! No puppy for us. The kids and I were all heartbroken but there was no way I could even get out of bed, much less make the drive to the kennel. I was kind of hoping to recover by Sunday but no such luck. I spent Sunday in bed too, trying in vain to start eating again. I'd take a few bites of some bland food or the other and I'd be done. At least we're having a free HBO weekend. (Or week or whatever; I never know how long these things will last.) When I wasn't trying to sleep I got to watch a couple of fluffy romantic comedies and some eye candy adventure movies. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal- yum-O. (And if you like eye candy, male variety, then those links are my little present to you.)

And I'm still not 100%. DH is being me today and shuttling kids around; I'm going back to bed. (And DH is wonderful; I'm a lucky girl. He took care of me and the kids and the house all weekend. I do love that man.)

PS: But as sick as I was, I still had to change 2 paper towel rolls.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy Days

There's been so much going on around here I don't know where to start. The biggest thing this week has been the passing of our dear old cat. We thought he was gone when he ran away last year but we found him after almost a week. He was really sick when we got him back and we thought he was going to die then, but he got some fluids at the vet and hung on. I think he hung on for all the pampering and petting and cuddling and loving, which he was showered with when we brought him home. He used to live in the garage but we brought him back in the house since we realized he needed closer supervision due to his age and various medical issues, and that resulted in a lot more attention for him. Martha, Jr. took over his care and was so very responsible with him. The end was hard; he just tanked from one minute to the next. We took him to the vet and the vet sent us to the animal ER. He stayed there over night for an assessment but there wasn't anything to be done, so the girls and I picked him up and took him back to our vet to be put to sleep. Martha Jr. did indeed take it hard, but so did The Eldest. We were all three crying; we loved that old critter.

But we have to move on, and since Martha Jr. was so responsible I decided she's earned another pet. I don't want another cat (I'm allergic, which I found out well after we got our cats, which is one of the reasons he lived in the garage for part of his life) but I was worried about a dog fitting into our slacker lifestyle. We keep very odd hours around here with the homeschooling and all. I was also worried about getting a barky dog. With fibromyalgia I need my sleep whenever I can get it and I can NOT have an animal waking me up at all hours. The Eldest knew all of this and did some research. She discussed her results with Martha Jr. and they came to me with their conclusions- we need to adopt a greyhound. Greyhounds are quiet dogs (they don't bark, they AROOO, and not very often) and they sleep a LOT, around 18 hours a day. Sounds like my kind of dog! We're going to take a road trip on Saturday to a kennel that rescues greyhounds that were used for racing and see if we can find our new baby there.

We've been talking about it and researching it so much that I think we're all excited, even DH who initially said "NO DOG". He's on board with it now; just took him a bit since he's never had a dog. I'm looking forward to having a walking companion. DH runs a few times a week; it will be fun for him to have a running companion. And a greyhound can definitely keep up on a run!!

But all that is minor compared to other issues we're dealing with right now. The Wild Child is still struggling with his reading, to the point that I decided he needed to be tested for learning disabilities. He took six hours worth of tests (over three sessions) and we found out that he does indeed have some challenges to overcome. He doesn't have dyslexia but his issues are very similar. He'll be working with a reading specialist over the summer so we'll see how that goes. They also recommended occupational therapy for him but there are a few more hoops to jump through before I can get that set up for him. And he's also borderline gifted, which is no surprise. (I think he would have tested well over the border into gifted territory but the tester had an accent he had difficulty understanding. My theory is that her accent affected his score. The tests aren't supposed to be affected by that sort of thing, but how could they not be?)

He also had auditory testing today to rule out auditory processing problems; his hearing is fine, which is a welcome surprise. The audiologist said she sees signs of sensory integration problems and said he should do well with the recommended occupational therapy. That was encouraging- she said her son had similar issues and the OT was wonderful with very quick results. I'm anxious to get it set up.

And if that weren't all, we had all three kids checked out by our family doctor this week. The Wild Child had to go to the ER with a needle stuck in his foot (from one of Martha Jr.'s sewing projects) a few weeks ago where we realized he was not up to date on his tetanus vaccine. Which made me wonder if the kids are up to date on all of their other vaccines. We don't have to keep up with that kind of thing for school reasons so I forget about it unless something like this comes up. It's been a while since they had well child visits so it was over due. I still don't know about the vaccines but the family doctor ordered copies of their records from their pediatrician (whom we no longer use) so we'll find out later. We're not homeschooling because we're anti-vaccine, but I don't necessarily believe in following the traditional vaccine schedule to the letter. With our then-pediatrician's blessing, we vaccinated purposely late for a lot of the baby/little kid vaccines. I think their bodies are strong enough now that they are older that we can keep up with the recommended schedule, but I just don't think about it. I catch us all up when I realize, though.

OK, I'm done. I'm too tired to type anymore and the kids want to use the computer to look up funny greyhound videos on You Tube.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Should...

I should probably post something since it's been a while, but my muse seems to have left me. Here are some random, rambly thoughts for you instead of a real post:

~ DH won a bike! He entered into a drawing and they called yesterday. He picked the bike up today and it's a cutey! The funny thing is he can't remember who sponsored the give away, but whomever it may be, THANKS!

~ Our tomatoes have WORMS- yuck. But they are only getting a small portion of them; there are enough to go around. We had a little teeny watermelon growing; I was so excited, but then today I checked on it and it's a goner. It's got a big black spot on the bottom. Sadness.

~ I've been working with two friends of mine to save the world! Seriously, we're even thinking of starting a non-profit to... well, to do a lot of wonderful things, but I'm not going to divulge any more information until things are more solidified. It's still not definite so we'll see where it goes. I can tell you, though, that I love working with these two amazing, strong, caring, powerful women. I am honored that they asked me to join them.

~ I've been making No Tuna Bread Salad for a while now; it's a favorite recipe. It's changed a little bit, though. We realized that we like the bread cubes a lot better when I toast them up and turn them into croutons. The crunch is a great contrast to the rest of the flavors in the salad.

~ The purple purse is no more. It started to fall apart (I didn't spend a lot of money on it so it was no surprise) and I retired it about a month ago. I switched to a splashy floral purse but it didn't close up so everything would fall out of it, which just didn't work for me. I went shopping and found a cute faux crocodile purse that I absolutely love. It's just the right size to carry my essentials plus has room for the extras I need to throw in there now and again. I also found a PurseN purse organizer that is FABULOUS. I got it for about $20.00 at Ross or TJ Maxx so don't pay more than that if you get one! I bought a red one but I wish I could find it in other colors/patterns for that price; I can't imagine not using one from here on out since it keeps my purse all neat and tidy.

~ DH bought a yo-yo for The Wild Child. He is thrilled with it! DH started teaching him tricks then researched yo-yos on-line. Did you know there are yo-yos that sell for upwards of $100.00? Me either! They've gone all high tech with brakes and what not. Very fancy. You should see my boys sleeping their yo-yos; wow.

~ I am taking my Girl Scouts to archery tomorrow morning so it's time for bed. Goodnight noises everywhere.

PS: DH found out who sponsored the bike give away; it's printed on the bike! It's a company called Amazing Grass; check them out!