• Four is Enough

    We're at a pretty amazing place with the cats, these days. The majority of the time, they spend time in the same room - even Gwen is currently passed out on the bed. She's been playing with the kittens now for a couple of weeks, which still shocks me. 

    What's awesome about the kittens is that they really like Gwen, even when she's a crankybutt at them, and they aren't intimidated by her. When Cuppie gets smacked at, she turns right around and plops as close to Gwen as she's allowed. They seem to understand when Gwen means it and when she's just being Gwennie. The fluffs periodically try to sneak up on Gwen and groom her, with very limited success so far, but I feel like at the rate they're going, they might just win her over. 

    The only downside to all this cat love is that when I say "you can't go from one end of the house to the other without stepping on a cat" - it can be true. At least one, but as many as three cats will follow me into the bathroom, which is smaller than most half baths I see. If they don't follow me into the bathroom, when I go to leave, they'll be flopped outside the door, like some floppy cat massacre. When the cats are full of energy, you'd better look before crossing, lest some cat smash into your legs or trip you up. 

    But all this is great. It's like the cats finally see each other as family - or at least as permanent residents that they're better off getting along with. I love having cats that want to be around us, and around each other. But we are definitely at our cat limit for the time being. We've got a nice balance that I don't dare disrupt. 

    As I write this, I kid you not, Vizzi is sleeping with his paw in one of my shoes. They're a weird bunch.

  • Bored Games

    I've always had a real soft spot for board games. However, a real drawback to being an only child is that I didn't often have people to play them with. My parents weren't really into them, though now that I look at children's games from this side of the grass, I'd need to have my arm twisted as well. 

    Trivia games were generally the most successful in our house. I think it's partially because I was decently good at trivia for my age, and they weren't as dumb as other games. 

    Occasionally my dad could be roped into playing mouse trap with me. Has anyone ever played mouse trap? I don't know how that game actually works, because I think we always ended up just building the trap and setting it off a few times before giving up and putting it away. 

    There were some cliche late 80's/early 90's games that I reallyreally wanted, but never got. Mall Madness was one of them. I don't remember how to play it, but there was a mall and there was some sort of cool speaker thing and I couldn't believe that my friend Krista didn't think it was the coolest thing ever. 
    I also wanted Pretty Pretty Princess, though even by the time it came out, I think I was a bit old for it. I remember being a little disappointed at how easy it was when I played it at my friend Deanna's house, but the allure of decking yourself out in little plastic rings, necklaces and bracelets was too much to resist. 
    Candy land was also super fascinating to me, as much for the art as the game itself. That was also a game that was incredibly annoying to revisit as an adult. 

    But the game that captivated me was the game of life. That one wasn't super popular with my parents - I think my copy was something picked up at a garage sale or something. But that one I could manage to play on my own - certainly not by the actual rules - but it was fun to me to play by myself, unlike a lot of games. I could make up stories about each car, why things happened to each family and how they felt about it. 

    In the early 2000's, Hasbro put out a pc version of the game of life, and I spent many hours playing that. It was like the game gods looked down and gave me an actual way to play by myself. 

    I'm really happy that the board game industry has evolved. There's so many more intelligent games that can be played through broader age ranges and have a lasting quality to them. There are well thought out games that technically can be played by one person, which surprisingly, I've yet to take advantage of, but thrills me to see. We don't have a real good gaming community here in Virginia, but I hold out hope that we'll find people, or turn some of our existing friends into board game fanatics. It seems like even children's games have evolved to some extent, looking to be smarter and sleeker. 

    Although, I did run across a game whose point was to flush a toilet. SO. There's exceptions to every rule. 

  • A game of tricks

    For the last five weeks, Cuppie has been enrolled in a "cat tricks" class. Sometimes, I'm not sure if I've managed to teach her anything, or if I've just given three cats a way to sneak more treats out of me. 

    Unless I'm exceptionally lucky, I can't just train one cat. Most of the time, there are three, though sometimes I can get away with just two. The cool thing is that if you station train your cats, you can kind of get them to sit in one place while you work with one at a time. You just have to reward the cats you aren't working with for sitting where they're supposed to. I feel like I have some exceptionally cooperative cats, but then again, if someone were to tell me that *I* could have cookies just for sitting in this one spot while someone else had to earn their cookies, I'd see that I had the better deal. 

    The important part is that it feels like a game to them, and that you make it as clear as possible what the game is. They'll test it out - do I get a treat for just getting near your hand, or do I really have to touch your finger? Do I have to step over the bar, or can I just walk around it and we call it good? 

    Make your changes incremental. If your cat starts to succeed at one stage of the game, don't be afraid to make it more challenging - but also, understand that you may have to dial it back down.

    Also, the weirdest things can affect whether the cat knows what's going on. I had the chance to work with some humane society cats - and one would get very good at doing high fives through the bars of the cage. But as soon as that door was opened, it was like everything he'd learned flew out the door. I had to walk him back through his queues to get back to the high fives - even then, he was super distracted at now having visual access to his neighbors. 

    It's been a lot of fun. So far, Cuppie's most impressive trick is a high five. Considering that Mikenna never reliably mastered sitting on command, I feel pretty proud. 

    With any luck, I'll catch Vizzi up to Cuppie with the high fives, and then we'll start working on spins more and introducing the concept of going through a hoop. 

    Now, if I can only train them to wash the dishes. 

  • Dream science

    Do you have dreams about going back to high school? I feel like I have them at least a couple times a month - which feels like a lot for something I left behind going on 14 years ago. 

    I don't really have recurring dreams so much as recurring themes. Forgetting my gym clothes, not knowing what my class schedule is, or on the rare occasion I dream that I've actually still been in school all this time. But in dream time, apparently that's only 3 years or so, because I still know people there. Once, I wondered what would happen when my parents received a tuition bill, because I hadn't told them that I was still in school. 

    To be honest, I don't mind these dreams. I feel like they're still less awkward and dramatic than the real thing. Plus there's a bit of nostalgia that I kind of like. It's like the end of the movie Titanic, where Rose dreams that she goes back to the ship and everything and everyone is just like it was. 

    For this analogy, minus the kissing. 

    You know, for all the dreams I've had, I don't think I've had one that had anything to do with my science class. I don't know why. It's not like I particularly disliked biology or chemistry. Well, let me amend that. Science was not really my forte, especially when it became married to math. But the teacher was really nice, and I liked her a lot. 

    Our junior year, she got a boyfriend. Several classes were taken off the rails by students asking for details on this mystery guy. It was cute to see her so happy. Towards the end of the year, they got engaged, and she didn't come back to teach the following year. Sometimes I wonder what she's up to now, but I haven't looked. I'll let imagination win. 

    Science class was one of the few where we had assigned seating, alphabetically. Junior year, I managed to weasel out of doing a group presentation by choosing to do a research project on the history of the periodic table - complete with my first powerpoint. It wasn't the performance I was afraid of, it was the group aspect. I watched other people getting frustrated with their groups for not pulling their weight, and I felt pretty good about my decision. 

    I was definitely better at biology than chemistry. Again, it's that whole math thing. It's really too bad, because I like the concept of both. But I definitely did not like the day that we had to dissect frogs. It was more sad to me than gross, but I feigned nausea to be able to step outside. 

    Ah, memories. What did you think of your high school classes? Are there any you would want to relive? Any you would avoid?

  • 18 for 18

    Well, happy belated new year! 

    This year has been off to a bit of a gimpy start here. Hopefully how I rang in the new year doesn't predict how this year is going to go - I was sitting in Matt's recliner, the only person awake, and Aeris was snoring on my lap. I scratched her ear and wished her a happy new year. The festive little hats I bought for new year's eve are still sitting in their packaging on the counter.

    So, Matt started out the new year sick, and working a lot. The latter doesn't surprise me, the former does. I think of him as the one with the really good immune system, in part because he never catches anything from me. When he does get sick, it seems like it burns through his body quickly and he's done. I can't remember the last time (before this) that I saw him with a dragged out cold. 

    He finally got to take some vacation time last week. I'd like to say that we didn't go anywhere because he's been working so much, but 

    a. we don't travel much anyway

    b. we really don't travel in winter if we can help it

    Plus, the weather hasn't been too cooperative. As I write this, I'm on day two of not leaving the house because of snow. It's not that we got a lot, just a couple inches. But everything on our hilly road has iced up, and I just have no desire to mess with that. But I digress.

    We went out and saw a few movies, got coffee, went out to dinner a couple times, and mostly sat at home watching movies and playing games. Kinda like normal, except there wasn't a bedtime, and I got to turn off the light alarm for a good week.

    So it's only this week that it feels like I'm buckling down and getting back to the swing of things. 

    Inspired by an episode of Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast, I made a list of 18 things to do for 2018.  I wanted them to be somewhat meaningful or at least playful. I wanted them to reflect me, and what I actually want to do. 18 is still a pretty big number if you're talking meaningful goals for the year, which is why some of them are easy, or a one time thing. I have zero desire to track 18 habits! In past years, I've tried lists of 100 things, and I think that's just too much. Even trying to make them fun or one time things, that's a thing to cross off every three days roughly. I'd get to the end of the year and notice more what I hadn't done than what I had. 

    Oh wow, you mean I didn't actually play Sims at all this year? 
    We never actually went out to brunch, did we?
    I never did read that book, huh. 

    So this allows me to pare down. I'm not going to share the whole list (mostly because I am feeling too lazy to go get said list), but here's a few things that are on it:

    - Organize the blue cabinet
    (The blue cabinet is in the kitchen and contains most of our small appliances. It needs some help.)
    Read 25 books
    - Set aside time one day a month to be creative 
    - Donate money once a month
    - Put money in savings every paycheck 
    - Find an exercise routine that I can stick with

    You'll notice that some of the goals seem really low ... 25 books? Yeah, last year I read 52. Be creative once a month? 

    My intention is more about doing things regularly. Set the bar low so that I can feel good about it, but at a regular pace. I pulled out my much neglected bullet journal to try and track things, because I love being able to check things off. 

    One more thing I set for myself : four blog posts a month. Hopefully that will inspire me to be a bit more regular, but if not, there will be something more on this site than there was last year.

    Belatedly, cheers. 

  • Bologna

    Once upon a time, my family took road trips. We lived in Colorado, and our family was in New York. I don't remember most of these road trips very well - I remember one trip feeling like it took foreeeeeever (apparently we drove straight from NY to CO without stopping) - I remember reading one of those Children's classics as we drove through Chicago - and I know that Kansas and Nebraska are the most boring states to drive through. 

    But I also remember the bologna incident. 

    On one road trip, my parents put me in charge of the cooler of food in the backseat. I was super excited about the idea of keeping people fed. It made me important - crucial to the success of our trip and happiness of my parents. 

    So I broke out the bologna and butter and offered my parents sandwiches - at like 8am. Maybe it was as late as 10. But it was definitely quite a bit before noon. My parents laughed and I sadly put the bologna back.

    But not the butter. I forgot about the butter.

    Some time later, we got out of the car, and I had smushed the stick of butter into the backseat, and all over my favorite afghan that my grandma made me. To make matters worse, I'm pretty sure this was the car we leased - as an adult, I can understand the extra horror of that. 

    I give my parents a lot of credit - they didn't get mad. I sobbed and sobbed because I felt so bad, having failed in my duty, made a mess, and buttered up my blanket. 

    To this day, when I see bologna, I can't help but think of that roadtrip. For everyone traveling over the holidays, may your trips be safe, merry, and butterless. 

  • Smelly

    There's something about the smell of books. Not EVERY book, but some books, for sure. To know whether it's a good book, you have to open it up and sniff it. Matt still chuckles when he catches me nose deep in a book. 

    Some plastics smell really good too, though I can't tell you offhand which ones. Probably whichever ones give you cancer.

    I've also always liked the smell of gasoline. Not, like, I would wear it or anything, and I'm pretty sure if I had to smell it all the time it would lose any appeal. But if I'm pumping gas and I get a good whiff, it's not all that bad.

    Now, when it comes to more 'normal' things to smell, I have to say that my tastes have changed. I've never liked super duper strong perfume, (you know, the stuff that when you smell it you go PHHHEW) but too long and it gives me a headache. Since we switched over to using more natural soaps, stuff like Bath and Body Works is really hit or miss. It's too strong, too artificial. 

    Citrus fruits are a good smell - though to rank them, it'd probably be orange, lemon, then grapefruit. Also, I like my orange juice with as much pulp as I can get. If I'm not chewing half of my orange juice, it's a wasted experience. 

    I like a good vanilla. It's a good, safe smell. If it's too artificial, it can be a bit weird, but it rarely makes me cringe.

    Spearmint is a smell that I like in soaps or gum, because it reminds me of my grandma. I don't know why, because it's not like she constantly had it on her. Maybe I was with her the first time I smelled it? I don't know. 

    Fruit smells in general are a winner for me, come to think of it. Maybe less so when it's grape or watermelon. I also never really understood the appeal of cucumber melon. That was a big one when I was in high school. But then again, I'm not really wild about cucumbers.

    One of my favorites though, done right, is lavender. That seems to be a real love it or hate it kind of smell. REAL lavender though, like what I find in the garden, is amazing. 

    Cinnamon, baked goods, also real winners. I will not be upset if I walk into your house and smell either. 

    What are some scents that you really like? Anything weird? 

  • All I want for Christmas

    All I want for Christmas

    Is Cuppie? 

    The kiddos have been VERY involved in our Christmas related activities. So don't be surprised if there's a tuft of hair in your card this year. We're fortunate that none of them are counter surfers, but they're sure up in our grill for everything else!

  • One Form of Attachment

    One Form of Attachment

    For the last several nights, Gwen has slept on top of me. Yes, you read that right. She comes out of the office, and usually waits until everything is quiet, then tip toes across the bed and gently sets herself down on my chest. She might try and settle in on me if I'm laying on my side, but she always leaves within a few minutes, so I can tell that she's not a fan. 

    It's a really good thing that she is a light cat, because she's been sleeping on me almost all night, leaving only to do whatever cats do when they're not sleeping on top of you. One night when she got up, I realized my cheek was sweaty, because she'd been curled up with her back against my cheek. It's really ... cozy. A little weird too, let's be honest.

    This cat continues to amaze me. When I met that antisocial Nuggie who wouldn't let me touch more than on the top of her head, I never would have thought that she'd do this. 

    To be fair, she still doesn't like a lot of people touching her. You have to earn her trust. I seem to be the only one who has an all-access pass to petting her whenever I see her. Apparently I have her trust in spades. I'm not sure why, to be honest. I'm nice to her, sure, but I don't feel like I'm that much nicer to her than Matt, for me to be her preferred person. This cat is LOYAL. Occasionally I joke that she'd launch herself at anyone who tried to hurt me, but I think it's true. I was definitely Mikenna's person, but this feels like a whole different brand of loyalty. It was like, Mikenna loved me and we were bff and it was awesome. Gwen loves me and has sworn a lifedebt to me. 

    I'd love to know what's going on in that little calico head of hers. I have no idea when she'll get tired of this intense snugglefest. But I'll enjoy it as long as I can. Little weirdo. :)