Married to the Empire

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chimney Critter Situation

A few people have asked for updates. I just don't have one. When Ruf got home, it was dark, so he couldn't go up on the roof to look. He thought it sounded like it was way up in the chimney, whereas I thought it sounded like it was ready to fall into our fireplace. He's much better at determining where sounds are coming from, so his judgement on that is likely the better one.

We were so crazy-busy all day today, and we heard nothing up there. I'd forgotten about it, actually with all the activity. My hope is that whatever it is managed to get out. Maybe Ruf will have a chance to get up there on Sunday to have a look. (We'll be busy all day Saturday with a parade, lunch with the stormtroopers, some TV spots, then Ruf's company's holiday party that night. I'm exhausted just thinking about it all!)

I can't stand the idea of an animal suffering, so I really hope this has a positive outcome!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My life is rarely dull

I think people assume that being a stay-at-home wife is pretty dull. Running errands, cleaning house, cooking, and doing laundry doesn't exactly sound like anything of interest. And really, it's pretty much not.

But then there are days like today.

I've been instant messaging with Ruf in a bit of a panic because something has fallen down our chimney. The cats set up vigil by the fireplace because we can all hear something frantically scrabbling around in there. Ruf told me to open the flue to let whatever is in there fall into the fireplace. (EEK!) He also said to tie the glass doors on the fireplace shut so that nothing can get out. I did all that, but nothing has happened, so far. I can still hear the critter panicking in there (and I'm panicking out here!), but whatever it is, it's still hanging on in the chimney.

The next-door neighbors have started work on a pool installation today. The trucks are out there digging up their yard. I can TASTE the dirt in my house. I have this absurdly-acute sense of smell. My husband calls it my Super Nose, and he jokes that I can smell through steel. One of my friends likes to say that the drug-sniffing dog at the airport is sick, and they need me to fill in for him. Sadly, I probably could smell the drugs, if I only knew what they smelled like! Now, my Super Nose is so filled with the scent of freshly-dug, moist earth that it's at the back of my throat, and it doesn't taste good!

Ruf just commented that I have interesting days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Catnip Fish

As with many of their toys, the catnip fish I made for the boys was lost, and then it resurfaced. They like for their toys to "hide," which really just means that Ruf and I are constantly having to dig them out from wherever they shoved them.

While cutting out the fleece material for making a stuffed cat for my youngest niece, I realized that one of the pieces looked a bit like a fish. That gave me inspiration to sew up a fish and stuff it with batting and catnip for our cats to enjoy. (It was also an easy thing to try out with this sewing machine I've never used before! My sewing skills are minimal.)

I drew a fish-shaped template, cut it out, pinned it to fabric, cut that out, sewed most of it up, stuffed it with catnip and batting, then finished it off. It's not pretty, but my cats don't care. They've been having a blast kicking it around and flinging it into the air. I tried to get a picture of them enjoying it, but as soon as I whip out the camera, the fun stops and they refuse to cooperate. But here's the fish:

I think I'll make a few more to put in their Christmas stocking since the new scratching post I bought for them won't fit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Calvin-3, Mom & Dad-0

Calvin goes to the vet in about 30 minutes for his annual exam. He's also due for his rabies shot (every 3 years), but he reacts to it. Because of that, we have to give him benadryl before his appointment.

Ruf woke me out of a sound sleep to drug the cat. In the past we've simply shot some liquid children's benadryl down his throat. I bought some last night, we shot it in him, he foamed at the mouth (this is typical), and then... he threw up. Dang.

I had Ruf split a benadryl pill, which we then tried to pop down his throat with the pill popper. He squirmed like crazy and managed to spit the pill into a puddle of water next to the water dish. I retrieved the now-soggy pill, put it back in the popper, and tried again unsuccessfully.

Ruf had to leave for work at that point, so I was on my own. I opened a can of tuna, which had both cats in the kitchen screaming for their share. I hid a fresh pill in Calvin's tuna. He ate around it. I wrapped tuna around it, took the cat and the tuna ball into the bathroom, and proceeded to force feed tuna to my tuna-obsessed cat. (That's something I never expected ever to have to do!)

And you know what? He still didn't get that danged pill down! I've now cleaned foamy cat spit off the counters, vomit off the floor, and flung tuna from all around the bathroom. And not a single bit of benadryl is in the cat.

The winner:

At least we don't have carrier battles with this one!

Update: Calvin's reminder postcard said he's due for rabies this time, but when I arrived at the vet's office with him, I was told he's not due until next year. So, we spent a stressful morning trying to drug the cat for nothing. Figures.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A little Ewok life?

Ruf just IMed this to me. Apparently, we could be living like Ewoks. There are even better pictures here.

While I might find it interesting to try out for a night or two, I wouldn't want to live there. I would have to live on ginger Altoids if that were our home!

I think I'll just stick with thinking the Ewoks are cute. I prefer to live as an ordinary human.

A much-needed break

Thanksgiving was like a vacation, and it was wonderful. I haven't cooked in a week. I cooked a turkey last Monday because the low prices were too much to resist, and I now have enough cooked, deboned turkey in my freezer for 5 more meals! And I haven't cooked since. (A frozen pizza doesn't count.)

We were invited for dinner by family and friends on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We feel loved and well fed. And I didn't have to cook, which is like a vacation for me. That's a good thing, as we can't afford a real vacation right now. Too many house repairs will do that to you! Ruf was off work 4 consecutive days, and it was so nice to have him home.

The only bad thing was that we had to go to the ER on Saturday. Ruf had been having some pain that he didn't even tell me about until Friday night. And he didn't tell me how bad it actually was. It was one of his stormtrooper buddies who convinced him to go to the ER. (In my defense, I would have, too, if he'd just told me how bad it was! But he didn't because he said I'd freak out, which I would have. But my freaking out would have gotten him treatment earlier!) So we spent a very boring afternoon in the ER on Saturday, where they were blasting the AC, even though it was 39 degrees outside. I guess they figure sitting in a thin hospital gown isn't enough, so they have to add insult to injury by making sure their patients feel like popsicles.

Thankfully, Ruf has nothing more than an infection. He has antibiotics and narcotics to make him feel better. But we have to follow up with a specialist later this week.

In other news, I'm attempting to sew. I'm making a fleece kitty for my youngest niece for Christmas. I can say that here because she's too young to read my blog. I haven't sewn it up yet (and I'm praying that I'll do a decent job because my sewing skills are practically non-existent), but I did manage to sew a couple of catnip fish. I gave one to our friends' 4 cats, who promptly got high and had to have their fishy taken away because they have no self control. I gave the other one to our boys, who lost it within a day. (That's why there's no picture to share.) Well, at least they enjoyed it for a while.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When the cover is better than the original

I'm importing some music into my iPod, and I'm sitting here listening to Limp Bizkit's cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." I may be committing musical heresy by saying this, but I like the cover better than the original!

Bowling for Soup makes Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time" not only bearable, but good. I also love their cover of Fergie's "London Bridge." But then, I love almost everything Bowling for Soup does.

And there's that cover of the Cranberries "Zombie" that's been getting a lot of radio play lately. I have no idea who the band is, but I really, really like it. I like the Cranberries; I just like someone else's version of their song better.

Anyone else have a few cover songs they like better than the originals?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The joy and pain of being an Imperial

Ruf recently had an Imperial Officer costume made for the Neiman-Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade on December 1st. He learned from experience last year that it's nearly impossible to lead a group with a stormtrooper helmet on, so he wanted an open-faced costume for the parade this year. We hired a local seamstress, who did a fabulous job, and I ordered custom-made boots for him for his birthday.

Looks good, doesn't he? (If anyone is in the DFW area and needs a seamstress, email me at ewokgirl @ *remove spaces* and I'll give you the name of the woman we hired.)

Ruf tried out his costume on Saturday at something in Arlington called Wizard World. He received tons of compliments on his costume, but he also received something else: pain. Pain in the form of horrible blistering from his stiff, new boots. Actually, I don't think he even has blisters; I think his skin was just rubbed raw. I'm doing laundry today, and in sorting clothes, I saw just how bad things were. These are the socks he was wearing inside his boots:

Poor guy! He now has a roll of moleskin to use when he wears the boots in the parade. I think he'll pretty much have his ankles completely wrapped. He may be in pain, but at least he'll look good! (Isn't that a rule of fashion?)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lab Results

I called my rheumatologist this morning to get my lab results from my visit 2 weeks ago. Everything was normal, but I had a positive ANA again. (That's one of the blood markers for lupus.) However, the DNA was normal, so it looks like I'll not be diagnosed with lupus for another year. That's good news!

Even better, I've had no new bruising in the past couple of weeks, which is nothing short of miraculous. God is good!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Getting in the Christmas mood

I did a little shopping today and bought a couple of Christmas presents. The stores are all playing Christmas music, which I think is too early, but I'm not annoyed by it... yet. I bought a present yesterday, too. I have only 2 things left to buy for Ruf, and I think I'll wait to see what the Black Friday ads will be offering before I buy them.

Besides gifts, though, I bought myself some new black boots. I bought a pair a few years ago very cheaply (like $10) because I didn't know if I'd like wearing boots or not. I did, and I wore that pair out since they weren't exactly high quality. I bought a new pair today because I'm missing having boots. But now I'm feeling a little guilty. With Christmas and my birthday coming up, should I really be spending money on myself when we have plenty of other people to buy for?

I'll have to think this one over. And try the boots on with the outfits I want them for because really, that is what will determine whether or not I keep them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Early Wednesdays

Something happened to our youth group this summer. Something strange, yet wonderful. They bonded.

Yes, that's what they should do and how it should be in a perfect world, but the longer I work with youth, the more I realize just how rare and unusual this is. They support each other. They attend each other's games and plays and choir concerts. They help each other. Just the other night, I heard one of the high school boys giving basketball-tryout advice and encouragement to a middle schooler. They pray for each other and call when someone hasn't been seen for a while.

Because we don't have Wednesday-night church, in order to stay in touch throughout the week, the kids now meet for breakfast on Wednesday mornings. They meet at a local doughnut shop at 7:15am.

For this night owl who has no children or job outside the home, 7:15 is hard. Sometimes I just don't make it, especially if I've done battle with a migraine the night before. But when I can, I'm there. It's crazy-early, but I've discovered that it's really a wonderful way to start the day. It never ceases to amaze me just how many of the kids faithfully show up every week. They forego extra sleep to spend time together and have a short devotional.

I truly feel blessed and privileged to know these kids and spend time with them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everyone has their Scorpion King

Years ago, Ruf dragged me to the movie theater to see The Scorpion King. It was positively dreadful. We both walked out of the theater shaking our heads over how bad it was, and I ribbed him about it for years.

Ruf has now informed me that tonight, I had my Scorpion King moment.

I've been wanting to see The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. I read the book, and it was fantastic. Just the right amount of mystery, fantasy, action, and adventure. I had high hopes for the film version, especially as The Dallas Morning News gave it a favorable review.

The movie was awful.

The film borrows the basic premise from the book (boy discovers he is an Old One and must seek 6 signs to keep the Dark at bay), but that's all. The movie was so completely different as to be unrecognizable as the same story. And it threw in a ridiculous twin-kidnapped-as-a-baby thing where at the end, the boys are reunited. Dumb doesn't even begin to describe that particular plot twist.

At the end of the movie, I started laughing rather pathetically. Ruf laughed with me, then turned and said, "I guess everyone has their Scorpion King."


What $1.39 will buy

Ruf needed paint for one of the accessories that goes with his new Imperial Officer costume. I went to Hobby Lobby, used a 40%-off coupon, and purchased paint for $0.86.

Kohl's sent me a $10 gift card in the mail. If they're going to send me free money, I'll use it! Ruf needed new athletic socks, so I picked up a package on sale for $7. I had to spend at least $10 to make use of that card, so I found a pretty Laura Ashley dish towel for $3.49 at 50% off. I can always use more dish towels. My total purchase came to a whopping $0.53!

Not too shabby for only spending $1.39 out-of-pocket!

Added: Ruf has informed me that I bought the wrong paint. He didn't understand how I bought it so cheap. He wanted the model spray paint. Oops. I'll be spending a bit more to correct that mistake.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A nightly ritual

It started quite innocently. As I'm getting ready for bed, I get a glass of ice water for taking my evening meds and to keep on the nightstand. Calvin adores ice water, so one night a few weeks ago, I put a piece of ice from my glass in his water cup in the master bathroom.

The next night when I got my glass of ice water, he was right there by his glass, asking for ice. Being nice, I gave it to him.

Now, it's a nightly expectation. If he's curled up asleep, he'll pop up and come running when he hears me enter the room with a tinkling glass of ice and water.

I could say that this cat is very spoiled, but I really think it's more that he has me well trained.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stormtrooper Armor Party

The guys are all here for an armor party. This simply means that they bring their armor over and work on it together. Whether it's putting it together for the first time, or simply making adjustments, they have a good time hanging out and working on projects with each other.

This is how my garage looks right now:

If you ever wondered what stormtroopers do when they get together, now you know.

By the way, I had to take my computer away from them to blog about them. Ruf had commandeered it so they could look at websites or CD programs for reference.

Preparing for the Troops

Ruf decided to have the stormtroopers over for an armor party, so I set to work getting things ready. First, I finished decorating in the kitchen. I realize that the guys really wouldn't care or notice, but I care, so I got out the hammer and nails.

I baked cookies last night. Oatmeal Scotchies, which were a huge hit at last year's armor party.

For lunch, I made a huge pot of chili, BLT cucumbers, and I served tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream as accompaniments. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures before they ate.

I still need to cut up fruit for healthier snacks. I ran out of time, especially as I thought the chili meat smelled a little off as I began cooking it. So, I had to waste time running to the store for more beef, then chop up more onions and cook it all. So, everything took about an hour longer than it was supposed to. I guess all soirees can't go perfectly.

Friday, November 9, 2007


We had to take our 1996 Honda Civic in to the mechanic's this morning. Ruf drives it to work since it gets better gas mileage than our CRV. That, and since it's older, we don't mind putting the miles on it. Ruf said the brakes are squealing, and I couldn't find any paperwork saying that we'd had the brake pads replaced in recent years.

Thing is, we've been so hit with expenses since September, that we really can't afford an expensive car repair right now. With Christmas and 3 birthdays next month, we really need to watch our money.

The mechanic called and said our brakes are fine. It's just the weather that's making them squeal a bit. (Come to think of it, Ruf said that it only happens when he first starts driving, when the car is cold.) I said a quick prayer of thanks to God since I'd been praying about the cost of the repair.

Icing on the cake is that a $10 gift card to Kohl's showed up in our mail the other day. We get these periodically when they open a new store. I don't have to spend a certain amount of money to redeem it, so it's just $10 free.

It's important to give thanks for the big things and the little things.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cats + Box = Free Entertainment

I had to fashion a box in order to send my bloggy giveaway item. Those action figures were in an unusually-long box, and they didn't fit into any standard boxes we had. Ruf found a long, narrow box in the attic for me, and I set to work cutting it down to fit the figures.

What I was left with was a long-ish, narrow box with open ends. The cats have turned this into their personal play tunnel. Add their favorite fishing-pole toy, and it's an exciting game of "hunt the prey." Apparently, it's also great for sneak attacks on each other.

Oh, and I discovered that I seem to be able to speak cat. Lately, Calvin has been chattering a lot during the day. I've noticed that he mostly does it when he has Doogie pinned to the floor, so I think he's trash talking during their games of chase. I was imitating the chattering meows for Ruf, and both cats popped their heads up, looked at me, then ran over to me. I guess I was saying something in their language; I just wish I knew what it was!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poor Ruf

I had my annual appointment with my rheumatologist today. A few years ago, I was horribly sick, and it was looking like I might have lupus. I got better (we think it was a severe reaction to a freon leak in our house), but I still have to see the rheumatologist annually to be checked out. I possess several of the markers for lupus, so I'm considered at risk.

I bruise easily. Very easily. I almost always have a variety of bruises on my body at any given time. Problem is, I don't know how I get most of them. I happen to possess a doozy of a bruise on my forearm today, which my doctor asked about. (As usual, I have no idea how I got it.) And I know he had to have seen the one near my ankle since he had to examine my ankles due to morning stiffness in them.

He asked me if my husband beats me.

I quickly and firmly assured him that he doesn't. Ruf wouldn't ever lay a hand on me. EVER. Anyone who knows him would probably find the question laughable because he's such a kind person. I think the doctor was really just duty-bound to inquire because for some women, it would be the case. He did go on to mention that my low platelets (a previous, sometimes-recurring problem for me) could be to blame.

But I think Ruf's feelings were hurt when I told him about it. I guess no man wants another man to think he could be capable of hurting his wife. The doctor has never even met him, so it's nothing personal. But I still think it hurt him a bit.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Well, that was a pleasant surprise!

I met some friends early this morning to go to a big craft fair. I was gone most of the day, so I didn't get a chance to read the newspaper until this evening. I started reading the "Hints from Heloise" column and found the first sentence vaguely familiar. Um, that would be because it was my own writing!

Yep, I'm published today, and I didn't even know about it!

That was just really weird to suddenly realize I was reading my own writing in a syndicated column. I kind of figured Heloise's people would contact folks before printing their hints, but apparently not.

Just found a link where you can read it online (if you're actually interested). Wow, I feel like a dork leading you to my tiny moment of fame in an advice column. Mine is the one about the cat (Calvin) ingesting chemically-treated grass. It's something that happened years ago, and I just got around to emailing it in to Heloise about a month ago. I'm really on the ball with stuff.

The winner is...

My wonderful stormtrooper husband helped me today with the Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway for the bounty hunter action figure pack. Just for the added drama, I decided to do this old-school by having a literal drawing--from a stormtrooper helmet! Ruf helped to further geek this up by doing the drawing in his Star Wars room while wearing his Imperial Officer hat.

And the winner is...

...Canben! Please contact me at ewokgirl @ verizon .net (remove spaces) with your shipping info so I can get these fun figures out to you!

Thanks so much to all who entered. I was blown away by the response to my giveaway. Completely forgetting how popular the Star Wars universe is, I naively thought only a handful of you would be interested. I'm glad to see that a love of Star Wars is being passed on to another generation!

Friday, November 2, 2007

I've had an idea

Last night in our church small group, our hostess was asking the young lady who used to be in our youth group how it's going living in her own apartment now. She wanted to know if she's doing much cooking. She said no; she mostly just eats things like canned soup. I told her I'd give her some super easy recipes. I love to cook, and I have several easy things that are a cinch to throw together, and even the most inexperienced cook can make them.

That got me thinking that a recipe book of simple recipes might make a really nice high school graduation gift. I'm always scrambling for things to give kids, and we definitely receive graduation announcements since we work with the youth at church. As a one-income family, we don't usually have a lot of cash for multiple gifts, which leads to that scrambling problem I previously mentioned. Most kids won't need that right away since they typically live in the dorms or at home that first year, but eventually, they move out into their first apartments and need to start feeding themselves.

I love it when solutions just seem to fall into my lap like that!

If you want to feel old...

...hang out with a bunch of young twenty-somethings who lament how old they're becoming!

Our church just started small groups this week, so I attended ours for the first time last night. As soon as I walked in, I noticed our youth minister and his wife, our music minister and his fiance, and two kids who used to be in our youth group. My first words to the hostess upon walking in were, "I think I'm too old for this group!" They're all in their 20s, and we're talking young 20s.

We had birthday cake for the youth minister's wife, who is turning 23. She was saying she feels old. That made me laugh. I told her I have 11 years on her. Our music minister, who is brand-new to our church, was only half listening. It was funny to watch his reaction as that sunk in. His exact words were, "What? Wait. WHAT?!"

Our youth minister had the same reaction back when he first learned Ruf's and my ages. It's actually kind of fun to see their shock. They always think we're just a little bit older than they. I'm never sure whether to be flattered or horrified that they're so surprised to learn we're in our 30s. Obviously, it's flattering in that we look younger than we are (although those gray hairs are creeping in on me faster and faster these days). I just wouldn't want to be accused of acting immature or anything.

But now, I feel old hanging with this group. When your former youth group kids show up in your adult group, you're officially old.

Thankfully, the host couple is a little older than Ruf and me, so we're not alone in our agedness. *snicker* And suddenly, we've become the people with life experience and insight.