Married to the Empire

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Furminator--Part 2

I wrote last week about the Furminator, which I bought because Calvin was throwing up some monster hairballs. My initial review was positive. It still is--for Calvin. He loves it, and it's really helped him with the hairball issue.

Doogie is another story, though. He doesn't hate the Furminator, but he's not in love with it like he is with his flea comb. I used the Furminator on him tonight, as he's shedding a lot. I was appalled to discover that it cut his hair short. He's not a long-haired cat, but he's definitely not a short-haired cat. He's somewhere in the middle with long-ish fur. Not anymore. He looks like I took him to the barber and gave him a haircut.

I don't know if you can really see in that photo, but I'm trying to show how short his fur is now. I'm not happy. He doesn't look bad; he just looks a little different. Thankfully, he doesn't seem bothered by his new look, but his mama is not pleased at all!

So, to sum it up: Furminator for short fur--good. Furminator for long-ish fur--bad.


In case you weren't aware, pink is my favorite color. But I live in a house full of boys. It doesn't matter that 2 of those 3 boys are cats; the human boy says no pink as a major influence around the house. For some nutty reason, he doesn't much like it!

I have to express my girly pinkness in little ways around the house.

Pink plate in the kitchen with a depiction of Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Lion." Pink + literature + decor = winning combination! I still need to get a plate stand for it:

Pink goblet--because Dr. Pepper just tastes better in a pink glass:

Pink iPod case:

Pink bowl my MIL gave me last weekend. I haven't decided for sure how I'm going to use it, but I'm thinking of putting it in the guest bathroom with some soaps in it:

Finally, my pink purse:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life with Cats

I'm sick, so bear with me. After doing loads of laundry, thanks to Calvin, I only had energy left to snap some pictures of the cats. They're the only ones in the house doing anything interesting.

Focused intensity (bird right outside the window):

Fighting over the quilt I used during my nap:

Sorry about the cat butt. Doogie pounced Calvin just as I snapped the picture. This is what he gave me.

The winner:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life's Realities

Steven woke me up at 6:50am to tell me that Calvin peed in our bed. Again. (We've been having this problem with him since his latest diagnosis of a bladder infection. He's well again, but now he just seems to like peeing in our bed.) Great. We got up to strip the bedding and remake the bed.

We woke up again to cat puke all over the dining room floor. We're pretty sure that was Calvin. Then Doogie decided he needed to add his own tummy's contents to the mess.

Oh, and did I mention that Steven and I are both sick? Yeah, this has been a great start to our day!

Trying to look at the bright side here. Steven has a job in which he can stay home when he's sick. Not everyone has that luxury. I'm already at home and able to rest when necessary (although I have a lot of laundry going on now thanks to Calvin). Calvin's health is greatly improved. Doogie's just fine, too. In spite of the messes and sickness, life is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Signed Star Wars Pop-up Book

We visited the National Center for Childen's Illustrated Literature when we took a little mini-vacation to Abilene, TX last December. I'm now on their emailing list. Yesterday I received an email saying that you can order a signed copy of Michael Reinhart's Star Wars: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy. (You can also order several other signed children's books.) Just thought I'd throw that out there in case anyone knows a Star Wars lover who needs a special gift.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Parade

The stormtroopers spent their second Memorial Day in a small parade in my in-laws' neighborhood. The parade organizers asked them to be in the parade after seeing them in the Neiman-Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade at Christmas time. It's just a very convenient coincidence that it's my in-laws' neighborhood because the stormtroopers meet at their house to change into their costumes.

Preparing for the parade:

A group pic before the parade (I was loving that those little boys came with their dads, as it meant that my husband didn't make me carry the banner this year--I was an unwilling participant last year):

The parade:

Notice anyone missing from the line-up? Yep, Vader got too hot. If you've ever wondered if their costumes are hot (people ask them this all the time), the answer is, "Yes." Vader is the worst. In fact, I really don't like it when Steven borrows a Vader costume because he gets so overheated in it that it scares me.

I didn't even realize at first that Vader was missing, but then my stormtrooper stepped over to us and handed Vader's lightsaber to his mother. I took it from her, then wondered if I needed to go look for Vader. A little boy on the sidewalk with us asked what the stormtrooper gave me. When I told him it was Vader's lightsaber, he said, "I want it!" I just looked at him and said, "Well, you can't have it!" Guns and lightsabers are off-limits to kids, who always want to handle them. In fact, I had to shoo a kid away from my husband's holster after the parade. He was trying to remove the blaster. That's pretty typical.

I found Vader in my in-laws' kitchen, extremely overheated, poor guy. But he was safe, as was his lightsaber.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Best Is Yet To Come?

Judging by the state of this shirt, I'd say the best has come and gone.

After 15 years of faithful service, this old fraternity shirt from my college days (circa 1994 if I remember correctly, and who am I kidding? I can barely remember yesterday, much less 1994) has officially bit the dust. I feel a little sad, as it's super comfy and always reminds me of the friend who gave it to me. I also feel old because, wow. Fifteen years? College was that long ago?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Furminator

Calvin's been throwing up a lot lately, and that's included some super-sized hairballs. That's pretty unusual for him, but everything lately is pretty unusual for him. I'd seen the Furminator around online, but it wasn't until I saw my friend Marylou use one on her own cat that I decided to shell out the money for it. It's a de-shedding tool that's supposed to cut down on hairballs.

My boys weren't too sure of the Furminator at first. They both love to be combed with a flea comb, and this isn't too terribly different. Our first Furminator session was short, as the boys were a little nervous about it, but it managed to get a lot of hair off of them anyway:

Doogie's fur is on the left; Calvin's is on the right. Doogie's fur is much longer, which is why his pile is so much bigger.

We've used the Furminator since that first session, and they've warmed up to it. I just hope it really does help cut down on the hairballs!

For those who have asked, Calvin is doing a bit better. He was acting puny over the weekend, and he peed on our bed, which told me his antibiotic probably wasn't working. We went back to the vet on Monday, and sure enough, his bladder infection was still raging. As he's building up resistance to the stronger antibiotics, the doctor opted to give him a shot this time. I think it's working as he's perked up considerably since then. He's back to complaining about the service. With my boy that's a very good sign!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Star Wars Day at Bowles Life Center

The stormtroopers were invited to attend Star Wars Day at the Bowles Life Center in Grand Prairie. A lot of kids showed up, and I was impressed by the organization of what could have been a very chaotic event!

The kids were seated and waiting as the stormtroopers entered the room:

Then they all lined up for photos and autographs. The 501st members truly were like rock stars!

Next we headed to the library, where the stormtroopers helped promote literacy. (Yea!) What do stormtroopers read? Star Wars books, of course!

Fun and games with the kids:

I was the envy of many little boys, as I was given the task of holding the Sandtrooper's giant gun while he signed autographs and played pool:

I saw two boys gazing wistfully at the gun in my hands, and one said to the other, "She's so lucky!" I couldn't help but laugh at that. While I don't consider it especially lucky to get to hold a stormtrooper gun, I do count it as great privilege to hang with the 501st Legion. They may be bad guys, but they sure are nice!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Alas, Babylon

I don't usually talk about what I'm reading here, but this book just resonated with me in amazing ways.

First, if you want to put the current state of the economy into perspective, read this book. Potential layoffs and economic turmoil seem pretty minor when compared to surviving after a nuclear attack. Sounds like a weird comparison, I'm sure, but strangely enough, I read this a couple of months ago, and it really calmed a lot of my fears.

Second, this book really highlights the importance of character. The people who put their faith in money and things didn't fare too well in the new reality. Those who had always put people and relationships first are the ones to do well. They formed partnerships, traded with each other (sometimes without expecting anything in return), and managed to eke out a successful living in the midst of tragedy. In fact, I used this theme when teaching the youth Sunday night. We need to make sure we're spending time on things that actually matter in life. (I used Mark 12:28-31 about our purpose in life, then Ecclesiastes 4:4-12 in talking about the important things in life.) I also read them a few passages from Alas, Babylon as examples. I now have several of the students interested in reading the book. (And in case you're wondering, I can find Christian application in just about anything!)

Third, it gave me some serious stuff to think about, like survival skills and what would be necessary to have in case of disaster. Interestingly, right before I started reading this, I'd been flipping through an old Reader's Digest manual at Half-Price Books. It was on the clearance table for super-cheap, and I was amused at all the supposedly-useless information, like how to build all sorts of things that seem pretty useless in today's world since we can buy most everything pretty cheaply. After reading Alas, Babylon, I started thinking that maybe there was some pretty serious value to that book. Not that I'm expecting a nuclear holocaust or anything, but having the resources to make do in catastrophe really isn't such a bad idea.

I really love it when literature is more than just a story to me, but it really gives me food for thought and has something to teach.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I started reading Emilie Barnes' The Spirit of Loveliness this week, thanks to this post by LizzyKristine. I impulsively bought the book from Amazon after reading that, and so far, I'm glad I did!

I'm not very far in, but the chapter titled "The Spirit of Creativity" really resonates with me. The definition Mrs. Barnes gives of creativity is great. She says:

Creativity is a God-given ability to take something ordinary and make it into something special. It is an openness to doing old things in new ways and a willingness to adapt other people's good ideas to suit our personal needs...It is a way of seeing, a willingness to see wonderful possibilities in something unformed or ordinary or even ugly.

She also says it's something we all possess. How true! Unfortunately, we don't always recognize this in ourselves because we often equate creativity with art or grand decorating schemes or something, well, obvious. It can be so much more subtle than that, though, and simply show itself through meals cooked or objects reused in interesting ways.

On that note, I was very honored to receive the Kreativ Blogger Award from Danita. (She's a sweetheart!)

Can I confess that the spelling of this award is killing me? My creativity does not extend toward spelling.

Apparently, the tradition with this award is to list 7 favorite things, then list 7 bloggers who deserve this award. I'm a rebel, though (ha!), so I'm only going to list 3 of each. Because I'm lazy like that.

Three Favorite Things:

1. My friends and family
2. Books
3. Fried Chicken

I'm not complicated.

Three Bloggers I'd like to pass this on to:

1. Sue at Bella Bluegrass: She takes the most incredible pictures of her cat, Bella, then comes up with really clever captions for them! I absolutely love this blog!

2. Carrie at With All That I've Been Given: Her blog title really says it all. She takes what God has given her and uses it in wonderful ways. I'm always inspired by her posts.

3. Kelli at There Is No Place Like Home: She makes beautiful cards, tags, and bookmarks, and her blog is what has kick-started the desire in me again to make things besides food.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get Well Wishes

We had a nice surprise in the mail yesterday. Calvin received his very own Get Well card! I was touched by the gesture, and he was thrilled to get mail addressed to him that wasn't from the vet reminding him he's due for a visit. (He's not liking the vet too much these days.)

Our friend Kameron, one of Steven's fellow stormtroopers, sent the card. Calvin liked it, especially the little birds dancing across the front of it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thrifty Finds

I stopped in my favorite thrift store on Monday on my way home from the dentist. (Bad news, as always. They have to remove a crown because there appears to be something going on under it. Even my dental work needs dental work! *sigh*) A little random wandering around the thrift store relaxed me.

I wound up finding this for only $1.19:

It replaces my ancient cassette tape of the music from West Side Story, which incidentally is one of the best musicals ever. Yes, when I upgrade my music collection, I revert to the technology that came before my previous copy. Really, though, it'll sound great on my super-cool, retro-style record player.

I also found this:

Now before anyone accuses me of losing my personal challenge, please note that I do not knit, crochet, or otherwise do any sort of craft that involves yarn. The bag of yarn, which was a mere $2.19, is for the cat. Because Doogie likes to do this to his yarn balls:

He enjoys ripping his balls of yarn to shreds. He manages to tangle them up and weaken the strands, so we go through a lot of yarn with him. The cheaper I can find the yarn, the better!

Now, if only my dental work could be done as inexpensively as some of my shopping...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


As regular readers know, I am not a mother. I'm not going to get into the particulars of why I am not, but I will say that I'm okay with it. I'm something of an oddball in today's world, as I gave up my career a decade ago to stay at home, even though I have no children. I struggled with my identity early on, as our society seems to define women by their careers or their motherhood. Without either, I felt a little lost for a while, and it took a few years to finally become completely comfortable with where I am. (Not because I second-guessed Steven's and my decision for me to be at home, but because our culture told me I had no place.)

I've heard people say that having children is the only way to have purpose in life. I've heard well-meaning Christians say that women are here to be wives and mothers. The implication is that if someone has no children, she's flouting God's will, being punished by God, and/or failing to fulfill her life's purpose.

How utterly hurtful and insulting. I believe God has an individual plan in place for each of us.

Believe it or not, Mother's Day always winds up being a rather sweet day for me. The rose pictured above was given to me at church. Our church chooses to recognize all women, as we all have relationships in which we nurture others. I think it's rather sweet, and I hope no real mothers are bothered by the broad recognition.

But it's also sweet because of things like this:

This card happened to be from our youth minister. (Yes, he's younger than me. No, I'm not old enough to be his mother!) I've received sweet cards like this in the past from some of the kids in our youth group. Always I have kids wishing me a happy Mother's Day.

You see, I'm not anyone's mother, but I choose to build relationships with others in which I have the opportunity to teach, love, and nurture. Sometimes, those kids teach me. It's very much a give-and-take, and it's always worth the time and effort. I love them very much, and it's nice to know that they love me back. As my wise husband often says, life is about relationships. We're here to love God and love others.* Period. How that plays out is unique to each of us.

Why am I writing all this? I suppose to encourage any women out there whose circumstances are like mine. Being without children is not a punishment or a great sorrow (although I realize it may feel like the latter to those who are desperately trying unsuccessfully to have a baby). Just as raising children is a privilege, I consider not raising them to be privilege, as well. I've been able to give time to the teens at my church that I wouldn't otherwise have if I had children of my own. I've developed incredible relationships over the years and been used by God in amazing ways that I didn't even know about until years later. (It's funny how sometimes God just tells us to do something, but he doesn't let us know why until a very long time later.)

Whatever your circumstances, just live life according to God's will. Ignore the world around you and listen only to the Almighty. Rejoice in the life he's given you.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12:
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Mark 12:28-31:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Update on Calvin

Despite being desperately ill on Friday, Calvin had a good weekend. He still had a lot of the subcutaneous fluids in his leg on Saturday, which I suppose explains why we couldn't get him to drink any water; he was still hydrated from the vet's treatment. But once we opened up a can of tuna and gave him the water from it... Well, let's just say he drank like a man dying in a desert.

Guess he just needed the right motivation.

As his anti-nausea meds were set to wear off Saturday afternoon, I wasn't comfortable leaving him that evening. We had a stormtrooper party to attend, and Steven still went, but I played the part of the overanxious mama and stayed home with the cats. I watched Twilight with Calvin curled in my lap. (The movie was terrible, btw.)

Sunday, Calvin was totally back to normal. He's eating and drinking as usual. He was in the kitchen begging for people food every time we went in there. He ran around the house complaining, which is his normal behavior. Who knew I'd be thanking God that my cat was screaming at me?!

Honestly, you'd never know that he'd even been sick. It was a good weekend.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rough Day

We've had a difficult day around here today. Calvin has been throwing up profusely all afternoon. And the last round looked bloody. I did what any reasonable cat mom would do.

I freaked. Then I cried. Then I called the vet. Then I cried some more.

I became more worried when it was time to leave for the vet's, and I couldn't find Calvin anywhere. Our boys come when we whistle for them, and Doogie was standing at my feet yelling at me as I kept whistling. (He wanted to go out for the mail.) But still no Calvin. Very unusual.

I found him in the far back corner of my closet. He didn't say a word as I picked him up, which is again unusual. He's usually quite the talker.

The vet couldn't feel any blockages, which is good. She said Calvin looked alert, which is also good. But he was severely dehydrated, which is bad. In addition to receiving a shot to stop the vomiting, he had his first ever "kitty dialysis" session. That just means he had a subcutaneous saline IV. He now looks like Quasimodo with all the fluids gathered around one shoulder.

He's resting at home now, and I don't want to bug him by making him stand up for photos, so for now, all you'll get is his fluid blob, which isn't quite as interesting-looking as his Quasimodo look when he's standing up. (He looks a lot fatter on the right than on the left. That's all his fluids resting in that side of his body, just under the skin.)

**Additional: Calvin came flying onto my desk just after I posted this. I grabbed the camera. He no longer looked hunchbacked. Instead, the fluids have fallen and created a whole new weird look.