Archive for November, 2010

JJ

Posted in Pets on November 23rd, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

My little parakeet JJ passed away some time during the night last night.  Not much of a surprise there; he has been sick for a while, and even though he began looking well again a few weeks ago, he took a turn for the worse in the last few days.  He looked so awful yesterday that I knew he wouldn’t make it through the night.  But there was always hope that I was wrong.  He had been on what I called “death watch” before and made it through the night, so the hope was there.

I don’t really know what happened – he was only about a year old, and I had had him since January, not even a year.  He started showing signs of illness about 2 months ago.  I gave him medicine and TLC, and he began to do better, but like I said, I guess it just wasn’t enough.

He was “just a parakeet”, but I loved his company.  I was so excited to see what kind of bird he would become; how he would look and act as an adult and who he would be when he felt healthy, but now I won’t know.  Honestly, taking care of animals is one of my favorite things in the whole world, so why do I have to be so bad at it?  A few months ago, JJ was so happy when we moved his cage into  the living room so he had company all day rather than living in the solitude (or was it protection?) of our bedroom upstairs.  We kept him right near the Halogen lamp, could there have been a smell or the heat or something that made him sick?  On the rare occasion that a bug would fly into the Halogen, yuck, what a smell that made.  We tried to get rid of Teflon pans and things like that, but JJ’s new home in the living room wasn’t too far from the kitchen – maybe cooking smells did him in?  He was a fraidy-bird, so I couldn’t really take apart his cage to clean it out; maybe it got too dirty?  A dozen why’s and what-if’s, but no more parakeet.  At least he is not suffering anymore – it was getting really difficult to see him in his cage looking so miserable and worse for the wear.  Poor JJ.  Even if he was just a caged bird, I miss him already.  Ugh, and the cold weather is back today…  fitting somehow, just feels like a miserable day all around – time to make the best of it.

If Cats Ran The World

Posted in animals on November 17th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Because my family and friends know that I’m an animal lover, they’re always sending me emails with pictures and articles about cute animal-related topics.  All of them are adorable, but this one stands out as something to share – a man built an entire feline-sized village for homeless cats!  Kind of sounds like something I’d like to do with some extra free time, money, and if only I didn’t have the darn cat allergy that’s always getting in the way…

Below are some pictures of his creation.  For the entire story, click here.  And to visit the cat village online, The Caboodle Ranch, click here.

Poor Paul The Psychic Octopus

Posted in animals, Current Events on November 13th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

No play on words necessary  for this blog post – there really was a Psychic Octopus named Paul who lived in Germany, and he recently passed away at the ripe old age (for an octopus) of 2½ years.

In his lifetime, however short is seems to us humans, Paul made himself famous with his uncanny ability to predict World Cup game winners correctly!  Before games, Paul would receive 2 boxes of mussels, one each with a flag of the countries of the two teams who would be facing off in the World Cup.  The country whose box was eaten out of by Paul first was declared Paul’s pick as the winner of that match, and he predicted correctly an astounding 100% of the time (8/8) for his World Cup predictions, and 86% (12/14) overall.

RIP • Paul the Octopus • 2008-2010

Preschool or Politics? Bonus Episode

Posted in Current Events on November 12th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

November Election Day 2010 – it’s come and gone; everyone is ecstatic to be freed from being forced to absorb those scathing campaign ads.  In the wake of Election Day, one Chicago ‘burb emerged with a history-making result.  Buffalo Grove, Illinois citizens voted upon and passed a successful recall vote of a village trustee for the first time ever.  You might have read my previous post about Lisa Stone, the tenacious (polite word) village trustee who helped make Buffalo Grove village council meetings look like too-good-to-be-real-for-reality-tv.  She would do things like nit-pick, interrupt, refuse to take order; many times single-handedly being responsible for meetings lasting into the following morning!  Lisa Stone and the Village President Elliott Hartstein would butt heads at every meeting until he was so frustrated he looked ready to burst.  Well, the votes were counted, and Ms. Stone has to leave office.  And if you think that Village President Hartstein was happy about this, check out this little video of him impersonating (complete with wig) the thorn, uh, Stone in his side:

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Yes, it was a horrible political decision, and a public apology was issued promptly.  A guy’s gotta vent, but he should have known better.  Just when we thought the reality show was canceled, a bonus episode appears.  For the whole story, click here.

***It’s come to my attention that the video is no longer available – bummmer!!  It was too funny!  Well, there’s nothing I can do about that, so here’s the next best thing: pictures.

Ms. Lisa Stone herself:
And Village President Elliott Hartstein dressed as Lisa Stone:

Halloween Fun (Was Had)

Posted in family fun, holidays on November 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s officially mid-November already, and Halloween is over.  Because Halloween is one of our family’s favorite holidays, we try to take advantage of doing every Halloween-related activity we can, which often stretches the season.  We began on the Tuesday before Halloween at the mall.  They held a weather-proof (good thing too, the weather on Tuesday was so awful our tornado sirens were activated) trick-or-treat event in the mall, with costumed kids going from store to store receiving candy.  Our kids had a blast, and our little guy got the hang of trick-or-treating REALLY quickly!  He would receive his candy, and his way of saying ‘thank you’ was to give a little wave – it was adorable – see for yourself!  He’s the one in the Blue’s Clues costume:

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At first he was afraid of some of the scary masks, but he was quickly over that too.  The rest of the week stayed relatively Halloween-free, until Friday, when we had planned a Halloween-themed game night.  We requested guests to wear costumes (any excuse to dress up in a costume for Halloween – I really like to participate as much as I can!!), and we had quite a variety: from an escaped inmate (Hubby) to Flo the Progressive Insurance nurse, a nerd, a couple of hippies, a professor, a zookeeper on safari (me) – even a few members of the “real” Mafia made an appearance (we frequently play a game called ‘Mafia’ at game night and it’s tons of fun!  A few of the regular game nighters decided to dress up as Mafia as a shout-out to the game).  Fun was had, and we were able to rest up for Saturday, which was the annual community Halloween party.  My kids loved the hayride, complete with monsters that jump out of the brush and chase the wagon, and we rode 3 times.  There are all kinds of things to do at the community party, and it’s all free: from gourmet slushes (best wild berry slush ever!), cotton candy, hot dogs, and popcorn to carnival games, bouncy castles, and a maze for the kids, it’s all so much fun!

After that was time for Trick or Treating, and we had fun even if Hubby wasn’t feeling so well (he is better now – thanks for your thoughts and prayers!).  Let’s see…  don’t think I mentioned the kids’ costumes: my oldest (almost 11 already!) was a cowgirl, 6-year-old Sammie was a princess, 4-year-old Disney was a witch at the mall who switched to Dora for Saturdays’ events, and 2-year-old Christopher was Blue from Blue’s Clues.  We had fun Trick or Treating, and Hubby and I chose an old favorite movie of ours to watch afterward: The Uninvited – not totally scary (we usually try to watch a scary movie together on Halloween), but we both felt like a great thriller more than a horror movie this year.  Here is my little boy dressed as Blue:

Sunday saw church, and we had a blast in Sunday school as usual – except that poor Hubby had to stay home.  Also, we were very tired on Saturday after trick or treating, so we didn’t get a chance to get our annual picture of the kids in their costumes sitting on the couch.  But we got one of all 4 of them in the mall, so here it is:

Overall, a very fun 2010 Halloween, one that I can’t believe came and went so quickly – SO quickly in fact, that it’s already been over for weeks!  Unbelievable!!  Hope your Halloween was safe, fun, and happy, and that your Thanksgiving will be the same!!

CMA Time Already!!

Posted in music on November 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again!  Dust off your cowboy hat, put it on, and get ready for a rootin’ tootin’ time watching the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards!!

I’m going to try something different this year – I’m not going to watch it.

Not that I don’t want to, because I really do, especially when I go to the website and see all the stuff about live streaming comments and things like that.  It wasn’t too many years ago when I made my own blog of live streaming comments, and I had fun doing it.  But I won’t be able to watch the CMAs this year because I have something much more important to do:  I lead a small group of 6th grade girls at our church’s youth group on Wednesday nights.  I’m not about to put a tv show above those girls, and I certainly wouldn’t be prepared to tell them the reason for my absence was because of the CMA awards – that would not be acceptable.  If one of my own kids was sick and I stayed home for that reason (as it happened last year on CMA night), that would be a different story, but it’s a great thing that everyone is healthy enough for me to have to miss one of my two most favorite tv events of the year (not including a year the Chicago Cubs would make it into MLB playoffs, but that hasn’t been anything I need to concern myself with in quite some time, Grrrr – my other favorite tv event is the other big country music awards show, the ACMs in the spring).

If you watch the CMA awards, HAVE FUN!!  I’m hoping that whatever recording device my husband has in mind to record these will work – we often have bad luck with recording devices.  Part of me will miss being a part of the event, reading the live commentary and providing my own, and part of me was ready to move on anyway – seems I’ve become increasingly disconnected with today’s country music scene (now I just sound old).  I’ll still give my picks, but they are guesses at best because I really haven’t been following the genre lately.  I didn’t even know until I looked last night to find out what time the awards came on that Gwyneth Paltrow, the movie star, has a hit song on country radio right now.  I’m actually more into Christian music than ever before; there is some pretty good stuff out there.  And listening to Christian music gives me a chance to practice my dances I have on Sunday mornings with the 1st graders 🙂  But all of that leaves less time to listen and keep up with country music.

But what the hey, I’ve had fun trying to pick the winners every year so here goes.  My picks are in green with random thoughts in itallics:

♦♦Entertainer of the YearBrad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band (What?!?  No Kenny Chesney??  That’s great news for those of us who aren’t big fans…  now, who to choose to take his place?)

Female Vocalist – Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood (So great to see 2 of my favorites (Martina and Reba) back in the game!  I don’t think Martina will win, but I SO WANTED to choose her!!  Carrie Underwood is great too – I’m not a big fan of Taylor Swift, but unfortunately, I think she will win this one)

♦♦Male Vocalist –  Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Keith Urban

New Artist – Luke Bryan, Easton Corbin, Jerrod Nieman, Chris Young, Zac Brown Band (Explain to me how Zac Brown Band is still considered “new”?  They have some great music and have proven themselves, as I would think being a nominee for Entertainer of the Year would prove!)

Vocal GroupLady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascall Flatts, The Band Perry, Zac Brown Band (Let’s be honest, I think Lady Antebellum will take it.  But I just love the music of Rascall Flatts, and can’t bear to vote against them. I’m not trying to get 2 votes in – officially, my pick is Rascall Flatts)

Vocal DuoBrooks and Dunn, Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry, Steel Magnolia, Sugarland (The last year for Brooks and Dunn, and I don’t think they’ll pull a GARTH Brooks and pull out of retirement, so this powerful duo gets my vote – they are so talented, so they deserve it anyway.  I was lucky enough to see them in concert 3 times, and they did not disappoint once!)

♦♦Single – A Little More Country Than That by Easton Corbin, Hillbilly Bone by Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, Need You Now by Lady Antebellum, The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert, White Liar by Miranda Lambert

♦♦Song – A Little More Country Than That, Need You Now, The House That Built Me, Toes, White Liar

♦♦Musical Event – Bad Angel by Dierks Bentley feat. Miranda Lambert & Jamey Johnson, Can’t You See by Zac Brown Band feat. Kid Rock, Hillbilly Bone by Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins, I’m Alive by Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews, Till The End by Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack

Music Video – Hillbilly Bone by Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins, Need You Now Lady Antebellum, The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert, Water by Brad Paisley, White Liar by Miranda Lambert

Musician – Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar, Dann Huff – Guitar, Brent Mason – Guitar, Mac McAnally – Guitar, Randy Scruggs – Guitar

Hmm, 5 correct of the 11 I guessed…  not too great.  Oh well, it was a good show and fun to watch!

Back To Blogging

Posted in Everyday Life on November 8th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It seems like I haven’t had the time to blog as much as I’d like to lately.  Put it this way –  Halloween ended over a week ago now, and I still have a draft sitting here detailing how my family spent what’s probably our 2nd favorite holiday.  I think I will quickly summarize and get it churned out next, hopefully.

One thing that’s been taking up my blogging time is laundry.  When the seasons change, my laundry responsibilities increase from about 3 loads per week to 6 or 7.  That’s because my family of 6 is now wearing pants instead of shorts or sundresses, many of us dress in layers in the fall which adds sweatshirts to the mix, and then there are the added number of blankies that the kids use when it turns cold outside.  The good news of all this is that when spring turns to summer, I find myself with about half the laundry I’ve gotten used to doing in the winter – kind of a fall back, spring ahead-type thing for laundry, I guess.  But more laundry folding and less blogging for me in the mean time.

And that reminds me, a funny thing happened at church yesterday.  When my class got back to our classroom after large group, there were 2 new kids sitting there.  I introduced myself, and we were just getting started when their dad came to the door, seemingly embarrassed and very apologetic as he asked for his kids back – turns out their family had forgotten to set their clocks back  an hour, so they were actually there for the next service 🙂

Our family remembered to change our clocks, but we didn’t get to appreciate the extra hour of sleep it was supposed to bring – kids have biological clocks, they wake up at the same time every day regardless of what the clock says or what time zone they are in.  This is especially good advice if you’re going to travel with kids across time zones – don’t fool yourself into thinking that your kids will adjust to the local time when you travel, or you could be in for a not-so-pleasant surprise.  My wonderful, thoughtful husband is always the one who gets up early with the kids, but I had to be at church at 8:30 yesterday.  Also, I was up all night with a killer headache – now that was strange.

I am very lucky to be able to say that I very rarely get headaches.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I will have a dull ringing in my head, but nothing like Saturday night’s doozy that was actually waking me up throughout the night.  Luckily it went away (with help) before I arrived in my classroom full of 1st graders.  But I have to wonder about the cause of this colossal headache – could it perhaps be some kind of weird virus that had me laid up all weekend?  Saturday I was knocked flat on my back by a sudden and severe mysterious back pain.  It began on Friday, when I decided to take my kids to the zoo since they had a day off school.  By the time we were ready to leave, I couldn’t bend over and had to ask for help to tie my shoes.  I thought maybe it was a pulled muscle or something, maybe a cramp that would work itself out – I couldn’t remember injuring it.  But I did not enjoy myself nearly as much as I usually do at the zoo 🙁  And thank goodness Hubby decided to  come with or I don’t know how I would have been able to handle 5 kids (my daughter’s friend came along) by myself without hardly being able to bend or move right.  When we got home, Hubby had some work to catch up on, and I fell asleep on the couch while waiting for him – something I haven’t done for ages which makes me realize that I didn’t feel too well on Friday.  Then Saturday dawns, and I can’t get out of bed because of the extreme pain every time I tried to bend.  So I stayed in bed until 1:30 – played my cards right and got lunch in bed too 🙂 – when we absolutely had to leave to meet our youth group kids for a service project.  I got the easy job – waiting for the kids who were late – while the others raked leaves and picked up litter, and while I took it easy, my back started to feel better.  But then came the headache which was to plague me all night.  What makes me think this is a virus is because of all the stuff going around lately, plus the fact that my sister had this same exact sudden backache a few weeks ago – could it be a contagious ‘backache virus’?  I owed my parents an email, but I couldn’t get in front of the computer with my sore back, so I called them from bed Saturday morning, and that’s how I found out about my sister.  Anyway, my point is, it was a busy weekend, but also one where I couldn’t get to my computer even if I had had the time, hence the slow pace of the blogging.

And speaking of things going around…  my parakeet JJ is feeling much better.  He’s even chirping again!!  He hasn’t lost his balance while sitting on his perch in days, and his physical appearance is starting to look healthier.  The lady at the pet store said that if a little bird is fluffed up and at the bottom of his cage like JJ was that it’s almost always too late to save them, so I feel really great that my little guy seems to have another chance.  I guess I should have bought this really cool looking toy I saw the other day, but my husband and I have a policy that we try not to buy anything unless we have an immediate use for it.  This thing was a $10 cabinet – you install it in your living room or somewhere; it’s a nice looking wood cabinet, and it opens into a little play yard for small birds.  Ugh, just writing about it makes me want it, but the store was an hour away, and JJ is a cage bird – I don’t know that he would come out to play in a play yard.  I think of him as so fragile, so it would be difficult for me to make him come out; I sure wouldn’t want him to get sick again.

Well, anyway, I’ve rambled enough – guess I just wanted to share my relief at getting well and of being able to blog again.  Until that overdue Halloween post…

My Poor Little Bird

Posted in Pets on November 3rd, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

JJ, my parakeet, is very sick.  I had parakeets when I was younger, and I know enough about them to know that we are lucky that he’s still alive.  His chirping and squawking gradually decreased until I realized the other day that he doesn’t vocalize at all anymore.  He is very lathargic, and sits puffed up on his perch where he loses his balance every few minutes.  His tail is bobbing when he breathes, which is a sign of respiratory distress, and he has some discoloring around his cere (nose), which indicates discharge.  The other day, I noticed that he was sitting on the bottom of his cage, which is a sign of imminent death in parakeets.  Based upon my research (past experience, the internet, and bothering the heck out of the local pet store), JJ seems to have a respiratory infection – something that is often fatal for small birds.

But he’s hung on a few days now from when I first believed his death was imminent when he was at the bottom of his cage.  After all, parakeets’ instincts are to hide their illnesses.  If they show any sign of being sick, wild birds will be cast out by their flock, so if captive birds allow signs of illness to show, it’s often too late to save them.  I got some birdie antibiotics, and I’m hoping that he is drinking his water where the meds are.  He is still eating, and that’s a great sign.  We put a blanket over the cage, and are trying to keep him warm and calm so he can rest and get well.  It’s just touch and go at this point, so I’m praying for my little bird.  I got so attached to the little guy!  I got him right after my beloved dog passed away, and seeing my happy little bird helped me feel at least a tiny bit better.  And now I’m watching him suffer; it’s hard.  I want to move him back upstairs where it’s a little warmer and quieter, but I’m afraid of stressing him out too much, which is basically the same reason I don’t want to take him to the vet.  I guess I’ll wait for him to improve a little more before moving him upstairs; that’s the only plan I have right now.

Like I said, he does seem to be improving – the loss of balance on his perch seems to have subsided anyway.  But he still does not look well, and he is not vocalizing.  He is less than a year old, so maybe his youth is keeping him strong and resilient.  Poor JJ!  He is just a little parakeet, but he means a lot to me.  If you could send out a little prayer for JJ, we’d appreciate it.  And pray for my husband while you’re at it; he’s fighting a nasty cold.  Obviously, Hubby’s health is a billion times more important than JJ’s, but if I wrote a blog post every time Hubby got sick…   well, I wouldn’t have time for that!  Besides, Hubby’s illness is not life-threatening.  I wonder if Hubby and JJ have the same thing?  That’s one thing that stinks about this time of year – all the illness!  Wish I could transfer some of my super-immune system over to Hubby, who seems to get EVERY single thing that comes our way…