4 years with Tinycat, and glad he’s still with us

Four years ago today, we were working in our downtown garden when a homeless friend named Justin walked up holding an impossibly tiny, impossibly flea-covered kitten. “I just found him,” he said, “and I can’t take care of him and don’t want him to be a hobo cat. Can you take him?” I took one look at the tiny furball and knew I had to help him find a home.

I took him home, gave him a bath, picked hundreds of fleas off of him, and promptly fell in love.  I didn’t want to fall in love, though. We called him Tinycat because we weren’t giving him a name because we were. not. keeping. him. That resolve lasted until the night before he was supposed to go to a new home, and Jon and I both cried and realized we couldn’t bear to part with him.

By the end of that summer, I got pregnant and promptly began spending a lot of time in bed. Tinycat was always by my side. He was my buddy through a difficult pregnancy, and even after the girls were born, he has been amazing with them, always choosing to be near them, allowing them to love him, however rough, and gently training them in how to handle him.

Over the last few months, Tiny has been very sick. It started as a bladder infection, but then either nausea or just distaste for his prescription bladder food caused him to just stop eating. He had been fairly obese, but then he suddenly got scary-skinny, and super sick. He had starved himself into liver failure. Apparently fatty liver syndrome is common when fat cats lose a lot of weight suddenly. At one point, I was pretty sure he was going to die. For the last two months he’s been getting medications and syringe feedings, and it’s been rough on all of us. Now he’s finally starting to gain weight, eat a little food (but still refusing the prescription bladder food), and even act like his old playful, affectionate self again. It’s been like watching him rise from the dead. It finally feels like he’s actually decided he wants to live, and we are so happy.


Happy fourth anniversary, Tinycat. I’m glad you won over this family of “dog people.” Don’t tell Bessie and Olive, but you’re my favorite. Even when you’re being The Worst.

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dog days

IMG_1002Often, as a mom, I feel like I spend my time tending to the squeakiest wheel. The past couple weeks, that wheel has been our dog, Olive. Olive is a beloved, slightly crazy, very sweet border collie mix that we adopted some six years ago after some family friends found her as a skinny puppy in the Arkansas deer woods. She has always been a little skittish. She’s occasionally gotten out, because she loves to run. But that was usually not a problem so long as we had a nice, securely fenced yard with no weaknesses for her to exploit. She’s shocked us by being the most gentle of our pups with the girls, and though she still hates Tinycat, we had been making some progress in allowing them to both have run of the house together.  Continue reading

In which I compare having dogs and having babies

IMG_0003We used to be smug first time parents.

Dog parents, that is.

See, when we got our first dog Bessie, we just went to a shelter one day, found a pretty cute pup who seemed playful and friendly, and took her home. There was some puppy chewing of throw pillows and Playstation controllers, but for the most part, she was a freakishly good dog– well behaved, friendly, easy to get along with. Naturally, we thought this was all our doing. We’d go to other people’s houses and encounter unruly dogs who jumped up or begged for food or used the bathroom in the house, and we’d leave thinking to ourselves, what is wrong with them? They’re clearly doing a terrible job as pet parents! We’d think, if only they were as good as we are, they wouldn’t allow that behavior.

Then we got a second dog.

Olive, it turns out, is a vastly different dog, despite our clearly superior dog parenting abilities. In the years we’ve had her, we’ve been completely unable to teach her not to put her paws on us or attempt to climb in our laps or onto the furniture, both places she isn’t allowed. We have had to come to a very shocking conclusion: it’s not that we’re amazing dog owners, we just had a really amazing first dog.

This is a realization I think more first time parents need to come to. It’s a realization we’ve come to yet again as we parent twins who, at every turn, seem determined to remind us that they are very distinct individuals. It started when Claire began sleeping through the night on her own at about 3 months old. Etta still hasn’t mastered that feat. Baby sleep in particular seems to be an area in which everyone fancies themselves an expert. Particularly if they have one kid, the baby equivalent of a Bessie dog, they’ll happily tell you that all you need to do is exactly what they did, and you too will have a baby who sleeps through the night. I hope their next baby is an Olive, every time. Because even though we use the exact same techniques and parenting styles on both of our girls, one sleeps and one doesn’t. We can’t anymore take credit for Claire’s awesome sleeping abilities than we can the blame for Etta’s lack thereof.

The same thing happened with food. Claire took happily to purees quite easily (around 6 months), while Etta has always refused to let us spoon feed her. Several months later, at 10 months, and Etta has only recently decided that while she still hates purees, she’ll willingly chow down on any food she can hold in her own fist. Truly baby-led Baby Led Weaning. I can’t take credit for how either of my girls eats, really, either– they each just do their thing, and I figure out what that thing is through trial and error.

So, you parents of one baby who think you’ve got the whole sleeping and eating figured out through your superior skills? Your kid is probably a Bessie. The next one just might be an Olive.

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DIY cat bed

Now that Tinycat is staying, I decided he needed a nicer bed than a folded up beach towel. To the folks wondering, “how do you get your cat to sleep on a designated bed in the first place?” the answer is, he sleeps locked in the bathroom off of our bedroom, so he basically sleeps on the softest thing in there.

I started looking at cat beds online, but they were all kind of boring, slightly ugly, and $20-$30.

I wanted something cuter, and with my rudimentary sewing skills, figured I could make something decent for less than $30. I went to Hobby Lobby and assembled the following supplies:

Foam square: $4.89 (on sale, regularly $6.99), 1 yard of fabric: $8.99, 1 spool of matching thread: $.99, zipper: $2.29. Grand total: $17.16.

Then I basically laid the foam down on the fabric and cut around it, leaving about half an inch on each side as a seam allowance. I did this for each side of the cushion. For one of the long sides, I cut double the seam allowance to allow for the zipper to be installed, because I wanted the cover to be removable so I can wash it. I installed a zipper in the middle of the long sides, sewed the sides together end to end, leaving one side unsewn, and then started attaching the sides to the top, working my way around until all the sides were sewn on, and then sewing the last corner. Then I sewed the bottom on, turned it right side out (thanks to the zipper, this was possible), and put it on the cushion. I made sure to finish all my seams nicely so that they won’t unravel in the wash.

This is the final result (related: it’s hard to photograph a cat on his cute new bed when all he wants to do is eat the bed):

Crazy cat in action.

View of the zipper side.

It’s not perfect at the corners, and the fit could be slightly tighter, but overall I’m pretty proud. Also, notice how it matches those pillows on our bed? When it’s not eleventy billion degrees, that’s also what our duvet cover looks like, so Tinycat’s bed looks like a mini version of ours. So cute I could die.

I could be convinced to make one of these again for someone I loved for compensation or a Christmas gift, and if that happens, I’ll try to take some step by step photos so this post is more helpful.

tinycat meets the stray

So…Tinycat still lives here. We got a new home all lined up and then, while I was all “trying to be strong and do the right thing,” Jon decided we just couldn’t part with him.

The other morning, we were doing our usual morning routine, which involves me internetting and drinking coffee while Tinycat hangs out on the back of the couch/on the windowsill. He likes to bask in the sun like so:

While he was basking, a stray cat outside (our neighborhood is full of strays and semi-strays that seem to have owners who don’t keep them inside, ever) spotted him and popped up on the window ledge to say “hi.”

And then this ensued:

I think he really wanted to go out and play! A friend wondered if they were related, but that’s probably pretty unlikely as Tinycat was found way downtown and this cat lives around here. Now if only our dogs were as calmly curious and playful as that stray cat, we’d be getting somewhere!

kit happens

So yeah. This happened:

While working at our church’s community garden on Saturday, a homeless friend came up with a tiny, flea-covered kitten in need of a home. He said, hilariously, that he would have liked to keep him himself, but he didn’t want him to be a “hobo kitty.” Of course, I’m a sucker for any and all animals, and I agreed to take him home and de-flea him and find him a family to adopt him. Guess who hasn’t been adopted yet… We’re keeping him on a “trial basis” to see if he can get along with our dogs, or, phrased more accurately, if the dogs can get along with him. So far they’re not allowed in the same room. We’re not naming him til we’re sure we’re keeping him, but we’re enjoying his cuteness and playfulness for now, and referring to him as Tinycat. The dogs, on the other hand, are referring to him as “that dastardly intruder who wants to steal our snacks.”

kids ask the darnedest things

Over the holiday weekend, we had some friends over for a cookout. Their nearly three year old was the first fully-mobile (infant visitors don’t really count) child-sized person to visit our house, ever, and the pediatrician husband, ever cautious, made sure our TV, formerly perched precariously right at toddler height, was securely mounted to the wall before our small guest arrived. He was as delightfully behaved as any of our guests, and perhaps the kindest of any guest we’ve ever had when it comes to the treatment of our only children who happen to be two large dogs. He was patient with the fact that they kept trying to lick food off his face. He even threw a ball for them for longer than I ever have. At one point, noticing an unscooped pile of dog poo in the yard, he asked, “Who pooped there?” Because really, it might have been any of us.

And then, as he munched on a cookie for dessert, he asked me “Do you have any toys?” All I found was a stuffed monkey, which he deemed THE TICKLE MONKEY. It was still sitting on an ottoman when he and his parents left, and I let the dogs into the house. They rounded the corner, saw the furry intruder (who usually lives in a closet), and immediately started barking as if the TICKLE MONKEY were trying to kill us all and steal our tasty snacks.

Fast forward to a couple of days later. I agreed to babysit a friend‘s four year old because she was in a pinch (I’m very selective about my babysitting gigs, rather like an exclusive club). She’s often talking about how her son just wears her out with questions, and until today, I really had no idea what she means. It was like a police interrogation. The cutest police interrogation ever. He quizzed me about the names of vehicles from “Cars,” and about the backstories of obscure characters from Scooby Doo episodes I’ve never seen, about who my best friends are, and my thoughts on the motivations of the 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed. One more hour of that and I probably would have broken, just laid down on the floor and told him I’d tell him all my deepest darkest secrets, just to get five minutes without a question.

I sent my friend a text that read “I finally know what you mean about the questions.” She replied that she read my text to the women she was in a meeting with, and they all cried with laughter. I imagine this is similar to the reasons people with children laugh at me when I say I usually get 10 hours of sleep per night and require a lot of sleep to function properly.

Because my charge was asleep when I arrived, and he woke up to find me there instead of his mommy, he got the idea that I had spent the night.

“Did you sleep here?”

“No, I slept at my house, and I came here before you woke up and your mommy left for work.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“At my house.”

“Does your dad live there?”

“No, he lives at his house.”

“Is he dead?”

“No, uh, he’s very much alive, and I’m going to go see him tomorrow. I live in my own house with my husband.”

“Do you play there?”

“Um….I guess so?”

Clearly I need more toys and a lot more playing in my life. The pre-school set thinks I’m totally lame. I just hope said toys don’t scare the bejesus out of the dogs.