Jump Into Fall

At Vala’s

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, I found inspiration from the changing seasons. What are some of your favorite colder weather traditions?

Colder weather was never a friend of mine, not for many years. It might be because I’m a summer baby, or that I don’t take too kindly to any temperature below 75 degrees. Either way, the hotter the weather, the happier I was.

I’ve lived in Nebraska over a decade now, and I’ve changed my perspective on the climate. I have to. It’s sink or swim, or in my case, sled or avalanche. I’ve found a way to appreciate the positives of cooler weather, holding firm to a sunnier disposition even if there is no sun. Some of my favorite traditions when the weather turns:

Hot cocoa: There’s nothing more soothing or comforting than a steaming hot cup of cocoa with marshmallows. It just doesn’t feel right in the warmer months, but is the perfect go-to drink when it’s cold outside.

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch: I’ve been taking the big kid to Vala’s since he was 2. We go once a year, every year.  It’s a family tradition and we always end the trip with the boys picking out a pumpkin to take home.

The big guy when he was 3, with a pumpkin to call his very own
The big guy when he was 3, with a pumpkin to call his very own

Juicing: I know, this is an odd one, yet I don’t juice much in warmer months. I stick to smoothies. Once the weather cools off I stow the blender away and replace it with my juicer. I try to juice once a day and I have the boys help out by picking what produce they want to throw in. My goal is to juice every morning. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m working towards it.

Children’s Museum: When it’s nice out, my kids spend more time outdoors than in, which is why we usually don’t visit the Museum until it’s cold outside. We try to hit up the Museum at least once a year, sometimes twice. It’s a great place to go and it’s entertaining for my four-year old as well as the nine-year old.

Martin’s Hillside Apple orchard: We do this once a year, too. Since the big kid was 3. It’s a smaller orchard and that’s what we like about it, although this year the place was packed to capacity! I love the cornfield maze and the butterfly corner, along with the stuff for the kids to play on or play with.

Through the maze, Big guy, 3 years
Through the maze, Big guy, 3 years

Fall cleaning: I know, it sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I try to clean out what we don’t need or use to make way for the new stuff we’ll receive during the holidays. It’s become a necessity with two boys who have gobs of toys, and it’s nice to donate what they don’t play with. I do this in the Spring, too.

Wool socks: Cold weather is here when I slip on the ol’ wool socks. The salesman at the local running store told me how phenomenal wool socks are for running during the winter months, and how they don’t even need washed for days at a time since they wick away moisture so well. I casually glanced down at his shoes and wondered just how stinky those things were- but he had a good point. Wool socks are the bomb, and important while running in snow.

Trick or treating with friends: I can’t think of a year we haven’t gotten together with good friends and trick or treated, not since the big kid was in diapers I’d imagine.

Little guy last year
Little guy last year

The holidays: For us, that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m getting excited just thinking about the delicious food, the time spent with family, and I can’t forget the annual holiday party we throw at the beginning of December. This will be our 3rd year of potluck, friends and karaoke. What could be better than that?

The hubby and I at last year's party
Me and the hubby at last year’s party

What are some of your favorite cooler weather traditions?



Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Denise picked: Ghosts.


Fitting for this time of year.

I used to watch horror flicks religiously as a kid. The all-night benders with friends, stuffing our faces with popcorn and candy corn while screaming in terror when some boogeyman showcased itself on the television. While I’ve steered clear of scary movies as an adult (why give myself nightmares? There’s enough scary shit in the world to keep me up at night) a select few  have never left the recesses of my mind. Whenever October rolls around I’m reminded of the ghosts and goblins of my youth. I figured I’d share a few.

1. The Amityville Horror

Pure evil. Based on a true story, which you know is the absolute worst scary movie to watch. The whole time you’re waiting for the kitchen cupboards to swing open and for blood to ooze from your own living room walls. I made the mistake recently of watching a documentary on Amityville on Netflix. I had to stop it after half an hour.

2. House

Ding dong. You’re dead.

Even as a kid, I thought this movie was complete cheese ball, but it made it more palatable. A horror writer moves into his aunt’s house and gets way more than he bargained for.

3. The Shining

The image of Jack Nicholson is enough to scare the crap out of you, but the story line is even scarier. A haunted hotel. A family snowed in. You do the math. Not to mention it’s a Stephen King classic. “Honey, I’m home!”

4. Candyman

I don’t know if this counts. Technically, Candyman isn’t really a ghost, per say. But he’s scary as hell. My sister and I still talk about Candyman on occasion. Neither of us had the balls to ever, ever say his name in a mirror five times, so maybe in a sense he’s our scary ghost.

5. Stir of Echoes

Talk about a rough calling. The guy never asked to have the ability to communicate with the dead. I have never heard the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” the same way after hearing the song in this movie.

6. Poltergeist

Who didn’t have the fear of being sucked into the television after seeing this movie? The sound of the old woman saying, “Carrie Anne”… now that haunts my nightmares.

7. The Sixth Sense

“I see dead people.”

And if you’ve seen the movie, and the person you’re watching it with hasn’t, don’t ever give away the ending. Do you remember how much of a snafu that was back in the day?

8. The Blair Witch Project

I saw this in the theatre. Not only did it make me extremely nauseated (the camera is very shaky and unsteady), but it scared the shit out of me. You just don’t know what’s going on.

9. Christine

Oh, you know. It’s just the story of a haunted car that falls in love with it’s owner. Totally normal, standard, creepy stuff.

10. Ghostbusters

I know, this isn’t really all that scary, although it was to an 8-year old little girl when she saw it for the first time. To this day, my husband and I will quote from this movie all the time. And sometimes when my kids are being particularly nutty, and they holler, “Mommy”… I retort, “There is no Mommy. Only Zuul!” No, they don’t get it, but that’s okay. I do.

Happy Haunting!





Would You Like Some Ice Cream With That Virus?

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Tracey’s topic choice: It’s that moment where . . .

When the little guy was recently afflicted with a some random cold virus, I did what most moms would do. I let him cuddle up on the couch with his favorite blankie. He requested the tablet so he could watch his newest obsession, Milo and Otis. I made sure to give him a dose of Tylenol in order to bring his fever down, which really wasn’t skyrocketing, but I wanted him to be comfortable. Comfortable kid, comfortable mom, you get my drift?

As I fluffed a pillow behind his head, I soothingly asked my sick baby boy: “Do you want me to go to Culver’s and get you some ice cream? Will that make you feel better?”

As soon as the words left me, I wanted to clamp my hands over my mouth. I looked worriedly up at my husband who was smirking at me.

“Did you just hear what I asked our son?”

My husband nodded his head in agreement. “Yes. You asked him if he wanted ice cream. I wasn’t going to point it out or anything….”

Ice cream is the one true vice in my life, and I blame my Grandma. No, she isn’t sitting next to me and coaxing a spoonful but her voice is in my head whenever I don’t feel well, when I’m sick and tired. When I’ve had a bad day. For most of my childhood, Grandma swooped in with heaping spoonfuls of strawberry swirl with the occasional twist of peppermint when the season called for it. In fact, she’d often tout peppermint’s many healthy attributes.

“Sarina,” (which is what she called me instead of Sara, it’s a long story) “is your stomach upset? Here, eat this bowl of peppermint ice cream. Did you know that peppermint helps to settle the stomach?”

I’m not the only one in the banana split boat. My kid sister was right there with me through the years, feeding her ailments with any ice cream that had chocolate in it. To this day, we both marvel at the powerful grip ice cream has over us, and it’s extended out to other forms of sweets as well. I’ll feel satiated with pie or cake, too.

I knew in that exact moment that I’d planted the seed in my little guy. He perked up a bit and told me that yes. Yes, he’d love some ice cream. Part of me felt guilty. I am sure there are better ways (and foods) to feed my ailing kid, but a larger part of me felt loved.

Grandma meant well. She loved me enough to try to make me feel better. It was a treat when I’d get strep throat and she’d take me through the drive-thru, anticipation for a milkshake outruling the ridiculous pain in my throat. She raised me a good many years of my life and although there was a lot of ice cream, there was a lot of healthy foods, too. She made a mean salad right from her garden, and she supported my ban on butter, chocolate and oily, greasy foods. (I didn’t like the taste for those foods then, and I wish I still didn’t now!). Her ice cream splurges weren’t a constant thing, but an occasional thing. I was a healthy kid.

My kids are, too. They moan and groan through spinach-based salads and are constantly asking, “What’s that?” when I try to sneak something into a lasagna or soup. They tow the line when it comes to eating healthy. I’m in support of living a healthy life yet knowing that moderation is key when it comes to what we eat. We don’t eat sweets very often at all, so that begs the question: What’s a spoonful of medicine, er, I mean ice cream every now and then?




Rockin’ Girls Workout- And A Burpee Challenge!

It’s not often I’m able to work out with a few of my lovely lady friends. We have children. We have busy lives/schedules. Somehow, everything lined up on Monday and Tuesday, and I created a work out routine from my fitness tool belt (the weights I have lying around my house and the Sirius player with batteries inserted).


After a warm up (few minutes of marching in place, moving our arms in time to the music while another friend laughed at our march and chose to jog around the backyard instead) we did this:

SET ONE: (one minute in duration. Go through routine twice, and set up 5 stations where friends can rotate)

station 1: push ups

station 2: plie squats with 15lb or 30lb kettlebells (or without for modification)

station 3: shoulder press with 5lb, 8lb or band

station 4: stomach crunches with 9lb medicine ball (or without for modification)

station 5: run/walk length of yard

SET TWO: (90 seconds in duration. Go through routine twice)

station 1:  tricep push ups

station 2: squat step outs with kettlebells (or without for modification)

station 3: bicep curls with weights or band

station 4: russian twists with medicine ball (or without for modification)

station 5: sprint/jog length of yard

SET THREE: (30 seconds in duration. Do once.)

station 1: squat jumps with medicine ball (or without for modification)

station 2: swimmers with weights (or without for modification)

station 3: back fly with weights or band

station 4: lunges with kettlebells (or without for modification)

station 5: leg lowers

Cool down for five minutes by marching in place, stretching out the muscles, or walking around the yard

Starting now: I’ve signed on to participate in a bupree challenge! It starts today



The Face of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus


I remember how diligent the Arizona Humane Society had been when I’d adopted Tank, back in 1999. The workers and volunteers couldn’t stress enough how important it was to keep him indoors. To make sure he received every shot that was required. Make sure he didn’t come into contact with any other cats that weren’t immunized. If I let any of it slide, Tank could end up with (said in an almost near whisper): Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV.

Fast forward to 2014, and Chance. I blogged recently about the new edition to our family, the little guy who started out no bigger than the size of my palm.

Chance with his Auntie T

At his 5-week vet exam (his very first one), he had the customary tests done. One involved the FIV test, and I said sure. Go for it. Man, you should have heard the little guy scream when they attempted to draw some blood. After the procedure (torture session) was over, the vet told me that the needle didn’t faze Chance, it was being held down against his will. If I’ve learned anything about Chance, it’s that he absolutely hates to have anything done to him that he’s not in total agreement with.

I received a phone call the next day from the vet. Everything came back normal- other than the FIV result. Positive.

I was instantly brought back to the waiting room of the Arizona Humane Society. I knew I had to protect Tank from the dangers of FIV, or he could die! That was the message I’d received all those years ago, and now this vet was trying to relay to me that Chance somehow had contracted the virus, an incurable one. One that is equatable by human standards to HIV.


The vet suggested I re-test Chance, which will be on October 10th. He said in his experience, cats that are diagnosed at this young of an age can have a false positive result. I asked him how often he’d seen results like that, and he told me only a handful. Maybe 3 or 4 cases. That didn’t fill me with much hope, nor did his sad tone. I hung up feeling agitated and at a loss. I’d spent weeks taking care of Chance, feeding him from a syringe, manually stimulating him so he’d use the bathroom. I’d get up with him at 3 in the morning to ensure he’d had enough food, that he was growing properly, that he was healthy. No one really tells you going in how hard it is taking care of a kitten this tiny, but once you’ve put in the work, you take news like your kitten having FIV to heart. He’s one of my babies, one of my brood.


I did what any concerned pet owner does: I Googled. I Googled a ton. What I found really helped to put my mind at ease. It appears that FIV isn’t a death sentence. It doesn’t mean I have to take Chance to the vet and do away with him. Sadly, there are some people (and a lot of animal shelters) who still harbor this mentality. Often they are considered non-adoptable and will be euthanized. FIV is a lentivirus, or “slow virus”. It does the same thing to cats that HIV does to humans. It lowers their ability to fight off infections. When FIV will “strike” is uncertain. From what I’ve read, many people have their cats for years before any signs of sickness appear. When they do get sick, symptoms are: gum disease or inflammation, poor coat condition, stomach issues, such as diarrhea, eye conditions, seizures or other neurological disorders. Again, it’s not the FIV that causes these issues in the cat, but the cat’s inability to fight off normal viruses or bacteria that otherwise “healthy” cats would be able to tolerate. This isn’t communicable to other species or to humans, only to cats.

A lot of what I’m reading also points to false positives becoming common in kittens. If a kitten is born to a mother cat with FIV, often her antibodies will be passed to the kitten and so if the kitten is tested, they will test positive. Which is why we are re-testing Chance, and I’m considering testing him again around 6 months, just to be sure.

I’ve decided that I don’t really care either way, though. We’ve made a commitment to this little guy, regardless of his health status. There are ways to reduce his risk of getting sick. One is by keeping him indoors. (The picture above was taken before we knew). Making sure he’s fed healthy, high-quality chow, and I am very diligent on taking care of the litter box. If any health issues arise, I don’t wait. I take him to the vet. He had a sneezing episode a couple of weeks ago, which turned out to be nothing, but I received a lot of helpful information and support from another vet at the clinic. I was also supplied with amino acids to help boost his immune system. The vet clinic loves Chance and they are all rooting for him. It’s been a huge comfort.


Chance turned 8 weeks on Sunday. He is the most rambunctious kitten I’ve ever met. He is jumping off of everything and jumping onto everything. He is an ankle biter, through and through. It turns out he loves people food. I’m not used to that, considering Tank never cared for it other than the occasional can of tuna. Chance will walk right up to your plate and start eating food from it, so we need to curb that. Although I’ve let him have a macaroni noodle or two. He loves to cuddle. Like when he watches Milo and Otis with my youngest son.


If you think about it, you never really know how long you have with any pet. There is no magic 8 ball or any way for us to know how long we’ve got with the little guy, so we’ll take it a day at a time and see what comes from it. He’s got the heart of a fighter, though. I have a feeling he’ll surprise us all!


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