Thursday, May 27, 2010

Josiah's Birthday

So sad my little man is three already! He woke up yesterday morning and dressed himself for the first time.
We had a small family party, just us and Grammy and Granddad. Josiah had asked for a variety of cakes - blueberry, chocolate, et cetera - and we got a lovely Bavarian cake with whipped cream frosting. It was so good!
Josiah is the sweetest little boy ever. He is so creative and generous - he even offered me one of his presents when he was admiring them in their wrapping! He's very thoughtful. He crawls in bed with me almost every night to cuddle. He's so loving, every year with him has been wonderful, has changed my life. I can't wait to see what he's like when he's older - several months ago I had a dream I came home to visit for Josiah's 17th birthday. In the dream he was taller than me, and picked me up when he was giving me a hug. What's hard to imagine is that it will probably come true...

Some delicious dinner. Pork, broccoli and cheese, mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad. (Which is, by the way, my new absolute favorite. I could eat Caesar salad and coffee for the rest of my life and be a very happy girl).

Here he is, waiting for our lovely dinner...
And here, FOUR varieties of ice cream! They were having a sale, so dad brought these home - Reese's, chocolate chip chocolate, vanilla, and cookie dough, yum!

Josiah's cake. He's been asking for Playmobil for practically forever - he's always stealing everybody else's, which doesn't encourage brotherly love. So here is his pirate man and soldier! It came with lots of little parts which probably won't stick around long...but he's been carrying his pirate around everywhere, he loves it!

This was him blowing the candles out, VERY eagerly, before we were even through singing happy birthday! Of course it was dark, but my lovely flash lights it up like day. You'll have to imagine the dark part.
He had to lick the bottom of everything taken off the cake.

The candles, too.

Benny, eagerly awaiting his dessert . . .

Mm, so yummy! There is now a grand total of seven different kinds of ice cream in our freezer. The most we've ever had. And I have no self-control. Needless to say, Operation Fat Kaley is well under way. Thank heavens I love to exercise.
Opening presents! These are his dinosaur pajamas.

Dad, not falling asleep.

Giving Grammy hugs!

The rest of his Playmobil set!
And the tricycle! See how he manages to ride his Radio Flyer while still clutching his Playmobil?
And it has a bell! Which has been thoroughly broken in since yesterday...
Max was determined to reached the tricycle...
Victory! With a little help from Grammy, tee hee.

Granddad demonstrated some facial distortions at dinner time.
Josiah showing how he could shoot my eyes out.

Here he is, trying to hold up three fingers. Apparently he's not quite there with the coordination thing.
I love you, little man! My favorite wild thing fairy-tales partner! Happy birthday!

Shabby Apple Queensland Swimsuit Giveaway

Shabby Apple Queensland Swimsuit Giveaway
Finally, a swim line from Shabby Apple!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Which I Explain My Absurd List:

I've been feeling rather aimless these past few days. Simon and Garfunkel died, I haven't been doing much school or keeping up with my current projects because of caring for my mice, and the weather has been a bit off and we've only gone to the track once this week. I've misplaced many things, including my brain; or so one would think given my erratic behavior of late.

My lovely mommy made the wonderful suggestion that I make a list of what I want to accomplish for this year, since I like having lists and everything worked out and organized. It's a wonderful idea, one I still intend to use, but at the time I was in a ridiculous state of self-pity and apathy. So I sat down, cloaking myself in a histrionic defeatism, and made the header while trying to think of things I could come up with. The following nonsense is my list.

When I was done I was giggling spasmodically and have been in a much better mood ever since. I advise such an undertaking to anybody in a chronic foul mood; it works wonders.

Touching Pen to Paper, I Make Words...

...And not much else.


1) Work on my English accent.
2) Learn to speak Esperanto.
3) Find the Loch Ness Monster
4) Change name to "Houdini Louise II"
5) Memorize Pliny's Address to the Venetian Gynecology Board.
6) Become a spokesperson for Serta Mattresses.
7) Tour 20 obscure asylums.
9) Become an ordained minister and get a job as London Zoo's resident clergyman.
10) Tie myself to a tree in a logging forest.
11) Tame a Great White Shark.
12) Become a black person.
13) Petition to have Ansel Adams canonized by the Catholic Church.

Final verdict on baby mice: it's an excellent way to lose weight, sleep, and peace of mind.
Simon died too yesterday. I knew he was going to. I'm puzzled, I don't know what I did wrong. They both ate well until the last two feedings or so, and used the bathroom regularly to the end. So I can only assume something was wrong with the food I gave them? Simon ate applesauce and soaked oats before he died. I would think that would be nutritionally sufficient. But they both lost weight and were very thin when they died. I don't see how a mouse could pine away while still eating regularly. It isn't logical.
After Garfunkel died I fed Simon every hour, but it still didn't help. The last night, the seventh, I stayed up until two o'clock. Not exactly sure what my master plan was, I just had to keep Simon warm and well-fed. Now I wonder why I do these things, and why I let it upset me, because at the beginning I didn't think they would live and after Garfunkel died I knew Simon would too. So why did I keep pouring time and energy into these things? I don't know. I've been rather mopey and listless, and I feel so ridiculous because I know it's really because they died.
I'm trying to think of the positive things: I kept them alive six and seven days (although I hope they weren't in any sort of pain during all that time), I've learned a lot about mice - for instance, I thought Inman was a wood mouse, but I think I didn't research enough, and they were really deer mice. (They have the cutest little crinkly ears). And I learned a lot about mice - presumably, I still feel dissatisfied with my feeding method. I feel like it kept them here longer when maybe they were uncomfortable. I think I did my best - but towards the end I was so exhausted I wasn't waking up in the night, etc, and I started staying up later, but then getting up a little later too.
But I couldn't have done anything else, so I suppose I did what I had to.
I also have been wondering why I did it. I suppose it was compassion, but compassion is a funny thing: for animals that are widely heralded as a threat to my own species, when I knew they were going to die, etc. It's really illogical the longer I think about it. It actually seems sort of ill-advised and stupid, in retrospect.
But I guess I did the right thing, because if I could do it over again I would do any different. I couldn't. I'll be a little better prepared the next time this happens...because I know it will again. Animals seem to find me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

After I made that last post I found that Garfunkel had, indeed, died. It was hard. I knew before I opened their box that he was going to be dead, and still I actually cried. I hadn't expected him to have rigor mortis yet, I can't stand that. Also Simon was cuddled up to him and started nudging on him when I opened the box, and that made me very sad. I thought, 'I don't cry at funerals, I'll never cry over a mouse.' And yet I did. Maybe it was something about being in the comfort of my own home.
Also, as I have stated before, I never had expectations of their survival. So I was surprised to be so upset. I see now that I must have grown some very fond ones in these six days. Now I'm feeling a little better, a little accomplished that I kept them alive this long. I just hope it wasn't a painful sort of alive, I hope he wasn't miserable. Garfunkel kept using the potty regularly up to his death, but he had gotten thinner. So had Simon. I don't know what's wrong, I'm only hoping the altered formula could help Simon. But honestly, he's starting to morph into Garfunkel: a curious tendency to curl up on himself, almost in a fetal position, and an unawareness of space. Probably weakness.
I wonder if I should have tried to feed Garfunkel more when I saw he was dying and wasn't eating quite as well. For Simon now I am feeding him every hour. When Garfunkel died I saw that he had two little bottom teeth, so I have given Simon some applesauce and oat flakes soaked in his formula, which he enjoyed. But he's constantly ravenous, something I don't understand. I researched mouse nutritional needs, and found that riboflavin, or vitamin b6, is very important. However, almond milk is notably high in it. I'm also giving them fat and protein, so I can't figure out what's going wrong. I could almost understand Garfunkel's just dying if it wasn't for the weight loss. They've both lost weight, and I only wonder how their mother's milk could have been so different. They eat well. It doesn't seem to me that they should be any thinner.
Now I'm in a quandary. To be honest I'm exhausted. We have places to go tomorrow. But I'm afraid Simon is going to get cold. After my accumulated nights of sleep loss I can no longer wake myself up in the night. Last night I slept like a rock from 2 a.m. until nearly nine o'clock in the morning. I don't know what I'll do, I need to reheat Simon's rice sock every few hours, and feed him. So my master plan seems to be to watch a movie (again - this has been my method of keeping myself awake), and stay up as late as possible? Anyways, that's my best plan. This sounds awful, but if he's going to die, I wish he would hurry up and do it, because I can't bear to think of him suffering and slowly going, or dying cold and alone in the night. I wish he'd die in the day, right after a nice warm feeding.
Every time I rub his belly to stimulate a potty I also have to wipe up his face, because we make such a mess with this formula. I'm afraid it has the worst sicky-sweet smell in the world; and now I imagine it everywhere. I nearly gagged when putting on the cocoa butter lotion I put on every night after my shower, somehow I imagined in smelled similar. Also when it dries it gets stiff, it's revolting. But we just aren't the neatest set, Simon and I.
So, we'll see what happens tomorrow. I feel sorry that I can't help them more. I don't know what I would have done if they had both lived to adulthood - the plan was to release them in the woods, which made me extremely happy until I imagined them haplessly wandering around, waiting for a handout before an owl or something swooped down on them.
Then I thought perhaps I could convince the family that we need two pet mice, but the odds of them really being both males is probably around 50/50 (and given my Kaley luck, probably much slimmer in this case) and I could just imagine waking up one morning to find that Simon was really Simone and she had given birth to a large litter. And then where would we be?
So I try to look on the bright side. But while this all saved me from the keep or release dilemna, I wouldn't mind being in it again.

Simon and Garfunkel

So, here is the evolution of my formula recipe:
Almond milk.
That was the first. I then wrote to a vet on Ask an Expert in desperation, although small animals are not her expertise. I apologized, asking if she knew of any references or websites that might be helpful, that I could research myself. I received a very brief and a rude response: no 'sorry I can't help, good luck,' nothing like that. I'm sure it must have been far too demanding in her busy little online schedule to actually be polite and show a little compassion, even if she couldn't help. Needless to say, I will never use that service again.
However, after some research I was able to find this:

Mouse Milk:

12.1% fat
9.0% Protein
3.2% Lactose

An 8 oz. glass of almond milk is only 4% fat, and 4% protein. So I adapted my formula, so, after looking at some other recipes and suggestions:

1 tbsp. almond milk

.625 ml of egg yolk

A few drops of coconut oil (or a few slivers, if it's solid).

They ate this for two days. The first two days I got up at 3:30 every night to feed them, the third I stayed up till 1:30 to feed them and slept until eight in the morning. I haven't woken up during the night since then, I think all the sleep loss has built up.

Simon has gotten the hang of the syringe, he'll even get a powerful suck on it and stick his tongue down it. Garfunkel wants only to suck on something fleshy, I get a drop on the end of the syringe and then put it up to his mouth. It's hard to tell how much they eat, but Simon eats more.

However, they were both acting very hungry so I adjusted my formula again:

1 tbsp. almond milk

1.25 ml egg yolk

.625 coconut oil (perhaps a little more).

I didn't want to make it too rich, but I certainly don't want to slowly starve them to death. Seeing as I discovered that a mouse had made short work of 1/4 my carefully hoarded caramel chocolate Easter egg, I'm less worried about richness than I was before.

I've had them five nights, this is our sixth day. I never, ever expected them to live when I first adopted them. Then I hoped they would die before the night, because I didn't think there was any feasible way they would live through it. But they did.

Thankfully we're not too busy. I went to a program at the museum the day after we found them, but my wonderful mommy and sister took care of them then.

They stayed warm on their own the first two days, but it's cooled off a little, so I keep a rice sock warm for them and put their box on top of it in a basket. I've used the rice sock every night, as well.

I think it was on the third day that I noticed one of Simon's ears was perkier than the other. Now their ears are popped out and they respond to sounds; they can hear. One of Simon's eyes has opened, although the other shows no intention of doing so, and at their last feeding it looked as if Garfunkel's might open too.

However, at the last feeding I discovered something else about Garfunkel: he is dying. He's sluggish and would barely eat. He just wanted to rest. I shouldn't be upset, considering that I never thought they would live even one day when I first got them. But I am. Also, I feel that if Garfunkel dies his brother's chance of survival are cut almost in half. They snuggle together, stimulate each other. They need each other for warmth and companionship - they give each other somethings I could never offer. I'm convinced the only reason they've survived this long is because there are two of them.

It's almost time for their feeding again. It's been stressful and exhausting, it seems as soon as I finish feeding them it's almost time to do it again. I had plans of releasing them in the woods together. Now I'm not exactly sure what will happen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

This Is Inman.

This is Inman. I meant to write about Inman when I had him, but I didn't. Inman used to live at the fair grounds, but apparently he hitched a ride in my grandparent's truck. When he tried to make a smooth exit at our house, my dad's dog Sadie decided to kill him. So Inman decided I looked like a friendly place to climb up, and to hang onto my back and sit on my shoulder for protection.
Our neighbors have lots of cats, Sadie is rabidly anti-rodent, and there is at least one known snake in the general area. Naturally I couldn't just let Inman out into this fierce unknown world. The way I saw it, he was on an odyssey, and it was my job to help him home. We were planning on going to a pottery exhibit at the fairgrounds the next weekend, and I planned to smuggle Inman, my little wood mouse, back to his home then.
Inman was not at all aggressive. He escaped immediately when I brought him in the house, but I caught him again. He was so tiny and good-natured. Terrified of me, but I put him in our huge aquarium, where he adopted the coconut shell hideout as his abode of choice. I gave him acorns and things and he would retreat there and eat them.
My dog Cami seemed to think I was playing with fire, and thought she should save me from myself by killing Inman. Naturally I had to keep a close eye on him. Then one night, although the lid was in place, Inman was nowhere to be found.
Then I saw a tiny little tail hanging out of the leaves of my potted anita.
I could have scooped Inman up right then, but I was afraid if I might miss, and he might jump down into the joyful jaws of Cami. So instead I grabbed her and locked her out of the room.
The next half hour was very interesting. I tried everything, but Inman successfully evaded capture. I tore my room apart, and finally Inman adopted the trunk my (very heavy) chinchilla cage sits on as his Alamo. He sat under there and wouldn't budge.
I rested a second, eying the trunk darkly and vacillating between threats and encouragement. (He was probably laughing at me, sitting there panting and talking to myself).
Then I pulled myself together and moved the trunk. And moved it and moved it, and swept all the timothy hay and fuller's earth sandbath out from under it - but Inman was nowhere to be found. And I have never seen him since.
I left food out lavishly, set several different kind of traps, involving food bait and buckets, that sort of thing. What you do for a lost pet mouse or hamster. But I never found a trace of him - no droppings, no sounds, nothing.
I read that while wood mice, like any others, can adapt to human habitation, they really do like the outdoors. They aren't often found in homes. So I assumed Inman had headed for the hills, and only hoped he had gotten there.
This was before Thanksgiving. Now, over the holidays there was food left out constantly, we were gone overnight and longer with dishes in the sink, etc. So you'd think if there was any little budding mousy community we would have known it. I had all sorts of food left out in my room, as usual, and it would certainly have been a nice place for a mouse to make itself at home; I was almost never up there. We were very busy.
Yet recently, within the past month, we have become aware that we have a mouse problem. My cat Hobbie has killed three of them. One was definitely a house mouse, not at all like Inman. But Hobbie only has three legs. He's missing his hind leg so he's not the best springer.
So you see, it would be easy to blame the particular quandary on me. Which is exactly what some people seem bent on doing...
Anywho, the other day we were cleaning out a crammed closet. That is, everybody else was, and I was holding Max who was sleeping. Just minding my own business, surfing the net and checking my email. Suddenly I heard garbled screaming and yells coming from upstairs, so sudden and unaccountable that I nearly fell out of my chair.
The words I caught were, "Oh no - Kaley - mice - somebody get Kaley - Kaley! - any more??..."
Needless to say I leapt upstairs, shedding Max somewhere along the way, out to rescue the animal life that had apparently announced its presence in a very unexpected way.
Apparently they were vacuuming, and vacuumed up a nice little mouse nest. And then they saw a baby.
I got the baby, and we all discussed the matter in the typical family way, everyone talking loudly over each other and half of us only listening to ourselves, and arguing about the fate of the little baby.
I cupped it in my hand and started systematically searching through all the shoes and things. I had cleaned them almost all up when I found my mousy friend's sibling, who was a little less alert.
I had just announced my new find when my mother shrieked and took off down the hall with the energy and agility of a whirling dervish.
"The mother, the mother!" She screamed wildly. It was quite comic. (Sorry, mom).
(Later, while was laughing at her, she explained that she is afraid of mice. I had no idea, I've always thought she wasn't afraid of anything).
Then I saw a very brave thing. The little mother mouse, her eyes looking ready to pop out of her head, was steadily making her terrified way towards me over the mound of blankets and other odds and ends we had tossed out. She was so scared, but she was coming, right to my brother and I, because we had her babies and she was trying to get to them, her children. I just stared at her, trying to think. I had entertained some plan of trying to capture them all and release them together.
But I didn't think quick enough. Everyone was talking loudly and moving around, and she scampered under my computer desk. I cleared everyone out and moved it, and she had pulled and Inman, and was gone. We haven't seen her since. But it makes me sad, to remember her looking and coming right towards us, so courageously. It's amazing how animals will sacrifice themselves for their young. Some people aren't even that brave.
So my sister and I secreted the two away. I quickly looked some things up on the computer, having no idea what to do with them. I thought they would die, but I mixed up some sugar water and fed them from a spoon. Later I added a little coconut oil while trying to figure out what would be the best formula. After dispelling certain family members' unfortunate misconceptions about the black plague and things like that, (which was spread by fleas, on rats, not mice - don't hate on the rodents), we tentatively decided that the babies would live with me, since we couldn't do anything else.
I found an article about raising wild mice. The author said she had raised baby mice on coconut milk, but almond will do just as good. So I soaked some almonds and made my own. (I'll tell more about that later).
I was thinking of naming them Poppy and Miles, but then the perfect name came to me: Simon and Garfunkel. They are two little bookends, after all. (If there had been three I could have named them Frank, Sammy, and Dean and had the Rat Pack, but they aren't rats, so that would have been cute but incorrect).
However, I was in fear of our lives yet: dad wasn't home. Mom talked to him on the phone and explained the presence of two new family members, so it wasn't any surprise when he got home. He probably wasn't surprised at all, he knows me so well, although he did ask my mother, initially, if we had flushed them down the toilet, which I find absolutely appalling. I reassure myself that he couldn't have been serious.

So this is the little tartan box they live in. I got a necklace in it several years ago. They're so tiny, so it's quite snug. I punched some air holes in it with a pin.
Here they are in comparison to my finger. They don't look so fuzzy any more, we all together make a soggy mess while they're feeding and they look rather grungy. Their mother would be horrified, I'm sure. But this was from the day I found them. They're unfortunately a little thinner now, too. Especially Garfunkel. He hates the syringe, he wants to suck on a nipple, and of course they don't make mouse-sized nipples. But I think someone should.Here they are, looking so nice and healthy. I estimate them to have been about a week old when I found them. Here their eyes were closed, as were their ears.
So, these are my little darlings. It's a lot of work, they have to be fed every two hours. I bet they'd eat once an hour, but it takes me altogether about a half hour to do their feeding, and all the sterilizing and warming up of formula. I really can't see feeding any oftener.
So, here's a close-up. Hopefully they'll live to adulthood and we can see what a resemblance they bear to their possible ancestor, my old friend Inman.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

So, I discovered this song a few ago - it was around the holidays, I was watching TV late one night with my Grammy and Taylor Swift was on some news special with Katie Couric. She played this song on the guitar and I sat there, getting all teary eyed and trying to make sure nobody saw, (as Taylor Swift's mother and Katie were both doing as well) because it made me think of my mom so much. She was upstairs getting the baby to sleep and I wanted her to hear it.
However, when it came down to it, I couldn't do it. I knew I would choke up almost immediately, if not before I even pulled the stupid song up on Youtube, and besides, what if she didn't like it? I would die of mortification. But I thought about it all the time!
Then one day mom told me about this great song she heard on some body's blog. . . she wanted to play it for me, and sure enough, it was Taylor Swift's The Best Day. I was like,
"Yep. Huh. Cute song." Or something like that, and left as quickly as possible, because, yes, I was getting choked up.
So, my mom got it off iTunes, it's on her iPod and I hear it all the time, and I think I can honestly say it has not come on once without me getting teary eyed. It's ridiculous. Of course I've felt silly, because it could have been something sort of meaningful if I had been brave enough to suck it up and just play the silly song. . . thank heavens she discovered it on her own.
So here it is, mom. We've heard it a hundred times or more, and it's always meaningful and it always makes me think of you. In my drama and histrionics I often have the audicty to imagine and suggest that you have been a less than perfect parent. (Because you know I'm a parenting expert, hah-hah). But I wanted you to know that I think you're the best mom ever. You're perfect. You're amazing. You do everything and more. I could have written this song myself, for you, it's so true. (Although it wouldn't have sounded as pretty. Or rhymed. Or had corresponding music).
So, here is this song, about you. Every day with you is the best day. You're my best friend and I love being with you. Even things like going to the library, or the post office, or the grocery store, or to a birth at three o'clock in the morning; become rich and exciting, just because I'm with you. I love you more than anything.