Monday, January 27, 2014

BRR! When will Winter End?

We survived the school semester!  Last week my two older kids had final projects and semester exams in all of their classes.  My son managed to get the same score on four out of five of his exams.. We are still waiting on the score of the fifth, which happens to be his best class. The good news  is the score on the other four was a 90! Not to bad for his first semester in high school.   My oldest daughter is doing a program through the high school were she takes some of her classes online.  She does have a habit of procrastinating, so pretty much all of last week was spent catching up on work.  What you are looking at in the picture is her final Physics project.  If you ever need to know how to make a boat out of aluminum foil that will keep an egg afloat, this is how it is done.  We were both pretty relieved that this boat worked. Her first couple of tries did not float.   When you only have a few hours until the deadline, you want your project to work!..  It took me and the kids a few days to recuperate, and it was great not having homework for at least a few days.  Today the new semester started.  Our time schedule will be changing just a bit, and it might take a few days to get used to.  

This week we are trying to survive the weather.  We are currently in the third Polar Vortex of the month.  The weather people are saying that in the next 24-36 hours we might hit our all time record low temperature.  As you can see 748 schools in the greater Detroit area  have already closed for tomorrow, including the University of Michigan.  By tomorrow morning, that number will be even higher.    The lows with windchills could get as low as -35 degrees. and it would be unsafe for people to be outside for long. Kara has been worrying about the wild animals in this extreme cold. There has been a bunny that comes up to near our house from time to time. She sees it's pawprints frequently.  We also had a neighborhood cat come on our porch a few days ago.  When she tried to bring it in to warm up, it ran away. She is worried that it might not have found the way home. We already have a household of full of animals, I am not sure how they will feel if we bring in even more.  

Since it looks like we will be stuck at home the next few days, I will finally have the chance to take down the tree in our front room.  I have never been this late to take down Christmas decorations  before.  There just did not seem to be enough time with everything that we have had going on.  How many days until spring???  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Somebody is 3! (3 weeks old that is)

Look who is getting so big.  Lucky is 3 weeks old today.  She is still small, but is looking more grown up every day. 


Last weekend, she opened her eyes which meant it was time to start weaning.  We found a great site that gives great tips on how to take care of a baby mouse.  She is still getting kitten formula, but instead of us hand feeding her, she is getting it from nibbling on crisp bread.soaked in it.  It takes a little while for mice to learn how to lap liquid, so it will be a little bit longer for her to get her own water bottle.  A great thing about her eating solid food on her own, it means we can get some sleep again.   No more middle of the night feedings!.  

Hello world! 

Somebody else had a birthday this week as well, except she is a lot older than 3 weeks. :)  My oldest daughter turned 17!  Eeek!!  I can't believe how fast time as flown.  I surprised her with a soup and salad lunch at Olive Garden. 

We then had a family dinner at her favorite sushi restaurant.. Yum!  I still need to make her a birthday cake. We have been quite busy with it being the end of the semester.   Kyle finished all of his exams today, and she will be done with all of her work tomorrow at midnight.   This weekend I will finally be able to catch up all on all the things I had to put off doing because of the baby mouse and school work, like finish putting away the Christmas decorations.  (yes some of them are still up!) 

This weekend it is looking to be  quite the hectic schedule, with  a possible sleepover, robotics, ballet rehearsal, and a birthday slumber party all while dealing with more snow and frigid temps.  I am sure it will make for some good stories for next week. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Week Before Mid-Terms

I did not mean to go almost an entire week without posting.  It has just been a very busy week. Our little one, who Kara has named Lucky, has been doing well.   She opened her eyes on Friday, and is growing quite a bit.  She has had to been fed every 2-3 hours around the clock, so Kara and I have been very tired.  She is worth the missed sleep though!  Now that she has opened her eyes, she is ready to start the weaning process.  Soon, hopefully I will be able to get a lot more sleep. 

We are just a few days from the  time of the year, that parents of high schoolers dread.. Mid- term week! Kyle has had to catch up on a lot of homework.   With his Aspergers, homework has always been a struggle for him.  It's not that he can't do it, he can, he just hates to do it.   It can be difficult for someone with Aspergers to be made to do something they don't want to do. Writing is very tiring for him, so he tries to avoid it as much as possible.  He has been getting better as he gets older, but is still not quite there yet.   Kristina, my oldest, is taking her core classes online through the high school.  This has been a definite blessing, except for the end of the semester. Let's just say that she is not that  strong in time management. Even after five semesters of taking classes this way, she always has a lot to finish the last few weeks.  She always finishes, but swears she will pace herself better the next time..  This semester she was probably the farthest behind in all five semesters.  She does have an extra class this year, and is taking her hard junior classes.  She will get it all done by the deadline, but it will be a full week of work.  

We are also in a bit of a busy period with the kids extra activities.  Kara has been in dance for many years.  In December she tried out for the ballet production, that will be presented at the dance recital at the end of the year.  Rehearsals for the productions will be starting soon.   Kyle is on the high school robotics team, and  they are in the middle of build season.  Each team only has approximately six weeks to build their robots for competition.  They are currently meeting a few times a week now.   Tonight he also had a Link party to go to. He used to have a parapro help keep him on track during the school day. Now that he is in high school, he has an upper classman, come to one of his classes with him, to assist him if needed.  Once during the semester, the student is supposed to attend a social event with their link.  The event he wanted to attend was scheduled at the same time as robotics, so he was unable to go.   Instead he went to movie night that was being held at one of the link's homes.   He was unsure about going, but he was looking forward to the pizza, and was hoping they would be showing a good movie.   Once I got back home, I forgot to take my phone out of my purse.  Big mistake!   About halfway through the party, he started texting me that he wanted to go home.  They were showing the movie Grease, and he can not stand musicals.  He was also one of only two boys there, and did not know anyone.  His link did not make it.   When Kara came to tell me that Kyle had been trying to reach me and to check my phone.  I was shocked to see several texts, including one saying if I did not text back to him soon he was walking home!  He  was seven miles away, after dark,  18 degrees,  and he had no idea how to get home. When he could not handle the movie anymore,  he walked out of the party, and stood outside.  While he was standing in the driveway,  the mom came out to stay to him.  He was annoyed, but I was grateful. If she hadn't, he might have gone missing again.   She was very nice, and understanding why he wanted to leave.  When I pulled up, she walked him to the car so she could say hi to me.   On the way home, he said had it been a movie he liked he might have stayed for the whole party, but he just could not take all the singing. He also said next time he is going to the get together it will be the one  at the arcade. 

Whew..  I think I need to get a bit of sleep while I can.. The next feeding will be coming up pretty soon.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mouse Trouble

On January 2nd, I shared a post about our unexpected surprise when our female mouse that Kara just got for Christmas  surprised us with a litter of 7 babies. She was excited about the new babies, because she had just buried her favorite hamster the day before.   Things have been going very well until the last few days.  All of the babies made it past the week mark. We were hopeful that we were going to have a successful nest, even though unexpected first litters from pet store mice normally do not make it.  

Frappe was doing her best to be a good mom. She was nursing her babies frequently. All of them seemed to be thriving.  Then suddenly we noticed a few of the babies were missing.  This unfortunately happens a lot with mice.  Then the next day a couple more were gone.  Last night (Sunday) we were down to three.  They were getting big, and moving around a lot.   This morning before Kara went to school, she was devastated to find only one left.  She went to school, but called home the beginning of third hour.  Both Kara and her best friend were in the nurse's office.  Her best friend had a 102 fever,  Kara who had been sick on Friday, had a stomachache and headache.  Since influenza is going around, they allowed her to come home.  I think part of the reason why she wanted to come home is because she was very worried about the last baby.  I can't say I blamed her. I was very worried too.  

After debating about it for most of the afternoon, we decided to remove the last baby because the risk was too high that she would not make it if she stayed with her mama.  She is 11 days old, and her fur is coming in. While we will have to feed her kitten  formula every few hours for another 10 days to two weeks, she would have a chance to make it.  As you can image, Frappe was not happy about our decision.  We both feel so bad for her, and we never would have done this if we did not feel it was necessary. 

While researching what to do for our baby mouse, we found out that our male mice who had been bought together had to be separated ASAP!.  It is fine to have male mice together when they are small, but once they get a bit bigger they will fight to the death. It is best to buy multiple females, not multiple males, something we were not told.  In the last few days, two of the mice were starting to pick on the third one. They were all still fine, but that would not be the case if we waited any longer.  They would fight over the female, even though she is no longer in the cage with them.  We ran over to the big box pet store, because they had a big selection of cages.  We found two cages that were reasonably priced.  Kara also still had a gift card that paid for one of the cages.  All 3 boys are now separated and in their own cage. They all have their own running wheels, food and water.   Kara's big Christmas gift that her dad said yes to, has totally back fired. Instead of just having 4 mice in one cage,  we now have 4 mice in 4 cages, and the baby in a small carrier.  Our family room currently looks like a pet store, since it is still a bit too cool for them to go back in her room.    Hopefully all of this experience Kara is getting with her pets will help her in the future, because she plans on working with animals.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Panic Mode

      There are no pictures with this post.  What happened today is not really something you would think to take pictures of while it is happening. This post is also  another great example of my byline of a mom trying to stay sane raising three teenagers.   

       I am a pretty laid back person.  I don't usually sweat the small stuff. Today though I was temporarily in a state of panic.  My son was missing for almost 90 minutes.  This morning was our first day back to school in almost 3 weeks. He had trouble sleeping last night, and  did not want to go back to school this morning. He was really tired, and is not a big fan of school.   At the end of the school day, two of my kids ride a transfer bus to the school where my youngest goes to school.  They usually meet up at the school, and then all  come home together.   Today I got a text from  Kara asking if I could pick her up.  The snow was too deep for her to walk in, and she could not remember which bus she should get on since she normally does not ride it. I told her that I would be right there.  Along the way, I thought I saw her brother walking toward home.  When we got back home just a few minutes later, I was surprised to see that he was not home yet.  Then a few minutes after that Kristina walked in from the bus stop.  She said she did not remember seeing Kyle on the bus  at all.  What?!  If he was not on the bus and did not walk home, where was he?  

     I tried to text him a few times. He did not text me back.  I tried to call him several times. Each time I called, it went directly to voice mail.  I got in the car, and drove around the neighborhood in case he was just hanging out somewhere.. I saw no one.   I told the girls that I was going to drive over to the school.  I was hoping that I would find him there.  Maybe he had stayed after school, or maybe just missed the bus.  Since his cell phone was going directly to voice mail, it was either turned off or possibly out of battery.   When I got to the school, it was already an hour after school had been out.  All of the offices were already closed up for the night.   I found a teacher I know really well, and told her that I was not sure what to do. She was able to track down the principal for me who was still at the school. 

      He helped me search the school.  He thought maybe Kyle had gone to tutoring. I told him that I knew he hadn't, but it would be worth checking.   He checked the list, and just like I thought, he was not on it.  We then thought maybe he went to the Robotics room.  Part of the team was there working on some of the business stuff, but no Kyle. I was really starting to panic at this point. The principal  had been on hold with the bus garage, hoping they could verify if Kyle had gotten on the bus after school.  His bus driver was still out on her route so it took a few minutes to find out.   The dispatcher  confirmed that yes he did get on the bus, but they thought he got off at Kara's school.. Then she said hang on..  About a minute later we were told, not only did he get on the bus, but he was still on the bus!!  Turns out he was so tired from not sleeping well last night, he fell asleep on a noisy bus of high schoolers.  Since he normally does not  get off the bus at the bus stop,  not doing so today was not really noticed .  He was  sitting way in the back of the bus, so his sister did not see him.  He says when he woke up none of the kids were on the bus with him, just the bus driver.  I asked him if he went to the front of the bus to talk to her. He said no.   When the principal talked to the bus garage, they said that his bus driver would bring him home at the end of her route.  He had to go to the middle school and one of the elementary schools across town, and wait until all the younger kids were dropped off.  Finally at 5:06 p.m. my tired son arrived home, two  hours later than normal.   Whew..

After his experience today, I really do not think he will be falling asleep on the bus again.  I also now have another funny story to tell my grandchildren someday. :) 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow, Snow and more Snow!

This picture was the first one I took at the beginning of the snow fall on Sunday morning.  I had gone out to get the newspaper, before the weather got too bad. I noticed there was probably already 4 inches of snow on the driveway that had fallen overnight.   I was looking at the trees in the backyard.  They looked so pretty covered in snow.  

This was the view of our deck.  Notice that my table only had a dusting of snow on it at the time. Things were snow covered, but not with more than 4-6 inches, but the snow was going to continue to come down.  

Another view of our backyard. I love that big beautiful tree. It was where we had just had the funeral for Mocha.

This picture was taken later in the afternoon on Sunday.  We had several more inches, and it was still coming down. 

Here are the pictures I took this morning.  My flower pots on the deck.. completely buried. There is a good two feet of snow on the deck. 

Notice that table now..  the snow is so deep it looks like a giant cake. If only it was not -14 out (even colder with the windchill) I would go out and decorate it.  

As you can imagine, we did not go back to school today. That's a good thing  since it took hours to clear the driveway.   We also will  not have school on Tuesday, because it is just unsafe with the extreme temps.  We will have to wait and see about Wednesday.  We had the day before break off because of ice..  now the first two days back are off too..  My kids are not going to know what to do when they actually have to go back to school.   

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Preparing for the Storm

If you live in the midwest, you by now have heard of a giant storm that going to hit most of the country in the next 24 hours or so.  In my area we are expecting up to 10 inches of snow, and bitter windchills possibly as low as -30 degrees. They are saying that it will be the coldest weather in years.  As what usually happens right before a  big storm, people run to the grocery store to stock up on essentials.  We were down to our last half gallon of milk, and were almost out of bread and cat food.  I had heard from some of my local friends that our area Meijer was packed, so my oldest daughter and I head over to my favorite store Target.  It was busy, but manageable. I put the paper towels and cat food in the cart.  We were about to head over to the grocery area when we were distracted by the Christmas section.. Today it went to 90% off!  I could not help myself, I had to go see what they had left.  Suddenly I forgot all about the groceries. 

There was still a pretty good selection, and I got a few fantastic deals that made the trip out totally worth it.   

Here is one of my favorite deals of the day.  In the back of the Christmas  section I found two Minerva Amaryllis bulbs in ceramic pots. I quickly grabbed them up. I found some of these plants on clearance a few years ago for 75% off and they all grew, and bloomed.  As you can see in the picture, the plant on the left already had a lot of growth.   I was thrilled when I checked the price, and found they were only $1.29 each. SOLD!!  The pots are worth probably 5 times more than that on their own.  

There was also a pretty good selection of ornaments left priced .30-.80 each.  I found several that would work well on my Woodland Themed Tree, and some I can use next week for my Frozen Party theme on my party blog, Pams Party and Practical Tips.

I found pretty gift tags for .30 each, a 3 pk of honeycomb trees for .49, and treat bags for .20. 

I found a box of Christmas cookie cutters for only .99, and a box of Candy Cane chocolate dipped Oreos for $1.19.  

Here is  another one of my other favorite deals of the day.  Hershey Kisses and M & Ms were on sale for only .95 a bag. I happened to have  used the Cartwheel app, so I got them for ,85 each. I also had a $2 off of 3 M & Ms coupon, making the M & Ms only .55 for ALL THREE BAGS! 

Around this time I checked the time. It was already after 3 p.m.   I still had  run to Aldi, and drive to the neighboring town to pick up Kyle from Robotics kick Off day by 4. (he is on the Robotics team at school)  Kyle drinks a lot of milk, so I try to always buy it at Aldi for only $1.59 a gallon. I think this was my quickest trip to date.  We picked up 3 gallons of milk, 2 boxes of cereal, a pizza, and some other odds and ends in less than 15 minutes.  It was pretty busy with people preparing for the storm, but so much easier than if we had gone to Meijer or Kroger.  We made on time to our destination, but then I could not find the building where he was waiting.  Oops!  At least I know for next time. 

Now we will wait to see what this storm brings. We have already heard from our Superintendant that there probably will not be school on Monday.  We had the day right before break off because of ice, so this is going to be our longest Christmas break ever! We are not complaining though, the kids are I don't really want to go back to waking up super early again.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

An Unexpected Surprise...

This was the scene at our house on Christmas.  Don't worry about the cat, she is just looking.  Reeses is really good with the other animals, she really does just like to sit and watch them.  She has never laid a paw on any of them, and she was the one who got my attention when one of the hamsters escaped.

Remember me saying just the other day, that our animals are sometimes the cause for the craziness in our house?  Well today was one of those days.  First of all let me explain why we have the mice.  Kara really loves animals, and she knows when we wants an animal all she needs to do is ask her dad.  He has a hard time saying no, especially when she begs.   Several months ago she feel in love with some mice at the pet store, and has been asking/begging ever since.  So when her dad asked her what she really wanted for Christmas, I knew we would end up adding some mice to our brood.    He took her to the pet store, and she picked out four of the "male" mice.  She was thrilled to get them as her big present on Christmas morning.

This afternoon I heard her yell from the other room..  "Mom!" "Mom!" "Come here, something happened with the mice!"  To be honest, I was afraid to find out what.  The last time I heard her yell, "Mom!"  was when she found Mocha dead in her cage.  I reluctantly got up, and went to go see what had happened.   

I was worried that their might have been another death.  Instead of finding out someone had died, I saw this.......   SEVEN baby mice!!!!  It seems one of those "male" mice was a mama to be!!  Luckily when Kara noticed the mice, she saw the lighter spotted mouse (Frappe) gathering up the babies,   She was pretty sure that Frappe was the mom..  My first thought was "What Do We Do Now?!!"  We both knew we had to get that male mice away from the babies ASAP!!.  Luckily the big mice are a bit on the weird side. They have been stuffing themselves in the tube all together and  hanging upside down, so they were easy to move to another cage. 

So far Frappe is turning out to be a pretty good mama.  I know this picture is not the best, but we really did not want to disturb her while she was nursing the little ones.  Kara is being a good "mama" too.  She has been doing a lot of reading, and knows what she needs to do with the baby mice in the next few weeks.  Hopefully there will not be anymore unexpected surprises, but I am pretty sure there will be..  That is just how things go at our house.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Not So Happy Start to the New Year

We had a funeral today.  It's hard starting out the brand new year with something sad.   My animal loving daughter found her special hamster dead in it's cage on Monday night.   While Mocha had been acting a little bit unusual the last couple of days, her death  was sudden and unexpected. She just had her 1st birthday, so she should have had more hamster time to live.  

Dec 18, 2012 - Dec 30, 2013

I adored Mocha too.  She was a very pretty hamster.  Her fur was a mix of red, brown and yellow.  She was super sweet, and a bit ornery.  I think she loved my daughter, as much as my daughter loved her.  

It was not easy having the funeral today.  The weather made it even more difficult. We had the funeral on a day when it snowed. It snowed, all day long.  The ground was frozen,  but we did not want to leave her body sitting in the garage any longer. Kara was avoiding going into the garage.  Kara's dad had to start a small fire under our big tree, to warm up the ground enough to dig a hole.  The big beautiful tree in our backyard has become the final resting place for a few of our animals, so at least she is not alone. 

The funeral was short.  We were very cold, and Kara did not feel up to saying anything.  She  did not have time to make Mocha a headstone yet, but she will.  For now her grave is marked with a smiling ladybug.   Rest in Peace sweet girl. We will miss you!