January 27, 2013

Orange Avocado Sorbet

First off, I've got a great update on Gimpy. S/he is still alive. And I seriously wondered if that would be the case after we returned from the Great Wolf Lodge Saturday evening. We were only gone a day and a half, and fed them lots before leaving, but still. I'm just unsure why Spyra has eaten parts of him/her. Gimpy has no left arm and only one finger on the right hand and is missing one toe.

I like to watch Gimpy get around. S/he bounces around like a bunny and the one arm stabilizes her every now and again. And what really bugs me as I write is that I don't know his sex. Let me be honest with you. I've yet to touch any of them. But I find them all fascinating none the less.

A high school friend (well elementary and junior high, too) posted a Vitamix recipe on Facebook this evening for orange avocado sorbet. It looked interesting. Mostly the avocado part. Elliott was with me asking for ice cream (Tymon bought some last week) and so I told him I would make some sorbet. It was exactly what he didn't want to hear. Then the whining increased when I told him I was putting avocado in it. 

Turns out he tasted it. Loved it. And asked for seconds. Then thirds. And begged for some of mine. It wasn't just him, either. They all wanted more. I especially loved Kira's "cheese" smile for the camera. So cute. Ha ha ha.
Orange Avocado Sorbet:
  • 2 oranges, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2"x2" strip of orange peel (5cm x 5 cm)
  • 5 cups ice cubes (1.2 liters)

Blend it all up well and then start adding the ice until the sorbet forms. Then eat it as soon as you can. It's truly fantastic!
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January 19, 2013


Blackie, the all black pup with a white paw, opened his eyes on Thursday and Gimpy (black and white and missing limbs) and Bash (the other black and white one) opened theirs on Friday. It's nice to see them with open eyes and their ears have formed and popped out away from their heads. They've grown so much in the past 3 weeks.

I've been wondering about why their eyes are closed for so long. My only thoughts are that they need that extra time to develop their sense of smell, touch, and hearing before adding sight. Or maybe that has nothing to do with it. I know human newborns take a few months to develop their sight.

Gimpy is still alive, much to my surprise. He's doing well without his arm and it seems to be healing nicely. Unfortunately, he's missing several fingers on his other paw and I noticed this afternoon that he was missing a toe or two, as well. That injury is from today as he was fine last night. I really don't understand gerbil behavior and why parents eat their children. Various websites talk about them eating pups who are sick or hurt. But ours haven't been either, except when Spyra eats them...then they're hurt for sure.

I will say, though, that after our initial research on New Year's Eve when we found out that gerbils were social creatures, we decided to keep two of them. It was overwhelming to think about how we were going to place 6 gerbils. Now we only have to think about placing two...but if Gimpy doesn't make it then we may as well keep the remaining three. Although, I think we have both genders...and what if Bash gets it on with Spyra. Then we could have more pups. Now that's just gross. 

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January 14, 2013

Chewing Frenzy

I'm not sure what we've gotten ourselves into with Spyra.
Is she normal?
Or a little psycho?
She chews on her metal exercise wheel.
I'd like to say that's all.
But it's not.

This afternoon when we got home from being out and about
And the boys came home from school
They noticed a little guy
Without an arm.

No arm.
I put some herbal salve on it.
Maybe it'll heal up.

But maybe not.
Yesterday we had 4 gerbil pups.
Today, we have 3.
He's gone without a trace.

So Spyra ate one?
.Then nibbled an arm off another?
Before quitting for the day?
We gave her extra food.
Although she shouldn't be hungry with all her feasting.

It makes me wonder
If the kids are touching the pups too much.
Maybe there's too much human smell on them?
I'll have to check if
It was this pup
Running the kids' maze
That we now call Gimpy.

So we're taking bets....
How many gerbil pups will we have in the morning?
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January 13, 2013

Warning: Graphic Gerbil Post

Pup number two died on Friday. 
I'm not sure why.
He didn't look runtish.
Usually when Tymon puts his hand in the cage,
Spyra runs away.
This time she came at him.
She wanted the body.
So did Tymon.
Tymon won the stand off.
Jocelyn gives two thumbs down for two dead pups.

There was one more runt. 
He breathed super heavy 
As evidenced by the extreme indent under his rib cage.
We knew he would be next to die.

Saturday morning Elliott woke us up
Saying that Spyra was eating the runt.
I didn't want to interfere with nature again.
We've already done that twice.

So I got out my camera instead.
Kira loves watching the gerbils.
You can see how totally amused
She is to see Spyra in the corner of the cage
Eating her dead baby.

But I guess she didn't want to eat the head or spine?

Graeden and I dug up Mr. Pup Runt
On Saturday and added his siblings to his coffin.

It wasn't so sad this time.
More like a relief
To not have a dead rodent sitting on the counter
Scaring the crap out of me
Every time I happened upon him.

Here's a morbid video
Of Spyra eating her pup
Because I know you're as curious as I was.

January 10, 2013

Poor Mr. Pup Runt

We noticed Spyra not feeding one of her babies.
It was smaller than the rest.
Who were bigger and looked healthier.
So here's me,
The one who didn't want a pet,
All of a sudden caring whether or not this pup
Lived or died.
I put the cage in the tub
And isolated Spyra with the pup.
She didn't care.
She ignored him.
And he died.
Poor Mr. Pup Runt.
Maybe you didn't know this,
But gerbils eat their dead young.
That sounded gross so we took the body away
As soon as we found him.


Of course we held a funeral.
A couple of the neighbor boys came over
To celebrate the short short life of Mr. Pup Runt.
Graeden said a few words.
Something like,
"He was a kind gerbil.
We will miss him."
And we sang
A song we all knew,
You Are My Sunshine.

Then we buried him
Next to a tree
In the boys fort
Near the house.
Two thumbs down from Jocelyn.
This was a sad day.
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January 9, 2013

Clothes Mold If You Don't Do Laundry

Is it odd that I'm so excited to do laundry?
This past fall,
I tried to eek out the last
Of our washing machine's life.
It made a great effort.
I even called a repairman
To see if we could extend its life,
But it finally quit on us.

So I got serious about machines.
This time I went to Consumer Reports
And the first thing I checked
Was the repair history by brands
Because I had to pay that repairman
$150 to come to my house
And tell me the code our old washer flashed
Meant a $450 repair.
But that's another frustrating lesson
In the School Of Hard Knocks.

See this graph?
LG and Samsung
Look most reliable.
Whirlpools have double the repair issues.
And GE? 15%? EEK!

BrandRepairs and Serious Problems
Washing Machines

The second thing I checked were the ratings.
One of the top two listed
Happened to be the brand I wanted,
And lucky for me
It was the large capacity machine.
Large as in EXTRA large.
The largest home washer tested.
And that is exactly what our family needs.

This machine has a steam cleaning feature,
An allergy wash cycle for bedding
And laundry that sat a little damp
A little too long
And turned pretty shades of pink and yellow
From the mold.
Or is it peed in sheets?
I don't know.
But super hot and steamy cycles
Should clear it all up.

There are so many buttons
I had to read the owner's manual
Before starting the first load
And making a dent in the mountain of laundry
Stored in my bathroom.

I literally haven't done ANY this year...
And the end of last year, either.
The delivery backlog was 12 days.
That's a long time.
Especially for a family our size.

I asked the delivery guys to leave my old pedestal,
Thinking I could use it.
Except the old and new machines are different sizes.
What's two inches?
I guess a lot.

Now I have an extra pedestal
To raise up my laundry basket.
Only thing is that I can't open my dryer's drawer
More than 5 or 6 inches.
Good thing that's enough space
To reach in and grab a dryer sheet.

We're going to have a clothes folding party after school.
Wanna come?
Pretty please?

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January 4, 2013

Multi-tasking Nursers

Gerbils and humans think alike. No sense in taking doubly long to do a couple tasks when you can do them at the same time. Take me and Spyra, for example. When we nurse our babies we also do whatever else needs to be done...like chew up toilet paper rolls, eat, read, check Facebook news feeds...you know, important stuff.

Speaking of nursing. I NEVER imagined that I'd be one of those mothers who nursed my child until she had teeth. And walked around. And started talking. 

But this is little Kira we're talking about. She needs any amount of nutrition I can give her. Maybe it'll help her immune system wipe out the garbage mucous we've been hacking up the past couple of weeks. 

I've gone out of town on three occasions since she was born. Each time, I pumped for her. Pumping is a labor of love. It's really not that fun. But worth it every time she welcomes me home. 

Part of me thinks I won't be pregnant or nursing again and wants to prolong the bond as long as I can. Another deeper part of me hopes that nursing will give Kira exactly what her heart needs to become whole. Her last cardiologist appointment showed that one of her branch arteries had grown to be within the normal range. The other was just better but not where ideally it should be. I mean, mother's milk can fix that, right? Everything will grow the way it should?

The technique obviously works for gerbils. I mean their babies are so whole that they can get pregnant after 5 weeks. That must be wonder-mother's milk!
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January 3, 2013

Simple Herbal Cough Drops

I made a bucket list of some things I wanted to do in 2013.
Making some of my own herbal remedies is on that list.
No time like the present to get on top of the list.
I made cough drops.
Because we've got some nasty
Coughing going on around here.
I found a tutorial online for how to do it.
But it was too long.
So I shortened it up
To 5 simple steps.

The best part about making my own stuff
Is that I know exactly what's in it.
Only herbs and sugar.
No artificial colors.
No artificial flavors.
No soy.
No high fructose corn syrup.
No surprise ingredients.

The recipe is seriously so simple.
5 bags of medicinal tea,
2 cups water
2 cups organic sugar
Organic powdered sugar
And voila!

Now I want to try making some with essential oils
(Added after mixture comes off stove)
And some lemon ginger ones,
And maybe use some peppermint from my garden.
There are so many possibilities!

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January 2, 2013

It's a BOY! Wait. Scratch That...

Christmas morning was fun this year.
Each of the kids got a few gifts.
One gift in particular was a big surprise.

Our children have never had a pet.
And beg for one every few months.
They want a dog.
But I don't.
Yet how do we teach responsibility
If we're not willing to allow our children 
To care for another living creature?

We gave the kids a gerbil.
Tymon picked out a black one.
The kids named him Spyro
After a character 
In their beloved Skylander's Wii game
Spyro didn't like to be touched much.
Which was fine.
He was new to our family.
And we don't know anything about gerbils.

Fast forward one week.
Literally we've had Spyro seven days.
Elliott wakes up on New Year's Eve,
And makes an announcement
Similar to the one
When it snows overnight
And a white blanket covers the yard.

Except this time
Instead of "it snowed!"
We're just lying in bed
Feeling cozy
And hear an excited,
"Spyro had babies!"
Cough, cough
What color are they?
"They're pink!"
Our kids wouldn't know that
Unless it was true.
He She had 4.
Then 6.
Then 7 or is it 8?
I think just 7.
Well done Spyro!
I mean Spyra.
You're a girl.
It's crazy how you run on your wheel
Just hours after birthing your little ones.
You didn't even look pregnant.

The plan on New Year's Eve
Was to stay home
Work on a puzzle,
Play games,
And ring in the New Year together.
We were responsible
And got on Google
To look up stuff on gerbils.
Like what to do with newborns (pups).
And get some questions answered.
When do their eyes open?
When do they eat on their own?
How soon can we place them
With other homes?

We found out that gerbils like company.
So we'll keep two.
Of the same sex.
We learned how to tell the difference, too.
That'll be nice.
When we give them away.

The boys were really into it,
Which made me happy.
I want them to be able to use the internet
To find answers to their questions.
It was fun gathering around
And researching together.

If you want a gerbil or two,
And you live near us,
Let me know.
They'll be ready for homes in 5 weeks.

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January 1, 2013

21 Days To Brighter Crow's Feet

I'm generally a happy person and have many blessings (supportive husband, active children, nice home, plenty of food, lots of family and plenty of friends to name a few). Sometimes, when life doesn't pan out quite like I expected, the negative angel sitting on my shoulder starts to whisper trash talk in my ear.

Our first home was cute with a white picket fence and wonderful neighbors. It wasn't our dream home, but we were happy.

Then we added 4 boys to our family and I was pregnant with Jocelyn. Our home was starting to feel a little cramped since all the kids were in one bedroom. We wanted a home with more space and a yard that the kids could play in. And with neighbor kids who are the same age as our children.

We moved to a large home in a cul-de-sac with a good chunk of land and have wonderful neighbors. Ahhh, life was good and we were happy. I think. It's just that large homes require a lot of work. Especially new construction. Bigger homes mean more surface area for kids to mess up and more time cleaning. Some projects just get so overwhelming that they don't get done...like how we had no window coverings for 3 years.

So if a fantastic dream home doesn't make me happy, what will? I came across this Ted talk the other day by Shawn Achor and got excited about the prospect that I can do specific things to become a happier person.
Watch it. 
It's only 12 minutes. 
With funny stories. 
And fascinating scientific research. 
Click and watch. 

I'll wait....

21 Days to Brighter Crow's Feet

The best part about watching this talk is that now you don't need to read Shawn's book (time saver!) to find out what each of the happiness habits are. You can put them into practice now with the helpful list I found on The Happiness Coach's website

Eric Karpinski outlines the happiness habits as follows (click the links for more in depth info):
  • Happiness Habit #2, Regular Exercise.  If you are not exercising regularly, make getting that body moving a priority for the next 21 consecutive days.  Start simply – 10 minutes a day is enough.
  • Happiness Habit #5, Finding Meaning.  For 21 days in a row, write about one meaningful moment you experienced over the past 24 hours and include every detail you can remember.

So starting tomorrow and for 21 days thereafter, I will be spending a couple of minutes each day writing out three things I'm grateful for. I'll take February off (not really, I just want to do the letter a day challenge during February) and then I'll pick back up in March with the regular exercise challenge. April will be meditation, May will be a two line praise/gratitude email and June will be meaningful moments.

With a little bit of time and a little bit of daily effort, happiness will become a larger part of my life and with it, brighter crow's feet. Join me. I want to hear your experiences!
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