Friday, January 29, 2010

Here Kitty, Kitty!

We've been thinking about adding a new family member. I've been keeping my eye on the shelter listings and have found a few potential candidates. We've been wanting a Siamese, but apparently they are in high demand. Each time I've gone to look at them (within a day of them being listed), they are already gone. It's been crazy. A couple weeks ago I came across this listing.

Pretty hideous eh? Doesn't even look like a Siamese, so I ignored him. After all the other cats had been scoped up so fast, I decided I might as well go and take a look at him in person. I called the shelter and found out this picture was taken at 2 months and he is now 7 months old. He was in a foster home but was now available at the shelter.

I was pleasantly surprised when I met him. He was a handsome little fellow. The only thing was, he still didn't really look like a Siamese. He had the point marks, but that was about it. And even then, he had pure white feet with the marks starting above his huge paws. Ultimately, he won me over with his good looks and sweet disposition. I decided to go for it.

Being a foster cat, I was not allowed to visit with him, let alone adopt him, unless the foster mom approved my application first. The person in front of me was handing in an application for a different foster pet and the receptionist informed her that it would be about a week and they would get back to her. Great, I thought as I handed in my application. But then she informed me that the foster mom was at the shelter and she could look at my application right there and then. And I was approved! I told them that I was surprised that he was still around and they informed me that there have been many, many applications, but none had been approved. I guess our home was a good match.

The pictures do not do him justice. I'm not able to fully capture his unique cream coloring and markings with my camera. You can see in the first picture, his right eye has brown scar tissue on it from his eye infections when he was first found. While he's eye sight is fine, the scar is permanent.

We'd been batting around some names (Wonton, Moo Shu, Yeti) but none seemed to really fit. Meanwhile, I was really curious to figure out what he's mixed with since he's characteristics are so unusually. That's when I discovered that he most closely resembles a Tabby-Point Birman (obviously he's a mix), who's main distinquishing feature is the pure white feet.

Then I found out that Birman breed has an interesting naming convention. Each year is assigned a letter of the alphabet and then the cat receives a name that starts with the same letter. While some countries skip letters, the US runs through all the letters. 2009, the year he was born is the year of the "G". And then the right name clicked into place.

So everyone, please say hello to Genghis.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homemade Sensory Stepping Stones

I have been contemplating whether or not I should buy some sensory stepping stones for home therapy. At $65 they are pretty expensive but they but the different textured stone surfaces stimulate sensory development.

Then Morgan solved the dilema all on her own.

As I was getting ready for work, Morgan was very busy playing in the loft. When I came out, she showed me her busy work. A bunch of her stuffed animals; all ranging in size, softness, stuffing (ie beans versus cotton) and fur texture, had been spread out in several paths. She was pretending there was hot lava on the floor and she needed to stay on her "stepping stones" in order to make it to safety. She had managed to incorporate all the elements of her therapy without us having to spend a dime. Brilliant!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why My Husband is a Brave Man

Mark took off yesterday to be with Morgan since there wasn't any school. It's been a while since he had an extra day off with her and I think he was trying to make up for lost time because this was their day:

First there was breakfast at IHOP followed by a morning at the local bouncy house. Now that in it's self would be enough kid-friendly fun for one day but then he also went to Chuck E Cheese. That's right a bouncy house AND Chuck E Cheese all in one day. It doesn't end there either. After that they went to the local animal shelter to look at the new batch of Chihuahua that came in from California. I think he might have outdone himself.

And speaking of Chihuahuas, if you have never read a SkippyJon Jones book, you must check them out. They are our current household favorite (especially Lost in Spice) and one of the driving forces behind Morgan's love for the Chihuahuas.
If you are looking at this cover and wondering what Chihuahuas have to do with a Siamese cat, you're going to have to read the book to find out!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Toys to Grow on - Good, Sears - Bad

In this day and age, it's not too often you get great customer service, especially without putting up a fight, but Toys To Grown On far out weighed my expectations. Morgan's Clap and Laugh microphone that she got for Christmas suddenly stopped working. The stand still works with the clapping and laughing buttons, but the microphone is silent. Despite my jokes about needing it to come to an untimely death, we did not sabbotage the thing. And despite the fact that she sometimes drives me crazy with this toy, she does really love it. And so, being the good mom that I am (cough, cough) I contacted Toys to Grown On and inquired about the cost of replacing just the microphone piece. I immediately got a response from Customer Service apologizing for the problems I encountered and offering to replace the microphone for FREE. Yep. Free. Just like that. I was blown away. I will definetely be shopping at Lakeshore Learning (our local store that carries the TTGO line) more often.

On the other hand there is Sears. I will never use Sear again for any type of service call. Our dishwasher broke and we scheduled an appointment with one of their repairmen. Our window was on a week day from 1 pm - 5 pm. At 5 pm I received a call from the repairman stating he was running late and would be there in an hour. We waited another hour, at which time the phone ran again. It was the repairman stating it was too dark for him to be able to find our house and he wondered if I would reschedule. I told him I would not. That I had already waited five hours for service and I would not be able to take another day off work. He started explaining that his GPS wasn't working and that he eouldn't see the numbers on the house. I told him that I could give him directions but he wasn't interested. Then I told him that in the old days, people found other people's houses without a GPS and that people find addresses ALL THE TIME in the dark. Then Mark talked to him on the phone while standing outside. Mark saw the guy drive by and told him that he JUST SAW HIM. The guy still refused to stop. At this point, I really didn't want him to stop, because goodness knows what kind of service we would have received at this point. When we called Sears to complain, they told us that we had to reschedule for another four hour window, they could not guarantee us the first appointment in the morning. When we told them we already waited five hours and didn't want to wait again, they just didn't care.

Mark found a local handyman who came the next day. The handyman called us before he left for our place and told us he would be there in 15 minutes. No waiting. And he temporary fixed the dishwasher for much less, and he worked with Mark on what part Mark needed to order and how to install it himself when it came in. Needless to say, we are keeping this guys card.

As for Sears, a week later I received an automatic message confirming our dishwasher appointment for the next day between 1 and 5 pm. An appointment that we never rescheduled. an appointment I promptly cancelled (only because they had our credit card number and could charge us for showing up, otherwise I would not have given them the courtesy).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sensory Box and Report Cards

Since starting kindergarten, we have been getting regular reports about Morgan having difficulty paying attention. We've been trying to explain to the teacher her Sensory Processing Disorder and how it affects her learning but she's hasn't been very receptive. FINALLY, she asked to work with the therapist on techniques she can use in the classroom to help Morgan's focus. So last week, I put together a sensory box for the classroom. Oral stimulation helps Morgan calm down and focus so the box consisted of gum, chewy candy like Starbursts, a water bottle with a straw and a couple of chew sticks, that look like below. (As a side note, she calls the chew sticks her chew toys. I think we need to come up with a better name so it doesn't sound the same as something a dog plays with!)
I checked in with the teacher this week to see how the box has been working. I am so happy to report that the box has been working out extremely well. The teacher has noticed that Morgan is much more engaged and attentive when she has an item from her box. Also, Morgan has been doing a wonderful job of self-regulating herself by getting an item before the teacher has to direct her to do so. This is great news!

We also received her report card this week. Academically she is still doing great. She received proficient in all areas with a few exceptions. She received partially proficient in knowing one less from 5-1 and in spelling 11 or more words from the high frequency word list. With the spelling, she probably just couldn't think of 11 words from the list since she is a better speller then she is a reader. And finally, she received Advanced in all four areas of reading.

Looks like the second half of school should go smoother then the first.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

December In Review

Yes, I'm still alive. The holiday seasons got super crazy and super busy, but I'm back now. Let's see if I can sum up the last month...

I co-hosted a holiday party at our community clubhouse for 40 kids. We had cookie decorating, ornament making, and games such as pin-the-nose on Rudolph, snowball toss and musical presents. We also had a very special guest. I happen to work with Santa and he agreed to come and give us a visit. He's an EXCELLENT Santa. Even my daughter who runs and ducks at the mere sight of most characters was more then happy to visit with him.

Christmas was filled with way too many presents even though I could have sworn we toned it down this year.

And no, that is not eye shadow in that box. All of the containers are either lip gloss or nail polish.

Bendaroos were high on her list, but once we played with them, they were terrible. They do NOT hold their shape and they do NOT stick together. Even when art projects don't work out right, Morgan usually still loves them. Not so much with these. After one time, she was ready to get rid of them. I do not recommend Bendaroos at all!

When I was little, my grandfather handmade a work bench. Morgan uses that work bench to "fix" her toys but she has never had a real project to work on. Thanks to Staci at Mamma's Gone Over the Wall I found the Project of the Month Club and Mark placed an order for the woodworking projects. Now every other month, her and Mark will have a fun project to bond over.

Morgan's absolute favorite gift from us is her microphone. In hindsight, we should have never bought a chatty-kathy something that enables her to increase her volume while following you around the house room-to-room, narrating your every move.

After gift opening at our house, we headed on over to Mark's Dad's house. Morgan was ecstatic to get her #1 present wish - the Dot's Ice Cream Maker. She wanted this so badly, that she put it on three wish lists with the hope that she would have one to play with at home, one to keep at Grandpa's and one to keep at Grandma's.

On Saturday, we took a break from all the holiday celebrations to play at the Wildlife Experience. They were having a special exhibit on the life cycle of butterflies, starting at cocoons...

...escaping from really scary looking spiders...

... to getting your wings and flying away.

Sunday we celebrated at Mark's Mom's house.

If that wasn't enough, during her winter break she also:
• Went to Gymnastic Camp where she did tons of gymnastics as well as bowled, skated and saw Cloudly with a Chance of Meatballs
• Saw The Princess and the Frog
• Had a playdate with her bestest friends Taralyn and Ellie at Taralyn's house
• Went downhill skiing with Mark at Echo Mountain
• Went tubing with us and the neighbors at Fraser
• Stayed up to 1 am on New Years at a neighborhood party
• And visited with the Chihuahua, her favorite breed of dog, at our local shelter (around 20 were shipped in from California)

And that is why I have not had time to be on here!