Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Diary of Medicating Oscar the Cat

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Last week I had to take Oscar the Cat to the vet because he was under the weather.  He was prescribed both a pill and a liquid medication.  The following is a diary of the Medicating of Oscar.  Read it and weep.

Day 1:  Google Internet and watch numerous YouTube videos of how to medicate a cat.  Unsuccessfully look for leather gloves to wear while dispensing medication.  Wrap Oscar in towel aka The Cat Burrito.  Stick finger in Oscar’s mouth to pry it open.  Get bit by Oscar and receive puncture wound.  Pray there are no cat diseases that can be contracted by humans.  After several minutes of cat wrestling, mission is accomplished and Oscar has downed both the liquid and pill medications.

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Day 2:   Play Rock/Paper/Scissors with husband to decide who gets to try to subdue cat while the other dispenses medication.  Lose game. Don sweatshirt (even though it is 100 degrees outside) to protect arms from cat scratches. Leather gloves are still nowhere to be found. Scoop up Oscar and once again turn him into a cat burrito. Attempt to open feline’s mouth without getting bit this time.  Husband is able to dispense liquid medication quickly.  Pill is popped into cat mouth.  Cat’s throat and nose are rubbed to encourage swallowing.  Humans are lured into false sense of security. Cat is released onto the floor where he promptly spits pill out and walks away with an arrogant look.

Day 3:  Oscar is finally getting his appetite back, so humans decide to try to mix medicine in food. Humans go to grocery store and buy canned cat food, which is usually just a rare treat for felines of the Caffeinated Ginger household.  Liquid medication is mixed in food. Oscar thumbs his nose. One dose of medication wasted. Pill is ground up and mixed in with food. Cat is fooled and gobbles it down. Score is tied.

Day 4: Oscar is feeling better and hanging around in kitchen. Humans feed Oscar more Fancy Feast.  After trial and error, it is confirmed that Oscar will only eat chicken-flavored food.  Shrimp?  No.  Beef?  No.  The other felines in the household, Spot and Lucy, get Oscar’s rejects. Oscar eats only chicken-flavored Fancy Feast with ground-up pill. Humans shoot liquid medication down Oscar’s throat in record time. Humans feel smug and superior until hearing the sounds of Oscar retching said medication all over living room carpet. Humans begin to question why they became pet owners in the first place.

Day 5: Oscar’s appetite is back in full-force. He will now only eat canned food as only peasant cats eat dry cat food and he believes himself royalty. Humans rush to grocery store at 9 p.m. to clear shelves of Fancy Feast before closing time. Spot and Lucy are starting to feel like stepcats. Oscar’s ingesting of medication is spotty at best.

Oscar edit

Day 6: Oscar has officially taken over the household. Humans decide that Oscar was faking said illness in order to train humans to spend large quantities of money on Fancy Feast. His evil plan has been deemed successful. Cats worldwide are using the same mode of operation to thwart humans everywhere to rid the planet of paltry dry cat food and the canned cat food industry is booming.

cat medicine

 

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The Vet’s Office–Not a Place for the Soft-Hearted

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Last Friday I had to take Oscar the Cat to the vet as he had been feeling unlike his usual catty self.  I don’t know about you, but taking a cat on a car ride anywhere, much less to the vet’s office, is not my idea of a good time–especially on a Friday afternoon. But I did what had to be done, stuck Oscar in the pet carrier, and proceeded to listen to him howl the entire 10-mile drive to the veterinarian.

Apparently everyone else in the free world decided that Friday afternoon was also a good time to have their pet see the vet.  The office was packed–all kinds of felines and canines were lined up to see the doctor.

As I was waiting, I heard wailing coming from one of the exam rooms.  At first I thought it was a dog howling.  But as it went on, I realized it was coming from a human.  It didn’t take me long to surmise that someone was having to say a final goodbye to their pet. So then I, being a soft-hearted animal-lover, started tearing up myself.  The crying went on and on from inside the exam room.  It was heartbreaking.  Several minutes later, a dad carrying their now deceased dog wrapped in a blanket was followed by his tear-stained teenage son and they left the vet office to go home and bury their furry family member.

After a little while, I was able to compose myself by watching the antics of some of the other pets in the waiting room. However, sadness descended again as a family of four brought in their grey-haired beagle, tears already on their faces as they stepped over the threshold of the vet office’s front door.  Out came my tissues again as I shed some sympathetic tears for their situation.

Saying goodbye to a pet is one the hardest things to do in this life. It doesn’t matter how you lose a pet–illness, accident or old age.  The grieving process is real.  The pain is intense.

If you’ve had a pet, you know that they are a member of your family. In fact, sometimes they are easier to love than your human family members because they love you so unconditionally. Pets forgive easily and are always glad to see you. At least dogs are always glad to see you. Cats, well, it depends on their mood and how hungry they are at the time.

cat happy to see you

Oscar the Cat will be fine, even though he was severely violated by having his temperature taken. He will get his revenge this next week, however, as we have to try to give him medication in pill AND liquid form. I might as well say goodbye to all the skin on my hands and forearms now. Leather gauntlets, anyone?

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 Oscar the Cat

Where I’m From

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When I went back to school several years ago to get my education degree, we had an assignment (I don’t remember in what class) to write about where we were from (I also don’t remember the purpose).  Nevertheless, here is the result.  My parents, as only parents would do, have it framed and hanging on their dining room wall.

 

Where I’m From

 

I am from parents not ready,

     to parents with open hearts.

I am from older brothers, who either

wanted to protect me or torment me.

 

I am from tractors, combines,

and wheat trucks heavy with their loads of grain.

From large gardens with their bounty of tomatoes,

lettuce, potatoes, and green beans which

seemed to take forever to snap-snap-snap.

 

I am from Sundays spent in Bible class and worship,

and hours spent playing tag in the churchyard,

coming home to a meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes

and gravy.

 

I am from hand-me-down clothes and

homemade cooking.

Holidays spent with extended family,

leaving sugar cookies and milk for Santa,

awakening in the morning to an orange in my stocking

(which in another life was my dad’s sock),

to a new shiny red tricycle with matching wagon.

 

I’m from summer birthdays celebrated with

grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends

with special cakes in decorated shapes made with loving

hands by my mother.

 

I am from strong Christian faith, good work ethic

and unconditional love.

 

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Recap of the 4-Mile (Oh my gosh, what have I done?!) Race

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A couple of weeks ago, I signed myself and my 17-year-old son up to run a 4-mile race in a neighboring town and I’d been regretting that decision ever since.

I’ve been running fairly steady for the past few months and have proved that I can run four miles nonstop.  However, I usually run around 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening. Unfortunately, most races are held in the morning.  I am definitely NOT a morning person–just ask any of my family members or close friends. Trying to hold a conversation with me before 9 or 10 a.m. is a challenge. I need half a pot of coffee before coherent sentences can proceed out of my mouth. And get me to move faster than a turtle in the a.m. hours? Yeah…good luck with that.

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Ever since I committed to this race, I’d been trying to run in the morning and it. was. not. pretty.  Nor was it fun.  I did it, but I hated it.

The race was scheduled for Saturday which just happened to follow the first full week of work after summer break. Every morning I dragged myself out of bed when my nemesis AKA the alarm sounded. And each time I stumbled into the bathroom to try to wake my brain with a long shower, I’d be thinking, “Oh my word, on Saturday I’m going to be RUNNING at this time!”

The Friday night before the race, Mr. Caffeinated Ginger thought he’d be funny and kept playing the theme from Chariots of Fire. He came very close to being a dead man. My son, who works as a lifeguard, was out with friends so I texted him to remind him of the race the next morning.

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On race day I woke up before the 6:15 a.m. alarm to take a quick shower to shake the cobwebs out of my head, eat a piece of peanut butter toast, and knock down a cup of coffee so that my brain and legs would be working in tandem for the race.

Mr. CF and Dear Daughter #2 accompanied my race partner son and I to the race to act as our pit crew and cheering section. We got there fairly early and had more than enough time to get our race bibs pinned, take bathroom breaks, and warm-up.

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  Pre-Race–Notice how my eyes are little slits? Nope, not awake yet.

 

It was then time for us to line up at the starting line. I put my ear buds in and started my playlist. Then it was ready, set, go!

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The first mile is always, ALWAYS hard for me. I have to plea bargain with my legs and play head games with, well, my head, to keep moving. But after that I get into a rhythm. It didn’t take long for the race participants to spread out and I fell in with a group of runners that I ended up running at the same pace with for most of the race.

The race course was all on city streets, mainly through neighborhoods. It was well-marked with arrows spray painted on the road to show the route as well as many race volunteers strategically placed through out the course so there was no chance of any runners taking a wrong turn. There were also volunteers at every mile with a stopwatch calling out the time so runners knew how they were faring.

I deal with plantar fasciitis in my feet and I also have ankle issues. I’m old, okay? So when I run on my own, I either run on the high school track or plan my course so that I mainly run on dirt roads because both of those surfaces are a little bit more forgiving on my feet and joints. This course was all pavement and after about a mile and a half, my ankles were letting me know in an extremely rude manner that THEY HURT. I just kept repeating the mantra Mind Over Matter and tried to ignore their pleas for help as best I could.

August in Kansas is H-O-T and race day was no exception. The forecasted high was to be 95 degrees in the afternoon. At race time it was about 76 degrees. Some lovely residents of the town had strategically placed water sprinklers on the curb in front of the homes and water sprayed into the street for runners to run through, of which I totally took advantage.

This course also had some hills. To people who live outside Kansas, you wouldn’t even classify them as hills. But living on the plains of Kansas, especially in my small town, these were hills. I am used to running on very flat ground, so any incline at all is a major challenge.  But like The Little Engine That Could, I conquered those hills with the “I Think I Can” frame of mind.

I was doing pretty well until about the 2.5 mile mark.  My ankle complaints had accelerated and my brain had finally realized that yes, we were running before noon.  I had hit the proverbial wall and no amount of head games was going to keep me going.  I took about a 50-yard break and walked to get back into the game.  There were some other runners that also were taking short walk breaks, so I didn’t feel like too much of a slacker.  One of my race goals was just to finish the race in an upright position and if I needed to walk a little to accomplish that, I was okay with it.

At about mile 3.5, I approached from behind a little girl, with the emphasis on little.  As I came up beside her I told her what a great job she was doing and asked her how old she was.  “Eight,” she answered.  Talk about humbling.  An 8-year-old had been running faster than me for most of this race.  Ugh.  That gave me the push, however, that I needed to finish the race. There was no way an 8-year-old was going to show me up.  My kids would never have let me forget it.

I turned the corner for the last 200 yards and the finish line was in my sight. I knew my family was there somewhere and were going to be taking pictures, so I turned on the afterburner and sprinted to the finish line.

marti running at finish

 

My goal for the race was to (1) Cross the finish line upright.  (Check!) (2) Not come in dead last.  (Check!)  (3) Finish in 40 minutes.  (Almost!)  My finish time was 40:28, which still wasn’t too shabby for my non-morning running legs.  My first three miles were a little over 9 minutes each, but that last mile tested me immensely.

However…(drum roll please)…I still managed to place third in my age division (the old geezers) and I got a medal! Woot, woot!

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By the way, I will be wearing that piece of metal around my neck to work on Monday.

In celebration, Mr. CF took us all out for breakfast where I ate most of this:

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After going home and showering, the daughter and I went to the festival where I treated myself to one of my favorite fair foods–the Pronto Pup!

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Then when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home, the store was giving customers free pieces of cake. (Why?  I don’t know.  I don’t question free cake–I just eat it.)

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I would tell you that later that evening we went to eat Mexican food for supper, but that would really make me sound like a pig, so mum’s the word.

Let’s just say I could use another four-mile run.

We’ve already signed up for another race at the end of the month. This race is a 5K and I expect great things from it because it’s a shorter distance and….it’s in the evening! Bring it!

Happy First Day of School!

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Today is the first day of school. To be honest, I haven’t been too excited about the start of school. School means alarm clocks, endless lesson planning, infrequent bathroom breaks, gulping my lunch, and having to wear real clothes and shoes instead of t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops.

But last night I had a wake up call as to why I teach.

Last night was Back to School Night when parents and kids come to school to meet their teacher and drop off their school supplies. I am a Title I Reading teacher and I offer a Reading Workshop for parents and kids during the evening. Kids have some “make-it and take-it” projects to do while I provide parents with information on how to help their children become better readers.

I had several parents come with their kids. While I do enjoy talking to the parents (really!), I have to admit I like the kids a wee bit better.  (No offense, parents!)  The kids just crack me up.

Most kids, even if I already know them (which I usually do because we are a small school), come in my classroom a little shy.  But it doesn’t take long for them to warm up as I show them pictures of my family and pets and ask them about their new teachers and school supplies.  Backpacks are an important topic, especially to the younger kids.  By the way, Transformers and Frozen seem to be tied for first for Most Popular Backpack.  (And for those who aren’t up on popular trends, Frozen pertains to the newest Disney animated movie, not the temperature).

The kids soon are very comfortable in my classroom as they explore my reading tent (a $3 garage sale find!) and my stuffed book characters such as Clifford, Curious George, and Horton ($5 Kohl’s finds!).  They are soon informing me of such things as to how their baby sister eats dog food and the like.

I had two new young friends who colored beautiful pictures and then bestowed them upon me as gifts, which will proudly be displayed by my desk so I can look at them during the year.

Kids.  That’s why I teach. I can handle the early morning alarm, the necessity of wearing clothes I have to iron, the reduction in the amount of coffee I drink because I don’t know when I’ll get a bathroom break, and all the politics that seems to overshadow education these days because of the kids.

Kids are funny, forgiving, excited to learn, and are just happy to be in the moment. Isn’t that the way we should all be?

Happy First Day of School, everyone!

Marti Kindergarten edit

The Caffeinated Ginger with her kindergarten teacher on the first day of school.

My Near-Death Experience (Branson/Table Rock Part 2)

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The Caffeinated Ginger family enjoyed a few days’ vacation in the Branson/Table Rock area in July.  The first couple of days were spent eating, ziplining, eating, pontooning, eating…you get the picture.

On the third day, our oldest daughter had to get back to real life (AKA a job), so that left the remaining four of us to entertain ourselves.  We’ve been to the Branson area several times before, but one activity we had never tried was kayaking.  A friend of mine recommended using White River Kayaking in Branson.  Their office is located in historic downtown Branson.  Reservations are strongly encouraged.  I called them in the morning to see if we could reserve kayaks for that afternoon, and they only had one time slot left, so I recommend NOT just walking in and hoping to be fit into their schedule.

We headed to White River Kayaking to get ready for our new adventure.  The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable.  There are several  kayaking trips available, depending on how long of a journey you want to take.  We opted for the approximate 2.5 hour (5-6 miles) kayaking trip.  The staff fit us with life jackets and we rented a dry pack as well for our cell phones, car keys, etc. which was a very wise choice indeed we would soon find out.

We were then transported to our launching place on Lake Taneycomo.  We originally wanted to rent two tandem kayaks, but there was only one tandem kayak available, so Mr. CF and Dear Son were fit into single kayaks, and Dear Daughter #2 and I shared a tandem kayak.  One of the niceties that White River Kayaking affords their customers is they take a picture of you in your kayaks before you head off.  They then post the photos daily on their Facebook page and you are welcome to save your picture from their page.  Nice touch.

240Before we set off, the staff also gave us a quick kayaking tutorial being as I was a total newbie and the other three members of my family had only been kayaking once when we went to Mexico a  few years ago and they almost ended up in Cuba.

As we set off on The Caffeinated Ginger Family’s Most Excellent Kayaking Adventure, it started showering lightly. When we had left our campsite earlier that day the temperature was in the high 90’s and the heat index was 105 degrees.  So when it started raining, it caused fog to rise off the water, which made for a very mysterious setting.

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Dear Daughter #2 was the Captain of our tandem kayak.

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It was so quiet and peaceful.  Very relaxing.

Until the deluge of rain, lightning and thunder hit.

The light, enjoyable shower that we experienced at our launch had now turned into a major thunderstorm.  Dear Daughter and I now did what every brave adventurer does–we screamed our heads off and starting paddling as fast as our little arms would go.

This is why (1) I have no more pictures of the kayaking trip, and (2) I was very grateful that we’d spent $1.50 to rent the dry pack otherwise my phone would have been a goner.

So for the majority of our trip, it was raining–not always heavy, but definitely raining.  The fog also got thicker. Fog in and of itself doesn’t bother me, but when there are high-speed boats using the same waterway as you, it makes a person a little nervous that if a boat was to come hauling through Lake Taneycomo, there was a good chance they wouldn’t see a little kayak until it was too late.

Also, it was cold.  Although the heat index had been 105 degrees when we left camp earlier, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees and it was now 75 degrees outside. Combine the cooler temperature with the rain and the very cold water of Lake Taneycomo, we were just a wee bit chilly.

Even with the rain, fog and chilly atmosphere, we did have a great time (after the threat of being killed by lightning passed).  The scenery was beautiful–trees, waterfalls, wildlife–we almost felt as if we had stepped back in time a century or two.  In some areas of the kayak trip we passed residences that backed up to the lake and I couldn’t help but be jealous that they got to experience the lake view everyday.  If you are one of those people, I have one thing to say to you–Don’t take it for granted!

We also provided afternoon entertainment for some people who were sitting on their docks.  One gentleman sarcastically-but-in-a-kind-way called out to us, “You picked a great day to go kayaking!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, mister.  If I could figure out how to row myself over to you, I’d hit you over the head with my paddle.

With Dear Daughter’s and my supreme rowing abilities, we made it to the end of our kayaking journey way before Mr. CF and Dear Son completed their journey. We pried our drenched selves out of our kayak and collapsed on the ramp to try to dry out.

We did have these visitors come and keep us company as we tried to get our body temperatures to rise to normal levels.

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Days later–okay, maybe it was only several minutes, our menfolk finally arrived and we called White River Kayaking to come pick us up and take us back to their shop where I bought this awesome t-shirt as a memento of our death-defying feats of the day.

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We all agreed that kayaking is definitely something that we want to do again–maybe even enough to research buying our own kayaks to use closer to home–but perhaps not during a severe thunderstorm.

After eating a meal of nachos back at camp, we headed back into town for another round of Andy’s Frozen Custard because, well, it’s our vacation and we’ll eat what we want to.

I awoke earlier than the kids the next morning, so I went on a walk around the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground where we stayed at Indian Point.  We’ve always had great luck with Corps of Engineers parks–very clean and laid out well.  Indian Point is a gorgeous area right on the lake and just down the road from Silver Dollar City. There are several campgrounds as well as cabins, resorts, and motor inns on Indian Point.

This time we stayed near the marina and down the road from the swimming beach.

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This day was declared Shopping Day.  Branson offers lots of shopping opportunities.  I happen to be a fan of Tanger Outlet Mall.  It is right off the Branson Strip and offers lots of outlet stores such as Nike, Old Navy, Clark’s, Under Armour, and Gap.  On that day my mission was to find a pair of black dress shoes and some brown sandals. I didn’t find any (too bad, so sad), but I did buy a pair of cargo shorts at the Eddie Bauer outlet store in a size that I never thought I’d see again (go me!).

In the evening, Dear Daughter was going to see her favorite entertainers, The Haygoods. We first saw The Haygoods a few years ago when our oldest daughter performed with her high school’s show choir as the opening act for The Haygoods.  Dear Daughter #2 was immediately captivated by them.  Seriously. Every time we come to Branson, she has to go see them, and so the rest of the family draws straws to see who goes with her.  Dear Son was the winner this year, which left Mr. CF and I to our own devices. What to do, what to do….

We found a really cool hiking trail in the middle of Branson.  The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area can be accessed right off the Strip.

Since this hiking business was done spur of the moment, I was wearing flip flops (not really the preferred shoe of hiking), but we decided to go for it anyway.

hikers guide edit

 

The beginning of the trail started off innocently enough (even though it kind of reminded me of the set of The Walking Dead).

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However, then you get to the 317 steps.  Back in the late 1930’s, a family built a series of steps hewn from rock that led from the top of the mountain down to the river.

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  This is where I tripped in my flip flops and almost met my untimely death.

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Just in case you have miscounted the number of steps you’ve taken so far.

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Cave–And no, I didn’t venture in to see what living creatures might inhabit it.

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When it rains, this becomes a waterfall.

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Going down wasn’t bad, but going up?  My thighs were screaming, “Why me??  Why now??”

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View from the top.  Pretty, yes?

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You would never know you were in the midst of civilization.

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It was a beautiful hike and I highly recommend it to you.  However, I do not recommend wearing flip flops as they drastically reduce your chances of finishing your hike unscathed.

After our escapade through the wilderness, we were famished and thirsty, so we headed to a Mexican restaurant on the strip for food, drinks and people-watching.  We then picked up the offspring after The Haygoods show was finished.  Our plan was partake in Andy’s Frozen Custard one more time, but the line was HUGE and parking looked atrocious, so we bowed out this time even though it brought tears of sadness and regret to my eyes.

The next morning we packed up our mobile homestead to head back to real life.  My Chevy once again proved it was the Little Truck That Could and safely transported us back home.

I know that a lot people envision hillbillies and country western music when the name Branson is mentioned.  But as you can tell, there is a wide variety of activities and entertainment to keep most everyone busy and amused.  Thanks, Branson and Table Rock, for another family vacation filled with fun memories.