A tale of two kitties…

by Becky Andrews

Eight weeks ago I brought two new family members home. A mommy cat we named Elphaba and her baby Max. Both were cuddly and docile cuties. Until the third week when Elphaba went into heat.

This would be my first experience with an “in heat” cat. And let me just say, it’s quite a spectacle. Day and night she shrieked, purred, and stuck her butt up in the air. Her behavior was driving everyone nuts. Even Jay, who in the beginning quipped, “This wouldn’t be annoying at all if you did that” had enough of her amorousness. After doing research, I found out that this party would last seven to 10 days and could repeat every month until she was spayed.

I called the vet.

Four weeks later she was spayed. On our way home after her surgery, I could tell she was different. And by different, I mean pissed off. “She’ll be fine once she sees Max” I thought. WRONG. She wasn’t howling or sticking her butt up in the air. But she wasn’t the same.

Six days after bringing her home from the vet, I noticed a smell and located the source of that odor under my bed. Elphaba had found a new space to go potty. I didn’t get mad. Just grossed out. I took to Google to find out more about this sudden personality change. Apparently the surgery and time away from home traumatized our sweet cat. Her way of processing those emotions happened to be crapping under my bed. My vet recommended that the only thing I could do was to keep cleaning her daily messes, spraying an odor neutralizer and reassuring her that she was in a safe space. Any type of discipline is strongly discouraged.

After spending a king’s ransom buying calming collars, kitty treats and “non-aggressive” behavior modifying sprays, it was hard not to shove her nose into those steamy little presents at 2am. I refrained and just encouraged-no begged-her to please try and use the nice, big, flushable, Cat Genie next time she voids her bowels. I thought the problem was fixed when I used a “keep-out” spray on the area she had chosen to take her daily dumps.

However, 14 days post-surgery while tidying up the laundry room, I found her new spot…BEHIND AND BESIDE THE LITTER BOX. Trying not to gag while picking up what looked like 20 pounds of cat poo, it was hard not to get angry. It was even harder when she would look at me with eyes that said, “Yeah, I did it. Whadd’ya gonna do about it? Nothing! And don’t forget to freshen up my water bowl, lady!” This was causing more stress than my kids when they were newborns. I started regretting her surgery. Suddenly howling and butt up in the air didn’t seem so bad.

After more research, late night phone calls to our vet, soliciting advice from cat owners on icatcare.com and googling “cat psychics” I was at my wit’s end.

Desperate I turned to my husband for advice. “I’d do the same thing if someone named me Elphaba.” As usual, he was no help.

It was beginning to look like our new family members would have to move outdoors. Until my husband had a brilliant, albeit time consuming, idea. Take back the expensive, bundle some Cat Genie and exchange for an easier to use multi-cat litter system. That’s all it took. So we are back to normal until Max is ready for his surgery. Elphaba has healed from surgery physically. Emotionally, she’s still not quite the same. Then again, what mother is after giving birth?

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Summer Games

By Angel Kane

My parenting responsibilities always require that I go into overdrive during the summer months. School is out which means no set schedule, late night television viewing and unfettered access to junk food. This also means many more opportunities for my crew of three to fight, argue and basically drive me crazy.

As parents, we each have our own coping mechanism and mine is to institute competitive games.

Write It Down

Write It Down was born after my receiving 28 text messages, 8 calls and 6 voicemails, all within a span of thirty minutes while sitting in court AFTER I told my children…I’m in court, stop bothering me!! 

Upon my return to the office, Write It Down was born.

Your sister calls you a name…write it down.

Your brother pushes you…write it down.

Your dog chews your favorite pair of shoes…write it down.

For extra game points you may also video tape them committing the unconscionable act.

When I get home, I will review the evidence and institute the appropriate punishment.

Upon hearing of the game, my middle child went off... you can’t change the rules in the middle of the day!! Apparently, she was concerned. My youngest, on the other hand, went to town… writing it down!

I Find It Offensive

So as we sat in the Atlanta airport, 24 hours after missing our first flight, angry, hungry, and smelly….I came up with another game.

Each of my  crew was given $100.00 by their grandmother to use for their summer trip. Each of my crew had, in said 24 hour period, insulted a sibling at least 24 times. Each insult required 72 times that I had to stop what I was doing to tell them to...stop it!

The rules of I Find It Offensive are quite simple.

If you insult, ignore or irritate your sibling and I find it offensive, you must give $5.00 of your $100.00 to the offending party. You can try earn money back from whomever you offended… but that’s an almost impossible level of the game to reach. And if you harass me about the five dollars, you have to give me ten dollars.

My eldest decided the only way she would survive vacation would be to become a mute. Which I found offensive!

We Are Now Juicing

Summer is my favorite time to get healthy. Summer is my only time to get healthy. And by MY, I mean WE. As a family. Get healthy.

Last summer it was a short-lived garden followed by a CSA membership. This year we are on Level 2 of this game.

We are juicing.

I bought a juicer and filled a grocery basket with kale, spinach, oranges, lemons, apples, celery, cucumbers and ginger.

Thereafter, I proceeded to chop up the entire cart, turned it into juice, poured 5 tall glasses and insisted we all play my new game. Brody refused, Neill gagged, Zoe complained, Madison sipped and I… am no longer juicing.

Liquid kale is not a fun game!

Math Tutoring In The Comfort Of Your Home

Amazing what a little ingenuity can accomplish. It came to me after another barrage of calls that had to do with a list of chores that couldn’t possibly be accomplished in an 8 hour day while sitting by the pool.

Every year I attempt to enroll my crew in math tutoring, only to be thwarted by the fact I can’t get three kids to their various math classes, swim classes, soccer classes, tennis classes… you get the picture. This year, however, twin tutors are making math house calls, four hours a week, in the comfort of my home, for the benefit of my lovely children.

Game over!

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Capturing Summer

3 tips for decorating with flowers from your own back yard

by Elizabeth Scruggs, www.superior-construction-and-design.com

elizabeth

One of my favorite things about the spring and summer months are flowers.  I love to garden in my flower bed and share different varieties with friends.  So get outside and bring some of summer’s beauty into your space.  It’s good for your soul!

When it comes to cutting and arranging to enjoy inside, there are a few steps I follow to make a pleasing arrangement:

 

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1. Nothing is off limits as far as a container for the arrangement.  Think outside the box and use something not typically used for flowers.  Here I used a crystal piece for a more formal arrangement.  Oak Leaf Hydrangea with a few springs of Magnolia leaf make a simple yet stunning display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2. I always decorate in odd numbers, and the same holds true for flowers.  Odd numbers of items always make a more beautiful arrangement.

Lamb’s Ear paired with Knockout Roses and Coneflowers provide just enough contrast, while the texture of the Lamb’s Ear lends a touch of softness.  Working with a taller piece in the center, graduate to smaller on the sides.  Keeping it a bit off center makes it look more natural and less arranged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Simplicity- less is always more.  I follow this when decorating any space, and the same holds true for fresh arrangements.  The simplicity of a single stem in a vessel can have a dramatic effect.

 

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Worry Wart

By Becky Andrews

I sat at my desk recently and stared at the headlines coming in on the CNN website. “Unemployment rate soars in third quarter”, “Healthcare Crisis Looms over US”, “Beloved Actor/Comedian Commits Suicide” and on and on. As much as the news of the day was seriously starting to affect my mood, I just couldn’t turn away. As if I didn’t already have enough to worry about, now I had to add the national debt, unemployment rates and Ebola to my list of problems to solve.

I am by nature a worrier, a hand wringer, a “what if” kind of gal. It’s the one character flaw that literally drives me nuts. And my husband -poor guy- tries to be as patient as possible when I am having one of those moments. I could feel his patience wearing thin a few days ago when he calmly listened to me tell him why I thought the nagging pain in my leg had nothing to do with getting back into a regular running routine but rather a blood clot that could travel to my lung and BOOM, kill me! He looked at me and said, “I doubt it. It sounds like a heart attack in the making.”

You can imagine my relief to find out that I’m not the only person who makes a habit of losing sleep over problems that have absolutely no chance of happening or affect me in any way. Most of my close friends admitted to this little neurosis at one time or another. Who can help it? It seems you can’t turn on the television, computer or walk down the street without being inundated with all that’s wrong in the world. While the headlines change for CNN, its aftermath lingers in our households for days to come.

Not long ago I saw a special report on the benefits of a meat free diet. I knew this would be a hit and my boys would love it. Much like I love an audience when weighing. My husband explained that in order to feel full, an animal must die.  There are other times he is happy I implement new practices. Like when I decided we should go on a “material diet” and not buy anything except groceries and gas for 30 days. He was all for it until I told him that no TV was part of the purge.

We decided from that point on to go on a different diet. Instead of going on strike against a delicious steak, checking the balance of our retirement account 20 times a day or having the national debt clock displayed as wallpaper on my PC, we would go on a news diet. And believe it or not, ours has been a much more relaxed household since.

It’s not to say we don’t watch the news. I still listen to NPR every day- mostly because All Things Considered is my jam. But we are limiting the negative and increasing our exposure to all the positive tidbits that surround us. Because really what can I do about that national debt, the rapidly decreasing value of my IRA or worrying if I could get cancer?

The answer is nothing. Instead I realized that worrying about what bad things might happen keeps me from enjoying all the good things that are happening right now.

You can reach Becky Andrews at becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

 

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Breast exam ever…

By Becky Andrews

So I got a mammogram today. It sounds like it was a spur of the moment thing. It was, actually. I’ll “yada, yada” through most of the boring part that led me to squeeze this into a busy Saturday.

So I got a mammogram today. I’ll be 41 in a few months and it’s been five years since my last exam. The only reason I had that one is because my gynecologist recommended it after the breast check at my yearly appointment. In 2010 I got the mammogram then an ultrasound, and walked out of the office with a clean bill of health. A cyst. Nothing to worry about, right?

Which brings me back to the point.

A mobile mammography unit was part of a women’s health event I attended. I signed the release, handed over my insurance card and began answering-and asking-questions.

“Have you had a mammogram before today?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

“2010. You don’t have to weigh me today, do you? Because if you do, I don’t want to do this today. Why would you need to weigh anyone for a mammogram anyway?”

“No, we don’t weigh you. Do you have any problems with your breasts?”

“God, where do I begin? They seem to have a mind of their own. Without proper foundations, it looks like two ferrets are attached to my chest.”

“I meant, ‘Do you have any pain? Any specific reason you are here today?’”

“Oh. That was embarrassing-for both of us, HA!”

Silence.

“I’m here because it’s been five years since my last mammogram.”

She directed me to a small room so I could change into a paper gown, remove my deodorant and wait. As luck would have it, that’s when I started sweating.

A few minutes later, a stranger was helping me pull skin that once covered my right shoulder blade and place it onto a shelf that felt like a sheet of ice. From there a machine that squished my left boob so tightly I was sure the goal was to rip it completely from my chest. During the exam, I couldn’t help wonder if men have a mandatory exam like this. Testagram?

After both were sufficiently photographed, the super kind technician allowed me to look at the film. Because with all of my medical training via WebMD I should have no problem self-diagnosing anything that looks out of the ordinary, right? But before I could give myself a clean bill of health, the technician, pointing to shadowed area on the screen said, “Your doctor is probably going to call you in for an ultrasound to check this area right here.”

Suddenly it didn’t matter if someone wanted to weigh me. It didn’t matter if I’d been constipated for 30 days, I’d happily step on the scale in front of everyone I knew. The implication of “your doctor is probably going to call you…” made all of those superficial things I worry about seem well, superficial. Who cares if my breasts have given in to gravity or that I’ve gained 10 pounds since January or that I have a balance on my credit card?

“Honestly, it’s probably the same spot from 2010. It’s on the same breast.”

“That’s all?”

“Yep. If you are worried, call your doctor on Monday.”

I called. It was the same cyst from 2010 and it hasn’t changed in size or appearance.

So things are back to normal, for the most part. Only now, I’m going to do my best NOT to let the number on the scale or in my bank account dictate the mood of my day, week, month or year. I could get hit by a car tomorrow. Sad, yes. But, the real tragedy would be all the wasted time spent worrying about things that no one do not matter instead of remembering the story about the breast exam EVER.

Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Raising Boys

By Becky Andrews
Every so often while in conversation with another mom or dad, one will say, “Be glad you have boys. At least you don’t have to worry about fill in the blank.” We are usually talking about teenage hormones, self-esteem, or dating. I’m positive no one ever makes statements like that to minimize the effort, patience, and sometimes obscene amounts of chocolate and unhealthy carbohydrates it takes to raise a boy.

Hormones

Yes, teenage boys experience their fair share of hormones. The difference between boys and girls on the hormonal front? Where shall I begin? Clint Eastwood, UFC and ESPN has convinced our lads, and probably our lad’s dads, that in order to be tough the showing of emotions is a “no-no.” Some days I feel like a computer antivirus trying to delete sexist spam that gets through their firewall. Sure, there are a few sports legends and movie stars that break outside of that box and shed a tear every now and then. But I’ll bet they didn’t show so much as an eye twitch as a 15 year old boy with acne and no makeup to cover it up with

Dating

This has been a tough one. As the mother of boys there’s an expectation that I should be laid back about this. You know, because I have boys. If laid back means my husband and I talking to our boys about things that our parents never did-like explaining that consequences of bad behavior can be far more life changing than early parenthood OR waiting until WE feel our little Johnny Hormone is ready emotionally for dating then, yes, we are laid back. Keep in mind, that with all of our effort, our boys may still do things they shouldn’t when it comes to dating-girls do too.

Self-esteem

While it’s been said that men are simple creatures, teenage boys are not. They can be just as mysterious as their female counterparts. You know why? BECAUSE THEY WON’T TALK TO YOU ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS! This is the worst. As past president and volunteer social secretary of the Low Self Esteem Club, I’m probably hypersensitive to early warning signs of LSE…when it comes to women. But with boys, it’s totally different. Because even in 2015 girls are taught to express their feelings while boys are often (but not always) encouraged to suck it up. So when boys feel bad, they don’t “talk it out.” Because to acknowledge “feelings” would be admitting weakness. Trying to teach my boys that it’s ok to talk things out isn’t always an easy task. It gets a lot of eye rolls when I start in on this topic.

Encouraging my sons through the awkward hormonal years, being strict about dating and making sure they know that it’s ok to be different, is just as important to me as it is for you to teach your daughters to be empowered. So I can’t be laid back about certain things. I want this boy to grow up into a wonderfully kind man who shows respect to all people. But shows the most respect to those living in his home.

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I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m constipated. Or why I want you to know I’m in therapy.

By Becky Andrews

Summer break has arrived. Normally, I’m ecstatic about the guarantee of at least five sunny days a week. This year…not so much. The truth is, I feel weird. It’s like a cross between feeling like I’ve walked across a crowded room with my dress accidentally tucked into my underwear and like I just ate too much raw broccoli. Not crying, not laughing, just uncomfortable. So I’m about to spill it. I’m depressed. Yes, that kind. Thankfully my children and mortgage won’t allow me to stay in bed on days where that melancholy feeling is especially strong. But, I’m scared of this. Just knowing that there are days I would gladly forego a day spent in the beautiful outdoors to stay in bed watching bad reality television and scrolling through Facebook is reason for concern.

Speaking of Facebook. Seeing posts of your perfect bikini body standing on the shores of some exotic location, perfect children who do whatever you want without complaining, and photos of Smithsonian worthy Pinterest projects just makes it worse. I’m happy for you. Really, I am. Minus the “perfect bikini body” thing, I’ve done the same. I know you have bad days like I’ve been having and maybe this is a way of aversion therapy for you. But it just makes me dislike you for a little while.

By early spring I could tell things were different. That’s when I decided it was time to start seeing a therapist again. (Pause for collective gasp)  Meaning I’ve been down this road of seeking self-awareness before. I’m four sessions in. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. If you’re struggling, I hope this helps you.

  1. Therapy is good-make that, essential. Thank God it’s available. And contrary to what my parents and their parents believed. Not everyone who’s in therapy is a “nut case.” Some are nuts though.
  2. Stop hiding, start talking. For me, painful experiences heal faster when I talk about them. It’s not easy. But on the other side of processing comes acceptance and understanding of why you do the things you do. (This is where I found out why I’ve been on a perpetual diet for the past 25 years.)
  3. It’s going to be ok. No matter how anxious, sad or overwhelmed you may be, this will pass. You will survive. Being happy 24/7 shouldn’t be the goal. If that’s your aim, you may wind up being a “nut case.”
  4. Honesty really is the best policy. With others and with yourself. No matter how you phrase it, honesty, transparency, being real, it’s very freeing. When you decide to do this, your circle may change. But it’s worth it, trust me. Life is hard enough without having toxic people around you.
  5. I will never be a size 4 (for longer than a day or two) and the only feeling I had at that size was hunger.
  6. I’m enough. Enough of what I don’t know yet. That probably takes a few more sessions.
  7. I make mistakes. As a mom, as a daughter, as a wife, sister, friend, and so on.
  8. I’m not my parents. Even though I had great parents who made their fair share of mistakes, this doesn’t mean I’ll make the same ones just because we share the same DNA.
  9. I’m a good mom. Not because of material things. Not because of being a room mom (something I did one year and wasn’t asked again.) Not because I once coached my youngest son’s basketball team (FYI-telling parents the only qualification you have to coach is watching Hoosiers 25 times isn’t a good idea.) I’m a good mom because I love my kids enough to show them (sometimes on a daily basis) that we are all imperfect.
  10. Time can’t be controlled. Yes, it’s moving too fast. Yes, my kids are growing up and becoming more independent. This can’t be changed. There’s two options. Either worry about every turn or sit back and take in the scenery. Option B is so much easier.

I’m telling you just in case you think you’re the only one having a bad day, month or year. You aren’t alone. While it’s important to remember that your situation can always be worse, it’s just as important to realize that it will also get better. Unless you’re constipated. You’ll need some fiber for that.

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