Tuesday, July 27, 2010

$2000 dog toy

Monty's surgery went very well. They removed the blockage and the vet said that his intestines looked good, and he expected him to recover well. Now we have to hope that the kidney failure and pancreatitis were effects of him being extremely dehydrated, and not a coincidental additional problem. He's home now and seems to be in pretty good spirits, considering.

Luckily he didn't have an intussuscuseption of his intestines (where the intestine gets stuck inside itself) and he didn't have a tumor or growth. So what was in there? Did he eat one too many woodland creatures? No... for some unimaginable reason he swallowed a piece of one of Brodie's dog toys making this, I think, probably the world's most expensive dog toy. Brodie has jaws of steel and will occasionally manage to chew off a chunk of his super heavy duty almost indestructible red rubber dog toy, which Monty apparently thought would make a tasty snack. It's very strange. This toy is old and filthy (Brodie plays with it in the yard) and I don't even like to touch it so I cannot imagine why Monty wanted to eat it. Yuck!

He gets to start on some small portions of food tomorrow, and we're hoping he'll start eating and drinking again and will be back to his normal happy self in no time. Until then, Monty says... "I've had a hard day, please let me sleep..."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monty Update

So Monty appears to have some sort of blockage in his intestine. It's not bone because it's not showing up on the x-ray, so it's either some big furry lump of woodland creature, something man-made that he ate because he's none too bright (like a piece of a toy), some kind of weird intestinal mishap (where the intestine kind of folds in on itself) or some kind of growth or tumor. He's scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning and then the mystery will be solved.

He's still not eating or drinking and we're still having to give him IV fluids to keep him from shriveling up like a kitty raisin. It is odd that kidney failure initially accompanied this, but hopefully it is all related to this problem and after he has it removed he'll get back to being his normal happy self.

Here's a picture of him when Brodie was added to the family... showing him who's boss. Brodie grew pretty fast though and this didn't last for long. They're friends now though because they're both too old to tango like this any more...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mr. Monty Mo

Those of you who have met him know that our cat Monty is without a doubt the world's most awesome kitty. When I first moved here from Scotland Ben convinced me that we should just go and look at some kittens, because I'd never held a kitten before. As soon as I met Mr. Monty I was smitten. He was so tiny and sweet and cuddly and licked us with his tiny pink kitten tongue. Since then I've learned that Ben is sneaky, and can be pretty convincing after we "just go and look" at something, and now I try to resist looking at things like cars and computers and tvs and kittens and puppies with him, but that's another story...

That Thanksgiving the three of us drove from Ann Arbor to Minneapolis. The drive is about 12 hours, and 12 hours in a car with a kitten was an interesting experience...

This week Monty has been really sick. On Monday I noticed that he was throwing up and seemed really unhappy. He felt really strange to touch too, kind of stiff, it was very weird. On Tuesday morning I took him to the vet, who was immediately very concerned and told me he was really dehydrated. He ran some tests and learned that he was in kidney failure, as well as having pancreatitis. He started saying things like "we have to hope this works, or we might not get him back"... poor Monty was not a happy kitty. He spent all Tuesday at the vet being given IV fluids and an antibiotic, and then came home on Tuesday night and just kind of sat around miserably. On Wednesday he spent another day at the vet for more of the same, and by Wednesday night he was much perkier and his test results were back to normal. We took him home with a big bag of fluids and antibiotics to inject into him twice a day (which is really awful for everyone). Today he's still better than he was, but has no energy, and is still not eating or drinking despite being tempted with his very favorite foods. We have to take him back in to the vet tomorrow morning to give him some medicine to try to increase his appetite, and decide if we should be trying anything else.

The vet doesn't know what happened. It's possible that he consumed something that poisoned him and caused the kidney failure. He catches and eats woodland creatures sometimes, so it's possible that something didn't agree with him or there's some kind of foreign matter stuck in his tummy causing him problems and making him not want to eat or drink. Or it could be something else entirely.

I hope we figure it out soon though! I'm still worried about him and hope that he'll be back to his normal happy kitty self before too long!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Food, glorious food!

Every two weeks I pick up a CSA box from a local farm. Well, the farm drops it at a coffee shop near my house and I pick it up form there. CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, which involves paying a fee at the beginning of the year and receiving a weekly (or, in our case, every-other-weekly) box of fresh, organically grown, local vegetables. The "growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production" and having a box of surprise vegetables is very exciting! And I like knowing that my veggies are from a local farm that we're helping to support instead of coming all this way on a boat from a far off land. It has been ridiculously rainy this year so the veggies have been kind of slow to start and we've been getting mostly salad and radishes until this week when we got a variety of beautiful and strange looking food.

Which leads me to the newest feature! It's called... Vegewhatable?!

Today we got two of these...

At first I thought I'd just google it, but then I realised that a search containing keywords such as "firm", "smooth", and "protuberances" was unlikey to lead to appropriate results. So I thought I'd ask you all instead... I need to know what this is, and what to do with it!

Round two of Vegewhatable!? features this...

Googling is just as risky with this one... "mottled... slightly knobbly..." so I need some ideas of this too. I assume it's some kind of banana, but who knows ;-)

So, please help!

As promised in the last post, I'm going to tell you all about crouton and guacamole. We've been eating lots of salad, and Ben's favourite part of a salad is either jalapeƱos or crouton. And it turns out it's actually super easy to make your own crouton! I just slice some bread into squares. Small, large, whatever. It works best if you have bread that's a little more rustic than regular sliced loaf, but that'll work too. Then toss the squares around in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and pepper, then bake them. I usually do around 400F but it doesn't really matter what temp. After about 5-7 minutes pull them out, flip them around and stir them about a bit, then bake them some more, usually about 7 more minutes. Sometimes longer. Just bake them until they're pretty much brown all over. Voila! Crouton!

Recipe 2 is guacamole. Mmmmmm guacamole. I love guacamole. Sadly, often the stuff you buy turns out to be nasty, so I started to make it myself. Here's what you do... start with ripe avocados. These will be a little bit squishy when you press on them. It's important to know this. Don't use non-ripe ones. Trust me. Then mash up the flesh. Add some finely chopped red onion. More if you're an onion fan, less if you're not. Add some salt. And some lemon juice. If you're using the stuff in a bottle, I use about a dessert spoonful. Add some jalapeƱo if you're brave. I'm not. Mix it all up. Add more of anything that seems to need more. Usually salt. Eat. Mmmm good.

Well, I hope you enjoyed today's production. After I figure out what to do with my vegewhatables I'll let you all know...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Updates, excuses...

I'll begin with the excuses... Adele doesn't sleep!! If I'm lucky she'll sleep for a couple of hours in the morning (on mornings when Fiona is at daycare I use this to frantically catch up on work) and then if she does nap for more than 10 minutes in the afternoon Fiona puts a lot of effort into waking her up as efficiently as possible. Then in the evening I put her to bed and begin dinner. She wakes up. I put her back to bed and resume making dinner. She wakes up. Repeat until I manage to eat my dinner very fast, then put her back to bed again until around 10.30 when she finally gives up and goes to sleep. After this we go to bed and on a good night she only wakes up once, on a normal night it's 2 or 3 or 5 times. Anyway, the point is that she makes me very tired. And that's my excuse for not making more bloggings!

So the good news is that she doesn't seem to need sleep to grow, and at her weight check appointment yesterday weighed in at 12lb 10oz. She's still very tiny (somewhere in the 5th - 10th % compared to 5 month olds, nowhere near being on the charts compared to 7 month olds) but is growing steadily and is healthy, which is all the doctor wants to see.

Adele gets more cute and interactive every day. I have so many pictures of her being adorable and making cute faces...

She is fascinated with Fiona and they get along fairly well most of the time. They spent some time together in a boat...

And just hanging out...

She loves to lie on the floor and watch Fiona playing.

Fiona has a little dolls house with a Mummy, Daddy and Baby. She also has a garage with a random man and a mechanic. In addition to this she has a variety of duplo animals. She loves to play with them all together and when I was sorting through the photos I came across this gem...

Yes, there are three people in that bed, and a variety of farm animals are sharing the bedroom. The baby is also haphazardly thrown into bed upside down. I swear, this is not an accurate representation of life in our house...

Look how happy she is...

But that is not all! Doggie and Daddy get to rest...

While Mummy does the laundry and baths the baby...

She also commentates the goings on in the house, which can sometimes involve the Mummy shouting angrily at the Daddy... usually telling him to get out of bed... um... nope, never happens in real life. Eeek!!

Along with the playing, she's now able to pretend something that isn't really happening... like pretending to be cold. What's even funnier is that when she really is cold, like after a bath, this is exactly what she does to show that she's cold. When I watched this I laughed so hard that it hurt...

I was going to also talk about guacamole and croutons because I know I've been neglecting to share my recent culinary adventures but Adele just woke up for the 7th time this evening so I'm going to save those for another time... it's fascinating stuff though, so look forward to it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


For Americans, July 4th, or Independence Day is a day where they celebrate independence from Britain. The celebration usually takes the form of gathering with friends and family, eating delicious foods, and blowing things up. Mostly fireworks, but pretty much anything goes today. A nice part of this holiday is the day off work that comes with it...

For Ben and I July 4th will always have a special memory associated with it. July 4th, 2003 (yep, 7 whole years ago) was the day we first met. And to commemorate that, here's a stroll down memory lane... Most of you have probably heard this story before, but I'm telling it anyway!

I was hired for the summer as a research assistant in a lab in the psychology department at the University of Michigan. I needed somewhere to stay while I was there, and began researching apartment sublets. There were a few that I found that seemed reasonable, and I settled on one in particular. Due to a variety of things (none very interesting) the one I planned on fell through and I finally got hold of my number 2 choice and agreed to stay there. The person I was subletting from gave me the information of the person who'd be staying in the other room, and after a couple of phone conversations and a few emails I was confident that this person was not only not a psychopath, but seemed like a really nice guy. I'm talking about you, Jim!

I arrived on July 2nd, though my luggage did not. I'm not sure if it turned up on the 3rd or 4th, but I was very relieved when it did because my new roommate and I were going to have going to hang out and go to a fireworks display with his cousin and some people for the 4th of July, and I don't think they'd have appreciated my new "Scotland never gets this hot and I only have one spare shirt and it's already pretty nasty" scent.

We were picked up on the evening of the 4th and piled into the car. In the front was Jim's cousin Ben, and his friend Peter, and in the back was a girl, who was the girlfriend of one of them, but I wasn't sure which one exactly. I remember thinking "I hope she's not the cute one's girlfriend, because that would be just my luck" but at no point on the drive over did it become clear, and I felt too awkward and shy to ask.

Once we arrived at the location of the fireworks I figured out that the girl was with the "other one" which was good news, and not only that but the cute one spent the duration of the evening standing with his back to the fireworks chatting with me. He seemed very nice and friendly and funny, and let's not forget about the cuteness, and I had a very pleasant evening.

Of course, all good things come to an end. But not before we all stopped for a snack on the way home and I discovered that the big scoop of ice cream on my french toast that I took a bite of was, in fact, butter (first of many exciting discoveries about American food customs). A few days later I told Jim I thought his cousin was cute, and shortly after that we had a group outing where he decided I was cute too, and then asked me out for real on a real date where he paid for my beers and made me laugh and smooched me on the doorstep (sorry, Dad), and the rest is history.

And now, if you made it through all that, are some pictures for your enjoyment!

There are very few pictures of us together from that summer, but here's a really bad one...

And here's one from a few months later when he visited me at Christmas. Wow, we were young!

And because that day led to big things, here is a picture of the girls from today, ready to party!

Happy 4th of July everyone!