Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Magic Cat Poop

Eventually the title of this post might be a chapter title in James and I's ongoing memoir project. (Seriously, who wouldn't want to read that?) But in all reality, this post is hard to write, so maybe I'll post it, maybe I won't. If you're reading this, you'll know I guess.

Fifteen years ago, my Grandma Mary died, leaving my family her 5 month old Yorkshire Terrier puppy - a little black and brown hyper, untrained and frankly obnoxious, cutie. The first night she stayed with us, my mom put her cage in my room and tucked her into my arms, where she slept perfectly all night. Not that that good behavior was normal - or would reappear for 12 more years.

November 2008

Grandma Mary had insisted that a yorkie must have a proper, fancy name, but we could all tell she was not a little lady, so that lead us to call her Anastasia, or Anya for short. Or Anastasia Marie, when she was in trouble (which was often).

She barked. She peed on the carpets. She pooped in the closet. She chewed up American Girl toys. She ran away. She didn't listen. And I was obsessed with her, as any 10 year old would be. She drove our other dog, Sally, insane - always following her around. But Anya was a sweetie at heart. She used to climb on top of Sally and clean her ears and eyes, which Sally loved.

And then Sally died. She was my mom's first baby and the most well-behaved dog to ever roam the planet. 17 years is a long time to get attached to a dog, but Nonnie was there to help us through. Just like she's always been the for me: Grandma's death, Sally's death, Josh and Carl moving away, middle school, a 12 year old wanting to run away, high school, bad breakups, sleepovers, college, and marriage.

March 2009

No one could deny that that dog was mine and I was hers. We were meant for each other. I was never her mommy - I was her pack mate. When she was young, we used to rough house and fight and she'd bite me and attack me and we'd chase each other around the house and it was so. much. fun. I teased her, she jumped on me to wake me up, she used to stand by the couch and stare at Stephen and just bark at him until he payed attention to her - it was hilarious.

She would wonder off to some part of the house, and you'd call to her, she'd turn and look at you, and then keep going. That damn independent yorkie. She'd get so cranky when we'd stay up late and have friends over, watching movies, or TV, or listening to music. She would clamber out of her bed, give us the nastiest, dirtiest look ever, and then climb back in her bed in a huff.

August 2009

She loved scrambled eggs, tater tots, saltines, and ice cream. She'd eat anything - lemons, raw onions, herbs, pasta, or anything else that fell onto the floor. Including fuzz.

So when she was diagnosed with kidney failure in January, I thought I would die. What do you mean there's nothing we can do? I was scared, and really, really upset. Just thinking about Anya being gone sent me into a major panic attack. But we switched her diet, lowered her stress levels, and that little butthead bounced back, making it easy to forget she wouldn't be around forever.

January 2010

She used to climb into bed with me after Stephen went to work, and bury herself under the covers and stay there for hours, snoozing. She loved to give kisses, and I was the only one who didn't mind her stinky breath. I'm shamed to admit it, but I always kind of liked it - it was her.

About a month ago, she started getting really picky about food, and sleeping most of the day and night. We tried everything, but she started losing weight, and eventually we took her to the vet. He gave her fluids and anti-nausea medicine, but it didn't matter. 15 years and her body was shutting down. I should be more grateful, because as a dog who darted out in front of cars, flung herself off furniture without a thought, at an 8oz chocolate bunny at age 3, and once jumped off my parents' 17-foot deck after a lizard and landed without a care, it was truly amazing she lived as long as she did. She was happy, and healthy, and vigorous until the very end. Sturdy. Very sturdy for a yorkie - is what everyone always said. And she was, so to watch her decay was incredibly painful. And her trying to stay strong for me was sweet and sad.

June 6, 2013

The last two days - it's hard to think about. But the weather was perfect and we got to lay outside and enjoy the breeze, and everyone came to visit her and give her love. And she and I cuddled more in those last 48 hours than we had ever done and it was lovely. She was sweet, and tired, and peaceful.

We took a tour of the house, because she kept trying to walk around, and then we sat in our room, and I held her while she pressed her nose into my neck and relaxed. And I don't know what your spiritual beliefs are, and I don't really care, all I know is that she looked up at me with the clearest, most youthful, happy look I have ever seen from her. It was so vibrant that I was surprised, smiled and said 'Hey!' and then she was gone. I can't think past that point, because it was the most terrible moment of my entire life. But in that brief second, I  know she was looking at me with all the love I have for her.

March 2013

I dont' know how to cope with grief, I don't know how I'm supposed to go on day-by-day without my best friend. I miss her snoring, I miss her licking my toes, I miss her barking at the windows, trying to get 3 tennis balls in her mouth, eating every bit of food that dropped to the floor, begging for treats, and chasing after squirrels. I miss the way she checked on everybody, I miss her scruffy hair, the little white scar on her nose, her boogery eyes and soft little padded toes. And I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.

There are two ways I've been able to keep going day-by-day.

The first is the discussions I had with Stephen and James and Anya (our little family) towards the end. Telling Anya about the awesome place she was going to go - she would feel so much better and she could have tater tots, saltines, and steak any time she wanted, play in rivers, in the grass, play with Sally, Athena, Blaze, and Hershey, and roll in all sorts of stinky stuff, like cat poop, without it sticking to her. It's like Magic Cat Poop.

The other is the popular Rainbow Bridge Poem, which I felt combined well with my little family's discussions:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. 

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. 

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Organic Living - Updated

I've actually gotten several requests to give an update on our organic living situation. So here ya go:

Organic Things We Still Love:

(Updated from Here)

-Our Homemade All Purpose Cleaner -this stuff is the best. Seriously. It's so cheap and it works so well. We use it everywhere.

- The homemade window, glass, and chrome cleaner. We just had to buy a new bottle because the old one broke, but this stuff keeps our windows and mirrors sparkling clean. And it is super good at getting Anya's nose-slobber off the windows where she spends her days looking outside.

-We definitely still use vinegar and baking soda to clean the drains. Works like a charm and gets rid of the icky smells.

-The fruit and veggie wash. This is my first stop after getting home from the grocery store. I let things soak while putting away the rest of the groceries, dry them off, and put them in a bowl. It makes for easy grab-snacks, which is the lazy way to go, if you ask me! Plus, it helps berries last twice as long as they do otherwise.

Green Living:

(This is all updated from this post and this post).

-I'm still obsessed with Dr. Bronner's. I use it all the time, and in like everything. I've even switched to that brand body wash. I use the unscented kind, which costs $15.29 on drugstore.com and lasts like 4 months. It literally makes you squeaky clean. I LOVE IT. In the winter, I use it in addition to the Out of Africa organic body wash, which smells awesome and is super moisturizing.

-We still use Seventh Generation Laundry products (detergent and dryer sheets) and dish stuff (detergent and soap). I can't even wear stuff washed in other detergent anymore without it making me itchy. We add 1/4 c. vinegar to most loads of laundry because we love how clean and fresh it makes things, especially work and exercise clothing. We also add baking soda to towel loads (keeps the gunky smell out), and hydrogen peroxide to keep our whites fresh and bright.

-Mrs. Meyer's Handsoaps (in Lemon Verbena - which I'm obsessed with) is our go-to hand soap. I love that it doesn't dry my hands out at all, and it works really well.

-We both use Tom's of Maine's toothpaste, and I use Tom's of Maine's Deodorant. Speaking honestly, I'm a sweaty kid, and have never had much success with deodorants, but this stuff rocks (oh, and after the shower I always put on coconut oil - weird, but it's like it's own deodorant - love that stuff*).

-In terms of Makeup - I am loving Physician's Formula Organic Wear. I use the tinted moisturizer as foundation, the powder, the blush/bronzer set, and the eyeliner and mascara. Unfortunately, they just discontinued their eye shadow, and I haven't found an affordable/quality replacement that I like, so I've been using E.L.F. products from Target ($1 eyeshadow? I think yes). I also use the E.L.F. concealer/highlighter combo when we go out and I want fancier makeup - it's THE BEST and it's only $3. I just always make sure to clean my face off at night before going to bed (using coconut oil*).

-After the Queen Helene face wash ran out, I switched to Kiss My Face facial wash and I am obsessed. It smells super fresh and leaves my face completely clean, but not at all dry.

-Stephen has switched to Every Man Jack body wash, which James also uses. They both like how well it works, and I like how not-overly-fragranced it is. Men's fragranced stuff is the worst. We still have towels that smell like Stephen's old stuff.

-I tried switching from Yes to Tomatoes hair products to Burt's Bees , which turned out to be a great choice. I especially love the Pomegranate conditioner and shampoo. They leave my hair shiny and clean (for several days, I might add...) and I think it smells awesome. I've tried the Mango line as well, but I wasn't crazy about the smell and I didn't think the shampoo left my hair quite as clean.

Things that didn't work out:

-Composting. Love the idea, but we totally have a hard time following through. It's still on that wistful-to-do-list, but it always seems to fall to the wayside.

-The homemade furniture polish. I found that after time, it left a sticky residue and just didn't work as well as the cheap store-bought ones. So no, they're not organic, but I only use them once every two-three months. Our wooden furniture just doesn't get so dirty that a damp rag can't do the job.

* So. Coconut Oil. My end-all-be-all of organic health. Seriously, you name it, this stuff works for it.

  • Bi-Weekly, I coat my hair in it overnight, which keeps my hair super soft and shiny. It's especially been helpful since Hamez and I have been swimming (chlorine = dry dry dry). 
  • I use it as a makeup remover (works great for the occasional non-organic waterproof mascara for humid days), as deodorant (weird, but awesome)
  • lotion for my elbows and upper arms that get those little bumps (one week and they were gone)
  • a facial moisturizer. Despite being "oil", it doesn't make my face oily or clog my pores. The skin on my face is so clear and soft; it's crazy awesome. 
  • My mom uses it in cooking, which I haven't done yet, but heard it works super well. 

We've been doing a lot more shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and in the organic isles at Hy Vee. We've switched to organic milk because it lasts FOREVER. Seriously, it doesn't go bad for like two months, and we can never use a whole gallon before the expiration dates of the regular kind. Plus, I find that it upsets my tummy less.

We also are totally those people with the re-usable grocery bags and who wait for the organic foods to go on sale and ask for paper bags. I just think it's cooler that way.

What about you guys? What organic/green products do you use?? Or do you have any particular questions about products?

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya

Monday, June 3, 2013

Master Bedroom

Yes, our master bedroom has been done since August. Yes, I'm just now getting photos of it. Meh. It is what it is. Check out the progress:

This was before we moved in. Scary, right? 

I'm especially a fan of the wallpaper...

Precious shot of the spacious master bathroom. 

Hollow core doors and short hallway. 

While re-doing the bathrooms, Stephen took down the paneling. 

Luckily this was still pre-move in. 

Josh helped me paint this room the week of
our wedding - so afraid we were going to get
paint on the new carpet!

No more paneling! 
Then two years passed. And we never really got motivated to do the bedroom in the way we really wanted it. Then we did the master bathroom, and found that motivation. But up until that point, this is what we were dealing with:

You can tell the lighting is miserable. 

And everything was so. dark.

After finishing the bathroom last summer, we decided to paint
the bedroom a lighter, more neutral color. 

Anya was unamused.  
The refinished bedroom is so different: light, airy. Peaceful.

Pale grey walls? Check. Trim-colored closets and
white beams? Check!

Flowy curtains, courtesy my madre? Check. 

Bit different, right?

It looks nice with the bathroom, and we have a heavy grey curtain
acting as a door. It works. 

Eventually, this wall will hold some large piece of artwork.
We have some ideas, just waiting for the right price and
right item to come along! 

So there you have it, our master bedroom!



Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya