The First of Many Lasts

mikeThe official countdown of “Lasts” has begun, as Cait rolls into her final quarter of her senior year.

Last night was the last talent show that I’ll ever attend with Cait at her high school.

After an exhausting day of  long meetings and short deadlines, I got home well after supper. Cait took one look at my bedraggled self and said, “Mom, you don’t have to come.”

I didn’t let myself sit down at the table because I knew that would have been the end of me; I wouldn’t have been able to drag myself anywhere except to bed.

I didn’t even take off my coat. I grabbed a bite standing up, walked back toward the door and said, “You driving or me?”

Now, if you’ve ever been to a school talent show, you may be wondering about my willingness to subject myself to this special brand of torment.

Continue Reading

Aside from the fact that this is always something Cait and I have done together, there is just something about the whole experience that transfixes me.

Last night was no exception.

Without fail, every year, there’s some poor kid who’s pushed himself outside of his comfort zone to share something personal he loves to do. Last night, this badge of courage went to a sophomore boy who played the guitar and sang a song that he’d written.

He was so painfully shy, that I reflexively cringed for him. He scuffled over to the mike, took a couple of strums on his guitar and launched into the quietest and most quivered singing I think I’ve ever heard. He stumbled over the first few words, then stopped to compose himself. Hands shaking, he started all over again. My heart dropped through the floor for him.

We all know how cruel kids that age can be. And you might have expected that this kid was in for some pretty heavy heckling for his less than “American Idol” worthy performance.

You’d have been wrong.

An auditorium full of jocks and emos and geeks and gang members all roared with encouragement and applause. Any time he stumbled, the heartfelt cheering of his peers raised him back up, until he finally finished to a standing ovation.

An equivalent of that has happened at every school performance I’ve ever been to. That’s why I didn’t want to miss the show last night. I knew there’d be that moment where my spirits would get lifted to the heavens.

Many people don’t hold out much hope for the younger generations. Getting to witness what’s so very, very good about this generation– I’ve come to learn just how worthy they are of great hope.



How to Protect Your Dog in Cold Weather

After two days of reasonable winter temps, we’re headed back for another brutal cold snap. All kidding aside about Graidy and Wink being winter wusses, they both have conditions that make the cold and snow more difficult for them to handle. Both  have very fine, single layer coats with little insulation value (versus Kiera’s thick 2-layer winter coat with undercoat). Graidy, at 10 yrs old, has a touch of arthritis and Wink’s short legs often put his underside in direct contact with the snow.

The easiest solution is to keep dogs inside except when they need to relieve themselves.

But what do you do when you have a dog with high exercise needs, like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies? Well, this is what I did.

Continue Reading

dog-coatK-9 Overcoat™
Abrasion-resistant insulated jacket

The Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat™ is our classic cold-weather utility jacket. Sturdy, durable materials keep up with the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Auto-lock buckles on each side provide easy on/off.

Cold Weather Dog Boot

Summit Trex™  Everyday paw protection
(Set of 4 dog boots)

Summit Trex dog boots provide everyday traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. The Ruffwear-designed outsole provides flexible traction while an integrated stretch gaiter protects legs and locks out dirt and debris.


Musher's Secret Dog Paw WaxMusher’s Secret

This easy-to-apply all-natural wax-based cream protects paws from harsh surfaces. Protect paws from sand, hot pavement, ice and salt with all natural 100 percent wax-based cream. When applied to pads and between toes, dries in seconds to form a semi-permeable shield. Non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-staining formula can be used weekly or as needed to prevent abrasions, burning, drying and cracking. Perfect for mushing, hunting, walking or before any outdoor activity. Acts as an invisible boot to prevent potential paw problems. Easy-to-apply formula contains vitamin E to moisturize and help heal wounds and keep paws healthy. Available in pack of 7-ounces. Measures 3-4/5-inch length by 3-4/5-inch width 3-4/5 height.

Here are some additional conditions from the AVMA  to be mindful of:

Know the limits:  Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets.

If you’ve found any tips or special gear that you love, please share!



How Cold is It…?

King Charles Cavalier in snow It’s been in the single and negative digits here for days, as it has been for many states across the Mid West and North East. Too cold for man or beast to dally outside.

When Kiera was here, she’d have pointed out that I wasn’t a man and she wasn’t a beast–and she would have insisted that we go walking.

She’d have looked at the thermometer, noted its mercury nose-dive with a nod, as if to say, “You gonna let a little thing like that scare you?” And I’d have laughed and put both of us in our “snow suits and boots.” And we’d have at least made it down to the horse farm, if not all the way down to the end of the road.

We both always felt much better after taking in a little fresh air.

But Graidy and Wink…? They’d completely agree with the “better inside for beasts” motto; they don’t have the same constitution for the cold. Even trying to convince them that it’s in their own best interest to go out to relieve themselves takes some doing.

If you asked them, “How cold is it?” They’d tell you, “Hell has officially frozen over!”

How cold is it where you are?



Best Cat Scratching Post EVER!

Sing it with me! Hallelujah!!!!

Those of you who’ve been here for a while know that I’ve been engaged in an epic battle for 7+ years to try to get Finn to stop scratching my furniture to ruins (hard to believe he’ll be 8 in April). I have tried just about every cat product on the market.


Better late than never…  Finn absolutely goes bonkers over this scratching post. He scratches. He climbs. He perches. He rubs. He scratches some more. He stretches. We are both in heaven.

The post is covered in sisal,  32″ high,  a snap to put together, and sturdy as can be. Finn, who has never so much as looked at any other cat scratching post I’ve bought, fell in love with this immediately.

SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post

SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post


Where Has the Time Gone…?

She’ll always be my baby.


But this baby just got news that she’s received a full academic scholarship to the college she’ll be attending. alaska2

It’s been a wonderful ride. Can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend! : )


Have a Cell Phone? Get Powerocks!

Powerocks Battery ChargerYou guys know that I’m a little bit of a nut about safety. Especially when my daughter is involved. So when I was offered a chance to try out this Powerocks portable battery charger in exchange for an honest review, I agreed. Nobody has to ask me twice to test a cool new gadget. : )

 Don’t you just love it when a product is useful, portable, easy to use, and does what it says it will do! This little charger will give you up to 2 charges for your cell phone. (Though it says that you can charge any portable device that can be charged with a USB cable, I can’t comment on that as I’ve only used it for my phone so far.)

Now, whether on a long hike, or just caught with a low battery, I know Cait has a way to keep her phone working no matter what. What’s that worth to me? Way more than the Powerock’s price of $30!

Continue Reading


  • Gives up to 2 phone charges (Its realistic to expect 1 full plus 1 partial charge based on my experience–but in an emergency, 1 can make a big difference).
  • It comes in several colors and at 3.5 x 1 inches, it fits easily into a pocket, pocketbook, or car compartment.
  • It is compatible with the iPhone, Blackberry and any other portable devices charged via USB cable.
  • Powerocks is easily rechargeable via the included micro-USB-to-USB cable
  • Smart push-button LED shows charge status. Blue light = 70% – 100% full, Green light = 30% – 70% full, Red light = 1% – 30% full


  • The Powerocks takes several hours to fully recharge itself.
  • Though not technically a con, be aware that all batteries discharge over time, so remember to check on the charge monthly.

The Powerocks has made it to the top of my must-have and thoughtful-gift lists.



Time for a New Direction in the New Year

I’ve realized for a while that when Kiera died the main reason for writing this blog died with her. And now with Cait heading off to college before too long, I’ve doubly realized that the purpose and direction of this blog needs changing.

So stay tuned for a new direction in this new year. I hope you’ll be as excited by it as I am.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 67 »