Month: April 2015

No interruptions in my Jetsons/Tomorrowland plan please!

A red blinking light on a control panel is never a good thing.

It’s even more concerning when it is on my magical robotic cat litter box.

If you missed what a magical robotic cat litter box is, and why it is so important in my life now, please take a look!  The magic cat litter box.

Over the last week, when I walk into my bathroom and peer at the spaceship as my daughter coined it, there have been multiple times that a red light has been blinking on the control panel of the magic cat box.  Yes, I look at the cat litter box as I walk into the bathroom each and every time.  Mostly to make sure that there have been no further ‘mishaps’ of my 3 cats only entering the box with their front paws, therefore pooping on the floor.  Yes, my life is so dazzling at times right?

Slightly panicked upon seeing the red lights, and noticing that it hadn’t been cycled and dumped, I began to alternate between the buttons, pressing them at least twice each.  No go.  I picked up the top section which holds the litter and shook it a bit, thinking maybe it’s kind of like when you’re clothes washer gets unbalanced and you have to rearrange the clothes?  It then worked!  This reoccured about 4 times over the last week.

My youngest daughter walked into the bathroom while I was watching the magic cat litter box cycle, and she said ‘you watch this every time it is on don’t you?’  I thought about trying to play it off, and explain that I’m only watching it because I need to make sure it’s working, but the reality is, yes, I watch it just about each time I am in there and it turns on.  I imagine it’s like when a dishwasher first was invented.  How many times did people sit and wait, open the door, and WOW!  There they were, clean!  Magic!  Or a clothes washer, opening the top and peaking in repeatedly to witness the magic.  That’s how I feel about this cat litter box.

As I have jimmied this thing through the week, I think I have come up with an idea of what is wrong.  I think the new litter I bought is super heavy, I need a lighter litter.  And there I am again, securing my coolness factor in the universe by publishing my thoughts on the weight of my cat litter.

I will try a different litter, hoping to fix it once and for all so the red light doesn’t blink any more.  Because, thinking of scooping a litter box again is like the scene I’ve seen in numerous movies where the lead yells “DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE AGAIN!  I CAN’T GO BACK THERE!”

I’m in no danger of going too high tech, I live in a house that was built in 1934, and we don’t even have a doorbell.  But I’ve seen my future Jetsons/Tomorrowland.  It’s my magic cat litter box.  Next up for me may be the Roomba.  That would be cool.  And I’d love it even more if my cat Kiki would ride the Roomba in a costume like the video on YouTube!  That would be epic!

It’s Groundhog Day!

Cook, clean, wash, repeat.  Throw in some work here and there, and an incredible amount of kids’ sports and activities.  Wake up, repeat.

A good friend and I were talking yesterday and laughed at how sometimes life can seem like Bill Murray’s ‘Groundhog Day’.

I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.  I love being a stay at home mom, who is also able to do my work at times that either my kids are in school or my husband is home.

But, let’s just say there’s never too much to report when catching up with old friends who you don’t see on a regular basis.  What’s new?  Nothing much.  And that’s ok.  I think that is where it’s supposed to be at this time in life with 3 kids, a husband, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 4 chickens.  Very busy, but nothing extraordinary to report.

I think that’s why I always need a vacation to look forward to.  If something is on the books, I keep my eye on that ball until it arrives.  It is the reward for the routine.  The routine I love, but the reward I love more.

When all else fails, make cherry margaritas!

At times, I will have a beer at night if I have had a migraine during the day. It just levels off the stress and pain, and makes the shoulders go down a bit.

I really enjoy wine, but wine and migraines just never sound good together for me.

With it being cherry season here now, I’m thinking the next time I get a migraine, a cherry margarita may just have to be in order.

Migraine or no migraine, pretty sure these will be in my near future again.

Here goes:

  • About 3 cups of fresh cherries, pitted.  (Use a pitter bought at a store, or if you don’t have a pitter, see here for an easy way to pit them)
  • 1 can of frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 cup of tequila (more or less depending on your preference)
  • Triple Sec if you have it, about 1/2 cup (this will not make or break the drink, still make it if you don’t have it!)
  • 1 cup or so of water (lessen or add as you prefer the consistency of your margarita)
  • Lots of ice, about 2 cups at least

Blend well, pour in a cool glass, and enjoy!  Delicious, and cherries have the benefit of being an anti-inflammatory!

What migraine?  (ha ha, I wish!)

10 days is NOT the business.

10 is much different than 205.

10 days ago, I had my first migraine in 205 days.  Today, I had another.  It bites.

I met my friend to get our toes done (very rare occurrence, about twice a year, so this was a big day!)  As I entered the nail salon, the wall that is a glass waterfall seemed to encompass every single prism of light in the universe and laser it my way.  I’ve gotten a migraine in this place before, but I’ve also gone there and not gotten one.  Not my lucky day today. The prisms of light that seem to only be attracted to my eyes, in combination with the endless can lights in the salon above my head said ‘You’re out.’

As soon as my eyes went full kaleidoscope, I was calm.  I know what to do and what to expect when I get to that point.  It’s the before that is not fun, wondering if the migraine is or is not going to rear it’s ugly head.

My friend and I talked about the need to find a dark place that does pedicures.  Then we quickly retracted that and laughed thinking that may not be a place that we’re supposed to visit!

My kaleidoscope eyes let up just in time for me to see the end result, pretty toes.  Then, with heavy heart, I entered my migraine into a new app I just got last week called Migraine Buddy.  All the information that I’ve been keeping in the notes of my iPhone for years, now is stored in a convenient little app.  It tracks migraines, as well as provide reports to target triggers and similarities.  Cool.

10 is no 205.  Still optimistic though thinking since it was the glass wall of water that brought it on, maybe they aren’t back to stay quite yet.

And on we went to drown my migraine frustrations in some Chili’s chips and salsa and tacos.  Migraine smoothie will come a bit later today, hope it can reel this in a bit.

Good thing tomorrow’s headache can hold hands with a mellow day without big plans.

8 new t-shirt slogans for your non-badass days

Do your best all the time.  Give 100% always.  Give it your all everyday.  These are great messages that can fuel us and our kids.  Some t-shirts say it best and can bring out our inner badass:

  • Just Do It
  • 2nd Place is the 1st Loser
  • My Game is Sick, too bad it ain’t contagious
  • Be Legendary
  • They can’t stop what they can’t catch
  • Wake up, Kick ass, Repeat
  • BE FAST OR BE LAST
  • Losing is not an option
  • BEAST
  • Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded
  • Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

But what about the days when you aren’t feeling like a badass?  Here are some slogans I’d like to see on a t-shirt:

  1. Gettin’ it done so I don’t feel like a loser
  2. 2ND AND 3RD PLACE ARE ACTUALLY REALLY DAMN GOOD
  3. I got a C- and my life is still going to be just fine
  4. I did some stuff, now I get to play Trivia Crack
  5. I’m SO TIRED today
  6. Yes, seriously, this really is as fast as I can go
  7. Not My Best Work Today

Being at the top is an amazing feeling.  Working to be your best is an important job.  But every now and then, I  think it’s necessary to throw on an ‘I Showed Up Today‘ t-shirt (#8).  Then the next day you can go back to sporting your ‘Go Hard or Go Home‘ gear.

The magic cat litter box.

Disclaimer:  I know my blog was made to be primarily about migraines, but this fits within the ‘and other tidbits of my life’ for sure.  It has been a focus around our house lately!  And maybe my cats and my migraines aren’t that unrelated after all.  They know how to make me a bit calmer and more comfy when a migraine is in full effect.  

And now, on to the cat party:

We have 3 cats.

IMG_4619

 

Three indoor cats is not what we aimed out to do, but it’s where we’re at!

This is Kiki:

IMG_3538

I love her to death.  She is my favorite.  I know you aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I do. Everyone knows that.  The other two are my kids’ cats, and I love them very much too, but Kiki takes the cake.  My youngest doesn’t have her own cat, so she has claimed Kiki as her own.  I have said that I don’t know what I’ll do when Kiki dies one day, and that I may want to get her stuffed and still place her around the house in her favorite spots.  Tears from my kids and being yelled at by all after I voiced that will result in that not happening.

More of Kiki:

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She’s spoiled rotten, and she knows it.  We sing to Kiki all the time.  Basically, every song can be made into a song about Kiki.  Try Flo Rida, ‘Kiki got low, low, low, low, low, low, low.’  At one point, we were going to make a video with our phones to the tune of American Authors’ ‘this is going to be the best day of Kiki’s life’ as we shot her running to her food bowl.

She likes her food:

IMG_4489  Sneaking into the food bag.

IMG_2841  Result of liking her food a lot.

 

This is my middle daughter’s cat Shamu:

IMG_3764 IMG_7422 Quite skiddish.

You can quietly walk into a room, and wham, he’s gone, out of there like you just set off a firecracker.  But possibly the most loving, suffocating cats ever to be once he gets wrapped around my middle daughter’s neck.  And, he snores.  Loud.  I hear him from other rooms.  It’s crazy.

 

And, without further ado, here is Shadow, my son’s cat:

IMG_3647 IMG_3653

Notice you will not get a clear shot of him.  He’s not one to pose for pictures, ever.  My youngest daughter says that Shadow has a ‘musical meow’.  And he does!  He also has the longest tail I have seen on a cat.  We joke that he lets my son have his room when he goes to bed at night, other than that, the room is Shadow’s.

 

IMG_4100  All 3 on my bed when I wake up in the morning.

So, with three cats in a house (only Kiki goes outside sometimes when she feels like it), the cat litter box is always a lovely topic of conversation.  Over the past year, my son agreed to cleaning out the litter box daily for a month straight in order to earn money towards a video game.  My middle daughter has somehow never really had to deal with it, and my youngest loves the job of cleaning out the cat box (weird?)  I am a bit OCD, and therefore I clean it out daily because I need it done very well so it’s not more disgusting than it has to be.

And I bring you to a phone conversation from a few months ago…

My mother in law called me, and she told me her friend has 5 cats, and has the Litter Robot.  Had I heard of it?  No.  She explained that it’s an automatic cleaning litter box, and that she was going to order me one.  I told her she didn’t have to do that, very nice, but didn’t have to.  I asked her how much they were and then said ‘no way, you can’t buy me that, it’s way too expensive!’  She insisted, and said that she wanted me to try it out first, if it didn’t work for my cats, I could send it back, and if it did work, she would order one for her one cat.

I got off the phone feeling silly that this was coming my way, but also hopeful and excited!  What if…

So I had to check it out on Youtube.  This Litter Robot has a sensor, and 7 minutes after a cat is inside it, it cycles around and empties out any waste into a garbage bag lined drawer, then cycles back the clean litter?  It’s crazy.

(I love how the description says ‘warning: cat poop visible’!)

So, it shows up and I put it together in a few minutes:

IMG_4914  My youngest called it a spaceship.

It’s more like Mork from Ork’s spaceship egg in my opinion.  I initially set it up in a different bathroom than where their litter box was, because it’s the only place with a plug.  A cat or two came by and looked at it, that was all they did.  Ok, time to move this along.  I set it up next to their old litter box as it was suggested:

IMG_4923  Are you kidding me that this is my life?

Problem was, the cats used the old one, hands down over the new one.  Even though I left it dirty, that was the one they wanted.  I finally said ‘no more, we’re going cold turkey.’  The Litter Robot was now at a make it or break it crossroads.

IMG_5039  Lovely.

Extension cord because there’s no outlet, Mork from Ork egg in my bathroom, and cats that were holding it better than a chick in the front row of a Van Halen concert.  I gave it one week, then it was going back.

IMG_4951 IMG_4948 IMG_4946 IMG_4943 IMG_4938 Shadow is not so sure…

Then, amazingly, they began to use it.  Although, not gracefully.  There is a window in the back of the spaceship, and one night when my husband was in the bathroom, he looked over to see Kiki staring at him through the window as she was using the cat box.  Is this really where we are in our life?  Wow.

The week turned out to be a make it not break it week.  Cats were using it, birds were singing, all was good.  Except, when I walked in and found the culprit, Shadow, front feet in the box, back feet on the step, poop dropping on the floor.  SERIOUSLY?  Like, you’re almost there buddy, come on!  Although there were a few of these ‘mishaps’, overall, I felt like the Litter Robot was going to be a success.

Therefore, we did what any other normal cat person would do, and install an electric outlet in our bathroom in order to plug in our cat litter box.  (The amount of times I want to write ‘are you kidding me‘ is overwhelming).

IMG_5044IMG_5045

Ya, didn’t remember that there was a vent pipe the first place that was cut out.  Sigh.

The big test was when we went out of town for 2 days.  I was so hoping that it would be a success, although truly worried that the floor pooper would strike again.  As I ran into the house when we returned from our trip, I slowly peered onto the floor in the bathroom….SERIOUSLY!!!  Poop on the floor.  A let down, but since I saw the event take place in the past, I knew that the cat was at least trying.

It’s been a few weeks since there has been any poop on the floor mishaps, and I think it’s safe to say we are successfully using this.  To this day, when it cycles, I stop and watch it.  It’s a trip!  Sometimes the cats will come and watch it also.  The first couple of times it went off in the middle of the night, I woke up freaked out, like a hair dryer had been turned on, or some power tool in the dark.  But now I hear it and smile that it’s working!

If this keeps on as it has been, it may go down in history as the best present I’ve ever gotten.  Thank you to my mother in law for my cat box!  (And there it is, I just wrote thank you for a cat box.)

Image 2 The magic cat litter box.

 

 

You are not welcome here migraine anxiety, please go away.

In case you missed it, last week I celebrated day 200 without migraines, and then on day 205 got a migraine.  Still a win for sure.  I’ll take 205 days between migraines in comparison to two a week any day.

The problem with a migraine returning is, it brought it’s friend anxiety.

Last night I went to work.  I am a Recreation Therapist, and I work as a consultant in care homes with adults with developmental disabilities.  I love my job, it’s awesome.  Last night, as I walked into one of my care homes that I’ve been with for many years, my migraine signal number one began.  I became dizzy, things became a bit blurry, and it didn’t stop after a few seconds.  Oh no.  This is usually my first indicator that a migraine is coming.  I told the care home staff that I thought maybe I was getting a migraine, put my hands on my face, messed with my ears, and began to force yawning (all random things that I’ve read here and there that I am totally willing to try).  As I was trying to take a moment to see if this would pass, I had one client excited to see me and eager to begin our routine conversation about TV channels.  As my hands are over my face, “J” is about 7 inches from my ear ‘Jennica, WB is on channel 3?  The Frog says WB?  WB is on channel 3?  What channel is that?’  This goes on without pause for quite a duration.  I love this guy, and I am usually so game for this conversation, but this is not the constant conversation you want when you are trying to determine if you are, or are not getting a migraine.  Even the staff picked up on the fact that something was not good, they quickly intervened, ‘Come here “J”, Jennica needs a minute.”

It’s amazing what anxiety can do.  It fires up your brain to such a ridiculous speed.  This is what went on in my head within about 3 seconds:

  • Oh my gosh, is this a migraine?
  • I’ve never gotten a migraine at work.
  • Am I going to need to go home?
  • Am I going to be able to drive home?
  • Did I take my vitamin supplements today?
  • Yes.
  • Did I drink my smoothie today?
  • Yes.
  • How many days is this from day 205?
  • I don’t want this to be my new normal.

I slowly lifted my hands from my face and looked around, settling in to my surroundings.  ‘I don’t think I’m getting a migraine,’ I tell myself.  Then I have to explain myself to the staff of the care home where I have worked for years.  I hate having to explain that I get migraines, and that they level me, and that is why I plug my ears, shake my head, and rub my temples all in an effort to out fool the migraine from showing up.  Did I fool this migraine from showing up?  Why didn’t it come?  I had step one of my migraines happen, the dizziness, why didn’t step 2, my kaleidoscope eyes happen?  I know I’m not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth, but what do I expect now?  I am not one that is good with surprises, I like knowing what to expect.

I went on with my night, all was good.  All but my amped up body by the time I got home.  There was no reason for my body to be so many steps up, the only way I can describe it is when I put my hands up near my head and say ‘I’m about right here now, all amped up.’  And that, my friends, is anxiety.

I’ve written about my anxiety a few times, once devoting an entire post to it, likening myself to Bob Wiley of What About Bob, you can find it here.  I hope you can get some laughs, let me know if you can relate!

I’ve so enjoyed my new sense of normal without migraines for 6+ months, and the lack of migraine anxiety that has come with it.  Walking into businesses, restaurants, stores, just walking in, like a normal person, not worrying about wearing my sunglasses a bit longer than socially normal, wearing a hat to set off light glares.  I’m not ready for migraine anxiety to make a comeback as my new normal.  It’s not welcome here.

I’m guilty of ‘just going through the motions…’

 

It’s funny how sometimes, something seems off, and as I’m trying to work it out in my head , something comes along that I either read or hear, and it helps me move along and make sense of things.

I’ve found myself very busy lately, and getting things done.  I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I have more days to get things done, they haven’t been taken over by migraines now for over 200 days as I had written about last week.  (Sidenote…looks like 205 is my number.  205 days following my last migraine, I got one as I was in Raley’s shopping for dinner the day before Easter.)  As I have been working more, as well as busying myself with things that have been waiting to get done, I think I’ve maybe (embarrassingly and regretfully) been going through the motions with my family.  Everyone gets fed, loved, tucked in, kisses, and I love you’s, but, at times it’s while I’m busy getting things done.

Back seven months ago, it was familiar for me to hear my youngest ask in a worried voice, ‘mom, are you getting a headache?’  Back then, I was getting roughly 2 migraines per week.  That’s two days of my life affected for each migraine.  So, about 4 bad days, and 3 good days per week.  Lately, as I’ve been ‘checking’ myself (think Ice Cube), I’ve wondered if I was more present seven plus months ago because the days that were good, I really tried to get the most out of.

I don’t believe that you can live ‘every day to the fullest’.  I think that may be a bit unrealistic, even though I’d love to think I could make it happen.

I do believe that moments can be celebrated on almost a daily basis.  When we went away for a quick trip a few weeks ago, no one day was perfect.  There were however, moments.  Sitting on the beach listening to the waves and watching my family, everyone happy, that was a full moment.  The next day at the park (which my older two swore they  were too big for, but ran around with my youngest as they created their own game), I sat next to my husband with the sun on my back, not really talking, just hanging out, it was another full moment.  After that short get away, I realized that a day doesn’t have to be perfect to be a success.  To have those moments that are to the fullest matter, and they have the ability to make me feel whole.

I began to write this post between the celebration of day 200 of no migraines, and before day 205.  With the return of a migraine on day 205, I recalled how I’ve often wondered if when I need to slow down, but don’t, is a migraine my body’s way of saying ‘ya, I’ll take care of this, you are going to be slowing down right now’?  Day 205 definitely slowed me down.  Most of the migraine bells and whistles were present, even some that rarely show up to the migraine party such as the cold chills.  No numb lips and arms though, so I guess that’s good.  My husband pointed out that getting a migraine once a calendar year may not be so bad.  And I agree.  They still suck, yet suck just doesn’t fully encompass the definition of a migraine.  The sledgehammer that hits you down, with the pain afterwards, does more than suck.  But, it’s funny, as I was driving home from Raley’s, knowing I was right ahead of the full kaleidoscope eyes storm, the point at which I would not be able to drive for at least 30 minutes, I found myself smiling.  A slow, undercover smile, while thinking to myself, ‘alright, ya got me, I’m due, 205 is pretty good stuff.’

As I mentioned above, something I came across and read recently had parts that really spoke to me, and helped me move past some things that seemed to be taking up too much real estate in my head.  Some of this article posted on handsfreemama.com is heavy, take from it what may apply to you:

http://www.handsfreemama.com/2015/03/23/the-life-of-the-party-is-closer-than-you-think/

So, “Could I be the party”?  Yes.

I didn’t expect a kick-my-ass migraine reminder that I definitely needed to slow down, be the party, and take in the moments, but I’ll take it.  Maybe a migraine for me at times can be a really sick, twisted gift that reminds me to slow the ____ down.  Please just let my body go back to keeping these reminders hundreds of days apart.