Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Arts & Crafts with Popeye

Yes, I'm actually writing about doing arts and crafts projects with cats. However, since you could do this project with a wide variety of animals and because the final product makes a great gift for anyone who loves the animal, perhaps we could think of this post as one targeting all animal, craft, and gift-giving lovers? That makes it feel a bit more inclusive. 😉

Cat painting doesn't actually involve handing a cat a paint brush, an assortment of acrylics, and a canvas; I can only imagine the mess that would result from that combination. But cat painting can be done - almost completely mess-free, I might add - and here's how Hallie did it.

First, Hallie encouraged Popeye to choose the colors with which he wanted to paint. It took a while, but I think this was his favorite part.

Once Popeye had selected his colors, Hallie squeezed small dollops of each paint color onto the canvas. (In hindsight, we should have used more paint/bigger dollops.)

Next, Hallie slid the canvas into a large ziplock bag. She pressed as much air as possible out of the bag and zipped it closed. 

Then she put the bag on the ground, and called Popeye - he comes when called, as long as you say his name or "kitty kitty" in what I like to call a "treat voice" - to come check it out. He was a little nervous (he's a little nervous about all new things), so at first he spent a lot more time sniffing and pawing at the bag than actually playing with it.

That is until Hallie busted out the toys. She strategically held/placed all of his favorites so he would simultaneously play with them and walk/shuffle/scurry/roll around on top of the canvas.

When we decided he had painted enough, Hallie gave Popeye got lots of treats. I take back what I said earlier, this was his favorite part.

When the canvas was dry, we used a paintbrush to paint Popeye's toe beans a different color and helped him "sign" his painting with his paw. (We then of course thoroughly cleaned his toe beans.)

We actually didn't keep this art project of Popeye's. Instead, we gifted it to our friend Mallori, one of the founders of Six Kittens Rescue and who - if circumstances had been slightly different - probably would have been Popeye's forever mom. She and her wife (they founded SKR together) are moving away soon, and we wanted them to have a little gift from their beloved tripod. 

I realized as I was pulling this post together last night that I somehow don't have a photo of the finished product (either I didn't take one or I deleted it - I truly can't remember), but I'll ask Mallori to send me one and share it soon. It's a shame Popeye didn't love painting (the process was a little trickier for him given his mobility challenges) because he's a true talent. 😉 

Friday, February 23, 2024

High Five for Friday (2.23.24)



You know where we start...your weekly Lads update! 

Last Friday night was tough. Among other challenges, with 28 minutes left in the game the referee gave one of our players a red card. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, after receiving a red card, the carded player must leave the field and the team is not allowed to replace him, meaning the team plays down a man for the remainder of the game. The Lads managed to hold on to the 0-0 tie (and even came incredibly close to scoring the go-ahead goal more than once), which is saying something given that they were playing with 10 men. They weren't happy with their performance, but a tie and the accompanying point is better than a loss. 

On a more positive note... JV-A played immediately prior to varsity. With the score tied 0-0 and just a few seconds left on the clock, Mag West kicked the ball FAR out of bounds hoping the game would just end. Southern - Will's varsity coach - was standing on the sideline near where the ball went out, and rather than wait for the ball boys to retrieve the ball (which would have undoubtedly used up the remaining second seconds of the game), he grabbed a new ball out of the ball bag and tossed it to the Consol player. Consol threw the ball in, the player who received the throw passed it immediately back to the thrower, and he took a shot from basically the sideline. And with .2 - that's POINT TWO - seconds left on the clock, the ball sailed through the air and dropped into the back of the net just over the goalie's outstretched fingertips. All of JV-A and all of varsity - who were warming up on the far side of the stadium - rushed the field in celebration. It was a fantastic display of grit and fight, a lesson in playing until the final whistle, and a beautiful of example of Lads supporting Lads, regardless of team.

On Tuesday night we traveled to Brenham, where the Lads pulled out kind of a messy win. Three points is three points though, so we move on and go again tonight at home against Magnolia. If you live in the BCS area, come on out and join the Lads' fandom!

I'm surprised this pic turned out, given that they'd just turned
off the lights on us and it was taken in almost complete darkness. 


We celebrated a little bit of Valentine's Day on Wednesday and a little bit of Valentine's Day on Thursday, thanks to everyone's different schedules. The kids may be 17 and almost 15, but they still love my Valentine's Day treasure hunt to find their gift, which this year was a CraveBox (a snack box care package) to share and new heads for their electric toothbrushes because #candy. 

"Airplane Ears" (what we call Popeye when we catch
him doing something he isn't supposed to do) has recently
learned how to get on the counter. He knows he isn't allowed
up there, but he's also so proud of himself. He really liked
Hallie's cat-friendly Valentine's bouquet from AJ! 

Hallie with her Valentine's box for
choir (for which she won a prize).

Their Valentine's Day treasure hunt always looks
like a combination of wrestling match and race...

Divvying up their Crave Box goodies.


Both kids have really great friends. I've written a more elaborate version of this high five multiple times, but I keep deleting it because, or at least I think it's because, the elaboration just isn't necessary. So both kids have really great friends, and I'm tremendously grateful.

I don't have pictures of Will and his friends, because they don't need me to drive them around the way Hallie and her friends do. I guess that's my shuttling tax - I get to take pictures.


Introductions have begun! Popeye is always so interested (and yet so scared, at least at first) to meet our foster babies. We had to delay - beyond the initial two-week quarantine period - introducing Popeye to Anne and Belle because they had quite a few poop issues at first, but now that we have all of that under control, they can start spending time together. 

I think they're going to get along just fine...


Happiness Highlights

He doesn't let me take very many pictures of him, but
apparently he lets photographer friends take pictures of
him. So when those photographer friends share those
photos, I screen capture them. I'll take what I get of my
"teenager in the wild" - thanks, @noahandcamera!

Will follows two dress codes: "full suit" or "athletic
clothes closely resembling pajamas." He wears very
little in between, and these two pics are proof.
The things we'll do for kittens... I'd gotten down on
the bathroom floor to clean something up, and while
I was down there, Anne climbed on my back and fell
immediately asleep. So I had to stay there, with my
45-year-old joints on the tile, for 20 minutes, because
she was too cute to wake up. 

The high school newspaper had both a Lads blurb (if you
zoom in, you can see my Lad was given a shout out)...

...and a full spread article devoted to the Lads' fans!

I continue to love my monthly flower subscription
through the high school's advanced floral design class!

Just came across this pic... May you wrap up your week with
as much confidence as this tiny tot delivering mail to the mailbox.

She discovered sunbeam naps. 

Please let this be true!

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024


A few months before Will's third birthday, we discovered he had an allergy to peanuts. The event - eating just one peanut and having an immediate reaction to it - set in motion 14 years of pediatrician and allergist appointments, skin and blood testing, regular and rescue medications, medical alert accessories, school paperwork, and eventually, interventional treatments. (Will already had quite a few diagnosed allergies by this time, but peanuts was the only one likely to cause anaphylaxis and was therefore a more serious issue.)

In March of 2018, Will began - under the watchful eye of and following a strict protocol created by his allergist here in BCS - a peanut desensitization. He was one of the first people in our area to go through this process after his allergist trained with another doctor in Dallas and brought what he had learned back to his practice. The desensitization itself - from peanut powder diluted in water to dry peanut powder to peanuts themselves - took six months and involved weekly two-hour appointments as well as a daily dosage schedule that he/we followed both morning and night, every single day. (To give you an idea how far he came in six months...Will started with a teaspoon of water containing barely measurable amounts of peanut powder twice a day and ended with 12 full peanuts twice a day.) The process was emotionally and mentally taxing, partly because giving your child a food that could kill them is scary, and partly because our lives revolved around making sure Will never missed a dose. Those you who have spent time with me at any point after March of 2018 have probably heard my peanut alarm go off, which in the beginning reminded me to prepare Will's peanut dose and then in later years reminded me to remind him to take his peanuts.

After six months of gradually increasing his dose, Will passed his peanut challenge, meaning he had made it through the desensitization phase and could move on to the maintenance phase: taking 12 peanuts once a day, rather than 12 peanuts twice a day.

When we began the process, our allergist told us we could expect Will to be on maintenance for two to three years. The hope - based on emerging research - was that throughout these two to three years, Will's allergy itself would actually decrease enough that he would be considered no longer allergic (or at least a lot less allergic) to peanuts. 

Will's RAST test (a blood test performed to determine a patient's potential to react to a specific allergen) before the desensitization was around 70. I've seen different scales to explain how the RAST is scored, but here's one of them. 

Will, with his score of 70, fell into the Ultra High/Category 5 range. But after one year on maintenance, his score dropped to 32. After a second year on maintenance, his score dropped to 16. After year three, to 12. And after year four (yes, there was a fourth year), to 10. 

But then this past fall, after his FIFTH year on maintenance, Will's score went up. We have our suspicions why, and while I won't go into them here (I'm happy to share them, just not here on the blog), I will say that they stem from the physical, mental, and emotional toll this process they took on Will. 

Here's the thing. Most people don't like the taste of foods they're allergic to, as that's the body's way of telling the brain, "maybe we shouldn't eat this." Will hates peanuts more than you or I hate any food. He despises the taste as well as the smell, which he can sniff out like a bloodhound. (I'm not kidding. If I eat a Reese's peanut butter cup for dessert at night, he can smell it from across the room and won't come give me a hug or kiss goodnight until I've brushed my teeth.) Imagine being "forced," even if it's for your own good/safety/to save your life, to eat the thing you hate most in the world - and that makes you feel uncomfortable and unsettled - every single day for five and a half years...especially when you thought it would be two or three years. The longer the maintenance stage dragged on, the harder it became on Will.

Despite the fact that Will's RAST score had risen slightly, his allergist decided the time had come for Will to try to challenge his actual peanut allergy. They had Will stop taking his peanuts for six weeks, and then he went in to the office to, well, eat a lot of peanuts. Though doing so caused Will a great deal of discomfort and resulted in a little bit of eye swelling, he did eat a lot of peanuts - around 40 - and as a result, passed his challenge. 

So after 14 years, he's done. He no longer has to check the "allergic to peanuts" box. He no longer has to carry an epi-pen.* He no longer has to eat 12 peanuts a day.** As a result, his frustration and anxiety have decreased, and he seems like he's carrying less weight on his shoulders than he was before.  

Since Will hates peanuts and can both smell and taste them IMMEDIATELY, I don't have to worry that he's accidentally going to consume 40 peanuts. The place we've landed - this "finish line" of sorts - allows us to feel confident that if he ever accidentally eats a peanut, he won't die. And that makes all 14 years of this journey worth it.  


* I will continue to keep epi-pens on hand at home, and Will will continue to carry epi-pens in his car, backpack, and soccer bag. He may never need one, but someone else might, and it's always better to be prepared.

** While he no longer has to eat 12 peanuts a day, he does need to periodically eat a few peanuts to maintain his desensitization long-term. Will and I agreed on four peanuts (the number he can handle taking at one time) twice a month (he wanted once a month while I wanted once a week, so this was a compromise), and we'll continue this indefinitely.

For those of you with kiddos with allergies, feel free to reach out. Additionally, here are a couple of blog posts I've written about Will's experience with the desensitization process.

Starting the desensitization process.

Finishing the desensitization process and starting on maintenance.

Friday, February 16, 2024

High Five for Friday (2.16.24)



Let's start with your weekly Lads update! On Friday night the Lads won a clutch game against Montgomery Lake Creek. The Lake Creek stadium is a tough place to play (let's just say that their fans aren't known for their positivity), so this 1-0 victory was particularly satisfying and a great way to kick off the weekend.

Laughing at our photobombers, who have started to watch and
wait for us to try to take our picture withOUT them in the background.

On Tuesday night we took on Montgomery at home. The Lads had a little trouble finding the net (though they had many incredibly close opportunities) in the first half, but finally made it happen in the second; they walked away with a 2-0 victory to close out the first round of district play.

We outsmarted our photobombers this time.

Tonight #wegoagain, kicking off the second round of regular season play as we take on Magnolia West, this time at home. (If you play a team away during round one, you play the same team at home during round two, and vice versa.)


On Saturday morning Hallie and I volunteered, through our mother-daughter service organization, to walk dogs at the Aggieland Humane Society. We walked three different pups - Major, Jester, and Hazel - for more than three miles, and we got our upper body workouts in thanks to the strength of our charges. While we loved this volunteer opportunity, it was heartbreaking to see SO many dogs at the shelter. If you're searching for a new four-legged family member, "adopt, don't shop" at the Aggieland Human Society or another humane society, shelter, or rescue near you.


On Sunday afternoon, Hallie and I popped into Six Kittens Rescue's second annual Kitten Shower. We dropped off our gifts (two for SKR and one for founder Mallori, from her beloved Popeye), chatted with a few SKR team members, enjoyed delicious refreshments, courtesy of Uncorked, and snapped a picture on our way out. Such a sweet and fun event!


Other than the Lads game Friday night, volunteering on Saturday morning, and the kitten shower on Sunday afternoon, we had a fairly free (at least comparatively) weekend. Will watched soccer games and got together with a friend to work on a physics project, Hallie sewed pointe shoes and hung out at a friend's house, Tom worked on projects in his Mad Science Laboratory, and I caught up on laundry, got a jumpstart on next week's to-do list, and baked one of my favorite chocolate cakes. On Sunday night, we held our annual Super Bowl competition, and while it was probably our worst showing - Tom took home the prize with only three correct answers - we still had fun, especially during Usher's halftime show!

On Super Bowl Sunday I miss my grumpy little Packer backers... 


These little rugrats are officially posted for adoption! Send me a message (erinlferris at yahoo dot com) if you or someone you know is interested in making them (preferably both of them, as they're a bonded pair) part of your family!

Happy weekend, friends!