Oh the Humanity!

I know I know second post in one day but I didn’t want to mix two posts about two totally different topics.

This is about rats/mice and humane treatment of pets/feeders. I will first say this so nobody starts off on a bad note. Snakes have got to eat. What do snakes eat? They eat rodents. There it is people, they eat rats and mice. In the wild they eat them alive, don’t hate on snakes because of their diets, it’s not like they held a meeting somewhere and decided to eat cute cuddly critters just to be dicks. Mother Nature everyone, get over it. You don’t like that people feed their snakes rodents, well blame the first person who decided that it would be a great idea to keep a snake as a pet (or a lizard/reptile).

Okay back on topic. My issue is not with the snake, it is with the people who keep the live feeders and the feeder breeders. Let’s start with the breeders. Many of the rats you see in the larger pet stores come from a distributor that raises their rats in a rat mill. Do you know what a rat mill is? If you are appalled by puppy mill be prepared to have nightmares about rat mills. Rats are bred, give birth in totes that are kept on racks that are stacked one on top of the other. There is not much light and there is a hell of a lot of noise and a lot of smells. They aren’t really interacted with as much as they should be, I mean who would have time to handle hundreds of rats? Once they are big enough they are taken away from their mothers if they aren’t frozen alive or gassed for snake/reptile chow….or even worse selected to be fed alive as a pup. They make a terrifying journey to the pet store crammed in boxes and are stressed beyond words. This entire time they have probably never tasted fresh veggies, fresh meat and never played in the open. They’ve never been skritched, played with or ridden on a shoulder. Tote, box, tank display. The majority of the time they are priced as feeders. One of the most horrifying things I’ve seen is an associate at a large chain store grabbing rats by their tails to get them out of a tank. I freaked out and he told me was an “expert”….sorry bud if you are an expert then you are purposefully injuring those rats and are committing an act of animal abuse!!!! NEVER pick up a rat by their tail! EVER! Now if these cute little baby rats don’t sell either as pets or feeders often times the pet stores will send them back to the distributor. The breeder will then either breed these rats or gas them to freeze for snake/reptile food. Oh the life of a rat.

Now to the people who keep colonies at home who have very little understanding of rats and mice and view them simply as chow for their beloved pet. These rodents are smart. They are incredibly smart, emotional, social creatures. If you are going to be keeping them for any extended length of time I highly suggest you treat them humanely. They need room to climb, play, and investigate. Yes I understand they are going to be food, that doesn’t lower the value on the quality of life they deserve, hell that just might raise it! How would you like to be kept in a small dirty tank for a week or two with just a water bottle and food dish and that’s it? I’m sorry but their last days should be pleasant, everything’s last moment should be pleasant.

I have a sick rat and as of right now I have spent $150 on her. She cost me $5 when I bought her a few weeks ago. I discovered something wasn’t quite right with her so I took her to the vet. Inner ear infection. If this second round of medication doesn’t work we’ll have to have x-rays done to see if there was damage done. I can’t put her in the main cage because she walks like she’s drunk, she has no concept of up and down. It’s too dangerous for her and she’s tiny. If this doesn’t work and the wobble is permanent it means buying a safer cage for her and deciding which of my other girls to put in with her to keep her company. I think I already know which one, I have a PEW who is full grown and acts like a nanny to the smaller girls. She would be perfect. A lot of people think “why on earth would you put that much money and effort into a rat???” I do because when I brought her home I took responsibility for her life and her health. I didn’t say “I will take care of her UNTIL it becomes a burden and I don’t want to pay for it anymore”. I made a promise and I intend to keep it. I wish everyone thought it through before they get a pet, it’s not a decision to make on a whim. Treat any animal you have with love and kindness. If they are aggressive it means they need MORE love and attention, not anger and scolding. You are in charge and show them that, but also show them that you can be trusted and that you love them. I do that with mine and because of that I am the Alpha. I am in charge and they listen to me. My pets aren’t property, they are members of my family.

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Of Body Images and The Mirror Must Be Broken

This is going to be a little messed up. Today I am all out of whack, why I have no idea but it is what makes my life a little more interesting (and exhausting).

Earlier I came to the realization that I was running out of hangers. I had a whole bunch of new pants to hang up but I was a few hangers short. This was odd, so I called Mr. Mustard into the bedroom and asked if we had more in the basement waiting in the wings for their chance to be used for their glorious purpose. He said sure but why not just take all the clothes that are too big for me out of the closet and use those hangers. I just kind of stared at him blankly and asked him what on earth he meant and he pointed at the clothes I had pushed to the back because they literally fall off me due to my major weight loss. Panic set it. No no no, this was too fast. Just a few weeks ago those pants fit me! Three weeks ago those pants were a perfect fit! In fact those were my every day get stuff done pants! I threw those on when I had to run out of the house and needed to look like I owned clothes! And now my faithful companion was shoved to the back and living in the dark as if I was ashamed to admit I once wore them. Well I was….and I am. I started the task of removing all of the clothes, one by one I took them off the hangers and put the empty hangers on the bed in a pile. The clothes I folded and placed on the bed. I knew where I got each shirt, each pair of pants, each skirt. I remember how I felt so pretty when I was finally able to wear a skirt that didn’t have elastic around the waist. That first elastic free skirt was now sitting in a pile of discarded clothes destined for an uncertain future. When I was done I carefully hung my new clothes up. The ones that were a size or two too small that I will probably fit in a few weeks towards the back and the ones that fit me right now in the front. I carefully fingered the frilly new tops I bought that at the time of purchase were slightly too snug and my goal when buying them was to fit them by summer. Now they are flowing and almost too big for me and it’s almost March.

Mr. Mustard came back in to check on my progress just as I panicked and began to do the inevitable. I began to cry. When I looked in the mirror I still saw fat me. I didn’t and I don’t see a smaller me. My size tag says something totally different than that but to me I will always be the fat chick. I will always feel as though people are watching me eat or commenting on anything I put into my mouth. At the end of this month I enter phase three of this diet and that is when I become a nervous wreck because I introduce foods like eggs and cheese and coconut flour. I like my comfort zone right now, it’s a strict regime of certain meats at certain weights and certain veggies at certain weights and water. I feel safe and secure, no deviation I know exactly what I am supposed to do. Today I wanted to chew my arm off and eat everything I saw, uncharacteristic of me. Maybe I have a big drop coming and my body is begging for more calories to burn. Well sorry body, you can burn that damn box of Girl Scout cookies you ate back in 2008, hope those Thin Mints tasted good.

Back to my clothes. Mr. Mustard came back in just in time to see me crying. He knew what was wrong and wrapped his arms around my waist and asked me if I noticed anything different. I shook my head and that was when I realized he had wrapped his hands around me, and they overlapped. I had to smile. That I could feel and not deny or brush off as my imagination. It was real. Some day my eyes will stop playing tricks on me. My old clothes are now rehomed with a friend who needed clothes badly during her job seeking. I’m happy someone could use them and they weren’t just tossed. As for my faithful old jeans…they are still there in the back of my closet. They are a reminder of my past and of Never Ever Again.

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Rise and Shine Sweetie!

I tend to be a morning person some days. Today was one of those days. Mr. Mustard however is not a morning person in the slightest. Today I used my iPad to document the fun I had waking him up. Enjoy!

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Does my vagina offend you somehow?

Today I had a mission. And my mission took me somewhere I try to avoid and up until now I have been successful at this. However I needed something and it required me going into a particular local store in order to purchase it. I needed a new violin bow and a new recording mic. Let me explain why I detest going into this store with every single ounce of my being. They ignore me. Every time I walk in I get zero acknowledgement. Now if this was a large store that was busy I would understand being overlooked. This store is quite small and the counter is facing the door and they have view of the entire store and their customers. There is usually at least two people working at any given time, typically the two owners, a husband and wife team. The last time I went in I was looking to purchase an electric piano to teach my oldest how to play. I was the only customer in there and neither of them came over to see if I needed help. Come on really? A customer is standing by some of your expensive instruments and you aren’t even going to come over and see if you can sell them one?? Especially when that customer is sitting down at one and checking them out and looking at them very very closely. When I finally gave up on someone coming over I approached the counter and asked if I could get some help, I was greeted with a sigh and one worded answers. I left without what I wanted. Another time I was standing at the counter waiting to be rung out and I had been standing there for a good 5 minutes when they finally said they would be right with me. I smiled and said that was fine, but it was not fine when a man came in and got behind me yet the owners jumped up to assist him immediately. Hey now, I was there first and all I wanted to do was pay!!!!

Today was the final straw. I had every intention of making a rather large purchase instead of going through Amazon. There were a few people in there when I walked in so I browsed the sheet music and music books while I waited. When everyone left I approached the counter and saw there were three people working. YAY I thought, maybe today I will get service! Wrong. Two of them immediately started to work on laptops and the third began to organize behind the counter. At this point I am simply flabbergasted. I wait a few minutes and finally ask if they have violin strings and the young man barely looks up before he points at a spot behind the counter. Great they are behind the counter and I can’t access them to look at them. I then ask if they carry violin bows to which he finally has to get up and retrieve one for me. After I inquire about recording mics the female owner becomes interested and immediately comes over to help make a sale. They must have thought I was stupid because the mics they were trying to sell me were NOT recording mics at all. And they were overpriced. Not to mention after how I was treated there was no way I was dropping $200+ in their little store to support them when they can’t seem to be bothered to give bare bones customer service. I paid $37 for a violin bow that was made in China and $10 for a flute book for my oldest. Good enough. The best part of all this, when my husband goes in he has no issue at all with them acknowledging him. None at all. Hmmmm…..interesting.

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A few changes around here

“I want my own car”. That sure got Mr. Mustard’s attention today. It’s never “I want a new pair of shoes” or “I want a new purse”….those things I just buy without asking and he doesn’t really notice. It’s the big things that I just casually bring up over dinner or coffee that makes him almost choke. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I am being a typical greedy wife. He works nights, so after 3 pm I am trapped in the house with two children who want to go out and do things like martial arts or skiing and other activities. I have no way to take them since we live in the middle of nowhere Vermont. Instead of discussing buying a second car he discusses perhaps trying to get a daytime position. Seriously? He’d rather switch jobs than let me buy my own car. *cracks knuckles* Time to break out the big guns.

Mr. Mustard and I are equal partners in this marriage. Or at least that is what we like to let the other think. It does need a leader, that leader used to be me after I led a mutiny and I overthrew him. That lasted about 9 years and in the end I gave him back the wheel and said he could be leader again. It works better that way anyways 😉 Am I happy being one step behind, not always no. He always jokes that in a D&D world I would be the Berserker running into battle kicking butt. Or in a zombie apocalypse I’m the person slugging zombies with a fence pole. He’s probably right. I usually sit back and assess the situation and go from there, but when a situation dictates I take immediate action….well that’s what I do. Mr. Mustard on the other hand just takes immediate action without checking for solutions first. We counter each other, I slow him down when he is too fast to act and he speeds me up when I am too slow to act. I work fine alone but it’s nice to have my opposite around, he helps me see a different perspective. Especially when I am running hot and ready to yell at someone.

Oh and today I did something dangerous. I changed my hair. That’s right, I got a perm. This lady got a perm to change her appearance to match my weight loss. Check it out!

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Of Rats and Men, a small rant

I am sure by now everyone has heard about the 10 year old little boy who died from a disease that he apparently got from his pet rat. It is well known among my circle of friends that I am a rat owner and that yes I am a mother and of course people were posting the link to the story on my facebook wall and also sending it to me via pm and via email. I started to wonder if I should simply do a copy and paste response or just continue to say that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to my girls. I made the huge mistake of reading the comments on the article and needless to say I don’t really want to be on this planet anymore.

As I posted yesterday I had to take Polly to the vet. Turns out little girl is quite ill. I now have her in quarantine and she is on three different medications. Two are combined, one is for an inner ear infection and the other is for a possible URI. The second medication is for pin worms. The way we discovered the worms was enough to make the vet tech gasp in horror and for me to say “What the…”…basically she was struggling against her first dose of antibiotics and suddenly passed a large wiggling mass of worms. The tech had never seen that happen and neither had the vet. I never want to see that again. Last night was very touch and go with her and she slept in her soft sided carrier in our bed between my husband and I. Every couple of hours I would give her water out of a flat syringe and cuddle her. At 3:30 am she received her next dose of antibiotics and today she seemed much better. Right now I have her in a 10 gallon tank on the headboard and she is now drinking on her own as well as eating! YAY POLLY!

Now some of the crap I received for this is ridiculous. “She’s just a rat you know”….yes she is a rat. She’s a living creature that I chose to take responsibility for. She depends on me to feed her, protect her and to make sure that when she is ill she is taken care of. There is no way I was going to let her suffer and die simply because of her species. When I look at her I don’t simply see a possession or an animal with no soul or spirit. I see both, I see another being that needs love and attention. And yes I know snakes have to eat, I am not unaware of the food chain. When someone says rats are filthy nasty animals and make horrible companions I offer them to visit my home and to interact with my girls and then to tell me those same things about them. Watch them use their little box and then neatly eat their yogurt. Watch as they try to get your attention so you’ll play with them. Watch as they problem solve a toy stuck in a maze. Don’t tell me Polly is “just a rat”. She is a member of our family just like my cats and kids are. If you aren’t willing to accept the responsibilities that come with being with having an animal depend on you, don’t welcome one into your home like that. They aren’t part time members, you are responsible for their every single need. Learn their body language, their likes and dislikes. When you do that you will be able to know when something is wrong much sooner.

End of my rant.

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The rat pack

This morning I did not expect to wake up to a medical emergency in the shape of a rat emergency. To explain this, we have 6 rats, all females. Pacha, Artemis, Astrid, Ponyo, Gigi and Polly. Pacha is a blue dumbo, Artemis is a black and white hooded, Astrid is an albino, Gigi and Ponyo are hairless rexes and Polly looks like Artemis. The emergency was Polly. Apparently Ponyo decided she was going to show Polly that she is queen of the cage, naked and all. Poor Polly….Polly doesn’t have a mean bone in her and prefers to just snuggle and be quiet while happily diving into a bowl of yogurt. Needless to say I noticed her injured foot and immediately called for Mr. Mustard and then notified the vet. This afternoon she has an appointment. However I did take her to in to see my amazing friends Mr. And Mrs. Doolittle to make sure she did indeed need to see the vet. That is when we noticed she may have an ear infection. Yup off to the vet we will go. Right now she is wandering around their massive cage like a drunk sailor, I want to laugh a little but I want to cry more, she is so small and vulnerable. Pacha is keeping watch over her however, Pacha is mine and is our ambassador rat. She greets everybody and will happily jump onto your shoulder if given the chance. From the day we brought her home I have had her out of the cage and on my shoulder, we trained each other.

Ponyo and Gigi are absolute terrors. They are small and naked. In fact Ponyo resembles Wilpert Grimbley with her whiskers all curled. They look like bats when they hang by their hind legs off the bars or random toys and I won’t even say what they feel like when you hold them. Let’s just say my husband wanted to call them Scrotum and I said absolutely not while laughing hysterically in my head. However as freaky as they look they are absolutely adorable in their own way and have huge personalities and I love them. Ponyo will run to greet you at the door when you open it and is quite quick to give you kisses. Gigi is more shy and sneezes all the time, she is also the food hoarder. I have to check their ball pit daily for fruit because that is where the little booger stashes it.

Astrid is my special case. She is albino and partially blind as albinos typically are. She has pink eyes and does the head sway. If you don’t tell her you are going to pick her up she starts to squeak and freak out, so we say “UP” when we lift her up and let her sniff our hand first and talk to her as we do it. Astrid surprised me when we introduced Ponyo and Gigi, I fully expected some kind of aggression from her, instead she became sort of a mother rat to them. She snuggles the younger rats and teaches them manners. Pacha teaches the litter training. I have a soft spot for Astrid, she and I have a special understanding and respect for each other.

Artemis belongs to Mr. Mustard. They are best buds and it’s quite obvious. I had to give her a bath shortly after we got her and she absolutely hated it. He was baby talking her after telling her she could be as stinky as she wanted and that she never had to have another bath again and that I was a big meanie. His tune changed when they all peed on each other to mark each other as family. Of course I was the bad guy who did the bathing and he was the hero with the warm towel, but he didn’t baby talk her this time. She smelled horrible and he didn’t want to touch her.

Now Polly, Polly was not supposed to be here. I promised him I wouldn’t buy anymore rats….but then I saw her. She was in the feeder tank and there was something about Polly that I couldn’t get past. I walked into the Doolittle’s store for bedding and I walked out with Polly. When I lifted her out of the tank She didn’t fight me, I held her up and asked if she wanted to come with me and I could feel her say yes. When I pulled into our garage I started to come up with a plan to sneak her in without being noticed. She looks exactly like Artemis except for she’s much smaller. Well maybe I can distract Mr. Mustard long enough to pop her in the cage and he won’t notice for a few days or maybe even a few weeks! GOOD PLAN! So I took her out of her little box, informed her of my plans and then popped her into my jacket pocket. I walked into the house and said I needed help with the groceries in the car and just as Mr. Mustard was about to go out and get them Polly poked her head out of my pocket. He froze and said “What is THAT”……I just froze and said “…What is what?” and he pointed at my pocket and said “Let me rephrase the question. Who is that?” I tried to say it was Artemis, but he stared at me and then reached into my pocket, took her out and asked me again who she was. So I sighed and said “Polly”. Needless to say Polly got to stay because she is so stinking adorable. But I was threatened with a python if I bring anymore home.

Hopefully today at the vet I hear she just has an ear infection and nothing else. She is only 8 weeks old and we just brought her home this past weekend. I’ll be heart broken if it’s something more serious that can’t be remedied. My kids love her, we love her and my girls love her…except for Ponyo the naked heathen. Even my two cats love her. There is just something about Polly.

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Sometimes We forget

I know, second time tonight, but sometimes things race through my head and I have to get them out so expect this a lot.

My mother remarried a few years ago. My husband and I (Dub him Mr. Mustard) flew down to Texas to attend the wedding. Now this was a huge deal because first off this was the first time we had left our children with someone for an extended period of time and secondly, I am terrified of flying. I want you to understand this, when I say terrified I mean I am so scared that I was beginning to cry as we boarded, and I was sobbing uncontrollably as we taxied. Don’t even get me started on my near death experience on the trip home when we hit a storm and the buckle up sign came on and the pilot came over the speakers. That’s for later on. Anyways, we flew down to Texas, and it was during a time that Mr. Mustard and I were not exactly in a very compatible phase. To put it bluntly he had moved out of the bedroom and into the spare room, we barely spoke and kept it civil for the sake of appearances. Alone it was a totally different story. We barely spoke to each other on the plane, each opting to do their own activity, for him it was a game on his phone and for me it was clutching my arm rest while staring out the window in absolute terror wondering if I’d die of lack of oxygen first or if my heart would give out from panic if the plane were to fall out of the sky at that moment.

The wedding was beautiful, Texas was amazing, the culture was pretty crazy for us country yokels and it was a much needed break from whatever it was we were trying to get away from. The night our flight was leaving for home my mom and her new husband decided to try and break the ice in the air as they gave us a small tour of Dallas. My mom kind of gave me one of her lectures about what it means to be a wife and what that entails and I responded with one of my bites of snark and an eye roll. I felt like Mr. Mustard was being painted like a saint and I was the devil. Then she said this to me, “Have you thought of maybe letting him lead for once?” to which I responded “Um yeah and every time I do he screws it up mom…..every bloody time!”. It was dark in the car but I could see the pain in his face and I felt remorse for a moment. But then I didn’t care. Then I carried on with a tirade about how I had to pick up the slack and run the house because someone had to and every time something went wrong I was blamed but if something went right he got all the credit. At that point they decided it was better if we rode in silence. I agreed after I declared that I was not inferior because my plumbing is interior and his is exterior and that I do NOT walk behind ANY man.

We finally had our break through moment a month or two later. He cornered me and demanded to know exactly why I hated him so much. At first I refused and yelled at him to get away from me, but he wouldn’t let me go and kept demanding to know what he had done. So it all came spilling out and I told him exactly what he had done. He had abandoned me when I needed him most, during our first test and he had failed miserably and he had never ever tried to make up for it or apologized. He knew exactly what I was talking about, when we lost our first child. He refused to help me get through that pain and instead put up walls and played video games. If he saw me crying he’d leave the room and not even offer me a hug. He couldn’t deal with it. Then one day during a huge argument he said to me “Well if you were a better mother you wouldn’t have lost Matthew”….It was like he had plunged a knife into my stomach and twisted it. The look on his face after he said it, I could see he wished he could take it back. Never got an apology. This built up for so long. It finally poured out and became this rage. I had to confront these demons, we had to air it all out. It all came out, it was confession time. I realized that all this time I was tearing him down instead of building him up. Of course he was going to screw up! So now I let him lead but I am standing right next to him encouraging him and placing my trust in his decisions. Because of this he asks me for my thoughts and values my opinions. Our children are growing up to see how a husband should be and how a husband should treat his spouse. We are equals but we also hold each other up. And with that my hands are falling asleep.

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Please pass the mustard

I’ll begin this by stating I am on a diet. This isn’t one of those “oh I’ll just cut out carbs and eat lots of veggies” diets. No this one means business and it is kicking my butt. In fact last week my husband tried one of my Wasa crackers and declared they taste like a cereal box to which I responded “whoa…cereal boxes taste this good????”. Yeah I’m that deprived at the moment. Now I don’t want you to think I’m starving myself because I am absolutely not, in fact I am eating quite well. It’s just that I am the only one in our house eating like this, eating clean and restricted. For example, one night I had 4 oz of baked chicken with 4 oz of roasted asparagus with a very large glass of ice water flavored with orange stevia. Hubby and my minions were eating a Big Mac pizza from the local pizza joint. Pardon the drool pool. There are several boxes of Thin Mints sitting in the freezer, please grant me strength. I think the worst part are the dreams though. I dream that I am eating things I cannot have. Pretzels and peanut butter sandwich crackers are the prime subjects of these dreams, the best part is that I HATE peanut butter. Right now I would do a back stroke in a pool of peanut butter and lounge on a raft of reeses peanut butter pieces while using a peanut butter cup as a pillow. Tomorrow these cravings will be gone.

Another thing I have discovered, I absolutely adore spicy brown mustard. It seems to go well with everything. I can’t have oils or butter, so when I am sautéing my food in my non-stick pan I need to get creative. Enter spicy brown mustard. Holy snap you have got to try this. It is absolutely MIND BLOWING!!!! I have gone through two bottles in two weeks because I put it on everything I can. If I roast it I will smother it in mustard. My mother in law and I were chatting about my new obsession and she brought me mustard seeds and a great recipe for homemade mustard. Guess what I’m doing over the next few days. I love that woman. My husband thinks it’s gross and he watches in fascination as I stare at my food cooking with anticipation, I can already taste that tangy spiciness. Oh and cabbage! Cabbage where have you been all my life? I only ever ate it once a year and it would be boiled for a boiled dinner on St. Patty’s day. I LOVE boiled cabbage. You have got to try it roasted. Mouth watering I say! MOUTH WATERING!

But honestly, dieting usually isn’t worth it. Be smart about it, I am, my doctor is following me and I have a strong support system. Plus I am seeing results. But I am going to blog this journey because quite frankly it makes me laugh each and every single day. And please remember to always pass the mustard.

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