For those of you who have been waiting to hear about Bailey's progress: today she pooped in the potty. Hurrah! Ross was really worried that she was going to go on the carpet somewhere, but nope--she went in the potty. Ross is a very proud Papi.
We have embarked on a potty training experience with Bailey. I wanted to potty train her when I first got her, but I was so happy that she went in the litter box and covered her stuff that I completely abandoned the idea. I'm not sure why we started thinking about this again--but now there are all sorts of cool things to potty train your cat. First we moved the litter box right next to the toilet. Then we raised up the litter box a bit. A few days later we raised it up to the level of the toilet. We also went out and bought flushable litter. This is what the training kit looks like. It comes with catnip and an instruction book. I don't know why they suggest putting catnip in with the litter. Bailey already tried to eat the flushable litter (it is 100% wheat.) I don't know why I'd want her eating or playing in the litter. No thanks. This is the litter pan on the toilet with the flushable litter. We completely took away her litter box yesterday and we've been anxiously awaiting her first pee pee in the potty. We actually added some of her old litter so she'd know what it was, then we added more, and more. We were really nervous. We put her in the litter box at least 6 times and I gave her a treat each time she sat there. This morning I finally heard her scratching at the litter. Bailey's first pee pee in the potty! She got treats and cat nip. I was so excited that I was singing a song about treats for pee pee in the potty.
The idea is to cut out a hole in the middle and progressively make it larger. We are supposed progress to the next size once each week. I think she'll be fine with that. We might even be able to do the first couple of holes a little faster. As the hole gets bigger the cat has to stand on the toilet seat and actually go in the toilet, not in the litter pan. We are keeping our fingers crossed and I'll be sure to post on our girl's progress.
I really like the BBC show Waking the Dead. It is like a mash up of CSI and Cold Case (but much better.) Each episode has two 50 minute parts. I happened to be watching PBS and saw that it was going to be on Friday night so I set the DVR to record it. The show doesn't air on a regular basis and I've seen most of the episodes. Last night when I sat down to watch what I had recorded I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a new (to me) episode. Waking the Dead always has a decent plot. The plots are always complicated and twisted. In true foreign fashion they do not explain the plot at all. Between the two parts last night I had to write up a family tree/episode diagram to make sure I had it all straight! This show is a lot of brain work! I really prefer that to the typical (American) show that repeats and explains what is going on. I'm hoping for another episode next week.
Today I volunteered at the Bladder Exstrophy and Epispadias Picnic. This means I had to get up early and drive 35 miles to Oregon Ridge Park. Families come from all over the country for this picnic each year. The children get to make friends and do fun activities, while the parents attend seminars about bladder exstrophy and epispadias.
I was the yellow group leader and led my group through a series of different activities.
My favorite two were the pipe cleaner station and the flubber station.
We made flower rings at the pipe cleaner station. I'm very impressed with my ring. Ross even wore it around for a while. At the flubber station we mixed together water, Elmer's glue, and borax. It made a kind of play dough slime.
After the picnic I went to Wegmans because it was very close to the park. I'd never been in Wegmans before. It was kind of half Central Market/half Tom Thumb. I went crazy and bought a bunch of stuff in the international section. We were also out of milk and soy milk, and the prices were decent, so I picked those up too. I don't think I'll be going back to Wegman's anytime soon, just because it is so far away. They are supposed to be building one close by. That will be nice--if it ever comes.
Last night we decided to try out Sizzling Bombay in Bel Air. Until two days ago I had no idea that we had an Indian restaurant in our neck of the woods.
We got there around 7:15. There was only one other couple in the restaurant. The place was nice--the seats were comfortable, but it was a bit dark inside. We started off with samosa. They offered us a choice between vegetable and lamb keema. I chose lamb keema because I know Ross loves lamb and I love keema. I think the samosas were good.
Ross ordered iced tea. There was something funky about it. He ordered a refill with no lemon. Oh yeah, it was funky. It was spoiled.
For our main courses Ross ordered malai kofta and I ordered lamb vindaloo. I really wanted vindaloo and my only two choices were chicken and lamb. Ross also ordered garlic naan. The malai kofta was really good. It reminded me of the curry and raisin sauce my dad used to make when I was a kid. The vindaloo sauce was good, but the potatoes weren't fully cooked. I also think they were skimpy on the lamb. The naan was tiny. Despite all these complaints, we didn't hate it.
The check came--wow--expensive. The samosas were like eight bucks! That tiny naan was 3 or 4. It was over 50 dollars with tip. Then the waiter asked us if we had cash because his credit card machine wasn't working. Uh, no. He got the credit card machine to work.
I ordered gulab jamun to go. I had it this morning for breakfast (yeah, breakfast of champions.) It was good.
I think despite all the complaints we might try this place again. The best thing really is the location. We don't have to drive into the city. If the tea is bad again though, I'll never go back. I mean, serving spoiled tea? Charging 16 bucks for undercooked potatoes? What's wrong with these people?
I kept hearing on the radio this morning how "Faisal pleaded guilty." That makes my skin crawl. I prefer pled. I remember the Editor in Chief and the Managing Editor having this argument when I worked at the Texas Law Review (ah, those were the days.) I think the Editor in Chief was arguing the the case for pled. We agreed on that one, but not "an historic". I'll never agree to that one.
2. I'm sad about the Supreme Court's ruling on aid to terrorist groups. Any group that advises a terrorist group, even about nonviolent means of conflict resolution, can be prosecuted for giving "material support" to that group. Sad.
3. Dawn dishwashing liquid is being used to clean the oil-covered animals in the gulf. This was in the news because Dawn apparently contains petroleum. Like dissolves like! That's why the first step in cleaning the animals is to rub cooking oil all over them. Who cares if there's petroleum in Dawn--as long as it gets the animals clean!
4. I went to H Mart today. I go crazy in H Mart. Today I bought these strange drumstick snacks:
The snacks are just drumstick-shaped-fried shells. No real seasoning. Odd. I can't believe how many of them in the box were intact.
5. I saw this sign this weekend when we were at a stoplight. Used Refrigerated Bodies? Really?
7. I went hiking on Sunday. I was hoping for raspberries, but didn't find many. I did find this butterfly wing.
We ate at Donkey Diner three times while we were in St. John. We ate there on the first Sunday we were there. I really could have just laid at home and had a sandwich, but I'm so glad I got up and we went out to eat. I wanted pizza, and Donkey Diner was close by, so we headed over there. Well, it turns out that on Sunday nights Donkey Diner only serves barbecue. Ross and I ended up sharing the beef ribs. It's rare to find a place that serves beef ribs, so we had to try them. Let me tell you--Brian makes the best BBQ I've ever had--outside of Texas. His coconut curry rice was also divine. Ross tasted Val's and had to order his own. We ended up going back and buying 3 extra sides of rice and taking them home with us for later. At 2 bucks a side, it was a tasty deal we just couldn't pass up.
On Wednesday and Friday nights Donkey Diner serves up pizza. I wasn't as impressed with the pizza as I was with the BBQ. Maybe it was because Brian didn't make it.
Donkey Diner is reputed to have the best breakfast on the island. We tried it out one morning and it was excellent. Ross had BBQ hash. It was eggs, home fries, and Brian's BBQ brisket. Yummy. Val had the blueberry pancakes and Troy and I had (cream cheese) stuffed French toast with mango-pineapple chutney. I wasn't so hot on the (cooked until mushy) chutney, but the French toast was good.
Speaking of donkeys...there are a lot of donkeys on the Coral Bay side of St. John. Every time we would see one on the road we would shout "DON-KAY!" It never got old.
When we came back from vacation we discovered that the leaves of my jalapeno plants had been chewed up. Apparently Bailey has a taste for only the jalapeno leaves. She didn't touch the cayenne or Anaheim pepper leaves. From what I could tell she also didn't eat any of the herbs.
The plants did really well while we were gone (despite Bailey chewing on them.) I brought them inside and Bailey's babysitter watered them for me. Each pepper plant has at least one dozen buds that are going to bloom. The herbs did so well that I made two batches of bread this week. One batch had just rosemary and the other had rosemary, sweet basil, Thai basil, Greek oregano, and mint. I shared with coworkers and everyone seems to think the bread turned out all right.
Well, the photo of the leaf was taken with my new camera! We bought a newer version of the one that we had before. There are some definite improvements. It also came with a photo organizing program. It lets you categorize the photos into events, name the place they were taken, and tag the people in the photos. I'm not sure if I like it yet. I'm going to have to play with it more.
I'm going to take this opportunity to rant about sun worship. More than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. Over 50,000 of those cases are melanoma. This is a mostly preventable disease. It boggles my mind how people bake out in the sun on purpose. There is no such thing as a safe tan. The sun's rays damage your DNA. The more often or more severe the damage the harder it is to repair.
I'm pretty good about daily sunscreen. I poured the stuff on when we were in St. John and I still got burned. Oh, that's another thing. I was amazed to see people who were beet red still out in the sun. I just don't get it. People seem to love cooking themselves under the sun and in the tanning booths. Tanned skin now equals wrinkles and possibly cancer later.
I wanted to share some videos that I took before the camera died. Now you can feel like you were on vacation with me! Watch the sea anemone dissapear. I followed a sea turtle and it surfaced a couple of times. Enjoy the sounds of the beach.
When I first picked up the photos from Costco I couldn't see the octopus on the contact sheet and I was really bummed. I was totally relieved to see that there were actually photos of the octopus and they turned out well. Here is the octopus unfurled. Believe it or not, that's the same octopus.
I know the photo has nothing to do with this post, but you don't really want to see a dirty toilet do you?
When we were getting ready to leave for vacation I had a list of last minute things to do and pack. One of them was flush the toilet. Ross and I go by the old saying if it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down. I didn't want to come back to a toilet that had been sitting full of piss in the summer heat for a week. The smell after 24 hours can knock you over. Ick.
St. John is an island, the fresh water source is rain. Water conservation is a big deal over there. We tried to be good, and do the same as we do at home, but it was hard. It was hotter and the toilet would begin to reek after just a few hours. I was kind of perplexed that the million dollar homes aren't equipped with tanks to reuse water. There are systems that reuse sink water to flush the toilets. That seems like an excellent idea on the islands.
I'm not a huge environmentalist, but I do what I can. Ross and I each took our metal water bottles and filled them from the tap instead of buying bottled water. It hurt to throw away things that I would normally recycle. They only recycle aluminum cans on the island. I'm sure it isn't cost effective to recycle anything else. It was just sad to see the dumpsters full of cardboard boxes and know that they were full of beer bottles and plastic water bottles.
Today we hiked half a mile to Solomon beach. The beach was beautiful, and there weren't many people there (at first.) I snorkeled along one side of the bay, then after lunch I decided to go check out the other side. Ross came with me and I'm so glad that he did. While I was busy trying to take a photo of something or other, Ross was just hovering over a rock, looking down. When I swam up to him I noticed something move on the rock. It was an octopus! We both saw it right about at the same time. When we first saw it it was totally smooth, unfurled and a light sandy color. When it saw that we were checking it out it curled up against the rock, changed to darker color, and made its skin kind of spiky like the surrounding rock. Lord, I hope the camera works and the photos turn out nicely. I'll post them as soon as I can.
Snorkeling and the sun have wiped me out. Today we decided to relax a little. After breakfast we headed over to Cruz Bay to do some shopping. Ross bought a beautiful skate wallet (I have a purse from our last visit) and I bought a ring. I had seen some glass rings at the little outdoor market and thought I'd buy one because I broke mine last week (I have no idea how many I've broken over the years.) Instead of a glass ring I bought one carved out of coconut. Well, that's what the guy told me it was. Anyway, the ring turned my finger bright orange-red. I guess the ring was stained with something. No worries. I really like it. Hopefully it will last longer than my glass rings do. I think it is a great souvenir. I also saw some beautiful glass bracelets in a jewelry shop, but I've decided I'm going to pass. I'll stick to jade.
We came back to our place for lunch and then took a long nap. I really needed it. I feel much better now. I'm ready to hit the beaches again tomorrow. We actually have water access from our villa, but we haven't gone snorkeling out there. After my nap the sun was already going down and the water was too choppy for my tastes. Maybe tomorrow?
Well, since the last critter spotting post we've seen lots of different kinds of fish, cats, dogs, huge termite nests, termites, chicks, different kinds of coral, pigs, interesting sea anemone, drunks, iguanas, anoles, parrots, and all sorts of water fowl.
So, here's the start of the story. On Saturday our flight was supposed to leave Dulles at 9:45 am. We took off at 4:30 pm. We sat in the airport all day! I don't know how we didn't go crazy. If Val and Troy had not been there I know I would have turned into Miss Grumpy Pouty Pants. Seriously, our delay was longer than our actual flight!
We arrived in St. Thomas around 8 pm. After a crazy cab ride to the ferry dock (that almost made Val sick), we caught the 9 pm ferry to St. John. The owner of the house we are staying in was nice enough to arrange for us to pick up the car late (they left the keys in the car.) When we arrived the boys went to get the rental car. Wouldn't ya know, the rental car had a dead battery. It was past 10 pm I think. No one was at the car rental place. We called the owner of the house and she was nice enough to pick us up and take us to the house.
It seemed like the longest day ever. I remember after the last time we came to St. John telling Ross that I liked it, but I didn't think that I'd come back. I thought it was too much trouble getting to the island. We came back and it was even more trouble! We spent the first day of our vacation in the airport!
Since we've been here things have been much better. I did get some sunburn, but it is healing up nicely. Yesterday I bought a rash guard to keep my back and arms safe from the sun. The one thing that really has me bummed is that our camera died. Water seeped in through the battery hatch and fried it. I was able to recover the pictures that were on the memory stick, but we can't take any more photos with that camera. Today we bought a reusable underwater camera and I hope it is taking nice photos. I'll have to post some of them after I have them developed.
So now you know where we are and how we got here. This post doesn't even begin to convey how truly harrowing the day was.
In the last two days I have seen: donkeys, chickens, roosters, cats, sea turtles, sea stars, conch, hermit crabs, sea urchins, one sand crab, goats, cows, sting rays, mongoose, lots of different kinds of fish, coral, sea anemone, butterflies, hummingbirds, gigantic bees, ants, tons of mosquitoes, spiders, different kinds of water fowl, cuttlefish, geckos and lizards. I think that an octopus would be the ultimate critter to spot. We'll see.
Yesterday I discovered that snorkling in a strapless bathing suit isn't the best idea. When I tried to go fast the top of my swimsuit wanted to slip down. Luckily I had straps and that fixed everything. We've had a great time on our vacation so far (once our vacation finally started, but more on that later.) Despite double applications of sunscreen I got some burn on my back. So--my sister Nicole--pack and wear lots of sunscreen at Bonaroo. Don't forget to reapply.