Adopting a “special needs” pet

When the SPCA told Mike and I that the kitten we had decided to adopt was almost completely blind, we were upset. We were worried that she wouldn’t play, and that she wouldn’t find her litter box or her food. I know we have a lot of moving in our future (thanks, med school), and I was concerned a blind kitten wouldn’t be able to figure out each of our new homes.

In his notes, the SPCA vet had speculated that Latte — who was only a month old at the time — was hit by a car. When she was brought in, her nose was bleeding, she had scabs on her legs, but luckily, no bones were broken and her jaw was intact. But what if something else was wrong? What if she had suffered internal bleeding and we’d have to either pay for her treatment or bring her back to the shelter?

After awkwardly discussing what we should do in front of the volunteer, we decided we’d go for it, knowing that we could always bring her back to the SPCA if we really had to. After all, the vet’s notes also said that despite Latte’s serious injuries, she was still purring and affectionate. After the volunteer brought her out, I knew I could have never left her there.

I had done my research about what to do when bringing a kitten home, and multiple websites said to confine her in one room with her litter box, food, and water for a while until she feels comfortable to roam. The sites also advised that you let the kitten slowly come out of the carrier on its own time, since she would likely be skeptical of the new surroundings and not want much to do with us.

Latte apparently had a mission to prove the Internet wrong. I opened up her carrier and she bounded out and jumped up on my lap. After a few minutes of petting, she was over on Mike’s lap, rubbing his face.

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She then found her bowl of water, her litter box, and quickly became bored with the office. So we let her roam the apartment, and she did, just like a normal cat. She jumped up on the couch, and after a little coaxing, figured out how to jump down. She spent that evening on the couch, cuddling with us, and figured out how to get on the bed that first night, too.

Latte had more energy in the days to come, and although her sprinting around the apartment did lead to a few collisions, she figured out where all the walls were pretty quickly and only had to rub her nose a few times. She has since gotten up on the kitchen table, navigated her 5-foot-tower, and escaped our apartment and made it down two flights of stairs before I could catch her.

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We’ve moved the furniture around and she figures it out within minutes. She has never had a problem with her litter box, and she will play with dangly toys if we drag them across the floor.  She also chases mini soccer balls around the apartment by herself, runs around with her bird in her mouth, and finds things you don’t want her to find (like her beloved Q-tips) — just like a normal cat.

And unlike some normal cats, she runs to the door when we get home, sleeps under the covers with us in bed, and rubs my face in the morning when I wake up.

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Latte has thrown every worry we had out the window. Blind cats (and all animals with special needs) have a hard time getting adopted, and Latte was surrounded by other “perfect kittens,” but I am so happy we left that day with her — blindness and all.

Many blind cats and kittens just as sweet as Latte need a good home. If you’re looking for more information or want to support a blind cat, I highly recommend Gwen Cooper’s book about her blind cat, Homer, and the work of Blind Cat Rescue.

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Links I loved (and that Cadillac commercial I hate)

Happy Friday! I came across some links I loved over the past few days — and although I’m not planning on doing this every week — these ones are worth sharing.

Enjoy :)

1. The new Chevy commercial featuring a golden retriever. Anything with animals gets to me, and since I already have unreasonable breakdowns about Latte getting older (she’s eight months today!), this one hit home.

2. The suit who spooked the EPA. The Washingtonian’s story on a star EPA employee, John Beale, who ended up in prison. I don’t want to ruin this one for you so you’ll have to read it yourself.

3. Finding myself on Buzzfeed. A humorous blog post on how our “self reflection” has changed since all those viral Buzzfeed quizzes have come along.

“Maybe you don’t remember. Maybe you’ve repressed the chilling realities of before Buzzfeed. Allow me to reminisce. Before, when we were met with existential questions like, ‘What Muppet are you?’, we couldn’t simply choose a song, a facial expression, a board game, a pizza topping, a baby’s face, and click! Answer: You’re Animal. And all doubts were quelled.”

For the record, I’m Bobo the Bear — who is a meanie in the last Muppets movie so I’m not a big fan of my being a Bobo.

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What Muppet are you?

4. You don’t have to be rich in your 20s: How much money you should actually be making. I thought the beginning of this was a little extreme, but I enjoyed the list of things you should afford and not afford when starting out. With the help from my parents, I’m definitely not in need. Still, I don’t make a lot and I’m not rolling in cash, so I identified with it.

“You should be making enough to have a bed but never a headboard.” Well, we have a headboard but our frame is broken so the mattress and box spring are directly on the floor. But hey, it works.

“You should be making enough to never feel poor but have to wonder what it’s like to have money.”

“You should be making enough to have your own apartment, shared with one, two or three others.”

I didn’t relate to some others though (I often feel completely full, I don’t cab it home from bars all that often, and I spoil Latte with wet food for at least some of her meals).

5. Five reasons why you shouldn’t work too hard. This Washington Post story was in response to that Cadillac commercial in which a  “middle-aged white guy in a fancy house strides purposefully from his luxurious swimming pool to his $75,000 luxury Cadillac ELR parked out front while extolling the virtues of hard work, American style.”

I admit, having August off would be nice, but it’s really the commercial’s emphasis on acquiring fancy stuff that drives me nuts. Brigid Schulte put it quite nicely:

“Americans are caught up in what economist Juliet Schor calls a vicious cycle of “work-and-spend” — caught on a time-sucking treadmill of more spending, more stuff, more debt, stagnant wages, higher costs and more work to pay for it all.”

6. A 59-second video on how you can easily impress people in meetings.

That’s all folks! Have a good weekend.

My silver linings

A few things have gone not-as-hoped recently. Nothing really bad, but a few opportunities didn’t pan out and my freelance position went down the tubes due to the company’s loss in revenue. Boo. There goes a quarter of my income.

I’ve recently become a Kacey Musgraves fan, and I’ve been listening to this song (and singing it and mixing up the lyrics as much as possible). I love all her lyrics, and this song helped me think about the bright side of things.

Here are some of my own silver linings:

The bad news: The temperature has been between minus 5 degrees and 20 degrees for the majority of the winter, with you know, some minus 20 degree wind chills thrown in.

The silver lining: When the temperature hits anything above 32 degrees, it feels more like 60. I think I’ll change those lyrics from “if you’re ever gonna find a silver lining, it’s gotta be a cloudy day,” to “it’s gotta be the coldest winter ever.” I should not quit my day job to become a songwriter.

But hey, look at this forecast! I really can’t wait to debut my spring windbreaker on Friday (it’s the little things).

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The bad news: A couple weeks ago I received an email that my contract with the freelance company was being terminated, with no details or explanation, and I thought I got fired. I was pretty upset and didn’t know what I did wrong.

The silver lining: The next day, when I found out that the entire department was being eliminated, and it wasn’t about my performance, I felt a lot better — as self-centered as it sounds. “Hey, it’s not just me! Everyone else is in a crappy situation, too!”

I also don’t have to start writing at 7:30 a.m. during the week or at all on Sunday anymore. I’ll take the two days in a row off.

The bad news: I haven’t heard about another part-time opportunity I was hopeful about.

The silver lining: My schedule is still flexible. So when there was an opening on Monday, I got to babysit my niece for a few hours.

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She’s babbling, laughing, and rolling now and all I want to do is hog her when I see her. I loved having some one-on-one time with her.

The bad news: Ryan Miller, my favorite Buffalo Sabre, was traded to St. Louis, and even though I knew it was coming, his emotional speech got to me. My first jersey has his name on it, and meeting him in Carolina on our playoff road trip is one of my favorite hockey memories.

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The silver lining: I now have a team to cheer for that may actually have a run at the Stanley Cup.  And my brother’s hair is no longer orange.

What are your silver linings?

How to: Use PicMonkey to make a better resume

I’ve seen posts around the Internet lately on the importance of having a resume that stands out and catches the reader’s eye (did you know employers only look at your resume for an average of six seconds? SIX).

I looked at some resume templates on Etsy, and I really loved the ones that came with matching cover letters and thank you notes — but I really didn’t want to shell out $25-$35 for them. I decided to try making my own before purchasing anything, and since I don’t have Photoshop and all the Word templates are kinda boring, I took my very amateur design skills to PicMonkey.

I’ve used PicMonkey before for my blog header and photo editing, but I wasn’t sure how it would work with something like a resume that involves so much more text. I was surprised with how much I liked how it turned out, though, and decided to share how I did it here — especially since Googling for tips turned up nada.

I started off by choosing the design option and picking the 8×10 so it would fit on a normal piece of computer paper.

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You could really design this anyway you wanted to, but I modeled mine after I few I saw on Pinterest and Etsy. I decided I wanted a circle with my initials and my name — nothing too crazy.

I started off with the circle by going to overlays (the butterfly icon on the right) and picking it from the geometric category.

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I also played around with using a banner, but ultimately decided against it. If you decided you’d like a banner, just continue scrolling down to that option in the overlay category.

I then picked out a color I liked for my circle using the overlay pop-up box you see in the screenshot above. I wanted to add my initials to the circle, so my next step was adding a text box by clicking the text option on the left right above the butterfly.

I added a text box, manipulated its size to fit my circle, picked out a font I liked, and wrote my initials. I also changed the color of the text to white and made the font size bigger using the pop-up box you see below:

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So far, so good! I then added my name by adding another text box and using the same font, Channel:

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My next step was adding contact information below my name, so I added a smaller text box under my name and switched the font to Georgia so it’d be easier to read. I simply wrote my phone number, email, and address leaving about five to six spaces in between each.

I wanted to incorporate my blue circle in this text box, so I went back to the overlay option and added another circle. I then made it much smaller. To match the exact blue color, I clicked the large circle and copied the color code in the pop-up box. The code is the 667bff.

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I then went back to my small circle and pasted the color code in the smaller circle’s overlay popup box. This may seem like a confusing process, but after you do it once, it will be easy peasy.

I then placed the circle in between my phone number and email to break the two up. To create an identical little blue circle, all you have to do is right-click on the circle and choose “duplicate overlay.”

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I took my clone circle and put it in between the email and address. Wahoo! My header is done:

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I then moved on to the bulk of my resume. What you do first and how you format it is up to you, and there are a ton of options. I first added a big text box for all my content. While I was working on this content, I zoomed in by changing the percentage on the bottom right corner of the site.

I started off with my school information, and matched the color of “Education” using the same technique above and used my Channel cursive font.

Under education, I indented by clicking the space button eight times. There isn’t any “tab option” for text in PicMonkey, so if you want to indent anything, you have to count the spaces you use — which was a pain but worked out. I then clicked option and 8 at the same time to add bullets with my GPA and honors information (which I used a plain, black font for — the same one as my contact info).

I repeated the same method for my employment history — matching the color of “Employment” in the cursive font, reverting to black Georgia for my content, and using bullets to add in my duties at the various positions.

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I then did the same thing for Athletics and Community Service information. Here is the result (with some personal info whited out):

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I saved the image to my desktop when I was done, but kept the page open online (be careful, if you leave without saving it to your computer, it will be gone). And double check everything — PicMonkey doesn’t have spell check.

*SidenoteI also went back and changed all the cursive fonts to Georgia, and saved a version like that, too. I was a little on the fence about the cursive look, but having both of them will allow me to decide based on the job opportunity.

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I still wanted my resume in Word and not just an image, but again, this is all personal preference. To make the PicMonkey resume take up the whole page in Word, I altered all of the margins (left, right, top, and bottom) to 0 instead of 1 by clicking on Format and then Document in the drop-down menu.

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I then inserted the resume by clicking Insert, Picture, and from a file. I chose the PicMonkey resume image from my desktop, and voila! You will now be able to save and send this as a printable Word document. Here’s a before and after image of my resume:

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I still wanted to save the top of my resume for a cover letter or thank you note, so I went back to PicMonkey and using the cropping tool to capture only my name and contact information. I saved the cropped picture, inserted it into Word in the same way.  I then just used Word to write my cover letter right below the image.

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The whole project took me a couple of hours, but I played around with colors, fonts, banners, and overlays for a while before picking what I liked best.

Whatcha think? Is the cursive font too much?

Navigating a long week and a tall tower

I had a busier week than normal, but it wasn’t nearly as crazy as I thought it would be (although I’m writing this Thursday night and could be jinxing my Friday. Cross your fingers for me).

The bright spots to my week included watching the Olympics while working and the delivery of a big package — Latte’s cat tower.

We had been eying the towers at PetSmart since we adopted her, but they are crazy expensive and many of them are not even that cool. After looking at them for the 15th time one night, I did some Internet searching and found a tower on Amazon for about half of what a similar one would have cost at the store. I added in a couple gift cards, and the nearly 6-foot tower became quite affordable. So I bought it and told Latte all about it (she was a little less excited than I was).

I know, I’m crazy for spoiling a kitten. And you’re right, she doesn’t even understand that I’m spoiling her. BUT, her favorite thing in the world is to climb with her bird in tow and her foot-high scratch post just wasn’t doing it for her anymore — so she was taking to the TV stand and the kitchen table. Which was not so fun.

We also reasoned that it made more sense to just buy our favorite tower, rather than buy five smaller versions and upgrade to a big one eventually. And then we’d have like five pieces of cat furniture and look really crazy.

The tower was delivered in just a few days. Mike put it together while I was at work and hid it from her until I got home. We brought it out to the living room, and after about a minute of cajoling, she came over to see what was up.

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And then she realized, “Hey, I can actually climb on this thing without getting yelled at.”

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When we found out Latte was pretty much completely blind, I remember thinking she wouldn’t play like a “normal” kitten. She wouldn’t be able to see her toys, so she wouldn’t care about them, I feared. We already knew she proved me wrong — time and time again — but it was still so rewarding to watch her navigate to the top of the tower in 15 seconds flat.

And then, just like she had perfect eyesight, she just jumped the 6 feet down to the floor, which was nerve wracking for her cat crazy mom. We taught her to jump down safely to the next platform with some treats and toys, but it took a little while and we had to hear some whining when we blocked her from jumping down the scary way that she prefers…even though she can’t even see the floor.

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She’s still not a huge fan of the hammock and the blue tent, but it took her a few weeks to actually sleep in her bed and not just attack its tag, so I think she’ll enjoy them eventually.

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For now, she prefers cuddling our laps, and I’m OK with that.

Sweet and lazy days

Even though Mike and I recognize that Valentine’s Day is kinda pointless, we still take part in it. We are hypocrites and I’m OK with it.

For our first Valentine’s together in 2010, we cooked steak in his no-frills dorm kitchen and ate it in his very small room on the bed. It seems like we’ve come so far since then, but really, we just kept on dating and now have a kitchen table. Mike also gave me the cutest chocolates and I didn’t want to eat them.

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I can’t remember what I got Mike that year, and this time around, I really struggled with gift ideas. We don’t get each other anything huge, so after finding out that a shaving kit I was eying was $210 and those gorgeous Teavana tea pots are not much cheaper, I was out of luck. After stumbling around the Internet and Bed Bath & Beyond, I decided on chocolate, a cocktail shaker he was in need of, and this cutesy book from Uncommon Goods.

Mike got me a robe, which I had been coincidentally complaining about wanting for the past few weeks, as well as peanut butter chocolates. The way to my heart is lazy mornings and homemade Reese’s, apparently.

We spent some time with my little Valentine on Friday, McCorrie, who was very confused by her “Uncle” Mike for some reason. She just sat and stared, and then got distracted by her toys, and then sat and stared again.

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We were thinking about cooking steak on Friday — just like four years ago — but we’ve grown lazier and decided to pick up some Thai instead. I watched the Olympics for the rest of the night while Mike passed out on the couch after about five minutes.

On Saturday, we watched too many hours of House of Cards (which had me saying “oh my god, I can’t believe it” about 43 times), and went out for a nice dinner. We had been planning to go to Remington Tavern for an engagement celebration and finally decided to do it for Valentine’s weekend. I absolutely loved it in there. The grapefruit cocktail, almond crusted shrimp, and prime rib helped too.

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And Mike strong armed me into getting dessert. I wasn’t upset.

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Hope your weekend was as sweet as mine :)

Life lately — in verbs

WATCHING:: The Olympics and Dexter. I’m not sure if I’m more terrified by serial killers or ski jumping.

EATING :: Oatmeal again. I overdid it a few years ago and we were on a long break.

BROWSING: Wedding venues. I’m really decisive so it’s going quite well.

LAUGHING AT :: Latte wanting to sleep under the covers all the time. She’s also convinced that my fleece pants are a blanket and just digs and digs and digs with no success.

COOKING :: This crock pot recipe at least once a week.

STARTING :: A Pulitzer prize book club…but we might be a little delayed because my brother and co-founder said he’ll have time to read when his children are in college. And he has a 5-month-old baby. Sooo 2031?

EXCITED :: For our Valentine’s and delayed engagement dinner this weekend.

WEARING :: Sweatpants and a hoodie as soon as I walk in the door. Is it 30 degrees yet?

LOVING: My new planner from Plum Paper. Thanks to an Etsy gift card from my sister :).

PUTTING: Up pictures in the living room. I gave moral support to Mike and even used the level twice.

READING :: “The Ghost of King Leopold,” a non-fiction book about the Congo. I’m going through it much slower than the last book I read, which was narrated by a dog. Whaddya know.

What’s your life looked like lately?