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Shadow the Guinea Pig

Wednesday, our sweet little family pet, Shadow the guinea pig, died. Calfgrit8 is heartbroken.

Back in mid 2011, CG8 started talking about wanting a guinea pig. He checked out guinea pig books from the library to learn about them and how to care for them, and he started saving up money to buy one from the pet store. We agreed that if he saved up enough for the pet, we’d help him with buying the house/cage. He was so excited when he finally had enough money saved up in his bank.

In November 2011, we took him to Petsmart. He picked out a cute little black guinea pig with some white and brown patches.

Shadow the Guinea Pig

We all picked out a nice cage for him, and gathered up all the bedding and food necessary for a healthy pet. Calfgrit8 named his little guy, Shadow.

From his books, he knew all about guinea pigs and how to care for them. He did a fairly good job of keeping the little guy fed and watered. And although Wifegrit did most of the big cleaning of the cage, CG8 did help as he could. (The cage was nearly as big as he.) For almost two years, Shadow was a part of this family. His cage was in the loft area, central to all the upstairs rooms and activity.

Shadow the Guinea Pig

We built a moderate-sized running area out of a big cardboard box, and CG8 created little obstacles out of shoe boxes and cardboard scraps. Every few days, and while cleaning his cage, CG8 or Wifegrit would put him down in the run for exercise. He loved having more room to wander around. And apparently he loved chewing the cardboard.

When all was quiet, we could hear him moving about in his cage, hear him drinking water, and occasionally he made adorable little squeaks. And when in his run, you’d hear the pitter of his little clawed feet running this way and that over and through the obstacles.

He loved Calfgrit8 as much as my little boy loved him. When CG8 was away for an extended period, visiting grandparents or off on a sleepover at a friend’s house, when CG8 came home and went upstairs, that little guinea pig would squeak to get his attention. He’d also squeak for Wifegrit. (Who doesn’t love Wifegrit?)

Almost two years with us. Then Tuesday, we noticed he wasn’t eating or drinking. Tuesday night I was sent to the grocery store to pick up a cucumber, (Shadow’s favorite vegetable), to try to entice him to eat something. But even placing his favorite food in front of him, he just wouldn’t eat. It was decided that Wifegrit would take him to the vet the next day.

Wednesday morning, the vet diagnosed Shadow had a respiratory infection. She gave the little guy some medicine at the appointment, and gave instructions on how to care for him to help him recover. But then that evening, about 5:00, Calfgrit12, big brother, called me.

“Hi Dad,” he said, sadness in his voice. I could hear crying in the background. “I don’t want to ruin your day, but we think Shadow is dead.”

“Oh no!” I said. “I’m on my way home right now.”

It was that quick. He went from seeming normal one day, not eating the next day, to passed away one day later. When I got home, the crying was over, and everyone was in bed with Wifegrit watching some cartoons. They were trying to get past the sadness. I found Shadow laying still in his cage. I petted him gently and felt his stiff, cool, little furry body. Awe man. That sucks. He was such a sweet little thing.

We all talked about what we needed to do. Calfgrit8 wanted him to be buried in the backyard, under a tree. I scooped little Shadow up, placed him on a paper towel, and took him out to the backyard. It took me several minutes to dig a grave through all the roots and rocks under the tree. Both boys came out to watch over Shadow while I dug. At last I had a hole big enough. The boys watched as I carefully lowered the pet into the grave, and then they left so as to not watch me shovel dirt on him. When digging the hole, I scooped up a small pine tree sapling in a big chunk of dirt. I made sure that marked the spot when I covered the hole up. With luck, that little sprig will grow as a marker for Shadow.

Wow, this all happened so fast. Just out of the blue. We lost a very sweet pet that our 8 year old son really loved. Over the past couple of days, he’s had a few sad moments. One time he just went from happy to crying, putting his head in his hands, sobbing, “My guinea pig died!”

Today he’s talked about wanting another guinea pig, which he’d name Shadow II.


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Intruder Repelled

Last week, Wifegrit called me at work shouting that there was a “giant snake” trying to get into our garage. She was very upset, so I immediately jumped in my truck and raced home. Unfortunately, it takes me 35 minutes to get home, so by the time I got there she had scared it off into the woods behind our house. I was proud of her even though she admits her scaring it off was by yelling and screaming in terror.


I was disappointed that I couldn’t get home in time to take care of it myself. I wanted to be a hero. *sigh*

But then my chance came a few days later when I was actually already at home. I got the alert that there was a “really big spider” in our garage trying to get into the house proper. Well, I will protect my home and family against any intruder, two legs, no legs, or eight! I rushed downstairs ready to deal with the arachnid intruder.

Kill Spider!

“Ya broke into the wrong goddamn recroom, didn’t cha, ya bastard!”

OK, okay, I didn’t shoot the monster. (Especially not aiming like that, against that concrete floor.)

Spider Intruder

I got a paper towel, reached down relatively gently, and scooped it up. I took it out into the far edge of the yard and let it go. So long as the snakes and spiders stay in the yard or woods, out of the house, they’re welcome to do their natural business.


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Grocery List

A long time ago, I designed a grocery list form with Microsoft Word. We can print it out each week, (or every few days it seems), and go through the refrigerator and cupboard checking off things we need to pick up at Food Lion or Target. This has been a pretty helpful thing for everyone in the family, especially when it’s left on the fridge door for anyone to check items as they finish off the last of whatever.

This week when Wifegrit mentioned she was going grocery shopping the next day, Calfgrit8 decided to help her out by filling out the checklist all by himself. He took it and sat down at the kitchen table with a pencil. This is what he checked off for his mom to pick up on her shopping trip:

Grocery List

I’m pretty proud of some of his choices. Grapes, apples, blue berries, peaches, bananas, strawberries. I have to give credit to Wifegrit for our boys’ better-than-average eating habits. They love fruits. Although I like some fruits, too, I’ll too often take a processed snack over a natural one.

But to balance out the healthy fruit choices Calfgrit8 made on this list, I see he actually scribbled out “Frozen Vegetables.” Ha!

I’m not sure what the arrows are for, but I notice the items he had to write in. I’m surprised I missed french toast sticks and gummies on the standard list — they’re regular items in our house. Lunchables and chocolate (chotlete) ice cream are special treats that we don’t always keep around.

I see a couple items that need to be dropped from this check list. The Tropicana Light Orangeade and Pineapple OJ are my items, but I haven’t had either in couple of years. I drink 100% water, now. The Diet Dr. Pepper is Wifegrit’s one vice. (Our boys have never had a soda.)

In addition to having this check list, each Sunday we sit down at the kitchen table with the boys and plan out our dinners for the week. They pick what they want, (main dish plus a side), for each day, Monday through Friday. We write the choices on a note card and post it on the fridge. That makes it easy for whichever of us, (me or Wifegrit — about a 40/60 split), happens to be the one to make dinner that night. And the kids can’t complain about the meal we set in front of them because they specifically chose it.

This combination of dinner list and grocery list has worked out really well for us for as long as we’ve been doing them. I highly recommend this process to anyone with children, (and maybe even for those without kids), as it makes planning and shopping so much easier.


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Just a Little Something More to Do

Over the past week or so I’ve been working on changing our TV, phone, and Internet service. So every day after I come home from work, I have had some kind of wiring, connecting, activating, setting up, or rearranging to do with all our electronic devices. I’ve spent about 6 hours on the phone mostly with customer service or technical support to get things organized. It’s been extremely frustrating and stressful.

Nothing is easy. Nothing is simple. Nothing just works. Every step of every process is complicated.

Thursday night was going to be the last of this work I had to do. I was going to install the new modem and router to the new Internet service. The night before, I went through all the cables and connectors to make sure I had everything I needed to complete the process. My home desk was covered in electronics and paper instructions.

It had been a long, stressful week of all this, but I hoped that finally I’d be done with it all. When I got home from work, I said hello to the family and then went straight up to my office to get into the cables and connectors and instructions. What greeted me on my desk was like a punch line in a television sitcom. My 12 year old son had left a note for me:

Solve Rubik's Cube

Really? I stood there looking down at the cube and note for a full minute or so.

Turns out it was no joke or gag. Little brother had played with the cube and unintentionally messed it up. Wifegrit suggested giving it to good ol’ Dad to fix.

Solved Rubik's Cube

Well, instead of getting upset, (which I was on the ragged edge of doing), I decided to take the situation as a chance to show off to my boys and look like a hero. After finishing the electronic hook ups, I sat down to work out the cube. I searched the web for the solution and followed the step-by-step directions. Once I solved the puzzle, I took it and the note downstairs to where the family was finishing dinner around the kitchen table, and placed the finished product in front of Calfgrit12.

I got a, “Thanks, Dad.” But that’s really about it.

Oh well. I know I’m awesome.
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On my way home from work on Friday, I half expected there to be a box of Christmas lights for me to untangle.


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