Monday, August 21, 2006

Toilet Training Continued

One week has passed and we have completed phase one of toilet training: both litter boxes are now in the bathroom next to the toilet. So far, we haven't had any issues with the boxes being moved. Jewel is using the toilet litter consistently, Squirt is starting to, and Gypsy is holding out on me. She prefers the box, and I think she has one to herself now that the others are using the toilet litter. My next step is to take one of the boxes away while raising the other one a little at a time to the height of the toilet.

Dave made up a funny song about toilet training the cats. It goes something like this (sing it to the tune of "That's the Night That the Lights Went Out in Georgia"):

That's the night that the cat fell in the toilet;
That's the night Jewel spun her spotted head;
Don't trust your butt to no roast pan in the toilet,
'Cause when the duct tape breaks you'll fall and get wet.

Yeah, that's my husband. :) He's still working on the lyrics to the actual verses of the song.

Jewel E. Cat has also been helping me with a cross-stiching project. She LOVES string, and occasionally she will realize that I'm cross-stiching, so she joins me on the couch. Then she chases the thread as I'm using it. Last night, I could not make her go away. She was watching the fabric, and every time I stuck the needle through it, she hit it with her paw. She was trying to catch the thread. She went at it from every angle. I would think she was bored because she went away, but she'd just come back from a different angle, chasing that needle and thread. She was really being a witch. I couldn't finish one stich without her little, furry paws in the way. I finally picked her up and snuggled her, and she went away. She hates it when you hold her tight to snuggle her, and that's a tried and true method of making her leave you alone.

People news:
The law practice is now a week old, and going fairly well. He picked up 4 cases in court last week and made an appointment to write a will. We'll call it a successful first week. He also took care of all the administrative things involved in setting up a business. It's been a long time since I've seen him this happy, so I think this is where he is supposed to be right now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Operation Toilet Training

Operation Toilet Training officially started Sunday, August 13. What in the world am I talking about, you wonder? I’ll explain; it might be a little long.

Since moving to Montevallo and a much smaller house, we (The Cats and I) have had some issues and misunderstandings with our litter box habits. Previously, they used two boxes, covered with one large wooden box, a “kitty outhouse” if you will. Now, they have two separate covered boxes (covered to keep Dog Breath from helping herself to “litter box crunchies” – no, she’s not weird, she’s just a normal dog). Apparently, the smaller space and the sharing of the boxes is causing some domination and territorial issues amongst the cat population. Throw in Squirt's neurotic litter box behavior, and you’ve got quite a mess. In the 4 ½ months we’ve been there, we’ve ironed out most of the problems and everyone is sharing the boxes nicely, most of the time. Occasionally, there is an ambush as one cat exits the box, but that doesn’t happen very often.

Enter Squirt, the sink pee-er, and also the most ambushed of them all. Squirt is my most neurotic cat, who has always had the habit of pooping in one box and peeing in the other. The problem with this method is that he cannot get his sisters to cooperate. They consistently use both boxes for both functions. So, after several incidents of peeing on the floor next to the box because he didn’t want to go in the smelly box (this is my assumption based on his behavior), he got the bright idea to pee in the bathroom sink. Don’t freak; this is the tiny bathroom that houses one litter box, and we rarely use it because it’s so small. He did this several mornings in a row, and it made me start thinking about toilet training them. I feel like he is a good candidate because he’s open to alternative places of pottying.

I did some Internet research and formulated a plan and timeline to start training. I also got Dave’s support because it involves occupying one of our bathrooms for the next couple of months. Yes, he thinks I’m as crazy as you do, but he admitted that it’s worth a try if it means getting rid of the litter boxes and solving our litter box issues. Sunday, I duct taped a disposable metal roasting pan into the toilet and put some flushable litter in it. I also began moving the litter boxes closer to the toilet. This has to be done little by little to keep them from freaking out on me. The plan is to slowly move the boxes into the bathroom and next to the toilet. Then I will slowly start raising them, a little at a time, to the height of the toilet. Once they will use them at toilet height, I will take the boxes away so that they will use the pan in the toilet. Once they are using the pan, I will gradually start cutting bigger and bigger holes in it until they get used to using the toilet water and not having litter to scratch in. Once the entire bottom of the pan is gone, they will be toilet trained. I estimate that we will be at that point around the end of October, hopefully. There are no guarantees that they will like using the toilet, even if they know how, but I’m going to give it a shot.

With all that said, we had a breakthrough last night! I went to check the toilet litter pan last night and the toilet lid was closed. When I opened it, I found that someone had used the litter in the toilet! I really didn’t expect this to happen so soon, so I was thrilled. At that point, I thought I might see them start to use the pan more and more since someone did it first. Well, this morning I woke up to scratching noises, and when I looked in the bathroom, Jewel was “covering” the litter pan. She actually took advantage of the entire roll of toilet paper that was on the wall to cover the mess in the pan. I had to laugh at the pile of toilet paper in the toilet; that’s so typical of her. When I removed the toilet paper, I saw that she had actually used the pan! So, since the inception of Operation Toilet Training, they have used the toilet pan twice. I’m very excited, and this may mean that training will not take as long as a thought. I will still have to slowly phase out the litter boxes, but we seem to be on our way.

P.S. You may think I am ridiculous right now, but you will really be laughing if this actually works.

Monday, August 14, 2006

People News

We gave up the fight with Level III Communications and asked Bellsouth to give us a new phone number. I'm kind of disappointed about it, but I'm happy to have home phone service again and that wasn't going to happen for weeks if we didn't give in. We are still waiting on a bill from Level III so we can report them for slamming (and fight some more). Dave also asked for a pick freeze on our account so that Bellsouth has to contact us if they receive a request for service change.

I gained back 2 lbs. of the weight I lost on my trip last week. :( Traveling makes it so hard to eat right. Oh well, I'll continue to watch my portions and refrain from drinking sweet tea. :( Tea isn't supposed to be good for you anyway.

My trip was crazy. We left Thursday morning, the very same morning as the thwarted terroist attack trial run. As I was standing in the security line with my one bag that I wasn't going to check, I became aware of the ban on liquids, gels, pastes, etc. I'll admit that signs were posted, but it was early and the blurb on the news hadn't fully penetrated my brain yet. I ended up asking the man in front of me to hold my spot in line so I could check my bag. I waited in that line for an hour and a half; at the security checkpoint, my laptop case and purse were searched and my lipgloss was confiscated. I think the guy just liked my lipgloss. :) At the gate, they searched our bags again, and the lady took my pepper spray. It never occured to me that I shouldn't be traveling with pepper spray. That spray has been on my key ring for nearly six years, and I've traveled with it all that time. This was the first time anyone has said anything about it. Even the guy at security didn't take it when he was searching my bag. Hmmm. Anyway, the flight was delayed about 45 minutes. The flight back on Friday wasn't as bad, but Charlotte has a much larger and more efficient airport than Birmingham. I'm just happy to be back.

Dave quit his job Friday!!!! He didn't like it, and hasn't been happy since he started it, so he finally decided to quit. As of right now, he has two juvenile clients and some potential clients for wills and things like that. I am so proud of him. He's really excited about practicing law, and he hasn't been this happy in a long time. He's going through all the steps right now to set up a business, but has decided to wait on getting office space until he really needs it. For now, he'll be working out of the house and meeting people at thier houses when needed. Please pray for us because this is a big change. Also, don't hesitate to call if you need legal help. :)

We finally joined the church Sunday, so we will be serving on committees soon. I think I will be doing the Shower Committee, which means I'll be organizing and setting up baby showers and wedding showers and stuff like that. I'm excited about it.

I'm also helping my cousin plan her wedding for next summer, and I can't wait to get started on it! Rebecca and I are going to be in charge of decorations and we have some good ideas. As of right now, it's going to be an outdoor wedding at home, so it should be really neat.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Update on the Phone Scam

What happened to us is called "Slamming." Here is a link to the FCC website that explains what to do if it happens to you: .

I spent another hour and a half on the phone with Bellsouth this morning because our phone was not working when I got up and checked it. Apparently the lady in Sales did not understand the problem when she said it would be taken care of by midnight. The man who said three weeks was right.

Maggie in the Porting department was very helpful in explaining what is happening and how I need to handle it, but none of it sounds good. Basically, our service was just switched and they are in the process our building our account over at Level III Communications, so Bellsouth cannot request to switch up back until Monday because they have to wait 72 hours. My options are: 1) contact Level III and get them to agree that they switched my service without my authorization and have them "snap back" my number to Bellsouth. This will expedite the process. If they do not agree (and they may not), then I move to option 2) wait until Monday and submit my request with Bellsouth to petition for my number, which will take about 3 weeks to go through the legal procedure. There is an option 3, and that is to create a new number with Bellsouth, but we don't want to do that since we just changed our number a couple of months ago and it's a PITA to redistribute the number. Besides, I should get to keep my number; it's the principle of the thing.

So that's where we stand right now. Dave is going to call Level III today and fight with them. That conversation is bound to be argumentative, and he will handle it much more rationally than me. :) Plus, he can speak some legalese to threaten them. Hopefully they will agree to snap back our number to Bellsouth and speed up this whole process.

I'm starting to wonder if we should just cancel our land line altogether and use our cell phones. I really don't want to do that, though.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I am the Victim of a Weird Phone Service Scam

Last night, Dave informed me that there was something wrong with our home telephone line. I checked them all to make sure they were plugged in and the "real" phone was not off the hook (both lessons I learned from my kitties). I thought about letting it go for a while to see if the phone would come back on, because sometimes there is a random outage. Finally, I decided I should report it because we needed the phone and our cell phones were both charging.

I called the Bellsouth Repair Line, where I spoke with a representative who clearly did not want to be there. I told her that my phone had no dial tone, something was wrong with the line. She told me that I had changed service providers and my line had been disconnected. HUH?!?! At that point I became progressively more irate because I did not change service providers and neither did Dave. I had to give him the phone because I was about to be VERY rude to the underpaid employee. According to Dave's conversation with her, the change request was made Sunday (8/05) and went into effect Monday. She offered to have Customer Service call us to reinstate our phone line. I was fuming all night long. A thousand scenarios were running through my head: someone has it out for us and wanted to cause us trouble by canceling the phone line (I know it's ridiculous), someone at Bellsouth is an idiot and disconnected the wrong phone line, etc, etc, etc. We never got a call from Customer Service and I went to bed mad. I could not wait until morning to make that phone call.

Advance to 8 a.m. today...... I called Customer Service where I waited on hold for about 6 minutes. I explained my problem to the very nice man who informed me that the service provider I switched to was Level III Communications, and that the request had not come through Bellsouth. He offered to transfer me to someone that could explain how that possibly happened.

I waited on hold another 6 or so minutes. The second man explained that Level III Communications is a cable provider of VOIP (or Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. I explained to him that I had not changed my service, my husband had not changed our service, so how could this have happened? He informed me that it's a legal process and we would have had to sign something or otherwise authorize the change, and that it could have happened by clicking on a pop-up advertisement on the Internet. (Please note that I do not click on pop-up ads because of this exact problem.) I told him again that we did no such thing and I needed to know what I needed to do to fix it and transfer my line back to Bellsouth. He explained that it would take 2 - 3 weeks because Bellsouth would have to petition Level III Communications for our phone number, and that the petition to Bellsouth from Level III had occurred around the middle of July. (In my head I'm thinking: FOR TWO FREAKING WEEKS MY PHONE HAS BEEN IN THE PROCESS OF TRANSFER AND I'M JUST NOW FINDING OUT?!) The man offered to connect me to Sales so I could set of up the reinstatement of my phone line.

I waited on hold another 6 minutes (it felt like hours, I was at work and not working). Ms. Lovett came on the line and we went through the process of transferring the phone line back to Bellsouth. As with everyone else I spoke to, I explained the entire situation. At my request, Ms. Lovett arranged for the petition for my phone number (because YES, I wanted to keep the same one!) to be expedited, as I did not request this change and it is sorely inconvenient for me. She said it would be done by midnight tonight, at no charge to me since I did not request the change. I then had to speak to the Verification Department to authorize the petition of my number and the reinstatement of my phone line. By midnight tonight, it should be working again. I have to say that other than the long hold times, I was very pleased with Bellsouth's handling of the entire situation, especially Ms. Lovett in Sales. (Note: If I get a bill for the reinstatement fee, all hell will break lose.)

The moral of this story: beware of Level III Communications and whatever scam they are running. I promise that neither Dave nor I authorized any changes to our phone service, yet it was changed without our knowledge. We don't even have the hardware for VOIP service!

P.S. If you've called and gotten the "disconnected" message, it's because we got scammed, not because we didn't pay our bill. :)

Monday, August 07, 2006

What to Write? What to Write?

Georgia was very good when she met Christopher and Caleb (the new little boy cousins). They were a scared of her at first because she's so big, but they were fascinated with her. A thousand times I answered the question, "What that doggie doin'?" and "Why?" She sniffed and licked all over them, and Christopher had to smell her in return. :) Saturday morning, she laid in the floor while they crawled and sat all over her. It was amazing; she was so good with them. I wish I had my camera. There were pictures taken of that, put I don't have a copy of them yet.

She and Lucy swam in the creek for a little while Saturday afternoon, but she got stung or bitten on the foot so we had to cut it short. Her foot swelled up Saturday night, and she was hobbling around on three legs because she didn't want the hurt foot to touch anything. She also wouldn't let me touch it, until I held her down Sunday morning and checked between her toes to make sure there was nothing in there. A couple of doses of Benadryl and some baby aspirin, and she was good to go. The swelling went down and she was walking on it this morning. Hopefully she will feel well enough to play with her new frisbee tonight. The poor kid was following us around on three legs with her new frisbee in her mouth yesterday morning.

In people news....

We have a fresh crop of green tomatoes on the vines right now, and I'm really hoping these don't burst out of their skins like the last ones. Not that it really matters because they still taste good, they just look bad. I did a little research to determine if a tomato is really a fruit or a vegetable the other night (to solve a debate, not just because I'm a nerd-well, I am a nerd but that's beside the point), and as it turns out, they are fruit. Why, you ask? Because the seeds are inside. That means that other "vegetables" are actually fruits: cucumbers, squash, etc. Real vegetables do not have seeds inside: carrots, potatoes, etc. So, there you go.