Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today a segment came out on Hooplaha about Claire and her animal rescue.

I am happy that she will have a record of all she has accomplished. She is at the beginning of her journey with Lucky Tails and I am excited to keep posting about her progress. So far she has found forever homes for 6 dogs, she has found 9 families to foster for her and has 4 (soon to be 5) dogs awaiting adoption.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Adoption event

Today Claire held her third adoption event at Choice Pet Supply in Danbury.  She took Danni and Boo (the puppy).  Both of these dogs are wonderful adoption candidates.  A few families were interested in the dogs and Claire found a new foster family.  Claire was particularly happy with the result as she now has 8 families who will foster for her.  Finding foster families is key to expanding the business as the more fosters you have the more dogs you can save.  Two new dogs Joseph and Brownie (Boo's female sibling) are arriving tomorrow from Georgia.   Once we get them off the truck, Claire will wash them and do some behavior testing on them.  She wants to know as much about them as possible before they go to their foster families later in the day.

Benji Boo 

Danni is my favorite dog.  I want to adopt her although I might have to battle to get her as her foster Mom loves her so much she doesn't want her to go to anymore adoption events and she is also planning to take her on vacation with them in December!

Dance and Kempo

Right now Tristan is preparing for his first dance battle.  He has a training schedule and 7 routines he has to prepare.  The routines are extremely physical and require strength and coordination.  He is trying his hardest.

Right now he is putting together his third round.  Battles are little tournaments.  Eight children between 7-10 will be selected to battle (out of all the children who register). Tristan is hoping he will be chosen to compete.  To be chosen children have to put together a showcase of moves.   If competing there will be three rounds where 2 routines are performed back to back.  They are knock out battles and there is strategy involved.

I will know more after I watch it.  Tristan is nervous. He looks up to his role model, Luis who is very serious about his dancing.  He is learning discipline and determination as the moves he is putting together are challenging and take a while to master. With only 13 days to go, we are counting down.

In other news, Tristan tested for his green stripe belt in Kempo today.  It was an exhausting test but he was determined to prove that he could do it.  He has been working hard with this new teacher and today I saw it paying off.

Grandparents, aunts and cousins were all there to cheer him on!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Camping at Two Coyotes

Last night I had the pleasure of accompanying my son on his overnight camping trip at Woodcock nature center.  He had been hiking all day and I arrived in the afternoon with the tent.  A quick hike into the woods to the camp site and 20 minutes later I was sitting in my tent wishing I had brought my lap top.  It was dark by 4:30 and pitch black by 5pm.  Temperatures dropped quickly to below freezing.  I decided in a sleeping bag was the best place to be.  I was allowed to come as the token female chaperone on the trip.  I listened to the children playing games, cooking around the campfire and the telling of Native American stories.

The children were in bed early. I wish I could say I got a good night sleep but I spent most of the night dreaming about my own bed at home and wishing I was in it.  I am a softie after all, but it was a nice memory.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Minecraft Project

Tristan has been working on his project for Huckleberry Hill.  He loves playing Minecraft,  a computer game where you can place blocks to create anything you can imagine.  For those of you who haven't come across it yet here is a little explanatory video.

You generate seeds (like little countries) which are covered in resources.  You build shelters, mine, plant crops, build houses or anything you like.  Tristan likes to explore the internet finding interesting islands that have been designed by other users.  He likes to download "mods" to change what things look like and what he can do.

Working with Minecraft gave Tristan an idea for a project.  He has been thinking about starting a computer club at our local library.  He wants to meet other kids to play games with, especially Minecraft.  In multiplayer mode many people can play in the same world.  He thought that he could meet other kids at the computer club and then play with them in the virtual world when they are not together.  He could also share ideas for building, servers and mods (and so on) and get ideas for other games.

To get started we used a mind mapping app called Simplemindsfree. It is an easy to use tool to organize thoughts and keep a record of your ideas.

Next we had a meeting with the children's librarian at the Wilton library and explained what Minecraft is.  Tristan thinks he can design a seed for the library.  On the seed he could "build" a virtual library (and the buildings in the vicinity of the library).  The librarian was enthusiastic about the idea.

To do this he needs to learn about servers.  The information he needs is available on Youtube! Yay for Youtube!   We watched these together and set up a server in our house. In our research we discovered that a library in a neighboring town has its own Minecraft server already.  We contacted that library and now have an expert to help us.

Designing a seed is a fun, creative process.  The first thing Tristan did was to take photos of the library from all angles.

The second thing was to use Google Earth to get a map of our town center to design the layout.

Next Tristan is going to use Google Sketchpad to try and create the library (the post office and Village Market ) in 3D.

This is a great project for Tristan as it has him out in the community creating something very meaningful for him.  I am happy that he will meet other children that share his interest and that he will know who he is playing with.

Tristan has a new blog called Ready Set Click also where he is documenting his progress.  He is 9 and active.  Progress is slow but as we continually come back to the project every week I am confident that he will get his little program off the ground.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Huge day for Lucky Tails

About a month ago I posted that Claire and her friend Marlin had decided at our weekly project based session to organize to bring dogs about to be euthanized in the South up to Connecticut.  This idea came about because it is hard to find a variety of breeds in the kill shelters in our area which are mainly filled with Pitbulls.  Many extremely adoptable dogs are euthanized on a daily basis in the South and these are dogs Claire feels confident she can find homes for.  She has also found that many of the dogs she has rescued in Bridgeport have health issues which are expensive to treat.  In order to cover expenses she needs to get donations and/or rescue some dogs from the South.  Any profit she can make from bringing dogs up can enable her to rescue more local dogs.

Claire has been researching kill shelters across the country.  She found an animal control agency in Georgia with a large selection of dogs and a very high kill rate.  This shelter also has an all volunteer rescue organization affiliated with it that Claire developed a relationship with.  Claire looks at the list of dogs that are about to be euthanized and asks for them to be pulled and vetted on her behalf.  They are put in foster homes in Georgia while they are in quarantine, recovering from surgery and awaiting transport. The dogs are then sent to Lucky Tails on a transport.

For her first transport she organized to have 6 dogs brought up.  Four of them arrived today, two are delayed with one recovering from heart worm treatment and the other from pneumonia.

Claire has done a great job building her foster network over the past few weeks.  She now has 8 families willing to foster dogs for Lucky Tails.  She is also becoming very adept in marketing, actively posting descriptions, pictures and videos of the dogs in the Lucky Tails network.  Even before the dogs arrived today, some families had already filled out and signed adoption agreements after pictures and descriptions were posted on PetFinder, Adopt-a-pet and Paws.   References had been checked and Claire saw pictures of the areas the dogs will be living in.  Some of the families came to the transport to pick their adopted puppies home. 

It was all so exciting.  Claire had been coordinating with the shelter, the transport company, the foster and the adoptive families for the pst few days.  She and Marlin spent last night organizing the paperwork, the crates, collars, tags etc... that would go with each dog.  They were prepared, knowledgeable and all their preparations paid off.  It all went very smoothly.  

 Excited adopting families and foster families!

This dog was in need of fattening up! We were a little worried about Danni.  She is a large dog but obviously very thin.  Addie (our vet) checked her when we got home. We took a stool sample to check again for parasites.  She looks healthy and once she was cleaned up we got to know her a little better.  She has obviously come from a good home.  She is calm with beautiful manners, house trained and can do a slew of tricks. She has a very gentle demeanor and would let us take bones out of her mouth.  She enjoyed playing with toys and fetch.  She also got along beautifully with the other dogs.  Tuggles was sad to see her leave with her foster family.  She is a great family dog.

The puppies were all especially cute, loving and sweet.  I haven't held a small puppy for a very long time.  Of course being babies they are going to be very high maintenance.  Most of puppies already have adoptions pending or serious interest.  Claire has been on the phone non-stop organizing all the details. All of the dogs that came today are with fosters.  Star, our cute black and white mini Pitbull mix, is going to her adoptive family tomorrow in New York.  It is going to be quiet here.

"I'll write to you!"

The day could not have gone better.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Whole food online course

I want my cable back.  sob.  cry.  I am *so over* going to Starbucks to get Internet.

Anyway, the good news is that because the power has been out I have managed to catch up on my wholefoods online course with Heather at Beauty That Moves.  It is such a fantastic resource; just what I needed to kick start my lackadaisical butt into gear in the kitchen.

My sister in law is a holistic nutritionist and is in the process of putting together an amazing app loaded with recipes, how to videos and wonderful advice on how to take back control of your kitchen and your family's nutrition.  I can't wait for it to come out.  Every time she comes to visit we are treated to the most delicious natural recipes that my whole family loves.  In the meantime, I have plunged headlong into Heather' program.  Why is it so awesome? Well (I think) I know most of the nutritional stuff... as I like reading about it and keeping up to date (when I have cable!!! grrr).  However I need the skills to put it all together.  I need recipes with the kinds of ingredients I like to use such as coconut oil, raw nuts and so on and she supplies about 20 or so tried and true recipes with all the kinds of food I like and buy!!!  YAY.   This means I don't need to go through cookbooks anymore and try and change recipes.  Her recipes are nutritious and delicious and use the stuff in your pantry which she explains how to organize.  Her caring but not overly A type personality shines through her course notes.  She is so encourage and makes it looks so easy.   I am so excited to try everything.  I HAVE been trying everything and my kids are into everything too (no cable!).

This storm has had a silver lining for me.  With no power, both my fridges had to be cleaned out and restocked.  Out went 300-year old jellies...and things I only used once when I was going through a Thai food phase.  It is exciting to have almost every ingredient I need on hand to make things.  I have a gorgeous binder filled with great recipes I want to try and I have lots of things to think about...like joining/starting a buyers coop to source excellent staples.  This week I joined a group so I can get raw unpasteurized almonds (so that I can sprout them), bulk coconut oil and nuts.  I am enjoying myself!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cool apps & Halloween

Power is back...but not cable yet so I am sitting at Starbuck's typing away!

I have been researching the most popular apps film makers are (mainly on filmmakeriq.com) using to assist making movies and documentaries.  It has been quite fun testing out some of these apps, a couple of which I will encourage the children to learn.  For Destination Imagination and documentary making, the children will need to plan out and write scripts.

We have been playing with Celtx scripts and Celtx Storyboarding.  It is amazing what you can get for a few dollars on the iPad.  Celtx scripts allows you to write scripts easily as your script is formatted for you as you go and you just enter stage directions, dialog, action and more and a perfectly formatted script is created.  You can have a master script on a computer and it syncs with iPads so it is a fast way to update everyones scripts.  Celtx Storyboard complements Celtx scripts.  The set/stage can be designed and laid out, pictures, photos and sketches can be uploaded and a detailed plan can be made and shared, easily altered.  They are great tools, fun to use and intuitive for the children.

Tristan made a short script and found it easy to use.  In fact while the power was out, I came downstairs to find both of my children in the middle of a script writing contest by candlelight.  They weren't using the app, but they laid it out using the script formatting.

Claire has been playing her guitar and singing a lot.  I took a video of her playing...but it miraculously disappeared before I could get it on my blog!

Also Halloween happened (kind of).   Halloween has been postponed in almost every town, but we wanted to do something on the actual day. We did a little trick or treating.  It was so fun to get out of the house!