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12 posts from March 2009

March 31, 2009

"Pee" Gravel?

Kitty backview with litter  
So, you look at this and ask yourself what it could possibly be.  A small vegetable garden or a maybe a burial site for pocket sized pets?  Nope, you're wrong.  Waaaaay wrong.

Newest outdoor cat litter box   
This is our newest outdoor litter box!  Yep, you heard that right.  It's a litter box.  And it's not the first time we've done this even though this is our most simple design.  Our first one was much more elaborate:   

First kitty condo kondo 
This is our first Kitty Kondo (notice that same Kitty in the pic?).  It was constructed back in 1999 when I was a single mom with a boy in middle school and three cats.    Free time was precious and I noticed that I was spending at least two hours per week on cat litter duties.    Scooping poop, replacing litter, vacuuming little bits of litter that  were tracked EVERYWHERE and cleaning up after a neutered male cat that defied imagination when it came to his ability to stand in the litter box and spray 360 degrees in every direction. 

I took out a home improvement loan to add landscaping and patios to my unfinished backyard and the Kitty Kondo was part of my plan.    I think that part of the project cost about $700 but it was well worth every cent!  Here are the details if you're interested in doing something similar:

  1. We cut a kitty door from the family room to the attached 6 by 6 foot "dog run" that we had professionally built by a fence installer.  We told them we had a small dog (a lie -- since we had only cats) and asked that they ensure that all gaps between poles and gates were tight enough that prison escapes for our tiny pooch were impossible.   Yep, they take you more seriously when you do this for your dog instead of your cat! 

    You can't see it in the photo above but the top is also enclosed.  We also put a roof on it ourselves.  It was pretty easy with materials from Home Depot.

  2. Before the chain-link went up, we dug a large trench about 2 feet deep and nine feet square (3 by 3) and we filled that with pea sized pea gravel.  The people who thought we were building a dog run were really confused but we just smiled and handed them money.    The concrete pouring guys created a frame around that area and poured cement.    The whole project came together beautifully and each time we've done this, it's been a huge selling asset when we've sold our house!  Seriously!!   Each time, a stipulation of the offer was that we LEAVE the Kitty Kondo!
  3. Back to the design:  After the chain link was up, we covered eight foot long 4x6 boards with cheap carpet (using a staple gun) and hung these carpeted boards at various heights and angles inside the Kitty Kondo.  We drilled holes in the ends of the boards and used nylon tie-straps to attach them to the chain link.  Oh boy!  The cats LOVED this!!  We had a 2600 square foot house but our cats spent all day in this 36 square foot space outside!  We put a bird feeder on a nearby fence to give them more amusement!  I think the birds were more amused than the cats!

  4. Every four or six months, we'd go out there with rubber gloves and a small bucket and pick up the solid waste.  It might sound dreadful but it was pretty quick and easy since it was all dried up and pretty innocent looking. Then we'd squirt the area down with bleach and rinse it really well with our garden hose.  With this simple twice-yearly maintenance plan, it was clean and tidy and even if you stood right next to it on the hottest day in summer, you wouldn't smell a thing.  Best yet, my house never smelled like cat litter and my cats were the happiest I've seen them in years!


When we moved to house #2, I wanted another Kitty Kondo and my husband agreed.  Within weeks of closing escrow, we had one built (cheaper than our first) and our kitties used it until we moved to our new house in 2006.  I've just spent an hour searching through our photo archive for photos of our 2nd Kitty Kondo but can't find any.  It was quite similar to the first and our cats loved it almost as much as we did.

When we moved to house #3 in 2006, we had only one cat remaining (other two died of old age).  She was neat and clean and never sprayed so indoor cat litter didn't seem like much of a big deal but I've always noticed that our house starts to stink when a litter change is due and our laundry room is covered in bits of clay litter and there is dust everywhere.  Since she spends several hours each day in our backyard, it seemed logical that we give her a litter box out there.  Especially since she'll hold it all day just to come in the house and use the litter box!  If she's forced to go outside, she'll usually get confused and go in the grass (yuck!).  Not ideal since our girls play in the grass every day!

So now I'm back to the first pic:

Newest outdoor cat litter box   
Here's our newest outdoor litter box!  We dug a 2 foot deep hole and filled half of it with pea gravel then we inserted a plastic form (one that we got at Home Depot for under $10) then we drilled a hundred holes in it with our power drill and filled it with pea gravel and trimmed it with bamboo edging.  The entire cost was under $100

Our Kitty knows what to do here since she was raised with pea(pee) gravel as her little box filler but you can entice your kitty to use this by putting her litter box on top of the gravel for a week or two.

Once you try this system, you'll never go back to litter in your house!    Litter isn't expensive but the time we save by doing this is invaluable.

March 30, 2009

Hanging out at the bar

Hanging out at the bar blog 
Inspired by 2024 Olympic Gymnastic hopeful, Maisie Miao, we erected a horizontal pole in our backyard and turned the girls loose (click image for larger view). 

Gwen immediately figured out how to hang upside down and pull her legs through and do a flip but she's not quite mastered the part about not letting go of the pole until her feet are safely on the ground.  The result?  Well, you can imagine.  I would have taken a pic of her comically ungraceful landing were it not for the fact that she was facing me when she fell and her wood chip crusted face seemed to be pleading with me to put down the camera and render comfort.  But this is Gwen and she's fearless so before I could pick any of the pieces of bark from her hair, she was back on her feet and climbing up the pole again.

Maddy is much more cautious and nailed her dismount on the first try!   I'm sure we'll have video soon!

March 29, 2009

I ♥ faces - Pouting

Pretty little pouter blog 

Normally, I delete all the sad faces in every photo shoot but this one tugged at my heart even though I thought I'd long since grown immune to this particular form of psychological warfare. 

Notice her left eyelid?   It's the droopy one that sags mournfully upon hearing the news that we're late for school and might not have time to stop for donuts.    C'mon -- we all love donuts so who wouldn't sympathize with that!?   My favorite donut is the glazed twist and Maddy loves the glazed-raised donut holes.  Gwen  adores the chocolate cake donut with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles.   Really, you have to know that heaven must have streets lined in those!

The other theme this week on I faces is "pets".  I guess they didn't think pouting would be an appropriate theme for adults.  Ha!  obviously, they've not met me!

Anyway, here's our sweet kitty:  "Kitty". 

I love kitty blog

Originally, her name was "Baby" but that got pretty confusing when we actually had babies around the house.   I'd ask if Baby had water and Daddy would fetch a bottle of water for Gwen while the cat sat there and drooled (or might have, if she wasn't quite so parched).  Obviously, we had to change her name before Gwen got a litter change instead of a diaper change and the cat got a dinner of strained peas!

This photo was taken in our backyard on a beautiful day filled with sunshine and delicious sparrows! 

March 23, 2009

The Nursery: From Baby to Preschooler & (hopefully) Beyond!

Nursery update 2009-blog

When we created the nursery back in early 2005, we hoped that it would be a room our little girl loved for many years to come.  Well, it's been many years and, thankfully, she still loves it.  And I think I love it even more.

We designed the room with the thought in mind that we would eventually have two daughters who would always want to share a room but when Maddy came home a year after Gwen, she immediately let us know that she preferred her own space (see her room, below).  I still hold to the hope that she'll want to move back into the Fancy Frog room again someday.  

Maddys new room blog  

With so many of my most precious Bloggerville friends anticipating a referral soon and putting the finishing touches on their baby's nursery, I ached to share ours one more time.   

After all these years, the froggy nursery is still the one place in our beautiful house that I feel the most serene and at peace.   If you've followed our journey long enough, you know how long we struggled to bring a baby into this room so you know why this room will always mean so much to me.  I sit in there each night with Gwen and we snuggle in the sage green slip-covered La-z-boy rocker/recliner and talk about her day and those minutes are so special to me.  I also love the time I spend snuggling with Maddy on her big furry white rug but I know that my children's rooms belong to them and not to me and I can only hope quietly that they'll never want to change them and replace the murals I painted and all the other loving details with cheesy stick-ons of the Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana.  Oh how I'd miss that precious froggy border!

For more about the details about the rooms, click the link below. 

(click here for more) "The Nursery: From Baby to Preschooler & (hopefully) Beyond!" »

March 22, 2009

I ♥ faces - No Flash

Maddy wearing daddy hat-blog  

It's big and bulky but we our take our Canon 5D camera with us when we go on walks just in case the perfect photo op presents itself.  On this particular day, the sun was setting and our sweet Madeline was full of giggles as she successfully managed - for the gazillionth time - to heist Daddy's hat.  Gwen loves this game too and both kids will play it to the verge of exhaustion or until somebody's laughter gets so hysterical than they come down with a major case of the hiccups.  I think a big part of the appeal of this game is that Daddy feigns shock and amazement that his hat got swiped.  Personally, I would get sorta tired of this game but Daddy has much more patience than I do.   Just one of the many reasons we love him so much!  This is one of our favorite photos!  I present Madeline:  Thief of Hats and Hearts! 

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