Why I’m a Mumsnet Blogger

Mumsnet

Earlier this week, during one of my frequent occasional Mumsnet coffee breaks, I came across an interesting (and now deleted) thread.  It seems a Mumsnet blogger had received what she felt was unfair criticism from another Mumsnet member on one of her blog posts.,So the wounded blogger hit the forums to remonstrate with the culprit.  Being easily led, I clicked through to the offending commentary to see what had been said.

Well.  What struck me when I got there wasn’t the unnecessarily catty comment (which it was) on an inoffensive mum’s blog. I was more surprised by the blogger’s response:  “AIBU?  Never heard of it…”

Ok.  This is only an opinion.  But perhaps if you’re thinking of joining a blogging network, or attending and posting about their blogger’s events, maybe you might wish to familiarize yourself with the site beforehand.   You see, AIBU refers to “Am I Being Unreasonable?”, Mumsnet’s most highly trafficked, fast-paced and emotionally charged  board, contributing largely to the Mumsnet reputation as a “nest of vipers”.  Stripped of the sunny influence of avatars, tickers and hugs, posters evaluate the reasonable-ness of each other’s predicaments with a barrage of opinion, sarcasm, swearing and above all, grammar correction.

Grammar_Police_by_Rysis

Indeed, even on a national level Mumsnet posters have gained renown for not pulling their punches, whether challenging David Cameron on free nappy provision for children with disabilities or demanding an investigation into Gordon Brown’s biscuit preferences.  Although it’s open to anyone, this parenting site won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  So if you want to join the Mumsnet blogging network and stick one of their shiny badges on your sidebar, you should anticipate that Mumsnetters might stop by your blog, and bring their opinions with them.  They may hand you your grammar on a plate, and they won’t even ((hug)) you first.

So why join our project blog to this particular network?  For me, it’s because…

kiddiwinks

1.  We are mums–some of us, anyway.  Parenthood comes as part of our package, with all the funny and frustrating aspects of being a working mum.  Our work on the Re-Creations Project often happens with kids in tow, underfoot, mucking in and helping out, just like everybody else. And since we try to break down our projects for all ages and abilities, lots of our crafts and tutorials will be fun for crafty mums and kids to try.  It makes sense to belong to a network of parents whose interests may overlap to share info and ideas.

But there are plenty of parenting sites out there.  Why choose Mumsnet in particular?

2.  The Swearing.

I can’t actually remember what first led me to Mumsnet, but I do remember what made me decide to stay.  It was the unabashed and copious use of the F-word.  You see, I had put in time on  other popular parenting sites.  Bounty, MDC, Netmums, Babycentre, Kelllymom…  In the early days of no sleep and a desperate search for answers about reflux, PND, mastitis, weaning and potty training, I lived on parenting forums.  While on the surface, many were “nicer” than Mumsnet, underneath the “huns” and kisses were parents with equally strong opinions.

On one site I was told that the way I was feeding my 17 month old to sleep was inappropriate; that my husband should “remove me” from her evening routine. I was banned from another forum, having confessed that my 22 month old had “stolen” a juice box during a shopping expedition, while I was struggling with her newborn sister.

It wasn’t that they were all a bunch of big meanies, any more than Mumsnet is really a nest of vipers.  It’s just that parenting brings out some of people’s strongest opinions, and people get awfully defensive about the way they do things.  More than once, I fled in tears from message boards of “supportive parenting sites” under the cover of shiny profile photos and tickers celebrating years of co-sleeping.  The bans on swearing and insistence that everybody play nicely, gave me a false sense of security.   I was vulnerable and unprepared when I was told:  “How disappointing, hun.  Perhaps you should dig a hole and crawl inside it to meditate on how to become a better person.  HTH! xx”.

bite me

Ahh, the relief when I crash-landed on Mumsnet in the middle of a thread about a poo-covered-pouffe. These were human beings, who accidentally got naked at the swimming pool or farted on their pets (you know who you are) and sometimes even lost the plot and swore about life.  Instead of masking their derision under hugs and huns, Mumsnetters tell you exactly what they’re thinking with warts and all.  If they want to say “Screw you!”, they say “Screw you!”  Then they come up with a hundred new ways of saying it just so nobody gets bored.

lion belly

3.  The soft and fuzzy underbelly

Like any parenting site, Mumsnet can be a harsh and opinionated place.  Just ask Amanda Holden. Sadly, the same is true just about anywhere mums come together.  From baby cafes up to the school gates, mums will defend their way of child-rearing to the hilt.  But if you hang around the site for a while, listen to what everybody has to say and take some of it with a grain of salt, you’ll start to witness amazing things.

You’ll see that a mum at loggerheads with a poster on one thread will offer to drive 50 miles to help that same poster out in a crisis.  You’ll see a dozen parents working together to reunite a toddler with his precious cuddly toy.  On one thread, hundreds of mums flood Downing Street with letters in response to a familiar poster’s cry for help, while on another thread parents stay up late into the night looking for solutions when a taxi with a baby arrives unexpectedly at a poster’s home.  In my case, you’ll see hundreds of Mumsnetters raid their rubbish bins to find ring-pulls for our project.

Because in addition to their diverse and candid opinions, Mumsnetters also have compassion and the courage of their convictions.  When parents unite for a purpose, they can offer collective knowledge and support, and bring about real and positive change–which is what parenting sites are all about.

I’ll admit, I may have flounced from Mumsnet once or twice.  I’ve  disagreed with some very notable bans (you know who you are) and there are some posters with whom I’ll just never get along.  But if I’m going to have my arse handed to me on a plate by a parenting site, then for today I’ll have mine with a cup of tea, a biscuit, a few passive aggressive strikethroughs  and a smattering of creepy wee brackets.

<skulks off to await annihilation by Mumsnet grammar police>

Why social media vacations stink.

OK, so the blog posts have been nonexistent thin on the ground for a couple of months while I focused on some real-life issues.  The assumption was that by devoting less time to social media, I could be more physically present and get stuff done.  I could see it all: my house would be cleaner, I’d make lots of stuff, generate more income, and become a model of efficiency.  The reality?  Yeah, not so much.

A cleaner house?  See, when I envisioned all the free time I would have available for housework, I failed to account for one thing:  Procrastination.  85% of my domestic chores are completed when I’m actually trying to come up with a blog post, compose an email or some other online task.  Take away that “thinking time” when I’m physically cleaning the house, organizing uniforms and packing lunches and the housework disappears with it.  Instead I’ll fill the time by “doing stuff” which generally creates more mess.

Making more stuff? A really awful thing happened as soon as I started my blog vacation.  Crafter’s Block.  It seems that if I’m not blogging, reading blogs, commenting and linking to other crafting blogs, the ideas just dry up.  I turn into Chandler when he had to make a Valentine’s present.  

Generate more income? Well, yes and no.  I have picked up more shift work, which is helpful.  But shop wise, less blogging and less crafting means less traffic and fewer sales.  Not cool.

So overall, the blog hiatus has not had the desired outcome.  But perhaps the worst effect has been psychological.  When something happens in my life, good or bad, it passes through a sort of positive mental filter as I post about it.

For example, say my eldest oversleeps and mopes about, is late for school and at pick-up time I get a meaningful look and a note home in her bookbag– This is the kind of thing that  leaves me stressed, frazzled, and generally sure that I’m the worst parent in Reception year.  Then I tweet: “Doh! Last in the school gate again #caseofthemondays”.  Then I can post to the reception year parent’s facebook page: “We were even later than XXXX (tag) today–Do you think Mrs D will give me lines or the cane?”  (comment, comment, etc).  And by the time I blog about it, I can reveal the full contents of the note:

“When the class changed for PE, we discovered that in her haste to get to school, A forgot to take off her pyjama bottoms before putting on her uniform.  Please find enclosed.  PS: she’s not the first and won’t be the last! 🙂 “

So by thinking and writing about it, I actually manage to lift my own perceptions of the event by finding the funny side.  I may make someone laugh and in return I get to connect with other stressed out mums who have been there.  My siblings get (another) excuse to poke fun at me, and as long as I’m posting my mom knows I’m ok.

So I’ve learned my lesson.  Instead of abstaining from social media, I’ll be gradually ramping up the tweets & posts until next week and <drumroll> the Buttoneering Launch

That’s right peeps.  In addition to blogging for Re-Creations Project, I’ll be bringing our awesome upcycling action to the team at Buttoneering, creating more awesome events like Wedstival 2012. So stay tuned and keep your eyes open for Tutorial Tuesdays, where I’ll be showing you how to re-create some of our awesome stuff at home!

Pitfalls of upcycling at home

If you check out my right sidebar this week, you might notice a new “piece of flair”.  Yep.  A Mumsnet badge.  They finally let me join their blogging network.  It was the least they could do, given that their forums are the number one barrier to my productivity!  So just for the other Mumsnetters out there, here’s a post all about trying to work from home and some of the challenges  to getting the job done.

AIBU being my main challenge to getting the job done…

Even though Re-Creations main activity is helping people with disabilities through upcycling groups, sometimes (often) there is just more work than we can finish at group.  Which means Mummy gets to work from home.  And while I had visions of blissfully crafting away with the children, with a full pot of coffee on the go and maybe Pride and Prejudice on the DVD player, the reality falls somewhat short of expectations.

Children:  My last post illustrated exactly how my kids participate in the crafting process:

Taking mummy’s craft things and tipping them out on the floor is their main contribution.  This is especially helpful when everything has been pre-sorted by colour and size.  It does give me a warm glow when I hear them say things like,  “When I grow up, I’m having a hammer like mummy’s”.  (Take that, traditional gender roles!) But the glow tends to fade just a bit when you catch them “fixing” the TV with their toy mallets.  And Colin Firth on the telly?  Yeah, right.  With tots tumbling underfoot, the best you can look forward to is an endless loop of SpongeBob and Willy Wonka, which, lets face it, is one of Johnny Depp’s less fanciable roles.

Fuzzies:  In addition to the kiddiwinks, I’ve found that pets are also keen to join in the upcycling fun.  And not just mine.  Cats have been known to travel from 3 gardens over when there’s some scrap bunting afoot.

 

Cute, right?  Yeah, they’re not even my cats.  Mine is much worse.  He thinks he’s in charge of the proceedings, and has very strong opinions on how this bunting should be arranged.

Boomer, the frustrated bunting designer.

Storage: Every work-at-home mum has to deal with the issue of separating work-space from living-space.  With upcycling, this can become a challenge because almost any piece of trash has the potential to become your raw materials. If you train your brain to look at rubbish in terms of what you can make from it, it can get a little difficult to throw things out.  Sometimes, you might even seek out certain types of rubbish.

Like today, I bought some eggs at the supermarket.  No big deal, right?  Except I already had eggs.  I didn’t buy more just because of their super-low price or because I wanted to make hubby his favourite omlettes for tea.  (Shh, he doesn’t need to know that!)  I bought these eggs because they came in a green carton, which I wanted to make into flowers to add to my egg carton fairy lights.

upcycled flower lights

Totally worth it.  But it also means that storage becomes a major issue if you want to avoid being featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive.  There’s a whole other post coming on how to organize your crafting space, but a big part of the solution is to make use of all of your available storage space.  Last week that meant…

The Loft Hatch of Evil.  Some super-bulky and seldom-used items just have to be tucked up out of the way, where we keep the Christmas things and the spare spiders.  Entrance into the Loft Hatch of Evil is not to be taken lightly, as it requires climbing all the way up the stepladder onto the step that is not a step.    The spider-death ladder combination is a helpful deterrent to hoarding.  It forces me to ask myself the question:  “You want to keep that…enough to die for it?”

The Fridge:  Major occupational hazard when working from home.  Especially if you had something super tasty for dinner last night.  It’s crazy.  If I’m delivering workshops I’ll often skip lunch just to keep my rhythm going.  At home, I’ll find myself wandering over to the fridge just to see if any new food has grown there in the last half hour.  Luckily several of the guys in the group are skilled at taking very unflattering photos of my butt.  (No, I’m not posting them here)  But it’s helpful to stick them on the fridge as a reminder that I don’t really need any more junk in my trunk.

Housework:  I’m sure my other half would be happy to testify that housework isn’t one of my preferred occupations.  But give me some invoices or a funding application to work on, and I’ll be damned if my skirting boards don’t suddenly need a good polish.  And that kettle could really do with de-scaling and I’m sure it’s been ages since anybody thought to pair up the odd socks…  If the house is clean, it’s a pretty good indication that I’m putting off something super boring.

Spouse : Young couple just married  groom kiss his pretty bride after the wedding ceremony  she is blond and wearing a nice diadem  background red roses and foreground yellow bouquet roses

The Spouse:  For me, the biggest challenge to the work-life barriers when working from home is definitely the DH.  (Dear Husband, if you’re not up to speed on parenting forum lingo)  From his perspective, what I do when I’m working from home sometimes looks an awful lot like what he does when he’s “playing on the computer”.  So it shouldn’t be a big deal to stop what I’m doing and hang out some laundry, right?  Or take his dog to the vet?  “But why can’t you sort out my iTunes?  You’re home all day…”      At the end of a day when I’ve transformed 4 duvet covers into 20 metres of bunting with the help of 3 cats and two toddlers, through endless episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and while resisting the allure of a fresh packet of custard creams, the DH is duty-bound to ask “Why is it so messy in here?  Is there any dinner?”  At moments like those, the only thing that prevents me from introducing my spouse to the business end of my frying pan is the sure knowledge that upcycling at home is probably just a little easier than…

trying to upcycle in prison.  Happy Monday!

 

 

 

How do you like them apples?

Say, remember our buddy Sheri from Awesomesauce and Asshattery?  By total random coincidence I just happened on to this. Not only does Sheri have nimble fingers, she’s only gone and written herself a book!  Can you believe that? Somebody I know has a book that we can actually buy.  It also reminds me that behind the wedding scenes we’ve been amassing a set of Re-Creations goodies to send off to her in Berlin.

And in the meantime we’ve been crafting furiously for Wedstival 2012–only 2 days left to go!  Here are a couple more sneak previews for you while we lay on some coffee and get ready for the big event

Image:

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Fighting the Good Fight

Working in social enterprise can be a heady business.  When I spend time networking with other social enterprises or fellow UnLtd. Award winners, I’m surrounded by people who have stepped out of the traditional “9-5 employee” role and devoted themselves to social good.  They’ve spotted a need in some part of the community, and used their passion and ingenuity to set about filling it. And they’ll keep going just like the Energizer Bunny, because their success won’t all be measured by profit–it will be in the names and faces of people whose lives are improved as a result.

Re-Creations also has the the added bonus of associating with the Arts and Crafts communities who exhibit endless amounts of creative genius and inspiration every day.  Like Regan Kerr and her Upcycled Prom Dress, or Garth Britzman with his amazing car park roof.  Or even my sister & sister-in-law, who made an amazing art car with bottle-caps!

And then you’ve got the “Change the World Gang” at The You Can Hub, who are celebrating their first birthday today.(A very happy birthday, guys!)  Together, they bring the best in creativity, empowerment,, “buzz”  and square-framed specs to bear on the challenges they encounter.  I can’t confirm it, but it is rumored that these ladies wear their pants on the outside, in true superhero style.

Surrounded by such passionate, inspirational people, it’s easy to see the world through rose-tinted glasses.  It’s tempting to assume that everybody’s honest, that people who work hard will succeed, and that the good guys will always win.  And it sure is nice to forget that accidents happen, that bureaucracy can be impenetrable, and  that sometimes people screw you over.

But then sometimes reality can bring you back to earth with a bump.  For me, that’s what happened last week.  A combination of red tape, sad news and some utter human badness left me feeling like this:

As i drove my battered ego home on Friday, I found myself listening to Janet Devlin’s cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You”.  That first line, “when you try your best but you don’t succeed,” echoed in my ears for ages afterward.    Because despite what Hollywood might like us to believe, doing the right thing doesn’t mean we’ll come out on top.  Outside of primary school, nobody takes home a ribbon just because they took part.  Inevitably, shit will happen, and working hard or being a kind person is no guarantee against being kicked in the teeth.  In fact,  some people view “kindhearted”  as code for “easy target” and will be happy to lie, cheat, and steal from you if it gets them what they want.  (Like I said, it was a rough week.)

So why carry on?  Why invest your blood, sweat, and tears (and innumerable cups of coffee) in improving other people’s lives–especially if it may not pay off in your life?  How can you make yourself keep going with no clear path ahead, or get back up when life has knocked your feet from under you?  And what happens to the nice guy who finishes last?

These were the questions I mulled over this weekend, between playing Peppa Pig Dominos and never-ending episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants.  For a little while, I thought about chucking in the towel, and what life would be like if I went back to the regular 9-5 job and focused on earning money like most people do. But then two things happened.

The first was an unexpected parcel in the post:

Unlike most of Re-Creations post, this one didn’t contain rubbish for upcycling.  Remember Sheri from AwesomeSauce&Asshattery, and owner of the attractive Mensch T’s logo on our sidebar?   She used her super-secret-ninja-powers of awesomeness to make a surprise gift for each of the Re-Creations group members.  One that I know is going to make their day.  (I’m not going to tell what it is until after the guys have all seen them!)  She’s never met the guys.  Actually, she lives approximately 561 miles away, in Berlin.  But she woke up one morning and thought “Dude* What shall I do today?  I know, I’ll do something Awesome for these guys in England.  After all, I am the Awesomesauce”  (*may not have been her exact words)

The result:    

And the other thing that happened?  My husband disappeared for ages, late in the evening.  Eventually he walked through the door, cradling a dripping wet, flea-ridden and rather smelly old cat.  It wasn’t our cat, and the husband has never really been much of a cat person.  But when he heard that a neighbor had suddenly passed away, leaving a pair of elderly cats stranded outside in torrential rain, he couldn’t rest until he knew they were warm and fed.  In all, he spent over an hour outside  in the storm, coaxing the cats into trusting him and coming indoors.  He had nothing to gain from it, apart from the expense of feeding and flea-treating a couple of cats who would moult on his furniture and quite possibly leave hairballs on his pillow by way of thanks.

So in the midst of my crisis of faith, these two events showed me a couple of things:

  1. Good stuff can happen, even in the middle of a big, fat, stormy suckfest.
  2. Awesome people just can’t help being awesome. Across different species and great distances, and with nothing to gain, awesome people are just compelled to do awesome stuff.

So when everything hits the fan, instead of asking “why do I bother?”, the real question I need to ask myself is: “Are you awesome?”  Because if you’re awesome, you keep chipping away at the problem, even if there’s no end in sight.  You can’t help it, because the awesomeness is just part of who you are.  Think about your heroes for a minute.  Do you admire them because of their easy success?  Or is it because they busted their butts in dismal circumstances, and fought for what they believed in against all odds?  There’s a reason we’ll remember Martin Luther King Jr forever, while we’ve already forgotten last week’s lottery winner.  Without the struggle, there can be no heroes.

And meanwhile (whether you know them or not) all around the world there are other inspired people chipping away at  problems and committing random acts of awesomeness.  When you add all those people and all their efforts together, the result is that

If sad things or wicked people catch us unaware, we may lose a battle.  But that doesn’t make our good deeds any less good.  And awesome people will still be working, fighting the good fight because that’s who we are.  So next time I feel like giving up, I’m going to be thinking about Sheri & her Awesomesauce.  And then I’m going to start channeling Barney Stinson:

Now where the hell is my cape?

A few scraps, thrown haphazardly together

Well, the last couple of days has been a real treat!  When Farah from Relish to the Soul nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger award, I was as close to pants-wettingly excited as I usually get.  Lets face it, when you’ve had two kids you can’t really afford to take chances.  But it turns out that the best part comes after you’ve passed on the award.  Who knew?

You see, after you name seven bloggers you think are cool, they get all excited.  Then they name seven bloggers who they think are cool.  You click the links, have a read, and discover that, yes indeed, these new blogs are cool.  And guess what?  Each of them also knows seven cool new blogs for you to read.  The awesome just keeps coming, you lose a fair chunk of your day and your blog reader improves exponentially.

And then it happens.  You look at all of these other kick-ass blogs and start to feel a burgeoning sense of inferiority.  How can you compete with such genius?  There’s only one way:  you have to become more awesome. How?  Well, Sheri at AwesomeSauce&Asshattery thought of a way.

Not only did she whip out some Wayne Newton, Sheri offered to make us some Re-Creations Project T-shirts too! I’m not going to lie to you, when I opened Sheri’s email, I got a little choked up.  Observe:

How flippin’ awesome can you get?  (I know, “AwesomeSauce,”the clue was in the name, right?)  Now I’ve got to step up my game just to stay in the same league with all these other bloggers.  I’m not sure how yet, but I’ll be considering it over this bank holiday weekend.  (There’s been some talk of wearing capes recently, which I feel would lend a certain flair to all my undertakings…)  In the meantime, here’s some upcycling:

Remember last week when I decided to upcycle some ragged old jumpers into handbags?

 

At the end of the process I had a bag of felt scraps left over.  Scraps fall under my husband’s definition of “Clutter”, which makes him wander the house harrumphing in bewildered agitation.  (He also twiddles with his hair while pondering the problem of the clutter, which leaves him in danger of further reducing his already thinning crop of hair)  So I needed to do something with them ASAP, or start working out how to create an upcycled hairpiece.  Luckily, there’s Pinterest!  A quick search for felt crafts sent me to this tutorial from Better Homes and Gardens for a felt wreath.  Eureka!  I mean, who hasn’t wished for their handbags to better coordinate with their home furnishings!  So this is what I came up with:

Quick and easy, which is just how I like it!  And now, since my husband is “harrumphing” ever more vigorously at the remaining clutter in the house, I must stop blogging and see what else I can string on to a wreath to get it off of the table…

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend!

Kreativ Blogger–Yippee!

Thanks so much to Farah at Relish to the Soul (and Art. Upcycled) for passing this on to me! I love keeping up with your projects.

So this is how it works:

  •   I thank the person who nominated me and link back to their blog
  •  I tell you 7 things about myself that you wouldn’t already know
  •   I pass the award on to 7 bloggers that I think are cool.

It’s kind of like a chain letter combined with one of those email personality surveys, except that you won’t win the lottery* or meet your true love as a result, and if you fail to pass it on your pets won’t frown at you disapprovingly for the next three days**. So here’s more than you ever wanted to know about me:

  1. When I was a kid, I avoided flushing the toilet if I could help it.  I was afraid that it would suck me down into the drains forever. (In case any of my siblings are reading this and hadn’t worked it out already–sorry, that was me.) I’m still a bit fearful of the stuff that goes on in the whole “tank area” of the toilet.  I prefer to think that it works through some kind of benign magic, like the pretty birds and mice in Disney’s Cinderella, except that I don’t want the woodland creatures watching me pee.
  2. I (twice) went to borrow my husband’s deodorant and accidentally picked up his shaving gel instead.  I didn’t realise until I squirted cold, blue gel down my shirt.  The only reason I mention it now is that I’ve run out of deodorant once again and needed a mental reminder to check the label before I squirt.
  3. I grew up in mid-western America, where it’s flat and full of fields.  I moved to England to marry my husband and we’ve settled in the Fenland region.  It’s also flat, and full of fields here, but people seem less inclined to tip over their cows.
  4. I’ve never liked my name.  It grates on my nerves and has always felt like it should belong to someone else.  Luckily, no one ever calls me by my name unless they don’t know me or I’m in trouble.  Some of my more memorable nicknames have been “Goat Cheese” and “Band Camp Girl”, although I don’t eat goat cheese and have never been to band camp. My mom sometimes calls me by name, but only after tossing in a couple of my siblings’ names first.  That’s just what happens when you have six kids.
  5. For breakfast, my youngest daughter requested a bowl of Shreddies with milk, and a plate.  (She was really insistent about the plate.)  She then proceeded to pick each piece of cereal out of the milk, and put it on the plate, before drinking the Shreddie-flavoured milk.  This leads me to believe that some of my peculiarities may be genetic.
  6. My favourite cookie recipe can be found here.  Please steal the recipe, make them and share them–the world needs all the awesomeness it can get.
  7. I’m reasonably certain that my husband has never read my blog.  In fact, I’m reasonably certain he doesn’t actually understand what I do, except that it involves rubbish and glue.  I often hide “Easter Eggs” in my blog posts that are designed to elicit a reaction from him if he ever does manage to find my page.  If I joke about his hairline or mention moving his motorbike to make room for my growing hoard of milk bottle tops, it’s so the injured howls from behind his laptop will alert me that he has actually read one of my posts.  (Then I can cackle with glee as he runs out to the shed to see if I have, in fact, touched any of his stuff!)

Now, if you’ve managed to last through all that…  here come seven blogs that I enjoy, and I’ll pass the Kreativ Blogger onto them:

And that’s it–go play on their blogs and share the love!

* won’t necessarily win the lottery.  But if you do, all donations are welcome!

**We hope they won’t.  But some pets have very strong views on things like this.