Thursday, January 31, 2013

Re-purpose Pool Noodles - Feature of the Day

Today's Dare to Share Feature of the day is by Connie of Family Home and Life. What I really loved about her post is that it is full of practical uses for a pool noodle.  Who knew that dollar pool noodle sitting in your garage could do so many things.  Many of her tips will have you thinking.. why didn't I think of that, that is a great idea..  To see all the fun things you can do with a pool noodle, be sure to check out Family Home and Life HERE.  Thank you for linking up your great post Connie!
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Superbowl Party Food

Football Pops

Are you having a Super Bowl party on Sunday?  I have to admit,  I am not super excited about either team in it this year. I grew up in Ohio, and have always loved the Bengals.  Unfortunately they were out the first week of the playoffs.  Our family also roots for the Bears,  because there are a lot of family members in the Chicago area.  If I had choose a team, I guess I would be cheering on the Ravens.. You see, when I was at college at Ohio State, Jim Harbaugh who is now the 49ers coach, was the quarterback for our rivals the University of Michigan.  The OSU/U of M rivalry runs deep! I am not sure if John Harbaugh, went to U of M too, but at least he was not the quarterback while I was in school.  Even thought it was many years ago, it is very hard for a Buckeye to cheer for a Wolverine.  Go Bucks!

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. If you are hosting a party, and need some ideas, I put together a list of some easy  football themed snacks and treats to serve at the big game.   In the picture above are some football pops that I made from Rice Krispie Treats.. you can see how I made them HERE.


These BLT pops cut in the shape of a football jersey look like a lot of fun. You can find them on

If you are serving pizza, how about arranging the pepperoni in the shape of a football, like this one from shares how to make football shaped calzones and other great party food

Game day Guacamole can be found on

How about some football shaped subs from
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chocolate and Strawberry Cookies - Feature of the Day.

One of my favorite treats is strawberries dipped  in chocolate. so when I saw what Tash from The Velvet Moon Baker linked up I was in cookie heaven.   I have never had a chocolate and strawberry cookie, but I want one now.  I also loved that she was keeping it real with her display. If you want to know what I am talking about, you are going to just have to stop by her blog to read about it HERE, and get her delicious recipe while you are there.  Thank you so much for linking up your yummy cookies to Dare to Share Tash!
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Slow Cooker Lasagna Recipe

Slow cooker lasagna, a perfect meal for back to school nights

This year one of my goals was to use my slow cooker more, especially on Monday nights which is our busiest night of the week. (except for today, we had a snow day and everything was canceled.) I have made this recipe before, but kind of forgot about it since I don't use my slow cooker enough.  I just came across it again, and knew this week would be the perfect time to make it.  

This recipe is easy to adapt to your own needs.  You can make a huge portion, or scale it down a bit to fit the size of your family. 

You will need: 
a jar of spaghetti sauce 
a box of lasagna noodles 
a pkg of sausage, or hamburger 
ricotta (or cottage cheese if you realize you forgot to buy the ricotta) 
3 cups shredded cheese 

I used a slow cooker liner. If you do not  have a liner, spray with cooking spray.  Brown the meat and put it  in the slow  cooker.  Break up the lasagna noodles into about 2 inch pieces.  Since there were only 4 of us eating dinner tonight, I used only half a box of noodles. It seemed like plenty, and it was.  Add in the ricotta or cottage cheese, sauce and 2 cups of cheese. Be sure that all of the noodles are covered by the sauce. If they are not, they will be a little bit crunchy.  I did not add in any spices for our dish, but you could easily add in some of  your favorite Italian spices to suit your taste. 
Cook on low for about 4 hours. I stirred a couple of times to make sure everything was evenly covered.  

It was looking good at this point, but needed on more thing. 

Slow Cooker recipes, dinner recipes, lasagna recipes

Now it is done!..Just before it is ready to eat, add some more cheese and allow it to melt.  I did not measure the cheese, I just threw in more until it looked good.  You can never  have too much cheese.

This tastes just like the regular lasagna, but is so much easier to make. 
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Easy Bento Bears - Feature of the Day

As many of you know, I love cute food.  There is just something about having some extra fun while you eat. When I saw these adorable bears that PC from Meijo's Joy linked to Dare to Share, I knew I would be featuring them this week.  Her daughter has recently been asking for some bento bears  in her lunch.  PC got creative in the kitchen, and her daughter was thrilled.  What child would not be excited to see something like this in their lunch  instead of the same old PB&J.  If you would like to see how PC put the cute factor in lunch, be sure to stop by Meijo's Joy HERE.   Thank you so much for linking up PC!
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Valentine Felt Rose Topiary - Feature of the Day

I am loving the DIY felt rose topiary that Kathy from Life on Lakeshore Drive shared on Dare to Share this week.  They are so pretty and elegant, and actually pretty easy to make.  She only used some basic craft supplies, and an item that you might find in a toy box or garage. Wondering what the mystery item is?   Stop by her blog Life on Lakeshore Drive HERE, to see her wonderful tutorial.  Thank you so much for linking up Kathy.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Dare to Share #43

Another week has flown by.  This week was even more busy for me than usual.  Many of my long time followers may know that my oldest daughter  is in a special program through her high school that allows her to take her core classes online.  This has worked very well for her, except for one major problem... time management.   She is like so many others who feel they have plenty of time to do things, and keeps putting things off.  (I know where she gets it, I am also guilty of doing this too)  Before she knows it, it is the end of the semester and she has a ton of work that she needs to finish in a short amount of time.  So, for the last 2 weeks or so, I have been working with my daughter instead of working on fun projects.  Today was the last day, and she finished her classes with 4 hours to spare. (her best time yet!)  While working with her this past week, I have helped her do some  research for an Elizabethan England project.  Wow, was this an interesting assignment!  Living in England in the 1500's and 1600's was crazier than any modern day soap opera. There were  affairs, multiple marriages, and even murder. It was not always a good thing to be married to the King, as King Henry VIII had several of his wives beheaded when he grew tired of them. If this sounds interesting to anyone, I highly recommend this website, Elizabethan Era.  It is full of detailed information about that time, and a very eye opening read.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spicy Fajita Mix and Recipes - Feature of the Day

I don't know about you, but I am always trying to figure out what is for dinner later than I should.  Because of this, I  am making a real effort to use my slow cooker more.  When I saw what Mary from Mary's Kitchen shared on Dare to Share  I was definitely interested.  In this jar is a homemade Fajita Spice Blend, that is used in more  recipes she also shared.  Want to see how to make this mix, and used it in slow cooker fajita chicken? How about slow cooker Taco Soup?  Both sound delicious to me!  Be sure to stop by Mary's Kitchen HERE, and check out these wonderful recipes. Thank you so much for linking up Mary!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Valentine's Day Cracker Treats

I made Valentine's Day crackers last year, and my kids love them.  I thought that I would share them again this year, since were such a quick and easy treat.

The cracker dough is refrigerator pie crust. Allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for easier unrolling.  To make the cute shapes, all  you need is  a mini cookie cutter.  Last year I made bears, butterflies bunnies and flowers  since I did not have a mini heart cutter. I think have one now, so we will have heart shaped crackers this year.


I laid out the cracker shapes on a cookie sheet that was covered with parchment paper.

I made two types of crackers, sweet and savory.  To make the sweet crackers, I first lightly sprayed them with butter cooking spray, and then sprinkled on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

I also sprayed the savory crackers.  I then sprinkled on a mixture of Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  That amount you use of each ingredient is a matter of individual taste.

To make the crackers crispy, bake them in the oven  for 6 minutes at 450 degrees

I placed the crackers in some red  take out boxes that I found on clearance.  I found the bear shape was perfect  to come up with cute Valentine sayings..  I made one that said, Valentine's Day would be "unbearable" without you.

My own personal favorite has to be the I LOVE U Beary Much.

I also came up with sayings for the other shapes. such as "will be you be my hunny bunny", and "you make me flutter like a butterfly.'"  You could probably use any shape of cookie cutter and turn it into a fun saying.  Valentine crackers would be a great alternative to hand out at your class party  instead of more candy.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes - Feature of the Day

It could be because I just ate another piece of my daughter's birthday cake, but I am feeling the love of sweet treats at the moment.   When I saw the red velvet cupcakes from  Cynthia at  Feeding Big, I knew I had my Dare to Share Feature of the Day.  I love red velvet and cupcakes, so to have them put together  it was a can't miss for me. The color of these cupcakes would make them perfect for Valentine's Day.  Be sure to stop by Feeding Big HERE, to see this wonderful recipe.   Thank you so much for linking up to Dare to Share  Cynthia!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Pinterest Potatoes

Last night I wanted to try  something new with our  potatoes at dinner.

Awhile back, I found this picture on Pinterest, and thought it looked so good I wanted to try to make it too. I followed the directions of the Pin.  I was to cut thin slices almost all the way through, drizzle on olive oil and butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees. 

The first thing that I found out, is when you are cutting almost all the way through, it is VERY EASY to cut all the way through..  

I think the slices on my potatoes were a bit too tight.  Most of the olive oil and butter ended up on the cookie sheet instead of inside the slices.  

While ours did not turn out that beautiful golden color of the pin, it really didn't matter. They were still very tasty potatoes, that were super easy to make. My entire family enjoyed them, and I have been asked to make them again.  I think the next time though,  I will make sure to pull the slices farther apart so that more butter gets inside the potato.  This pin gets a definite thumbs up.  

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Confetti Cookies - Feature of the Day

We are having a special birthday today in our house.  While this person is not  3, I am sure they would love it if I made the confetti cookies shared by Liz at Howling at the Moon.   Today my oldest daughter is Sweet 16!  How in the world did that happen?  Many people told me when my kids were little, that time goes by way too fast. I have to say I agree.   Liz's confetti cookies  are really cute and would make great for birthday parties, or a class treat.  They are so much cooler than an average cookie.  Be sure to stop by Liz's blog Howling at the Moon HERE, to see how she made them.  Thank you so much for linking up this great idea on Dare to Share.

Today is a very special birthday for someone in my household. While they are not three, I know she would love it if I made these special confetti cookies by Liz from Howling at the Moon.  My oldest is Sweet 16!  How in the world did that happen?
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snowman Tic Tac Favors - Feature of the Day

Are you looking for a cute winter party favor?  These Snowman Tic Tac boxes from Phaedra at Phaedra's Adventures would make the perfect treat for a snow day party.  She shares how to make her Snowman Tic Tac boxes with just a few craft items you possibly already have at home.  You can see how at Phaedra's Adventures HERE.  Thank you Phaedra for linking up on Dare to Share.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Dare To Share #42

Well it is that time of the week again.  It's time for Dare to Share!

This week was a busy one for me.  We are very near to the end of the semester.   My oldest is part of a program where she takes her core classes online.  She is still learning the how to pace yourself rule, so once again we are doing the end of the semester cram session.   One week from tonight, and I will have more free time again..  

Since I was unable to make a project this week, I shared what I do to save money on groceries realistically.   I am by no means am extreme couponer, but I was still able to save over $5,000 in coupons in 2 years.  If you would like to read more, you can find that post HERE.

Also if you have not heard yet, the results of my biopsy came back. My doctor left a message on my answering machine and called me the next day.. The results are mostly good.. You can read more about that HERE.

If you did not have the chance to check out the Features of the Day yet , here is another chance..

Dice Favor Box by Kims Kandy Kreations
DIY Lined Shelf or Cabinet by Rain on a Tin Roof
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix by Pinkie for Pink
Valentine Pillow by A Little Clarification

I don't have a lot of rules for Dare to Share.  You can pretty much link up anything that you would like to share.  I don't require that you become a following, but I sure would love it if you would.  If you are chosen as a Feature of the Day,  your post will be shared on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and G+

Link up and HAVE FUN!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Valentine's Day Pillow -Feature of the Day

Have you ever thought to make your handmade pillows?  I have, but have never seemed to get around to doing it.  I chose Claire's Valentine Pillow from A Little Clarification from the Dare to Share Party, because now is the perfect time to make some.  Valentine's Day  is less than a month away, but you would still have plenty of sewing time to get them done.  I really like her step by step tutorial and directions on how she made her stencils. She makes it look easy, and they are super cute. If you are thinking about making some pillows  for yourself or perhaps a gift, be sure to check out A Little Clarifaction HERE.   Thank you so much for linking up Claire!
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How to Save on Groceries

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links  

How to Save Money on Groceries
Store Sale Flyers 

Is saving money in 2013, one of your financial goals?  One way I save money is how I grocery shop.   The extreme couponers on TV are not the norm.  Most of what you see on the show is also not realistic.  They are not buying a weeks worth of groceries, instead they are buying 50 of the same item to add to their enormous stock pile.  The stores also override their coupons policy to allow such big hauls.  Most stores have limits to how many "like" coupons you can use at one time.  I am going to share how to realistically use coupons, and make the most from your trip. While you might not save 99%,  you can  save between 30-50% each time you shop without that much work.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And the results are in...

I got in kind of late last night after dance class and running errands.  I saw there was a message on the answering machine.  I nervously pushed the button, and listened.  I really like my Dr, but she has a thick accent so the message was hard to understand.  At first I wasn't sure what she had said, but then I heard we will monitor the nodule and have another ultrasound/biopsy in a year..  Whew.. I am pretty sure that meant it was not cancer..  I listened to it again at a higher volume, and understood more the 2nd time.  Basically the slides would have something appear during the testing, and mine were clear.  We are going to keep an eye on the nodule and check it again later to see it if has grown or become cancerous. At some point, I still might have to have my thyroid removed, but not at this time.  Whew..
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix - Feature of the Day

Is it cold where you live?  It is FREEZING here in Michigan.  It never made it out of the 20's today and there is talk that it will only be in the teens several days next week.. Brr.. I am not a fan of cold.  Since it is so cold, I was drawn to Nichole's Hot Chocolate Mix from Pinkie with Pink.  I have thought of making my own mix before, but never really knew how.  If you feel like warming up with a cup of delicious hot chocolate check out the recipe on Pinkie for Pink HERE.  Thank you so much for linking up Nichole.  I think I will go warm up now. :)
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

DIY Lined Cabinet - Feature of the Day

Today's Dare to Share Feature of the Day is by Rain on Tin Roof.  What really caught my attention were the words the cheap lazy girls way to add interest to a cabinet.  I do not like to call myself cheap and lazy, but I do love a good shortcut.  LOL!   She really made a big difference on her cabinet, spent very little doing it.  Stop by to her blog HERE, to see how she did it.   Thank you so much for linking up!
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dice Favor Box Printable- Feature of the Day

I am loving all of the great link ups to this week's Dare to Share.  One fun and easy craft that caught my eyes is the Printable Dice Favor Box that Kim from Kims Kandy Kreations shared.  She is hosting a game night party, and made the box favors to give to her guests. This is such a cute idea that could be used in a variety of ways. An added bonus, she is sharing a printable to make the dice box for free.  You can find the printable  HERE.  Thank you so much for linking up Kim! 

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Dare to Share Party #41

Shadow the Hamster 

This week has been a crazy one, starting with the adventure we had Monday night. If you haven't see it yet, you might want to read what happens when you have several cats and a daredevil hamster HERE.

enlarged thyroid 

I also shared this week about my most recent health update, and why I had to have a thyroid biopsy this week. You can read about that HERE..

cheesy broccoli dip  

While I have not really been up to crafting and cooking this past week, I did share a wonderful dip we had on New Years Eve. My family loved it so much it was gone within a few minutes. You can see my recipe for Cheesy Broccoli Dip HERE.

While my medical issues kept me away from the computer a little more than I would have liked.   I only got in three Features of the Day.   If you have not had the chance to see them,  you can see them again here.

Home Clean Home by Fluster Buster
Double Chocolate Muffins by With a Blast
Jam Filled Heart Pancakes by TuTus & Teaparties

I don't have many rules for the Dare to Share party.  You can pretty much post anything that you would like to share.  You do not have to be a follower, but I really would like it if you would.  If you are chosen as a Feature of the Day, your post will be shared on the Blog, FacebookTwitterPinterest and G+.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jam Filled Pancakes - Feature of the Day

When Valentine's Day comes around, we start to think how can we show others we love them.  I really like the special pancakes that Lauren from TuTus and Tea Parties shared on Dare to Share.
This seems like such a simple idea, that most people would never even think to do.  I could totally see serving these pancakes to my family.  Lauren also shared a wonderful homemade pancake recipe, which you can see HERE.  Thank you so much for linking up this sweet treat  Lauren!  
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When Life Happens

You might be wondering why I have been on the quiet side lately.  It is not that I don't want to share lot of crafts and recipes with you, it's because something else has been keeping me a bit busy.  Remember a few months ago when I shared I was having some health issues.  While overall I am feeling okay, I am still having issues with my thyroid.

Yesterday  I had to have a biopsy because I had two nodules that were much bigger than the Dr. would like to see.  They wanted to check the nodules to see if they were cancerous.   I am also a bit concerned because my thyroid has swollen even more in the last few months  that it is  now visual to the naked eye.
swollen thyroid

Can you see it?   There is very definite butterfly shape in the middle of my neck. It is even slightly darker than the rest of my skin.  If you are not sure what you are looking at, below is another picture.

swollen thyroid 

Do you see it now?  That is what you do not want your thyroid to look like.  You should not be able to see it so easily. Mine is also larger than a normal thyroid.

thyroid nodules

The Dr's office were I was to have the biopsy was 45 minutes away, in a part of the city I am not very familiar with.  I don't like driving in areas where I don't know where I am going, but I didn't really have a choice.  I waited in the waiting room for about 15 minutes before they called me back.   I had worn a comfortable sweatshirt that has a small V-neck.  I guess I made the right choice.  They were able to get to my neck clearly without me having to wear a gown.   I was given another ultrasound to measure the nodules again to see if they had grown since my last ultrasound.   When that was  done, the Dr came in with two nurses.  She needed one nurse to hand her the needles, and the other to process the samples.  She gave me a numbing shot, which was the most painful thing of the entire biopsy because it gave a small burning sensation when the medicine was going in.  In a few minutes though, my neck was numb enough to start.  She did tell  me some good news from the start.  The nodule on my right side looked good.  It looked good enough, that she didn't feel she needed to biopsy it.  She was, however, still going to biopsy my larger nodule. (the one with the X in it)    She had to hold the ultrasound wand in one hand,  and and take the samples with the other.  I could feel a small pressure, but that did not last more than 10 seconds or so when she inserted each of the needles.  She took 4 samples in different areas of the nodule.  The entire appointment only took about 30 minutes.   She had me slowly sit up and rest a minute, in case I was light headed.  I wasn't.  She then told me that the location of the nodule was problematic because it was  on the back side of the thyroid near the carotic artery. She had to be careful not to hit the artery. I am not sure if this will be a problem later on, if the nodule continues to grow. She told me that my nodule visually looked okay to her, but she did not want to say for sure until she got the test results. I think it is a good thing that she is cautious. Now we have to wait....and wait some more.  She said that the results most likely will not be in until next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Here are some interesting facts about the  thyroid cancer.

It can occur at any age

It occurs more often in women then men

80% of the time it is Papillary Carcinoma, and it occurs most often in ages 30-50. (I am in my 40s)

It usually begins with a nodule in the thyroid gland

When nodules are over 1.0, a fine needle biopsy is done. (my largest one was 1.7 and I had this type of bisopsy)

While it used to be rare, it is increasing at an alarming rate.

The thyroid in a very important gland that makes the hormones needed to regulate how our body works.  It affects heart rate, blood pressure, body temperture, and weight.    When you thyroid is not working properly  you may be excessively tired, have thinning hair, weight gain, heavy periods  and  very dry skin. If you think you could be having issues with  you thyroid, be sure to see your Dr.

I will keep everyone posted when I hear the news.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Two Cats and a Hamster

Reeses, Cat #1 
Tootsie, Cat #2

and starring
Shadow the Hamster
You are probably wondering by the title what this post is about.   I wasn't  sure I was going to write a post about our crazy night our not.  When I shared on my personal Facebook page this morning what happened, a friend of mine joked it was like a sitcom at my house.  She does have a point, we have had our share of funny stories that involved our many animals.   Do you remember the time when Reeses  got stuck inside of the couch and had to be cut out?  Or when Reeses  knocked over the Christmas Tree when  all 12+ pounds of her climbed to the top?  How about the time when she knocked a different hamster's cage off the shelf when she tried to jump in the bookcase where the cage was located. (the hamster was fine, the cage not so much!)
She was involved in last night's incident too, but didn't  knock anything over, or get stuck somewhere.  

 It started around  1:30 in the morning, and I was half asleep. I heard some noise under the bed.  I tell the cat to knock it off, then realize that I see the cat, and she is not under the bed. She is also meowing.   In my half asleep state and without my glasses, I see the cat is following something small. (well smallish)  I jump up and for half a second think she is following a giant rat.. Eek!!  Then I realize it looks like a tiny guinea pig and doesn't have a long tail. Just then I realize it is our bear hamster Shadow.  The one and only time that Kara forgot to put the lid back on his cage, he somehow decided to climb out of his glass cage and jump 4 feet off the bookcase to the floor.   He then somehow found his way under the bed while being followed by at least one cat.  As soon as I got my bearings, I could no longer find him.  We looked for him for at least 30 minutes before I realized I was going to have to wake up Kara to help us  look.  It was then  2 a.m. We knew he would not be safe if we did not find him before going back to bed.  We also knew Kara would be crushed if anything had happened to him, because of something she forgot to do.  Kara is a bit of an animal whisperer, so I had hope she would find him. She was able to  get Sonny (Sonic the second) out of a shelving unit at the pet store.  30 more minutes go by, then an hour.  By 3:15, we are all exhausted.  Kara said she is so tired, that  she feels like she is going to fall over.  She rested on the bed, while I continued to look and listen for him to make some noise.. At 3:40 we heard something on the scale in the bathroom.  (I guess he was trying to weigh himself)  Tootsie the cat heard him too, and beat me to the bathroom. I flipped on the light and see Tootsie following him closely as he runs  all over the bathroom.  Neither of the cats ever touched him, but they sure were interested in him.  They see him all the time in his hamster ball, but this was the first time they had seen him running around freely.   I yelled in relief, "he's in here"!!  Kara ran in, picked him up, and squealed with joy.   By the time we were all settled down it was 4 a.m.!  That 6:45 alarm  went off  way to early today!!  Since Kara had not yet missed a day of school (unlike last year with the mono and foot injury) I allowed her to stay home and rest.  She really needed it.  This afternoon we took Shadow out in his ball for a bit.  He seems no worse for the wear.  I hope he remembers his nighttime adventure, and doesn't repeat it EVER AGAIN!

Milo Cat #3, He is not in this story! 

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