Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Been Busy...

It's been another busy month at our household.  We are pursuing adoption and it's almost like being in school again.  With all the classes, book reports and paperwork, my husband and I have been burning the candle at both ends.

I also somehow managed to schedule a fairly busy work schedule and we've had more snow days and 2 hour delay days that my husband and I have to juggle through.  I will definitely be glad to see the Spring for a multitude of reasons.

Spring allergies have started already in our household as well as in the clinic.  Dogs with ear infections and licking their paws and cats with skin irritation and asthma are not quite in full bloom, but I'm sure they will get their soon.  We now have so many different options for treating allergies in our patients, it's really kind of exciting.  It used to be that our only option was steroids and this is what my first dog got with her severe allergies in the 80's.  Unfortunately, she ultimately ended up dying of liver failure that was directly related to her lifetime of steroid use.  Now I have a whole toolbox of things I can use on my patients.

On myself, I'm more reluctant to do a bunch of stuff; as my allergies have definitely decreased in severity and I'm less likely to give a ton of medicine to my son as I am aware that everything can have potential long-term side effects.  I think a anti-inflammatory diet can help and even changing our water filter to one that filters out aluminum has also made a difference.  We will have to see how long that lasts and my family will just have to buckle up for allergy season.  Fortunately our dog does not have allergies but our cat has asthma which is related to allergies.  There's never a dull moment in our household.

Welcome Spring!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


It's sometimes hard to think that I once was a math whiz.  No, seriously, I was a math whiz once.  I was a full grade level and a half ahead of my class up to high school.  In high school, I signed up to be in an accelerated program that was college math in high school.  I reached a "wall" at that point.  That was seriously the first point I had in my education where I was truly challenged and realized I actually had to take notes and pay attention and even then could have a hard time.

I knew I needed math for becoming a veterinarian, but other than that, I was pretty burnt out on math.  I use math every day, doing conversions, coming up with doses.  Shadowing an ER human doctor I realized how they really kind of have it easy because when it comes to adult medicine, there is only 1 size of dose.  I'm treating any where from a 1/2 pound kitten to a 200 pound Norwegian Elkhound; they typically get dosed differently.

I often use a calculator to check my math, sometimes charts, and sometimes just the knowledge of what a "normal" dose of something should be.  If my math comes out to a big quantity for a little creature, I'm maybe going to re-check my math four times.

I've had cousins and did tutoring around when the "new math" came along.  I can't handle the "new math".  I'm sure it's great for some of the kids who struggled with "the old math".  That's great, but it would be nice if teachers could teach the "old math" and those who have difficulty with it learn it "the new math way."  I'm sure my sister and sister-in-law, both elementary school teachers can tell me why that's not so, but from the parent's perspective, this "new math" is kind of crazy.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found out that my son's Catholic school actually uses the "old math".  Yay! I can at least possibly help him through 8th grade.  I talked to some other parents who live in the area and they told me that our county school system actually offers twice a week classes to parents to help parents learn the new math.  Uh.  I think I'm kind of done with going to math classes.

All of this also comes to mind as this is tax time.  I'm finding out as I try to get together my taxes, and I'm an independent contractor that multiple places I have worked at have had a hard time coming to the same numbers I have.  I have pretty good accounting software and I add my numbers multiple times.  I think it probably has more to do with a system of organization vs. a system of disorganization (as shocking as it may be to my friends and family, thanks to the help of Quick Books Self Employed I'm actually pretty organized).

Yep, math follows you throughout all your life.  I actually still like algebra and simple every day math.  Geometry and taxes are the parts of math I really could do without.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Escape Plan

Even before all this winter weather came to pretty much the whole country, my son was thinking about Florida.

Picture by Author- Do not use without permission
My husband initially heard trickles, and then the whole story.  My son with his fellow kindergarteners (about 5 or 6 of his classmates) planned to meet up for lunch, go to the airport (he was even specific with the name of the airport)) and get on a plane and go to Florida.

Not a bad idea.  The level of detail they had planned for 5 year olds was pretty impressive.  My husband and I may be in trouble as my son gets older...

Fortunately, I was able to tell him that he isn't allowed to ride with his friend's older brother and Florida is just more fun with your family.  These words seemed to be enough for him at the time.

It occurs to me though, that maybe we should all have an escape plan.  Maybe not one that we ever intend on doing, but a fun dream to have with family and friends certainly can help make the grey days of winter much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Book Review: The Word of the Lord

My son loved Katie and Meg's previous book "Cloud of Witnesses", so when we received "The Word of the Lord: A Child's First Scripture Verses", he was excited to read it.
  It is a board book.  So it's very durable and would hold up to the young children in the house getting their hands on it.  The content is straight from scripture, so obviously not necessarily at the reading level of a typical three year old.  I think this is actually a good feature of the book because all age levels can enjoy the book (and the younger sibling can't easily destroy it).  I also think that many children's books underestimate the intellectual capacity of kids.  My 5 year old enjoys listening to some books that are at the middle school and high school level, and as far as I know, he's not a child prodigy.

As a mother, I really love that we were having a little discussion about obedience and lo and behold, I opened his book to the scripture verse about honor your father and your mother.  Straight from the scripture.  My son didn't have much to say after that.

My five year old put in his own review of the book that he likes it even better than "Cloud of Witnesses".  He is learning to read and is excited to read some of the verses he hears at Mass.  It also will be a great addition to his "Play Masses."  We've tried to find a good and holy, but lightweight and readable he can use for his Liturgy of the Word and this fits that role perfectly.

The Word of the Lord: A Child's First Scripture Verses is a great way to introduce young kids to scripture have as a spiritual resource for them even as they grow older.  My son, the five year old has requested me to read it over and over.  It is mom and 5 year old- approved!

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

New Years Topic

It's that time of year where everyone is talking about New Year's Resolutions.  A lot of people it's weight loss, a healthier diet or cleaning and organizing.

I have been witnessing my gym is super crowded (not sure if there's a lot of new members or this is just the time of year that EVERYONE decides to use their membership).  I have noticed that there's not really a time of year that we focus on our pets.

In all honesty, I would say about 70% of the pets I see and maybe an even higher percentage of the cats I see are overweight.  There are very few that are underweight and it's normally because of a medical issue or a neglect or lack of education problem.

The range of obesity is pretty broad and quite frankly, unless I'm asked or there is a medical issue that would benefit from weight loss, I don't really mention or go at length into pets that are 10-20% overweight (if you look at human doctors, a lot of times they don't mention this either).  There's a certain amount of being understanding (maybe something happened where the owner is not able to exercise the pet as much, either a physical issue or change in household).  These conversations can be very awkward and difficult to do, especially if your veterinarian only has 20 minute appointment slots.

You can do your own assessment on your pet's weight by looking up "Body Condition Score" for dogs and cats and looking at the graphics.  Some of the features veterinarians look for is, does your pet have a waistline, is there a "tuck" or a point where your pet's waist is narrower than their chest.  You should also be able to easily feel your pet's ribs (but not see them) and be able to feel their hip bones and spine without pressing in an inch.  If you can balance a soda can on top of your pet's back, your pet is most likely too big.

There are many factors in obesity in pets, very similar to the factors in humans.  They can have thyroid and metabolic issues, arthritis and other factors that can predispose them to obesity.  The biggest factor though is overfeeding and feeding things they shouldn't have.

3 out of 5 pet owners say begging is a problem.  Begging is a learned behavior.  If you don't give your pet extra food or treats in response to begging, they won't do it.  It is a very hard habit to break.  My cat is a beggar and so historically my family dogs have been.  My current dog is not, partially because he's only lived with my husband and I and also because he has a sensitive stomach.  If he gets things he's not supposed to have... Well, let's just say, cleaning up a mess is a deterrent for me whenever I would want to share food.  He also doesn't get many treats.

There are Treat Alternatives:

Playing, Petting, Grooming, Walking or other Exercise

Pets that are an appropriate weight are:

More active, more playful, less anxious, more interactive, enjoys life more, live up to 2 years longer

If your pet is overweight or you suspect they could be overweight, formulate a plan with your veterinarian to manage their weight loss.  Some techniques we can use are:

Treat underlying thyroid or metabolic issue

Reduce the amount of food that is fed.  With weight reduction we look for about 1-2 pounds of weight loss per month.

If we aren't able to reduct the amount of food (either due to owner's preference or the behavior of the pet or other factors), prescription food may be used.  This food is formulated so you may feed a larger quantity but it is formulated to be less calorically dense and higher in fiber.

Looking at environmental factors.  Are their children in the house or other family members who are feeding extra?  Is there a way we can increase exercise.  One under-looked problem can be if there are multiple people feeding the dog and the dog is able to get "double" meals because there isn't communication whether the dog has already been fed.  Pre-portioning the food, or in the case of my family, filling a scoop in the morning and leaving the half scoop for the second meal helps my husband and I know if the dog has been fed or not.  We have found that my dog is a pretty good actor and can try to act like he hasn't had a meal- when he really has.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A More Intentional Season

There are differing views whether Advent is a time of penance, I believe the Catechism says no, several websites say yes (I consider the Catechism the final word).  Whether or not there is a penitential component to Advent, it is definitely a time of preparation.  I tried to be more intentional this year.  I focused more on my prayer life and just being present for my son.  One writer has said, "your kids won't remember if you had a pinterest perfect Christmas but they will remember if you were cranky and full of tears."  I took this to heart.

It helped that the main water line ruptured under our house and my cell phone died, simultaneously.  Yep, there's nothing like adversity (and I'm talking the first-world kind, not the third-world kind) to put some things in perspective.  I had already sat down with my husband and son well before the Christmas season and went through a list of things they wanted to do, things they definitely wanted to do, things/events they could do without and things they were just meh on.  I was surprised at some of the answers, but I went with them.  I mean, it's really not necessary to make 10 different kinds of cookies and family traditions evolve.  I also was getting exasperated decorating and turned to my husband and said, "You know what, I just don't feel up to doing wreaths on all the windows, how about just one?"  He was fine with that.

I tried to get some things done earlier in the year and even before the Christmas season started.  From my mom, I got the habit of buying presents and deals throughout the year (the only problem is I forget what I bought and where I hid it).  I tried to do cinnamon rolls as presents for many people in our lives and I made a batch or two a week and just kind of stretched the Christmas season out.  I also have tried to get together with friends during the Season of Epiphany, when quite frankly we are all more pleasant and relaxed.

As the season of Advent and Epiphany has now closed, I see room for improvement, I see things I did better, and quite frankly ways I could improve.  I do feel though, this Christmas season I did grow a little closer to our Lord and I will take solace in that.  I also am grateful that though my son has a wide range of behavior and sweetness, multiple times throughout the season he said, "The Spirit of Christmas isn't about presents, it's about Baby Jesus' Birthday.  Yep, thank you my five year old for that reminder and may I take the intentionality I have practiced this season into the New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I really do hope to get back to regular posting...

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! (or it was when I wrote this...)

I really do hope to get back to posting more regularly.  Between trying to be more intentional this Advent, the main water line rupturing below our house and my phone suddenly deciding not to work, I've been a little busy.

Strangely though, my family has been taking it pretty well.  It's frustrating when stuff like this happens, but it happens...  We were fortunate enough that we didn't end up needing to stay in a hotel (although I think my son was looking forward to it).  We were also fortunate that it doesn't look like anything in our house was damaged and as I told a friend, "at least it wasn't the septic pipe."

I had to let my son's teacher know what was going on because I wasn't going to be reachable by my phone or the app she normally uses and I was going to be working at multiple different clinics, so she needed to know my contact info was going to change.  I was able to borrow my husband's phone for a couple of days but it was all really rather confusing because this was also happening in the midst of the plumbing emergency.

I think my son's teacher was intrigued how I managed to kind of keep a smile and go with the "flow".  Haha.  My husband was even in pretty good spirits when I explained the plumbing "fix" to him using an analogy of a kidney transplant.  He then explained the mechanics of what was done and I said, "Oh, I totally understand, that's how we place a Central Line".  I think he has now been married to me long enough to not ask for specifics on how these things work, but to understand that I understand, and that's what matters.

Advent is a time of preparation, and I'm focusing on preparing our hearts and home for Christmas.  I'm also focusing on remembering that Christ doesn't ask for perfection.  I just recently read about St. Joseph and how he must have had feelings of inadequacy, preparing to welcome the Lord into a world where he didn't have much control.  He had to lead his pregnant spouse on a donkey and he couldn't even provide a room in an Inn for her, and the Son of God.  Yeah, that might make one feel like all the cards are stacked against you.  What did Joseph do though?  Did he whine to God and say, "yeah, you're kind of asking the impossible from me and I'm not up to the task?"  No.  From what we know, he trusted in the Lord, did the best he could and let his faith guide him.