Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Adoption Madness 2: Party at Home Depot

As I discussed in Part 1, our adoption journey started out slow and tranquil and went into a crescendo the succeeding 3 months.

While we were doing tons of paperwork (I think our adoption To Do List had about 100 items on it) and doctors appointments and more, we were preparing for our home to be inspected.  There wasn't really a checklist for what was needed for a home inspection.  Our social worker was reassuring and said it was really nothing to worry about, and if there was something they found lacking, we would have time to correct it.

My husband and I are both fairly risk-averse and safety conscious.  We also have a friend who is a local fireman.  We have a three-story ladder for our house, a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and more smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms than what is necessary.  We had read that our local laws had been updated and there were a few more bells and whistles that were required; but no big deal.

I got the name of an electrician and I found new smoke alarms with a 10 year battery.  When we had gotten a new heating and air unit and new hot water heater, we had already passed a local inspection for our carbon monoxide and other detectors so we thought we were good.  Hmm.

A week or so before the home inspector came, I realized that we needed a combination smoke/fire alarm and tried to get the electrician to come in and switch them out, which we had him scheduled for, but inclement weather interfered.  Rather than re-schedule the home inspection, the inspector said she'd come anyways because she was sure she'd find some other violations.  That just made me quake in my heels.

So ultimately after 3 trips from the electrician, multiple purchases from Home Depot and Amazon and a consultation with a friend who is a fireman we made some progress.  We also had multiple communications with the home inspector which were confusing (they had just changed the laws and regulations in our county regarding what was required and that home inspectors were now responsible for fire inspections, something the firemen used to be responsible for).  The electrician who was a kind man figured out exactly what I needed to get.  It was not easily found online.  He stayed and waited for me to make a quick run to Home Depot (all during this time I was actually supposed to be listening to a lecture for continuing education).  I went to Home Depot and could not find what I needed.  I didn't understand why they would be selling products that weren't "up to code" in the first place.  I found a Home Depot team member and asked for assistance.  The electrician had given me a specific model number.  The Home Depot member then suggested one of the previous detectors we had purchased.  In frustration, I told him how that hadn't passed inspection.  He then said, "Oh- you have an inspector- then this what you need."  As he showed me the small box tucked on the lowest shelf in the back, I purchased 7.  Suddenly there were about 5 other people who came over and also asked if this was the model that would pass inspection.  Who knew that I would start a "party" at Home Depot to find the right device...

Friday, July 12, 2019

This might be the day...

Earlier this week, my husband and I were awoken in the middle of the night by our cat.  This is not that unusual, considering our cat is almost 20 and has some eclectic habits.

As she jumped on our bed, after loudly meowing throughout the house, (she's deaf, so it's a really loud Meow) my husband remembered he forgot to fill her water.

Now, you should know that she always has access to water and up to about the past 6 months, drinking the dog's water out of his bowl was just fine for her.  Her kidney disease worsened a little bit (I already told you she's almost 20).  So in an effort to get her to drink more water, I've given her her own teacup that I put fresh cold filtered water in.  My husband is normally the last to bed, so he checks to see if it needs to be refreshed before bedtime.  The last time he forgot to do this, she jumped on our bed and let him know her displeasure by jumping over him and drinking from his bedside water.

So as she jumped into bed, my husband covered his water and even though she's deaf, we still both yelled at her in the haze of 2 AM.  She bopped down right between us and had a seizure.  She had full on convulsions that were unmistakeable.  She hobbled out of our bed and then walked around like she was drunk.  I turned to my husband and said, "yep, that was a seizure, I'm awake, right, that just happened?"  My husband who wakes up a little faster than I do verified this was not a dream.  As I lay anxiously in bed thinking with my doctor mind that this meant that our cat most likely had a brain tumor, our cat had another seizure episode.  I turned to my husband wearily and said, "Today might be the day."  Meaning that we may have to make the decision to euthanize.  I took Duchess into our guest room so I could monitor her and hopefully my husband could get some rest.

I know what seizures look like.  I've treated probably close to a thousand of them in my career.  There is definitely something scary and alarming about them when they happen in your own pet.  If I wasn't a veterinarian, I would have taken our kitty to the ER, but I knew that I was competent at monitoring her.  If she continued to have seizures, I would take her in and I'd have to get her started on some medication most likely.

In an almost 20 year old cat, even if my family had all the money in the world, we wouldn't get an MRI and have brain surgery or radiation therapy for her.  I know these are options and some of my patients have had these performed.  If she was 8 or 10 or maybe even 12, I think this would be a route to consider, but knowing how she hates hospital settings and this may still not be what terminates her life, my husband and I agree that if her quality of life is still good, we will try medical therapy, make her comfortable and see how things go.

We had already had a playdate scheduled that morning and Duchess did not have any more seizures.  She was pretty sedate and just slept a lot, which isn't atypical for a 20 year old cat.  I monitored her and made sure she had plenty of water.  My poor husband asked if dehydration from not having her filtered cold water could have caused her problem.  I reassured him he had no reason to feel guilty and that this was unlikely.  Her deafness and whining in the middle of the night (things that are typical in older kitties) were most likely early signs in retrospect.

So as I was emotional and trying to reconcile "doctor" with "mom" 4 kids came over to our house.  Two of them were my sons age and then a 3 year old and a baby.  All of them loved cats and dogs and didn't have one of their own.

Our geriatric, epileptic cat came out of her hiding place and rubbed up and purred and let those kids love on her more than most normal cats would.  Ok, I thought, maybe today is not going to be the day and this cat is just adding a new disease to her repertoire.  As if to taunt me, she also tried to get into the kids' macaroni and cheese when they left the table.  Yep, I had to keep a check on how upset and frustrated I got.  If I didn't know better, I'd think she faked her seizures for a little sympathy.

Just as I was becoming less afraid that her time was near, my husband commented that she was walking funny.  I told him, "well, she's got arthritis."  "No," he told me, "she's hobbling and limping like she broke her leg."  Then I witnessed it.  She was neurologic.  If she had a brain tumor, and she didn't have periods where she was acting normal, we could be near the end.

My husband and I had always agreed that we would give Duchess a milkshake before "the end".  I told my husband that night to please make her a milkshake.  My husband makes good milkshakes and he used to make them all the time before our son was born.  Duchess used to try to steal them all the time.  It was during this time that my husband truly realized her acrobatic and gymnastic abilities.  He had always thought cats didn't have a vertical leap.  Then he decided that Michael Jordan didn't have anything on Duchess.  My husband's milkshakes are probably one of her favorite things, besides lobster bisque.

My husband looked at me and asked me a couple of time if I seriously wanted her to have a milkshake.  I told him yes, just a small one and I promised I would do clean up duty if it unsettled her stomach.  He was sweet and then said, "But I don't want to give her any ideas.  I don't want her to think because she's getting this milkshake she can just go and die on us!"

My son liked that he was getting a milkshake out of this deal but was seriously perplexed that we were willingly giving the cat one.  He asked three times, "Seriously?  Seriously? Seriously, you are giving her a milkshake?"

I think this kind of brought it home for my husband that we could be near the end.  She kind of looked at me a couple of times as I put the small teacup in front of her as to what she had done to get this.  She enjoyed it though and she licked the cup clean.

She had a good evening and this morning my husband couldn't find her.  I couldn't find her either.  Then I looked up and she had somehow jumped 6 feet up on to the top of my husband's dresser.  Not only had she done that but she had also knocked down a heavy ceramic cup that was probably at least 1/6 of her weight.  She decimated the cup.  She looked at me and it was like she was saying, "What are you looking at?  Do you really think I'm going to die on you.  Well I ain't dead yet and leave me alone."

Yep, that's the feisty spirit I know.  She is good at reminding us that you can't predict what's going to happen and a little spirit and spunk means a lot.  Every day is a gift.  If a little macaroni and cheese gets stolen or something gets broken, well what does that matter when you got a life to live.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Chick Fil-A Dress Like A Cow Day is Tuesday, July 9th

Just in case you haven't heard, today, Tuesday, July 9th is Chick Fil-A's annual "Dress Like A Cow Day".  If you show up at any Chick Fil-A with any type of cow clothing or a mask or tail anything showing your bovine aptitude, you will receive a free entree.  My son and I did this last year and I remembered to keep our "Moo Masks" safe just for this "holiday".  I made the masks easily with crayons, a papers plate and a disposable fork and crayons.  I'm not a very good artist, but it does the job!

My son has a great time, the place is crowded (but fun).  Everyone's in a pretty good mood because really- who doesn't like free food?  Especially good food from Chick Fil-A?  I might even splurge and purchase one of their lemonades tomorrow (that sugary goodness is sure to make me run 4 extra miles to burn it off), but another not as well known fact about Chick-Fil A is, they refill your drink for free!

I will have to see if my son keeps the book in the Kids Meal that he gets, or if he trades it for an ice cream cone (another not as well known fact- you can trade the toy/book in the kids meal for an ice cream cone).  He always used to pick the book, but with the weather around here in the 90's lately- I think he might go for the ice cream cone.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you have a restful, fun and family-filled 4th of July.  From barbecues to parades to just spending time with the family, may God Bless you and your loved ones.

The more research I do about history, the more I feel like I'm discovering two things- the Founding Fathers were imperfect, just like we are today, and America is Blessed.  God did some amazing stuff during the Revolutionary War, because when you read about the amazing "God-incidences" as I see them (people making decisions that were out of character, even a hurricane that was perfectly timed), I'm kind of left thinking- there was a reason....  Let's all do our best to share our blessings with others and be grateful for the blessings we have.

God Bless America!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Some books I've been reading lately...

This should probably be entitled, "books that I'm taking an inordinate amount of time to read."    My DVR is full of shows I haven't gotten to, my iPad is full of books I've started or wanted to finish reading.  It takes me a while to read books.  I do 5 minutes here, 3 minutes here.  When I'm really into the book, I might stay up a little later or try to squeeze a little time in when I'm waiting to pick up my kid for school.  Where ever I can get the time, I squeeze it in.  I used to be an avid reader.  Then Vet school happened.  As I've discussed previously, Vet school cured me of wanting to read for pleasure for several years.  The funny thing is I ran into someone recently who went to the same Vet school I did, twenty years prior to when I graduated.  Somehow the topic came up about just starting to read for pleasure (somehow this topic came up when we were discussing angora goats and knitting- who knew!).  She laughed as I shared it took me about 5 years to start reading again.  We were discussing that our alma mater is now revising the curriculum for "quality of life" for the students.  We then started commiserating about teachers- teachers who would be fired for sure in today's "Me Too" movement and because of unacceptable behavior that as we started to remember, we agreed that it's good that God gives us memory loss.

Anyways, I have been reading some interesting books lately.  I kind of like historical fiction and non-fiction.  After reading,  Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick, I decided to read "In the Hurricanes Eye".  This historian's take on Bunker Hill was fascinating and had some information, especially about Dr. Warren and Mercy Warren I had not heard before.  It made me want to read another book and learn even more.  My husband and I (and even our 5 year old) have a fascination with history and especially during this time period.  I had always thought about the battle of Yorktown being fought with trenches and on land, but the French Navy really kind of won the war for us.  The Museum at Yorktown and the National Park Service are now putting more emphasis on this fact.  For a woman who grew up in a time when "French Fries" were briefly "Freedom Fries" and traveled Great Britain and France where the museums mostly spoke about their respective contributions with a small tidbit, "oh yeah, the Americans fought in the Second World War too"; it was a good reminder that we all kind of help each other get where we are.

I'm not exactly sure how I first got interested in the book Lilac Girls, but it was quite intriguing and gave me a fresh look at sisterhood, survival and some of the atrocities of the Holocaust in a different way because the characters were well-developed and it was easier to see yourself in their roles.  The author had gone on a tour of a historic home in Connecticut and then delved deeper into the family history.  The first story takes place during the Second World War.  The second story takes place during World War One and primarily in the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.  Between Russian nobility, kidnapping, friendship and more, it's a captivating book that kept me wanting more and helped me relate to people I wouldn't have thought I could have.  Both of Martha Hall Kelly's books are for mature readers, there's not really much adult material per say, but let's just say war isn't pretty.  Nothing gory, but there were some parts that I kind of chose to skim over because I didn't really need to try to visualize those pieces.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Joy in Frustration....

I've been working on a big project for a little bit since I finished my last major project.  My husband and I have been pretty much in crisis management mode since December.  First, a major pipe broke under our house in late November and we've just been going from thing to thing since then.

It was the adoption stuff, then it was my sons birthday, then it was work stuff, then it was getting my licensing stuff done (Kind of silly that I had to fill out a license for something I don't do, in a place I don't work and the form just involved me filling out seven 0's on all the fields that weren't applicable to me).  Regulations just don't make sense.  Then it's been several long days of work as we are fortunate enough that I'm able to take the summer mostly off with my son.

Being off with my son doesn't mean I won't have anything to do; it just means he doesn't get stuck going to Summer Camp for 3 months.  Sometimes going to work seems like a vacation from everything we do (we did quite a walk up a hill last week that my Dad who was with us swore was 3 miles but it was really a mile) just to get free ice cream.  The things we do for summer fun...  My dad in his usual mode said, "I could have just bought an ice cream".  I tried to point out to him, "But it's better when you work for it."  I think my 6 year old and his grandpa were kind of in the same camp.  It's ice cream- whether you work for it or not.

Anyways- the newest thing I'm working on involves me using computer skills I don't have on a old computer that has no space left.  This involves going through 30,000 unread e-mails and trying to clean it out.  Although I don't have time for this, and it's exercising all the patience I can muster, there has been some good.

My son is happy that he gets to just play at home.  He has coined a new phrase, "House Overwhelmed" which apparently means he's spending too much time away from home doing errands and other stuff.  He's a lot like I was when I was a kid and values hours of independent play where he makes up whole stories about his sports figures.  Good for him.

I also have been going down memory lane by cleaning out the e-mails and that has been sentimental. I'm still stuck in my emails from 2015.  There are some that I'm not sure if I responded to and a couple that I just responded to now, 4 years later.  That's what friends are for... Being understanding it could take you 4 years to respond.  Well, wish me luck as I try to navigate technology and am officially feeling like there's no way I'm a millennial.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Parenting with the Beatitudes

Parenting with the Beatitudes: Eight Holy Habits for Daily Living by Jeannie and Ben Ewing is an accessible way to grow in virtue as a family.

It's a good book for reading a little bit each night with your spouse.  Being written by a husband/wife team, it's helpful as it covers both perspectives.  I have enjoyed Jeannie's writing in the past, but it was refreshing to hear Ben's perspective, I think as my husband and I read it we found "both sides of the story" well-represented.

Each chapter focuses on one of the eight Beatitudes.  There is then a section in Jeannie's voice and then one in Ben's voice, followed by a section on either St. Joseph or Mary as they lived that Beatitude.  There is then a section on how to bring that virtue into the home, followed by an action plan, which details age-specific suggestions.  This would be a great work if parents ever had a chance to get together in a book study group.  I might consider discussing just over dinner with friends.  It's very accessible and easy to read.

I enjoyed the section on "needs vs. desires".  I think it is easy for us to blur the lines between the two. Ben Ewing had a good example of "thirsting" for righteousness and that it's far more difficult to desire God's righteousness.  He gave the example of "thirsting" for an impatient driver to get a speeding ticket and having a smug sense of satisfaction, not knowing that it was a parent who was hurrying with their child to the emergency room.  We don't have the knowledge to be judge and jury.

Parenting with the Beatitudes would be a great book for new parents, but also for those who feel they are in the rut or "too busy" phase of parenting.  Full of suggestions and helpful insights, it was a pleasure to read. The book is well organized, with commentaries by both authors.  At only around 150 pages, it is a manageable read.

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