Friday, December 30, 2016

Three Kings

One of my favorite traditions passed down from my family has been keeping the Christmas decorations (and tree) up through Epiphany.  Who wouldn't like Christmas being a little bit longer,  especially when there's not really anything exciting going on in January?

The celebration of Epiphany is when the Christmas season ends and we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings arriving to adore Jesus.

Many people would be able to tell you about the gifts they brought, can you?  Gold, Frankincense and Myrh.  I just recently found out the significance of Myrh.  Gold and Frankincense I think are easy things to think of as Kingly gifts, but Myrh?

Myrh was present at the beginning and end of Jesus' life.  I'm certainly not a Bible scholar, but the more I learn, read and actually absorb, the more intriguing it is that parts of the Christmas Story are precursors for the Easter Story.  Myrh gum comes from the resin of trees and like the gift Frankincense could be used as a perfume.  At the beginning of our Lord's life, Myrh was a gift, at the end, it was present at his Crucifixion, death and burial.  These characteristics of Myrh I was aware of previously, the characteristic I learned of recently is one that piqued my interest as a veterinarian.

Myrh was used as treatment for intestinal parasites.  Wow!  That's kind of cool for this nerdy veterinarian and it also makes sense that this would be a gift for a baby, to help protect and keep a baby healthy.  There are other items in the Bible that refer to intestinal parasites, such as the reason pork was not allowed for the Jewish people to eat.  There was actually human health and infectious disease logic behind some of these Biblical directives.

Sorry if the above grosses you out, but it's definitely a different factoid about Epiphany than what you will find in most places, so consider yourself prepared for Jeopardy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Three Year Old's Mind...

That's a loaded topic.

My son varies from humoring me to making me feel guilty just by sharing his perceptions of things.

He asked my husband over and over in different ways at Mass why Joseph and Mary were Jesus' mommy and daddy and why he was born in a manger.  My husband's response- "Because God wanted it that way."  That was a final word that didn't get questioned, I wish I could use that on his many, "But Why's"

After Mass, as we were sitting in the living room after my son had put the baby Jesus in all the nativity scenes, he started playing with his Fisher Price Nativity Scene.  Oblivious to us, he started doing dialogue that we tried to follow along.  At one point, the Virgin Mary was on top of the Manger, in the spot where the Angel was supposed to be.  My son, pretending to be Baby Jesus, (yes, this is sacrilegious, but take it with the mind of a three year old) was waahing and crying, "Mommy, please come down,"  apparently Mary was saying, "I want to sing and be an angel".  Baby Jesus informed Mary several times that she was not an angel, she was a mommy and she needed to stop singing and get down and be with him.  A little later, as the shepherds, Three Kings and Holy Family all crowded around to see the Baby Jesus, Baby Jesus asked them all to leave because he needed to be alone...  Historically inaccurate, but still a cute scene and if playing this scene makes my son realize that Jesus came down to Earth to be one of us, mission accomplished.

Now for the guilty part.... I periodically multitask to the detriment of getting things done (and to letting the dog back in).  This doesn't work well with a dog who doesn't bark.  While it's wonderful that I don't have an obnoxious, barking dog, sometimes I wished he barked as a form of self-preservation.  Over a month ago I left Dewey in the rain during the afternoon, got distracted and moved onto something else.  My husband came home, he eventually asked, "Where's Dewey?"  I realized I had left him outside and at this time, it was dark.  My husband asked, "Why did you leave Dewey outside in the dark?"  Apparently over a month later it left an impression on my son since he asked, "Why did you leave Dewey outside in the rain in the dark?"  I was adequately guilted again and my husband defended me with, "sometimes people get busy and they forgot things, but don't worry, mommy won't leave you outside in the dark with the lights out."

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's that time of year....

Well, pretty much every time of year is "that time of year" for toxicities.  As discussed in a previous post:   Spot ate Pot? And other toxicities...  Chocolate is most common one people are aware of, but that's really rather dose dependent and is not one that keeps me up at night.  Raisins,  xylitol, anti-freeze and "foreign bodies" are the things that give my heart a flutter.  Also, ham bones and other things that can get stuck in teeth and in the stomach.  One Christmas, I even saw a Jack Russell Terrier who ate a deep fried turkey that weighed as much as he did (sometimes I think dogs' stomachs defy science).  Try to be careful about what is on the counter, under the tree or what your guests feed. When in doubt, keep your dog kenneled or shut in a "safe" place.  There's nothing like a several hundred dollar emergency bill and time in the ER on the holiday to spoil the Christmas spirit.

Not too long ago, I was speaking with my son's preschool teachers and they were amazed that dogs are even more creative than toddlers with what they will put in their mouth.  Oftentimes when we are looking for chocolate and we make a dog "fess up" by inducing vomiting, we will get action figures, hair ties and even once some underwear that no one knew was missing.  I once had a dog come in to be spayed, until her pre-op pain medication made her nauseous and I discovered she had eaten a whole ceramic planter, complete with dirt.  Yep, we delayed that surgery.

So as you get ready for the holidays, make sure you dog proof your house, which is actually one step above toddler proofing...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Giving up and Letting go

The above title may seem like it goes along more with Lent than with Advent.

There are some similarities and disparities between the two.  They are both a preparation time for a celebration of a Holy Event.  The Son of God being born into our world and then being crucified and dying for our sins so we can be born again through Him.  He's kind of a big deal.  It is easy to focus on other things though at this time.

I have found myself trying to simplify things.  The amount of baking, cleaning, shopping and basically worrying about everything being perfect.  It's not going to be perfect.  I'm going to let that go.  I may not get 5 different kinds of wonderful baked goods out to the people I thought I would- I will let that go too.  Most people who truly care about me and I truly care about are happy to have one well-baked, delicious goodie, then to know that I stayed up all night cursing my KitchenAid.  Priorities...  Another mom in my son's class was happy to hear me say, "Really, it's not worth pulling an all-nighter to get baked goods for the teachers on the same day- let's put a basket out and everyone just brings in baked goods when they want to- the holiday will just stretch out the giving."  Not only is my old body getting too old for all nighters, I'm realizing more what really matters- and what doesn't.

At work today, I had a fresh, young idealist I work with asking me why I didn't push more for multiple recommendations for a patient.  He knew I had a plethora of ideas of how my patient's life could be made better,  but I focused on one.  "Why didn't you tell her all the other things you would recommend?"  he asked.  "Because, judging by her responses in our exchange, I think I only have enough relationship capital to spend on one thing."  "Huh?" he said.  "Well, I've gotten to the point where I realize if I convince people I'm right on one thing, they are more likely to listen to me on others, so I save those battles for later."  Further elaborating, "If the one thing I said works, she will come back for more.  If I tell her she is doing six things wrong with her dog, she won't listen to me on any."  As I prepare for our Lord's coming at Christmas, I think I have to adapt a little bit of that psychology to my thinking.  If I can just focus on the celebration and anticipation of our Lord's coming to open my heart and to focus on giving of myself (not my baked goods and other stuff) to others, maybe He will help me work on all the other stuff when I'm ready.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The boundaries between reality and make-believe

It is interesting sometimes to just try to follow my son's thought processes.  The other night, we were talking about Santa, St. Nicholas and why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place.  As we told him we are celebrating Jesus' birthday, he asked, "well then, why do I get gifts?"  We told him that Santa and St. Nicholas bring gifts to children to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  Still slightly confused, I said, "remember how when you go to your friends' birthday parties, you get to take home small gifts or party favors?"  I then cited some specific examples.  "Well, that's kind of what Santa does- he gives party favors and gifts to all the good little children in celebration of the Lord's birthday."  He knew we had taken a basketball to church for a child in need and I think was slightly confused that Santa wouldn't just give everyone tons of gifts, "That's our opportunity to help celebrate Jesus' birthday by giving to others."

He had been playing quite a bit with his Fisher Price Nativity set, and acting out scenes from the Nativity.  A little later, he said, "I don't want to go to Jesus' birthday party (We had explained how Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we would all get together at Church and celebrate with a birthday party).  I was confused, "Why don't you want to say Happy Birthday to Jesus?" I asked him.  "I'm scared," he said.  I couldn't fathom why he would be scared of Christmas, or celebrating a birthday.  Upon further questioning, "I'm scared of the animals in the barn."  Apparently my son thought we were going to the barn to see the Baby Jesus and he was a little intimidated by cows...  After I contained my laughter, I explained that we would be celebrating Jesus' birthday at Church, at Mass, and no, there wouldn't be cows there.  "Yes, I want to go to his birthday party," my son said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ashley's War: The Untold Story

I recently had the privilege of reading, "Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield" by  Gale Tzemach Lemmon.  I was introduced to this story by an interesting podcast, "Smart Women, Smart Power" by Nina Easton.  Both the podcast and the book are very interesting.

There's a lot of talk in the news about women in combat roles, but dating back to World War II (and possibly before), women have been serving the military and putting themselves in harm's way more than people realize.

Ashley's War focuses on telling the modern day story of courageous women by looking at one hero's life, Ashley White Stumpf.  She was a petite blonde Kent State alumnus who was also a Catholic.  Her ultimate life goal was to raise a family with her husband, but before she settled down, she wanted to make a difference in the world.

She joined an elite group in the military called "Cultural Support Teams" otherwise known as CSTs.  CSTs are attached to special forces, such as the Army Rangers.  Their role, particularly in Afghanistan, is to provide access to the over 50% of the population that due to cultural reasons male soldiers don't have access to; women and children.  Not only did they help to investigate and question this population, they also helped to keep them safe.

The author summarizes Ashley's heroism well,  "When Ashley White-Stumpf became an angel, she was at the apex of her life.  She was a newlywed with an incredibly loving and supporting husband.  She had just purchased her first home.  She had a good job and an amazing family.  And yet, Ashley asked, 'what can I do, how can I make a difference?'  Think about that for a minute.  How much better would this world be if every person, at the happiest, most fulfilled point in their life, thought not of themselves, but of the good they could do for things bigger than themselves?"

Please consider thinking about this question and as the political discussion of females in the military is discussed.  Look at the perspective offered in this book.  I found it enlightening and inspiring.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Okay, okay, I will admit it.  When your son's period of defiance coincides with Christmas, it's just a little to easy to use Santa as the carrot and coal as the stick.  While reading my son's book "It's Christmas, David!" my son picked up on the idea that bad children get "coal" in their stockings and good children get gifts.  When the, "If you don't pick this up I will put it away for a week" turned to "2 weeks" and was still ineffective, I got on my phone and told Santa that he might want to be aware that my son was not listening.  This perked him up.

He immediately picked up the toys and got on his phone to Santa, to give him an update and say that, "he did do what Mommy asked."  This scenario has played over a couple of times.  I haven't done the "Elf on the Shelf" because I didn't really want to get into the whole reporting to Santa thing (but honestly, it's probably that it would just be one more thing for me to keep up on).

This is the first year that my son has a real awareness of Santa and is asking us a lot of questions about our family "traditions" and the different things they do and their meaning.  In years previous, the only Advent tradition he really noticed were the candles, (I think most kids are pyromaniacs).  This year he has adapted his Charlie Brown book to a "Advent Book" and after my husband reads our Advent Prayers, my son will pick his book up and say, "Is today the 2nd or the 4th?" as he thumbs through for the right page.  After he finds the page, he will "read" a few words, which sometimes are unintelligible and sometimes really funny.  "If your parents tell you to listen, then you should listen...."

On the car ride into work today, my son was insisting he wanted a different beverage than the one we had packed (milk).  My husband and I were trying to talk in code and apparently in reference to juice, my husband said, "we don't have any B. O. X's".  My son caught on to this and said, "I want a B.O.X."  I immediately became alarmed that my son was now able to spell and our code was broken. "Why do you want a B.O.X?  Do you know what a B.O.X is?"  "Something else to drink," was his response.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Stress

Maybe it's because of the intensity and stress of the election, or maybe because I have adapted a simpler lifestyle, or maybe it's because last Christmas, we overindulged our son and vow not to do so this year.  I don't know what it is, but this Christmas, I just don't feel as stressed.

I started planning for Christmas back in July- presents I was going to make, shopping sales for things for our son, what gifts I was getting for people and shopping sales.  I'm sure this all contributed to less stress this season, but I don't think that's the big reason.  Everything is maybe a little more in perspective for me this year.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf about not stressing about things and not worrying about all the things I'm not.

I'm not the Martha Stewart of Housekeeping.  I like a clean house, but it's probably never going to meet some people's standards.  But you know what?  That's okay.  I was talking with an old friend this week who was stressing about all the things she's not.  I told her I had an earlier crisis this year, upset about what someone else thought of me.   Then I told her, after crying a little, I sat in bed and told my husband, " You know what?  I'm freaking awesome!"

Yes, it was not a humble comment, but I think that myself, like many women focus on the things we aren't.  The way we fail.  The way we can't keep all the balls bouncing in the air.  As a small business owner, veterinarian, Lay Dominican, friend, family member and active member of my Church, and let's not forget my most important roles as wife and mother, I do a decent job.  I won't be getting an award for anything and I'm okay with that.

At the end of my life, I'm not going to look back and say, "I wish I would have spent more time cleaning," or "I wish I would have made Pinterest-perfect cookies."  I will look back and say, "I'm glad I sat at the beginning and the end of the day admiring the majesty of a Christmas Tree with my son and reading to him.  While I'm not using the above to be an excuse for all the things I can improve, (rest assured, I still carry a list with me of ways in my life I could get better and my husband may periodically remind me of some of them).  But instead of focusing on what I'm not, as this "Year of Mercy" has ended and we are moving into a New Year, I'll give a little mercy to myself and try to give more to others.  We are never enough, we are never perfect enough, that's why we are reminded that we NEED God, because we aren't enough on our own.  The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, remember, you are Freaking Awesome because He is BEYOND Awesome.  God has given us the gift of His Son.  This time that we celebrate this year and through Him who strengthens us, we may be "Enough" in Him.  Have a Happy, Peaceful Advent.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Who's The Boss?

As my husband and I were trying to have an adult conversation at the dinner table, my son commands, "Stop Talking!"  He was happily eating his nachos, but did not want us to have adult conversation.  I paused his almost ready to go tantrum and said, "Who's The Boss here?"  He was clearly trying to take over as the dictator that most three year olds are and I simply was trying to ask him a rhetorical question.  He paused, looked around and said, "Duchess!" (our cat).  Both my husband and I had to smile with that (my husband is always stating that the hierarchy in the house pretty much goes; Duchess, "the boy", Daddy, Dewey and then Mommy.

I did get my son to admit that HE was not the boss and that grown-ups are allowed to have a conversation from time to time.  It was kind of funny that this conversation came after an appointment I had earlier in the day which was a 4 year old Tortie.  She looked like a much fatter version of my geriatric kitty.  During the exam, she was hanging out on her "mom's" arms and I was writing.  All on her own, she jumped onto the table and parked it right up against me, prohibiting my writing.  I mentioned to the owners that that was just like my kitty and commented, "although it's strange, your Tortie doesn't have attitude."  They had never heard what is common knowledge in the veterinary profession, Tortoise shell cats are "Divas".  The owners commented and laughed, "Well, she normally is a Diva at home."  Aah, ok, she didn't miss the gene.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why was I out after dark in my pajamas with a toddler?

That must have been what the neighbors were wondering.

I found myself outside, after dark, initially pointing my finger and "fake" yelling at a light as my son watched from his window upstairs.  My husband went through this routine too.  After several weeks of my son being frightened at night and several attempts at trying to figure out what he's scared of (which sometimes shifts around to different things) I think we may have made headway.  At least I hope we did.

After my son initially said it was the neighbors' light that scared him, he then said, "the little guy".   My husband and I looked at each other on the dark street and instantly knew what he was scared of.  At Halloween, one of our neighbors had a little  "scary guy" that lit up and moved suddenly on their porch.  When this happened, I overcame my surprise and acted like it was funny and touched the character and tried to show my son it was nothing to be afraid of.  He looked at me puzzled but nothing more had come of it at that time.

Tonight, as my son said he was scared of the little guy, both my husband and I told him he wasn't there- he was from Halloween and there is nothing scary now, it's going to be Christmas and we are going to celebrate Christmas, there's nothing scary on the porch.  My son, unconvinced, wanted me to show him.  So I walked to the end of our street and down to the house at the end of the next street, in my pajamas on a cold night.  Thankfully the people had their porch well lit (I thought it would be more than weird, but bordering on creepy if I walked up their steps in my pajamas in the darkness of the night).  I showed my son that the porch was empty.  He felt marginally better.  Now apparently, he's scared of something else.  But he can't say his parents aren't dedicated to helping him, where they can, to face his fears.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking a little break from a blog today after a great week with Family and celebrating all we are Thankful for (And Great Food).  Have a great holiday and don't shop too much!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

If I could teach what my 3 year old knows...

So I've spoken on here about ice skating before.  My son is interested in all things sport, and he is amazingly still interested in ice skating and hockey, even though it's a little more advanced (and involves more balance) than a lot of his other sports pursuits.  But let me speak a little more about what my son has shown me.

The other day, it was in the seventies and I knew the ice skating rink in the middle of our town was open.  Perfect, I thought!  If I was going to take my son skating and have to support his weight, what better way to do it than in a T-shirt and without all the winter gear you normally need.  We went down to the ice skating rink and found out they didn't open for another 2 hours.  My son had been really excited, and I felt really bad about not knowing the hours (apparently they change dependent on if school is in session).

I then told my son if he took a good nap, we would go after the nap.  He woke up from the nap and said he wanted to go, "tomorrow".  I knew "tomorrow" we were supposed to have gale force winds and it was going to be 30 degrees colder.  I called up my husband and we made an impulsive plan.  I took my son to the skating rink and he immediately was excited again.  I couldn't put on his skates or mine, fast enough.  He was actually able to walk (and run) in his double-bladed skates.  We went through a period of "wear a helmet, helmet doesn't fit, try another helmet".  Once that was settled, we embarked for several trips around the ice.  Staff members of the rink encouraged my son and I don't remember how many teenagers remarked on how cute he was.  One girl came over and grabbed his hand and was explaining to him to put his arms out like an airplane and bend his knees.  He didn't know what bend his knees meant, so I explained, "like sliding into first base"  At one point, he refused to put his feet down and I was skating around with about 30 pounds dangling between my legs.  Somewhere at this point, I teetered forward.  Determined not to fall on top of my three year old, complete with ice blades, I simultaneously threw my weight backwards and lifted him in the air.  He thought it was the best thing ever.  I wasn't quite as thrilled about totally falling on the ice (I'm actually a decent skater).  A teenage boy came over and held him so I could right myself.  He giggled.  "Falling is fun!"

He then pushed my hands away and began to show a little bit of independence.  At one point, he whispered, "So if I fall I'm not going to break the ice, right?"  I told him with a laugh, "if your mommy fell and didn't break the ice, you definitely can't- this ice doesn't break and you don't have to worry about that."

As he began skating on his own, he told me he didn't want to skate on the edge, but wanted to skate in the middle, "with the fast boys."  He then went into trying to be a "radio announcer" and started calling plays like he was watching a hockey game (and participating).  As he skated away from me, I had a mix of fear and pride.  I was afraid and wanted to catch him when he fell, but was so proud he was doing it on his own and not giving into fear.  Each time I tried to move closer, to catch him, I told myself, "this is what growing up is- you give him space to learn and as long as he's not going to kill himself, you watch".  This was the self-talk I had to keep giving myself- it's so hard to watch a kid when you know they might fall, but they will never grow if you don't give them a little independence and space to learn on their own.  A hard parenting lesson.  At one point I almost cried, I was so in awe of his fearlessness and bravery.  People commented who had been watching us skate for a while how he looked like he was doing so much better.  I told him I was happy that for once I was enjoying a sport with him that I was actually BETTER than his Daddy at.  He laughed at that.  I told him, "Your Daddy can have playing baseball with you and I will take ice skating and hockey any day."

Fearlessness, getting up after you fall and how to be a parent who gives their kid space to learn; these were just some of those things I learned while ice skating, and bonding with my 3 year old.  Priceless.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Saving Money For Christmas... We've saved over $850 this year!

It's that time of year, and this is a popular subject for blog posts, but I'll go ahead and share some of my tips.  My husband and I figured out we have probably in total saved around $600 this year for our Christmas gifts and I've used some of it for birthday gifts and my son's birthday party.

  1.  Credit Card with Rewards.  We have the type of credit card that gives money back.  Every month I take that cash back and put it in a money market account, which earns some interest.  When months are tight, I will use the cash back to help pay the bill, but whenever I'm able I stash that money away to use later on.  We probably save around $200-300 this way.
  2.  Swagbucks- I know I've mentioned this before, but it's pretty cool between surveys and watching videos (which my husband makes fun of me for, but if I kind of watch a video while I"m brushing my teeth or doing whatever and it equates to about $350 a year in gift cards, why not?).  I don't do surveys that ask for too much personal information- it's not worth it to me, but it's sometimes rewarding to offer advice on products and services and think it might actually help with their market research to impact baby food and diapers for the better!
  3.  Ibotta and Checkout 51-  My husband is kind of the "couponer" of the household.  We basically use these programs to get rebates on groceries we get anyways.  As far as privacy rights, I feel you relinquish about the same amount of privacy with giving this information as you do when you have a loyalty card at any grocery store.  You're basically providing companies with information on your spending habits.  You don't have to do every receipt, so you can just do it as you like.  We also try to stay away from purchasing things just BECAUSE you can get an amazing rebate.  Just like a sale on a Pallet-full of food doesn't save you any money if you don't use it.  We've saved about $150 this year this way
  4. Receipt Hog-  This is kind of the same as above, but you can use it at places other than grocery stores, and especially at gas stations.  Great way to earn money just from buying gas.  I've saved about $20 in the past couple months I've used this.
  5. Dicks Move App and Walgreens.  You can actually hook up your FitBit to these Apps.  When I looked into it, I wasn't interested in giving them the ability to track my movement (that's a little too Big Brother for me).  But they use these programs to keep you motivated to exercise (I'm sure they figure the more you work out, the more you will need running shoes and energy drinks and then you're more likely to shop with them).  I've saved about $20 at Walgreens and $10 at Dicks in the past couple of months.
  6. Homemade gifts- this is an obvious one- whether it's giving cookies, homemade vanilla or knit goods, I find that many people appreciate the homemade goodies even more than gift cards or store-bought gifts.  One of my son's teachers actually gave me her shoe size the other day hoping that maybe I'd make her some socks 😉
  7. Planning ahead for sales- This one can get a little trickier- you kind of need to work on your list for people all year through and then plan on what you're going to get them and how low a price you want something to go.  It can definitely save money though instead of waiting for December and full price.
  8. Keeping a stash- I try to keep my eyes open for deals- especially on Children's books (amazon will have sales from time to time) and keep a stash available in the closet so if a birthday party or something comes up, we already have a gift that we purchased on sale.  We still want to try to personalize gifts for kids, but it's fun if I find a book my son likes to be able to share it with others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


A while ago I had a very busy day and wanted to start it out right.
I went to one of my favorite salad places and got an amazing "Spanish salad" with blackened chicken, manchego cheese and a bunch of other great stuff.  I intentionally did not eat it all, realizing that around 3 pm, I would want continued nourishment and it would be a great pick me up.  As I was eating it, a panhandler came around asking for money.  He wanted to buy something specific from a restaurant, or so he told me.  I tried to guard my heart from cynicism and gave him a little change and he moved on.  I packed up my salad and got ready to leave for work.

I started doing internal math in my head, figuring out the bills my husband and I had to pay, and how we would be able to pay for Christmas and all that internal math/budgeting that people worry about unless they are independently wealthy.  As I was in the middle of this haze walking, a middle aged woman came over to me politely.  She was wearing nice clothes, had a suitcase and looked like she could have been my own mom, traveling.  She politely asked, "Miss, may I please have that salad if you don't need it?"  I came out of my "worry zone" and immediately gave it to her.  It was kind of a reflex.  Her politeness and clear need of food kind of shocked me.  She was definitely not a typical panhandler, anyone who would ask for the half-eaten lunch of someone else, not money or any other pleas, was actually a person in need.  I wish I would have talked or befriended her more, but I did have to rush to get to work.  She did me a great service though.  She turned my heart from one of worry to one of gratefulness and before I gathered my thoughts, she took off with, "God Bless you today."  Her need was a blessing to me.  I hope to have more opportunities to return her blessing to others.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Dealing with emotions

I have tried not to do it, but I will go ahead.  Comment on the aftermath of this volatile election.  I'm sure a lot of voters on both sides felt like they needed to shower after they voted.  I personally pinched my nose.  It's been a hard election on our country, all of country.  Families and communities divided, covert supporters, "spys".   I have friends on "both sides" and on both extremes.  It's almost like the Civil War....

Except it's not.  I have intentionally avoided Facebook.  The raw emotions, the anger, the vitriol.  The feelings of despair.  Yeah, I don't have to willingly engage in that.

Let's look at my son.  He's learning about emotions.  His newest saying is, "Don't talk to me."  I'm sure there are many of us who feel that about the election and politics.  I try to tell him, "It's my right to talk to you and it's your right to walk away or say I have a headache, but you can't tell someone else what to do and it is their right to have a voice."  I'm not sure how much of that gets through a 3 year old's brain, but I have to remind myself of this when dealing with the population with different opinions.  We all have a right to talk.  We have a right to be mad, sad, despairing, you name it.  The other side also has a right to rejoice (but maybe not with too much bragging).  It's been a difficult election, everyone has a right to blow off steam, but not at the expense of others, not with rioting.

Just as I tell my son his emotions are valid when he says, "I'm mad that you are making me leave the park" because it is a  legitimate feeling, it is valid for the population and media to share their emotions.  I do feel like our nation is at a difficult, almost schizophrenic time.  It reminds me a lot of times when I'm at work and I grieve with a family when they say goodbye to their four-legged family member of over 20 years and then I close the door and have to rejoice in seeing a cute new puppy just starting vaccines.  It's an emotional ping pong and it's just not healthy.  A couple of days of mourning for the mourners and a couple of days of rejoicing for the happy people and then lets please try to reach an emotionally equilibrium and heal.

The grace shown by our leaders should be a model for how we should behave.  We may differ, we may have wounds from the past, but we need to move forward.  We can choose hope or despair.  I choose hope (and to stay off of Facebook for a while).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Maybe I need to be careful about Charlile Brown

Currently, my son loves Charlie Brown and the Peanuts characters.  He has loved them for a while.  One of the first decorations in his nursery was personalized to him- a Snoopy flag.  He wasn't able to talk at this time, but whenever we went on walks he would point and get excited about the Snoopy flag we would see on his walks and so he has it hanging on his wall.

My son watches the Charlie Brown specials on the DVR and DVD player as often as we would let him and talks about Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the characters often- it was the first movie he saw in the movie theater.  Anyways, he loves these characters.

I found a Charlie Brown book the last time we were at the library- Peanuts- The Beagle Has Landed.  He didn't initially get excited about it, but every night for the past 5 or so nights I've been reading it to him.  It really is rather funny, even for the grown-ups.  He picks up on the lines and asks us to explain them.  His little brain is working at 40 mph.  I try not to use the word "stupid" which is used disproportionately in the book and we try to talk through what happens.

Yesterday, we were over at a family friend's house and they have a little boy, a little older than ours and he was being kind of bossy.  Let's just say he was the male version of Lucy.  My son brought his baseball mitt over to the house because he LOVES to play baseball (and is quite good at it- his teachers at daycare have commented they wouldn't be surprised to see him in the Big Leagues someday).  The boys were playing together and my son tolerated him not being able to say his name (he called him another name).  My son also tolerated several rounds of the "big boy" trying to "teach" him how to correctly throw and catch a ball (trust me, my son is better than I am).  At some point though, there was a breaking point and my son took the ball and hit him square on the forehead with it.  I was kind of shocked.  I made sure the other boy was ok and had my son apologize to him.  I also apologized to the mother and informed her what had happened.  She was not worried at all, her response, "he probably deserved it."

Later that evening, on the trip home, we discussed the situation with our son.  He had found the other little boy to be "annoying" and so that was his response.  We informed him next time to just tell the boy to stop being annoying or to tell his mommy or daddy, but not to throw a ball at a kid'
s head just because he bugs you.  That night, as I read Charlie Brown, I realized that Snoopy in one scene hits golf balls at Lucy.  Hmm.  Children are sponges...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Guest post by Mike

My husband has been begging for me to share this story- which I think is best done by him-

Recently, when we were playing football "hike" on our bed after work/daycare, I "tackled" our son on the bed and tried to convince him that we weren't just playing "tackle", but we were playing "tackle and tickle".  He quickly responded, "No, Daddy, we're not playing tackle and tickle.  I've been watching football on tv and football players don't tickle each other at all!"

As you can see, my hubby is a lot more concise than I am- but thought I'd get him to share it on his own and stick his pinky toe in the pool of blogging.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An assignment for my readers....

This weekend we did my family's annual tradition of going to the orchard to pick out a pumpkin (and more importantly take great Fall pictures).  This was the same orchard my husband and I once went to for our engagement photos.

My son had a great time and it's really great to see how much he changes from year to year and the different activities he "grows" into.  This year he had a great time playing hide and seek in the hay bales.  Not as much of a fan this year as he was last year with the slides and very interested in "shifting" on the combine and tractors they had out for the kids to play with.  We had a great time and it was a reminder of how time flies.

Had a great time celebrating Halloween, but do you know what the even more important holidays are this week?

All Saints Day and All Souls Day!  All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation (so if you are Catholic, try to remember to make it to Mass).  If you're not Catholic, this is still a great time to remember all those who have passed before us.  All Saints Day is a celebration for those canonized by the Catholic Church and also those who are Saints, but not publicly recognized (Anyone who makes it to heaven is a Saint).  The Church's teaching is that you don't necessarily know if someone makes it to Heaven right away (even St. Teresa of Calcutta had to go through a process to get officially recognized), so it's not a bad idea to pray for all of your loved ones, even if you think they were pretty Holy.  Church teaching is if you pray for the souls of people who have made it to heaven, your prayers are not wasted, they will be utilized for another soul in need of prayers.

On the other hand, this is a great time to ask all those saints in heaven to pray for us.  In this time of national anxiety, I think that might be a pretty great idea.  Our Lady of The America's, Pray for us!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Election craziness

I vacillate between worry about the election and a complete, "I'm done" with it all.  There's uncertainty in everyone's future and if you listened to the news and political people you would think whoever gets elected in 11 days the world will possibly end.

I work in an area where many people have opposing viewpoints and I work with people who either agree or agree to disagree.  This is a good thing.  It reminds me the world will go on and most people are just as frustrated as I am by our choices and the hostility in our current political climate.  I also am reminded everyday of the dogs and cats I work with who have no clue as to the partisanship around them and just display loyalty and friendship.  I'm not suggesting we should send our politicians to the dogs, but it restores my memory of what life is like with simplicity and without partisanship.

This election does matter.  It's important that everyone votes and understands the consequences, but should you be getting anxious and worried consider doing the following:

  1. Know that as faith-filled people, "Jesus I Trust In You," can lower your blood pressure and remind you, render on to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.  Think what you will about either political leader, but either way, we aren't living in the time of Nero's Circus and the Roman Emperors.
  2. Read a little about the Founding Fathers.  They may not have had e-mail, but their scandals and drama was every bit as scary as ours.  Even Alexander Hamilton had a rather racy sex scandal.  At least we don't do duels anymore.  This was also a time when we were still known as "The American Experiment".  At least with over 200 years worth of corrupt politicians, we know that our democracy has been through it before.
  3. Consider turning off the TV and going for a walk.  Sometimes it's good to get outside, smell the fresh air, watch the autumn leaves and think of America as a simple idyllic land.
  4. Drink some wine, or hot chocolate, or whatever warm (or cold) drink that makes you happy and be grateful for the little things.
  5. Think about how we are blessed.  Sure, we have politicians who we wouldn't want our kids to look up to.  I'm grateful that I don't have to explain everything in the news to my son.  With liars and language that even my thirty-something self doesn't like it can get rough.  I listened to Francesca Battistelli's song, "This Is The Stuff" on my way home tonight.  If you haven't listened to it, give it a try.  It talks about losing your keys and all sorts of other stuff that is a regular occurrence in many people's busy lives.  It talks about, "this is the stuff that gets under my skin".  It also ultimately comes out with the message, "when I'm in the middle of this little mess it reminds me exactly how much I'm blessed."  Yes, no one wants to deal with all the politics right now.  November 8th (or November 9th if you are the other party, you know republicans and democrats vote on different days, right?  Just kidding...) can't come soon enough.  But we all need to remember, we are blessed to live in a country where we can vote, where both sexes and all ideologies vote and no matter all the dirty tricks and other tactics, we actually do live in a democracy.  Take advantage of it.  Vote and most importantly pray.  Pray for unity and peace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

But Why? A commentary on why answering a toddler's questions can be hard... or entertaining.

I was kind of looking forward to this stage of childhood, the "But why" times.  I was remembering the times when I think I enjoyed sailing with my dad more for the hours of talking to him and him having to answer my questions than I did for the actual sailing.   The constant circle of how things work and why was what kept my young head spinning.
Alas- I am getting older and the time has come and my three year old can outsmart me on solids, liquids and gases.  Do I pull out one of my old physics books that I have kept in the hope I can help him with homework someday?  No, I pull up YouTube and am equally fascinated by the non-native English speaker's rendition.
          Some examples of these conversations I find myself in:

  1. No, it's not ok to be naked in front of the window.  Anyone who is an adult knows the rationale behind this, but alas a 3 year old descends into "Why not?"  "I want to be able to see the moon and not be in my clothes at the same time."  After a discussion and trying to rationalize that quickly evolved into a dumbed down version of Theology of The Body, mixed with common sense, mixed with health class, he ended up coming up with an answer that was reasonable for both of us, "Is this like my book 'God made me special'?"  "Yes, yes that's it, God made you special and not for everyone to see everything.  Works for me."
  2. Warm dirty water on the bathroom floor = not a good idea.  "But why?"  "Because it feeds yeast and bacteria."  "But why?"  Because yeast and bacteria get fed by dirt and warm water.  But why?  Because they are going to have a party in that water.  But why?  Yeast and Bacteria and infection like a warm, moist and dirty environment.  But why are the yeast and Bacteria having a party?  Because they are excited to have a buffet.  But why is that bad if they want to have a party?  Because that's what causes an infection and that's gross.  But why?  Because it injures and destroys healthy tissue.  But why?  Because that's what happens when infection takes over.  I think at that point I distracted him with his Charlie Brown toy and got out of a further discussion.
  3. Mommy needs to drink more water.  "But Why?"  To stay hydrated.  But why?  Because it keeps her body healthy.  But why?  Because your blood needs water to transport nutrients to and from your tissues.  But why?  Because your tissues need nutrients and to get rid of waste.  But why?  Because that's how a body stays healthy.  But why?  You know how mommy needs to measure the right ingredients to make you a cake?  The body needs the right ingredients at the right balance to stay healthy. (I can't remember if that was my exact answer, but typically I've found I can shut off the but why if I start making him think of dessert).
  4. Why we are respectful of heroes.  We were at a memorial and I was trying to explain to him why we need to be quiet, not run and shout.  But why?  Because these people were heroes and we need to be respectful of them.  But what does "respectful" mean.  It means being grateful and thankful for their sacrifice.  What's a sacrifice?  Some more dialogue that was circular happened here and then I came up with, "You know how mommy's and daddy's will do anything they can to protect you?"  "Yes", he answered.  "Well, heroes are like mommy's and daddy's and do everything they can to protect other people.  Does that make sense?"  "Yes," he said, "that makes sense."

I have now come to realize if he's only three now even with three degrees I might just have to get him a tutor and forget about my old text books when he reaches school.  Or I could embrace this time and relearn everything with him.  We will see what time and patience allows.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Small Business Appreciation

A lot of people (especially politicians) talk about small businesses.  They really are the bread and butter of our economy.  Many people are small businesspeople and you might not even realize it.  While corporations may seem like they are slowly taking over the world (including the veterinary world) there are still many small businesses that keep our economy going.  Your plumber, doctor, electrician, daycare provider are all important small businesses.

So I can safely say I never thought I would never be a small businesswoman.  I kind of fell into it.  Initially, it was intimidating, exciting and scary.  I may be pretty good at math, but accounting and tax law is a whole other world.

While my first official employment was for a university, and then corporate medicine, I've worked at (and with) many small businesses.  They actually say my line of work as a traveling veterinarian is a great way to work prior to starting your own clinic because you get to see what works (and doesn't) when owning a small business.

I have had many clients tell me I should open my own clinic.  While I can't say I ever thought about being a small businessperson prior to starting my current line of work, I've definitely thought I NEVER want to own my own clinic.  It's one thing to be a single person, taking on the risk (and rewards) of your own business.  It's quite another matter to be responsible for other people, and managing them.  Human resources is the single thing that would scare me away and providing healthcare for employees in this current climate would also scare me.

I grew up in a business environment, with my dad working with businesses and even having his own business.  I remember watching, as a small child that he kept his struggling business open, even at a monetary loss so that every last one of his employees could get a job before closing it down.  That type of experience leaves an impression.  First, it left an impression of what a wonderful man my father is, but also an impression that this is what separates small business owners from the big corporations.

Supporting small businesses is something I've become more aware of and whether its supporting an artist on Etsy, a vendor at a farmer's market, or just patronizing a local store, I try to consciously make a decision to support small businesses.  Please, as you consider where you do your shopping this season, consider patronizing more small businesses.  They improve our world, one job at a time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Acorn creativity

Sometimes it's tempting to just turn on a TV to entertain children.  Sometimes a parent has to get creative and choose the least destructive of destructive entertainment...

I found myself today with two rambunctious boys on a historic property.  How was I going to entertain them?  They didn't want to throw footballs, they basically wanted to throw rocks at anything they could.  They didn't want to run, talk or play other games, just throw rocks.  First, I transitioned them to- "if you need to throw something, throw acorns."  They struck me as somewhat less dangerous and less destructive than rock throwing-  about 30 minutes of acorn throwing (with brief periods of picking up and piling acorns) ensued.  I then started to wonder if the founding father who the property had belonged to ever sent his rambunctious grandchildren on a mission like this and perhaps that is where some of the mighty oak trees we saw got their start.  Just a thought...

And what did both boys want to thank Jesus for after a long day of adventure, visiting history and eating great food?  "Thank you Jesus, for throwing acorns" , they said simultaneously.

Friday, October 14, 2016

You know your a mom of a toddler when...

There could be lots of things parents could add to this list, but here are some of my unique experiences this week I wouldn't have appreciated without my little one.
  1. You reach into your purse for business cards and you pull out baseball cards.
  2. You're sitting on the floor holding a dog for a heartworm test at work and you realize you have a sparkly baseball sticker on your shoe.
  3. You go to an Imax movie about National Parks and instead of watching in awe at the bicycles jumping over rocks you're grateful your son didn't see it because he would try it at home.
  4. You're relieved when you talk with another mom about dropping balls and balancing things.  She said she's given up on not dropping them and just rejoices in how fast she can pick them up after they drop.
  5. You find yourself laughing at spilled milk.  My son insisted on his sippy cup from when he was a baby  He had bit some of the pieces off of the top and so it was leaky.  I told him that his decision was not a good choice.  He tried it out, got milk all over himself and said, "That WAS a bad choice."
  6. You find yourself explaining the presidential debate.  Even though my husband and I shelter him from most of the stuff going on, he overheard his Dad say, "ooh it's going to get ugly."  "What's going to get ugly Daddy?"  "Two people arguing tonight and they don't like each other and say mean things."  "oh, that is not nice, that is not nice at all!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In the busyness of it all...

What a busy Holiday weekend!  Nothing like post-hurricane (from several hundred miles away) weather for flying a kite.  The last time we were able to get this kite to fly was on the day my husband proposed to me, post Hurricane Irene in 2011.

We've been busy around here, cleaning up for summer, getting ready for Fall and Winter.  Apparently my son loves apple cider and pumpkin toasters with frosting from Trader Joes.  As I told my husband, maybe they aren't the healthiest, but he's not allergic to them and I'd like to get him acquainted with the tastes of Fall.  I'd also like to get him to eat healthier, but apparently he keeps living out every kids dream.  He's allergic to vegetables.  We aren't sure exactly how many for real, but he's definitely allergic to peas and he's allergic to beans "sometimes".  Green beans, bush beans, black beans, kidney beans.  Do you realize how many things have beans in them?  Last night he had some type of reaction to red peppers.  Dear God, I don't know what I'm going to be able to get this kid to eat (My theory about the peppers is that he's not actually allergic to it, but he made such a production over eating them, I think he had a topical reaction).  We will give it another go tonight.  (He's had red peppers numerous times in so many things that an allergy to peppers is unlikely).

It's pumpkin time and clean up the yard time and I will have to get over and clean out our garden which started marvelously and then totally fizzled because the deer figured out how to get in.  I think next year, if I bring myself to do it again, I will get an inside lot, somewhat protected by others and with much stronger fencing.  You learn from your mistakes...

My son is now getting to the age where we can do "art projects" so that is exciting too.  So much going on around here, I will try to keep everyone posted.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

My heart goes out to all those in Florida and the South Atlantic today and they are all in my prayers.

When you hear about people who have not evacuated, consider that some of these people are people who can't go to shelters because they are taking care of animals.  Dogs, cats and others that are not allowed in shelters and horses that are not only difficult to move, but regulations sometimes prevent movement.  To move a horse from Florida, they need a current Coggins test, which takes a veterinary visit and up to 30 days to get a health certificate.  Moving a horse doesn't simply involve getting it in a trailer and moving, it requires much more logistical planning.

I'm sure University of Florida Veterinary School will probably be offering ways to help the animals, I will keep everyone posted.  Not only do we need to worry about the movement of the hurricane with weather damage, scientists have also said there is a possibility the Zika mosquitoes can move north with the hurricane, as well as all the animals moving north (One of the un-publicized effects of Hurricane Katrina was a real increase of cases of Heartworm Disease in places of the country that had never really had it before because of all the animals rescued from the South and transported to other parts of the country).  I just received a notice that ScrewWorm, a tropical disease that effects dogs is now in the Florida Keys, hopefully this hurricane will not increase disease in either humans or animals.

Monday, October 3, 2016

You know you are a tired mommy when....

You know you are a tired mommy when....

1) You forget you put the keys in the refrigerator when you were trying to get your son's orange juice out.

2) You dress your child in clothes for the next day the night before to try to bypass the conflict in the morning of changing out of pajamas.  Your child thinks you are a cool mommy for letting them wear pajamas and other parents don't judge you because they can't tell.

3) You accidentally text your boss, "Remember to tell the teachers not to flush the toilet because it makes a scary noise."  Yes.  This is a true story.  Fortunately boss knew the mommy was so mortified, no response was made.

4) It's hard to stay awake even when you really want to do something and your spouse questions whether you need to talk to a doctor about narcolepsy.

5) You reach Starbucks Gold Star Status over the course of a month.  It's supposed to take a lot longer to do this.

6) You are completely honest with your hairstylist that absolutely nothing that requires any work will ever happen to your hair until the next time she sees you.  Forget the movie star haircut, you're looking for the brush and air dry haircut.

7) You challenge a co-worker on Fit Bit.  She wonders, "wow, why did you get 13,000 steps today, you must be doing something awesome."  Your response- "I'm chasing a toddler- Coming to work to wrestle with large dogs and angry cats is my idea of relaxation."

8) You make a peanut butter sandwich for your son for breakfast and save the "leftovers" for his lunch.

You may be a tired mommy, but even through the sleep deprivation, you know it's all worth it.  Some day, way too soon, your child will let you sleep in late in the morning and you will miss your "tired mommy" days.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The sin of ignoring Lazarus

I heard a great homily a while ago and it really was relevant and it was a very relevant message to life.

If you see something, say something.  When we think of this, we often think of the Department of Homeland Security's messages to prevent disaster.  This great priest was the first who connected that saying to Luke 16: 19-31.  This is the Gospel reading where there was a poor man and a rich man.  The rich man lived opulently.  In today's world, he was probably a foodie who enjoyed Wines of the Month.  The poor man lived at his gate and "who would gladly have eaten the scraps that fell from the rich man's table."  The lack of charity the rich man had was apparent, but what was brought to my attention was that a portion of his sin was his lack of seeing and lack of saying.  What does this mean?

Even after the rich man ended up in the netherworld, he wasn't apologetic to poor Lazarus.  He didn't see the value or dignity in the poor man who was at the bosom of Abraham.

True sin was not seeing Lazarus, not what he did in response, it was his lack of seeing Lazarus as a person and his lack of saying something.  Instead of humbling himself before Lazarus to ask for a sip of water to cool his tongue, he was snapping his fingers demanding that he come, like one hollers for a taxi.  The priest even went farther to say, perhaps Hell is a place where everyone snaps their fingers, demanding attention and part of Hell is that everyone is doing it and hollering so loudly that no one responds.  It is something I could imagine.  I certainly deal with entitled people who think of no one but themselves and demand others to break laws, or bend rules because "they are special."

The rich man though was still in the netherworld with no remorse.  He didn't see Lazarus as a person. How many times do we not "see" people, but "see" what they can do for us, or the role they are supposed to play to get us to the next step in our life.  How often do we utilize people as a way to further ourselves with no thought for them?  I'm sure I am not fully doing justice to the homily I heard, but I have pondered these thoughts over the week and wanted to share them, because in my 36 years of hearing this particular Bible passage, I don't think I've heard a homily looking at this part of the story.  Now the say something part.  When we "see" people, it's not good enough to "see" them, we also need to "say something".  We need to take our witness of their dignity to the next step.  This could mean directly helping them, this could also mean saying a silent prayer.  It means acting.  Not only do we have faith, but we have faith in action.  The homilist said it would have even have been better for the rich man to go into a diatribe about capitalism and working for a living would have been better than saying nothing.

So remember, if you see something, say something.  Faith does not bear fruit without action.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Local Food I

I've been reluctant to endorse organic meat and dairy (as seen in previous posts).  A couple reasons include:

  1. Sometimes cows are in worse shape on "organic" farms because they go without treatment.  If a farmer needs to certify milk organic, they can't use antibiotics for their cows.  While I'm against overuse of antibiotics just like everyone else, there are some painful conditions that benefit from antibiotics, such as mastitis.  Holistic/homeopathic care just doesn't work in the case of some diseases and I don't want to contribute to animals going without treatment.
  2. Industrial farming can still be "organic".  Organic doesn't mean a small farm, or a farm where food is not produced on a massive level.  Industrial organic farming can still have a huge impact on the environment and sometimes take fossil fuel and be environmentally wasteful.
  3. "Organic" doesn't always mean better.  As I've told some people, just because your dog's food is "organic" doesn't mean it's nutritionally sound.  You know they make organic potato chips and I'm sure you can probably get organic french fries somewhere.  Organic junk food is still organic junk food.  Same thing with feeding organic foods to cattle, it doesn't always mean it's nutritionally sound and for the benefit of the cow.  Fecal matter is "organic".  Need I say more?
Reading the book, "The Omnivores Dilemma" seems to fit more with my philosophy.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I do want the animals I eat to be respected and treated humanely.  Furthermore, I'd like to support local farms and sustainable practices.  The author, Michael Pollan writes about "Beyond Organic".  Sustainable farms that go beyond the term "organic" and farm like they did in the olden days.  This does mean your eggs will be $4 instead of $0.97.  While I'd love to buy all my food locally from farmers markets, it does get pricey, but some food for thought would be, when able, buy more locally, when given a choice, pay a little more for responsible farming.  It's worth it and it does taste better!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cute Things My Kid Says...

  • "A drink of chocolate milk will calm my nerves".  We have no idea where he got this from.  According to him it was a Peanuts character.
  • We have been working with him on expressing his emotions instead of hitting or being physical.  Rather than throwing a fit the other day, he said, "Anthony, I'm angry" to his friend
  • He has been intrigued by tarps ever since seeing a baseball game where they put a tarp on the field.  He now has decided, "people need a tarp", "the road needs a tarp," the "bridge needs a tarp".  Basically a tarp protects all things (he was very excited to have a tarp to cover his sand/water table.)
  • After several weeks of rain, my son said, "Daddy, it stopped raining, we can go to P A R K."  Apparently our effort to spell instead of say the word is obvious to both the dog and the toddler.
  • When he had an Oreo last night he said "That's like the Orioles" and now he asks for "A Baltimore Oriole Cookie please."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I had an interesting experience last week.  I was walking down a street I normally don't go down.  I saw an older woman in a wheelchair who appeared homeless and as I have stated previously, I had some gift cards on me for McDonalds to give to the homeless.  I came over to her and the smell of the air around her kind of confirmed to me she was not a panhandler who had a home to go to, but truly a homeless person.

I introduced myself and asked her name.  She kind of seemed startled I asked her name.  I offered her a $5 gift card to McDonalds.  She said she would have trouble getting there, but if I could spare a few moments, could I walk over and get her a Big Mac.  I told her it wasn't quite lunch time yet, what would she like if they were only serving the breakfast menu?  "A sausage biscuit would be great," she said.  I found myself with a few extra minutes.  I had had something I had planned on doing, but it wasn't something I had to do.  I really felt called to go to that McDonalds and get her a sausage biscuit.  I thought about it, rather than take the $5 gift card, she asked for a sausage biscuit which is a little over $1.  I ended up picking up 5 sausage biscuits and two hash browns.  I dropped a sausage biscuit and a hash brown with another homeless man named "Bob" on my way back.  Reverend Mary, as the woman called herself, looked a little surprised when she saw me walking back to her with the McDonalds bag.  We started talking.  She asked if I worked in the area and I said I was a veterinarian who worked all around.  She said she did outreach.  I thought for a moment, "hmm, am I actually helping a homeless person or is she one of those people faking homelessness to start a dialogue or do an expose?"  Again, my nose provided an answer.  I asked who she did outreach for.  She said she did outreach and pointed up to the heavens.  I smiled.  She was doing outreach.  It was a blessing for me to be able to help her and to be reminded of the blessings I have and that I was blessed to be able to help someone like her.

We probably talked for a half hour or so.  I felt like I was being called just to be "present" with her.  She spoke with me about the struggles of being homeless, how many people perceive that most of the homeless were mentally ill.  She told me how most of the homeless had once had jobs and a career and health problems or family problems or other "crosses" in life happened and tore their homes away.  She told me how there are people out there trying to document the homeless.  Many of the homeless have amazing stories.  I worked with a lady in a hospice house who had ended up homeless, but long ago had been married to a Canadian oil baron.  It really is a reminder, "But for the grace of God, go I."  I told Reverend Mary about a quote that is often attributed to Mother Teresa, "God only gives you what you can handle, but sometimes I wish he wouldn't trust me so much."  She got a kick out of that.  She explained to me why she had a newspaper under her hat and that many people think its just because she's crazy, but that it really blocks the cold wind from her ears.  She told me how the homeless are very inventive with the little they have.  I told her it was a blessing to meet her and pick up her sausage biscuits and hear her story and it is a blessing to be able to serve her.

I think because she knew I was a veterinarian,  she discussed her sores and wounds with me.  (I think she had the thought that, as a veterinarian, there probably wasn't much that can gross us out).  Being in a wheelchair and living on the street had been hard on her body.  She told me how she had sought medical treatment but what she really needed was a clean, dry place to stay.  She was very matter of fact and she never asked me for money or anything more than I offered.  She said the homeless shelters don't have enough room for all of the homeless in the city.  I asked her what her plan was and that I was worried she might not make it through the harsh winter.  She said she didn't think she would make it.  I asked her if she had heard of a religious order that had a hospice house.  She had not and I told her more information about it as I had volunteered there.  I gave her the phone number and address and she got a big smile and said, "Wow, you truly are a blessing."

What a gift she gave me!  Far more than the sausage biscuit and information I gave her, I was left with a beautiful feeling of being able to make a difference, no matter how small it was and in blessing her, I felt blessed.  Really, I got the feeling walking away that for all I knew, she could have been Lazarus or an angel and I've failed the test more times than I want to know to help those in need around me, but this day, I did make a difference and I did say "Yes"

to Jesus and I was blessed.  May I say yes to Jesus more often and remember that it brings more of a blessing to serve others than to be shy and introverted and ignore the pieces of the world around me that take me out of my comfort zone.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Kids these days...

I've been lamenting in some ways, "the rudeness of society".  I actually found this in a veterinary forum, fellow veterinarians lamenting that people are just getting ruder.  Someone historically minded pulled up several quotes from the Colonial era all the way back to Aristotle of people perceiving the younger generation as being ruder than the previous one.  That same person said that psychological studies have actually attributed this attitude to "ego" and fear of the stranger.  They found statistically significant  evidence that people are much more willing to forgive/understand rude behavior of their friends and themselves vs. that of strangers.  While all of that information is interesting, I still think our society is becoming ruder.

I attribute the "rudeness outbreak" to our addiction to technology.  I know I'm also an offender.  We are so used to having our phones on us and maximizing our time that instead of waiting in line and actually making conversation with others, we will multi-task, checking e-mails and looking on Facebook.  I'm an offender, I'm aware of this and I need to continue to remind myself to put my phone down.  We have a no phone at the dinner table policy and I think it is a good thing.  Otherwise, we probably wouldn't have as much conversation.

I experienced an awkward situation the other night when I took my son to a Chick Fil A.  He was having a good time and another little boy came running in (the place was crowded, because in case you didn't know, Chick Fil A gives kids free meals on Tuesdays between 4 and 8).  He came in and tore the toy my son was playing with out of his hands and displayed obnoxious behavior.  I looked for the parent.  Nowhere to be found.  What do you do?  Well, when it comes to my son, protective Mama Bear comes into the picture and I told him, "Hey, he was playing with that."  The kid continued to do the behavior and my own son was kind of in shock.  They don't allow this activity at daycare and he doesn't have a sibling to be a brat to him, so he hadn't experienced this before.  I tried to move my son on to a different toy and the kid kept trying to follow us.  At one point, he told me his name and started climbing on me!  I could not believe a kid would do this to a stranger.  Still no parent.  It occurred to me that the kid was being so obnoxious to get attention.  I felt kind of sad for him that he was willing to behave like this to get a stranger's attention.  I tried to console my son and told him, "That's not how we behave and I'm happy to know that you know how to share."  I ignored the kid because it wasn't my role to be his parent and I didn't want to feed into the behavior.

Another little boy was playing nearby and the "Brat" went over to him and started poking at him and getting into his personal space and instigating a situation.  The "Brat" looked at me for sympathy when the victim was fighting back.  I told him, "Give him space, I don't have sympathy for you."  He kept going.  It got to the point that the victim's Mom came in as her son was in full-fledged annoyance with the "Brat".  The mom was mad.  I quietly told her, "It's not your kid.  It's not your son's fault."  She looked at me wide-eyed and puzzled, "Really?"  "Yes," I said, "the other kid is the problem, not yours."  She looked relieved and thanked me and said, "Thanks, because I was about ready to really yell at him."  They left peacefully.

The father came in at one point and told the "Brat" he had 5 minutes left to play.  He was not an abandoned kid, but I think he was probably emotionally abandoned.  I felt sorry for him.  I told my husband when I got back, I kind of felt guilty.  I said, as a Christian, was it my responsibility to pay attention to him and let him know he had value.  He so seriously craved attention and my gut was to give him negative attention because he was such a obnoxious kid.  But I did feel sorry for him.  I did wonder where the dad was in everything going on and I automatically assumed he was probably on his cell phone.  I don't know.  I don't know the situation.  I know they say, "It takes a village to raise a child."  I feel like it's hard for the villagers to help when it really takes a parent to raise a child first, especially in this politically correct world where other parents would probably come after villagers with pitchforks if they thought their parenting was questioned.

What do you think?