Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An Inspirational Monsignor

So, as usual, today will be an eclectic topic (because I'm an eclectic blogger, of course!)

Earlier, I had wanted to blog about our Monsignor at our parish.  So, I will talk about him for a little bit and his inspiration and how that intertwines with this veterinarian, Mother Teresa and the Homeless.  Intrigued?

Monsignor is an 89 year old priest who regularly does daily Mass and is frequent on the weekends too.  As far as I can tell, he does a close to equal amount of pastoral work as the other priests and especially for his age.  He's "retired," but I don't think he knows what that word means.  He was inspired by and an acquaintance of Father Aloysius Schwartz, who is on his way to canonization.  It's not too often you know of someone who knew a potential Saint.  He's also a wonderful priest.  I love going to children's Masses where he presides.  I still remember one where he quizzed the children, "Who is the Bishop? Who is the Pope?  Who was the Pope before that?  All the elementary schoolers eagerly raise their hands and try to get his attention.  Happy with how many elementary schoolers knew the answer, he asked a tough one, "Who was the Pope when I was your age?"  Without losing a beat, one of the elementary schoolers said, "Peter".  Monsignor said "Peter?", and the student said, "The First Pope."  Monsignor laughed as the whole congregation got a little smile that morning.

I had told my husband a little while back that I didn't want to go to Confession with Monsignor, as unfortunately, his hearing is not very good.  I informed my husband, "Even though I'm a repentant sinner, I don't need the whole church to hear my confession."  A couple days later, we found out that Monsignor had a stroke during Mass.  He was rushed to the hospital.  As we talked with others in the Parish, we assumed he would be out of commission for a while to recover.  Even at a younger age, it takes a lot of time to recover.  I also thought, "if that was me, I think I might just say, I'll take a little recover time, read some books and take it easy for a while."  Were we surprised to see him, that next Sunday, just a week later, celebrating Sunday morning Mass.  Wow!  At 89, to recover and just have the willpower to get back to work, we were both amazed.  We are very happy he can share his gifts with us still.  He showed us a true love of God and his vocation.

Stay tuned for Part II on Friday.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chaos and Comisseration

Fellow parents in the trenches.   The following is the chaos that occurred earlier this week...

 My husband and I had a rough night earlier this week.  Basically, just as we were nodding off a smoke detector noise (the low backup battery noise) started going off.  This was after our son was sleeping soundly.  Next, followed the search for what smoke detector it was, along with an incredibly nervous dog.  I thought his thunderstorm anxiety was bad.  Apparently, his alarm anxiety is worse.  I often find in the exam room the bigger the dog, the bigger the baby.  The cat was annoyed at the noise and if she could, would have given it an obscene gesture.  I'm sure if we had a terrier, it would have tried to attack the monitor.  What does our 65 pound dog do?  He tries to climb in the toddler bed (the same bed I'm trying to keep my son asleep in.  What ensued ended up becoming a rodeo-style wrangling for both my husband and I, and of course the toddler woke up.

Everyone was grumpy.  We ended up figuring out after almost every smoke detector was removed and inspected on our top floor that it was the carbon monoxide detector.  My husband changed the battery and the thing was still going off.  I was about ready to chuck it through the window.  Anyway, everybody tried to get back to sleep.  Somewhere in the night the toddler got up and got into our bed, everyone was restless and my husband and I were being battered.  It finally resulted in my husband saying he was going to sleep in my son's fire truck bed and then a mattress coming into our room and my son confessing to my husband he didn't care where Daddy slept, he just wanted to sleep with Mommy.

I ended up in the guest bedroom with my son,and at this point he stopped battering me.  When we went in to childcare that day, I mentioned something to the director about tips for getting my son to sleep in his bed.  She responded with an equally exasperated, "Yeah, I'm definitely not one to talk about that, tell me if you find the answer to that question."  The facial expression and emotion conveyed immediately made me feel better this season is not a parenting fail.  It is a season and we will get through this and in the meantime, there's good coffee in this world and fellow parents in the trenches.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

Time to get back to being grateful....

1) Gorilla Glue.  Never knew this would make my list.  So, my son had his first episode of damaging something in a temper tantrum.  He tossed a ceramic coaster that had an image of my university painted on it.  I was mad, but stayed calm in the incident (and was somewhat surprised it wasn't as strong as I thought it would be).  Instead of yelling at my son, I immediately went looking for glue and realized that all of our glue in the junk drawer had solidified.  My husband disappeared downstairs and came back with gorilla glue.  "Gorilla Glue?" I asked?  I thought I had banished the product from the house!

Ok, you might think I'm crazy for being ok with baseball bats, hockey sticks and soccer balls in my house, but banished items are grapes/raisins, lilies and gorilla glue.  Grapes/raisins and lilies were covered in the discussion Toxins.  Gorilla glue.  Ok, gorilla glue to me is more lethal than marijuana, chocolate and even grapes.  It is LETHAL and once ingested the only way it comes out is surgical.  Long ago, when I worked in emergency medicine I saw a couple of cases where dogs ate gorilla glue.  Ok, you might think it's not that bad.  It is.  What happens is it expands in the stomach and basically ruptures the stomach.  Let's just say a stomach explosion is worse than a dog eating a sock and it getting stuck.

Apparently, my husband told me, my father in law bought the gorilla glue a while back to repair something for us.  Either I told my husband to get rid of it at the time or he already knew my feelings on gorilla glue and he had stowed it away in the garage.  Well, it works and it helped teach my son when something is broken, you fix it and prevented the stone from wearing further.  A fly on the wall probably would have laughed though at how "cautious" we were with a small bottle of glue and how immediately after use my husband ran it right back out to the garage.

2) American Wife.  With the help of the library and having a little bit of downtime between things on my hands, I've been reading more.  I read American Sniper by Chris Kyle and then American Wife by Taya Kyle.  They were both good, quick reads.  It also helped me put in perspective the sacrifices and trials other people go through.  It, as well as my staycation, (see below) came at just the right time when I was becoming more cynical about rude people in this world.  As I told my husband, when I interact with military clients and their families, I thank them for their service and they are typically the most polite, appreciative people I deal with.  I am thankful for their service and grateful for the sacrifices they make.  As I was talking with a pregnant friend recently who was wondering if it is a good thing she is bringing another soul into this troubled world, I reminded her that her baby is evidence God has not given up on us yet.  Similarly, the fact that good people are still sacrificing and giving of themselves for this country makes me also hope that God has not given up on us yet.

3) Staycation.  I'm taking a little staycation right now and while going away on vacation with family over the summer is great, it's also great to be able to stay home and get stuff done and just have fun around our area with my son.  Parks, fountains, waterfalls without stress = remembering what it is to be a kid and it is good.

4) Husband who realizes clutter = stress.  My husband has figured out that clutter = stress for me.  It's an ongoing battle and we both fight it on our own battlefronts, but he has realized that sharing with me his efforts and making inroads in the fight makes me a happier person.

5) Air conditioning in the car.  While my husband and I were not able to fix the air conditioning in our car, my parents were very kind and especially my mom to drive her extra car down so we can use it for the remainder of the summer.  I can survive driving on highways in Michigan at 50 mph with the windows down, but traffic jams on the East Coast with 110 heat index, well, it's purgatory.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Skip Day

My husband and I try to periodically take a "skip day", where I don't schedule work and he takes a vacation day in the middle of the week.  In our busy area, it's fun and definitely has its benefits to do popular attractions on a non-weekend day.  The park we went to today normally has a 30-45 minute wait just for a parking spot and is normally completely crowded.  On a Thursday morning, it was pretty empty, empty enough to hear the birds chirping and to go toddler speed on the trails.  My son had a great time and talked about the "awesome puddles" and the "baby waterfalls and big waterfalls."  A mosquito laden path became a new adventure and mom and dad didn't have to worry about all the weekend activities or waiting to get out of the park or fighting the crowds.  It was a beautiful park and a beautiful day and makes me glad that my job situation has changed where I have the flexibility to take a "skip day".  I think skip days are important for us all to step off the hamster wheel and enjoy the beauty of life arou
nd us.

My son had had a temper tantrum yesterday that had lasted on and off for over an hour of grumpiness.  It involved me asking him to pick his baseball players off the floor because I kept tripping on them and was worried they were going to get broken.  He said, "No" to me and I told him if he didn't pick it up, it was going to get put away for at least a couple of days.  When I followed through with that action he got very upset and started hitting and kicking.  I just held him and told him I was sorry he was grouchy but that's the way things are.

He came home from our trip and asked my husband if he could get them out of the closet.  My husband reminded him of his behavior before and he took it like a good boy.  He knew why he couldn't play with his baseball guys.  He then went on to tell us, "I'm happy, I'm not sad, I'm happy we went to the park today."  It's always nice to get a little positive feedback after a rough parenting day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


You wouldn't believe how many times I have heard someone say that either they, or their son or daughter, want to become a veterinarian because they prefer animals to people.  There are even many individuals who have made it into my profession who have the same opinion.  I've touched on this topic before, but I feel as I get older, I'm starting to prefer even the most vicious chihuahua or feral cat over the rude person.  And for anyone who thinks that being a veterinarian is for those of us who don't like people, don't do it.  Being a veterinarian is a mix between being a doctor, a retail sales person and a psychotherapist.  It's not for the faint of heart or those who don't like people and for those of us who do like people, it makes me want to be able to prescribe valium for everyone in the room sometimes...

I'm going to risk sounding like an old curmudgeon, but I do feel that as our society changes and becomes more focused on our phones and gizmos, we are less focused on relationships with others.  Look at the latest Pokemon craze, or how many relationships are carried out on Facebook.  Our society and dependence on technology is moving us to not become as cognizant of our everyday reactions.

Last week, I had two experiences that put me on the edge of wanting to go back to a time before the cell phone, maybe even back to the Edwardian era (as long as I can be in a Downton Abbey- type family).

It started with being in an exam room with a woman who was frustrated with her dog's medical condition and wanted him to be better ASAP.  I understood her frustration and as I was explaining to her the treatment plan, she picked up her phone and began talking to her husband's coworker.  After I heard her telling the coworker that he needed to get her husband to pay attention to her e-mails, I left the room horrified.  How rude!  I wanted to tell her to go ahead and make another appointment at a time that wouldn't interfere with her schedule.  She went to the front desk and then asked what she was supposed to do next and to see the doctor again.  Instead of saying what I wanted to,  I pulled up all the patience I could muster.  I then said, "I'm sorry if I'm redundant, I understand you had an important phone call and I will repeat what we were talking about."

The next day, we went to a baseball game and when I was beckoned to come to the cashier to place my order, she kept looking at her cell phone, I had to repeat my order and then the cashier walked off.  I stood for over 5 minutes until someone figured out what was going on and reached under the cashier's station for my $6 hot dog.

It was kind of like two smacks in the face.  Do you think our society is becoming rude or are we just talking about it more?  Please leave comments on your opinion.  Sorry for the complaints today, but even though I deal with rude people fairly regularly it seems like its starting to hit a new low.

Friday, August 12, 2016

"Bad parents"

The title of this post is misleading...

I found myself admitting to my son's daycare yesterday something I thought that had probably been obvious by my son's lack of sleep the night before.  I asked his teacher if my husband had told her that we had kept our son up late the night before.  She said she had no idea.  I said, "yes, we're probably bad parents, but it was fun."  I went on to tell her how after work we went out for burgers, chicken wings and shakes and then went to play putt-putt.

Unfortunately the first place we went to had closed.  My son didn't realize this, he kept saying to me "button, button" with legs and arms flailing that he wanted out of his carseat.  My husband and I look at each other and try to think of another nearby place to go.  It's near 8 pm, my son's bedtime.  I frantically search my phone and for some reason my phone's location kept getting stuck on Ohio.  No, I did not want putt putt places in Ohio.  My husband then remembered a different option.  A place that was combination driving range, putt-putt and bar.  They were open to 11pm.  We drove with a mission.  Since we both drove from work we were in two separate cars.  I didn't want to go through a yellow light, so I was a little behind my husband.  Apparently when they got to the putt putt place my son didn't want to wait for mommy and wanted to go straight to the green.

We played and had a great time and didn't get home until way later than his bedtime...  I thought this would be apparent to his teacher, but apparently he was in good spirits and did share that he played putt putt, but not that his parents kept him up on a school night.  The childcare center's director also heard this conversation.

Apparently, the next day, she asked if next time her family (including a classmate of my son's ) could join us.  Apparently keeping up a kid late on a school night doesn't make us that horrible of parents...

Monday, August 8, 2016

A strong-willed woman an artist and more...

What do a beautiful woman who tried to make herself ugly, a poor humble friar, a woman who in loose terms, told the Pope to "man up", a 24 year old handsome young man and a extremely talented artist whose work appears in most major art museums with images from the Rosary have in common?

Here are some more hints to the question:

1) The group they belong to are well known for their love of wine from the very beginning.  See the following article (spoiler alert: you will find out the group I'm talking about as soon as you click on the link)  Wine Lovers

2) Founded December 22, 1216.  Yes, this year is their 800th Anniversary

3) Legend has it that the founder's mother had a dream about a dog leaping from her womb with a torch in its mouth and spreading fire to the Earth.  This may be one of the reasons this group is sometimes referred to as the "Hounds of The Lord"

4) The group is known as the "Order of Preachers"

Why, they are Dominicans of course!  Their names in order of the above description include: St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, Blessed Pier Giorgio FrassatiSt. Catherine of Sienna and Blessed Fra Angelico.  There are well over 300 Saints and Blesseds that belong to the Dominican order.  St. Thomas Aquinas is also another famous Dominican.

Who was St. Dominic and how is he relevant today?  Well, I will give you a layperson's "readers digest" version of his story.  He was born in the middle ages, in times of great turmoil, when Spain and Europe were being overtaken and there were wars and more wars between Christian Europe and Muslims, the time known as the Crusades.

St. Dominic didn't fight those battles though.  Instead, he fought against the Albigensian heresy.  St. Dominic in more detail.  Now the following is an oversimplification, but let me go ahead and phrase it this way.  The Albigensian heresy were people who thought: "Spirit good, body bad."  While you can probably figure out that there are some religious groups today that believe that, the ones who think the body is where all sin comes from and people don't have control over what their body does, etc. as well as those who rationalize that whatever the body does/decisions it makes it doesn't matter because the spirit is good and has no control over the body (could be a comparison to some New Age beliefs).  Today, in our society one could argue there is another type of Albigensian heresy where instead of just the spirit mattering and not the body, the opposite is true.  Who cares about the spirit and just do what the body says because there is no spirit and we just live in the now.  Catholic teaching teaches that; Jesus came to us as divine God and Man, son of Mary, so thus, he redeemed us both body AND soul.  This has so many implications.

St. Dominic didn't fight this heresy on the battlefield, he fought it in taverns and on the street, wandering through Europe, teaching, listening and instructing and he calls his followers to do the same.  Dominicans search for Truth, they search by academic study, conversation and more.  Their 4 pillars include Prayer, Common Life, Study and Preaching and this is how they divide their days.  Dominicans can be Priests, Sisters, Friars and Lay people (meaning just like you and me, I am a Lay Dominican, as a matter of fact).

I once heard a joke where a priest said he wanted to "live like a Jesuit and die like a Dominican".  Well I won't comment on the Jesuit part, but the Dominican part may be because the Dominicans, "look after their own" and many others of course.  A Dominican trait is to daily pray for their deceased Dominicans and St. Dominic actually told his friars that he would "do far more for them when he died than he did when he was alive."  There are MANY wonderful books much more scholarly than I am who share oodles of information about St. Dominic.  Please consider reading them.  There's also a great podcast on Catholic Answers Focus which is a great interview of Kevin Vost, a Dominican biographer.  Some other links have been included above and basically you can google any of these topics for more information.  

Hopefully this blog has lit a small fire to your desire to learn more about Dominicans!  Happy Feast of St. Dominic!


Friday, August 5, 2016

A close call...

Today I took my own kitty in to the radiologist.  I x-rayed and ultrasounded her last week and today was the trying to find out what her liver nodules are.  My husband, ever the optimist thought that her symptoms were just due to her being boarded and grumpy with us.  I'm not exactly a pessimistic person, but in my line of work a 16 1/2 year old cat with intermittent vomiting is not a good thing.  We don't know the results yet of the diagnostics today but I am hopeful that my husband is right after all.

My kitty has gotten a little extra attention lately (she got to sleep in my bed last night and a lot more treats).  Hopefully this cancer scare is just a scar
e, but it gives me even more empathy for my clients. Fortunately she's not too sick at this point, but I do see a lot of patients whose owners, in denial, wait to seek treatment.  If they wait weeks or even months with the feeling that their pet might have cancer or another disease and at that point even if it's a treatable disease it can sometimes be so late.  So if you have a sneaking suspicion you, or your pet might have something bad and you choose not to go to the doctor or the vet, think about it.   Your denial isn't really doing anything and if you go to the doctor or vet, you might be surprised to know it's something with an easy fix, or you will have the knowledge to take on whatever awaits you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How my car's AC can change the election.. Just kidding.

Both my husband and I are not enamored with any of the current presidential candidates.  I'll spare a political discussion and just say between the current political climate and the different things occurring in our world and society we are a little anxious.  We aren't typically anxious people.  We've both kind of gotten tired of watching the news as it often seems depressing or disheartening.  So we decided we wanted to do some type of fasting to ask God to turn this election (and our hearts) whatever way He wants to and to work through whoever our nation picks to keep us safe and build a better future.

We decided we would give up watching television in the evenings on the weekend.  We thought we would do this up to the election and offer it as a sacrifice, in the time-honored way of doing penitential acts as a form of prayer.

Little did we know that our car (Big Blue), not the new one, but the car we did not choose to trade in, would have a leak in the air conditioner.  A leak in such an inconvenient place that the cost of repairing the leak would be worse than the value of the car.  I have elected to drive the car most of the time, but days, such as tomorrow I will be in the car for about 4 hours, so my husband and son will take it.  (Thankfully our heat has calmed down a bit).  I have spent time in India and Arizona and Mexico.  The hottest, most uncomfortable heat has to be the Mid-Atlantic and India; it may be a toss up.  In India, you at least have delicious fresh mangoes and spicy food to help deal with it.  It may be a long August for me.  Hopefully not.  I have chosen to put my discomfort and sacrifice into God's hands.  What uncomfortable or penitential act might you do this election season?