Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Birthday Dewey!

Approximately 8 years ago today, my big, goofy dog was born in an undisclosed backyard in Arizona.  He lived with two other owners and then made it to me at about 5 months of age, never having been inside a house (I didn't realize this until I had him in my house and found out he wasn't house trained, then I read his admission paperwork).

While sometimes I might wonder if the first summer of his life spent in the heat of an Arizona backyard might have melted a couple of his brain cells, he's special in his own way (He's the only dog I have known to run into a parked car).

He saved me from snakes (He was snake-trained, I recently found out his training wore off).  He saved me from dubious people at gas stations and even a break-in.  I'm pretty sure his 70-pound body scared those people off.  As my upstairs neighbors said, "we were kind of worried when we heard all the noise and when it sounded like someone was breaking in to your place.  Then we heard your dog and remembered his size and knew you'd be ok."

He's the only mammal in my house without special medical needs or requirements for medication or rehab.  Other than a sensitive stomach, he's the picture of perfect health (unlike my cat).  I wanted to rename him when I got him, but he's really kind of a dufus- so Dewey the dufus kind of fits him.  He's loyal, he gets excited for attention and he has an internal time clock for treats and waking up that beats my toddler's.  My son's athletic abilities and balance I think are somewhat related to our dog's size and uncontrollable tail.  Any toddler who can survive and learn to balance with a bounding, goofy dog definitely has an edge.

Happy Birthday Dewey.  You've been through a lot with me, including my single days when you were the best male friend I could have had.  I'm looking forward to as many more birthdays with you as the Good Lord sees fit.  Maybe St. Peter could put in a good word and say that Heaven isn't ready for the massive destruction your tail causes.... just yet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A nightmare and the boy who called wolf

A while back, my son was crying and crying at night.  He said he had a nightmare.  My husband and I looked at each other and said, "how is that possible, he never went to sleep!"

My son kept telling us he had a nightmare, so he should sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.  My husband looked at me and said, "what should we do?"  I told him to tell our son the story of the little boy who cried "Wolf".  I could tell my husband hadn't told the story before, if ever at all.  It had his own unique features to it.  My son got the message.  After the story was told, my son said, "No, I didn't have a nightmare- I just wanted to sleep in your bed..."  I told him, "thank you for your honesty and because of your honesty, tonight you can sleep our bed."  From time to time, we have to remind him of the little boy who called wolf, but I'm glad at three years of age he is beginning to see the advantage of telling the truth.  If only the logic of truth-telling was so obvious to all adults too...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Scars are like tattoos- except with better stories...

I work in a profession where most of us have scars from our work (I fortunately don't have too many, but there's always a story).  I do have a lot of scars from other things though- klutzy things I've done, stories from my past.  Many of the people I work with have tattoos that either hold meaning to the person's current life- or resulted from a whim that is no longer relevant.

Whether it's a human or an animal, I find it fascinating to find out the stories behind scars.  I do think most of them have more in the story and more meaning than a tattoo.  There was the dog that helped save soldiers from an IUD- and got scars in return.  Or dogs who have been hit by bullets, gored by a deer or in one case- snagged on the grill because she was running wildly around a corner.

When I was younger, I never really worried too much about my injuries scarring- I took them as a badge of honor.  The scars I do have on my face, I guess I kind of mind, they don't stick out too much to others, but there are scars from two jaw surgeries and the more pronounced scarring is where I had impetigo when I was just my son's age.  It's kind of interesting that whether it's myself, my dog or my cat, I don't worry too much about scarring.  When it's my 3 1/2 year old, I do.  My dog and cat don't care about their scars, no one will judge them by them (although my husband might debate me about the temporary tattoo I once put on my dog, but that's another story).

I guess this just kind of goes along with how while I know life's not perfect and stuff happens, the Mom in me wants to protect my kid from anything I can.  My son loves to run when he's on his walks and we just got knee pads and elbow pads from Amazon for the new scooter he's going to be getting for his birthday.  For a brief moment, I thought, "maybe he should wear his knee pads and elbow pads when he walks with us because he always seems to trip."  Then I realized the ridiculousness of it.  I remembered how I can't protect him from everything and he is eventually going to have scars- physical and otherwise.  The best thing I can do is teach him to embrace them, to grow from them and try to at least have good stories to go with them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Does Jesus come on other days than Easter?

That is the question my son asked me.  This was after he decided Easter should happen every day. (It was probably the gifts from the Easter Bunny, the great meal and the Easter Egg Hunt with his best friend that won him over).  I tried to explain to him, Jesus does come every day.  As Catholics, we believe he comes every day in the form of the Eucharist and he is present all around.  I knew this was going to be a hard concept to explain to a three year old, half of adults don't understand this concept very well.

As he was processing, my son said, "does He come even on my birthday?  Even during football season?," he asked excitedly.  Yes, even when our team loses, I thought to myself with a smile.  He pondered this for a while.  "How do I talk to Jesus?"  I showed him the picture of Jesus on our bedroom wall and said, "you can just talk to Him like He's here".  "But He's not here!"  he replied, "That's just a picture."  I thought for a moment and said, "you know how you can talk to your grandparents on FaceTime and they can see and understand you but they aren't right in the room with you?  You can talk to Jesus like that."

At least he's not at the age right now to point out that there's absolutely no reference in the Bible to FaceTime.  I told him, "when Mommy and Daddy receive the Eucharist, we are able to receive Jesus and you will be able to when you are older too!"  I'm not sure how he sorted everything out in his mind, but he went on to pray right in front of me, looking at the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the image my grandmother passed on to me with her devotion.  I had faith that my son would sort it all out some day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Art appreciation through Histology

My mom was great when I was younger (and as I got older) to expose me to great works of art, music and theater.  When we were little, we would go to musicals and plays and I would often fall asleep (one family friend remembered this many years later and remarked that we always wore "fancy pajamas" because we'd wear cute dresses but fall asleep).

We would go to art museums and see great works of art, my mom was especially a fan of the Impressionists (Monet, Van Gogh, Degas).  I never would have thought that 20 years later, I'd be leaning over a microscope and thinking how that microscopic tissue actually looked like a great work of art.  An appreciation of art and knowledge of science is a actually a great way to integrate beauty.  Histology is the microscopic study of tissues, such as from biopsies.  It can be used as a way to diagnose disease and also to learn more about the function of the body.  To me, it was a reminder that one creator made us all and beauty can transcend function and utilitarianism.

One of my favorite quotes, by St. John Paul II, is, "Science is the How and God is the Why".  Science and religion, right brain and left brain can live in harmony and can be beautiful each in its own way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I almost didn't post today....

I had one of those days today.  One of those days where everything that could go wrong does.  One of those days where someone was so difficult I wanted them to be escorted out by police.  One of those days where the only way I was able to deal with a difficult person was by pausing to say a "Hail Mary".

Yet there were also gifts in this day...  one of the people I work with who is normally negative, was positive!  A specialist I work with went above and beyond to try to lighten my load.  My husband had a hot dinner for me.  Perhaps I had "one of those days" so I could remember to be thankful for the blessings I do have.  Just a thought.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Lesson for Mommy from her little swimmer

As I've spoken about earlier, I realize how one of the most important and difficult parts of parenting is allowing your child independence and overriding your drive to protect from EVERYTHING.  Sometimes parenthood is anxiety-provoking.  There are definitely things I protect my son from, but it's sometimes a hard decision to know when to step back and when to step in.

A while back, I got a membership at a gym and one of the reasons I picked this gym is they have lots of activities and classes for kids.  This is ideal, so while I get to work out, my son gets to play basketball or soccer or whatever class they have.  The first class there was some confusion and my son ended up in language arts instead of basketball.  He was NOT happy about this and did not want to go back to the "Sports Club".  The next time, I coaxed him to try it out again and tried to stay a while and make sure he got to where he needed to be.  I maxed out the "parent stay time".  I came back to pick him up and told him I couldn't stay in watch so he needed to come with me or I needed to go away.  "Go away," he shouted at me.  I was actually happy about that because I knew what I intended had happened- mommy and son were having fun and getting exercise.  He has subsequently told me to "Go away" even when this is not necessary and I could stay a little and watch his class.  He learned independence is fun and he doesn't want his mommy to pick him up early.

Included in the gym membership were a couple of swim classes for him.  We normally take him to swimming class at our community pool where it's most likely my husband (or occasionally myself) going into the pool with him.  He's not always compliant or thrilled about this.  I wasn't exactly sure how the gym swim classes were going to go because they don't have the parents come in.  I arrived early with my son to the pool and actually played with him for about an hour in the water.  Then he went over to meet his new teacher and I was a little alarmed that they actually put these three year olds in the deeper swim lanes which are well over my sons head.  They put the kids on these underwater platforms and they swim from platform to platform.  I definitely didn't want to leave my kid on that platform.  Everything in my mommy gut says that you don't leave your kid unattended near deep water.

Just as I'm sure the mother goose has to put things in nature's hands and hope that her offspring has the self-preservation skills to learn how to swim, I had to trust that my son would know well enough to not jump off or let go of the platform.  Knowing my son well enough, and knowing he doesn't even like to get his head wet gave me some assurance he wasn't just going to jump off the platform, but it was still nerve-wracking.  As I saw him playing with (and flirting with) the two little girls in his class, I saw him having fun and more importantly I saw he had a good grip.  My son at some point is going to have to learn how to swim, just as he is going to have to learn how to drive and I'm going to have to hope that the way I have raised him and the small increments of independence have taught him his mom is not a ball of anxiety.  I hope he learns the anxiety I do pass on to him is a form of self preservation and protection.

And about learning how to drive- I humored someone last week when I told them I had a plan for assuring that my son does not text when he is driving.  They also were nervous this would be something their child would do- my solution- give him a car with a stick shift.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Great Birthday!

I had one of my best birthdays today, I think.  As mentioned previously, one of my best friends was in town.  She's one of those friends who you can count on to always speak truth to you.  She and I are diametrically opposed on the political and religious spectrum (you know, those two issues that people should never talk about in polite company).  We just get along great and can still talk about those issues, still totally disagree and still totally enjoy a Margarita together.

She helped me on Saturday set up my garden, placing fencing and weed cloth.  Thankfully, she's like a foot taller than me (maybe not quite, but she is definitely 8 inches taller than me).  This is very helpful in placing fence posts and helping reach things in the kitchen.  We made lettuce wraps and Pad Thai on Saturday (two things my boys would not make for me on their own).  We had a great day yesterday hanging out at the pool and going to our favorite Mexican restaurant and today we went into the city for coffee, walking, a good lunch and, then, pedicures.  Lots of chatting, catching up, and supporting each other.  Randomly, someone was handing out chocolate chip cookies on the street, and we got to enjoy those too.  We picked up my son early from daycare and even though he had his pick of plenty of fun places to go to, he picked the park.  We ran and played and then we moved onto the fountain that he calls the "ice cream fountain."  We then met up with my husband and walked over (it was actually nice weather until the very end of the day) to our favorite taco place.  What happened as we walked over to our favorite taco place?  The man who I told you about a while back, the homeless man who is always pleasant and says "God Bless," he was back on his bench.  If you hadn't read an earlier post "Be Positive" you might not know what I'm talking about, but a couple of weeks ago we had found out he had been hit by a truck and hadn't come back to his bench.  Well, I talked with him today and he has a cast on his arm and apparently is recovering ok.  He was happy to see us, say Hi, get a few goodies, and say "God Bless" again.  I really truly did feel blessed today.  With my husband, son, good friend and all the well wishes from all of my family and friends and even people I haven't heard from in a long time, I felt very blessed.  Reminds me of the Martina McBride song, "Blessed." I have been blessed!