Friday, August 18, 2017

Resilience

My family and I had a wonderful vacation out West.  Along with the wide-open spaces and exploring the natural beauty God has blessed us with, were some observations about my loved ones.  When it comes to friends or family, nothing says learning more than spending 5 days in a row of early mornings, full days and late nights...

Sometimes it can seem like a pre-schooler is a bipolar person.  There are highs and there are lows and they can be interspersed pretty close together.  A temper tantrum can become laughter and laughter can quickly devolve into unexplainable crying.  It's an emotional roller coaster there is no medicine for.  It was a reminder to me that controlling emotions is a learned and practiced ability and not an innate expectation.  As I tried to keep my cool with my son's unpredictable changes, I was reminded of the fact that many adults can't keep it together either.  Hopefully my steadfast patience would lead to a well-conditioned, even tempered adult.  In an interesting irony, on our flight back home I kept getting kicked in the back of my chair repetitively.  As I tried to avoid the evil glares I wanted to shoot back, I thought, "well, maybe it's an autistic young kid, or a small child that doesn't know better."  I tried to be understanding and offer it up.  I was somewhat surprised to learn when I got off it was a perfectly normal looking woman who was my age or older.  Well- we never know anyone's story and if I'm going to teach my son to be patient and not judge- the buck stops here...

Back to learning a little more about my son.  We had a Monday with a wonderful hike (which my son actually walked the whole 2.75 miles until a stumble and a nose bleed which I will write about next week).  Then Tuesday came and we were all set to head north to a beautiful town with a lake and my husband was looking forward to exploring the town with us.  Unfortunately, not even 5 miles away from our start, my son got sick.  We are talking fairly epic, clear the car out sick.  Ironically, I had to get lab work, and I asked the lab worker for a bag to put the soiled clothes into- she gave me a giant red biohazard bag- couldn't be more appropriate.  My husband and I tried to figure out how sick my son was.

This can sometimes be hard to reason with a four year old.  How sick are you?  You look sick, but was that just a passing thing, or the beginning of something more?  My son told us he wanted to go on with the planned trip, but obviously some modifications and a trip to Walmart needed to be made.

New shirt, shorts, socks, soda and wipes were purchased.  I also made a trip down the pet aisle and told my husband I was looking for a litter box so if he got sick again the rental car would hopefully not take the full brunt force.  The litter boxes were a little expensive and fancy for the purpose I was looking for, but I found a animal feed tub and it seemed to suit.  There was a clerk stocking shelves in the aisle and I can still remember her face as she heard me ask my son, "So- you think you could puke in that if you have to."  Yes- a little crude, but to the point.

We made it up to our destination and parked at the city beach.  My son was happy and I told my husband he would have to eat lunch alone and then bring me some, because I was confident taking our son to a restaurant would be a bad idea for all involved.  My son, my little sick boy was soon running around the beach, trying to take his shoes and socks off and walk in the lake which was COLD.  We were not far from the Canadian border and he just wanted to be in the cold water.  I tried to play along as I imagined the cold water probably felt good to him.  He played for hours.  We even built a sand castle (a couple of times, as I found out he prefers to destroy sand castles more than building them).  I even found out that the feed bin doubled up as a great sand castle builder.

My son and I could have easily written the day off as a day of sickness and just staying in a hotel room- but instead I actually got a day at the beach at a beautiful mountain lake- can't ask for much better than that.  My son was soon hungry and stated he wanted pizza- we avoided that and we avoided further illness and my son taught me that even though he can be very whiny and demanding- he can also buck it up and have a great time- kind of like his mommy, I guess.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New School Year Hopes

It's kind of silly how excited I am to be getting a new planner soon.  As I was purchasing some supplies for my son, I asked my husband if I could make a purchase for myself.  As an independent contractor, I make my own schedule with over ten different locations a year, spread across a couple of states.  It is an inconsistent schedule and with being a small business owner, I have invoices and accounts receivable and occasionally the role of collections officer.

Besides that, I have a couple of side gigs I do, my role in my Dominican order that, since I've become fully-professed seems to be increasing, my role on our church's Respect For Life Committee that also is increasing, my role as a mom and "Chief Administrative Officer" (meaning I get to try to do all the administrative stuff like paperwork and coordinating repairs) and my role as mom.  At my son's current childcare situation we were expected to do co-op hours and in my son's preschool next year, parent participation is mandatory.

I'd like to say I do a decent job at the above, but that probably wouldn't believable.  As I talked with another busy mom one day- you give up on "not dropping balls" and accept that balls will drop- you aim for efficiency at getting the balls back up in the air as fast as you can and accept losing the less important ones.

I look back at everything I did in college- NCAA student athlete, work in a molecular genetics lab, president of my school's Students For Life program, officer of the pre-vet club and active in my parish.  How did I do that all, I asked my husband.  The likely answer is- I was in my early twenties and I didn't have a family.  Another answer though, was I was old school.  I had a planner and I worked off of that.  I also think of if I lose my phone, or the internet goes down at our house, or any other types of computer/programming snafus I would be totally in a deep hole.  It's good to have a paper AND computer copy of where I'm supposed to be for everything and anything that let's me have a little less anxiety and be a little less attached to my cell phone is a GOOD thing.

I'm not expecting to become superwoman when my planner arrives, but I'm hoping it will help me on my journey to become more of the woman God wants me to be.  I'll keep you updated...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Baby Cages and Crate Training...

I was reading an article today about how "baby cages", where human babies would be enclosed in a cage, hung out a window to be "raised in fresh air" used to be a fad in the 1930's.  Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt used one for one of her children until one of her neighbors threatened to report her for something she thought was just part of being modern parent.  Good Housekeeping Article on Baby Cages  While baby cages sound ridiculous to us today, I was commenting to my coworkers, "What do you think they will think of crates and cages for animals in another 100 years?"  What will people think about some of the things we do now- it's always an interesting discussion.

Cue an appointment, a short while later.  I was talking with the dog's parents about their dog who has suddenly developed separation anxiety.  The dog, when separated from his family, will chew things he shouldn't.  I took time to try to tell the family this was a serious issue- their response, "Well, he doesn't really hurt anything important, the house is already pretty baby-proof, he just chews on wood and stuff."  Woah- I've heard this before and it can lead to dangerous behavior.  Dogs with separation anxiety can chew all sorts of things and get foreign bodies (things in their stomach that don't belong). I once saw a dog with very interesting X -rays that ended up being 3 pacifiers and 4 nipple tops to bottles.  The owner kind of laughed that his dog was being passive aggressive because he never really liked their new baby.  He wasn't laughing at his $3,000 bill.

I also shared about dogs who eat dry wall- destroying not only property but also causing obstructions in the stomach that required surgery.  Separation Anxiety can become a form of mental illness that can be very detrimental for everyone's quality of life.  We discussed anxiety medications, homeopathic therapies and other suggestions for reducing anxiety (such as the chapter on it in Sophia Yin's book, "How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves").  The owners didn't really seem to take it seriously.

I mentioned, "well, at least put him in a crate when you leave so he can't hurt himself."  I got hit with bad looks and the comment of, "We'd never kennel him!  That's cruel!".  While I don't recommend keeping dogs in cages or crates all the time, there is appropriate times where you are actually helping the dog.  Do you think dogs enjoy gastrointestinal surgery?  Do you think they enjoy spending tons of time in the hospital?  Do you think you'd enjoy spending $4,000 to save your pet's life from a preventable problem?  Apparently my pleas went nowhere, so I just documented the conversation in the hopes that what I was worried about would not come true.

Crates and crate training are important to get your puppy used to.  In a way, it's kind of like their "cave".  I put my dog in the crate when I was gone or late at night when I wasn't sure how he would react to my cat.  He would go into his crate on his own if he heard scary noises or me chopping vegetables (or escaping the toothbrush).  It was his safe place and he was fine with it.  I was happy with knowing I wouldn't have to take him to surgery for removing something stupid he ate.  While Baby Cages are a home trend that has gone out of style thankfully for safety reasons, crates should stay in style for a LONG TIME, as they protect our family members.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good Neighbors

I think I've blogged previously about our neighbors and how they've been really great.  From helping us cut down a tree that fell on (and debilitated) my car to helping with packages, trash and other neighborly things, they've kind of stepped up to it this week.

Last week,  a day before a bunch of family was supposed to visit, as I was getting the house ready for visitors, our laundry machine broke.  Flat out, broke with water sitting in the drum and not draining.  I tried everything to clean the system out and touched slime and yuck more than I care to remember.  I went on a late night trip to Home Depot, which taught me that 9:30 PM is the perfect time to go shopping there.  There's hardly anyone there, there's plenty of staff who are helpful and everything moves efficiently, even finding a parking spot.  I'm filing that away in my memory.  My brother in-law even tried to take part of the machine apart and see if he could fix it- No luck, but I was appreciative of his try.

With scheduling of work and our visitors and the fact that repair people have to give you a window of "the whole day", we couldn't set up the repair until a week after the machine broke.  I was not a happy camper.  I used to have to help a group of nuns hand wash clothes and I knew what a hassle it is and how hard it is to get soap out of clothes.  We tried to get through the week and I only bothered one of my neighbors once to let me do the tablecloth and bathroom towels before our visitors arrived.  I thought that maybe, just maybe we could make it through the week.  It actually turned out to be an interesting exercise in finding items in my closet I didn't even know I had.  My son was rather confused when he told us he wanted to wear several of his sports hero's shirts and we told him NONE of them were clean.  He was confused and saddened.  I actually dug out my hand washing skills for a couple of his favorite shirts and my shorts.  In hot weather, I really don't own enough pairs of nice, non-exercise shorts to make it through the week.

We almost thought we had made it until the end of the week.  Of course when I was at work we were too busy for me to put my white coats in the laundry and OF COURSE I had to see patients with fleas and other issues that are infectious and communicable so they can't be re-used.

Between that and an unexpected accident in the household, we had to do some more laundry.  My husband offered to go to a laundromat, but we actually didn't even know where one was!  I had asked a neighbor to pick up a package that I couldn't re-schedule delivery for and it needed to be refrigerated and so when I went to get that from her, she asked how things were going.  I casually told her of our peril and she stepped up and not only did our laundry, but even folded some of it!  My husband and I were impressed by her folding skills.

Thanks to our neighbor being inquisitive as to what we had gotten in the mail, "What fabulous thing did you get in the mail, we know you love to bake, so what are you up to now?" I had the perfect idea for a thank you- chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

It's sure nice to have good neighbors.  Some days I think about living out in the country and having a farm, but it's certainly nice to just run across the street for an egg or twenty feet for laundry...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Garden Help

Last year, when I embarked on my first community garden experience with a friend, I had visions of my son learning how plants grow and where his food came from and "helping" in the garden.  He had fun with my neighbor's daughter who shared the garden with us, but that was about it.   This year, I've been more realistic.  I try to do most of my garden stuff as my own personal "me" time.  On weekends or other times when I don't have a preschooler in tow because I realize his interest level is close to zilch.

Occasionally because of the weather pattern or my schedule and needing to go to the garden to pick produce, I've brought my son along.  More recently I've found that bringing a snack and plopping him up in the base of a tree has been helpful (high enough he can't run off, but low enough nothing would break if he fell). This was working well for a while, but even with a popsicle in the tree, he grew bored the other day.  I'm pretty sure a four year old's whines are not fertilizer for the plants- or a mother's nerves.

The other day I still needed to water the garden a bit more so I asked him to help me.  No interest.  I tried to think about what else I could do to keep him from running away from the garden and away from where I could see him.  I don't know what I was thinking when I enticed him with, "You can spray the plants and you can spray Mommy!".  I think I envisioned a nice cooling spray or mist.

Instead, I found myself afterwards needing to squeeze the water out of my garments, even my undergarments.  My kid drenched me.  We had a full out water war of epic proportions.  He had a blast chasing me around with the water.  I, in turn, tried to wrestle it out of his hands to turn the tables and spray the plants.  In the meantime, the plants couldn't help but get a little spray.  A bathing suit would have been a good idea, I thought in retrospect.  Oh well, I was already wet, might as well make the best of it.  My son had a good time trying to make mud piles in the garden.

Afterwards, when I asked him what he was thinking he said, "Mommy you were a plant and you were REALLY thirsty for water."  Ok, maybe my son won't be a member of future farmers of America, but at least he has a sense of humor and imagination and at least he knows mud can be fun.  If I keep it positive maybe I can come up with a creative way to help get him to weed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Saying goodbye to the changing table.... another use..

I've been putting off cleaning out my son's old changing table.  He has a fairly small room, so the changing table has always kind of stood as a large object jutting into his room.  I have been hoping that we would be having another sibling for my son, so the changing table wouldn't be out of use for long.  Alas, my son is four and hasn't worn diapers for half a year.  We don't have a whole lot of room in our place to store things (no true basement or attic).  I somehow one day, without even planning it decided it was time to take on the project.  My husband and I had been talking about how my son didn't have a playroom, and so, our whole house was starting to become a playroom.  Especially with Legos.

I decided that once I cleaned out the changing table, it wouldn't make a bad lego station.  The top, with the railing could be where my son put his projects, the middle bin that used to hold odds and ends and wipes could hold all the random Lego's.

It was kind of sad to clean out all the items from when he was a baby.  He was amused by some of the items I found and tried to squeeze a football baby hat onto his head (this was amusing for me as his head is large for his age- I can actually wear the same hats my four year old can).  Fortunately, a neighbor of ours has a daughter who is almost in size 5 diapers, the size he used last.  I packaged up wipes, diaper cream and all the odds and ends babies use and sent them across the street.  They were grateful for the extras and I was grateful they were going to good people and wouldn't sit in my hallway for a month until I could make it to our local diaper bank.  The happiness of sharing with others was a good pancea to the bittersweet sadness of packing baby stuff away.  Hopefully, one day, there will be another baby in our house but for right now I will rejoice in hopefully not stepping on Legos at midnight.