The Storm

Storms have always been a fear of mine.  As a storm is fast approaching, I consider the other storms that have gone before.   I remember a tornado when I was in college that tore apart my hometown and wrecked landmarks left and right.   Friends lost everything they had as the storm ripped their dorms apart.   The thing I remember most is that I was doing a research project with rats.  Because the buildings were not declared “safe” yet, they wouldn’t let me in to feed them or check on them and they ate each other.  It was like something out of 1984.  Very traumatic.

Fast forward to Hurricane Elvis while I was in medical school at UT.   I remember walking over a breezeway going toward The Med watching the storm hit.  We didn’t have much damage, but we didn’t have power for two weeks.   I slept and showered at the children’s hospital where I was on rotation.   We ate like kings at our apartment complex because everyone had to grill the meat from their refrigerators.   Then, about a week in, my brother who had gone to stay at my mom’s in the air conditioning called to say he had left “a few things” in his refrigerator and could I go clean it out.   Oh Mother of Mercy.  A few things was basically a whole hog and possibly half a cow, rotted for a week in the Memphis heat.   Again, traumatic.

Then there was residency.   A tornado rolled right down our street taking the windows, siding and roof on one side of my house.   I remember laying on the floor and hoping and praying that the storm would pass us by.  It did, by about 20 feet.  It picked up the roof of our house and set it back down, cracking most of the rafters.  We walked through debris in stunned silence that night helping neighbors crawl out of their demolished homes.  I remember the fear after it passed of not knowing if it was really over, or if we were still in the “eye” and another round was coming.   Also, traumatic.

Last week we all slept as a family in our “storm room” as another storm was bearing down.  I was lying there awake with Baby Bird nestled onto my chest as I was trying to avoid hearing the roar that is my husband’s snore.  I noticed as he started snoring, that Z, my three-year old, was laying on his back.   She was sucking her thumb with one eye open.  About the time I would get really annoyed with Daddy’s snoring to the point I was about to kick him, sweet Z would reach over and yank his ear really hard.   He responded by grunting and a temporary cessation to his snoring.   I observed this three or four times to ensure it wasn’t a fluke.  I. Love. that. kid.

Tonight, we are in the storm room again, praying for safety for all, lucky to have a “storm room”.  Wonder what this storm holds?

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Dogs Are Not Children II

I may have mentioned previously that my brother, Dr. Pepper may anthropomorphize his dog, Lucky a little bit.   So I received this text today:

Dr. Pepper:  Lucky was humiliated today at the puppy daycare spring fling party by forced participation in cosplay.  I can actually see the aloof disdain for this undignified experience.   He looks like the beach boys became terrorists and held puppies in a concentration camp at a trashy South Carolina beach resort.

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Me:  He seems really happy to me… Oh, and dignified, definitely dignified.

Dr. Pepper:  “This is what happens to your city dog when he crosses onto our beech”

Me:  I like the rain jacket

Dr. Pepper:   He is putting on a brave front.  He is NOT happy AND his lip is curling AND he is frowning….It’s too small for him.

Me:  It is snug, but that’s the style!   He is wearing it that way to show off his huge forearms.

Dr. Pepper:  It is so tight he looks like he is wearing a green push-up bra.

Me:  Like Bowie….

Dr. Pepper:  Silence

Me:  Like BOWIE!!!! in Labyrinth….

Dr. Pepper:  That does sound much cooler.

Again, I love my four-legged nephew, but I think Dr. Pepper should just be happy that someone wants to dress his dog up like Bowie and take pictures of him in a non-freaky, non-threatening sort of way.  I mean, sure if someone did that with my toddler at daycare, I would think it was a little weird…..

Well, At Least It’s Protein….

I am daily astounded by the differences and similarities between my babies. Z is precocious. She was an early talker.   She has made shocking speeches from the time she was eleven months old. Most recently, we have been potty training and we spent an eternally long couple of days in the Mythical Big Girl Panties.   It didn’t go well. We had SEVERAL accidents. Finally, Z looked at me and said:

“Mommy, I think my Big Girl Panties are bwoken.”

I said, “Really, Z, what’s going on.”

“They have holes in them. They don’t hold the peepee,” Z replied candidly.

After trying to contain my laughter, I promptly switched her back to pull ups. Clearly she just isn’t ready for this.

Baby Bird only communicates in a string of grunts and pointing and screaming. It is amazingly, just as effective as Z’s soliloquys.

Z is afraid of everything:

  1. Bugs
  2. Going too far from the house
  3. Anything on TV that is not PBS
  4. Airplanes
  5. Trains
  6. The dark
  7. The dining room (for some inexplicable reason)

Baby Bird is fearless.   She crawls headlong into danger. I lost track of her the other day and looked up and she was half way up the stairs oblivious to her impending head injury.   I was trying to get some housework done the other day and I noticed a black spot on her face. I went over to examine what was going on, and found half a bug hanging out of her mouth. She was happily munching on the other wriggly bit. When I removed the half that was accessible, she grunted, pointed and screamed about the loss of her delicious bug.   Moments after that, I found her trying to smash a snow globe into the carpet with both hands trying obtain access to its delicious contents.

And sand…. Where Z would timidly taste a little play sand, making a horrible face and discarding it, Baby Bird got a cup of the stuff and was drinking it like a med student guzzling coffee at two am on the wards.

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I don’t really know what I expected.   I guess I assumed that they would be miniature clones of me. Yet they have their own personalities that I had nothing to do with.   They came out endowed by God as the sweet little individuals I am now responsible for.   I thought they would be a blank slate, but I guess it is more fun un-wrapping the layers that are Baby Bird and Z. It is the most wonderful present I have ever unwrapped.

Hey Jerk, Don’t Bring Your Sick Kid to Church

The last two weeks my family has been afflicted with the stomach virus and we missed church two weeks in a row.  I want to share with you the strange thing that happened.   We did not get struck down by lightening.   I know, it is really strange, in my experience, most people believe that Jesus wants them to go to church no matter their state of health.

I could understand if our church was into faith healing. I don’t think a lot of that showboating actually goes on at our contemporary, coffee-bar style church. Besides, dropping your pestilence-ridden toddlers off at the nursery is NOT an attempt at faith healing. It is just a Jerk move.

I would propose that in addition to the contexts of your child actively spewing forth from both ends, coughing up hunks of green nastiness, or bleeding out their eyeballs that there are several other circumstances that merit staying at home.

  1. If your child has had a fever in the last forty-eight hours perhaps you should skip church or at least the nursery. (One day we were dropping off Z in the nursery and we overheard another couple talking about how their angel had been up sick all night and they were really looking forward to dropping him off for a break. Really? We just turned around and came home.) Also, if you are continually medicating your child to keep their fever down it doesn’t count as “not having a fever”.
  2. If your child has an actively snotty nose, or obvious respiratory infection. Don’t play. You know your baby is sick. Stop lying and saying things like, “oh her nose is really runny when she is teething.” That baby’s snot is green with blood in it. That is NOT teething.
  3. If your child has had stomach virus in the last week or so, you should pass up church. Rotovirus is highly contagious with just a few viral particles and can be transmitted for several days after the acute illness passes.   Plus, it is just gross and miserable and you are not a good person for doing this to others.   (On a related note, saw many people a couple of weeks ago on Facebook comment about how bad the stomach virus was at their house only to see them at church a couple of days I am sure all the volunteers are really going to be sending you a thank you card when they are missing valuable work time because for some reason you felt compelled to bring your sick child to church.)
  4. If your child has a positive flu and/or strep test, YOU. SHOULD. SKIP. CHURCH. (I shouldn’t even have to mention this, but sadly, I do.)

Just consider the above a public service announcement from both a physician and mommy.   Remember that there are other children, elderly and pregnant women at church who may have depressed immune systems. There are also numerous people that cannot be vaccinated for myriad reasons (transplants, allergies, etc.) They rely on us not to expose them to diseases.

I think the problem is that people feel “safe” at church and expect people there to act ethically and in the best interest of the whole community and they do not use the vigilance they would in other public settings to protect themselves against germs. Please realize that God is not going to strike you down for enjoying the sermon remotely while in your PJ’s if your family is sick. We will ALL thank you for this.   Also, remember to wash your hands and vaccinate those kiddos! We are all in this together!

Karma, or Dogs are Not Children

Traditionally, I have not gone home much for the holidays. During residency and early on in my medical practice I spent many holidays at the hospital.   Now that I have children, some of that has gone out the window, so we decided to make the trip home to my mother’s for Thanksgiving.   There are drawbacks. In the tradition of little old ladies everywhere, it is way too hot, also, NO HIGH SPEED INTERNET, or ANY internet for that matter. Bonuses include plentiful, delicious junk food, FREE Babysitting, and nostalgia.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were taking advantage of the free babysitting by taking a nap. This is an absolute luxury available exclusively at the grandparent’s.   Imagine my surprise when I woke up to discover that my mother had cut my 2 year old’s hair without consulting me.   I mean she had casually mentioned beforehand that she thought she need a haircut, and I may have casually joked, “Good luck holding her down for that,” but I didn’t actually expect her to do it without me present.   But, we were taking advantage of the free babysitting so I decided to bite my tongue.

The next day, Dr. Pepper arrives and greets my toddler with, “Oh, who’s a pretty girl?   Did you get a new haircut Z?”   I mutter something under my breath about mom cutting her hair while I was asleep without my consent, and suddenly with wide-eyed, maniacal glee, my brother turns on me cackling, “So HOW does it feel? How does it FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL?”

It took me a moment of thought to determine what he was referring to with such vigor. Suddenly I recalled an incident about three years ago, before my days of childbearing.   Dr. Pepper was at work and left his precious, angel, Lucky in my care. Please see picture below to include crazy-laser eyes (he gets those from his daddy).

 

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As you can see, Lucky looks like you took a Yorkie and supersized it.   He has “bangs” falling into his eyes chronically and on this particular day, he kept running into my table, walls, doors, etc. because HE COULD NOT see. So, I took it upon myself to do a grooming which Dr. Pepper claims he undertakes regularly.   It took a week, and a liter of industrial strength pipe cleaner to set my bathroom to rights after this grooming.   I gently trimmed his bangs so that he could see, and Dr. Pepper went absolutely ballistic. He started screaming about how grooming his dog’s hair was akin to assault and how he would one day cut my future children’s hair without permission.

It was at this point that I pointed out that DOGS ARE NOT CHILDREN, much to the chagrin of my own personal Neurotic Beagle.   I understand.   I really do.   I have been that childless individual over-fixated on my four legger.   I still love the snot out of Neurotic Beagle, but the idea of someone grooming her not to my specifications does not fill me with the ire that the grooming of my toddler can inspire.   I know that this was a moment of Karmic justice in the eyes of Dr. Pepper, but I maintain that DOGS ARE NOT CHILDREN.

 

Let’s Make A Deal

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Getting Z to eat is ALWAYS a challenge.   Lately she is pretty fixated on marshmallows.  She keeps talking about hot chocolate and how she is going to have marshmallows on it (incidentally she has never had hot chocolate and I am not really sure how she knows it exists).

When I noticed that she was just transferring her grilled cheese from hand to hand to give the illusion of eating, I decided to bribe her,  “Z sweetie, if you will eat the rest of your Cheesy, I will give you FIVE marshmallows.”

Z shrewdly looked at her cheesy and responded with enthusiasm, “I want TWO.”

All my dreams of Ivy League just went out the window.  Hubby observing the whole process says, “Kiddo, are you sure about that?  Mommy offered you FIVE.   Are you sure you want TWO?”

I am glad he is trying to give her a mulligan on this marshmallow mathematics issue.   Clearly she misunderstood the proposition.

She nodded with enthusiasm, “I want TWO.”

Hubby: I don’t think you understand how negotiations work. (this is a direct quote from my favorite blogger, “thebloggess”)

Z:  Yeah (giggles)

Hubby:   So to be clear here, you want TWO marshmallows not FIVE?

Z: Yes, TWO

Hubby:   TWO not FIVE?  Are you SURE?

Z:  Yes, TWO (at this point she gets a confused look on her face), NO SIX.

Hubby:  SIX was not on the table.

Z:  I want SIX

I don’t know y’all.  Maybe she is a better negotiator than we realized.

 

 

 

 

A Joyful Moment

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There are wonderful, priceless times in our lives. These are times that we are carefree and joyous; times were the bad things in life don’t seem so large. When I was young, it was easy to overlook these times and not recognize what a blessing they were.   As I get older, when I have one of these transient life-moments of delight interspersed between the moments of pain, it is easier to distinguish it as the glimpse into heaven that it is meant to be.

When I was in medical school, we lived in the University Cabana Apartments, affectionately known as Cabanaland.   This was not some pre-professional school luxury condo.   This was a section eight apartment complex in Memphis.   Let me say that again so it can sink in. It was a section eight apartment in Memphis.   Also, this complex had eight foot fences with razor wire around the top, and an ACTUAL moat around it.   Okay, so maybe it wasn’t an actual moat as much as it was a giant culvert going around the whole property to drain overflow sewage from the city, but it did make me feel marginally safer from outside marauders. There was also a twenty-four hour armed security guard at the gate.

One sunny afternoon, Hipster Doctor found a bag of crack and money on our adjacent front porch.   She, being the good Samaritan that she is, turned this over to the security guard (who incidentally was later fired for being found high in one of the public bathrooms on the property. I think there is a possible connection here, but I cannot be sure.)   I think I would have flushed the crack and kept the money (considering my husband and I were living on about $9500 annually).   One of the neighbors (a self-professed cocaine aficionado) came by all the time to borrow our phone (this was the day of land lines).

I miss lovely summer evenings at the Cabanas when a string of tricked out Caddys, Buicks and Cutlasses would come pick up a parade of scantily-clad, deftly made-up young women for their evening employment.

So you may ask, “What was so great about being poor in a section eight housing unit in Memphis filled with crime, drugs and hookers?”   This is a valid question.   No argument, but let me tell you what else the Cabanas featured.   Hubby’s sister, Aunt Panda, my brother, Dr. Pepper, Wild Pharmacist, Italian Stallion, Tim The Overly Italian Optometrist, The Librarian, Art Student, Hipster Doctor, Insane Newscaster (story to follow at eleven), and Evil Genious all lived at the Cabanas.

Every single one of my friends at the time lived in Cabanaland.   There was always someone to go to dinner, or a movie, or for a walk at any time.   There was constant entertainment at a moment’s notice. Impromptu parties abounded, and someone always had a video game system fired up somewhere.   I was too naïve at the time to realize that this was magical and something that most people don’t experience.   I didn’t know that for the rest of my life I would have to work to socialize and plan for a party.   It was about the last couple months as we were graduating and it was coming to an end that it hit me that this time in life was a gift from God. It was my support during a difficult time, giving me good memories and fun times to sustain me. When it was over, I mourned these times.

As I have grown in age and wisdom, I have come to distinguish these enchanted times in my life. As I was getting ready for church last week, I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair.   My daughters were dressed in beautiful matching outfits. Z was dancing around in a sunbeam from the window with motes of dust sparkling in the air singing, “Mommy, look, sparkly!”, while Baby Bird was army crawling after her and shrieking with laughter.   As I watched her exultant expression, sun shining on her hair, so delighted in this discovery that we have all experienced of the beauty of dust dancing in the sun, it hit me with a force that took my breath away that this is one of those joyful moments.   I am drowning in joy.

I wish I could bottle these moments of my daughters laughing and playing as sweet chubby babies to sustain me in sad times to come.   I wish I could freeze them like this. I know there are times to come when I am not their hero.   There are times to come when they won’t greet me at the door with screams of excitement.

Now I know a joyful moment when I see one.   These days are a gift from my Father, and my Father only gives good gifts.   James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. All praise to the one who knows my heart and crafts these perfect moments just for me.

UT Extension is a “Party” Extension

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We decided to take the girls to the local Ag Extension to view their Fall display for some family weekend fun.  For you Yankees,  an “Ag Extension”  is the local university’s agricultural extension service.   They run experiments and give advice to the local farmers and run seminars and such.  They provide a valuable service to the community.

Good times were had by all.  We viewed pumpkins and flowers and grass displays.  Baby Bird slept through the whole thing while Z picked up acorns referring to them as “her donuts”.

I have a couple valuable conclusions regarding our trip to the Ag Extension.  First of all, I am doing something wrong as a parent.  My daughter is TWO years old.  TWO.   How does this kid not know what a donut is?   I am going to have to remedy this situation very soon.  Secondly, These displays were gorgeous, but I think there may be some substance abuse problems involved in their creation.  I will let you judge the evidence.

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Notice my first image on this post with all the trippy little fluid filled vials.  Pretty, hypnotic, makes me want a cheeseburger.  See the above image?  All the concentric circles? Also trippy.  Notice their are wine bottles all over the display providing a sculptural element.   That seems like a good thing for children.  It reminds me of Dr. Pepper’s kitchen circa 1998.   But, wait folks, that’s not all….. check these out.  IMG_20141018_110431_571 IMG_20141018_110350_782

That is a LOT of wine!  I don’t know who is responsible for these awesome displays, but I need to get invited to their next party.

I See Your Yard Biscuit…

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Hubby and I had fellow blogger, Underdaddy and his wife, Supermom over for dinner the other night.  We look to them for guidance as that they are in this parenting thing two kids deeper than we are.  We were having a lovely evening.  The kids were playing well enough for us to indulge in some adult conversation.

I recently had read Underdaddy’s post on “Yard Biscuits”.  His number three was learning to potty train which can be a trying time I am told.  While they were swimming with his four small children, he quite expediently told them to “use the yard” so that the constant stream of small wet feet would not be continually tracked in and out of the house.  It is this kind of wise, no-nonsense parenting advice that I have come to appreciate from Underdaddy and Supermom. *

Underdaddy of course meant for his four kiddos to pee in the yard, but the Underdaddy children are extremely good at following very literal instructions.  Imagine his surprise and horror to see number three hunched over in the yard assuming a position very different than the number one pose.

As I said, I am told that potty training can be challenging.  As Underdaddy and Supermom were about to leave, we look up, and Z has pulled off her diaper, and announces, “I peed on the floor.”

I look down, and my two-year old has indeed urinated all over our hand scraped hardwood.

Fortunately,  the Underdaddy family is on their way out the door and this calamity can be overlooked.   Until…. We get to the sidewalk.  We have been experiencing our rainy season and had a rather torrential downpour earlier that day.  I may have mentioned Neurotic Beagle in the past.  One of Neurotic Beagles idiosyncrasies is that she refuses to get her paws wet for any reason.  So, if it has been raining and the grass is wet, she will back her bottom up off the pavement (ideally) to do her business.  But, this time, her business didn’t make it off the pavement and it is laying smack dab in the middle of the walk way in a giant, steaming pile.

So, Underdaddy, I see your “Yard Biscuits” and raise you one “Floor Pee” and one “Sidewalk Poop”.

*Other great parenting advice from Underdaddy and Supermom :

– Why buy a baby monitor?  Everything you worry about happening to your kid is silent.  If you can hear them screaming through two closed doors, they probably really need you.

–  Where do we find time to clean our house?  We gave that up a long time ago.  We suggest you just stop cleaning.

– Calm down.  Seriously.  You only have as many kids as you have hands.

Professional Mom

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                On Thursday nights we go to pottery class. It is what I would do for a living if I were good enough to do so, but sadly after many years of lessons, I am not. My Hubby tolerates it out of affection for me. I believe about four years ago we made a compact. If he would come to pottery class with me, I would go shooting with him once a month. It is now two babies and four years later and I am pretty sure I have only been shooting twice since then (although there have NOT been any definitive research studies done on the effect of lead exposure on nursing or pregnant women).
                The Hairy Potter’s wife, Jillionaire keeps Z for us on Thursday nights. Baby Bird who is still nursing flies to pottery with us, and Neurotic Beagle (Neurotic Beagle MUST go with us to avoid property damage) also joins us. Jillionaire is one of those moms who makes me feel inadequate. Her three girls, Braintrust, Fashonista and Sweetie Pie are always dressed in clean, stylish outfits. It seems like every week they have just gotten a new hat that is perched charmingly atop their freshly trimmed or braided hair. My child has never kept a hat on, EVER. Everything in her house is always clean and is arranged with an expert touch. Martha Stewart should really talk to Jillionaire about how to arrange and organize because Jillionaire could teach her a thing or two. She does all this while managing to look perfectly put together every time I haul my bedraggled kiddos, and my yoga pants clad self across her doorstep. But you know, professionals make things look effortless, and I am clearly a poser mom.

                A few weeks ago I could feel my face flush with frustration as I argued with Z as we were about to go to Jillionaire’s house. Last time we were there, she played with Braintrust, Fashonista, and Sweetie Pie in a kiddie pool. Of course, they were all stylishly dressed in complimentary but not quite matching bathing suits. When I told Z that we were going to their house, she immediately retrieved her bathing suit and started struggling off her clothes, saying, “I wear swimsuit.”

                I glanced outside at the rainy sixty-five degree day with skepticism and ventured, “Sweetheart, it is really cold outside, I don’t think the girls are going to be swimming today.”

                My arguments were to no avail in her two year old brain. She managed to get her swimsuit on, so I tried to compromise by getting her to put her clothes on over her swimsuit to camouflage the situation. This resulted in a meltdown, and an angry toddler yelling, “I no like pants anymore!”

                We were running late, so I tucked her jammies in her bag and threw her in the car in her turquoise bikini, sunglasses, and sandals.

                I prepared myself for the judgment of Jillionaire. I have NEVER seen her girls inappropriately dressed for the weather. If it is raining, they have cute patterned matching galoshes. If it is cold they have mini-infinity scarves tucked around their adorable little necks. I dropped her off in red-faced shame. I remember being embarrassed of my mom when I was a teenager, but no one bothered to tell me that your children can embarrass you.

                Jillionaire met us at the door and greeted Z with calm aplomb. She led Z in where indeed, Sweetie Pie, Fashonista and Braintrust were dressed appropriately and performing calculus in the floor with quiet politeness. Z seemed a little shocked to find, that her mother was right, and they were not in swimsuits.

                When I picked Z up later that night, she was tucked warmly in her jammies that I could not struggle on her using either love or money. I asked Jillionaire how she got Z out of the coveted swimsuit and into her jammies. Jillionaire nonplussed reply was, “I just gave her popsicles until she got cold.” Well played professional mom. Well played indeed.

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