Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

New Year, new blog template. When I get free time, I'm going to learn how to customize one of these for myself. I have oodles of spare time on my hands - ha!

We had a pretty good year in 2005. Anna turned 4, Colin turned 2. Their parents got older, too. Anna guessed that I was 18 the other day. That seems really old to her.

Anthony and I celebrated 10 years of marriage this year with a great European trip. I also celebrated 10 years as a veterinarian, which seems really weird, because so many times I still feel like a new grad. The learning never ends in this profession.

We had a hot Texas summer that would not end. It was still blistering hot in October. It was a great year for peppers, but not for tomatoes. The prolonged heat made it seem like Christmas really snuck up on us. Its been hot this holiday season, too - 85 degree highs this week. Its beautiful weather for going to the park, but I'd prefer it to be seasonally appropriate. I love sleeping with the windows cracked on cold, crisp nights, snuggled close to Anthony.

In 2006, we hope to get a new car. Anna will start kindergarten in the fall. We hope to make more dents in the many projects around our house. Colin has been sick the last 24 hours with a stomach virus; when he vomited all over the carpet last night we were reminded that its not quite time yet to replace our old gross builder's spec carpeting. Maybe after potty training is done. But hopefully we can get do some landscaping, painting, and buy a new kitchen table (thanks, Em!)

Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mas Xmas Recap

On Christmas morning, Anna led Colin out of their bedroom to the pile of presents. Anna spied the Teddy Bear with a candy cane on his paw, sitting on top of her presents. Those were the humble things she'd asked for when she sat on Santa's lap. "Santa Claus remembered!" she shouted. "How did he know?!?" She picked up her new bear and hugged him. She was so amazed with everything Santa brought her, especially the Hi-Ho Cherry-O game she's wanted since she took it to someone else's birthday party. "This is the best Christmas, ever!" she proclaimed.

Colin enjoyed his gifts, too, but lost some steam on opening them about halfway through. Colin's favorite gift was the Hot Wheels track Santa brought him. Colin mostly got cars and balls, while Anna mostly got craft things. I know it sounds pretty gender biased, but that's really what they are each interested in right now.

After delicious Eggs Benedict for brunch, Anna marveled at how Santa knew what she wanted and managed to bring it. He's magic, we assured her, and she looked out the window and said very earnestly, "Thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for my Teddy Bear." It was so heart-felt.

For dinner we had delicious roasted leg of lamb, sweet potatoes, salad, and spinach souffle. Afterwards, Anna sat on Nana's lap, and Colin snuggled with Auntie Emily, as they stayed up and watched "The Polar Express." Anthony and I started packing up the car.

We got up early the next morning, said our good-byes, and were on the road by 6 am Mountain time. We had chewable dramamine, but Colin refused to take it. He was suddenly wise to the banana trick, too. On the outskirts of El Paso, I ended up pushing it into his wailing mouth and forcing him to swallow it. THAT was no fun. He still ended up a little queasy, crying and saying "I wan' go home..." a few hours later. We stopped at a barren rest stop in the desert and walked around the stark concrete picnic tables, getting red sand in our shoes. The terrain was as comforting as a stubbly unshaven cheek, but the fiercely blowing fresh air did us all good. A few more miles down the road, we saw the enormous wind generators outside of Ft. Stockton slowly tilting like underwater cartwheelers, making a Megawatt of electricity each.

The trip home took a little more time than the trip going, since we left a little later, and had less excitement about our destination. After the fourth movie, Anna actually said, "How about no more TV, Mommy?" We were about 1 hour from home, and I thought that sounded really good. Colin, however, kept making movie suggestions from his carseat. As we drove into Austin, Anna started crying. "I miss Nana and Grandad," she said through her tears. But when we walked through the door, she said, "It feels good to be home, doesn't it?"

Montana was such a trooper on our travels. She curls herself up in the backseat and hardly lifted her head on either long journey. She was good at my parents' house, too, except when she cleaned out their chihuahua Patchie's food bowl. Unfortunately, she had 3 large seizures on Christmas Day. They seem to come in clusters. It was hard for all of us to watch. Fortunately, no seizures on the way home or since.

I will post some pictures, in the meantime you can see some on Emily's blog.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas review

How nice it is when your audience clamors for more (see comments, last post). As predicted, we were exhausted by the drive home. Also, I had to work today! Anyway, back to the Christmas recap:

Anthony and I had a wonderful getaway. We went to a late dinner and then slept in, with no little people waking us up. After a leisurely breakfast (think omelets, with smoked turkey, mushrooms, and brie), we went for a hike in the woods. We originally intended to go skiing but New Mexico wasn't as lucky as Colorado, and only had about 5 inches of man-made snow. Definitely not worth the hassle of ski gear and rental. It was a beautiful crisp day, perfect for hiking without a jacket. The dry, thin mountain air soon had us panting with our hearts pounding in our ears. We hiked into the wilderness about 2 miles, mostly up, over fragrant spongey pine needles to a ridge with beautiful aspen views. Anthony saw the tail end of a large elk bounding away; I only heard its large muscular bolt from us. The only other creatures we saw were twittering little wrens - not a single other person on our hike. Several times as we walked a strong wind would race up through the pines toward us. It was loud and terrifying, but like a jet plane racing overhead, ultimately harmless. The trip back to the car was easier cardiovascularly but more treacherous, being downhill on slippery little rocks and leaves, making one think of how dreadfully unfortunate a twisted ankle would be! We did, however, make it back without incident.

Back in El Paso, I hurried in the house, a little faster than Anthony, to see my children. "Mommy!" Anna joyfully cried, but Colin's face FELL when he saw me. "Where my Daddy is?" he asked me, accusingly, and he would not hug me. Once he saw his Daddy was back, he did warm up to me, too.

Later that night, we went Christmas caroling. The kids really enjoyed it, but we adults were all missing Stephanie's voice. Christmas Eve I went to the gym with my mom, we took the kids to an empty Peter Piper Pizza, and then we ate Tamales, a traditional hispanic favorite for the night before Christmas.

After the "Night Before Christmas," (which Anna has memorized in its entirety from school), we put the kids to bed then listened to them on the baby monitor while Santa made Jingle bell noises and said, "Ho ho ho!" outside their bedroom window. They were silent, and I thought maybe they were already asleep, until we heard Colin say in a stage whisper, "Anna! Wake up!"

"What..." Anna whined.

"Santa coming. And reindeers!" Colin whispered back.

"You already told me that 30 times!" Anna told him.

They repeated this conversation two more times, then Colin belted out a solo of his favorite preschool song (Autumn Leaves are Falling Down) which Anna apparently slept through, then Colin joined her.

To be continued, with pictures...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Over the river and through the desert, to Grandmother's house we go

We arrived yesterday in El Paso relatively intact. Here are some trip highlights:

Loaded up the kids at 5:30 am. Both of them were so PUMPED by the prospect of going to El Paso, neither of them even pretended to stay sleepy. Then commenced the frantic search by the parental units for the CHEWABLE DRAMAMINE. Bev and Anthony had gone to 4 stores on Monday night to find these pricey pills which would prevent us from having to do the roadside cleanup. We both remember them being on the countertop. After 30 minutes of looking, we decided the Grinch must've stolen them. No pharmacies were open at 6 am, so we stopped at a 24 hour grocery store, but they only had the swallowable kind. I took a taste - bitter! Fortunately, I convinced the kids to eat them in a little piece of banana. Anna wailed that it tasted bad, and Colin made an awful face when he swallowed, but hey! Mission accomplished.

Most of the morning we drove in a white fog. I had been looking forward to the sunrise, but it just got brighter and hazier. We stopped in Sonora for breakfast at Sonic (Anthony likes their breakfast burritos); Anna got and devoured a Jr. Hamburger. We stopped in Ft. Stockton for gas, and it was time for more Dramamine. I knew the banana wouldn't work again, so I bought the kids an ice cream sandwich. Anna was too savvy and wouldn't let me slip the pill in her ice cream, but I snuck it by Colin and he was the one who really needed it.

The kids watched Totoro, Nemo, Ice Age, and Mary Poppins. We didn't even have to stop for the last 3 1/2 hours, and we were there. No accidents, but no poop either with all the inactivity! Since she visited by herself last spring, Anna "showed" me where everything in my parents house is, like the bathroom. Colin picked up and shook several breakable items but everything survived.

Today, Anthony and I ditched the kids as soon as my sister Emily came into town. Not really, but it kinda felt that way. We headed north to Ruidoso for a night away alone. We're staying at a great resort. Our room is nice, and when we got here we felt like some physical activity -- we went for a jog around the lake at sunset. Then we relaxed in the hot tub and had dinner. We'll head back tomorrow after a hike. So far, its a great holiday season.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Some photos before the big holiday

Seems I am running out of time as usual before the big holiday. We are leaving on our big western roadtrip Wednesday, and I am working tomorrow. Here are some pictures, meantime.

Every holiday season we get together with our good friends and have a Mexican dinner - in a restaurant, since we don't want to burden anyone with being hostess right before the holidays. Apparently others had this idea, because although we arrived at 6:05 pm, there were already several large tables ahead of us, and we waited over 45 minutes just to be seated. The kids were great, though. Afterwards, we went to a new Amy's Ice Cream location that actually had a playscape. Load up your children with sugar and let them play under the lights past their bedtime! Actually, it was great fun, and we'll definitely visit this location again.

Here are the girls posing on a cow:

Here is Colin on a rocking cow:

Best Pals, Ruby and Anna:

Here are the beautiful sugar cookies Anthony and Anna made:

Look out, Colin eats Santa! Actually, this was a very special sugar cookie from one of our babysitters.

Anna is getting full on cookies, and is having a hard time deciding which to eat next:

And here's Anna with the girl who is making this week sane and bearable for me: visting cousin Beverly.

Colin, adorably, calls her "Bett-eree." Sounds like battery.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tis the Season

Today at work I saw 2 schnauzers. While their owners were out looking at Christmas lights last night, they got into a bag of Hershey's Miniature Mint Chocolates. They were very excited and smelled minty fresh.

Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine. Fortunately for humans, we have an enzyme in our liver which metabolizes it. Dogs and cats don't have the enzyme, but they still love chocolate. Too much theobromine can cause hyperexcitability and rapid heart rate. In severe cases (small dogs eating very dark chocolate) it can progress to heart arrhythmias, seizures, even death.

Baker's chocolate has the most theobromine, dark chocolate has a lot, milk chocolate a little, and white chocolate none. The bag - that the owner brought in with the incriminating torn open foil wrappers - contained mostly milk and some white chocolate. But these guys were little. Their heart rates were slightly elevated, but they did fine, and did not need treatment other than observation today.

Because chocolate is also high in fat, these guys are also prone to pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of the pancreas which can be caused by the pancreas being overstimulated by a high fat meal. Remember, these guys were schnauzers (this is the part where all the vets in the audience roll their eyes and groan), a breed with a particular propensity for this disease.

In fact, this owner lost a schnauzer to pancreatitis about 18 months ago, but not after the little guy put up a brave fight, spent 6 weeks in the hospital, had TPN (intravenous feedings) and a major abdominal surgery by a board-certified surgeon. These poor people spent $10,000 on that dog, and he still died. It was a black day for all of us.

Fortunately, though, these 2 little rascals seem fine so far, and have been sent home. It seems I see chocolate toxicity every holiday season, so remember -- enjoy your hot chocolate and other treats, but make sure your 4-legged creatures just get carob (or even better, greenies!)

PS Thanks everyone for your encouraging comments. Things are about the same, but at least I feel better, getting it out there and knowing I was heard!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I am so tired of holding my sh*t together while my children lose theirs.

To say we have struggled with potty training in this house is an understatement.

I have heard that when the children are ready, they will train themselves. My question is, when is that day coming? Anna is more than 4 1/2, and we still struggle daily.

Before you get all judgemental on me (and to keep this post from turning into a book called, "How Not to Potty Train Your Child: Exhausting 1001 Methods") please know I have really done everything short of beating the kids or bribing them with MnMs.

We have even made an appointment with her pediatrician to talk about it. She asked us what motivates Anna, is it wearing big girl panties, not wearing diapers? No, she seems happy to wear the convenient stuff and sit in her filth all day. The pediatrician made some recommendations that really helped with the urine accidents. But, when the urine accidents stopped, she started having poop accidents. No big b.m.'s (she still does that in the potty) but leaky small soft ones in the afternoon. Like daily. Today, she did it twice. And, she still leaks enough urine to cause her serious dermatitis between her thighs.

Colin showed great interest months ago, even requested to poop in the potty at my sister's house back in June. Since then, suggesting to him to go poop or pee in the potty is like suggesting we pull out his fingernails with his little toy pliers. On weekends or days I'm around a lot, he runs around nudie or I put him in training pants. By mid-day, he's had so many accidents, he's frustrated and requesting a diaper, and all I'm doing is cleaning up the floor and doing laundry.

So, I back off (like everything I read suggests). He tells me when he poops and sometimes even just if he's wet, but now is totally refusing to go on the potty. We used to have a routine where everytime I changed his diaper I put him on the pot and he'd pee. I'd clap and verbally reward him. Now, he NEVER wants to be on the pot, he moans the whole time, "I don't LIKE it... I wanna get DOWN..." He hasn't peed on the pot for weeks.

Today, I knew he hadn't peed in his diaper for at least 1 hour, so I knew he had to go. I put him on the pot and sat down next to him on the comfy (ha!) linoleum floor. I figured we'd just sit and talk and eventually his urges would get the best of him. We sang a few songs, but mostly Colin just played with the toilet seat, then wanted to stick his fingers in my mouth, then played with the lid, then wanted to stick his fingers in my nostril...

Hmm, how much time was I willing to devote to this project? Being the holiday season, we did need to run errands before picking Anna up at school. 15 minutes, I decided. When he told me he wanted to touch my eyes with my eyelids open after 12 minutes, it seemed like the moment of opportunity had passed and we were just in a battle of wills. As I rose from the floor, I thought, "What is this brown mud under my shoe?"

Then I realized. In the moment I had lifted Colin onto the toilet, a small soft poo must have fallen out of his butt. I stepped on it, then sat in it, for 12 minutes. In the bathroom which had been cleaned that morning.

I am so tired of poop and pee and feeling like we live in a litter box. I hear and read about people like Alice whose son potty trained himself in a weekend while she was preoccupied with other things, and I'm happy for them, but I haven't had any inkling of that. I encourage it, and it doesn't happen. I back off, and it doesn't get better. I feel like this is harder than vet school. At least in vet school there was a definitive end, and I had buddies going through the exact same thing as me. (OK yes I am wallowing in it a bit today--literally).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kids are Gross

Yesterday I picked up Colin, all sweetly snuggly and warm from his overnight sleep, and carried him into the bathroom. As I layed him on the changing table, quick as a flash, his little finger plucked a booger out of his nose and popped it into his mouth.

Later, he was rearranging my sofa cushions. "Look, Mommy!" he said, as he held up a fossilized cheerio he'd found. As I turned my gaze toward him, you guessed it, he popped it into his mouth and started chewing. "NO, Colin! Spit that out."

Now he was hanging over my couch, dripping mashed up stale cheerio and drool onto it.

But none of that beats my all time gross out story, the one that makes the people I work with (the ones who pick up dog poop and squeeze anal glands all day) want to hurl.

It happened when I took the kids by myself to the Farmers' Market. Anna had to pee, and of course that meant the dreaded Port-O-Potty. I hustled all of us in there, admonished Colin not to touch ANYTHING, and put Anna on the toilet-paper-lined seat. Then, as I was helping her pull up her pants, Colin decided he needed to peer into the blue water. "Colin, DON'T look in there!" I said.

As I pulled him back, I could distinctly see his wet lip marks on the seat.

Don't worry, I washed out his mouth with the organic soy soap they had outside the door.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Holidays from Vetmommy!

I hope you like the new look! Its an Italian template.

This weekend was full of holiday cheer. Friday night we went to the local Holidays at Heritage Park. It was a party put on by the local parks department, held at in a large barn. There was hot chocolate, crafts for the kids, and Santa even came. The weather was cold and crisp - finally seasonally appropriate - and the kids had a great time.

Saturday I tried to photograph my kids for a Christmas picture. This is such an exercise in frustration. I don't understand why 2 children who are normally such hams for the camera refuse to look at me and smile for this photo. Do they sense how important it is, compared to usual casual photos? I put them on the playscape, and say, "Colin, look at me, Colin, smile and look at me, Colin COLIN COLIN! LOOK HERE! Please Colin, look at Mommy. Now, Colin, look here, Colin, Colin..." Finally he looks up, and I snap the camera, but Anna, who has been looking at me and saying with progressively less enthusiasm, "Cheese! Cheese. Cheese, cheeeeeese... cheeeeeeese..," her smile has completely faded and now she looks down. Repeat this scene 20 times, punctuated by moments where Colin runs off, and ignores all my requests for him to return; when I haul him back by the arm, Anna runs off to play elsewhere, and refuses to come back. I could send you lots of pictures of the tops of my kids' heads. It isn't lost on me that none of us are having fun, and the more my anxiety and frustration rises the less likely I'll get a good smile. At least I did get some good pictures in the end. In previous years it has taken multiple photography sessions, and one time I just downloaded a photo from video.

My friend Lisa is an excellent photographer, and sent me about 7 different excellent photos of her beautiful daughters. She was perplexed because they were all so good, how do you decide? Actually, this is what she said: "It is just so hard. A x-mas card photo has to be so many different things to different people. It has to clearly show the way the kids really look for relatives & friends far away. It has to show the kids' personalities for the people who see them all the time & don't want to see some fakey, posed portrait. And it has to look all serene & reverent, or goofy & fun, or present some other sort of scene or feeling. It has to generate an emotional response, not just make you think "Look how big they are getting." Okay, I promise I'm not as freaked out about this as it sounds. I'm just, um, having trouble deciding." Yes, this is the pressure women put themselves under this time of year!

Last night we went to my work Holiday Party. We thought it was going to be the 3rd year in a row Anthony would have to stay home because we could not find a babysitter AGAIN. But, one of our babysitters called back when her schedule cleared up, and we both got to go and had a great time. I actually curled my hair beforehand, and did much fancier make-up than my usual minimalist stuff, which was also stressful, because I never do this foo-foo stuff. I felt like such a poser, and wished Stephanie was there to do my make-up and hair. I was so afraid I would look like some child who just applied her mother's make-up with as much skill as a crayon drawing, or that my hair would be a big frizzy mess and I'd just have to put it all up in a ponytail. But everything turned out OK, and all my fellow workers were unrecognizable in nice clothes and pretty hair, instead of the usual scrubs and ponytails. Its our one big party of the year, both for me and for our clinic. I can't imagine having to do this almost every night during the holidays, like my poor sister Steph, for whom it becomes a chore. But with the practice, maybe I could make it look as easy to be beautiful as she does!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Moh Chocolate, Preese

My German mother-in-law gives my kids Advent Calendars every year. There is a quaint holiday scene with gnomes and forest creatures, and 24 doors. You get to open one every day in anticipation of Christmas, and underneath is a small chocolate.

Anna has the drill down - every morning BEFORE she eats breakfast, she pulls her calendar down, opens the door, comments on the design on the chocolate, and pops it into her mouth.

Colin is struggling a bit with the "one-chocolate-per-day" concept. "I hold mine's, preese," he says, that extra apostrophe-S showing it really is his possession. After some negotiation between us, I hand it to him, reminding him about one-per-day, and holding it while he clutches it, too. "Look, Mommy, look, another chocolate!" he says, and lightning fast opens the door to number 15. "No, no, Colin, you can't eat that one yet!" I scold him, and scotch tape No. 15 shut. "Moh chocolate... preese..." he whines.

"How about a vitamin?" I tempt him with the large bottle of chewable multivitamins. He picks out a purple, and feeds me an orange one.

Fortunately, he's got the one-per-day concept down pat on the vitamins.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Little Boy, Big Palate

Yesterday Colin and I were running around and went to Central Market, another local gourmet grocery store. I had run out of Yorkshire Gold tea, and they always have it. We ate lunch in their cafe before shopping. I decided to order us a pizza, made with pesto and goat cheese. He got a fruit salad, I got a Caesar. Soon, he was picking off all the goat cheese from his slices - in order to eat it FIRST -- then munching on the pesto-smeared bread.

As we headed into the grocery store, before we were near any food displays or anything, he started moaning, "Chocolate... chocolate... I want chocolate."

So I got him a 20 cents worth of dark chocolate chips when we went through the bulk section, and the little guy was happy.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How to be a Good Wife, 1955

You'll have to click on the above image to read the text. Really, you must, because it is hilarious.

Some of that stuff is so funny, but its also sad to think of how many young hausfraus must have squelched themselves, trying to follow that advice and please their man. Also, most of these tasks must be done during what we call "witching hour," that time when you're trying desperately to get dinner finished and the kids are at their neediest and whiniest, and the clutter that has accumulated all day is at its worst.

I said, jokingly, how ridiculous it would be if I expected Anthony to do all this on the days that I work and he is in charge of the kids and dinner. I thought that by turning it on its head, expecting a MAN to be so subservient, it would really show how ridiculous it is. Instead, I realized how much of that he does do - dinner ready for me, a cold drink (usually a Cosmo!), and the kids bathed and presentable.

But, I can't get him to make dinner wearing high heels.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


We got to host one of our favorite people in the whole world this weekend, David, and his lovely new FIANCE, Deedra. It is so great when someone you really like gets together with someone you like just as much, even though you've only met them a few times. Deedra is warm and funny and down-to-earth, and my children love her already.

The only bad part is they came in on Friday afternoon (while I was working), then we all went to dinner at the Salt Lick. Saturday morning I had to work AGAIN and they left after lunch.

At lunch they asked me about work -- was it OK, did I save lives? Funny, while I was at work my mind was half at home, wishing I could be back there enjoying a lazy morning with all of them. Yes, yes, work was fine, I brushed them off. Then I remembered that people find my work really interesting, and I'd had some interesting cases.

Just before I left, I called some clients with bloodwork results on their 20-year-old cat. She's in kidney failure, but that's stable, except now she has anemia. The kidneys produce a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to make new red blood cells. When the kidneys fail, they stop making that hormone. There is a synthetic human version of this hormone available - you may have seen the commercials for Procrit - and we can inject cats with this hormone to boost their blood count. I was telling this client they should come in at the beginning of the week to get started on the injections, when she said, "Can I come in now? I'm 5 minutes away." It was about 10 minutes until close, but I said yes. The client, her partner, and cat came in about 12 minutes later and I got them started on reversing her anemia. They were concerned about not doing anything heroic for their very geriatric cat, and I assured them that this would drastically improve the quality of their cat's life, giving her more energy. We'll have to monitor the cat closely for a while - there is a slight risk that the cat can develop antibodies to this hormone, since it is a human one, not a feline one - but other than that its pretty simple. They thanked me profusely as they left.

Earlier, I got to see a young puppy with a broken arm, give it vaccinations and change its cast. I also taught an owner how to do hydrotherapy and rebandage her dog's large wound, since we've been doing it all week but wouldn't be open on Sunday. That and a bunch of vaccinations and well-checks. No aggressive or bitey animals. Not a bad Saturday at all.