Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Slow season?

They say this is the lowest production work week of the year. I believe it, because my commute to work is zoom-zoom. I love it: leave late and arrive early. But the schedule at my work is anything but slow. We are full with routine appointments (everyone likes to come in when they're off with the kids for annual vaccinations) and then we have to fit in a higher than usual number of sick patients. At least I don't have to field calls for travel sedatives anymore!

I have to stifle a cruel laugh when people innocently ask, "Is there any way you can do my dog's dental this afternoon?" First of all, we don't do elective surgeries in the afternoon, because we want to allow our patients plenty of time to recover. Second of all, I don't know where to fit in the urgent surgeries!

It's good for business but makes us all tired. I really do love being at my job, but I also wish I could be at home this week, like Anthony is with the kids. They're out of school, and it's hard for him to schedule much work this week anyway. Everyone else is off; no one wants the boiler inspector to come on a slow work week when they are playing hookey.

It's not slow in the yard. I love the new patio! We all took turns jumping off of it. Anthony has been clearing more of the grass, with "assistance" from Colin. Next up is building the shed. Pictures soon, I hope!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Its been a FULL visit here to Dallas, full of cookies and chocolate, visits from friends and family, and full of presents. Everytime our adult attitudes would lag, Anna would festively shout, "I'm full of the holiday spirit!" and get us back on track. Rest assured, the Highlander will be as full on the journey home as it was coming up here!

This holiday we've also run into people who have tried long and hard to have children and still have no babies in their arms; the holidays seem very quiet and a little sad for them. That is juxtaposed by others who have children and don't really seem to want them, people who are happy to let others raise their offspring. That is so strange and foreign to me, and makes me hug my own babies tightly and kiss them for their oblivious happiness. It also makes me grateful for my husband, who is patient and engaged with our kids, and does odd jobs and the dishes for his mother. Today he loaded 3 wee bikes onto our car, loaded up 3 small children, and pushed them around the park for their maiden voyage, which only lasted about 2 minutes. Then he uncomplainingly loaded us all up again to go home. 12 people can generate a lot of dishes, but Anthony got them all cleaned up.

Tuesday we go home, and I can't wait to walk on my new patio! It was poured just before we left, and I haven't stepped foot on it yet!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Success

I can finally say potty training is going well. For long time blog readers, you know this is a big deal! We moved the diaper changing table out of the house just before Thanksgiving. Colin's had a few accidents since then. Anna's been solid since school started. Should I start ducking the lightning bolts now?

Colin still needs some reminding, and we often say, "Listen to your body..." That can be hard when you're in the middle of playing something really fun.

The other day, though, Colin jumped up and said, "Oh, I have to tinkle!" Then, "I can hear my bum!"

When nature calls, you gotta listen...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

That's Amore

Vino the hamster, being a wee creature, needs little, but he does benefit from our healthy eating habits. Every night as I make dinner, I put aside little tidbits for him. The leafy end of a piece of lettuce or spinach is a huge dinner salad for him. He loves the end bits of cucumber or zucchini, leaving behind a thin green skin. He perches on our pepper tops and eats all the seeds and the tiny bit of remaining flesh. The occasional bean, edamame, or rice grain gets sucked down whole into his cheek pouch for later.

So, as I'm chopping tonight's meal, leaving a little Vino pile on the side of my cutting board (the rest goes into the compost), I suddenly realize I've never given him garlic. Hmm... its full of antioxidants, and I definitely want him to live as long as hamsterly possible. I set aside the tiny woody piece at the end of the clove for him, and chop the rest for our meal.

I put the garlic, lettuce, squash, and pepper in his cage. He comes out, scampering around, sniffing everything, then drags the tiny piece of garlic halfway to his hidey hole, and devours most of it, before eating anything else.

With a name like Vino, he's got to be Italian!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Weekend update

So, I am gone from the internet for two whole days, and return to find almost no one has updated. Oh, NaBloPoMo, where did you go? Seems everyone is too busy to tend their blogs.

We had some of our favorite people - David and Deedra - over this weekend, perhaps you remember them? As soon as they got married, Anna said, "Now, will they have a baby?" Luckily for her, they are, this spring! So we had lots to catch up on, then spent a wonderful adults-only dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I woke up at 3 am with a killer headache - one so bad it made me throw up, twice. I finally fell back asleep but when I got up in the morning, it returned with a vengeance. I retreated under the covers and an eye mask. Our lovely friends offered to watch the kiddoes while Anthony took me to the urgent care center. "We're leaving," Anthony told Colin as we headed out the door. "They staying?" Colin asked, referring to David and Deedra. Yes, Anthony told him. "Good, I WUVE them! Bye!!"

I thought for sure I was suffering from a migraine, but the dr. thought it was just a sinus headache. Well, I have had a sore throat and post nasal drip off and on for over a month. Hmm, I guess so. Migraine wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility, but fortunately a subarachnoid hemorrhage seemed unlikely. Phew! So now I'm on a Z-pack and I took some vicodin. Today I'm feeling much better, haven't needed any pain meds and even went to the gym.

This morning the concrete guys came to start our patio. We are starting a huge new landscaping project, and our tiny patio is turning into a large, curvy, usable space. Francesca was very bothered by all the changes in her territory and watched closely out the back door all day.

Anna asked me why all the workers were boys. Good question. She said maybe it was because boys are stronger than girls. I said that was true in general, but the work these guys were doing a girl could do. She said she understood, that she had seen female policemen before. Still, she went out and played in the backyard, but Colin was the one who watched them closely, then filled up his little red wheelbarrow with sand and relocated it, just like they were doing.

We also made 2 more batches of Christmas cookies today. Because the ones at work are just sweet; these are good!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dear Santa, Please Don't let me gain 10 lbs this season...

There is so much food at my work. We are so blessed to have clients that think so well of us, that they bring us goodies to say thank-you for caring for their pets. We also get gifts from specialists and labs that we work with. There were at least 4 different kinds of chocolate chip cookies in the break room today, as well as popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, Hershey's kisses, brownies, chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips, frosted sugar cookies...

I'm not even hungry, but at 11 am, they're calling my name. I eat half a cookie and instantly regret it - my mouth is full of that too sweet after taste, and now I'll be extra hungry in an hour. A coworker complains about a work situation that doesn't even involve me, and I'm eating chocolate again in a vicarious stress response. I try to just stay out of there! Kareen, how do you even work in there? (her desk is in the break room)

There is one gift, though, that we get every year from a special client. Its Route 11 Potato Chips. I look forward to these chips all year! They are cooked in peanut oil in small batches with just the right amount of salt. We get treated to a huge tin every year. It looks like a popcorn tin, but it is a brazillion times better. If you're gonna eat something fried, it might as well be fried in good oil! These chips are simple and perfect - they fill you up and don't give you a sugar headache.

Sadly, I ate the last of the potato chip crumbs today. Now its back to avoiding the cookies...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Funny Penis Stories

We all know that penises are funny body parts, right? Preschoolers especially understand that! Here are 3 short stories regarding penises and children I know. One of the stories comes from my son, but I'll leave them all anonymous to protect the innocent.

1. Son: Mommy, you have a circle penis.
Mommy: OK... what kind of penis do you have?
Son: I have a rectangle penis.

2. Daughter, curling up to her dad in bed: Daddy, where is your penis?
Daddy: Uh, in my shorts. Why?
Daughter: You don't take it off at night?

3. Son: Mommy, there is a hole in your Pee-Pee.
Mommy: Yes, you have a hole, too. See?
Son: Yeah, Mommy, but your hole is bigger.

Make sure you read the comments to this post to read another hilarious story...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Someone's getting in the spirit

Anna saw her brother in the tub yesterday and wanted to help wash him. "I will be like his mommy!" she said, soaping her hands up and rubbing his back and belly.

When she was done she said, "Oh, Mommy, he looks so cute and precious, you should have named him Baby Jesus!"

Hmm, maybe if we spoke Spanish...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Losing Tiny Lives

Today at our staff meeting we had a grief counselor who specializes in pet loss talk with us. She gave us insight on some of the things we can do so that we don't inadvertently make the process more difficult for clients. She reminded us how we can get "compassion fatigue," dealing with so much death at times. We also can become rather callous, since this is our daily job - since we see these situations so many times, and we often have to go see another patient moments after helping another to die. In the end, the counselor wisely allowed her visit to become a bit of a group counseling session, with many staff members sharing stories of pet loss.

My last appointment of the evening was a rat. She was losing weight and had stopped eating - a very poor prognostic sign of advanced disease in a rat. As prey creatures, these little guys do everything they can to appear normal, even expiring in their food bowls.

This little patient was a hairless rat. She was so ugly - worse than that hairless cat on Austin Powers - but she did have a certain charm, as well as curly whiskers. Her hairlessness accentuated her rapid sudden weight loss, and her owners could even see the bulge of a tumor on her abdomen.

"I read that sometimes rats can have benign mammary tumors," he said hopefully. Yes, but this tumor was ENORMOUS, stretching across inside her cranial abdomen. It felt attatched to the intestines, and was lumpy-bumpy - all really bad signs. "This isn't a mammary tumor; its in her abdomen," I said. "It has a much poorer prognosis. I could do surgery and open her up, but if I can't remove it we'd have to euthanize her on the table. Even if I could remove it, most likely it would come back. I wouldn't do the surgery if it was my own rat."

Enricka, rat lover extraordinaire, came in at this point to meet the patient. As I gave the owners a scary estimate for surgery, she agreed that for this problem she wouldn't put one of her rats through the stress of surgery. She told them that I have operated on some of her rodents with cutaneous tumors, but she would euthanize in a case like this.

Eventually they did give consent for euthanasia. They were grief stricken for this tiny, hairless creature, who seemed healthy less than a week ago. The suddenness of the loss made it worse. Even though she weighed less than 300 grams, they loved her and felt her loss deeply.

I gassed her down into unconsciousness then gave the injection to stop her heart. Afterwards, I opened her up to peek in her abdomen. A huge, gnarly, lobulated mass completely blocked her stomach, shutting it off from the intestines. It was attatched to the liver and the dorsal body wall. Totally inoperable. They had made the correct, though excruciating, decision.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A guest post by Anna (with editorial flourishes by mom)

I was invited to a fancy ladies' Christmas Tea in Houston. It was a lot of fun, but I still don't know why my brother couldn't come. Here's my day:

First, ladies have to spend a lot of time getting ready. I got my hair done by Auntie Stephanie, and some make-up by Auntie Emily.

After I was ready, there was still a lot of primping going on. I was bored! I wanted to go to the tea party. Beverly kept me entertained until my limo came.

I couldn't wait to go on my first limo ride!

Finally, all my posse was ready to go! We drove to downtown Houston. The tea was in a fancy room with no windows and pictures of horses. There was a man playing piano and a lady singing arias. Then they started bringing food. I liked trying all the little finger foods, but I didn't like some of the cheeses. I nearly coughed the smoked salmon up all over my beautiful dress, but I held it back until my mom could get a napkin to spit it into.

I did drink some tea but I really liked this fancy drink:

Especially the cherry on top! Then they brought out a lot of desserts! Yum!

I especially liked the chocolate covered strawberries. I showed Aunt Cinda how to eat them. I had seven of them!

It was a lot of fun, but I thought there would be dancing. Instead, we went home and I had a soak in the tub with my cousins, then enjoyed Beverly reading The Polar Express. It was a great day.

Cousinly love.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's beginning to look....

Anthony and I have a rule about Christmas decorations - they don't go up before December 1st and they don't come down until after January 1st. I know this doesn't jive with most Americans, who decorate the long weekend after Thanksgiving and take it down December 26th. We are happily in agreement on this one.

We also agree on the artificial tree thing. It helps that we both grew up with artificial trees. I know you "real tree" purists get all high and mighty about it, that it doesn't smell as good (buy a scented candle) or seem as traditional (its a fire hazard), but again, we are contented in our joint decision on this one. The first year we were married, we tried a live tree, which of course was really dead anyway, being severed from its root system (and also because it was already dry) and it was such a mess! Sap all over the car bringing it home! Needles all over every day! Ornaments slipping off its drying limbs! Puppy Montana chewing ornaments! (OK, that was not the live tree's fault, but it did happen, and reminds me that she was not always a perfect angel dog.)

The live tree is not for us. I feel guilty about killing a tree anyway (the same way I feel vaguely guilty about eating meat, although I do that anyway). So we got a really awesome artificial tree. I loved it, but it took me hours to string the lights on it, and my arms were covered afterwards with little red prickles.

I started to covet a prelit tree. Two years ago, Anthony surprised me with one. Not only did he purchase it for me, he set it all up for me and presented it with much fanfare. It is beautiful, chock full-o-lights, plenty realistic, and much easier to set up (though much heavier!).

On Friday, Anna asked me if I was working this Saturday, and I said no. "Can we set up the Christmas tree then?" Yes, I told her. Early Saturday morning, she was nudging me, asking about the tree. I let Colin and Anna help me put many of the ornaments on, so we have a bunch of them at 3 feet up all in the front. We also put the many beautiful Lenox ornaments (my mom buys them each one every year) at a safer, higher altitude. "Ooh, is that one mine?" they asked as I pulled each one out.

At the top of the tree, we have an angel - a dog angel I made that first Christmas we were married. I was so inspired by the beauty of my new Golden Retriever puppy that I made it to look like her. Now we especially appreciate having our angel Montana watching over our tree.

I did the rest of the house decorations while the kids were at school today. Colin came home and looked at the fireplace with amazement. "What are all those.... Santa socks for?" he asked.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December musings

Did you miss me yesterday? I took a day off of blogging! Whew! NaBloPoMo was good but tough. I thought it might help my writing skills, but without criticism from a professional editor or writing professor, I don't think I improved much (please do not read this as a request for unsolicited criticism, but thanks anyway!). I did help get the writing juices flowing more quickly, which I guess was the point ("...the hope is that the act of putting something of yourself out for the world to see every single day will make writing become a more fluid, natural, and integral part of your day." per M. Kennedy). I would stare at the screen, thinking I had nothing to say, then once I started on a subject the words started flowing out of me, and pretty soon I had many paragraphs. I guess I lean more towards Dickens than Hemingway. Often I went back to delete some such silliness as "I don't have much to say tonight..." in the first paragraph. Anyway, I guess Mission Accomplished.

We are enjoying the sudden blast of cold weather here in Central Texas. The week after Thanksgiving temps were in the muggy 80s. Then we got this nice cold snap that makes getting in the Christmas spirit so much easier. The basil is definitely dead (RIP).

I went jogging with the dog today, and actually wore long pants and a long sleeved T-shirt! Francesca needs the exercise. Being a herding dog, she is full of energy, and ever watchful to changes in the environment. As we jogged by a large plastic Nativity scene in one yard, she was definitely wary. Seems Francesca is afraid of Baby Jesus!

Friday, December 01, 2006

I don't have to post, but I will anyway!

The electrocuted puppy came back from the emergency clinic this morning, looking much better. We slowly weaned him off of oxygen, and then I sent him home. His sweet owners brought me a card and chocolates for everyone, but mostly I was glad to see the happy looks on their faces when I sent him home.

Little Mack, feeling much better!