Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update post

Anthony made it home, and the kids both jumped on him with full body hugs and I couldn't even get close to him until they went to bed. Then we spent the whole weekend together. Of course by Sunday night the kids were driving us crazy...

Tu Quieres Pina Coladas? My friend, Luis from Puerto Rico loves Pina Coladas (of course). I made him a Pina Colada cake for his birthday today, but he was sick with the flu. He barely dragged himself in today for a slice (and to pick up his check). How awful to be sick on your birthday. Get well soon, Luis...

My workplace has been quite fertile lately. We have two doctors out on maternity leave. Another one just found out today she's carrying a boy. Our intern asked me to scan her today. I'm fairly certain she's carrying a girl (she already has 2 sons). We stayed late to do a c-section on Saturday. No wonder I had a dream that I had a surprise 3rd baby, and due to a history of "precipitous labor" (ie fast) I delivered it myself at work. Don't worry, won't happen in real life -- as my coworker said, my uterus is retired.

As my big girl Anna was reading to us a bedtime story tonight, Colin was splayed across my lap, head against my chest. I wrapped my arms around him and thought about how 5 years ago he occupied a similar -but much smaller!- space inside my belly. I looked at his big meaty feet, thinking how they used to kick me, at his dexterous hands; now his fingers fiddle with the skin on the back of my knuckles. Five years ago I was hugely pregnant, tired and uncomfortable, about to take off from work, sure that he would be born early and soon (not late, as was the case).

These little floppy, helpless babies go from a blink of an eye into huge, clever, cheeky kids, who dress and feed themselves and go to the bathroom on their own (that still amazes and pleases me). My parents assure me in another blink they'll be driving, going to prom, and then to college.

I'm feeling a little vertigo...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where is Anthony?

Anthony is in Chicago this week for training, staying at a swanky hotel, eating out every night in the windy city. Don't feel too jealous for him - he eats alone every night, and has to take a test tomorrow.

Everyday he sends us cool train pictures like this:

The kids miss him so much. Usually, Daddy is definitely second in priority to Mommy, but when he's gone, they talk about how much they love being with him all the time. "When is Daddy coming home?" Colin asked, again. "He's my favorite boy."

We've been successful at National Turn Off the TV week so far (so much easier now that I have TiVo safely squirreling away all my shows), but tonight I think I might watch an old episode of ER. It's not the show it used to be, and Anthony can't stand it/won't watch it with me anymore, but I can't give it up for sentimental reasons. So now that the kids are asleep I might watch it to get it off the queue, and to look for another glimpse of the "El" or other scenes where my sweetie is. (ER is set in Chicago, although I realize it is largely filmed in a studio in CA).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Old Hen Died

I went to feed the chickens before work Tuesday morning. Only 5 greeted me at the gate. No biggie - sometimes one is busy looking for treats under the food bowl or working on an egg in the hutch. I was startled to see #6 dead next to the food bowl.

Anthony called her the "spunky" hen. We don't name our poultry (except for Chicka the China); instead we usually call them the red one, the yellow one, the black one, the Americana, the one with feathers on her feet. Spunky was the oldest and definitely at the pinnacle of the pecking order.

She looked deflated. She had been alive the morning before, but must've died soon after I saw her. She had ants all over her. A quick inspection revealed no external injury, no foul play. Her breast bone jutted into the palm of my hand - she must've been ailing for some time without me noticing.

I held her by the feet away from Francesca's curious nose and showed her to the kids. "Aw, how sad!" said Anna. "Can we get a new chick?" Probably not, after the incident of the murderous hawk.

If Anthony'd been in town, I probably would have asked him to bury the old hen. But we were 5 minutes from leaving the house to go to school and work, and I wouldn't get home until after 7. I did not want to deal with her after her laying all day in the 90 degree sun all day. So, with a small twinge of guilt given her long loyal service, I bagged her up and put her in the dumpster (luckily it was trash day).

When I told Anthony, he was sad and wanted me to figure out why she died. "Old age, probably," I said, "Do you realize that hen was 7 years old?" I remembered we got her as a replacement pullet the summer Anna was a baby. We may miss her presence, but I'm sure we won't miss her eggs - I'm sure she's been in retirement from laying for years. Thinking about her longevity, and her life spent in the corner of our yard, with access to lots of chicken feed and sunshine and grubs, it seemed a good death after all and not quite so sad.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Excuse you!

When I do housework I listen to my iPod. Instead of music I usually listen to podcasts, catching up on Fresh Air and This American Life. Today I was listening to a guy explaining why our financial banking system is in the toilet, hedging all kinds of crazy "bets" on subprime mortgages. He's in the middle of his explanation when he burps in my ear.

It's under his breath, but the microphone picked it up, and the little earbuds cast it in high fidelity right to my brain.

Geez, sound engineer, couldn't you cut me a break? Ewwww...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Rehabilitation of Buggy

I saw a dog a few months ago for "eye problems." He had keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye - he was not producing enough tears to lubricate his corneas. As a result, his eyes were mucusy, cloudy, red, and painful.

He was pretty nice when I first examined him, but the owner said, "Be careful! He bites!" Then she did this weird thing where she averted her eyes from him, cowered away, and literally tried to hide in the corner. Moments later the small dog flipped out, snapping and growling - fortunately no match for the restraint skills of my technician.

This dog had been diagnosed YEARS before with KCS, but the owner couldn't - or wouldn't - medicate him. I talked to her about how she needed to be in charge of the dog. Giving in to this behavior was like allowing a toddler to get whatever they wanted for throwing a tantrum. I said it was like when your kid needs something medical like a shot, you do it even if they don't want it because it's important for their health. "I'm not good with medical stuff, even with my daughter," she said.

She ended up boarding the dog with my friend Leah, so he could get medicated consistently and also so they can sell their house. This little guy was 9 years old, and I figured he'd had years of thinking he was the boss. I wasn't sure how it would go, but I knew he needed eye drops everyday.

Leah brought him in for a recheck a week later. "He's great for his medications now. He doesn't even need a muzzle." I rechecked his eyes and he did have improved tear production in one eye. The other eye had zero tear production and unfortunately the eyeball had permanent damage. His attitude was much better, and he only got snippy once.

On his next recheck, Leah said he'd been peeing all over the house. We did a urinalysis, then ended up diagnosing diabetes. I called the owner and told her the news. She was certain she'd never be able to give the dog the insulin shots. At least Leah could get him started on therapy.

The next time I saw him for a glucose curve, he was a prince. His eyes were shiny and no longer painful from getting consistent medication. He had good energy level and obviously was happy. He was compliant for the exam and for 7 blood draws.

Although his original owners are still paying for care, its pretty obvious who his new owner is -- Leah. I am so proud of her for rehabilitating this dog, physically and mentally. I am impressed with how much he has improved life for him, just by being his leader and giving him the loving care he needs. She her version w/photo here. Cesar Milan would be proud.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boys will be boys

Before I had a son, I hated when people said that. There is no reason that boys shouldn't be held to the same rules as girls.

Now that I have a boy and a girl, I still believe that, but I realize boys truly are wired differently. We had all of Anthony's metal Hot Wheels out when Anna was a baby, and she touched them maybe once. Colin was pushing them around and lining them up and talking about them as soon as he could.

Something about testosterone makes boys behave like brats more than most girls. Granted, there are always exceptions.

Anna was held up as a model of good behavior in her preschool. Now Colin, at the same school, is in trouble all the time (much like his same-aged cousin in Houston, Graham!). Anthony and I worry, though, that he is being labeled as a "bad boy" there. I worry they are always expecting bad behavior, waiting for him to fail. For example, I asked his teacher how today went.

"Well, he was a little better," she said skeptically. Then, "Actually, today wasn't bad."

See what I mean about the preconceived expectation? It was only Monday; it wasn't like she could be confused about what happened today or the day before. I just said, "Okay, see you tomorrow!" not wanting to dwell on anything negative. Close quizzing of Colin about his day revealed he really had done well, made good behavior choices.

We are pretty glad there are only 5 more weeks for him left at that school. I think it is time for a fresh start -- kindergarten at the same elementary that Anna is in.

It's funny because he's been to that elementary for 2 years now, visiting his sister, and although he doesn't like his preschool, he is reluctant to leave it. I guess even little kids hate change. He didn't even want to have his 5th birthday or a party (since 5 year olds go off to kindergarten). All that changed after he saw Anna's birthday party and the load of presents. Now he keeps asking when its going to be his birthday.

On that note, here's some Colinisms! Yesterday we spent ALL DAY OUTSIDE since it was so beautiful - cool, breezy, dry, sunny. My feet were quite dirty from wearing just sandals, so I washed them in the tub as I washed the kids.

"Mommy, your hairs!" said Colin. "They are all pokey!" Then he rubbed his lips up my calf. "See, they hurt!" You can bet I shaved today.

At the dinner table, we asked Colin if he'd made a hole in the grass by the entrance to the shed with his sharp stick. "Don't do that buddy. Mommy and Daddy don't like to step in mud when we go in the shed."

Colin lifted his eyebrows high into his forehead. "But you can jump over it, like a bunny!" he said, demonstrating with his hand. "Me and Anna can show you how!"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Migration Margarita

When Francesca and I jogged around the lake today, we saw a huge flock for pelicans, about 75 of them, taking a rest on their migration north. I cannot tell you how excited this made me. I made sure to point them out to everyone I passed on the trail. I'm an animal dork like that. Francesca did not notice them, but last year when we saw them she turned her predatory gaze towards them and the entire flock (about 200 that time) took flight en masse and headed for Round Rock. It was awesome and disappointing. I was happy that they stayed put this time. I did really wish I had Angie and her camera with me.

I cleaned the house for about 4 hours today (whew!) then cooked all afternoon - fish, rice, guacamole, and beans for dinner, shepherd's pie for tomorrow's dinner, Nigella's Breakfast bars for the rest of the week. Also, a perfect margarita, on the rocks. I needed it, after all that domestic labor!

2 parts premium tequila
1/2 part triple sec (I used Paula's Texas Orange)
1 part citrus juice (half lime, half Meyer lemon)
1/2 part simple sugar (or more, if you have a sweet tooth, like Anthony)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Salad Days

Here's a post, finally, without any cake! I know some parts of the country are still in the grips of winter, but as you can see, my salad bucket runneth over. In a month, the lettuces will be done because it will be too hot. I wish you could freeze the lettuce or can it or something. I wish we could bottle this beautiful spring weather, too.

Despite the horrible day Friday, we did have a good weekend. Anna had her ballet exam on Saturday midday (she did great). Earlier in the morning she went outside to play with her brother. I looked up from the breakfast dishes to see her up to the elbows in mud. "You realize you are going to have to take a shower now before ballet, right?" I asked her. My knee jerk reaction was to be mad, but then I realized I'm glad she is the kind of girl who can play in the mud with her brother and flounce around in a tutu. The dog needed a bath, too, since they piled mud on top of her as well.

Happy girls at Baskin Robbins after the exam.

There's also this:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Grim day, with cake

Today was one of the crappiest days I've ever had at work. First I found out that the wonderful Japanese clients I sent back to Japan with a health certificate were now without their dog, because the Japanese quarantine officials didn't like that I left a 3 year old rabies vaccine off their form. After getting the forms faxed to me from Japan, filling them out and taking them twice to the USDA for certification (thank goodness we're in Austin), then faxing and Fedex-ing them to Japan, and numerous international phone calls, I am hopeful they will be able to get their beloved dog on Monday. This endeavor started at 8:30 am and ended at 4 pm.

We also had the electricity go out for about an hour due to weather, which made everything at our computerized clinic STOP. We were backed up for hours.

Also, a dog bit me unprovoked on the hand. It didn't break the skin but it hurt and bruised.

Worst of all, I lost a beloved patient under anesthesia for no good reason. She had a full preanesthetic workup that was normal. She did well for most of the procedure. We saw her oxygenation drop, so we started breathing for her. Then her heart just stopped, and despite CPR and epinephrine and intense efforts for 30 minutes, she was inexplicably gone. I could write a lot more about this subject but it pains me too much. Days like today make me question everything about the fragile, precious lives in our hands. Thank goodness for the grace and kindness of the technicians, doctors, and managers around me.

And, to completely change the subject - have you ever had a friend tell you about their dream, and it was so vivid and funny you felt like you were there? And so you were inspired to make them a birthday cake about their dream?

My friend Fran had a dream about cats who lived in aquariums, swimming happily underwater. She's turning 30, hence the cake (designed by me, but totally executed by Anthony). Feliz cumpleanos, Fran!

Also, find everything you wanted to know about making a cupcake cake here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Birthday Cakes and Bellydancing

Anna's birthday weekend was great. Thank goodness the rain and another migraine waited until after the party to arrive. I have so many good pictures, I'll just start with the cakes.
Anthony got the nifty idea to ice a bunch of cupcakes all together. If you've seen his cakes before, you know this is one of the simplest designs he's done, but it is quite striking.

The best part was that all the guests could just pluck their piece of cake from the bunch, no knife or forks needed.

Or tables and chairs, apparently...

Tastes good, too!

For her birthday dinner, Anna chose to go to our local Greek restaurant. They had a belly dancer, and the birthday girl danced with her. It's not exactly ballet...