Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mahna Mahna

My sisters and I loved to re-enact this one with socks on our hands. Why is it still so funny even today? Behold the genius of Jim Henson.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tales of a Reluctant Tourist

I got back from my conference in Jacksonville, Florida last night. It was a great conference, full of info on my favorite subject (veterinary dentistry). I traveled alone, and found a great restaurant 2 blocks from my hotel where I could sit at the bar and talk about wines with the bartender. They had a bunch of new wines that he said he needed to try, so he poured both of us tasting portions of a bunch of them.

I was traveling alone, which was great the first day. Then, I got tired of hearing the sound of my own voice in my head. I guess I am so used to hearing the requests of my family, plus my work environment is pretty interactive -- the silence was deafening. Loud in a conference full of people.

Anthony usually goes with me on these things, but I hated to waste a trip together when he doesn't really like Florida. Anyway, I am usually so tired by the end of the day I am not very lively company. He did a great job holding down the fort, and hopefully we'll get away together soon.

Traveling there and back was pretty uneventful, and passed quickly thanks to a good book. I read "The Whole World Over," by Julia Glass, which was almost as good as her first novel, "Three Junes." The best part of the book was that one of my favorite characters of all time, Fenno McLeod, reappears in this novel. Although she does not write from his point of view, it was lovely to hear his Scottish accent again. I am sorry to say I won't be passing this book along to our family book club, since I got it from the library, but I would recommend it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weird Week

Our schedules are all off this week - Anna and Colin off today for teacher in-service. Anthony left for a last minute business trip. After he returns I leave for Florida for the Vet Dental Conference.

We spent today going to the park and walking to the library between loads of laundry. They asked a few times about where their dad went, and I tried to prepare them for my 4-day departure later this week. Colin doesn't even like it when house guests leave, so you can imagine how he feels about a parent leaving.

We have 2 little bookworms: Colin was quite pleased to finally get his own library card today. While I was helping Anna find books, he found two copies of what he was looking for - Peter Pan. Anna got a Beverly Cleary, a Judy Blume, a horse care book, and a picture book. She has started three books already. Most nights, I got into her room way past bedtime, and raise an eyebrow at her reading self. "Just one more page, then I'll turn out the light!" When I report this to Anthony, he says, "Sounds just like you."

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Anna recently got wind of this game, and we play a few rounds every night after dinner. Anna is learning the rules pretty well, and starting to get the idea of those little hints like "sounds like."

When it's Colin's turn, though, it is hilarious. So far, he always acts out, "Movie, One Word, One Syllable," and its either Cars or Wall-E (which I know is technically two syllables, but watch him act out scooping and compacting trash and you'd guess it, too). Tonight he added one to his list, an animal (a category my kids have added). One word. Then he acts it out: his hands very close together, getting wider and wider and wider apart.

"Small?" "Big?" "Huge?" "Enormous?" Silently he shakes his head no and acts it out again and again.

"Growing?" I guess, and he vigorously nods then eyes me, like we're in on this together. Finally he whispers, "Growing...tadpole!"

If only I'd had the video rolling...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Screaming and Dreaming

My work was pretty good today, but ended with an old dog with some problems, unfortunately accompanied by a screaming 3 year old. His mother had no control over her child. I briefly explained my estimate and told her I would call her when I got the lab work back. I figured then it would be calmer and we could talk more about the plan.

However, she kept asking me questions, even though her son was clearly at the end of his rope and was now shrieking in her arms. I'm pretty sure she couldn't hear my answers. My ears were ringing.

As I left the room, my coworkers said, "Whoa! Sounds like you need a margarita! How about La Posada?"

I had to decline. "I have to rush home to go to the Hot Dog Social." Laughs all around. It sounds so quaint and fun, and it was. But sadly, not a margarita in sight.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Loss at the Vet Clinic

Sadly, at the rate I lose patients, I almost might as well be a gerontologist. Of course, my patients' average life span is only 12-14 (for dogs) to 17 (for cats). A lot of my patients, with no hope left for a life without constant suffering, actually die from my merciful actions. Sure, I am giving them an easy death, usually with their owners holding them, but basically we deal with death daily at my job.

Two of my clients recently contacted me to let me know about deaths in the family, but not the four-legged kind. The first was a client who used to have many geriatric cats but now is down to just one. She had told me he'd be the last because her husband would kill her if she got anymore -- she's the kind of client who spends whatever it takes for a geriatric pet, and her husband didn't quite share that priority.

Last month, however, her son died unexpectedly in a car accident. He'd had a chronic illness, so had made plans in case of his demise, including making his mom promise to take care of his cats. When she told me, I could hear her heart break. His health had been good, so she never expected to lose him at this time. She said it was the worst thing a mother could experience, and I believed her. She was asking for advice for transitioning the three new kitties in with her old crotchety one. Even though her son was gone, she was glad to have this small part of him living with her.

Then last week, another long-time client came in to pick up dog food and asked to speak to me. Her husband, who I knew was in ill health, had finally gotten the call that a liver transplant was ready for him. The next day they drove to the hospital, excited about the better quality of life ahead of them. But, he developed a blood clot and died immediately after the surgery; she drove home without him. All this happened just 3 days before she came to see me.

"I just wanted to thank you for all the care you have shown to our dogs over the past few years. I just thought you should know about my husband." Her grief was raw and palpable. I was worried she was going to be moving from the area, but that wasn't the case. She hadn't come in for dog food; she was hurting, and reached out to us because we knew her husband and had cared for her family.

As I hugged her, I couldn't imagine her loss. The promise of better health ended in the loss of life, the loss of her lifelong partner. I was so honored that she reached out to us for comfort in her time of grief. The other family doctor, indeed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For the Record

Not one drop! of rain here at the Vetmommy Ranch due to Hurricane Ike. I worked Thursday and Friday at the hospital (instead of hob nobbing at the coast) and the appt schedule was filled with last-minute-much-needed-appointments. My parents in Houston did see more precipitation than they'd like.

Today I did enjoy a jog with the dog in heavy, humid air with a strong wind (such a weird combination), an imaginary "safari" hike with Colin to the very dry creek bed (he stomped around and wondered at the lack of moisture and tadpoles while I hoped he wouldn't meet a snake). Also we enjoyed a lively dinner with my MIL and friends featuring plenty of Hatch green chiles and vino.

All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Damned Ike

I was invited to help with a continuing education seminar for veterinarians this weekend, demonstrating how to take digital dental Xrays. It was quite a feather in my cap, and also included a nice stipend, mileage paid, meals paid, and a nice condo at a resort in Port Aransas. However, with the impending storm, the entire event has been cancelled.

While I understand the decision, I am sooooooo disappointed. I feel a little guilty being so petulant about it when they are currently evacuating people with medical needs. Residents there are bracing for potential loss of property and making plans for higher ground. I know I wouldn't want to be stuck in that traffic heading north to Austin.

Still, I wanted to be Ms. Dental Smarty-pants and walk on the beach!

Monday, September 08, 2008

For my clamoring masses

Here we are, The Save The Earth Supergirls!
Close up of Anna's cape:
Close up of her shirt, which says "Save Our Planet." Mine said, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."
We were thrilled with our costumes, but we didn't win a prize. The costumes are amazing - there was a "couple" on an internet blind date, flowers in a pot, characters from Hairspray, Olympic Ping Pong Gold medalists, Wonder Woman twins, Native Americans, etc. The ladies on the right below won second place for costume.

We did have a great time, running between mystery events, carrying a rubber chicken, swimming in the lake with our float. At the end you run the gauntlet, a fun obstacle course. Then Anna's favorite part -- every finisher gets a medal. I wish they would have let Kareen and her son Cole participate, but they are pretty strict on the women only part, even for innocent little kids. Colin would love to do it, too, but he does enjoy the free Home Depot craft offered every year for kids.

Anna is already thinking of costume ideas for next year.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Fabric Store Lady

This weekend Anna and I will be doing the Women's Adventure Race. This is a very lighthearted event; costumes are encouraged. Last year we competed as Crayons. This year Anna decided we should be the "Super Earth Saver Girls." I swear I did not encourage this green team spirit.

I went to the fabric store yesterday and found some green fabric to match our supergirl skirts. "I want to make a cape, actually two," I told the sewing lady. "I'm going to freehand it, but I don't know how much fabric I need to get."

I love these sewing ladies at the fabric stores. They are a fountain of knowledge, and they love to help with the best part of any sewing project - the planning stage when you are still in the store, not the frustrated, hunched-over-the-machine-swearing stage. "Well, what you need to do is look at one of these patterns to see about how much you need." Together we looked up a Dracula pattern and found it called for 1 1/2 yards of fabric.

"Hmm," I said, "Maybe I should just go ahead and buy the pattern."

"Oh, honey, its so expensive right now." The whole pattern was $13. "Wait two weeks and they'll all be on sale for $1.99."

But, of course, I need it this weekend. "Well, girl, you know what you do? You just make yourself a pattern out of newspaper and use that. Two capes? You should get 3 yards."

While she cut my material, she told me about the blanket project she was doing with her granddaughter. I am certain every time she looked up, she moved my fabric over an extra 1/8 of a yard. I got ample material for my capes.

"Carolyn, thank you so much for your help!" I told her, and she said, "Oh, honey, I absolutely love it. Good luck!"

So now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on some green capes.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Say my name

I just got a call from Anna's teacher, reminding us about the "milk and cookies" meeting with the teacher tomorrow. Which I will not be attending since I am working but Anthony definitely will. Also, the flyer about this little shindig is on my refrigerator, much to the amusement of my friends without children. They are amused by that and by the presence of so many step-stools around my house.

But back to the teacher's phone call: I wasn't sure who it was originally since I didn't recognize the caller ID, and when I answered the person asked for "Mrs. Vetmommy," not "Dr. Vetmommy," or "Jennifer." The Mrs. Vetmommy thing always sounds matronly and sort of proprietary to me. I mean, I don't mind sharing Anthony's last name, but that whole MRS. title is so foreign to me, especially since I graduated from vet school a week before I married so I started my new life with a new title AND a new surname.

And as much as I totally adored everything about Anna's teacher last year, she always called me Mrs. Vetmommy, not Dr. Vetmommy, even when I came to talk to the class about being a veterinarian! And, she did it in such a way (in the middle of a long sentence in front of her class) that I didn't feel like I could correct her, although I did talk to the kids about how I am a doctor, just like your doctor, except for animals.

(Don't take this to mean that I insist on being called "Doctor" all the time. If I am with someone socially, I really want to be called Jennifer. Don't call me Doctor while we are drinking margaritas together.)

So, Anna's new teacher says how much she is enjoying Anna in her class already. I'm a little surprised, because they've only been in class 4 days, but she sounds very sincere, saying Anna is a good listener and eager to complete her work. She also said Anna corrected her on the pronunciation of her name, but now she's sure she has it right.

Well, this is music to my ears. We pronounce Anna's name the German way: "Ah-nah," not "Ann-uh." Often Anna is too polite to correct people, especially adults. It can be hard to correct someone in a position above you, but I didn't want to get halfway through the year and find out the teacher had it wrong.

Of course, hearing from any teacher how great their child is will make any parent happy. I am particularly pleased to hear that she is both following the rules and clearly telling people how she wants to be called, something even grown-up me finds difficult.