Tag Archives: Family

Looking a bit like Christmas around here

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Slowly but surely, we will get the Christmas decorating done this year. Free time is pretty scarce these days, so the decorating is getting done a bit at a time. There have also been a few speed bumps that have slowed our progress.

This year, we hit the ground running by putting the lights up on the garage way back on a warm Saturday in November. Since returning from Thanksgiving, decorations have been going up bit by bit both inside and outside of the house. Sure, I’d love to have them all done, but with all that we have going on these days just seeing progress is enough for me.

We got the tree up the Monday after Thanksgiving, but it stood with only its pre-attached lights, for a whole week. This past Monday night we were able to get the ornaments out and actually start decorating it. Even before putting any ornaments on, we went ahead with getting the topper situated. (Its a big tree, so the ladder almost has to go in the tree in order to reach the top, which always disturbs the ornaments.) The kids take turns and each year one of them gets to help daddy with the tree topper. He used to actually hold them on the ladder, but they’re too big for that now.  It used to look like this:

This year was Tommy’s turn:

So with a the topper in place it was time for ornaments. Oh wait…I forgot to mention one little thing. While Aaron was adjusting the topper to get it just right, I heard a disturbing crack. I looked up to see Aaron holding the snowflake, with the base of the topper still attached to the tree. My topper was now in 2 pieces.

Everything stopped.

I’m not kidding.

I literally froze in my tracks, jaw to the floor, staring at my precious tree topper. Christmas traditions are a big deal to me, and that topper has been on every tree that Aaron and I have ever had, and I was looking forward to it being on many trees to come. What’s funny is that I had always imagined its demise coming by the hands of a child, perhaps shattered to pieces on the tile floor. This was certainly not the ending I would’ve predicted.

Did I want Aaron to try to fix it? Not really, because it wouldn’t be the same. Did I want to get a new one? No.

I dried my tears and we went ahead with putting ornaments on the tree. The next evening Anna and I went out in search of a new topper. Before we left, Aaron reminded me that he had always wanted an angel atop the tree. I don’t have any problem with angels on my tree...but I was still hoping to find another snowflake. As we walked out the door, Anna said “maybe we could find an angel and a snowflake together.” Cute thought from my ever optimistic little princess. Two stores and 3 phone calls later, Anna and I returned home with new topper. She was totally hooked on it, but I needed some convincing.

Here’s’ what we picked out. You can’t tell from this picture, but the angel is actually holding a snowflake in the little fiber optic light in her hand. Guess Anna knew what she was talking about.

So, the angel is on the tree and it is great to have the tree finished. Do I like the topper? Sure. Do I love the topper? Not yet. I just don’t feel any attachment yet. I’m sure she’ll grow on me over time. In the meantime, I’m glad that everyone else likes it.

The happy ending to my story…here’s our pretty tree:

(try to ignore all the junk around it.)

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I hadn’t realized

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When we discussed how soon we were going to get a new dog, I was very much in favor of the sooner the better. Of course, I knew that the kids had to be ready for it. That wasn’t really a hurdle. Anna had been wanting a new dog for a while anyways. Tommy was indifferent.

It was just 3 days since we had put Patches down, and I was already walking through the kennels at our local shelter. Sure, part of it was selfish. I was the one who would have to be alone that week in my now empty house. The kids would be at school and Aaron would be at work. I had a final that Monday, but then I was done with classes. As much as I like my “me” time, I wasn’t looking forward to it that week.

Like I said, I was walking through the kennels and was completely overwhelmed. Big dogs, small dogs, old dogs, young dogs. Information overload! I went back out front and had a staff member make a list of the dogs that met our basic criteria. The dog had to be less than 4 years old, cat and kid friendly. I didn’t mention our desired weight/size of dog…figured I could handle that detail. I walked back through the kennels and was able to narrow that list down to 4 dogs. 2 of those dogs were there and I was interested in meeting them. The other 2 stayed on my list because they weren’t in their kennels at the time and I couldn’t eliminate them sight unseen. The girl brought in my first choice, must-see dog. This dog’s face had grabbed my attention on their website days ago. Great dog…but really just too much dog for us. The next dog I wanted to see was in with another family, so she went to get the third dog. Being that this was one of the ones I hadn’t seen in the kennels, I had absolutely no idea what would be walking in that door.

When “Hooch” walked in the room, I was hooked! He was such a gorgeous dog. He was just over a year old, weighed 25 pounds, and was very playful. I knew we had to have him. I called my husband and told him that it was this dog or no dog that day.  He was the only one there that fit the bill. Off I went to pick up the rest of the fam to come and meet this little pup.  A couple of hours later, we were headed home with our new pooch.

“Hooch” is now Porter, and he fits in with our family very well…perhaps a little too well!

Are we crazy? Perhaps. Was it a bad idea? Absolutely not.  It only took me a couple of days to realize that having Porter around really made me happy.  He probably saved me from an ugly rut that that I could easily have landed in with Patches gone. Actually, I was probably already headed into that rut for a while, but I hadn’t realized it. Having Porter around has helped me to see that.

Hardest thing I’ve had to do as a parent

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After a few days of what was probably denial, and my attempt to make life wait for me to be ready, I had to wake up and smell the coffee. That Tuesday, I knew that Patches needed to see the vet. I knew I couldn’t hold off any longer. He hadn’t eaten much of anything over the weekend and was clearly not doing well. In my head, I was still holding on to the hope that this was just a bad flare up of his intestinal condition. But, since I had to take the kids with me to this appointment, I needed to prepare them for the worst possible scenario. After all, Patches was almost 15 years old.

When I explained to them that we might need to say goodbye to Patches, I got mixed reactions. Anna cried. Tommy was clearly sad, but did not shed a tear. Perhaps he was in the same land of denial that I was in. He asked if we could take a picture of Patches. We’ve seen this before with Tommy. He takes pictures of all our pets with us on vacation so that he’s not sad about missing them. It’s one of his ways of coping.  We took a few pictures and then we headed off to the vet…in a very somber state. The appointment was fairly uneventful. The doctor took some blood and then sent us home with some critical care dog food, some pro-biotics, and some medicine to help with nausea. This was great for the kids, but I knew what was coming.

I was finally letting myself deal with the possibility that we would have to put Patches down. I waited anxiously for the call from the vet the next morning. The news was pretty much what I had expected. Patches had significant kidney failure. He gave us the option of bringing him in for IV fluids or subcutaneous fluids twice a day…and we’ll see what happens. At first I went for this…took him in for the sub. cu. fluids that afternoon. (I didn’t want to leave him all day for IV.) But I couldn’t ignore the numbers. Clearly, his kidney failure was severe. He wasn’t going to get better. It was time.

That night we all sat down together. We told the kids what was going to happen. They asked a lot of questions and cried a lot. The kids each took a turn holding Patches, hugging him, saying goodbye. We looked at pictures and even laughed a little bit. Tommy had a really hard time getting to sleep that night. (as did I.) The next morning, Tommy was ok. He said his last goodbyes and headed off to school. I think he had already moved on. Anna and I were another story. We were both falling apart at the seams. Grandma and Grandpa came to stay with Anna while I took Patches, and to be here so that I didn’t have to come home to an empty house. After school, Anna’s teacher said that she cried twice while she was there. She also got really upset at bedtime. Thankfully we had a very busy weekend ahead of us to keep our minds off of this.

This was whole experience was incredibly challenging for me. I’ve had Patches since he was 4 weeks old. I’ve always known that losing him would be very hard for me. As a mother, you just know that you have to be the rock for your children in times like this. But, I never could have imagined just how hard it would be to be that rock for them and to deal with my own emotions all at the same time. Definitely one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a parent so far.

My, how things have changed around here

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In my last post, I mentioned that things were very busy and that I had intended to start writing again about the many things going on around our house.  Yeah, well…I lied.  I thought I was going to get back into the swing of things, but it never happened.  Now that I’m not working, I’m not spending my downtime in front of a computer. I’m not having these random thoughts that I can just quickly draft into a post during my lunch. I’m at home now, where things are different. I have 2 children in school, one is just for half the day. I also have my own classes, which also keep me busy.

So, here I am again, saying that I’m going to start posting again.  Let’s see how I do this time. 🙂

The cat is out of the bag

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Back in January, I was talking about reflection and direction, about goals (AKA resolutions) and about soul searching.  At that point, I had outlined these 3 broad goals:

~Turn our house into the home we’ve been dreaming of by prioritizing home improvement projects.
~Sacrifice quantity for quality in everything that I do.
~Define my dream for the future and work towards implementing it.

Many people know about the home improvement projects.  I’ve discussed them here quite a bit.  Those are ongoing, and I must say, are moving along nicely.

The sacrificing quantity for quality…that’s a tough one, but also ongoing.

That brings us to the 3rd goal.  As it’s written, it sounds incredibly vague and open-ended.  Truth be told, I had already started working on that one when I wrote it.  Now, I’m happy to say that the dream is definitely defined and I am in the process of implementing it.  I haven’t discussed the details here at all just because I didn’t want it to accidentally slip out.  Sure, the likelyhood that someone from work would stumble upon my blog is pretty low…but it was not out of the question.  So, now that my boss knows and all the people who should hear it directly from me (or who would expect to) have been informed, the cat is officially out of the bag.  In 6 weeks, I will be leaving my job of almost 9 years.  Why?  Because it is time for a fresh start.  I’ve been looking, albeit halfheartedly, for the next thing for quite some time.  Several times over the past couple of years I have hit lows with this job.  I have wanted a break.  I knew it was time for something new, but it wasn’t until this year that I knew what that something was.

I have enjoyed my career as a chemist, but I must admit that I stumbled into it in a very odd way.  The decision to switch to a chemistry major in college was a very spontaneous one.  I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do with my life.  Now, 15 years later, I have revisited the idea of what I want to do with my life.  And, it is through my life experiences that I have come to know of this career direction.  I don’t think I ever would have chosen this even if I had done serious soul searching back then.  This fall I will be taking a couple of classes that will prepare me for a program that I will be applying to, and hope to begin the following fall.  By doing so, I will get a bit of a break.  I will get to spend more time with the kids, even volunteer in Anna’s kindergarten classroom.  Sure, going back to school will be challenging, but I feel up for the challenge at this point.

So, what is it that I’m going to be doing?  Do you really want to know??  OK…I’ll tell now.   I will be pursuing a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy.  Over these past few months with Tommy, I have not only been exposed to the field, but have also gotten to see the impact it has on the lives of others.  The ability to have that impact on someone else’s life is what I’ve been missing lately.  I want to work with children.  I want to help them overcome obstacles.  I want to make a difference.

So, 6 weeks from today I will begin a new chapter of my life.

Oh…it has been too long.

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There has been so much going on lately, much of which would be great to reflect on…but there just hasn’t been time.  Where are things at right now?  (a crude attempt at a summary.)

Tommy’s sensory issues seem to be under control at this point.  (Yes, I’m aware that this could change at any time.)  They finally have a new OT at his school.  His teacher has spoken with her about Tommy and, on her recent observations, she sees no sensory issues.  As far as the teacher and I go, the larger “problem” right now is Tommy’s focus.  He is having trouble during free writing time.  He can’t make a decision on a topic.  He is struggling to write 2-3 sentences when his classmates are writing 5+.  He says he “can’t think of what to write.”  The teacher also reports difficulty during independent work time.  He is not completing tasks that she believes are things he is capable of doing.  His OT has been working with him on the writing.  We’re going to try to coach him through the process of descriptive writing.  As for the inattentiveness at other times of the day, I must admit that I am very worried.  This difficulty with focus, plus his general distractibility is unsettling to me.  We’ll have to see what the next couple of months bring.

Anna is moving into a new phase of her own.  We see this every spring as her birthday approaches.  This year, it’s big.  Turning 5 will open up a whole new world for her.  She will get to go to summer camp with the “big kids” and she will go to Kindergarten in the fall.  She wants to be a “big kid” and wants to be independent.  She is not afraid to assert herself or to express her opinions.  Unfortunately these are not always done in the best way.  She insists on doing things by herself, but gets really upset when she can’t do something.    We’ve had a lot of meltdowns and conflict lately.

Household projects are moving right along.  Perhaps not as quickly as I/we had originally planned, but they are still moving.  Anna moved into her new room on Monday.  Granted, it still doesn’t have closet doors, but its definitely livable.  Next up…tearing up more carpet and touching up paint to turn her old room into Tommy’s new room.  For the first time in 6 years, the room I decorated as a nursery is going to be void of all things baby.  I had already let go of most of the furniture items that were originally in that room, but to take the decorations off the walls and turn it into Tommy’s ocean room…that’s going to be major closure for me.  Eek!

What a Wild Weekend

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Weekends in our house are usually pretty low key, especially this time of year.  As it starts to warm up, which it appears it isn’t going to do for another few weeks, we begin to pick up again.  We’ll start taking trips to the zoo, bike rides, afternoons at the park, etc.  For now though, we’re still low key.  This weekend, however, was a bit different.

Tommy came home Friday night very excited.  First of all, he had earned his respectful citizen badge at school.  Given the way the year started off, this is a major accomplishment and we are very proud of him.  In addition, he was chosen as star of the week for this week.  They have a jungle/safari theme in their class this year, so they actually call it “Top Banana”.  Being Top Banana is a really cool thing, especially since it starts with a weekend with the class monkey, Bongo.  Bongo is a webkin that has taken some great adventures in the homes of Tommy’s classmates.  As part of being Top Banana, Tommy had to write a story about what he and Bongo did this weekend, complete with pictures.  (SO glad he mentioned this first thing when he came home on Friday!!)  He was really into this, so it was a lot fun for all of us.

Bongo playing Legos with Tommy

Saturday was not a normal Saturday for us.  Grandma and Grandpa came to visit, which happens about once a month.  Also, we started probably the biggest of our planned home improvement projects.  Aaron and his boss spent most of Saturday building the wall that converts our loft into a bedroom.  In the meantime, the kids and I took Grandma and Grandpa to the children’s museum to stay out of the way.  The museum was a blast.  We’ve been there before, but it’s been about a year and a half since our last visit.  Both kids had a much different perspective on it this time.  None the less, 3 hours there was FAR more exhausting for mommy than it was for Tommy and Anna.  As for the wall, it has been framed and the drywall is up.  Aaron still has to do what I’m told is drywall mud.  After that, there will be door frames and trim and then on to painting.  Still much more to be done before the project is complete, but this was a major sized first step.  I will post progress pictures later.