Friday, January 31, 2014

here we go again...

I recently watched a video on 'the art of gratitude'.  When I first saw this video trending on my Facebook feed, I'll admit, I was annoyed.  Generally, if I'm perusing the social network, I'm looking for raw, trashy, mostly fictitious gossip.  I want to see the people I went to high school with making bad choices, updates on Kim Kardashian's epic life fails, and Bieber.  Keep it light, right?  But this one stuck out.  The thumbnail on the video was a chick crying, so I thought, "what they hell, this could be good".

The video went on to interview several people about their current state of happiness and what they thought might make them happier.  Every person said variations of the same answer.  More money, more stuff, less work and more fun.  The guy who led the "experiment" looked like a 15 year old serial killer but he wore a lab coat, so I just went with it.

He goes on to ask them to think of someone who was really important to them, and write down their thoughts and reasons for picking that person.  They go on to make the subjects call the people they chose and read them their thoughts. Naturally, as an emotional basket case, I was hysterical pretty quickly.  But the video succeeded in provoking thought to the things and people I have in my life, instead of that which I don't have. 

Since I last wrote, quite a bit has changed.  Ryan and I are engaged and getting married in just under 4 months.  Grace is three and a half and I'm filling out preschool registration forms and t-ball league packets.  We have a 40lb. beagle who can't tell his ass from a bag of Doritos, and a house with approximately no closet space.  Grace is sassy, Ryan's working on a ton of cool projects, and I'm failing miserably at a wedding diet.  We're surrounded by family and our hearts are full of gratitude. Ryan and I are closer than we've ever been and our little girl is arguably the coolest person either of us know (seriously, she's way cooler than you).  Life is so good.

In reality, the video was about a 6 on a scale of 1-10, but something about watching that really made me stop and think.  Give it a watch if you have a few minutes, might make you count your blessings a little more often...

Friday, August 23, 2013

I am Mother, hear me ROAR!

I officially have a three year old.  A preschooler.  An adorable little human who resembles me and and acts out like Ryan.  She is like 4 feet tall and is rocking a pretty serious 80's rocker mane.  She is fiercely driven and unbelievably stubborn.  Three years ago, I birthed this human being. 

Parts of last few years have flown by, leaving behind small rattles and toys, which I'm still tripping over, and spit up stained onesies that I'm too sentimental to part with. Other parts have leisurely dragged.  I haven't slept the night in THREE YEARS and that menacing feeling that some horrific catastrophe or certain doom is waiting just around the corner, has yet to go away.  I'm serious when I say that I've just accepted that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is no longer a rational worry.  That doesn't mean I don't watch her breathe or check for a pulse nightly.

Three years and TEN months ago (yes, Grace was late), in an incredibly unforeseen twist of fate, Ryan and I found out we were going to be parents.  Those first few weeks didn't really play out the way I always imagined they would.  Finding out I was expecting wasn't theatrical like you see in television sitcoms and there was no big reveal.  It was closer to an 'after school special' than a romantic comedy. 

The tears that were shed were mostly out of fear and uncertainty.  Everyone embraced us, just as we knew they would, and that which has started as a shocking surprise became a perfectly fitting piece of our puzzle.

The first few months were tough.  It was winter, snowy and miserable, and I was constantly suppressing the urge to vom.  My mom dropped off weekly care packages of folic acid loaded groceries and sought to it that the little sea monkey inside of me would have a healthy start! I've never eating so many sunflower seeds. We began to slowly see evidence of the fact that I had something living inside of me.  It wasn't but a flutter at first and a suspiciously thick stomach.  As the trees began budding I was feeling much better and was starting to actually look pregnant.

We found out our baby was to be a girl, as the sonographer affectionately pointed out her little ovaries that were full of eggs.  Talk about mind blowing.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one. 

By summer, I was a full blown water buffalo.  Gone was the young sprightly young lady off yesteryear.  Now my mobility consisted of an unsightly waddle that typically only occurred as I made my way from couch to fridge to bed (and repeat). My preexisting cankles has morphed into ham hocks, and it appeared that my stomach could explode baby at any moment.

My delivery was intense.  It was long and hard, and at the conclusion when I was handed my beautiful daughter, Ryan summed the experience up perfectly by saying "I looks like the end of Braveheart in here." What can I say, the man has a way with words.

It difficult to remember the ins and outs of those first few weeks.  Hell, months.  From where I'm sitting now, it seems impossible that Grace was ever as small as she is in the photos we have of that time.  Grace has grown out of all of her baby features.  Her face is still soft and her complexion is straight out of Snow White, but she is maturing every day.  She carries conversation and has lots of opinions.  She likes things in their place and demands that she have the final word on absolutely everything.

Three years ago today, my life stopped being all my own.  I was given great purpose and the ultimate reward.  Today I have a beautiful, smart, hilarious three year old.  Happy Birthday Grace.  We love you to the moon! 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Goodbye, Charlie.

This week has been a miserable, stressful, no good, f*#k fest; with each new day equally as nightmarish as the last.  If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

It began about a week and half ago, Friday.  Father's day was on the horizon and I was reeling over what to get Ryan from Grace.  When I'm not taming a toddler, refolding laundry for the eighth time, or working, I'm moonlighting as G's personal shopper. 

So, I sat there asking myself "What does Ryan like?".  I nailed it down to three things.  Guitars, musical gear, and beagles.  Having scant knowledge of the first two, I began to peruse Petfinder. (Mistake #1).

Meet Simba (who would soon be renamed Charlie) and brought to join our crazy little family.

Charlie was a rescue from a high kill shelter in Kentucky, who was saved by a couple of great women out of Roseville.  Him and his sister (Nala, naturally) where 9 weeks old and looking for a family.  He was clearly part beagle, and totally chill.  The instant we meet him, he just fit.  Grace ran up to him like the insane little girl she can sometimes be, and he fell over on his side and took in her rambunctious petting and rambling.  We knew right then that Charlie was ours.  Like I said, it just fit.  

So, we take Charlie home the following day and then promptly to the vet for an proper puppy exam.  The vet said he looked great and had a great demeanor, and with a light antibiotic for a touch of kennel cough, we we off. Charlie was coming home and we were thrilled.

Fast forward to late Tuesday night.  Grace wakes up complaining of a tummy ache and has a low grade fever.  We don't really think much of it because she is acting totally normal otherwise and having no other symptoms.  With a dose of tylenol and an exorbitant amount of cuddles, she was back in bed and resting.

The following day, the fever broke and stayed away.  She carried on as normal and so did we.  Throughout the day Grace would complain of a tummy ache for a minute or two and then get back to her business. Within the day came diarrhea and I started to get a bit concerned. 

The presentation was bizarre.  She wasn't tired or whiney, and she appeared to be hungry and thirsty as usual.  We decided to give  it a day and call the pediatrician if symptoms didn't improve by the following morning.

As luck would have it, she only got worse.  More pain and more poops.  We visited the doctor and with a quick exam we were told it was probably just viral.  No need to worry.  I insisted that they test her poop (which fortunately wasn't in short supply), just to be sure that the puppy hadn't passed something to Grace.  Poop was taken to be sampled, but presumed to be nothing.

Late that evening things got even worse.  I'll limit you the details, but blood was involved, and Ryan and I totally freaked.  Early that morning we were off to the ER.  I was a wreck, clearly assuming the absolute worst and naturally blaming myself.  What the hell was I thinking getting a puppy? This was my fault.

Test results came back pretty quick and they diagnosed Grace with Campylobacter, a bacterial infection in her intestines.  They assured me that the bacteria was self-limiting and typically didn't require treatment.   I would spend the next two days doing nonstop research, scouring every article I could find on children and this bug.  Turns out it is fairly common, but can be pretty nasty and have some serious (although rare) complications.  Campylobacter is found on almost 50% of grocery store poultry, in the stool of tons of animals, and can be carried by dogs and cats,  puppies in particular. 

Almost miraculously, Grace seemed almost 100% by Sunday.  She was such a trooper.  We followed up at the pediatrician on Monday for no other purpose that to watch her scratch her head and read us an article from Web Md.  Turns out she'd never really heard of this and was pretty surprised too.  She was suspicious of the puppy and suggested treatment to insure there would be no reinfection.  She again told us it was self-limiting but to watch for a slowly ascending paralysis over the next two weeks.  Evidentially Guillain–BarrĂ© syndrome has been linked to Campylobacter infections.  It's rare, but really scary.  

So today, some tough decisions had to be made about Charlie.  I spent today arguing with vets who also seemed to have little knowledge of this bacteria, insistant that my puppy be treated with an antibiotic to insure that the bug is killed if he has it.  They went on and on about antibiotic resistance and lack of symptoms and I went on and on about my sick toddler and my concern of reinfection, to no avail.   They said that it would be over  $200 just to test if he had the germ, and then even if he did have it they wouldn't treat him for lack of symptoms. If there is one thing that we don't have a lot of, its extra cash, so coughing up that kind of loot with no promise of him being clear - wasn't an option.  The germ can remain in the stool of an infected animal for months and months, sometimes longer.  The germ is passed fairly easily and for anyone who has a toddler - the prospect of keeping a toddlers fingers out of their mouth is virtually impossible.  I just can't see myself spending every day wondering if Grace is getting reinfected from Charlie.  It's just too hard.  I'm sure that makes me a bad person or a lazy, irresponsible pet owner - but Grace's health comes first and now I just need to play catchup and remedy the situation. 

Feeling totally heartbroken and helpless, I called the rescue folks and told them we would be forced to return Charlie.  

I had the best of intention when looking for a dog.  We don't spend a lot of money on ourselves or treat ourselves to much of anything.  We live a pretty meager lifestyle and I was hoping that bringing a little pup into the family would bring us a little bit of excitement and really add to our little family.  The unforeseen expenses and health problems aside, Charlie is an absolutely amazing little fella.   But now, I have a sick kid, who is fortunately on the mend, and a man who is totally heartbroken.  Ryan is much more the animal lover than I am and I feel absolutely terrible for getting him attached to the dog.

I spent a fair amount of the drive to Roseville crying and blaming myself as I watched Charlie sleeping soundly on the back seat.  Grace seemed totally unaware and we thought that was best.  The rescue people where really bummed for us and didn't want to see us part with Charlie.  The rescue woman was  kind enough to offer to pay for the test to see if in fact he is carrying the bacteria and then pending the results, hold him for us.  If Charlie comes back negative, we'll bring him home, and if it is positive - they will find another family to take him.  
I'm sitting here with a toddler up at 11pm, listening to Patsy Cline radio and praying she doesn't ask where Charlie is.  I feel absolutely terrible.  I just hope things work out for the best, one way or the other.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

My kid is cooler that yours.

So my kid is kind of a comedian.  She has a way of picking up the vibe, particularly when nothing is going right and we really need a laugh, and just drops a hilarious bomb on us. Today, somewhere between dinner and bath time, Grace was roaming stark naked in her natural habitat, surrounded by toys, books and left over green beans, and took me out.  

"I have a hole in my butt!!!! I have a hole in my butt, Mama!!!!!!!!!!!!" - Grace

 I'll be honest.  I wasn't really sure how to properly address her discovery and how to defuse the slight panic in her voice.  Obviously I died laughing.  Then told her that we all have holes in our butts.  Momma has a hole.  Daddy has a hole.  And Gracie has a hole.  This felt weird, but seemed to set her mind at ease.  

Grace is a freakin' rock star.  This kid makes friends where ever she goes, is smart a whip, can count to fifteen in Spanish (which is a struggle for me after years of Spanish), always leads the pack at the playground and is outrageously hilarious.  God, I love her. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dear Grace

Dear Grace,

It has been SO long since I've written.  I barely remembered I had this blog.   It is currently midnight on a Thursday night and you're upstairs reading books to John-Boy (you're favorite mangy, vanilla scented stuffed dog), up way too late.  But I love to hear your little voice up there just talking away.

You'll be three soon, in just a few more months.  I barely recognize you these days.  My baby is officially gone, and so is most of my toddler.  You're so beautiful, I could just stare at you all day.  You're hilarious too, which might even beat the insane cuteness you've got going on.  You're brilliantly mischievous and always getting into some sort of trouble.  Dad and I spend a lot of time saying "No, Grace!". You have your Dad wrapped around your little finger.  He is so into you, Grace.  I can tell how proud he is of you everyday.  You're his pride and joy!

We just got back from an awesome trip to Florida to visit your Grammy and Grampy.  You had a blast!  Between the pool and the ocean, you were a little fish!  You weren't nearly as fearful of the ocean as I thought you would be (you get that from me - Mama loves the ocean).  You took off running towards to waves and never looked back.  The trip flew by, but we had some unforgettable times. 

I'm worried I'm making you a worrier like me.  You caught me freaking out about a few spiders on the ceiling in the bedroom and have been totally petrified of them ever since.  You woke up at 6am today, hysterical babbling over "ants, spiders, and birds in your hair!".  And it hasn't stopped yet.  I feel terrible.

I'm slowly accepting that I will never feel like I'm doing a perfect job at motherhood.  This is the hardest job there is.  The stress is unrelenting and the pressure to always do the right thing is totally maddening.  There are no days off and there isn't some sort of light at the end of the tunnel marking a job well done or a well deserved break. You just keep on keeping on and pray that you stay safe, healthy, and happy.   It isn't all stress and pressure, though.  The pay off comes in hugs, "i love you, mommy"'s, and the sweet snoring of an exhausted little girl, tired from a hard days play.  Those are the things that make me feel less guilty about feeding you a happy meal or skipping a bath here and there.  You're doing just fine! 

I haven't decided if I'm sending you to preschool this fall or next fall.  To be honest, I'm a little worried about leaving you.  Oddly, I know you'll do fine. You're totally fearless!  It's me who will struggle.  I have a really difficult time letting other people look after you, out side of the family.  I guess I just worry that the one time I take my eyes off you, something bad will happen and I'll blame myself for not being there.  (See where the neurotic/worry gene comes from?  Sorry in advance.)

You're Dad and I love you to the moon Grace, even if we seem stressed out sometimes.   You are worth all the worry and stress in the world, and more. 


Friday, November 30, 2012

Oh, Grace.

"Oh, Grace" weren't my exact words.  Perhaps shit was said, or the ever popular f-bomb.  Maybe both.   If ever there were a day that demanded a slew of poorly strung together unmentionables, today was that day.

Yesterday was surgery day and today I'm left with a Vicodin hangover and an over sized q-tip in place of an operational middle finger.  What (outside from flipping the bird) do you so desperately need a middle finger for?  On your dominate hand - everyfuckingthing. 

And so,  Grace picked tonight to have her biggest tantrum/meltdown to date.  It lasted a full 20 minutes in the car and a kept on going when we arrived home.  I'm not talking ''hissy fit" I'm talking full sobs with intermittent 'crying so hard I might vomit' gagging and incessant  thrashing about the back seat. It didn't stop once home.  After dragging a seriously pissed of miniature Exorcist up the drive way down a finger, I was mystified as to how grace punches, kicks and bites all at once.  Totally Mommy beat-down.  

Ryan greeted us at the door, not realizing what he'd be facing.  Enter hysterical toddler and totally fed up mother.  I tried to calmly talking to her and got slapped in the face.  I tried letting her cry it out and she threw our kitchen chair at the wall.  I put on my firm "thats enough" voice and tried an old fashioned time out (a first in this house), and Grace attempted to rip my already ailing finger off.  What happened next surprised even Grace.  I sat right down with her on the kitchen floor and sobbed.

Oddly, this calmed Grace.  Ryan stepped in a took Grace upstairs.  Clearly, I was cashed out.  The next 20 minutes were filled with blissful giggles coming from the upstairs tub.  At one point, after my own blubbering had commenced, I went upstairs to join the fun.

Queue the hysterics.  Grace. Hates. My. Guts.

After a brief "she only does that when you're around" I was just about good on today's bullshit.

Looking forward to another victorious day in nine fingered Motherhood tomorrow and praying that Grace wakes up of the i love mom and don't want to drive her crazy right side of the bed. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

My favorite days are SICK days.

 Grace has two speeds - 100% health, totally crazy toddler mode, which involves very little listening, quite a bit of whining and more Yo Gabba Gabba than a sane adult can take.  Then, there is sickly Grace.  Sickly Grace intermittently smiles, trys to boogie to Yo Gabba Gabba, and only has taste for bananas and Ritz crackers.  That particular brand of Grace involves a lot of snot, 10-20 diapers and a whole lot of "it hurrrrts" and "no morrrrre"'s. Yo Gabba Gabba still occupies the air waves, but it doesn't bring the normal giggles it usually does and that is when you know Grace is under the weather.

There is only one thing that can make Grace feel even remotely better on days like this and its cuddles; head on the shoulder, soft cooing, overly warm and a little sweaty, cuddles.  Add a slightly matted nene (g's name for her special blanket) to the equation and some seriously bad toddler halitosis and you've got my favorite kind of day. Something about the intense love this kid dishes out and the way she needs me when she's under the weather just melts my heart and I secretly wish it would last forever. 

I'd like to add here that Grace ONLY wants to cuddle with me when she's sick, which is a super diss to Ryan.  Normally I don't like to brag, but something about this just makes me want to shout from the roof top "Na Na Na Na POO POO!".  Sorry sucka babe!

This type of magical day only works if I'm not sick as well.  Of course yesterday's snuggle-a-thon had repercussions and I'm paying the piper today. Grace is back to her old tricks and I'm concerned that they may have to amputate my nose due to excessive stuffiness.  I've been in PJ's all day, moving from the couch only when absolutely necessary, like to pay the pizza guy. Grace wants nothing to do with me, understandably so.  Who wants to snuggle with a sick person.  Oh, wait.


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