Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moving 101: How to Bubble Wrap a Memory

We're almost completely packed up to move to our new place tomorrow.

It's funny what you notice when you're moving.  Like how life oozes.

It floods your home and fills in the corners and crevices of space with tiny moments, milestones and memories.

Trying to pack that life and those memories into boxes so you can take them somewhere else is the tricky part.  Because some things can't be moved.

Like lemonade stands,

...and halloween parties...

...family dinners with cousins and sleepover parties....


Even the hard stuff made this house our home.  Like learning how to be a single mom to three kids after my divorce; rushing Ben to the ER for the very first time; or even nursing our sick guinea pig Leo back to health.  This house has held us, all of us, and our lives here as we lived them.  Good times and bad times fill every nook and cranny.  Our memories are here.  And I want to keep them.

But memories can't be boxed up.  Like the venue of your wedding day, the backdrop of your memories never changes.

You can't move your memories to a new location.  Only remember where it all took place.  And I will definitely remember what took place here...

How my boyfriend taught my kids to ride bikes...


...Taking my oldest daughter go to her first school dance; the many, MANY birthday parties we had here (...and sneaking leftover birthday cake out of the freezer after the kids went to bed...)



All of this life.  All of these memories.  Inside these temporary walls.  Permanent.  Enduring.  But immovable.

We can't sweep them up, we can't wrap them in bubble wrap, and they don't fit into our enormous wardrobe boxes.

Puddles and patches of our life linger in the corners of this house.  They can't be packed up...and they certainly can't be moved.

But now we'll have a new home.   An empty vessel for us to fill - hopefully with more good than bad.  And although we can't decorate our new place with the memories and reminders of what makes us a family, I look forward to oozing out of our unpacked boxes...and all over our new home. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Piggy Update

So you'll be relieved to know that after a week of what we're referring to now as "Poop Watch 2011," our beloved guinea pig, Leo, seems to be on the rebound! 

 After a week of hand-feeding Leo liquid hay (you heard me...and yes...you need to mix it yourself) via syringe four times a day, (this is me trying to squirt the goop into his mouth - notice the thought bubble over his head saying "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you...")...


 ....giving him five different medicines three times daily in tiny syringes made for Heroin Addict Barbie...

(This is what he's taking...seriously, when you put it all together, his pile of medication is bigger than he is!)


(This is Leo hiding his nose in my hand so I won't shove anymore crap-in-a-syringe in his mouth...notice the thought bubble "I'll get you for this...as soon as I can chew again..." )

 ...and hand-chopping bowl after bowl of apples and parsley salad so small you could serve it to an American Girl doll, (which I do because I feel so badly he's eating liquid hay...)

...Leo is finally gaining weight, eating on his own, and pooping regularly!  YAY! (He however is saying "...this is so humiliating...")  We are so relieved!  (Milo is less so.  She was measuring out his wooden hut for her hay bed...)

He looks like he's puttin' a little Junk back in his Trunk, but we'll know more on Wednesday when we see the Vet.

We'll keep you posted!


(Guinea Pig care, sick guinea pig, caring for a pet, caring for a sick pet...)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Golden Pig (...or Crazy Pig Lady...)

Our piggie, Leo, is in the hospital.  We rushed him to the ER Saturday morning when we realized he was drooling and he couldn't eat.  He'd lost so much weight recently (at least 2 lbs - which is a lot when you only weigh about 7lbs to begin with) and he just looked like he was withering away.  He couldn't even eat the apple we gave him.  Leo never passes up apple.  There was obviously something very, very wrong.

We love this pig.  I know how that sounds.   Everyone says "...isn't that a rodent?"  And I say "Yes!  Yes!  He IS a rodent!  And I love him anyway!"  We are proud of our piggy love.  Really - to own a pig is to love a pig.  But people who don't have guinea pigs see a $35 animal from Petco, and assume he's disposable.  But he's not.  He's too awesome to be disposable.

And now he's sick.  Very, very sick.  And on Saturday, after taking him to the vet and them telling me he needed immediate attention, I was faced with the question most pet owners face at one time or another.  He needed surgery.   Turns out his two back teeth had bent inward were pinning down his tongue making it impossible for him to chew.  A piggy who can't chew is like a dog that can't wag it's tail.  What's the point in living?

The vet said, "We can fix his teeth...but it's going to be expensive."

Gulp. 

"How much will it cost?"  But I knew the real question was "What is the price to keep this small creature we loved so much alive.

"It will be around $____."

"Oh my God! Really?!  $____ to fix his teeth?  Seriously?!  Does he need caps?"  The Doctor didn't even crack a smile.  No levity here today.

There was no getting around this and I was sick to my stomach.  With worry, saddness and guilt, and my guilt was compounded because Leo's life was in the balance because money was involved.  If he'd been a dog, would I have even contemplated my "options?"

My daughter, Izzy, who had come with me to the vet stared at me with huge saucer-shaped eyes - her mouth agape.  Her lips were quivering.  She was terrified this was the end.  The end of her first real pet's life.  The end of her relationship with Leo.  I was torn.  I really had no idea what to do.  I realize that spending a lot of money to save a guinea pig seems insane.  But we really love Leo.  I mean REALLY LOVE Leo! And he was so robust, with the exception of his tooth problem.  Do you squelch a life because you don't want to spend the money?  His life could quite possibly be great if we did the surgery.  It might not.  It possibly could help a little, but he'd still have trouble with his mouth.  But if we didn't try to save him, we'd be snuffing him out.  I just couldn't take it.  I couldn't live with that.

But I needed to know my options, I sent Izzy out of the room so I could talk to the doctor privately.  Then I tried to negotiate the price of my beloved family member's life.

"Is there any way to cut the cost?  Is there anything you're planning on doing that isn't necessary?"

"Well, we don't have to do the pre-operative bloodwork. but we won't know for sure about the status of his liver function.  That will save about $65.

Wow.  $65 off of $____.  What a bargain.

"Let me as you this, Dr. Frank.  What would you do?"

"I would do the surgery."

"You would?"

"Well, if you do it, he could have a few good years left.  He might not. The problem could be recurring, but you won't know until you do the surgery.  He's in a lot of pain right now.  he can't survive like this.  We could just not do the X-rays.  That will save you another $100 or so."

I thought about it.  I had no choice here really.

"Okay.  Let's just do it."  I figured I just won't eat out for a few months.  And I'd pass on buying that hutch I wanted for my kitchen.  I couldn't just let Leo die.  Not for the price of shelving.

And what is the price of love anyway?
I called Izzy back in and told her we would do the surgery.  But if he doesn't recover well from the surgery or he has a recurring problem, we would need to look at the bigger picture and think about his quality of life.

She nodded.  She was being so brave.

Then we both gave Leo hugs and kisses good-bye and told him to be strong with tears streaming down our faces and choked up throats.

We're hoping, hoping, HOPING we could at least have another year with him.  We're not ready to let go.  Maybe I'm not ready to watch Isabel have to let go.  Either way, it's in fate's hands now.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

GUEST POST: Confessions of a Baby Signing Mom

Misty Weaver, Chief Editor at Baby Sign Language, shares a story this week. 

I was intrigued when Misty contacted me about writing for Mommy Lite because personally, I never used any sign language with my kids (at least not any sign language that a parent should use in front of their kids...). 

I wondered, could this be interesting?  Would it teach me anything new?  Moreover...could a story about baby sign language even be funny?

Turns out...it can.

Enjoy.

Confessions of a Baby Signing Mom by Misty Weaver

This weekend I realized that baby signing can be a force for bad as well as a force for good.

It all started so innocently.  My toddler and I have been attending baby sign language classes for three months, with varying degrees of success.  I’ve learned stacks of signs, and consider myself a bit of an expert; my baby has learned zero signs and shows zero interest. Yet.

So what? Teaching Baby Sign Language takes time, right?  The real upside of the class is the group of signing moms I’ve met – they are a real hoot and we regularly meet for coffee outside of class.  This weekend was no exception.  Saturday morning, four moms and six babies/toddlers took over the sofa section at the local coffee house and created our usual breed of havoc…

But this was no ordinary group of harassed moms. This was a bunch of signing, harassed moms.  Who insisted on accompanying every word spoken to their babies and toddlers with the appropriate hand gesture.  Seeing it from a stranger’s perspective, it must have looked pretty funny.  ‘Would you like some more milk, Jonny?’ followed by a frantic squeezing of hands and pumping up and down on an imaginary cow.  ‘Sam, do you have a wet diaper?’ accompanied by the sign for wet, which also happens to look just a little bit dirty.

Sign Language For Babies is fun to do – provided you don’t take it too seriously. Some of the moms take it very seriously, and persist to the point of despair even when baby is totally ignoring them.

This Saturday was Baby Meltdown day.  Usually one of our brood takes it upon themselves to have a tantrum – this weekend all six decided to go for synchronized screaming, Olympic gold standard. While we moms stood over them, trying to stay calm while madly flapping our hands at our respective offspring, the babies reached fever pitch and the other patrons looked on, well, patronizingly.

I was the first to do it. I’ll own up right now.  I sat down, turned by back on my toddler, and signed ‘Help Me’ to mom number two.  She laughed, and signed back: ‘Kill Me, Please.’ (She improvised this, I don’t think there really is a baby sign for Kill, but you get the picture.) Mom number three caught on, pointed at the most disapproving face in the crowd, and signed ‘Ugly Cow.’

We all creased up.  I joined in with ‘Horse Face’ as the long-faced waitress eyed us warily, and mom number four finished us off by signing ‘Kiss My Backside.’  Our laughter drowned out the screaming babies completely.

One by one the babies stopped crying and looked at their mommies, puzzled.  Tantrum not working? What was going on? Maybe this Baby Signing business has some uses after all…

Monday, February 7, 2011

For the Love of a Sloth

The twins just got an assignment on "camouflage" for school.

They are beyond excited.  Especially because they remember when their big sister got this assignment and we built an igloo out of sugar cubes for her Polar Bear diorama (for the record...never use a hot glue gun on sugar cubes.  3 igloos later, had success with royal icing...).

Ben wants to do a Polar bear just like his sister.  (especially now that he knows I've resolved the igloo issue).  He's looking forward to the sugar high that comes with igloo building.

Livi wants to make a diorama of a Sloth.

Yes.  A Sloth.  Livi loves Sloths.

I had actually come so close to writing about this once before.  I had the whole post written in fact.  But for some reason or another I didn't get around to posting it.  THEN, it just felt outdated and THEN I felt like it was "lying" posting a story like it just happened, when it was months ago. 

So my tale of what Sloths mean to me and Livi went untold.

But NOW I have a reason to address the subject of sloths once again, and I want to share a REALLY special story to me.  One I'll always remember.  And I am so glad I have a reason to finally share it...

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Tears of Joy"

Livi cried today.  But not for the usual reasons.  I gave her a Sloth.  A stuffed, two-toed Sloth.

If you ask Livi her favorite animal, she'll tell you.  First, it's a monkey.  Then...a Sloth.
She's no ordinary girl.  That's for sure.

So today when I came across the Sloth stuffed animal I HAD to get it for her.  I'd never even SEEN a Sloth stuffed animal.  Who even knew they MADE a stuffed Sloth?

I've been having a hard time with Livi.  For YEARS I've been having a hard time with Livi!  I can't tell you when it started.  I remember this juicy, strong-willed ball of tastiness I used to call my "party favor" and couldn't even begin to tell you where it began to fly off-course.  Maybe after the divorce?  Maybe before?  All I know is that the past few years, every day is a battle.  Every night is a trial.  Whining, screaming, frustration that bubbles up in the form of "tics" and leaves her touching objects over and over and talking to herself.  It's been horrible.  Sometimes we get these fabulous glimpses of the girl trapped inside, but these can be rare and few between.  

When I picked her up from day camp I said "I have a treat for you in the car.  It's special for sleepaway  camp (she and Ben are going to mini sleepaway camp for 3 days) but I think you can have it now."

"I can??!    Can I open it now?  What is it?"

"You'll have to wait and see."  She skipped behind me all the way to the car.

I took it out of the bag and held it behind my back.

I said "Okay, Livi.  I hope I did this right.  But once you told me your TWO favorite animals.  Do you remember what they are?  Do you remember what you told me?"

"A Monkey?"

"Yeah? And a..."

"...and a..." she seemed unsure..."a seal?"

I thought.  Crap.  She didn't really give a shit about Sloths.  She had just said it to be "interesting."  Livi likes to say things to be "interesting."  Then she tells you later she didn't really mean it.  This was going to be one of those times...just watch...

"Okay?  Anything else that starts with an "S"?"

"...um...a Sloth?"

Jackpot!

I took the little stuffed Sloth and danced it around in front of her eyes.

They sparkled and her eyes lit up like I had NEVER seen.

"You got me A SLLOOOOOOOOOOOTTTH!!!!!"  Tears burst from her eyes and she started wailing.  She put her arms around me and was seriously heaving while she was crying.  She hugged me with one arm and clung to the Sloth with the other.  She buried her wet face in my pants legs..

I don't think I've ever experienced this kind of reaction from her.  Feeling like I had 1000% done the right thing.

And in that moment, through her happy tears, I "saw" her.

I felt her frustration through her relief.  I could feel how she was exhausted from reaching out to me - hoping to show me just who "Livi" was.  Hoping I'd hear her.  And the Sloth was evidence that I had.  I felt her barriers momentarily melt away.  I felt how relieved she was to feel understood.  How happy she was to feel loved.  How I had truly pleased her to her very core.  The gift of the Sloth had touched her soul.

It was beautiful.  And kind of painful.  I was hurting for her.  It was so sad that it took this particular gesture for her to understand how much I love her and to see that I wanted to make her happy.

Giving her this Sloth was obviously the most important and wonderful thing I could have ever done for her.

I know that the next time I give her something, I am sure I won't get this reaction.  And that's okay.

But I hope she'll remember the day I gave her a Sloth.  I always will.

(NOTE: This past summer Livi was diagnosed with the early stages of an anxiety disorder - OCD - or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  She's getting help and doing well.  Sloth is still her favorite stuffed animal...)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Life as an "Indie Mom": Go Ahead...Ask Me

Debra Goldstein, agent extraordinaire, writer brilliante, and blogger for the Huffington Post, recently wrote one of the best articles I've ever read about being a single divorced mom, answering with wit and authenticity all of those sticky questions you married people like to ask us single moms from "Did you know it was a mistake from the start?" to "What's it like to have sex with someone new?"

Go ahead, read it...you know you want to.  :)

(And by the way, the answer is "...it's awwwwwsome!")

Click Here to Read "Life as an Indie Mom: Go Ahead...Ask Me"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Like Mommy...I Think...

 A friend just sent me an e-mail with this.  I am still laughing.  Had to share...

First Grade Drawing - PRICELESS!

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment.










The teacher graded it and the child brought it home.

She returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration.
It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money.
I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm.
This drawing is of me selling a shovel.

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