The Perils of a Pet Mom

I’m SOOOO glad I didn’t have to spend the evening at the emergency vet clinic last night. We thought Tucker, my (practically miniature) chocolate Labrador, was sick for quite a while yesterday evening after we got back from  dinner. My daughter came to us and told us he was in her room, shaking, and I thought, “Oh no, he’s having a seizure.” And he just turned 7! We got him out (under his own power) but he was acting really strange, so we questioned her: did you give him anything? Was there any food in your room? She denied it. We thought Tucker was sick, so we made him go outside, where he began acting normally–playing, wanting me to chase him, etc. But when I tried to get him to come in, he flat out refused!

Tucker
Tucker

This went on for maybe 1/2 an hour, and he came inside a few times, only to insist on going back out. We thought he had the runs or something. I gave him fresh water, petted him, and he’d act fine outside, but go nuts inside.

Then I made him come in because I was tired of this, then went and did something else for a minute in another part of my house. When I came back, my husband said that Tucker wouldn’t go into the living room.

Well guess what was in the living room? A stupid karaoke machine which a co-worker was having Nate look at for an issue with it. My husband had turned it up so loud earlier in the evening that it had been rattling the glass in my china cabinet. No wonder Tucker was upset! I made hubby remove it to his truck to take back to work this morning, and after that, Tucker settled down and was fine!

At least I didn’t have to go to the emergency vet clinic.

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Adventures in the Great Outdoors, I

If you took the way that my husband (The Man Of The House, or TMOTH) and I grew up and compared them, you would see the reason why the two of us are vastly different. Unless we were at my grandparents’ farm, we didn’t do much outdoorsy stuff–camping, hiking, fishing, etc. My husband? was outside ALL THE TIME.

Ironically, my husband and I met on a camping trip–the weekend was the first time I’d ever stayed overnight in a tent.

While I’m still not an “outdoorsy” girl–I’d still rather be at home with my books and laptop–I’ve been getting better about being outside. Or at least I’m trying to be.

Frequently on the weekends, my husband says for me to pack a cooler and grab some diapers for our three-year-old, and off we go. Sometimes I grumble, if not to him, to myself. I’m not a spontaneous person, I like to have some time to plan things when possible. An hour to pack everything we’ll need for the rest of the day and it’s 11 AM? Yeah, doesn’t thrill me too much.

But, I like what it’s teaching my kids–to be flexible, roll with the punches, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors (although, much of the time, all they’re enjoying at this age are movies in the car and an excessively long car ride.)

Father’s Day was one of these days. On the way to church, TMOTH made noises that he wanted to go fishing. So, I had about a two hour warning before we got home that this was on the plate. Get home, pack lunch, grab the diapers, head out. 

Then, what inevitably happens with us, “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

“It’s Father’s Day. You pick.”

“I don’t know where to go!”

A bluegill our daughter caught on Father’s Day

I sigh, make a few half-hearted suggestions. We stop and he retrieves the Gazeteer from the trunk. I start telling him directions. The kids watch “How to Train Your Dragon” for the 17th time in the last few weeks. The younger one naps. The dog is cramped, on the floor between the front and back seats of our mid-sized sedan.

We’re all wishing we had a Suburban, especially the dog.

Eventually, we find a spot we’ve been to before, a long, long time ago–maybe before the kids came around. TMOTH and our daughter fish.

Our daughter catches two small bluegill, TMOTH catches a small catfish and a small bluegill.

I keep our son from falling into the water, take pictures of dragonflies when I can get close enough to them without our son getting too close and scaring them off. We huddle down together after retrieving our hats from the car as light showers come across the lake and hit us head on. By the time we leave, my T-shirt is soaked from the rain.

I’m cold, haven’t had dinner, and am tired, but other than gently reminding my husband he neglected to get me something to eat when I couldn’t eat at Subway (I started a gluten-free diet last fall, so Subway is NOT on my menu,) I don’t say too much. I do adjust the thermostat in the car to something a little warmer, then help my husband figure out where the heck to go. We take a wrong turn or two (I’ve gotten turned around on where we are,) and I mark the Gazeteer in ink on where to go again, and scratch off roads shown on the map that aren’t roads.

It’s been a successful day overall. We made it home in one piece. The kids got to run around and fish. I took several pictures, none I’m thrilled with, but they’re okay. And more importantly, my husband got me out of the house. I’ve become quite a homebody the last couple years. Having your life center around the health and wellness of your immune-compromised son will do that to you.

Next up on our list of challenges–a possible weekend trip to a cabin, or maybe even in a tent.

I’m not sure I’m ready yet.

Until next time…

Culturally Different

In the last couple of weeks, I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. For those of you not in the know, this is a memoir of sorts that Ms. Druckerman wrote about her experiences as an American mother raising children in France. I found myself laughing and learning frequently in this book. I rarely read memoirs, in fact, this may be the first I’ve ever sat through, but the subject matter was intriguing to me: how the French raise their children. Culturally, it’s quite different than we Americans raise our kids, and I found myself wishing that even for a few years, my kids could have the influence of the French.

One thing I found intriguing was the idea of expectations. In one chapter, Ms. Druckerman describes how the expectations of life are much different in France than in America, and it filters into their literature, especially for kids. Where in our children’s books, we have a story that gets resolved in most cases, and things become “perfect” (or as close to perfect as the author can make them so they’re left with a feel-good effect), the French stories published on the other side of the pond are more true to life. She describes one story in a very popular French children’s series where one character is mean to another (don’t remember the context now, and I had to return the book to my library!) They work on the problem through the book, and I believe the mean child eventually apologizes to the other character… In an American book, that’d be the end of it, but the French book finishes with a final scene where the mean child repeats the same type of offense as originally started at the beginning of the book.

While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the rest of the book, and have learned several things that I’m going to try to implement with my own children, that story about French literature really stuck out to me, probably because I’m a storyteller. I love the art of storytelling, love learning about the so-called “rules,” love digging in to my own stories to figure out what’s working and what’s not.

And I can’t help but think I’ve approached it in a fully American way.

In adult fiction, it’s a bit easier to have an ambiguous ending to a story. Fine. We’re adults, we can handle it. But, I can’t think of any stories I’ve read to my kids where there’s not a happy ending. And, as Ms. Druckerman pointed out, that’s not really all that true to life. It leaves kids with a false sense of what should happen in life, that our problems can be solved easily, when often, things are much more complex.

I love a happy ending just as much as anyone. I always get a bit teary-eyed at the end of Return of the Jedi when Han and Leia come to terms, and it’s obvious they’ll be getting together. Same goes for the end of Pride & Prejudice, and a whole host of other books and movies.

But, should we always let our kids watch shows or read books where problems are easily, and fully, resolved? Wouldn’t it be better to expose them to life, and give them a sense that life isn’t going to always be full of lollipops, roses, and puppies? As in the French book referenced in Bringing Up Bébé, wouldn’t be better to let our kids know that friends won’t always repent, and are just as likely to repeat the same offenses over and over?

I, for one, think that would be a benefit to kids.

What are your thoughts? Do you remember reading any books with ambiguous endings as a child, or were all your book choices ended in a happy way?

Until next time…

Topsy-Turvy

The last ten days have been anything but normal. And, the news TMOTH and I got last week has definitely turned our world on its ear.

Our son is headed for bone marrow transplant.

When I got the news a week ago, I fell apart. My world has been rocked. How could this bubbly, hyperactive, absolutely most adorable little boy in the world need such a risky procedure?

But, at this point, he does. We’ve got a lot of steps to go through before the ultimate decision will be made. And, we have to find a donor–it’s not certain any of his immediate family will be a match. The likelihood is 25% for his sister, and 2% for both TMOTH and me–29% chance that one of the three of us will match.

The dust is just starting to settle and I can think straight again after getting the call last Tuesday. But most of my energy is being spent trying to figure out what’s next, and looking down the road to the next few stages of treatment. Still hoping that when we go in to do another biopsy prior to transplant that the numbers have changed and we can hold off. I’d rather deal with biopsies every 3, 6, or 12 months than transplant.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, or even my writing in general. I know I’ll need to write to deal with the stress. And it seems like I’ve had three major things happen in just the last few weeks: first, deciding it was time to say goodbye to “Homebody” and move on; second, a personal decision to work on something I’d been struggling with for a long time; now, this. All in a matter of just a few weeks.

I’ll check in when I can, try to post as I’m inspired or led… and this blog may turn into more of a journal of our journey, at least for a while.

Thank you, loyal readers, for any prayer you happen to send my family’s direction.

PS: If you should feel so led, please consider becoming a marrow donor. It’s an easy, painless process to get on the registry (although there is a small fee unless it’s associated with a donor drive). Please check out Marrow.org for more information. — LS

A Few Thoughts on Parents of Special Needs Kids

Before our little boy was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, I never really gave much thought to the needs of parents with kids with special needs. And while I would be the first to say that SDS isn’t the worst possible diagnosis (and some would probably argue until the world ends that SDS makes him a true “special needs” kid), it also has given me a glimpse into the lives of other parents that do have truly special needs kiddos.

My Two Munchkins in a recent picture

With our daughter, if she had a cough or a sneeze, I never really had to worry it would turn into something more. (I did, of course, but she was never seriously sick.) If she missed being in the nursery at church one week, she’d be back the next week, maybe with the tiny tendrils left of a cold, but virtually all better.

Now, if my son coughs in the middle of the night–even if it’s just once or twice–I wonder if he’s coming down with a cold. Or the flu. Or worse. Will he have to be admitted to the hospital–again? How long will he stay?

And, it all runs through my brain in about one-half of a millisecond.

Every special needs kid is different. Whether the kid has SDS (like ours), leukemia, Downs Syndrome, or something else more rare like a muscle atrophy condition, there’s an adjoining parent or two who struggles with the idiosyncrasies of their child’s disease. With us, we’ve had to learn to accept the medications given daily (which I think is probably the same with most parents of kids with special needs) and the fact there will always be that “What If?” question in our brains. And the specialists that will have to be involved with his long-term care. And the fact he may not be as tall as his mom when he hits adulthood. (I really hope we’re at least at eye-level. I’m a tall woman–5’8″–but I can’t imagine having a child shorter than me when they’re an adult!)

While most people tend to focus on the kids with special needs, sometimes the parents and sibling(s) get forgotten. If you’re in this boat, maybe you should take a minute and give the mom or dad a call just to see how they’re doing. Offer some babysitting time. Trust me–it’s scary as a parent to hand your kid over to someone when you don’t know what could go wrong–then you have the added concerns of medications, and it’s nearly paralyzing. Since our son was diagnosed positively, I can count on two fingers how many times my husband and I have left both our kids with someone other than a family member. It’s not that I don’t trust anyone, it’s that I personally feel it’s probably overwhelming for someone to know what they need to do, even for something as “simple” as mealtime.

And, maybe I don’t want to burden anyone else with the complexities. Who knows.

Question for you: do you know anyone with special needs kids? When was the last time you loved on the parents or siblings?

Until next time,

Growing Pains

If you’ve been around Word Wanderings very long, you know I’ve got two kids. My first, my daughter, just turned three. And in the last month or so, I’ve seen her grow up a lot. It’s a little sad on one hand, but interesting to watch, too.

Being a typical three-year-old, my daughter is getting a bossy streak. She tries to boss TMOTH, me, the dog, and her little brother. She even tries to tell you where to go when driving. Talk about a backseat driver! There’s nothing quite like a little girl going, “No, Mommy, that way! THAT WAY!” when you’re out running errands. Usually, she just doesn’t want to go home, or thinks we need to go somewhere else. Sonic is her favorite stop–and she knows where most of them in our normal areas of travel. (Of course, we just moved, so those normal areas are shifting.)

Having an independent streak can be dangerous. I’ve had to really work at stamping down on her independence lately. Not that I don’t want her to be an independent woman one day, just not at the age of three! Running through Target or the grocery store is irresponsible and discourteous, and leaving the backyard–taking the dog with you–can lead to one or both getting hit by a car.

It makes me think about how God parents us. We make mistakes, He allows for punishment. It’s kind of strange to think of a twenty-nine-year-old being parented (shouldn’t I know what’s going on by now?) but I’ve seen it happen. And, while I’m not necessarily sure every time what I’m supposed to learn, I can only hope I learn the lesson–as my daughter learns she can’t run through Target or have that mini-Barbie that’s in the checkout line.

Next week is my post for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain. The topic is “Harvest”. I’ve been a little negligent about posting reminders about the blog chain, and I’ve since moved the list from my sidebar to a separate page. If you go here, you’ll find the links for every post. We almost have a full month, and this next week is full! I hope you’ll check out the posts.

Until next time,