Monday, April 13, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

One-uppers. 
My conversations seem to be about people one-upping me. 
You know what I mean?
Here's the situation...
I try to tell a story. 
An event that's happened to me within my life. 
Boring or monumental. 
Each day is different, right?
People do this hundreds of times a day.
Have conversations with other people. 
Unless they are hermits. 
Hermits never see, let alone talk, to other humans. 
But I'm not a hermit. 
And I have conversations with real, live people and they seem to be listening but really they aren't. 
They heard two words probably. 
It's a one-sided conversation from the start. 
And I had no idea. 
This other person is thinking throughout our entire conversation about their turn. 
"Ohhhhh, when's it my turn???...my turn, my turn, my turn!"
And when you stop speaking, having maybe spilled out your heart, they immediately one-up you. 

You went to birthday party for a 95 year old woman?
They know someone who's 96!
Planning a trip to NYC?
They just got back from London!
You had a chemo treatment?
They know someone whose dog had a brain transplant!
You are thinking of getting a shingles vaccine?
They are working on an AIDS cure!
Sigh...

Kids do this too. 
A lot. 
I wonder where they get it from?
As a parent, I'm raising a portion of the future. 
A very small portion, but a few can change the world. 
And I'm trying to help my daughters navigate through the *intelligent and thoughtful conversation* protocol. 

Why can't people hear you anymore?
Just hear what you have to say and accept it. 
To say wow, great story. 
To be empathetic.
Sympathetic. 
Nope. 
Always have to one-up everyone. 
I'm trying to be more cognizant of this. 
And I hope I'm not doing this. 
I'm sure I am at times. 
So, I'm nipping it. 
Where are the snippers?
Nip, nip...I want to hear what YOU have to say. 
And I hope you can stop to hear me, too.

 
...photo credit goes to my friend Mark, he captures my best moments. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Typical Tuesday

I like to take random photos of my family. 
Not just posed shots where "everyone is smiling and heads are up and both feet are on the ground, stop wiggling!"
But real life moments. 
Captured forever. 
Or if I look like I have three chins, then quickly deleted. 
I hope my children will one day look at these everyday events that I have saved for them and remember our journey together. 

This picture says many things to me. 
It was taken on a recent Tuesday. 
We met my husband at the university where he works to eat dinner. 
This happens most weeks. 
Then the girls have piano lessons across campus. 


Zoe had some math homework that she brought with her. 
My husband is Math Man in our house. 
I'll help you with your spelling. 
They sat together discussing the problems at hand. 
He's a very hands on father. 
A father who never wastes a moment with his children.  
He seems a bit tired and is working hard on concentrating. 
Fourth grade math can be a doozy in the 21st century. 

And look way in the back of the photo. 
At the tall tables. 
The girl who has a lot of anxiety in new and stressful situations. 
But who feels very comfortable at this university. 
And she often likes to take her dinner and will eat alone on the other side of the room from us. 
To feel her need for independance warms my heart. 
She and I are a lot alike. 
We are loud and energetic and independent. 

My family. 
In a photograph. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blood, Pain, Love

Thursday didn't go as I had planned. 
Not that I had had BIG plans for the day. 
It was the first day of Easter break for the kids. 
They were to spend the night with grandma and grandpa Wednesday night. 
At ten, I would pick them up. 
The mall would be our destination where I would proceed to spend my birthday money on some new pants and hopefully a black swimsuit top. 
We would then meet cousins at our favorite pizza place for lunch. 
Then head home where I would put some poultry in the crockpot for lime chicken tacos that we would consume for dinner. 
It didn't happen. 

Wednesday.
11:37 pm. 
My lovely deep slumber was obliterated by the overhead light coming on and the shifting of the bed as my husband sat on the edge putting his socks on. 
"Didn't you hear the phone ringing?"
"Umm, why would I hear the phone ringing?  I'm sleeping."
"Well, your mom has been calling. Gigi is throwing up, has an earache, and wants to come home."
Crikey...I wanted to go to the mall tomorrow. 
He left and I rolled back over trying to sleep for two more minutes. 
Because my parents only live two minutes away. 
Before I could snooze off they had returned. 

She seemed fine in the morning, but definitely had the look of a virus about her. 
No mall. 
No lunch with cousins. 
So, I decided to make a banana cake with the overripe fruit that was staring at me from the counter. 
Gigi sat on the couch watching movies while I fetched her stuff. 
Around lunchtime I headed to the barnyard. 
The water trough was getting low and the rain we had been promised by the local weatherman hadn't come. 
So I needed to pull the hose out to it and fill it up. 
The goats were in a very playful mood.
Racing through the stall. 
Head butting one another. 
As I sat and watched the water level rise in the big drinking bowl, I saw the blood. 
Blood on Tulip's head. 
Blood on Yogurt's head. 
Her horn!
What had happened to Tulip's horn?
Our unicorn was broken.

Somehow, in her playful romp with her sister, Tulip had broken off her horn. 
The only horn she had. 
She and her sister were de-horned as babies, but one of hers grew back. 
Our unicorn was now just a goat.  

I called the vet.  
Told them the situation and they said bring her in. 
Part of her horn was still attached so it was dangling from her head. 
And a bloody stump was showing. 
I managed to get the rest of the horn off. 
I had called both my dad and husband to come help with her. 
My dad got ahold of her and I pulled it off. 
It was hollow. 
It was as if I had tore my fingernail off and the bloody underlay was present. 
That's what was happening to Tulip. 
Buttercup was very curious about what was going on. 
At first she was looking into the barn with her entire head over the Dutch door. 
But she soon became nervous. 
And only peered in. 


We had transported the other goat to our vet once when she was younger. 
Usually the vet comes to us. 
Our farm vet is 30 minutes away and we were going to try to get Tulip to them.
In our dog crate. 
That we hoped she would fit into. 
That we hoped she would go into. 

So instead of a leisurely day of shopping and lunch, my husband and I were loading a bloody goat in a dog crate into the back of the minivan.


She was a good goat all the way there.
Upon getting out of the crate in the large animal room of the clinic, she became nervous. 
And the blood began to spurt out of her head. 
And Gigi started to cry.
Zoe walked to the window to look out at the gravel parking lot. 


The vet and her assistant got the bleeding under control. 
Bandaged up her head and gave her two injections. 
One for pain and an antibiotic. 
At this point Tulip was exhausted and done with everything. 
She let out a few horrible loud screams which made Gigi cry again. 
They suggested we separate Tulip from Buttercup and Yogurt for a few days. 
They were afraid they would bother her bandage, try to eat it off. 

Gigi wanted McDonalds.  
So, with a goat in the back of the car we headed to those nasty golden arches. 
There goes my taco dinner. 
When we got Tulip back to the barn, her sister and friend steered clear from her.  
She looked funny. 
She smelled funny. 
No one was going to eat that bandage off. 
Separation wouldn't be necessary. 


Our goats are our pets.
We don't milk them or plan to eat them. 
Their sole purpose has been to be companions for our pony. 
A pony who came to our home because a girl with cancer wished for her. 
So, if one is sick or hurt we treat them with compassion and help with their pain.
And on Thursday that meant forgoing my trip to get new clothes and instead hauling a goat 30 minutes away to get her injured head treated. 
Because this goat means a lot to us. 
She was brought here to help heal our daughter. 
Gigi is feeling better. 
I'll go to the mall tomorrow. 


Monday, March 23, 2015

Grateful For Catitude

Barn cats are a tough breed. 
We have four specimens of this special breed. 
And I'm always amazed they are still with us at age four. 
Yes, I just knocked on wood. 
The out of doors is a rough place. 
Country life involves foxes, stray cats, and the sheer idea of becoming lost. 
Which I'm positive happened to one of our boys a few years ago.
Missing for two weeks. 
He's never strayed again. 
Our troop grew up in our barn that sits about 30 yards from our house. 
They began residing there at eight weeks of age. 
Acquired on Independance Day. 
Hence their names. 
Firecracker. 
Popcorn. 
Jumper. 
Cali. 
I don't know how that last name came to be as the others are all BOOM related. 
BOOM as in a firework sound. 
They were named by the kids. 
Zoe was in the middle of her two years of chemo. 
She usually got anything she wanted. 
Bald and walking around in a chemo haze, she was easy to please. 
You want some kittens?
Sure thing kid!
We went to grandma's friend's house that steamy July day to get ONE kitten from the litter that was living in her shed. 
But we couldn't pick just one. 
Too. 
Much.
Cuteness. 
So, we brought all four home. 
And surprised my husband with our loot. 
Good thing he likes cats. 


As they grew older and braver they began wandering closer and closer to our house. 
And the girls eventually brought them into their domain. 
Where they were coddled and kissed and put into doll beds. 
These four siblings are by far the sweetest, most trusting felines I have ever seen. 


And I've seen many cats. 
A decade and a half of veterinary techiness behind me, I am one with cats. 
And seem to prefer their ways more so than the dog way. 


Today was shot day. 
I prefer to give these barn cats their annual vaccination to prevent feline funkitude. 
It can be pricey to take four cats to the vet's office for vaccines.
I can't by law give a rabies shot, so our horse vet does that when she comes out. 


They were all neutered, with one spay thrown in, at about 4 months of age. 
I didn't do the surgery though. 
Our vet did. 
And they still joke at their office how Popcorn lost his kernels that day. 


On cold days they tend to stay inside. 
Inside our house. 
Snuggled on our laps or on a bed with one of our two housecats.  
Sometimes we even see them snuggled up next to a dog. 
I have the honor of saying that we have the best group of cats on the planet. 
There are no fights. 
Lots of head licking. 
The barn cats exit at night to go on the prowl. 
We find dead mice sometimes. 
That's their main job. 
Mouse control. 
In warm weather they are outside all day and night. 
Lounging in the barn. 
Sunbathing near the barnyard water trough. 
Relaxing on our pool deck as children run past them to cannonball into the cool relief of water. 
Barn cats are the best. 
Well, mine are anyway...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Shouldn't Have Left Home...

I was only gone for four days. 
And on day two it happened. 
I had hopped into a car with a friend and rode west on I-80 through Iowa. 
We landed in Omaha and I believe I was probably at The Bagel Bin on Sunday when it occurred. 
As I was sitting devouring a delicious everything bagel that had just the right amount of salt and toppings baked into it, he was on Amazon. 
Buying a metal detector. 
Something that I feared would come into our home eventually 
Something that I had forbid for years. 
You might say "what kind of person are you to forbid your husband anything?!"
Well, let me tell you this...

I prefer my yard to NOT have a bunch of holes in it. 
I prefer to NOT have piles of metal doohickeys around every corner. 
He's done enough damage with his five pound magnet attached to a rope that he carries around. 
That stupid magnet that gets sucked onto shovels as I try to move it out of the way in the garage. 
And then I spend the next ten minutes trying to pry it off of that shovel. 
Stupid magnet. 
He has carried that around because I've put the cabash on a real metal detector. 
He dug up enough of our yard with that magnet. 
Enough with the digging!
We have enough 50 year old aluminum pie pans!

I'll never see him again. 
It will be like mushroom season.  
When we will be out in the yard, looking off into the distance and I'll be discussing something deep and profound with him and as I'm wondering "why isn't he answering me?" I'll turn around and see he's not even standing there anymore. 
The woods are calling to him. 
The morel mushrooms are whispering to him...come find us.
Now it will be the metal detector. 
Murmuring to him from the next room. 
I'm just waiting. Are you ready to go on a hunt?  No one will care. Let's dig up some shit!
And he'll be gone. 
And he will have forgotten to take his phone. 
Just like when he goes out looking for fungus. 
When he falls over an uprooted tree root, he'll just have to crawl back home on his own. 
With his new best friend dragging behind him...


Monday, March 16, 2015

The Fear Remains

My ten year old fell asleep in a living room chair yesterday at 5:00. 
Which shouldn't be strange. 
But it was. 
She never does that. 
And when I told my husband, who was fixing our dinner in the kitchen, he stopped what he was doing and stared right into my eyes. 
Because he also knew how odd that was. 
And we try to tell ourselves that it's nothing. 
We say it out loud to one another. 
"Oh, it's probably just a virus.  She has been sick recently. Coughing. Low fever. It's nothing."
But our fear lives very close to the surface. 
Cancer always lives very close to your heart and it takes over your rational thinking. 
And we are very rational thinkers. 
Except when it comes to Zoe's health. 
We may smile and go on with our day, but it's there.
What if the cancer has come back?
She was very tired prior to her diagnosis. 
Headaches take me there as well. 
I've calmed down with the bruises as she doesn't get them as much. 
But if I see one I ask "how long has that been there?  Where did it come from?"
And Zoe takes it all in stride. 
Answering her parents questions with calmness as if it's her job to reassure us. 

It's been 4 1/2 years. 
4 1/2 years since we were told the horrific words *your daughter has leukemia. Blood cancer. 
It seems like an eternity since those words were said. 
And like yesterday.
And I'm sure she just has a virus. 
Instead of leukemia. 
Again. 
But our fear is present.
It's always hovering no matter how much I shoo it away. 
And no one can tell us to get over it. 
To not let the fear in. 
Because we never invited it in in the first place. 
Cancer brings fear as that proverbial gift that keeps on giving. 
So we watch her. 
Like a hawk. 
Looking at her every move out of the corner of our eyes. 
Not letting on that we are observing everything that she does. 
Because she's fine. 
Just fine.
We have to tell ourselves that. 
Tell our hearts that all is fine...



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Little Kid Lost

Our two goats are sisters. 
Twins. 
Gigi named them Tulip and Yogurt. 
We bought them from our local zoo when they were babies. 
We bought them to be companions for our pony. 
They were the first inhabitants in our newly renovated barn in 2011. 


When Buttercup arrived they were terrified of her. 
What was this giant beast that we were locking them up with?!
But in a short period of time, they came to trust her. 
Trust that she wouldn't run over them. 
That she would share fruit treats with them. 
But Yogurt and Buttercup have a special bond that we've noticed. 


Of course Tulip is her very, very best friend. 
If one goat is separated from the other by a gate or fence the screaming starts. 
The relationship that Yogurt has with the pony is very unique in my eyes, though. 
You see, Yogurt often loses her baby. 
Baby?
Yes. 
Her baby. 
Yogurt goes into a false pregnancy a few times a year. 
Where her udder fills with milk and she prepares for birth. 
The vet has seen this happen in Yogurt and has told us what is probably happening. 
Since of course she's not really pregnant, as all of the animals in the barn are female, she probably has a cyst on an ovary causing false pregnancy. 
Goats aren't normally spayed like our pet dogs and cats are. 
Goats are seen as working animals. 
Most people breed them, milk them, butcher them. 
But our goats are our pets. 
And Yogurt thinks she's pregnant too often and then becomes the saddest thing I have ever seen. 
She moans. 
She cries. 
She hides. 


Most interesting is that when she hides she hides under the horse.


She won't leave Buttercup's side. 


And those sounds she makes are so mournful. 
But here's the thing. 
I don't know if she's crying out because she's in pain, having contractions and trying to give birth. 
Or if she's already had her baby and now can't find it. 
I know I'm anthropomorphisizing things with her. 
But something is definitely happening. 
She cries and hides for usually two days. 
She let's me pet her, which isn't her thing. 
She likes to always act tough and will rear up on her back legs to hit you if you try to pet her. 
Which is really just very funny to see because she never does hit anyone. 
It's her tough-gal warning. 
Well, unless you're a cat. 
Or a chicken. 
Or Gigi holding a cat or chicken. 
Then she will make contact. 
I'm wondering if we should get her spayed. 
It will make her more comfortable I think. 
And she won't look for her baby. 
Or whatever she's doing. 
Anyway, it will make me feel better...