Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gone country... at least for a week or two

Eleven plus hours, many sippy cups of juice, and one dog howling later we've arrived on the farm.

Maddox quickly announced his presence by running inside calling for "bampa" and pulling out all the riding toys that were waiting for him. (This included a miniature four-wheeler, a bmx trycicle, and an antique riding tractor that pulls a wagon.)

Life is certainly exciting when you're 2 and have new places to discover and lots of open space to play. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A home for Grace

We are a foster family again.

Despite weekend travels, pregnancy, a toddler who leaves me completely exhausted by days end, and the death of my father-in-law, we took on a temporary house guest. And her name is Grace.

We've fostered on and off in the past and because of my rescue connections found out that a transport is scheduled for this Friday. Tennessee is notorious for euthanizing pets, but it's only because there are so many homeless animals. And so few are spayed or neutered.

Around the same time as I learned this piece of information, I was browsing http://www.petharbor.com/ and noticed a high kill shelter in our area was getting ready for the week's list of unadopted pets. My eyes locked on a photo of an older yellow dog that was quietly laying with his nose between her paws in a metal kennel. At six years old, I knew she wouldn't make it out. Not even small dogs, purebreds, or puppies made it out safely very often.

I shot an email to my rescue coordinator and within days was driving home with a very happy Grace riding in the back of our SUV. And as luck would have it, she adored children.

In the beginning Grace basically ignored me but would strain to be near my son. She wouldn't overwhealm him, just be within his reach and watching over him. The sweet natured lab mix was housebroken and happy to do whatever we asked of her.

She may not be the youngest, but she has been one of the best foster dogs we've had. There are many benefits to age, including a level head and knowing when to run and play and when to take a nap.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion and exhaustion but Grace has enriched our lives. This Friday she will leave on the transport to NY state and hopefully find a new family quickly.

She certainly deserves it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The sudden goodbye

I haven't been blogging this past week as an event in our lives took the family on an unexpected turn and trip out of town.

Last Monday, we got the call that my father-in-law passed away suddenly. He was found in bed, having passed in his sleep from a heart attack.

We later learned he had also suffered from emphysema, gall stones, and a prior major heart attack that may have gone undetected. No wonder the duplex was scattered in pain medication.

It's difficult to know what to say.

We actually didn't see Ron very often. His business running a pilot car fleet kept him on the road and he wasn't very comfortable in family situations. In the last four years, we saw him three times and I remember very well the last visit he made. I knew we wouldn't see him again for a long time and tried to make the most out of the visit, talking more than we had before. Maddox was also old enough to climb into his lap, which startled him a bit, and began chattering away.

We walked into the house one day after he died. Everything was just as he'd left it and one could visualize him walking around, sitting just so at the computer, and leaning back on the sofa watching a stack of movies while snacking on fiber bars in a glass bowl. It was eerie to be trespassing this way.

The spirit of the man still lingered. Especially in the bedroom you could feel his presence, but also in the kitchen. It was difficult to begin, so I began by taking out the trash. We slowly began opening drawers and looking under the bed for any hint of land information, business documents, account numbers, and possibly a Will. I started making a pile of what we needed to take home on the bed.

It was odd, unnatural to be sorting through someone's private things-- even after death. It was even stranger to be throwing many of those things away or sending them off to the Salvation Army. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was "just things." The man and the belongings were not one. His presence slowly faded as the house began being emptied.

Just a few hours after arriving at the house, we had to pick out the suit he would be buried in. And plan the details of the funeral.

My father-in-law had many accomplishments in his life and in the end, held onto many secrets. We discovered more about him through the experience of cleaning out his house and making funeral arrangements than we ever knew before, but we never did find where he stashed his Will and important documents. He never trusted banks so we were and still are in a bit of a scavenger hunt.

There is never a perfect time to suddenly pass on, but I do wish Ron had a chance to grow closer to his son. There is so much they could have said....

But may you rest in peace. The long journey is finally finished.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Appy Mommy Day!"

Mother's Day 2011

6:30 am call from the event company.. Aparantly they forgot I'm off today
Breakfast shared with Maddox who always begs for my fruit AND his; what can I say? I unknowingly taught him to eat off my plate.
Quick kitchen sweep up of crumbs and things the dogs dragged in
Early morning bath for our bulldog while Maddox got fully soaked/covered in dog hair while still in pajamas
Quick change and off to the barn with my mini equestrian sidekick
Bareback horse rides
Bath for the horse and a hoof trim while Maddox fed her weeds and helped dry her off... while I was still washing
A walk with the dogs while Maddox called out "come! come!" to the canines
A visit to the car wash and much-needed cleaning and vaccuming of the mom-mobile
Stop at Publix to pick up diapers
Quick drive through McDonald's for an iced coffee refresher
Picked up Dad for lunch at Royal Tai (Who loves sticky rice? Two-year-olds do!)

Naps all around

How was your "Mommy Day?"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rock a bye baby

It may be overdue, but I'm finally out of the woods and (mostly) feeling human again. Plus between managing all aspects of the house, work, a little one, and a physically demanding day every day I just haven't been ready.

So here it goes. (Sorry to those of you who are not getting a personal announcement but I've honestly told hardly anyone.)

Yes, I'm pregnant again. This weekend marks the 18 week check point. Maddox has started to pick out babies in the store and announce to me that he's found "a baby!" Which is good. A few months ago the only babies he recognized had fur and lived in our chinchilla room.

This week I switched to the midwife group that delivered Maddox. It's not that the doctor I have is not a nice lady, but the personal touch and concern with my midwife just doesn't compare. At my last appointment in the new office I finally felt comfortable about maternity care. I tend to freak out aka hyperventilate at doctors offices. So it was a relief-- to me and the poor nurses who have to figure out why my blood pressure is suddenly skyrocketing! (If anyone needs a midwife let me know.)

In two weeks, we'll find out if it's going to be pink or blue. Or rather, who will be sleeping in the green and brown crib sheets!

It's a little overwhealming but I hope to spend some time back with friends and family sometime after delivery.

Here's a photo of 18 weeks... and counting

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All I want this Mother's Day...

Mother's Day is a yearly event dedicated to pampering the child-rearers of the world and showering them with appreciation. Well... at least in theory.

But what really matters to a mother? What does she most want?

I could say that the average mother wants to be remembered with homemade cards, breakfast made by her small brood, and maybe a bouquet of flowers--hand picked are extra special. (Fond memories at our house growing up were the "Mom project" gifts that became keepsakes: pottery we painted, a painted box for jewelry, a clay necklace, and a tiny clay koala. And while these things make sweet memories, this year I'm going to go just a little deeper with my wish.
So what do I really want this year?

On a very raw level, I just want to know that my son is safe and secure. My wishes are for him: that he stays healthy and strong; That he will always be kind and compassionate; That he will learn how to deal with adversity and develop a strong character; That he will have a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong and be able to stand up for what he should; For him to find what he is passionate about early in life and develop those things into lifelong talents. 

Having children is a blessing, not a right. And I'm thankful he came into my life.

What are your wishes for Mother's Day this year?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To diaper or not to diaper: The cloth diaper debate

I admit it. I haven't been that Super Mom who touts cloth diapers, weilds environmentally sustainable snacks, snubs disposable training pants, and is committed to a 100% eco-friendly lifestyle. Actually, until just last month I hadn't even considered trying cloth diapers.

Now those who know me understand that I do care about the environment-- quite a bit actually-- but the concept of washing and caring for alternative diapers was well... intimidating. Then I read Beth's post "My Experience with Cloth Diapers." She had a realistic view of diapering this way with helpful links and basic care instructions.

Wow! I thought. You mean it's okay to commit to using cloth only part of the time?? Like after the morning poopy diaper is deposited?? Now that sounded more do-able. And one doesn't have to feel tied to cloth diapering even if say, you're planning a long outing that day and don't want to drag around soppy diapers as they're changed. (Not that parents can't bring a plastic bag, but that takes preparation and I'm not always that prepared.)

I tentatively ordered my first three cloth diapers. I chose a brand that made snap diapers for easy on and off with a waterproof outer coating and padded inserts.

The last few weeks we've been trying them out and with great results. I love not filling the diaper geenie so quickly, knowing those diapers are going to landfills and not decomposing any time soon. I love that I feel one step closer to putting my son in real underwear. Even the process of soaking and washing his cloth diapers is no big deal. I just whisk them downstairs to soak and when all three are ready, I toss them in the rinse cycle and then wash.

Now I do agree that cloth diapers don't hold as much liquid as disposables. But if you know your child's natural drinking and urinating habits (which you learn faster with cloth diapers) it's not hard to keep them dry.

I'm still not a complete convert, but am happy enough that I ordered several additional cloth diapers so we can use them more often. We all have to start somewhere and our family is taking baby steps towards the environmentally-friendly diapering approach. And who knows? Maybe by the second go-round I'll be ready for a complete conversion.

Have you ever considered or used cloth diapers? I'd love to hear your own experiences and tips.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Toddler bedroom gets a modern facelift

So lately I've been inspired to finish decorating some of the house, and re-decorating a few areas.

My project this weekend was to re-do Maddox's room from a baby-themed zoo room into something cute and gender neutral. I also wanted to make it more mature without getting too carried away by decorating with colors and patterns.

Most everything I used came from Target and cost around $200.

The bedding is new but I used his old bumper pad to save a little money. I was planning to paint but instead I decided to use a beautiful Queen size quilt in green as a wall hanging for added color and texture. It also saved a lot of time and can be easily changed. The curtains are actually tableclothes with a design I loved.

On his dresser are two color-coordinated placemats to protect the top from scratches. The wall clock is a matching green and was a steal at $3! For changing table, I bought a few baskets in brown and beige that were on sale. On the wall by his closet, I put some wall decals in nature themes. I also found a cute clothes hamper that fits in the corner and can be hidden behind the door. I hung his jackets on hooks to help open up closet space. Also behind the door is a dry erase board for chores.

Finally, I found a cute art deco picture of a dog that pulls from the room colors and I felt gives is a "boy" feel.

I'm very happy with the result.