Sunday, May 31, 2009

All I want for Christmas ...

Our little Emily lost her first tooth this weekend in New Hampshire. She lost it at a Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, little pieces of rice look like lost teeth, so we sifted through a lot of dirty rice pellets, but could not find the tooth. Emily was almost in tears until I explained that if she writes a letter to the tooth fairy explaining what happened, the tooth fairy will understand. So she wrote a short note: "Dear tooth fairy, I lost my tooth at a restaurant. Love, Emily." Short and sweet. I wonder what the going rate is these days? Well I'm sure the tooth fairy will figure it out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Porky mouth

What's mother's day without a little drama?

My girls and I were almost two hours into a gorgeous hike on the woodsy trails at Mohonk Preserve, and were about twenty minutes from the parking lot when Wolfie, hundreds of feet ahead of us, let out a big yelp. "Wolfie! WOlfie!" No answer. I saw a ledge up ahead and a man who was hiking on his own called to me: "your dog is in a lot of pain - you need to get him to a vet." I expected the worst.

Wolfie came running up, shaking his head left and right and yelping, with an entire mouth and snout full of porcupine needles. His teeth were bared and I could see that his tongue and roof of his mouth were covered with quills. My dog is a hunter. He is a half German Shepard/half Husky and loves to pick on small rodents. He is fine with other dogs and people, but show him a mouse and he'll envision dinner. He leaves frequent gifts of small, dead animals for us on the front step to show that he accomplished something during the day. He probably chased the porcupine to his hole, and then reached his snout in for a big bite.

I wondered and worried whether my docile dog could become a vicious, aggressive animal when in pain. My girls were screaming and crying, and my first concern was to protect them. The thought of leaving Wolfie while I got them safely to the car crossed my mind. I couldn't take care of both the girls and the dog together with his unpredictable, slightly crazed behavior.

Fortunately, this hiker - Steve - was the greatest guy in the world. He offered to walk my girls back to the car while I dealt with the dog, got him on a leash and figured out what to do. They stayed about 50 yards ahead of me, and I could hear him explaining to them about porcupines and what happened to Wolfie, and telling them he would be fine. He really was a savior. I got Wolfie on the leash and walked with him slowly back to the car, trying to tell him in a soothing voice that he was going to be okay. His mouth was bleeding and he was not soothed in the least. I know that my words were effectively calming myself more than him. He looked like he wanted to eat me if that would solve his problems.

Finally got to the car, and he is literally salivating all over the place and barking. We nudged him into the hatch area of my tiny Honda Fit, and he immediately climbed over the backseats. He had to be tied to the inside of the car with his leash to prevent him from leaping over the seats again.

A rule of thumb that I learned from my mother is not to panic or express fear in front of your children. You must remain calm and keep emotions in check because your fear will just worsen their's. You do not raise your voice unless absolutely necessary. So, in a calm slightly happy voice I told the girls that they get to sit in the front seat today, and isn't that lucky? They looked pretty shaken but immediately ran to the front door and jumped in, squooshed in together on the front seat. I am pretty certain there is an "emergency" exception to the car seat rule and up front was way safer than in the back, notwithstanding the risk of airbag ignition.

After calling park rangers over and getting access to the locked phone box since there was no cell phone signal, while Steve sat with the girls, I reached the vet's emergency line. The office was closed but she was apparently tranquilizing several hundred cows at a nearby dairy farm and offered to tranquilize Wolfie at the barn and extract the quills.

The barn was full of 50-60 young calves and a couple chickens, who were exceedingly curious by the triage on their barnyard floor. Wolfie was a little shocked to be stared at by all those cows. He was so disoriented, and had to be sedated three times to relax him long enough to finish the quill extraction.

It took 2 hours to get the quills. This was a real participatory surgery. Three of us (including me) were armed with surgical tweezers, yanking at quills embedded in his tongue, gums, lips, and between teeth.

The Vet told me that porcupine quills migrate in the body and if they are not taken out immediately, they become embedded deeper in the skin. Eventually they enter the body completely and, if the dog is fortunate, they will disintegrate and be expelled from the body. But they could puncture organs and skin if the dog is not lucky.

Poor guy. We carried my tranquilized husky to the car and at home my neighbor and I carried him in.
I told Emily, who is 6 year old going on 40: "I hope Wolfie learned his lesson." Her answer: "I hope you learned your lesson mommy. You really need to keep him on a leash." Ok, lesson learned.

So.. happy mother's day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day story

Happy mother's day to all moms.
This story is written by a woman who described a conversation with her daughter about childbirth, and I received it when I just gave birth to my daughter almost five years ago. I loved it and have saved it in my drawer. It seems like a good day to share it.

We were sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of starting a family. "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know" she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a pie or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation. I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professional derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going to an important meeting and will think of something her baby did or said. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from dropping her work responsibilities and running home, just to see her child and make sure she is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right here, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in the restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give up her life in a moment to save her child, but will also begin to hope for many more years to watch her child accomplish her own dreams.

I want her to know that a caesarean scar or stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to clean and diaper the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child and read to her. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the joy and laughter of your own child when she touches the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.

"You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

All so true. Happy mother's day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Four and a half minutes of fun with the B-52s

The B-52s are unusual. They play fun, hyped-up, fast and unusual fast-paced music that was hot in the 1980s and 1990s and they are still hot, though older. Their career culminated in a performance at the Paramount in Peekskill NY on May 5, 2009 when they got to meet Ray & Laura and Dennis & Judith, their #1 fans. It was a big high for the band-members.

Putting all joking aside, Fred Schneider, the lead singer, was slightly intrigued that Laura had to "do homework" by writing an essay using song titles, to win tickets from the newspaper. He asked me to email him the silly essay. Funny enough, Dennis installed a pool at his house in Woodstock a decade ago. So we personally enjoyed the full 4-1/2 minutes. I cannot speak for the band. But the visit was short; they were scheduled to be on-stage about five minutes after we arrived. They had a concert to play, a theater to rock. Fans to ignite into frenzied dance. In short, they fully delivered. It was all well worth it.