Friday, September 16, 2011

Trying to Get it All In

Sometimes I wonder if we are the only people who don't seem to have enough time.

Our house is usually a wreck these days because between the baby, the pumping I have to do to feed him, the other kids and their needs, the computer, work, everything, I don't get it all done. Hubby's car has needed tires for a good two months or more, but we can't seem to get the time needed to take it to the tire shop, drop it off for the day and then return. The yard is reminiscent of a jungle; what landscaping there was has been overrun with native foliage. The kids sometimes don't get a bedtime bath because bedtime sneaks up on us. I frequently realize that dinner is in an hour...and I didn't get anything out of the freezer!The house routinely looks like a war zone and sounds like one too, with me barking orders to get the boys to pick up their messes before moving on.

And hubby and I even talk about the schedule days in advance so I know where he is going to be and what he needs to do. It's like I plan a military invasion every single day just to keep the family afloat.

Part of this is because I work weekends. He works weekdays. He gets home around 7:30 to 8 every night and leaves around 6 in the morning. When he's off, I'm at work. He has one Friday off every other week, and that one day is usually jampacked with things we must do. Or we spend it, unfortunately, driving from place to place to finish things up.

Between barn work (our horses live in a boarding barn 15 miles away, where someone has to go in the morning and night to look after them 365 days a year), caring for the kids, cooking, housework, homeschooling, swim team, pumping, feeding the baby, volunteer work online, and church obligations, there isn't a lot of free time to take care of the other things like landscaping and home decor.

It wouldn't be so bad if the boys didn't take as their mantra "Search and Destroy." If they can mess it up, they will. If I clean it, they trash it as soon as I'm not looking. If it looks interesting, they play with it. If it can be broken, they manage it. They drag in dirt and leaves and rocks and sticks every day. Just today, they built a fort in the living room/dining room, just after I'd tidied it up. I try to not get upset about this..there is worse they could be doing.

And they usually do this just as we are going somewhere or when I have something else going on. Right now, I sat down to pump and type, the baby wants to eat and sleep, the toddler took his diaper off and smeared himself with ointment, and the older two sneaked outside with some polished rocks out of the rock collection and proceeded to smash several rocks and a window. I'm chained to a chair, so it all must wait. And while it all waits, it just gets worse.

I haven't managed to even get dressed yet, and it's 1PM. Where to start...LOL

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Heart is Full

My friend's baby passed away Monday, September 12, 2011, at 8:01 pm in his parents' arms while listening to the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My heart hurts for my friend, yet it is full with the knowledge of the blessings of the eternal family and that parents who say goodbye to a child too soon will have the chance to be with that child again in the eternities.

I've long felt a bond with this mama. She struggled hard to have a second child, suffering several miscarriages along the way. We also lost a baby in utero, so it was easy to understand the pain of loss and the fear she felt with every pregnancy that started then ended too early.

I was joyful for her when it was clear this pregnancy would be successful and as she planned a wonderful homebirth to peacefully and gently bring her second baby into this world. The day he was born was a day of celebration and love.

Then, I again felt a special connection when she learned her child had a birth defect, just a couple days later. That happened to us, and the shock when the doctor tells you that your baby has a physical problem is like a brick hits you.

But what her family was going through made me feel grateful. What our baby has could be worse. But he will survive (barring some freak accident related to his defect until we have surgery). He will grow up strong and healthy. He may have some issues, but they won't be life threatening. Her baby didn't survive, even with everything that modern medicine has to offer.

She also had to pump to feed her baby, a third way we are similar. Her attitude about it is so much more positive than mine has ever been, to my shame. However, it was one thing that she could do for her baby while he was hospitalized, whereas our baby lives with us, and I see him every moment of the day, which makes the need to pump a little more difficult to wrap my brain around after successfully nursing three other children for many years, as well as finding the time to pump with all these little kids needing me. She is extraordinary in that she is pumping and donating through this difficult time.

As I have shared the story of my friend and her family over the last few days with my children, the faith of children has been a buoy to my spirit. My eldest son said, "But he's with Jesus, and he'll be resurrected someday." My middle son said, "And he'll have a whole heart, one that can get oxygen to his whole body!" The faith and knowledge of children is perfect and an example to us of how to have faith.

Our family's religion teaches that families, through the power of the Priesthood and the keys of sealing in the temple, can be together forever. The great plan includes sealing all members of the human family together, so none are lost and we can all be together. This enables families who, like my friend's, like ours, who have family members who returned to Heavenly Father too soon, to be able to raise those children, where they will be whole again.

We also know that these children are some of Heavenly Father's best, the most perfect, the ones who did not need as many trials as the rest of us to come to their full human potential.

We mothers were called to bring them to this life, even knowing perhaps that we would lose them too early and experience unimaginable pain at their passing, and their too-brief lives are part of the fabric of our lives, some of the trials that will make us who God knows we can be. Heavenly Father knows how much it hurts when we lose a family member here on Earth -- just look at what he did, sending Jesus Christ to us knowing he would die -- but who else knows better how to heal that hurt if we let Him?

So, my heart is full of love and life and knowledge. It doesn't make such trials much easier, but it makes them have a purpose and eventually, the pain eases and we can see the sun again despite the clouds. In God's time. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

There are Days

Where I just can't keep up. Today has been one of those days.

I woke up to learn that a friend's baby is not doing well. He's been hospitalized for almost 3 months -- ever since his birth practically -- because he has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. His team has tried various treatments and he had the first surgery for a HLHS baby, but so far, nothing has helped him. So I spent half the morning working on organizing fund raisers and finding out what they might need if he should pass; from the sounds of things, that may happen very soon.

Not long after I woke up, my second kid came in while I was pumping and told me he didn't feel well. When this kid is sick, it's usually pretty bad. His symptoms actually made me wonder if he had a problem with his appendix!

Then I spent the next hour anxiously awaiting the opening of the doctor's office so I could take him in. We went in, just to find out he has a virus that may now infect the rest of us, and then had to stop at the store for some medication for him and a few survival needs (of course, I forgot the chocolate for me!) like pain medication and some Pedialyte.

The oldest, because attention is not focused on him, has been demanding, onery and very inconsiderate of everyone else. The 2 year old threw a fit because I didn't give him what he wanted at lunch, to the point that everyone stared at us as we left the store.

The baby may have a touch of it. He's been fussy for the last couple of days. But I can't put him down as a result without him crying, and with four little kids, the house looks like a bomb hit it very rapidly. I made the mistake of taking my eyes off the kids while on the computer checking on things for my friend and then to go pump in my room before leaving for the doctor's, leaving the kids in the other room for a few minutes, and I haven't been able to catch up with the baby being cranky.

Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, and I'd just pick up after hubby gets home from work around 8 tonight, but my hubby's brother is living with us for the time being and will arrive home around 6. And I hate for him to see the mess our life turns into in a split second!

But it's all good. My family is relatively healthy; this virus will pass. We have enough food to eat. Our house shelters us from the weather. We could have nothing. And I am thinking about my friend. She is about to lose her child. The pain of that is unimaginable. And it puts my silly day all in perspective.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Good and Not So Good about My Career

In the course of my work as a veterinarian, I see a lot of great owners and dogs. And I see some pretty crummy stuff.

It's really fun to work with the brand new pet owner, to see their enthusiasm, to help them understand how to best help their new pet and to overcome any fears. I love it when I can get the new owners in and talk to them. I try to spend a lot of time with them because helping the owner helps ensure the pet has a long and happy relationship with this person. If we can head off behavior problems -- the number one reason for shelter surrenders -- then the owner is much more likely to keep the pet into old age.

It's great to work with fearful pets and have them relax and actually, perhaps for the first time, enjoy a visit to an animal hospital. It's just as rewarding to take a new puppy or kitten and make that little one love coming to the hospital, with some treats and cuddling and fun. If I can make that critter like us, it's much more likely that subsequent visits will be smoother and easier for all of us in the long run.

I feel for the owners who don't have the money to let me do diagnostics, but then please don't expect me to make a diagnosis and give you a prognosis and be angry or upset at me when I can't and won't.

I do my work to the best of my ability, before I usually know if you can even pay. For example, today, a couple rushed a dog in that was seizuring. I took care of the dog and then found out that they couldn't pay, after I spent my boss's money on drugs, staff and equipment. If you can't pay, please let us know, and we can usually find a way to work with you. It happens all the time. Please don't be embarrassed. Please just be up front about your finances.

And do not ask me for a bill reduction. I do not own the place. I just work there. I don't have that kind of power. And if you ask the boss, don't expect him to give you one either unless you've previously shown that you actually pay a great deal of money for your pet's care.

[As you can see, most of the issues with clients is about money. It's generally not about the care.]

Then there are the people who are just dirt. I saw a lovely, gentle and quiet Pitbull (seriously, I would take this dog home myself if hubby hadn't said no more animals!) with bite marks all over him. He appeared to have been fought, was picked up by Animal Control in an area known for dog fighting but was wandering alone, bleeding, in the street. Whoever did that to that dog deserves jail time.

And then there was the guy who left his dog in the car right in front of our clinic to go into a shop and then was angry at Animal Control when the officer left a note on the car. Leaving a dog in the car in this state is illegal, not to mention totally unsafe. Yes, it wasn't a hot day....outside the car. Inside the car can be a totally different story.

I am often asked by kids about my job, and I often have kids tells me, "I LOVE animals so much that I want to be a vet too!" That's great....except this is not a job about animals. I've never had a pet come into the clinic with a credit card in its mouth. There is always a person holding the other end of the leash. You have to be able to work with people, not just animals.

All in all, it's a fun job, but it can be frustrating too. Probably just like any other job, just complicated by the fact that there is an animal involved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So...a bit about me, our family and our life

Guess a little intro is in order.

Hubby and I met in (gasp) 1991. He had just returned from his mission to Tennessee, and I was starting my sophomore year. We met the first week that school was in session at church, and I thought he was one of the most irritating people I'd ever met! He said and did the most ridiculous things, and one day, I called him out on it. He said he said and did what he did to annoy people. Well, it worked. He was annoying.

But after I said something, he settled down around me. And he slowly became less annoying and just more interesting. And then one day, we started dating, then we broke up, and then we got back together, and then he asked me to marry him.

A few months later, he suggested we just get married when his brother, his wife and her daughter were all sealed in the Manti temple instead of waiting until our planned date. Ok. So we did. We joke that we eloped to the temple! And that was in July 1993. That first year was really tough, but things improved as we learned to live with each other.

Three years later, we moved to the Washington DC area, after we had both finished college and attended graduate school. We bought a house, and I prepared to attend veterinary school. For four years, one of us commuted on weekends to see the other one as we lived 300 miles apart. After graduation, I returned home for good and worked in private practice for a while, but then I landed a job in the government.

I bought a horse after veterinary school, had her professionally trained and finally got a life-long dream fulfilled of having a gorgeous purebred Arabian mare. I showed her and did very well with her in the ring before breeding her. We started looking for our own farm, which we didn't find at the time. Life was good. We were making plenty of money, had a lot of free time, and enjoyed life a great deal.

To our shock and surprise, in December 2003, we discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant. Our first baby was born in September 2004. We added three more boys in November 2006, December 2008 and January 2011. And along the way, we found ourselves, which I'll describe in more posts later.

I ended up quitting work entirely when the first was born -- that's a whole story in itself -- and went back to work when he was 18 months old. Ever since, I work part time. I'd rather be a full time mom, despite my education (or maybe because of my education) but I find I am a better FT mom if I have a little adult time away from the kids once in a while, and the part time work lets me have a little spending money and gives me some guaranteed adult conversation time once a week.

With the birth of each child, I take up a new hobby or expand an old one. I learned to bake when I had my first baby. With the second, I decided to start sewing again. With the third, I learned to quilt. With the fourth, I've been reading about canning and food storage and emergency preparation. It keeps me busy and gives me something to think about besides diapers and when the last nap was. I also kept the horses, and we added a dog, several cats and a fish along the way.

We homeschool, and that keeps us pretty busy too. There's always something to do! I found school very boring and confining, and it's wonderful to watch my kids learn something new every day that interests them and keeps their unique and wonderful way of thinking intact.

We are really active in our church. We are LDS (Mormon). It's a religion we live every day, not just on Sunday. We try to have family prayer and scripture study every day, Family Home Evening once a week, and then we try to find ways to serve others in our every day lives. We aren't maybe as active in our ward as we could be, but that's mostly because we live kind of far from everyone else in our ward, I'm pretty busy with the kids, and it's just not the right time. In the future we'll be able to do more temple trips and that sort of thing.

I am also very active with La Leche League and helping moms with breastfeeding and parenting concerns, and I am active with an online cleft lip and palate group, since our fourth baby was born with both conditions. Those are big things, and I'll probably write about them too.

As you can imagine, having four boys is quite the ride. Lots of fun stuff to write about with them too.

More later!

Just Getting Started

I've been told, over and over in the last few years, that I should share my experiences as a parent of four boys, about the various challenges we've had, the crazy things that happen to us on what seems like a daily basis, and the joys of having a large family. it is. The beginning. I've been told to write a book, but I think I'll start here first.

I'm not sure what I'll write about. Maybe some funny stuff. Probably some of the stuff that happened that took us to our knees. Very likely some of my favorite topics will be included. But I'll try to keep it interesting, and we'll see where it goes.