Thursday, October 25, 2012
Last Spring Sofie didn't get into the school of her choice. In hindsight, I'm grateful. Not that the school wasn't a good match. I think she would have done well there. Now I see there are better choices. When she was accepted into a public magnet school full of kids from a previous school she attended, I thought our issue of MS had been solved. I was optimistic and hopeful. She was not. She liked the school, the teachers and kids in particular. What she didn't like was the mixed messages she seemed to be getting. Her words were, "They're treating us like kindergartners in some was but expecting us to be adults in others!" She had a point. And while I think some kids are okay in an environment where they are responsible for everything they do, I know she's not there yet developmentally. For the first month or so of school the positive aspects of her day became increasingly tenuous for her and straining on me.
As luck would have it, I received an invitation to attended a tour at another school that I had been interested in last Spring. Unfortunately with my dad's health issues and driving back and forth to Greensboro, all while solo parenting, I had to put aside anymore investigation of that school. I was okay with that because I thought we'd found a good option in public school. The invitation couldn't have come at at better time in my mind. So a month ago, I took the morning off work and attended the open house at Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill. Honestly I wasn't sure it was going to be a good fit based on what I knew. I knew she was 5 plus years behind in Spanish, Music, Handwriting and a few other things. Thankfully I made time to go on the tour...and thank the Universe for putting EWS back onto my radar!
During the tour we visited each class, Grades 1-8, and observed the kids in their environment. A very fortunate turn of events occurred when a teacher who was on Sabbatical from another Waldorf school was on our tour. She had just finished a 1-8 loop(the teachers start with their kids in first grade and move up with them until they graduate 8th grade!!) She addressed many questions/concerns I had about moving to this school so late in the game. She had no qualms at all. Of course she'd never met Sofie but it was nice to get an outsiders perspective who knew about Waldorf education. During the tour, classroom after classroom, I kept thinking, "This would be a wonderful fit for my quirky, artistic girl!" After observing the 6th grade classroom and seeing her potentially new teacher interact with his class, I was convinced...from a parents point of view. After the meeting, I was fortunate enough to chat with that teacher and he was open to and encouraged the next step...completing the application. I rushed home and compiled all the relevant information and submitted the application right away. A few days later Sofie, due to the wonderful Director of Admissions and the 6th grade teacher, was scheduled for her 3 day visit. the true test was about to begin.
Two weeks ago, Sofie visited EWS on Tuesday-Thursday. Prior to that visit we had long discussions about the differences...good and "perceived" bad. To note, the "bad" to her is the dress code requirements...nothing else. She wasn't too excited about the idea of tutors for things she might be behind in but was still willing to visit. I didn't offer my opinion on whether I thought the school was a good match or not. It was important that she test the waters without too many outside influences. I dropped her off with the 6th grade class and off to work I went. She was beaming with happiness and excitement every afternoon. She even showed the teacher her snarky 6th grade side when he and I were discussing a meeting time for the last day. (Afterwards he said he was glad to have seen that and it was perfectly normal for her age!!) So at the end of the 3 days, he and I talked for nearly 2 hours! He raised his concerns, I mine. We talked the good, bad and ugly of switching schools. By the end, we were 99.9% sure she was in but he needed to talk to the class to get their input and talk about adding a new member to the family. He also needed to chat with the Spanish, Handwork and Music teachers, too. In the end, no one had an issue and were happy to welcome her into the community. We found out on the Friday, just before their Fall Break that she was in! I registered her and that was her last day at her old school. She chilled for a week and prepared for her new adventure.
In her first week she's already started making a wooden egg in woodworking, learned and drawn more about Roman leaders, started writing on what makes a good leader(and she's using Wolves as an example...shock!!), started making a stuffed mountain lion, sang, talked about which second instrument she's going to play, had PE twice, Math, Language arts and worked on her Spanish. When I picked her up from after school the first day, she had constructed this house out of twigs, leaves, rocks and pine cones:
Week one is almost in the books and I have to say, she's never seemed more at ease, more enthusiastic or more confident about school. Yes, this is the honeymoon period. Yes, there will be times when she's just as miserable as she was at the other school(but for different reasons I assure you!) Yes, there will be trials and tribulations...she's 12!! As I see it, there's no place more loving and accepting for those trials and tribulations to occur.
A big heartfelt Thank You to Debra for having the fore thought to make this opportunity happen. As her guardian angel, I know you're watching over her and you're very proud of our girl.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
This blog has morphed from a blog about Cancer treatment, parenting, recovery, death and grieving to one about single parenting and getting back out in the world without those labels of "cancer patient/survivor" or "ex-partner to sick/dying/dead mother of Sofie" as primary identifiers. Okay, the last one was a bit harsh but it's how I felt for a long time prior to and post Debra's death. I kind of got lost in all that happened. It's what I do. I push on through, not worrying about myself as much as I worry about others. It's easier that way.
I do have to say, I have changed for the better, in some aspects, as a result of all that happened during those few years. Ultimately I had to change, but I also need to change more. Life is a process, a constant growing, changing, learning, unlearning...you get the picture. I'm also the first to admit I've changed some things NOT for the better. As I said, I'm learning.
Let's get the bad out of the way because it's the hardest to write. Once this is out on the page, I can end with writing about the good. In many ways I feel I'm becoming the parent I said I'd never be. I'm not juggling very well and that creates unnecessary chaos in our lives. Instead of being organized about chores and consequences, I'm always on someone's case about all the things she needs to do in the morning, then lather rinse repeat in the evening. My overwhelm and default state of being is cranky, naggy mom. What happened to the fun mom of years gone by? I want her back, more consistently, in our lives. How do single parents really juggle work, parenting, and life without sacrificing their own personal space and life? Other parents do it with far less and I'm feeling like a spoiled middle class brat right now even writing this...but this is the bad, I do get to write some good.
This may seem ironic but one of the ways I've changed the most is that I've become a "glass half full" person as my default character. Sure, I'm whining in the previous paragraph but ultimately I know life is
Sofie is morphing from a child to a teen right before my eyes. It's a struggle for her. She's had so much loss and she really doesn't want to lose her innocence/fun and grow up. (She's said that, I'm not making it up.) She views growing up as losing all the fun things in life. I've not been the best model showing that to be untrue.
Today I honor the old, stick in the mud Jamie. Let that part of me die, be gone. Honor that she was a necessary part of me to help transcend from single, part-time parent to single, "everything is my responsibility, especially a little girl with so much loss" parent. Focus on fun, focus on me, focus on teaching/showing Sofie that mistakes happen and it's not the end of the world. Today I begin a new chapter...unsure of the title but definitely a new chapter in the life of the complex one.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation. – Rainer Maria Rilke
Monday, July 25, 2011
There will be no waxing nostalgic in this post...for that you can read the blog entries for that year. This is about looking forward and living life with no regrets. From those years of life changes I became fulltime parent to a wonderfully spunky girl. With that I have years of looking forward to watching her become the tween/teen/young adult/etc. etc. etc. that she will evolve into. Fortunately for us, we get to share that journey with a wonderful woman who dropped into our lives about a year ago. Sofie and I both are looking forward to growing our family with one mom/partner and two more cats. (yes, we are crazy cat people!) Life can be full of challenges and growing pains, fortunately those also come with love and celebrations. To coin a phrase(or 80's one hit wonder), the futures so bright, I gotta wear shades.
In theory, the cancer was removed when my cervix, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed. So do I celebrate 5 years Cancer free today...or do I wait until next March, the 5th anniversary of the end of my treatment? Maybe this can be the YEAR of 5 years Cancer free? Let's get this party started!!
Okay a little waxing nostalgic. A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone in my life, new and old, who have been here for me during the last five years of "growing pains"...couldn't be the mom, partner or friend I am without a supporting cast like you all.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Any sage advice for me, do share your wisdom!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Fence sitter or what I believe about the mom who is losing custody of her children "because" she has Cancer
- Former partner(and primary care provider to our daughter) diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer(2006) after our wonderful Primary Care doctor thought something was off with the symptoms Debra had.
- Surgery and chemo begin immediately
- Three months later, I was diagnosed with Endometrial Cancer after a hysterectomy was performed due to "suspicious cells" found during a biopsy.
- As her chemo is winding down, my treatment of surgery, radiation then chemo begins.
- Less than 6 months after completing chemo, cancer returns for Debra.
- We are simultaneously going through chemo since I had 3 treatments to go.
- Debra doesn't respond well to the chemo after the recurrence and dies December 2007.
The mom in question has some major PR backing. There's a Facebook page dedicated to the "wrongness" of the actions and much of mainstream media has jumped on the "mom was wronged because she has cancer" bandwagon. Since this is a family law type issue I don't think there's a ton of facts from either side out there. Why are we not hearing the Dad's side? Maybe he thinks the protection and privacy of his children are more important than the media show. Maybe he is a loser, although I highly doubt it since he seems to genuinely care for the well being of his children. The mom is holding onto every ounce of hope that she'll beat the cancer and I wouldn't expect anything less. Debra held on until the very end when she realized her body was riddled with cancer throughout her entire abdominal area, including her liver. It's the patients job to fight for their life! When there are children involved, it's the other parent and family to guide and prepare them through what may be the ultimate outcome...losing a parent.
When Debra and I were faced with her terminal cancer we quickly decided there was one main priority...Sofie. Not that we weren't thinking of ourselves in this situation, we were just thinking more of a little 7 year old who was about to lose a parent. We weren't living together so it took patience, understanding, collaboration and love to work through what was best for the kid...not what made either one of us feel better. We moved past our issues with the other adult and concentrated on spending quality time together and a family unit, all the while making the shift from Debra being primary parent to me being primary parent. Essentially we had 10 months from the time the recurrence occurred until Debra was arranging hospice to come assist her through the last week or so of her life.
What upsets me most about this case is the way the mother is being played the victim when actually it's the kids who are the true losers in this situation. (I am in no way insinuating she's playing the victim. Please note I said "played"...the media is really working the "because she has cancer" angle!) None of us know the full story but many folks are jumping to a conclusion (like I initially did) that may not be in the best interest of the children. As I've been pondering this case I can't help but think of how it would have affected Sofie if I weren't in the picture. Debra was really sick, especially near the end, so my condo became a place of respite for both of us. It's a time where we could spend quality time strengthening an already strong bond while others took care of Debra. There were definitely times that being around a very ill parent wore on Sofie. I couldn't imagine her having to endure that environment 24/7. I also couldn't imagine her not seeing Debra at all...thus my place firmly perched on the fence. My hope is there's a good team of people fighting for the kids in this case. A lawyer, social worker, psychologist...whoever can work together to make sure the kids get time with both parents in a way that supports their grief and growth.
What's right in this situation? Bottom line...whatever is best for the children.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Upon reading many reviews *after* I read Room, I came away feeling justified with and having a better understanding of my love/hate relationship with this book.
The plot of Room isn't really a secret anymore. Girl gets abducted, girl is held prisoner by creepy man, girl has baby by said creepy man, girl survives by making her son her #1 priority, boy turns five and after living in an 11x11 room, with no view or comprehension of the outside world, they accomplish the great escape. (That's only the first 1/3 of the book!)
Honestly, when I first started reading this book (well before my book club chose it), I was a little creeped out by the writing style and my own preconceived ideas about Room. I was worried there would be gratuitous violence or scenes of rape or torture graphically depicted.
After my book club chose it I decided to hunker down and push on through. From the point at which I really started reading the book, it took me nearly a week to read the first 1/3 of Room. That was the hump I needed to get over in order to get to the true essence of the story. (As an aside, I started writing this review at 4:30AM, less than six hours after finishing the book.) Once I got over the hump it took 2 days to finish.
Other reviews of this book left me intrigued by what inspires people to write book reviews. This is my first attempt at writing a review and I can say what drove me to write it was solely the understanding I came away with and feelings I experienced as I was reading.
A perspective I haven't seen in any other reviews is that of a mother of a child who started life in an Eastern European orphanage. You might think, "WTH does that have to do with Room?!?" I'm here to tell you, as that mother, it has everything to do with it. The emotions and "ah ha" moments I experienced while reading Jacks perspective of experiencing sensations, after five years of captivity, were quite profound. I recognized many of his reactions as the same ones my daughter had in her earlier years, post orphanage. So much light was shed on the sensory issues I've witnessed my child experience. Although her "captivity" was less than two years and she was taken outside daily, the parallels I found in the reactions Jack had versus my on daughters were at the very least, fascinating. I found Donoghue's descriptions to be on target, especially in relationship to wind, smells and noises.
With all that said, I still admit I struggled with the stories incredibly short timeline, gaping holes in the story and the inconsistency of Jack's spoken language. All in all I do give Room two thumbs up. Any book that causes me to wake up in the middle of the night to write a review deserves at least that.
View all my reviews
Saturday, November 6, 2010
I want to say that Friday, November 5, 2010 was a big "Day of Awesome" in our house. As many of you know, the school year had gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. Fourth grade was presenting new challenges for my strong willed daughter. First of all the amount of homework increased 10-fold(okay not really THAT much, but you get the picture!) Secondly, after years of being delayed in her learning she has caught up and excelled so much that she's now in the the gifted classes for Math and Reading. Let me just insert here, Debra would be SO proud! The gifted math will present a problem for me as math is probably my weakest subject...so friends who are math geeks, be prepared to assist with homework once she gets past Algebra 1!!
With all that said, the Day of Awesome, henceforth known as DOA(wait, that's not a good acronym...oh well, it'll have to do for now) has multiple components to it.
Awesome feat #1 - Straight A's on her report card(I'm actually amazed about that one since she had such homework struggles this 9 weeks!)
Awesome feat #2 - During her 4th grade class meeting she said that she told the kids it's not cool to say, "that's so gay" and laugh, because her family is gay.
Awesome feat #3 - Her teacher, who was leaving the school parking lot and saw me drive up, stopped and parked her car to come back in to tell me what Sofie had done in class that day...and it wasn't about the gay thing! Apparently there are 3 different kids going through divorces in their families and my empathetic, kind-hearted daughter consoled, talked with and helped these kids through various situations during the day. Her teacher said it was amazing to see her maneuver through those discussions with grace and ease.
Some will congratulate me on great parenting, which to that I say simply, "Thank You." I do have moments of good parenting. However, the grace, intelligence and pride she exhibits in everyday life are all her!
May she continue to blossom into the incredible young woman she's well on her way to becoming!!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
To break it down, we've been busy learning, growing, parenting(me), traveling, experimenting, dating...a tad(me, again), playing, loving and making it all work!
Let's see if I can do quarterly synopses.
Sofie-Nana's, Camp Red Clover, Y Camp, Kayak Camp, Camp Barbara and Jacque, Camp California and more Y Camp. Gets a kayak for her birthday!
Jamie- Work, Work, more work, attempt to date but fails, work, organized a Durham Bulls game with friends, little trip to Austin TX in 103 degree heat!!, kayak with Sofie.
Sofie - Enters 3rd grade at her wonderful elementary school, still hates reading, still loves sciences, purports to hate/not understand math, played soccer, spent time with Grammy and PePaw while mommy had adult time! Learned to ride her bike!!!
Jamie - Work, attempted to date but failed again, friend I hadn't seen since high school visited from Idaho, weekend getaway with friends to mountain(sans kidlet)
Sofie - continued making great progress in 3rd grade, had first Christmas at home with tree and everything, got strep throat(gave it to me), had adenoids removed, hamster died(the day before her surgery!!)
Jamie - Gallbladder removal, hernia repair on a two for Tuesday surgery special, had first full sized Christmas tree in YEARS and truly got into the Christmas spirit(kids will do that to even the biggest scrooge!), had strep throat and survived the first surgery of my child.
Sofie - still hates reading, still loves science, lukewarm on math, loves to draw and continues to be reptile/amphibian obsessed(hasn't lessened since she was 4!!), Spring Break travel to CA where we did touristy things, skipped soccer for Spring season(or as she called it, she "took a break"), went on her very first camping trip!
Jamie - Work, work, work, travel to CA with Sofie and a friend from TX joined us for the week, traded in the Mom van for a cooler Honda Element, bought a kayak, took the kidlet on her first camping trip!
Summer 2010 is just starting and Sofie has a busy summer! She'll be away from home more this summer than ever before. A total of 6 1/2 weeks spread over the summer. I'll miss her like crazy while enjoying some ME time!!
It is my intention to write more frequently. I hope the inspiration and discipline are back!!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
For those of you who aren't on Facebook or one of my friends on Facebook, you may not be aware of the tough times I'm having with single parenting. Recently I jokingly posted a status update eluding to a tantrum I had that morning. It wasn't a joke. I had a major tantrum. If I'd been a toddler, my mommy would have had to drag me out of the room kicking and screaming! The catalyst for the explosion had to do with all the junk spread around the guestroom by another child and Sofie but it had nothing to do with the core of the fit I had.
Standing in the middle of our family room throwing air punches at nothing was my release that morning. (Sofie was NOwhere near me...she was in the shower, playing happily with her loofah and wasting water.) The tantrum I had was a result of me coming to the realization that I didn't ask to be a single parent and the loss of the life that went away with that change.
Please understand, this is only me expressing loss for the life I had. I love Sofie and love being her mom. I truly believe we were meant to be each others person. We're both learning and teaching so much to the other. I'd rather be co-parenting than single parenting, that's all. It's just not what I expected my life would be. I was in denial about this for first year but have slowly(and not always graciously) been dealing with this since.
There's still a bit of guilt around this for me. More so about how I am when I'm tired and cranky. The fuse gets shorter and the tongue lashings get longer. As I'm getting cranky with her she mostly throws it right back at me...which makes me crankier. Then, as I become reflective and self aware, I become sad. I don't want her to have the short fuse that seem to have when I'm overwhelmed.
This summer there will be at least 2 weeks when she's away. There will be much respite for me. For sure there will be a week in the mountains with her godmother and a week in Charlotte with both MY mother and my best friends family. Potentially, she'll be in California for a couple of weeks but I'm not 100% sure that's going to happen at this point. Whatever time she's away, I'll miss her while enjoying a touch of the freedom I once had. Hoping that time will allow me to clear my head and figure out ways to not let this get out of control like it has over the past few months.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Last night we were hanging out with a friend and her daughter. Her daughter is quite the little performer! She did a few "costume" changes, practiced on the front porch then had Sofie introduce her before she belted out "If I Could Fly." Sofie, not one to perform in front of anyone, quietly stepped aside to hear her friend sing. After a rousing round of applause, both girls escaped back to the other girls bedroom for more playing. Fast forward a few minutes...my friend and I were engrossed in a deep conversation when I heard a familiar voice singing. Through the closed doors I hear Sofie let loose that fabulous 80's hit, Karma Chameleon in near perfect pitch! She was even singing the harmony parts and ALL the words...correctly. Why, you might ask, would my child be singing that fabulous 80's hit Karma Chameleon? Simply, she's currently obsessed with chameleons, she heard the song on the radio one day and asked me to download it onto my iPod. After several weeks of nagging me, I finally remembered to do it. She listened to the song about 5 times and had it memorized, recently proclaiming, "Mommy, did you hear me sing the ENTIRE song...all the way through?!?" She was beaming with pride. It is the simple things that make her smile (and my heart melt.) Oh, and "You're Welcome." I know you wanted that song stuck in your head the rest of the day, right?
Monday, June 1, 2009
Yesterday was a particularly sad day for Sofie. When I couldn't think of anything else to do for her, I remembered a letter that Debra had written to Sofie the night before she was scheduled for her hysterectomy. Debra thought she was going to die during the procedure so she wrote a note and labeled it to be read to/by Sofie in the event of her death. Fortunately she stuck it away in a book and forgot about it because she never got around to writing anything else for Sofie. That saddens me so much. This winter I rediscovered the letter and last night I read it to Sofie. The first time through, I sobbed as much as Sofie. After the initial run through, Sofie's sobs permeated the air. Her body heaved and thrashed with so much pain. I pulled it together and read it again, this time with the flair that Debra would have used. It was a perfect letter for Sofie. Even though it alluded to a 5 1/2 year old Sofie, the nearly 9 year old Sofie soaked up the words. For that, I am grateful.
We still have bumpy days ahead but I know it's a mere blip in our long journey ahead.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Much of what has taken place did so quickly. Although as life was occurring I felt a slow, stabbing pain in my heart every time Sofie was sad, crying or just plain checked out. Initially, I had no idea what was happening. It could have been a number of things. She didn't quite know what was going on for her, either. Her sadness was projected onto many "objects" including her new bed(that isn't even here yet!), her teacher, the cats, friends...you name it, something else often had misplaced sadness enveloping it. During this time, I felt so lost and alone. This aloneness created a Facebook monster who shared too much. Much of what I said was thinking outloud. Regretably, my loving friends who, try as they might, couldn't advise me and I couldn't take one sad little girls pain away.
My previous post answers the "why" to all the sadness. Simply missing Debra was the culprit. This week post Mother's Day has been very emotional. Sofie is now responding to what seems like "permission" she was given to grieve out loud. I want her pain to subside. Apparently, Mother's Day may be a trigger for her. It certainly was this year. I'll be more prepared next year...yeah, right! At least I'll be aware that there may be more heightened grieving in early May!
What's this last month been like for me? A mixture of heaven and hell. Disrupted sleep night after night does not make for a kind Mama. Constant requests for cuddles makes a swollen heart, bursting with love, Mama. Emotions all over the map. Often feeling so out of control and lost I wanted to (and sometimes did) scream! We've made it to the other side for now. The cries are farther apart. The mentions of missing Debra are less frequent. I know we'll come out of this okay. Unfortunately, the ride to the good side can be bumpy, lumpy and make Mama grumpy!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
This year has been quite different. Don't get me wrong, it's been a great weekend. The weekend just hasn't gone without some notable sadness on Sofie's part. Many emotions are leaking out of her soul that's punctured with so much loss. I had a friend recently tell me that for kids, the first year of grief/loss can be the easiest because many just sail through not quite realizing what's really taken place. Only after they feel safe and secure do they really let it all hang out and the emotions become real. That's our life right now. Much sadness, clingy-ness and filled with grief.
The couple of weeks leading up to this weekend have been somewhat torturous while all the while overflowing with love. Sofie is a very "feeling" child. That's much of what I truly love about her. I envy her ability to show her emotions at such a young age. I never could and sometimes still struggle with showing appropriate emotions.
There have been many theories about what's going on with her. From separation anxiety about the impending "loss" of her 2nd grade teacher to the fact she's finally settling into our lives and feels comfortable expressing her sadness, loneliness and fears, she's settling into her own existence and life without Debra...and this morning she actually brought up for the first time, her birth mother. The bandage on her psyche was ripped off and I think Mother's Day may have been the underlying culprit.
The discussion about her birthmother, although unexpected, went basically the way I expected it might. During breakfast she asked if Mother's Day was meant for *all* mothers. By the way she asked that, I clarified with, "Do you mean Mama Debra, too?" She said yes but her body language told me there was a "but" or something to add to that. So I asked what she meant. "You know" was her answer. I thought a minute and said, "Do you mean your birth mother?" She nodded and said, "Why did she give me up for adoption?" And there it was...the question all adoptive parents anticipate, practice answering over and over in their minds and dread for life...was I going to answer it right?
Without missing a beat I mentioned the economic environment in Ukraine and the fact that her birth mother did exactly what was right in her situation. And of course I added that I'd be really lonely and sad if she weren't in my life. She had questions about Ukraine and why it was a poor country. Try explaining that to 2nd grader!! She had great questions that I sometime felt I was pulling the answers from the air, but I think the conversation went well. I can say one thing changed...she slept like a log last night. No sadness or clingy-ness. She actually had a reason not to sleep well last night. She had a pretty bad scooter accident last night, complete with several patches of road rash and a nice flesh wound on the palm of her hand.
Suffice to say, the girls alright. Here's a picture from Saturday just after her new haircut...which is perfect for her!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
After explaining to her just how that was possible, we talked about future dogs. I told her when we're ready...not anytime soon...we'll look for a good match that's an adult dog with the help of a trainer who specializes in that type of work. She said,
"They don't get to live with you as long!" I clarified, not an old dog, just a dog, not a puppy. Maybe a year or two old and house trained. Then comes the stab to the heart, "Can't we get Scout back after someone trains him?" My heart shattered right there.
After that comment, I explained that probably couldn't happen because if someone takes the time to train him, they're probably not going to give him up. She cried some more, but after cuddles, laughing and reading she fell asleep normally. Actually I fell asleep mid sentence while reading to her! "Mom, why aren't you reading?" she says as I snore lightly in her ear! We laughed, then both fell asleep. It wasn't until I woke up wide-eyed at 1a did I even realize I'd fallen asleep at 830p and completely missed Obama! Guess I'll have to read the text.
On the way to school this morning she said the van smelled like puppy. She wasn't sad, just a matter-of-fact observation. Maybe she's starting to forgive...and forget.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
After blogging last night, I got into bed and thought about reading. Apparently, that's all I did because the next thing I know, Sofie is in my room asking me why I was still up. (I wasn't, but lights on meant I was awake!) She curled up next to me and we fell asleep...with the light on. At some point she woke up and asked me to turn my light off after she got some water. I did and for whatever reason, I blurted out, "Scout's gone back to Jackie's. He's going to live there now." Breaking the news like that was not quite what I would have chosen. As the news streamed out of my mouth I realized I had some 'splaining to do, Lucy. Let me just say, the realization that you've just ripped the heart out of your child will wake you out of the deadest of sleeps! She burst into tears. I explained, in the most coherent way I could in the middle of the night, I had had made a big mistake. It wasn't about her, it wasn't about the puppy, it was about me just plain and simple. She sobbed like I'd never seen her sob before. Oddly, it was more intense than she cried after Debra died. (I think she was overwhelmed with the whole death thing...and the tears lasted for a long time.) She finally feel asleep, weeping in my arms.
Gracie, the cat, was back in bed with us this morning...finally emerging from the guest room. I wondered if that would make Sofie feel better. She was glad to see Gracie, but still remained teary during much of the morning routine. Feeling a tad guilty, I offered her breakfast at Elmo's before school. She seemed skeptical, like it couldn't happen since they "take a long time to cook." (Her words, not mine.) Often on Tuesday's I go in late, so I knew the timing wouldn't be difficult for me. We had a lovely breakfast out, then off to school she went.
I'm not sure how the day went for her. I know I'll hear all about it. She's really upset, but I think she knows I was stressed and not being a nice Mom to her. I just worry that this is another loss in her life. She's been through so much. As resilient as she is, she's still heartbroken.
One thing I offered as a future possibility was getting an adult dog. Not now, later, after we've healed from this. She's open to that. I just better be damned sure this time that I can take care of the dog and maintain sanity!!!
Monday, February 23, 2009
There are a few key lessons I've learned. The biggest is TRUST YOUR GUT...no matter how deeply buried that feeling is, it's there for a reason. Listen to the whispers. Sanity could be preserved and all would be well in the world. I had puppy dreams that should have clued me in. I thought I was doing the right thing. Simply put, I was wrong. Jackie and I had an honest, loving discussion tonight. What a kind, kind woman she is. No judgment was passed and only loving thoughts were expressed.
Lesson number two...DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!! This was a life lesson. A hard one, but definitely not as difficult as others I've learned. This is a lesson learned...one that I won't soon forget, but I won't let it weigh me down. I have to figure out how I'm going to let my darling daughter know that the puppy is back at his other home. It will help that we can visit Donner.
HEAL THYSELF BEFORE SPREADING THE LOVE TOO THIN. Jackie helped me realize that both Sofie and I are still healing and although the love of a dog wasn't wrong, the timing can. We aren't emotionally equipped to handle puppy duties. At some point down the road I do believe we will have a great dog in our life...just not now and just not a puppy.
I'm emotionally drained and physically tired so off to bed I go. There will more to write about tomorrow.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Scout had a very successful first day and night home. He was neutered yesterday afternoon, so we picked him up around 230p from the vet's office. His bother Winston was being picked up at the same time by our friends S and J, and their daughter's E and K. After signing tons of paperwork, getting instructions for post-op care and saying good by to their foster mom, we were off to the new home. Scout wasn't quite interested in leaving the vet, but since he's food oriented all it took was a treat or two! The 5 minute ride home was uneventful...a little whining, but encouraged Sofie to speak quietly and lovingly and reassure him.
We arrived home and our lives into puppyness started. He explored his new surroundings, well the limited version of his new surroundings. He was starving so I filled up a Kong with kibble and fed him. Feeding a puppy in his Kong is a way to encourage chewing on his chewy and discourage chewing on anything else! He's still learning that there is actual kibble IN the Kong, but he's smart and I'm sure he'll figure it out. Below, you can see that he is a bit perplexed!
I purchased a baby gate for the stairs to keep him in and give the cats a refuge from him. Our friend Matt came over to help install it. It looked pretty simple because the manufacturer included a template to use for wall placement...only after he installed both sides and tried to hang the gate did we realize they included the WRONG template!! Matt is a great guy so while his son was playing with Sofie, he undid what he had installed, then we just did our own measuring and replacing of mounts. It's installed beautifully! All thanks to Matt!
Sofie and I took Scout on little jaunts to encourage outdoor toileting. He didn't go and didn't go and didn't go, so we put him in his crate and headed to dinner at our favorite Chinese place. We were gone a couple of hours and upon our return took him on another jaunt. This time he was successful on both accounts! We threw a party each time, with treats. Want to give him all the positive reinforcement possible!
After coming back inside, we played a bit with his tug toy. I encouraged Sofie to play, but unfortunately he likes to chew and climb on her and it's a little hard to deal with. We're going to work with a trainer, so I hope she can work with Sofie and Scout to develop a good relationship. I'm a little worried that Sofie is going to have a hard time with Scout. He doesn't jump on me at all, so I'm not even sure what that's about with her! Maybe he thinks kids taste better!!
Sleeping was very much like a newborn last night...except newborns aren't in crates...well, now that I think about it, cribs are very crate-like! Each time he went into his crate there was initial whining, which evolved into the cutest howling. Eventually he'd just plop down, sigh and fall asleep. I was up at 1a, 4am-ish and 7a. When he whined at those times, it never subsided so I assumed there was a reason. I assumed correctly. Every time we went out, he used the potty. Smart dog!! At the 1a outing he got a little play reward for peeing and pooing within 3 minutes! Here's a picture of that play time.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
He’ll be joining our family this coming Saturday after he’s neutered. Scout (formerly known as Donner) found his way into our hearts a few weeks ago after friends who are adopting Comet told me their story. If you’re interested, please check out the blog that the foster family kept during their time with them. http://web.me.com/jdmac2/Holly_&_Rein-pups_of_OND/Home.html
There are lots of pictures from birth on, and each pup has a page describing their personalities. Check out Donner’s page. He’s a big softy. (And I thing big is an accurate description…take a look at his paws!!) Breed is, well, ½ German Shepherd(his mother)…his father is an unknown, but highly suspected to be Australian Shepherd due to the fact that 3 of the 8 puppies have stub tails(Scout included!!) His mother is a beauty and very smart…she literally broke away(collar and chain included) from her previous keeper(who wasn’t taking good care of her) and found her way to a Vet’s office the day before she dropped those 8 beauties!
We’re adopting through Independent Animal Rescue, a Durham based organization. Through this adoption he will come to us micro-chipped, neutered with first round of shots and Frontline treatment. The foster family has also done a great job with crate training so that will make the transition to a crate at our house easier. Also included with the adoption are 3 free one-on-one sessions with a local trainer. We’ve also signed up for a 6 week puppy course that is built on trust and respect between puppy and his people. Both Sofie and I will attend the class.
Before you all start offering advice or concerns, just know that we’re not entering this blindly. I know it’s like having a baby. I know it’s going to take time to build a good relationship between Scout and all the other inhabitants of the family home. Interestingly, for the past few weeks I’ve been waking up between 4a-5a every morning…getting in the habit before he arrives! I’ve also had numerous talks with Sofie regarding responsibilities (good and bad.) This is a great age for a kid to get a dog, too.
Of course my biggest concern is introducing to the cats, but everyone I’ve spoken with and every book I’ve read says it’s much easier to introduce a puppy to cats than dogs to cats! So here we go on our next adventure. Fingers crossed it’s a good one!!
I'm sure there will be more posts in the near future on our adventures in puppy training with lot's of pictures, too.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
After having a lovely first night of Hanukkah with Laurie and Maya, plus a nice visit with Alan, we went to bed fairly early to play "catch-up" on our sleep. From Laurie's house you can see the Santa Cruz Boardwalk which had absolutely no activity while we were there. However, right beside the boardwalk is the pier that houses many sea lions lazing on the pylons underneath the pier. I know this because at 3a, I woke up to barking...not dog barking, sea lion barking. Later in the day Laurie, Sofie and I headed down to explore the pier and allow Sofie to snap some photos.
It was a beautiful, sunny day with a brisk breeze blowing about. The sea lions were contently perched beneath the traffic of holiday shuffling. Is it me, or do you think this sea lion is posing?!?!(Notice the catty glance upwards towards Sofie.)
It was also quite breezy that day. To my surprise, Sofie actually admitted she was cold! We meandered on the not so crowded pier, shopped a bit, had hot chocolate, then off to Laurie's for packing up the car but not before we saw this as we were leaving:
Yep, that's a seagull with a starfish hanging out of it's mouth, seemingly stuck in the bird's gullet. There was discussion in the car wondering if we should pull the starfish out of the sea gull's mouth. (As if that bird would have stayed there waiting for one of us to grab it around the body and yank it's dinner out of its' mouth!) I was worried that it couldn't swallow the meal, since it was probably only slightly smaller than the bird. We witnessed it try, with no success, to swallow. In the end, we left poor Gully to fend for himself. Maybe the pelican could help him out!
After fun in Santa Cruz, Sofie and I packed up the car and headed Northwest to Brisbane to visit the Wexler's and share in second night of Hanukkah. It was rainy, foggy and nearly dark when we were finally on the freeway heading north. If I uttered these words once, I uttered them a dozen times..."Yay, traffic...one thing I really don't miss about the Bay Area!" Sofie agreed, but alas we were on the road again!
It was dark by the time we arrived at the Wexler's home. Parking(another thing I don't miss) was a pain. There were teenage boys with fake guns(I hope) running around their street playing some sort of laser tag or non-paint paintball. At some point, Becky and Wex came out and instructed me to park in their driveway. Which I happily obliged with the rental car fully blocking the sidewalk. As we went inside, I was just hoping the teenagers were kind to the cars.
Walking into the Wexler house I always get a warm fuzzy feeling. With a chef in the house, there are usually wonderful smells wafting about. That night was no different. Naomi, the eldest Wexler child(who is actually a freshman in college) was making a heaping pile of latkes. Sofie and Tamar(the youngest Wexler) immediately went off to play, so I enjoyed chatting with Becky, Wex, Naomi and Nathan(the middle Wexler.) We caught, reminisced about prior visits that had included Debra. (One day I really have to write about the time Debra and I took Nathan and Naomi to Los Angeles to see Lion King on stage and a day at Universal studios. It was less than a month after 9/11 so we experienced airline travel in its utmost fearful state. With all that was going on in the world, we managed our own "Escape to L.A." for a wonderful trip with fun memories including losing Nathan at Universal Studios...but I digress!)
We lit the menorah, discussed the meaning of Hanukkah. Afterward, we sat for dinner. A lovely dinner with tasty food. A dinner where Ms. Picky eater ate a plate of turkey...that's it, turkey. Whatever. I enjoyed every morsel. We chatted more thru dinner. Nathan talked about getting the part of "Mark" for the local community theatre only to have the play yanked from any community theatre production. Bummer. He's such a talented guy. Luckily, they had a DVD of his recent performance as the Master of Ceremonies in his high school performance of "Cabaret." I'm amazed every time I see him on stage. Keep an eye out for him...or his sister, Naomi. The Wexler family is bursting with talent. Naomi is a gifted singer and studying music in college. Tamar seems to be the athlete of the family, something she and Sofie had in common.
By 9p I felt as if I'd hit a brick wall. I needed to sleep, right then! Originally we were supposed to drive to Palo Alto and stay at Debra's mom and sister's house. Fortunately, the Wexler's rearranged and Sofie and I slept like logs in Nathan's bed.
We snuck out of the house around 730a to head to Palo Alto. Nancy, Sofie and I were heading into San Francisco to spend some time at the newly re-opened (after years of being closed for renovation) California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park.
Since that was such a long day, I'll continue on with that day in Part III of our adventure...soon.