Friday, May 8, 2009

Animal Shorts

I might have mentioned before that my cat was not using his litter boxes consistently (or at all). Well, we tried many different ways to rectify the situation, and FINALLY I think we've found something that works.

We moved his litter boxes to the upstairs floor in Londo's office, got one of those self-cleaning boxes in addition to his other 2-3 boxes, and raised the babygate at the stairs that lead to the office enough for the cat and only the cat to go under. We also steam-cleaned the basement playroom's rug (many times) and scrubbed down the storage room area where his litter boxes had been located. And by "we" in this paragraph, I mean Londo. (Isn't he wonderful?) Although I did help with the ideas, planning and oversight. ;-)

As long as we are sure to keep the basement door shut and all soft objects (clothing, towels, rugs) off of uncarpeted floors (the hardwood and tile floors), and Londo is sure to keep his litter box clean, the cat goes in his litter box!! It's such a relief, and I hope to heck I didn't just jinx us!

Outside our bedroom and bathroom window, there is an overhanging eave jutting out from the rooftop. There is a bird's nest in this eave. Every spring, the birds return and hatch their eggs in that nest. We can hear the chirping and fluttering and constant in and out of the birds for weeks and weeks, as the eggs are laid and the babies grow.

This drives the cat nuts! He sits by the windows all day and night, trying to crane his neck up so he can see the eaves and rooftop. He makes this clicking noise with his jaw as if he is vividly imagining chomping down on those birds. Every now and then, we open a window for him to sit in, which he loves and gets him more worked up. We figure he now also has smell in addition to watching the show. We call it smell-o-vision.

He's very amusing to watch.

The dog thinks that the nanny comes every week day to hang out and play with her. It's very obvious. The nanny loves the dog very much, too. In fact, when we went out of town for a wedding, the nanny agreed to dog sit/cat sit/house sit. We couldn't have made the dog any happier! And the nanny finally got the chance to spend time with the cat and realized his charm as well (generally, the cat is no where to be found if the Pumpkin is around).

When the nanny takes the Pumpkin out in the mornings to play at the playground or go to a friend's house to play, the dog is SO UPSET that they left her behind. Even though they do this almost every day. If I'm still at home when they leave, the dog comes running upstairs to me, looking so pitiful. You'd think she'd get the routine by now, but she just doesn't get it.

If it's not raining on Saturday mid-morning, we are going to take the Pumpkin to Green Meadows Petting Farm in Frederick, MD. We went last spring and fall and had such a great time! I see that they are also going to be open in June-July and again (as always) in October. They've got great animals, all of which are very domesticated and used to be handled by adults and kids of all ages. The people are incredibly friendly and helpful. And I could just rave about it all day. If you are around the area, I highly recommend going with your kids. It's worth the reasonable price and time to get there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Pumpkin is Enrolled in Pre-School!

So, I finally did it. I got the application and enrollment fee into the pre-school we have picked out so the Pumpkin can start in the Fall.

We visited the pre-school back in March and liked it well enough. It's not a Montessori school, but they do have some Montessori activities and educational methods, so at least the Pumpkin will have some exposure to that method. I still really love the Montessori method and school we visited, but to lay it out there, we simply can't afford it. We possibly have somehow made it work if it were just the Pumpkin whose daytime care we had to pay for, but with the boy on the way, there is no way we can afford that school at this time.

But that's okay. Because this school is really nice and extremely convienent, and we think the Pumpkin will do great there.

When we visited, we went on a Friday afternoon and brought the Pumpkin with us (as they recommended). We watched her interact with other kids, run around the room, sit at the table with the other kids to color, and (of course) try to climb everything she could. She tried to climb the chairs stacked up next to the wall and toys that could easily have broken.

It was a two-year-old room, and she has just turned two, but this is a new environment for her. She will need to learn the rules, and the teachers will need to learn her personality. I think this school will not only be a great place for her to experience new things that we don't do at home (like painting and other messy things I don't want to deal with yet), but also a great place for her to learn the structure of schools and the expected behavoir in places like schools.

The Pumpkin is extremely social and vocal, so I'm not worried about that aspect of starting pre-school. She generally adjusts to change well. But she is also clingy and needy and emotional. I've been extremely thankful to have such a wonderful nanny who is about to give the Pumpkin what she needs emotionally, physically and socially. She is always taking the Pumpkin to the playground to meet up with two other nannies with kids around the same age. When it's rainy or too cold, they meet up at each others' houses (including ours). The nanny is able to put the Pumpkin down for naps almost every single day (Londo and I can do so only rarely), and she is so patient and loving with the Pumpkin. (I am concerned about how the Pumpkin will (or won't) nap at the pre-school, but I'm not going to really worry about it until we see how it goes.)

I'm sooooo happy to say that our nanny has agreed to stay on for the boy! She will continue to come over and watch the Pumpkin while I'm home on maternity leave with the boy. Then, when the Pumpkin goes off to pre-school (doesn't that sound so grown up? *sniff*) at the beginning of September, I will head back to work and the nanny will watch the boy.

It all sounds great to me and Londo, and we hope that it goes smoothly. Any tips, advice or words of wisdom are welcome, as always. We know there will be adjustment periods over the next few months, but we believe it will all work out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Fresh, Hot Peanuts Here

On Sunday, Londo and I decided to try the Pumpkin with a tiny bit of peanut butter to see how she did. We have not exposed her to any nuts since we wanted to wait until we felt she could communicate if there was a problem. She is definitely verbally advanced enough now to communicate issues with us, so we thought we'd go ahead and try her on a weekend afternoon when we would both be there in case things did not go well.

I pulled out some crackers, organic peanut butter and some jelly to fix PBJ crackers for me and told the Pumpkin that I had a snack. She loves the crackers, so she climbed up into her booster seat and asked for some crackers. I gave her some and offered her a little bit of peanut butter on a spoon. She didn't want to try it, so we didn't push. But she always wants to try what I'm eating, so I made myself some PBJ crackers.

She eyed me a little, while eating her crackers. Then she held out her cracker and basically asked to try some peanut butter. So I put just a bit on the cracker. Probably not even a 1/4 of a teaspoon. She had a few bits, then put that cracker down and went back to her regular crackers.

Londo and I watched carefully.

Within a few minutes, she started getting red, splotchy marks at the sides of her mouth. They spread a little. Then another mark appears above her lip. She had stopped eating the crackers, but was chatting away (my little chatter box!) and drinking her water.

I looked at Londo, and he looked at me. We agreed that it appeared she was having a reaction to the peanut butter. Londo thought that the first red splotchy mark was getting a little white in the middle. I cleaned up the snack as thoroughly as possible, especially wiping down all areas that touched peanut butter. Londo asked if I was ready to jump in the car and get to the hospital if we needed. I said I was, but should probably put another shirt on. I waddled up stairs, changed shirts, waddled back down and checked her mouth again.

Still, she seemed fine other than the splotches. I sat next to her at the table, and we colored with crayons. I checked her mouth a few more times, and the splotches were clearing up. Within the hour, they were completely gone.

But they were there. It was definitely a reaction, and the only thing new she tried was the little bit of peanut butter.

The next morning, I called the advice nurse at the pediatricians. She agreed that it sounded like a rash and told me to call and allergist. She said that often the first reaction is mild, but that we shouldn't try her again with peanuts or any nuts because the next reaction would likely not be as mild. Instead, she said to avoid all nuts and nut products (including things cooked in peanut oil and such) until we saw the allergist and got further diagnosis and information.

I'll share my appointment making with the allergist with you, because I thought it was a bit funny. I called one of the numbers the nurse gave me, and the allergist was booked until June. No problem, I said, we can just avoid peanuts and nuts until June. We've already avoided them for two years. So I agreed to an appointment on June 29th.

Then I realized that I was going to have a baby about a week prior to that. There was no way I could make that appointment! I made the appointment for late July instead.

How could I have forgotten that little issue? Ha! All I can say is that I am pretty concerned about this allergy. The Pumpkin has shown no allergies to anything else, and there is not much in the way of food allergies in our families. So this has thrown me for a loop.

Luckily the pre-school we just signed the Pumpkin up for is a nut-free facility and they stressed how they dealt with food allergies. So we can continue our plan to have her start there in the fall.

But I'm sad that it looks like I won't get to share my love of PBJ sandwiches and crackers with her. I'm sad that I just decided that the boy's blog name would be the Peanut, and now I can't in good conscience call him that when it appears the Pumpkin is allergic to peanuts! And most of all, I'm sad that the Pumpkin will have to limit her choices of foods, restaurants, ball parsk and who knows what else because of an allergy. I know it's just an adjustment we'll make, and it's a pretty common allergy so people understand. I just wish she could have and do anything in the world, and is a limitation that I wish she didn't have.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Question of the Week - I Wish I Was Better About That

I like to think that in general I'm a good friend, family member and worker. But I know I'm not perfect. And in some areas, I'm waaaaaaaay off from perfect. Mostly, I'm okay with my faults, as they are a part of me and at least I own up to them. But there are some areas of etiquette that I really wish I could be better about, and yet I continue to be bad at them.

So this week's question of the week is what do you wish you were better about doing?

For me, it's things like responding to others. I'm bad at thank you cards, which my mom reminded me recently because I need to send one to my Grandma. (For all those gifts that people have given me and the Pumpkin, I really do appreciate them even if you never received a card!!! Maybe you can consider this the thank you?)

I'm bad about responding to email that people send me, at least right away, though I usually do eventually. I'm also bad about posting on topics in a timely manner when people ask me to write about something or I say I'm going to write about something.

I'm bad about keeping in touch with good friends via email or phone or even seeing in person. I mean to keep in touch better, and I don't know why I can't seem to. My friendships that have lasted the longest are the ones where people don't seem to mind how bad I can be about keeping in touch and just jump back into our friendship even if it's been months since we've talked. (And let me just say, thank goodness for Facebook, since I can at least keep in touch tangentially.)

I'm bad about responding to comments people leave me right here on my blog. I wish I could respond to all of them, but I don't. I especially wish I was better about saying hi to new readers/commenters. Those who have delurked on my blog and I never said hi? I say hi now! I always notice and appreciate your reading and your commenting. I mean to say hi and welcome and nice to hear from you again (that's to NoTimeToTalk, whom I met IRL and think it's neat that she's now reading my blog) and all that good stuff, but I am just bad about it.

I don't know where the intention breaks down from the doing, but it does. I hope I'm forgiven for it by, well, everyone. At times I'm forgetful and I procrastinate and I just don't follow through. I wish I was better about that, and I've tried to be. But I still just am not.

How about you? What are bad about that you wish you weren't? You can let it out. I won't judge. Heck, I probably won't even respond!