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Birth Days

Birth Day

Today is a big day in our house.  Our Sunshine Girl turns 15!  And that means that this is the 14th year in a row that I re-live the day she was born.  And I make a point of reminiscing with my children the story of their lives, whether they like it or not.  (But I suspect they do like it.)  I want them to know that I have sweet memories of their birth days, of them as babies, and toddlers, and children, and adolescents, and now, as teenagers.  And I want them to know that even the not-as-sweet memories still brought a silver lining that shines more brightly with each passing year, outshining out any perceived negative.

So, today, on my Sunshine Girl’s big day, I will tell her again about how I went into labor with her while I was sitting in the living room of the first house we ever owned.  And that when it started, I wasn’t sure it was real labor because I hadn’t felt it before since I was induced with her older brother.  But when I thought it might really be real, I gathered her brother and father up for a trip to Wal-Mart so I could make sure I had food to return home to after she was born.  And while we were at Wal-Mart, the contractions gradually got stronger and closer and that I had to keep stopping and holding onto shelves and poles to steady myself until they passed.  And that while I was going through this, her father was becoming increasingly panicked, practically begging me to let him take me to the hospital.

Instead, we checked out and went home.  And while I was still feeling increasingly stronger and closer contractions, I made myself a half of an English muffin with some strawberry jelly, and called our neighbor to come sit with her brother while we would be at the hospital.  And that the neighbor showed up at the front door, flustered, expecting that we’d be in a rush, and found me sitting on the couch eating my English muffin.  And then she started to panic and urge me to go to the hospital.  But I knew I wouldn’t eat again until after my baby girl arrived and who knew how long that was going to take and I wanted to make sure I got a little something to eat before leaving the house.

So I finished my muffin and we finally left for the hospital.  And on the 10-minute drive to the hospital,  I started to panic a little because the contractions were coming really close together and were kind of starting to hurt a little and my English muffin wasn’t sure it was going to stay inside of me.  But we made it to the hospital in time.  And I got admitted and asked for an epidural.  Then the nurses (God bless the L&D nurses) told me that they thought I might be too far along in my labor to get an epidural.  They called the anesthesiologist and he thought I might be too far along in my labor for an epidural.  But he said he’d check my cervix after he gave me the epidural so that if I was too far, well, the epidural would already be in and it wouldn’t officially matter how dilated I was.  God bless the anesthesiologists too.

So I got my epidural and labored uneventfully for a few more hours.

And at 12:04 AM on May 9th, after only 5 1/2 hours of labor, God delivered a beautiful, precious, perfect, brown-eyed, hairy, happy, giggly, funny, curious baby girl into my arms.  And I stared and marveled at her, for 15 years now.

Collecting snails
Collecting snails

Prom

Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

I picked up a Home Health job a few months ago just to be able to earn some extra money in the big and little gaps of time I have between seeing my pediatric cuties and homeschooling my own two kiddos.  (After all, we’ve got a 16-year-old boy about to drive, and they don’t come […]

I Miss OT

Have you ever stopped doing something you really loved, even if for a very good reason, and almost forgotten how much you loved it?

In a previous post I had told you that I am an OT, and that I have my own private practice.  Earlier this Spring, I made the conscious decision to pull back from seeing private patients, and was actually preparing to “close the doors”, so to speak, on the business in order to spend more time with my own two teens before they grow up and move out.  I went so far as to get a part-time position in a local private pediatric clinic (but it wasn’t at this place) working two days a week to keep my skills up and bring in some spending money.  My very first day, they sent one employee over from their clinic 45 minutes away to open the doors for me, show me the computer system for 30 min, and then she left.  I was in the clinic treating patients and taking payments all alone for 4 hours.  Did I mention this was my first day on the job?  This should have been the red flag to run screaming.   But I stuck it out for an entire month before finally resigning.

Here’s the kicker:  when I got hired I signed a contract with a no-compete clause.  This meant that I could not see any pediatric patients for ANYONE (including myself) for a period of 6 months.  And while I’ve signed these contracts in the past, most employers will look the other way as long as you aren’t stealing their business.  Most people understand that going without an income for anywhere from 6 to 18 months is unreasonable.  But rumor among local therapists is that this agency is more than happy to take you to court for any perceived breach of the contract.  So, not willing to risk a court battle even if I was sure I could win, I have not seen one patient in 5 months.  And I knew I missed it.  But I didn’t realize just how much until this afternoon.

Today I got to spend some time with a little boy who has sensory processing issues.  And while I couldn’t do any therapy with him today (since I am still under the no-compete clause for another month), I did get to play with him, and could definitely recognize the signs of sensory processing disorder.  And I know what to do to help him overcome much of it.  But I can’t help him right now.  And I miss it.  I really, really, really miss it.

Rat in Me Compost – Part 5 (Or: The Saga of Nala the Bobcat)

Sooooooooo, turns out Nala is, in fact, most likely a Florida Bobcat.

After my last post (Rat in Me Compost – Part 4), I ran into one of my more distant neighbors at the store.  (“Distant” refers to the geographical span between our houses, not a description of her personality.)  Technically, she’s from the neighborhood you have to drive through to get to my neighborhood (we’ll call it FV).  You see, my neighborhood was built first, then years later her neighborhood was added on as a separate neighborhood, then many years later another neighborhood (we’ll call it AL) was added back behind mine.  So, my neighborhood is between two other neighborhoods and you have to drive through one of them to get to mine.  The reason I’m telling you this is so you’ll understand when I explain our conversation at the store a few weeks ago.

So, I ran into this neighbor at the store and she told me that they (homeowners in FV) had just received an email from their Neighborhood HOA President warning them that there had been 6 sightings of a Florida Bobcat and one of a coyote in the area.  Someone(s) had also found the remains of 2 housecats which looked as if they had had run-ins with a predator (they were all assuming that it was the coyote, not the bobcat).  She wanted to make sure I knew about this information since she knew we have two small dogs.

To say my jaw hit the floor would be an understatement.  I told her about my interaction with Nala and when I finished telling her, she was now the one with the jaw on the floor.  She politely suggested my roots might be blonde after realizing I sat about 10 feet away from an alleged bobcat and fed it salmon.

This morning, I ran into this same neighbor at Publix and we caught up on the latest news of the wildlife in the area.  She said her lawn guy had seen the bobcat recently, and he described her exactly the way I described Nala.

She also told me about her neighbor who has about 8 pet bunnies.  These bunnies are HUGE.  We have often driven by as we were leaving the neighborhood and seen this lady sitting on the bench under her trees with her bunnies hopping around the front yard.  Super cute scene in the neighborhood, especially around Easter!

Back to the story.  So this lady had a little area of her side yard fenced in with a picket fence and would let the bunnies hop around out there for exercise and fresh air.

Do I need to go further?  Can you guess what she found one day?  Sad, really.  But there is a silver lining.  On this particular day, she only put two bunnies out in the yard.  So she still has the rest of them.  And she is keeping them inside her screened patio from now on.

So, apparently Nala has been confirmed as a Florida Bobcat.  And it is possible that she has actually attacked domesticated pets (it’s also possible it was the coyote).  Which is really, really sad.  And scary.  And I’m taking that seriously when it comes to my little pups.

But you know what?  I haven’t seen any rats or mice since she arrived on the scene.  And for that, she just might deserve a small bowl of salmon.

Rat in Me Compost – Part 4 (Or: Introducing Nala)

So the saga continues.  If you’re keeping up with this story, you know where I left off.  If you haven’t been keeping up, you can catch up here, here, and here.

Many days had passed since we had had the run in with the injured fruit rat in the street.  We were dutifully taking our compost out to the compost bin every few days and seeing no signs of furry critters.  (We have a plastic, air-tight container in the kitchen we keep compost in until it’s full, which happens every few days.)  We still had all of our rat traps set (4 in the garden around the now bare tomato plants, 2 outside of the compost bin, 2 inside the compost bin) and they continued to remain empty.  We were feeling pretty cocky (well, I was feeling pretty cocky) thinking we had taken care of the problem.  But, alas….

One evening I was taking the compost out to the bin, and a mouse scurried under some rotting produce.  Here we go again.  Sigh…

So, I stood in front of the open bin yelling for someone in the house to come help me.  (By now, I have lost most of my fear and jitteriness of these furry little critters, and I’ve become angrily militant against these fruit thieves.)  Mr. Sunshine and Sunshine Girl came running out.  I instructed Sunshine Girl to get the pitchfork out of the shed, and either Mr. Sunshine or I (I honestly can’t remember which one of us) went to go get his oars out of the garage, while the other kept watch over the infiltrator in the compost bin.  (A shovel, hoe, or pretty much any other sharp metal garden tool from the shed would probably have been a better choice, but apparently we now believed a wooden oar was the go-to weapon against rats and mice since it had performed so beautifully during our last encounter.)  Weapons, er, tools secured, we proceeded to go after the mouse by stabbing the compost with the pitchfork (Mr. Sunshine) while the oar was used to block the exit (my job) for about 15 minutes.

To our disappointment, we never saw “proof” that this technique worked.  (Surprising, I know.)  So, now we have a mouse on the loose.  And apparently he’s smart enough to avoid the traps we have set.

And then it occurred to me that we used to have 3-4 cats that roamed the neighborhood, and we didn’t used to have rats or mice (or at least we never saw them).  But in the past few weeks I’ve only seen one of those cats.

So over the next few days, I asked my cat-owning neighbors about their cats.  (Sounds like I was on a cat-hunt mission, but in reality I am outside all of the time, and talk to my neighbors very often.)  One of the missing cats belonged to my neighbor across the street, and he was on his last legs (the cat, not the neighbor).  So that accounts for one.  She also owned the slacker cat that couldn’t finish the job with the rat in the street on Cinco de Mayo.  That’s two.  The neighbor next door’s adult son moved out and took his cat with him.  That’s three.  No idea what happened to the 4th cat.  So now there may be only one cat roaming the neighborhood trying to do the job of 4.  And this cat is obviously a slacker.

Can anyone else see the solution forming in my head?  GET CATS.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  I’m allergic to cats.  Mr. Sunshine is less than fond of cats.  And we both never appreciated outdoor cats (who insist on leaving paw prints on our vehicles any time we leave them out in the driveway for more than 20 minutes).  But it really seemed to be the only solution at this point.  Get cats.  Set them free.  They will eat mice and rats to survive.

Before you call PETA on me, relax.  I didn’t get any cats and set them free.  (Yet.)

What I did do was take my dogs for a walk one morning.  (Stay with me here.)  When I got home from taking the dogs for a walk, I let them off of their leashes to run around in the yard and chase squirrels while I sat on the swing under the oaks.  While I was sitting on the swing, I glanced down the side of our house toward the back yard and a large, beautiful, golden cat walked around the corner and sat down and looked at me.  I had never seen this cat in the 6 1/2 years we have lived in this house.

Not wanting to scare her away, I slowly got up and put the dogs in the house.  While I was in the house, I found some salmon and put it in a small bowl and brought it out with me.  When I got outside, the cat was still in the same location, so I put the bowl near the front of my garage and sat back down on my swing.

Over a period of about 30 minutes I watched this cat cautiously approach the salmon, and me.  The closer she got, the more impressed I was with her.  She was muscular.  She had large ears.  She had beautiful big green eyes.  The dialog in my head went like this, “That’s a pretty cat.  She looks like a lion cub.  But not like Simba.  She looks like Nala.  So I’m going to call her Nala. Nala was a good hunter.  I’m going to put salmon out every day so she likes to come to my yard.  But not enough salmon to sustain her.  Just enough to draw her here.  Then she can feed on rats and mice for sustenance.  Yep, that’s my plan.”

I don’t really know if this cat was a male or female, but because of my internal dialog, I am calling her a girl, and naming her Nala.

While she was approaching and eating the salmon, I tried to take pictures of her on my cell phone.  (Unfortunately, I had pretty much fried my cell phone’s camera on vacation at the beach a week prior to Nala’s visit, so the pictures are not good at all.)  But check her out below.

Nala

Here’s an interesting tidbit.  After I told Mr. Sunshine about our good fortune to have a cat come visit our yard and how she looked so muscular and like a good hunter, he asked me some questions about her.  Before I showed him pictures of her, he jokingly suggested that she might be a Florida Bobcat, or a juvenile Florida Panther.  Ha! Ha! Ha!

Then he looked at the pictures.  And said it’s not outside the realm of possibility.  ha. ha. ha.

So, apparently I may have gone from having a rat/mouse-in-my-compost-problem, to a beautiful-stalking-predatory-possibly-wild-cat-who-would-probably-prefer-to-eat-my-dogs-to-a-rat/mouse- problem.  All because I wanted to grow fresh organic produce.

Publix tomatoes aren’t really that expensive after all.

Rat in Me Compost – Part 3

Maybe you remember that I’ve written 2 blog posts already about a furry little critter (rat/mouse) that Mr. Sunshine and myself have both seen in our compost bin. (Read about it here and here.)

Well, the saga continues.

When we originally set the rat traps in the compost bin and caught a little mouse, I figured we both had only seen a mouse (or mice), and not rats, and that we were taking care of the problem with the traps. I should have known better. This is Florida. There are fruit trees everywhere. What rat wouldn’t love to live here?

A few weeks after catching the little mouse in the compost bin, we started to notice that the tomatoes on our tomato plants were disappearing from the vine right before they were ripe, and we’d find remnants of them throughout the garden. We suspected a fruit rat was to blame (since everyone knows that tomatoes are really fruit, not vegetables). No wonder we weren’t catching the little bugger in the compost bin, he was eating fresh fruit from the garden! Now I was getting mad!

I had Mr. Sunshine go out and buy 4 more rat traps, and I set them all around the tomato plants, hoping that I’d snap his little neck as he was trying to steal my organically grown tomatoes! After a few weeks, all I had to show for my effort was bare tomato plants and 4 rusting rat traps. Grrrrrr!

Fast-forward to May 5th. Mr. Sunshine and I were getting ready to go out to a Cinco de Mayo party at a friend’s house. I was wearing an adorable skirt and fancy flip-flops. There’s a reason you need to know this (well, you probably don’t need to know that my skirt was adorable, but it was). Because as we were preparing to leave the house, I went out in the driveway to wait for Mr. Sunshine to pull my little truck out of the garage.

As I was walking out of the garage, I noticed a furry little critter “ambling” from my neighbors’ house across the street toward my driveway. Their cat was nonchalantly following behind it. At first, I thought it was a little bunny rabbit. I rushed to the edge of the driveway to yell at the cat to leave it alone. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, it wasn’t a cute little bunny rabbit. It was…(drumroll please)…. a fruit rat! Apparently the neighbors’ cat had gotten to it and did some damage, but was unwilling to close the deal.

So, there I was. Walking toward an advancing injured fruit rat. By myself. In my skirt and fancy flip-flops. Mr. Sunshine still in the house.

Well, I did the only sane and sensible thing to do. I screamed and jumped and danced around and took my fancy flip-flops off and prepared to throw them at the rat. The rat was oblivious to my histrionics and kept coming toward my driveway and house!

But my hero, Mr. Sunshine, was not oblivious to my histrionics. He heard me from inside the house and came running out. He immediately sized up the situation and figured out what was going on. (Could my jumping and screaming, “It’s a rat! It’s a rat! Get it cat!! Get the rat, you stupid cat!!” have clued him in??) (Oh, and apparently I rhyme when I’m hysterical.) He ran back into the garage, as I continued to threaten the slow-moving rat with my fancy flip-flops, and he reappeared with a fishing net and an oar.

He scooped the rat up into the net, all the while yelling at me to stop screaming and calling attention to our situation. (Turns out, he was afraid that some animal-loving neighbors might object to what was about to happen to the rat. Some people will sympathize with anything, including a rat. Whether it’s in my compost or in the Whitehouse.)

So, I composed myself (easier to do now that the rat was secured in the fishing net and no longer advancing toward my wide-open garage door) and picked up the oar and followed Mr. Sunshine to the side of the house, out of sight of the street. Mr. Sunshine asked me to hold the net secure on the ground (I could not force myself to get close enough to hold the handle) while he “put it out of its misery” with the oar. I was able to go get 5 plastic shopping bags and we layered the dead rat in them and put it in the trash can.

Job done, we went inside to wash our hands, grabbed the black bean and corn salsa with chips, and proceeded to go to the Cinco de Mayo party, albeit, late. As always, we had a really good story to explain our tardiness.

And you would think that that was the end of the story. But it’s not.

(That’s what you call a teaser.)

The Price of an R-Rated Movie

Sunshine Boy is closing in on 16 years old in a few months.  In many ways, he’s an extraordinary young man who makes Mr. Sunshine and I very proud.  And in many ways, he’s very much a normal teenage boy, who makes Mr. Sunshine and I cringe.  As such, he has increasingly been asking to see movies we don’t necessarily want him to want to see.  Specifically, R-rated movies.

The other night, as I was in his room saying goodnight (can it still be called tucking him in if he’s almost 6 inches taller than I am?), he asked me if he could see “The Dictator”.  I asked what it was rated.

“R”, he said.

“Don’t you have to be 17 to be able to see an R-rated movie?” I asked pointedly, “How old are you?”

“R-teen.”

Nice try kid.

To be honest, we have started to allow him to see R-rated movies, and have found out after the fact that he has seen R-rated movies at friends’ houses without our knowledge or permission.  We realize that we are no where near as cool or hip (is that still a word?) as his friends’ parents who all allow their kids to see any R-rated movie they want.  We’re perfectly OK with that.

But when we allow Sunshine Boy to watch an R-rated movie, there is a price to pay beyond the ridiculously priced ticket and concessions. One of us gets to go to the movie with him, and sit with him. This way, it ensures he will be sufficiently uncomfortable during the scenes where he should be uncomfortable.

When I am the tag-along parent, I totally understand that watching sex scenes with your mom is uncomfortable.  That’s pretty much why I’m there.

And there is a “discussion” after the movie.  Always.  Where we talk aboout the movie.  All of it.  Not only does he have to watch any sex scenes in the movie with his mom sitting right next to him, he has to talk aboout it with his mom afterwards.

To be up front and honest, I generally HATE R-rated movies. (I am truly a G-rated movie kind of gal.) But I am trying to allow my son to grow up and be a part of his peer group. (We are well-acquainted with his friends and love and approve of them all, so far.  If a girl enters the picture, all bets are off.)  So if I’m forced to attend one of these R-rated movies as a good parent, I make it worth my time, and I have a little fun with it. There’s no crime in watching my kid squirm a little!

And then we come to Mr. Sunshine….. I am quite certain that when he takes Sunshine Boy to an R-rated movie, he is “one of the boys”. I imagine him springing for the large popcorn and refillable sodas, laughing out loud at all the “right” places, and walking out of the theater, arm around our son’s equally-tall shoulder, both laughing at the raunchy humor.  And probably laughing at how they got away with watching an R-rated movie and both enjoying it, behind my back.  (But not really.)

So Sunshine Boy will probably get to see “The Dictator”.  And so will Mr. Sunshine.  And I will get to avoid seeing it myself (thank God!).  And we’ll all pretend that Mr. Sunshine made Sunshine Boy aware of all of the inappropriate humor while we all know that they just spent “Man Time” together.  And Sunshine Boy would never spend time with his father if anyone actually called it “Man Time” out loud.  But knowing that our time is rapidly shrinking as Sunshine Boy gets closer to a driver’s license, “Man Time” is the price we charge to see an R-rated movie.

It’s a steep price, but I think we’re OK with that.