Sunday, May 31, 2009


Our kitty, Flo, is having kittens. This came as somewhat of a shock to us since we thought she was spayed. About a month and a half ago, several male cats started hanging about doing their strange, bawling mating call. A bit slow on the uptake, I didn't stop to wonder WHY these alley cats were doing their love-sick routine at my house until about four days into it. Suddenly it occurred to me that the only reason these males would be looking at my house for a mate would be that there was one here for them! I instructed Addy to keep Flo in the house for a few days and then it became painfully obvious that she was, in fact, in heat. She sat in the window and mournfully howled to her boyfriends outside, but I was staunch...she was NOT, under any circumstances barring house fire, to be let out. After a few days, Flo returned to her normal placid self and I forgot all about her many suitors and her love lorn moping. Until, that is, I picked her up a couple of weeks ago and felt teats. TEATS! I didn't recall ever having noticed Flo's teats before and, since I've experienced pregnancy myself a few times, I wondered if that could be a sign that she was pregnant. I got onto the computer and did some checking. Apparently, there are a few signs that your cat may be pregnant. Among them are:

-pinking, this is the phenomenon of the cat's nipples becoming pink and more pronounced

-the cat (or "Queen" as many articles refer to a pregnant cat) will usually become markedly more affectionate as well as less active

-obviously, the cat will eventually look pregnant, becoming quite round in the abdomen

-and if you are weird enough to try it, a pregnant cat will lay on her side and be still if you stimulate her nipples (I am not making this was mentioned in 4 out of the 5 articles I read)

Wanting to be a good pet owner, I checked Flo's nipples for "pinking." Sure enough, her teats were pink, but then again, it's not like I'd ever actually SEEN Flo's nipples before. She did look a bit heavier than usual and was laying around a lot, but cats tend to lay around quite a bit as it is, so I didn't think that was a definitive sign. Not desperate enough to try stimulating my cat's nipples, I decided to wait and see. Well, last week as Flo was laying lazily on the couch, I noticed her belly jumping around of its own accord. Either Flo is pregnant or she's re-enacting that scene from "Alien...."

At lunch today we got on the topic of kittens and hence the virtues of spaying or neutering pets. Now, this may not strike you as inappropriate lunch conversation, but then Winnie dropped a bomb right there in Subway. Once she neutered her male Siamese...herself. We were having a good chuckle when I asked the question on everyone's minds, "How? Did you just snip them off?" The answer was no. The truth was much worse. In actuality, she used rubber bands. RUBBER BANDS to neuter her cat. "Eventually they shrivelled up and dropped off," she explained (as if the end result needed any explanation). By now the laughter was uproarious. I poked Jason, "I guess you don't have to go see Dr. Jia!" Laughing so hard my stomach hurt, I continued, "You can just go down to Winnie's for the rubber band treatment." As Jason was not so politely declining, Winnie piped in, "That'd take really big rubber bands!" Does anyone else wonder how, exactly, Winnie would know?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This Old Nut Finally Cracked

After church Wednesday nights, I'm just ready to crash. I teach third grade in our TeamKid program and usually have between 23 and 26 in my class. I like the teaching, but the kids can get pretty unruly, so by the time I get home I just want to tuck the kiddos in and have some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, Jason gets home about an hour after I do on Wednesday nights, so I have to get all three of the younger kids ready for bed...which isn't a big deal except that I'm already stressed out and pushed to my limits.
Tonight was even worse than usual. We had our classroom awards. I wanted to give each child in the class an award (which is not an easy task unless your a large number of your awards are unkind, like: "Worst Body Odor" or "Most Consecutive Days in the Same Clothes"), so I came up with six different silly awards and let the kids nominate each other for them. It was utter chaos. The kids had a great time...I felt like I needed a straight jacket. During the most insane part of class, Hannah called needing a ride home from dance. Then, only a few minutes later, Addy called wondering if she should get a ride to church or if I was coming to get her. Gah! As soon as class was over I loaded everyone up and collected Hannah, then we headed for home sweet home.
I had everyone almost all ready for bed and was filling Haven's cool mist humidifier when it happened. As soon as I turned off the water, I heard loud, rushing water. I thought it was Haddon who was brushing his teeth and hollered for him to turn the water down, but didn't get a response and the water was still running very hard. So, I went in to rebuke him. I was passing my bathroom when I saw a geyser erupting from my toilet! Water was spraying 4-5 feet in the air. You've got it...that was the source of the sound of rushing water. As soon as it registered what was happening, I also noticed that the water was coursing through the bathroom and had almost reached the door. Of course, at that moment Haven decided that she should come in and investigate. I yelled for Hannah to call Dad and I yelled for Addy to get off the phone and get the baby. Then I held my breath, shielded my eyes and went for the shut off valve behind the stool. It didn't budge, at first, but in my fury I had near super-human strength and the valve couldn't withstand my power. Finally, I got it shut off, though it continued to leak it was manageable. My small triumph was short lived when I remembered all of the water on the floor of my second story bathroom. By now, the water had escaped the bathroom, soaking several feet of carpet in the bedroom and even running out into the hall. I yelled to Addy, "Get me that thing, Dad's big thing in the garage." Miraculously, Addy ran up the stairs a few seconds later with the shop-vac. (Poor kids, they're so used to me not being able to find the right words that they actually understand me now.)
Jason walked in as I was sucking up water from the bathroom floor and telling Hannah to try him on his cell again. He called Jeff (of Jeff's Plumbing) who came right over. He took one look under the toilet and said, "This old nut cracked."
Bet you thought the title was about me, didn't you?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu-Ish

So, since my chances for the mother of the year award were dashed somewhere around January 2nd, I thought I'd further impress and entertain you with my complete lack of parenting competence! I'll begin at the beginning. My son has asthma. He got his first inhaler (with a tiny face mask) when he was 5 months old. I will never forget sitting in the Walmart pharmacy crying when the pharmacist handed it to me. He had moderate to severe asthma until he was about kindergarten age and was on 3-8 medications at all times for his asthma, then he quite quickly seemed to outgrow it. Now he is nine years old and has asthma attacks so seldom that I daily leave the house without even a thought of taking his inhaler with me. We keep an inhaler at school, just in case, and he has to use it once a month or so after running in P.E. Other than that, as long as he is well, we never use his inhaler.
Saturday night, he was a little bit congested when he went to bed and though he coughed just a bit in the night, it wasn't even enough to warrant cough syrup. Of course, by the time he woke up Sunday morning it was a different story all together! He was really working to breathe even when he was just sitting on the couch. After he got all ready for church, I gave him a breathing treatment, then we headed to the early service. Here's where my parenting skills (or lack thereof) become painfully obvious. Just as the sermon was beginning, Haddon laid down in the pew, then asked me if he could go home. I could tell he felt really bad. I took him home. He said his throat hurt and his chest hurt. I asked him if his chest hurt when he coughed or when he breathed and he said "both." He was running a little temp, so I dosed him up with ibuprofen and mucinex and fixed him up on the couch with a movie, blanket, and the phone. THEN I WENT BACK TO CHURCH. I didn't want to miss Sunday School, you see. It all made perfect sense at the time, leaving my ill, asthmatic child at home by himself for an hour while he was having difficulty breathing. In my defense, I did call him every 20 minutes to check on him and he said he was fine each time.
The other kids and I came home after Sunday School and hung out there until second service was over, then we all went back to the church to pick up dad for lunch. Haddon didn't feel like eating, but did want a pop, so we got him some Sprite. But, just after we sat down and prayed, he laid down on his table (we're a two table sized family at any fast food place). I rebuked him because I was concerned both about the cleanliness of the establishment and with him adding his sick germs to the mix. He promptly got up, walked over to a different table, and laid across it. "Honey, get off that table!" I sternly rebuked him. He stood and looked at me. I instantly saw in his eyes that he was not with it. Then he seemed to retch a bit before crumbling onto the floor. J was up in a flash and had Bubs on his feet and out the door, all the while heavily supporting him. Haddon was really out of it. He thought he was going to puke, but never really did, just gagged around a bit. At this point, I confess, I analyzed the fact that he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Here I was, dragging my fluish kid all over town to spread his germs. Wonderful. Then it hit me...I had just left this very ill child at home by himself for an hour. What had I been thinking???
Back at home, I gave him another breathing treatment and he perked up some initially, then fell asleep on the couch for about thirty minutes. When he woke up, he was scared. "I don't have enough air, Mom. I need to go to the hospital now." Now, Haddon is the kind of asthmatic that will stay in the soccer game and go all out until he either drops or the coach pulls him out rather than admit that he's having trouble breathing. So, for him to ask for help scared me!
We actually didn't even sit down in the ER. They sent him right in for the triage nurse to assess him. He was confused and having trouble answering her questions. His oxygen sats was at 82. He gagged around some more & puked up some snot. It was immediately determined that he needed to be tested for the flu...the swine flu.
I'll admit it. Though I was still worried about my kid, I was picturing the headlines: "Swine Flu Hits Oklahoma," "Pastor's Family Introduces Swine Flu to Their Congregation," "Dirks Family Dines Out, Exposing Entire Town to Swine Flu." Wouldn't you know that the very first case of swine flu in Oklahoma would be one of my kids? I almost had trouble believing that it was negative. Though he felt flu-ish, Bub actually had pneumonia, complicated by asthma. Two nights later, he's still in the hospital, but he's feeling much better. It's safe to say that he won't be running any marathons any time soon, I won't be winning any parenting awards, and the swine flu pandemic has (thus far) eluded the Dirks family.