Sunday, January 25, 2009

Surgery hurts!

The Lovely Dr. L. did a laproscopy, he inspected my every fertile crevice with a tiny camera, he pinched out a sample of the endometrium and he flushed out my fallopian tubes to see if there were any blockages. All of this under a general last Friday.

Did he find anything to explain our failure to become pregnant? Anything he could fix with a swipe of a laser or a scrape of a curette? No. A resounding NO. Apparently my girlie bits are in fine working order.

Which fills me with a stupid sense of sadness. I really wanted to be blocked up. Then the Lovely Dr, L could have lasered and scraped and fixed me right up and The Big Guy and I could magically, instantly conceive our long-awaited baby.

But apparently the universe has other more mysterious plans for me.

Among those plans are having me finish Honours before a baby is born. And in a way that's good really. At least I will have totally completed my undergraduate Psych studies before taking a year off. And if I had conceived when we started trying this time last year I would now have a tiny baby and that would be difficult to deal with while my Grandfather is so ill. I need to be able to hop on a plane and fly to Brisbane at a moment's notice; I cannot do this easily with small screaming person in tow. So, I guess it's a good thing that I'm not pregnant or holding a little one right now. I guess.

Speaking of little ones, The Little Guy said something cute the other day.

He has been having swimming lessons daily for the last week and he did not like his teacher much - she was a bit stern and didn't have much fun in the pool with the kids. One day when she corrected him, he burst into tears. He thought she was cross.

Anyway, in the car the next day we were talking about what happens when people are cross and how it's good to avoid doing things that other people will be cross about. We were talking about all the people in The Little Guy's life that he obeys instantly and tries desperately to please and I asked how come he didn't care so much when I was cross with him.

From the back seat comes a chuckle and a happy voice says "It's because I like you and love you Mum!"

It's confirmed then, when a child really truly loves you and is totally secure they really don't care too much if you're cranky.

Oooh I am the Mistress of the segue today ... speaking of cranky with children ... check out these interesting parenting articles:

Alfie Kohn's "Five Reasons to Stop saying 'Good Job!'" and "The Case Against Time-out"

I like 'em!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Beginnings and Endings and Lifetimes in between

Today I had to go and have my Mum's little dog put to sleep. Mum is still away and I collected Isabella from the kennels on Saturday. She'd been there since the 26th of December.

When we collected her, she was quiet and seemed miserable and the kennels-man said she hadn't eaten that day and was emotionally flat.

She sure was, and by Sunday afternoon she still hadn't eaten and she'd started throwing up water if she drank.

We took her to the Animal Emergency Centre and they put her on a drip and ran some bloods and urine to see what was going on. On Monday, they said she'd had an attack of pancreatitis and would probably get better. The pancreatitis came on due to the diet change - home to kennels. At home she had been on a low fat diet kibble and had lost the required amount of weight (Christmas '07 she was overweight). So Mum and I thought it would be ok for her to eat regular food while at the kennels. Instead all the extra fat caused her pancreas to go into meltdown.

Then when I called for an update late on Monday night, the vet said that Isabella had developed a heart arrhythmia and they were doing an ECG. The arrhythmia wasn't causing any clinical symptoms (fainting, shortness of breath) so they weren't too worried. But when I called this morning the vet said they had found a large firm mass in her lower abdomen. They didn't think it was a blockage, nor related to the pancreatitis but rather a cancer that Isabella had kept hidden by having a very tense abdomen. Since Sunday she had been on heavy duty pain medication and this had allowed her to relax her abdomen and for the vets to feel the lump. At that point we decided that Isabella should be euthanized.


How awful it is to lose this beautiful doggit.

My Mum is presently in Kempsey (halfway between Brisbane and Sydney). She's there because she didn't want to go too far from Brisbane in case my grandfather took a turn for the worse.

Because, as the fates would have it, my beloved Gramps, the father of my heart, has terminal renal cancer and is in palliative care at the moment. Usually my Granny and Gramps live in Sydney and spend a month in Brisbane over Christmas with family. Last October Mum and I had decided to go up the Brisbane and spend some time with them over/after Christmas and then a week before Christmas my Gramps was diagnosed.

So my Gramps is very ill, in quite a lot of pain and they have stayed in Brisbane to stabilise him. Granny wants to go back home to Sydney with him and Mum left Brisbane a couple of days ago and is staying with her oldest and dearest friend while life plays out.

It is so terribly unfair for the dog to have died in this time. My Mum and I have suffered so much loss through our lives, I want to scream at the heavens for it all to stop. Now we have the grief of Isabella's loss to contend with while we try to deal with Gramps's illness.

I'm delighted with Beginnings, I love Lifetimes but Endings suck.

RIP Isabella Rockafeller - you were the best dog a person could wish to share life with. I love you and I will miss you terribly.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Charts and chores and getting kids to contribute

We found a great way to help our kids understand how to be helpful, polite, kind and responsible. I mean we raise them to be like that but they're kids and really - all they want to do is play.

So we made up these sheets that are stuck up through the house - Expectations and Consequences. Now everything is spelled out in very straightforward terms and everyone knows where they stand. We had a family meeting and discussed the new system and the kids helped brainstorm the consequences. So far, we've had a great response - far less anger in our house and things are getting done with fewer problems. Only one consequence is applied to any infraction and we haven't really had to use many of them.

•    Be polite and have good manners
•    Be positive and kind towards other people
•    Remember important things without prompting
•    Help contribute to the family and household without complaining
•    Do your tasks regularly and without prompting or complaining

•    Cleaning Tasks
 - Cleaning Windows
 - Cleaning Skirting Boards
 - Cobweb removal
 - Mowing a section of lawn
 - Sweeping the outside verandah
 - Tidying a room or area that is messy
 - Clean toilet, including wiping walls
 - Clean bathroom vanity unit

•    Reparations
 - Do-overs (with modelling from parent and then a sincere apology)
 - Pleasantly play game of other person’s choice for half an hour

•    Reflection Time
 - Time in room or on back balcony to reflect
 - Write a ‘reflection sheet’ (why it happened, what went wrong, how I could have behaved differently, what I will do in future)

•    Removal of privileges
 - Treaty Tuesday
 - Toy, or collection of toys
 - Book/Books
 - Night-time reading from parent
 - Reading-in-bed time
 - Nintendo/iPod/Computer Game/Phone
 - Miss out on next treat – all children get treat except  you

For example, the Perfect Princess is 9 and she knows that if she stands right beside her 12 year old brother and sings loudly in his ear he will get annoyed (not being kind towards others). He used to yell at her (not polite) and then he’d get in trouble for being rude while she got away with it. Now, the Middle Guy knows that instead of being rude to her (which will earn him a tedious consequence) he is to come and tell a parent rather than addressing her. Which he recently did. Then the parent can appropriately dole out consequences. TMG gets tPP removed and has no consequences because he behaved politely and alerted a grown-up. TPP got to wash all the little window-panes in one of our internal doors and think about why she shouldn’t annoy tMG on purpose. No one got angry, no one yelled, no one sulked. It was amazing. Or, the Little Guy has this bad habit of running at me with his teeth clenched to flail at and violently land on my body when he's feeling particularly cross. So the other day I said oh no, now you have to have a consequence, it's not kind to run at people to try to hurt them - say goodbye to your costumes for a day tLG. When he responded that he didn't care, I upped the ante - two days then. He got the picture, he lost his costumes and he hasn't run at me and landed on me since.

The other great thing I came upon was the How I Contribute to My Family chart. Each of our kids has one and they are aware they have to do jobs each day.  Ours includes: pack dishwasher, empty dishwasher, tidy toys away, help with washing, rubbish - in or out, clear table and set table. Having a list of expected jobs displayed for all to see and a dot to mark when you've done a job has somehow made jobs more palatable for the kids. In fact, now, as they sit down to dinner they're saying "Dibs on clearing" so they can be the one who gets that dot. It's bizarre but it works. (We laminated ours and use a whiteboard texta to colour the dots each week.)