Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Mysterious Incident of the Bunny in the Night

And now for The (very first) Story Behind the Story*.

We finally became a pet-owning family recently, when my daughter got a bunny. I've held out for years now, for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I just don't really like pets; I seem to be missing the pet-as-beloved-family-member gene (please don't hold it against me). I have allergies. I just don't need any more mess or responsibility these days; my plate is full.

But then there is also the Max Factor; while Max doesn't have a mean bone in his body, he just is too impulsive and too unpredictable to be fully trustworthy with a small animal.

The kids have been so excited about their new fuzzy little friend, and while my daughter is the adoptive mom, the boys are also involved. Well, actually, my older son is; Max WANTS to be involved, and we really try to include him....but there are moments when it just doesn't work.

He tries to be gentle...mostly. He will get right down to the bunny's perspective, carefully and gently, and deliberately make his hand cupped and flat to pet her, and wants to kiss her all the time, or feel her fur against his cheeks. Then suddenly he pokes her! (And unfortunately, those sparkly dark bunny eyes seem to especially trigger his poking urge.)
So we're working on his interactions. We give lots of reminders, exaggerated modeling of gentle petting, and I sort of keep up a running commentary as we interact with the bunny together. We refer to her as "baby", and even though we've taught Max the sign for "bunny", "baby" is what he signs for her.
Last week, shortly before my daughter left for a week of summer camp, I walked into the garage and realized the bunny was MISSING. The cage was open and the bunny was gone! I knew immediately it was Max's doing (and I nearly had a heart attack).

The rest of us (husband, son, & friend) quietly, furtively, worriedly searched the entire garage and back yard, hoping against hope that we would find the bunny unharmed, QUICKLY, and wouldn't even need to tell my daughter. We looked everywhere. TWICE. The back yard is fenced in, but very easy to get out of for a small rabbit. We were calling for her and making clicking noises...but she's a BUNNY, for Pete's sake -- she's not trained, she doesn't make a sound, and her instinct is to freeze when alarmed!

Finally, completely against logic, I looked inside a paper bag that was on top of a box. There was absolutely no way she could have gotten herself in there...but guess what? There she was!

Max had opened the latch on the cage, grabbed her, and PUT HER IN THE BAG. He was never out of anyone's sight for more than minutes at most, so it was quick (& sneaky!) work. The bunny, however, must have been there for a fair amount of time, because she was surrounded by plenty of poo...

We breathed ginormous sighs of relief and added a spring lock to the cage door that very second.
Fast forward two days. Max approached me with a small round thing in his hand, excited and proud. It was the salt lick from the bunny's cage!

I ran in to check on things, and the bunny was fine, huddled in the far back corner. Apparently the spring lock is just wide enough that Max can still fit his hand in the cage. Fortunately, he can't reach to the back or fit the bunny out through the gap, but we still are keeping a pretty close eye on things.
"Small Lock For Bunny Cage" is now on my shopping list.


*"The Story Behind the Story" will be another regular feature on this blog. Often there is one thing going on that I post about on my other blog, but there is a separate storyline being woven by Max's role in the plot, which I will tell here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Signing Time Video Magic

Today's post shows another one of Max's favorite things -- watching his Signing Time video. He loves electronics of any kind, and spends a good deal of time "watching" his shows. Watching shows for Max is not the passive couch potato activity you might think, though; it involves lots of stopping and starting, pausing and rewinding, experimenting with volume and setting controls, etc... (I'm telling you, he can "fix" the satellite/dvd/cable settings on our tv more accurately than I can!) plus a good deal of running in and out of the room and back and forth to the tv.

He usually gets really enamored with one show at a time. Past obsessions have included The Grinch, WonderPets!, Stuart Little, and, most recently, the Lion King. There are short passages in each that I can probably recite verbatim, and bits of soundtrack that echo ceaselessly through my mind in the middle of the night.

The past few weeks he has rediscovered his Signing Time video. He's watched this many times over the past several years, but suddenly it is just CLICKING with him. He watched it quite literally all day long recently (Hey, it was raining! I was tired! Don't judge!) and towards the end of the day he persuaded his sister to watch along with him.

I walked past the room and noticed he was not only signing right along with the videos, but also SINGING! Seriously singing (the word "Leah"), with actual tongue movement and the right vowel sound and on the beat! This is big stuff, people!

I grabbed my camera to capture the moment. The picture quality isn't great, and I apologize for the bumpiness, but I love this footage!

I know EXACTLY what to get Max for his birthday this summer...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rediscovering the Forest (Despite All Those Trees!)

So. I had quite a day recently. It actually started off well; I had some energy and felt like doing a little yardwork, the kids were happy and mellow and busy.

I did a little weeding around the back yard, then spent a long time sweeping all the maple seeds off our deck and patio. (They dropped by the treefull in just a matter of days.) Everyone was still happy, so I decided to hose down the deck & patio, too. It looked great, but then I noticed some of the plants looked dry. So I watered those, too. The VERY LAST PLANT that needed water was a potted fern hanging from a tree, and the hose just wouldn't q-u-i-t-e reach. So I gave ONE QUICK TUG on the hose....

...and knocked over the little side table. The very lightweight tippy one that is topped with a piece of shatterproof glass. The same one that has been knocked over half a dozen times before, with no ill effects except my annoyance. But this time? This time it SHATTERED. Into a million zillion trillion little hunks and chunks. (Thank goodness it wasn't into shards and slivers...but STILL!) There were pieces in an arc covering a good 8 feet of patio.

You should have seen the look on my face.

I was this close to completing a very satisfying task. And now I would have another hour of time cleaning up the very same area all over again. And I couldn't even be mad at anyone else -- it was purely my own fault. My stupid fault because I was just so close to finishing that I didn't want to take two seconds to untangle the hose.

And then? Then all three kids come outside and say they are hungry, so am I almost done? And is it time for lunch? Big. Heavy. Sigh.

The most positive thing I can think of to come out of this situation is that it's great material for a blog post! So I run inside and grab my camera, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

I was still in awe over the chunky shapes the glass broke into, and bent down to pick a little piece up to examine it...and suddenly, before I even know how it happened, Max is right there beside me, and he PICKS UP A PIECE OF GLASS AND STICKS IT IN HIS MOUTH!

I shrieked so sharply that it startled him, and he jumped and yelled and threw the glass back down. I let into that kid, I tell you. I was angry and scared and just in such disbelief.

"What on earth are you thinking?!? That is GLASS! DANGER! OUCHIE! NO, NO, NO!! No touching!! BACK OFF! (he freezes) SCOOT!! BACK!! (he shuffles back) SOMEONE-COME-GET-YOUR-BROTHER-NOW!" I yelled. (Plus maybe a few choice words...)

And Max looked at me with the hugest eyes ever and shakily signed "Ice."

Oh. Yeah. Huh. I just blinked. Because it really did look an awful lot like ice cubes. I was staring at them myself, slightly hypnotized by the strange little shapes just a second ago, after all! Count to three, deep breath.

I sent Max inside, FAR AWAY from the glass, and I started sweeping. Those chunks on that bumpy, grid-like, crevice-filled surface were next to impossible to sweep up. I had to pick much of it up by hand. Then I hosed everything down again. Finally, FINALLY, I was done with the area.

And you know what happened then? Well, Max came outside to check on my progress...and to seek some assistance. He must have been pretty hungry while waiting inside, and so he foraged around in the kitchen until he found a really good snack...

And here's the strange thing. I was so worn out by all that mess, and just so deeply, deeply thankful that Max hadn't ingested or been injured by the glass in his mouth, that I didn't even yell this time. The blind rage, utter disgust, or numb annoyance (reflex reactions not uncommon from me lately, I have to admit with shame) were just nowhere to be found. I had literally been startled into the present; narrowly escaping that very close call opened my eyes to see beyond the mess of the moment.

"Oh, guy. What a mess. You are really, really hungry, aren't you? And that was a very long time to wait. Let's go clean you up." I murmured to him.

And then I walked in the kitchen and saw the rest of his snacking debris.

And I sighed again, and, together, we cleaned everything up. And then we all ate lunch and lived happily ever after for the rest of the day.

But first, of course, I took another picture or two...

And I'm glad I did (even though I had learned an important lesson today about when NOT to take a picture), because just look at that expression.

The thousand words said in this picture are ones that remind me to see the other side in the situation, to maintain my patience, to not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Diaper Incompatibility

I had a small revelation this morning, triggered partially by our family's love of fresh asparagus, and partially by Max sitting on my lap as I typed on the computer this morning while we sipped our morning coffee.

Here it is (although I should warn you to stop reading now if you are eating or are easily offended!): there are certain smells that just don't belong in diapers.

An odd statement to make, I know, because I've been changing diapers for 12-odd years now, and I'll be the first to admit there are all varieties of unpleasant odors involved with that task. But, let's can I put this? To phrase it somewhat delicately, you know how sometimes after eating asparagus or drinking coffee, the corresponding odors seem to exit the body via the bladder?

Well, asparagus-scented pee and coffee-scented pee just do NOT belong in diapers! Trust me, there is a reason you don't see Gerber's Creamy Asparagus Puree or Similac Coffee Latte Formula in the baby food aisles.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Microcephalic Minneolas

This post features one of the first images that falls in a category I'm going to call "Microcephaly in the Media". (For now, anyway. I'm not sure how accurate that title will end up being, but every other title I thought of is likely to trigger misguided google queries. Which is a funny concern, considering the name of this blog! But I worry those other misguided searches might not be quite as innocent in nature... )

I'm not talking about factual news reports or medical specials here, though...I'm talking about the random bits of flotsam and jetsam that happen to catch my eye, tuned as it is to the visual appearance of microcephaly.

Check out the label from a bag of minneola tangelos I bought! I think this adorable little fella's head circumference might just fall a few standard deviations below the mean...

I will periodically add additional images to this category as they catch my eye.

If you find an image that you think fits here, let me know. (Ditto that for a better category name -- I do love a good, friendly pun!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Blues?

(Graphic courtesy of

I haven't yet mentioned on this blog that summers tend to be pretty hard for me. It's kind of like a reverse form of Seasonal Affective Disorder; winters, with routines and school days and early bedtimes and low expectations, are the easier time of year in our house. Summers, though? Summers mean long, long days to fill with everyone's highest hopes and most exciting plans....and those great expectations just can't all be met, realistically speaking.

Max adds additional weight here and there, random and constantly shifting, on the Scales of Family Contentment; it's incredibly tricky to find an even balance. I try to predict and adjust things as needed, but it requires constantly monitoring, tweaking, and correcting. In several of the past summers, I got tired and just decided to lie down on one of those little balance platforms for awhile. (Needless to say, it tipped.)

But this year I'm starting out feeling optimistic. I'm in a good place and, as a whole, we're maintaining a pretty fair family balance lately. I'm motivated and ready.

Here's the funny thing, though -- I have been so proud of myself for my improved attitude this year, and so pleased that Max has mellowed and matured since last summer...and then it occurred to me today that there is one more BIG thing working in my favor this year -- Synthroid!

Last year at this exact time, I learned my thyroid levels were off, the main symptoms of which were extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate, and depression. I've been taking daily thyroid supplements for a year now, and while the dosage had to be adjusted several times throughout the year, my blood work has come up steady and normal for the past 3 months.

It's not just Max! Or the time of year! Or my attitude! DUH! Things really are different this year.

Bring it on.

(Of course it wouldn't hurt for you to keep your fingers crossed for me, anyway. Ya know, just in case...)