Don’t be embarrassed kitty, you still look cool – kind of

Meet our cat Cozmo. Poor Cozmo. She’s had better days.

Two weeks ago she underwent surgery. First was the dental surgery – she had already lost 70% of her teeth. We’d even find them on the kitchen floor. The vet informed us that the rest of her teeth were rotting and her gums infected. To boot, her stitches from when she was spade seven years ago were coming apart and she had a double hernia. So the vet did a double surgery – cleaning up her mouth and fixing her abdomen. She now has a grand total of three teeth. Meow.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough for a proud cat like Cozmo, she now has to wear this highly fashionable lamp shade. We avoided it the best we could. But when the vet came to check on her yesterday and take her stitches out, he said she had been licking her scar and it was becoming infected. This runs the risk of having to re-do the surgery, which we most DEFINITELY do not want to do, since it cost us almost $1,000. I’m thinking of renaming Cozmo the Bionic Kitten. I’ve never even spent that much on my own children’s medical bills.

So yesterday, we had no choice but to put the Elizabethan Collar, as it’s officially called (like if you call it something all fancy it won’t look so frickin’ hillarious), on Cozmo. She hasn’t quite gotten used to it. She runs into walls and scrapes against furniture. She slinks around the house all embarrassed like. She tries to scratch her chin but just hits plastic. She has difficulty eating her food and drinking out of her water bowl (reminds me of that scene in “16 Candles” when the girl with the neck brace tries, with much difficulty and maneuvering, to get a drink of water from the drinking fountain.) Cozmo does a great job of generating pity and I almost want to untie the collar, but then I think of my bank account and I hold back.

On top of all of this humiliation, we have to continue to give her oral antibiotics which is about as easy as sticking a thermometer up a screaming child’s ass. And now, because that damn cat licked herself, we have to put hydrogen peroxide on her scar twice a day. This cat is becoming one high-maintenance pet. Isn’t that the exact opposite of why you get a cat? Cats are supposed to be self-sufficient – you don’t have to bathe them or let them outside or take them for walks. Hell, sometimes they don’t even want you to pet them. It’s all on their own time. As a cat owner, you really only have one responsibility: feeding them.

Shit, if I had wanted this much responsibility I would have had children. Oh wait. I already do.

A guide to explaining pregnancy to children

So lately, with my belly getting bigger, my children have become more curious about the birth and the baby. Here are some of the questions they have been asking, and my two responses: what I actually told them, and then the truth, only muttered to myself under my breath.

1. Kaiden: “Mommy, can I watch the baby come out?”

“Well, I don’t know. I will be in some pain.”

“Will you be crying?”

“Yes, honey, I probably will.” As well as screaming and yelling curse words and calling your dad all sorts of really bad names. The phrase ‘Jesus fucking Christ’ will be uttered a lot.

“OK, I don’t want to watch the baby come out then.”

“Good choice.”

2. Kaya: “Mommy, how did the baby get in your tummy?”

“The Tooth Fairy put it there. She took the quarter I left under my pillow and gave me a baby instead.” Well, you are much too young for me to explain this one. And you better not find out what I’m talking about until you are 21. And don’t even think of wearing skimpy skirts and tight shirts when you are 15 because there’s no way in hell we will let you out of the house. The Tooth Fairy might see you.

3. Kaya: “Mommy, why is your tummy still squishy and not hard yet?”

“We just have to wait for the baby to get a little bigger and then my tummy will be harder.” Ok, you little shit, why do you think my belly is squishy in the first place? Umm, that would be because of YOU! Three years of exercising and it’s still not back to what it was. Now I’ve gone and got myself knocked up again and it will probably be another three years (or never) till I look like a Baywatch babe, so don’t you even think about commenting about my “squishy” belly once the baby’s out because you can kiss your Barbies and ballet shoes good-bye if you do.

4. Kaiden: “Mommy, can we have a dog instead of a baby?”

“No.” When the day comes when you can push a small melon out your private parts, then you can decide whether we have a pet or a child. Until that time, sorry to say you will have to be content with our toothless wonder cat.

5. Kaya: “Does the vet help get the baby out?”

“Ummm, no honey, the vet is the animal doctor. I see a midwife.” But if I’m on all fours while in labor like last time – what the heck – call the vet if the midwife can’t make it. Then Kaiden can pretend he’s finally getting that puppy he’s always wanted. I just better not deliver a litter.

To Benadryl or not to Benadryl, that is the question

So I finally bit the bullet and decided to do it.

We are taking the kids half-way around the world to see my family in Israel. 24 hours travel time, three different planes, airplane food, cramped quarters, kids asking “Are we there yet?” after 20 minutes – I must be crazy. Yet my parents did it with me and my sister two times a year from the time I was 6 weeks old. If they did it, I can do it, right?

Here’s the thing – after 30-some years, my mother let it slip over Christmas that she used to drug me and my sister with Benadryl to make us sleep. I have heard of parents doing this before, and it has never really sat right with me – call me crazy, but the thought of drugging my own  children kind of seems wrong. And now I find out that my mom used to do it to me! Well, no wonder she was able to take us to Israel twice a year for our entire childhood – we slept the whole damn plane ride! (I have heard there is a homeopathic medication that can be used to make children sleep. I might look into that. Or whiskey.)

But my mom did have another bag of non-medicating tricks up her sleeve that I am definitely going to borrow. I vividly remember the beige carry-on duffel bag that came with us on every trip to Israel. Inside were a bunch of wrapped presents, and every hour that we were good, we got to open one up. For my kids, I am thinking of buying just little stuff like packs of gum, mints, pencils, etc.,  anything that can be used as bribery and occupy them, even if for just a few minutes. A trip to the Dollar Store is definitely in my near future.

I used to go to Israel every year, but once I got married and started popping out the kids, that came to an end. Now it’s been over 6 years since my last visit. I decided that now’s the time for several reasons – my kids are at a good age and are relatively good on the plane, i.e. they can sit still for long periods of time, I will be 4 months pregnant and not that huge, and we need to do this before the baby comes or it will be another three years before I even consider going, plus then we will have to pay for another seat, which is not cheap.

So we’re doing it. Minds made up. Tickets purchased. Shitting in the pants begun.

Don’t tell my family in Israel, but one of the things I’m most excited about is that we are going to stop in Ireland on the way there for 4 days, just to break things up. Why Ireland, you ask? For one, I have never been there, although Siig has. He also still has family there, who his mother is in touch with (his grandfather was Irish). So I guess I am making this trip an ancestral pilgrimage of sorts. Time for the kids to get in touch with their roots. But truthfully, I just felt for some unknown reason that Dublin would be a good place to travel with kids. It might be cold as hell, but at least we will be able to communicate. And Siig will have lots of Guinness to keep him happy.

Any travel-with-kids tips greatly appreciated. Winner of the best advice will receive a gift-wrapped pack of Trident chewing gum, courtesy of the Reno Dollar Store.

Burittos, kitty cats and 3-year olds, oh my! Or, how to get your husband to go to the doctor

Poor Siigo had a rough day yesterday. He got royally beat up by, in order, a 3-year old, a burrito and a kitty-cat.

He was already in bad shape. In Mexico, he got dragged over some rocks by a huge wave, scraping his legs and arms and injuring his shoulder. Not to mention he got a royal talking-to by me for being out there in the huge surf and bringing my 25-year old sister Anna along, whose left butt cheek bore the brunt of the fall, and which – all red and scraped and tender – I had to look at the rest of the trip because she couldn’t put any pants on.

It didn’t help any that the day after we got back from Mexico, he walked in the door looking all dejected with a big cut running from his nose to his cheek. “I got hit by a shovel.”

Oh my god, he got in a fight and somebody wacked him a good one with a shovel! I was mortified. Then he told me the story. He was outside throwing salt on our icy driveway when he threw the big bag of salt down, which landed on the scoop part of a big snow shovel that was leaning against the door, which then made the handle thwack him in the face. Straight out of a cartoon, I tell you. Poor Siigo.

Siig was feeling so battered, he actually went to the chiropractor and got a massage. And he made both appointments himself. This is shocking because Siig normally can not make a doctor or dentist’s appointment to save his life. I have been nagging him for years to go to the dentist, but every time I make an appointment for him something “always comes up” so I have to cancel. No wonder women live longer than men.

Usually, and I know this is terrible to say coming from a wife about her husband, I don’t feel too sorry for Siig when he suffers a minor injury because something as little as a paper cut sends him into a tail spin. Whenever he has a cold, he basically thinks he’s dying. He stubs his toe and begs to be taken to the hospital. So it’s hard for me to judge the true nature of his injury or illness because most of the time I just don’t know if he’s exaggerating or being, well, a typical male. I do believe now that if men were the ones to have babies, we would have zero population growth.

But yesterday, I did start to actually feel sorry for the guy. It began when Kaya, our beautiful but clutsy 3-year old, did a ballet twirl and ended up punching Siig squarely in the nuts, flooring him. He was laying on the floor moaning, “My balls, my balls, they’re not coming down!” I told him, “There, now you don’t need to make a doctor’s appointment about that vasectomy.”

He finally recovered (and I presume his boys dropped back down), when we were driving in the car after grocery shopping and he asked me to hand him his burrito. He took a few bites when all of a sudden he started yelling in pain and clutching his mouth like he was being electrocuted from the outside in, then pulled something out of his mouth. What was it? Did he find a band-aid? (That actually happened to me once.) A finger? A razor blade? Were we going to crash? He pulls out a piece of tinfoil that the burrito was wrapped in and holds it up. The tinfoil had hit the metal in his fillings, causing immense pain. So much for that dentist’s visit.

Back home, our next task was to give our feisty cat Cozmo some medication. Our vet recently discovered that Cozmo’s mouth resembles a war zone – she has lost 70% of her teeth, and what’s left is rotting and infected. Our dentist was so kind as to show my 5-year old Cozmo’s teeth and say, “See, this is what happens when you don’t brush your teeth.” That was worth the $200 bill alone. The vet put her on a week’s worth of antibiotics, which we have to give her orally. Easier said than done. My first try resulted in the bottle of medicine spilling all over the coffee table and only about half getting in Cozmo’s mouth. So the next time, Siig – even though he’s allergic to the cat – selflessly said he would help. I had to hold Cozmo while he stuck the dropper in her mouth. But as soon as we got into position, the squirmy cat swiped Siig’s hand, sticking a claw deep into his thumb. Siig howled in pain and jumped up and down. “Oh my god, oh my god. This is the worst pain ever!” He was sure that he found a piece of Cozmo’s claw in the wound. I told him cats are not like bees – they don’t leave a stinger in their victim and then die. (Although that would save us the $500 bill to clean and extract her teeth. Don’t worry, I’m kidding. Sort of.)

I thought Siig had finally thrown in the towel and was probably going to go hide in a cave somewhere, when I heard him calling my name from the mudroom. “Come on, I’m ready. Let’s do this thing.” He walked back into the house wearing his one-piece snowmobile suit, gloves and a helmet. He looked like one of those guys from a haz-mat spill. “I’m not going to let a little pussy get me down.”

That’s my boy.

“See,” I said, “life is like sex – a little protection goes a long way.”

Now if I can just convince him that he can wear the full-body suit to the doctor, maybe he’ll actually keep an appointment.

Cleared for take-off, but not the bathroom

I should have predicted it. Everything was going too smoothly.

Knowing my children’s bathroom habits, I should have known. Known what, you ask? That the minute the plane started taxing down the runway, the very few minutes when no one can get up from their seat, not even the stewardess, my kids would have to go to the bathroom. Really bad. And on separate flights.

Two hours at the Palm Springs airport, with plenty of bathrooms, of course Kaya announces that she has to go when we are buckled in our seats and getting ready for take off. She looks at me with a pained look on her face, one hand holding her crotch: “Mommy, I have to go pee-pee, really bad!”

This is one of those parent moments where you just don’t know the proper protocol. Do I risk the wrath of the flight attendant and possibly injuring myself and my child, or do I risk Kaya peeing all over the airplane seat? I looked nervously around the plane. Everyone was seated with their seat belt on, even the flight attendant. We were taxing down the runway. I decided to go the safe route.

“Kaya, you have to wait. We can’t go now.”

“Mommy, I have to go, reaaaallllly bad.”

Great, she is going to wet the seat, I just know it. At least I had brought extra clothes for her. She started to cry. Swell. But we have to be taking off any minute. Then the pilots voice came on over the loud-speaker. “Well, ladies and gentlemen. We are number five for take-off. So just sit back and enjoy your flight.”

Number five???? Sit back and relax? You got to be kidding me. She was going to explode. Pee was going to come flying out of her putter and spray every passenger on the entire plane. We would be given a parachute and kicked off the plane somewhere over the desert. I would be banned from ever flying US Airways again.

My theory was: don’t look at her, then she’ll forget she has to go. After a while, I stole a furtive glance at Kaya. It looked like she was breaking out in a cold sweat. I didn’t know 3-year olds could perspire. Great, next I’ll have to buy her deodorant. Finally, we were up in the air. But it was super turbulent. The flight attendant walked by, holding on to the overhead bins for balance. I asked him if she could go to the bathroom. “Not yet,” he said. Oh my god, this was torture! For both me and Kaya.

I decided to distract myself by doing a crossword puzzle. After a few minutes, I looked at her again. Asleep. Great, now she was going to be sleeping in a pool of piss. I tried to wake her, to no avail. Screw it. Let her sleep and I can enjoy a peaceful flight. When we land, Siig and I come up with a game plan: he’ll take Kaiden and the bags, and I’ll scoop up Kaya and run off the plane to find a bathroom. Amazingly, her bottom seems dry. Or maybe I’m just in denial. We go flying into the terminal. No bathroom. I start running in the direction of the gate for our next flight, sure we’ll find a bathroom any minute. No such luck. We enter the longest stretch of LAX without a bathroom. I start to panic. She’s not going to make it.

Now I’m sweating from running through the airport while carrying a 30-lb little girl, not to mention a backpack that weighs about the same. Finally, I see it: the universal sign for a restroom – the black silhouettes of a man and woman stick figure. We run into a stall, pull down her pants and throw her on the potty. While she pees, I bend over to catch my breath. Work out for the day complete.

I think my worries are over when on our next flight to Reno, as we start heading down the runway, I hear from Kaiden: “Mommy, I have to pee, reaaaaaaaallllllllllly bad!” For reals? What kind of pee karma do I have? This time, Kaiden is sitting nex to Siig. My rule for airplanes: if you’re sitting next to the child with a problem, that’s your problem. I go back to my crossword puzzle. First clue: four letter word that starts with P. Think I’ll skip that one.