Starting Somewhere

My son is four-and-a-half. It is cliched but amazing, how quickly the time passes. He is darling, he is smart and funny, he is sometimes naughty and moody, he is wonderful. He likes ninja turtles and superheros and his dad.

He also is a big brother. We welcomed Baby Boy #2 last October, just 3 days prior to Baby Boy #1’s third birthday. P is D’s little mini-me. They are so similar in sweet demeanors and gorgeous little fuzzy blond heads that usually when I see a picture of D when he was less than a year old I have to do a double-take to figure out who is who.

Having a newborn and a three year old at the same time sure made for an interesting few months. I about lost my mind. But fortunately we’re getting into normal life now – D is a little less crazy than he used to be, P is a good sleeper, we are good.   I’d like to say that D is a wonderful big brother, and really he mostly is, but then there are those times I see him walk by his baby brother and punch him in the arm for no good reason, and I realize: he is just a big brother.

Things at the clinic are great. We’re 5 years old! How did THAT happen?? I often think back on those first few days, weeks, YEARS of being a brand new vet and practice owner and you know what I think about? Absolutely nothing. I don’t remember those days at all.  Suffice it to say, I’m happy to be where I am now, almost 6 years out.  I love the clinic, I Really love my clients and my staff. It’s a good job, and it makes for a good life. Sometimes it’s extremely stressful, but for now, it is all well worth it.

 

journaling

I’ve been doing a lot of organizing at home, and tackled our bedroom a few weekends ago. I hate to start with a tangent, but just as I was thinking, “I really need to get this room organized…”, my husband woke up one morning, heard a little squeaking sound, opened the bottom drawer of his bedside table and came face-to-face with a little mouse. Even though I’m a vet, I have an irrational fear of rodents in my house (no problem whatsoever seeing them as patients), so I’m glad it wasn’t me. Not that it would have been, becasue when I hear mouse-like sounds, I freeze in fear, I don’t go investigating. Anyway, two mouse-trap snaps later, and I got serious about organizing and cleaning the heck out of our room.

Of all the rooms in our house, the bedroom seems to collect the most dust. It’s the least lived-in room, and collects the most clothes, dust, etc. So it was great to clean every drawer, table-top, etc. It’s amazing, the crap that accumulates.

In the bottom drawer where the ill-fated, previously mentioned mouse was found, I found my journals. Back in 1991, my sister, then quite a journaler herself, bought me my first journal, and so I have this fantastic record of every ridiculous thought that went through my teeny-bopper head, and my overwrought college-student head, and my jeez-my-20s-were-rough head. The journaling fizzled significantly with vet school and halted completely with marriage and children.

I realized as I read through my early years with true enjoyment and, certainly, some embarrassment, that I would be totally remiss if I didn’t keep it up. Because I think maybe my 70-year-old self will get a kick out of what I thought about my life during this time.  And so it became apart of my New Year’s Resolution (which I still LOVE), and now every Sunday before bed I jot down a few notes in my journal about life. It’s fun.

Similarly, I feel like I might miss THIS record of my life, and so I’m thinking about starting it up again. It’s not a resolution, but I’d like to give it a go. I miss it, and blogging has always been a fun outlet for me – at least for the past 10 years.

So, we will see how it goes.

and she lived happily ever after.

I was sitting at the dining room table this evening eating dinner with my boy, and only my boy, since it is harvest and my husband is reduced to this guy who I have apparently long conversations about the Sopranos with when he finally makes it to bed around midnight each night. In typical almost-2 fashion, my boy ate some and then threw his sippy cup across the room, and then ate some more, and then got up to try his bottom on every other chair in the dining room. Eventually he got to the chair next to mine, decided it still wasn’t good enough and gracefully, insistently and undeniably crossed the gap into my lap, wedging himself into the small space between me and the table.  It was just One Of Those Days when I had to pick my battles and right then, having a naughty but happy gorgeous boy in my lap wasn’t a fight worth fighting.  Instead I teased him while taking a few bites of my own meal, until he decided that facing forward wasn’t good enough and he needed to be facing me. Again, whatever. I didn’t help him and it took him awhile to figure out the turning maneuver, but eventually there he was on my lap, nose to nose with me. He wrapped  his arms around my neck, laid his head on my chest, and fell asleep almost immediately. This was at 6:30, when normal bed time is 8. 

Sometimes the universe just hands you lemonade. 

I read this blog often.  I’ll recall an event that I blogged about and wish to revisit it, or it will randomly pop into my head: “what WAS life like as a 2nd year vet student?”, and I’ll go back and remember.  I love being able to do that.

I grew up in Maine. Small town, small high school. It was pretty sheltered and innocent and a good foundation. 

I used to live in Boston. I worked in an office, sitting at a computer all day.  I went shopping 4 times a week, dated lots of wrong men, went to trendy bars and dive bars hung out with my friends and lived a pretty stereotypical city life.

I went to vet school. I spent four years stressed and studying and studying and studying and studying and hanging out with new friends and feeling rather awkward and out-of-place and occasionally lonely.

I met a farmer, I graduated. I married him. I moved to the country.  I opened a vet practice. I had a baby.

The past few years of my life – the years of this blog – have been full of massive changes and upheavals.  It was a great time, and hopefully a good story.  Now that things have calmed down, I wonder more than ever – what DOES come next? Another baby? A new direction for the clinic? Changes with my family or friends’ lives?  Maybe this is just it for a little while.

Now, I’m a mom, a veterinarian, a farmers wife, an Iowan (eh, sort of). I live in a farmhouse in the country. There are things I miss from my old life, and things that irritate me about my current one, but still I feel like there was a lottery for happiness, and without even knowing that I had entered, I WON.

 It’s the right time to retire this blog, because it couldn’t have a happier ending than the life I’m living now, and I love a happy ending.  Thank you for reading. 

Full-time

Remember all that nice stuff I said about how it was good to get forced back in the office manager role since my real office manager was out? Yeah.

It has now been 3 full weeks that she has been gone and I. Am. Done. Her recovery is taking a lot longer than she anticipated, and so for the past three weeks I have been hitting the clinic by 7:30am, sprinting for a pretty full 8-9 hours, and then leaving SOMETHING undone as I rush home to spend a lowsy hour or so with my boys before I fall asleep on the couch.  I am exhausted.

Even though I like the practice management of my life, and I really, really, do, I feel like I’m doing two full-time jobs. It is hard, perhaps impossible, to balance both, and so my clients aren’t getting the attention that I am used to giving, and the practice doesn’t run as smoothly as I am used to.  Having to figure out the monthly big pet food order when you just got some labs back showing that a favorite patient’s cancer has returned just doesn’t work as well as I when I can focus on one or the other.

Worse yet is how bad I am at balancing all of work with all of home.  About half of the time I leave for work before my boy gets out of bed and get home about an hour before bedtime. I hate that.  Sometimes I can at least get him up and dressed and have breakfast with him. And day care days of course I get to hang out with him for an extra hour in the car that day, which actually makes a big difference. But I am missing a lot.

I’ve long thought that I wasn’t cut out for being a full-time, stay-at-home mom.  I think that I would lose my mind, especially living out here in the middle of nowhere, where I’d really have to go out of my way to be social and adventurous. But now I know that I’m also not cut out for being a full-time working momma.  This experience has at least let me realize how freaking lucky I am, with my part-time full-time career. Now just to get back to that balance!!

back to basics

My office manager has been out for a full week, and will be gone for at least one more. My office manager, who has singlehandedly taken ownership of the clinic (in a good way), made sure that records are logged, bills are paid, papers are filed, forms are filled out and customers feel loved; my office manager, who I stay awake at night fearing she might someday leave me and wondering what else I can do to keep her happily employed.  Needless to say, I was slightly panicky at the thought of her being gone.

But really, it has been a good thing. Certainly I wish she was here, but her being gone has allowed two things:

1. For my other, excellent staff to step up. I have one other assistant who is fully trained on everything, and three “kennel assistants” whose primary responsibility has been taking care of the kennel, but as they are all smart, able-bodied people who are eager to learn and help out they have enjoyed learning the ropes up front. One has already been pretty much fully trained for awhile, and the other two are picking it up admirably.

When I worked for other people, I always tried to be invaluable enough that they couldn’t, or would never want, to lose me.   But now as an employer, I can appreciate the “hit by the bus” rule: never be in a position such that you would be crippled by the loss of an employee. Truth be told, I think I’d be extremely sad and lame if my OM did really leave, but at least this week has shown me that I wouldn’t actually be crippled.

2. For me to get back to the basics of running a business. Huge confession: Sometimes I fear that I like the logistics of running a business more than I like veterinary medicine. I know! Gasp! But it’s true. I love managing money, figuring out how to increase efficiency, decrease bills, appeal to clients, etc. Love it. I think I love it because it is more concrete easier than say, managing a dog in kidney failure. Ugh, having to figure out the calcium and phosphate and which meds to choose and explaining why a renal diet really is worth it, etc….that’s stressful. And it’s risky – screw up and your patient DIES. Screw up at business and you lose your money. Which obviously is not good, but still. Better than death.

So anyway, I’ve kind of enjoyed getting my hands dirty with all the stuff that I ALWAYS did my first year of business – managing inventory, talking to absolutely everyone who walks in the door or calls, making deposits, etc. Just the little stuff.  Taking out the trash. Sweeping floors.

I often say that my clinic is my first baby, but my boy is my favorite baby. And it’s true – my love for my boy is deeper and sweeter and better than anything else I could imagine. Fling myself off a cliff to ensure his well being? Just show me to the edge.  Would I fling myself off a cliff for my clinic? Um, no. Not even close.  But really, I love it so much.  I LOVE my staff.  I love my tiny little building. I really love my clients.  I love being able to walk into the backyard and be surrounded by 8 little yapping dogs who are here for boarding.  And I’m really proud of it.  I’m proud that this is something that I have created.

So as happy as I will surely be when my OM returns, I am somewhat grateful for being forced to remember how things “used to be”, and from whence I came.

the demise of bedtime

A few weeks ago, my boy learned how to climb out of his crib.  Like the clever parents we are, we lowered his mattress to the lowest possible setting. And you know what? I swear, it made it easier for him to climb out. Unlike his mother, he is rather coordinated and careful, and while he never actually fell from his climbs, we figured that we shouldn’t test fate and converted the crib to a big boy bed. Sniff.

I sniff not just because my baby is growing up, but because I long for the bedtimes of two months ago, where I would lie the child down in his crib, and he would smile and say ‘bye bye’, and I would walk out of his room, and he might fuss for a few moments, but would quickly drift off to sleep.

NOW, not so much. We go through the same old routine – clean diaper and pajamas, clean face, brush teeth, read a few stories, sing a song or two, and get laid gently and lovingly in bed. What happens next? usually I gaze momentarily at his angelic, then tiptoe out of his room feeling like a total rockstar of a mom, only to turn around and have this 2′ creature grinning madly behind me clutching his stuffed bear. I march him back to bed, he lies down…I leave, he follows, etc. etc. What the hell??? My boy used to be a good sleeper! I try to go all supernanny on him and not talk, and not enjoy any of it at all, but sometimes he just gets to a point where he clearly thinks its a grand old game. And then what? Can I shut his door? Sometimes this ends the game and works, other times it makes him cry this terrible tale of woe that I just cannot ignore. For the record, I will gladly ignore a fussy-please-give-me-attention cry, but I really just don’t ignore the no-really-i’m-seriously-upset-and-crying-huge-tears cry. Life’s too short to cry like that.

So anyway, you get my point. Bedtimes are no fun anymore. It’s only been a week in the new bed. Maybe it will get easier before he leaves for college.

 

family fun time…sort of

It has been an absolute waste of a spring here in central Iowa.  We had several inches of snow on May 4th.  Then,  we had a super nice 10 days: the snow melted quickly, the fields dried out, the farmers started planting, life was good.  Then, it started raining.  And it got cold. And it kept raining. And it stayed cold. Now it’s June, commonly considered a “summer” month, and it’s about 60F out and the fields still have standing water, and the farmers are not happy. Neither are their wives.

So when last weekend loomed, my farmer and I realized it was the perfect time to get the heck out of here.  We thought about a quickie road trip – maybe 6hrs east to Chicago! Or 3 hours southwest to Omaha? Or 3 hours due east to Galena, IL, which people sometimes say is rather nice though I’m not sure why?  Unfortunately, we didn’t start planning until Thursday night, and I had a full day of appointments booked Friday, which meant we couldn’t leave early.  Friday morning we decided: road trip 1 hour south to the exotic and unusual Des Moines!

We booked a hotel with a suite and a pool, and loaded up the car with the dog and the boy (found a pet-friendly hotel).  Isn’t it weird how it doesn’t matter if you’re leaving for 2 nights or 20, packing for kids makes it a Big Huge Deal and is just never as simple as it seems it should be. But anyway, we got away.

And you know, even though we were just in Des Moines, where we go often, where my farmer lived for a few years, it was really, really nice.  No sitting around thinking, “I should be doing laundry!”, or “I should be cleaning!”.   He couldn’t sit and frown at the wet fields that he couldn’t work. We spent time together. We went to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. The farmers’ market used to be one of my favorites things to do – tons of vendors, fresh produce, wine tastings and yummy street food. And I still love it though now that I’ve lived in the country for a few years ALL THE FREAKING PEOPLE drive me a little bit nuts. Me and my farmer both, though he was a total sport for it.

It’s just amazing how getting away, no matter how close, was such a nice break! I highly recommend it for the stressed out among you!