Sunday, June 28, 2015

Change is Good!

When you remove a bad habit or addiction from your life, the benefits aren't always immediately evident.  In the first few days...weeks...months...survival is the goal.  Getting through each day without the crutch is the only focus.  One more day.  And another day.  1...2...3...4...Proudly keeping count on the calendar is the reward.

Tomorrow will be 121 days that I've been without my Mountain Dew.....1/3 of a year.  That's an enormous accomplishment considering I once carried a can of soda in my purse "for an emergency."  I feel strong now...the survival phase didn't last long.  Something felt different this time...I was finally tired of the addiction.  Embarrassed by it.  Chained to it.  Disgusted with it.  And so, on March 1st, I woke up and drank water.  I didn't stop at 7-11 to buy my usual daily supply.  I keep bottles of water with me at all times so I can quench my thirst before the craving sets in.  Occasionally, when the thought of temptation passes through my mind, I think to myself, "Do I want a Dew?  Or do I want another day?  Do I want a drink or do I want to be free?"  The temptation passes.

So now I'm able to take stock of the difference.  And what a big difference it is.  I'm no longer poisoning myself.  None of my other eating habits have changed.  One thing at a steps...etc.  I focused solely on drinking water....LOTS of it.

#1 - My hands don't hurt.  One of those toxic ingredients was causing intense pain in my hands.  Holding a pen to write a note to the teacher was torture.  I wore hand braces at night because if I didn't, I couldn't sleep from the pain.

#2 - The restless leg syndrom is nearly gone.  It was relentless at times.  Once it started, I was doomed to 20 minutes (or more) of feeling like roaches were crawling on my legs.  In especially bad episodes, it affected my arms, too.  If you've never experienced this, you should feel very thankful.

#3 - I don't clear my throat.  Without going into the gross details, suffice to say that the truckload of sugar I was consuming created a thickness in my throat which caused me to clear my throat a LOT.  It even annoyed I can only imagine how badly my husband wanted it to stop.

#4 - My blood sugar is stabilized.  I had frequent hypoglycemic episodes because my body was crashing from the sugar.  They are now a rare occurrence.

#5 - No headaches.  A common misconception is that only dark sodas have caffeine and that Mountain Dew (flourescent yellow/greeen) does not.  False.  It actually contains more caffeine than coke or pepsi.  To wean myself off that, I used caffeine tablets (think of No-Doz) and slowly decreased my dosage every week.  I've now been caffeine free for approximately 2 months.

#6 - I've lost 7 pounds.  Not exactly "knock your socks off" impressive.  But it's a start.  I'm working hard to strengthen myself and lose more.

#7 - I feel strong, clearheaded, and proud.  Every day is another victory.  My kids are enormously proud of me and I love that I can show them how to overcome a weakness or addiction.  I rely on them and my facebook family/friends to cheer me on.

I once hated myself for the inability to escape the addiction.  Now I know I can be strong.   

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Yes, Dogs are Animals

So this might be an odd way to return to my blog...this post will probably be long, wordy, and more than a little uncomfortable to read.  I don't blame you for turning away before it ends.  It's okay.  But I need, desperately, to get this off my chest. 

On facebook this afternoon, I shared a youtube video of a tiny 4-year-old girl standing in a kitchen giving commands to 6 adult, male pitbulls who are sitting approximately 3 feet away from this child's face.  She orders them all to sit....then dumps a large pile of food on the floor....counts to 3 and orders them to eat.  The purpose of the video appears to be "look at how amazing these pitbulls are and how well behaved and how they're not vicious at all and my 4-year-old niece can control them and isn't that just YAY YAY YAY!"

(If I were being a good person right now, I'd look up the video and share it here.  But I'm guessing most of you have seen it and I'm feeling a bit tech-lazy at the moment.)

Anywho.  I ranted a bit.  My point was.....I don't care how amazingly well-behaved these dogs are and I don't care what breed they are....THEY ARE STILL ANIMALS.  And absolutely anything can happen.  Believe me.  I found out the hard way.


In the summer of 2011, we adopted a beautiful golden retriever who we named Molly.  She was roughly 5 years old and needed a new family....her family was in a messy divorce and neither spouse could keep her.  We told the kids we were babysitting a friend's dog for the weekend so as to not get their hopes up about a new dog.  She came to us on a Saturday for a test run.  She walked around the house and ran through the yard like she had been born here.  She and Charlie, our beagle, seemed to get along immediately....Charlie didn't seem threatened by this giant, hairy intruder.  Probably because he was still very young and she was so very big compared to him!  By Sunday afternoon, we knew she was never leaving us.  We told the kids....they were over the moon.

The very first thing she did was shed the equivalent of another entire pet.  I have never witnessed that much shedding....we've only had short-haired dogs.  Her previous family, in their turmoil, probably hadn't put much time into grooming her.  I bought a brush.  She and I bonded over beauty treatments.  I sat on the floor with my legs in a V.....she draped her body over my legs....I brushed and trimmed her hair while she slipped in and out of a blissful nap.  She only moved when my legs were screaming with pins-and-needles and I nudged her off my lap.

Molly followed me everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  When I closed the bathroom door, she waited right there for me.  If I moved from the kitchen to the living room, she came along.  If I went to do laundry in the basement, she had to keep me company. 

My favorite thing was the foot massage.  Whenever I sat down at the table, she went under and sat by my feet.  I kicked off my slippers, she flopped down onto her side, and I rubbed her tummy with my bare feet.  How it started, I don't know.....and it wasn't a conscious thing.  It was just a habit.  A comforting habit. 

Molly was as gentle as any dog could ever be and listened to our commands without hesitation.  When the kids watched TV, they used her tummy as a pillow.  She slept....they watched.  They hugged her....kissed her.....dressed her in silly outfits....snuggled with her in their bedrooms....snuck her onto the couch when I wasn't looking....fed her pieces of cheese....played catch with her in the yard.  We trusted her.  She was a good girl.

Friday, November 16, 2012:  I picked up the kids from school and the girls (kindergarten and 1st grade) asked for a playdate.  We brought 2 more squealing first graders back to the house.  As is typical, the playdate was a boisterous, noisy, silly affair.  The 2 friends left around 5:00.  My husband took the boys to their roller hockey game.  I went into the kitchen to start supper.  Alexa was upstairs...Rachel was in the living room with Molly.

Slow motion yet split second.  Is that possible?  It has to be.  That's how the next moment played out.

I looked over my shoulder to see Molly sitting next to the couch and Rachel coming up behind her.  Probably trying to give her a she had a million times before.  I saw Molly's face and thought, "She looks a little odd.  Maybe I should tell Rachel to leave her alone."  But I didn't.  I brushed it aside.  I looked down at the meal I was preparing and heard a scream.  A soul-piercing scream.  "MY FACE!  MOMMY, MY FACE!!!!"

The blood was pouring down her cheek from the moment I scooped her off the floor.  Somewhere in my brain the words STAY CALM were running over and over while I stared in horror at the gaping hole in my daughter's forehead.  There was so much blood I couldn't tell if there was more than one wound.  I gently cleaned her face a bit and realized her eyelid was also split open.  Her eyelid. 

Called my husband so he could come home.....he took Alexa to a friend's house....went back to roller hockey to pick up the boys....I picked up a surprisingly calm Rachel and took her to the ER.

50-60 stitches.  On her forehead and eyelid.  I didn't even know you could stitch an eyelid.  We had an excellent plastic surgeon.  He performed nothing short of a miracle to put her little face back together.

As soon as we got home and settled, Nick looked at me and said, "She has to go.  I cannot have her here after this."  I nodded....I knew he was right.  There were too many could-haves.  Rachel could have lost her eye.  Molly could have bitten one of the other little girls.  And worse could easily happen again.  With a heavy heart, I picked up my phone and sent out a desperate plea via text to anyone and everyone I could think of......I explained what had happened and asked for suggestions about who I could call.  We looked up rescue groups, shelters, vets....we made phone calls, left messages, sent e-mails late into the night. 

On Saturday, Nick took Molly to the vet.  We knew she needed a full checkup to see if anything was wrong which may have led to the bite.  We needed that information in order to find her a new home.  Upon exam, the vet told us she had a severe double ear infection.  We had no idea.  We had no experience with this and no idea what the signs were. 

Have you ever had an ear infection?  They are incredibly painful.  Now imagine you have no way of telling anyone this....therefore the infection goes untreated....and it's in both ears.

She was in pain.  Excruciating pain.  And she was an she did what animals do....she lashed out.  Rachel happened to be the one who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Oh by the way.....let me backtrack a bit.  Saturday morning, Rachel woke up with a puffy face full of stitches...dried blood at the eye unable to open fully......came downstairs with a smile and said, "Good morning, Molly.  I love you."  As if nothing had ever happened.  Because even at the age of just 5 1/2, she knew it wasn't Molly's fault.


Armed with medication and this crucial piece of information, we thought it would be a little easier to find her a new home.  Time and again, we explained that she bit out of pain....she's not dangerous or viscious.  Time and again, we we were told to put her down.  "We don't take biters."   Days ticked by.  We successfully treated the ear infection and spent hours making phone call after phone call.  We used a baby gate to keep Molly in the kitchen, separate from the kids.

I remember sitting at the table with Molly next to me.  I ran my hand over the silky hair on her head while I cried and said, "I'm so sorry.  I love you.  And I'm so sorry.  This is all my fault.  I'm so sorry."  And it might not make sense to anyone but me....but to this day, I take all of the blame on myself.  Dogs with ear infections shake their heads a lot.  Was she doing that?  Why didn't I notice?  Was I ignoring her pain?  She was my could I miss her discomfort?  And I noticed she looked a little odd that night.  Why didn't I make Rachel move away?  Why did I let it happen?  It was my idea to adopt a second dog.  I am the one who brought Molly here.  Why did I have to bring another dog into the house?

HOW could I have let this happen???

My punishment, as I see it, was seeing my daughter's blood pour down her face.  And having to hold her legs while she screamed in pain in the ER.  And fighting the urge to faint.  And seeing her wounds change color day by day.  And having to explain to her, over and over again, that Molly couldn't stay with us.  And watching her say goodbye to this dog who had become her best friend.

We found Molly a new home....just in time.  I had started to believe that putting her down would be our only option....but my husband found someone who was willing to hear the whole story and able to find a family that would love her like we did (and still do).  The day I surrendered her, I cooked a large batch of homemade dog food to send with her, along with her dry food.  I sent a list of her feeding schedule, her habits, favorite things to do, quirks, etc.  I packed a bag with her favorite toys and blanket.  The woman who took her was stunned.

It's been more than 2 years now....we are currently a family with three dogs, so there's no shortage of sloppy kisses and tummy scratches.  But I still miss my girl.  Every so often I see or hear something that reminds me of her.  Her collar hangs next to my bed.  I still miss little shadow.  My pretty Molly-girl.  Thanks to her, I'm a better doggy mom now.   

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Plant Sale

During a typical after-school, playground conversation, a friend asked about my neighbors and whether we were happy with them.  Since we have 4 kids and 2 dogs, there's a fair amount of chaos surrounding our any neighbor who can put up with all of this and NOT call the cops is A-OK in my book.  Which is why we frequently shovel/snowblow their driveways/sidewalks and bribe them with homemade cookies. 

Anyway......on one side of us, we have an older, single man who lives alone in his house.  His name is Joe.  We have absolutely no proof of this, but my husband and I believe he may have a very slight mental disability.  Perhaps on the autistic spectrum?  Again....we have no proof of this besides a deep gut instinct.  He isn't very chatty and holding a conversation with him can be quite difficult.  Nick and I have learned how to communicate with him.  To a child, like my 8 year old daughter, it seems that he may be rude or mean.

So during the conversation with my friend, Alexa happened to be listening at my side.  She suddenly looked up and said, matter-of-factly, "Joe is kinda mean."

This caught me by surprise.  I don't want her to think of him in that way.  "He isn't mean.  He just has a difficult time talking to people and he doesn't leave his house very much."

She shrugged.


Fast forward to yesterday.

The school held their annual plant sale for Mother's Day.  The girls were so excited.  I gave them each an envelope with $10. 

After school, they each came out of the school with big smiles and plastic bags holding their precious purchases.  Rachel's bag held two.....Alexa's bag also held 2, though they were slightly smaller.

Alexa:  "Mommy.  I used some of my money to buy a plant for Mrs. C."  (Her teacher)

Me:  "Oh honey.  That's so sweet of you.  I bet she loved it!"

Rachel:  "Mommy.  I got 2 plants and I have one dollar left."

Me:  "Ok.  That's fine!  I can't wait to plant all of these!"

Alexa:  Looking at me if I might be upset by what she was going to say.  "I don't have any money left.  I used it to buy one for my teacher."

Me:  Fighting to speak around the lump in my throat.  "Oh that's okay.  What you did was so kind and thoughtful and I don't mind.  That's why I gave you the spend on flowers."

Where did this child come from?  How did she grow such a big heart?  Is it possible for a mom to burst with pride?


Fast forward a tiny bit more.

Walking home from school with the prized plants in our hands.  Alexa looked up at me and said, "Mommy?  I want to give one of the plants to Joe."  She squinted up at me.  "Is that okay?"

"Of course it is.  That would be really nice of you.  I think he would love it."

Lump in my throat gets bigger.

She hustled into the house and wrote a note.  It said, simply, "To: Joe.....From: Alexa."  She put the note and the little flower pot on his front stoop. 

"I left the plant on Joe's steps, Mommy."

"Okay, baby.  Thank you.  I bet he'll love it."

That's my girl.  My selfless, big-hearted, gentle little girl.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Lesson Learned

Every now and then, when I have a couple minutes to kill at the checkout line (because the woman in front of me has 83 coupons and she's arguing over the 35 cent gem that expired yesterday), I peruse the variety of magazines on display.  I do this because it will get me into less trouble than ramming her ankles with my cart and yelling, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I'LL GIVE YOU THE 35 CENTS IF YOU'LL GO AWAY!"

Anyway, it must be a rule of thumb in the magazine publishing business that every issue MUST include an article on "How to Improve Your Marriage" or "Tips on Having a Long Marriage" or "The Secrets to Not Strangling Your Spouse in His Sleep" or "This Couple Tells Us How They've Managed to Stay Married for 91 Years!"  Inevitably, it is determined that communication is one of the key factors.

Well DUH.

Here's my tip:  Stop reading stupid articles.  (Unless that "stupid article" includes this one.  In that case, carry on and feel free to sing my praises in the comment section.)

Every marriage is different.  Some people believe that dating (other people) is a great way to preserve a marriage.  Some people believe that never getting married in the first place is the key.  Some people like marriage so much that they do it over and over and over again (Polygamy gives me an owie on the brain.  I can hardly keep track of the deodorant and shaving cream preferences of ONE husband, much less 8 husbands.  That would require charts and lists and stuff and I really suck at those.).  Other people believe in family beds or separate checking accounts or weekly trips to church or never going to bed angry.

I agree that it can be interesting to see what other people do to keep the bond alive....yes, we can even learn from them.  But you can't look at an open-marriage couple and say, "YES!  When we get married, we'll continue to date other people and THAT will guarantee us a long life together!"  It doesn't quite work that way.  When I was a newlywed, I thought that we were supposed to be romantic and that romance = flowers or expensive dinners or an occasional piece of jewelry.  Luckily (for our bank account), it didn't take long for Ye Olde Common Sense to pay me a visit.

Common Sense said, "Dude.  Is your last name Trump or Rockefeller?  I can't remember."

Me said, "Um.  Neither one, actually.  Why do you ask?"

Common Sense said, "Well, if you'd like flowers, dinners, and jewelry on a regular basis, then you'd best get yourself married to a Trump or a Rockefeller."

Me said, "But wait!  I'm already married!"

Common Sense said, "Sucks to be you."

Me said, "No it doesn't!  He's a great guy!"

Common Sense said, "Well then you'd better figure out how to be happy without flowers, dinners,
and jewelry."

Me said, "Seriously?"

Common Sense said, "Seriously.  And, FYI, those things don't really prove anything.  They're just stuff.  Do you hear me?  They are JUST STUFF."

Hm.  Ye Olde Common Sense had a good point.....(which annoyed me to no end because I really LIKE being the one who is right.)  And slowly, my priorities did my definition of romance.

Romance is.......When The Husband takes all 4 kids to a hockey game so that I can accept a last minute invitation to a Mets game.  When he stops at 7-11 and buys me a pint of my favorite ice cream.  When he clears off the passenger seat of the van and adjusts it to a comfy position for me.  When we have bacon with our breakfast and he hands me the crispiest pieces because he knows I like those best.  When he can see, just by the look on my face, that I'm getting a migraine....and then begins ticking through the list of remedies to see which ones I've tried.  Romance is a husband who is kind, funny, hard-working, and a good father. 

We are coming up on 18 years of marriage in June.  I'm so proud of proud of him, me, and the knowledge that WE are the secret to those 18 years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mice: Evicted

I'm looking over some of my old posts....including the drafts that I never published.  Here's one from about 3 years ago that I had ALMOST finished:  Enjoy.

We have a mouse.

I was working on my computer at the dining room table last night.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move in the kitchen.  Paranoia has been my middle name since we had a small mouse problem about 7 years ago....but, in an effort to rid myself of such neurosis, I didn't get up to investigate.  It's nothing.  Stop being ridiculous.  Your eyes are playing tricks on you again.

About 10 minutes later, I heard The Husband heave a sigh and looked up to see him get up off the couch.  "What's the matter?"  He ignored me and walked quietly toward the kitchen.  "What?"  He continued to ignore me while staring intently at the floor.  "WHAT IS IT?"

"We have a mouse."

"I KNEW IT!  I thought I saw something but I ignored it cuz I thought I was CRAZY!"  I pulled my feet up off the floor and tucked them under me.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Am I surprised that we have a mouse?  No.  Spend a day at my house and you won't be shocked, either.  First and foremost, we live in a house built in the 1940s.  "Airtight" wasn't even a word in the dictionary back then.

Secondly (is that a word?  I'm not even sure.), I have kids.  And now that the weather is warming up, I force  encourage them to be outside as much as possible.  For various reasons, the door gets opened roughly 358 times a day.  Per kid. 

I'm hungry.
Can we come in?
I'm thirsty.
Can we come in?
I'm cold.
Can we come in?
I'm hot.
Can we come in?
Can we come in?

Thirdly (now I'm pretty sure that's NOT a word), while our front door is fairly new, our back door has been around since the days of the caveman.  It does not shut completely.

And finally, we have a guinea pig.  Doesn't that mean her presence acts as a sort of magnet for other rodent life-forms?  I thought I'd heard that at some point.

So break out the glue traps and peanut butter!  Don't get all "every life is precious and you can't kill an innocent mouse" on me.  I have no mercy for uninvited rodents.  Yes, I'm a cold-blooded killer.

The main problem with this whole deal is that I feel so gross about it!  Yes, I know that lots of people have mice problems.  I know that it's not always a cleanliness issue.  I know that my house is clean.

And yet.....I find myself scrutinizing every nook and cranny.  And vacuuming repeatedly.  And scrubbing again and again and again.


Fast forward to the current day:  This past summer, we did some renovating in the kitchen and garage.  A couple days ago, I said to Nick, "Did you realize we had NO MICE this winter?!  Cuz we kicked some rodent ASS!  WOOHOO!"

Our guinea pig passed away over the summer, too.  I doubt she was to blame for the infestation.  (YEAH.  I know "infestation" might be an exaggeration.  WHATEVS.  Mice are gross and I will totally overreact if I want to.)   Anyway.  Fiona is no longer with us. rodent on residence to act as bait AND we inadvertently plugged up whatever hole was acting as a mousie front door.


Mama Cas 


Here I am again.....trying to renew my blogging interest.  I was on a great run for a bit....and then my brain ran out of ideas.  Or I ran out of time.  Something like that.  I miss writing.  (I also miss my quilting.  But I really REALLY can't find time for THAT.)  Perhaps if I get my butt off Facebook now and then......

Anyway.  The Husband got me a new laptop yesterday as an early Mother's Day gift.  He figured it's cheaper to buy the new computer NOW than to wait awhile and also buy a new window because I threw the old laptop through it.  I mean, seriously.....the thing was slower than frozen mud. 

Not much has changed since I last wrote.  We still have 4 kids and 2 dogs.  We still live in the same house.  I'm still battling a wretched Mountain Dew addiction.  I still can't figure out how to keep up with the laundry and dishes.  The Husband is still the best guy I know.  You get the idea.

I still write the same random bursts and sentences.  Occasionally forgetting the grammar rules that were drilled into me long ago. 

So maybe...maybe...maybe I'll give this another shot.  Maybe there are still a handful of people who will humor me and read this.  Sometimes it's drivel....sometimes it's sappy....sometimes it's crass and juvenile.....never will it be award winning.  Maybe we'll call this MamaCas Chapter 2? 



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sweet dreams are made of this....or maybe not

Weird dreams are my thing.  I've had some real doozies over the years.  (Especially during my pregnancies.)  Some are forgotten about before my feet hit the floor in the morning.  Some stick with me for days.  In high school, I had a very racy dream about a less-than-sexy teacher.  I couldn't look him in the eye for weeks.  Recently, I had a sticks-with-me kind of dream.  It was waaaaaay bizarre.

Apparently, this dream took place about 16 years ago, because my dad was still alive and my husband and children were nowhere to be found.  I was getting ready for a wedding....I was the bride.  But I didn't know the groom's name.  Many of my high school friends were there.  I didn't want to look like a complete ass, so I launched a sneaky investigation to find out this dude's name from one of my friends.  Mission accomplished. 

Side note: 
The "dream" groom was no one I've ever met.  He is a real-life stranger.  Wouldn't you think the "dream" groom would have been a classmate, old friend, former boyfriend, acquaintance, my dentist, my gynecologist, someone I saw on TV once, or something?  I told you this was weird.  

Now I had NO intention of marrying Mystery Groom, so I went to have a little chat with him.  While we were chatting, I discovered that he was very sweet and was genuinely sad that we wouldn't be getting hitched, which made me briefly reconsider because I didn't want to hurt his feelings.  (!!!)

Side note #2: 
Am I really THAT easily swayed by my desire to please?!  Yeesh.  There may be some intense psycho-analysis in my future.

Then came the REALLY strange part.  Someone brought 2 little kids into the room and Mystery Groom informed me that the oldest one (5 years old or so) was mine.  WHAT?!  And the 6-month-old baby was someone else's, but he had custody.  WHAT?!

Side note #3: 
So I slept with a guy, spaced out his name, got pregnant, carried his offspring, handed him the child, and then FORGOT that I had a baby?!  OMG.  So in my dreams, I'm half brain-dead AND a slut.  Fantastic.

The dream continued.  Mystery Groom and I became fast friends.....we held hands and went to tell our families and guests that we would not be getting married.  And my dad was mad at me for not going through with the wedding!  So he refused to speak to me.

End of dream.

Oy vey.


Can someone get me the name and number of a reputable psychiatrist?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

My baby girl is home today....she's all pukey and poopy, so I'm playing nursemaid.  I figured this would be a good time to check in with my blog.  I miss writing, but it's been very hard to find the time now that I'm working.  To the handful of people who have inquired about my posts....thank you for remaining interested.  Happy New Year, my peeps!