Placing an awful lot of stock in a groundhog I’ve never even met

Groundhog Day was last week, and Punxsutawny Phil predicted an early spring. Not that I care. Not that I’m counting down the days until it’s so warm that I no longer have to sing winter’s Getting Ready With Toddlers song, which goes like this, “Go get your coat. Where is your coat? Go find your coat. Here, I found your coat. Put on your coat. Put on your coat. Put on your coat. PUT YOUR COAT ON!”

Just after Punxsutawny Phil predicted an early spring, David checked the calendar and noticed that three consecutive days had passed since a member of our family had been sick. So he climbed on the couch and finished out the week with a high fever.

Yes, I’m looking forward to spring.

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When the snow melted, I noticed bulbs growing in my front yard.

I love bulbs. I imagine one day having a huge yard with hundreds of daffodils and tulips and hyacinths.

I planted maybe 20 tulips and daffodils last fall and totally forgot about it until a few days ago. That’s probably my favorite thing about bulbs; the surprise. Oh yeah! Flowers! Sun! Happiness! Spring is coming!

Under normal circumstances it would have taken under 30 minutes to plant these, but since I was with my little not-helpers, it took weeks. Actual weeks. 

After breakfast, I’d take everyone and all their sippy cups and snacks and mood swings outside. For each bulb, all I had to do was dig a roughly two-inch hole. In the time it took to do that, I’d look up and notice Mary Virginia halfway down the street, or David tasting mystery berries from the neighbor’s bushes. So I’d plant one bulb, run a reconnaissance mission, then spend 10 minutes trying to figure out where I dropped my trowel and gloves, in which time someone would fall and scrape their knee, and then I’d start all over again.

I imagine painting the Sistine Chapel was similarly complicated, except Michaleangelo was given the opportunity to focus.

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I call these photos “The Crib Series.” I didn’t intend on a theme, it just happened. I first snapped Mary Virginia’s flip, then a few days later I spied Thomas looking over the rail. So I looked at David and said, “Show me whatcha got, kid.”

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David / I asked David to see if he could reach each end of the bed, and his interpretation was this Spiderman pose. I still vividly remember the first night he slept in this bed over four years ago, and how when I swaddled him, put him down, and then closed the door and went to bed in the next room, I laid awake, stared at the monitor and wondered if he’d ever forgive me for abandoning him.

And now just look at this big kid.

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Mary Virginia / Here, she’s flipping into Thomas’s crib. But it reminded me of a few mornings ago, when Mary Virginia greeted Tom at her door and exclaimed with glee, “Look Daddy! I climbed out my bed like a dinosaur!” When she told me, I leaned down, my nose practically touching hers, and using a tone of voice reserved for the day I catch her trying cigarettes or signing up for Facebook, I said, “Don’t you ever do that again.”

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Thomas / Another crib escapee, smiling and happy after his morning nap. Time to lower the mattress.

 

When things go from adorable to gruesome in a matter of minutes

Recently I posted a photo on Instagram with an ambiguous caption. I mostly posted the photo because of the struggle I often feel as a stay at home mom, the feeling when something incredible or hilarious happens and you have no one to share it with but an eight-month old baby or a toddler who does not pay attention to you because are you a brightly colored cartoon character? I didn’t think so.

That’s how I felt two days ago when an officer from the Richmond City Health Department sat down at my dining room table. Is that moment not what social media is for?

Here’s the story, which starts off adorably and ends with a prescription for antibiotics.

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Last weekend our friend Ryan came over for dinner, and he brought The Official Most Adorable Puppy Ever.

Though the puppy was cute on its own, when it was in the same vicinity as the baby, we all stopped breathing because we were suffocated by the cuteness. We spent the entire night talking in a high-pitched voice and taking photos of THE CUTENESS.

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After dinner, Ryan put his adorable puppy on a leash and opened the door to leave. Waiting on the porch was our cat, with a facial expression that can only be described as “holding semi-automatic weapon in one hand, a cigarette in the other, eye brow raised, sneering, ‘remember me?'”

Only a cat can have a facial expression that says all of those things.

We opened the door and let the cat sniff the dog. I could see Brigham getting agitated, and even imprudently remarked, “Look how big his tail is getting!”

This is the part of the story when regret seeps in, because I should have known what was about to happen; I was raised to know better. I don’t know what I thought would happen, but here’s what I did know: Brigham is a large cat that routinely leaves actual decapitated squirrels on my front porch.

I should used that information and suggested Ryan pick up The Most Adorable Puppy and leave. Instead, we let it play out, and Brigham pounced on the adorable puppy.

It was quick, and the puppy ran inside, crying. When I rushed to check him out, Brigham ran inside after us and pounced on the puppy again. My reflex was to smack Brigham off the puppy, and when I did he latched on to my arm, biting and scratching me.

If you want to relive it, my kids were nearby and they can do great impressions of the whole thing: the puppy crying, Brigham hissing, me screaming. You’ll feel like you were there.

Or you can just look at these photos.

This is what happened to my shirt.

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My arm looked worse. Warning: bloody cat wounds pictures to follow. If you’re the squeamish type, close your eyes and scroll.

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I took that last picture in the doctor’s office. Here’s a quick PSA: if you get a legit bite or scratch from a cat (especially a bite), you need to go to the doctor, because they get infected really quickly.

I didn’t know that.

In fact, after it happened I texted my mom and dad, and my dad told me to go to the doctor. I resisted replying with the eye-roll emoji. Why? I don’t need stitches. So what if my arm is already bruised and swollen? I’m TOUGH! I’ve given birth to three children without medication! Sometimes I have to wait until Tuesday to watch the newest episode of The Bachelor! I CAN DO HARD THINGS!

Instead, I conceded and told him I’d ask my friend, a nurse practitioner, for her opinion.

This is the same friend who taught me the word “otoscope” — Tom and I ask her medical questions all the time, and every time I imagine her scolding herself for forgetting to block our phone numbers again.

My friend didn’t hesitate, she said I needed to go to the doctor for antibiotics and to have the wounds cleaned.

Following is the most gruesome photo of all: me spending Saturday night at urgent care instead of on the couch watching Making a Murderer.

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While I waited for the doctor, an unusually chipper nurse handed me a “bite form” to report the incident to the Department of Health. People who are overly enthusiastic, saccharine-sweet, take an extra bit of energy for me, especially when I’m busy watching gangrene develop in my forearm. As I filled out the form, she asked me what happened. I told her a quick version, and she responded, “Oh no! Poor kitty! He was jealous! You should make sure to give him a special treat tomorrow. Maybe some tuna?”

I smiled and nodded as if I agreed with her, even though I was confused. What was this woman talking about? Am I delirious? Are these early onset symptoms of cat scratch fever? Lady, my cat demolished my arm! He ruined one of my favorite sweaters! HE GETS NO TREATS!

That night Brigham, who normally begs to go outside outside, stood sentry in our front window. The next day, instead of spending all day napping under my electric blanket, he followed me around all day, glaring.

That’s when I realized the advice to give him a treat wasn’t just the ramblings of an RN on the night shift. It was potentially life-saving medical advice.

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That’s how an Animal Control officer ended up at my dining room table. Because if you seek medical treatment for an animal bite, you have to report it, and after report it, Animal Control has to follow up. Brigham has an assigned Animal Control officer and I have a separate officer from the Department of Health checking in on me.

Brigham has to be in quarantine for 10 days. It’s like kitty probation. When it’s over, maybe then I’ll think about a treat. And maybe that treat will come in the form of a brand new sweater for Mommy.