Down is Up

Like the majority of dads out there, I remember the day my son was born.

the manIt was a nice summer compared to Irish standards, and the rain had washed away the grey clouds from the previous day.  The missus was busy with the tiny girl (our daughter who was born a year earlier) and I had been looking forward to a little DIY in the garden, which could be dangerous given my lack of handy-man genes – but that’s the glory of being a homeowner.

The mother-in-war was visiting, again, to inspect how we were getting along with the baby, and also to ensure that the pregnancy of our second child was going as planned too.

Suddenly my South American flower said she felt a little uneasy and that she needed to go the hospital to get checked.  The baby hadn’t really moved for some time and she was getting worried.  We still had over a month to go, so we assumed that it was just a routine check-up.

At the hospital, the doctors did several tests, kept both mother and child monitored and instructed her to get some needed rest.  The baby was fine, but they needed to be 100% sure and the overly friendly elderly midwife instructed me to go home and get some clothes, to which I only dared to obey.

Continue reading Down is Up

Poop in the Wild

It is official. Our smallest (youngest) adventurer is a tiny version of Bear Grylls.

Our youngest kid is only 3 years old and left her diapers behind several months ago.  There wasn’t much of a ceremony about this major milestone, but I was obviously a very proud dad when this happened, especially as she left them behind at the age of around 18 months.  Not to mention, removing diapers from the weekly shopping list certainly improves our family budget further.

iPottyI do believe that one of the triggers for her getting toilet trained quicker was because she saw her siblings going to the toilet, and she being the smallest wanted to be as cool as the older kids.

Another huge factor in this transition was that she suddenly developed a nasty case of nappy rash.  We’ve always used Pampers while living in Ireland, but for some reason her tiny toosh became red as a strawberry so it was clear it was something in the chemicals they had added to Pampers in the US.  To be fair, that was the biggest reason for her to move off the diapers … nappy rash, itching and pain or smooth bottom with no discomfort?

Now, back to the main story.

A few weeks ago, when the sun appeared and the days were growing lighter, she (the tiniest version of my wife) was playing outside.  She was too busy going to the toilet, but she realized that she had to go.  But, to avoid missing out on any hard core playtime, she had to come up with an alternative.

What would Bear Grylls do?

You could tell she was up to something.  She was scouting a number of places trying to find the best area where she would have full privacy and also an area where she could easily bury her ‘package’.

These locations are fairly limited on a 10 x 20 foot decking, partially occupied by a outdoor dinning table + chairs, and not to mention the huge plastic playhouse.

The obvious choice would have been in the playhouse, but she chose something a little less obvious and different.  A couple of yellow square cones came with the playhouse, primarily used as chairs.  These items are hallow and could be filled with toys, balls, etc.

thumbsWe were focused on preparing the dinner when we suddenly spotted the littlest one sitting on the yellow plastic cone.  She was extremely concentrated, but did manage to give us a smile and a wave.  I swear it looked like thumbs up sign.

She had made up her own toilet by flipping the yellow cone on it’s head (seat) and had started #2.  When you gotta go you gotta go!?

Furry Vengance

snow-white-animals-forestWe moved from the concrete jungle of Dublin where most wild life were crows and neighboring dogs, to the Disney themed area we’ve moved to in the US, that has introduced us to wildlife such as deers, rabbits, owls, eagles, squirrels, turkeys, skunks – AND, all the negative sides of living in the wild.

Although cute in Disney movies, some of these animals (also known as rodents) can cause some havoc in the hood.  In the beginning it was a fantastic and I at times felt like humming the tunes from Snow-white, but soon discovered that they were called rodents for a reason;

  • Skunks spread their “love” throughout the early mornings, so when letting the dog out one is greeted by a breeze of hard hitting odors making you teary eyed.
  • Squirrels & Chipmunks will do whatever it takes to explore the garbage and that involves eating their way through the bin bags, spreading the trash all over the driveway or garage.
  • Groundhogs dig tunnels, conducting guerrilla warfare on the owners and little can be done to stop this other than calling for the 2nd amendment.

But, the most severe threat is from one of the smallest creatures that inhabits the forest, and which moves around applying a ninja stealth tactics for attacking us humans.

Let me introduce the tick!

During a recent trip to the local (backyard) forest with the two youngest kids, we were exploring different animals from afar, looking at flowers and kicking around leaves.

We had a little snack break sitting on a few rocks, while animals were roaming around us.  Nothing threatening of course, and it was almost a Disney moment as a cheeky squirrel were sniffing around us to get its teeth into our nutty snack-bars.

Later that evening, as I was battling my youngest explorer to fall asleep, I was gently caressing her neck. It sometimes calms her down and she falls asleep “quicker”.

tickSuddenly, my fingers felt some soft little item, which I initially thought was some stuck old food (saved for later) or a piece of jewelry.  I decided to check and got the flash light. It was neither!

To my horror is was a foul little grey fecker stuck to my daughter’s scalp. I instantly recognized it as being a tick.  All these years as a boy scout and learning about insects finally paid off.

My wife was wondering about the commotion as I was scrambling the iPad, trying to find the best method of removing ticks. When she discovered the tick issue she literally freaked.  Within seconds, she was sitting on the bed crying and imagining all the different diseases she could catch from such a bite, and in particular Lyme disease.  We went through most scenarios from limp amputation, long term paralysis, memory loss, severe fever and other extreme effects.  Neither of these were realistic, but we worked through the emotions and my wife started to breathe calmly again.

To be honest, my biggest fear was Lyme disease, but it’s apparently so rare that they’ve stopped producing the vaccine for it.

I had seen my dad remove ticks from the family pets in the past, but it always seemed a little rough and I had no intentions of hurting my daughter.  My sister was once bitten by one of these devils and she’s somewhat normal.

Other methods that I found on the net includes, of which none worked;

  • Insect repellent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Light a match, blow it out, then stick the hot end onto the end of the tick
  • Use your finger to push the tick around and around – trying to make it dizzy
  • Put dish washing soap on a cotton-ball and place it over the tick

HowNOTtoremoveatickI also found another important note while frantically searching the net for a solution.  Please keep in mind that any remedies such as insect repellent, hot matches, nail polish remover, etc. could actually make things worse.  These remedies might actually cause the tick to release toxins into the bloodstream, infecting you with any number of diseases.

Instead I applied the same technique my dad had perfected for years; cover the tick with toilet paper, gently use your fingers to get as close to the head of the tick as possible, squeeze your nails calmly towards the tick’s head and then jerk the little fecker hard … WITHOUT squeezing the body, as this could push toxins back into the blood stream.

It worked!  And what’s even better, my daughter had fallen asleep during my investigations and hardly felt the pinch from me removing the beast.

Make sure you’ve managed to get the head out of the wound and clean the area with soap.

  • If you have, then just keep monitoring your child or other victim for the Lyme disease signs, such as the known bulls-eye mark, or any other infection related symptoms such as fever, aches, rash etc.
  • If you didn’t get the head out, then I would go to the doctor to get it treated.

Finally, I would suggest you keep the tick in a zip-lock bag and freeze the sucker.  That way you can bring it to the doctor if needs be, and thereby get the correct treatment faster.

It has been about two weeks since our little incident and my daughter is doing great; no signs of Lyme disease, no fever, no aches … still the same little menace as before the bite!

A nose job!

The Mini Menace Strikes again!

It was just a normal morning, getting the kids ready for school and trying to get them out the door in time to catch the yellow submarine bus to their place of education.  Two out of three made it in time, whereas the tiniest doesn’t have school yet so she could relax while eating her chocolate cereal.

Still, there were no signs that this would be a somewhat unusual day.

As you would know from previous Menace post, our little angel can be a handful at the best of times, and most times she’s somewhat uncontrollable.  She draws on the walls, drags toys all over the place, writes on letters and homework, and climbs anything in the house.

My morning at work was busy as usual, but I was interrupted shortly after lunch by my lovely wife.  She sounded a little stressed and extremely worried, and had difficulties concentrating on forming the sentences.

Despite the initial lack of responses, she suddenly uttered “the midget has stuffed something into her nose and I can’t get it out.  I’m going to the doctor and you need to come home for when the kids arrived home on the school bus“.

I quickly turned off the work computer, which has Windows installed and takes about 7 minutes to shut down, and jumped into ye ol’ EL CAMINO monster truck.  The exhaust is slightly cracked, so it gives a good roar when it jumps into life.

On the way home, I stopped at the doctor’s place just to make sure both my girls were ok.  As I opened the door I was greeted with smiles from both girls, and the tiny one was overly happy – I guess she hadn’t been seen by the doctor yet.  I gave her the knuckles greeting and left them again.

Soon after I was back at the house, trying to get ready for the invasion of the two older kids.  The struggle always remains to get them to do their homework and this day was even worse.  The oldest had swimming in the evening and would have to do her homework in less than 90 minutes.

-- mission accepted --

The iPhone suddenly chimed, letting me know that my wife had been told to go to the nose doctor, to get the substance removed from her inner corners of the tiny nose.

Meanwhile, in the little house on the cul-de-sac, the homework battle had begun.  I huffed, puffed and surrendered, and let the kids run havoc.  In fairness, they did most of their homework in time and my oldest also packed her swimming gear.

Shortly after, I received another ding-ding on the iPhone.  Further update from the medical emergency indicated that the procedure had gone well, and that the nose doctor had extracted about 2cm of paper from her nose cavity.

It hadn’t been without sweat and tears.  She screamed and fought bravely, kicking the doctor and jumping on his foot until she finally surrendered and let Dr Evil remove the unwanted objects.

Soon after the girls arrived back at the palace, and it was as if nothing ever happened.  The patient was laughing, running around and asking for food.

Emergency over and back to normality – as long as it lasts.

Will the real Dennis the Menace stand up!

Throughout my childhood, my parents often compared me with Dennis the Menace.  I’m honestly not too sure why, but it apparently had something to do with all the (according to my parents) mischievous acts I carried out; shooting people with my suction cup gun, tying the family dog to my bicycle while riding it, diving into the nearest mud pool, pulling up plants and “borrowing” tools from the neighbour’s toolboxes.

I remember my mum often telling me that one day I would have a child of my own that would make my menacing efforts appear like kindergarten games, to which I laughed.  Me having kids?  What a preposterous idea!  My mum was clearly hallucinating … at least so I thought back then when i was still a child myself.

In fairness, I had only just begun to scratch the surface on my magical abilities to upset my parents throughout the day, and when the least expected it.

Fast forward 30 years and I’m now a proud parent of three wonderful kids.  Each of these kids have developed amazing abilities themselves when it comes to challenging my parental patience levels – but I obviously love each of them tremendously.

HOWEVER, the youngest child is the pure reincarnation of Dennis the Menace himself.  I would at times go a little further and state that she might be possessed by a teasing spirit – an entity that has one single purpose and that is to seriously test our boundaries.

  • Picasso; she draws on everything using crayons, makers, pens, charcoal, etc.  The cavemen would’ve been amazed by her abilities to paint daily stories on the walls, and perhaps someday archaeologists will find this house and decipher her drawings as something truly amazing.  I do not share or support that theory.
  • Hurricane; most of these storms have caused immense havoc on communities and countries.  My daughter deserves to get a hurricane named after her.  I know of no other child that can make a room look like it was hit by a natural disaster.  Yes, kids can be messy, but this little monster can do this in seconds.  One minute the room is neat and within seconds I can’t see the floor or furniture.
  • T-rex; she tends to attempt to bite anything that moves or not, simply to see how it reacts to her developing canines.  This would often involve her sister and brother, and my chest!  We have bite marks on most wooden surfaces and the local swimming pool has her impressions on most floatable foam devices.
  • Colt Seavers; she climbs anything taller than 2 inches, jumps off her chair, pretends to be a kangaroo on the stairs, challenges the family St Bernard for her food and managed to climb out of her highchair at the age of 12 months.
  • Dog; beside challenging the family pet for her food, she will often imitate her canine friends by crawling around on all fours.  She will eat food like dogs (i.e. no hands), pick up branches with her teeth and run after balls in the garden.
  • Fainting; when she doesn’t get her way she does one of two thing  1) she starts crying/screaming or 2) she “faints” and lies flat for a minimum of 18 seconds … and it doesn’t matter where we are or if it’s wet on the ground!

The scary bit is that she’s only 3 years old!

What will the world be like in a few years when she’s discovered other ways of testing her surroundings?  Or should I say, what my nerves be like when she’s 4 years old?

I love her to bits, but I do wonder about my sanity at times.