Sunday, July 24, 2011

Breeding like rabbits...

This past Easter the Easter Bunny brought my three girls the perfect Easter present. When I (excuse me, I mean when the Easter Bunny) called my hubby to tell him about the most wondrous gift of all time his immediate response upon my asking "Guess what the Easter Bunny is giving the girls?", was, "It better not have a heartbeat."

What a buzz kill.

I laughed a bit hysterically and managed to squeak out, "Actually, there are three."

Total silence.

So I frantically backpedaled and began the whole shpeel of how the girls would take care of them (what? was Tess supposed to heave herself down the stairs and miraculously get herself to the bunny hutch?) and they were so tiny they would be no trouble at all and blah blah blah.

The hubby left me feeling less than optimistic when he informed me he would have no part of them so I better hope the girls stepped up to the plate.

Well! We would show him!

Of course the girls were thrilled with their mini Holland Lop Bunnies. They sacredly vowed to personally take care of them. Ellie named her's Thumper because she looked like the little bunny in the Bambi movie, Blake named her's Nugget but then had a change of heart and wanted to name her Sal so I kept calling it Salnugget which stuck so Salnugget it is, and in the name of not confusing The Toots, we named her bunny, well, Bunny.

We kept the adorable little rodents, sorry, bunnies, in the house until it warmed up enough for them to be outside. And it warmed up enough with the hubby for me to wheedle a bunny hutch out of him.

He and the girls, (not really but they did help for about a half hour so that counts, right?) took a Sunday in mid-May and built the bunnies a hutch. I took one look at it and immediately asked the hubby why it didn't look like the photo from the internet that I gave him. He was not impressed by my less than enthusiastic response to his efforts and quickly reminded me that the bunnies were not his problem yet he had spent the whole day building them a hutch and pen. If I didn't like the results than I was more than welcome to build a hutch myself.


So I sucked up the weird little hutch and the girls took turns feeding, watering, letting in and out and all things bunny related.

It soon became apparent that two bunnies were girls and one was a boy. Let's just say that the boy "asserted" his manliness at every opportunity. The hubby quickly pointed out that now I was a bunny farmer. I was a wee bit worried but shrugged it off.

Then Thumper died. Sorry to be so brutal but that's life on a farm. He had managed to escape from the oh so great hutch and we found him two days later at then end of our neighbor's driveway. He had been shot. Nice. Real nice.

But life goes on and so did we. Salnugget and Bunny lived in wedded bliss so Thumper was probably the third wheel anyway.

Fast forward to this morning. I, not Blake, not Ellie,(don't ya just love it?) I went out to let the bunnies out of their hutch and into their pen and to feed and water when I noticed something that looked like a weird nest. Well how odd. I peered in for a closer look and I swear to God, there were four babies in there.

Just what this three ring circus needed.

I yelled like the redneck I can revert to (a little too easily) for the girls to get outside. They all came a running and ooohed and ahhhhed over the babies. Then panic set in. How do you take care of baby bunnies? Does mama bunny do it all? Does she need back up like a normal new mommy?

And then, I looked into the pen and Bunny was, "asserting" himself on poor, and I can only imagine, sore, Salnugget. I was furious! "Leave her alone!", I shrieked at Bunny. But Salnugget was having none of it. She flipped Bunny over onto his back and smacked him in the head. You go girl!

So I immediately went online and researched and found out that the male needed to be separated from the female for fear he will immediately impregnate her. Oh. my. God. Really?

The girls and I (with the Bean and Bob-bay) headed back out to remove Bunny from the pen.

I then go back to the internet and upon further research discovered that while the male and female should be separated, they should still be able to touch and "nuzzle" through the barrier or else they get really stressed. OH for crying out loud!

So I begged Charlie to put chicken wire down the middle of the pen so that Salnugget and Bunny can be reunited but still be apart. He said no. And no amount of pleading on my part would sway him. I was so pissed.

Then I went in to full on martyr mode and told him to stay with Tess while I went to do the "man's job". I was out there for about forty-five friggin' minutes. Sweating and swearing and getting scratched by a terrified Bunny. I was also, (red neck sisters Hollah!) shouting out to the general neighborhood (hello Charlie) things like, "No don't come help. I really don't need any help at all. Please, just sit in there and do nothing. Really it's okay, even thought this is the worst made bunny hutch and pen in the world, I can do this myself!" And on and on.

When I came inside I was uglier than a grizzly bear and aimed it all at the hubby for daring to build such a ridiculous bunny hutch in the first place. And when he pointed out that the bunnies were not his idea to begin with and the girls and I said we would take care of them ourselves, I just got more pissed. Then I basically told him he should probably leave. He was only to happy to comply.

And the kicker is, I just looked outside to check on them and Bunny found his way to Salnugget despite my great architectural improvements to the pen.

Screw it. (pun intended)

Anybody looking for an adorable mini Holland lop? Ready to go in about eight weeks. And again about three months and eight weeks after that and again about three months and eight weeks after that and.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learned helplessness....

I have been taking Tessie to the brand new UNE pediatric clinic which specializes in PT, OT, ST and education for children with special needs. The have put Tessie through a gamut of "workouts" to see her level of needs and while they are busy doing that, I am sitting in a chair getting grilled by whomever is not working with Tess at the time.

For example, while PT is working with Tess, OT and ST are asking me questions about Tess, about me, about Tessie's birth, her medical history, my medical history, our home life, our other girls and on and on. Trying to figure out the mystery that is Tess.

Anyway, Tessie was a total rockstar. She was on her feet (with support), reaching up for something that they put just out of reach to see what she would do. She got it. That's right. My little Toodle Bug weebled and wobbled but didn't fall down. And didn't give up until she got the bells in her little hand. She played "row, row, row your boat" and actually participated in the "rowing" part as best she could. They brought out different switches to activate toys and sounds and she was all over it and knew just what to do with almost all of them. Their were a few that she didn't understand but not many.

I, on the other hand, did not perform quite so well. Oh yeah. Let me tell you the exquisite torture of watching your child do really well while answering questions with, "I don't know. I always just do it for her." or "I didn't know she could do that".

The therapists were all extremely kind and told me not to beat myself up over it. That I was a good and loving mom. I'm not so sure.

I mean, yes, I am a good mom but what happened to letting Tess try things for herself? What happened to expecting more out of her? Why wasn't I giving her choices, even if only limited ones, that she was more than capable of making?

Because I just wanted it done with. Like getting her dressed. Yes, if given the chance, she will choose her own shirt, or dress and even earrings. I don't give her that chance very often. She should be getting it every single day. The same with everything else. It is just easier, and takes less effort on my part to do it myself.

I know that it sounds horrible but it is the truth. And look at it from my point of view. Every time I give her a choice, it takes three times as long to get even the simplest of tasks done. And their are always more to do right behind it. It gets so overwhelming because there is no end in sight.

Basically I realized that I am in a rut with our daily routine.

But there is one other fairly important reason why I do everything for Tessie. I want her to know that even if she can't do something, I love her and am proud of her just as she is. I want her to know, without any question in her mind or heart, that I love her unconditionally. I am sometimes afraid that she won't be able to either understand or perform the task that is being asked of her and think that she is disappointing me. As Dr. Phil would say (and yes, the man drives me nuts but he is dead on with this one), I want to be her "soft place to fall" because that is what every child deserves.

I now understand that as far as The Toots is concerned, I have taken it to the extreme. While being so quick to do things for her, I have taken away her power. Making choices is a powerful thing for anyone, especially for a child who cannot physically move herself to what she wants or verbally ask for it.

Learned Helplessness. That is the term for what I have been doing with Tessie. You can google it. But basically what it means is that I have taught Tessie how to be helpless. Charlie has often quoted that term to me with my stubborn refusal to hear it. I was being a good and loving mom. Right? Yeah, right.

While watching those therapists work with Tessie and seeing the obvious pride on her face when she succeeded, it hit home. Charlie was right. I was not demanding enough from Tess. She always buckled her knees when I tried to get her to stand, she would whimper "mama" during something hard asked of her at school. I sometimes suspect she is faking not feeling well at times in order to get to sleep with me at night. And I reward that behavior handsomely. And why wouldn't I? The little shit is a master manipulator and she has learned at the feet of the master: me.

Well, as Dylan sang, "The times they are a changing" and so are things around here.

When we were away, I let Tessie pick out her own treat at the store and instead of me picking out two things I thought she might like and having her choose between them, I showed her toy by toy, her choices until she reached out her hands for what she wanted. And she loved it! She had this big grin on her face the whole time.

And yesterday, I started reading her an age appropriate chapter book instead of the books I've been reading to her since she was one. I had her choose between Charlotte's Web and Ramona and Her Mother and she picked the latter. We read 80 pages before she had had enough. I was in shock. She was laughing in the appropriate places and really seemed to get it. It was so much fun for her and for me.

Big girl steps. (I originally wrote baby steps; change is hard!)

Tessie and I are taking them together...

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Relatives often dream of Tessie. Every now and again they'll tell me that they had such a great dream about Tess. They almost always include her walking and talking all of a sudden. Everyone from my sister-in-law, to my cousin, to my Aunt and even her husband have had these same dreams. Blake and Ellie have each had these similar dreams as have I.

Because we all have such a vested interest in Tess, I chalk up our dreams to us all sharing the same wish for her...that she could walk and talk. The dreams are always very vivid yet so matter of fact at the same time. It is like we are not shocked that she is doing these things, more of a "I knew she would do this someday!". Plus the dreams tend to be funny because Tessie is a funny kid. She will do or say something in the dream that will have me cracking up while at the same time, in the dream, I am totally aware of the miracle that has happened. It is bizarre to say the least.

It usually takes me a minute when I wake up to realize it was really all a dream. Then reality hits. Sometimes it leaves me feeling a bit sad but usually I just think that it was great while it lasted.

Then today, I got a phone call. A very unexpected phone call. A lady in town that I know but not really well called to tell me she had a dream about Tess last night. It sort of caught me off guard but in a good way. She told me that she dreamed that for some reason she and a friend were taking care of Tessie and Tessie wanted to do something but they said no and then Tess disappeared for a bit (She laughingly told me that apparently they were not great babysitters) and then they found Tessie doing the thing that she had wanted to do. She said Tessie was talking and walking and bright eyed and alert.

But what struck me most of all was that she said that Tessie's voice sounded exactly like she had imagined it would. Yet she doesn't really even know Tess. It was so odd but comforting to me and I am still not sure why.

Part of me thinks it is because her dream is so similar to everyone else's. Again, even though she doesn't know Tessie. But the bigger comfort to me is that last statement..."she sounded just like I imagined she would."

I love that. I love that Tess has touched people that I probably would have never suspected. I love that she knows what Tessie's voice would sound like. I love that she called to tell me. She didn't have to and might have even felt a little embarrassed (I hope not) to call me out of the blue to tell about her dream.

Most of all I love that my dreams for Tessie are other people's as well.

Sweet dreams everyone.....