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It was a sunny Sunday after about eight years ago. I was on a short hike with our two big dogs and my husband and Lauren, who was about ten months at the time, were hanging out at home. As I was a few blocks from the house, I heard sirens and they sounded close. I was friendly with several of our neighbors, two of whom were very elderly, so I assumed that something must have happened–a fall or worse.

A minute later, my cell phone rang. It was my husband. “The ambulance is at our house. Don’t panic. Lauren was choking but she’s fine now.” Ambulance? Choking? What? Panicking was an instinct not an option. I sprinted home.

When  I got there, the EMTs were loading Lauren, in her car seat, onto the stretcher. Still confused, I climbed in with her. They told me that she needed to go to the hospital to be checked out even if she seemed fined. Protocol I guess, for when anyone calls 911 for a child.

Before I could get the story about what had happened, we were off. Lauren fell asleep almost immediately so I called my husband and asked “What happened? What was she choking on?” He told me that she had been standing by the front door (she wasn’t walking yet) and suddenly he noticed that she was gasping and coughing. She turned bluish and her eyes rolled back in her head. He grabbed her and ran outside to the front yard so that he could try to clear her airway and yell to a neighbor to call 911 at the same time.

Since I had taken Infant and Child CPR and First Aid through the Red Cross before taking a job as a nanny, I had shown him the basics: Lay the infant face down across your arm with her head lower than her body, cradle her chin in your hand. With the heel of your other hand, thrust blows downward just below the baby’s shoulder blades. He did this and yelled for our neighbor to call 911. After a few tries, an earring back flew out of Lauren’s mouth and she began to breathe again. Phew. But the ambulance was already on its way. 18155

At the hospital, Lauren was examined and then X-rayed to see if she had swallowed a foreign object. Sure enough, there was an industrial-sized carpet staple sitting in her stomach. We guessed that both objects had been lodged in her airway and that one had gone up and one had gone down when my husband wacked her on the back saved her life.

As scary as that incident was, it was not the only time it happened. About six  months later, we had people over and someone gave Lauren half an olive to try. What we didn’t know was that she had a dry cleaning tag already tucked in her mouth. She began to choke again and this time I was the one who flipped her over and got the offending items out of her mouth. I was expecting only to find the half olive that she had been eating but was surprised to fish out the pink piece of paperboard as well. This time, we didn’t bother to call 911 since we could see that she was breathing normally right away. She was fine. I wasn’t though. I couldn’t believe it happened again. Where was she finding these things? We kept our house clean and I picked up “chokers” as I called any small item whenever I saw them. It just goes to show that you can’t prevent all accidents from happening no matter how careful you are. You have to be prepared for things to go wrong. Babies and toddlers have ways of finding the tiniest things in couch cushions, under area rugs and embedded in carpet pile. If there is something they can fit in their mouths, they will find it.

I’m awfully glad I learned those seemingly simple but life-saving techniques before I became a mother because when the time came, the motions were instinctual.

Have you had any close calls with your baby? Are you CPR and First Aid Certified and if not, to you plan to be?








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Last year I had a huge garden. I started my seedlings inside and by the time I transferred them to my garden plots, they were healthy little plants. I had yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beets, carrots, green beans and sweet peas. I even started a small strawberry patch on the side of my house. Unfortunately, due to a freak hail storm early in the summer of 2013, my plants were badly damaged and they spent a lot of time and energy regrowing broken and ripped leaves instead of producing a lot of food. In the fall, when I should have been harvesting what little my garden did produce, we experienced the 100 year flood here in Boulder. The four days of non-stop torrential rain effectively rotted what I had spent all summer tending after the damage from the hail. But at least, during the height of the summer, we were able to enjoy green beans, peas, and some tomatoes. And it looked good. For some reason that mattered to me. I took pride in the lush, leafy greenness that was exploding and overflowing over my little fence.

This year my garden suffered at the hands of another force of nature, even before I could transfer my precious sproutlings to the ground. It was not the destructiveness of a hail storm or too much rain. It was not searing temperatures and drought-like conditions, nor vegetation flattening gale force winds, but the complete and utter annihilation by a menace so fierce, so willful and so naughty, that even time-outs and scoldings couldn’t stop him. He goes by the name of Cooper and he can take corners on his scooter like Dale Earnheardt Jr. rounding the final bend of the Indy 500. And Cooper, much like the fans of car racing, really enjoys the crashes more than the smooth turns around the track.

My garden starts, set out on the patio, so that the early spring sun might coax the green buds from the awaking seeds, were a very gratuitous victim. He seemed to love the way the soil would jump out of the little pots and spread out into a black dust on the concrete. Then he’d drive over and over again through the black soil, admiring the patterns his tracks made. I’d run screeching from the house, trying to salvage the few survivors that I could. Cooper would rest his hands on his handlebars and survey the scene with an amused grin on his little face and say “Thowwy Mommy, it wath an athident.” Who can stay mad at a chubby three year old with a charming lisp?

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By the time my second round of starts of had been destroyed, partly by Cooper and partly by the cats who loved to chew the heads of the new plants off, I gave up. I decided to just throw my leftover seeds straight into the garden and consider myself lucky if anything came up.

My garden this summer, due to it’s late start and less ambitious tending, looks like something that was planted in a vacant lot in the middle of the city and then left to live or die on it’s own. My peas are wimpy, my green beans are patchy, my swiss chard is filled with holes and my cucumber plant is runty. If this garden was my sole source of food, I could very well starve to death.

I’m hoping that next summer Cooper will have a better understanding of gardening and will become interested in tending it rather than trampling it. Do you have a garden this year and if so, do your little ones like to help you with it? Or, like me, do you have to deal with two-legged garden pests?


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This past Thursday, July 3, I turned 40. I’ve tried to look at the passing of another decade in a positive light, despite the fact that part of me wishes I could stop time and stay young forever. But I can’t so the next best thing is to celebrate the life I’ve lived and hope to live at least another forty years.

My thirties were important years. I had every one of my three children between the ages of 31 and 37 years. My thirties were also incredibly hard as I often struggled with trying not to lose my own identity and yet not having a second to spare to be anything but “Mommy.” It’s been amazing and back-breaking at the same time–like the saying about parenthood, “The hardest job you’ll ever love.”

My husband asked if I wanted a party to celebrate my birthday and my response was “Heck, NO!” In many ways, this is symbolic of how I have changed and become more sure of myself and attentive to my own needs as I’ve gotten older. I need some “Me,” time and my husband and I need some more “Us” time.  I took matters into my own hands and booked us an overnight at the Patterson Hotel in Denver and arranged for a good friend to stay overnight with the kids. As much as I love the kids, the breathing room that comes with youngest now being three is nice. I don’t miss my babies, I love my kids.

We went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and went to an IMAX film about Pandas. We took our time at the exhibits, feeling like we had left someone behind, relishing being able to walk around without chasing, scolding, answering questions or taking someone to the bathroom. That evening we went to a nice dinner in downtown Denver and sat and talked and ate for two hours. I texted the babysitter a few times things like “I forgot to tell you, Cooper is REALLY scared of thunderstorms,” or “How are they doing? Is Kate behaving?” She texted back that everyone was fine and to stop worrying and enjoy myself–but the truth is, I was enjoying myself immensely.

The next day, we slept until almost eight. I was sure I would want to sleep until ten since the kids get us up so early everyday, weekend, summer break or holiday. But the ol’ internal clock has been forever changed since becoming parents and we couldn’t sleep any longer. When we arrived home on the fourth, the kids were glad to see us and we were glad to see them. We had all survived the night away and I think it was good for all us, not just my husband and me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Since it was the fourth, we immediately started getting ready for the parties we were planning to attend and began packing up the cooler and the swimsuits.

So how does forty feel? To tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel much different than thirty-nine. I think this decade is going to be epic for me and I’m ready to rock it. I’ll leave you with my  Facebook Status Update from Thursday, July 3, 2014:

There once was a woman from Boulder,
And quite snarky (or so everyone told her).
Despite turning forty
She said “I thank the Good Lordy!
And I hope to get even older!”

How do you want to celebrate your birthday this year? With the kids or without?