Mom in the Works

Mom in the Works: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Come Home Soon, Coco!

Things have been strange in the Kapellen household for the past 48 hours. On Monday evening, our sweet cat, Coco, slipped out of our apartment. No one saw her leave, so we didn’t know to go looking for her right away, and it wasn’t until much later that we realized she was missing. After scouring our entire apartment looking for her (I mean, we even searched in the washer and dryer), we could not find her. I remember the panic inside kept increasing as we searched every room with no success. Finally coming to the realization that she most likely escaped, Jake grabbed a flashlight and dashed outside to look. I, however, had to stay behind, as Joel was fast asleep in his crib. I felt so helpless, but tried to be hopeful. I tend not to cry right away when faced with difficult situations – they seem to take me much longer to process. So, I sat in shock, just waiting and waiting. Discouraged and upset, Jake came through the door without Coco. It was late, so we decided to quit our efforts with heavy hearts (what else can you do at 11:30 at night?), and settled into a relatively sleepless night.

Here's our Coco...almost always flopped over in some fashion. :0)

They say you “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” and I guess that goes for some things. However, the thing is that we love Coco and have appreciated every moment with her. She is the sweetest, most docile animal I have ever met.  Joel often nuzzles his drool-filled face all over her, pulls on her tail, and she doesn’t even care. In fact, she purrs through it and so fiercely that she twitches! I can honestly say that I’ve never met a happier cat, and if you know us well, we’ve probably told you all about her – she’s just that sort of cat. Or if you’ve visited our apartment, she’s probably flopped over on her back, begging for a belly-rub, and hopped onto your lap for a good cuddle. Joel squeals every time she’s near him and she constantly prods him to chase her around. Who couldn’t love a cat like that? Even if she weren’t so amazing, we’d love her anyway. I keep thinking that she’s here somewhere and that I’ll see her when I go outside, or glance out the window. 

What’s most heartbreaking is that Joel just learned Coco’s name recently, and if you ask him where Coco is, he will look around. Our other cat, Minnie, has been sniffing around for Coco and has incidentally been more snuggl-y than usual. Although Coco and Minnie weren’t necessarily the best of friends (mostly due to Minnie), you can tell that she is just waiting for Coco to chase her through the apartment or engage in a good wrestling match. We are all feeling her absence so acutely…

Even if you can’t change a situation, sometimes there is just relief in doing something. So, Joel and I donned rain jackets and walked around the neighborhood calling Coco’s name. The more I called to her, the more discouraged I became. My mind began to race. “What if she’s hurt? What if someone found her and decided that they’d keep her? Is she cold and lonely? Does she know how much we love her? What if we never see her again?”  Then, I began to feel desperate, and that’s when I lost it. Joel and I were in the middle of a nearby field looking for her (it was probably quite the sight…a mom carrying a baby in the mud, wandering aimlessly). I just sobbed. I hadn’t cried much until that point. I guess I was in shock and could hardly believe that she’s missing. When Joel noticed my tears, he just sweetly smiled. I am so grateful to have this wonderfully cute baby boy to cheer me up! 

At this point, I feel like we all could use a dose of cuteness:

That face! 

Though it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you lose your pet, it’s important to remember that there are many important action steps to take (and maybe some you haven’t thought of!). Here’s a summary of my findings from several websites, friends, and care representatives at animal shelters and veterinary clinics. Some are obvious, but I’m a person who appreciates a good list and helpful tips. J Please check your local humane society’s website for more search tips.

1)      Search – inside and out!  
·         Check behind drapes, under beds, ledges, any furniture, closets, etc. Search EVERYTHING in your home! [i]
·         Indoor cats are usually frightened when outside, and often will cling close to a building or hide in nearby bushes, and under cars or porches. Call out to your pet by her name, and bring a bag of treats along and shake them. Be sure that you've searched inside too.
·         Enlist friends and accept any and all offers for help. The more eyes you have out there, the better!
·         Think like your pet. Remember the “fun” activity for ice breakers where you have to pretend you’re an animal? Well, now’s your chance to re-live it. Try to think of where you’d hide or where you would go if you were your pet.[ii]
·         Go out at night when it’s quiet outside and call to your pet. Remember that cats are most active between the hours of 1-5 AM, so go outside and call to them.
·         Always keep in mind your pet’s personality when searching. Instruct others to use caution if your pet is skittish, or if your pet prefers adults to children, etc.

2)      Check your pet records.
·         If your pet has a micro-chip, look up the microchip company and contact them. Companies such as 24Petchwatch and Home Again will send an email blast to people in the vicinity. Be sure to have your micro-chip number handy!

3)      Make “lost pet” signs and post online.
·          Make signs with your contact information, and a picture/description of your cat, and your cat’s name. Be sure to include some key personality traits, like, “shy,” “vocal,” likes/dislikes, or any other distinctive traits. Remember that
·         Place these signs on traffic light poles, signs, etc. (it’s always a good idea to do an online search for any rules/regulations your city has about posting signs).
·         Ask local restaurants, businesses, schools, churches, etc., if you can post a sign on their bulletin board if they have one.
·          Also, put ads in your local newspapers, community newsletters, and Craigslist.
·         Hit up Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other social network you can think of.

4)      Get on the phone.
·         Call your local veterinary clinics, humane societies, as well as the police department. Often times, people will call veterinary clinics and the police because they aren’t sure whom else to call.
·         Along with calling the humane society, check their website daily for any postings of lost pets. Ask them if you can submit pictures and a description to keep on file.
·         Even better, visit there 2 to 3 times a week. You know your pet best, so you’ll be able to identify him quickly!

5)      Coax your pet to come home.
·         Place a bowl of water and their food dish either on your front steps, or better yet, crack your garage door a bit and put the dishes there.
·          Also, place out a blanket or pet bed with familiar scents of home. You may also go as far as to fill a box with litter (if you have a cat) and set that outside maybe alongside a favorite toy. The strong scent of the litter will attract your cat to her personal scent, and it will not attract other animals. These steps may seem crazy, but if your pet is still around your home, some comfort and familiarity may be enough to steer your pet back to you!

6)      Don’t give up!  
·         After a couple of weeks, re-post your signs with ones saying “still lost!”
·         I know that it’s hard (I’m there right now too), but remember that your pet can survive outside. If they’re thirsty, they’ll know to find water. If they’re hungry, they’ll keep searching until they find some. Know that many people are reunited with their animals days, months, and even weeks later!

I never thought that I’d experience losing a pet. As many unfortunate events in life, you just don’t think they will happen to you. And I suppose that’s a good thing. However, when horrible things happen, we should have hope, no, we must have it. Hope does more than get us through, it sustains us. I know this is when I personally must lean on God. I know that he answers prayers; and have seen much evidence of this in my life and in those close to me.

So, Coco, where ever you are on your grand adventure, we hope you are safe. Please enjoy your time exploring, but come home soon. When you’re ready to come home, we are here waiting with many hugs, snuggles, and treats! Baby Joel sends you a drool-y kiss!

[i] General Pet Searching Tips; Tips for Finding Lost and Missing Pets. 2000-2004. Retrieved from

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Being a "Glass House Mom"

This is it. My first post. I never thought I’d write for fun, let alone join the blogosphere. I have previously remained on the backdrop of social media and I rarely post much of anything publicly, so this is stepping out for me, to say the least. It’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with doing these; I just haven’t worked up enough courage to show complete strangers an image of myself that isn't perfect. I never have minded that others share glimpses of their stories with the world; I definitely respect them for that.  I just thought that my story was just too different or that I would be unfairly judged if I shared anything online other than happiness or “good” things. I didn't want to be thought of as a negative person. Being a perfectionist, I had trouble with sharing and embracing imperfection in my life.

And then I became a mother.

I became a mother to this wonderful, adorable (I know that I’m biased), little baby son named Joel. Every time I gazed at his tiny nose, the gentle curl of his eyelashes, I was smitten. Smitten! I didn’t think that there was any possible way that I could love another human with the fierce love of a mother. In fact, when we brought him home from the hospital, I wanted to hold him and stare at him all day long. My husband, Jake, and I felt immensely blessed to have a hand in creating this beautiful life and gift from God. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. If not, just trust me. You may be fortunate enough to find out someday. It’s amazing. I mean, look at this sweet, sleeping baby:

But, like all babies and children in general, they are difficult. Babies are by nature creatures that cannot do anything for themselves, constantly need attention, and seem to wake up just when you’re falling asleep at night. They may not even let you sleep for days. Days. And somewhere in the midst of your sleep deprivation, you’re supposed to find time to eat, go to the bathroom, and maybe even take a shower. It’s called parenthood.

Likewise, few things about Joel were easy in the beginning. If you knew us toward the beginning of Joel’s life and if we were lucky enough to have made it out of the house in one piece, you would have known that we were stressed. Stressed may not even be the appropriate word here…it was awful. We hardly slept and Joel would not nap for longer than thirty minutes without being held. I loved holding him and would have gladly held him 24/7, if I didn't have to perform any of the aforementioned activities for myself. Joel would cry at anything, he cried at nothing. He cried and cried and cried. However, thanks to the soothing methods championed by Dr. Harvey Karp in Happiest Baby on the Block, we were experts at how to soothe a colicky baby. That doesn't mean that it’s easy to keep this up around the clock, though. More to come on that in a later post. :0)

Obviously, I struggled. Who wouldn't? Things were just plain hard. Sometimes, I felt like I was drowning. I had no idea what we were in for (who really does until they actually become a parent, right?). I felt defeated, like I was a horrible mother, and at times it was hard to even like Joel at times. I LOVE my son so much and I would die a horrible death for him, but I definitely had moments of resentment, moments of weakness. And even though I had a loving group of mothers surrounding me, I still felt like I couldn't share those ugly inner thoughts. I felt like I just wasn't handling things well, so there must just be something wrong with me and not with the situation. Add to that a bit of sleep deprivation, and you have yourself a very cranky mommy. Of course there were many sweet and happy moments, but there were so many tough moments.

How did I survive? Through a couple of very loving friends (one of whom is not even a mother yet), I was encouraged, loved, and hugged. I realized that it’s totally understandable that I felt the way I did. Newsflash: I’m far from perfect.  Yes, I may post cute-sy pictures of my adorable son like everything is hunky-dory, but let’s face it. We all have baggage. We all have days that we just need to know that we’re not alone in our struggles and we need others around us to encourage and to discuss, experience, and embrace “real” life with. I'm so glad that because of God's grace, I don't have to be perfect! I’m also grateful that both my husband and another dear friend were able to extract my deep thoughts and feelings and help me through them. We all need honesty and we are all weak sometimes.

That’s why I’m writing this blog.

This is a blog for anyone (not only moms) to discuss, encourage, and experience life together. It is a place where we can feel free to express joys, fears, and frustrations about life situations. I’m hoping that I and any of you out there would be willing to share and commiserate honestly. We all have an image, a mask that we wear for other people, but I’m hoping to cut through the crap and share what’s really going on. I realize that we do not want to make our deepest darkest secrets public (in fact, I’d prefer that we wouldn't), but in our everyday lives, I’m challenging myself to be forthcoming with some aspects of my life, to be in a “glass house” if you will, meaning we will be transparent and authentic. Through that honesty, my hope is that we can laugh, cry, and even get to know one another through the process without fear of being judged.
And if you stick around, I promise that not each post will be so serious.  Like right now, why not lighten the mood with a cute picture of a baby?! Insert cuteness here:

 I also plan to talk about random, everyday life things and post my latest recipe and DIY attempts, which may or may not work out. I’ll even post “Pinterest Fails,” as, not if I have them, because they’re just plain fun.

So, I want to know - what were the most wonderful and the hardest parts of your first few months of parenthood?

*Photos courtesy of Reilly Images, LLC.

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