Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Episode IV: A New Hope for the kids to sit at the Cool Kids Table

I believe that the children are our future....
and I'm pretty sure it means that means in our future, the ladies will be wearing long white robes and rocking the cinnamon roll side buns. Fashion in the future should make  things pretty easy to discern who is evil, because they will be wearing a black cape. 
Star Wars fever is alive and well in our house.  Even Mr. Man has it and is drooling at the thought of picking up this:
Genius idea Mr. Lucas!  It's AV Geek meets Star Wars Nerd to produce the most exciting invention of all time. (Next to Star Wars Legos!) 

Last night as I checked on the kids before retiring for the night, I realized my kids have little hope for popularity with parents like us.  Which lead me to my scientific finding....  Nerdery isn't s biological condition, but a learned one.  Sorry kids...  but at least you'll always have someone to battle light sabers with!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Zoey, Inspired by Mr. Man, Saved by Mr. Vet

We made the decision to put Sandy to sleep after pondering the idea for several weeks.   It was a decision, neither Mr. Man or Moi wanted to make.  It didn't feel like it should be our decision.  Mr. Man especially couldn't fathom life without Sandy or Skoopi.  Unfortunately, Skoopi was starting to refuse food and we knew her time was coming to end.   Sandy's body started failing and we knew that this was the right decision for her.  We had never once imagined in the dog's lifetimes that they would go at the same time. 
 During the week of September 12th, we had an appointment for Sandy later in the week to be put to sleep.  The mood around the house was blue, and tears flowed freely.  We watched TV on the floor, spoiled Sandy with food she shouldn't eat, took Skoopi on hikes and spent every minute with our dogs. 
The family was a wreck, no one was handling this situation well.  I know, they are just dogs, but it still felt like we were losing our best friends.  Mr. Man woke me up late one night and said, "We need to get a puppy right now and I found one on the internet."  I went through 100 reasons why we should wait several months.  Finally, he broke down and said, "I can not walk into this house without a tail wagging to greet me, I just can't.  I don't think the kids can either, they don't know any different."  Those words resonated, especially when Mr. Boy would greet me from school with tear filled eyes and ask, "Did Skoopi come in the car to pick me up today?"
On  September 15th, we said goodbye to Sandy, and I'm not going to lie it was terrible.  I had underestimated how hard it would be on the children.   I hadn't planned on them reaching over to pet Sandy while playing xBox only to realize she was not there anymore.  After some sound advice from a professional on children's grief, I was reassured a puppy is not going to interrupt the grieving process, it would ease the transition.  Her professional opinion was, "Get a puppy, ASAP"
 And so Zoey, joined our family in time for Skoopi to teach her how to take the kids to school. 
And the smiles that had disappeared started to make appearances.
Among the tears of grief, there was laughter sprinkled in.

I learned there is nothing better for a grieving heart than puppy love. 

On Monday, September 19th, everything went wrong.  Skoopi was miserable, and we knew without a doubt what the right thing was to do.  Zoey had not been feeling well that morning, and by the afternoon she was limp and lifeless.  We took Zoey and Skoopi to the vet.  Immediately, the vet and his team started to work on Zoey.  The vet told us, "I am so sorry, this is a very sick puppy.  The next 24 hours will be critical, and we won't know the outcome until then." 
Then we said goodbye to the world's best dog.  Skoopi eagerly and peacefully left this world.  I'm convinced her first stop on the way to heaven was to get a bite to eat.  She had lost half her body weight in 4 months. Then we went home, empty handed to a house with "no wagging tails there to greet us."   The silence in our house that night was deafening.

The next 24 hours were miserable, waiting for word from Mr. Vet. This is the same vet that saved Sandy from Parvo 14 years ago.  The vet told me later, that he did not sleep at all, knowing Zoey's life was in the balance.  "This family cannot lose three dogs within five days."  Zoey showing signs of Sandy's determination and Skoopi's loyalty to our family, pulled through.  Mr. Vet saved her and she came home to rejoin the family she was meant to be with.
And when Mr. Man came home that night from work, there was this little tail there wagging to greet him.
 Just like how it should be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meet Miss Puppy

Meet Zoey,  an impulse decision, made by Mr. Man who thought that she was a lot cheaper than all the therapy the kids are going to need after what they have experienced in the last year, or even just the last week.  The kids have learned to grieve enough this year, they don't need to wallow anymore.
 I'm not gonna lie, Mr. Man was right on this one.   She is providing a whole lot of love to those who are hurting the most.  There are broken hearts, in need of mending.
 For me, this was the moment where I exhaled for the first time in a week.  Thank goodness for puppy love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where the Red Fern Grows

Dearest Skoopix, 
There has been a terrible twist of fate in our house this year.  Sandy was "circling the drain" for 2 years, but too stubborn to succumb.  Around April we started noticing you were slimming down,  you had just returned from a month with my dad, and we thought it was just the extra exercise. 
After a few months we realized you were getting very thin and we started the process of trying to figure out what was going on. Every morning you would wander out the back gate and go off on your own adventure.  Pretty soon, you stopped doing that, and we knew something was very wrong.  Every single test came back normal.  The only thing they could guess is stomach cancer. Damn Cancer.  It robs me of my mom and now you.  I wouldn't allow them to do the invasive procedures to confirm it and for that I am sorry but I didn't think it was fair to subject you to that. 
 Skoopix, you are the sweetest most loyal dog.  I wish I could clone you... I wish I could fix you, but you are losing your battle. You have not eaten for a few days and you are miserable.  
Even the deer have noticed the change in our house, and have been keeping a vigil for the last few days.
 Skoopi, I just don't know how we are going to live without you.  You are the sweetest dog, and you are my dog.  You follow me everywhere, and are very content being part of the family.   Shortly after we moved to Los Angeles, sensing my anxiety about sending the kids off to school, you decided to get a job.  Your job was to take the kids to school, and you did it well.  Every morning you sat by the car waiting to take the kids to school.  You rode in the back and made sure each one got there safely.  You would be right there by the car when it was time to pick up too.  It was uncanny that you knew the timing of pick ups, especially considering some days I was confused on the timing. 
 Skoopi you are the most obedient dog.  You never needed a leash on walks and you never jumped on people unlike Sandy.  You never attended obedience school, but you were the most well behaved dog I've ever met.  Some might say it was because your brain was too small, but Mr. Man is convinced it's because your heart is so big, you wouldn't ever want to disappoint.
Skoopi, you have been the most loyal companion and I wish I could clone you.  I would love to have a whole herd of dogs like you.  On my worst days you would come up and give me a little nudge to show me you care.  I loved that, you were very in tune with my mood. 
 I could always count on you Skoopi to watch over the kids.  With the exception of the last few weeks, you have been always keeping a watching eye over the children.  You love them and know that they are your responsibility.  You are the ultimate family dog, anxious to join in the fun.  
 Oh Skoopi, if I could somehow make this all go away, I would wave a magic wand in a heartbeat. I would give anything to heal you, and we tried Skoopi.
I don't know how our little family is going to go on with out you.  I know in my heart it is the right thing to do, you are so miserable. It's not fair to let you suffer.  When we brought you home 11 years ago, we had no idea you would and Sandy would go at the same time.   You and Sandy were bonded and never liked to be apart.  On vet days, you would both be kenneled together, Sandy would keep you calm and you kept Sandy out of trouble.  The two of you remind me of the book Where the Red Fern Grows.  I love you both so much, it is going to take a long time to heal from your passing.
 Skoopi, thank you for being the most loyal faithful friend.   I will miss you with all my heart, please watch over us.  Until we meet again my friend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saying goodbye to my best friend.

Dearest Sandy, 
The last fourteen years have been the greatest gift and you have been a bright spot in my life.  Now, we are facing some tough decisions.  Sandy, your body is failing, even though your spirit is strong and willing. You are unstoppable in most situations, the most determined dog on the planet.  You were diagnosed with cancer two years ago, it spread to your lungs, and you have a cough that sounds almost human.  The vet gave you 4-6 weeks to live and you are too stubborn to give in.  You kept on going for two more years but now I can feel the clock winding down. Going for walks is too difficult and those hind legs of yours seem to have a mind of their own.
Last month I took you to the vet for your vaccines, and the vet sat down on the floor with me, while she looked you over.  She looked deep into your eyes and said, "Wendy, it's time to think about letting our old friend go.  She is trapped in a body too feeble to house her big spirit."  I drove home and cried saying, "I just can't do it, I can't make this decision. It's not my call."    
As the month went on though, we could see signs, you are frustrated with your body, and this weekend, you took a turn for the worse.
This last month has been a gift, Sandy.   You have been spoiled and pampered even more than normal. We have savored every minute of it.
 Unfortunately, Skoopi has been deteriorating over the summer too, and we never thought we would lose both of you guys at the same time. You remind me of Where the Red Fern Grows , you and Skoopi just can't live without one another. 
Mr. Boy is having a tough time with the thought of losing you. You are best friends.  Ever since he was a baby, you would watch over him.  You would sleep by his crib and come and get me when he stirred.  He would lay on you and read books, and you never seemed to mind.  Even now, he comes to you and "wrestles" with you in the most gentle way.
Promise me, Sandy, if I release you from this body you will not hold it against me and that you will watch over this boy from heaven.  He loves you so deeply, I worry that your absence will leave a hole in his heart too big to heal.  Thank you Sandy, for being his best friend. 
Thank you Sandy for being my friend and companion for the last fourteen years.  You were the best friend any gal could have.  I know you didn't mean any ill will when you ate my earrings, 4 necklaces, and wedding rings. You are forgiven.  Will you forgive me for trying to make you swim?  You are a Labrador, a water dog after all. 
 I will miss having you lay on the couch with me every evening, You were my armrest for a thousand plus movies.  You were my companion during the day and when Mr. Man was gone.  Mr. Man never did figure out that you slept in our bed on the nights he was out of town.  One time you jumped into our bed on accident when he was home.  You saw him lying there and jumped off, giving me a look of, "Oh shoot, did I just blow our cover?" 
 I will miss your ears so much, how they bounced up and down when you walked.  Your ears were two sizes too small, but they made your face so much more expressive. 
 Some speculate your ears were a side effect of your bout of Parvovirus when you were a puppy.  Sandy when you were a puppy, you had been with us three days when you became extremely sick.  We took you to the vet and he said, "We have a 50/50 chance of saving this dog."  We put every last dime towards saving you, and it was worth it.  Some vets think the Parvo stunted your ear growth, who knows, but it fits your personality so well.
There are so many things I will miss and my heart hurts thinking about you won't be there by my side.  You have the snortiest snore I have ever heard.  The first night we brought you home, you would howl like a dog followed by a snort that sounded just like a pig.  I have always thought you were half Labrador, half Pig.  Plus you have an appetite like a pig as well.  You will eat just about anything, especially metal.  When the kids were in highchairs you quickly learned to lay nearby to catch the falling food.  You gained 10lbs with each toddler. 

Mr. Man has had the toughest time coming to this decision. Sandy, we didn't want to have to do this, but we know it's the right thing to release you from your body.  You can not stand it when people are in the hot tub.  You come over and bark and try to get us to get out of it.  It's as though you think we are being cooked to death.  Last week, Mr. Man and I watched you come out of the house with wild determination to let us know, "YOU ARE BEING COOKED! GET OUT!"  You climbed down the back step only to have your hind legs come out wildly flailing behind you.  You flailed and ended up rolling down the step with a flip, it caused your cough to flare up. It was a sad sight to see.   We want you to be able to run and jump again.  Mr. Man wanted you so bad that he talked to our landlord for a year to try and get him to allow a dog. When I saw Mr. Man with you as a puppy, I knew he'd make a great father some day.

One day Sandy, we were home alone in our little house in LA.  Mr. Man was gone on  a trip, and there was a knock on the door at 9pm.  I opened it and it was a man who claimed to be selling cleaning supplies.  He told me, "Put away your dog and let me come in and clean your windows."  Something didn't feel right, and you growled at him and started barking ferociously. I did not let the man in.   The man then said, "Is the dog going to bite me?"  I said, "Yep, I think you should move on to another house"  and closed the door.  I'll never know that man's intentions, but I what I do know is that you made a great guard dog, when it counted. 
Sandy, I can not help but think of you when it rains. It rained non-stop when you were a puppy.  That second night we had you home, it rained buckets.  I got up at 3am to let you go outside to "do your business" and you just wanted to play in the mud.  Mr. Man came out to join us and we stood in the rain holding hands watching you play.  Mr. Man whispered, "My life just keeps getting better and better.  I love my life."  
Then it rained buckets as I drove you to the vet, in a box on the front seat.  I had never been more terrified in my life. You prepared me for motherhood and you prepared me for those trips to the ER. You were the silent loyal companion, who was always on my side. 
 I know you are just a dog, Sandy.  It may seem silly to write a note to you, but you are my dog and I love you.   So now I am giving you a gift of going peacefully onto the next life.  May we be reunited many years from now.  Thank you Sandy, for the memories, for being my friend, and for loving me with your whole heart.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I need a spray paint genius!

 I'm posting these pics as a sneak peek into my new project and also, what in the world is WRONG with my spray paint. 
Why am I getting these crackly spots all over my chairs?  I'm using Rustoleum's White Satin, per my favorite faux twin sister's instructions.  (Also, she is hosting the world's nerdiest yet awesomest giveaway on her blog.)  For the most part it is going well, with the exception of five crackly spots.   I've sanded this section down and re sprayed again, but now it's crackling again.
 Anyone?  Hello?  Is this thing on?
Once I get this figured out, I can't wait to show you a project I decided to do on a whim one morning.  Like any other project, it's led to another project, and then another.  Pretty soon, I'll be tearing down the Chalet and starting all over. Somewhere Mr. Man just read that and fell over dead.  Oh, who am I kidding he doesn't read my blog. 
Okay, seriously, I need spray paint help! Who has the answer for me?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dear Children, 10 years ago today on September 11th, 2001

Dear Children, 
Ten years ago today on September 11th, 2001, the world as I knew it changed.  Tonight we talked all about the events that took place 10 years ago today, and why we should remember those who died on that tragic day. 

I want you to know that there will be moments in life where everything changes in a single moment, and I want you to remember something.... America is resilient.... and you especially... are resilient.  Things may change, but you have the power to make the best of things and carry on.  

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, your Dad and I were getting ready for an early work day.  Daddy had an early morning meeting and then he was off to the airport.  It was nearly September 15th a big tax deadline for my job, and work was busy.  Dad was listening to the radio while taking a shower and the radio show was talking all about how a plane had crashed in the World Trade Center Tower.  Daddy had just gotten back from New York a few weeks earlier and ran out to turn on the TV in our bedroom.  He told me, "That building is so tall, how are they going to repair it?"  I remembered telling him, "You're dripping on the floor!"  It seemed so trivial now to be worried about the wet floor. 

I sat up to watch, and I couldn't fathom how they would ever put the fire out, but Dad was confident they could stop the fire.  We watched the second plane hit, which just looked like an explosion.  It took a few moments to realize what had just happened and then that was the moment where everything changed.  

When I realized this was not an accident, but an attack, a premeditated orchestrated plot.... life as we knew it changed.  Somehow, I had been the smug American who thought we were invincible, but in reality we were vulnerable to terrorist attacks just like any other nation.   

At this point, Daddy had to leave for his meeting, he is ever so diligent.  I sat there in bed, stunned, and scared, thinking... I should head into work, but I can't everything seems so trivial and trite.

Then there are reports that the Pentagon has been hit and I start to panic.  There are lots of misreported stories, someone mentions a car bomb has gone off in front of a federal building, which was false. The White House is evacuated (true), and I remember thinking, "What do I do now?"  

Flight 93 crashes into the ground in Pennsylvania and I start to panic, the attacks are moving west.  I call your dad, he assures me he is on his way home.  I call my friend Laura who tells me, "This is crazy... what is going on?" I then call my own dad who reassures me that I will be okay, but store some water just in case we are stuck at home for a while.* 

My dear children, here is the thing that is amazing to me, ten years later I can still recall all these details and my heart pounds as I relive those moments.   This was a defining moment in history, and I watched it all unfold.  My tale is not harrowing, I was not in New York or on one of those flights, and for that I am filled with immense gratitude. 

Your dad and I stayed home from work for three days.  We were glued to the TV, watching the stories unfold, trying to figure out where some of our friends were.  America is resilient, people turned to their faith, people were genuinely concerned for one another.  I remember the checker at the grocery store asking me with sincerity, "How are you?" Instead of these attacks ripping us apart, it made us stronger and more united as a nation.  This is the lesson I want you to take away from 9/11, learn from America. When a crisis happens to you, your family, your nation, it can either tear you apart, or make you more united.  This is a choice you can consciously make as you face the trial head on and I'm hoping your remember to stand united. 

May we remember those who lost their lives, their families, and may we never forget to stand united as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
*PS If Dad ever tells you his side of 9/11, he will probably tell you that he came home to find me in my Underwear, Galoshes, wearing a tin foil hat, filling up buckets of water in the backyard...  I want you to remember, I don't handle emergencies well and I wasn't wearing a tin foil hat.  Unfortunately, the rest is true.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Back to Stupid School

Back in the days before I had children, I knew EVERYTHING about child rearing.  Seriously, I was the worlds greatest mom before I had children. One childless evening, I was discussing school with a good mom friend of mine.  She had five children, all school age, and was mourning the end of summer.  I thought any mom would be thrilled to send her children off to school and indulge in six glorious hours of "me time."  

Guess what, the "me time" is a grand illusion, because school is evil and sends home mounds of paperwork for mom to fill out.  Schools often guilt you into joining organizations and take on projects that suck up the me time. Then there are other projects, house, tidying up, work, and otherwise that cut into the me time.  The evil, stupid school also implements "staggered schedules" which means you drop child A off at some crazy pre-dawn hour,  come home get child B ready and send off to school.  Then you have about 11 minutes of "childfree time", before you have have to pick up Child A.  It's probably a good thing I only have two children for now.  I can barely handle.... any of it. 

Then when your children arrive home, it's like the equivalent of an Ironman Triathlon trying to fit in homework, reading, scouts, tutoring, sports, dance, all into a limited amount of time before bedtime.  The kicker is that at some point you are all supposed to sit down and have dinner together.  Your husband comes home at some point and the house you spent your "me time" tidying up looks as though a tornado came through it.  He then scratches his head and says, "Wow... I thought you would have cleaned up."

Here's the real reason I hate having the kids go back to school:  
I suck at being a responsible school mom.  

I love summer, I love the routine of lazy mornings, swimming in the afternoon, and everyone is in pajamas and exhausted by 6pm.  We have a family dinner, read a book or two, have a Popsicle and it's off to bed.  

I am terrible at homework, I feel like such a nag.  I never seem to remember to send back the right paperwork at the right time.  I LOATHE packing lunches, Mr. Boy doesn't like sandwiches. 

DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON AK'S START TIME.  She starts school at 4am this year.  Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, and it's really 5am.  I can not tell you how many times I got AK dressed while she was sound asleep last year, put her in the car, still snoozing... and had to jostle her awake enough to stagger into class.  Then to have to do it again this year.... I'm contemplating homeschooling.  I just can't do it anymore.  Poor AK, comes to her senses sitting on a rainbow rug in class, fully dressed and wondering how she got there and why is she wearing the skirt that she hates. It wasn't fun last year and I have a feeling it won't get any easier this year. 

My attitude totally stinks and I totally know it. When the kids were telling Mr. Man all about their teachers with enthusiasm, Mr. Man whispered in my ear, "Wouldn't it be lovely if their attitude rubbed off on you?" Touche Mr. Man... Touche!   
We started the school year with our traditional back to school feast of Pancakes and Pizza.   We talked about our hopes and goals for the school year.  I reminded the kids that as a family, we try our best, we are obedient and most importantly we are grateful for what we have.  I'm not sure they listened, but they loved their mask, and they look forward to this dinner.
We unveiled the new theme for the year, which is...
Be Dynamite! Or as Mr. Boy spells it "Dinomite!"  This was Mr. Boy's favorite song over the summer, and he wanted it to be played over and over.  So, this year it's our theme, to be dynamite, an all star, and try our best at everything we do.
The next morning Mr. Boy was anxious to get to school.  It was a 100 degrees but he insisted on this ensemble. Seriously, I love this boy, he is stylin. 
AK doing her "Toddlers and Tiara's" pose.  I love that she paired this dress with loud socks and riding boots.  When it came to dropping the kids off, I turned to them in the car and said, "Alright, here's your chance... we start the car right now and head down to Disneyland this very minute or school, your choice."  They both picked stupid school over Disneyland.  Lame. 
Mr. Boy was way too cool to be seen with me.  He kept saying, "Mom, I'm fine... gooooo." 
I ran home after dropping them off and tried to wade my way through the pile of stuff I had stacked on my desk to be dealt with after school starts.  I think I made it through 1/16th of the stack, and it was time to get AK. 
She ran out with a smile on her face, and announced that this would be her best year ever!  As she walked  with her friend talking about the best parts of their day, I felt my attitude melt a bit.  But I still couldn't help but wonder, "How many more days until summer?"