Thursday, January 11, 2018

One hot mess, all the live-long day

We've been having some rough mornings around here this week. Monday turned into an icky weather day which cancelled school, just like last Friday, so it's been extra hard to focus on a back-to-school routine. The only day they went last week was Thursday, their first day back. We got a solid Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday rhythm going but are facing a preemptive delay already for tomorrow morning. Given that they have Monday off for Martin Luther King Day, there is a very real possibility that we're staring down another four-day weekend. 

Send rum. And Samoas. Lots and lots of both.

This morning we went our usual rounds of "yes, you're going to school, so go XYZ123, etc" with the typical threats of violence and more than usual antagonism. Part of it I'll chalk up to hormones. The rest is just... I don't even know. 

At any rate, the big kids made it onto the bus without being maimed- always a plus. 

I come back in and am in the middle of round two of "yes, you're going to school, so go XYZ123, etc" again when Bosley starts that hurking sound that dog owners know immediately of which no good will come. Damon, transfixed and horrified until he realizes what's going to happen, just stands there... and then he bolts for cover. I'm hollering, "Bosley, Bosley, come, come, COME!" and he finally scurries over to me. Right after hurling on the carpet. Two inches from the linoleum. And it's not even Monday.

Mess number one cleaned up, dog deposited outside, Damon onto the bus. Whew.

Just usual messes for the next few hours: dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dog hair, dog hair, dog hair. I thought Triskal's fuzz balls were bad, but I really don't understand how a dog a fraction of her size can fill an entire lint trap with dog hair just from the kids' clothes. Boggles the mind.

The kids get home in shifts and I send Liam to the shower, forgetting for a few that we need to bring in more wood before the imminent weather. Oh well. Damon makes it home, we suit up in our raincoats (as it's 50+ degrees and muddy, in fact it's 54 right now at 9:30 PM) and, the directions were, "wear your rain/mud boots, because it's muddy out. No, don't wear your snow boots. It's muddy."

Liam apparently has no rain/mud boots which fit, so he's in his snow boots bringing in wood. And mud. Carrie chose to wear her new snow boots, which she loves, as she's bringing in wood. And mud. Damon and I wear our rain boots, after surviving the drama of the hunt this morning to find a pair that fit him before school. 

Now, bringing in wood is always a misadventure. I've tried varying the system, with varying degrees of success. The only method that seems to be efficient is if one parent loads up each kid outside while the other parent stacks the wood brought inside.

Well, Dada was at work, and since there's only me, this time I picked the outside job. It was springy and fresh and muddy and I'm just as susceptible (thank you, spell check, goodness) to cabin fever as the next mom (thanks for getting it together, Mother Nature {see previous post}). So I'm loading kids up with proportionate loads of wood and trusting their good judgment, spatial estimates, oh heck, I'm trusting them to let me know when we've gotten enough to fill two rows inside.   

Assuming we have enough, I release them to go play, more fool me. I sweep up the dead oak leaves and mud and end up at the indoor wood stacks which look like this:

Jiminy Christmas.

We could have gotten lots more in here, but it's too late now as the kids have scattered to the four corners. Damon, predictably, has attached himself to the couch and is playing on the Wii. Carrie is outside, somewhere, and no matter how much I call, I can't find Liam. 

I hear a knock at the back door, which is unlocked and the glass door is still, in fact, propped wide open from bringing in wood, because the top metal piece is stuck and though Carrie and I have both attempted to move it, it ain't budgin'. I see Carrie and Liam, who is strategically hidden behind his sister. 

"Um, okay, don't freak out. Don't be mad. We fell in a mud puddle. Well, Liam did, and his boots got stuck, and I tried to pull him out and it pulled me in and we're sorry." Liam surveys the scene, the penny drops, and he tips his head back to wail, "and I JUST took a SHOWER!"

They then burst into chuckles.

At which point I did what any mom would do. I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I didn't lecture. I did briefly consider attaching the hose to the house and just letting them have it, but I refrained.     

I closed the door. And locked it.

After more giggles and a shake of my head, I told them they were taking everything off out there and getting showers. They attempt to gather up their stuff and condense the mess while I get towels ready for them inside. The big kids are flummoxed as to how to get all the mud off their snow boots. This is where I point out that we're supposed to get snow again tomorrow, and their boots are sitting in the garage, encrusted in mess and no doubt soaking wet. Has this occurred to them? Survey says, "doubtful."

Dada arrives home and does a dead stop when he sees the collection of muddy pants and raincoats and towels...

He's quickly brought up to speed, the kids eventually make it out of the showers and come to dinner. Damon is finished before everyone else and is maybe mid-dessert course or maybe even finished (I was in the kitchen and by the grace of God missed all this), when somehow he knocked over Liam's cup of milk which, from the sound of it, cascades all over Liam's math homework packet and then more of the table. I took up my post of handing out towels and refrained from surveying the damage- Dada was home and it was his turn.

Damon ended up in the bathtub, which had more dog hairs in it than mud after Carrie's shower, surprisingly. Or maybe not so surprisingly as she is his clear favorite because she encourages all his bad habits...

Now we have three squeaky clean kids, one muddy dog, and I have to go assess the load that is done in the washer. I quit. Next time, Deloris can have her turn. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Mother Nature, we need to have a chat.

Dear Mother Nature,

Let's chat, mama-to-mama. 

I realize you have a whole lot on your plate. I get it. Perhaps you're hormonal. I get that, too. Maybe you need a vacation. I really dig it. Really. I'm tired of the lack of color and warmth and sunshine myself. 

But can I tell you something? Um, Ohio is a little farther South from the North Pole than you seem to think it is. We don't have or need polar ice or permafrost here. Temps below freezing for extended periods of time make us cranky, and will not, no matter how long you try to make those temps last, yield a crop of seals. The starving polar bears are not in Ohio, my dear. There are some in various zoos, yes, but to do the free ones any good, please send the snow and the ice and the frigidness North to where they are, so the seals can stick around and be snacks. 

See, here in Ohio we have children. Small people who eventually grow out of being children and turn into (hopefully) good people who will then have their turn ruling the world. In order to do the best possible job there, they first need something called an education. Education happens when people who truly care about kids teach them things like math and reading. And social studies and science and art and statistics and foreign language and music and how to play fair and how to take turns. There's this fun book by Robert Fulghum that goes into detail about these very important lessons. Put it on your reading list.

But Mother Nature, children don't always learn these things in the very best way when they're stuck at home for extended periods of time. Granted, the great outdoors is a wonderful teacher when it comes to patience and gravity and climbing trees and fishing and wind direction and seeds and critters of every kind, but when it is below freezing out the children get very cold. And crabby. And hungry. And wet. Then they would rather be inside, fighting with their siblings and ignoring their parents and and eating us out of house and home while requesting never-ending turns on technological devices which may or may not be good for their brains. I'm not sure if the evidence has come in on that yet. 

My particular brood of children have had one day of school since returning from their Christmas break. Only one. This is hopefully the last day of an unplanned four-day weekend. I ask you; does freezing rain really ever do anybody any good? I'm thinking logistically; wouldn't tiny birdie feet slide right around ice-glazed branches, making birds end up hanging like bats? And don't young animals have a hard time on slippery surfaces just like people do? I saw Bambi. 

So please. I'm asking as a mom, for more than one friend and on my own behalf, would you please, for the love of all good things, would you quit it with the crazy weather and let the children go to school? Winter is fine. Personally, I'd ask you to please make it brief, with less wind and more sun, but I can be realistic in knowing that there are legitimate months of Winter ahead. Just please, please, please let them go to school. I can fill up the bird feeders and help take care of yours if you can send a little help this way. Whaddaya say?

Forever yours,
Getting Desperate

Breakfast with the shorties

Some people enjoy their breakfast in peace. Others sit down with the entire family. Probably more eat in shifts, trying to get folks out the door to their respective destinations on time.

And then there's me. Minions, Yoda, General Grievous, and other assorted Lego people. Breakfast with the shorties, awwww yeah...

Friday, January 05, 2018

Some special kind of goober

And I'm not talking about the awesome Goober that is peanut butter and jelly in the same jar. That stuff is super when you're pressed for time or craving "let's go hiking at camp" food. You add it to your pack with apples and Capri Suns and cookies and head on out. 

No, I'm talking about this goober:

What kinda dummy takes a selfie with a phone that isn't hers in a bed which also isn't hers? This ding dong is in our bed and documented it. Clearly she has much to learn about stealth, evidence, and takin' it to the grave. 

Such a pickle

This is the jar which holds the pickles that I wanted to add to my sandwich on a cold and wintry day. The first day after winter break when all of our kids were back in school. The first day of quiet and peace and no whining and no arguing and no clomping around. The first day in which I could eat a meal uninterrupted. This is the jar of pickles which is still sealed.

That's right. I had struggled to open something else- I forget what now- and had mused about, "the joy of the Lord is my strength," and "if it was a life or death situation, you'd be able to get it open," when, lo and behold, I got it. I said my thanks and did my rejoicing. Then I realized that my sandwich still needed something and wished there were pickles in the fridge. There were no pickles in the fridge. There were, however, pickles in the pantry. 

Boosted by my previous success, I tried and I pried and I found the grippy which usual doesn't let me down and I attempted to get a knife edge under the seal and... nothing.

Defeated. By a jar of pickles. 

I hope this has no bearing on how the rest of 2018 will shake loose.

Seeing as the kids are all back home today after all of one day in school yesterday for a sub-zero temperature cancellation... I'm blaming the pickles.

*Thanks to Dada, who came home and opened my pickles and saved my bacon.* 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Bosley Fool Chronicles

Bosley Underfoot has been working hard to earn himself some nicknames. So far the clear fan favorites are Bosley Dunderbutt and Bosley Fool. Perhaps the images will illustrate further.

This is most assuredly not the stick I threw when calling, "fetch"...

In his defense, she did crash on it first. He thought it was something to attack and pull the fuzz off of.

"Mama says the new bed is for me. Will you share my new bed with me?"

These two have an interesting relationship, very similar to the one between the brothers. They're either wild about each other or snapping at each other. 

And this is Bos, most definitely not inside the garden behind the garage. Surely not. How in the world would he have gotten in there? Well, as he has both dug holes under and hopped over the fence into, who can say? I foresee a new and improved and hopefully Bosley-proof fence before any gardening is happening next spring...

Who me?

Feathered friends. And Fatty.

We are greatly enjoying our feathered friends' visits:

And then there are the piggies... 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Those of you on Facebook have already heard me grinch about the white fluffy stuff falling from the sky. It looks like it has stopped for the nonce, but these were taken this morning as soon as it was light enough for the camera to behave itself. We have at least 2.5" now and I hear the plow working on our street as I type. 


Once again, "the woods are lovely, dark and deep..."

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The post that I don't even know how to write


There comes a part in every story that we have mixed feelings about. Sometimes we can't wait for the ending to arrive so that the assignment is over or because we have something else we want to do or because we've lost interest or because it's breaking our hearts.

Sometimes we don't ever want the story to stop. We simply must know what happens next, if they lived happily ever after,  if they got what they deserved (especially the bad guy), and what about               ?

Probably 95% of you reading this already know through Facebook or texts that Thursday night, November 2nd, we had to put down a friend. A roughly one hundred pound friend who was covered in fur. And leaves. And dirt. And, if I'm being honest, which I am trying to be, urine. And bumps and lumps in different spots. But covered completely in love and tears and sadness. 

She had cataracts and couldn't see well. She had some hearing loss, which was more funny than awful, especially when you'd walk behind her and go where she wasn't expecting you to be. Then you'd call her, and your voice would bounce off the house or the shed or the garage in a funny way to confuse her, and even though you're calling louder and louder and clapping, there she goes, heading further away from you while trying to find you. Even with incontinence meds, she was peeing in the house, not on purpose, just because, I think, she couldn't tell anymore when she needed to go. She was drinking more water than ever. She needed something behind her to push against so she could get her weight up enough to pull her back legs erect. She'd lean into walls to slide down against so she could sit or nap. She was squatting and sitting very, very slowly, clearly aching. It was breaking our hearts.

But she was still so sweet, so happy to see anyone who came over, so happy to have her kids lay on her, to have Bosley curl up behind her or halfway on top of her. She was happy to ramble wherever we'd let her roam. She was eating,  still loving carrots and apple pieces as much as ever. She was as patient as could be expected with a not-even-six-month-old puppy gnawing on her legs or chomping on her ears or getting his teeth caught in her fur even though she could have knocked him into next week or sat on him and squeezed him into submission. She tried so hard to get up quickly to greet visitors, even to the point where some of them said, "oh, you sweet thing, you don't have to get up for me!" 

We have a Newfoundland sized hole in our hearts, in our home, on our deck, under her tree, in our lives. 

We talked with our good friend who is also a vet and made arrangements for the last decisions we could make for the best of her life. We filled her last, large dinner with carrots and broth on top and I don't know how she did it, but she ate it all. We packed up the kids and both dogs and went to a park a few streets away where we wandered around for a last walk. She made us laugh by avoiding most of the puddles; ever the Newfie who couldn't pee in the rain because she might get wet, the Newfie who knocked children into swimming pools instead of pulling them out, the Newfie who we've loved for just shy of twelve years.

The time span got me thinking about how many people we have met while we've had her. We got her in March of 2006, before we knew our Zita and her family, which means before I was in any moms' groups here so we didn't know most of our neighbors or people we've been doing life with for over a decade now. She was my first dog. Liam was born only a few months before we got her, Carrie was not quite three. She was there to help us welcome Damon home- he's never known a life without her. She's been around longer than any of our nieces and nephews. She's spent time at camp, time at softball games, time with the neighbors, time at our big parties and at our small home groups. She accepted everyone and only ever barked at meter men. She was so quiet that when she did bark, she surprised herself as much as us. 

After the park we went to our closest ice cream place and treated both dogs and ourselves. Even then she was making us laugh, lapping up the ice cream with that huge pink tongue, chomping the tiny dog biscuit, and then attempting to devour the styrofoam cup. 

Then our sweet friend came over with her husband and medication to put her to sleep and then to stop her heart. I suppose it's a cliche, but it was heartbreaking on more than one level. To see even our friend crying was so hard. To see our kids so bravely facing every minute of it revealed a fierce pride and another layer of hurt that we can't protect them from pain or from death or from the loss of a friend. 

To those of you saying, "yes, and they'll get over it- it's just a dog," I don't even know what to tell you. You're right. We will get over it, though not soon. You're right. She was a dog. I thought that many times myself. "She'll be okay outside while we're gone. She's a dog." "She doesn't need that. She's a dog." "She doesn't understand. She's just a dog." True. But not helpful when you contrast that with all the times she cracked her huge old head off the underside of the kitchen table just so she could lay that head on your leg while wagging her huge tail at you. Or how patient she was to come inside and sit, every single time, to have her paws wiped even when sitting was painful and slow and balancing was hard. Or how you could lay up against her and read and she would just breathe, warm and fuzzy, behind you. How she was happy to help earn her keep by licking off plates before they headed into the dishwasher. How she teethed on and ruined the set of wooden nesting penguin dolls the kids had when they were tiny. How she perked up every year when fall rolled around and how she loved bounding through snow. How embarrassed she was for days after getting her summer shaved haircut and pink bows on her ears. Yes, she was a dog. But she was a heavyweight in our family. 

Movies have helped. Dada missed both of them, but the kids and I have seen "Inside Out" which is all about feelings and how they work together, and "A Dog's Purpose" which showed a neat twist about a dog being brought back as a different dog each time he died. The movies have helped us talk through sadness with glad memories and use our imaginations. She may never become a police dog as she had zero aggressive bones in her body, but she would make an excellent therapy or helper dog for someone somewhere. I've been getting book recommendations too- thank you for those. Technology has played a part as we've taken pictures and videos that we will treasure. Carrie has also done artwork that will be priceless to us down the road. Bosley is also helping despite his bewilderment as to where his playmate and snuggle buddy has gone, and we're so glad we got him before we lost her. 

To those of you who have expressed condolences and sent prayers our way, we thank you. It means a lot that you understand. It means even more that you liked her, too.

RIP Triskal Sarabella - You were so loved. 
December 15, 2005- November 2, 2017

Guest post, photos by Damon

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

I figured everyone could use something warm and colorful to look at before I attempt to clear some photos off of my phone in order to free up some storage. These were taken at the White Turkey Drive-In in Conneaut, Ohio by Damon in July when we picked him up from a stay at Pap's. Someone has an appreciation for flowers. 

This last one was taken at Camp Lambec in Pennsylvania. That's Lake Erie behind us. It's one of too few pictures we have featuring all of us. 

Maybe this kiddo will follow in his uncle's footsteps and work in photography someday. Or maybe he just liked sneaking off with my phone...