Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Kids Are Thankful for...

The girls climbed into bed with us this morning and snuggled in.  "Happy Thanksgiving!" Kate chirped.  We asked them what they're thankful for.

"Pancakes!" Sarah shouted.
Kate began, "I'm thankful for the award my teacher gave me for my diorama, my dance teacher, not living in an orphanage, corn, my DVDs [she is actually still listing these out individually as I write this], chiropractors, dresses..."

The list continues.  Poor Sarah, we didn't even make pancakes this morning.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Aquarium - Disney Whore

Today we skipped gymnastics.  Instead, we headed to the aquarium where any little girl dressed like a princess would get in free and get to meet scores of real princesses and play with frogs, all in honor of the upcoming release of Disney's new film - The Frog Princess.  We're members, so getting the girls in free is not exciting to us, and we're well aware this was a giant marketing event.  We willfully embraced it because our kids love to put on princess dresses and go out and they love the aquarium.  You've won this round, Disney.

Kate and Sarah got to meet Jasmine, Ariel, Pocahontas and the new chick, Tiana.  You can tell Kate thought they were the real ones, because she was totally star-struck.  Then we learned all about frogs.  The girls snatched up yummy food with their party horn tongues, just like those party-frogs like to do it.  Then came the hunger.  We left to get some barbeque from Fox Brothers - out on the patio in fine weather.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

AM shower time

If I ever want to shower in peace I have to get up before the girls and be quick about it or do it late at night.  Otherwise, I can count on at least one little kid plastered up against the shower door, demanding I write letters in the steam for them.  This morning it was Kate.  She chattered away for a bit while I kept saying "what's that Kate?  It's hard to hear you over the water...speak up".  Then she started doing the pee-pee dance and disappeared into the little water closet.  From there, she began talking to me again.

"Whawha wha wha wha wha..."  she said.  "WHAT?"  I called back.  At the exact same level, she repeated herself.  I began to worry slightly.  Often there are toilet-related issues, especially in my bathroom where the toilet is slightly higher and the toilet paper, on a light stand, is often placed out of the reach of little ones.  They are impatient and the whole thing can turn out...messy.  "Honey I can't hear you, is everything okay over there?" I called to her.  Same thing, still much too quiet.  Now it was taking awhile and I began to fear the sort of mess one doesn't wish to face first thing in the morning.  I raced to shave that last bit of leg and rinsed off.  I turned off the water and hurriedly patted myself dry while still trying to coax the issue out of her, if for no other reason than to steel myself.  "What did you say Kate?  I couldn't hear you."  At that point, all I did hear was her exasperated sigh.  Why on earth was she still on the toilet?

I all but fell out of the shower and peered in at her.  There she sat, calmly atop the throne (where the princess belongs, right?), toilet paper easily in reach.  Relieved, I said "now, what were you trying to tell me?"

"I said, " she explained "that coral snakes are very dangerous."

Looking at my leg, I noticed an entire segment I'd missed with the razor.  "Yes they are" I agreed "deadliest bite in all of North America."  Some day, I will again enjoy the luxury of standing in a steaming shower for no good reason except that it feels nice, if only for a few blissful moments...this is a dream on to which I hold tightly.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yesterday we were excited because, even though her appetite had not returned, Lola’s surgery was moved up and we were told we may be able to bring our 3-legged dog home as early as today. Jeremiah received a call from the vet (Village Vets, they were awesome) much too early. She said that when she shaved Lola to prep her for the operation, Lola began to bruise everywhere. She had no idea why this would be happening. When she did another blood test she found that Lola’s platelet count had pretty much bottomed out. Based on that, there was very little chance Lola would survive surgery, possibly even with a blood transfusion. They couldn’t put the surgery off any longer, because if her leg remained attached to her that could kill her.

Jeremiah and I rushed to the animal hospital. Lola lay on a table, already anesthetized, with a breathing tube in, her loose tongue clamped out of the way. She was covered in a towel and some sort of surgical blanket thing into which they were pumping (I assume) warm air. The vet showed us all the bruising. She was so shocked, I worried she might start crying. Jeremiah and I sat with Lola for awhile. We knew what we needed to do but neither of us wanted to say it out loud. We scrubbed her head, the little brown goober marking right on top. I leaned down and nuzzled her ultra-soft ear so I could feel it against my cheek one last time. Then we gave the vet permission to put her down. She’s been cremated and we will scatter her ashes right in our yard, over her favorite sun spot, where our vegetable garden will be planted.

Right now, we are sad beyond the telling of it. When I came home yesterday, she wasn’t watching me from the window in the TV room, and she didn’t run to the door to greet me, or leap in the air when I walked in. There was no need to do my regular recon in search of destroyed objects we failed to secure during the morning’s puppy proofing. We miss our dog. I cannot begin to count the miles she and I have walked together. We could not go anywhere in the house without her being under foot. When I showered, I always had to convince her to move so I could open the shower door to get out. She used to wake me up in the morning by tapping me with a paw so I would let her climb into bed with us. When Rex made a break for it and got outside, she always let us know. I once watched her herd him back inside. 

She guarded her babies so well we could not even bring her to the park when they went to play. If you sang Stevie Nicks to her – ‘it’s like the world we know, sings the song sounds like she’s singin’…’ when you got to the “oooo! Baby ooo! Baby oooo!’ part she would go nuts and leap up on you trying to get to the source of the “oooo!” She was terrified of thunderstorms. Her fear got so intense that more recently; she’d start to shake uncontrollably as soon as the barometer began to drop. She liked to chase flies and bees. We’d often find her staring intently, then jumping up and snapping at the air. The carpenter bees were the easiest to get.

The girls don’t really understand. They’re a little young, I think. Kate kind of gets it, she knows that Lola is gone like Motor. Sarah, who adored Lola from the time she was an infant, doesn’t seem to get it at all. I’m kind of glad for that. The house is much too quiet without Lola. Even at night, I miss her quiet snoring. Jeremiah and I keep thinking we see her here and there – scratching at the kitchen door, peeking her head around a corner to check on us. She was our over-zealous sentinel and our constant companion. It used to be that when I was sad, Lola would comfort me. Now I wonder if maybe she wasn’t on to something, and when you really miss someone, you should chew up a piece of their furniture and barf on their living room rug.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Get Well Card

As most of you already know, Lola was hit by a car on Sunday.  Lately, she's been bustin' out and going after squirrels or passing dogs.  Sometimes we see it about to happen and stop her in time, sometimes we yell ourselves hoarse until she comes back and sometimes one of the kids let her out and failed to tell us and we had no idea she was outside at all.  So, I guess it's not that shocking. 

She will be fine, we think, but she will have to have her hind, left leg removed.  We could have attempted reconstructive surgery, but if anything had gone awry during or after that surgery they would have had to amputate.  So we decided not to risk it at her advanced age of nearly 9.  So.  When we get our puppy back she will be minus one leg. 

The girls didn't understand.  Kate asked when her leg would grow back.  Sarah wanted to know if some other dog was going to get Lola's old leg.  They both miss her very much.  Sarah asks at least 5 times an evening where Lola is.  On Monday, as Lola's absence was sinking in she said "I hate it when Lola gets hit by a car!"  So do I, Sarah.  So do I.

We are not sure when they will perform Lola's surgery; they are waiting for the swelling in her leg to subside enough.  Meanwhile, we've been assured she's being spoiled at the hospital.  The girls and I went to see her before bedtime last night.  She was happy to see us.  In fact, she got a little too excited, and we had to say goodbye before she could further damage herself.

The house is eerily quiet without Lola in it.  The bedroom at night lacks her light doggy snoring.  In the morning, she's not there tapping me with her paw to let her up in the bed so she can crawl under the comforter, on top of the top sheet and try to convince me to oversleep with the warm dog against my leg.  We hope they'll operate soon so we can bring Lola home.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dinner and a Show

Lo these past 5 years we've had a nearly impossible time dining with the kids.  It's a logistical matter.  They go to bed at 7:30.  On the evenings I pick them up, Jeremiah typically gets home around 6:30.  So, usually we make them dinner and then one of us works on grown-up dinner while the other one gets the kids to bed.

I have fond memories of the family together at the dinner table and have wanted for all of us to sit down together.  So this week, on a reorganizing, refocusing bender, I planned the weekly menu with this in mind.  Each night I've thrown grown-up dinner together the instant I arrived home and for the most part, it's timed out well.  The drawback, of course, is that this means the girls are subjected to grown-up dinner.

The memory is a delightful thing, the way it blocks the icky and enhances the warm and fuzzy.  I have hardly-accessible memories of fighting with my parents over what I would or would not be eating.  Mostly I recall the evenings laughing with (or at) my brothers and watching my dad spin his wedding ring on the table while my mom said "Edward, cut that out."  It plays better inside my head, but you get my drift.  In the here and now there is just pre-dinner weeping "I don't want to eat that!  I don't like it!" and me, gritting my teeth and saying "you've never had that, you don't know if you like it!" and then the main course of pouting, shoving plates away and refusing to sample the food despite all manner of threats or promises.

Tonight was the ugliest yet, with neither girl willing to take a single bite of the pan-fried scallops and crispy leeks (for the record, they were delicious).  And so, they were both sent to bed without supper.  OH the wailing!  There was screaming and weeping and Kate, repeatedly, pathetically saying "I'm hunnngry" while we repeatedly replied "yes, that's what happens when you don't eat any dinner."  Ah, dinner with the family.  I love that we're making such happy memories over here.

Back to School

I've mentioned a few times my difficulty in adjusting to kindergarten.  While I have philosophical issues with giving 5-year-olds a bunch of homework each week in addition to special projects, various little readers and the like, Kate does seem to be dealing with it better lately.  It helps that she's gotten help at aftercare.  So today as I was dropping Kate and Sarah off at their respective institutions I was thinking I should mention some of the good things about Kate's school, in the interest of fairness and lest I leave the impression that Kate is in a bad place day after day.
  • The building is new, beautiful and full of natural light (sunlight, not beer)
  • When we arrive each morning the staff are scattered strategically throughout the parking lot and building to welcome the students and wish everyone a good morning.
  • All the parents exiting the parking lot and drop-off line deal with merging and traffic mayhem with aplomb, without the aid of someone directing traffic.  Every day.  I marvel at this.  Where are these people for the rest of my commute?
  • The teachers and staff recognized the new kids and us parents within a few days.  When I go in to pick up Kate in the afternoon, they call for her without having to ask me who I am.  There are over 700 kids at this school.
  • Kate is reading an exponentially increasing number of "sight words" and sounding words out on her own.
  • Kate explained to me that a rhythm is a pattern in music.  She's saying stuff like that to us all the time now
  • In aftercare, Kate gets to take fun classes that change each semester.  This semester she chose "I Am Movement" dance, Fairytale Theatre and Puppetry.  Among her other choices were science labs, cooking, various sports and painting.  Next semester, so far, I know they're offering a sculpture class.  We pay just $20 a week for aftercare.
  • The school is attached to the YMCA.  That's the kids' gym.
  • I see the teachers treating the students with respect, even when the kids are in trouble.  This morning I passed a teacher saying to a kid who appeared to have been in some trouble "thank-you for having a good day yesterday..."  The building is so open, most things there seem to happen very publicly.
  • Sarah is mimicing Kate and can now write many of her letters and numbers and recognizes a few of Kate's sight words.  Sweet.
  • Most importantly, most of the time, Kate seems happy there.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween madness!

All Hallows Eve began with Jeremiah's first 5-K.  The whole family bustled down to Candler Park to cheer Jeremiah on.  At about 8:55, 5 minutes before the race started, the wind picked up.  The girls were thrilled because in the park, hundreds of leaves rained down upon them.  Then real rain rained down upon us.  One might even call it a deluge.  The girls and I stood in the doorway to the women's bathroom at the pool with a couple other non-running spouses and their kids.  All the kids had signed up for the wee runners "Ghost Run".  All the kids decided they would not be doing that.  Kate played in the rain, stomping in the puddles and squealing, as I chatted with the other parents and Sarah shivered  against my leg.

Next, we dashed off to gymnastics/dance class.  Immediately following the class the Y had a Halloween festival in the gym.  We hung out for that and Kate and Sarah played with Alexia and Olivia.  Mostly, they ate crap and jumped on stuff.  I'm surprised at the lack of vomit.

Then came trick or treat time!  Somehow, in all the mayhem of attempting to keep the girls' wigs on, we didn't get a lot of photos of that scene.  Aunt Jo Jo constructed a Snow White dress for Kate and a Rapunzel one for Sarah.  They looked stunning.  We set off in a caravan to see the Scary Garden on Oakview & 2nd, which we'd toured a few weeks ago when they first set it up and we happened to be walking by.  On the way, we stopped at 400 houses*.  When we finally reached our destination, Kate bravely marched up through the terrifying graveyard that included real, live zombies, to the porch to receive her glowstick necklace and goody bag.  Sarah was terrified.   She did not recover for a full 5 houses.  By the time we rounded the corner back to 3rd Ave Kate slumped back in the stroller and said "I'm.  Done."  I have never heard her say that except in reference to eating vegetables.  It was a very full day. 

*Reports of number of houses at which we stopped may be somewhat inaccurate.

**I switched to the new editor in Blogger.  I have no clue what's going on here.  Where the hell is spellcheck?  Why won't my pictures move where I want them?  I'm hungry.  Why won't this 5-year-old get off my arm?