Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun, Sun, and Puppies??

For the past 32 years or so, I have been very conflicted. I can never make up my mind about anything. And when I do, and I am set on a decision, it often turns out to not be the best one.

For example, we went to Mexico for our honeymoon. I was set on a room where you could walk out to the pool. No changing my mind. We get there and the room smelled like mildew. We didn't complain or make them switch rooms, so every time we came back from somewhere it hit us again. Bad decision. (That being said, I was also set on NOT going to Mexico for our honeymoon, and let someone change my mind. Should have stuck to my guns.) After talking to a couple of people, I found out that a lot of the poolside rooms on the first floor had this problem.

I can't think of any other really good examples right now of where I should have not listened to my gut, but I know there are tons in my past. The reason why I am bringing this up now, is that there are a couple of things I would like to do, but can't decide if I should or not. And if I do, am I making the right decision? And if it is wrong, will it just be another example of how I am an idiot?

Firstly, we are looking at taking a vacation. My friend at work was looking at deals on resorts and found this one in Puerto Rico, and mentioned it to us. My other friend mentioned it to her husband, who did all the research and really wants to go. But she is kind of iffy on leaving her kids. So I mention to Workaholic that she wants us to go on vacation with them, and he has decided that we are going. Which sounds great, right? But it is still going to cost money, and then I think that maybe for that much money, where else could we go and have more fun? Is this resort the one we want to go to? Are there any others for as good a deal or are better? Should we go someplace where the airfare is less and we can get a direct flight? See my dilemma??

The other thing I cannot make a decision on is actually a major life change. Getting another dog. I am not sure I am up for it, but I also would really like a younger dog to keep Fonz healthy and active, as well as hope that he can impart some of his wisdom on the new addition. Plus, I have realized since Sampson joined the house that I love it when the dog, cat, kids, and boy are all together and we are one big happy family. Another dog would just make us a little bigger and happier. But here are my issues...

I want a Flat-Coat Retriever. I saw them first while watching the Westminster Club dog show a few years ago. They look like Fonz, but black. And the AKC standard for their character is this...

As a family companion he is sensible, alert and highly intelligent; a light-hearted, affectionate and adaptable friend. He retains these qualities as well as his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age. The adult Flat-Coat is usually an adequate alarm dog to give warning, but is a good-natured, optimistic dog, basically inclined to be friendly to all.

The Flat-Coat is a cheerful, devoted companion who requires and appreciates living with and interacting as a member of his family. To reach full potential in any endeavor he absolutely must have a strong personal bond and affectionate individual attention.

Umm...sound like anyone we know???? (hint...his name is Fonz)

Let me be clear...I am not getting a replacement dog. I am not preparing myself for the inevitable day that my Fonz leaves me for the Rainbow Bridge. I simply believe that I am a good home, and now is a good time to add to our family, in the furry friend sense. (as opposed to the two-legged variety)

However, last month, I stumbled across a website of a breeder that I had found a few years ago and realized that she has a litter planned for this year, puppies would be ready in April. Perfect timing!! And then I called her...

Basically, she told me that since I have 2 small children and do not have a fenced in yard, I would be a terrible home. She was afraid that my children would "traumatize" a puppy. And she somehow got in her head that I am anti-invisible fence, since Fonz is boundary trained and doesn't require fencing of any kind to stay in his yard. (Yes, I realize this sounds unbelievable, but he is. I would be more than happy to install invisible fencing at our home. And at the cottage.) This woman made me cry and also made me afraid to contact any other breeders.

But let me tell you something...I am a KICK ASS home. Here is why...

1) Someone is home all day. Either me or the girls' caregiver. (Who happens to love dogs, and puppies) Not many people can say that. Who aren't stay-at-home moms. With small children. Who can traumatize puppies by touching them.

2) I used to teach puppy kindergarten. Which means that I know all about clicker training and positive reinforcement, as well as STRONGLY believe in puppy kindergarten as well as agility and other obedience classes to increase the bond between dog and owner. Oh yeah, Fonz is an AKC Canine Good Citizen as well. And, I am still in contact with my old trainer. Even though I moved away. So any questions could easily be answered with an e-mail or phone call.

3) I used to do agility with Fonz. And I would like to with this new dog, seeing as how Fonz has arthritis that I don't want to aggravate by having him jump all the time.

4) I would also like to train this new dog to be a therapy dog, to use with children. Oh wait...will children in hospitals traumatize a well-trained adult dog??

5) We have a cottage. On a lake. That we go to EVERY weekend. With friends who not only LOVE dogs, but love MY dog. Who think that my dog is kick-ass. And awesome. And think that I deserve all the credit for making him as well-behaved and awesome as he is. (BTW...I do.)

6) I have a big yard, both at home and at the lake. While it is true that neither yards are fenced, and cannot be, I believe in responsible dog ownership as well as safety, and would install an underground fence to keep my new dog safe.

7) When I go on vacation, I don't board my dogs. I have family or friends take care of them. Sounds like such a small thing, but it is just an example of how I take care of my pets.

8) My best friend? Is a vet. As in veterinarian. As in...I have a vet on-call should anything terrible happen. (you know, with the small children) Even if my best friend wasn't a vet, the clinic where I take Fonz and Sampson know me because I take such good care of my pets. Bi-annual blood work, x-rays to check for arthritis and hip dysplasia, and yearly dentals. Again, I am awesome.

So Gail, you seem to have the utmost confidence in yourself and why wouldn't you just contact another breeder to see if you can get a Flat-Coat from them?

Here is my response to that...I am not even sure I should get a purebred dog. I know all about the bill in Missouri that shuttered the doors to hundreds, if not thousands of (puppy mill) breeders. There are millions of dogs out there that need a home as awesome as mine. And I have even found a couple online that I am not entirely opposed to meeting.

I am afraid, however, of getting a rescue that I cannot make my own. Who may come with their own special set of issues that I cannot change. And I know it is silly, and Jennifer would kill me for saying it, but I just feel in my heart that getting a puppy where I can start from scratch is the best for me and my family.

That being said, this breeder traumatized me. And I am scared of being told NO again. I know that Flat-Coats are not just black Golden Retrievers. I truly believe that Fonz has the heart and personality of a Flat-Coat more than he does of a Golden. That (and health) is the most important to me. I think that getting another Golden would just set me up for disappointment.

Flat-Coat breeders are like many other breeders of lesser-known pure bred dogs, notoriously protective of their dogs. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you are a good home who is being told no.

With all that other fear is that I am inherently lazy. Would I really do what it takes to make a new puppy a great dog?

For that answer to that, I can thank my parents.

They bred into me the fear of doing something wrong.

I know how high the stakes are for proper training and early socialization. And so I know that I would do what it takes. Getting up early, forsaking an hour or two of sleep to go to class or take a walk. Or run. Maybe this dog will get me to run. Maybe this dog will inspire me to get into shape.

Here is my utmost fear...that I will make the wrong decision. That I go through the process of finding a good breeder and getting a puppy and realizing it was somehow a mistake. Or that I decide to get a rescue and wish that I had gone with a puppy. My past experience with myself where I set my mind to something seems to lead only in disappointments. A trip doesn't go as planned, weekend plans have to be changed due to unavoidable circumstances, or an afternoon shopping trip has to be aborted. (Yes, the last thing can and has ruined my day...of course, that was pre-Pristiq.) I think I just get my hopes so high that things will go the way that I want, and I am not sure how to handle it if they don't.

I have wanted another dog for years. For the first time in a long time, I am looking seriously at the possibility. I have done my research on Flat-Coats, reading books and websites and going to the IKC dog show in Chicago to talk to breeders. I just wish that I had the confidence to make a decision and stick with it and be confident that it is the right decision. I am not exactly sure where I am going with all of this, as I say in many of my blog posts. Any suggestions? What should I do, dear readers??? Help a girl out!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Twitter and the Joining of the Rest of the World

I am pretty slow to embrace new technololgy.

I am sure that the Mac is the best computer ever invented, but I don't want to learn how to use it, so I'll stick with my PCs.

I joined facebook about 2 years after I got my first invitation. I thought my friend Jennifer was nuts for joining that thing that was "only for college kids." I now constantly check it, if only out of boredom. And I think that anyone who I am close to in real life that doesn't have a facebook page is shit out of luck if they want to see pictures of my kids.

I got a smartphone only when it was required to work at home part-time. I do not know how I ever lived without it. Even if it can land the space shuttle, I don't know how to tell it to do that.

And now, people. I have joined Twitter. I still really don't understand it. But I am now a proud member.

This is how I think it works. You have your own Twitter page. And you pick people you like that you want to follow. And whenever those people "tweet", it shows up on your own Twitter page. In addition, if you have a smart phone, you can download an app that you just click on and you can look at all the wonderful twits that people have tweetered. Or something like that.

I think you can also get all of those tweets texted to you. But that could be a lot of texts. So I am not going that route.

I am going to try to put a little icon on my page somewhere telling you how to follow me on Twitter. Until then, I'll just tell you that my handle is @dogsarehome. I'll let you guess how I came up with that one.

I don't plan on doing anything spectacular on Twitter other than posting rambling tirades against people I hate. Oh wait...140 characters?? Crap. Maybe I'll just say hi every once in a while. To the 2 people who will follow me. Sounds fun, right??

Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Tidbits About My Life

I have realized that it has been entirely too long since I have written anything down, so today you will get a post full of my random thoughts. Which I supposed is what this here space is supposed to be.

Last night I was tired, like...dead tired. I think my bed is trying to kill me, but that is another post for another time. Anyway, I was laying on the bed, attempting to change the channel without moving my fingers, and Sam walks up to me. She gingerly placed her soft little hand on my cheek, looked me right in the eyes, and said, "Mommy, I horny."

Outfit courtesy of Matt's uncle and his wife, who spend part of their time in Hong Kong.

I took the girls to the doctor yesterday. It was Sam's 2 year check-up (a month late) and Charlie's 6 month check-up. Poor kid had to get shots. (Wait...poor me, since she was up 3 times screaming at me last night.) Anyway, here are their stats.

Samantha: 33 1/2 inches tall-30th percentile; 23 1/2 lbs-10th percentile

Charlotte: 26 1/2 inches tall-76th percentile; 17 1/2 lbs-75th percentile

I am hoping that neither one of them is a wuss, because as soon as Charlie catches up with Sam, there could be some serious ass-kicking going on in my house.

Sampson LOVES Fonz. Every opportunity he gets, he rubs on his face, lays by him, or generally tries to cuddle. Last night, Fonz had it and snapped at Sampson. I was proud of him for standing up to himself. And then annoyed because Sampson wanted to sleep right next to me all night. Which is not helpful for tossing and turning.

Why did you bring this thing into our house??

I guess I could complain about my mattress now. It hurts me. My back, my neck, generally my whole body aches from the time I lay down on it to after my shower in the morning. And I LOVE laying in bed, so you see the problem. I think the solution is a new mattress, and I think the new mattress needs to be a Tempur-Pedic. Everyone who has one raves about them. But considering they are over three grand, a new mattress may have to come in another lifetime.

Speaking of my body, I have that belly fat that many moms get...that squishy fat roll that doesn't go away without at least a little bit of effort, and I have put absolutely no effort into making it go away, in fact, I probably have put more effort into making it worse. So I love to squish the squishiness, and Sam sees me do this, and the other day, she came up to me and pushed on it a few times, looked up at me, giggled and ran away. I can't wait for my mommy make-over.

Did I tell you that our snowmobile caught on fire? So yeah. Apparently bad gas (read: old gas) can get chunks in it, and those chunks get caught places, and then other places are starved of fluid or something, and then a fire ensues. The kicker of it is I haven't even ridden the damn thing this year. We hope to have it fixed for next year. Since it was almost 60 degrees yesterday and we'd have to get another blizzard for the trails to get in riding condition.

Kids say the darndest things:

Charlie was crying yesterday, and Sam looked at her and said, "Charlie, stop crying, NOW." Hmmm...I have no idea where she got that from. (daddy)

I unpacked a bunch of 6-9 month clothes for Charlie, and Sam decided to have a fashion show. She pulled on a pair of brown velour sweatpants that are capris on her, and changed into an orange long-sleeved shirt and posed in front of the mirror. After doing the turn and look over her shoulder that you see all the actresses do on the red carpet, she goes, "Awww...cute!" I'm glad my 2 year old has no self-esteem problems.

When Sam talks on the phone to whoever it is she talks to, she has some stand-by lines...

"Whaddya doin'?


"A-hahahahaha!" (giggling)



We were in the pediatrican's office yesterday and I was shocked at how the go-to toy for toddlers was a toy cell phone. Sam's, of course, looks like a Blackberry, and she not only talks on it, but texts. Way ahead of her time, that one.

Charlotte, meanwhile, is quite coming into her own. She has a very short fuse, as in..."I'm laughing and happy and today is the greatest day ever OHMYGOD GIVE ME A BOTTLE NOW!!!"

She also refuses to roll over. She can, but just will. not. do. it. She'll cry and scream and scoot across the room rather than go from her stomach to her back.

Also? She is one of those kids that everyone tells me about who gets up at the same time every morning, no matter what time they go to bed. I am having a hard time with this, as Sam sleeps 12 hours no matter what. At least she is happy in the morning, it is her best time of day. Until she gets hungry, that is.

I suppose that is enough randomness for the day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

***This post was originally started yesterday, but then I got busy with work and couldn't finish it. So his birthday was yesterday.

Today is Workaholic's birthday.

I would tell you how old he is, but a) he'd probably get mad at me since he now reads this blog and b) ... I don't have a b.

The first thing he said to me this morning when I told him HAPPY BIRTHDAY was, "Yeah, I'm an old man now." Which, ironically, is the same thing his dad said to him when he wished him a happy 60th birthday last month. (notice I don't care about telling the world how old my father-in-law is, because I know for a fact that he does not read this blog)

Because I am such a terrific wife, I have a fabulous present that was bought and wrapped 3 weeks ago, a gorgeous cake that I made from scratch and decorated myself today, and have a wonderful dinner party planned with his closest family and friends. Which is to say that I did none of that and we are only going out to dinner with his parents because his mom planned it.

I feel it is important on this day to not badmouth my husband, as I try not to usually do. (OK, sometimes I don't try very hard, but I do try!) Instead, I'll tell you why he is awesome.

1) He has a great sense of humor. He makes me laugh all the time. I steal his material for my blog. Which makes me look funny. And anything that makes me look good makes me happy.

2) He loves me. 'Nuff said.

3) He is a great father. He plays with the girls and bathes the girls, and generally does whatever I tell him to. He'll ask Sam, "Are you my buddy?" And she always says yes.

4) He knows when to defer to the person who knows more than him. The only times I know more is when we are talking about dog training or the Baby Whisperer. So he'll defer to me then. And that makes me happy.

5) He is a Boy Scout. OK, not really. But he prepares for the worst for everything. The only time this does not come in handy is when you are in a rush and he is busy preparing. But it does all work out in the end.

The list could go on and on, but I'll stop at five. My point it, I love him, and he is a day older today. Which just happens to put him a year older.

I will leave you with some texts I have received from him, to illustrate his humor. (I'm sorry if you don't get some of them, I generally don't either)

"Holy crap, look to your left, there are flying monkeys."

"Are you naked?"

"It helps if you ask the person with you to punch your head."

"Are you naked?"

"Yes, I am a dumbass."

"Are you naked?"

"The Green Bay Packers won the World Series."

"You are welcome, I'm glad that you feel like the luckiest wife ever, that makes me happy."

"Are you naked?"

"Yer a doucher."

"I'm gittin me 1 burbon 1 scotch 1 beer" (this was sent while he was at work)

"R u ignoring me?"

"Are you naked?"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kids, Dogs, and Hugs

It is no secret that I love my dog. I mean, he is the best dog ever. He is a typical Golden in that he is always there, ready for affection. He seeks it out. If you are a guest in my home, and are sitting in a chair in the living room, there is a good chance he'll walk up and bump your hand with his nose. He is easy to love, and easy to hug, and easy to pet.

Sometimes I wonder if I give him too much affection because it is so easy. And when I say give him too much affection, I mean too much affection in front of Sam. From the very beginning, I told people that my kids would have to love dogs. They would have to love Fonz, because they would no choice. He is here, and you had better get used to him.

It isn't that Sam doesn't like Fonz. I think she does anyway. But he is so big and she is so small. He used to knock her over pretty consistently, until she got a little more steady on her feet. Her face is still the perfect height to get slapped in the tail by a happy wag. And while she doesn't greet me at the door every night, he does, and he always gets a little bit of attention for it.

So she sees that. And she sees me tell him good-bye when we go someplace. She never seeks him out to give him affection, (although to be honest, she really doesn't seek anyone out to give them affection). And I wonder sometimes if she gets a little jealous. Jealousy mixed with stubbornness does not bode well.

The other day, she had a plastic bottle that came with one of her babies. And out of nowhere, she whipped it across the living room and hit him in the head. I was shocked (not really, because she really likes to whip things across the room) and I sprang into action. I sternly told her that she was NOT to throw things and hit Fonz in the head. And then I told her to apologize to him.

The stand-off began.

Sam has a way of shutting down and getting very quiet when she doesn't want to do something. Either that, or she throws a screaming temper tantrum. But, when she knows that she is supposed to do something that she doesn't want to do, she gets quiet. And when she wouldn't apologize to Fonz, I made her sit on the step.

And so she cried. And she tried slipping off the step and hugging me. And then she cried some more. And she tried going to K for help. And K told her that she needed to apologize to Fonz. And then she cried some more, got quiet, cried some more.

After about 15 minutes of this, perhaps more, she finally whispered, "Sorry Fonz".

YES!! Mom wins!! Consistency DOES pay off!!!

But it made me wonder...when she hurts Charlie (another story for another day) or me or K, she is very quick to apologize. She apologizes for things that she shouldn't even apologize for. She is the first to say "Bless you" when someone sneezes. She always says "please" and "thank you" (sometimes both-while signing "thank you"). So why this reluctance to say "Sorry" to Fonz?

Does she see the love I give so easily to Fonz and wonder why I don't give it to her as well? It isn't that I don't hug and kiss her and tell her I love her, (because I do) it is just that she is always moving. And so mostly, the affection happens on her terms. At night, before bed. Sometimes, during the day, I'll ask for a hug, and she'll come running over to me and veer away at the last second because she was distracted by something shiny on the ground. So you see what I am dealing with here.

I love my dog. I love my kids. I love my husband. Trust me Sam...there is enough love to go around. I guess I need to make sure that next time something shiny distracts her, I grab her and hug her anyway.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One Bad Hour

Do you ever have one of those hours?

You know...the kind where you wonder why you had kids?

Because your 2 year old thinks that just because she says "Plleeeaaase!", she can run with scissors and stab her eye out?

And when she takes a nap, while she no longer takes her diaper off and pees all over her bed, she now takes the lid off her sippy cup of milk. And then spills it all over her pajamas (which she also took off), her blankets, her pillow, her sheet, the floor, and the wireless router which is plugged in underneath her bed.

And then you watch her climb up onto the bar-height chairs, crawl like a monkey over the countertop to get to the cookies that your dear husband left on the counter. Which apparently are now in her reach.

And when your husband walks in the house at 9:30 at night (No...he was not late because of the SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011!) she is all angelic and you just want to go hide under the bed. With the cat.

And that was just an hour.