Friday, December 26, 2008

Twas a Very Boogery XMAS

Ahh, Christmas with 2 sick kids...boogers and Kleenex flying all over the place. Kids overexcited, melting down...and yet it was still wonderful.

Santa, as usual, did his thing, the kids were (mostly) happy, and we had a nice day together. Because he was the sickest, Matthew took a 6.5 hour nap - he gets more sleep during his naps than I do at night! He woke up around 7:30 and we had a late dinner, and then made it until about 9 before going to bed.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. And of course it included a bit of conflict:

Oh well...

A Less Furry XMAS

Merry XMAS guys...we miss you dearly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More fun than....

Update on 12-24-2008, a quick first ever attempt at partial b/w-ing of a photo...

XMAS lists

Ellie (who's 4) wants, and I quote because it's been the same exact things for 4 weeks, "a bear with mittens and a train with an alien that has one eye." Hey, I don't try to interpret, I just deliver the message.

It's too bad we shopped for her 5 weeks ago when the list was only "mittens for my bear and a train." What a big difference a few words makes! Oh well. We'll blame Santa.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chinese Food

Matthew's fortune cookie from last night:

At least it's not to excess, right? I mean, he's only 2. He has plenty of time to develop a real problem.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why did Susan flush Matthew down the toilet?

The other morning I was telling Sharon about a dream I had. The dream concluded with one of my friends (Susan, or "Mrs. O" as she's known to the kids) and I watching Matthew having fun swimming in the toilet by the grocery store checkout stand.

Did I mention the dream was weird?

Then Susan flushed the toilet while Matthew was in it, and I had to jump in (it was a big toilet) and get him out of the drain. All was fine, we checked out and I woke up.

The problem is that I told this dream in front of Ellie, who remembers and obsesses over things like nobody you've ever seen. And her brain works on these things even when she's doing something else. As soon as I finished the story, Ellie began asking, "Why did Mrs. O flush Matthew while he was in the toilet?" Uh oh.

Her line of questioning lasted from breakfast until I dropped her off at school, and resumed when I picked her up. In the couple of days since I told her about it, she's brought it up at least a couple of times each day. The funny thing is that she understands it was a dream, but can't figure out why Susan flushed Matthew.

Oh well...she can just add that to the list of things she describes to her therapist in 30 years, right?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sick Kids and School

Matthew has the cold that apparently every other child in his class has. Apparently I am the only one, however, who won't take a kid who's THAT sick to school...judgmental a bit? Nah...

Anyway, I told Matthew this morning that I didn't think he was going to go to school today because he's sick. He freaked out and almost started crying (he is only 2, after all), and said "Nooooo! I go to school. I am a big boy!"

That's my boy! (we didn't go though...Home Depot and Costco had to do)

Do I really want to drink that?

How to get milk, by Ellie

"First, you look at the cow's bottom. And then you pull the cow's bottom softly. One of the cow's hoses. But not too much of it. Pull it a little more harder, but not too much. And then all of the milk comes out into the bucket. That's how you get cow milk."

Exactly What I Feel

This post really speaks to me - it could be about Ellie and me...

Little Girls

Ellie is turning into a little girl. And by that, I mean she's starting to squeal at anything that's either very good or very bad. And sometimes even just mediocre.

She came into the house after I'd brought some Christmas decorations, and she squealed - "EeeeEEEE! It's Santa! Hee hee hee!"

She saw a spider (well, it was actually a piece of dirt, but I swear I vacuum) downstairs - "EeeEEEE! A spider! Daddy, come get it! DADDY! Where are you!?!?"

She also likes to sneak up on me. It's fun to pretend that I don't see her coming, and then at the last second turn and scare her. "EeeeEEEE!" (makes funny face and runs away) "Daddy, don't scare me like that!"

Mr. "Me Too" (Matthew) has also taken to squealing, because of course he has to be just like his big sister. The greatest part about it is that he doesn't really understand when to do it. So when he thinks it might be appropriate, he looks at Ellie to see if she's going to do it. If she does, then he does (and he gets a big smile, too).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ellie's Bedtime Story #1

One of Ellie's top two requested stories (nobody but us cares, but I figured I'd write it down so one day I can print it out for her):

Once upon a time there was a Mommy and a Daddy. They didn't have any kids, and they didn't even have a Gideon or a Mena! So one day, they decided that they wanted a dog. They didn't know what kind of dog they were looking for, so they went to lots of shelters to look at lots of dogs.

They saw big dogs, little dogs, furry dogs, dogs with less fur, tall dogs, short dogs, loud dogs, quiet dogs...but they didn't find the dog they were looking for. Then one day they were at the Seal Beach Animal Control Center. They walked around a corner, and then at the far end of the walkway there was a little brown puppy in a cage. As we (this is where I usually slip into first person) got closer, I saw a cute little dog jumping up and down, saying "Look at me! Look at me!"

When we got to his cage I looked at him, and he looked at me. He started WIGGLING all over, and jumped up and down even more! We saw that his name was Gideon. Mommy and Daddy said, "Gideon is pretty cute - we should check him out."

So we got a leash and took him on a little walk. He was FUN. So we decided we wanted to take him home. We went to the office and while Mommy was filling out the paperwork to take him home, Gideon peed on my shoe. He'd marked me! From then on, he was my little guy, and I was his dude.

The animal shelter wouldn't let us take him home that day - we had to wait until the next. He looked really disappointed to be going back to his cage, and we didn't want to leave him. But the next day we came back as soon as we could, and he got super wiggly when he saw us again. We got him out of his cage, and took him to our car. (Ellie interrupts here and says, "You mean your TRUCK.") Right. Our truck. So we put him in our truck, and do you know what he did on the way home? He peed in the truck. ("Eews" all around).

So Mommy and Daddy had Gideon for about a year, and then we decided he needed a sister. So we went back to Seal Beach to look for another dog. We found a neat puppy named Sprinkles. They wanted us to bring Gideon in to meet her, so we did. When they got the dogs together in the play yard, they kind of played near each other, but they mostly ignored each other. They were kind of like, eehhh (shrug shoulders here). So we told them, "No, Sprinkles isn't the right dog for us."

They said, "Have you seen Mena?"

I said, "Who's Mena?"

"Oh, you have to see Mena. She's a great dog!"

So we took Sprinkles back, and they showed me Mena. She was so polite, just curled up in her cage behind some other dogs, just waiting for someone to notice her. I hadn't noticed her because she was so polite! So I said, "Okay, let's get Mena to meet Gideon."

When the two of them got together, they started running around like maniacs! They were wrestling with each other, running around, playing in the wading pools, and having a great time, just like they were best friends! So we said that we wanted to take Mena home with us. We didn't have to wait this time, so we filled out the paperwork and went to our car. (again, Ellie now interrupts, "You mean your TRUCK.") Right. Our truck.

Gideon got in, but little Mena was too scared to get in by herself. She didn't know how much fun car rides were yet. So we had to pick her up and put her in, and she was shaking the whole way home. When we got home, she became the best little sister we could have asked for for Gideon, and they were best friends forever.

(usually Ellie then asks to hear the story of how Gideon and Mena died...)

After Mommy and Daddy had Gideon and Mena for a LOOONG time, they got very old. Mena got very sick, and Daddy took her to see the vet. The vet told Daddy that Mena was super sick and old, and that she was going to die soon. (Ellie, who heard Sharon's side of the phone call, says "And you called Mommy and she started crying.") Yes, Mommy was very sad too. So Daddy took Mena to get some more tests done, and they told us she was in a lot of pain and was going to die soon. So then we brought her home and had our Mena day. We took her for a walk, and petted her, and told her how much we loved her. Then the next day Mommy and Daddy took her somewhere where she could die peacefully. And now she's with the angels.

Then a few days later Gideon's eye got sick. Daddy took him to the vet to get him checked out, and we had to go to some other places to get more tests done for him. The vets told Daddy that Gideon was very sick, too, and that he was going to die soon too. We were very sad, because we just lost Mena and now Gideon was going to die too. So we had some fun Gideon days. We played with him a lot, and rubbed him, and told him how much we loved him. Miss Nadine came over and we all played with him and had lots of fun. And then the next day Mommy and Daddy took Gideon somewhere that he could die peacefully. And now he and Mena are together, playing with Grandma Boo and Grandpa Don, and Kitsie and Erf. (Ellie only met Grandma Boo, but we mention the others)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

This year, for the first time in a while, we had a "Weight Watchers" thanksgiving. And I have to admit, it feels good to not feel gross after eating. Go figure. I know it's unAmerican, but what can I say, I HAVE to drop this weight (again). At least I'm down over 10 in a couple of weeks, so yay me!

I made up for the lower cal dinner by using our china, which we may not have ever used before...I'm not sure. If we've used it in the past, it hasn't been for a LONG time.

Anyway, before dinner we went around and everyone said what they're thankful for...
  • Sharon and I were thankful for having such a great family.
  • Ellie was thankful for having had a good year with Gideon and Mena.
  • Matthew was thankful for bananas.
Dinner was:
  • fake turkey
  • stuffing
  • cranberry sauce
  • asparagus
  • corn
  • gravy
  • meatballs for Matthew since I can't get him to try any of the other stuff even though I know he'd like it
  • pumpkin pie
  • cranapple crisp
  • whipped cream, which is all the kids would touch
We then went on a walk down the street to see our neighbor's inflatable lit up 6' turkey in their front yard. The kids gobbled at it for a while, and then we walked around the block while Ellie shined her flashlight right in my eyes, temporarily blinding me and making me curse the man who invented the super-bright LED flashlight.

Now we're back, the kitchen and dishes are clean, and the kids are about out of the bath. All in all, a great thanksgiving! Hopefully yours was great too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

3-D Memories

A few days ago I noticed a big change in how I'm grieving over losing Gideon and Mena. Things suddenly got a lot easier to deal with, and I could look at pictures of the dogs' final days without being overcome with sadness. It's like my memories of the dogs had been in 3-D, and now they've become 2-D. The pictures even look different to me. I have them as screensavers on my Kindle, and until a few days ago they seemed to practically leap off of the page when I looked at them. Every whisker looked so real, almost like Gideon and Mena were going to lean out and lick me.

A few days ago they started looking like pictures.

I guess it's easier having my memories flattened out. I don't have the constant feeling of sadness whenever I think about them (although occasionally things flare up). I don't constantly - and accidentally - look out in the back yard to see what they're doing. I've gotten used to the squirrels and birds poking around the yard instead of running with fear to the nearest tree. I've gotten used to being able to leave the gates open.

I'm a little sad to have gotten to this point.

Of course, there are still emotional times. I haven't had the heart to bring Gideon's tennis balls inside from the back yard - I like looking at them when I go out there. Even though Matthew has seen them practically every day since Gideon died, he's always ignored them. But a couple of days ago he picked one up and said, "Gideon's ball? Throw it?" He threw it a few times, and I got sad thinking about how much I wanted Gideon to be there with us. Even Matthew's short throws were frustrating for Gideon (running a distance less than his own body length isn't what Gideon wanted), he'd always bring the ball back. I'd make Gideon drop it, and Matthew would keep throwing it until somebody got bored. I'm going to really miss watching Matthew get better at throwing the ball for Gideon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indians weren't vegetarians

Yesterday Ellie was learning about Indians (as in Americans, Native) at school.  On the way home she was telling me what she learned.

"Indians lived at my school before we were there.  And they ate animals.  That's silly."

"Well, did you know most of the people at your school eat animals?"


"That's right.  Did you know that chicken nuggets are made out of chickens?"

"How do they do that?"

"Well, you have to cut up the chicken and then turn it into nuggets."

"How do you cut up the chicken?"

"Well, first you have to kill the chicken, then cut it up and cook it."

"Killing animals isn't nice."

"Well, we don't eat animals.  Our chicken nuggets aren't made from chickens.  Ours are really made from plants and cooked to be like chicken.  That's why I sometimes take you a special lunch, because we don't eat animals."

"Yeah.  I eat plants.  But not the kind that grow in the ground.  That's silly."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dear Gideon and Mena

Hi guys,

Yesterday Matthew and I went on the usual walk we always did with you, and it got me feeling pretty sorry for myself. I miss how happy you both looked when the leashes came out. I miss how you let Matthew hold your leashes from the stroller, and how well you guys walked next to each other. There was something so special about walking around with you two next to me. The little strut you both did on walks was something I loved, and I'd give anything to be able to enjoy that again. I've missed being able to tell you how proud I am of both of you.

I think (at least I hope) I told you enough how proud I was. But one thing I never got to tell either of you is how proud I am of how you both were when we took you in at the end.

Mena, you were SO good, as usual, when we went in and got the diagnoses. And when we went in the next day for the last time, the doctors remember you and how sweet you were. You were so gentle and made such a big impression on everyone who met you... I have always wondered how nobody had adopted you before we did - but I'm incredibly thankful that we were the ones who had the honor of having you in the family.

Gideon, it's no secret that you hated being examined - and especially hated getting shots. But you did really well those last few appointments. And at the end, even though I had to hold you a little bit when the doctor brought the needle in, you did really well. I can't forget (and don't think I want to) how you went to sleep standing up in my arms. And then how after it was all over your lip and arms were twitching, just like they used to when you dreamed. I hope you were dreaming about how we used to wrestle with each other, and that you heard me telling you how much I love you.

I still love and miss you guys so much, and I hate not having you around. I look at pictures and it seems like you've only been gone a few hours, and that I'm going to see you come down the stairs any minute. But then I remember you aren't coming back and it hurts so bad. But somehow the magnitude of it doesn't seem real until I write about you. So here it is - I need to talk to you every once in a while. Sorry it's so rambling, but hopefully somehow you're getting it all.

Love forever,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scooze me...

"Scooze me...but today at school, while I was going potty, Ryan came and shut the door and locked it and when I went to open it I couldn't and then I freaked out."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Bilingual Daughter

Ellie is getting pretty clever. This evening she told me (while she was on the toilet, no less...and I'm sure you wanted to know that) that "how you say 'forehead' in Spanish is 'quatro cabeza'."

Not bad at all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preschoolers today

Now I'm certainly not one to judge - okay, now that the laughter has died down... It's certainly not my place to tell someone where they're going wrong in raising their kids, because I'm making plenty of my own mistakes and my glass house can't handle any stones thrown at it. But seriously, there's a kid at preschool who really needs a little more discipline. He just turned four, and:
  • His mom let him get out of his car seat and out of the car THROUGH THE BACK WINDOW. OK, he didn't actually make it all the way out, but it was only because they were running late and his mom pulled him out before he could do it himself.
  • He taught my daughter (and everyone else at school) to run around with pretend rifles yelling "FIRE!" and shooting at other people.
  • He told a story to the kids at his table (I was there, as was his mom) about how he saw a movie where "there was a big alien and the guy shot...he shot...he shot...he shot!...he shot the alien and the alien exploded and got stuff all over the guy!"
And is giving little plastic cowboys and Indians (the cowboy with a rifle, the Indian with the full headdress, etc) appropriate for 4 year olds?

Jeez, how old am I to be complaining about this? I need to go get some Depends before those darned kids egg my car.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cleaning up

I finally cleaned out the car and brought in Gideon's leash, collar, and ropey-ball toy. When I went to put them with Mena's stuff I held both leashes like I used to when I took them out for walks together. I felt so comfortable wrapping them both around my hand. And it felt so bad looking at the empty collars on the other ends.

I gave the old dog medicines to the vet for disposal and/or donating to needy clients. I think that helped, since I don't have to see all of it any more - especially the stuff we were giving Gideon near the end. I've also put the remaining dog stuff we don't want to keep in a big pile to either give to neighbors or give to the local shelter. But I just can't pull the trigger and give it away. I know we don't need it (and some of it was stuff that was never used) but it just makes things seem so final. I think one of the worst things is those 3 cans of wet food that are leftover. When I bought 12 cans I thought Mena might have time to finish them all. Little did I know that Gideon wouldn't even have enough time to finish them all.

I still have good and bad times, but more good than bad. Mostly it's when everyone is asleep that it's's just so quiet. I miss the nails clicking, the breathing, the digging of nests on the carpet. And I really miss having someone to talk to when I get home, or I'm the only one awake.

But overall, life is getting a little easier and we're all doing better. I know that it's healthy to get over their deaths and to move on, but in addition to feeling better I often also feel a range of other emotions. It's almost like I have 2 separate TV shows going in my head at once. Show 1 is the "feeling better" show, and Show 2 is the "sadness/grief/guilt" show. It's very strange watching both shows at once. And I'm not really sure I want Show 2 to end quite yet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Gideon,

I've written this letter over and over, and I just can't get it to express exactly what I'm feeling.  There's so much I want to say to you, but I just don't know where to begin.

Do you remember how right after Mena died, I whispered to you that you should let me know if you were ever in pain like Mena was and needed to leave us?

I was lying.

Okay, I didn't want you living in pain,  but I never imagined you'd leave so soon.  But a couple of days later you began having eye problems.  I found out that you had an inoperable tumor only one week after Mena died.  And exactly two weeks after Mena died in my lap, it was again time for me to hold one of my best friends as he died.  That's two of my best friends gone in as many weeks.

It was a little easier for me to accept with Mena, partially because it all happened so fast, and partially because I could tell she was getting very uncomfortable.  With you it was difficult to follow through with our decision once the painkillers started to work - you were your puppy self again.  I know it would have been selfish to make you live with the pain for any longer, but I still hope that you can forgive me for making such a terrible choice.

As difficult as it was losing a "healthy" dog, at least you were able to spend your final days having fun.  I am eternally grateful to have those last few days full of wonderful memories with you.  Going on our superwalk together, playing catch, watching you destroy your ropey ball toy...I cherish every single moment.  And there could be no better memory than your big sloppy tongue after a walk, or how you got so wiggly when I looked at your tennis ball.

I definitely expected to miss those types of big things.  But I never realized how much I counted on the little things that you (and Mena) did.  The house is now so quiet, especially at night.  It feels empty without your breathing, without your tail thumping, without your digging little "nests" on the rug downstairs.  Even without your licking your hands and arms.  As much as that annoyed me at times, I'd give anything to hear you do it again.

There are so many things I can't imagine living without.  Who is going to:
  • clean up the food under the table and on the kitchen floor
  • put his furry butt on me
  • leave clumps of butt fur all over the place
  • bring me yucky tennis balls
  • walk with me to the park and poop twice
  • let me pretend his tail is a paintbrush
  • calm down when I rub his belly button (it soothes the savagest of the G-men!)
  • drag and shred garbage into Matthew's room
  • be a wiggler when I get home
  • protect the yard and house from squirrels and/or strangers
  • bring me a belly to rub when I'm feeling sad
Most importantly, who's going to be my "little guy"?  And who will let me be "his dude"?  

Do you still remember when you told me you were my little guy?  In my mind, you're still that little puppy who peed on my shoe at the Seal Beach Animal Control Center.  Once you marked me, that was it...I was yours.  You were one of my best friends for more than 8 years, and I still can't believe that I don't have you around any more.  

When you died the world lost one of its brightest souls.  But, as Ellie points out, you're still with us - like the Angels.  And I can rest a bit easier knowing that Mena has her big brother back after what must have been a very long 2 weeks.  Enjoy her company again...I know you were missing her at least as much as we were.  Make sure you let her win a battle royale now and then, and don't get too mad when she steals your toys.  And you guys remember to guard the house, take care of the yard, and take care of each other.

No matter what, please remember that I always tried to do my best for you, and that you have always been (and always will be) in my heart.

Your dude

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Private Parts

Sharon (to Ellie): "What do you do if someone wants to touch your private parts?"
Ellie: "You say 'NO!  I don't want that chocolate."

Well, the school HAS been teaching the kids about appropriate looking and touching...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gideon, 1999-2008

My best friend is gone.  I've known a lot of dogs, but none were like Gideon*.

I first saw Gideon, a 3 month old “Shepherd Mix”, wiggling in a cage at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center.  He was such a cute puppy that I couldn’t believe he was still available.  We took him on a walk, and I was hooked.  While we were filling out the adoption paperwork, he peed on my shoe, so I guess he was hooked on me too.  From that day on, he was my “little guy” and I was his “dude.”

How could we resist this?

Or this?

We didn’t have kids yet, and we raised Gideon accordingly.  I loved wrestling with him, letting him gnaw on my hands and arms while we were playing (he was always so gentle).  And when we played outside he would go crazy every time I threw his "ropey ball" or rolled his "geometry" toy (a strange red globe-toy-thing for dogs).  He would bring it back to me all day long, but then move it just out of my reach.  It was our little game, and I loved it.

Geometry was a favorite

One of my favorite memories with him was planting the grapefruit tree in our old yard.  He helped me dig the hole.  His favorite tree, however, was the avocado tree.  He would eat anything that fell on the ground, even if it was still rock hard.  He'd just gnaw through the pit and everything.

Working on the Little G tree

One of his favorite "at home" activities was destroying tennis balls.  First, he'd chew it until it broke a little.  Then he'd "shave" it with his teeth and pull all the felt off.  Finally, he'd chew it a little more to turn it into a thousand pieces.  It was so much fun bringing a new can of tennis balls in - as soon as I'd pop the top he'd smell the "new tennis ball" smell and go bonkers!  And when we went for walks in the park he would concentrate on finding a tennis ball around the tennis courts.  He could sniff out tennis balls that were so far back, and then not give up until he (or I) got them.  He'd parade around for the rest of the walk holding it in his mouth, dropping it on my feet, and just looking like a proud father.

Even in the snow, tennis balls need chomping!

Of course, he loved going on walks.  Gideon wasn't like a lot of dogs - he preferred to stay on trails or sidewalks, and would rarely explore from side to side.  It was all about going forward, getting to the next stop.  On the W&OD trail, which has a yellow stripe down the middle of it, he'd always walk right along the stripe.

As our family grew, he missed being an “only child,” but he loved being part of the family.  And through everything, Gideon was always an amazing friend.  He always knew what I was feeling, even if I was trying not to show anything.  When I was happy, he'd be all wiggly.  When I was mad or upset, he'd go to his crate (even though I wasn't mad at him).  When I was sad, he'd come put his butt on me and let me rub his fur.  In fact, putting his butt on things was one of his favorite things to do.


Here Ellie, let me put my butt on you!

From the day I met him to the day he died, Gideon was always a puppy at heart.  He was, and will always be, my little guy - and I will always be his dude.  I cherish the memories of our time together, and I miss him more than anyone can imagine.

*Gideon, also known as Little G, Gid, Gid Kid, G-Monkey, My Little Guy, G-Man, Gidster, Brownhound, Mr. Stinkypants, Mr. Man, The Furry Buttcheeks McGee, The Gentle G, Stripeyback, and many combinations of the above

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Best Friends, Together Again (and always)

After two long weeks apart, you guys are together again.  Make sure you take care of each other, and let the squirrels know who the bosses are.  We love and miss you two more than words can say.

Gideon and Mena

Gideon's Last Full Day

Saturday was about as perfect as a day can get.  Gideon was feeling good, and we went on the W&OD trail again.  He was pretty sore, so we just did the "regular" walk, but man was he happy.

You expected to see him doing something else?

Come on Mom, the pooping grounds are this way!

Gross, yes, but it's how he'd want to be remembered!

Is Sharon trying to look like a rapper?

He was really tired for a while, so he rested for a few hours until Nadine came over for dinner.  We all played outside for a while, and he had the chance (and was feeling good enough) to first play with a ropey ball and then destroy it.  

It doesn't get much better than this!

After we came in, he was pretty tired again, but REALLY happy.  Nadine coming over was a fantastic way to spend the evening.  

Once he cooled off a bit, we took a few pictures with our happy Little G, and then had dinner.  

Of course, after dinner, we decided to relax the "under the table" rules a bit.

I did a little more playing and relaxing outside with Gideon after it got dark (while the kids were in the bath).  Then the standard rubbing and cuddling later.  I really can't imagine a more perfect "last day" with my sweet little boy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Perfect Walk

I went on the perfect walk this morning.  Gideon, Matthew, and I went to the W&OD trail right by our old house.  It started with a great car ride.  I moved the seats around so that Gideon could get up between the kids' car seats and put his head up by me.  It didn't take him long to do that, and he rode the whole way to the parking lot with his head under my arm.

He was SO excited to be there that I had a tough time keeping Gideon in the car while I got Matthew into the stroller.  Once we were set, we did our old "usual" walk, along the W&OD trail from Carlin Springs to Wilson and then back along the Four Mile Run trail.  I'd forgotten how much Gideon (and I) have missed that trail.

When we got to the far point by Wilson, Gideon needed no reminding that it was his old pooping grounds.  Happy doesn't begin to describe his reaction.  He even managed to do a toe wipe that threw some sand around.

A happy Little G at his "pooping grounds"

After that, we cut through the field and back around the "back way" so we could come back next to the Rose Garden.  The weather was perfect - it was in the mid to high 60s, the skies were bright blue with a few clouds, and there was a nice breeze.  And the trail was practially empty.  When we got to the picnic area, it was just too nice to pass by.

Sorry Gid, there's no picnic here for you

After a quick rest, and getting Matthew his snacks that I had been promising him for the whole walk so far, it was time to go again.  And by "time to go", I meant for me.  Every time I walk anywhere near the bathroom at the picnic area, my bladder starts yelling.  So we all went in.  Gideon waited patiently at the door, of course.

Gideon is pretty used to waiting for me in this doorway

Ahh...finally it was time to head on.  A quick trip by the Rose Garden, and then back to the car along the Four Mile Run trail.  It was wonderful following the path through the woods.  As we headed under the Carlin Springs bridge to go back to the car, Matthew fell asleep.  Gideon was still pulling hard, so I decided to add on our other "usual" walk - the W&OD trail from Carlin Springs to Columbia Pike and then back along Four Mile Run.  We hadn't done the "superwalk" in a long time!  

A few of the trees were starting to change color on the way out, and it was nice crunching through a few leaves.  By the time we got to the far point of this leg, Gideon was pretty tired.  At the pooping zone, all he wanted to do was flop down for a while.

A very tired Little G

We waited for a while, and he managed to get enough energy up to jump up and woof at another dog walking by, but quickly flopped back down again.  I was happy to wait with him, and will never forget how peaceful it was listening to the crickets and birds, with some water flowing in the distance.

After a while, my butt got too wet (from the grass, in case you must know) so it was time to go.  With a little coaxing, Gideon got up and we both hobbled along for a while...him on his bad hips and me on my bad knees.  We got warmed back up, and headed back to the car.  This part of the walk was probably my favorite...all I could hear was the sandy wheels of the stroller turning, Gideon panting, some critters making noise, and the water flowing in the river.

When we got back to the car, I scrounged up some water for Gideon and let him drink while I got Matthew up and out of the stroller.

Messy?  Naah...

I figured Gideon would plop down and do his heavy breathing in the back on our way home, but I found my arm quickly covered in dog slobber...and wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

The happiest little soul

Overheard on the W&OD trail

Two bicyclists were riding toward us.  They were all decked out in professional-type gear for road bikes, including the super-fancy helmets, matching outfits, very nice (looking at least) bikes, all the equipment you'd expect to see on a pro's bike.  I thought they were part of some biking team.

Guy #1: "Have you ever heard of drafting?"
Guy #2: "You mean like for the war?"
Guy #1: "No, for biking."

I guess Guy #2 wasn't as professional as he looked.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Being a grownup sucks

We've set the day.  Sunday, exactly two weeks after Mena died, will be my last day with Gideon.  I bought 12 cans of wet food for Mena when I thought she had a couple weeks left...and now Gideon isn't even going to be around long enough to finish them.  Wow.  I didn't see that coming.

Even typing it out, I can't believe that only 2 weeks ago we thought we had two relatively healthy dogs.  Now, in a matter of 2 weeks, we will have lost both of them to "masses".

And I used to thing being a grownup sucked when it came time to squish a big bug.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Worst

It's a tumor.  In the nose and behind the eye.  There's a lot of fluid around the eye and in the brain.  I'm still waiting to hear treatment options, but none sound acceptible for a 9 year old dog.

I thought I had prepared myself for the worst.  I was wrong.  I'm crushed.

MRI day

The visit to the opthamologist ruled out glaucoma or any other "easy" problem.  And, she said it wasn't that his eye was swollen - it was being displaced by something behind the eyeball.

So...we got Gideon an MRI to figure out what's back there.

No results yet.  Hopefully today.

On the positive side, Matthew was his usual spectacular self.  Despite getting less than 25 minutes of nap, he stayed happy all day and didn't mind (until the very end) being cooped up in a stroller in all the doctor's offices.

And that includes his 10pm trip to urgent care to search for a sticker up his nose.  That they couldn't find.  *sigh*

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another old dog

Wow, talk about a tough week for dog lovers at our house.  It's now Gideon's turn at the vet.  He developed a swollen red eye, and it was all red, so on Friday I took him in and got some pills and drops.  They didn't work as well as the doctor had hoped, so they're now recommending we take him to the opthamologist.

What's giving me the chills is the fact that the vet didn't sound very happy on the phone, and she said there "could be something behind the eye."  On Friday one of the causes she mentioned was a tumor.

Have I mentioned that I'm not too keen on losing another dog right now?

Over the weekend my stomach was in knots worrying about this.  After talking to the vet, I'm having a problem typing this because I'm literally shaking.  I just can't imagine something awful happening so soon to last weekend.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear Mena,

It's hard to imagine that only 8 days ago you and I headed to the vet to get some pills to cure your breathing problems, and then one day later you lay dying in my lap.

Of course it's nothing compared to what you went through, but our last week has been strange.  It's been 7 years since Gideon has been alone for more than an hour or so; I know there are times when he likes it, but it's definitely been hard.  When the kids and I got home after being gone for 4 hours on Monday, he sniffed around us looking for something.  I can't say for sure he was looking for you, but he sure acted like it.  

And he absolutely wouldn't go into the spot where you laid on the grass for the last time.  It's odd how you dogs know things.  Every day he gets a little more normal, but this morning he came upstairs and laid down for a couple minutes where your pillow used to be.  Then, with no prompting, he left your spot.  I can tell he misses you.

Ellie and Matthew didn't say TOO much about it on Monday, but starting Tuesday (and on every day since) they have talked a lot about you.  Ellie wants her bedtime stories to be how we got you and Gideon, and then how you died.  She also reminds us that you're still around, with Grandma Boo and Grandpa Don and the angels.  Give them big cuddles for us.

We didn't think Matthew would understand any of this, but every time we come into the house Matthew says, "Mena Mena."  He also goes to where your pillow was, points at whatever is there and says angrily, "No!  Mena's pillow there!"  Hopefully you know how much he misses you too.

As for me, putting away your pillows and toys was terrible, and I still haven't washed them.  Even after putting your stuff away, at the beginning of the week (and occasionally since) I would forget that you aren't around and would expect to see you as I walked around a corner.  Out of habit I'd look out the kitchen window to see if you were in your usual spot in the yard.  And Sharon and I both haven't gotten used to coming home to only 1 wiggler.

But as the week progressed, life has started to become more normal.  I've focused on the family and life in general, and even though I know it's healthy, I feel super-guilty for not thinking about you 100% of the time.  

You really were such a wonderful dog, and we all miss you very much!

All of us

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mena, 2000-2008

When it comes to family dogs, none were better than Mena*.  When we got her in 2001, it was as a playmate/friend/sister for our other dog, Gideon.  We were actually looking at another dog at the shelter, but Gideon and the other dog ignored each other.  When the shelter volunteer asked if we'd seen Mena, I said, "Who?"  She was so polite that she was just curled up in the back of her kennel behind some other dogs, and I hadn't noticed her.

When she came out to the play area to meet Gideon, the two of them ran around like maniacs, playing and splashing in the wading pools, chasing balls, and generally having a good time.  She was DEFINITELY the one.

It wasn't until after we got her home that we realized what a sweetie she was (in addition to coming pre-housebroken).  She could wrestle around with Gideon, but then she'd come in and sit in our laps if we let her.  It's not necessarily easy for a 55 pound dog, but she tried it.  She loved being around people, but was so polite you might not notice her.  As soon as you started petting her, she'd snuggle right in for attention.  And with fur as soft as hers, who could resist?

Once we had Ellie, we started to realize how amazing she really was.
She was so gentle and sweet with Ellie, even as a baby.  Once Ellie became mobile, she would follow Ellie from room to room.  Tugged tails and pulled ears didn't seem to bother her - she just loved being with her people.

Along came Matthew, and Mena just got better and better.

Two kids trying to poke, prod, pull, jump on, and otherwise abuse her didn't seem to bother her any more than just one did.  She took it in stride, and we loved her more and more every day.  

I'm going to miss her more than I ever imagined, and I hope that everyone has the chance to have such a wonderful family member as Mena. 

*Mena, also known or referred to as: Mena B., Mena B. Zoo, Mena Bazoo, Squirley Girley, Sweetie, Furball #2, Yellow Dog, Yellow Hound, Wiggler #2, "Ma" (when Ellie was little), "May-May" (when Matthew was little)

Mena, part II

Well, we had to do it - Mena is gone.  I can't believe how quickly it went from my calling the vet about her having (what I thought was) a cold or pneumonia to our having to put her to sleep.  When I brought her home from the hospital Saturday, she was doing okay (just okay, though) and we thought we had a week or so.  We went for a walk, and she was really slow, but still in great spirits.  Although she was still putting on a happy face, she was deteriorating really quickly.

Last night she didn't really move a lot.  Going up and down the stairs was tough for her, and she didn't sleep much at all.  At about 1am she came to lay by my side of the bed.  When she woke me up at about 4am, I decided to get up with her and we cuddled downstairs for a while.  Once everyone got up we had our usual morning routine, called a friend to watch the kids, we all said our goodbyes, and we took her in.  The place was very nice, and we were with her until the very end.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ellie and Mena

On our walk today with Mena, Ellie told us that "it's not fair that Mena's going to die."  Truer words were never spoken.

But then she also told us that "it's okay, she'll still be with us after she dies.  Just like the angels.  We can't see them, but they're with us."  She also said that "I'll miss Mena because she gives us all her cuddles."  What a sweet little girl Ellie is...pretty smart for an almost-4-year-old.  I hope I'm as strong as that when Mena's time comes.  But I doubt it.

Tonight we all hugged Mena, told her we loved her, thanked her for all the cuddles and for being such a good friend.  I hate being a grown-up.

Mena, the Dog

Wow, today has really sucked bad.  I took Mena, our 8 year old dog, to the vet because we thought she had a really bad cold, or pneumonia, or something like that.  After the X-rays, the doctor told me it was serious, and I definitely wasn't prepared for the rush of adrenaline that I got.  The vet told me that Mena had a lot (a LOT) of fluid around her heart, and that we could either go to the emergency vet, take her home, or put her to sleep right then.  !!!

I raced to the emergency clinic, and was told that no matter what, it was not good.  It was just a matter of how not good it was.  A few months, weeks, days.  They did the ultrasound on Mena's chest.  Apparently, it's not liquid.  A huge mass has crowded her organs and that's why she's been having problems.  

Any solutions they could offer would be more to ease our pain, not hers.  So we brought her home, took her for a walk, and are all telling her how much we love her.  That's all we can do for now.  When the time comes, if she doesn't choose for herself and die at home, we'll take her in and put her to sleep.  I hope the time is obvious, because I can't imagine making that choice right now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Odd children's books

Most of our kids books are pretty standard fare - Sandra Boynton, Dr. Suess, etc. But there are a couple that I just think are a little strange for kids.

One is The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs. This is one of those books with no words, which is great. We can make up stuff as we go along, and the boy (I think right now we're calling him Johnny) makes a snowman and has great adventures with him. Nice, huh? Except in the last frame he goes outside and finds his best friend melted.


The other one that is strange to read to a 1 and 3 year old is The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice story, but I find it to be quite sad. So of course the kids LOVE this book. It reminds me of the love story in Forrest Gump, where the girl uses Forrest whenever she needs something (especially when she goes back at the end of the movie) but goes away whenever she wants, and she doesn't really love Forrest (at least that's the way I see it). In this book, there's a tree and a boy. The tree loves the boy, and the boy just uses the tree whenever he needs something. He takes and takes, goes away for long periods of time, and then comes back when he needs something else.

Wait a minute, is that tree his parent?

Anyway, at the end the boy comes back and sits on the stump (that's all that he left of the tree), and the tree is happy again just because the boy is back.

What a dumb tree.

Wow, has it been that long?

Well, I suppose now that we've been in the new house for 3 weeks I should probably update this for posterity's sake. Hmm...what's different?


Well, Matthew is turning into a world class climber. The other day I was upstairs cleaning (okay, getting a Diet Mountain Dew) and heard Ellie shriek "Matthew needs heeeeellllp!"

I ran downstairs to find Matthew in his old high chair. Ellie calmly told me that he needed help getting down. Yeah, I can see that? How did he get up there?

"He just climbed up."

Uh oh. I always prided myself on the fact that Ellie stayed in her crib until she was 3. Never once did she try and get out. I guess it's time to get the duct tape out and strap Mr. Man down at bedtime.

Since the high chair incident, I've caught him climbing up into it a few more times, climbing on top of every table in the house, moving chairs to get up on higher tables, and bringing a stool upstairs to climb up onto who-knows-what.

We were at the park yesterday and a little girl (probably 7ish) was walking on top of the hand-over-hand ladder thing. I had to shield Matthew's eyes to prevent THAT notion from entering his head so soon. I'm not ready for that yet.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Oh my!

Me: "So, tell me what you did at preschool today..."

Ellie: "I slept with Alex today."

Boy, they are growing up fast these days!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Toilet time

The other morning before taking Ellie to preschool, nature was calling, and there was no way I was going to let it go to voicemail. So off I went, and as I was closing the door Ellie ran in behind me and said "I'll help you!"

Just what I needed - my last sacred "alone" spot ruined.

So I got things started, and then she yelled, "No! No! Wait!!! You're supposed to be reading a magazine!"

At least she's learning from the best!


That evening, Ellie was in the bathroom for the entire dinnertime, singing and doing who-knows-what. Despite my calls for her to hurry up, there was no getting her out, and this wasn't a battle I was prepared to fight. Whatever.

There were lots of comments that were wonderful dinner conversation - "Ellie, are you peeing? Pooping?" "Yes pee! No poop!"

Finally, and I really mean finally, because I was practically ready to go to bed at this point, I heard the toilet paper start spinning madly, followed by, "Uh, hey! I think I pooped!"

OK, it's not so funny for anyone but Sharon, but she made me post this so she could laugh about it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If only I could get away with this!

Sharon: "Ellie, what the heck are you doing?" (Ellie is covering her ears with her hands)

Ellie, pointing emphatically at Sharon: "Trying to make YOU be quiet!"

The doctor has surely seen worse

So Matthew went in for his 18 month appointment on Friday. He'd already been sick for a couple of weeks, apparently (hint, hint, note the foreshadowing) with what I had also come down with - a super-cold. The Mother of All Colds. The "call your wife and have her come home early from work because you can barely make it to the car to pick up the kid" cold. Anyway, he was still kind of sick, so I figured that it was still worth going to get him checked out, even though we wouldn't get the shots.

He has 2 ear infections. Whoops.

The child is a trooper, I have to admit. Other than poking his ears a couple of times, he didn't seem like he had any more than I did. Well, he's teething too, but other than that...

So we are at the doctor's office, and Ellie was out of school because of the huge "winter event" that didn't end up happening, so she came with us. Not to be outdone by 2 ear infections, she barfed at the doctor's office.

Sorry, she "barfded." While I was getting Matthew naked. OK, it wasn't the first time that day, but I thought she was empty.

So here's what I don't get. If a kid barfs at the doctor's office, wouldn't you expect that they'd kind of clean it up really well? I ended up cleaning it up with some wipes, then asked for some clorox wipes (explaining what had happened). They brought me some, I wiped the area down, and then they sprayed some Lysol around.

That was it. EEWW! Had I mentioned that Matthew was running around naked? In an office where goodness knows what had happened, and how poorly it had been cleaned up? Bleah.

You know what's worse? I forgot to wash BOTH kids hands before eating lunch later. What the heck is wrong with me?

(although at least I Purelled them)

Friday, February 8, 2008

She's growing up...

"I already peed, Daddy! Now I'm pooping again. I want to poop a lot of times. Could you please get out of here?"

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Germans are coming!

"So Ellie, what did you learn in school today?"

"If you eat and then don't brush your teeth, the food turns into Germans. The Germans will eat your teeth and you will have to see the dentist. That's why you have to brush your teeth."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snack time at preschool is interesting

As usual, I asked, "Ellie, what did you do at preschool today?"

"For our snack we had brown bars that tasted like cheese. Sage 'barfded' at snack time. Sage did this *puffs cheeks* before he barfded. Instead of the food going into your belly and turning to poop it comes back out and turns into barf. That's why, daddy. Sage was trying to hold his barf. I didn't like the little brown bars at snack time so I threw mine away."

Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm a dope...

I watched Britney drive around and around the courthouse live on What's worse? I actually got a little thrill out of it. And even worse? I felt cheated when my stream got cut off and I couldn't see her actually go in! I'm so ashamed.

Who? Matthew? Was I supposed to be watching him? Oh, I think he was off playing in the knife drawer or something.

Friday, January 11, 2008

6:10 am

"It's 6:10!!! I WANT TO GO DOWN THE STAYERS!" (she drags "stairs" out to at least 2 syllables...hey, she's from Texas!)

And so another morning begins. Fortunately I've already gotten ready, since this is the usual routine. Get up at 4:30 when Sharon's alarm starts going off. Get up every 10 minutes for about an hour when her snooze alarms go off. At 5:45, after she's out of the shower, take my shower and get ready. Read until 6:10, at which point Ellie calls out.

Once I get into her room, she points out that "it's now 6:11." Thanks.

This morning there was a twist. She was laying in bed while I was getting her clothes out, and we had this little conversation:
"Ellie, did you get a good night's sleep?"
"Yes. I was picking boogers after I got up."
"Oh. What have you been doing with them?"
"Smashing them."
"Uh, where?"
"In my hand. Whenever you pick boogers with your fingers, you ALWAYS need to wash your hands."
"That's good advice, dear."

At least she's learning about hygiene, right?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ellie vs. Judas Priest

We were listening to the radio during dinner last night, and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" by Judas Priest came on. In case you aren't familiar with the chorus (and I imagine you aren't):

If you think I'll sit around as the world goes by
You're thinkin' like a fool cause its a case of do or die
Out there is a fortune waitin' to be had
You think I'll let it go you're mad
You've got another thing comin'

After the song, Ellie said "If they say 'you've got another thing coming,' you say 'NOOO! I don't WANT another thing coming!'"

Now how can she understand those lyrics so well, but I can't get her to listen to one thing I say?

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Memo

To: People who read and walk at the same time
Re: You are stupid

Dear Sir(s) and Madam(s),

You can do many things while you read, but despite what you think, walking isn't one of them. I know you like to show everyone how smart you are by reading Nietzsche while you're walking down the street, but trust me, you can't possibly concentrate on both walking and reading enough to properly do either.

And when you can't see around the book you're holding at eye level and step off the curb against the light, almost causing an accident in front of me outside the Clarendon Metro, I just think you're an idiot.