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."