Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Days and Summer's Eve

In non-Luigi news, work's going great.  I really love my job at SQUISH.  I've found my groove and the other girls on the team are fun and cool.  Yeah, my boss is ten years younger than me, but whatever.  In my 6-month review, she told me I was everyone's favorite to work with.  That's the kind of thing I love to hear!  I'd rather have that be my claim to fame than being #1 in sales.  Frankly, I'd be stunned if I wasn't everyone's favorite.  I have no authority to boss anybody around, I get shit done, and fuck, I'm hilarious.

I'm working fewer hours over the summer so I can hang more with the Apes.  Toward the end of the school year my other mom friends were asking me if I'd signed my kids up for any activities or camps.  I hadn't.  Totally forgot, didn't research, couldn't afford it anyway.  How big a loser mom did I feel like? 

But then I remembered how much time I spent in summers past (documented for all eternity, thanks to Blogger) driving kids from one thing to the next.  I about killed myself, as you may recall.  So this year, quite by accident, the Apes and I have been enjoying summer's leisure.

Remember this little girl, all dressed up in her fancy flower girl dress? This is the first pic I ever posted of her on this blog, back in 2005.

In less than two weeks, I will be the mother of a teenager.

Is this bothering me?  Am I consumed by thoughts of my own mortality?  Nah, not really.  But kind of.

I'm so proud of Beebie, and I'm even just a little bit proud of myself for being a pretty good mom.  She's such a cool kid.  We talk about everything.  Seriously, everything.  Well, R was the one who explained to her what Boners are (penises and anything penis-related are his domain; menstruation and cooter issues are mine), but I explained what a Douchebag actually is, and how my grandmother used to have boxes of Massengill in her hall closet, and tried to find that goofy commercial about the mom and the daughter and the "not-so-fresh feeling" on YouTube.  Here it is. 

Then I found some other funny ones. You're welcome.

Sorry, I digress. R and I have a great, ongoing open dialogue with Beeb, and I think it's the one thing I'm proudest of.  But when I remember that her turning 13 means I'm going to be 40 in about 6 months, I keep hearing this song in my head -

The competition's getting younger
Tougher broncs, you know I can't recall
The worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze
Seem to be the only friends I've left at all

And the white line's getting longer and the saddle's getting cold
I'm much too young to feel this damn old
All my cards are on the table with no ace left in the hole
I'm much too young to feel this damn old
Lord, I'm much too young to feel this damn old

And can I just say, when you've got nothing but Garth Brooks lyrics rattling around in your noggin, it might be time for an intervention.

Beeb's 13th birthday is as much a milestone for me as it is for her.  I'd been dreading her becoming a teenager since before she was born.  And now, as the dreaded day looms ever closer, I'm not only at peace with it, I'm overjoyed.  I'm excited, even.  And so incredibly proud.   

In a strange way, Beeb's upcoming birthday has given me a sense of parental competence that I've never had before.  For all the stressing and freaking out I've done over the last thirteen years (the last five immortalized in this blog), I've actually managed to get a lot right.  I'm getting better about picking my battles and not sweating the small stuff.  I'm starting to get the hang of this Mom thing. 

For the first time in my illustrious parental career, I actually feel like I kinda know what I'm doing.  Well, that's not exactly right.  It might be more accurate to say that I've accepted that no matter how much I stress myself out trying to get everything perfect, there will always be things I'm going to screw up as a parent.  There will be numerous Epic Fails.  And they'll probably be fuckin' funny.  And guess what?  The kids are probably going to be okay anyway.   

The fact that Beeb has managed to live this long without ending up in Juvie is not just a credit to me, but to every person involved in helping me be the parent I want to be.  Yeah, I know I have no idea what lies ahead.  Of course I don't.  But I feel pretty good about my (and My Village's) ability to handle it. 

Beeb is an awesome, awesome person. 
Y'all can pat yourselves on the back.   

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cousin Oliver

Remember that classic episode of The Brady Bunch when Cindy overhears a conversation in which it is stated that the Bradys are going to have "an addition to the family" and she assumes that means Carol is pregnant, but it's really just that annoying little dipshit Cousin Oliver? 

I hope this doesn't mean my blog has jumped the shark. 

No, I'm not pregnant.  Meet our new addition - LUIGI!
Doesn't he look sweet?

See that striped chair on the left side of the picture?


Has it really been since May 14th? Seriously? Ugh, I'm sorry I haven't written anything for so long.  It's that lethal combination of having too much to write and no time to write it, and then when I do have time I'm too tired to make my fingers move.

I'm going to have to start with the story of how Luigi came to our house from Stray Rescue. You can read about him if you click HERE.

There's also his Rescue Story which might warm your heart, so click HERE for that.

A few weeks ago the Karmas went to a Stray Rescue Benefit Event at Speed Racer's church. I'd told my mom that we were going, and her advice was "Don't get sucked in!" I was on my guard, knowing I'd probably meet some adorable dog that I'd love and want to take home on the spot, and the kids would beg and beg, but I would stand firm.

And then we met this puppy. 

His name was Aang.  He had an adorable little cleft palate.  The kids spent hours playing with him, holding him, and walking him.  But they knew how I felt about having a dog.  I was the one who would be home with it all day every day, and I kinda value the freedom I've only recently started to enjoy after 8 long years as a stay-home mom.  And there is no WAY I'm potty training a dog.  I'm just not in the mood.  So when it was time to go, the kids bid goodbye to Aang, and we went home.  No tears, no "Why can't WE have a dog??"  They knew why. 

But then, for the next day or two, I couldn't stop thinking about little Aang.  I knew he'd have no problem being adopted because he was so freakin cute.  And I knew I didn't want a puppy.  But it was so nice to hold him and cuddle him and pet him, I thought, just maybe, I might be persuaded to change my stance.  So I sneaked little peeks at the Stray Rescue website to see if there were any older (read:  already housetrained) dogs that looked interesting.

My favorite was a really cute one named Oliver, but he was on a home visit when I called Stray Rescue.  So was Kerby, the Great Pyrenees.  The Stray Rescue volunteer suggested I look through the website and come up with a list of 3 or 4 that we might like to meet.  Luigi was on that list, and the volunteer told me that of the ones we were interested in, she thought he'd be the best fit for us.  He would do well with a family with kids, and a fenced yard.  I'm smart enough to know that this translates into HIGH ENERGY.

I really didn't want a high energy dog.   And I didn't want a big dog.  I wanted one that I could cuddle.  I'm thinking Pug, Boston Terrier, something like that.  Luigi's ad said he was 60 pounds.  It's hard to visualize what 60 pounds looks like in a dog you've never seen.  Tito weighs about 60 pounds, and he's quite cuddly, so maybe 60 pounds would be all right.

July 3rd, we were supposed to go out to Chez Inlaw for the 4th of July Weekend party with the fireworks and whatnot.  (Remember last year when Aldidog pooped on FIL's white carpet?)  Stray Rescue called to see if we wanted to meet Luigi that morning, and since all of our top choices had been snatched up so quickly, we thought we'd better jump at the chance to meet a dog that was on our list. 

We waited in the Stray Rescue courtyard for Luigi to come out and meet us.  My first reaction, when he bolted out the door was Holy CRAP, He's Too Big.  And then one volunteer told the other that on their way outside, Luigi had stopped at the bin where they keep all the dogs' toys, pulled the bin off the shelf, rummaged through the toys to find the one he wanted, and gotten it out all by himself. 

The most significant moment in my entire life that found me in a similar spot - in which I had to make an instantaneous choice as to whether a particular thing I had just learned about someone should be considered  A) adorable and endearing or B) a huuuuuuge red flag - was on my first date with R.  We were going to dinner at pub I'd never been to, and literally as soon as we walked through the door, the bartender yelled "Hey, R!  Pour you a Guinness?"  It's such a fine line between hella cool and fuckin creepy.  Obviously, I went with Cool, but I mentally filed it away thinking it would be a funny story to tell our kids someday, and the rest is history. 

And, standing there in the courtyard, hearing that this dog had helped himself to something spoke more to his above-average intelligence and playful impishness than to a sense of entitlement or the kind of independence that might present a problem.  He already sounded like one of my brilliantly impish children.  An evil genius, like Pie.  Evil geniuses are kinda fun to be around.  He'd fit right in.

The volunteer suggested the five of us take him for a walk.  R took the leash.  Tito was cranky and pouting because he wanted to walk Luigi.  We tried to tell Tito that it wasn't a good idea.  Luigi was pulling hard.  Luigi was strong.  Tito said he was stronger than a dog.  And he kept looking at the ground and shuffling his feet and telling me how unfair it was that he couldn't walk Luigi.  I turned to R, and said, fine, show him.  You may or may not agree with this style of parenting, but the only way that kid will quit bitching is if you show him exactly why things need to be the way the grownups say they need to be. 

Tito had to run to keep up, and Luigi thought he was being chased, so he ran faster and faster.  Luigi flew Tito like a kite.

Tito, to his credit, never let go of the leash, despite falling on the sidewalk and being dragged until R could get a hold of Luigi.  I was slightly concerned that the Stray Rescue people would see Tito's scraped leg and think I was a shitty mom for allowing my child to learn something the hard, painful way, but they didn't appear to be questioning my parenting skills.  We made arrangements to try Luigi out, as part of their Rent-A-Pet program which allows you to bring a dog home and see how things go.

As soon as we got him in the van the next day, I started to freak out.  It began with a quickening heartbeat and the faintly cold sweaty sense of panic.  And the sense of panic grew and grew to the level of that full-on fetal position anxiety that totally immobilizes me.  I wanted to puke and cry and scream, but I felt like I was paralyzed.  At this point, I knew it was only a trial basis, but I really wanted it to work out.  I didn't want to be the asshole who returns a dog.  And I especially didn't want to tell my mom that I should have listened to her and not gotten sucked in.

But as Luigi tore through my house, jumping on everyone and everything, I thought, Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?  The kids are going out of town and I have to work all day Thursday.  I can't leave this dog home alone.  What am I going to do??  This is insane.  I can't take him back; that's so tacky.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Mother.  Fucking.  FUCK.  I was beside myself, sick with anxiety. 

The next day, I made R call the Stray Rescue lady and tell her it wasn't going to work out.  I felt like such a douche, I couldn't tell her myself.  The lady asked if we'd be willing to have the behaviorist come over and give us some ideas.  Sure, I'd be willing.  I really didn't want to give up.  I'm not a giver upper (so says my Inspirational Tampon, anyway).  I wanted to give Luigi a fair chance.  But inside, I was deeply conflicted.   

He'd shown us many moments of sweetness.  Many.  He let everyone pet him, he played in the yard with squeaky toys.  He laid on the floor at our feet and let us rub his belly.  He really was, and is, an extremely sweet dog.  95% of the time, he's mellow - just chilin on the floor, gnawing on his nylabone. 

And we all decided we liked him.  Even Tito, after a little encouragement, was on board.   

Within the hour, the volunteer we'd been working with and the behaviorist were at my house with a large dog crate and a harness.  He hated the crate (the behaviorist speculated a past traumatic experience could be a factor), but the harness made a huge difference in helping me and the kids feel as though we could handle him, and I felt a great deal less anxious.  I actually felt really good. Over the next couple of days, he did very well when he gave him pretty much free reign of the downstairs.  I let him stay out of the crate while I was at work all day Thursday, and I came home to no messes.  I was thrilled.  R was over the moon. 

R and I even took him to get sno cones. 

He sat in Tito's car seat,

and he let everyone at Tropical Sno pet him. 

He's brought R out of his shell, too.  R's just giddy when he talks about Luigi.  Everybody asks what kind of dog he is, and R proudly says that he's an Akita mix, and that we got him from Stray Rescue.  He's more excited than he was when any of the Apes were born.  In R's defense, each Ape was born into a swirling vortex of unique drama.

Luigi's a great addition to our family.  Most of the time.  

But then there's this.

Yeeeeeah.  Wasn't Cousin Oliver a jinx? 

On the plus side, I am discovering that there is an endless amount of entertainment value at pet stores.