Friday, June 29, 2012

I Can't Have Nice Things

I talk a lot about my two little girls. I can go on and on about all the crazy, silly, lovely ways they make my life interesting. I've been working on a blog the last few days about some of their antics. I was having a hard time keeping my thoughts straight and it just wasn't coming out right. I took that as a sign that I should stop writing about that topic and think of another story. I wasn't sure what I would write about next and it has been on my mind all day. Luckily, my other children, the four legged variety, came to my rescue with an excellent story. This is about Bailey Grace (the pit bull) and Malcolm Reynolds (the doberman pinscher).


This evening, we went out to dinner with my in-laws before they head up to Massachusetts for the week. I had my phone in my back pocket and decided at the last moment to leave it at home. I didn't think I needed it and we were only going to be away for an hour or so. I placed it in the middle of the kitchen table on the way out the door. It's 104 degrees in Georgia so we let the dogs stay inside while we were gone. (Usually they hang out in the fenced in backyard and run around while we are away from the house.) The dogs are always getting into things and chewing stuff. We could fill the house to the brim with raw hides and nylabones and they would still find something to destroy. Before we leave the house, I make sure to close all the bedroom doors and pick up EVERYTHING off the floor or within their reach. I never had to baby-proof the house, but damn it, I've dog-proofed the house. 

After dinner, we came home to two happy pups. Both dogs ran to the door and gave us a warm welcome. I looked around the corner and noticed a bunch of black plastic pieces all over the floor. Bailey pulled the black extension tube off the vacuum cleaner a few days ago and chewed it to bits, so my first thought was she had somehow found leftover pieces of the tube and snacked on that. The Hub walked over and picked up a small silver square from the wreckage. It was a cell phone battery. My cell phone battery. The rest of the phone was no where in sight. 

Bailey ate my phone.

I went into a frantic search for the rest of the phone. I had visions of x-rays and emergency vet bills dancing in my head. I finally found the rest of my phone, slightly chewed, but still intact. The back cover and the battery were beyond repair. I was relieved that Bailey did not actually ingest my phone, but I'm still pretty ticked that I'm without a phone until whenever I can get to a T-mobile store.

My phone... or what's left of my phone.

What baffles me is how she got the phone in the first place. She's a squat little dog. The kitchen table benches were pushed in so she could not have reached the phone. That's when I turned to Malcolm and asked him, "Did you do this?" He smiled. If guilty, Malcolm will show his teeth. If not guilty, he will just look at you. My theory is that Malcolm knocked the phone off the table and Bailey took off with it.

This is a dobie smile (Not Malcolm)
Photo Credit -

I'm mad but I'm not surprised. So far, in the year since we rescued Bailey and Malcolm, they have snacked on the following:

  • The outside cable line for our TV and internet
  • The wooden handle off The Hub's rubber mallet
  • 2 pairs of S's pj bottoms
  • 4 hand towels (Malcolm actually ate these and passed them.)
  • The downspout from the gutter
  • The screen door to our porch
  • 10 pairs of my underwear 
  • 3 barbie heads
  • The Hub's phone charger cord
  • The kitchen table bench leg
  • A 24 count box of crayons 
  • Several pieces of S's art work
  • Malcolm's Thunder Shirt 
  • A pair of The Hub's "yard work" shoes
  • A radio electrical cord
  • An electrical extension cord
  • A straw broom
  • A mop head
  • Their own food bowl after they ate their kibble
  • Dog shampoo bottle
  • Plastic cups
  • Hair scrunchies
  • Mardi Gras beads
  • A beer can
  • B's sippy cup lids
  • All the sod in our backyard

That's all I can remember at this point. This does not include the non-chewing damage. I've had to shampoo the carpet numerous times after they mud wrestled in our sod-free yard and rushed through the door before I could wipe them down. 

Every dog behavioral book I read suggests that their destructive behavior is due to boredom. Really? Really?! My family and I play with Bailey and Malcolm all the time. I've bought chew toys and bones. We toss the tennis ball until the dogs drop from exhaustion. There are times when I want to drop from exhaustion after a good play time. They get cuddles and hugs all the time. The Hub wrestles with the pups everyday after work and on the weekends. 

Bailey will be a year old in July so she's still considered a puppy. Puppies chew... a lot. The pound estimated that Malcolm is about two years old. He has severe separation anxiety and stress eats. No matter how hard I try to keep things out of their reach, they always seem to find things to munch on. We don't leave them alone very often. Sometimes they destroy things behind the couch while we are in the same room. It only takes a few minutes. I know we have been extremely lucky that we haven't had to take either one of them to the vet because of their eating habits. I knock on wood every day. Every single day.

But, why do you keep these demon dogs?!

I'm a glutton for punishment? Possibly. Both dogs are very sweet. Both beasts think they are small enough to be lap dogs. (Bailey is 60 lbs and Malcolm is 80 lbs.) Both pups adore my girls and will lay down with them if they are sad or sick. The most vicious thing about Bailey is her tongue. The most vicious thing about Malcolm is his gas. They have funny personalities and like to play games. Bailey is protective of her human sisters and keeps an eye on them. Malcolm will wake from a sound sleep at 3 AM to check out a strange noise. He won't settle down until he makes his rounds through the house and checks on everyone in their beds. They are always happy to see us, even if we just left the room, only to return a minute later. They are always up for hugs and kisses. Right now, Bailey is under my desk, laying on my feet. Malcolm is laying down right behind my chair. They never interrupt me while I'm working... which is more than I can say about my human kids. Every time my dogs destroy something, I have to remind myself that it was probably my fault that they got a hold of whatever it was that they destroyed. I probably need to get more chew toys. Durable chew toys. The simple fact is, Bailey and Malcolm love us. They are monsters, but they love us. 

And, I love them.

Malcolm Reynolds and Bailey Grace

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Migraines, Mayhem, and Miracles

I woke up this morning with a migraine. Anyone who has ever experienced a migraine knows that it is not pleasant. My migraines occur behind my right eye and spread to the back of my neck. My vision blurs and my teeth hurt. I am light sensitive and any noise louder than a whisper sounds like a jackhammer next to my ear. A really bad one involves the feeling of nausea. Basically, I'm rendered completely useless until it passes. In a word, it sucks.

Yep... that's about right.

While writhing in immense pain, I start daydreaming about drilling a hole into my skull to relieve the pressure. It's an ancient process called trepanning. I know it's not 100% safe, but at times like these, I'm pretty much game to try anything to feel better.  The Hub is wary about drilling a hole in my skull. I'm sure there are tons of husbands who would jump at the opportunity to drill a hole in their wife's head, but he's not one of them. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Please, don't feel sorry for me. It's my own damn fault... kind of. My migraines are very predictable and completely avoidable. I know this. I did this to myself. A combination of three things gives me migraines:

  1.  I have a gluten intolerance and too much gluten in my diet triggers these demon headaches. My dumb ass devoured two pieces of pizza last night with the belief that two little pieces wouldn't hurt me. I was wrong. Oh, so very wrong.  
  2. Lack of sleep. The hub went out with the guys last night and I couldn't fall asleep until I knew he safely returned home. (I inherited this disorder from my mother. I don't think she slept more than 4 hours a night when my sisters and I started driving and dating.) 
  3. Monthly hormones. I'm sure everyone reading this blog is past the age of puberty and I don't need to go into detail. 

Say it with me folks, "Getting old sucks."

Last night, the trifecta of triggers occurred and I set myself up for a very painful experience this morning. Completely my fault. But, I'm still going to complain about it. It's my blog, I can do that.

Usually, I can fight off an episode with an OTC migraine pill but, I forgot to replenish my supply after the last one. I was forced to rely on some good ol' fashioned home remedies: laying down in a cool, dark room with a cold compress pressed on my forehead. Right before I retreated to my bedroom, I explained to the girls that I was in a lot of pain and needed a few moments of alone time. They know when I have a migraine when The Hub is at work, I am border-line possessed and mean business. They each gave me a hug and promised to entertain themselves while I was away.

I doubted B's word since she has a meltdown when I leave the room (as explained here). Sometimes, she surprises me and does exactly the opposite of what I expect of her. They did entertain themselves... as well as everyone within a mile radius of the house. Today, the girls formed their very own Heavy Metal Rock band. S cranked her electric guitar amp to 10 and made sounds I didn't know a guitar could make. B was beating on her toy drum a la Animal from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.

Both were perfecting their Death Metal screams and growls. This, of course, excited the dogs and they joined in with barking and howling. The neighbors gathered outside our house with their folding lawn chairs and beer coolers and some punk kids formed a mosh pit in our front yard. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) I was in migraine hell. I tried to call out and tell them to turn it down but they couldn't hear me over their concert. The thought of getting out of bed made me feel dizzy. I did the only thing left to do. I prayed. It went something like this:

Hi God. 
It's me, Terese. How have you been? I am very grateful that my kids are entertaining themselves. I usually encourage exploring all forms of art and want them to become the biggest rock group since  the Rolling Stones. I don't want to be greedy but, for the love of you, I beg of you, please let all noise making objects in my house spontaneously combust or grant me a few hours of reversible deafness... my vote is for deafness because the kids are content right now and I don't really want to deal with sad children with broken instruments. I think my head is about to explode. Please grant me the strength and foresight to move my head off the pillow and away from the freshly laundered bed sheets. I am out of detergent and I'm pretty sure blood and brains will stain the fabric if not treated immediately. Also, you know I hate doing the laundry, so that would be a big blessing in my book. Now that I think about it, please do not let my head explode. I'm not sure I can count on the Hub to know how to remove blood and brain matter stains before the cops show up and think he drilled a hole in my skull. I promise to cut back on saying bad words and never eat pizza for as long as I live. Have a nice day. 
Your pal,  

Suddenly, the noise stopped. My ears were still ringing and I could hear the girls' sweet voices from behind my door so I knew I wasn't deaf. They were still happy so I assumed the instruments were intact. It was a miracle. I relaxed and waited for the pain to subside. An hour later, the migraine was gone and I could get up and leave my cave.

The living room was thrashed. Toys and game pieces were everywhere. The girls were in their princess dress-up clothes and their little faces were covered in my make-up. They were quietly having a tea party. They looked up and cheered, "MOMMY! You're all better! Do you want some tea?" Any other day, I would have been irritated by the catastrophic state of the room, but I was so relieved that my pain was gone that I graciously accepted their invitation to slurp some pretend tea. I'm learning to pick my battles. The girls did give me an hour and that is all I asked of them. I'm grateful for that. We'll clean up later.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My Personal Paparazzi

It's 11:30 p.m. on a Thursday night and I'm just getting started on my weekly blog.* It's not that I don't want to write more often, but once a week is about all I can manage right now. The kids are finally in bed and I just dried the last dish from dinner. It's not like my day is completely filled with activities or errands. To be honest, I didn't accomplish very much at all today. I started a few chores and paid a few bills. I remembered to brush my teeth this morning. My day was filled with assisting little people: making meals, cleaning up after the meals, combing the house for a lost toy, helping S sound out words while she read, changing diapers, kissing boo-boos, chasing after Bailey when she snagged a doll head from the playroom, and a few other tasks I can't recall at the moment. Some days, I am a rock star homemaker. Most days, I can't figure out where the time went and why I can never get all the laundry done. Then it occurred to me. I can't walk through the house without being stopped to do something else. It is nearly impossible to start and finish a task with two little kids and two big dogs constantly following me around the house. I can't remember the last time I was able to walk from one end of the house to the other without my canine shadows, a kid hanging on my leg, or hearing my name called as I pass the living room. I am so popular at my house. Everyone seeks me out and wants to be near me. I hear Mommy!! so much that I've considered changing my name to Penelope Jane Von Unterhosen just to change things up a bit.

I love how celebrities complain about the lack of privacy in their off-camera lives. They lament about being ambushed by paparazzi when they just want to enjoy their private island beach vacay or buy another designer handbag. Celebrities are people too, right? They just want to go about their daily business in peace. You're preaching to the choir, baby. I wouldn't have any unopened mail stacked up on my kitchen table or two inches of natural hair color showing if I had a little privacy. What I wouldn't give for a few extra private moments in the shower to shave BOTH legs. I get one leg done and I hear a little voice scream from the other side of the door. I rush out of the shower, conditioner still in my hair, in a panic, convinced that someone broke a bone or is bleeding from their head, only to discover the scream was in protest over whose turn it was to play "teacher" for the stuffed animal classroom. It happens all the time.

I remember my mom getting so upset when we called for her while she was in the bathroom. She used to say, "I swear someone put a sensor on the toilet seat because you always call for me the moment I sit down!" I thought she was exaggerating. Now, I think she was on to something. As soon as I close the bathroom door, someone calls for me. It's like the very moment I enter the bathroom, the kids realize they are dying of thirst or absolutely must get the board game down from the shelf or the world will cease to exist. B will stand outside the door, gnashing her teeth and wailing that her mother abandoned her. She'll try to reach for me by sticking her fingers under the door. It's very dramatic. When I open the door, B immediately stops crying and says, "Hi mommy! You found me!" Then, she merrily runs off to play.

That's not the only time I am desperately needed. My kids seek me out anytime I answer the phone, sit in front of the computer, open a book (other than a kid's book), or watch the season finale of my favorite show, just to name a few. Basically, anytime I am doing something that I want to do. I've tried to reason with them. I'll say, "Mommy is going to [insert activity here] now. Is there anything you need before I start?" The answer is usually no. They lie. I've also tried to sneak off when they are distracted and not call attention to my absence. They know. They always know. I'll wait for nap time, but if I'm in the shower, I swear I can hear the kids yelling for me and I wind up checking on them anyway. People tell me to just ignore them. They have to learn patience. I'm afraid the one time I ignore their calls, the headlines will read:

Kids Burn Down House While Mother In Shower.

To add to my frustration, the reverse happens. When I'm the one calling for the kids, they are never around. It's like they suddenly go deaf. Even when I'm in the same room, I have to shout their names or clap my hands to get them out of their trance. I have to repeat myself constantly. S will get so involved in whatever she is doing that a satellite could crash through the roof and she wouldn't even notice. It's unreal. She can hear the crinkle of a candy wrapper from a mile away when I'm trying to sneak a piece from her leftover Halloween candy stash, but not the sound of my voice mere inches from her ear. When we are at home, B hangs all over me. When we are in public, I practically have to handcuff her to me to get her to stay close. I just don't get it.

I know what you all will say. Enjoy the attention now, because one day, they'll grow up and leave you or prefer their friends' company over yours ... or some other depressing, guilt-laden truth. I have noticed that S will spend more time alone in her room than with me. She is starting to figure out how to entertain herself and take care of her own needs, like picking out her clothes or getting her own breakfast. There are times when I seek her out just to chat or get a hug. Don't get me wrong, I want her to be self-sufficient, but not so much right now that she doesn't need me around. On the other hand, B is still very dependent on me, so S's newfound desire for more independence is appreciated. I don't mind helping my kids out with anything. It's my job right now. I like brushing their hair and reading stories. I don't mind cutting their food and tying shoes. I love their little "thank yous" and hugs that follow. I love their excited cheers when I come back from a rare solo outing. I miss them when they are not around. Granted, it takes longer than a bathroom break to miss them, but if I'm away from them for a few hours, I really miss them. My main complaint is about their impeccable timing... and a little about needing some "me time."

In a completely random conversation, S asked me if people get bathroom breaks in heaven. (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.) I told her I didn't know, but I guess we'll find out when we get there. Luckily, she was satisfied with my answer. I hope you get bathroom breaks in heaven. I hope you get your own personal toilet without sensors in the seat to alert the angels that you just sat down. That sounds like heaven to me.

*I started the blog last night but couldn't keep my eyes open past the first paragraph. I started writing again this morning at 8 A.M. It took 3 hours to finish due to 26 interruptions. Yes, I counted. I really hope you enjoyed reading it!