Thursday, February 26, 2009


My husband has been out of town since Saturday which means Liam and I have been home alone for almost a week. This was a first for us. The only time I can remember being in my house overnight without another grown up was a few weeks ago when I accidentally locked Bill out of the house and he had to sleep off a whole bunch of wine on our friend's futon. I don't think that really counts though because I didn't realize I was alone until he staggered home the next morning and knocked on the door.

I didn't know what it would be like without Bill around but found it was a lot better than I expected. I never got scared or lonely or bored and instead of being exhausted from 24/7 Liam duty, I was happy to have some special time with my little guy. He was nothing but good the entire time. Well, almost the entire time.

The first night he wailed, "I miss Dada!" for almost 10 minutes when I put him to bed. We had called to say goodnight and when Liam heard Bill's voice his chin started to quiver and he had to fight back tears. After that, he wouldn't talk to or about Bill at all. He talked a lot about other people he missed (our friends, my sister and her husband, his stuffed dog we lost 8 months ago...) and when he woke up from his nap today and found out the baby I've been watching all week had gone home for the day, he started to cry because he missed "him" so much.

I'm telling you, this kid will break your heart if you're not careful.

The reason I never got scared or lonely or bored is not because I didn't miss my husband but because I didn't have time to miss him. I had so much TV to catch up on. Like full seasons of shows that Bill won't watch with me, just sitting on Tivo, waiting for me to get a lazy streak. This week was the perfect opportunity. Every night after I put Liam to bed, I got in my bed and watched episodes of Ugly Betty and Gray's Anatomy until I fell asleep. It was awesome. Perfect for a hermit like me who hasn't had a moment of alone time since taking Liam out of school.

I love my husband and I did miss him but dammit if that wasn't some kind of mini-vacation.

Now we're off to the airport to get our man. I didn't want to post about him being gone until he was back because I didn't want any psychos finding me online and stalking me. Thanks, Dateline NBC! A little of that crap goes a long way. No wonder I have to wait for Bill to go out of town to watch it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Advice for pill-popping, anxiety-ridden pets.

If you have a dog (or a cat or a particularly strong gag reflex) you have probably found yourself at one time or another wondering whose bright idea it was to make medication in the form of a pill. Whoever thought pills would be good for pets must have been especially thickheaded. I mean, what are we supposed to do? Place a pill on our dog's tongue and expect her to swallow it down with a glass of water? Had these people ever seen a dog drink water? They stick their head in a toilet and slurp water up. With their tongues! Come on. Even I know enough about physics to know that is a bad idea.

Of course, they don't intend for your dog to swallow the pill like a person (I don't think). But, they don't exactly give you any better ideas either. Standard pet medication instructions go something like: Give tablet once a day. Give tablet. Okaaaay. Like, Hey, Cloey, I've got something for you. It's a pill. You know, for your arthritis? She's not going to know what to do with it either. She's a dog.

Her other prescription, the one for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, comes with slightly more detailed instructions: Administer orally. While that's still somewhat ambiguous, I appreciate the effort. I guess that's what you get when you shell out the big bucks for super fancy dementia and depression medication (good enough for humans but packaged and priced just for pets!).

Although, for the record, we haven't had to shell out any bucks quite yet. Bill found a coupon online that got us our first month of Anipryl for free. That's a savings of $120! (Ridiculous, I know.) It was supposed to take a month to kick in but she showed major improvement right away. We're thrilled, of course, but not exactly sure why the sudden turn-around.

It could be that the arthritis was making her really uncomfortable and the prescription Etodolac we started her on for that has helped. Although, that was supposed to take some time to show results, as well.

Maybe she just really likes processed cheese?

(How's that for a smooth segue back to my original point? Ouch.)

This is what veterinary pharmaceutical companies should be printing on pet prescriptions: Stick pills into leftover cheese ball or similar processed cheese product THEN administer orally.

YUM! I swear she doesn't usually look this old. Must be bad lighting...

It's really the only thing that works. Well, that and peanut butter, but who wants to waste perfectly good peanut butter if you don't have to? My idea kills two birds with one stone: the dog doesn't spit her pill out before swallowing and I get rid of the cheese ball I've had sitting in the fridge since Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love a cheese ball. I just get a little weird about eating things that have been in the fridge too long. (Yes, even processed cheese.)

If it's not the taste of cheese that's making her better, I guess the only other thing that has changed is us. When we stopped being annoyed with her restlessness, she stopped being so nervous. Less nervousness means less restlessness and less restlessness means less suppressed annoyance. It's like the chicken and the egg thing. It doesn't really matter which came first, it's just nice that they're both here. As soon as we chose to embrace her aging process lovingly, she started to get better. The better she got, the easier it was. Sounds goofy but flipping that switch seems to have been the cure for what ailed her.

I guess we'll see when our prescription runs out. Next month we'll be trying the dietary supplement Cholodin my mom sent for her favorite grand-dog. If there is a huge decline in her behavior, I suppose we'll revisit the Anipryl. Or stock up on Velveeta.

Or! We'll try this fantastic suggestion an old friend/reader e-mailed me about:

It's called an Anxiety Wrap and is designed to reduce behavioral problems like panting and pacing by using maintained pressure throughout the body to help alleviate stress and build your dog's self confidence. Just like swaddling! I'm telling you, there is nothing a swaddle can't fix.

Thanks Beth, for thinking of me and my pup and sharing this awesome idea. I would rather swaddle than medicate any day! And, seriously, how cute would Cloey be in that vest?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Melissa Duke Mooney: a celebration of life!

People always say funerals are supposed to be about celebrating life, not mourning death but I have found that is rarely the case. We dress in black, we sit quietly, we whisper our condolences to one another and nod somberly. We pay our respects respectfully. There is no joy in mourning.

But every once in a while, someone lives a life so extraordinary that people cannot help but celebrate. Melissa was one of those people. And celebrate we did.

The church where the memorial service was held was completely full. People squished in next to each other to fill the pews while the rest of us lined the walls, shoulder-to-shoulder. I leaned against the back wall, surrounded by friends, while my son played quietly at my feet.

The eulogies were well-crafted and touching, revealing different sides of Melissa that were all equally impressive. Melissa the wife, the sister, the friend, the mother. A woman who would rather flip the board than lose the game. Whose favorite word, lagniappe, means a little something extra.

Her husband spoke to what was on all of our minds. "Don't worry about me and the girls," he said. "They have her genes so I know they'll be fine. And even though I'm a single father now, please don't feel sorry for me. I was married to Melissa for 10 years: I'm the luckiest guy you know."

Her five year old Nola ended the service by getting on stage with her Daisy troop to lead us in the Girl Scout camp favorite Make New Friends.

Make new friends,
But keep the old.

One is silver,
And the other gold.

I laughed. I cried. I vowed to incorporate a little more Melissa into my every day life.

We filed out of the church and made our separate ways to the neighborhood pub for a Melissa-worthy celebration complete with a Mardi Gras style second line parade around the block. People along the parade route gathered on their porches to enjoy the sea of smiling faces in fancy hats and costumes, dancing down the street with umbrellas and feather boas to the sound of a New Orleans jazz band, celebrating life.

She would have loved it.

Bubbles for you, Bubbles la Rue.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lost...and found.

When someone you know dies - suddenly, without warning - it is impossible to put words to what you feel inside. How do you begin to comprehend that a vivacious woman with two young daughters is alive one day (and living to the fullest extent of the word) and simply gone the next? There are no words to describe such tragedy.

And yet.

I found out what had happened at story time but refused to believe it until I got home and checked her Facebook profile. Surely there had been some kind of mistake. But no. What had once been a place to connect with people, share photos of her kids, play Scramble, and invite people to her "come as your favorite album cover" birthday party was now a memorial. A memorial that grew and grew as the day wore on and more people learned of her untimely death.

There, on her Facebook wall of all places, were the words I'd been searching for. Clumsy words, heartfelt words, words of anger and love and gratitude. An outpouring of words from friends and family, neighbors and colleagues. Some people, like me, had only known her well enough to be inspired and intrigued by her, while others had loved her so much they couldn't imagine a world without her.

You helped me to open my eyes, smile a little more, and appreciate a good country tune.

I will dance, knit, sew, roller skate, laugh, and cook with you on my mind and in my heart.

You taught me to be a strong woman.

If ever anyone truly lived life to its fullest potential, it was you.

My condolences to all the people who never got to meet you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Although it's next to impossible not to feel sad when someone wonderful passes away, there was something about all those words that made me feel uplifted. Yes, it broke my heart to think of her daughters growing up without her and her husband losing the love of his life in the prime of hers, but in the midst of all the mourning was a celebration. A celebration of her life and the way that she had lived it.

Through mourning the loss of an incredible woman who touched and inspired so many, I have found gratitude and an appreciation for life right now. I am so thankful that our paths crossed and will remember her fondly as I strive to live my life as fully as she lived hers.

Goodbye, my friend. And thank you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A little girl, maybe 9 years old, was writing sentences with her vocabulary words when her teacher came by to check her work. The teacher picked up the paper and began to read the sentences quietly when she stumbled on something that didn't make sense. She handed the paper back to the girl and pointed to one of the sentences with her pencil.

"This right here doesn't make any sense," the teacher said, tapping the pencil for emphasis. "I was a parachute. What is that supposed to mean? Do you know what a parachute is?"

"Oh!" said the little girl, clapping her hand over her mouth and giggling at the mistake. "I thought that word was prostitute!"

Caution: school ahead.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It may be a sin but thank god it isn't deadly.

Liam ran off to "look at himself in the mirror" (or mirrah - he pronounces it just like Bill's mom!) and 30 seconds later I heard a CRASH! followed by Mamaaa?! followed by lots and lots of crying.

I didn't have the heart to tell him he was in for 7 years bad luck. He was already pretty devastated that A.) he broke something and it was really, really loud, and B.) he could no longer look at himself in the mirror. No sense adding insult to injury. Or, in our case, insult to no injury. I mean, come on. How lucky are we? That could have been a real disaster. Thank goodness he was wearing his PPE (personal protective equipment or rainboots) at the time of the incident!

A friend recently asked me what was up with the boots. You know, because he is wearing them in almost every single photo I have taken of him in the last three to six months. She was probably thinking, "Man, Nashville must be really rainy!" It's not. He just really likes wearing those boots. He can put them on and take them off by himself and they look good with his signature looks - a green striped shirt and brown pants (if you've seen Blue's Clues I don't need to tell you what inspired that) or footie pajamas.

You'll notice that today he isn't wearing either of his go-to outfits. It may look like his usual garb but I can assure you it is markedly different. For one, this outfit took at least an hour to put together. All of his favorites were either dirty or in the wash so he simply refused to get dressed. We didn't have anywhere we had to be so I just let him run around the house in his diaper. I was not about to engage in a fight like that first thing in the morning. Besides, I figured if he got cold enough he would probably revisit his dresser drawers on his own.

Sure enough, an hour or so after I quit the fight, he came out of his room with two shirts in his hand. I helped him put them on and handed him a clean pair of brown pants I found in the dryer. He touched them a few times, turning them over in his hands to get a really good look before smelling them (who does that?) and declaring them "too bad" to wear.

If I hadn't withheld making banana muffins and finger painting, he might never have put them on.

A really good technique if you want paint on EVERYTHING.

And with that I'm off to finish the laundry.

"Love" - by Liam

Monday, February 16, 2009

The queen of good intentions.

Well, another gift-giving holiday has come and gone and I have nothing to show for it but the homemade cards and cookies I didn't get around to sending and an extra large helping of regret.

I did a horrible job sending gifts at Christmas and when I tried to make up for it by sending extra special thank yous, I totally failed at that as well. I never got around to sending my New Year's gifts or Chinese New Year's gifts or just-because-we-love-you gifts either. I have actually gained weight from eating all the cookies and treats I have made for my family and never sent. That's a lot of good intentions!

Even though it didn't require shopping or packing or shipping (which I'm assuming is at the crux of my shoddy follow through), I didn't manage to come up with a traditional Valentine's Day scavenger hunt for Liam until it was too late and Bill had already planned one. While it's not something I'm proud of, sometimes procrastination can be a very good thing.

I hope you had lots of love and happiness this Valentine's day. Although I'm pretty sure it's just a made-up holiday meant to guilt us into buying more stuff we don't need. Good thing for quirky family traditions! They can make even the most consumer-tastic days feel special. Without a trip to the mall.

Friday, February 13, 2009

She's not mine, but thank you.

I have always loved taking care of babies and kids. Even when I was a kid, I felt most at ease when pretending to be a mom. No matter where we went or what we did, I was always the "big kid" taking care of all the younger kids. Softball games, birthday parties, company picnics, parents' nights out - just look for the big group of happy children and that's where you'd find me.

This is something I never grew out of. I am still babysitting and still in love with other peoples' kids. Specifically the little girl I take care of on Fridays. She has become a part of our family; like a practice little sister who is never around long enough for the novelty to wear off. Liam loves her, I love her, we all love her!

She and Liam have helped each other learn to share and be patient and tip toe down the hall during naps. Liam loves to teach her new words and make her laugh and gets excited when he has to be a big boy and help her with something. She loves to watch him perform and always claps on cue when he's finished with a song. It makes my heart swell to see them together.

She's got sharing down. Now if she could just teach Liam to eat...

I've been watching her for over a year now but we are just now starting to venture into the world on a semi-regular basis (their naps have started to sync up so we can get out of the house without anyone having to sacrifice their sleep). This is one part exciting, two parts intimidating. If you've never crossed the two child hurdle - two car seats, two sizes of diapers, two sippy cups, two small children - getting out the door can seem incredibly daunting. I know there are moms out there movin' and shakin' with four kids in tow, but I have no idea how they do it. Talk about impressive!

I prefer small steps. We started with the park and when that went well tried a quick trip to the grocery store. When that was not only easy but fun, it buoyed my confidence and made me wonder where else we could go. Sometimes a small success is all it takes to see that the benefits of something greatly outweigh the challenges.

So, this week, I decided to take a leap. Liam and I found out about a puppet show when we met friends for story time at the library earlier in the week and I thought that would be the perfect little outing. I've taken Liam to a puppet show at the library before but he gave it a mixed review. He was completely fascinated at first but then got frightened and wanted to go home. Now. But the library program is kind of designed with that in mind - leaving early or crying or acting like a kid isn't just OK, it's expected. We had nothing to lose.

Before we even got to the theater, I already felt like our field trip was a success. Liam walked next to me while I pushed the stroller from the car and when I let them loose in the children's section, they took turns leading and following but always stuck together. They were so well-behaved and happy and considerate, looking around for me to make sure they hadn't wandered too far and responding immediately if I said so much as, "Ah-ah-ahh."

Once the show started, I was even more proud. Sitting in the back of a dark theater with Liam on my lap and our little girl cuddled up next to us, watching Anansi the Spider and silently sharing a snack (she would put out her hand and Liam would stick a cracker in it - no looking or talking or grabbing required!), I felt so grateful for my little Friday Family. They both sat through the entire 30 minute show, whispering on occasion (Mama, what is that snake doing? Look! We're back in the city! That crazy bird dropped some feathers...), dancing to the music, and clapping at the end of every scene.

All that time they've spent together following rules inside the house paid off in a big way. I can't wait to show them off again next week!

Sometimes teaching each other things is good, sometimes it's just...weird. Let's hope she wasn't paying too much attention to his basketball tutorial. It started off strong but soon turned into a game he calls Scarecrow (sort of a mash-up of basketball and a Martha Graham ballet piece from Classical Baby). Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A birthday surprise.

I picked the wrong day to leave a dirty diaper on the front porch.

From a weather standpoint, I don't know what is going on out there. Today has been sunny, windy, rainy, name it. The wind was so intense that a big limb snapped off one of our trees and our recycling bins busted out the back gate and went racing down the street. And the rain, well, it was so unpredictable and crazy that all three of us required a middle of the day change of clothes.

Liam and I had about five feet to walk from the deli to my car and in that five feet managed to both get entirely, head-to-toe, soaking wet. He bawled the entire ride home from the sheer shock of it (Mama, we had an umbrella and I am still wet EVERYWHERE!) while I held his hand from the front seat and tried not to laugh. We looked ridiculous - like a couple of cats who'd been thrown in a pool.

Not two minutes later, the downpour slowed to a drizzle and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. I could have smacked myself for forgetting how to behave on a rainy day in Tennessee. You don't go outside in a downpour. You wait like 2 minutes until it lets up and save yourself from the humiliation of throwing a screaming, soaking child into the backseat while fighting with a miniature Diego umbrella, a car door that keeps closing on you and buckets of ferocious sideways rain (did I mention I was parked directly in front of the deli windows where perfectly sane people were eating their lunch? Yeah.). Bill forgot the rule too and came home for lunch soaked to the bone.

In weather like that, you can't just leave a diaper untethered outside. All it would take is one big gust of wind to send that thing flying off my porch and into the street. It wouldn't be the worst thing I've seen on the ground near my house (a partial weave, a used condom, lots of chicken bones...), but I am way too responsible to litter.

Although, if a big wind had blown the diaper off my porch, it wouldn't have been immediately apparent it was my responsibility. There are several diaper-aged kids on my street who could have taken the fall. Yeah, come to think of it, that would have been a much better fate than letting it just sit there all morning (and afternoon...). With it directly on my porch, next to my welcome mat, there is no doubt who was too lazy to take their kid's diaper to the trash. Me.

Most days it wouldn't have mattered all that much (I mean, not that it's ever OK but, you know...) but today is a special day. It's my dear husband's 32nd birthday. So, not only did he have to step over the diaper on his way in the door for lunch (happy birthday...), the mail lady and the UPS man had to leave birthday packages right next to a dirty diaper. That is above and beyond the call of duty.

Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, when I checked the mail, I found a card and a gift that someone had left for Bill. Like a friend or a neighbor or someone we know. How mortifying is that? Our mailbox in on our front porch and I am guessing they knocked on the door first which means they had to stand RIGHT NEXT TO A DIRTY DIAPER while waiting to see if I would open the door. Nice.

I am not sure yet who the secret admirer is but I am really crossing my fingers that it is someone with kids. Preferably kids who poop in their diapers on rainy and windy days when it's too much of a hassle to go all the way to the trash. A friend like that would probably understand. Right? It may not be something we parents are proud of but, just like the bumper sticker says, it happens.

So, happy birthday baby! The porch is poop free and it's time to celebrate!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

HELLO my name is three.

Either there is something magical about turning three or taking Liam out of school was the best decision we could have made.

Something new to learn everywhere we look.

It's like he's a different boy. He has tons of creative energy and runs around the house all day like an excited puppy. He says funny things like, "that's gross," and, "I'm a Steve/Joe hybrid," and keeps me in stitches most of the day. He makes funny noises and comes up with silly nonsense words to crack himself up. He even started climbing on furniture (like tables!) - something he has never, ever done before.

The whining and clinging have pretty much stopped and he has an independent streak racing through him. Yesterday after lunch he went into his room and shut the door. When I popped in to check on him, he asked me to go back to the kitchen so he could have some alone time. He has always enjoyed his alone time but never requested it quite like that. Maybe he took it to heart when I told him that alone time helps both of us feel happy?

When we go to the park or the book store, he gladly holds my hand and walks instead of begging to be carried. This is huge. In fact, the only time he's asked to be carried lately was a few days ago at the park. We randomly decided to go for a long walk that I was completely unprepared for - no snacks, drinks, or stroller and there were two sets of little legs instead of one (we had to get away from the playground STAT - some 7 year old hippie kid punched Liam in the arm and I was afraid I might kill him or cut his hair if we stuck around much longer). We were on the home stretch when Liam got too tired to go on. He sat down in the grass as I carried our little friend toward the car yelling. "C'mon, Liam! You have to walk, buddy. I can't carry both of you." He didn't budge. "But Mamaaaa...I'm two!"

So, maybe it is just a three year old thing? Although I do think not going to school has something to do with it. It's like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He's so happy. And confident. Like he's more comfortable in his skin. I definitely think that could have something to do with us listening to him and respecting his choices. Wouldn't that make anyone feel good?

Hard rocker, heart throbber.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The party's over.

Yesterday was my darling Liam's third birthday. In just three short years, we've gone from this:

To this:I was lucky enough to catch this moment yesterday while spending a little one-on-one with the birthday boy. Liam had baby polar bear all wrapped up so they could go down the slide together on his tummy (like "SCUBA diving") when I spotted something I knew I had seen before. The swaddled baby, the loving was like going back to another place in time and reliving the past from a different point of view.

What a celebration.

As for birth day 2009, I ignored my better judgment and went with the time-honored tradition of whomever has the birthday has the say. I'll tell you, it might sound like a good idea to let the birthday boy call the shots but here's the thing: three year olds make bad decisions.

Like, eating nothing but cupcakes all day long! Sure it's fun at the time but before you know it you've got nothing but unstable blood sugar and an attitude (not to mention a really weird diaper). But, what can you do? Massive sugar consumption one day out of the year is not going to kill him. It's his birthday!

Eyes on the prize.

Eat your heart out.

Yes, they are all his...

...but he only ate the frosting.

Today I had my work cut out for me. Trying to unspoil a child is tough, even if he's only been spoiled for one day. It probably didn't help that he was coming down from that sugar high. Whew! One way or another, we survived, and are looking forward to a quiet weekend. And an amazing year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Will universal healthcare cover pets?

Our vet appointment yesterday was...interesting.

Did you know there is such a thing as doggy dementia? Well, there is. It's called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or CDS and includes such symptoms as aimless wandering (check), getting stuck in corners or behind furniture (uh huh), staring into space or at walls (yep), and sleeping less during the night (bingo). So, yeah. That's weird.

Also, did you know that pet medicine is just as expensive as human medicine? Maybe even more expensive. We're fortunate enough not to need medication very often so this is all kind of new to me. Still, I'm guessing $120 a month is a lot of money no matter how many legs you have. $120 a month? I mean, that's ridiculous right? Or at least I thought it was until I called a few pharmacies to price out our other option. $120 a month for a nutraceutical to improve brain aging is a steal compared to the $293 it takes to fill a human prescription for depression and dementia (it's supposed to work on dogs, too).

I can't help but think about that pet insurance we declined to get after our other dog was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia and had to be put to sleep. Even then, after seeing first hand how much it can cost if your dog gets sick, it seemed like way too much money to spend on our pets. Although, I'm guessing it was a lot less than $120 a month.

My poor dog! I can't believe she has dementia. It makes me want to cry a little bit. I'm feeling really sorry for her which I have to admit is a nice change of pace. I've been so annoyed with her for so long that reconnecting with my pet-maternal instincts feels really good. It would have been nice if I could have been loving and compassionate all along but I'd by lying if I said I was. She was gnawing away at my last nerve and there was nothing I could do to hide it.

So even though we weren't able to fill either of the prescriptions that are supposed to help her, I still feel like we are in a better place today than we were before. We started her on some arthritis medication which we're hoping will make her more comfortable and are shopping around for a less ridiculous way to treat the CDS.

In the meantime, I know my attitude change is comforting for her. She is getting yelled at less and petted more. Even Liam is being more loving toward her. Although if it was up to her, I think she'd prefer him yelling to giving her Eskimo kisses any day. She can't really hear so the yelling didn't exactly bother her. The neck hugs and face-to-face contact, on the other hand, are totally freaking her out. She's already snapped at him twice and it's only been one day.

As for the sleepless nights, we're working on that as well. Last night we gave her a whole anti-anxiety pill which worked great...until 2 am. Then she was back to her old tricks, pacing the room, trying to get under the bathroom sink and standing on top of the pile of stuff I have stashed in the corner of our room.

I was about to throw in the towel and just accept that life as we knew it was over, but Bill came up with an idea that seemed to work great (even in the middle of the night, he's my ideas guy). He plugged in a nightlight so she wouldn't be disoriented in the dark and blockaded her dog bed so she couldn't wander the room aimlessly without climbing over a chair first. It actually kept her on her bed and we all slept soundly the rest of the night.

Tonight, we are trying the nightlight and the barricade without the medication. I am crossing my fingers that it works because there's a 6 am Zumba class I want to go to and will not even think about getting up that early if I don't get a good night's sleep. Plus, who wants to give their dog drugs if they don't have to?

Doggy swaddle!

It worked! She only woke up and escaped from her nest once and after Bill put her back, she slept great the rest of the night. I just got back from the YMCA and she's still sleeping like the sweet angel pup she is. Woo hoo!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gone to the dogs.

I just spent a long, sleepless night in the company of a 13 year old Border Collie with restless legs, paranoia, and steamy fish grotto breath. I think we're all lucky to have seen the sun rise this morning.

She's always been a little quirky but has recently taken a swift turn toward complete pain in the ass. I love her dearly but she's driving me crazy. (Something I now hear Liam saying all the time. "Puppy, no! You're driving me crazy!")

During the day she's restless, following me so closely I can feel her hot breath on the backs of my legs. She does this all day long. Bill calls her Dragon Claws because she drags her claws across the wood floors when she paces. I call her, well, I probably shouldn't repeat some of the things I call her.

Because she can't really hear anymore and her vision isn't quite what it used to be, her reaction time is really slow. If she's hot on my trail and I change directions, she stumbles and falls. If I, god forbid, turn around, she freezes in her tracks and I trip over her. I hit her with more doors and cabinets than I can count, not because I'm hateful but because I can't make a move without her getting in the way. She's always right there.

When Liam's asleep and I don't want Miss Clickity-Clack to wake him up, my only choice is to force her to lay down (a full time job in itself - she needs to be reminded to lay down! every 15-20 seconds) or put her in the backyard. I would love to leave her in the backyard for his entire nap but she barks so much it isn't an option.

At the first house Bill and I lived in together, our landlord threatened to kick us out because so many neighbors had complained about her incessant barking. At our second house, we got a police citation stuck to our front door instructing us to "curtail the barking." No one has complained about it here (God bless The South) but I'm not about to take that to mean it's OK to let her bark. It drives me crazy and she's my dog. Just imagine if I didn't love her.

In the past week or so she seems to have lost her grasp on reality. We'll find her standing in the corner of a room, just staring at the spot where the walls come together. Or in the middle of the day, for no reason at all, she'll squeeze all of her 65 pounds into the tiny space between the wall and the bathtub where she will inevitably get stuck and have to stay there whimpering until someone (not me) conjures enough strength to shove the freestanding porcelain tub a few inches to free her up.

At night when we're trying to sleep, it's the worst. She sleeps in our room so every time she decides to get up and pace the hardwoods, she wakes us up. Sometimes she wakes Liam up too (like last night) so we do everything we can to get her quiet and make her lay back down. This, of course, is next to impossible.

She usually ramps up the pacing about an hour before the alarm goes off but last night she got to it as soon as we fell asleep. By 1:00 she had already been off her bed more than she had been on it. I knew I couldn't handle a sleepless night so I begged Bill to let me give her the anti-anxiety medication her vet prescribed for thunderstorms and fireworks (back when she could hear those things). He likes to hold off as long as possible because the pills always make her drop little poops on the floor (there's no worse way to wake up in the morning than by stepping in poop on your bedroom floor) but agreed that last night was an exception.

So we decided to meet in the middle and give her half a pill. I will go ahead and tell you since it isn't noted anywhere on the anti-anxiety medication: a half a pill will not calm your dog down or help her sleep. In fact, it will do nothing except make her poop on the floor.

I'm taking her to the vet this afternoon to find out what is going on. I'm hoping he can give her a prescription or suggest something we can do to help her get comfortable. If not, we'll have to take a different approach and medicate ourselves. One way or another, we've gotta sleep tonight.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SUPER bowl Sunday.

Three Super Bowl Sundays ago, right about this time, Liam was born.

If you would have told me then that in just three short years I would spend part of Super Bowl Sunday engaged in a spontaneous fake coughing contest with my child, giggling uncontrollably instead of laying him down for a nap like I intended to do, I don't know that I would have believed you. I knew he was amazing. I knew I would love him forever. I knew he would bring me joy. But this kind of joy? This is far more than I bargained for.