Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From 4K Straight to Juvie



Lately I have been getting some fairly ominous reports from Kindercare about my daughter's behavior. Apparently I am raising a hoodlum. Doesn't listen. Socks kids that refuse to follow her orders (or get off the swing, or whatever the case may be). General unruliness.

Her dad's thinking is that she is fine, it's nothing to worry about. Of course, my husband could be on fire and would only be mildly concerned. It's his midwestern upbringing. My thinking tends to be a bit more "worst case scenario" in nature: in eight years I'll be visiting her in juvie. In twelve years I'll be begging some dour-faced judge for leniency on her behalf. Then she'll run off to Vegas to marry some guy whose given name is something like Leper. And then she'll celebrate the occasion by getting a tattoo on her neck. My mom calls this "slippery slope thinking" and tells me that it's a common problem for moms.

I don't want to compare my daughter to a dog, but I do think my dog training skills come into play from time to time with this child-rearing business. However, I think I've been using the wrong tactic. Operant conditioning involves punishment and reinforcement. You can punish for a bad behavior in hopes of making it go away or reinforce a good behavior in hopes of getting more of it. Negative punishment means to take away a good thing with the expected result of increasing a good behavior (or decreasing the naughty behavior). This is what we have been doing. Bad day at Kindercare = removal of a favorite toy (or something along those lines).

I've decided to give the opposite approach (positive reinforcement) a try. Threats clearly aren't working ("keep it up and you'll get no dessert"). So, I decided to try a reward chart. Good report from Kindercare = 1 sticker. 5 stickers = reward (maybe a trip to Coldstone Creamery for over-priced ice cream or something like that).

I think I'm struggling a bit with her behavior because I was always such a goody-two-shoes myself. If an adult told me to do something, I did it. My other half was a Marine so of course taking orders is not a foreign concept to him. Our kid is just so . . . feisty. I've just got to get this discipline business down now before she gets that tattoo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Goals - how goes it?


I thought I should revisit my summer goals and see how I'm doing. Okay, let's review:

1. See a live concert. Not yet. I'm still working on that one. I started by looking up the tour schedules for some of my favorite bands. As luck would have it, they are primarily touring Europe. My other half doesn't seem to think I need to fly to Belgium to see Gossip or to jet to Norway to see Caribou. To hell with him - what does he know? He can't keep me under his thumb, man.
2. Purchase and prepare a vegetable that is unfamiliar to me. Not yet. I came perilously close to procuring a massive kohlrabi at the farmers' market last week, but I chickened out at the last minute. So far, snap peas are about as exotic as I've gotten.
3. Work on leaving the dogs uncrated while we're not home. Yes! We made the leap of faith and all three dogs are now crate-free during the day. The only mishap we've had so far was that someone pulled a few alphabet letters off the fridge and chewed the shit out of them.
4. Get back to my goal weight. Not even close. I really don't know what's wrong with me or why I've allowed this situation to spin so far out of control. I've decided to recommit to Weight Watchers and track my eating more carefully. Starting now.

I should've added a fifth goal, which is to grow grass in my back yard. This is a battle I wage every summer. I've actually been moderately successful this year, though I did cheat a little by buying a few rolls of sod. I'm also growing some tomatoes, which I've never attempted before. A co-worker gave me a tomato plant that she'd grown from seed. All I really have to do is keep it alive. So far, so good.

I'll leave you with a song. The kid and I have been stuck on this song for a few days now. She has been singing it so I thought I'd better l0ok up the lyrics. It turns out they are completely innocuous, so I think I'm safe. I always have flashbacks to the time my sister convinced my niece that Gwen Stefani was singing about her "ship" in Hollaback Girl. Uh-huh, that's my ship. All the girls stomp your feet like this.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tunes to sweat by

So, now that we've tackled the topic of assisted suicide, let's talk about something else very important, shall we? Namely, my workout playlist. I created this playlist fairly recently. Prior to that, I would listen to my iPod in shuffle mode at the gym and then just click the wheel if the song wasn't what I wanted. However, it really does throw a wrench in your workout when you are thumping away on the treadmill and Andrea Bocelli comes on. Andrea Bocelli truly make me swoon - don't get me wrong. He just doesn't pump out the beats, ya'll. Also, I listen to my iPod on the bike trail (safety be damned!) and it's harder to click past "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (A's song, not mine) when I'm riding. Hence, the need for an exercise-specific playlist.

I feel like my playlist could be a lot better. So, I'm taking suggestions. I'm going to post the list in its entirety here. There are a few selections that I should really delete in order to save myself some embarrassment, but for the sake of honesty, I will include all of the songs.

Sleepyhead Passion Pit
Keep the Car Running Arcade Fire
Heart It Races Architecture In Helsinki
I Can't Wait Nu Shooz
Dog Days Are Over Florence + The Machine
Dimestore Diamond Gossip
Dancing Choose TV On the Radio
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Starfucker
Gold Guns Girls Metric
Hang Fire The Rolling Stones
Spiralling Keane
I'm Good, I'm Gone Lykke Li
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da The Police
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) Arcade Fire
Come Around (feat. Timbaland) M.I.A.
Help I'm Alive Metric
Tell 'Em Sleigh Bells
Kids Sleigh Bells
Strike It Up Black Box
Strangelove Depeche Mode
Johnny Come Home Fine Young Cannibals
Heavy Cross Gossip
Valerie Loves Me Material Issue
Pon de Replay Rihanna
Hey Ya!
OutKast
Tame Pixies
Panic Switch Silversun Pickups
Hippychick Soho
And the Cradle Will Rock... Van Halen
I Know What I Know Paul Simon
That's Not My Name The Ting Tings
Get Rhythm NRBQ
Summertime Clothes Animal Collective
Odessa Caribou
Survival Car Fountains Of Wayne
Whisper to a Scream The Icicle Works
Mr. Brightside The Killers
Fine Time New Order
I Don't Feel Like Dancin' Scissor Sisters
O.N.E. Yeasayer
I Touch Roses Book of Love
Hot Hot Hot!!! The Cure
You Hands (Together) The New Pornographers
Great DJ The Ting Tings
Lights Out Santogold
Sound Gun Aceyalone
All the Small Things Blink-182
Tubular Bells Book of Love
Bang On The Breeders
Fresh Devo
Lose Yourself Eminem
Your Petty Pretty Things The Get Up Kids
Sour Cherry The Kills
Crash Years The New Pornographers
Shut Up and Let Me Go The Ting Tings
Hungry Like The Wolf Duran Duran
Don't Bring Me Down Electric Light Orchestra
Everybody Wants You Billy Squier
Personal Jesus Depeche Mode
Love Long Distance Gossip
Country Grammar
Nelly
Situation Yaz
Ambling Alp Yeasayer
I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance with You
Black Kids
Groove Is In the Heart Deee-Lite
Come Anytime Hoodoo Gurus
B.O.B. OutKast
Infinity Guitars Sleigh Bells
Crown On the Ground Sleigh Bells
Let the Music Play Shannon
Riot Rhythm Sleigh Bells
The Most Wonderful Girl Lords of Acid
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk The New Pornographers
Wake Up Arcade Fire
Shake Your Body The Jacksons
The '59 Sound The Gaslight Anthem
Track 12*

*You're not accusing me of having bootlegged music on my iPod are you? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Suicide Tourist

I'll be the first to admit, a lot of what I watch on TV is total poop. For a college-educated, NPR-listening, liberal-leaning, theater-loving, wine-sipping type like myself, it's almost a bit surprising how low I'll sink (not "Jersey Shore" low - more like "Cops" low). My mom got me hooked on "Operation Repo" and now I cannot look away when it is on. (I've you've seen it and have caught a glimpse of Sonia, you know why.) Pawn Stars? I'm on it like white on rice. Dr. Phil? I'm there.

However, every so often I catch a documentary or program that sticks with me for days. I felt that way after watching "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" a couple years ago. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. I love documentaries. The older I get, the more non-fiction appeals to me. Last night, I happened to catch "The Suicide Tourist" on PBS. This was apparently not the original airing, but it is a fairly recent program.

The Suicide Tourist depicts the final journey of a man named Craig Ewert. He is diagnosed with ALS and within months his quality of life plummets. He cannot breathe without the aid of a machine. His limbs are largely useless to him. He turns to Dignitas, a Swiss organization that facilitates assisted suicides. Mr. Ewert and his wife fly to Zurich, where he soon ends his life in an apartment there.

The documentary is straightforward, deftly filmed, and does not wander into sentimentality. I was able to watch it dry-eyed yet fascinated. I was touched by the grace and clearheadedness of this obviously intelligent couple. In his last moments, Mr. Ewert drinks an overdose of a sleeping agent, pentobarbitol. Mrs. Ewert is at his side all the while. As Beethoven plays in the background, he drifts off to sleep and then his breathing machine clicks off as scheduled (it was on a timer). A representative from Dignitas confirms that the patient has died.

The film certainly left me with swirling thoughts and emotions. When I was younger, I was mostly in favor of capital punishment. If you killed someone, I reasoned that you'd lost the right to carry on yourself. However, as I got older, things got murky. A lot of people in prison are, as it turns out, innocent (or at least innocent of the crime for which they've been convicted). Thank you, DNA technology (and I say that with no sarcasm). It's frightening to wonder how many people have been executed in error. While I'm not sure quite how to process the fact that some criminals readily confess and even ask for death, it's clear to me that the justice system is imperfect. And you shouldn't stake someone's life on something that is, at the end of the day, even just a little bit iffy.

Suicide is, of course, a horse of a different color. Really, it is not my place to judge someone who ends their own life. Suicide is a permanent solution to what may well be a temporarily problem (depression, teenage angst, etc.) Suicide is largely preventable, if the right resources are in place. But when a terminal illness is involved, who am I to say that some stricken person should be required to carry on? When it comes to assisted suicide, or euthanasia, I'm not sure that Dr. Kevorkian did the movement any favors. He's kind of, well, creepy. Watching Craig Ewert's death, though, I was touched by how quiet and dignified his death was. I have to think it happened just how he wished (though I'm sure his first wish would have been not to have a terminal illness).

I know many feel that it's somehow wrong to make a conscious decision to end one's own life, that it should be left to God to decide when that day is. However, I've noticed that many of those same people have no issue at all choosing an induction or cesarean date when pregnant. I wonder why it's acceptable to choose the date on which a human enters the world, but not to choose the exit date.

Much to ponder, much to ponder. The full video is available online. Check it out if you get a chance.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"And they shall take up serpents . . . "


Like most five-year-old girls, my daughter signed a contract that requires her to adore the following:
  • Kittens
  • The color pink
  • The color purple
  • Glitter
  • Puppies
  • Unicorns
  • Rainbows
She is uber-girlie, seldom agrees to wear anything but a dress, and generally follows the five-year-old girl agreement to the letter. Maybe it's sort of like the contract requiring the gay menfolk to have a flair for interior design and to love Cher (my cousin tells me there was a recent special addendum demanding allegiance to Lady Gaga).

One aspect of my daughter's personality that bucks the stereotype, though? The girl loves her some snakes. I mean, she is totally down with them and completely fearless. There is a herpetology club in our area, and they do a lot of educational outreach at various events. The club was at the wildlife sanctuary yesterday, so we headed over there after lunch. I find it amusing that I can actually use it as leverage with A. As in, "Keep it up and you're not holding a snake today and that's final."



Oh, and please don't call CPS over the bruises. She flipped out of a swing at daycare and decided to break her fall with her face. She also has a sizable bruise on her left thigh. You can only make "you shoulda seen the other guy" jokes for so long before it's time to admit your kid's just not the picture of grace and poise. But, she's cute so we're pretty sure we're gonna keep her.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heavy

The day has finally come: I've run out of topics. Nah! I've just been a bit distracted. This business of being a grown-up, mom, wife, volunteer, and career person does get a bit taxing at times.

A couple of issues have been weighing me down a bit lately. One is the oil spill. Or, as Paula Poundstone said:

"There is no oil spill in the Gulf. It's a gush. Milk spills from a glass, but if it's coming out of the cow, uncontrollably, it's a gush."

I've always believed that it's important not to look away from the darker things in life. I don't want to gloss over the negative, to trick myself into believing it isn't so. So, I look at the photos of the oiled birds, the dead turtles, the devastated ocean. And my heart breaks. The birds get most of the attention, but so many animals are dying. A lot of them aren't cute and fuzzy, but they are vital to our planet nonetheless. My friend Cindy does reptile rescue. Last year, she took in a staggering number of reptiles from a raided pet store. She had to track every single one (because of the legal proceedings). I don't know the first thing about bearded dragons or snakes, but I did take the time to view those photos in her Facebook gallery. I was just as saddened by a photo of a dying iguana as I would be by an image of a dying puppy. It's all the same.

A few days ago, I did some digging online because I wanted to see if I could make a donation to help rescue crews that are on the ground doing the dirty work in the Gulf coast area (not just to send money to some huge, nebulous corporation where the donation may go straight to some CEO's salary). I found one website that indicated that since BP has committed to paying the bill for all clean-up, donations can't be used for that purpose. If anyone is familiar with the accuracy of that or knows of other ways people can help, feel free to leave a comment.

It is just so hard to understand why the oil cannot be stopped, isn't it? As others have said, "We can put a man on the moon and we cannot stop an oil leak?" I even saw a video on CNN.com the other day where a nine-year-old boy played out his theory for plugging the well. I understand that there are lots of experts on the case, but still . . .

The other weight on my heart is that a friend of mine has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. The cancer has metastasized to her bones. She is prepared to fight like hell, of course. I think of her every day and try to send some positive thoughts in her direction. She has three children, including a May 05 kid (which is how I know her - we were part of the same birth month club on Babycenter) and a new baby. Cancer has always scared the bejeebers out of me. I'm the type who likes to feel like I am "doing" something, so I organized a small Facebook group of fellow mamas in support of our friend. We sent cards and trinkets. We took up a collection and sent a Blessing Bag. We are in the process of sending a gift card as well.

A Buddhist friend sent me some Mala beads a few months ago. Mala beads are intended to be given to someone who may benefit from their energy. So, I sent a set to my cancer-battling friend. You just never know what might work.

In other news, we are making the best of summer by hitting the farmers' market and other festive events. The kid and I are growing some sunflowers again this year. We thought it would be fun to plant the kind that will grow to be approximately the same height as our house. The seedlings are currently expanding upward at a rate of about an inch a day (that figure is only slightly exaggerated, I swear). I have no idea if they'll make it to their full height or not, but we'll give it the old college try.

Anyway, it's been a tough week. Would you like to know the happiest moment I've had in days? It was the discovery that Devo has a new album out. Those guys must be, what? 80? This song is fabulous, though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Little Miss Extrovert


The kid and I headed out of town for the weekend. We were attending a dog festival on Sunday (the rescue for which we volunteer had a booth) and decided to make a weekend out of it. She and I have attended this festival every year, starting when she was five weeks old.

We got a hotel on Priceline and hit the road. We attended a farmers' market and a "safety fair" where she got to climb on a fire truck and whatnot. We also met one of my mom friends for lunch. Her daughter was born May 2, 2005 and mine was born May 3rd of that year. My friend added a son after that and is now pregnant with a daughter. I get tired just thinking about it. Lately A keeps pretending that she has a baby sister named Lily. She tells me that she helps Lily get out of the car and stuff, since Lily is just a baby. It tears at my heart a little, because I think the sibling relationship is one of the most important in one's life. However, I am 40, we are still paying on an adoption loan, and I really think she is "it." I try to tell her that a little sister would just tear up her stuff (and I know this from experience - hello to my little sisters!) but I don't think she buys it. I'm just glad that she's a complete extrovert and that, in the absence of a sibling, she makes friends readily.

After lunch, we checked in to our hotel. I asked for two beds, because I have this crazy habit of wanting to sleep without a foot in my kidney. I have seen some of the positions in which my daughter slumbers, limbs all akimbo, and I want no part of it. She couldn't understand it at all. When we got into the room she kept saying, "You won't sleep with me?" Later that night, I compromised by holding her while she watched Toy Story and I read Rolling Stone. Once she fell asleep, I put her in her own bed.

Before that, though, we went swimming. She's getting to be a good little swimmer. We had a lot of fun playing in the pool - there was no one else in it at the time. I have a rule that you have to have known me for five years before you can see it in a swimsuit, and my daughter just now qualifies. Speaking of which, she is on a mission to tell every stranger in the Midwest that she is five. I stopped at Eddie Bauer today to pick up a tee shirt and she told the cashier, "I'm already five!" She also shared that information at CVS, McDonald's, and every retail establishment we've been in since May.

The dog festival was a lot of fun. I handed A a bunch of flyers for a fundraiser that the rescue is holding in September. She had no problems handing them out to strangers. In fact, she often chased people down to make sure they got one. She doesn't mess around. She spent the rest of the afternoon harassing owners of small dogs. She is obsessed with bitty dogs. I keep telling her, "Hey! We are big dog people!" I think she believes that all small dogs are puppies. It doesn't matter if some poor little Chihuahua is positively silver with age and hunched over with arthritis - A will drop everything and run full-speed at that dog. Thank goodness that people tend only to bring friendly dogs to this sort of event.

After our shift was over, I took the kid to grab a slice of pizza. On the way to the pizza tent, she stopped to pet a microscopic pooch. It seemed to me that the dog's owners were on their way somewhere, so I started to pull A away. "Oh, it's fine," said the woman. She then went on to tell me how she had spoken with my daughter earlier and how she thought it was just a crime that A is not allowed to wear her purple flip-flops to school (open-toed shoes are frowned on at school and at daycare). I wondered what else the kid was telling strangers, but I decided maybe it's better I don't always know. For a while there she was hell-bent on telling everyone under the sun that she was on antibiotics for an ear infection. Each time, I'd clamp my hand over her mouth just as she got to the part about the antibiotics giving her raging diarrhea. But, I can only imagine how often she managed to impart that information when I wasn't around.

Later, we were back in our booth and two little girls came up to play a children's game that one of our volunteers built. Basically, you hurl a velcro ball at a felt Boxer head. My daughter marched up to these little girls, put her hands on her hips, and said, "You'd BETTER have a dollar." I think I turned every shade of red. I explained that we don't really talk to guests like that. Like I said, she's not shy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School Year #1

Schoooooool's out for summer!
Schoooooool's out forever!


My daughter just finished her first year of school. She attended four-year-old Kindergarten, which is held for half-days. I think it was an excellent way for her to transition into her full-time gig in the fall. The main focus of 4K is to teach the kids self-control, teamwork, sharing, and how to handle expectations. Oh, and how to do classroom jobs. Thank goodness she finally landed the coveted line leader position for the last two weeks of school. All year she suffered through jobs like "chair checker" and "book straightener" just so that she could ascend to the zenith of all titles. Seriously, I was ready to slip Mrs. M a twenty if it meant my kid got to be line leader.

In 4K, each student's performance is evaluated on a number system, 1 through 4. 1 means the kid doesn't know jack about that particular topic/skill and 4 indicates mastery. My daughter received mostly 4s with a few 3s tossed in. In the comments area, her teacher wrote that she is "very social" but that she sometimes "has trouble maintaining her focus." You don't say! I really liked her teacher. She's one of those uber-patient people who was born to teach young, unruly children, mold young minds, yada yada yada. At a school event back in the fall I watched her helping a boy from A's class cut out a shape from some construction paper. After five minutes of this I think I would've grabbed the scissors and said, "Oh my God! Let me just cut it for you, for crying out loud!" And that, my friends, is why I am not a teacher.

A will spend the summer days at Kindercare (while her parents are busy working for The Man). I think I may attempt to work with her on her reading skills over the next two months. She knows all of the letters and sounds already, of course (I really credit "The Letter Factory" DVD, because she has known this since she was two). If you read her a book and ask her to pick out a particular word on the page, she can generally figure it out. She just needs to put it all together. Of course, she is usually too busy being "very social." I'm anxious for her to learn to read, but also a bit disappointed because I know it will mark the end of being able to spell stuff in front of her. P and I will have to resort to sign language.

In other end-of-year news, A also completed her dance class at the Y. She did very well and is ready to move to the next class (for five and six-year-olds). I think we will take the summer off, though, as I would like to leave some evenings open for trips to the park and other fun stuff. At the end of the summer I will check with her and see if she would like to take swimming, dance, or gymnastics. I can't say that she particularly excels at any of them (being "very social" really does seem to be her biggest talent), but I'm happy to keep taking her to whatever class she'd like to attend.

Until then, summer calls! See you at the next festibul!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

18 years ago today . . .


. . . I asked a Marine to dance. I picked him because he was shy and didn't seem full of himself. He was tall, thin, and dark-haired. I liked his brown eyes and the fact that his front teeth were every so slightly too large (I figured a visible flaw might prevent him from having a tremendous ego). I was immediately smitten.

All these years later, we are still together. His hair is gray now. When I reminded him yesterday that today marks the 18th year, he said, "Okay, you've got two more then." He was kidding, of course (I think). We are fortunate in that we get along and seldom argue. Here is an example of a near-argument we had recently. We were on a road trip and he was driving. I had just been driving moments before, however, and my iPod was still plugged in to the car stereo. He has an iPod as well. I thought he would switch them, but he left mine in. We listened to a few songs and then he clicked "next" when Arcade Fire came on. "Keep the Car Running" is one of my all-time favorite songs and I never get tired of listening to it.

Me (flipping it back): "You did NOT just turn off Arcade Fire."
Him: "Claudia, all of your songs sound the same."
Me: "Really? All of your comic books look the same to me."
Him: "Okay then, all of your dog books look the same to me."
Me: "Well, fine, but don't ever turn off Arcade Fire. Seriously."

And that was it.

In a world with so much violence and strife, I'm glad that we are able to raise our daughter in a generally peaceful home. I think it's important to give kids the example of parents who love each other, like each other, and get along well. Of course, when we try to hold hands in public, she flings herself between us and demands that we hold her hands instead. When we hug, she pokes out her lower lip and exclaims, "You never hug me!" even though we hug her countless times each day.

I am not the type to say things like, "I married my best friend!" My husband is not my best friend. We have quite a few things in common (we both love music, sweets, and books and both hate Chinese food), but not enough to make us BFFs. I honestly don't think it's a requirement. And in order to be his best friend, I'm pretty sure I'd have to start reading comic books and watching military documentaries on the history channel. Clearly, neither will ever occur.

He is not the type to call me just to hear my voice. I get flowers once a year if I'm lucky. He tells me "you look nice today" on a roughly semi-annual basis (usually once over the summer and once around Christmas time).

However, when he brings home carry-out for dinner, he knows to make sure mine never has anything resembling an onion in it (without me even reminding him). He brings me dark chocolate (never milk chocolate) and a nice bottle of Riesling right when I need them most. He kisses me goodnight every night, even when I am already sleeping. He's an amazing dad and has never once balked at attending a tea party or tying the sash on a princess dress (and wears the occasional tiara himself). Although occasionally I do threaten to trade him in for a younger jarhead who might actually care about household repairs, he knows that he's my only. My mom told me to marry a handyman, but I married a finance major instead. Our home may be going to hell in a handbasket, but at least my 401k is in good shape.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Birdies



Once again, a bird has made an unwise real estate decision and set up housekeeping right next to our home (a home full of dogs and loud people). A wee bird has constructed a nest in the bushes right in front of the house, right at eye level. I know very little about birds and she won't allow me to photograph her, so I don't know what type of feathered friend she is. She's a tiny little thing. I know she's not a robin, one of the few birds I am capable of recognizing easily. When a robin built a nest right outside the guest room window last year, she would dive bomb us when we attempted to check out the nest. This bird just flies up to a branch and yells at us from there.

Perhaps a bird-savvy person will be able to tell me what kind of eggs these are. I thought blue eggs were always robins' eggs. But perhaps I have been mistaken all these years? Or perhaps robins are known for foisting off their children on their neighbors? There is one blue egg, one speckled egg, and one tiny bald hatchling.

The whole scene is amazing, really. They always know the exact size to construct the nest and it's sturdy as hell. The robin's nest from last year made it through three seasons after it was abandoned, until P finally plucked it from the tree and disposed of it recently. The hard part for me is that, much like last year's birdie brood, I now feel like I need to fret over something that should probably be taking place a half mile above my head on some shady tree limb in the sky. The tiny hatchling looks barely alive to me, but again, I don't know the first thing about birds. I don't put out bird feeders or anything like that. Inviting birds to my yard feels a little come-into-my-parlor-said-the-spider-to-the-fly-ish to me.

Postscript: I wrote the above (and took the photo) yesterday. When I checked back today, the mama was gone, the baby was gone, and the blue egg was on the ground. I assume something big and scary came along (not my dogs, though, because they don't have access to the front yard). Damn you, Elton John, and your circle of life.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Festibul Season has Begun

I definitely made the most of the three-day weekend: a girls' night out, two festibuls, gardening, and a cook-out. Oh, and I painted our mailbox post. The only negative outcome from the weekend is that even basic activities seem to leave me sore these days. Seriously, my left bicep hurts (not sure why - may have something to do with hauling sod around and then installing it in the back yard). Also: my back, my right calf, and my left forearm (which got a bit of sun on Saturday). This aging shit is for the birds.

One other dark cloud from the weekend: Kaiser was adopted and returned the same day. Kaiser is my foster Boxer. He's around 4-5 years old and just as sweet and easygoing as can be. A family applied to adopt him and so we took him to his new home on Saturday (on our way to Festibul #1). That was at around 10 a.m. They called at 2:30 to complain about him and say they wanted to return him. We weren't back from the festibul yet but I called as soon as I got home. They brought him back to my house at around 5 or so. Their complaints were that he knocked over their younger child when they were in the back yard and that he'd had a couple of accidents on the floor. For starters, I had mentioned repeatedly that he would need a lot of time to settle in and may act oddly for the first day or two. Once he settles in, you'd barely know he was around.

Here is what this vicious beast looks like 99% of the time:

He doesn't have accidents at my house (he did the first day, but not after that). As far as knocking over small children, that's what Boxers do. As my friend Stephanie said, "If I had a nickel for every time one of my Boxers knocked over my kids, I wouldn't have to work." My daughter has gotten bowled over plenty of times and you know what? She's still alive. I guess I just don't believe kids are that delicate. I also think they should fall off their bikes once or twice and maybe even eat a little dirt from the yard from time to time. They should experience an ice cream cone melting down their arm and dripping onto the pavement. They should climb a tree or two and (if they're not allergic) get stung by a bee. Builds character, I say.

The adopter did apologize. Maybe it was my fault. Perhaps I just made a mistake and picked the wrong applicant (I did have inquiries from a couple others). A word to the wise, though: if you are reading this and have thought of adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue, please understand that it takes a couple of weeks for an animal to settle in. When you bring a new dog home, they don't know you. They don't know what you expect of them or even why your back door is not in the same place as in their last home. I've been fostering dogs for over ten years. The first couple of days after a new dog arrives are always rough. Typically, the dog has a couple of accidents in the house and paces for the first night or two. Within a few days they've learned our routine and understand what's what (and that the lady of the house strongly prefers that pee/poop are deposited in the back yard only).

I have to say we were very happy to have Kaiser back, though. He fits in just fine at our house and if we didn't have a two-dog limit in our town, I would adopt him myself.

While Kaiser was busy knocking over small children, we were at Festibul #1, which was a fine arts event held on the waterfront. I bought a beautiful print of a watercolor painting. It was a gorgeous day and the kid had a lot of fun with the children's activities.

Festibul #2 was a local Memorial Day festival, complete with rides and all that jazz. P and I are glad that A is still young enough to stick to the kiddie rides where we can just stand at the gate and watch her. When she's ready for the big rides, she'll have to bring a friend because we just can't hack it. Once I hit 35 or so, my stomach said, "No can do." (My other half has the same affliction.) I take the kid to the park in our neighborhood quite a bit, and I sometimes get queasy if I go too high on the swings. It's a sad state of affairs, let me tell you.

We have another festibul coming up next weekend. This one is a dog-specific event. By the end of summer, the kid and I will have eaten the state's entire supply of kettle corn. Rock on!