Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gobbler's Run

M and I ran the Wake Forest Gobbler's Run, benefitting the Boys and Girls Club, on Thanksgiving morning.  I'd been wanting to do this for a while, and I'd also been promising her we'd do a 5k together, for about six months now.

So, off we went, a 7:30 a.m. in the 23 degree wind. We found a parking space, got registered just in time - a mere $55 but it was for a good cause and they still had t-shirts (bonus!) - and lined up with the other 2500 or so participants.  And we ran!  M did great.  I was so proud of her - she doesn't exactly run often.  She stopped occasionally, not to catch her breath but to rest her legs, then kept on going - what a trouper.  We finished in just under 36 minutes.  Awesome!  All in all, it was a great run.  Maybe because there were so many people there, or maybe because it was a new route, or maybe because I was focused more on M, it seemed like a fairly easy 3.1 miles to me.  This is just crazy because a year ago, someone would have had to been seriously chasing me to get me to run.  Anywhere.

Hubby and G and Molson the dog met us at the finish line, where we hung around for a little while before finally taking off.  It was in the shade, the temps hadn't risen to much more than 28 degrees, and we were COLD, COLD, COLD.

This turned out to be a very fun event where we saw lots of people from the community that we knew - teachers, friends, members and trainers at the club where I work.  People were running with their families, their dogs, strollers.  I think we'll definitely make it a tradition going forward.

Rain Rain Go Away

It's raining again today.  It's Tuesday and it's been gray and wet since Saturday.

No, no.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining too much.  It's about 50 degrees out and it's not snow or ice.  Most of the country has snow and/or ice and is dealing with miserable conditions.

But, when you have a one-year-old, 80 pound golden retriever puppy who needs his daily playtime outside chasing squirrels, the rain presents a problem.

We have walked him, twice a day, in the drizzling rain, allowed him to play in the garage, and taken him on a car ride or two.  Ah, but is now day four and he is having great difficulty dealing with the birds and squirrels that are mocking him on the other side of the windows.

Why, do you ask, will I not let him out in the yard off leash?

Apparently, there is quite the mud pit underneath our front lorapetalum bushes, which is also where the little birds roost and where he subsequently loves to play.  My husband let him out on Saturday and he came back caked in mud.  Forty-five minutes later of cleaning up, and I was instructed by hubby to never let him out in the yard unattended again.  Until the rain stops and things dry out.  Fair enough, but here's hoping he can keep it together for one more day.

No TV for You!

I am sitting here trying to write and my girls, who are tracked out, are behind me watching My Little Pony on Netflix.

We got rid of all but broadcast cable because Time Warner Cable sucks, as do all of the other three pay for services television companies.  We figured Netflix would serve our needs, and it has, but clearly I need to put some parental controls on some of these obnoxious "kid" oriented shows.

After telling the girls three times to "turn that crap down" I finally made them turn it off and leave the room, because I simply cannot write anything when Pinkie Pie is whining in the background about her muffins not being baked correctly.

How on earth do we expect our daughters to rise above middle school drama contests that start to take shape in third grade and younger, when they're watching blazing examples of this same drama going on between these day-glo sherbert rainbow colored monsters created by some sadistic Disney wannabe production company????

My oldest stomped away but I don't really care that she's mad at me because she's TEN and I simply can't understand why she would even want to watch that show anyway!

Now, it's quiet, and I can get back to some quality writing!

Bird Dog

So ... dog breaks through the invisible fence this morning (too tempted watching husband walk down the court without him). He takes off. We went looking for him. Dog apparently finds a neighbor way down the street who keeps chickens and gets himself one. While I am talking to the chicken lady, (can't find dog at this point), husband sees dog run back down through the neighborhood with chicken in his mouth. Chase ensues. Dog runs through back yard of new family just moving in this morning. Husband hears new kids say "that dog has a chicken!" Dog brings chicken back to house, drops it at end of driveway, jumps high over invisible fence line apparently thinking it would keep him from getting shocked (it didn't). Husband gets dog inside, comes back out, can't find chicken. Gets in truck to look for chicken, stopping at neighbor's houses along the way asking them if they've seen a chicken. Never finds it. So, the dog did his job - he can certainly retrieve birds! We owe the neighbor some money for chickens, and the new neighbors some sort of explanation. Willing to hire dog out to bird hunters for a fee.

I am a chicken thief.


My husband has decided recently that he is going to kick it up a notch when it comes to his midlife exercise and health routine.  That's good.  I commend him for this, and I must say that he's been looking pretty fine late sans shirt lately!  

Part of his efforts have involved monthly trips to the vitamin store to purchase whey protein (gross), which he drinks in conjunction with his workouts, and combo packs of vitamins.  Some people may be familiar with these combo packs.  They include all kinds of goodies - fish oil, multivitamins, tea tree something or other.   While he was there, I also asked him to pick up a bottle of vitamin D, since I've been reading up on its benefits regarding cancer prevention.

His daily combo pack also includes two multivitamins which he feels is a bit of overkill, so he's been giving me his extra vitamin each morning.  He leaves them on the counter in the kitchen or the bathroom for me to find them when I finally pry my eyes open with the help of contact lenses or coffee.

I have a confession.  I've been having some trouble keeping up with this daily regimen.  

This is the second time in less than three weeks in which little piles of the buggers have started to pile up.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Everywhere I go, there they are.  My husband keeps adding more every day.  He keeps asking me about them!

I'm supposed to take them, especially the vitamin D, with food and I just don't always remember to do it.  The last time this happened (last week), I ended up throwing the extras away.  Some of them had been exposed to the inevitable water that splashes around the counter each day.  Some were sitting on the microwave for a while and were looking a little moldy.  

That was last week, and damn it, here I am again in the same predicament.  What do I do with all of these extra vitamins?   I'm never going to be able to catch up.  I feel like a hoarder.  Maybe  I should slip them to the kids at the bus stop.  Would that be bad?  Is there a black market for vitamins?  I hate to waste them.  I do not have a solution to this problem.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Molson the Dog

It has been nearly three weeks since our home visit with Molson and his foster family.  The Thursday after they were out, his foster mom called to say she had chosen us to be his new family.  That was really cool - the girls were super-excited about it and so were we.  They brought him to us on the following Sunday.  Papers were signed, and a few tears shed by the foster mom, and then they were gone and he was here.

He's a good dog, but I won't say that the first week wasn't tough.  The weather, which had been gray and damp for seven full days already, continued on.  The first morning we had him, I had to work and figure out what to do with him while I was gone.  The crate we'd borrowed from a friend was too small and I ended up puppy-proofing our bedroom and closing him in it, with fingers crossed as I headed to work a half-hour late. He barked and whined, and I wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into.

That week, we bought a larger crate, tried out three different walking leads, got used to daily drags (him dragging us), agonized over getting the invisible fence fixed, took him to an off-leash dog park, and read infinite articles about training (Cesar Milan truly is the ultimate Dog Whisperer).  It was like having a newborn again.  We didn't know him and he didn't know us and there was definitely a breaking-in period.  I wondered on several occasions whether this had been the right choice, and I decided right then and there that people who foster dogs are very special indeed.

The second week has been much better.  The sun came out to stay for a while, the fence got fixed and training has begun.  We found the right lead for Molson and he is doing so well with heeling (thank you Cesar).  He likes his larger crate and will tolerate it for short periods of time while we're gone.  He has left the guinea pigs alone for the most part, having really been interested in them more as playmates than food.  He still tries to sneak the girls stuffed animals when he thinks we're not looking, even though he knows he's not supposed to.  I am back to cleaning the house obsessively so the hair does not overtake everything else.  I am anxiously awaiting the Facebook post from NRGRR that he has been adopted by a nice family that will give him lots of attention and love.

All is well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Golden Time?

Ten months after we lost our sweet girl, Monday, to cancer, we have decided it's time to bring a new dog into the family.

We were not ready before.  Monday's death hit us hard.  She was a twelve-year-old member of the family and we were sad to see her go.  But we've also missed the company of a dog, we've been promising the girls, the summer is over, and our busy travel schedule has slowed down.

We applied with Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue in August, and have been looking at other rescue organizations as well.  NRGRR is our first choice, though, because Monday was a golden mix and we fell in love with the temperament of the breed, shedding be damned.  Whose heart doesn't melt every time they see a picture of one of these wonderful dogs at the site of a tragedy, like the Boston Marathon bombing, or Newtown, lending their calm, docile personalities to people most in need?

Anyway, we finally went out on Saturday to one of their twice monthly events, to meet a few dogs.  There were some puppies we were interested in, but some slightly older dogs, too, and we thought we'd have a look.

The puppies were cute, but they were more labrador than golden and not quite what we were looking for.  Hubby liked a little golden mix named Diddie but G and I couldn't stop looking at Molson, a beautiful 10-month-old who was exactly the opposite of what we thought we might want.  Opposite in that he wasn't a she, and he was BIG.

But isn't that the way it goes?  After the event, and some discussion, we decided to put our names in the hat for Molson.

His foster and her son brought him out to the house yesterday which is a really beneficial thing for both parties involved.  It was a great opportunity for us to get to see him again, and on our own turf!  He is a big boy, a surprise for us since Monday was so short!  He was incredibly sweet and well-behaved.  He made himself quite comfortable as he checked out every room. The guinea pigs were of great interest to him.

I think the visit went well, but who knows?  Rescue organizations, especially breed-specific ones, can be very picky as they really want to ensure a good match.  We have two kids, a good-sized yard, previous experience with goldens, and a flexible work schedule.  But, we have an electric fence, not a wooden one, and no other dogs for him to play with.  Will it matter?  Time will tell.

The foster and Molson have some other home visits to make this week.  We will have to be patient and see.  I wouldn't allow hubby to slip a $20 under Molson's collar.   Bribery is tacky after all!   Stay tuned for more info!

To check out available dogs and learn more about Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Crazy Hair

My father's family has some crazy in it.  From severe control issues to basic OCD, it's watered itself down through the generations, but I can attest that it sneaks out in me when it comes to a few certain issues.  Sadly, for my girls, one of those issues has to do with their hair.

My girls have fine, flyaway hair with just a touch of a natural wave.  Throw in a weird part and some cowlicks, it's a recipe for disaster.  G's is the worst, M's is more normal, but by the end of the day, they both have the ability to look like someone has held a hand mixer to the back of their heads for a while.

From shampoo to haircuts, this has been a terrible, frustrating nine-year quest for me, one that has spurred an argument or five between me, my husband, and my kids but one that is thankfully winding down as they have gotten older and we have found solutions to the issues.

Let's start by discussing the haircuts.  As someone who is still traumatized from many a bad haircut when I was a kid,  I can't quite express the level of stress I experience when it's time to get my own hair done.  My very mild OCD comes out at its worst at these times because cutting my hair is not something I can do myself, thus I cannot personally control the outcome.  I am terrified of being stuck with a style that makes me look horribly ugly until it grows out, and I obsess when it's done over whether it's even on both sides, and on and on.

This obsession has, of course, transferred to my worries over my girls hair.  I know it needs to be cut.  I want a nice style for them that doesn't look butchered.  I want it even.  For M's very fine and relatively straight hair, should we do a rounded bob, a blunt cut, a straight-across trim?  What would look best?  What would work best for her hair?  For G, whose hair is, literally, all over her head, grows so freaking slow, and truly has reminded me of Jeff Daniel's hair in Dumb and Dumber,  I need someone who can work magic on it with some masterful style that will make it look normal.  I need someone who will not screw it up, because I know if they do, it will take two years to correct.

I don't want to pay big bucks for a kids 'do, but also don't want some random person at a walk-in to botch it.  I won't have my children going around looking like they've been attacked by a Flowbee.  So, I literally hyperventilate at the thought of getting their hair done.  I mean it.  I hyperventilate.

I have found that there are really just three options for a kids cut. You can go to your salon and have your person do it.  This will cost anywhere from $25 with tip.  You can go to one of the specialty kid salons and pay $18.  Or you can pay $10 at one of the walk-ins and hope for the best.  I have done all of these options and have yet to be satisfied by any experience.

At the froo-froo salon, it came down to an issue of value.  It's hard to justify $25 for a kids cut.  I mean, it's a trim.  I didn't feel, as far as the cut itself was concerned, that I was getting my money's worth.  The ONLY advantage to it is my stress level was mitigated.  I felt a lot better about my person cutting their hair because my person is really, really good and I knew if nothing else, the cut would be straight.  Plus, she gave me a really good tip about taming the flyaway frizz that involved adding just a little bit of regular conditioner to a spray bottle and fill the rest with water.  It will help tame the tangles, it won't make their hair look greasy (I swear!), it makes it soft, and is all around the best advice I've gotten so far.

The kids cut place - the one that specializes in children - yielded mixed results. They were nice in that they put in a video for the kids to keep them still and quiet during the cut.  And usually, I was okay with the results.  They did a really good job for a while and they put up with me hawking over them as they cut the girls' hair.  But, they are also the place that gave G the bad bang cut - the one that started way too far back on her head.  They also had a tendency to rush during the busy times (like holidays) and for $18, I'm not putting up with that.   I usually avoid haircuts during the holidays but sometimes it's unavoidable.  After one particularly rushed cut, I went back for a re-do, and that was the end of things for me.  Besides, once your kids get to be about eight or nine-years-old they're too cool to go there anymore.

The walk-in places are so hit or miss.  You never know who you're going to get - stylists move in and out of those places like a carnie after the show is over - so you might find someone you really like only to have them disappear forever after a year or so.  You basically walk in and get whoever's next on the queue, unless you do have someone you like that you can request.  Not to disparage all those in the haircutting profession, but I don't like having to choose between the chain-smoking 60-year-old who's been around the block and has "uneven bowl-cut" written all over her, or the 40-something chick with the dyed-black Motley Crue hair and tats.

The most recent haircut we got was at a walk-in.  There is one woman there who has done an okay job with G's hair in the past, so I have asked for her a few times now.  It's pretty much a dry-cut, which I've had to work hard to deal with, and she sort of just goes at it, but for G's wave and frizz, I guess it seems to work.   But I wasn't happy with the job she did with M's, who has straighter hair.  The same approach yielded a really uneven mess with long little pieces here and there amongst what was supposed to be a straight, even line.  Of course it wasn't obvious until we got home, sent me into a controlled fit in the bathroom, and found us back at the strip mall several hours later where Motley Crue re-cut it for me so that it was straight.   But, because of this experience, I am no closer now than I ever was to knowing what we will do the next time we must go get their hair cut.  I have actually considered taking a course on cutting hair, just so I could do theirs well, a basic trim, until they're old enough to warrant a trip to the more expensive place.  It drives me nuts that I can't cut their hair myself.  I have managed to control the urge more than once, knowing, thank goodness, my limitations.  

I've often thought how lucky the moms are who have boys.  A quick buzz cut on number two, and they're done.  Unless they're the weird mom who insists on giving her kid a bowl cut well into his later elementary school years.  Sorry, but bowl cuts on boys are so dumb.  But I digress.

On to the maintenance.

All was well when it came to hair maintenance until my girls became old enough to shower on their own.  Then all hell broke loose.  When I suddenly was not the one overseeing the lathering, rinsing, conditioning and rinsing of the hair, the OCD issues reared their ugly head.  My poor kids.  We spent endless nights going over how to properly wash their hair.  A quarter-size amount of shampoo.  No, a little more.  Don't twirl with your fingers - get in there and scrub it!  Don't forget the sides, the top, the back.  Rinse it.  Rinse it all!  RINSE IT!!!   Oh, and the conditioner... wow, they just can't get that right.  We have tried kids 2-in-1 products, adult 2-in-1 products, separate shampoo and conditioner and just shampoo, with a light spray of the conditioner in a bottle.  Eureka.  In the end, that was the solution that finally worked for us.

Add to this the fact that I work two nights a week and must therefore relinquish control to my husband and to the girls.  I have sent my children back to the showers in the morning more than once to correct what I perceived were inadequacies in their hair washing prowess.   Oh, the arguments between them, and me, and my husband over this nonsense!  Oh, but he just doesn't understand the long-lasting social issues that it will cause my daughters if they go to school with bad hair.

He insists that if they end up on the psychiatrist's couch as adults, my hair issues will be one of the main reasons.  I don't disagree.

Where are my poor daughters in all of this?  Well, they've learned to put up with me.  M, God love her, is patient beyond her years, and just goes along with me.  They both know that the hair is just my weak point.  They (barely) put up with fifteen minutes of hair brushing to get their ponytails just right - no bumps, no weird separations.  They put their feet down at me blow-drying and styling each day.

They are older now, and I have just, in the last 6 months, gotten to the point where I leave them alone about their hair.  Usually.  I know I have to let it go, and let them feel good about what they're doing.

I feel only mildly better when I talk to my friends and realize they have their own OCD trigger points.  One mom goes ballistic over how her daughters brush their teeth.  Now, I don't do that too much.  That's just really crazy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Ravens won the Super Bowl last night!  Woo Hoo!

I'm a Baltimore girl and I just have to say that I'm pretty darned excited about it!

I love the Ravens.  Love them all!  Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Terrell Suggs, Jacoby Jones, Ayanbadejo, Ngata, Pierce, Flacco, Harbaugh.  Love these guys!

It was a real nail-biter of a game, too.  The Ravens were about to run away with it, until the lights went out.  Talk about a game-changer.  But they pulled it off in the end.

They deserved the win.  They really did.  They've had such a tough year, starting, really, with the crushing defeat against the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship.  There were so many injuries, family tragedies.  There were careers on the line.  They have an excellent coach, and a whole lot of heart.  I'm glad they won.