Puppies are Painful

Puppies, man.

Before we got Josie, I hadn't had a puppy in like ... over a decade. And I've found that with puppies, much like childbirth, you forget about the pain over time. But also like childbirth, once you get into the situation again you're all, "OMG!!!! WHY did I voluntarily repeat this?!" While we're comparing puppyhood to childbirth, let me just say this: having a puppy and three children four and under - two of them in diapers - is like being in labor without drugs, and saying, "Hell, since I'm already in pain, let's just go ahead and tattoo something big. With a dirty needle. On my face." 

I keep telling myself that this is only temporary, and that a few years down the road we'll have a wonderful family companion and won't remember the nighttime yapping. The spots of pee on the carpet that I don't find until they're virtually dry. The turds. The early-morning yapping. The chewed bathmat/oven mitt/shoes. The razor-sharp puppy teeth. The afternoon yapping.

Out of all that, I think what I find the least tolerable is the pee-A.D.D. I know Josie's attention span is short and all that but sweet Lord, dog, just find a place to pee and stick with it, will ya?! I take her outside and she sniffs around like, "Okay, this looks like a good sp - hey, there's a leaf! ... All right, I'm really gonna go this time, right here on this - hey, a piece of trash!" Every breeze, every stick, every dog that barks from ten miles away creates a fresh diversion. And by the time she stops chasing and digging and biting her own damn tail, we've been outside for a solid ten minutes. Thank goodness the weather's finally getting nice.

Despite it all, though, my whole family adores her - me included. Because if there were ever anything adorable? It's our Josie-Jo:

She's lucky she's so cute.

Kick Me

I think that while my oldest son Colin was in utero, he must've hung up a "kick me" sign in there. Because with all of my pregnancies, from the moment I felt those first fetal flutters to the moment those actual feet emerged from my ... well, you know ... it was always kick, thump, kick, thump. To the bladder, to the ribs, to the soft internal structures that are supposed to be shielded by bone. Like miniature Jackie Chans*.

*Only, you know, unborn and Caucasian.

It's understandable, though. I mean, when your entire body is folded into the space the size of a watermelon, you don't have much of a choice.

What is not understandable, though, is that the uterine kicks are still effing happening despite my having vacated the infants therein.

I have always felt weird internal blips and bumps between pregnancies, and chalked it up to my reproductive organs trying to get back to normal after taking a massive 9-month beating (by my massive 9-pound babies). But ever since about a month or two after I had Coby, I've been consistenly feeling what I can only describe as those very early movements. From, like, the stage where you're positive it's real movement and not just a fart brewing in there.

They're so pronounced and so consistent (every day, y'all) that I started freaking out a little. I thought about that show on TLC, "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" where women don't even know they're expecting until they actually give birth and I was all, "OMFG, no way," and started like calculating days and recalling incidents with condoms and stuff. Then I really scared myself by going to the show's website and reading this article called "Surprise Pregnancy: How Could You Not Know?" It explains exactly how a woman can be knocked up and none the wiser. (Although for me, something about gaining 80 pounds and feeling like there's a baby elephant doing backflips in my abdomen usually tips me off.) You can read the whole thing here, but I've listed some of the bullet points and how each applies to my situation:

Fetus is small, inactive, and/or carried toward the back of the womb.
I've never had a small fetus, but hey, there's a first time for everything.

Recent previous childbirth.
Um, yep.

Um, yep. ...Well, sort of. ... Sometimes.

Three little boys, a house to manage, a job to do (part time at least), and a new puppy. Stress? Ya think?

Fetus is mistaken for a tumor or cyst.
See answer to question #1. Replace "small fetus" with "tumor or cyst."

Didn't I just write a post regarding things that are cool about being fat?

Inaccurate use of birth control.
Condoms. 'Nuff said.

History of irregular cycles and/or infertility.
Totally. I think you could sum up the entire contents of my medical records with that one sentence.

After reading the article, I went from reasonably sure I couldn't possibly be pregnant to screaming toward Walgreens to snatch up the first pregnancy test I could find.

Immediately upon arriving home I ripped it out of the package and ... well, you can pretty much imagine what went on. I don't need to paint you a picture. (But if I did, I'd use a lot of yellow.)

And then I waited for three minutes.

Okay, maybe it was more like two and a half, but still.

With shaking hands I picked up the test and took a deep breath as my eyes registered ...

... a big fat negative.


So yeah. I'm now 99.999999% sure that my phantom kicks are just that - phantom kicks. Not the kicks of some surprise kid that's gonna come busting outta my nether-regions like, "Haaaaaay ya'll!"

It's still weird though.

It's the (Bum)Pits

Hello, my name is Rita and I'm hairstyle-challenged.

I can manage a ponytail (with a bunch of crazy flyaways). Oh, and a (crooked) bun. And I can flat-iron it straight, but only because if I don't, people mistake me for Roseanne Rosannadanna.

Anything else, fuhgeddaboutit. I see all these chicks with cute hairdos that I'd love to replicate, but asking me to achieve those looks with my own hair is like asking me to grow my own penis: pretty much impossible.

In my defense, it's hard to manage a 'fro hair like mine. It's thick and super-frizzy with a stubborn natural wave - not exactly shampoo commercial-quality tresses I'm working with here, y'all. So in the ongoing interest of - say it with me - fighting off frumpy, I decided to enlist some hairstyle help ... as-seen-on-TV-style.

Let me just tell you, I'm a sucker for pretty much any infomercial. So a long time ago when I saw a hairstyling tool called Bumpits on my TV, I knew I had to get me some. (I'm also, like, theeeee last person to jump on a trend ... which explains why I'm just now getting around to it.) Hoping to get that cute little "it-girl" bump all up in mah hurr (which is probably so yesterday by now), I bought myself the goods:

I should have known better than to buy something that sounds like an affliction best cured by deodorant. But damn it, I want cute hair. And it looks so simple: you stick one of these little plastic crescents in your hair, comb some over the top, and voila. I even know people who have Bumpits and look adorable with 'em in, just like in the ads (Betsy Givens, I'm talking to you).

But me? Not one of those people. There must be something wrong with my head ... like, it must be a weird shape or some such nonsense. Because when I put a Bumpit in, my hair doesn't look volumized - my head looks tall, like I'm just trying to comb some hair over my deformed dome. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong! I followed the directions. It really is easy. But on me, instead of cute, the end result is just kind of weird. Think Flo from the Progressive insurance commercials:

Yeeeeeah. Not exactly what I was going for.

But I suppose even a comparison to Flo is not as bad as what my own husband compared me to when he first saw me sporting a Bumpit.

"What do you think?" I asked tentatively, modeling my new 'do.

He hesitated, scrutinizing me before saying, "Um, it reminds me of a silverback gorilla."


Silverback gorilla, huh? Guess it's back to rockin' the ponytail.

A Little Night Music

I function (barely, but that's beside the point) on very little sleep.

It's partially because our meant-for-two-people queen-sized bed is grossly overpopulated.

-There are, of course, Curtis and myself who actually BELONG there.
-Then there's Coby, who sleeps with us because I sleep literally holding my babies until they're old enough that I get over the fear of SIDS. (I know, I'm weird like that.)
-Then there's Cameron, who goes to sleep in his own bed every night but without fail joins us at or before 2 a.m.
- And finally there are the damn cats, who insist upon sleeping on my feet. Because bony feet are, like, so comfortable.

Due to my lack of shut-eye, it's a wonder that I'm able to continue to produce quality illustrations such as this:

I do it all for you, friends. All for you.

Add into the mix the ear-splitting yappings of Josie, our new puppy, who - despite being set up in her own little cushy corner with blankets and everything - insists on vocalizing her displeasure at least once a night, and it isn't hard to see why sleep is a rare commodity for me.*

*Although I seem to be the only one affected by all this because everyone else sleeps right through it. Ugh. 

To truly let you share in the "music of my night," I am imbedding an actual, live 22-second recording that I took from my bed at 2:34 this morning (I keep my phone under my pillow for just such an occasion). That rumbling freight-train noise is Curtis snoring, accented by the sweet trill of Josie's big mouth in the other room. And be sure to listen until the end, when the baby starts fussing. Classic.

Enjoy ... and may you sleep better than I do.


Okay, I admit it. My oldest starts Kindergarten this fall, and it makes me feel like a drooling, slack-jawed moron.

I've agonized over this for like six months now. First there was the question of where to send him. I have nothing against public schools - I myself am the product of one and, well, look how brilliantly I turned out.

*cricket, cricket*

Anyway, Colin's fairly advanced for his age. He can read and write, count by tens, and watches boring medical documentaries on YouTube like they're the latest Disney flick (he lectured Curtis yesterday about emphysema). But I checked out the Kindergarten curriculum for the public elementary he'd be going to, and it's all stuff he already knows. I don't want his first experience with school to be boring and slow-paced for him ... I want it to be exciting and enriching. I want his education to foster his love of learning. So we checked into a few private schools in the area. They seem better suited to him because they're generally more tailored to the individual student - but they're also pricey. Like, two-new-car-payments-worth pricey. Even the ones at the lower end of the cost spectrum are enough to make me cringe a little bit. I mean, forking over that kind of cash every year, how will I ever get my boob job?

(I'm kidding. Sort of.)

Not only am I not sure what to do, I'm not even sure about when to do it. I know there's a Kindergarten registration at every school, private or public ... but I figured it would take place, like, over the summer sometime. But then I see all these Facebook friends lately having statuses like, "Took Jimmy to Kindergarten roundup last night!" and "Just registered Sophie for school," and I'm all, "???"

Because ... already? It's like ... barely spring.

I hate to admit being this much of a bumbling idiot when it comes to school matters, but admitting it is the first step - right? How does everybody else seem to instinctively know what to do and when to do it, while I have to be slapped upside the head with a notification (via Facebook, no less)? 

Those of you with school-aged kids ... did you just know what to do when the time came? Did you go through any school-starting dilemmas? I need advice and stories!

Whoever said Kindergarten was easy has never sent a child there ...

I Wish I Could REALLY "Laugh My Ass Off"

I am never - NEVER - without a camera. That's because I encounter far too many hilarious and amusing things to ever be left without a way to document them. Okay, so my "camera" is just my iPhone (hence the crappy picture quality I get sometimes) but still ... it works in a pinch. Such as the other day when Curtis and I were driving through a used car lot and I made him bring the Jeep to a screeching halt by yelling, "Oh my God! Stop stop stop so I can get a picture!"

The picture in question was this:

  Obviously the work of some creative letter-peeling, but LOL-worthy all the same. (Unless there really IS a "Bitch's Used Cars" ... wouldn't that be fabulous?!)

And then there was this little disclaimer on my new sheets:

It's hard to see (damn camera), but it says "Decorative items not included." Which made me all sad-facey because hello, I totally thought there was going to be a vase of flowers in with my sheets.

Speaking of decorative ...

Because nothing says classy interior design like a dog potty-training pad that COMPLEMENTS YOUR DECOR. Now if I could just get Josie to crap in coordinating colors too.

Then there's this ripoff machine full of crap toys that, for only $300 in quarters, you too can purchase something from:

I mean, who doesn't want to play with a figurine named after an Asian cabbage? I was just disappointed that the machine didn't feature Bok Choy Boy's archnemesis, the Kimchee Kid.

But if you don't get what you want from the machine, you can always console yourself with a sweet treat:

Mmm, rocky toad. My faaaavorite.

(For a similar post with more funnies, check out LOL, Y'all)

Them, Me, and Poop & Pee

Wanna know what my life has been like lately?
Poop and pee. Poop and pee. Poopandpeepoopandpeepoopandpeepoopandpee. To further clarify, I've drawn this helpful illustration of myself*:

*I don't usually wear a dress.

There are five people, one dog, and two cats in this house. That's eight pooping, peeing creatures. I am responsible for the cleanup of six of them (including myself, so thank goodness I'm potty trained). Between changing diapers, scooping the litter box, taking Josie out to sniff around and poke at stuff pee, and purging the carpet of the seemingly-endless "surprises" she leaves for me, dealing with urine and feces is ALL. I. GET. DONE.

And it's like some comic farce at my expense. I'll be changing Coby, and Cameron will come in the room having pooped in his diaper and taken it off, so he'll have poo smeared all over himself. And then while I'm dealing with all that, Josie will pee right in the hallway or someplace where I'll inevitably step in it during the cleanup of the first mess(es).

It would actually be amusing ... IF IT WASN'T ME. OR MY EFFING CARPET.

In the grand scheme of things, this time period won't last long. (Or at least that's what I keep telling myself because I don't want to like go totally mad and rip up the rug with my bare hands and make everybody sleep outside until they learn to put their bodily fluids in the right receptacles.) I know that they won't be little forever, and that someday I'll miss this.


For right now, I'm up to my mother-lovin' elbows in POOOOOOOOP AND PEEEEEEEEEEEE.

(I kid you not: Cameron just now came up to me whining, "I have poop on my toes!" ... You see? You SEE?)

Guess I'd better get off here and take care of the latest set of piles and puddles. Anybody know of a good carpet cleaning service?

It's Mah Blogiversary!

A year ago yesterday, I wrote my inaugural post here - Hello, My Name is Mommy - and Fighting Off Frumpy was officially born. That's right ... it's my one-year blogiversary. Well, sort of, because like I said - it was actually yesterday. And I didn't even realize it until late last night, so I don't have any spectacular blog-stravaganza planned. I feel kinda bad about that, because The Frump has been a huge part of my life for the past twelve months.

It started out as a simple creative outlet for me, and a sort of e-chronicle of my kids' antics for future reference, and I figured it'd never go further than the few people who were kind enough to give it a "courtesy read." But here we are - one year later and hundreds of like-minded frump-fighters stronger. It still trips me out when I think about it.

I've covered a lot of material over that timespan. My life has changed DRAMATICALLY since that first post. I've lost my Grandma and my dog, given birth to a new son, added a new puppy to the chaos. We've had fiascos involving huge creepy insects, sunscreen, poop in strange places, and cakes gone terribly wrong. I've waxed poetic about my cheekbones and my vacuum cleaner, freaked out about a visitor in my pants, and discovered some valuable truths about motherhood. It hasn't always been fun, but in retrospect, I've learned and done a lot over the past year ... and have had many of you to hold my virtual hand throughout it all.

So even though I went all bad-blogger and totally overlooked the actual blogiversary (I feel like Molly Ringwald's parents in Sixteen Candles, y'all), at least it hasn't gone completely unobserved. Here's to a year of fighting the frump (my hair in that last blog post notwithstanding) ... and to all the good things yet to be blogged. :)

Negligence Leads to Tattoos

Forgive me if I sound like I'm drunk or something ... I'm just in shock over yesterday's uber-awesome turn as the SITS Featured Blogger. I gained a hundred new followers, and a deeper appreciation for the ones who were already following. Seriously, if I could, I would hug each of you until it gets uncomfortable and stare directly into your eyes in a creepily smitten manner. Because I love you THAT much.

So since a full third of you are as-yet-unfamiliar with me - and since I know the rest of you are dying to know even more mundane details of my life - I've created one of those Formspring.me pages. You can go there and ask me anything, even anonymously and I'll answer. So ask away right here, peeps, or via the convenient little widget over there in the right-hand sidebar! → Anything goes! As far as I can tell, you don't even need to register to ask questions.*

*But I'm still new at it and kind of a computer moron to boot

Anywho, I was like deathly ill for a hot second last week. I spent the better part of three days looking like this:

Only, you know, more horizontal.

(And yes, this is unfortunately my real hair, y'all - not just some crazy wig I put on for giggles.)

The worst part of my illness happened to fall on my husband Curtis's two days off, so he was able to watch the boys. And by "watch the boys" I mean "let them play with my pots and pans, drag every last toy out of their toy box, and eat candy on demand." All the while, the puppy ran amok, peeing on every-damn-thing and setting us back in our potty training endeavors. Is it any wonder that the morning after a 104-degree fever, I was up and cleaning like a madwoman just to restore things to some degree of normalcy? I think it might've fried my brain a little. Like I needed that.

There was one morning during my illness when Colin woke up before anyone else, and decided to take advantage of his solitude. He pulled a chair up to the cabinet where I keep forbidden goodies out of reach for special occasions - goodies like the sheets of spider tattoos that my mother-in-law sent them (gee, thanks, Nana).

I woke up to a four-year-old who looked like a prison tattoo experiment. No fewer than nine (huge) spiders covered his body. And since Colin is generally naked, several of the tatts were in, um, creative places. Places where only the most adventurous (and pain-tolerant) of people have real-life tattoos. I hope you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down, here, because it's not like I can post pictures.

Anyway, I'm pleased to report that I did get the stacks of dishes clean, the mountains of cat poo scooped from the box, the sticky fingerprints scrubbed, the towering piles of laundry caught up ...

... until the next day, when everything magically reappeared (what an effin' miracle!) and was awaiting my attention again.

At least my illness didn't stick around. Wish I could say the same for those tattoos ... 

Just SITS-ing Around

OMG. It's my SITS day.

My SITS day, y'all.

If you're visiting from SITS, you know how important that is (and welcome, welcome, welcome!). If you don't know, you need to - so stop by here to check out the awesomeness that is The SITStahood.

Even though I've been pleading stalking waiting patiently for months, today kind of crept up on me - so when I found out that my blog was the SITS FEATURED BLOG (if I could type that in some sort of sparkle text I totally would), I was surprised. The way you feel when, like, Yaaaaay there's the UPS man with an awesome package but awww, crap, I'm still in my pajamas and braless at 3 pm. You know? I feel like I should have spruced things up around here a bit first. I'm usually* more on top of things.

*and by usually I mean like 30% of the time

I wish I could say my SITS day caught me in the midst of a string of brilliant posts, but in all actuality, it caught me at the end of a bunch of crap: namely a 3-day deathbed of an illness and the aftereffects of a "helpful" husband who means well, but can't multitask (sorry, Honey). Throw in the series of mini-catastrophes that is raising three little boys and a puppy who chews through the Internet connection cord two days in a row, and, well, the blog took a bit of a backseat. But no more. If the posting lag was was my mental constipation, then you, dear friends and new visitors, are my laxative. Because trust me - I've gathered a lot of blog fodder in the past few days.

So anyway, I'm glad you're here. Take a look around and, hopefully, have a laugh or two. I'll point you in the direction of a couple of my favorites to get you started.

Mommy, What's a Whore?  ← in which my son asks me a veeeery uncomfortable question

Cleavage? Clever! ← why boobs are, like, the coolest things evah

Mustachioed Mama ← just another reason to keep your facial hair to a minimum

And don't forget to check out the "About Me" tab (*points helpfully up top*) so you can get to know me. Because I am totally looking forward to getting to know all of you.

Thanks for stopping in, everyone!

I'm Totally Crazy

I've been called crazy a few times in my life. Like when I got married at 19. Or when I got pregnant with Coby before Cameron was even a year old. Or that time I had a few too many Long Island iced teas at Curtis's office Christmas party and didn't realize they were so strong and ended up taking off my - well, never mind. Point is, I've done a few things in my life that call my sanity into question - but for the most part, I've managed to prove the naysayers wrong. I've been married for almost a decade ... am managing three boys just fine (well, okay, for the most part) ... and that Long Island tea incident didn't even end up on YouTube.*

*Because it happened before YouTube was even invented probably, but oh well.

Anyhow, despite all this, I have recently made a decision which makes even ME wonder if I've gone off the deep end. And it's this:

This "crazy decision" is a full-blooded Chocolate Lab, seven weeks old, who goes by (but does not necessarily answer to) the name Josie.

As you guys know (and read here and here if you don't), we very recently had to say a painful and difficult goodbye to our ten-year-old dog, Andy. And my mom, God bless 'er, tried to dispense a little advice afterward in that way she does ... phrasing it as a very subtle suggestion, as if trying to implant it into my subconscious so I'll think it was my idea (I'm onto you, Mom). "After all this, I'm sure you won't want to think about getting another dog until the boys are older," she said. Followed by some reasoning that my brain tuned out because, well, if I've learned one thing in my 29 years it's how to completely ignore reason.

Yeah, it's a talent, be jealous.

I knew we could never replace Andy - but what I needed so desperately to replace was Andy's presence. Those first few days without him here were horrible. Every noise I heard sounded like him. Every dark shape caught in my peripheral vision - the couch pillows, the clothes on the floor - looked like him. I hadn't realized, until he was gone, that a huge part of my life consisted of our simple daily interactions. 

So I guess it was grief that drove us to pick out a fuzzy, pudgy little bundle of puppy. Our new little girl, our Josie. She didn't bring Andy back, of course, but she helps me cope with his absence - although I tend to think of them both being here. Like, she'll run back to the bedroom and I'll think, "Oops, Andy's isn't going to be happy when she disturbs his ... oh." And then, like I do at least three times a day so far, I'm hit with a wave of sadness that momentarily paralyzes me. 

Wanna know what else momentarily paralyzes me? Stepping in puppy poop in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom.

And that, my friends, is why I'm crazy. Because I signed up for this. Because I willingly chose to have a four-year-old, a two-year-old, a six-month-old, and a seven-week-old puppy. Because it's such a great experience to have two that are teething and two that are potty training!

(Not really, I just made that last part up.)

She's such a sweet girl, though. Very smart. And she's already in love with the boys. Colin's a little afraid of her (but this is the child who is also scared of playground swings and artificial flowers - yes, really - so I didn't expect anything less). Cameron, the one who got a dog bite to the face requiring 40 stitches and thereby the one who should be wary of dogs, yet isn't, adores her.

... as you can plainly see. :)

So anyway, Mom, you were kinda right about the struggles of having so many needy, teethe-y, poopy-and-peedy little babies at once. But this too shall pass - it did with Andy - and at least I'll have plenty of blog fodder in the meantime.


No TV Any More, Ever

Damn you, children's television station, and your perky between-show segments that urge my children to make things and do stuff.

And damn you, children, for listening and paying attention to aforementioned perky segments. (Why can't you do that when *I* talk?)

Look. I'm not crafty. I don't own a hot glue gun, nor do I scrapbook. I once tried to knit a baby hat when I was pregnant with Colin, and ended up spending hours on it - only to end up in a tearful, yarn-tangled heap. For the purpose of illustrating my point, I ransacked my house for any do-it-yourself projects I might have done ... but the closest thing I came up with was my artful pairing of a Dollar General print with a Wal-Mart frame, like so:
Aw, yeah. Mama's got class, y'all.

I used to love crafts when I was little. Key phrase here: when I was little. Before I cared about staining things/glueing things to other things/finding glitter-stuffing-whathaveyou in the carpet for months. Now that I'm the one responsible for cleanup, crafts have lost their sparkle.


I love my kids. And my kids love crafting (okay, they love the idea of crafting because honestly, they don't get to do it all that much with me). And there are these irritating guilt-trips between-show segments on their favorite TV station, Nick Jr., that are always proclaiming how fun and easy it is to make your own character-themed cupcakes, or hopscotch thingamajiggies, or laundry hampers, or ...

Moose and Zee No-Sew Snuggle Pillows (I just said that in, like, a really hateful and demonic tone. But since you can't hear me, just imagine it. Throw in some narrowed eyes and flared nostrils for good measure.)

This, in case you're lucky enough not to know, is Moose and Zee:

The boys begged for these stupid snuggle pillows. And I thought, "They're no-sew. I can do no-sew." It implies simplicity, right?

Not when you're me.

Just getting the right supplies posed a challenge. I went to Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart has everything, right? Well, not so much. I got the polyester stuffing, the fabric scissors because I didn't have any at home, and the fabric glue there. I had to go to a craft store to get the felt pieces the next morning. But I left the damn house too early and the craft store didn't open for an hour. When it did open, I got the yellow felt. The black felt. The pink felt. The blue felt. The brown felt. But I didn't get the stiff brown felt, because they didn't have it, so I got stiff black felt instead. 

Then when I got home, I went to the computer to print out the oh-so-handy Moose and Zee printable templates. Except oops, there was no printer ink. So I decided to freehand the pattern using a picture. Moose and Zee aren't all that hard to draw, and I've got mad art skillz, yo, so the patterns actually turned out okay.

But then.

There was the cutting.

Of the felt.

The sheets and sheets and sheets of effing felt.

The whole time I'm cutting and cutting, Colin is whining and whining because why can't heeeeee do iiiiiit? 

And then it was time to glue. I let Colin glue the felt pieces onto the other felt pieces. But when it came time to "sew" the pillow shut with the glue so I could stuff it, I figured I'd better do it. Which is why my fingernails are still crusty today, despite the surgery-worthy scrubbing that has gone on. And it's also why, due to darker felt-fuzz and pieces of skin, the perimeter of each pillow looks dirty. Niiiice.

By the time I cut, placed, cussed, glued, cussed, stuck to the table, cussed, stuffed, and cussed some more, nearly three hours had elapsed.


For a craft that a.) took all of two minutes on TV, what with their pre-cut pieces and other such nonsense, and b.) my kids - who had begged for these pillows forever - fought over for all of five minutes and then abandoned completely. For a craft that turned out to look like this:

Whatever. My kids are never* watching TV again.

*And by "never" I mean not until 2, when "Wow Wow Wubbzy" comes on.

What Aisle is THAT On?

Colin worked diligently at the kitchen table this morning to make me a grocery list. He's just learning to read and write, and so sometimes it takes a little work to decipher what everything says, but for the most part I can get it. (It's that parent-thing that allows you to translate for your kids when, like, "thank you" sounds like profanity.) As I read through the items on the list, I was impressed - it's all stuff I would actually buy. With one big exception (or would that be two?):

Yep, that indeed does say "TITS." As for what it's supposed to say, it remains a mystery - because Colin couldn't remember what he was trying to spell.

I can't help but think that someone exactly like him wrote this grocery list that I found on the floor of Hy-Vee a while ago:

After Andy

DISCLAIMER: This post will be sad. I'm sad as I write it, and by the end, you'll probably be sad as well. (Unless you're, like, cold and heartless or whatever.) So if you don't want to be sad, I suggest reading through the archives and finding a LOL-worthy alternative (how about this?) - and I promise, I'll be back to my normal dorky self real soon. Thanks for understanding, y'all.

*And by the way - in order to really understand this post, you'll need to read this one first.

I write for a living, but I'm having so much trouble finding words right now. How can I explain the depths of my love for the soul I bid a tearful goodbye to yesterday? Sure, he was a dog. Just a dog, some would argue. But anyone who has ever loved a four-legged friend so much will understand that there is no such thing as "just" a dog.

Though the classified ad in the paper had screamed, "FREE BLACK LAB PUPPIES," we knew he wasn't a full-blooded Lab when we saw his curly tail ... but he was adorable - tiny, sweet, and shy - and we loved him from the first time we laid eyes on him. We called him Andy because I swear he told me that was his name. At least that's what popped into my head and wouldn't leave, so even though it rhymed with Curtis's ex-girlfriend's name, that's who he became. Our Andy.

Andy was our first baby. He was part of the logical progression of family-building, our practice run for parenthood. Through the potty training, the chewed-up shoes, the adorably aggravating puppy stages, Curtis and I learned how to take care of another needy little being. Together.

We couldn't have predicted that a harrowing five-year battle with infertility would threaten our chances of ever having a "real" baby. Between seemingly-endless cycles of fertility drugs and invasive, dignity-stripping procedures, our hopes of having children dwindled. I clung to my Andy, the closest thing I ever had - the closest thing I ever thought I would have. He was my consolation, my only outlet for the maternal instinct that swelled within me. I shed many bitter tears into his shiny black fur, his warm weight cuddled close, temporarily easing an ache that wouldn't go away. Into him I poured my grief, my frustration, my feelings of inadequacy. In return he gave me constant, unconditional love.

Even after we finally had our boys, Andy remained as close to our hearts as ever. Which is why, when he bit Colin's arm several years ago in response to a startle, we chose to give him another chance. We thought it was an isolated incident. And for a long time, we all lived a peaceful coexistence - until two weeks ago, when our two-year-old fell on a sleeping Andy and was bitten in the face. It took forty stitches to close his wounds, and was a heartbreaking jolt into the reality that Andy was a threat to our children. Whether the bite was in response to an accident or not, he could have done far more serious damage. And that left us with an agonizing decision to make.

I immediately took to my blog and Facebook to ask for help - and my wonderful readers, friends, and family members offered up so much advice and encouragement. It wasn't all positive - I got several of the standard "if it had been my dog, he would have been killed instantly" type responses, and was even questioned as to whether I had the "mommy instinct" that led me to protect my children - but even those comments, as hard as they were to read, were made with my family's best interests at heart.

I began exhaustively researching our options. I called area Lab and elderly dog rescues and no-kill shelters, all of whom gave me sympathetic explanations that they just couldn't take a dog who has bitten a child. Through tears I posted a long ad on Craigslist, begging for a child-free home for Andy. The only result was a cluster of e-mails echoing what the Animal Control people had already told me - that if Andy were to ever bite anyone else, we would still be liable. One lady said she had re-homed a rescue dog who ended up biting someone, and she lost everything because of the resulting lawsuit.

For two weeks we hoped against hope. Weighed all the terrible options over and over again. Felt the choking, breathtaking sorrow as we considered - for the first time in ten years - life without Andy. And finally, came to a conclusion.

Yesterday morning, Andy had bacon and eggs and a big drink of cold water for breakfast. Curtis and I, just the two of us, took him out for a drive in Amish country. On the first 50-degree day of the year, Andy rode with his head out the Jeep window, just the way he loved to: ears flapping in the wind, soaking up the beautiful sunshine.

He got to run around without his leash, splashing gleefully through the early-spring thaw. He chewed on a beef-basted rawhide bone. He took a nap with Curtis. And in the afternoon, he was taken to the first vet he ever saw, the "pediatrician" of his puppyhood. Just before four o'clock, sedated and in the comfort of Curtis's arms, he was calmly and humanely put to sleep.

We buried him in one of his favorite locations: my grandparents' yard. He had spent many hours running freely through their orchard, weaving through the tall grasses in their field; it was only fitting that it be his final resting place. We wrapped him in a blanket and placed him gently in a hole that Curtis and his brother had dug by hand that morning, right beside the barn. We prayed and we cried. With heavy hearts we covered Andy's body with dirt, giving him up to the earth. We had driven four hours from home to end his life and rest his spirit in the best way we could think of - and afterward, we drove home again, virtually silent in our sorrow.

This is the first morning I've woken up to an empty spot on the floor beside my bed, but he seems to be everywhere. The hairs he's shed. The dent in the couch pillow where he always laid. His food and water bowls downstairs. Every movement, every shadow, looks like him to me. But it isn't. Andy is gone. And, like his footprints that still dot the remaining snow in our backyard, he will slowly fade from our lives.

It isn't what I wanted. It's what I feared most. And it is, and has been, agonizingly painful. I know we made the right choice for everyone, but the right choice is sometimes the hardest.

Cameron escaped serious harm. His stitches have been out for more than a week now, and his healing has been remarkable. He'll have no lasting effects, and the plastic surgeon says that there'll come a time when we won't even be able to see the scars any more. Can I say the same for my own scars, the ones developing over the still-fresh fault line that has opened up in my heart? At this point, it feels like the pain will never go away. Andy's absence is as big as his presence was.

Andy, Mommy loves you. I miss you. Thank you for being my baby. Thank you for ten wonderful years of companionship. Thank you for being more than just a dog.

Oh, the Madness!

I don't know what I've gotten myself into, y'all.

Yeah, I've had cold feet about the whole "three kids" thing before - on more than one occasion. Right before Coby was born in September, I had a mini-meltdown thinking about how I was going to handle the two I had plus a new baby. But you know what? It worked. Coby is nearly six months old (already! Yikes!), and there have been no major fiascos in his short little life ... yet. We've got our routine down, and I can handle a four-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old simultaneously ... for now.


Several developments of late have got me seriously fearing for my future sanity. First of all is this new trend of the boys beating each other's asses. I mean, they've more or less always squabbled, but now they're taking it to a whole new level. Brother steals a piece of food from your plate? Whack him with a mean sidearm. Brother wants the random piece of junk toy you're playing with? Shove him into the nearest wall. Brother innocently watching TV? This calls for an ambush, ninja-style. The change mystifies me ... all I can chalk it up to is the fact that they're getting older. But they're four and two. I have the sinking feeling that this is only going to get worse. I mean, I've still got another one to add to the mix. Lord help me.

(We interrupt this blog post for a "LOL" moment: I actually just heard Colin say to his brother, "You can blow me, but don't lick me." He was talking about his shoulder, but ...hee hee hee)


Then there's the nap schedule. I've had it down to a science until now: all three boys, for the past three months at least, have napped at the same time every day. But now Colin is outgrowing the need for an afternoon rest. And Coby has entered this catnapping phase - close eyes for ten minutes, wake up and fuss because he's tired, repeat. This is a crisis, y'all. That precious nap was my ticket to surfing the 'Net in peace getting things done! How am I supposed to stay abreast of pop culture get my laundry caught up now?

I guess I can handle everything. I mean, I don't have much of a choice (if I did, I'd be in some tropical locale sucking up frosty drinks like they're going out of style). But it'd be nice if the boys would give me some warning before they decide to throw a wrench into our routine. Or if they, you know, came with an instruction manual or something.

Off to mediate another beating dispute.



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