Thursday, March 31, 2011


Tuesday night was a little rough for several of us at the Dickinson house. Clara was teething so naturally I was up with her. Tom wasn't feeling great either. So when I woke up to a dreary, rainy Wednesday morning I was simply not able to muster enough gumption to face waking up a sure to be sleepy headed Melaina to get ready for preschool. So I did what any self respecting mother would do...I played hooky. I let Melaina sleep in and miss school. Clara had been fed at 5:30 and put back down and she was still sleeping away at 8, so again, why fix what ain't broken? Maybe I should have sent Melaina to school so that she will learn that "ain't" ain't a word.

Anyway, around 9:20 everyone started stirring. I fed Clara and went in to greet Melaina. She said her usual "I'm not going anywhere?" I answered, "Actually, no, you aren't this morning. Mommy was a sleepyhead so you aren't going to school today". I thought the subject was over until later when she was eating her breakfast.

She said, "Am I sick?", to which I replied "No, you are not sick." By now I start to feel a slight tinge of guilt wash over me. Melaina then asked, "Did I forget to call you and wake you up?" "No, Melaina, it's not your fault. Mommy slept too late and so you are not going to school today". Let it go, kid.

Then it registered with her. "So, all of my friends are on the blue line?" she said this with a frown in her sweet little voice. And there it was. I felt like you know what. But, nothing stirs creativity like a mommy who feels guilty, so I said "We can make our own blue line!!!" And I hurried to get the blue painter's tape and made a large hexagonal shape on our living room floor. You would have thought I had just created the sun.

"Mommy, it's a blue line in my house!!!! We have a school in here!" Take that you wave of guilt! Ha! I'm the greatest mommy in the world!

So needless to say, the entire day was spent doing all sorts of things on the blue line such as show and tell, stretching, making animal faces. We played show and tell at least 10 times and you would think that Melaina would be the one to show and to tell, but oh no. Kitty and Kangaroo and Porgy had to have turns. Then we built barns out of random objects, went on a treasure hunt in the "dark" which was kind of fun since it was so gray outside, and the icing on the cake? Sandpaper letters!

Everyday at school, Melaina does sandpaper letters. This is the time when the children learn letters by touching them (letter shaped sandpaper on blocks), tracing them and then if they choose, getting 3 of them drawn on their hand. Sandpaper letters are very special to Melaina. They are hers and hers alone. You can ask her about them but she will just tell you, "These are mine and I don't want to talk about them." OK.

So we spent a good amount of time making letters and pictures to go with them and then drawing them on each other's hands. I have to say, it was one of my very favorite days spent with my little girl.

So for your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of pictures of our "blue line" time.

I love that Clara is just along for the ride! She loves absolutely anything that Melaina does. She especially enjoyed the treasure hunt of which I have no pictures since we did that one in the dark. Maybe Melaina will an archeologist...or a cat burglar. It's too soon to tell.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vegas Here We Come!!

So we've always known Melaina to be somewhat of a ham. If you've been around her long enough and she has had time to warm up to you, chances are you have seen her act out one or more Disney princess scenes. Her favorite being Snow White complete with props and costume changes. We have two toy baskets in the living room and one is devoted enirely to props for her princess scenes. I'm sure I sound like a stage mom here, but believe me, Melaina needs no coaxing at all to leap entirely into make believe land. Many a time I have had to give the child an apple not for her to eat, but for her to play out the old peddler woman/Snow White scene. We take turns being SnowWhite. She doesn't merely act, folk, she directs, let me tell you the child directs. Many times she directs as the scene is underway. She will say in a hushed tone once I've handed her the apple, "laugh like a witch" in which case I'd better cackle while she takes a bit of the apple and falls dramatically to the floor while saying her lines, "I feel strange".

The funny thing is, for being such a ham, she doesn's really like to have her picture taken these days, much less video. So the other day as I was cooking dinner, I hear what seems to be an Elvis impersonation coming from the living room. Tom and I look at each other, and I quickly say, "hurry, you've got to video this"!! So, thankfully he was able to catch several minutes of her "act" before she knew it. The funny thing is ususally, I know where she has heard the songs she performs, but this time I am completely clueless as to what she is singing and I have absolutely no idea where the "Thank You, Thank You" came from. In the video, Clara is in the pack 'n play so I guess Melaina feels that she now has a very captive audience. I'm sure there will be more videos to come. Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break?

So this week was my husbands Spring Break. Any time Tom is on vacation whether it be summer or Christmas, or Spring Break in this scenario, it always takes us a couple of days to get on the same page. I begin planning the "break" at least a month ahead of time with this and that, projects, day trips, dates out, and plenty of other over-estimations (not a word, I know). Well, this break was no different although I have been working hard to cultivate a spirit of having little or no expectations - easier said than done, my friends. Pema Chodron says "abandon all hope of fruition". Tom says, "Lower the bar...really, really LOWER the bar". Same idea, two ways of saying, "Stop fretting about what you want to happen and enjoy the freakin' ride"! But it takes a while for these things to soak in so, of course, I had expectations.

Expectations are different than plans, you see. Expectations are rules that your mind lives by that says, "no matter what, this is what I deem acceptable and if things don't go this way they are somehow less than optimal". Plans, on the other hand, are just simpler, you plan for things to happen, but somehow someway, plans tend to change. They aren't laid in stone. It doesn't seem to be plans that get me in trouble, it's expectations that keep me from enjoying the ride.

Here's how it breaks down every single time there is a "BREAK":

I ( and by I, I mean that Tom should expect to do all of these things with me or at least support me) want (expect) to :

Clean the house, and I mean CLEAN the house, discarding any and every item that is not absolutely necessary for daily living,

Get the girls up and dressed and go somewhere fun everyday,

Cook gourmet meals or at least let someone else cook them and let me eat them,

Spend time working on my music and finish a couple songs I've been writing,

Build a vocal recording booth for the studio,

Have plenty of needed ME time and maybe a trip to the spa...

AND spend lots of family time with the girls who will naturally go along with all said agendas.

Tom on the other hand, wants to make a sandwich, eat it, and then maybe lay in the hammock for a while, play with the girls, take a family nap, take a family walk, and watch 24 when the girls go to bed. (A serious addiction of ours lately).

As you can see, we are different animals altogether.

Somehow, by Thursday, we finally get there. We are in the same groove. Tom has rested enough to get motivated and I have chilled enough (or have taken enough medication) to go with the flow. So things are looking better right???? Wrong. Just when things seems to be going alright, BAM, our precious baby girl gets sick. Real sick. Clara had been coughing for several days and if you've been reading the blog you know that the plague had been passed around this house like a gift at a baby shower. Finally, I had had enough and Wednesday afternoon made an appointment to see the doctor on Thursday morning. Sure enough there was mucus in Clara's chest and they did a test for RSV and it came back positive. UGH! So it sounds like that is what Tom and Melaina both had but older children and adults are never tested for what strain of cold virus they have and when it is passed to babies, their little lungs can't process all that mucus and it settles in their chest. It is absolutely horrible hearing her cough and we have to give her breathing treatments of Albuterol (spelling?) through a mask. Although it is awful watching her sit there and go through this, she is so tolerant of the treatments, much better than she was at the doctor's office where I thought she and I were going to cry ourselves into oblivion. So, good thing I had decided to go with the flow, huh?

Although, it was a downer, we still were able to enjoy this amazing SC weather and go to the Zoo, and have a couple of picnics in the backyard. Melaina had a ball having Daddy home and Clara is getting better everyday. Here are a couple of pictures from the last several days.

Melaina taking after her Daddy with some hammock time!!

St. Patty's Day picnic!!

This girl loves her some rain boots! There are many floral patterns going on here...

Is Violet sneaking in for a photo op???? (Man, I'm a good photographer)

Nope, just going for the strawberry yogurt. Clara is helpless in her jumper and calls for reinforcements...

I am so thankful for this wonderful family of mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good Things

This past weekend (and so far this entire week) has had its share of challenges. Melaina is getting over her nasty cold and cough, but was kind enough to pass it on to her baby sister. So Clara is battling the bug as well. I HATE it when my children are sick, just like any mom. I am prone to anxiety as it is and watching them be miserable just makes my blood pressure rise. It is especially hard when there is absolutely nothing I can do for them to help them get better. But the title of this post isn't "The Things That Make Me Want To Stick My Head In The Oven" so let's get on with a list of 5 good things. These things are so very simple but somehow have the power to make me smile if not make my entire day.

2 for 1 deal on Earth's Best baby food!!! Tom bought home 54 jars for 20 bucks!!! Eat up Clara! Now I get to rearrange an entire cabinet to have a space for all of this but that is a good thing. It was on my to-do list anyway.

Good hair day. Once in a blue moon as if all the planets align, I throw my hair up in some random ponytail/bun thingy and it looks like Kate Winslet at the Oscars. I wish I could preserve it in shellac and wear it forever, but alas all good things must come to an end. 99% of the time when I put my hair up in this fashion, I look way more like a sister wife than Kate Winslet., hence this next photo:

Moving on...

Thumbprint cookies! Delicious, absolutely delicious! And not too bad for you either! We have drastically changed the way we eat around the Dickinson house, but every now and then I need a little something sweet. So, here ya go: 1 cup Almonds, 1 cup oats. Process in food precessor until ground. Add the mixture to 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well and roll into walnut sized balls. Make indention in each cookie and fill with fruit juice- sweetened strawberry jam, or the jam of your choice. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and eat like no tomorrow. The photo is from the web, becuase there are no more of mine to take a picture of. Me and my family devoured them in less than 24 hours.

Days of our lIves. I have watched this soap opera since I was five. This is one of those things that goes along with having a sister 15 years older than you. I may not catch much of it, but it doesn't matter. Months can go by and if I even catch 5 minutes, I've got the jist. I feel like I know these people. The cast used to come to Greenville every year for a charity softball tournament. My oldest brother, being a local celebrity and all, got us tickets for the game but also the "Dinner With the Stars" that night. We got to meet all the greats!!! Patch, Kayla, Jennifer, Abe, Jack (who was wasted and totally hit on my sister), Sean (for those of you who are die hard old timers like myself) and Calliope! Anywho, love that show. Can't even help myself.

Sweet sisterly love. It's so great watching these two. They really do love each other. Melaina is so loving toward Clara and at times, if she's feeling really overwhelmed with lovingkindness, let's Clara hold Kitty. No one holds Kitty except Melaina. It's kind of a big deal.

Well, there ya go. There's so much awfulness going on in the world right now that I won't even begin to express my feelings on at this time. It's good to have perspective and see all the many good things we have. None of these things are incredibly deep or profound (except the wonderful sisterly love part), but writing about them helped brighten my day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thrilling Thursday

Let me just say that I already know that we don't get out that much. We lead a pretty simple life and although I love to get out and do things with the girls, mostly the day gets away from us as we do "house" stuff, preschool and naps (God willing) so there isn't much time left in the day for getting out and about. I have never felt bad about this until two days ago.

Let me set this up for you. Melaina has had a cough and runny nose since Tuesday and woke up on Thursday with a 102 degree fever so we went to the doctor. I don't know many 3 year olds who love the doctor, but Mealina LOVES the doctor. I think it's her sense for all things dramatic and her love for attention that creates this fondness. Her excitement begins as we get out of the car. The entrance to the building has a large glass awning which she calls a tunnel. The girl loves tunnels for some reason and is thrilled that we get to go under the tunnel. The automatic (a.k.a. magic) doors open for us and as we enter the lobby where there are other clinic waiting areas for other offices, Melaina exclaims in a very audible way "Oh, it's SO BEAUTIFUL in here" and spins around in delight. I can see the patients in the waiting area look at her. Some are probably thinking, "how cute" and some are thinking, "Wow, mom, you've got to get your kid out more!" So we get to our pediatrician's office and Melaina is more than delighted to sit in the waiting area and look at the fish in the tank. Kitty was of course along for the ride and was waiting patiently in his own seat. Those of you who know Melaina also know Kitty. Kitty has been around since Melaina was 10 months and has never left her side for a moment. That's funny, Kitty can't leave her side, but you know what I mean. I will post pictures of Kitty soon!

Anyway, once we go back to the doctor, Melaina (and Kitty) are so eager to be checked out. Melaina said that Kitty loves the colors in the doctor's office. OK. So as the doctor is examining Melaina, Melaina is just enjoying every minute of it and lets it be known that Kitty is sick as well. After the doctor so sweetly checks Kitty, she gives Melaina a popsicle and we are on our way. Children's capacity for memory astounds me because the first thing Melaina said when she got the popsicle was, "Let's go sit on the bench and eat it!" It had to be at least 6 months ago when she got her last popsicle at the doctor's office and sure enough we had gone and sat on the bench right inside the entrance to the building and eaten the treat. So, of course, that's what we did.
Melaina loved her trip to the doctor! And the best part of all is that she doesn't have the flu!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Knock On Wood... baby is napping!!! Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow! Last week and early into this weeks has been pretty difficult on the napping front. From the get go, Clara has required less sleep than Melaina ever did which can be both good and bad. When she won't take naps during the day, that is the bad part. If she is napping or getting over a cold as has been the case, forget it. The fact that she can rally without getting too cranky if we are on an outing as a family or if we are at a dinner party with friends is the good part.

When Melaina was an infant, we used the Babywise method of sleep training. Our neighbors at the time, Brooke and Clay told us all about it and we were like "we have to give this a try!!!" They had 4 children at the time (now 7!) so they knew a thing or two about this whole baby thang. I needed sanity, I mean sleep (I mean sanity) and this looked like the greatest method ever. I think it was really great...for Melaina. We thought we were such great parents since we trained our child to sleep through the night at 6 weeks plus take 3 naps a day. But here's the thing. I really truly believe now after having Clara and after talking to so many other moms with similar stories, that every baby really is different!! Now there's a revelation for you. How many times have I heard that, but now, I really get it.

Clara is a different child than her sister. From the moment she was born I was so amazed at the fact that she was an entirely new creature. I know how insane that sounds, but it's true. I'm sure all mothers feel the exact same way, right?? I knew she was going to be different than her sister and boy is she ever! It's funny looking back how we thought Melaina was high maintenance! Give me a minute to stop laughing and return to typing. Ah, funny stuff. Melaina was a breeze compared to this little dumpling. Clara is so darn sweet but anyone who has been around our house from the beginning knows that she was a crier. Seriously, I know all babies cry, but holy tear ducts, Batman, that kid can howl!! She cried and cried and spit up all the time, so she was diagnosed with reflux. So we started giving her medicine three times a day, but she kept crying. (She began sleeping in the swing which really helped with the reflux and did so until about 5 and a half months.) She cried for three weeks (as did I) until her doctor told me to try going off dairy. Voila! In about two weeks she was SO much better and her crying wasn't out of pain anymore - Halleluia! But, ladies and gentleman, she still cried ...a lot. Mostly just fussing while trying to fight sleep. Nursing was getting easier but I wanted to try using the bottle every now and then so Tom could feed her as well. NO BOTTLE. If an artificial nipple even so much as touched her little delicate lips she would go ape---, sorry, she would freak out. No matter what we did, she would not take a bottle. I would leave the house so she wouldn't sense me or hear my voice. Tom would feed her the bottle in the chair that I usually nursed her in, but no cigar. After turmoiling and complaining to anyone who would listen, and I mean anyone, I finally just realized it was not in the cards.

Many people told me to try tough love on the bottle front as well as the sleeping front. But when she was crying from what might be reoccurring reflux pain, I just couldn't let her cry it out. And I didn't have it in me to force the bottle on her and withhold the breast. I stay home with her for crying out loud (appropriate wording) so a bottle isn't absolutely necessary. It would have been a great convenience, but not vital. I feel really fortunate that I haven't had to be away from her long enough for her to go without a feeding and now that she is on baby food, Tom at least has a tool should she get hungry. I never thought I would be able to nurse this long, but when you don't have much of a choice, it's not so difficult. If you had told me when she was born that I would be nursing her for a year, I would have laughed, or maybe cried, and then I would have most certainly fainted. But here we are at 8 months and I don't think a year will be hard at all.

So, what was my original thought before all of this meandering took place, Oh yes! She's napping. Yay! Here's a pic of my little shug...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Caution: The Following is an Example of the Dramatic Ramblings Of Which You Have Been Warned!

About a year and a half ago I was laying on a table getting a wonderful massage by a great friend and massage therapist, Catherine Hackett. She and I always have great conversations and as we were chatting about life, she mentioned an author named Pema Chodron and that I might want to check her out. Well, as usual, she was right. Cathy is sort of my spiritual guru...I'm not kidding, I've learned so much from her. It just so happened that I was at a place in my life where I was feeling stuck. I knew that I was approaching life in the same old way that kept me frustrated, numb and disconnected not to mention angry, anxious and bitter but I didn't know how to change that pattern. Sounds like the life of the party, huh? The truth is that if you were to hang out with me in a purely social setting, I would have seemed easy going, happy and fulfilled, but those who were closest to me such as my husband and children, knew that I was a ticking time bomb. I was always so hard on myself, having unreal expectations and judging myself harshly based on what I thought I should be doing, not on how I was actually doing. I mean, think about it, if you are living based in the context of should, that means that you aren't right now but that you wish to attain that status where the should lies. (Hang in there people) So if I judge myself on what I think should be, then I will never get there. Whew!

So, I started reading this book called appropriately "Start Where You Are" by Pema Chodron. She is an American Buddhist nun and a meditation master. Now I know that there will be some people who read this and think, "But Candace, you are a Christian, not a Buddhist". You are correct. I have grown up in the Christian church and have been a Christian for most of that time. Sure there were plenty of moments in my life where I questioned the principles of the church, not Christianity, but this thing called church. (Luckily I have found a church that I love.) I have found the past ten years or so that there is so much to be learned from all religions and that sometimes it's nice and can actually be life-changing to hear things through a different voice. I have grown up hearing and reading the Bible, but it's really eye opening when you hear things that really are of the same nature but said in a context of another religion's view. It's kind of like as a teacher when you keep telling a student the same changes he or she ought to make, and then in comes a guest teacher and says the same thing only in a different way and BOOM, the student gets it. OK, back to the point.

In this book, Pema frames her teachings around 59 slogans. Some of these slogans are really hard for me to understand and really go beyond the idea of "Don't Worry, Be Happy". I have to work to grasp much less apply what is being said. But through all of them, what I started to find is that working on ourselves is vital to overall well-being. It's not the kind of "self help" that asks you to go into your past and find the things that hurt you and blame your current situation on other people or your past. On the contrary, it teaches you to take responsibility for YOUR OWN life and just "Start Where You Are!" Everything that you have endured throughout your life has made up who you are today. It doesn't make sense to wait until you have your life all figured out before you can be happy, you can start being happy right now. You have everything you need RIGHT NOW. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, the other day, my husband said to me that he can really see a difference in me. That this work I have been doing about "letting go" and acceptance toward things that are "messy" (including my house, folks) has changed me. Wow! I guess it's true. I still have my periods of being in a "funk" but now I feel like I actually have tools to feel where I am and not try so hard to run away from the discomfort of life, but to learn from it. I mess up...a lot. And I'm going to continue to mess up. I still get angry. I still judge myself more than I should, but I also have more forgiveness in my heart for myself. And let me tell you one thing. I also have more compassion for my family as a result.

I will never be a spiritual guru (shocker), but I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever before and that has led me to other avenues of change which I will certainly blog about in the coming days. For now, here's a little Pema quote to chew on..."We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. [that one is a hard one] All these trips that we lay on ourselves -- the heavy-duty fearing that we are bad and hoping that we're good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds --never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake". Mull it over, and tell me what you think.

Before I check out, here's a Melaina quote:

We are sitting at the dinner table last night and I tell her that she needs to eat 3 pieces of chicken, 2 bites of rice and 2 bites of kale before she's done with dinner. Her answer to me?
"I don't want to grow"

How's that for a pre-emptive strike on my usual "it will make you grow big and strong". She knows me and that is a little scary.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Status Quo

Today was just one of those vanilla days. There was a time in my life where I would have told you that vanilla is just boring and who wants vanilla when you can have chocolate or even mango, pomegranate or pistachio. (Mmm. Ice cream sounds so good right about now, but I digress.) I would have gotten almost panicky by a day filled with non-events and zero drama. Those days are, I'm glad to say, gone. Don't get me wrong, I still love for life to be exciting, but sometimes it feels good to just relish in the status quo and let everything just BE. A day where everything is just "fine", nothing outstanding to talk about, but also nothing especially difficult or frustrating. There is BEAUTY and JOY in a day that just "is". Here were some of todays moments, neither stellar or horrific, which is the new wonderful.

Clara woke up to nurse at 3:30 am (better than 1am and 5am which is my least favorite scenario). She went right back to sleep which is the norm and I was able to fall right back to sleep as well. Not too bad. (She's given me a handful of nights of sleeping through the night, but I've learned that it's easier not to have expectations when it comes to this matter as it relates to Clara.)

I woke up a bit late and had to hurry to wake up Melaina and get her ready for school, but she didn't give me too much grief (she's a sleepy head) and she and Daddy were out the door on time.

I had a wonderful long conversation with a great college friend and therefore I didn't get much else done this morning in the way of chores, but it was SO great to talk to her and by the time we got off the phone, it was time to go get Melaina.

My house isn't very clean, but then again, not very dirty (others may disagree with that last bit, but who cares).

Clara is still pretty congested but definitely on the mend.

Melaina didn't nap, but stayed in her room and played quietly.

I didn't wear makeup or fix my hair and I felt just fine about it.

I made dinner and it turned out great and didn't take long at all.

I had to do the nighttime routine solo because my husband had to work tonight, but neither child gave me too hard a time.

See, very vanilla. I hope you haven't fallen asleep by this point, but if so, hey I'm glad I could help aid in your relaxation (or boredom fest- potato/potahto). My whole reason for even writing about this day is as simple as the day itself. I wrote in my very first post how I am trying to go with the flow and experience joy in the midst of chaos. To be at peace with the mess of things. Some days are definitely easier than others to go with the flow and this was one of those days. There were plenty of things I could have gotten all fussy and anxious about. The pile of laundry on the kitchen floor waiting to be done. The stack of mail on the dining room table that never seems to dwindle no mater how much junk gets thrown away. The march of the tiny black ants in the kitchen that come around every beginning of spring. But for some reason, I didn't get all frustrated and annoyed. Don't get me wrong, I am no Zen master who goes through my day bowing and saying "Namaste". But, maybe this whole "Starting where you are" thing really is having an impact on my life. ( I will write and explain that more tomorrow. Hey, gotta get you back here somehow.)

It feels good to be just OK sometimes.

P.S. Funny dialogue between myself and Melaina as I was trying to coax her upstairs to go to bed:
Me: I've told you many times now, Melaina. It's time to get your fanny upstairs.
Melaina: My fanny says "no".
Me: (silence as I try to maintain normal facial expression and not fall down laughing on the floor)

For your enjoyment... Take your pick, vanilla ice cream or...

Vanilla Ice

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Dickinson Menagerie

Before our two human children, we had four of the non-human persuasion. I'd like you to meet our four furry children. I'm sad to say that they don't get nearly the attention they once had or that they deserve, but all in all they have it pretty good. The first animal we adopted was Violet, whom we affectionately call "Dar-Dar" . Sometimes nicknames have absolutely no good reason behind them and this is a good example. I think I started referring to her as "Darlin'" and then it just became "Dar-Dar". Quite a funny cat, we found her while we lived in Manhattan a million years ago. Or 9, whatever. We call her our Harlem kitty. She's come a long way, from the hood to the suburbs. We originally wanted a cat because, like everyone else in New York, we had an issue with mice. Well, she took care of that right away and although she was very much an inside cat and a city cat, she now loves to be outside which is where she is most of the time. And yes, she still loves to hunt and kill anything that will sit still for half a second. here she is on the prowl.

The next one added to our family was Hazel. She was abandoned in a strip mall parking lot and once I caught a gilmpse of her in the window of a bookstore that was kind enough to take her in, I just couldn't resist. I have a funny relationship with Hazel. She's just not a cuddly cat. The problem is she is just so darn cute that you can't help wanting to cuddle with her but she will have none of it. Like most cats, she lives on her terms and I have issues with that I guess. I have a lot to learn from Hazel I think, or maybe we are too much alike already. Anyway, she is Violet's best bud and they take naps together and spoon each other and it is just sickening it is so sweet.

Ah, then we got Pun'kin. There's not a more lovable dog on the planet. Or a more emotionally needy one. Tom really wanted a dog and although I was just fine with our two cats and we had just moved into our first house, the thought of a dog was nice. Well, she came into our house as a 6 week old puppy and all hell broke loose. She chewed her way through every nice pair of shoes I owned and there wasn't a piece of furniture that she didn't gnaw on. Still, you can't help but love her. She is 7 years old and still acts like a puppy. Although we took her to an obedience class when we first got her and she passed with flying colors, that was her brown-nosing style. In front of an audience with expectations and treats, she would do every command perfectly every single time. We practiced with her constantly and then it just became apparent that she was a formidable presence and we would need nothing short of Cesar Millan to break her of her bad habits. Again, you can't help but love her. Just look at that face.

And last but certainly not least is Porgy. I absolutely fell in love with that little guy the moment I saw him. I have always loved pugs and since we couldn't leave well enough alone, we got him less than a year after Pun'kin. (That's how I spell it, folks.) He was the tiniest thing I had ever seen and when we brought him home Pun'kin thought he was a toy and with her big paw, swiped Porgy clear across the kitchen floor. I was terrified that that one incident was what made him wall-eyed, but come to find out many pugs have that adorable little feature. Oh well, so much for having a show pug. Anyway, he and Pun'kin are absolutely inseparable and it can be a little humiliating at times. For instance, when we take them on walks, Porgy gets so jealous if Pun'kin barks at another dog or shows any interest at all in another canine. Porgy growls and jumps up to chasten Pun'kin by nipping her on the ear. It's completely embarrassing. I tell everyone, being out with them is like being out with drunk rednecks. There's just no reigning them in. They are wide open and don't give a you-know-what who's lookin'!! I have nothing against rednecks, drunk or otherwise. Just sayin'. He is one special pug.

And there you have it. Life is a little chaotic at times, but these animals are part of this crazy little family. And before you start to think that I must be so tolerant and patient to have four animals living in my house, let me tell you that the dogs do NOT come in the house at all anymore. (Before kids they used to sleep with us) and neither do the cats. The dogs have their very own love seat in the garage (it's pretty funny) and a total run of the back yard and front driveway. The cats are mostly outside except at night when they sleep in our closed of Florida room. So I have to admit, I'm not quite as "Green Acres" as it sounds. Just want to keep it real for ya.

P.S. These great photos are the artwork of my multi-talented husband, Tom.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Killing Me Softly With His Cough

I want to say first and foremost that I truly love my husband. He is an incredible man and I am so happy that we share our lives together. He is an incredible father to our girls and my very best friend. He is handsome and smart and talented. I love him, bottom line, and he makes me want to be a better person. All that being said, if he doesn't stop coughing, he might find himself awakened to a mysterious pillow being lowered upon his face in the wee hours of the morning.

It started almost 3 weeks ago with a nasty little cold that he shared with me and Melaina. When I caught it, it knocked me out! It was wretched, but life as a mom allows for no sick days, so on I forged, the martyr that I am. (Back of palm to my brow with perspiration on my upper lip having a moment of the vapors while swooning on a velvet chaise.) Then his sickness seemed to be getting better as was Melaina's and then Clara caught it and is still coughing and has a runny nose, poor thing. Her coughing, by the way has a completely different effect on me than his does. Every time she coughs, I feels so sorry for her little sick body and want to comfort her with kisses and snuggles instead of throwing the remote at her noggin'. I don't throw anything at my husband, people, I just want to. No crime committed here.

But here we are 3 weeks later and his cough is gotten worse. It's a dry, frequent, and loud cough. Those who know my husband and have heard him sing know just how booming his voice can be so please imagine the reverberations occurring inside this house every 45-60 seconds. It's enough to make me feel all panicky and jittery and be, well, less than kind. Last night, I had had enough and I just couldn't understand why he wasn't doing anything about the darn hacking cough. Please, for the love of all that is decent and holy, drink water, hot tea, take a spoonful of honey, pop a halls, take a steam bath. To give him some credit, he did drink hot tea (that I made for him) and take a spoonful of honey (that I brought him) and drink water, but not at the rate or frequency that I find acceptable. I beleive that one should be doing all of these things at immersurable speed for as long as it takes to wipe out the illness. Or, if the cough persists, go to the doctor!!! Men's total resistance to going to the doctor is another topic for another day.

I know how all this makes me sound. You all must think I am a tyrant, a witch, a callous ice queen with no sympathy whatsoever. The only thing separating me and Kathy Bates' character from Misery is a sledgehammer. I know, I know. I would have really felt bad about my misgivings say, a week ago, but I've had enough!!!

My problem is this: I can't help but see sickness as a personal failing of some kind. Now we aren't talking about serious illness, people, don't get all upset. I'm talking about the common cold here. If I catch a cold I think that it's because I didn't wash my hands enough or rest enough, or have enough vitamin C and that if I had just remembered to take my vitamin everyday, I would never ever get sick. Fortunately for my children, I do not take my psychotic tendencies out on them. In fact, when they get sick I feel again that it is a personal failing of mine. It's all about me, you see. ( You may now gasp in shock.) However, if you are unfortunate enough to be married to me, heaven help you if you get the sniffles. When my husband coughs, he knows better than to look at me for any hint of concern or sympathy. If he were to look at me, which he does not, all he would see is me shaking my head in annoyance and contempt. It's awful and I will understand if you all need to let me have it and tell me how terrible I am.

But until then, I am going to enjoy the relative silence that is my house until the diseased one returns. You, on the other hand may want to enjoy this tune! Ah, Lauren Hill, how I miss you. please come back from Crazyville and visit us soon.