Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Vanilla Ice Jokes Just Write Themselves

I had plans for Sugarplum, my pregnant foster to give birth over the extended MLK weekend. My plan WAS:  she could give birth on like, Saturday, or Sunday even and I would be able to be there with her and then have an extra day of watching over her and the pups on Monday while we were home from work/school. However, Sunday came and went and then Monday came and went and I was like: well. shit.  BUT then, Austin Icepocalypse was scheduled to happen on Tuesday and we joked  A-HA! What better time for the dog to give birth than when we're all homebound and unable to travel to the emergency vet if need be?  So of course she had them on Tuesday morning at 4:30a.m. 

Well, specifically, she went into labor more like at 3:15 or so. At least, that's when I woke up out of a dead sleep because her breathing was so loud and I discovered that she had completely destroyed the dog bed that was in her crate. I mean, I never went into labor myself (both of my kids were planned c-sections), so I can't really say this for sure, but I imagine when things start getting cooking and the nesting is unsatisfactory, a little dogbed shredding is in order.

At any rate, I woke up with her at 3:15 and we went into the tiny little bathroom that is off of my bedroom (i.e. "the puppy room") and we settled in.  I knew it was happening, she knew it was happening. We weren't panicked.  But still, I gotta say, it's hard watching and not doing anything. You kind of just want to rub their backend with a bunch of vaseline and hope they all shoot out like tennis balls from one of those automatic launchers. Spoiler: that never happens.

So, we sat in the room, she and I for about an hour and 15 minutes staring at each other. Her breathing was hard but she wasn't seeming in pain or anything. I only mention this because, well, I caught the first bit on video. I want you to know that if she was struggling or I thought she was in any danger at all, I would have put the phone down. As it was, the first video, nothing happens til halfway through and then it's like a "Blink and You Miss It Moment"--there's well.. a little squirt. You'll see it at :18.  And that was it. That's the beginning.

This next video is taken about a minute after the first. After that little "squirt" well.. I don' t mean to embarrass her here, but she pooped a little. Understandable. I went and tried to clean it up  but she was like,  DUDE, I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS. So I sat back down and started filming again. At first I thought she was just licking herself still, but then I realized when she moved her head back that the pup had actually come out.  So, what you see is her actually having that first pup. It is not dramatic and it is not a close-up. She said that is not in her contract.  Also, you may want to watch with the sound off because I got all teary-- we had been sitting there for a while, I was worried--we had xrays and the one closest to the "exit" had looked super big, so I was nervous about difficulty, and I'll be honest, birthings always get to me. It doesn't matter how many I've seen, it's just amazing to watch. Anyway, what you see is the first pup, still in her sac and Mama getting to work cleaning her up.  (Warning: I will tell you that I do not think this is gross. YOU might think it is, though. There is a bit of poo there to the side, but other than that: no blood, no "fluids"--just a Miracle of Nature at work.)

She had this first baby at 4:28am and the last one was born at 6:06am. Four gorgeous, beautiful pups. I'll never get over the privilege of getting to see this happen in real life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


It's been a while since I posted some of the funny things my kids said when they were little, but rest assured, as the years pass, their language skills keep developing, but they're still Hovlands.  With that in mind, some of the recents:

Hop: Mom, I just want you to know that you and dad are the best parents I have ever had.

Ro (sending me off to exercise class):  Bye Mom! I hope you come back looking like John Cena only prettier!

Me: Hey Hop, you got straight A's the second time in a row!
Hop: Really??  ... Is that good?

Ro: (staring at the pregnant dog's butt):   Aw Man, the puppy door is still closed.

Hop: you know what? knowing your right from your left is important in tae kwon do, but I know my rights, Mom. Like I have the right to Free Speech.

Ro: Man, I have the pig feets.   (see below).

Seriously, I don't understand how the feet get so dirty when he's wearing both shoes..and socks? Like, this is what happens when he takes off his shoes and socks when he gets home from school. How does this even happen?  Does he take his shoes off at recess and bury his feet in mud?  Who knows. The "R" is for tae kwon do purposes. So far, it hasn't helped. 

Monday, January 08, 2018


First week of January is already history and this just goes to show you how unable I am to keep even the simplest of New Year's Resolutions (to blog once a week).  This is why I don't do resolutions, I am incapable of maintaining even a bare minimum of expectation that I'll stick to it, I just don't even start!  But here I am, starting. 

Thing is, I already know 2018 is going to be a year of many changes. Already this year, my boss has left our company, I've gotten a new couch, fostering a new pregnant dog.. I mean, I know right? How can you bear it not knowing about the couch?  (it's big, it's fluffy, it's brown). 

The boys are starting martial arts today.  Hopper wanted to do "street fighting,"  Rowan wanted to do "parkour" so we thought we'd get a running start with tae kwon do at the Y.  We don't expect to continue down the Y road, but a baseline establishing that they do in fact know their right from their left and are able to withstand 30 minutes of instruction is something I thought was necessary before finding those "street fighting" tutors I hear are so popular. Ro also starts basketball this week, which I sincerely hope he doesn't confuse with parkour because seriously, that happens more often than you might think.  Like yesterday, I thought we were going furniture shopping, but I was wrong. We were going to the place where you can hurtle yourself from couch to chair and flip off the sides into a collection of coffee tables--"parkour for Hovland kids," if you will. I swear I think I bought that couch so the salesman would stop having a heart attack.

At any rate, here's my new pregnant foster. Her name is Sugarplum and she's due sometime this week, we think.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

It seemed like a good idea at the time

So, I know it's been a while. I've been in a place where I haven't had the time to sit down and write. Why, you ask? Because every spare second of every day that I have that isn't spent at my actual paying job or parenting (including but not limited to, explaining to my six year old that he's about to flunk first grade if he doesn't stop torturing his teacher) has been spent cleaning up pee. Lots and lots of pee. PEE wee's Playhouse over here. Because there are 9 dogs here this week, three of which are puppies and one that's just really really dumb. It's a little long to get into but I can tell you that number was not intentional and hopefully SHORT-LIVED.  If you're not familiar with the sensation of having nine dogs in your living room at one time, let me give you a visual. And no, you probably won't be able to actually count nine bodies in any of these because if they're not moving, they're probably out of frame eating toothpaste somewhere. The number starts dropping TODAY through this next week, when hopefully by Saturday we'll have a reasonable number of animals again. You know, like.. five. heh. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Battle of the Ponds, Farm Days 5-7

The last post was farm days 1-3 and this is days 5-6. There was a day 4, but it was spent huddling under blankets as it poured rain most of the day, which doesn't sound like all that much fun, but when you've been living in Austin where it's so hot that rain evaporates before you even see it, it was downright tolerable.  After the rain, we had to get to bidness and get on over to Mass MoCa where the docents are always glad to see Rowan because he really knows how to appreciate art.

We got to see some pretty cool exhibits (Nick Cave, Laurie Anderson), and Sam and Hop got to see do this virtual reality exhibit that I have no photos of because even the room that it was held in gave me motion sickness. 

The museum was still standing when we left, so I count it in the "Win" column.

The next day we had Battle of the Ponds. We spent part of the day at Tom's pond, which you may recognize from past years. It's only about a mile away from the OTHER pond, but it's much colder which is both good and bad, I guess. Good on hot days, not so good on days when you're already wearing a sweater over your bathing suit. Also, there's no dock jumping, only island jumping, which has it's own charms. 

But we moseyed on over to the Other Pond (Leuridan's Pond) later that afternoon for a Full Moon Picnic. There was fire.... eventually. 

We did not actually see the full moon til a bit later after we were all on our way home because when you have four children under 8 years old, one of whom goes to bed at sundown, another who is afraid of walking through the fields in the dark (oh wait, that was me), you suspend action early. Not pictured, my perfectly carbonized marshmellows. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Farm Days 2017, Days 1-3

The boys have been at the Farm since Mid-July. I know. I would have written some sort of celebratory post featuring pictures of me in a hottub eating lobster tails and drinking champagne, but it turns out, I spent most of my kid-free break cleaning up puppy pee and I don't really care for lobster.
At any rate, Sam and I came up on Thursday and.. we brought the only dog we have that qualifies for in-cabin travel on the airplane. Our first three days at the farm have included lots of jumping off the dock into the pond. This is pretty much the same thing they did last summer, only this year there has been a lot more rain and Hopper has discovered new ways to execute a belly flop.

Mamie likes rolling in the grass a lot more than she likes swimming. In fact, I put her on a raft and she went full on Pasha- Mode. 

Our other adventures have included lots of cooking on Sam's part, some questionable spring roll construction on my part and lots of cousin time. 

And then of course, no vacation is complete without at least one trip to Grafton Lakes State Park when it's completely freezing and about to storm. (ok, fine, it was mid 60's, close enough). 

Upcoming: Mass Moca, Full Moon Picnic and Jiminy Peak!

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Joys of Bubble Clay and Exploding Shrimp.

So, there's this stuff called Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask that over 5000 reviews on Amazon will tell you is GREAT for your pores. Also good for when you're waiting on Hopper and Sam to get back from the Asian Market and it's taking them over 5 hours (because apparently someone got lost). 
We were a little hesitant because the directions are all in Chinese, but in a nutshell--just smear it on your face. 
Rowan was not about it at first, but then when he saw how much it bubbled, he wanted me to give him just a little. And it was fun for like, the first five minutes until my face started looking like this and I may have scarred him a little (ok, for life). 

And then, after all that, Sam and Hopper came home with this, which Sam says are like little chips that explode into shrimp when you put them in a fryer. Good times at the Farm.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Things I left in Arkansas, part 1

The boys and I spent most of last week visiting relatives in Arkansas. We got back yesterday evening, so I'm still figuring out what's missing, but here is an incomplete list of the things I left in Arkansas:

**my gigantic swim bag which includes approximately 17 pairs of little boy swim goggles that I have lovingly collected over the years

**100 dollars somewhere (am now considering it a gift to the Universe)

**at least 3 tubes of kid toothpaste 

my beloved yurt 

any qualms I had about peeing in a bucket 

The safety and security I felt before my child learned how to make fire.

**My "Killing My Liver While Floatin' the River" shirt, which I am pretty sure is in the swim bag, or stolen by someone who was just really jealous. 

A microSD Card (Blue) that contains pictures from our "float" trip. Seriously, if you find my microSD card, mail it to me!  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day

This is my eighth Mother's Day as a mother. I gotta say, the first five were pretty great and then. Well, then my mom died three days before Mother's Day in 2014.  I spent that Mother's Day driving eight hours  back to Texas from my mom's funeral.  That one probably ranks as one of the crappiest days of my life. After that, Mother's Day just seems to be a bit of a mixed bag for me.  On one hand, I love being a mom. I love these two monkey boy children beyond all reason and I am happy to be reminded that even though they've started trying to fart the alphabet, they've made my life immeasurably happier and I am incredibly grateful to be their mom. But I'm not sure I'll ever truly be able to enjoy Mother's Day again.

I don't mind so much the wall-to-wall pink in all the stores. I can ignore that, mainly because my eyesight is not what it used to be and as long as I'm not wearing my reading glasses, I can just pretend it's all one big super sale on Pepto Bismol. It's just...right when everyone is reminding you how much you should love and appreciate your mom, I don't have mine anymore. And it hurts. Still hurts.

 I had my mom for 42 years, but it wasn't enough. I didn't call and talk with her enough. I didn't ask her about her childhood enough. I didn't ask her for advice enough.  My boys didn't get enough time to get to know her. They won't remember her, they were just too young when she died. How do I make sure they know who she was? I show them pictures and they recognize her as my mom, but they won't ever know her as "Grandma Donald" like all the other grandkids did. Sometimes I get irrationally angry at myself for waiting as long as I did to have children. If I had them ten years sooner, they would have known her better. I know it's a stupid thing to think, but grief doesn't exactly help things make more sense. That's what Mother's Day does to me: simultaneously makes me be grateful for what I have but regretful I didn't do more. I have yet to be able to strike some sort of balance or find peace with it.

But this year, I've decided that it's ok to give myself a little bit of time to be sad and to cry about how unfair it is that I won't be able to hug my mom on Mother's Day. I'm going to let myself... MISS her. And then I'm going to take my boys to Schlitterbahn for their very first time ever. We're going to spend the day running around the water park, riding water rollercoasters that are probably going to make me want to vomit (but I won't because I plan on not eating for 12-16 hours before we go), we're going to get hellaciously sunburnt and exhausted and I'm sure pretty hoarse from screaming with delight. Because I don't know how many Mother's Day those little guys have with me, but I'm going to make every single one of them count.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Have yall met Mamie? No? You should meet Mamie. She's our new dog. Specifically, she's Sam's new dog. She was my new foster til Sam told me that she was his new dog (about 12 hours in) SO, now she's our new dog.

What happened was:  I was at the shelter picking up another dog. (I feel like this is how every dog hoarding story you see on Animal Planet probably begins), but I was at the shelter picking up this other dog who was in the small dog cages. If you've never been to the Austin Animal Center (which is very nice, by the way and whose staff and volunteers do a kick ass job),  there are buildings for big dogs, cats, a little section for rabbits and then these built in little units for small dogs with two rows. The dog I was picking up was on the bottom row. Mamie was on the top. I noticed her because she kept trying to throw herself onto the bars and trying to kiss me. This is a photo of our first meeting, it's blurry because she wouldn't stop moving. 

So, I took her out for just a little walkie so she could get a break from the cage and the volunteer who was working there trying to walk all the little dogs would have one less to worry about. This was my fatal mistake. Because she gave me this face.   

And so I asked her if she could maybe make a little effort to look
like a cocker spaniel so I could take her home with me and she gave me this face.

And I was like, "Good enough. Let's go home." 

Once we got home, I had to explain to Sam  how I had gone to pick up one dog and came home with two, but apparently, Mamie and Sam stayed up late together that first night chatting and watching cooking shows and he told me the next day that he thought we should keep her. I mean, it's not like you can resist this. 

The questions people seem to ask the most are:  What is she?  (no clue, but I did just order a DNA test kit. I have a theory..) 
Also, how old is she?  She's five. We think. She was actually in the shelter earlier in the year and was adopted and was "guesstimated" to be five then. So, give or take? She's certainly not a puppy, though I wouldn't blame you for thinking that. 

People also want to know how big she is-- well, she was listed in her paperwork as "overweight" at 13lbs. I don't know that she was so much overweight as she is "built like a small keg with fur."  She has no neck to speak of. She did lose a bit of weight when she had the major barf/poosplosion event the week before Easter, so at her last vet visit, she was around 11.5lbs. 

Personality wise--well, she's a mutt of indeterminate origin who loves to eat
and let it all hang out at the beach. In other words, she fits right in. 

We really really like her.