Saturday, March 24, 2018

Oh, the agony






Monday, March 05, 2018

9 things I really like about you

Today, Hopper Augustus Hovland is nine years old.  On Valentine's Day, his teacher had us parents write a "love letter" to our kids telling them at least five things we love about them, and that was super easy for me because I have about 5 million.  I will attempt to narrow them down to nine in honor of his birthday.

Dear Hopper the Show Stopper,  here are just a FEW of the many things I really really like about you..

1. Every morning, after you take off the PJs and before you get dressed, you insist on doing the "No Pants Dance." I can't fully describe the No Pants Dance and I'm not sure you'd ever speak to me again if I videotaped it, but trust me, it is phenomenal.

2. You are a good brother. You and Rowan try to knock each other's block off pretty much every fifteen minutes or so, but no one else is allowed to try that stuff and you have been known to physically tackle anyone who tries, as multiple calls from the principal's office can attest

3. You are so kind to your younger cousins, and just to younger kids in general. You never pull the "big kid" card. You'll hand over the ball, you'll push the swing. You'll hold their hand if the water looks like it's getting deep. You give them hugs.  You are someone they can look up to and it makes me so proud.

4. You cry unabashedly at things that touch your heart. Even if that something is a horrifically bad Adam Sandler movie. Your cousin Luna made you a handmade birthday card that said I *heart* Hopper and you got a little teary.

5. Sometimes, I get a little testy at you in the mornings and we yell or snap at each other in the car on the way to school, but usually, after about 5 minutes, we're both sorry and you always reach your hand out to me, so I can awkwardly hold it, backwards, from the front seat. You'll squeeze my hand and say, "I love you, mom" and forgive me for those previous 5 minutes. You probably don't even know how much that little squeeze means to me and you do it anyway.

6. You remain convinced that whatever you're good at in Wii Sports, you can probably replicate in real life. Despite our outings concerning bowling, golf, baseball and the fact that you've never actually played tennis, you're pretty sure you could make it to Wimbledon if you just wanted to.

7. You will ride absolutely ANY ride at any amusement park ever, with zero fear which is something I cannot do. And not only will you ride the ride, you'll scream with laughter, which I sometimes hear when I'm not screaming from fear.

8. Your eyebrows remain on point.

9. You are not just a Hopper, you are Hopper Augustus, which means Hopper the GREAT and whenever anyone asks you what your middle name is, you will tell them that with an emphasis on "the GREAT." And it is so, very, very true.

When you were born, my heart did this weird thing where it expanded a million fold and it didn't even hurt, because with every day, every hour, every minute you exist, you fill it right up, my beautiful, amazing boy.

Happy Birthday. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Life at 3 weeks

The puppies are three weeks old tomorrow. I would say that it doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it seems somehow both THAT long and not very long at all. I'm a little frustrated because my wonderful, adorable mama has decided to opt out of nursing three weeks in. I've tried to reason with her and tell her that her CONTRACT specifically outlines that she needs to give me at least FIVE weeks of mama milk, but no dice. I started noticing her losing interest last week after I weighed them and they didn't fatten up as much as I wanted them to during week two.  Now, granted, they are honkers. But still, they didn't do the fatten up. So, I started paying attention to how often she goes in there and nurses and how long she was staying... and I don't know if she's thinking she's needing to fit into her pre-pregnancy skinny jeans or not, but she is NOT holding up her end of the bargain. But then, when you see her and them in relation.. it's hard not to be sympathetic..

And another thing, I'm not sure if I mentioned, but we have ANOTHER mama and babies in our rescue right now. They were born nine days before mine were. There was a brief moment in time when it looked like I might have both litters at my house, but an angel stepped in and offered to foster the other mom (or, more accurately, we begged her) and I did not end up having to do this in double time. That other litter has SEVEN babies and they are so ridiculously adorable it would make your teeth ache. And that mom?  She's like a MILK MAKING MACHINE.  Do you see how tranquil she is?  The lack of a look of utter panic in her eyes? 

So. Yeah. That's not what we have over here. 

I started out by supplementing them with Leerburg formula starting late last week and it was going well, they liked it. They reeeeeeaaaallly liked it. So much so that they were slurping it down so hard I thought they were going to swallow the little sponge I use to diffuse the formula (to avoid milk bubbles).  So, someone suggested I see if maybe they might be ready for bowls? I sort of had my doubts because they're really not even three weeks old. I was afraid they'd turn around and yell at me, "WHERE'S MAH BOOB?"

But far from that, they've really taken to it drinking their formula. Ok. Well, perhaps more accurately, WEARING their formula and slurping it off each other's paws, but it's going well!  This is a video of their first bowl feeding. I call it, "My Super Advanced Genius Babies"

Just multiply this by 5-6 times a day.. and there you have it. Life at 3 weeks. We go through a lot of baby wipes is what I'm saying. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018


This one is seven today.  Yesterday, he came up to me and said, "You know, I really like having a birthday, but the downside is: every year you have one, you're a little bit closer to death."  I was drinking my coffee at the time and it made me choke.

 Then I laughed and laughed. I mean, he's not wrong, amirite?   Trust me, I'm not too worried that this kid isn't thinking about death all the time. He's more concerned with stuffies, Roblox and how he can talk me out of making him go to tae kwon do (not a fan). 

We spent the day having a birthday party with classmates at one of those trampoline places that smell like feet and fear. No one broke any bones, so I consider it a success. I took a lot of photos of him jumping and I'm not sure I got his head in any of them.  But what you should take away from this photo is that he's grown a minimum of 3-4 inches in the last year. I thought that stuff was supposed to slow down, but it has not.   

My sisters are in town and they helped me make cupcakes and a cake for Rowan that I will go out on a limb and guess were PROBABLY edible, though I never really know because the whole cake thing is just for show because Rowan doesn't really like cake. or pie. or cookies that are not oreos, really. T

his is a kid who went to a tex-mex restaurant last night and, despite a full menu, opted to eat like, 5 plain tortillas.. And nothing else. We are the reason why children's probiotics have taken off in recent years. 

Seven. MAN. 

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!