Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Life As a Sous Chef

The puppies are 12 days old now. People ask me how it's going and for the most part, every thing is good and everything is easy. I can say this because I'm not the mama who has nine rabid gerbils hanging off of me every 2-3 hours. Mama, by the way, is awesome. This is a welcome relief from the last two mothers of litters I have dealt with: one of which ignored her pups entirely and the other who physically kicked the pups off of her every time they tried to nurse like she had stepped in some particularly clingy mud.  THIS mama feeds and cleans and nuzzles. Truth is, I don't do very much right now. She takes care of EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean, I give them clean bedding twice a day but for the most part, the bedding hardly gets dirty because she (gag) consumes it all.

That's maybe something most people don't realize that mama dogs do: the first 2-3 weeks, newborn puppies don't pee or poop on their own--she stimulates their bladders and bowels by licking them and then while she's at it she just, uh, swallows it (gag). I always sort of just want to give her a glass of wine and a breath mint and tell her it will all be over soon. And it will! In just a week or so, they'll be doing things on their own and my job as janitorial staff will ramp up. But for now, I'm just helping her with probably the biggest job: feeding the horde.

For the most part so far, everyone seems to be eating well and gaining weight, but they're just not gaining as much as they should be. Ideally, what you'd like to see is puppies doubling their size each week these first couple of weeks and these pups are just a tiny bit behind that. It's understandable though because there are NINE of them and Mama is still so painfully skinny. She came to me almost a month ago with her hip bones and spine showing, despite being super pregnant. I've been feeding her three times a day with supplements AND treats. I can't feed her too much, or she'll just get sick. So, it's a bit of a slow process. Now her bones don't stick out so much, but still, that food she's taking in has to feed TEN. And while she's doing a fantastic job, she's trying to come from behind AND make sure these puppies get enough to eat so they can grow. So, I've been helping her a bit.

I thought I might show you how all this goes down... First, there's this fantastic stuff called Leerburg Formula. You make it at home. (and yes, you can buy commercial milk replacer at the store, but this stuff is better). I won't post the recipe here because you can go to the website and get lots more information, but in a nutshell, you can make it with these ingredients here--all available at Walmart for less than $10.

And then you need your Fake Nipple (ok fine, you can call it a bottle, but Fake Nipple is much more titillating, isn't it? pun intended). This you do with a makeup sponge, a needle-less syringe and some scissors

You cut off the sides/end of the sponge like so and insert the syringe into the back (it helps if you make a little hole in the back with a pick)

VOILA--Fake Nipple

Then you heat up your Leerburg just a bit (not too hot, just warm-ish, like the temperature mama's milk would be coming out).  There are charts everywhere that will show you how much to feed--Basically, if you're feeding them solely Leerburg and they're not getting anything else, you feed about 1cc per oz of body weight.  Now, I'm not their only source of food, I'm just supplementing. So, I don't really follow the charts all that much, just as a basic guide.  I usually start with about 10 cc's and go from there. 

When Mama tries to feed nine puppies, it looks a bit like this: 

(and yes, I know I'm holding the camera wrong, sorry about that). 

Mama basically gets swarmed and someone always gets left out. So, I just nab a leftover puppy and get to feeding. Some of them do better than others. Hux, for example, he's my boy. 

look at him. LOOOOOOOK.

Do you not just want to gnaw on those toes?  NO? (man you have more willpower than I do). Wait, see if you can resist this:


When I'm doing this, I'm right next to where Mama is feeding everyone else. So, we sort of just work in tandem. Lufkin here below: 

And Trinity...

I will usually end up feeding four or five of them in a session. It's not always the same group of pups, I'll rotate which ones I'm feeding. While this isn't everybody, what it does is allow some of the others to get in and get some while the getting's good. And this way, everyone gets a bit of Mama's Milk and everyone gets a bit of Leerburg. Plus, I get to snuzzle puppies and get goats milk all over my lap (added bonus). 

In just a couple of weeks, we get to start introducing puppy gruel! Yaaayyy GRUEL!
But for now, this is my life as a Sous Chef. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Package Has Been Delivered

Since we got Jules exactly two weeks ago today, I have walked around expecting her to sling puppies out her hooha at any given moment. If that sounds a little crass, I don't mean to be. It's just that she went around looking like this for thirteen straight days. This is a look that clearly conveys that not only is she most definitely going to sling puppies within seconds, she's considering aiming one at me.

For a different angle, consider that she could not sit without most of her stomach touching the ground.

But still, we waited and waited and took rectal temperatures every 12 hours (note: if you ever need a thermometer and you're at my house, opt to go buy new one). I was getting a little uneasy because every morning I'd wake up and she'd be incrementally bigger and I could not imagine she'd make it through the day without going into labor.
Finally, yesterday, she did. She waited until everyone left for work and school and then got down to business. Luckily for me, I came home at lunch to check on her. By that time, she'd had three. Within an hour, there was another. Then, in the space of about 50 minutes, she gave birth to four more: boom, boom, boom, BOOM! (So, frankly, I feel a little justified about my original theory.....) And then, after a bit... TWO MORE. If you're bad at math, that's ten. TEN. She had started sometime after 9:30am and it was all over by 5:30pm. To put that in perspective, in the amount of time you and I spend in a regular day at the office, this mama dog pushed out over half the Duggar Population.

Sadly, the last little one did not survive long but the other nine are doing well. And mama, of course she's happy. She doesn't look happy here below, but this was about an hour post labor and she's a little pooped. Also, nine little gerbil aliens are attached to her boobs.

I named them all after Texas towns: Lufkin, Huxley, Idalou, Barstow, Hondo, Glen Rose, Odessa, Trinity and Magnolia. The little angel baby had a name too: SantaRosa. She was beautiful and fully formed and I'm not really sure what happened, but I guess the easiest explanation is that she was competing for space with 9 other honkers in a womb that was not built for that many. Still, it made me sad.
I've taken lots of photos on FB and shared and plenty of people have asked how I can tell them apart already and know who's who. Well, for one, some of them are unique like Lufkin who is the only one with white all the way around his neck and is built like a Holstein cow.
 And then there's Idalou, who is a bit of a super model.
I originally thought she was the only tri-color, but I was wrong. She's the only GIRL tri-color. Hondo, as it turns out, is also a tri (note: white chest). And a ham.
So that means that there is only one black/tan boy and only one black/tan girl (Huxley and Glen Rose)

AND only one solid black boy (Barstow who refused to sit still). That just leaves three solid black girls that I have to tell the difference between and they all actually have white blazes on their chests that are a wee bit different each. This, for example is Odessa.
And ever so helpfully, Trinity, has a triangle on her shoulder. You can't make this stuff up.
And, of course, I can also tell them apart because I spend so much time staring at them trying to figure out which one is managing to squeak his head off AND be attached to the teat at the same time (spoiler: it's Hondo).
If anyone is interested, I also managed to snap a couple of videos of actual birthings. It's not really that gross (ok, it's a little gross, but there's a puppy at the end!). I actually showed the boys this morning. They were not horrified at all, like I thought they might be. Hopper wanted to know if she was actually pooping the puppies out (uh, no, son, that is another, um, hole) while Rowan wanted to know if the puppy had chewed it's way out (good lord, I hope not).
Right now, we are giving Mama lots of space and quiet. She doesn't particularly appreciate my judgment about her cleaning skills (LAY OFF WOMAN, THERE'S NINE), but she's tolerating me. I don't think she will really tolerate anyone else for a while, which is ok because we are on a "no visitors" lockdown for a bit.
All in all, it's going ok. I'm trying not to freak out over the fact that I technically have 13 dogs in my house at the moment, but shhhhhh, let's just not think about that.

Monday, May 02, 2016

New Project: the Jules Edition

So. On Friday, we got a new foster dog. Her name is Jules, (but Hopper insists on calling her Ruby). She, uh, comes with "gifts."

Specifically, as it turns out, (I learned at the vet's office this afternoon after x-rays), 8-10 "gifts." This, incidentally, was exactly the same look *I* had when they told me this.

Jesus, that's a lot of puppies.
She was a stray and pretty neglected--her spine and hip bones jut out, so you can tell that even though it looks like she swallowed a melon whole, it's all puppy in there.
This makes me sad, and angry, and mostly nervous because we've had a bit of a tough year.
But she's eating like crazy and resting and farting (loudly).
The boys are already discussing names for the babes. Hopper is going with "Ruby, Jr." and "Ruby Jr, Junior." Rowan is suggesting "Eepie" and "Cutie." I'm going with not letting the boys name the pups.
We're literally due any day now.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


I was taking these pictures of Rowan yesterday swinging in our backyard jungle (yes, I know we need to mow, it would be helpful if it would stop raining...which is something Austinites NEVER get to say, but it's true..). Anyway, I'm looking at these and I'm like, WHERE DID THESE LEGS COME FROM? Did someone sneak in our house in the middle of the night, detach his chubby little guy legs and replace them with these giant limbs that look like they belong to a 10 year old? When did that happen? (probably Wednesday because I don't remember him being this tall on Wednesday).

And then I measured him on the Wall of Measure and it looks like between February of 2015 and April, 2016, this kid grew 4 inches. Four inches. FOUR. 

I can only assume this is from eating 5lbs of goldfish crackers every day of his life. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sharp Toothed Snail

I'm having a day where I need to think about something other than the fact that Prince is gone because I've already kind of embarrassed myself TWICE over the whole thing. When I found out yesterday, I was in a managers meeting that was three hours long, so I was trying to be all sly about checking my phone when I saw that first breaking report. I had to get up and leave because I did that thing where you're so shocked you sort of start crying without any warning--I mean not sobbing or anything but: tears, you know? so I took off out of the room like  I had to go to the bathroom really bad because having your coworkers think you have diarrhea is preferable to explaining that you're upset that Prince died, right? (Sarcasm) 

 So, I left and got it together and came back after a minute but I guess my face was still blotchy (I'm an ugly crier) because somebody sitting at my table asked if I was ok and I'm all, "sure! I'm fine! Just something in my eye!" Thinking I am totally playing this off. And then I guess someone else checked their phone because right then there was a gasp and someone said, "holy crap y'all Prince  died!" And then everyone at my table looked at me and my blotchy face at the same time: busted.

 The second time involves being at a stop light with the windows rolled up but the music turned up so loud my windows were vibrating while everyone waiting to cross the street is staring goggle-eyed at me and my middle-aged white lady self  doing full body involved car dance to Gett Off but now that I am thinking about it, screw those people because seriously, what ELSE are you supposed to do when that song comes on?

But yeah, I'm heartbroken. It's a sad thing when our idols die. Is it ridiculous to cry about it? As my friend A'Driane says, JUDGE YOUR MOTHER. But I've got a headache from being sad (a sad-ache?) So I'll leave you with this poem that Hopper memorized and told me on the way home yesterday. It's by Shel Silverstein, another idol. It has nothing to do with Prince, it just makes me smile and I sorta need that today.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spirit Animal

Hopper recently checked out a book from his school library that is part of this series called "Spirit Animals" and I've been too lazy too look up the reviews, but I am assuming it has something to do with finding a member of the animal kingdom that best represents your inner being.  So, he's telling me about this book and I ask him, "So, what do you think your spirit animal is?"
This renders him speechless for a couple of minutes while he's thinking furiously about it. (I have to remember to use this the next time he talks at me for 45 straight minutes about the intricacies of the worlds most inane Disney show "Lab Rats" ) and I give him a bit before I ask,"Well?" and he says, "I don't know."

"Hopper," I say, "you're ignoring the obvious."
"What's obvious?"
"What your spirit animal is..."
"WHAT. What is my spirit animal?"
"A grasshopper."
He looks dubious.
"Think about it," I say, "they're fast. They play in the grass. They're green, (your favorite color is green). They have cool tentacles. YOU have cool eyebrows. They can jump twenty times the length of their bodies. You jump off the top of the playscape even though I always tell you if you land wrong, you'll break your legs. YOUR NAME IS EVEN HOPPER. I mean.."
"I don't know, mom..."
"And a lot of people think they're really gross, but.."
"I'm not really gross!"
"Trust me son. You are totally disgusting."
"Remember this morning when you sneezed really big and there was a solid stream of snot that came out of your nose?"
"And what did you do with that?"
"Um. Uh, I wiped it on my sleeve."
"And then what?"
"You licked it off your sleeve, didn't you, son."
(quietly) "yes."
"BOOM. You're a grasshopper."

Suggestion Box

I totally realize that I haven't written on the blog in almost a month. It's not for lack of things going on, but rather a lack of inspiration. So, I'm taking the lazy way out and asking you what YOU want to see, other than the 418 pictures I'm about to delete off of my phone.  One caveat, I'm not currently fostering anyone at the moment (we're on a necessary break for both mental and safety reasons). Leave me a comment either here or on Facefart and I'll see what I can do before the end of the week!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

DeeCee, Pt2

I had planned on doing a run-down of all we did in Washington DC with photos, but I was plagued with technical difficulties and also, we walked anywhere from 6-9 miles every single day, which made me feel like I was 90 years old at the end of every day, but had no discernible effect on my children other than to make them want to stay up and party til Midnight. Instead, I'll just share some of my favorite shots from the trip, though these were a little few and far between because apparently, my camera may be dying. (but my birthday is in 6 months so maybe I'll get a new one!). This isn't gonna be very organized, but I just got off a five day stretch of walking our nation's capitol with two rabid meerkats, so let's just get started.

Tuesday was our wettest, coldest day, so of course this is the day that we set aside to walk the Mall and see all the monuments. I love this shot of Rowan and Abraham Lincoln, even though Rowan kept calling him "Skinny Santa."

Here they are actually discussing whether it is, in fact, Skinny Santa or one of the presidents. It was Hopper who finally went with "one of the presidents" because of this air-tight logic: No elves. 

Rowan is definitely prohibited at the White House. Trust me. 

We got to go up inside the Washington Monument and I didn't even throw up. 
 This is looking from the monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

I have many, many photos of my children at the National Zoo. Most of them are terrible (camera issues), but here you see a blurry shot of the new baby panda, Bei Bei hanging precariously in a tree. His mom was hanging out somewhere below in the enclosure. Best I can tell, he's a terrible climber and spent most of the time I was there almost plummeting to his death. Good times. 

Luckily, I have at least 5 pictures of my children next to various forms of animal scat. 

Hopper would have probably spent about 3 days in the Museum of Natural History had we let him. Rowan, however, not a fan. I don't have any pictures of him there because he was usually off somewhere in the Rock Exhibit screaming his fool head off. (why, I don't know, because that Rock Exhibit is seriously cool). 
We also toured the Botanical Gardens which had an amazing exhibition of regular and rare orchids and neither of my children picked a single one. I won't say someone didn't end up trying to take a dip in the water feature, but the flowers were safe. 

At the Building Museum which was a little off the beaten track, but fun. 

Finally! A rare showing of weakness. In front of the Capitol Building, no less. 

Sam and I also got an afternoon away from the kids to check out the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn. Yay for Art!

In short, there's about 5 million things to do in DC and we only got to about 2 million of them, so we'll be back someday!  

Monday, March 14, 2016

DC Monday

We are in Washington DC, land of a million museums. We spent most of our day in one of them and the other portion standing in a cafeteria line behind 1/2 the middle school student population of North America. 

Can you guess which Smithsonian we were at today? Hint: it rhymes with Bear & Face.