Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When Maple's "leaves" dropped..

holy crap yall Friday was ROUGH.  We didn't really know when our foster dog Maple was due to have her pups, only that it was just a matter of time before someone snuck up behind her, yelled boo and she'd explode. I  started a "Puppy Pool" with our rescue volunteers and most everyone guessed she would go into labor within the week. I wasn't allowed to enter, but secretly, I knew that I had a lot of things scheduled for both Friday and Monday, so chances were, she'd pick one of those days. Sure enough, Friday morning, I woke up and saw signs that things were pretty much getting under way. I'm not going to describe for you what those "signs" were, but trust me, you know. So, I texted my boss and told him I was going to take the morning off, got some coffee and Maple and I settled into the "maternity ward" i.e. my bathroom around 6:30am. At this point, I was thinking, "it's just five pups, MAYBE six, we should have this all wrapped up by noon, right?" Why I am ever dumb enough to think that things are going to run this smoothly, I don't know. 

Maple and I sat there staring at each other for almost four hours before anything happened. I'd check her, um, "area" to see what was up and I could tell that things were happening, but she just wasn't getting to the pushing them out phase. She was pretty much stuck in the stand up, shiver, turn around, try to get comfy in one spot and then try another spot while staring at me in confusion phase for HOURS. I kept trying to get up and stretch and go get a refill on my coffee, but she wasn't having it. Anytime I'd try to leave the room, Maple would heave her gigantic tum out of the whelping box and try to follow me with her head as close to my ankles as possible. So finally I just locked her in the bathroom, sprinted to the kitchen to fill up on a days worth of snacks and coffee, grabbed the phone charger and made it back before she could manage to work herself into a panic. So, there we sat until around 10:30am when she finally stood up, walked over to where I was sitting crosslegged on the floor, rammed her head into my stomach, crouched her back end and out came our first baby. 

Maple had no idea what had just happened. See, when pups come out, they are esconced in their own individual umbilical sac where they stay until the mama tears the sac open with their teeth  and gnaws off the umbilical cord. It's pretty visceral and gross, but...effective. There's not a lot of clean up the person has to do other than providing some fresh towels.  When Maple pushed the puppy out  she had absolutely no idea what to do next. She was literally just standing there with a puppy hanging out of her looking at me incredulously like, "I thought I was just going to poop!".  So I grabbed the pair of whelping scissors I have on hand, cut a snip in the sac and cradled the puppy with a handtowel and showed it to her. At this point the puppy is still attached to her by it's umbilical cord and I'm trying to explain to her that she's gotta do something about that. Like I'm seriously having a conversation with her, mimicking gnawing on piece of corn on the cob and pointing, "LIKE THIS! USE YOUR TEETH, RIGHT THERE. YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO WALK AROUND LIKE THIS, MAPLE, THERE ARE RULES."  This whole time Maple is looking at me like, "Aw, HELL NO, That is disgusting." So, I cut the cord myself.  Twelve minutes later, another pup comes and:  Same. 

Usually, in my experience, once puppies start coming out, they come out fairly regularly, like maybe 15 to 45 minutes apart. Never really more than an hour or so in between pups. But she had these two puppies and then things just... stopped.  Websites will tell you that it might take up to 2 hours for a puppy to come out but if more than 3 hours goes by and she's been trying to push, something is wrong (trust me, I had a lot of time sitting there to google this, sitting in my bathroom drinking ice-cold coffee).  We were 22 minutes away from the 3 hour mark when the next pup finally made his way out. He was..large, as in, plugging up the puppyworks large. I cut the sac open like I had for the first two was about to cut the cord when Maple turned around and gently grabbed him out of my hand with her mouth. She had finally figured out what she was supposed to do. This was great because by that time, I was so rattled that my hands were shaking and I was afraid if I tried to cut the cord, HE was going to end up a SHE.
That's Biggie McHeads-a-Huge there to the left

After that, next two pups came out smoothly and in a somewhat timely manner in that I wasn't trying to figure out how I was going to schlep everyone into the back of my car and head to the Emergency Vet. Maple got the hang of cleaning them off and was starting to nurse, but she was tuckered out. Sooooo tuckered out..

  At this point, we had five puppies and I knew there might be one more because when we first got her, there were xrays done where they had told us there were 5, possibly 6 pups in there. A week later, we had an ultrasound done to check on pup viability and while ultrasounds aren't great at telling you how many there are (but good at showing heartbeats), the vets thought 5 or 6 sounded about right for what they were seeing.  So, it was no great surprise when number six was born. What WAS a great big surprise when I went to go feel her tum and just check to make sure I didn't feel anything else in there and...there was something else in there. At this point, it's almost 5pm and we had been going at this for almost 11 hours. And we are not done. Shit. On. Fire. 

Number seven arrived shortly after 5'oclock. Ok, I thought, It's just one more. I can handle this. I mean, our last litter was nine puppies, I can handle seven.This is just a little lagniappe.   But, just in case, I felt her tum again and... YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. There was another one in there. Now, it's always possible that when you're feeling the mama's tum to check and see if there's another puppy, what you're feeling is not a puppy. I won't go into mama dog anatomy here, but if you ever find yourself stuck in a bathroom with a dog in labor for eleven hours, you learn things. At any rate, so, it' s POSSIBLE it's not a puppy, just a part of the mom, but I could tell this was a puppy. I just could feel it. Sure enough, the eighth puppy was born at 6:27pm, a mere dozen hours after we first began.

(this look on her face, while seemingly one of joy and relief, is also a little bit of "Well, That Was Intense and HOLY SHIT THERE ARE EIGHT." I know, because I felt it too.) 

Back in the saddle, indeed.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Project Maple

When all nine of our Tiny Texan pups AND Mama Jules were adopted right before I left for vacation, the plan was for us to have a bit of a break. That was THE PLAN.  What I didn't tell yall was that even before I was 3 days into the vacation, our group was already getting asked to take another mama dog and newborn pups. I demurred because I was out of state and I was all pupped out, but that's how quick it was. Not even two weeks and there's already another little puppy family needing help. I did not get that mama and pups, we let another group take them. But that didn't stop The Universe from deciding that "Breaks" are for Sissies because, folks, we got another "Project" up in here this weekend. Her name is Maple.

Maple is, I like to say: Preggo like an Eggo. Specifically, we think there are about 5-6 in there. She's due in a couple of weeks, maybe three.. I'm trying not to be impatient this time. Plus, Maple has some plumping up and resting and getting healthier to do before the babies get here. See, Maple is really anemic.  It's not that unusual for pregnant dogs to get a little anemic, but Maple is a LOT anemic. She's also heartworm positive. What this has meant is that since she got here 2 days ago, she's done a whole lot of sleeping. As in, she didn't get off the dog bed unless I picked her up to take her outside for potty. And even then, she'd get a little tired and just sit down in the backyard.

 I was getting really, REALLY worried, but we've been giving her some liver water and some iron supplements and that seems to be helping.  She started sitting up some more and sort of interacting a bit, rather than dozing.

As you may have noticed, Maple is not a full cocker spaniel. I don't really know what her mix is. I know she's tiny, other than her big baby belly. She has green eyes. But her face is really pointy and her ears don't really lay down. I spent some time yesterday trying to get some pictures of her where she didn't look like a Stoned Otter. 

I, um, might still have some work to do?   But we've got some time. I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks prepping and I'm really hoping with some good groceries and meds, Maple pulls through all this alright. And that the pups do too. (that's a concern). It's a Project, for sure. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Farm Days 4-6, 2016

It's been a busy week at the farm, and by "busy" I mean, we've had to brush our hair and put on pants once or twice. On Monday we spent some time looking at Art which Rowan found damn near intolerable. 
But Hopper was a bit more reasonable. Now that is a sentence I never thought I'd write.

But as usual, we did get to see some cool stuff, other than the Nudes at The Clark which Hopper declared, "A Lot of Looking at Naked Butt."

On Tuesday we went to Jiminy Peak which, in retrospect, may not have been the best plan for when Sam was injured because the boys are still a little too short/skinny to ride the Mountain Coaster alone, so I had to ride it a LOT. Like, a nauseous amount. To be fair, more than once is really a nauseous amount for me because I get a little green on Merry Go Rounds. Suffice it to say, the day

was a wee bit painful for me. Also painful: the sunburn I got after riding mountain rides in the sun for six straight hours. But the boys didn't want to leave. I love this shot of Hopper on the climbing wall because it makes it look like he's more than 3 feet off the ground. I can assure you, he is not.

I took videos of both the mountain coaster and the alpine slide, even though the guy on the coaster yelled at me, telling me I needed BOTH hands to operate the brakes, which is bullshit because there are no "brakes" on that sucker, there is only near death and vomiting. 

I don't know if the links will work here, but I'll try:

We have also gotten to spend lots of cousin time with Luna. Rowan has previously expressed interest in having a little sister, so it's been great to see him interact with her. And by "interact" I mean she expresses interest in a toy and he then spends the rest of his day trying to hide it. 

Today it is almost 90 degrees which is unacceptable. Luckily for us, we just have to skip up the road and immediately jump into the pond. I have a million photos of this because we've been doing it every single day. 

There are even some (cough) off ME jumping off the dock, but you are not likely to see those any time soon. 

Tonight, Sam and I go to a James Beard Award winning restaurant in Hudson, so I'll be sure to get plenty of photos of that instead.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Farm Days 1-3, 2016

Being at the farm this year has been a little different this year than in year's past because Half of the Horde has already been here for a month! Sam and Hopper left in early July and Hopper got to go to three weeks of summer camp in a place that doesn't feel like the surface of Satan's butt. We'd been Skyping every few days and every time Hopper and Rowan saw each other it was like a tragic war movie where brothers were torn apart. "I loooooovvvee youuuu HOPPAH."  "I miss you Rowan SO MUUCHH."  So, we were taking bets on how long this newfound appreciation for each other might last. Answer: about 15 minutes outside the airport. 

But still, they are having fun seeing each other again even if every morning begins with a 7am argument over whether we are playing Plants Vs. Zombies or Star Wars right now. 
This year is probably my very last year for getting Naked in the Brook photos, which saddens me, but doesn't exactly stop them from taking off their pants every 5 minutes anyway. 

I got a new waterproof point and shoot because I figured I just don't take enough pictures in my life, so now we get to have moments like these:

I know how excited that must make you. But aside from underwater photos I can also take 800 pictures of my kids jumping off the dock at the pond and not worry about ruining my camera. So, wheeeeeee!

Only, I haven't quite figured out the right settings, so sometimes I just get this:
But, I'm working on it.  We go back to the pond in a couple of hours, so I will practice some more. I find that if I make my children just run and jump off the dock 5-6 (hundred) times in a row, they're much more compliant in the evenings. 
The boys are spending this morning doing some yard work with Gram. Someone will need to tell Rowan that his rake sucks. 

 Today's plan for me includes putting on a bubbling clay mask for my face, reading a book and also going to see Yo Yo Ma at Tanglewood. All three of those sound pretty exciting to me, so I'm going to rest up. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016


On the side of my blog, where my profile resides, there's this list of 35 things about me that I did back in July 2006 when I was..35. Ten years ago. TEN. eegghhh, just typing that made my sciatica flair up. Anyway, that list has been there for damn near forever and I always say I'm going to update it and never do, but I guess it's probably time. Unless I can wait another ten years?  eegghh. fine.

Original list and then my updates:

1.I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and lived in the same house until I was 18.
Yup. Still true, though I am approaching the date when I will have lived outside of Arkansas longer than I did in it. 

2.I am the youngest of 4. 
Technically, I am a middle child now. My dad got re-married and I have five step siblings that are mostly younger than me. It's weird though, I've always been more a Cindy than a Jan. 

3.I was supposed to be a boy. Whoops.
looking back on this, I've decided I don't like this term "Supposed to be a boy"-- it's more accurate to say:  ultrasounds back in 1971 were probably as accurate as someone holding a ring on a string and letting it hover over your pregnant belly to see which way it turned. At any rate, mine was wrong.

4.When I was a kid, I was always afraid that vampires were going to come after me as I slept so I devised a plan to cover my neck with my pillow so I’d have a fighting chance to escape. I still sleep with a pillow over my head to this day.
True story: I have about 14 pillows on my bed because someone is forever stealing mine and I still need my vampire protection. 

5.I am allergic to dogs. I have to take Benadryl a lot.
I'm more of a Clariton kind of girl now. 

6.I could be a good cook if I paid more attention to the recipes. 
This is not true. After 45 years, I've determined that I excel at making dip. Anything else I make ends up tasting like asparagus, regardless of whether asparagus is actually one of the ingredients.

7.The only serious (requiring a hospital visit) injuries I have ever had have been to my head or my face. This explains a lot.
Still true. 

8.I have one tattoo, and I am getting another one by the end of the year.
I never got that 2nd tattoo. I have designs for one, but zero motivation. My sisters and I may get one together sometime if they ever relax those rules about inking someone who's been drinking. When I show up with a picture of fried chicken on my leg, you'll know. 

9.I hate snow.
I also am not fond of sleet. 

10.I have straight teeth, but I used to want braces so bad I made a “retainer” for myself out of paperclips.
I grind my teeth so much at night I have to wear a mouthguard, so I am over this braces envy I used to have. 

11.I used to live in an apartment above Mrs. Gerard mother of Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers). I ran into him in the foyer all the time, but never once took the opportunity to do my “Twiki” voice. 
When is Netflix going to add Buck Rogers to the lineup? Anyone know? 

12.Incense makes me sneeze, and people who wear Patchouli make me want to hose them off.
There is a person who works in my building who I am somewhat friends with and he wears patchouli sometimes, but only when he doesn't want to shower. I know this because I asked him one day, "You like patchouli, huh?" And he said, "No, I just really hate to shower."  Ages old patchouli discrimination=validated.

13.I have a slightly neurotic fear of house-fires and have secretly devised an evacuation plan for every place I have ever lived. I once lived in a 4th story walkup with no fire escape and had a little freakout moment every single day until I moved. 
I have already taught my kids where to go in case there is a fire. Inadvertently, I have also probably taught them how to most easily sneak out of the house when they're older.

14.I detest being woken up by anyone for any reason. Unless they are dying or my house is on fire.
Still true. Though I will say, it's always nice to be woken up out of a dead sleep so that someone (cough, Rowan) can tell me that Sunset Shimmer from Equestria Girls used to be mean, but now she is nice. 

15.I have never been engaged, married, or arrested. 
No arrest record here. 

16.I have never been pregnant, but I’ve attended Lamaze classes twice. 
I have now been pregnant twice and didn't attend a Lamaze class either time. 

17.I don’t know if I ever want to have kids, but I wouldn’t mind borrowing someone else’s for a while. I like the accoutrements.
The amount of random shit you can fill your house with due to children is astounding. I understand this now and am looking forward to the day I can donate all this stuff to some other clueless rube. 

18.I could not give two shits about my fingernails.
I have grown rather fond of pedicures. The ladies there always look askance at my fingernails, but nah. Still don't care 

19.I can handle spiders, but slugs sort of make me want to cry.
In our neighborhood, there aren't any slugs, but there are an unusually large amount of snails and every time it rains, the sidewalks are so teeming with them, you can't walk anywhere without stepping on one..or several. It still makes so grossed out I gag.

20.I usually have at least one glass of wine almost every day. My doctor once asked me how many ounces of liquor I drank in a week, and I asked if she could come up with a bigger standard of measure. 
I'm sipping on some right now. 

21.I have had the same two best friends for over 20 years.
Thirty now! 

22.I used to be very Catholic, but can’t stand organized religion.
We have an excellent unitarian universalist church in Austin that I go to sometimes. I call it "Hippie School." 

23.I consider myself to be politically “Independent” but I don’t think I have actually voted Republican on anything, ever. 
I have actually voted for a Republican in the last 10 years and lightning did not strike me down. I don't anticipate that repeating itself anytime soon, but you never know. 

24.I have never given up hope that I will someday develop either ESP or the ability to talk to animals—either one will do.
I've never figured out how to talk to animals, but they've figured out how to talk to me. For example, when Mr. Bean is not happy with me, he will take a shit on one of my shoes. Like, not like he happened to be pooping and my shoe was in the way, he aims for it. In this way, I have learned that maybe it's better we just don't speak. 

25.I hate being late to movies. If I miss the previews, I might as well not show up at all.
Thanks to the beauty of reserve seats in theaters, I don't get as worked up as I used to, but still, if the lights are already down when we arrive, I get a little huffy. 

26.I have absolutely no rhythm or ability to dance. This very rarely stops me. 
When the boys are acting up in public, like at the grocery store, I will start humming the music that's piped over the loudspeaker, if that doesn't stop them, I will start singing the song loudly and work in a little interpretive dance/air drum solo and tell them I will keep on doing this until they get themselves together. You have never seen two children straighten up so fast in your life.
27.I hold grudges til I’m good and damn ready to let it go. But I always let it go.
I'm a lot quicker at letting things go than I used to be. Unless you're that guy who zooms past the entire line of cars waiting and then tries to cut someone off last minute to get in ahead of everyone else: you SIR, are an ABOMINATION AND I WILL NOT STAND FOR THAT SHIT. 

28.9 times out of 10, if I am talking shit about someone, they are standing right behind me. 
As I have gotten older, I've discovered that it's much more efficient to just go ahead and talk shit directly in front of someone. Saves any misunderstandings.

29.I never wear more than one shade of eye shadow , mostly because I don’t know how to put it on. You and your talk of “brow lines” mean nothing to me.
So, now we have YouTube for these kinds of things, right? Like full on make up tutorials, people make a living doing these. Yeah, I don't watch them.

30.Cemetaries are some of my favorite places.
I do still love cemetaries, but I have learned something about death in the last 10 years and if I'm visiting a cemetary now, I'm looking at it from a different perspective. 

31.I dream in color. Always. 
Half the time these days, I don't even know that I'm asleep until I feel the drool on my pillow. 

32.Some people say I am “too nice”. They don’t know me very well.
ha hahahahhahahahhhhhaaaaaaa! No one says this about me anymore. NO ONE. Like, I haven't been nice since maybe 2008. 

33.Jell-O kind of freaks me out. A lot.
There's this Asian buffet down the street from us and on the dessert table, they have like, 8 different kinds of cheesecake and a literal vat of red jello that my kids will consume half of every time we're there. It's gross.

34.I took Latin as my foreign language in high school. Despite what they told us at the time, this has never, ever helped me.
There was this one time, last Fall, I was playing Trivia Crack and I totally got my little history dude because of Latin. So, there's that.  

35.I don’t believe in thong underwear. In theory or in practice.
I still don't but sometimes when we're getting ready for bath time, Hopper will pull his tighty-whities up til they're like a thong and shake his butt and we laugh and laugh because that shit is funny

hoo god, this list is long, right? Like way too long? Like who really needs to know more than 35 things about me even though now I'm 45 and technically I should add 10 things to the list? eh, screw that. How 'bout one more:   I don't like Rum. Like, not even a little. Pina Coladas? Blech.  I know, there goes my party girl image. heh. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Organ Donor

When Rowan was a little younger, he didn't really understand the whole fostering thing that we do. Every time a puppy we fostered went to its new home, he'd shake his head in condemnation and say, "I just don't understand why you keep giving your puppies away" like I was some sort of puppy trafficker, dealing in milk breath. We're pretty much past that now, but still, he wasn't very happy this week as most of the puppies left for their new homes. It started on Thursday, with two of them leaving, then three more on Friday, three more Saturday.

I'm not gonna lie, it was hard. Waayyy harder than I thought I had prepared myself for. In fact, I've decided that this whole process would go a lot smoother if I could just manage to not get attached: just feed the puppies each day, pick up the poo, make sure they don't die, keep my heart out of it. But it doesn't quite work out that way. Turns out, it's impossible to help deliver a puppy being born, handfeed it with a syringe,  feel the moment those little sharp teeth start poking through the gums and they start earnestly gnawing on your thumb, listen to them scare themselves so badly they pee the first time they realize they can make a bark come out of their mouth... Watch them grow and grow and GROW, from a slick little gerbil into a tiny dog...and not feel anything. And honestly, even if I could pull that off and stay detached, I wouldn't want to do it at all because what's the point if you don't love what you do?

So, I let them go, knowing that each pup that leaves, it's going to take a chunk of my heart and soul with it. It's sort of like being an organ donor without having to give up one of your kidneys. 

I took photos of each of them as they were leaving. I have great ones where everyone's looking at the camera, but my favorites are when their new families are so smitten, they can't stop looking at the puppy. 

And I still have one left for now (Hondo), after an adopter had to pull out due to some work commitments. I think he'll probably leave in the next week or so, but for now, I'm still mainlining the puppy breath. And Mama, she's still here too, but probably leaving within the week. People asked me if I thought she'd be sad or worried watching the babies go and she was, a little. She had her spay surgery on Friday and that helped because she was largely out of it. But I believe she's also really ready for them to go. The remaining puppy keeps following her around and she gives me this look like, "Um, I'm not sure you're aware, but you missed one." (see below).

I suspect she's like me, a little relieved. We've done our part. And she'll never ever have to have puppies again. I will, though. (not right now, later, after I've had a break, and a margarita..or two). 
I gotta have my heart filled back up again. 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

It's all a blur unless they're sleeping

Our babies are eight weeks old today. I've attempted to take pictures of them every day, but honestly, unless they're crashed out after a 30 minute tour of destruction around the back yard, all I get is blur and lots of teef. It usually looks a little something like this:

Or this:

or this: 

They don't sit still. But honestly, I don't mind. I took them to the vet for their very first visit outside of the house last week. They all got their first rounds of shots and got to meet the nice vet techs and learn about why going to vet means someone shoves something up your bum. (I took pictures, but I am not mean enough to post them). 
This was the same vet's office that shepherded me through our very horrible, no good Spring and the deaths of the Diamond Dog Pups. It was a crazy visit--with an assembly line of me and the vet and the techs trying to get everyone weighed and shots administered and nails clipped. But through it all, the puppies kept doing their puppy thing and licking faces. At one point, Dr. Brown said, "oh, I needed this, this morning." And I knew what she meant because I needed it too. I needed these babies to be healthy and strong and total goofballs who play with ferocity and then...sleep with ferocity too. 

I needed them to lick dirt and chew on their brothers and have that total look of crazy that puppies sometimes have.

Quite literally, I just needed them to LIVE. All the cuteness is just a bonus... but man, it's a LOT of bonus, right?