Saturday, May 09, 2015

For the Dog Moms

As some of you might already know, I'm on the board of a dog rescue here in town. Earlier this week, we were plotting/planning for some Mother's Day posts for those in our group who go above and beyond as Dog Moms. One of our board members, mentioned that she didn't think she really "deserved" to get any recognition on on Mother's Day because she doesn't have any human children and it made me sad. Here's a person who spends a good majority of her time and money and soul caring for the dogs in her life and she doesn't think she's a mom. I call bullshit.

We could get all technical here about what actually makes a mother. What is it exactly? Growing a human? Pushing that human out of your body? Caring for another human that someone else pushed out of their body? If you really want to be stringent about the definition, you could do that, I suppose. But there are plenty of people in this world who do all of those things, yet don't provide love. They don't "MOTHER."

You'll sometimes hear someone who doesn't have human kids say, "My dog's are my children." There are people who get seriously offended by that. Some people feel that by saying that, we're somehow equating your kid with a dog and kids are just more important and your dog is stupid and eats cat shit or tries to lick its own  balls.  It's NOT the same. You're right it's not (though I saw that Instagram you had of your kid shoving mud up his nose and that was...cute). But you know what? No one's love for their dogs in any way diminishes your love for your kids. There's no reason to "rank" anyone's affection in terms of what "really matters". There's just not.  You don't have to equate a dog with a kid if you don't want to, but I think you should recognize a mother's love for what it is.

For many people, myself included and I have human kids, the love and care we give our dogs IS mothering. They're the children we choose (though sometimes, to be fair, they choose us). We have no shared DNA, but the quality, length of their lives are entirely up to us.The dog moms I know monitor their dog's health, they give them comfort and care.  They take them to the vet when they're sick, they stay up all night when their dog trembles through a thunderstorm. They talk to them. They genuinely care about whether or not their dog is happy.  Most of them would forgo their own needs if it came down to spending their money on themselves or buying medicine their dog needed. And the love, oh the love, how do you observe someone's total devotion to caring for another being and somehow sniff and think "eh, that's just not as valid as MY love." Why would you feel the need to do that? Mothering is many things and there's room for all of us.

Before I had human kids, I spent many years as a dog mom fostering over 200 dogs and puppies and my experiences gave me a huge advantage for when it came time for me to take care of tiny humans. Did it teach me everything? No, but I was already familiar with the responsibility that caring for another life entails. Puppy, don't eat that. Dude, play nice.  WHAT IS THAT THING in your ear there, buddy? Just  learning how to deal with another's health issues, feeding them, teaching them to be a social being, what it means to be a successful part of a pack (you have no idea how handy that one was when my oldest got to kindergarten). CARING about their wellbeing... Is it the same as caring for a kid? Nope. But honestly, it wasn't that big of a leap between the two for me.

Those people who don't think your dogs  can be your "kids" will say things like, "Your dog can't talk to you." "I can't crate my kid if he behaves badly." "Is your dog gonna take care of you when you get old?"   Look, we know our dogs aren't going to sit up one day and start carrying on a conversation. We know they're only going to be in our lives for 10-15 years, if we're lucky. We know there's not going to be any reciprocity when it comes time for us to be taken care of.  We love them anyway. And I would argue that loving them without the expectation of anything in return is one of the purest forms of love.

It's what "Mothers" do.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Suckiest Anniversary Ever

Ugh, this is not an anniversary that I really want to mark, or remember. My mom died a year ago today.

 You would think that at some point, saying that or typing that would get easier. I'm still waiting. As you may or may not have surmised, my Listen To Your Mother piece was about what happened after my mom died. When I worried about how I was going to get through the show, a friend of mine suggested that sometimes, just repeating things over and over helps wring the heavy emotion out, so I read and re-read and practiced that damned essay upwards of 500 times just so I wouldn't get choked up and do that thing where my throat closes up, my voice goes sonic and and I do the ugly cry. But no matter how many times I read it out loud, it never once got easier. I didn't, in fact, make it through any of the rehearsals or either of the two shows without crying. (Don't worry, it will be on YouTube and we can all relive the cringe, it's awesome).

I'm actually ok with crying. I'd prefer it happen amongst people who know and love me and preceded by the speedy ingestion of a really nice bottle of pinot noir, but I guess I can't be choosy. And I can't stop the days from going by so that it's longer and longer since I saw her and talked to her. I do this weird, non-helpful thing in my head when a holiday or family event rolls around: I think, a year ago, my mom was here for this.  A year ago, she called me on my birthday. We spent Easter together, a year ago. She sent Hopper a check so he could go buy himself some ice cream...a year ago. And now I can't do that and I don't know why that bothers me so much. It's not like having her gone for a year is any better than having her gone for a year and a day.

I will say that there have been some bright points. I think that my brother and sisters and I are closer than we've ever been. We spend more time together. We check in more often.   Every once in a while, one of us will text the others just to say, "hey, today sucked for me" and we all know exactly what they're feeling. I mean, I got the goddamned Fingerhut catalog in the mail a few months ago and to you, that probably means nothing. But my sisters know why I called them in tears:  I could hardly believe that Fingerhut is still solvent, months after the loss of my mother's support.

I guess the thing is: it's hard getting over thinking  in terms of when my mom was with us for it last because there are so, SO many things happening that she never got to see. Life just keeps boogying on and just this month, there's so many milestones  for us to celebrate. We just have to find a way of keeping her present that isn't all about mourning her absence. I don't have it all figured out yet, but I'm getting there.

I sure do miss her though.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yes, but No Vagina

When I was in high school, I had a humor column in our school newspaper called "Outer Leemits." It was obnoxious in that way where teenagers think they are the sharpest, most original, hi-larious people to ever walk the earth and everyone else is just standing behind them hoping not get a muscle strain from rolling their eyes. I only mention "Outer Leemits" here (seriously, I thought that was a funny title, like "limits" but instead LEEmits, like my name.. ha? ha? oh god) I only mention it here because it's the only other time in my life I've ever put my writing out there for anyone outside of my inner circle of maybe two dozen people. (I have one of those tickers on the side of the blog page here that tells me how many followers I have and I think at one point we were at a high of twenty-seven. It was a heady time).

But then earlier this spring, I got a wild hair and sent a submission to Listen To Your Mother.  I was called in for an audition, that I purposefully left out any mention of on here or Facefart or anywhere else. Because is it really failure if no one else knows you failed? Then I made the show. Boom.

After the cast announcement, I did finally post something about it, but to be honest, not a lot of my friends knew exactly what the show is. They'd heard of it, but they weren't exactly sure what all it entails. So, I'm trying to explain this to a friend of mine:

Me: There's a group of writers and we all read our essays talking about different aspects of motherhood.
Friend: like a podcast?
Me: no, like in person
Friend: to each other?
Me: to an audience.....
Me: of people
Me: on a stage
Friend:  So it's like the Vagina Monologues?
Me: YES!  but no Vagina.

Since being cast in the show I've gotten to know some of the other cast members. Everyone's a writer, even if they don't do it for a living.  We're all really different--different ages, different backgrounds, but we're all moms and, listening to each other's stories has had, I think, a similar effect on all of us.  We're all so, SO glad to be a part of this group but simultaneously all feel like maybe we don't deserve it this good.  Because being around this group of women makes you feel like a REAL writer. Like your experience as a mom is something other moms can relate to. Being around them makes me feel like I have thirteen new friends.   While that may not seem like much, I can tell you that those kinds of things can lift you up on a day that you don't feel that great because the stores are inundated with 800 million Mother's Day cards and signs and you're remembering  how you spent last Mother's Day (driving back from your mom's funeral). Those things can wrap your heart in a protective hug of support when you're feeling like shit because you maybe yelled at your son a little too loud when he tried to spray Deep Woods OFF into his brother's mouth (ahem). Plus, with those thirteen people, I feel like hitting 40 followers is almost within reach (it could happen).

And now that I've been to at least two read-throughs with the rest of the cast, I can't say enough great things about the show and I'd love for you see it .  I can tell you that there is a lot of damn good writing, some laughter, a whooooooole lot of tears, some redemption, even some Lil Wayne, but sadly, no Vagina.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hop and Bean, year six

Every Spring I try to get Hopper and his dog Bean to pose together for photos, something we've done since both of them were babies at the same time and regularly swapped spit (immune system, for the win!).  Last year was really the first time I was able to do this without Hopper whining that he really just wanted a cat, ok?  A little gray fluffy one? And in the past few months, this begrudging acceptance that he is never (ever) going to get a cat has transformed into these wild (delusional) plans that he is going to somehow teach Mr. Bean, an animal who regularly tries to eat empty solid tin cans, how to do amazing circus acts so they can go on the road and live a life of adventure.

I've had to gently lower these expectations by explaining the following:

Mr. B cannot learn how to do handstands (because he does not have hands)
He probably won't be figuring out how to ride a bike (something Hop has also not yet mastered)
He doesn't know any knock knock jokes (worth telling)
He cannot cook peanut butter on toast (eats all the peanut butter before the bread is even crispy)
He is too fat to swing on the monkey bars (seriously, so fat)

It should show you how much personal growth there's been to find out that, despite all these Bean Shortcomings, Hopper loves him anyway. Here's to two six year old boys!

previous years:  here,  here also, some here, etc.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PD April

Well, this is just a photo dump post. I have lots to share, but not a whole lot of time to do it what with all the cleaning puppy pee and swim lessons and family visits.  I'm not complaining (except about the puppy pee), but I feel like I've missed out on telling you a whole bunch. So, I'll try to do that more this week. But in the meantime, I've got 1223 pictures on my phone and they're not going to delete themselves..

This is a photo of longhorns that I took at the Travis County Rodeo and Fair. Yes, I know, that was a month ago, shut up. Look how cool they are.

Yet another photo, in a long, looooonng series of photos where Bean is either very sad, very tired, or silently plotting my death.
This one has her adopt-a-versary this month.  Doesn't stop Sam from asking if we can "trade her in for a real dog" every chance he gets. C'mon, how can you resist this face?
Wildflowers are going CRAZY in Austin this month from our wet winter/spring. Of course, we don't actually have wildflowers in our yard, just a bunch of weeds when I don't mow for two weeks, but look how pretty!
My sisters came into town last weekend, so they got to have Hopper read books to them. This one is called "Animals Should Definitely NOT Wear Clothing" and I've had to hear it approximately 137 times in the last week.
I also took a picture of Kate with her mini-me, i.e. my son. That's ok, her kids look more like me than they do her. Genetics are weird.
I still am playing around with my remote shutter. Honestly, I really don't have an excuse for why I make that face so much. 


I promise at least two more posts this week! Pinky swear!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Hints of Blue

Winter was long and hard for us this year. I mean, I had to wear a heavy jacket all the way up til the 2nd week of March and I think that's just asking too much. My coat is not even that cute. Also, there was that one time when the temperature was hovering in the 30's and there was a chance of rain and they cancelled school. It was like in The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder where they had to burn twisted hay and eat only potatoes for seven months, except for more like HEB just kept running out of the green salsa I like when people thought we were going to get freezing rain (and never did).

At any rate, the Long Winter is over and the bluebonnets are peaking out. You know what that means:  time to torture the children. Luckily for me, it's way early in the bluebonnet game.  They were just barely popping up this weekend and I don't think they'll be in full bloom for another week or so. Plenty of time for reshoots!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hopperisms, redux

This has been quite a stellar week for Hopperisms, which I am happy to share, as always.

(To a complete stranger by the pool at the Y):  "I'm actually an excellent swimmer, except that I sink."  totally true, by the way

(appropos of nothing, on the way home from school): "Do you know what I like about the Batman Cartoon??  All the onomatopoeias!"

(To another complete stranger, this time in the checkout line at HEB): "Orange Juice is the only wine I'm allowed to drink."  also true.

(To his brother):  "Rowan, I think you should try to be like me when you grow up. You know, like Hopper, only a little bit more Rowan."

(Also to his brother):  "Rowan!  Let's cross the streams!" sadly, not a Ghostbusters reference: 

Yep. That's going in The File.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

What I like about SIX

In honor of Hopper's SIXTH birthday today, I asked him to come up with six things he really likes about himself. This ended up being about a three-day conversation because he kept coming up with things and telling me about them hours later, so I have attempted to condense them for you here:

me: So, now that you are gonna be six, what are the things you like about best about  Hopper?
H: Um, I have an engine. 
me: You do? 
H: Yes
me: What's it like?
H; It's fast and it has chrome pipes.

me: Ok, what else?
H: I can run speedy.
me: Is that because of your engine?
H: no, it's because I'm a speedy person. 

H: Also, I have a good nose.
me: You do have a great nose. 
H: I know, right?  

H: I'm also nice.
me: psssh, HA! who are you nice to?
H: Bryzza, George, and sometimes Rowan.
me: that's kind of a short list, so what else you got? 

H: I have good eyesight
me: and yet, you can't find the remote control six inches from your face
H: People say  I'm good at finding muddy puddles. 
me: Well, that is actually true. So you got that going for you. 

Happy Sixth Birthday to the Hopperest Hopper I know. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

February Dump!

Ok, I haven't done a photo dump in a while, but now I really have to because I'm about to flush my phone down the toilet (or blow it up. Or feed it to the orangutans at the zoo. Something destructive). My phone which is an iphone 4s  (I know, ancient) has apparently opted to stop recognizing wi-fi networks. Or more accurately, it will see some sort of network is there, but it won't connect to it. I searched and Sam searched and many people suggest that you download the latest ios update,  but you know what my phone likes to tell me when I try to do that?

that little *plink plink* noise you just heard was the sound of several hundred blood vessels popping in my eye. 

So, I'm probably off to get a new phone sometime in the next week or so. SO I have to get all these pix off because, psssh. Cloud? what's that?  Without further ado, here are some shots from February-ish.

This is from our visit to Pieous last Sunday. If you have not been to Pieous, may I highly recommend that you fix that. Holy. Cow. Is that place yummy. Just fyi, their Rocket Pizza is pretty much spot on to what we had when were in Tuscany, but EVERYTHING we ate was drool-worthy.

Hopper has discovered hair gel. My only problem is getting him to use a reasonable amount and by "reasonable" I'm talking: something south of Jersey Shore levels. This would be one instance where I failed. he's only mad at me b/c I wouldn't stop laughing at him. 

Most of the time the boys refuse to take photos, but every once in a while they like to pretend that they're going to pose for me and then they do this. I'm used to it. 

I woke up one morning to this. They told me they were having a tea party.  I didn't ask questions. 

My sister Robyn came down for the Austin Marathon (and for the boys' joint birthday). She bought them some wax lips for their Valentines Day goodie bags. So, um. We had to wear them. 

Oh! and we have a new foster baby. Her name is Shelby. She's a little redonk. 

I'm sure you'll be seeing more of her soon.  

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I don't think you're ready for this Jelly: a Valentine's Photo Shoot

So, you might remember that I have this aversion to store bought Valentines. I like to make them and I like to be creative. The only thing holding me back really is that I am not skilled at crafting things. "Not skilled", as in, I own a glue gun, but it has a safety lock on it. How lucky for me that my kids are reasonably cute when they're not covered in boogers or sporting a black eye. Also, they are still young enough to not insist on picking out their own Valentines and will occasionally consent to wearing props if I bribe them with Slurpees.

I was going to wait to show you these til next week, but then I thought maybe I should share in case you'd like to conduct your own Valentine's Photo Shoot in advance!  (she says. after she's had time to recover from this one).

Supplies Needed:

  • white drape (tablecloth or thick sheet) for backdrop
  • tacks to hold up the backdrop
  • red heart doilies (found at the Dollar Tree)
  • children scrubbed clean within an inch of their lives
  • Valentine's Wear:  for girls this is easy. For boys, good luck. I tried many things. This was about as "Valentiney" as they would go and I had to up the Slurpees to Large. Red Suspenders bought at consignment store; glasses at Dollar Tree, other items scrounged from closet
  • camera*
  • patience. lots of patience
*I should specify that you should probably use a digital camera with a large capacity SD card because if you have an experience anything like mine, you will take 283 photos and end up with about 7 of them that are usable.

First we have Hopper. He was not happy with either hairstyling skills or my attempts at making him try different poses. He's also at that stage that I think a lot of little kids hit where they react to being made to take photos by doing that thing where they sort of raise their eyebrows, squint their eyes and put their top and bottom teeth together in a death mask rictus that makes me pop a blood vessel in my eye. So. These are what were left:

this one cracks me up so much

But at last! An honest to goodness smile.

Next, Rowan. Oh Rowan. I have so, SO many pictures of him doing something like this. This is quintessential Rowan, right here. He didn't like the glasses very much.
But then, THEN, he decided to get a little cute. It took me til probably shot #216 to get here, but we got here. Little turd.

And then I had to stop and drink a bottle of wine.  I'm just kidding, it was like 10 in the morning, I waited til 11:30 to open it up.  Plus, I still had to get shots of them TOGETHER. God help me. They did a lot better at this once I let them ditch the glasses. I think I have like maybe 2 shots of them wearing the glasses and in both of them Hopper is making that face and I cannot take that face. THESE faces, however... I have to admit, pretty darn cutemas.

So, there you have it, you still have 10 days to go forth and do your own Valentines photo shoot to make homemade Valentines with love. You can even buy yourself a Slurpee if you're good.