Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review - Facebook Status Style


  • One playdate, a thorough house straightening, three games of tags, two hours playing in the yard, and a skipped nap session, I've finally worn the boys down so they're nice and quiet.

    No, I haven't.  I threw them out in the yard because I'm exhausted.  How?  How is it possible to be hyperactive so many hours in a row, without a single break?  Do they have little secret bags of sugar stashed beneath their mattresses?  And why did my swimming pass have to expire this week?

  • Somewhere along the way Artemis got the idea she's not allowed on the couch if we're not home.  I have no idea why she decided that - we don't care at all.  Nevertheless, she invented her own rule, and she always sleeps in her dog bed when we leave the house.

    I just walked in the door after JUST leaving (forgot something - no surprise), and as I walked up the front porch steps I saw something jump off the couch and dart at high-speed into the bedroom.  I walked into my house - no Artemis.  I passed a hand over the couch cushion - Yup.  Toasty warm.  I peeked in my bedroom, and Artemis was curled up on her dog bed, sound "asleep".  As I entered the room she raised her head, opened her eyes slowly, blinked sleepily at me, yawned, and then curled back up to go back to "sleep, like the "good dog" that she is.

    Dude.  My dog's a better Hollywood actor than most actors in Hollywood.

  • Heeeere, wallet, wallet, wallet.  C'meeeere, little wallet, wallet, wallet.  It's okay.  Don't be shy.  You can come out now.

  • "Knock, knock."
    "Who's there?"
    "Snowman who?"

    Sigh.  We have reached the age of really, really, really inept joke creation.

  • "Oh, no!  OH, NO!  Very bad word!  Very, very, VERY bad word!"  The most generically boring cussing ever, courtesy of DragonMonkey.

  • "Why I have to dry my own self off with a towel after a shower?  Why I have to button my own pants?  Why I have to go get my own apple out of the fridge?  Mama, why I have to do *eeeeeverything*?"  DragonMonkey is rapidly becoming the poster child for the #FirstWorldProblems movement.

  • "Go put on pants, Squid."
    "Excuse me, young man?"
    "No, thank you."
    "No, wait... I mean... <SIGH>.  Go put on pants."
    "Not need pants."
    "Yes, you need pants.  People wear pants, Squid.  Go put some on."
    "No.  Nobody not need 'em.  No pants."
    Well, alrighty then.

  • I went to a kid's party yesterday.  The other moms brought crustless organic spinach quiches, a variety of dairy and gluten-free cookies, organic plantain chips, kale and blueberry infused craisin salads......
    Me?  I brought day old cookies and a half-eaten bag of Frito's.  One of these days I'm going to get my crap together.  One of these days......

  • I'd like to take a moment to thank my two beautiful children for their calm, beatific behavior at today's PNER convention.  It made for a peaceful, relaxing Saturday.  Also, I'd like to thank both my overactive imagination and my ability to repress painful memories for helping me to get past the rough times.


  • "Can I marry someone?"
    "Uh, sure Squid. When you're older.  Do you have anyone in mind?"
    "Yeah.  Mrs. Dawn's babies."
    "Mrs. Dawn with the three girls?  Which one?"
    "All of them.  Can I marry all of them?"
    ".....I'm not sure how having three wives is gonna work out for you, Squid."
    "Maybe just two of them.  I just want two of them."
    "Which two?"
    "Just the two of them."
    "You just want to marry the twins?"
    "Maybe we should put a pin in this idea, and revisit when you're older."
    "Okay.  Can I have some cheese puffs?"
    "Now that we can do."

  • "DON'T GO PEE OUT THERE NAKED.  Squid, you don't go pee naked.  Everyone see you.  What you were thinking 'bout, peeing in the front yard?"
    "Nuthin'.  DragonMonkey, I just pee.  Let me in."
    Good morning from the Beans.

  • Today's parenting goals have been lowered from "nurtured and instructed with love and patience" to "alive, and preferably not bleeding too much".

  • "Heeeey!  Look, Mama!  I finded Captain America!"
    "Sweetie, that's Jesus."
    "This is JESUS?!"
    "Well, it's a figurine of him."
    And then......
    "I'm going to squish Jesus.  I'm going to squish Jesus with my trains."

  • Your interesting fact for the day:  For every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 77 cents.  Except when women choose the same career path as men.  Then they make $1.05.

  • Sigh.  The kids renamed Artemis.  She's now named "Sniffie", and they become angry whenever we refer to her by her "old name".  It's been such a long day that I don't even care.  Come here, Sniffie.  Let's go change the boys into pajamas and pray they go to sleep like good little boys.


  • To be fair, "Whatever you do, don't turn on the hose or get dirty" does sound an awful lot like "Wheee!  Do you know what makes mud?  Water does!  You should make lots of mud!  Frolic in it!  Hoo-ray!"

  • "WHAT IN THE HEL---I MEAN, HECK?  NO. NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.  You do NOT pee in the basement.  I don't.... I don't even....WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU THINK IT'S OKAY TO PEE IN OUR BASEMENT?  are you freakin' kidding me?  WHY?!"
    "Dada not pee in bafroom.  He pee outside all the time."
    "I guarantee you, your father does not go piss in the basement when he has to take a leak."
    "Don't say that.  That's a bad word."
    "I not supposed to say 'piss'?"
    "Squid, quit saying it!  Just.... DON'T EVER PEE IN THE BASEMENT, EVER AGAIN,
    OR SO HELP ME.... Just.... Just DON'T.

    Bean?  Is there something we should talk about?

  • Dear children,

    Please don't stand on the front porch and scream "HI!  HI!  HIHIHIHIHIHI!" every time you see our neighbors.  We're making a bad enough impression as it is - please give them their privacy and do not act like a pack of chihuahuas that bark every time they see a stranger.

    Your loving mother,

  • "I cleaning my face."
    "Awww.  That's sweet.  I love you, Squid.  You're a cute kid."
    "I cleaning my face with spit.  See?"
    "Oh.  Oh, wow.  That's really disgusting.  I take it back - you're not cute at all. Please don't touch me."

  • The worst part about growing up is how rarely adults seem to carry around a guitar.  If someone had told me how rare sing-alongs were once you hit your 30s, I might have objected a little more strongly.


  • Dear Squid, I'm sorry. I hear the "moth-eaten, ragged home haircut" look is in.

  • Today is my sixth wedding anniversary.  The Bean came home early from work, and as I pulled into the driveway he walked on to the porch and smiled down at me.

    I ignored him, and slammed the door to my car a little too hard.

    "Are you okay?"

    I ignored him some more.

    "What's wrong?"

    I made sure both boys had their backs to me as they ran to greet their dad, double-checked that they couldn't see, and then, like the mature, sweet, loving mother that I am, I flipped off my beloved, sweet-tempered, totally well-behaved youngest son and stomped past everyone and went into the house.....where I found a dozen beautiful roses and a handwritten card with a note so sweet it made me cry.

    I'm sorry, Bean.  I promise I'll do better next year.

  • Dontcha just hate Mondays?  Dontcha just hate Mondays where all you want to do is make some quesadillas for lunch, and while you're distracted both of your boys pee all over the family dog?
    Yeah.  me too.

  • "Mama, you look just like a pwincess."
    "Awww.  Awww, Squid, thank you."
    "You look so pwetty.  Just like a pwincess."
    "Awww, thank you!  Squid, that's so sweet.  It makes me feel good."
    "Except.... except you wearing gwasses."
    "Uh, yes.  Yes, I am."
    "Ewww. Pwincesses don't wear gwasses."
    "What do you mean, 'ewww'?  Princesses can wear glasses if they need to.  There's nothing wrong with glasses."
    "Ewww.  Pwincesses NOT WEAR GWASSES.  You need to take your gwasses off."
    "Squid, I can't see without them.  My glasses stay on."
    "You not look like a pwincess then.  Pwincesses not wear gwasses."

    And then he gave a heavy, disappointed sigh as he wandered off, leaving me sitting there on the couch with my lukewarm coffee, unattractive glasses, and crushed ego.

    Accio healthy dinner?
    Sigh.  I've tried every pronunciation I can think of, with every magical flourish I've ever read of, and yet no matter how hard I try, Friday night dinner is not cooking itself on the stove.  Apparently it is NOT the thought that counts.


  • Heeeeere, wallet, wallet, wallet.  C'mere, little wallet.  Heeeeeere, recently-replaced-because-I-lost-the-other-one Visa card, Visa card, Visa card.  Also, heeeeere, car keys, car keys, car keys. Where'd you go, little car keys?
    Some days I really, really, REALLY hate my brain.

  • "I love.... I love to kiss girls."  Things you are not ready to hear from your three year old.

  • Mosquitoes, my old nemesis.  We meet again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  Sigh.

  • "No, no, no - it's a compliment.  I said your room DIDN'T smell like old people.  You know that smell... kind of stale?  And.. mediciney?  Yeah, yours doesn't smell like that anymore, so you're good."
    This concludes today's episode of "Things You're Not Supposed To Say When You're a Caregiver"... also known as, "Compliments That Backfired Horribly."

  • "Ohhhhh, shit."
    "WHAT?!  Did I just hear what I think I heard, Squid?"
    "No!!!  I not do it!"
    "Is that so?  If you didn't do anything, then how do you know to deny something?"
    "...... I not do it!"
    "Did you just say something very bad, Squid?"
    "No!  I not do it! Grandma say shit!  Not me!"

  • Crunchy rice: it's what for dinner!

  • Dear Caspian - I liked that toe, you clumsy oaf.


  • The Iron Giant, followed by The Land Before Time, and after that they said they want to watch "That one movie with the balloons and the dog that talks" - in other word, the one movie with the most heart-wrenching 8 minutes in movie history.  Dear DragonMonkey and Squid, do you want me to do anything all day besides cry? Love, your mother.

  • Today's song of the day is apparently "I don't have a penis now, a penis now, a penis now.  I don't have a penis now, yeah, yeah, yeah", sung in happy, joyful tones.

    It is weird, inappropriate and completely unsettling to hear, but I can't seem to get them to quit.  They're even mumbling it to themselves when they stand in the corner.

  • I'm 32 years old.  How much longer do I have to wait before someone comes out with a "Raise, train, ride, and race your own Tauntaun" game?

  • Microsoft Word spell check just tried to get me to switch out "your most recent investment" to "you're most recent investment".  I'm really, REALLY disturbed.

  • "You gonna wear your clothes like that?"
    "Uh, yeah, I'm almost ready to go.  Just give me a second, DragonMonkey."
    "Yeah, but... you gonna wear your clothes like that?"
    "Well, uh, yeah."
    "Why?  Is something wrong?"
    "Well, I just hope.... I just hope nobody sees your clothes like that."
    "Oh, for goodness sakes. ARE YOU SERIOUS?"
    "Well, I just hope they not laugh at you...."
    "What is wrong with this outfit?  And why would I care if people laugh at me?"
    "Well, I just hope nobody sees....sees your bra...."
    And then I stomped out of the room in a huff to go put on something more decent, and less bra-strap-showy, and as I grumbled under my breath, I thought....wait a second.  Aren't I supposed to be the parent?


  • Dear mosquitoes of Oregon,

    According to the 2012 census there are 3.899 million people living in this glorious state.  Go suck on some of them for awhile.

    The Dried-Out Husk Formerly Known As Becky

  • "What do you want to be when you grow up, DragonMonkey?"
    "I want to live with you."
    "No, I mean... you can be anything!  A cowboy, a police officer, the president, an astronaut - well, maybe not an astronaut with the way the space program's going, but still.  Anything.  What do you want to be?"
    "I want to live with you."
    "No, DragonMonkey, that doesn't count.  I mean, you just can't sit there and have your life's ambition be to sit on my sofa the rest of your life.  You can be a soldier, or a hunter, or a businessman, or a chef, or ride horses, or drive garbage trucks, or anything!  What do you want to be?"
    "I don't wanna leave.  I just wanna stay here and live with you."
    "No, no... when you're older!  When you're a man, like Dada."
    "I just wanna stay with you.  I don't wanna go.  I just live with you, okay Mama?"
    "Here, let's ask your brother.  Squid?  What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    "A gawbage truck."
    "See, DragonMoney?  See how it works?  Squid wants to grow up and drive a garbage truck.  That sounds like a fun thing to--"
    "No, Ma.  A GAWBAGE TRUCK."
    "Wait, so you're telling me you don't want to drive them, you want to BE a garbage truck?"
    "Yes, Ma."
    "Nevermind.  I give up.  You can grow up and be a giant metal truck and you can grow a goatee and lounge on my sofa and play video games."
    "What's a goatee?"
    "Nevermind.  I need more coffee."

  • The truth is, you just can't eat away your problems.  But, maaaaaan, today it is not for lack of trying.

  • It's such a nice, cool day.  I think it would be lovely weather to forget I'm wearing a sweatshirt before I pick a fight with Caspian that involves me running up and down a giant hill in 92 degrees.

  • New favorite quote:  "Being home with kids all day is just the loneliest never-alone thing.  Like living in a cave filled with malfunctioning Teddy Ruxpins."

  • The Bean loves his car more than anyone I've ever met.  He washes and details it weekly, even in the dead of winter.  Nobody is allowed to eat or drink in it.  The boys are only allowed in there in a dire emergency...

    Which is why I'm having such a hard time not laughing at him while he's on the phone with our insurance company, trying to to explain to them that he needs a new bumper.  Why does he need a new bumper?  Well, because on the way home tonight a raccoon fell from the sky and landed on his car.  I mean, it's terrible, Bean.  We're so lucky.  It could have been so much worse, and I'm so glad you're okay, and I know how much your car means to you. I'm so, so sorry.  But.... Dude.  Your car is getting pelted by airborne animals magically falling from the sky.  It's a teensy bit funny.


  • I didn't spill two glasses of water all over my stuff at the writer's conference.  Nope.  Not me.  I just tripped and fell down the stairs while on my way to clean up after someone else spilled two glasses of water all over my stuff.

  • Phew! I don't stink.  For a bit there I thought I was struggling with terrible B.O.  It's just cat pee all over my shirt.  What a relief.

  • "No, I not need any underwear.  I just gonna let my penis dry out for a little bit."  Well.....well, alrighty then.  I think I liked it better when they couldn't talk.

  • "When I grow up, and I gonna be a man, I not gonna have any kids."
    "Really?  Why not, DragonMonkey?"
    "Well, they too noisy, and they put their dirty hands everywhere, and you have to wash them.  They make a racket - a big, loud racket, and I not want them to be noisy and get my house all messed up."
    "Where the heck did you learn the term 'make a racket'?  Wait... that's not important.  So you don't want kids because they might be noisy and make a mess?  You want to grow up and be childfree?"
    "Yeah, when I grow up and be a man."
    "DRAGONMONKEY, I don't think I've ever heard a more hypocritical statement in my life.  It's, like, covered in layers and layers of hypocrisy.  It's a hypocrisy lasagna."
    "What, Mama?"
    "Nevermind. No.  I'll accept and even admire childfree statements from anybody in this entire universe except for you.  After what you're putting me through, you are not allowed to have any peace in our house.  You are going to grow up, get married, and have 14 children.  With food allergies.  And colic.  And oppositional defiant disorder."
    "But I not want any little babies.  I just wanna grow up  with a quiet house. I gonna marry Vivianna, and we gonna have a quiet house.  A clean house."
    "Nope.  Not allowed."

  • Men's boxers.  Borrowed dress pants.  A nursing tank top.  Why, yes, it is time for me to do laundry.  How can you tell?

  • September

  • One book survived the hard drive crash.  One did not.  That's all the computer I can handle for one day.

  • Home at 10:15 pm. Back on the road at 4:30 am.  Friends don't let friends become public accountants.

  • 7:30 in the morning and he has now reached the hysterical hiccup stage of crying.... because I won't let him wear two popped collars to the second day of kindergarten.  Not only am I a failure as a parent (popped collars?  TWO OF THEM???), but it's too early to start drinking.

  • "Mom?  Do cows have meat inside of them?"
    "Yes, it's beef.  Like hamburgers."
    "Do chickens have meat in them?"
    "Sweetie, you know that answer already.  Chickens are made out of chicken."
    "Do people have meat in them?"
    "....look! I found some cookies! Want a cookie?"

  • "MOOOOOM!  DragonMonkey put his foot in my fan!"
    "He WHAT?"
    "No I didn't, Squid.  I put my fingers in it.  HURRY, MOM!"
    "Yeah.  Come upstairs and look."
    "Why?  Why would you do such a thing?"
    "Because he touched my fan.  And it's HOT, so it's MY FAN.  You should hurry.  I'm bleeding."
    ".... you don't sound like you're bleeding."
    ".....I'm not actually bleeding."
    "Yeah, I didn't think so."
    "But it hurts.  HURRY, MOM."
    "Well, I bet it hurts.  That's kind of why we don't put our fingers in fans.  You're lucky the tip of it didn't get chopped off."
    "It does hurt."
    "Well, I'm sure it does, but I'm not coming up there.  If you're gonna be dumb enough to stick your fingers in a fan, that's your problem.  I'm not climbing the stairs to your bedroom just because you're dumb.  Close the door and go back to bed and don't be dumb again."
    "....okay, Mom.  G'night."
    "Night, DragonMonkey."

  • Trying to figure out Twitter is like sitting all alone at a table in the school cafeteria, mumbling to yourself.  I mean, not that I would know anything about that.  I was totally the cool kid in school.  Everyone idolized me and admired my fashion sense.  I swear.

  • DONE!  Beat every goal I had for the half marathon right out of the water, despite my iPod dying at mile five.  Not only did I cross the finish line, but I ran the entire time, and I came in at 3:15 when I originally hoped for 3:30.  The last three miles were the closest I've ever come to heat stroke, and everyone at the finish line was speaking.... Russian?  Wingdings?  They switched to English after I got the first five or six glasses of water in me.  Also, I didn't cry from happiness like I normally do when I cross the finish line.  Nope.  Instead, I spent the first three miles crying from the beauty of it all.  Three. Miles. Of. Crying.  Races do weird things to me.


  • One pound of Tillamook mild cheddar cheese.  Seven Taco Bell hard shelled tacos.  One loaf of Udi's gluten-free bread.  Two apples.  One stick of butter.  Artemis, I hope your stomach hurts you.  Bad.  And for the record, I threw away your tennis ball.  Take that.

  • Becky Bean:  Single-handedly making childfree citizens feel smugly content with their choices since 2008.

  • I've traded in the Santa Anas for the Pineapple Express.... and for the record, that is an absolutely ridiculous name for a weather thingie, and I find it hard to take people seriously when they drop it in regular conversation.

  • Listening to two 3 year olds have a conversation is even worse than being stuck behind the bar listening to two really drunk girls trying to convince each other that he didn't deserve you, and you're too good for him anyways.

  • Holy crap.  I just picked up the DragonMonkey from school, and all of a sudden he can read.  My not-very-good Friday just got awesome.

  • My parents took the boys for the evening so I planned a romantic night with The Bean. When the weather stole those plans we went out for dinner instead.  Now we are back at home.

    My makeup turned out just right, my hair is laying in shiny curls over my shoulder... I'm in my sexiest shirt and my best fitting jeans.  The lights are low, and I am lighting candles as the radio plays soft tunes from the 40s.  I approach the Bean, who looks up at me with hooded eyes.

    "You ready for this?" I speak low, barely above a whisper.  He nods at me, his eyes locked on mine.  "Take your shirt off," I say.  The air between us is heated, steamy.  I hold my breath and look down at the man I married, and then I lean forward.....

    And try not to breathe as I smear gloppy Vick's vapor rub all over his chest, the vaporizer on the floor between us fogging my glasses and overpowering the light perfume I applied earlier.  Eau de Menthol is the new "it" scent, right?

    Saturday night, 8pm, we're not broke, no children, I'm not sleepy.... and the Bean has a bad cold.  Now I'm sitting on the edge of the tub, sulking.  DAGNABIT.

  • "Never touch a downed power line, even with a stick."  Word-for-word from Channel Two news that they just flashed across the screen.  Hey, Oregonians?  I'm a little concerned they had to emphasize the "EVEN with a stick."  C'mon.  We can do better than this.

  • Things that are edible:  Cinnamon rolls. Green curry.  Ice cream.  Tamales.  Misbehaving children.  Just sayin'.


  • If you need me I'm "gone ridin' ".   ON THE BEACH.  REPEAT:  I'M ABOUT TO RIDE A  HORSE ON THE BEACH.  I lied yesterday.  Being an adult rocks.

  • You know how horses get all territorial and deliberately (however nonchalantly) pee on their hay, and then they can't eat it, but man, they sure showed those other horses?  That's what it's like owning an immune system with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  You go, you bada@@ mofo.  You eat that knee.  Everyone's totally going to respect you now.

  • Things that are difficult;  Counting your hair.  Organic Chemistry.  Summertime ultra-marathons in the desert.  Trying to fatten up a super skinny dog when your other dog is a black Labrador.

  • Anyone who doesn't think that ADHD is a real thing has never sat bolt upright and thought, "CRAP, I have to give a speech tomorrow on writing - and not only did I completely forget to prepare, I have no idea where I even left my notes from that one conference."  And then you think, "I should do this right now before I forget again.  Maybe my notes are in that notebook in my car?"  So you go to get your keys to unlock the car, except the normal keys have been lost for almost a week, and you're stuck with that silly backup key that has no clip, so you keep having to stick it in your pocket.... Only when you go to get the key, it's not there, but there is a giant wheel of Mexican cheese in your pocket.

    Have you been walking around town all morning with a giant unopened wheel of Queso Ranchero in your pocket?  Why, yes.  Yes, you have and now it's getting warm and gross. Why is it even there?  I mean, obviously you put it there, but you have no memory of doing it.  You should put it in the fridge, but you wanted to make enchiladas today, and you need to double check that there's salsa - crap, there isn't.  You need to pick some up, except.  Double crap.  Where are those keys? You've been meaning to look for them, but you keep forgetting, and now you're carting around your spare key, the one that only fits in your pocket and what the heck?  Why is there a giant package of cheese in your pocket?  That's gross.

    That was 11:00 am.  It's now 3pm.  I found an awesome estate sale with some really incredible stuff at great prices.  It was a bit embarrassing to reach into my jacket pocket for my debit card only to hand them cheese.  At least I found the Adderall pill I forgot to take tucked away in the lining of my other pocket, so I know I'm not suffering from early onset Alzheimer's. I can't decide if my memory is worse when I'm off my pills, because I've grown to rely on the chemical, or if it was always this bad and I didn't know how good life could be.  I wish I'd broken down earlier in life and gotten help - who knew I could be s productive with the aid of a  tiny pill?  Seriously, though.  It's 3pm and this cheese is gross.  I'm probably gonna have to toss it, except now my pocket feels kind of empty without the weight of it.  Also, I wish I knew where my keys were.


  • "Hey, Mommy?"
    "Yeah, DragonMonkey?"
    "Mommy, I love you."
    "Aww, thank you, sweetie.  I love you, too."
    "HEY, MOMMY?"
    "Shh, not so loud, Squid.  Yes?"
    "I love.... I love..... Mommy, I love candles."
    "....Okay, that's nice."
    "Yeah, I can blow them out!  I love candles."

  • On our way to cut down a Christmas tree.  We asked the boys what their favorite Christmas song was.  Their answer?  Halloween.  Halloween is their favorite Christmas song.

  • I unloaded the box of ornaments...and found a wadded up breast pump shield.  What the....? So I immediately put it in the tree as an ornament, but The Bean found it and made me take it down :(

  • I wish it was a thing to say "I need a book" in the same exhausted tones of someone saying "I need a drink", and instead of looking confused everyone would understand exactly what you meant and would murmur, "First chapter's on me" in sympathetic tones as they handed you a five.  I really wish this was a thing, don't you?"

  • Sometimes, when I'm feeling optimistic, I like to think of it not as a smoke alarm, but more of a gentle signal that it's time to get creative and try a new recipe for dinner.

  • You know how it is - when you wake up from a deep sleep at 1 am with the sudden urge to play tag, and then vomit, and then a rousing game of hide-and-go-seek, and then a pillow fight and bite war before nodding off at 3 or 4 in the morning?  No?  You don't?  You mean it's just my kids?

  • Slet In Tow!  Slet In Tow! SLETIN WOT!  Sot Wi!
    I really wish the boys would quit rearranging the "Let It Snow" window clings. It's feeling less like Christmas and more like we're trying to speak Parseltongue.

  • No, sons.  We do not open up presents at 2:30 am.  Go to bed before Mama eats you AND your presents.

  • Watching my dogs express their affection for one another by licking each other's eyeballs is slowly turning me into a cat person.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Oregon

What a terrible time to get sick.

There was so much I wanted to do with the boys today.  It's Christmas eve, and I'm a huge Christmas fanatic.  It's not just my belief in God, either.  I like the colors, I like the twinkly lights, I like the way Christmas trees smell, I like the comfort food, I like the happiness, I like the cold weather....

I just plain like Christmas.

At first I thought I was just feeling lazy, so I tried to perk myself up by getting dressed up and putting on a full face of makeup.... but by mid afternoon I had to be honest with myself.  My throat hurt.  My bones hurt.  I felt like I was swimming through a fog, a haze of weak malaise.

Ugh.  Sick.

The Bean was my hero all day long - it was his first day of vacation, and instead of relaxing he took point with the boys all day.

And oh, oh what boys they were.  It's as if they could scent weakness on me, and little predators they decided to go on the attack using their favorite weapon:  spastic hyperactivity.

They ran.  They wrestled.  They squealed.  They screamed.  They laughed.  They fought.  They laughed again.  They vaulted off of furniture, the walls, each other, the dog, our sanity......

The Bean was my hero today - not only did he encourage me to sprawl on the couch and ignore the kids, he scrubbed the entire kitchen, did about five loads of laundry, and vacuumed.

Sometimes, I swear, that man is the sexiest man on earth.

Initially we were planning on spending the morning with Caspian, the afternoon with friends, the evening at a candlelit service, then coming home and baking cookies for Santa.

Instead we did none of the above.  We did let the dogs run up at the school, so there was that.

Sunny and t-shirt weather.... really, Oregon?  On Christmas Eve?

I can feel the puppies moving, so I know she's pregnant, but really.  Least pregnant-looking-dog EVER.

For the record, my dogs are gorgeous.  GORGEOUS.

Although some of them have more drive than practicality. It's okay, Artemis.  We love you.

By 7 tonight both Bean and I were reaching the end of our rope with our boys.  They'd sucked every ounce of Christmas spirit out of us, along with every ounce of patience.  They'd skipped naps, been running for hours straight, and in our attempt to physically exhaust them we had only exhausted ourselves.

I tried talking them into letting us put cheese puffs in a bowl for Santa instead of cookies, but they weren't buying it.  We finally compromised with a piece of cake my unbelievably talented neighbor baked for us.  I don't remember what kind if it is called - it's gluten free vanilla coconut cheese cake something-or-other and it tastes like sunshine and angels singing

Whatever it is, "Santa" can't wait to eat it, even though she... err, he would have been happy with a bowl of cheese puffs, too.

Earlier in the day the DragonMonkey had been very concerned about leaving the milk out for Santa.

"Does Santa like rotten milk?"

"What?  No.  Nobody likes rotten milk."

"But are we going to give him milk and cookies?"

"If you want to put out milk and cookies tonight, we can.  We can make the cookies together and decorate them this afternoon."  (This was back when I just thought I was having a lazy morning.)

"But if we put out the milk too soon it will not be fresh, and it will taste rotten.  And if Santa tastes the rotten milk, he will vomit, and he will not leave any presents."

Welcome to the House of Bean, where Santa enjoys cheese puffs, eats gluten-free cake, and then vomits all over the living room.

Huh.  Now that I think about it, that whole scenario sounds depressingly normal.  That version of Santa would fit right in around here.

Anyways, we finally compromised and left Santa a note that the milk was in the fridge.  Considering the day both boys had, I decided to offer them one last chance to plead their remorse in the note.  The spoke and I wrote, transcribing their words exactly, word-for-word.  I had to ask them to pause from time to time, but I really did write it down exactly as it came out of their mouth.

Here was what DragonMonkey had to say:

"Dear Santa, 
Milk is in the fridge.  I hope, if you let me, I could probably find you another day.  If you have a remote control race car, please give it to me - if you have it in your bag. There's a slice of cake for you on the counter, and there's some cookies right by our coffee maker, if you want some."

Before I could protest about DragonMonkey trying to give away MY cookies to Santa without even asking, the Bean´╗┐ walked into the kitchen with Coyote (aka Little Kitty) in his arms and made a joke about Santa leaving something for the kitty under the tree.  DragonMonkey overheard him, and the note took on a much darker note.

"If you have mice in your sled, please bring in the mice catcher and then leave it out for Little Kitty and rub it up (he meant wrap) with tape and a rubber band....if you have it in your sled. 

Love,DragonMonkey (and I'm six years old!)

Next it was the Squid's turn.  After three years of being mellow and sweet and wonderful, he is approaching four with all the finesse of a bus slamming into a brick wall at top speeds.  To be honest, if I felt even marginally healthier and if I knew of a store that was still open, I would go get some charcoal briquettes at the store and give him "coal" for Christmas.  He more than deserves it.

"Squid, it's your turn to leave a note for Santa.  You've been very naughty all day - do you have anything you want to tell Santa?"

Here is what he had to say to plead his case:

"Dear Santa, 

I want a remote control train, and a remote control dump truck...."

At this point I cut in.  "Squid, you're not supposed to be asking for stuff!  This is the last thing Santa will read before he leaves gifts here - IF he leaves gifts here. Is there anything you want to say, considering how horrible you behaved all day wrong?  That's what this note is about."

Dutifully reminded, he continued on:

"A remote control... two tractors!  Only one.... actually.. three!  Or four!  1, 2, 3, or four, or five!  or six!  And Sketcher shoes that run real fast, just like this!"

And then he took off, clomping and skittering around the house at full speed, showing just how fast a Squid with brand-new Sketcher shoes would run.

"Squid! Get back here!  You need to finish your note!"

And so he did:

"Love, DragonMonkey.  Cuz I'm DragonMonkey.  Yes I am!"

Sigh.  I tell him to plead his case and he asks for more presents and ends it with a lie.

Coal.  I'm telling you, that kid deserves coal!

On the other hand - I'd like to point out how eloquent DragonMonkey has become.  For all you moms  out there worrying about delayed speech and all that - keep in mind that the Dragonmonkey didn't speak intelligibly until he was almost four, and now he's able to use nearly-perfect grammar when instructing Santa how to rubber band wrapping paper over live mice so our cat has something to torture on Christmas morning.  Isn't that sweet of him?

As for us....

The boys are finally asleep in their beds, we have Country Christmas music playing on iHeart radio, the Bean is nearly finished wrapping gifts, and I think I'm gonna turn off the computer and just enjoy the warmth of my Oregon home.  Maybe I'll talk the Bean into putting down the scissors and sitting out on the porch while we listen to the rain fall on the porch roof.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 I call this photo:  The four Christmas elves: Happy, Dopey, I DON'T WANNA and TakeThePicAlready

Monday, December 22, 2014

Foster Fail - Update On Our New Dog

The new dog is awesome.

I was supposed to pick her up the evening of my November 6th post, but....

Sigh.  Craigslisters.

I've actually had awesome luck with Craigslist people since moving to Oregon - on a whole, they're much more reliable than California Craigslisters, so I guess I was overdue.  I was supposed to hit "publish" on that blog post, and then text for the address and head out. I even got someone to cover for me so I could leave work early, hired a babysitter, and....

And then the lady who was going to meet me couldn't find a ride.  Apparently she needed a ride to go get the dog from her friend's place - I couldn't go get the dog without her.

I couldn't tell if Ms. Craigslister was discreetly asking me to pick her up, but yeah.

No, I prefer to remain un-mugged, with my throat un-slit, thank you very much.

By 7pm that night  I told her it might be best for us to do it another day.  I didn't get a response from her until the evening of the next day, when I got a text saying hey, she'd found a ride, and could I head out to meet her?

I admit it - I ignored the text.  It wasn't very mature, but I was annoyed.  I'd taken time off of work the day before and was making up for it by working late.  I had a talk I was going  to give at the library the next day and needed to prepare, I needed to go grocery shopping, and didn't feel like dealing with Portland traffic with no warning.  I felt bad, as there was a dog in need, but.... but I was just so overwhelmed.

I asked her if we could do it on Saturday.... and once again I received no response until Saturday evening.  Look, for the record, if we ever need to meet up I should probably let you know I am not a night person.  By the time six pm hits I'm counting down the hours till baby bedtime and sweet, sweet, silence.  I'm up for any adventures in the morning.  Do you wanna explore a volcano at 7 in the morning?  SURE!  Wanna go hanggliding at dawn?  AWESOME!  Wanna paint a three story house?  LET ME GET MY DROP CLOTH!

By eight in the evening the only thing I'm good for is shooting people nasty looks and muttering "Get off my lawn" at stupidly cheerful night people.

I texted her back and suggested Sunday - she agreed.  I asked where we should meet up, and she quit responding.

I waited another couple of hours and followed up - where were we meeting?

She gave me a city.

I asked for more specifics.

She gave me the name of a giant street that was an hour's drive away and spanned the length of the entire city.

I asked for a little more detailed location - she gave me a generic cross street in the middle of the city.

I texted back.  "Are we meeting on the corner?  In the street?  In a building?  At a house?  Who am I meeting - you?  Your friend with the dog?  Can I get a little more info?"

She ignored it.

I asked again for more information on Sunday morning.  Finally I received:

"There's a McDonald's there."

And you know what?  McDonald's was perfect - because at that point there was no way in heck I was gonna meet anybody at a residence.  I also asked her who all was going to be there at the meeting - her?  The dog's owner?

 She ignored that, too.

Before I left I downloaded an app that showed my real-time location and shared it with The Bean and wrote down, just in case.  Call me paranoid, but I used to answer 911 phone calls.... and there is some really not-nice Craigslist stuff that goes down from time to time.

When I arrived I made sure to park half a mile away in a busy parking lot - I didn't want them knowing what kind of car I drove or what my license plate was. It may have seemed like overkill, but if it weren't for the fact there was a starving dog involved I would have cancelled the whole transaction a long time before.  I do not trust strangers who are deliberately vague with details when I am driving to meet them.

I walked through unfamiliar city to the world's most hidden McDonald's - if it weren't for my phone's GPS, I never would have found it.  I arrived about 10 minutes early and texted for the third time - "How will I recognize you?  Are you walking?  In a car?"

"C u soon"

(Yes, I'm currently obsessed with expressing myself in .gifs.  Whatever.   Just enjoy the majesty.

By this point I was really weirded out and decided to turn my phone on silent and wait inside the McDonald's.  If I didn't like the look of the people I was going to ignore them when they showed up and pretend to be just another person eating my fries.

About 15 minutes past our agreed meetup time I saw my phone ringing was ringing.  I looked out the window and felt a wave of relief -  two nice, generic, skinny Portlandia chicks who I could totally take in a fight unless they knew kung fu.  PHEW.

I went out and waved them down.  They parked the car and as soon as Ms. Cragislister opened the car door, a wiry little shepherd mix bounded out of it.  She was mostly shepherd, with a square body, overly-long radar ears, a beautiful thick coat, and as soon as she saw me she danced straight towards me, crshing into my lower legs in one of those I'm-half-on-my-back/half-sitting/please-pet-my belly moves. She looked up at me with big, sweet eyes, and my heart melted.

I scratched her belly while she wagged her tail between her eyes, and raised my eyes to Ms. Cragislister.  "Hey, I'm glad to see you're a chick - I was beginning to get nervous at the way you were avoiding answering questions directly.  I was worried you might be Jeffrey Dahmer when you didn't text back."

"I had to hold the dog."  She didn't return my smile.

I looked at the totally calm, off-leash dog leaning against my legs and had to wonder.

The dog had no leash, but I'd planned ahead and brought a choke collar and leash. I figured that going on a walk before the drive home would give her a chance to get to know me and also give me a chance to assess her.

I slipped the collar over her head, and as I did she sat at my feet politely, looking up at me with big, liquid, "Please be nice" eyes.

Ms. Craigslist started to get back into her car, so I called out.

"So, any ideas how old she is?  Does she have a name?"

"They called her Dixie, but you can call her whatever.  I think she's under two."

They started to close the door, so I spoke quickly.  "You said shepherd mix, and I see shepherd... any idea what the other half is?"

"Her mom was a shepherd - they said purebred.  They said the dad was maybe coyote."

And then they got in the car.  I tried to ask a few more questions before they left,  but they seemed to be in a hurry so I let them drive off.

I started walking back to my car - and realized I didn't even need a leash.  She was heeling perfectly. Good dog.  Very good dog.

Despite me letting her sniff multiple grassy spots she waited until we were in the middle of the world's loooongest crosswalk with the world's shooooortest red light before going poo.  I'd brought a baggie to pick up any mess on our walk, but the flashing red hand had already gone to solid, and I could tell the light was about to change even though I was only halfway through the intersection. I hunched my shoulders beneath the stares of a bazillion drivers as I literally dragged the skinny, still-pooping dog behind me, leaving a nice little trail of tootsie rolls behind us.


She loaded up like a champ and sat in the passenger seat, alternating between staring out the window with a resigned air and shooting me worried glances.

Depressed and bewildered

Please.  Please be kind to me.  Please. 

She was so much prettier than I expected.

I guess it's time for a confession:  I usually adopt pretty animals, or animals so ugly they're personable.

It's not very kind to the plain-jane pets, but in the back of my mind I'm always worried about what will happen if I run out of money, or if I have to suddenly join Witness Protection and my dogs end up in the pound, or if my kids develop a sudden-onset animal allergy and I have to sell all of them.

It's like, even as I'm assessing a pet, in the back of my mind I'm always thinking, "If this doesn't work out, would my ad linger on Craigslist for minutes or months?"

This was the first time I'd ever agreed to go rescue a dog sight-unseen, and I thought I was being very magnanimous by agreeing before I even saw a picture. Don't get me wrong -  I've fostered for adoption agencies before, but those places come with a "holy crap, take this animal back!" kind of built in.

Anyways, we drove home, I just kept shooting her incredulous glances. I just couldn't believe this dog was for real.  She was sweet.  She was kind.  She was pretty.  She was obedient, and had the personality I just absolutely LOVE - sensitive enough to bond, but not super needy or pushy.  If I'd custom-ordered her on the "dominance scale" chart, she couldn't have been more perfect - submissive, but not cringey.  She was smart but not super intelligent (those of you who had the "joy" of owning an intelligent dog know exactly what I'm talking about!)

These may not be traits everyone likes, but they are the kind of traits that I really mesh well with.  Plus - I'm a shepherd fanatic.  I got a lab because that was the kind of dog my boys needed, and she's gorgeous and awesome and everything I'd hoped for - but I have and will always love shepherds, especially shepherds with a sable coat.

The drive home was only an hour long, but even so, as I ran fingers through her thick, dull coat, sighing as my hands hit rib bones and hip bones, and realized:  Dude.  I think I'm about to be a big, fat, foster FAIL.  It was like I'd custom-ordered a dog and she was delivered by Craigslist.

The meeting between her and Artemis went okay - we took both dogs to the nearby track and just walked them until eventually we were walking around with both dogs completely ignoring each other.  Artemis was in a completely spastic, hyper mood so the new dog was understandably overwhelmed - I let them sniff a bit and play just a little bit off-leash, but mostly limited their interaction.  I felt like it would be better to keep them separated than have the first meeting go badly - and since I hadn't jogged Artemis or played fetch in two days (Bad me. Bad), it was a recipe for failure.

I gave Artemis rawhide bone and put her in my bedroom, and let Sudo loose in the house.

She went immediately to our giant pot of water (Artemis is the world's MESSIEST drinker, and it cuts the water dripping down by half) and began drinking.

And drinking.

And drinking.

And drinking.

And drinking.

And drinking.

And drinking.

Dehydrated dog.  Just add copious water.

I finally got nervous about electrolyte imbalance so I picked it up and only allowed her access about once an hour.  Each time I did she drank an absolutely insane amount - poor thing.

She has a beautiful, thick coat so her thinness didn't really show in photos very well, much in the same way a thick winter coat will hide a too-thin horse's condition.  She was thin, though, and oooooh, how she smelled.  It wasn't her fur - it was her breath, or her skin, or all of the above.  Someone on Facebook brought up the fact that it was the smell of ketones as her body was in starvation mode, and it made sense.  I'm still frustrated I didn't pick her up and weigh her when I got her.   Ms. Cragislister had texted "She's about 35-40 pounds but she should be more like 50 or 60 pounds." It's tough to say,  but I think she was right - I do think she was around 35-40 pounds when she arrived.

I wanted to avoid upsetting her system or refeeding syndrome, so I didn't do anything crazy - I tried to gauge what a dog her size should eat, and then I halved that and fed that several times a day for the first day or so.  From there I gradually increased the amount every day until she was eating slightly more than I thought a 50-60 pound dog should eat.  I didn't want to put weight on her too fast - it seemed like it would be healthier on her metabolism to have her slowly put the weight back on rather than plumping her up all at once.  

She didn't respond to the name she came with, and I've never been one who has issues renaming an animals, so it didn't take us long to come up with a new name.

I kind of wish we'd waited a couple of days longer - about five days after we named her I stumbled across "Keeper" and I realized it fit her perfectly....

But by then we were already set on Sudo.   I have to admit, the name still makes me laugh.  (It's a computer Linux command  - when you use it, it kind of forces your computer to accept your command, no matter what.  "No barking.  No barking.  Sigh.  Sudo, no barking.  Thank you.")

It took the boys awhile to figure out her name - they called her Noodle or Poodle for almost a week - and to be honest, I still refer to her as Sudo the Noodle.

And I know I'm a total foster fail... but, I mean... look.  Could you resist her?

Anyways, it's been a lot of fun watching Sudo fatten up and learn how to have fun. 

Day 2:  "May I?  Really? May I really go play?"

It's also been fun fattening her up.

I'm a huge fan of Royal Canin dog food- when we bought Artemis I went to this super posh, super knowledgeable pet store that I trusted and asked them to pick me out the best puppy food they could recommend.

They said a bunch of words I didn't listen to, and I walked out the store with ridiculously expensive bag of dog food: Royal Canin Labrador puppy something-or-other.  I figured I'd feed her the awesome food the first month or two, and then wean off to something more affordable.

Only, even after she shed her puppy coat she still had the softest, shiniest coat of any Labrador I'd ever come across.  Sad as it is to say, I'm such a  cheapskate that I would have changed anyways, but....

Artemis never smells.


To put that into context, I don't give my dogs baths.  Ever.  I also don't brush them.  I know, I know.  I suck.

It's not that I don't clean them off.  Of course I do!  When Artemis gets muddy or filthy, like any good dog owner  I drive her down to the river and I throw the ball into the river a couple of times and let her swim around to her heart's content.

By the time she's done she's no longer muddy.  See?  I'm not being a bad owner, I'm just being efficient, and letting her scrub herself.  It's a positive trait.

When I think she's clean enough I then throw the ball a couple of times on dry land so she runs most of the "wet" off, and I bring her home.

I put her in her kennel so she doesn't make my couch wet, and in an hour or so I let her out.

When I do that... SHE. DOESN'T. SMELL. LIKE. WET. DOG.  I mean, there's still a slight scent in her kennel, but usually the smell of wet dog has a way of just working its way throughout an entire house.

I used to think it was a magical ability she had - like, if you buy a super expensive purebred puppy they won't smell bad like those plebian rescue dogs (it's a joke, people)...

But then we had a couple of months where money was super tight and we had to switch Artemis from Royal Canin to Ol' Roy (fifty pounds for $19.98.  Thanks, Walmart!)

After about a month on the food I noticed I was having to vacuum twice as often.

After two months on the food she got muddy, so I took her to the river to swim.... and my car smelled like wet dog for the rest of the day.  Let's not even talk about what my bedroom smelled like after she'd been in her kennel drying off.

Anyways, there's your free advertising, Royal Canin.  I don't endorse stuff much, but I really like your product.

Okay, Royal Canin people, you can stop reading now.

(Cough, cough, discreet cough:  I'm not gonna say that their dog food is unbelievably expensive, because it would be super rude of me to do that.... but, yeah.  It kind of is.  It's worth it, but... yeah. It's pretty pricey.  For cheapskates like me who can only afford to pamper their pets on the "good" months, I recommend stretching it out on the "bad" months by adding rice and sweet potato to each meal. It probably ruins the scientific perfection of it, or whatever, but their food is so protein-dense that I figure it's probably healthier than switching back to Ol' Roy. Cough)

Anyways, here's a photo of Sudo when I got her vs. and a photo from yesterday.  I suppose I should be all fancy photo blogger and take a better, less-blurry "after" picture, but then I'd have to stand up, and I'm feeling really lazy today.

Before (Day 1) and After (Yesterday, day 42 )

Anyways, part of the reason I haven't updated on her is because I've been sitting around waiting to figure out what she's *really* like.  I mean, sure she was perfect when I got her, but I wanted to report on her *reaaaaal* personality.

"She'd probably like kids" Ms. Craigslist said.  She was right. 

Except... it's been six weeks now, and yeah.  Sorry.  I just happen to have stumbled across the perfect dog.  I wish it were possible to clone her and hand her perfection out to everyone.

....aaaand then I was petting her the day before yesterday and I realized - sigh.  I just might be able to.

I was looking at her the other day, trying to place what her other "half" might be.  She has long, thin legs and a coyote-way of moving, but I've met half coyote dogs before, and she definitely wasn't half coyote.

At first I suspected Australian cattle dog based on the squareness of her head and a certain squareness to her muzzle, but as she gained weight I realized that was just combo of dehydration and hunger making her head appear so large and square.

Catahoula?  Dobie?  Who knows?

I've taken to introducing her as a German shepherd/hound dog.  When she barks there's a distinctive "baying" undernote to it, and based on her facial markings I've heard "hound" suggested quite a few times, so I've just decided to roll with it.

Besides - she's still a bit ribby, but she has absolutely no underline:

That's okay, we love her anyways even if she doesn't have a Scarlett O'Hara waist.  I tell her that, too.  I even said it to her last night.    "Poor little girl - it's okay.  I love you even if you don't have a tiny waist."  Sudo, quite willing to believe I'd love her no matter what, flopped down on her back, tail wagging as she invited a belly scratch.

"You're so pretty we don't mind at all that you're all thick and square and matronly, do we?  Do we, ugly little girl?"  (Shut up.  You baby talk your dogs your way, I'll baby talk my dogs my way.)

Sudo opened her mouth and smiled at me, tail wagging softly as she enjoyed a good belly scratch..... and as I scratched I realized I kept bumping into her teats - something that didn't used to happen.


I stopped scratching, and Sudo rolled over into her favorite resting sphinx position.

"Oh, phew.  Okay.  For a second there you looked kind of.... oh, nevermind. Who's a good dog?  You want a belly rub?  Roll on over and...."

Double uh-oh. 

It was like one of those photos that change when you move your head from side to side. - from above she looked normal.   From underneath or the side....  Well, she looked pregnant.  I guess I wasn't completely surprised, because I could tell she was coming out of season when I brought her home.  If I'd thought she could have handled the stress of a big surgery I might have gone to the next day to get her spayed, but she was so skinny I've been waiting until she's nice and healthy - probably some time in mid January.

Only.... only I really, really, REALLY did not remember her teats standing out that much.  I stopped in my scratching reached down and tested one - and was more than a little dismayed at what came out.

Hey, 26 year old Becky, in seven years you will be, married, have two kids, and be sitting in your Oregon living room squeezing dog nipples and forcing people to look at the gross stuff that comes out. Oh, yeah.  That's right. You're still the life of the party, man.   But at least one thing is cool: you've matured enough to realize that you should  probably hide close-up photos of discharge coming out of your dog's nipples so readers don't have to explain themselves to anyone passing by who happens to glance at the computer screen.   See?  People can change.  Go you.  

Click to see my dog's hairy nipples

  Click to see gross stuff coming out of my dog's hair nipples. Also, for the record, I am very concerned what that last sentence is going to do in terms of the search terms people use to find my blog

So... yeah.   I'm not going to say she's absolutely 100% pregnant - I would need x-rays for that,  but I'm pretty sure I feel puppies rolling around, and she's got big bewbs that leak stuff, and...

And there was this whole other thing I had written here about stuff I learned from this possible dog pregnancy, but once I was done writing it I realized it was kind of off-topic, and besides, I had actually created the LONGEST POST IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD, so I cut it and I'll post it in a day or two.

Anyways - we'll see.  I've owned Sudo for 43 days.  It's hard to say, but she could have been a week to two weeks pregnant when I got her.  Of course, she could have been only two days pregnant.  She also could not be pregnant at all, because I brought her in for any X-rays.

Irregardless, I think it's safe to assume she was about a week pregnant when I picked her up... which means she's about 50 days pregnant.  Dogs whelp between 56-65 days (63 days is average), so... so we'll see. I borrowed a blue plastic kids' pool and set up a whelping area in my closet, and got all sorts of supplies just in case.... so, we'll see.

Also, I used irregardless just to annoy my grammar nazi friends.  Hah.  Made you cringe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We Need A Cuss Jar

"Mommy, can I get an ice cream from McDonald's?"

Ever since I started carrying gluten-free ice cream cones in the back of my car, the DragonMonkey has been obsessed with the dollar soft serve ice creams from McDonald's.  I can't say I blame him - he's been eating it out of a cup for so many years that using a cone is almost more of a treat than the ice cream itself.

Unfortunately, we were late.  We had places to go, and besides - I didn't feel like stopping.  "Sorry, kid.  No ice cream today."

He sighed - a resigned, almost adult sound that drifted from the backseat.  "Damnit." He said it under his breath,  in a soft, quiet little voice.... just not quiet enough.

My head whipped around so fast I heard my neck crack.  "WHAT?  WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?"

The DragonMonkey hunched down beneath my gaze, trying to fold in on himself.  This wasn't the first time we'd talked about "bad words".  It would be nice to blame his newfound appreciation for cussing on the kindergarten riffraff at school.... but since I've already had one very embarrassing talk with his teachers about the DragonMonkey's potty mouth, I'm coming to the realization that my son might very well be the riffraff.

So, we've been cleaning up our language as of late... although, apparently, not enough.  Hunching his shoulders, the DragonMonkey lowered his head, his hair sliding forward over his eyes in an effort to hide himself from my angry glare.  Effective though it might be, I realized I probably shouldn't be shooting my glare-of-death towards the backseat while I was driving the car, so I turned back to face road.

"Young man, we do NOT use language like that, do you hear me?"

He opened his mouth to apologize, already nodding, when he was interrupted by the Squid.

"What'd you say?  What'd you say?  Mama, what'd he say?" Apparently the Squid needed to know the exact bad word that had been said so he could avoid saying it.

If that doesn't make sense to you, then you're probably not three years old.

"Squid, it's not important."

"Which bad word?  Which bad word you say, DragonMonkey?"  Squid was not about to be deterred. Someone had said a bad word, and by golly, he was gonna get to the bottom of the mystery.

"Squid, it doesn't matter what word your brother said, only that it was a very, very, very bad word-"

"NUH-UH!" the DragonMonkey interrupted.  "I didn't say a very, very, very bad word, I only said 'damnit'."

Ah, yes.  My kindergartener knows how to rank foul language.  Awesome.  I am a totally awesome mom.


"What?  What you say?  What word was it?"  Squid asked again, raising his voice to be heard over me.  He needed to know.  For... for science.


"I said 'damnit'," supplied my six year old.  He's helpful like that.


"I didn't say it again!  I was just telling Squid that I said 'damnit' cuz he asked."


"No, Mama," said the ever-helpful Squid, rising to the defense of his brother.  "He just say 'damnit' to me, not a bad word damnit."

"DAMNI--- I mean, darn it boys, would you guys quit saying damn it?"

Cuss jar.

Bean, we really, really, really need to get that cuss jar going.

Monday, December 1, 2014


I lean back against the walls, trapping my hands behind me at the small of my back so I can hide the restless tapping of my fingers.

It seems the health care team is in the middle of something with Wayne no matter what time of day I come- bathing, changing, moving him into his chair, trimming nails.....

It's a good sign, I guess.  I remind myself it's a good sign.  A nursing home that takes care of its patients is a very good thing.

Still.  His room is so small I feel awkward just standing there waiting, so I generally excuse myself and wait in the hall.  It feels better than just staring at them while they train the constantly-new staff.

High turnover rate probably isn't a good thing.

I shake my head, pushing the thought out of my head.  It's not my place to say anything.  I'm the help - or rather, was the help.  I suppose I'm just a friend now, since my last day working for the family was last Tuesday.  I guess I don't really need to be visiting when Wayne calls my phone late at night, but I can't help myself.

Six months, nine hour shifts, sometimes as much as forty hours a week with Wayne... how can you suddenly shut it off when you're no longer paid to care?

You can't, which is why I am here, tapping out my hidden sorrow against a freshly-painted wall.

One of the residents approaches me in a wheelchair.   The hallways are a slowly busy place, although the residents foot-pedal their wheelchairs on their circuitous routes at such a glacial pace that it's not hard to avoid the traffic jams. I tense as she wheels closer, preparing to step out of her way as she drifts from barely moving to not moving.  Eventually it becomes obvious she's stopped, so I relax again, fingers still tapping quietly.

From the way her watery brown eyes glance around I'm not sure she's aware where she is, much less why she's stopped.  I wait for her to move her eyes to mine, then smile and nod.  It's a fake smile - all tight lips and no teeth, but it's better than nothing.  I hate small talk and the fake social niceties that make the world go around, but for them, for these lost, forgotten founts of wisdom, I make the effort.
It feels like the least I can do.

"Hello," I say, and nod again.

Her eyes focus in on mine, and her brows pull together.  "Why?"  She pauses, then asks again in a voice laced with pain.  "Why?"

My heart sinks.  It's her.  It's the "Why" woman.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped making my night visits to Wayne, even though it was really the best time for both of us.  He was always more alert at night, and by 8 my kids are sleeping in their beds so I don't feel pressed for time.  It was working out surprisingly well for us - I would bring him a coffee, and the two of us would talk as I decompressed from my day, sharing stories until he tired .  Sometimes I rub talc onto his back - being bedridden makes the skin so itchy, and it has always relaxed him.

I didn't mind the late bed time or shortened sleep.  I didn't even mind the howl of the "Help" man from the end of the corridor.  Help Man never sounded like he needed help - he just sounded argumentative. The few times I'd peeked in on him he'd been perfectly fine, just angry.  He probably had his reasons, but there's only so many concerns I can shoulder at once.

But the "Why" woman.  The "Why" woman tore at my heart.


It was a quavering, hopeless sound, and the implications ripped at me until I felt raw and bloody.  When she would start up I would excuse myself and go home after only 10 minutes of visiting with Wayne.   I couldn't take it any longer than that.

Evenings were easier for my schedule.  They were easier... but they were hard, so hard I stopped visiting at night.  And yet, despite my careful planning, there she is in front of me, gaze boring into mine.


"Hi.  I'm Becky," I say, trying to change the subject, and this time I try a little harder with my fake smile.

She waits, eyes looking into mine.  I break first, my gaze skittering off to the side as I fake the need to look around the corner, chasing after an interesting sound that doesn't exist.

She pulls me back with her despair.  "Why?"

A million answers come to mind, all of them truthful..... none of them kind, none of them helpful.  I should be able to do this. I've worked with the elderly for years.  If you have your defenses in place you can sing a song of conversation, tripping lightly from sadness to a happiness, although the joy is usually too-soon forgotten.  All you need to do is redirect the conversational stream.  It's a dance I'm skilled at, but today... today I've forgotten my props, and all I have left is raw honesty.

"I don't know."

She shakes her head, not surprised.  The silence falls between us.  I want to flee, but I promised Wayne I'd wait and return, and it seems rude to run away.

Besides, if she has the strength for her reality then I should be able to handle it for longer than thirty seconds, right?


The silence stretches between us, and I can feel her growing restless with the need to ask again, so I try to redirect her.

"That is the most beautiful ring," I say, motioning at her hands.  It is, too - a deceptively simple double band of silver that twists on itself, reminiscent of the infinity symbol.

She stares at it, thumb twisting the band.

"It's amazing.  Where did you get it?"

She looks up at me, and I can see her mouth open, ready to ask again, so I cut her off.  It's rude, I know, but maybe she'll just think I have no class.

"Of course, maybe it's just your hands.  I'm starting to wish I brought gloves," I say with forced cheer, looking down at my cracked nails, the horse dirt shining from under each nail - brown rings of courage lent to me from Caspian that very afternoon.  "My hands are a mess, but yours are gorgeous.  Did you get a manicure?  Your nails are gorgeous."

She looks down at her hands, at the paper-soft skin with soft wrinkles.  Her well-shaped nails with their fresh red nail polish seem out of place in a home where "a night out" means scooting yourself with your heels through fluorescent hallways to watch tv in the common room instead of by yourself.

"Well, I think I'm going to go check on my friend.  Have a great afternoon!"  I flash another bright, too-fake smile and turn away.  I know they won't be done with Wayne for another few minutes, but I'm hoping in vain to for enough space between us so I don't have to hear her soft, hopeless voice when it calls out again.