Archive for January, 2010

January 25, 2010

life list

1. visit kenya and stay in the giraffe manor

2. spend time in an ashram in a silent meditation retreat

3. buy an old barn and rehab it into a home

4. live in a treehouse

5. live in a foreign country for an extended period of time

6. take a honeymoon with my husband…somewhere warm and tropical

7. grow a real veggie garden and eat fresh produce all summer

8. read the major works in all world religions

9. run a real marathon (i’ve run the whole 26.2 before as part of a training program, i just never did the actual race)

10. become a yogi

11. survive motherhood the second time around

12. learn to swing on a trapeze

13. watch my daughter perform in a dance recital

14. knit a wearable pair of gloves

15. take voice lessons

16. see the sunset in santorini

17. travel by train through europe

18. make homemade ice cream

19. bring orange slices to my kids’ soccer games at half-time

20. go a month (or maybe just a week) without spending any money

21. conquer fear by donning a beekeeper’s suit and tending to a swarming hive of bees

22. take my husband to a world cup soccer game

23. sell a photograph that i’ve taken

24. tour an aircraft carrier

25. organize a parade

26. get carl kasell’s voice on my home answering machine

27. perfect a “go to” menu (with all the courses) that i can whip up for guests on short notice

to be continued….

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January 25, 2010

i’m 32 but…

i still can’t shake the idea that the boogieman is lurking outside darkened windows at night

i peer at the end of rainbows to search for the pot of gold

i believe in magical thinking, evil curses, and the power of a good abracadabra!

i laugh at the same jokes that i did when i was in junior high

i’m still trying to figure out what i want to be when i grow up

January 25, 2010

another year older

yesterday was my 32nd birthday, or alternatively, it was the third anniversary of my 29th birthday.  my wonderful husband got up with the kiddo, allowing me to sleep in until 10 (whoohoo!)  he had a fresh pot of coffee brewing and a batch of sour cream pancakes (from the pioneer woman’s cookbook) cooking on the griddle when i finally stumbled downstairs.  coffee and carbs…the man knows the way to my heart, indeed.  he also surprised me with a new little digital camcorder thingamajig so i can easily capture all my babies’ precious moments in live-action living color.  i met a good friend for dinner in the evening and still made it home in time to take a bubble bath with my favorite girl.  this morning we dropped the kiddo off for a playdate with her best buddy so we could go enjoy a delicious brunch buffet sans child.  not that i wouldn’t have loved to have her there with us, but an all-you-can-eat baconfest is way more enjoyable without a picky toddler in tow.  after brunch i read an entire book and took a long nap this afternoon.  it really was a wonderful weekend.

January 11, 2010

the thing about rudy

five years ago i was seeing a therapist to work on some issues, yet i spent a surprising amount of time in those sessions talking about my dog’s anxiety and problematic behavior.  i wept and cried and sobbed about this dog.  she had arrived at the humane society as a stray.  it was clear that she had never had any obedience training, she had never walked on a leash before, she had possibly been mistreated.  i didn’t know her history, but i took her in anyway.  shortly after she arrived in my home i knew i was in over my head with her.  i cried to my therapist, i cried to the vet.  i gave her some doggie prozac, i took her too two different well-reputed canine behaviorists and three different training programs.   the meds didn’t seem to help at all, the training made some marked improvement in her behavior, but she was (and still is) far from being an exemplary canine citizen.

rudy’s a sweet girl, really; she wants to please people and she wants to be loved.  the biggest problem with her, though, is that she frequently goes from “oh, look!  another dog!  let’s play!” to “oh, look! another dog! must KILL!” in an instant.  not every single time she sees another dog, but frequently enough that we have to be on our toes whenever another dog comes around.  she’s gotten in enough vicious fights and caused enough harm for me not to feel comfortable allowing her to interact with other dogs, and unfortunately this means that we’ve had to limit the types of activities we can include her in, especially when children are present.  when i was about seven or eight months pregnant with my daughter, rudy attacked our great pyrenees (who has since passed away…don’t fret, his passing was due to old age.  he lived a long, happy life but developed arthritis and severe spinal stenosis and lost the ability to use his back legs so we made the humane decision to have him put to sleep after exhausting every treatment option available.)  during this fight i jumped between the two dogs, diving head first off the deck, landing on my very pregnant belly with my meaty arms thrust between gnashing jowls and sharp teeth, pulling the two dogs apart.  dumb move on my part, but it was instinctual.  it was not their first fight, nor their last, but it stands out in my head as the worst one, mostly because i was put in a very dangerous position.  i still see that fight in my head and shake with fear thinking how much worse it could have and would have been if there had been children around.  as a parent, that is simply not a risk i am willing to take.  so far, our dog has been great with our daughter (it’s a relationship we monitor vigilantly), but her behavior around other dogs is too unpredictable for us to potentially place our children in harm’s way should something “snap” in rudy’s little doggy brain around the kiddos.

for five-plus years we have made accommodations for this dog.  unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where we cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing.  i have a toddler, i’m pregnant, we’re going to have a new baby in a few months, i have a husband, i have a home to maintain…rehabilitating a dog with wonky brain chemistry stands way near the bottom of my priority list right now.  maybe that makes me a heartless dog-hater, but honestly i just don’t have the time or energy to do it.  we’re not just going to dump her at a shelter because it’s unlikely that she’d pass their behavior test and she’d be euthanized.  we’re not going to give her to someone who is unaware of her history, especially if that family has other pets.  we’ve contacted rescue organizations but she’s considered “unadoptable” because of her difficulty getting along with other dogs.  we’re looking for a good home, someone with lots of room for her to run, someone with patience and energy to devote to her special needs.  she deserves that sort of attention, she needs that sort of attention, and i know in my heart that we’re not able to meet her needs.  this is not a decision we’ve reached overnight.  we’ve been fighting this battle for over five years.  when do you say enough is enough?

so that’s the story with the dog.  judge me if you want, but it’d be more helpful if you offer to take this dog into your loving home, or make a suggestion as to what we can do with her.

January 11, 2010

antique score

i found this awesome old toy at the antique store today, and i can’t wait to turn it into a piece of art for the new baby’s room.  i have no idea what else to do in there, decor-wise, so i hope this will help inspire me.  i just love it.

January 10, 2010

21 things in 12 months

this year, i’d like to:

1. potty train my daughter

2. enjoy the rest of my pregnancy without complication and welcome our baby boy into the world

3. track our spending and live (mostly) according to the budget guidelines we’ve set

4. realign our financial priorities to meet future goals

5. find a loving home for our dog so that she gets the attention she deserves

6. manage the transition to life with a newborn with patience, grace, and sanity

7. run 200 miles in a 6 month period, sometime after the baby comes

8. enter and run a 10K in the fall

9. finish projects i’ve started, instead of letting them linger while i move on to other things

10. plan and go on dates with my husband…get a babysitter to watch the kid(s)

11. take a weekend getaway with my husband – no kids – maybe in late fall.  leave the monkeys with the grandparents

12. finish the last remaining bits of baseboard that need to be installed (or delegate this task to my husband)

13. learn to use a power saw without fear of amputation

14. organize our endless piles of crap

15. purge: sell or donate excess clutter we don’t need

16. learn about gardening, maybe plant a few things this spring

17. bake bread regularly

18. weekly trips to the zoo when the weather permits

19. visit the aquarium

20. learn how to use my camera better.  learn to use photoshop better.  use my camera more.

21. be better about not leaving dirty dishes in the sink over night

January 9, 2010

caution: i’m about to brag about my kid

there have been so many days lately when i feel like screaming, “THIS!!!  this is why i wanted to be a mom.”  my daughter is approaching two-and-a-half, an age which, according to conventional wisdom and cautionary tales of parenthood, should be causing me to question my decision to procreate, but she is just so damn awesome that i can’t help but feel blessed.  i love that we can have real conversations, i love that we can take walks together and hold hands yet she’s still light enough for me to swoop up and carry in my arms, i love that she’s becoming more independent and confident and proud.  i just adore the person that she is becoming, yet i feel like she’s growing up too fast.  i want to stop time so i can just enjoy these wonderful moments.

before i became a mom i worked as a family counselor and i met a lot of people who simply sucked at being parents.  to be fair, some of these families were struggling in many ways and their limited resources and skills seriously impacted their ability to be good parents.  some of them were just shitty parents no matter which way you cut it, and even under the best of circumstances probably still would have been shitty parents.  i learned a lot of lessons about what not to do from these folks.

these lessons have shaped my entire belief system about how to interact with my child.  i think one of the most profound observations that i took away from my work with these families is that children wither under criticism, and thrive with praise and positive reinforcement.   simple, huh?  totally seems like a no-brainer, but i can recall dozens of kiddos who stand out in my mind as prime examples of shriveled, droopy, sad, little souls whose spirits were snuffed out by caregivers who simply did not (or could not) show any sort of positive attention to their children.  these kids would light up with a simple, “good job, today, buddy” or “thanks for playing with me today.  i had a good time.”  it breaks my heart to think that they never got that sort of affection from the people who should be giving it the most.   i make sure that i never miss an opportunity to let my daughter know that i think she’s a pretty special kid.  every night before bed, when we’re recounting what we did during the day, i always thank her for being a good girl, for being sweet, for being a good helper.  throughout the day i make sure to tell her that she’s doing a great job playing with her toys, or that i’m so proud of her for conquering the big slide at the playground all by herself, or that i admire her confidence when she slides headfirst down the water slide.  (side note: she went headfirst down the water slide today, going under the water and then surfacing with a huge smile…all by herself!)  my heart swells with pride when she smiles and responds with, “i know” to assure me that she feels good about herself too.  i pray that she still feels that way about herself when she’s thirteen, and twenty-five, and ninety-two.

i worry a lot about raising a “good” kid.  i know that the parenting we do now will shape her development and self-image as a teen and as an adult.  i worry that i’m not doing enough to ensure that she becomes a happy, healthy, confident, well-adjusted individual.  that’s a lot of pressure.  it also supports the argument that mental health professionals with degrees in human development and child psychology are overly neurotic parents, but that’s beside the point.  it’s hard to just sit back and realize that i am doing a great job NOW and that she’s a happy, healthy, confident, well-adjusted kiddo NOW, and that i have ten-and-a-half years before she becomes a teenager (ten-and-a-half?!  is that all?!) to keep doing what i’m doing and that she will continue to be an amazing person.

in the meantime, i’ll just try to savor these wonderful days that remind me how lucky i am to be this little creature’s mama.  i’ll try not to dwell on all my fears about what could go wrong if i fail as a parent.  i’ll take advantage of every opportunity to be the best mom i can be, and not beat myself up when i have a less-than-stellar performance.  she’s two-and-a-half and she’s incredible.  i wish i could freeze her at this age so that i can enjoy it forever (except maybe after she’s potty trained).  she reminds me all the time that THIS! is why i became a parent.