Puppy Lust II (and Other Presents)

When SoulSista brought out Roxy on Saturday, I immediately went over to scoop her up. She was just a wee little thing, and adorable to boot. (I get this urge frequently with babies too — I want something small to hold. It doesn’t necessarily bode well for our future, these ‘want to cuddle’ urges of mine.)

Anyhoo, I sat down on the couch with Roxy in my lap. DearDR and my father were standing behind the couch. I called the girls over to see the puppy. Bun thought it was Buddy, but I was able to explain to Monkey that this was a new puppy. She called Roxy Buddy’s little sister all weekend.

I called over my shoulder to DearDR, “Did you see this?” He peeked over my shoulder to see the pup in my lap, with both girls petting it. “Oh!” he said.

“This is the girls’ Christmas gift from my parents!” I exclaimed, all excited.

The look on his face was priceless. He clearly wanted to throw his hands out and yell, “NOOOOOOO!” But his manners dictated that he turn to his father-in-law and graciously thank him.

He was saved by the fact that both Pap-pap and I cracked up at his expression.

“Sorry,” I laughed. “I just had to see how you would react. That was worth it.”

“That was cruel,” my father said.

It was cruel. DearDR was running on about four hours of sleep; he had joined some of his high school classmates at a local bar to welcome back one of their own who had just returned from Iraq. They ended up closing the place, and I don’t think DearDR’s head was feeling that great.

But, still, totally worth the price of admission.


Instead of a puppy, Monkey received a kid-friendly digital camera. And before I unloaded everything last night, she had taken 150 pictures with it! (I think DearDR and I took a couple, too.)

I created an account for her on flickr, and I will be uploading her stuff there for now. I’m not crazy about flickr; it doesn’t feel that intuitive to me, so I’m finding it hard to navigate. I love me some Picasa, and I was going to use that on my Mac for Monkey, but Picasa doesn’t work with Mac OS, which is a serious oversight IMO. I want to keep Monkey’s pictures separate from mine. For so many reasons!

Wow! You got a camera!

(And that ‘Hello My Name Is’ name tag? Says, ‘Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.’)

Wow! I got a shirt!

Littlest Pet Clementine

At least they are going to be interesting pictures.

And everyone will look really tall.

What Are You Doing Back There?

Long Car Ride, Huh?

How Long Can I Hold My Breath?

Christmas Bling (taken by Mommy)

Bun’s Favorite Christmas Gift

Edited to add a Nanny Update: Nanny is doing very well. She was released from the Coronary Care Unit into a regular room Tuesday; they are talking about releasing her from the hospital on Friday. My in-laws are making plans to go to Florida (a Christmas gift from my FIL’s brother), so the next decision is where exactly Nanny will be going when she gets released. I imagine our plans New Year’s Day will be a quick trip to the hospital to wish her a Happy New Year! Which is great, compared to the alternative.

Puppy Lust I

My sister, known here as SoulSista, has a 12-year-old Boston terrier named Buddy. He’s in pretty good health for an old man of a dog, but SoulSista knows that he’s not going to live too much longer.

On the Friday after Christmas she called me at work.

“Do you remember the conversation you had with Cousin K about picking out a puppy?” she asked.

“I don’t remember any such conversation, SS.”

“He was talking about squeezing their paws, and other tests like that?”

“Uh, no. Are you sure it was me?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Did I have kids at the time?” Because I have had entire conversations while monitoring my children — or while being pregnant — that I would be hard pressed to recall.

“I don’t know. Well, do you have Cousin K’s phone number?”

“We might have it at the house, but I’m at work. Wait a minute, why are you asking about picking out a puppy?”

“I think Dad and I are going to go pick out a puppy.”

“For whom?”

“For me.”

“Why are you picking out a puppy?” I practically yelled.

“Buddy’s fine.”

Well, maybe we just should have started there, SS. “Okay,” I said.

“Do you think I would sound this calm if something happened to Buddy?” she asked.

Hey, I don’t know. Drinking and/or medication can flatten affect. “I guess not.”

When we got to Erie, SS presented Roxy, a 9-week-old brindle (I think that’s the correct term) Boston terrier.

And now I (and Monkey) want one too. The day we were leaving Erie, Monkey sat on my lap, and Roxy was laying in Monkey’s lap, sleeping (and snoring — much more adorable in a Boston terrier pup than in, say, an almost-40-year-old husband).

Monkey whispered, “I want to take Buddy’s sister home.”

Not this year, Monkey. But soon — sooner for me than for you, because three years sounds like an eternity to you. But someday I am going to turn around, and you are going to be 7 years old. And I will buy you (and your sister) a puppy. Promise.

This is Roxy. And SoulSista.

Monkey took this one with her new digital camera. Yes, HER camera. More later.

This one, too. Roxy and Buddy.


People I know are dying. And people whom I love are losing the people they love.

And I feel oddly helpless. Maybe it’s not odd to feel helpless at a time like this, but it’s odd for me to feel helpless.

My dear friend H, after moving back to Erie with her husband and child (at the time) to be near her family again is losing her mom. Her mother has been sick for (at my estimation) about 14 months now, fighting cancer and secondary cancer. As of 9 p.m. on Saturday night, though, she was definitely in her last 24 hours. I am still waiting to hear.

H sounds exhausted. I know that I am glad her mother got to see her granddaughter born (in April) and made it through Christmas. H says Christmas time was always her mother’s favorite time of year — which makes losing her now all the more poignant.

H, my heart is with you. I wish I could do more.

And Saturday at 5:30 p.m., while having our Erie Christmas we got a call from Pittsburgh that Nanny had had a stroke and was in a coma. That rocked us severely. DearDR got in the car and headed for home. He thought it best for the girls and I to stay, and we would come home Sunday, as early as we could.

By the time DearDR got to Nanny, she was awake. It turns out that maybe she didn’t have a stroke after all. But she was severely dehydrated and undernourished. They are keeping her in the hospital to try to find out what is wrong and if they can do anything.

DearDR has withdrawn a bit from me. He seems to be processing everything in his head, and just can’t reach out to me yet. And that’s okay. His relationship with his grandmother is… it is truly something special. I know her death will be a serious blow to him. Fortunately it seems we will not have to face it just yet.

I can’t imagine what it was like for him on that two-hour drive home, alone. DearDR, my heart — and so much more — is with you too. I’m here when you need me.

I keep thinking I have tomorrow off, too. Must remember to actually go to work. I have so many more things to tell, but I had to relieve my heart of some of its weight.

Edited to add: A friend and former co-worker just sent word that his father died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. I’m so sorry, J. My thoughts are with you, too.

‘Twas the Day After Christmas

… And all through the house were contented children. Or so I imagine. I went to work.

I didn’t get within 10 feet of a computer yesterday, so I didn’t even get a chance to say “Merry Christmas”! I hope everyone had a nice holiday and/or day off. Our Christmas Eve and Christmas were wonderful.

The pictures suck, though. I think I know why someone gave us this camera!


Christmas Eve was for decorating the tree. DearDR did all the lights before we went to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner and the first gift exchange.

We did the rest after the kids were in bed.

DearDR had some last minute adjustments. We used probably two-thirds of the ornaments we had. It was a skinny tree!

But very pretty.

Santa came later that night.

Monkey couldn’t wait to get into the gifts — it was definitely the first year that she had to be distracted from presents until Bun and Daddy were awake.

She made out pretty well.

Those are Bun’s gifts, still all wrapped up after Monkey was done with hers. I was surprised at how little interest Bun had in opening them. She just wanted to play with her baby doll, which Bella had bought her.

DearDR is not so good at taking pictures. I have no idea what the focus of this picture is supposed to be. But the kids were probably moving around a lot, too. Moving right along…

…I managed to get a picture of Monkey in her Christmas dress. I never got Bun though. When she got up from her nap, I was already next door with Monkey. DearDR thought she was in pajamas, and changed her… into some clothes that Monkey had been wearing earlier in the day. Aside from the fact that they were kind of lounge-around-the-house clothes (i.e. not holiday party clothes), the scary thing was that the clothes fit pretty well. How is my not-even-2-year-old fitting into 3- or 4T clothes??

Anyway, it was a merry time for everyone involved. Hope yours was just as good. Tomorrow we travel to Erie to see my family and for gift exchange number three.

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas…

…And all through the house roamed sick toddlers and a stressed out husband.

I came to work.

To clarify my last post: I was very, very ill on Sunday, not just sick about not having a Christmas tree. I spent most of the day on the couch, even napping during the first half of the Steelers’ game. (Should’ve napped through the rest of it.) Sore throat, very achy. DearDR spent most of the day with Monkey next door; Bun and I muddled through at home.

I managed to cook a very yummy lentil stew for dinner. I also put together gifts for my daughter’s kindergarten teachers (only two, thank goodness). I was going to bake cookies on Sunday, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before… oh, the new year, probably. Too bad, because I have tons of flour, sugar, and butter at home now! (DearDR, bless him, did the grocery shopping.)

Also, bless DearDR for buying a Christmas tree. He brought home a pretty little Fraser fir last night. Now we just gotta throw some decorations on it.

Here is why DearDR is stressed out: My in-laws decided to take their car (the Cadillac) to the shop today. They want to use the station wagon. The children have to go to the doctor (Bun’s Rx does not seem to be helping her; Monkey is complaining about a sore throat — hey, wouldn’t it be hysterical if she had mono?? hahahaha! No). They are currently scheduled for back-to-back appointments at 10:15 (the doctor’s office is only open a half day today).

And DearDR has not bought one Christmas gift. For anyone. Well, no, that’s not true — he bought iTunes gift cards at the grocery store for his teenage cousin.

Do you know how many people DearDR has to buy for?

One. Me.

If he wants, he can also purchase gifts for his parents and his grandmother. But the past few years, we have primarily only purchased gifts for the kids in the family. It is too expensive to do otherwise. This year especially.

Sooooo, I am facing the reality that I may not get any gifts from my husband this year. I am having a difficult time with it. [See update below.]

I don’t want to be angry, but I am angry. After all, I’m the one over here trying to get my children to appreciate that Christmas is not about presents and Santa, but about Jesus’ birth.

(Had to review this last night with Monkey:
“What is Christmas about, Monkey?”
“No, it’s Jesus’ birthday.”
“Oh, I thought it was about presents.”
“Well, Jesus was the best present of all.”
I could see in her little head she was thinking, “I am still getting presents, right?”)

Part of me feels really bad for DearDR. He loves Christmas shopping — he loves shopping for gifts in general, really — but he is stuck. He doesn’t plan well; he’s not very organized; he spends almost all of his time working. If he had thought ahead a little bit, he could have ordered gifts online, and he’d be done. And now, instead of going shopping, he’s got the kids all day; he has to take them to the doctor; he is stranded without a car until his parents get back from the garage. He doesn’t really know what to get me. We didn’t exchange lists this year, and he can’t spend that much money, anyway.

I am trying to let my sympathy and my Christian spirit carry me through or past my anger. I’m having uneven results. Besides, it’s not a foregone conclusion — after all, we get our prescriptions filled at Target, that mecca of shopping!

I just want to focus on making Christmas a fun day for my children. I want us to go to church as a family. I want them to enjoy the tree, and opening their presents. Maybe when Bun naps Christmas day, Monkey and I will try to bake a few cookies (note to self: must stop eating pistachios DearDR bought for recipe) before we go next door to my in-laws.

I need to find it in my heart to let DearDR off the hook. (This year, anyway!) And he has to do the same to himself. Yeah, it stinks. But DearDR is not a bad guy. He’s not a mean guy. He’s not out to hurt me.

He makes me laugh. He’s a good father. He makes awesome green beans. He works damn hard, too hard sometimes. He is good at doing things around the house — unstopping drains and fixing dryer vents and changing furnace filters.

This is the guy I married. And I love him.

Merry Christmas, DearDR. Take it easy on yourself, okay?

Edited to add: Monkey has an ear infection in her left ear. Bun has a sinus infection to go with her two ear infections.

At least he will be going to Target. I will be getting Christmas booty! And maybe some green beans later. Mmmm.

Merry Christmas Eve. Sigh.

Do They Know It’s Christmas Crazy?

Not around here they don’t.

If there are prizes, I will be competing in the “least prepared for Christmas” category.

Last year, we did not have a tree. Last year, I put my baubles in a bowl, and it made a very pretty centerpiece. I haven’t gone that far yet. I am still holding out hope for a real tree (he’s got one more day, people).

Well, I do have this tree.

My MIL in her youth took a ceramics class. She cast this tree, and the Santa and reindeer below. And, many, many more things, Christmas and otherwise. I was hoping that my Christmas Crazy would showcase all the things she did. But, well, you’ll see.

Bella was very talented at ceramics. It’s a shame she chose to give it up.

My dining room decorations.

This bare green field is where our Nativity goes. Bella cast our Nativity, too, and it is an especial point of pride for DearDR. It is truly gorgeous, each figure (and there are many) painstakingly handpainted. She even pasted small “jewels” on the robes and gifts of the Magi.

And DearDR does not want me to handle it. He doesn’t want me carrying the boxes upstairs, unpacking it, putting it out for display. I break things. It’s true, I do, as the lack of juice glasses from our wedding swag attests.

But come tomorrow night, if that Nativity isn’t out by his own hand, it will be out by mine. Fragile ceramics coming up from the basement notwithstanding.

You’ve been warned.

This is where our tree would go… Er, is going to go. Tonight.

Yeah, tonight.

This is my wreath. That is not my front door. As soon as I finish the list of all the stuff I have to do tonight, I’ll get right on that.

I decorate the bathroom! I even have pretty towels, although they are all currently in the washer.

Sadly, this is indicative of where most of my Christmas Crazy still is this year. In boxes, sitting forlornly in the basement.

I don’t even care that much for myself. But when I was growing up, part of the wonder, magic, and joy of the Season was how beautifully decorated my parents house was. And my parents did it together, with mom ironing bows for the tree and the garland she strung on the stair banisters, and my father putting up lights outside and putting up the tree. We all decorated it together, as a family.

And now, if you don’t mind, I will just go about my business. Because thinking about this more will only put me in a funk, and I don’t have time for that. Enjoy more Christmas Crazy (REAL Christmas Crazy) by checking out all the fun folks here.

It Was One Week Before Christmas, and All Through the House…

….there was much anticipation, although they were not sure for what.

I started moving things in my living room around last night so that when DearDR buys a tree (tomorrow or Saturday he says), we have someplace to put it. Monkey was all like, “What are you doing, Mommy? Why are you moving that? Why are you moving that??”

Monkey seems to know that it will be Jesus’ birthday, and that Santa is coming. Surprisingly, she doesn’t ask me EVERY DAY if it is Christmas yet. There is still time.

Bun… well, it’s hard to tell what exactly Bun knows, although she always surprises me. Snowmen seem to catch her interest quicker than images of Santa. It think she may lose her little mind when we get the tree up and decorated. It’ll be her first one.

I still have a lot to do. This final weekend before Christmas I’ll be wrapping everything, shopping, baking cookies, making gifts for teachers, going to a Cookie Buffet, and decorating a tree.

I am excited to have Christmas Day with my children. I am looking forward to going to Mass — I love Christmas Mass — and then seeing how excited they get when they see their presents and start opening them.

I know that Santa comes to see many of you during the night before Christmas, but for some reason, Santa doesn’t come to our house until we go to church. I guess we’re close to last on the list!

This is what happened when I was a kid. We three children went out to the car with our mother. She got us settled in, and started the car. Then we sat. Inevitably one of us piped up from the back seat, “Where’s Daddy?” To which my mother would inevitably reply, “He’s shaving.” Finally my father would come out of the house, and we would head off to Mass.

When we got back home, walla! Santa would have visited, and there were piles of shiny presents under the tree for us.

I was about 7 before I finally figured out that Daddy wasn’t shaving.

I hope that Monkey and Bun’s suspension of disbelief holds out that long!

For the Record: I Agree

I was curious about the whole DCL concern about Monkey and P kissing, too. A few of you commented here and on plurk that there was nothing wrong with it — it’s cute. And I agree, it is cute when kids hug and kiss. Kids are affectionate, and they model adult behavior. Monkey knows Mommy and Daddy love each other; Mommy and Daddy kiss each other on the lips; Monkey loves P; she and P can kiss on the lips. Elementary!

Although there is nothing inherently sexual in kids under, say, ten kissing — even on the lips — or holding hands, we live in a weird society. And while I wouldn’t condone going this far, I think daycares and schools are within their rights setting rules for appropriate touching. After all, if the child being pinched doesn’t want to be pinched and asks the pincher to stop, and the pincher doesn’t, then it is harassment. Albeit not sexual harassment.

While I feel that telling Monkey that she is not old enough to kiss boys (or anyone outside of our family) on the lips is a good strategy in this case, I think there are other appropriate boundaries to set. For example, I would tell Monkey to ask permission before holding someone’s hand. That would be respectful. I would hope that the little boy in question with Monkey at least said, “Hey, I really like you. Want to kiss?” In that case, I can’t see Monkey saying, “Heck no!” Especially if the boy was cute. (Monkey, she likes the boys.) I would hope that if someone forcefully kissed Monkey or grabbed her hand, she would have the confidence to pull away, or say, “no” or “stop”.

But I’m not going to use terms like sexual harassment or inappropriate touching or even “mouth kissing” with Monkey. She’s four, as she points out several times a day. Not eleven.

I don’t want to go giving her ideas.

Kissing Boys at Daycare

If you’re thinking, “Oh, no she didn’t” let me assure you that she did not. But it was a close thing.

Day Care Lady informed me today when I picked up the girls that she, DCL, had found Monkey and P (a 5-year-old boy) *this close* to kissing. She said I had to talk to Monkey because she, DCL, did not allow that.

When the children were separated and “talked to”, apparently Monkey’s response was, “But I’m four now.”

I am equally amused and distressed. I know that kissing at this age is all about curiousity and true like (Monkey and P geniunely like each other and are always looking out for each other at DCL’s) and being friends. I have one friend, now married with children, who says she doesn’t remember kissing boys at that age, but she does remember kissing girls.

When I told Monkey that she was not allowed to kiss P, she (inevitably) teared up. I simply told her that I know that she likes P, but she is not allowed to kiss boys yet. I also told her that I wasn’t mad (seems to be a concern of hers these days, whether DearDR and I are going to be mad at her).

And the entire time I had to keep a straight face when I felt like giggling. I’m so high school that way.

And that was it. She didn’t complain; she didn’t ask questions; she didn’t declare her undying love for her daycare Lothario.

We’ll see.