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    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Stupid Pet-Owner Tricks

    I’m writing in hopes that there are other families like ours who have stumbled into a problem they don’t quite know how to handle. I’m talking, of course, of owning a pet that is smarter than you.

    If you follow this blog you know the story of how we ended up with our Blue Heeler, Willie. She was not the breed we set out to adopt, but we fell in love with her cute face, beautiful markings, and silly, long legs.

    We looked up Heelers online and pretty much ignored all the “negative” things said about them. Let me re-phrase. There aren’t tons of warnings about Heelers out there, it’s just that many sites say they are one person dogs and not right for a family.

    No one ever told Willie she was a one person dog, so she seems to love us all equally.

    The herding thing—well, that is something to contend with. We quickly learned that Willie prefers the whole family to be in one room. If most of us are in the living room and one person is upstairs, she will go back and forth between the separated people, whining until the rogue member is back where he or she belongs.

    This really isn’t too bad because usually you can tell her to mind her own business and she’ll slink away with a few reproachful glances. But when the kids get riled up, Willie’s patience is severely tried. We’re pretty sure she thinks of Monkey and Chunky as her cows. If they run ahead of her, she runs and circles them, then runs back to Kory or I, making loops between cowboy and cattle.

    She doesn’t understand that sometimes boys are just wild. They’ll bounce off the walls, she’ll try to corral them, and then look at us as if to say, “People, don’t you see what your cows are doing?”

    When we don’t do anything to calm the kids down, she whines and barks at us in a little doggie lecture. I can almost hear her say, “You do not know how to control your cows. If you’d just let me give them each a good nip, they’d get in line. I know it.”

    Poor, harried herder.

    Our vet told us that she was so smart she would need a job to do or she would dig up the yard, build a catapult, and conquer the neighbors. He was right. Unfortunately, we’ve been a little busy lately, and Willie has had some quantity (not quality) outdoor time. She has begun what appear to be preparations for a siege in the backyard.

    She’s also learned how to operate our automatic trashcan. The lid opens when you wave a hand over the sensor. Willie is now so good at this that she checks the trashcan for snacks the way the boys check the pantry every time they go by it. Yesterday, I found her like this.

    I have to wrap this blog up now. Willie needs to go outside, but she won’t go unless I give her a treat.

    Are any of you other pet owners out there so well-trained by your pet that you’re thinking about handing over the mortgage to Fido?

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Full of Surprises

    Yes, you haven’t heard from me in awhile. That might be a good thing.

    It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I feel like a dried gourd, all scraped and hollow on the inside, but still round on the outside.

    The last thing I wanted to do this week was accompany seventy-five second graders to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Well, obviously it wasn’t the last thing I wanted to do. My bathrooms still need cleaning.

    But Monkey wanted me to go with him, and I thought, before long he’ll be begging me not to go with him because I’ll embarrass him in front of his friends.

    So I went.

    It. Was. Exhausting!

    The second graders were “hunting” animals, which meant they had to buy a license for a certain animal, find the animal (this involved lots of stairs), then once they’d “caught” their quarry, they had to fill out a bunch of paperwork. I don’t know about you, but I’m thirty-one and I hate paperwork. Asking over-excited eight-year-olds to find information on a museum placard and transpose it into a report using complete sentences is like asking a Chihuahua to read the nightly news.

    Poor Monkey with his ADHD (Advanced and Dedicated Hooligan Disorder) was really out of his element. But his team—three other classmates, one other mom and myself—hung in there and ended up winning the most prize money for our hunt.

    If you have any experience with ADHD kids, you know that their thinking processes can be mystifying. For instance, the team had chosen to hunt a tree kangaroo. We found the right exhibit and were attempting to extrapolate the information we needed. Monkey appeared to be off in La La Land, hanging on the edge of the group and barely attending to the task. The team was trying to list the distinguishing characteristics of the tree kangaroo, when out of nowhere Monkey says, “It has a long tail and sharp claws.”

    My eyes bulged. Up until that moment I thought my child was far away in his own world where life is an endless video game and someone is always there to bring you snacks. But instead he was thinking about the assignment, making good observations, and—miracle of miracles—paying attention.

    Yesterday I got another completely unexpected surprise from Monkey. It seems that while I’ve been thinking about how tired and drained I am and how I really don’t want to do extra things for my family right now, he’s been thinking, well, this…

    I love you
    You are the best mom ever
    So you love me and you make me happy.
    You’re the true mom I could ever have
    So why won’t you be mine
    You are so pretty and beautiful
    So that is why I wrote this poem for you

    Wow! I am full and overflowing. And so unworthy.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Maybe it's Maybelline

    I hope all you fabulous moms had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

    In general I’ve given up on making plans for Mother’s Day. Just like Easter in Colorado, Mom’s Day often involves nice dresses, picnic plans, and snow. This year all I wanted was to go see Ironman 2. I am, after all, the mother of two boys.

    But since those boys are not old enough to see Ironman 2, and no one wants to babysit on Mother’s Day, and Monkey and I came down with Strep, we had to put the movie on hold.

    But it turned out to be a pretty sweet holiday despite being Robert Downey Jr-less.

    On Friday I went to the Mother’s Day Makeover at Chunky’s kindergarten. Thankfully, I’ve already been through this adorable, tear-jerking event with one son, so I knew what to expect.

    Chunky escorted me into his classroom and to my seat. Then the kids presented a musical performance designed to wring every tear from every female eye within a ten-mile radius. It worked. Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a room full of bawling kindergarten moms.

    After the tear fest, it was time for the makeover. Chunky painted my fingernails and toenails and did my makeup and hair, all the while telling me, “You’re bootiful, Mommy.” You know what? When your six-year-old tells you that, you just believe it. If I looked like Scarlett Johannson and my husband told me every day I was beautiful, I still wouldn’t believe him. But, coming from one of my boys, well, it just has to be true.

    This is why I’m still wearing the green fingernail polish he painted on my nails.

    After the makeover, we headed straight to the doctor for Strep tests. I quickly forgot that Chunky had streaked plum-colored blush on my cheeks and decorated my eyelids with extra emphasis on the dark-shadowed corners. I also totally spaced the hot pink barrettes he put in my hair.

    We had several errands that day. I explained the reason for my chic Shrek nails to everyone I met, but didn’t once think about my imaginative makeup job.

    On Saturday, Kory went to work while I lay around trying to breathe around tonsils the size of bowling balls. Mom took the boys Mother’s Day shopping, and they came back with flower bouquets they’d used as light sabers in the store.

    They giddily wrapped the presents they bought then spent the rest of the day trying to get each other to accidentally spill the beans. They did manage to keep the gifts a surprise. On Sunday I unwrapped a lovely green ring that matches my nails, a bead necklace, and a red hat which they say makes me look like a pilgrim.

    I can’t say I disagree.

    So, though it didn’t go as planned, I had a fantastic Mother’s Day and I have my family to thank.

    Did anyone else have a non-traditional Mother’s Day? Or receive gifts that could rival mine in splendor and specialness? As if that were even possible.