I was talking with my friend about the things we have had on our to-do list for too long.  Some of the things are simple tasks: pick up dry cleaning, wash comforters.  Others, though, are not crossed off of the list because of fear: get second opinion for Roscoe's tumors. 

We got Roscoe nine years ago as, what I kindly refer to as, the pre-proposal agreement.  Not ready to get married, but kind of ready to commit to a dog, by husband shelled out the cash for a Redbone Coonhound and we had him flown in from Mobile, Alabama.  For nine years, he has been a great companion and family dog.  Often, with three young kids, overlooked he is still a precious part of our family.  With each of our three babies we sent home a blanket from the hospital for Roscoe to get acquainted with before actually bringing in the baby.  When we brought them all home, he had a few minutes to get a good smell of them and then that was it - he was fine with each of the children. 

For the most part everyone gets along well.  He is still as loud and protective of all of us as ever.  When my husband is late, Roscoe is on duty.  He won't relax until everyone is home.  Unless its after 8 pm, in which case he will find his bed and quietly say good night; but any suspicious noise will send him from a state of sound sleep to a frightening bark that still makes my heart skip a beat.  But at nine, he is still playful and a good running companion.

A few years ago when the vet found a fatty tumor I wasn't too worried about it.  Over the course of the past few months, one of the fatty tumors has grown to what looks like the size of a grapefruit.  So when I wrote "get 2nd opinion for Roscoe" on my to-do list, my heart was as heavy as a brick.  When I actually got the second opinion, my stomach sank and hasn't bounced back just yet. 

We are scheduled to have the tumors removed on Tuesday, October 16th.  Once they are removed they will be biopsied.  The new vet said, "I can't tell you if this dog has 3-4 good years, or six months" and I have heard that sentence every day for the past five.  Six months.  Six months is nothing.  Six months is a blip.  Three to four years is pretty short at this point - I mean, didn't we just get this dog?  Isn't he the one who makes girlfriends out of every over sized pillow he can get his paws on? 

It just cannot be cancer.  I cannot imagine that.  Or I don't want to.  It just takes from us.  And I don't want it to take him.  I know he isn't a human, I know he is just my dog.  But he is an awesome dog- he is gorgeous and so sweet. 

Sometimes procrastination is just putting off simple tasks.  But sometimes its a defense mechanism, because facing some of life's choices, some of life's realities sucks.  Plain and simple.


Surrounded by cuteness

My five year old has those working ears.  Those ears that might be playing a game on the iPad, but are also listening to conversation at the kitchen table about the NATO Summit.  Her ears can discern the sense of worry in her grandmother's voice so much so that when I put her to bed we have this conversation:
Goose: Mom, when is it coming?
Mom: When is what coming?
Goose: The tornado that Grandma is worried about?
Mom: It isn't a tornado. Its called NATO.
Goose: It sounds like bad weather to me.
Mom: No, its a meeting of the Presidents of the world.  It has nothing to do with strong wind.
Goose: Thank goodness! 

The cuteness followed me to the grocery store yesterday for a moment.  My two year old son, Mister, strutted his stuff carrying his sister's purse over his shoulder, elbow pointed to the sky to keep it up with the other hand on his hip the entire walk through the parking lot.  Unfortunately, his cuteness quickly turned to crank when he realized we were grocery shopping. His least favorite chore.  If he were in charge at the store, we'd all run around at top speed stopping momentarily only to buy "tweets".  I've made it a habit to bribe my children at Mejier.  If they behave, I buy them candy.  Its a terrible habit, I know.  Though, it is the least of my worries at the grocery store with three kids. 

The littlest bambino in my house is a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e.  He smiles, he flirts with his little blue eyes, he cuddles and claws.  He nuzzles into my shoulder and smears snot from the edge of my sleeve to my neck.  He is, right now, a mama's boy.  He seems attached to my hip at all waking moments.  I believe its another one of those "bad habits" I've fostered, like buying them candy.  I sleep with him still.  GASP!  No, not that.  He's nine months old!  I sleep with him because he shares a room with his older brother and I don't want the whole house to wake up.  I sleep with him because I am not going to have another baby to sleep with and it feels good to snuggle a baby.  I sleep with him because I'm too lazy at 1 a.m. to rock him back to sleep, so I swoop him up into my arms and he nuzzles into my shoulder and I fall in love a little bit more and then we sleep very well for several hours.

Sometimes I beat myself up about the baby's sleep.  I think, "I'll get him in his crib all night! I'll solve this problem."  The truth is, I don't really think its that bad of a problem to have.  Maybe I'm not sleeping great - but I'm not going to sleep great for eighteen years as far as I see it, so why worry about this now?

The fact is this- I fall asleep next to cute, I wake up next to cute, and I spend my days surrounded by cute.  The worry about bad habits is not on my radar today. 


I Want

My middle child, Mister, is the quiet type. Literally, he doesn't speak much. His speech therapist and I agree it's a a mechanical issue. It's as if his mouth doesn't know how to make the correct shapes for sound production. He has had a speech therapist for one month and thus far it's going well. He follows her directions, he responds to her cues, and he is willing to transfer the tools he learns with her to his life with me.

Yesterday during his lesson I was listening from the kitchen and I heard him put two words together for the first time. He said, "I want". As he speaks normally in single words and single sounds, it was awesome for me, after only four visits with the therapist, to hear his little voice. But I wondered why is "I want" where we start? Oddly it would be helpful for him to be able to indicate to me what he wants: to eat, to do, to see, to show me, to play, to read, to watch. As a kid in a stay at home mother's house, most of his time can be filled with what he wants. There are a few things we have to do. We have to arrive in a timely fashion to The Y and to drop and pick up his sister from school.  Thankfully, he is a go with the flow kind of kid. I think though, as he learns how to communicate what he wants he will be more at liberty to tell me what he does NOT want, as well. Funny how those two little words weigh so much.

"I want" sets the stage for inescapable elements of being human. What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you want to go to college? Who do you want to marry? How many children do you want to have? Where do you want to vacation? How do you want to spend your life? Where do you want to retire? What do you WANT TO DO? To drive? To own? From the smallest parts of our life to our largest desires - "I want" is where it all starts. To hear my little boy's voice utter the simplest of words with the most amazing possibilities stopped me in my kitchen, mid dish washing, and it gave me pause. How has my own sequence of "I want" panned out? How will his?


New Dog, Old Tricks

My husband and I often joke about our dog.  He is very large, very loud, and for an eight year old, still very energetic.  When there is movement on our street, we know about it: a car pulling in, a car pulling out, a walker, the mailman.  No one goes unmentioned.  His bark still makes my heart jump into my throat.  I know its going to happen a number of times throughout the day - but I am never prepared for it.  He is a good guard dog. 

We joke about all of the things he does that drive us crazy.  I think this is common among dog owners.  He eats out of the garbage can, licks the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, drinks from the toilet.  We have tried to train him not to do these things - but he's an old dog, and you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. 

He's a horny dog.  Poor, old fixed dog who can't really do "it", but tries all the same.  For 7 years he had a girlfriend, our couch.  Last year we junked the old couch and replaced it with a lovely new, dog-free couch.  We kept one section of the old sectional for him to lounge on. This one section was a human-free zone.  He would grasp the back pillow with his teeth and hump it daily - no matter how many times I would yell, "No!!  Stop that!"  He didn't care what I said - it was him and his pillow, and it was business time.

At Christmas this year we decided it was time to get rid of the remaining piece of sectional.  It was beyond gross.  This decision came shortly after I caught our son and daughter laughing wildly while watching the dog "jumping" on his pillow.  My husband found a very nice dog bed at Costco for twenty smacks - it is huge, round, fluffy.  Within twenty minutes of its arrival the dog had it folded like a taco and was, again, giving it all he had.  The last time I had him at the vet for his yearly check up I asked, "What is the likelihood that when he was neutered some or all of one of his testicles didn't get snipped?"  The vet gave him a feel and said, "I think he's just a 'dog'..."

The kicker?  Tuesday I was cleaning house.  I was upstairs and had forgotten the Pledge in the family room.  I headed down the stairs and as I made my way around the corner of the stairs I saw it happening.  I couldn't quite believe my eyes.  My two year old son had the dog bed in the middle of the family room.  He was biting it with his face submerged into the pillow, he grabbed at both sides with his little hands and was "jumping" on it as if he were the 8 year old Redbone.  I said, "Oh! No!  Ick!  That is really yucky, buddy."  He stopped quickly and stood up to point at the dog as if to say, "What? HE DOES IT all the time?!" 

Evidently, its nearly impossible for me to teach my old dog to stop licking the carpet or eating from the garbage; but, he is quickly teaching my new boy his old, nasty tricks.


The truth about: The Canadian and the Cleaver

The truth is, birds aren't my favorite of creatures because they are unpredictable.  I do appreciate, though, the nurturing motherbird: she braves the elements to provide a suitable nest for her babes; she sits on her eggs waiting patiently for their birth; she scrounges for worms to provide food.  I appreciate how pretty birds flit past my window, signing out to one another across my yard. 

My only beef with birds is their unpredictable pooping and spreading of germs.  I'm sure you recall the bird flu scare of 2005.  I retract my previous statements about truly disliking birds. 

The real meat and potatoes of this argument comes down to one thing: In my opinion, my husband's hobbies are disturbing.  Killing innocent animals for the sport of it is mean.   

This being the case you can imagine how I felt when I exited my car on Sunday evening to find a dead goose, lifeless, limp, lying on its poor pathetic stomach on my garage floor.  I screamed.  "Holy Smokes!" (The kids were in the car).  I then pressed my body up against the car, creating as much distance between me and the bird as I could; I side stepped my way past the deceased Canadian feathered creature.  The next morning when I headed out to the car it scared me three more times.  I screamed and my heart jumped into my throat three more times. 

As I sped away from my house I telephoned the murdering huntsman responsible for the garaged goosed.  I inquired, "Do you have big plans after work tonight, hunny?"  He replied, "No, why what's up?"  "The GOOSE IS UP! You GOTTA DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT MANGY GOOSE!"  Defeathered, decapitated, deboned.  Problem solved.

Until.... this morning when I headed into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and found the cleaver he used to perform the revolting task in my sink, awaiting the wash.  Staring at me.  It talked to me (in my head) like it was a Stephen King creation, "I gutted a goose last night, I gutted a goose." 


Some Memories

A great man I know once wrote, “The great thing about Moms like mine is that there are so many of them on our little planet.”  His mother inspired a forward moving, forward thinking mentality.  She created optimism.  The matriarch of a family having seen its share of challenge, she encouraged positivity, humor, making the best out of life’s situations. 

My own mother encourages me to be the best version of myself that I can be.  She doesn’t set an expectation of me to win her approval; rather, she has taught me to be introspective – to listen to my own heart, follow my own path.  Better still, she has backed me at every turn, every fork, and every step.  When I met my husband I was not in the best mental place – I wasn’t up for taking chances with love.  I thought all men were jerks.  I was out of college and living with she and my dad in Chicago.  I’d wasted too much time having my heartbroken by the same boy.  It was a Saturday night and my friends were gathering at a small party on Lake Holiday, about 90 minutes outside the city.  Jamie, my husband, was going to be there.  My best friend, Amy, called me and encouraged me to come to the party to meet him.  I told her I wasn’t up for it.  I was singing that old pathetic “woe is me” song that all heartbroken women have sung.  As my mom busied herself around her bedroom, I sat in her purple velvet chair explaining why I didn’t want to go to the party.  She said, “But if you don’t go, you’ll never know.” 

I went.  Now, 12 years later, I sit in the basement of my home with that man, three children sleeping upstairs, and I am grateful for my mom’s advice that Memorial Day weekend in 2000. 

My mom has given me advice, like many mothers, on everything from how to pluck my eyebrows to what shade of pantyhose to wear.  She drove four hours from Downers Grove to Iowa City at the drop of a hat my freshman year of college when I broke out in a very bizarre allergic reaction to the mildew in my dorm and woke up covered in hives.  She has moved me to and from eleven different residences since 1995.  She has cleaned and painted over half of those residences.  Three times she has sat with me before I have given birth, nursed me back to health, and taught me how to mother. 

I have watched her do everything from power wash a deck to jackhammering a concrete patio. She has painted a kitchen pink, then blue, and then demolished that very kitchen for a remodel with a sledge. I’ve seen her bake a coffee cake from a recipe in her head and sling a chainsaw like a good lumberjack would.  She makes me a chocolate cake every year for my birthday and taught me the difference between homemade icing and store bought.  She is a jack of all trades in terms of mothering.  She can do it all…and she has.  She will sling a shot of Jagermeister, mix the best G&T, and get red wine out of a white shirt like no body’s business.  She is the most-singingest Mama around and the best at making sunshine on a cloudy day.     

She takes a vested interest in everyone she is speaking to.  She is genuine and honest.  She doesn’t muddle me up with guilt trips or unspoken expectations about silly things.  She is straightforward and positive.  Through her own choices and behavior she has taught me how to be kind, selfless, and loving.

She has taught me that I should never wait for a man to do anything for me unless I want to take the chance of waiting a very long time.  If there is a light bulb out, it is better to just change it.  If the garage door needs oil, ask the guy at Ace and make it happen.  She has taught me to be resourceful; Maxi Pads can be band aids, too.  Never take something camping that only has one use.

Most importantly, she has expressed to me through her actions that I am important and loved simply by being me.  In so doing, she has taught me that no matter what is happening in my own life, my children come first. 

My father, the man I know who wrote, “The great thing about Moms like mine is that there are so many of them on our little planet” was lucky like me.  He encouraged me, five years ago, to write about my memories of those I love.  There are few people I love as much as I love my mom.  I cherish her.  His mom and mine have at least one thing in common, three adoring children.