Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Roxie Houdini

We have an escape artist. We hadn't left Roxie alone since we got her Monday afternoon. I had to take Emily to school today. I put Roxie outside figuring she'd be fine. She was an outdoor dog after all or so the paperwork stated. I was gone 40 minutes total. I pulled up our driveway and there she is sitting by our front door!What!?! Our gate for our yard does have an 8 inch gap on one side that goes down to about 2 inches on the other side. It has to stay this way for drainage or so they told us. I wasn't worried about the gap because we stapled chicken wire over it to keep the bunnies out of our garden. It wasn't super strong chicken wire. We were just trying to keep out a 1 pound bunny. Apparently, it doesn't take a dog of 71 pounds long to go right through that. She dug a tiny bit, but must have realized she could get through without the digging. Oh brother. At least she didn't run away. We also had one of Forest's old collars on her because it had our phone numbers on it. I figured it was a good idea until we got her an ID tag. I didn't realize how good of idea that was until now.

I left her inside when I went to pick Emily up from school. She seemed to do just fine. I think she got on the sofa though because I strategically placed a blanket and it was disturbed. She's tried to get on the sofa a few times while we were at home. I guess that was allowed at her old house. We'll have to try to break that or I'll just have to put down a blanket when we leave and so be it. If that's the worst thing I have to complain about, I'm pretty lucky.

It's The Great Pumpkin

My friend Dakri calls last night to tell me It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on TV. I remembered watching this on occasion, but to be honest, I didn't actually remember it well. David said the same thing. We decided to Tivo it and watch it together. The commercials ruin the experience when right at the height of the show in pops a McDonalds ad. Lame.

David got the kids in the bath early and we all sat on the sofa together to watch the show. The kids loved it. Ben was laughing so hard at Linus. I don't know what exactly was so funny, but he thought Linus was hysterical. His laughing made all of us laugh. I realized that I didn't remember it well as I thought the whole time that the Great Pumpkin was actually going to show up at the end. Instead, Linus got his butt chewed out and that was it. It was fun to watch though and the kids have already requested it this afternoon. They are laughing at it right now as I write this and that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Hit The Jackpot

Is it possible to hit the jackpot twice? I think we just did. Forest was the best dog possible and Roxie is turning out to be just as wonderful.

She slept well through the night although she did snore a little.

Her information sheet that whomever left when they dropped her off said she wasn't housebroken. She cries and she runs away. This person must have been smoking something really good because she does none of those things. She goes to the bathroom outside whenever we go out. She hasn't even barked once. I had her off the lease in the front yard today while the kids rode bikes and played hopscotch and she didn't move. The mail man came by, another dog walked by, nothing. She rules!

She also passed the test with Max, our cat. They barely sniffed each other and they went about their business.

We lucked out!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Introducing....Roxie Cinderella!!!

Yes, she looks a lot like Forest. Did you know that black dogs are usually the last to be adopted? And big dogs are the last to be adopted? If your big and black, your at the bottom of the barrel.

Anyway, it turns out the growth is either a fatty tumor or a cyst. Either way, they will remove it on Nov. 3 for us. I got the news at 10:45, got the kids ready and went to go free her from the prison she has been in for the last 6 weeks. I wanted David to come to, but work wouldn't permit and the shelter closes at 5:00.

I was shocked to see around 5 new dogs since yesterday! Good gravy that's a lot. One was a male black lab and I came close to getting him too. I thought I should at least have David with me to help make that decision. So, we just got Roxie. She was a total love in the car and sat behind me, keeping her head just off my right arm. I looked at her with the cool breeze slightly blowing her ears and told her that we will give her the best life she has ever had. I think she understood. I would reach to my side and give her some love. Each time I stopped, she'd take her head and nudge my arm back over her for more love. I couldn't help but laugh. I felt like I was driving a getaway car and I just escaped with a treasure for $50! She was half price due to her age.

I realized last night that we've taken maybe 5 walks since Forest died. Yes, it was summer so it was warm and yes, the grasshoppers are insane. Excuses aside, we need a dog to get us up and out every night. It's one of our family traditions and one that I've missed for the past 2 months. We get out. We talk. We don't have any distractions. It's nice family time and I'll be smiling tonight when we start our tradition back up. I'll even brave the grasshoppers.

On the way home, I explained that her name was going to be Roxie out of respect for Aunt Rosie. Emily wanted to name her Cinderella. I said that could be her middle name. So, this is Roxie Cinderella.

We took her for a little walk before bringing her inside. I let her in the backyard and she went running for the grass. She rolled over and over and over. She obviously likes grass. The shelter was all dirt and rocks, so she hasn't felt grass in awhile. She looked so happy. I was happy.

When she laid down inside I noticed that she lays with her back paws under and behind her. She almost looks like a seal.

I know we are going to have a few food issues. She took a rice cake from Ben's hands and she isn't very gentle when getting or stealing treats. Forest would just gently lick it out of our hand. She goes for it. We'll have to work on that. She also tried to jump on our sofa. I quickly stopped that. Right now, she is curled up by my feet sleeping and hopefully dreaming about her new life.

A New Dog?

There's something missing at our house since Forest died. It's too still.

We've begun our search for a new dog. We love Labs and know that we will stick with them due to their great disposition and tolerance for kids and cats. We were also looking at Golden Retrievers as David has always loved them. Who doesn't?

We came across a beautiful purebred golden online that was being fostered up here in Prescott. The golden retriever rescue group had gotten this beautiful 1 year old boy from the pound probably for free. Now, in order to get him, all I see is red tape, make that green as it's very expensive. We had to become members, $50. Then submit an application. No problem. Then came the home visit. Okay if you want to drive 4 hours round trip, go ahead. Then, they sift through their eligible dogs and pair you with someone. Then, they charge you $450. What? I thought these dogs needed a good loving forever home? I do understand that they are a nonprofit organization and they incur expenses at every turn, but $500 for a dog that we can't even choose is ridiculous. Also, they won't place a dog under 3 in a home with a child under 3. So, the beautiful retriever that we could've given a great life to can't live here. The lab rescue works exactly the same way. It just seems a bit extreme. Not to mention, if they snatch these purebred dogs out of the pound and humane society quickly, they aren't giving anybody a chance to adopt them at a decent price. Currently, our humane society charges $100 for a young dog. That's reasonable. $500, not reasonable. I don't believe the saying "you get what you pay for" applies to dogs. Almost everyone will say their best dog was a stray or from the pound/humane society.

We started looking elsewhere. We have several local rescue groups that take in dogs of any kind. The problem being that every big dog seems to be a "lab mix". Well, lab mixed with what? I'm sorry. I don't mean to be prejudice, but I will not get a dog mixed with pit bull or akita. My friend Katie can show you the stitches across her head from a perfectly nice akita that she went camping with. And pit bulls are pit bulls. I have 2 small kids. I know they can be lovers. I also know they can kill somebody. I don't know the background of these dogs, so I believe I have every right to be protective of my own children. Also, you have to remember the kids are used to Forest. Ben used to eat dinner with him straight from his bowl. I stopped him at first, but hey, a little dog food never hurt anyone. Forest didn't mind either. We used to call Ben our Hum V, because he'd roll right over Forest like a Hummer. The kids don't realize that 99.9% of dogs out there are not like Forest.

After our dilemma's in the local rescue with "lab mix" and not knowing a lot of history with the dogs, we thought about a puppy. The puppy pros are that I think the kids would bond more with it if it started out small and they could cuddle and play with it. Secondly, we could raise him to be tolerant of the kids and Max, our cat. Lastly, puppies are puppies. So stinkin' cute. The cons are well, puppies are puppies. We go back and forth.

David also looked into a lady selling Mastadors. A bull mastiff and lab mix. She had one black girl left. So cute. It was a reasonable price but a 2 hour drive away. I believe if it weren't for the drive, we would have this puppy right now. I'm a bit apprehensive of buying from a breeder. 150,000 dogs are put to sleep everyday in the U.S. Let's save one of them.

We were driving home from running errands yesterday. On a whim, we stopped into the humane society. There she was. Kennel 13. Rosie. She was sweet and excited as they all were to see us, but she never barked or jumped up on her cage. From the sign we could tell that her brother had been in the same kennel, but he was now adopted. It said, "good with kids" and that she was 5-6 years old. She's a Lab Mix. Shocker. We walked the full length of the area and back again. I noticed David standing in front of her cage telling her to sit which she did. We asked to see her. So, David walked her out to the play area, a dirt field. We spent a few minutes with her and she was as sweet as can be. She gave Ben kisses and just wanted to relax in the shade. David called to her from about 50 feet away and she got up and came running to him, so eager to please and be loved. She looked almost like a lab and golden retriever mix as she was furrier than Forest. She let David look in her mouth at her teeth. Then, I noticed a growth on her leg. It was the size of an elongated quarter. My first instinct was please tell me this isn't cancer. I don't think we could emotionally handle losing another pet so quickly after Forest. They said the vet wasn't in on Sunday, but they would have him look at it first thing today. So, we are waiting and hoping it just a cyst.

The person who dropped her off filled out a questionnaire. When David told me what was on it, my heart sank. An outdoor dog, free fed, not good on a leash. This poor girl and her brother were sitting in a yard for god knows how many years with a bowl of food and probably little to no human interaction. She walked perfectly on a leash. Did they even take her for a walk? She had obviously been neglected, yet she was just a bundle of love.

We are already envisioning adding Roxie to our house. Yes, we'd change her name from Rosie to Roxie. My beautiful Aunt Rosie is one in a million and Emily has her middle name as well. It feels strange to call a dog by the same name. So, I thought Roxie would be an easy enough transition. She needs a good brushing and bath and she'd probably get her first good nights rest in 5 years on a big fluffy pet bed inside our home. She deserves it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our Trip Part 7, The Reception

My Aunt had a limo take all of us girls in the bridal party to the reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The ride is going well. We are all sharing some champagne. The limo makes it's final approach into the hotel. We come around the back of it and up a little hill. We stop. We screech. We're stuck. The limo went up a hill and the center of the limo was scraping the pavement.

The limo can't get moving. We end up walking the final 1/4 mile to the hotel. Not quite the way I envisioned arriving on the red carpet. My poor grandmother who is 83 had to walk as well. She had a few glasses of champagne in the limo, so I'm sure she felt no pain.

We're waiting in the lobby and my cousin points out Leonardo DiCaprio. Throughout the night Mariah Carey, Magic Johnson and Dustin Hoffman were spotted. I can imagine just spending an entire evening in the hotel lobby would be rather entertaining.

My kids preferred to spend their time playing peek a boo on a sofa that may have cradled Marilyn Monroe's hiney.

"Here I am!"

We took some pictures out by the garden and Emily looked so sweet.

Here's the bride and groom.

Emily and Ben loved the dance floor.

Here's Emily in the center of things.

Emily even tickled the ivories a bit with my Mom. It was in the corner and nobody could hear her over the music. It's funny as she went to the piano on a Stevie Wonder song.

We had to keep a close eye on Ben. He went in the kitchen with the waiters once. Then, I saw him climb on some chair at another table and he started eating raspberries off of some strangers dessert plate! He loves raspberries.

Emily would've danced all night. We pulled her off the dance floor at 10:00 and she was still clapping and dancing with everyone. Ben finally gave in.


Our Trip Part 6, The Wedding

The whole reason we went to California in the first place was to see my beautiful Aunt Rosie get married. She's only 6 years older than I am, so we've grown up like sisters. In her wedding, I was a bridesmaid, Emily the flower girl and Ben the ring bearer.

I was nervous. I thought Emily would cooperate, but Ben. Ben is always questionable.

The rehearsal went okay. Ben ran down the aisle, which I figured he would. He rarely walks. Emily played her role perfectly. She held Ben's hand and kept up with his running. I was still holding my breath.

The dinner afterwards was exhausting. Ben was in rare form. We heard many people say they have never seen a kid so unwilling to give in and fall asleep. That's our boy. The dinner was spent passing Ben back and forth between David and me (I, me, whatever, grammar is not my thing). He cried, he complained, he made life difficult for both of us. Emily, on the other hand, abandoned us. Given that our plate was full with Ben, this was a welcome relief. She pulled up a chair at the head grown up table between my Dad and Suzy. Apparently, she was the champion eater at the table. She really hadn't had a fell meal in a week. Too many distractions. She downed most of her salad, half of her minestrone soup, bruschetta and even 4 calamari and that was all before the main course of spaghetti and meatballs. She is the most adventurous 4 year old eater that I've ever seen. She does not get this from me. I used to get cottage cheese and a roll at the buffet when I was little.

The big day arrived. We went swimming in the morning and all came back to the room to get ready.

Here's Ben looking so handsome.

A limo picked up all the girls in the wedding. This was Emily's first limo ride.

Before the wedding. Emily you need to smile.

Much better.

Oh brother. Ben is acting up. I'm trying to coax him into going down the aisle.

They made it! Yes, they ran a bit and Ben wouldn't hold his pillow, but they went down the aisle and nobody had a fit. I exhaled.

Me and my girl

After the ceremony, Ben was clearly being a boy.

There he is in his dirty suit.

No, it's not the cast of Soprano's. Here's my Dad with his brothers and sisters and my Grandma.

David took the kids back to the hotel to rest while we finished taking pictures. Emily was crying that she was tired and Ben was playing on the ground with the leaves. I figured they needed a little down time before the reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel....

Our Trip Part 5, Parades

After the aquarium and beach day, it was back to Disney for 2 more days. We rode practically everything, twice. I even got David to ride the Matterhorn as Ben was able to go on it too. We actually rode it twice! Imagine that.

I'm sure I watched the parade when I was a child. As I grew up, the parades meant one thing to me. No lines. It was a time to tackle as many rides as I could in 30 minutes all while trying not to get trapped in Tomorrow Land by a string of characters dancing down Main Street. I'd catch a glimpse of a Princess on a float as I was running from Adventure Land to Fantasy Land and that was good enough for me.

I knew we had to take the kids to see the parade. Mainly because we missed Cinderella at dinner and I had been promising Cinderella for days.

First, we geared up with some chocolate covered bananas. The perfect pre-parade snack. There's nothing like a banana on Main Street. My kids quickly fell in love with one of my favorite things.

We found a good spot close to the Nemo ride, so we could dart over right after the parade and catch a shorter line. This ride was the hot ticket while we were there with 1 to 1 1/2 hour wait times. We couldn't possibly wait that long with two small kids. We managed to get in after the parade with a 20-30 minute wait.

The action begins. The music is blaring over the intercom and we catch our first glimpse of the parade. What I quickly learned was that I still don't care about the parade. But, Emily and Ben's faces were priceless. I was so busy watching them that I would only glance at the parade to see who caused such an enamored expression on their sweet little faces. It was truly magical to watch them and in that moment I realized that I am so blessed.

Here's David and Ben.

Emily is yelling Ariel's name.

My girl looking so sweet and happy. She saw Cinderella.

We had such a nice time at the parade in Disneyland. We went to the parade in California Adventure the next day. It was mostly Pixar films, Toy Story, Cars, Nemo, Monster's Inc. I knew they would both love it.

Here's Emily loving it!

Emily is showing Woody her new Jesse doll. He gave her a big thumbs up.

This smile is the best. Can I bottle this moment and bring it out again?

Ben with his new Buzz and Zurge.

He spotted Mader from Cars.

This sums up our Disneyland portion of the trip. We had an awesome time. The lines were always short. The kids were pretty good. Nobody got sick. I couldn't ask for anything more.

We went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride three times. The first time we went on was due to necessity as it was hot out and we all needed a break. I was hoping Emily wouldn't be scared. Ben was laying on me half asleep, so I wasn't worried about him. Emily sat between David and I and pointed out all of the stuff and asked lots of questions.
"What's that light?"
"Fireflies sweetie."
"Are they alive?"
"No sweetie."
"Are we in a boat?"
"Yes sweetie."
I sat on this ride that I've been on countless times. I realized that I actually sat right here 30 years ago probably asking my Mom and Dad the exact same questions. Now, here I am. My husband's arm around me, holding my resting son, and watching the magic of Disneyland consume my daughter. It was a full circle moment and life doesn't get any sweeter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Trip Part 4, The Aquarium and Beach

We knew 3 straight days at Disney would be a little much. So, we broke it up with a trip to the Long Beach Aquarium. It's a nice small aquarium that took us about 1 1/2 hours to walk through. Perfect amount of time for 2 small children. Ben got a bit grumpy, but Emily was having a blast.

She loved looking at all the fish.

The both enjoyed watching the sea lions.

They touched a sting ray.

David touched the shark.

Everybody got a hand on the starfish, except me. I'll look but don't want to touch.

Then, we headed off to Huntington Beach. It's October and windy and nobody was there. It was nice to have it to ourselves. Luckily, the wind didn't bother us when we were by the water as a little hill protected us. But, when we tried to have lunch, we were sand blasted. We ended up eating in the car. Salami and sand...not so good.

Emily was super excited to be at the beach. This was Ben's first trip to the Pacific.

We took a walk along the water and gathered sea shells.

Ben ran on the beach. Although, he runs everywhere.

The day wouldn't be complete without a group hug with Dad.

After we returned home, David asked Emily what her favorite thing was. She replied, as she usually does, "I don't know". He went through everything with her. After hearing all that we did, she decided gathering sea shells on the seashore was her favorite activity. Great. I spend $477 for Disney tickets and she likes the free activity best! Doesn't that figure?

Our Trip Part 3, Princesses and Toy Story

With a 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy, we can't escape the princesses and Toy Story. Who are we kidding? I love it too! We had heard about a great experience of having dinner at Ariel's Grotto with all the princesses. We HAD to do it.

We were greeted by Ariel herself, The Little Mermaid.

We were waiting for dinner and King Ben was having a good time.

Uh oh, what happened to the good time?

Here comes Snow White.

Ben even got in on the Snow White action.

Here's Belle from Beauty and The Beast.

Emily had never seen Mulan, but she loves one of her songs on her Princess Sing A Long DVD.

Jasmine from Aladin.

I kept telling Emily Cinderella would be there. I mean Cinderella is the Princess of all Princesses. It must have been her day to scrub the floors again because she wasn't there. Apparently, you get 5 Princesses only. Who knew? Emily was a little disappointed. But, we saw her in the parade later, so that made up for it.

It was Ben's turn now. We went to Woody's Round-up and saw a great little show with Woody and the gang sans Buzz Lightyear. He doesn't sing and dance. Ben was so excited to see Woody, he ran to the side to get a peek at him.

Then, when it was his turn to go up and meet Woody, he was freaked out. Go figure.

Here's Emily and Jesse.

We did see Buzz later in TommorowLand. Ben was in awe.