Saturday, December 25, 2010

For Cosmo, Who Will Forever Be Missed

For Cosmo, who passed away at 11:35, Christmas morning.

We love you so much. Our hearts are breaking that you left us so suddenly and unexpectedly today.

You brought so much happiness and silliness and unconditional love (along with snoring and flatulence and copious quanities of hair) into our lives over the last 14 years.

I remember bringing you home from the Humane Society in 1997 -- Just a fat, fuzzy, black ball of love. My constant companion. My parents' first "grandchild."

I remember telling myself that you would NEVER sleep on the bed with me. Then, I caught that really bad flu in Grad. School, and you looked so fluffy and cute and warm, staring up at me with your big, brown eyes. I scooped you up onto the bed, and that was that. Until you got too old to jump up that high, you were my sleeping buddy from that moment forward.

I remember how you used to put yourself between me and John, when we first started dating. Just letting him know that I belonged to you, and that he was the interloper.

What a frisbee dog you were! The hours we spent playing frisbee were some of the happiest, most carefree hours of my life.

You were there for so many important events in my life. Graduate school. Meeting John. My first counseling job. The time we got lost on the mountain in Enumclaw. (I was so scared, lost in the dark. But, you were with me, and that made it bearable.) Getting married. I'll never forget how concerned I was that Dad make sure to let you out to poop before the ceremony. And, what was the first thing Dad said to me, just before he walked me down the aisle? "Cosmo pooped." That will forever be a cherished memory from one of the most important days of my life. You were there in our little duplex, watching me learn how to work a lawnmower. You were there when we bought our house. You grudgingly accepted Lucy as a canine companion. And then, you grew to love her. You were there when each little boy joined our family. And, after a while, you grew to love them, too. Especially their leftover crusts and crumbs.

I'm not going to remember you as you were this awful Christmas Day. I'm going to remember you the way you were on Thanksgiving. The way you pranced out into the snow, looking like a puppy again. Laughing your doggy laugh and munching on snow. And, I'm going to remember you, always, as my friend and companion for all of these years. Sharing so much of my life with me. Always loving me and accepting me, even with all of my faults.

The boys drew pictures of you, today. Foster's had hearts all over it, and Spencer drew spiky hair everywhere. I'm so glad they got to know you.

Our family won't be the same without you, Cos. You were a good boy. A good, good boy.

We love you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sometimes you just need your Mom and Dad.

I have learned, over the years, that no matter how competent and in control and grown up you may think you are...sometimes, you just need your Mom and Dad. Even at the ripe old age of 42. Nothing else will do.

So, I have spontaneously decided to pack up the boys and a bunch of their toys to make the long, long drive over the mountains to see my folks. (Hoping, hoping, hoping the pass will be clear, and I won't have to go out in a blizzard to put chains on the tires, like the last time I made this trek in the winter. Yeah, the 8 hour trip that turned into 12 hours. The very same trip in which my boys ended up peeing in the car, because we were stuck in the mountains for so long, and I burst into tears of relief the second I arrived in our driveway at home. Wait a minute...Why am I dong this, again?) Well, hubby has to work his crazy hours all week, anyway, so it's not like we'd be spending any time with him until Christmas Day. I'd just be doing the usual single Mom thing all week long. So, I called Dad, yesterday, to ask if he and Mom would like a last-minute, pre-Christmas visit from me and the little guys.

The minute he said "Hello", I felt like I was about 10 years old again. "Hi, Dad." Hearing the tremor in my voice, he simply asked, "How are you, honey?"

This, of course, turned the tremor into something that probably sounded a little like a cross between sniffling and whimpering, as I struggled to keep it together.

What I wanted to cry out was, "Dad, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can I come home and just be a kid for a little while again, and you and Mom can take over? I'm so exhausted and empty and discouraged, and I just need somebody else to take the reins for a little while, so I can rest."

Instead, I said, "I'm OK, Dad. I'd just really like to come home for a few days. Would that be OK? We could make it a surprise for Mom. She'll be so excited."

Thus, the plan was set.

I'm so excited. I'm going home. And, for just a few days, there will be somebody taking care of me, for a change. I won't have to do all the cooking. I'll be able to take a nap or two, and maybe even take a bath... I'll take long walks and play in the snow with the boys and my Dad, while my Mom is at home making something warm and yummy for us all to have when we get back. I'll spend at least one full day in my pajamas, letting the boys watch all the cartoon channels we don't have at our place, drinking spiked coffee, and playing cards with my Mom. After the kids are in bed, I'll relax by the fireplace, just talking and laughing with my folks... I'll get filled up again. With love. With optimism. With my usual zest for life.

I can't wait.

If only I could get there without having to drive...


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thank goodness for Scooby Doo and PB&J!!!

You know how sometimes, when an enormous weight has finally been lifted off of your shoulders, it leaves you completely depleted? Or, how about the times when you've had such a stressful day (or week, or year) that you look at the sink that's packed full of dishes and the overflowing laundry and just walk away from it all, simply too exhausted to deal with it? Or those times when you are SO dog tired just from juggling work and motherhood and marriage and doctor's appointments and dentist appointments and bills, etc., etc...that you can barely move? The times when you drag yourself through the door, kids in tow, and know that you somehow have to summon the energy to at least feed your hungry children, even if you can't even summon the energy to take off your own shoes? (Mine are still on, by the way.)

That's when I say, "Thank goodness for Scooby Doo and PB&J!!! A weary Mom's best friends!"

So now, I kick off my boots, pour a glass of red, and try to remain semi-functional until the boys have had their baths, read their stories, sung their songs, and are headed off to Dreamland.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

Conversation with Foster in the bathtub:

"Omigosh, Mom. You are NEVER going to believe this!"

"What, honey?"

"I found out that some of the kids in my class don't think Santa Claus is real! Can you BELIEVE that?!!!" (This said in a tone of such incredulity, that it was all I could do not to bust out laughing.)

"Really? Well, what did they say?"

"It's SO silly, Mommy!"

So, tell me."

"They think the Moms and Dads are getting all the presents! Bwaaa haaa haaaaa!!!"


"Yeah. Giggle, giggle, chuckle. There's no way that could ever happen! How could Moms and Dads get all the presents under the tree by Christmas? They don't have Santa magic! Giggle, giggle."

Leaving me to wonder....Is my little guy going to need therapy for this some day?

Still, I'm happy the magic is alive and well for my boys. Harsh, cold reality is just around the corner, so let's keep as much magic and light and laughter around as as we can, right? Happy holidays.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

You're a mean one, Grinchy - Grinch!

I just came from the grocery store. I could probably just write that one sentence, and that would be enough. I mean, anyone who has set foot in any sort of store since Thanksgiving knows the significance of those 7 words. "I just came from the grocery store." Translation:  "Someone please pour me a huge glass of wine, right friggin' now!"

Why? Because the stores are packed full of Grinches. They may not be green, but they're surly, with mouths pinched tightly closed, brows drawn together into deep scowls, and lips drawn up into nasty sneers. They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, but the expressions are always the same. And, they move lightning-fast, these Grinches, closing in on their desired purchases with a hunter's instinct. Using their baskets and shopping carts as weapons, knocking aside small children, exhausted Moms, and other Grinches in their effort to beat the competition.

As joyful holiday tunes fill the air, these awful people run over toes, snarl at harried cashiers, snatch objects right out of the fingers of innocent people who came into the store happily whistling along to the music, and now just wish they could go back in time and stay home, even if it means that they have to live without bread and milk until 2011. Today, I observed a 50-ish woman, dressed head-to-toe in Christmas wear, from her red and green sweater with the snowman on the front, to the snowflakes dangling from her earlobes (how jolly!) speed up, almost to a jog, so that she could cut right in front of a little old couple who were making their way into the checkout line with about 3 items in their basket. She swooped in ahead of them to begin unloading her own, overflowing shopping cart. The young, exhausted-looking cashier looked up at her and said, "Hello, how are you?" The Grinch-Woman didn't even acknowledge her. This woman, like so many other holiday shoppers, in their annual quest to fill their houses with goodies and to lavish their loved ones with gifts, demonstrate the ultimate in selfishness, egocentricity, and just plain Grinchy-ness. Ahhh, the irony...

I hope they accidentally sit down on the spiky end of a holly bush.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The great Christmas card mystery.

Last year, I only got half-way (or maybe one third of the way) through my Christmas card list. I tried, I really did. But, life was extra crazy last year, what with the do-it-yourself kitchen remodel project that just wouldn't end, the water damaged floor, and other insanity, loaded right on top of the general chaos that comes with living in my household. Anyway, I never did get those cards out.

This year, I vowed things would be different. So, I have actually mailed at least 90% of my cards. (Cue the applause, please.) Yes, I'm feeling pretty good about it. I couldn't find a single decent picture of all four of us together to actually put on the card, but I managed to get some cute individual photos on there, order copies, pick them up, write a yearly update letter, and send them out. I put my husband in charge of his side of the family, this year, so there's a good chance that they may never get their cards, but that's on his shoulders this time around...I'm letting go of a few things.

So, now that they're out, I just get to eagerly anticipate all of the Christmas cards that will be coming our way. I love seeing the photos of distant family, friends and their kids. I love reading the update letters and hearing all about their adventures. All of the cards get hung up around the doorway. It's great. Festive and fun. I look forward to it every year.

Then along came the mystery card.

It was addressed to our family, from a town nearby. It has a cute picture of some really adorable kids. The problem? We have NO idea who it's from. We don't recognize the last name. We don't recognize the names of the kids. We don't recognize the address. We don't recognize the picture. Absolutely no idea. I asked the boys to look at the pictures, in case it was from somebody in one of their classes. Nope. I asked hubby to check at work to see if it came from someone there. Nothing. I asked some of my friends if they knew who it was from. Nada.

So, I'm hanging it up on the doorway with the rest of the cards. Why not? The kids are really cute, afterall.

Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A few burning questions about husbands, kids, life, and such...

1. Why would my husband rather spend all day in the dark than open the blinds to let in a little light? Is it a "Man Cave" thing? Does he not notice that it's dark in the house? How can he just happily go about his business, knowing that natural light is waiting right outside the windows, just a few feet from where he's sitting/standing/eating/watching TV/playing video games/drinking coffee?

2. Where's Robin Hood, when you really need him, huh? I mean, look at the state of our country (if you can do so without bursting into tears or spontaneously combusting). What we really need is a hero to come riding in on his horse, take some of that money all the super-rich are hoarding (and continuing to somehow earn and earn and earn, even while the rest of us hard-working folks are victims of this endless recession) and distribute it a little more equally to the people who need it the most. And, he can do it all while being charming, witty, intelligent, and still finding a little time to make merry. Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Oh, wait. Maybe President Obama is Robin Hood...Perhaps he just needs a bow and a quiver of arrows. Or a horse. Or a few less horse's asses in Congress.

3. Why do boys, of all ages, think farting is so funny? I mean, they seem to actually come out of the womb thinking flatulence is hilarious. It's gas coming out of your rear end. And, sometimes it stinks. Call me crazy, but I just don't get it.

4. Why do husbands say things like, "I made plans for us, honey. Can you figure out somebody to take care of the kids?", and then wonder why their wives want to smack them upside the head instead of leaping for joy at their romantic gesture? I hate to break it to you, guys, but we don't exactly feel swept off our feet, when we still have to arrange for childcare. Walk over to the phone list and call the babysitter yourselves! Now, THAT would be a romantic gesture! THAT would pretty much guarantee that you'd be getting some extra lovin', if you know what I mean. Extra. Special. Lovin'.

5. Why do so many smokers think that throwing their cigarette butts onto the sidewalk (or out the window of their car, or in the park, or next to some little kids' playground) isn't actually littering? I know, I've ranted about this particular topic, before. But, it's not like it's getting any better, right? A cigarette butt just hit the windshield of my car this afternoon, after being tossed out the window of the car in front of me. Anyway, would these inconsiderate folks feel the same way if I dumped, say, all of my used kleenex in their front yard? "Oh, relax. It's not really litter. I just used it to clean boogers out of my nose. Boogers are biodegradable, right? Surely you don't mind me throwing these in your front yard, since you just dropped your cigarette butts all over the public sidewalk where my kids ride their bikes. Right? I mean, it's a free country, right?"

6. Since religious groups are so involved in making policy and promoting home-grown, hand-picked politicians these days, in spite of the founding father's wise regulations regarding separation of church and state, shouldn't they be paying taxes, just like all the other businesses? And, if you think about it, if churches paid taxes, wouldn't that pretty much eliminate the deficit right there? Hmmmmm....Oh, and I can't claim any sort of personal brilliance for this sentiment, because I've seen it on bumper stickers and magnets. But, think about it. We all know, regardless of our personal religious beliefs, that religion, in all of its forms, is big business. Think how much really productive money could be generated, if they just bucked up and paid taxes? Talk about really supporting your neighbors, eh?

7. How come the minute you feel like you're finally getting ahead of your bills, your car breaks down, or your roof springs a leak?

8. What did I ever do to deserve such wonderful parents, amazing kids, a patient partner who continues to love me, steadfastedly, through good times and bad, supportive friends, a career I feel passionate about, an inquisitive mind, and a life that has been rich in laughter and love and adventure? I am so lucky!