The Weekly Recap: Puppies, Rotten Pumpkins, and a Whole Lot of Feelings

To say that this week has been full of emotions is a ridiculous understatement. I haven’t had words to put to the emotions, but now that the weekend is here and rest is available, I’m sure the words will come. But for now, let’s simply catch up on the family news.

All the falling leaves….

We actually got some yard work done last weekend, which really means that I finally mowed the lawn. I brought out the rake and had May Lee rake up the leaves that the lawnmower didn’t get. Honestly, when it comes to leaves, I’m not one of those people that care about having a neat and tidy yard. I am more of the “circle of life” mindset, meaning the leaves fall to the ground and decay for a reason- it enriches the soil. Therefore, I feel silly sweeping nutrients into a bag where they serve no purpose. I guess I’m just a little granola that way. Even so, my daughter is in desperate need of lessons about work, so this small raking job was a good opportunity for the lesson.

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The end result was a small pile of leaves just right for jumping into, so that was the reward for her work. She jumped and had herself a ball, and when her pile was in complete disarray, she got out the rake and worked until her pile was back together again. Thus, the lesson of “put in the work so you can have the fun” seemed to come full circle. Even better, we invited the neighbors over to jump with us, so it was a merry time for all!

The chill of winter and the single-parent budget:

The 80-degree temperatures have finally given away to more seasonable temperatures, and for that I’m grateful. Grateful, but unprepared. My budget has been very tight, and I have been able to set aside only $30 for a coatcoat for May Lee. You are probably well aware that coats for children cost about twice that, but wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from The Children’s Place that all outwear was 50%-60% off. Blessings come in many forms, my friends, and this was a blessing to this single parent. Due to this sale, my $30 got this adorable puffer jacket (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322455/3971) and a pair of gloves (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322535/3971). With the free shipping, my dollar stretched as far as it could possibly stretch, which makes for guilt free shopping (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/316382/3971)

For this reason, I decided to become an affiliate for The Children’s Place. The links above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Free and discounted clothes are a big deal to a single-parent budget!

Training for the St. Jude 10K:

img_2570Training and fund-raising for St. Jude is still going strong. Despite the insane amount of stress eating that occurred this week, I was still able to hit the 5K mark on Tuesday evening. As what I like to believe to be a cosmic reward, I found this $5 bill on the ground. What a nice treat- a dollar for every kilometer run! If this is what the metric system is about, then it has my full support.

The animals:

Part of my job involves lab puppies, and sometimes these puppies are with us a few days before their owners arrive. In these instances, a staff member usually takes the puppy home and cares for it until the owner arrives. This week that staff member was me, and I brought home this adorable baby for May Lee to enjoy for a night. You may be thinking that this was a recipe for disaster, given the propensity of my own giant lab to be completely wild and of my elderly cat to be downright evil. The img_2581same thoughts occurred to me, but I did it anyway. We actually had a very lovely evening. My daughter just about exploded from the love in her heart for this little baby, and my heart just about exploded from watching the two of them play together. I even put the puppy and the child to bed together, where they curled up sweetly and slept peacefully all night. (I did wake up at 3:30 and take the puppy out to potty. He went right back to sleep after that.)

However, around 3:45 all hell broke loose and stayed loose for the rest of the morning. Shortly after returning to my bed from taking the puppy out, Stax began to whine. Upon investigating, I discovered that he had pooped in his crate. I made short work of the clean up process and returned to bed, sleeping fitfully until my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I got up and strategically went to work preparing everything we would need for the day in light of the fact that we had a puppy to work into our morning routine.

I woke May Lee up and put her in the shower. In the meantime, I prepared breakfast for the puppy and placed it and him in Stax’s giant and freshly cleaned crate. I thought this excellent plan would let us be about the business of getting ready while the puppy was safely in the crate. The puppy disagreed adamantly, whining and howling like I’d whipped him and placed him in a crate of nails. As I was helping May Lee finish in the shower, the puppy was overturning his food and water dishes and working himself into such a state that he would nervously poop in the crate as a result. He then proceeded to tap dance in the poo, creating a mess reminiscent of the one I had cleaned up around 3:45 a.m.

I instructed May Lee to get dressed in the clothes that we had already picked out while I went to hose down the crate and clean up the puppy in the front yard. It was during this chore that I looked up to see my still naked child with dripping hair standing at the door watching me while her clothes remained in her hand and not on her body. As you can imagine, a heated discussion ensued, and as I abandoned the poop-cleaning project to step onto the porch to offer my child whatever assistance she claimed she needed but really was perfectly able to do herself, I stepped on the rotting jack-o-lantern left to compost in the flowerbed.

That’s life, isn’t it? Feeling good about successfully maneuvering around the crap only to step into the rotting pumpkin. C’est la vie…

Somehow, we made it to school on time and free of any particles of puppy poop or rotten jack-o-lantern. This is due in part to my shoving lunch money into my child’s hands and telling her to order lunch. I have to say that overall it was worth it to have the puppy for a night. It has generated several discussions about responsibility, taking care of things, and at what point May Lee will be ready to take on a pet of her own.

All the feelings:

Clearly, the election has stirred up big feelings for everyone, including me. Life quickly gave me a reality check on those feelings with news of the deaths of people I know. Substance abuse and cancer are not only affecting so many families that I know but also claiming lives. This news has both confused and refined my feelings about the election, but both events have resulted in a deepening belief and intensified focus on the core values of this little family. Many important conversations have happened this week, and I suspect that they will continue.

As for today, it is Saturday, and we are going to slow down, rest, and let our systems process and recover from all the emotional hits of this week. More and more, I have come to understand the importance of laying low and being peaceful, even when nothing inside or outside of me feels peaceful. Peacefulness has to be invited to come; it won’t just overtake a person. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, that peace is active. As in, I have to actively and intentionally make a decision and create a time and space for it to come into my life. I have to willingly participate in it.

Long story short, that is what today is about- bringing about peace. I hope your heart and your home are blessed with peace today as well.

 

 

Stax Ate the Internet & Emmy Lou Needs Deliverance

Because I do not fear fate or learn from experience, I seem to continue to invite disaster upon myself. This week I caught myself thinking, “Emmy Lou and Stax have really been low-key this week. I don’t really have any stories to tell about them.” This set off some sort of alarm in my animal’s highly developed foolish owner radar, and they immediately set about creating all sorts of havoc.

img_2265Emmy Lou has continued her reign of terror by sitting upon or lounging across items May Lee and I are currently trying to use. We have both received small yet painful puncture wounds as a result of attempting to retrieve our items from beneath that cursed animal. But it is not only the two of us that have been on the receiving end of her hostile attitude. When the pleasantly outgoing and super friendly pizza man came bearing the large pepperoni and black olive pizza that May Lee and I adore, the cat proceeded to hiss and spit at him as if he were delivering a box full of snakes or trying to baptize her with fire and water.

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The new set up with PVC

During most of this time, Stax had been a complete joy. We were back to throwing the Frisbee and snuggling like old friends. Then, I came home on Friday looking forward to and in deep need of a restful weekend only to discover that Stax had eaten the internet. This was not his first time to eat the internet either, so measures had previously been taken to ensure that he could no longer reach the cable running to the house. In order to eat the internet this time, he had to some how work around the modified fence placed around the cable and the lawn chair turned upside down and placed against this fence in hopes of discouraging his mighty Labrador nose from butting into any crevices that may eventually open up with consistent nose-prodding and allow him to access the cable with his teeth. Somehow, without disturbing the upside down lawn chair, he managed to find and chew the internet cable.

By now, the true tragedy of this occurrence has probably made its way into your consciousness. No internet means no Netflix and chill. No Netflix and chill while I am battling illness and have weekend plans that revolve entirely around pajamas and movies. I made it through part of the weekend by viewing May Lee’s selections of Brave, Strawberry Shortcake, and Madagascar 2. When that got old, which happened quickly, we made a trip to the library where I stocked up on books to tide me over in the absence of internet access. The tales of the Kennedy men kept me entertained the rest of the weekend.

You may think that since the dog was in major trouble that the cat would have again taken the opportunity to secure her place as “the good child”, if only temporarily. Instead, she saw what the dog had done and raised the angry owner factor to the next level. She took a golden opportunity and quite literally pooped on it, and that was only after she was done urinating on it. And by it, I mean my bedding while I was happily sleeping underneath it.

At this point, I’m not really concerned about the fact that the geriatric cat may have finally lost her final marble. As far as I’m concerned, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Y’all pray for this cat. She needs deliverance. Deliverance and a new home, preferably in heaven….if she can get in the gate.

Just Call Me Ethel: The Adventures of Stax the Conveniently Forgetful and Emmy Lou the Evil

Where should I even begin when it comes to telling the tales of the animals that share my house? I think it is fair to say that both creatures are certifiably insane, but I feel that my life would be a great deal emptier and certainly less comedic if they were not a part of it. However, it would make things a tad bit easier if either one of them could behave themselves.

img_2265For example, when a neighbor and her sweet dog comes over to our yard for a chat, it would be nice if Emmy Lou, the cat, didn’t full out charge the neighbor dog and leave claw marks running down the poor animal’s side. Also, when your friend and her son come to stay for the weekend, it would be nice not to feel that I must arm the child with a foam dollar store sword and instruct him to beat the cat with it should she nip him in the arm again. And finally, it would be much appreciated if yet another neighbor, with both dog and child in tow, could enjoy a leisurely chat with me on my front porch without the constant stare of glassy cat eyes and the twitching ears threatening impending doom at any moment.

You may be tempted to think that the cat has had a good long life, and it would be the best for everyone if her entrance into kitty heaven were somehow expedited. After all, she has had thirteen, possibly fourteen, great years on this earth. One can never be too sure about the birth dates of animals one retrieves from the backside of a shed that is on the property of a business establishment that you also suspect to be housing a bookie operation. I blame Emmy Lou’s rough edges on her early upbringing and pray that one day she will accept salvation in full. Until then, her “guard cat” status in this house appeases my child’s various and ever-changing fears of the night. May Lee may have a reasonable and completely healthy fear of that cat, but she sure does sleep well when Emmy Lou is curled up at the foot of her bed. For now, the cat has secured her place in this home by affording me a decent night’s sleep.

mlstaxThen there is Stax, the yellow lab pup without a home. I think the first thing that we have learned in this story is that I am a sucker for animals in need of a home. Yet, as I write this, Stax has been outside of my back door barking for several minutes and for no apparent reason, because he is not at all enthusiastic in his barks. There is clearly no urgent danger about to descend upon our house. He just feels like being heard, I guess.

To give him credit, he has calmed down since his “surgery”. He no longer throws all of his 80 pounds into my back storm door every time I go inside after feeding him. Stax and I have actually enjoyed throwing the frisbee around in the afternoons, because he is now calm enough to follow commands, like “drop it”. In fact, I was throwing the frisbee for him on Sunday afternoon as I was walking to the shed to get the lawnmower out. It was all fine and dandy until I stopped to pour gasoline into the mower. This is when Stax abandoned the frisbee and trotted off with the plastic carton of lawnmower motor oil in his mouth instead. He also conveniently failed to recall that he knows the command “drop it”, even though he had consistently and obediently dropped the frisbee into my outstretched hand several times just moments before. He was not, however, going to drop the motor oil. He trotted to the left of me, then trotted to the right of me while always coming close enough to taunt me into playing his game of keep away but remaining just out of arm’s reach. All the while, he never failed to hold his head up high as if to parade his superiority at this infuriating game of fetch.

I tried to run through the back door to grab the treats, a sure fire way to ensure compliance to conveniently forgotten commands. But of course, the back door was locked, because I had entered the yard through the side gate and not the back door. I banged on the door for May Lee to let me in. By the time she got there and fumbled with the lock a few times, Stax was circling close, and I was still fruitlessly calling for him to “drop it!!!”. I attempted to snag him, but he alluded me, tossing his head wildly as if to rub in my complete and total incompetence. May Lee opened the door at this point, and I turned to climb the steps. As I did, I heard the thump of the oil carton hitting the ground and turned just in time to see the carton burst open, it’s ghost-like contents spilling onto the grass. Somehow I made it to the carton before the dog did. Perhaps he had his first taste of motor oil and was no longer intrigued with this particular game of keep-away, and this significant drop in labrador motivation allowed me the time to move in. Whatever the case may have been, he earned himself some time in the crate while I mowed the lawn. Even so, I think the scoreboard would reflect that he won that round.

It’s hard to say who could benefit the most from calling in an animal trainer: the crazy cat, the impulsive labrador, or the owner full of good intentions who can easily match the blessed animal’s insanity and impulsivity on any given day of the week. I think for now we’ll just say that “it is what it is” and enjoy the comedy, much like one enjoys the I Love Lucy show… if Lucy happened to be a labrador and Ricky were a cat. As for me, just call me Ethel.

The Weekly Recap: Snickerdoodle Lattes, An Empty Purse, and a Farm for Christmas

 

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This week has continued to be insanely busy with to-do lists that are never-ending. My ability to multi-task has grown substantially, and I think that is due in part to the fact that I’m sitting down and planning my week. I’m not getting it all done, but the structure is helping me use my time more efficiently. I’m working errands and tasks into the margins, so to speak, and I feel like I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts when I set out on my Monday lunch break to run an errand that would end up killing 3 birds with one stone.

A while ago- we’re talking a couple of months, maybe longer- a FedEx package was mistakenly delivered to my house. After a couple of futile attempts to get the package to its rightful owner, I queried the FedEx guys who delivers to my job about what to do with it. He suggested taking it to Mr. Postman.

Monday, I finally pulled into the parking lot of Mr. Postman with the mystery package, my Stitch Fix items to return, and a bill to mail. Friends, let me tell you, when I opened those doors and crossed that threshold, I was in heaven. I was so bumfuzzled by the divine aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the sight of cafe tables and chairs, and the dazzling collection of adorable home decor and gift items that I must have looked like Dorothy taking her first steps into the land of Oz. Somehow I communicated to the barista the nature of my shipping needs, and she took care of me well. Once that errand was complete, I eagerly chatted with her about their selection of coffees, ordered a snickerdoodle latte, and perused the many treasures in the shop while my coffee was being made. I have to say, this sweet little find may have been the highlight of my week

staxThe next morning presented a challenge, as it was Stax’s surgery day. After his escape from the backyard last week, it seemed clear that I could no longer delay getting him neutered. He was also due for some vaccinations, so my excuses for delaying the inevitable were running out. To get him ready for the vet is no small thing. I legitimately need the skills of a rodeo cowboy to get Big Yellow into his harness, but we managed to get to the vet where he promptly marked his territory 3 times. Bless that staff. One of them even helped me get him into the car after the surgery. On the way out of the clinic, we were talking about how confused Stax must be, to which the staff person remarked “Yep, he came in with a full purse and is leaving with an empty one”. I don’t know why, but that cracked me up.

As for my growing girl, it has been another great week. I can no longer escape the fact that May Lee is growing and maturing in leaps and bounds. Last week at her soccer game, she performed the chicken dance and numerous somersaults but gave very little effort to playing the game or following the coach’s directions. During one of the breaks, we had the following talk:

Me: May Lee, I want you to go out there and make a WHOLE BUNCH of mistakes. Like, hundreds of them.

May Lee: Huh?

Me: Yes, I want you to go out there and make a whole bunch of mistakes. I’d rather you make a whole bunch of mistakes than not try at all. And listen to your coach and do what she says.

May Lee ran out of the field and continued on in the same fashion as before. However, during soccer practice this week, I could tell a difference. She was “in it” and not so hesitant. She was trying instead of letting herself get intimidated by her own fears. I was a proud mama. This was quickly followed by another proud moment when we got home and she read 3 little books to me that she had made at school. She’s really growing and coming into her own.

May Lee is also pumped for the upcoming holiday season. She celebrated the first day of fall then immediately asked how many days until Christmas. She cannot decide what she would like to be for Halloween or whether she would like to dress as a pilgrim or a Native American for her school’s Thanksgiving Feast, but she does know what she would like for Christmas. Her Christmas list is as follows: horse, pony, unicorn, kitten, puppy, turtle, an Octonaut set, and toys of all our friends and family. When I heard that last one, I immediately pictured all of our friends and family members as little bobble-head dolls, then I giggled a little bit and wondered if I could actually make that happen.

As for the health journey, I’ve been doing pretty well, but I’ve been really hungry the last couple of days. Plus, I’ve been a little stressed. Therefore, I have indulged, but I don’t really feel guilty about it. I’ve come a long way with being mindful about whether I am eating out of true hunger versus eating because I’m stressed. What I am bummed about is not doing my new morning exercise routine the last couple of mornings. I think I feel more bummed about the missed exercise, because I can tell the biggest difference in my body from the exercise and not the diet change. I haven’t been doing that routine for very long, but just stretching and doing some crunches in the morning has really relieved my aches and pains and my brain fog. So, I’m thinking missing these last couple of days has set in stone my resolve to incorporate exercise of any kind into a lifelong, daily routine.
The weekend ahead looks like it is going to be just as full as our week, with soccer, lots of school assignments, and pulling together a donation for the silent auction at May Lee’s school. But we are going to make time for fun as well as business and hit up a local festival. Maybe a $5 pony ride will satisfy the pony craving and remove said animal from the Christmas list. One can always hope.

Glory, Hallelujah! Welcome to Sunday morning at my house

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There was nothing out of the ordinary about this Sunday morning. It began in the usual way, with a whimpering labrador retriever waking me up 45 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Per the usual, I rolled out of bed, secured all doors that said labrador has no business entering, and released him from his crate. He trotted while I dragged my feet to the back door. He bounded down the stairs while I slowly made my way down to the patio, soaking in the morning twilight. My gaze slowly moved down from the horizon to my gorgeous yellow lab who was gently nudging a dead rat with his nose….A DEAD RAT. The gentle nose-nudging quickly escalated into a little nip to check that the creature is in fact dead, and at that point my brain quickly shed the warm wrappings of sleep and began to quickly calculate how long I had to act and in what way I would have to act BEFORE THIS GOT REALLY GROSS!!!! I believe I started repeatedly screaming “NO!!” at the dog while simultaneously running inside and grabbing no small number of Walmart sacks. With infinite layers of plastic between me and the expired rodent, I quickly scooped up the juvenile rat, tied up the bag, and flung it in a graceful arc over the fence. When it landed on the other side of the fence with a thud, I heaved a little.

Due to the morning’s exertions, I desperately needed some alone time and coffee, and I left Stax outside to eat his breakfast. He let me know that his feelings were hurt that I was foregoing our morning snuggle time, but it was best for everyone’s safety. I enjoyed my quiet time of coffee, reading, and journaling before it was time to wake May Lee up. Once I was able to roust her from the bed and into the shower, we made our way back to my bathroom so I could blow dry her hair. We were only about 2 minutes into the process when I saw something completely un-nerving. I tried to assure myself that it was simply a speck of dirt that didn’t get rinsed out in the shower, but my attempt to remove the speck-o-dirt confirmed that my fear that this was in fact A LOUSE! On the morning of rat removal, my child’s head is also playing host to LICE! Glory, hallelujah! Welcome to Sunday morning at my house!

I finished checking May Lee’s head and drying her hair before I sent her off to get dressed. I commenced to manically pacing up and down the hallway, waiting for some divine revelation as to what plan of action migh be called for at this very stressful moment in time. Flat irons, I heard one time that flat-ironing hair kills the eggs. I have a flat iron. We can do that. Heavens, that lice shampoo reeks and is so toxic…surely there is an essential oil for this. Doesn’t tea tree oil kill everything?! My manic pacing and thinking was interrupted at this point by May Lee’s shrill cry. She summoned me to her room and showed me a picture that she made at school of a honeycomb with real honeycomb cereal. The cereal is now housing dozens of black ants, and it appears that they have invited their relatives to join them in their new honeycomb home. I scoop up the picture and immediately dispose of it. My child falls to her knees with heavy tears rolling down her face. We take a moment to deeply mourn the loss of what she now believed to be her favorite piece of art that she had ever created. After we composed ourselves somewhat, we walked into the living room to plan our next step.

Rats. Lice. Ants. A fire ignited in my belly and rose into my throat. I raised my arm and shook my fist in no particular direction. I pointed my finger all around the room and declared “That’s it. You’re all in trouble. We’re going to Walmart, and we get back, YOU’RE ALL DEAD! YOU WILL NOT TAKE OVER MY HOUSE!!! “. I sensed that May Lee was by my side, and I saw that she was looking up at me in wide-eyed wonder. I wasn’t sure if it was in admiration at her mother’s sudden transformation into William Wallace or if it was fear of her mother’s clearly fragile mental state. She then began to wag her own little finger and proclaimed, “That’s right! We’re going to get you!” I looked down at her and told her to get her shoes on, because we were going into battle. She quickly replied “I’ll get our swords, Mommy!”, and off she ran to collect shoes and swords. That’s my girl.

We are now fully armed with all manner of sprays, essential oils, and toxic chemical agents. We have flat-ironed hair, saturated it with a lice-killing formula, and combed it with the lice comb. All of our belongings are being washed at the highest temperatures and with the harshest chemicals that they can stand. The ants are next, my friends. THE ANTS ARE NEXT, and it’s not going to be pretty. It is on like donkey kong.

PRAY FOR US #ratsliceants