Day 19: An Ode To My Dog

Gotta capture his sweet moments

I didn’t want a dog. I’m allergic. I didn’t want to do the work. I knew the responsibility would fall to me.

I wasn’t really wrong.

Look at how cute he was, though. Like you could resist.

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He was naughty at first. Nipping hands, scratching arms…

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He even did a lot of damage to the furniture.

We used to spray bitter apple on everything to deter him from biting, chewing, and otherwise destroying. It helped a little bit.

Those first few years were TOUGH.

People have said, “Oh, he’s a labradoodle – it’s that lab side of him that makes him so playful and young – he’s gonna be like a puppy until he’s about four years old.”

Uh. What?

But he’s gotten mellower, our puppy has. And though he’s still a bit on the excitable side, and though he still likes to chew the heck out of everything, he’s so much a part of our family that I can’t imagine our world without him.

When he catches a glimpse of The Princess walking home from her bus stop, he races back and forth from one window to the next until she approaches the front door where he waits, tail wagging, to greet her when she enters.

When he hears Pumpkin’s bus, he stares intently out the window until she starts walking up the driveway and then he races to the door to welcome her home.

Yesterday, The Princess didn’t come home. She had rehearsal for her school musical.

He saw her friend approaching and did his typical window race and then he waited.

And he waited.

And he waited.

And she never came in the door.

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And he was sad.

Tonight, I picked the girls up from their dad. Puppy was eager the whole way, standing next to my seat. We pulled in the parking lot and I asked, “Are you ready to see your girls?” He jumped onto the passenger seat, tail wagging, his eyes scanning the parking lot. Waiting for his people.

It’s these kinds of things that make me love him more – that he knows that we love him and that he loves us back. Just as he matters to us tremendously, I can tell that we matter to him. That his demeanor is different when the girls aren’t around, that he actually appears sad when he doesn’t get to curl up with Pumpkin in the morning to watch cartoons or in the evening with The Princess – you can tell his puppy world is off kilter.

As I type, he’s curled up next to me on the couch. I love this time of day, just the two of us – one with opposable thumbs and one without – just holding the couch down.

The girls are home and my house is settling from the loudness that’s been missing for the past few days. I can tell he’s feeling it – and is now joyfully exhausted. His people are home.

I’m glad I was forced to cave in to the whole ‘getting a puppy thing’ because my life is better with him in it.

I can easily say that now that I’m out of furniture for him to chew.

Thursday Ten: Questions Edition

1. We took Sir Pups-A-Lot to the vet for his check up on Monday. The verdict? His fracture is not only NOT healing as they want it to, it looks WORSE. They kept him over night and they resplinted his leg. We’re supposed to keep him calm. Any ideas as to how to keep an active puppy calm?

2. Yesterday, I was downloading some apps to try on my phone. I’ve gotten a few great pitches lately for iPhone apps to review (keep an eye out, y’all – some really interesting things) – and I like to give them a fair shake when I’m trying them. One app kept crashing every time I tried to open it. I got a little freaked out thinking, “Rut roh. What’s wrong with this app?!” Turns out – it wasn’t the app. The app is actually pretty cool. The problem was my cranky phone needing to be restored. Ugh. And whew. What are your current favorite CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT apps for your iPhone (or other smart phone)?

3. I took my children to see “Ramona and Beezus” last week, despite the reservations I had about Hollywood messing with my childhood. Turns out it was pretty cute. Some awesome casting put John Corbett AND Josh Duhamel in the same movie (thanks, Hollywood!). I loved that it was a nice sweet movie for my kids – and it tied so many things from the stories I remembered into the movie. I didn’t love how expensive it is to take kids to the movies. Ugh. What’s the best movie you’ve seen this summer?

4. I went on a music downloading spree yesterday – downloading mostly those overplayed summer songs that have been polluting my brain the past few months. A recent favorite of ours is “The Only Exception” by Paramore. Oddly, I’m not really a Paramore fan – I can take or leave them. Pumpkin really loves this song though. What summer hit has been your favorite this year?

5. Yesterday as a whim, I bought a pack of Hostess Chocolate cupcakes 100 Calorie Packs. I should point out that while I realize they have no nutritional value, I do often crave sugary snacks, and limiting myself to 100 calories is generally a good rule of thumb. I also feel I should point out: THIS IS NOT ENOUGH CUPCAKE. They are tiny tiny tiny. While they are delicious lilliputian bites of cupcake goodness, they are just that: LILLIPUTIAN. Have you tried these things? Are you a sugar snack person or a salty snack person?

6. As I type this, Pumpkin is snorting at me. Like a pig. Surefire way to make me laugh. (HA HA. Made you look. No question here)

7. A great deal of my friends are in New York City today for BlogHer. I am not in New York City. Do I wish I was? Yeah, kind of. I am sad to not visit with some of my favorite people in a totally different place. I would love to be travelling right now. If you are in NYC, will you send me a souvenir (like a pretzel from a streetside vendor – I don’t care if it’s like a brick when it gets here, I just think it’d be funny)?

8. It’s Project Runway night! If you’re hooked on the show (as I am), do you have any early favorites?

9. And now, Pumpkin is filming me type this with my Flip and I’m glad the batteries are dying because my clothes don’t match, my bra strap is showing and my hair looks like a big frizzy tornado. It doesn’t matter that the kids have a playroom full of toys, they love playing with my phone, my Flip, my camera (but not my dSLR. That’s off limits). Funny how that works, right?

10. Just over a month til school starts. I may blog later about the idiocy of the Michigan law that requires public schools not start until AFTER Labor Day (BOOOO MICHIGAN!), but for now, I am seeing lots of tweets and Facebook statuses about kids starting school soon – Some even THIS WEEK?! When do your kids go back to school?

Weekly Winners, Week Ending 7.31.10

So, the puppy’s leg is fractured, there was a birthday in the house, and… uh… what else? I’m sorry, summer is just a big giant blur and each day blends into the day before it. It’s probably no surprise, after listening to me gripe about winter and now gripe about summer that I am not a fan of weather extremes — spring and fall? I love ’em though.

"I bet this is how your kids, and grand kids, are going to remember you. They aren't even going to remember you had eyes."

Sugar dusted chocolate chips.

Isn't this the saddest thing you ever saw? Now that he's on the mend, he's got a tremendous amount of energy though. It's kind of translating into aggression. CANNOT WAIT til the splint comes OFF.

I love how my dirty mirror almost looks like fancy bokeh. It's not bokeh! It's toothpaste splatter. Awesome.

Yes, it's probably one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

My kid brought this bear into my office - one more thing on my desk. I suppose if I cleaned it, I could actually use it. The rubik's cubes are for a photo project I haven't done yet.

Check out more weekly winners via LOTUS

Somedays Are Just Puppy Days

It used to be when someone would tell me, “Oh, we’re thinking about having kids – but first, we figured we would practice by getting a puppy” I would laugh hysterically at them – on the inside, of course. Silly people, I would think condescendingly, you can’t put puppies and babies in the same category. They are hardly comparable. It’s just too different.

Well. I was right.

You cannot put puppies and babies in the same category because frankly (and this comes from someone who has had two babies): BABIES ARE EASIER.

Think about it: You tuck your newborn safely into her crib – you don’t have to worry that while you are out of the room, she might wake up, find your favorite pair of flip flops and sink her already sharp little teeth into them. A, your little baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and B) yeah, she can be safely confined in her crib*.

Or you need to run an errand and you can do it because your baby is wearing a diaper and isn’t likely to go to the bathroom all over the laundry detergent aisle of Target (partly because your adorable baby is probably wearing a diaper**).  Also, most stores allow babies in***.

And if your baby gets hungry while you are out and about, well, feeding is pretty simple too – no matter if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Both options are pretty portable. Schlepping a puppy’s bowls and doggy food? Not so much.

I feel that we’ve spent the first few weeks of our puppy’s life with us pretty much hanging close to the home front. First, we were house training him. It was pretty important to effectively AND QUICKLY get the pup trained to reduce mess, stink and inconvenience. Training took just over a week – which I credit to persistence in getting pup outside OFTEN.

Though originally, I intended to use the crate far more than we do, frankly, I don’t want to leave him in it for hours. We plan outings around his meal times (three times a day) and when he might have to go outside to “do his business”. And while we could CERTAINLY ease up on the freaked-out-edness and just LEAVE THE FREAKING HOUSE ALREADY, we’ve been kind of revolving around the puppy.

Yeah. It’s tiring.

I’ve joked for a long time how I am not really a niche blogger – I don’t have any one thing I talk about more than any other thing. Til now. I am talking about this puppy an awful lot, I realize – and please please please do not let me turn into a PET BLOGGER!  I’ve always had a tendency to just write about what’s going on and these days, that’s what is going on. Soon, this pet-owner thing will be smooth sailing – we’ll have adjusted on this learning curve, and I won’t be panicking (I hope) about the puppy’s tendency to nip and how I can’t get Pumpkin to be consistent and work with me on training him (“But MOM! I don’t WANT to tell him ‘no bite’!”).

I figure if there were any other new member of our family, I’d probably be writing about that a lot. And that’s what this doggy is. Despite the fact that I never really wanted any pets, didn’t want a puppy – he’s a part of our family. He’s a lot of work – so it’s a good thing he’s so photogenic.

*Yes, Puppy Dog has a crate, and yes we use it – but not nearly as much as I thought because now he’s house trained and I don’t want to just banish him to crate-hell all day.

**I know they make doggy diapers. I think they’re weird.

***Nevermind the rude stores that give you the evil eye if you walk in the door with a baby. Who likes THOSE stores, anyway?

Thursday Ten: Away and Back Super Speedy Edition

1. I left at noon yesterday to venture to Northern Michigan to visit Rachel who was in town for the Cherry Festival. Less than 24 hours later, I was on the road headed back home. Totally worth it. It was fun to visit with friends, be some place different, NOT COOK DINNER (festival lemonade and pretzel for dinner! Yum!), and just relax and chat. Even running on about four hours of sleep, I’m kind of recharged. This is a good thing.

2. I returned home to the land of house training a puppy. The girls – those lovely children of mine who begged for a puppy – aren’t as much help as they SWORE they would be… but I’d anticipated that when we agreed to go ahead and get the pup. I do not, under any circumstances, take part in the shoveling of doggy…stuff. That is a job that belongs to pretty much everyone but me.

3. Despicable Me comes out in theaters tomorrow. I was pretty thrilled to have received free passes to see this with my fam – and it’s a fantastic movie. The 3D effects weren’t overwhelming as they are sometimes – which is good because I’m not normally a fan of 3D.

4. Music this week? Uh, the soundtrack of “Despicable Me”. Nah, I didn’t receive this for free – I paid for it – but I really like what Pharrell did with it. It’s kind of a fun (yet KIDSAFE) soundtrack. Pretty awesome.

5. Musically, I also picked up Joshua Radin’s “I’d Rather Be With You”, as that is the song my guitar teacher picked this week. I’d never heard this song before, and I like it – I look forward to checking out more of his music.

6. Strangest addiction of the week? The Boggle app for the iPhone. For just under two bucks, I can Boggle to my heart’s content. I’m not very good at Boggle, but it’s addicting.

7. I have started reading The Girl Who Played with Fire – and I find myself moving very slowly through it – afraid I won’t love it as much as its predecessor. Does anyone else do that when reading a sequel?

8. While at the festival last night, I was craving an elephant ear and was able to resist its charms and eat a slightly less damaging meal. But I will get at least one elephant ear this summer because I LOVE THEM AND THEY BELONG IN MY BELLY. What is your favorite amusement park/carnival food?

9. Do you know how hard it is to not talk about puppies all the time when it seems like 80% of my life these days involves watching a puppy for signs he is about to pee on the living room carpet? I’m really not wanting to be a pet blogger (I don’t need no stinkin’ niche), but it’s just what life is these days. Soon, I hope to leave my house on a more frequent basis again.

10. The weather in Michigan has been insanely hot this week. Humid and hot and gross and yucky. Yes, yucky. I would take our meteorologists on the local news more seriously if they started legitimately employing “yucky” as the descriptor of our summer weather. Today, there’s a break from our 90+ degree weather. But mother nature has replaced stifling temps with… rain. Yucky.

Weekly Winners – It’s Mostly About the Puppy

In a week where the biggest thing that happened is that we got a new puppy, I guess you can expect that yes, there’s lots of pictures of the new pup who is so freakin’ adorable (thank goodness, because… I’m pretty sure I’m allergic. Send Zyrtec. STAT).

For more awesome Weekly Winners, go visit Lotus, and the rest of the WW participants.

And be sure to have a very Happy (AND SAFE) Fourth of July!

Yep. He chose us so we choose him.

We're crate training. The first day? It was NOT fun. Little Dude likes his crate much better now.

Yep. He's kind of stolen our hearts with the cute.

He's usually this mellow. Chillaxin' in the grass.

Oh, but wait! We didn't just get a puppy. I bought myself a new lens too.

Happy Fourth of July, y'all!

Thursday Ten: Not So Despicable Edition

1. It’s been a week since I was able to head to a sneak peek of the movie Despicable Me and I was SWORN TO SECRECY (til now) and couldn’t tell you about it.  My family goes to see quite a few kid oriented movies and it’s been a LONG time since I’ve enjoyed one as much as I enjoyed this one. I loved the story line, the voice cast is incredible (Steve Carrell, Julie Andrews – like, whoa). And usually 3-D is hard for me to watch – it gets too overwhelming. Not this time. I really loved it, as did my kids. Bonus: The music was done by Pharrell Williams – and I’ll be picking up the soundtrack when it becomes available on the 6th. Despicable Me is in theaters JULY 9.*

2. During the summer, guitar lessons are temporarily NOT on Thursdays, a change that somewhat throws me off. My lesson this week went well though. Next week, I take a break from telling my teacher what I want to learn and letting her pick something for me. I’m kind of excited to not know what comes next.

3. Speaking of guitar lessons and my guitar teacher… when I was in class, she mentioned her sister recommended a group to her and they reminded her of the folks from Once who sing “Falling Slowly”. She’s well aware that I love that song, so I asked her for the name of the group. They are The Civil Wars, and you can download their album free from their site (it redirects to their MySpace page). Lovely acoustic-y singer/songwriterly people. Love this song, “Poison And Wine” which was played on an ep of Grey’s Anatomy.

4. Puppy comes home tonight. We purchased his crate last night, and I’m in the process of researching everything I can about crate training and house training a puppy dog. Pumpkin got quite upset with me when I said that we’d be keeping DoggyDogg (no, not his name!) in the crate quite a bit initially — but, I think we’re all on the same page now. And if not, the crate is such a pain in the heinie to open that I know she won’t be able to sneak the puppy out.

5. Eclipse -did you see it? Are you going to? It’s funny when I think of how much I was looking forward to the original Twilight movie coming out… and then I didn’t love it. I’ve been kind of “over” it all since then. I’ll be sitting this one out.

6. Fourth of July weekend is coming up and I have no plans but house training a puppy. That sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I’ve never been one to make big July 4th plans though. I don’t even remember the last time I went out for fireworks – though, I’d kind of like to try to take some pictures of the fireworks this year.

7. Yesterday the Mother’s Helper was at our house to help me out while I was doing some work (and running Stepson from A to B back to A again – this ferrying around a teenager nonsense is tiring!), and she let The Princess use the Easy Bake oven. With my love of baking, I don’t know why I hate the Easy Bake as I do, but I really really don’t like the Easy Bake. Seems an awful lot of work for little scraps of cookies. It’s not even enough to knock the edge off a cookie craving. But she made a cookie for me to eat while I was working.

8. Yep, it was the Greek yogurt somehow making me sick. The thing is? Regular yogurt seems too sweet now (and I don’t love the texture). I will just take my chances. That’s some yogurt love, there.

9. I bought myself a new lens yesterday. It was not the priciest lens on my list (by far. Unfortunately I picked a really pricey hobby), but I’m hoping that it gives me a versatility I’m not currently getting with my 50 mm. I sure do love my 50, but I needed a little more flexibility in composing shots.

10. Reality TV Nit Picking: I really don’t like the way “So You Think You Can Dance” is set up this season. I think I was sleeping when they explained WHY they were doing this all-star version this way, but I kinda preferred when it was two contestants dancing versus a contestant and an all-star. And clearly I’ve already devoted too much time to thinking about it.

*Full disclosure: My family was given complimentary passes to the movie but the opinions are my own, as always.

I Caved.

Yes. Take a minute to absorb the cute.

After much begging and pleading on behalf of the shorter people in my home, I have caved and said, FINE. We can get a dog. Previously, I’d been following the college dorm rule of pet life: If you can hold it under water and it doesn’t die, you can keep it as a pet.

Thing is, fish die. We’ve had two fish die in the past six months and frankly, the girls wanted a pet that could be more easily embraced into the family. They wanted a pet that they could love that might love them back, a pet they could hug and take for walks. A fish may be nice and quiet and a fish may never poop on your carpet but hugging a fish isn’t fun. Also, it’s messy.

Hence the totally adorable labradoodle that we’ll be picking up tomorrow night. The Princess researched to find a breed that would be most likely hypoallergenic, which is a nod to the whole “mommy likes to breathe” thing, and we’ve purchased a book on dog training (positive training, yes).

But, I’m looking for other puppy wisdom. Like babies, there are 101-bajillion things on the market for your pet – and some I’m guessing, I probably don’t need (seriously – I saw doggy diapers at PetSmart yesterday). What do we need for our little puppy? Any training tips you recommend? Help a girl out.