Monday, November 28, 2011

Going to the Dogs

A few weeks ago, we further cemented our status as typical, suburban, middle-class Americans. We already had the two kids, the minivan, PTA memberships, and the fenced backyard in the burbs. So what else did we need to lock in our status? A dog.

We had been cat people up until two weeks ago. Not cat people in the socially awkward, cat-lady sense of the term, but we had only had cats as our pets for all these twenty years together. The boys have had gerbils and fish, but I don't count those as pets. They are more like science experiments. There is a lot of scientific research to be had with these types of "pets".  How long will a fish live under such unclean aquarium conditions? What will a gerbil do if the only attention it receives is during its biweekly bedding change which is done by a disgruntled mother? You don't really want to know the answers to these scientific queries. But just know that these are not real pets.

Cats are pets and they are easy. Cats like to be fed and have their fur stroked upon command. Then they sleep for upwards of 16 hours a day. Our cats have always had dog-like personalities; they like to be around people. They greet you at the door. But then, unlike the dog, they leave you alone when they've had enough of you.

With dog-like cats, why did we get an actual dog? I can blame it on several friends who have gotten dogs within the past year. Jan, Kelly and Becky - you are all on notice as accomplices in this matter. Your dogs have won my children's hearts or at least created their new liking of the idea of a dog. Up until they were around your dogs, my sons only tolerated dogs. Now they like them (some of them anyway).

I can also blame it on Smokey IX, the University of Tennessee mascot. Every time Smokey is shown during the televised football games, I just melt. I love the idea of a blue tick hound like Smokey, one that is clean, well-behaved, fully trained and unfazed by 100,000+ screaming fans. I could own a dog like that.

And then there's the notion that a boy just needs a dog. I think there was an Andy Griffith episode on that theme. Maybe even a Brady Bunch episode too (remember Tiger?) The boy-needs-a-dog idea was planted in my head during my formative years in thirty-minute, sit-com increments. So actually now, my two real life boys need a dog no matter what my logic might say otherwise.

So, we adopted a pound puppy. She's a mix, though of what we're not entirely sure. She's smallish but not so small that she can't be considered a real dog. We believe there is some sort of Corgi in her lineage due to the squat-length legs. We know she has some hound (maybe just a smidge of blue tick way back in there somewhere) in her because she's got a hound face. She came house-broken (yay!) and she only gets up once in the night to be let outside. She's six-months-old and about twenty-five pounds. We love her already. And so does our cat.

And now both our boys are complete.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts Redux

Happy Black Friday! This is the greatest day EVER!

No really. I don't care about Black Friday. It is the most confounding day ever. I have never understood the allure of spending a day shopping amidst a crazed crowd all hopped up on caffiene and the I-wants and the That's-Mine! I know this is one way some folks spend their holiday family time with shared shopping goals or a divide-and-conquer strategy. But that doesn't qualify as family time for me. The whole idea of the day is a personal affront to what the day before was really meant to be. Thank you, Retail Industry, for always being ready to direct our focus for us. We seriously can't think for ourselves without you.

I have been doing some thinking for myself lately which is one reason my blog has been so sparse this month. I've been thinking too much to post anything. I'm ready to break my posting silence. In the spirit of November, Black Friday aside, this post is about all there is for which to be thankful. Even in the face of a heartbreaking reality, I am still thankful.

I looked back at what I was thankful for this time last year. I go back and read past posts from time to time to see how I've changed or in this case, not changed. Interestingly, my 2010 and 2011 thankful thoughts are so similar in fact that I can just repost my thankful post from last year. It can't be improved upon this year.

Thanksgiving Short List circa November 2010 and still applicable today

We are on the downside of November, sliding quickly into the Thanksgiving holiday and I have not said one thankful thing on my blog this month. Last November, I participated in a bloggers game of listing things I was thankful for. I spent a little time each day thinking of things for which I was thankful.

I didn't participate this year because frankly I have been too busy to commit to anything else. It was the daily posting that I couldn't commit to, not the thinking about my many blessings. I think about those everyday even in the midst of my busy-ness.

Since I only have a few days of November left, I'll have to make a short list of thankful things. In contemplating my short list, I went over my 2009 list. It included some fluff, I must admit. Mocha lattes and wooly socks for example. While they are nice, do they really belong on a list of thankful things? I guess when you live in 2010 middle class America and pretty much have access to most things, they do. Spoiled children rarely appreciate the important things they have.

Since I only have time and space for a short list, I need to get real for 2010. So, here's what I have been thinking about but not posting these past 20 November days:

  • My family. All of them. From the ones I wake up with in the morning to the ones I rarely see or talk to.
I got nothing else on my short list. Sure there are many things that I could mention, many things that are important to me and make my life better, more fun, easy. But my family, all of them, are the most most important aspect of my life, of anyone's life. Have you ever known someone without something they considered a family? They probably didn't have a whole lot of positive stuff going on in their life.

Family, no matter how you define yours, is a web of support and a safe haven from the worries of the world. I've got that. I am thankful for that. I hope you have that too.

So as to not be overly sentimental and schmaltzy about the family thing, let me point out that my family is also a source of belly-laughs. We all have a great sense of humor. I know everybody thinks themselves funny, but my family really is. Just ask any of us.

I guess having a funny family would be second on the short list. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my funny family this holiday season.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween of Epic Fail Proportions

While the department, grocery and big box stores are already stocked, ready and have you thinking ahead to Christmas, I am going to bring you back in time. We'll only go back a few days. But I'm not ready to zip past Thanksgiving and embrace the big winter holiday just yet. How could I? I haven't told you about our Halloween celebration yet.

After last year's Harry Potter masquerade, I felt we had a challenge ahead of us this year if we wanted to better our costume showing. How could we improve on this?

We even hired extras to go along with us as Mr. & Mrs. Weasley.

Let me preface this whole thing by telling you up front - we did not exceed last year's high level of clever costumery. We failed. Lack of cohesion was our downfall. I had some grand ideas for our family costumes, the best being to dress as the partial cast of "Gilligan's Island."

Then the fight ensued..."I'm Gilligan!"     "No, I'm Gilligan!"

My suggestion that there be two Gilligan's was promptly shot down as a terrible idea. That's not possible, they said. Being so young, inexperienced and unfamiliar with Gilliganology, they didn't know that there were in fact two Gilligans at one point.  They didn't recall the episode "Gilligan vs. Gilligan" in season 3. You know the one with the Soviet agent sent to discover the castaway's true mission? It happened.

The Gilligan costume argument was so heated, the kids revolted and decided to go out on there own. By "revolted" I mean, they decided not to dress up as a group with their parents. Lack of cohesion killed the groupthink.

Hubby and I were voted off the island so to speak. Which gave me another great idea: my husband could dress as an IT executive who was dressed as a Survivor contestant. So we raided his closet for a threadbare dress shirt and slacks, ripped and shredded them a bit, then rubbed them on the garage floor to emulate the dirtiness of tribal living. We made a buff. He wore a fake immunity idol and he carried a backyard tiki torch. Perfect. Sadly, there are no pictures to record this fabulous costume. Photographer, how did that happen?!

Now that the husband's costume was taken care of, I had to come up with something for myself. I wasn't about to go as a female Survivor contestant. I am not a twenty-something that could strategically wear a buff to cover all the important parts. And while I am a forty-something, most people don't enjoy looking at the forty-something female Survivors, no matter where they wear their buffs.

But I wanted to be clever and the pressure of last year was looming heavy. So I searched the internet for "great costume ideas" and chose one. I laughed out loud when I read it. I thought it was super-clever and easy to do. I have everything I needed in my own home already. Here it is:

Isn't that great?! You know what I am, don't you? I knew you would get it. Strangely, every person who actually saw me at the two Halloween parties to which I wore my costume did NOT get it. What? You actually don't get it either? You were just being polite?

Okay. Let me help you. Maybe it would help if you could read my sash better, although the folks at the parties had no trouble reading my sash. It says, " Blessings."

Now you get it, right?

No? Really?

Yeah, I didn't think so. I'll just tell you, like I did all those party folks. I'm a "blessing in disguise."  Apparently, dressing as an idiom is not as clever of an idea as I thought. It sounded so much better when I read it on the internet really late that night, the night before the party when I was running out of time. Maybe it was the idiom itself that made it an epic fail. Maybe the  "bird in the hand is worth two in the..." idiom would have gone over better. I don't know.

Anyway, back to kids and their revolt. By "on their own" I mean, they told me what costumes I had to make for them. Looking back, I am not sure which part of me making their costumes equates to being on their own but that's what a mother does. Maybe I should have dressed as an indentured servant? So I, the indentured servant, got busy and here were my tools. Orange t-shirts and a hot hot iron.

Velour iron-on letters and a bag of candy corn.

The candy corn has nothing to do with the costumes and everything to do with keeping me happy and vertical in the wee hours of the night while I ironed on FORTY-FOUR individual letters on the TWO t-shirts.

But I'm not complaining. I was happy to see my two Percy Jackson clones, happy in their costumes. Happy because they really were dressed like themselves...t-shirts, jeans, the hoodies that they donned for Trick-or-Treating. Perfect costumes for my boys who don't like to draw too much attention to themselves.

The Lightning Bolt was an extra touch.

You can tell which one was into the role a bit more than the other.

Even with the lost Survivor photos, the failed idiot idiom costume and boys dressed like...boys, we still got copious amounts of candy and tons of fun with our neighborhood friends.