Thursday, April 30, 2009

Maisy Day

As it turned out, a young man said that he would take the boy puppy, so we just got the girl. Do I sound disappointed? I'm not. The relief that washed over me as I heard we were only getting one made it pretty clear where I stood. First off, the boy turned out to be quite a handful. He'd already led the others out of the backyard at the dairy their second day there. Said escape required pulling down lattice! Secondly, it would have been cool in a couple of months to have both, but the initial expense of one is more than enough for us right now.

Crate = Free (thank you Nance!)
Puppy package of shots + an exam by the vet = $162
Lab tests on poop for parasites = $42
Assorted toys, food, bowls and a bed = $175
Leash and collar = $20

Return them because small dogs have delicate bones, collars are no good = -$20
Buy a leash and harness even though you've now heard that collars are just fine = $22
More toys (what, you didn't get squeaky toys? no soft plushy things for the dog so she doesn't snag Mad's?) and some snacks and shampoo because somehow you forgot them = $25
"Extra Tall" Puppy playpen (that actually shows a huge dog sitting obediently inside) = $86
Take it back because right after Tom said, "I give her three weeks" she jumped out = -$86
Largest wire kennel available because you want her to be able to play during the day = $132

***And we're wondering why the 30K tune up might have to be done in bits and pieces each week?
We all wanted to name her, of course. I suggested that we each come up with something and then vote.

Corey wanted to name her Bebeh, but after he hung out with Destiny at our friends' son's birthday last weekend and she suggested Ellie, that was what he entered.
Tom chose Teebeedee (as in To Be Determined).
I made several suggestions, but when it was voting time I submitted Maisy.

She is such a Maisy.

Corey loves her, but not more than his sister. When Maisy's getting too frisky with or around Madelyn, it's clear whose side he's on. Still, he's been just as likely as any of us to be the one taking her out at night or first thing in the morning.
Madelyn is used to little dogs since she spends her days with the ones at my dad's place. However, during much of the times when Mad's awake, they are either in their kennel or out back. Mad loves Maisy in her crate. She is intrigued by Maisy in the kennel. Heck, she's intrigued by the kennel. It's tall enough that Madelyn can walk right into it without ducking. Mad is less thrilled about the tug-of-war she and Maisy had over the box of Kix that Madelyn likes to get from the cupboard when she needs a snack. Same is true about her purple bunny. Toe licking during bottle time is gauche, according to Mad.
Tom is clearly happy to finally have the dog we've talked about for the better part of five years. He and Maisy have already slept together (no, not like that, sicko!), which is the true sign of love between man and dog, I think. This was their first night together:And me? Well how could I not love her? She's sweet, smart, easily getting the whole potty training thing, fun to play with and cuddle, and she makes sure I'm up early enough to get to work on time. Yeah, that last part is good, but I was just getting to enjoy the fact that Mad's been sleeping until 6:15 each morning.
I took Maisy to get her shots the other day. She does have round worms, so that's a bummer, but apparently easily treated. Aside from that, she's in great shape. The general consensus among the puppies' vets is that they're around three months old.
This evening I tried to put her harness on for the first time. I thought she and I could go across the street to get the mail. It reminded me of the first time I tried to put Corey into a high chair. Straps were clearly in the wrong place and he knew it as well as I, but I couldn't figure out what to do to fix it. My next step is to Ask Jeeves.
Oh, here's a little shout-out to some people who don't even know this blog exists: To Andrew and Olivia, niece and nephew of the woman who found the puppies on her property, thank you, thank you, thank you for giving Maisy a bath and flea treatment before we got her. I cannot express how much easier that made our lives.


... at lunch yesterday:

Daughter: "How old are you, Mom?"

Mom: "Seventy-nine."

Daughter: "Does 79 sound as bad as 80?"

Mom: "No."

Dad: "I hated 79, but not 80. Seventy-nine is so old."

Daughter: "And 80?"

Dad: "Eighty is mature."

No wonder I still get acne.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

About My Boy

We haven't had any really big problems with Corey since moving here. Moreover, he has been much more helpful around here than he tended to be at the apartment. Is it a honeymoon phase? I don't know. It's lasted a month. He said he feels safe here, unlike our old place. He loves the house and the neighborhood. I believe he's proud of our home.

Sure, we've had some downs with the ups. For example, Corey nearly garnered a truancy last month for not turning in enough credits. However, as much as Corey is responsible, my mom is also part of that problem. Despite my telling her three different ways in the past month (not to mention countless other times before it was this important) that Corey needs to do schoolwork during school hours, she just doesn't seem to get it. She says she does now. And she's our only solution to the dilemma of what to do with Corey, so we have exceptionally limited options but to try to believe her and otherwise stay on top of things.

One of Corey's major achievements is that he found out on Tuesday that he passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE... pronounced like Casey). Am I surprised that he was able to pass both parts on the first try? No. Am I surprised that he did it? A little. This is my guy who, when being tested in seventh grade by someone who'd never met him before, gave such lame answers that he was referred to a speech program and "how did he get this far with pre-kindergarten skills?!" Yeah, right. When he was pre-K, Corey tested at a second grade level (testing in that case was for entry into a private school... he was accepted for skill and then recommended to wait a year for behavior... I wish I could have gotten a better hold of my ego on that one).

Another major success is that (and I'm praying that I don't jinx myself right now), Corey hasn't been hoarding anything. Not food, not weapons, not things that can become weapons. For the first time in about 9 months we had a counseling appointment that was never angry, hostile or sarcastic... on anyone's part.

Things have been going well enough with Corey that Tom called yesterday to see if I wanted to pick up Madelyn and let him get Corey... something he hadn't offered to do since living here. Too bad we were already up the hill. But it really says something about Tom's being able to let go of a little of his anger regarding Corey's past choices. That's been a righteous struggle for Tom over the past several months. I am sure to be one of a few people who shall be crushed if Corey goes astray again.

This morning I had to drop both kids off about much earlier than I usually do. Corey knew this. I got nearly no sleep at all last night, probably from subconscious worries about being late to an important meeting. Ten minutes before I was going to get up, I heard Corey head down the stairs. He made a bottle for Mad and fed her while I dressed. He was ready when it was time to go. I dropped him off 10 minutes ahead of my have-to-do-it-by schedule.

Tonight, despite how hard things went on Tuesday after I complimented him, I told Corey again that I am proud of how he's handled things this week. It's sad to be fearful of praising your kid lest he self-destruct again, but I focus on the fact that it's worse not to do it anyway.

One of the best things I've ever been able to tell Corey... that I knew he would be thrilled with immediately (he was thrilled about Tom and I getting married and especially about my being pregnant, but I wasn't sure he would be) is this: Tomorrow we are getting a puppy. A little girl whose name has not been chosen. We may also acquire one of her brothers, but that is not a given. Corey will be helping to rescue at least this one dog of three who were left in a box on the corner of a dairy owned by a family I know. As good as he is with his sister, I know he will be with this sweet, skittish, darling being. He may also try to get out of the majority of feedings and any excretory cleanups, but he will show her (them?) love and playfulness. Tomorrow evening will be quite busy, as we need to handle shots and a serious flea bath before we can converge at home (here's an unexpected bonus of living up the hill... fleas are not a problem unless one lives near one of the lakes or the aqueduct... we do not). And since we won't know until tomorrow if the brother is coming, too, we'll have to get the doggie bed and whatever other supplies are still needed.

I'm happy to say that Corey's feeling up to the challenge.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Comin' Together

***Although this post was started on April 11, it wasn't finished/posted until April 22. Until I remember how to change this, it'll read as if from a time warp.
Hard to believe we've lived here a month already. Now I know why shows like House Hunters revisit the new owners after they've been settled in for three or four months. Only crazy people have housewarming/first birthday parties three weeks after moving in.

Of course, only crazy people move in five days before escrow is really closed.

The party went well, though, and I'm glad it's over. And for my coworker who is almost done with her own home buying experience, we have set the bar comfortably low for her party. Most of the stuff we really can live without is still packed up and making a wall in the garage. Our cabinets are still only painted on the ends. Some people loved the color. Some thought it was black. Some didn't care for it. One of the things that I love about them is that they are not for everybody.

Our dining table is still in the box. Staining the chairs has gone very badly. I'm not sure if the problem is that it's a cherry stain or if it's water-based. I'm leaning toward the former, because Corey stained Mad's dresser with a rosewood water-based stain and it came out beautifully. In a couple of weeks I'll deal with that. At the party we just used our old dining table which was, as usual, way too small for the occasion.

The walls are still bare. We still only own three lamps. Thank goodness for battery operated camping lanterns or I'm not sure what Mad would use for lighting in her room. We still have no dishes. Probably Mother's Day weekend we'll deal with that.

We haven't brought our computer desk over from my mom's place yet. I hope we do soon, though. I've used this table of Tom's for the past three and a half years and it isn't that comfortable.

The day of the party was pretty cool. We had just over 50 people in and out. Most of them stayed a lot longer than I'd anticipated. I'm not sure why I thought people might come in, have a tour, snack a little and leave, but mostly they didn't. The only ones who did were Tom's coffee drinking relatives. When my mom arrived without her promised coffee maker (yeah, I have one... I decided to clean it with vinegar... who knew it wasn't supposed to be an entire pot of vinegar? OK, you knew that, but I didn't), I headed off to Starbucks to get some of their travelers. Took a bit longer than I'd figured. If I were a thinking girl, I'd have sent someone. Like my mom. But it would have felt like punishment to her. By the time I returned, the coffee drinkers were gone. They live in Santa Monica and L.A., and felt like our old place was "out there." C'est la vie.

Mad handled the party like she handles anything new and overwhelming. She was confused and upset for a little while, then she was fine. When she saw Grandma Margaret, however, she was free and happy to roam around and check people out. And so was I. Margaret was Mad's familiar face and arms in the crowd. She made sure that Mad got something to eat, gave her the afternoon bottle. And when it was naptime, Margaret climbed our staircase so she could rock our baby in the same chair that Margaret used to rock her own babies.

I point out climbed our staircase because it impresses me that she did it. That she can do it. A few years back she and her two daughters and their five kids were in a van that rolled three times. Margaret was the second most badly injured. The "relatively simple surgery" to repair some broken vertebrae took triple the time we were told to expect. Afterward Dad and I met with the neurosurgeon, standing over Margaret's unconscious body. Dad asked her, "When will we know if she's paralyzed?"

"Mr. S., she is paralyzed. In a year we will know how much she can recover." Ugh! It still pains me to think about it, even though I know what she's done since then.

So having Margaret get up those stairs is amazing. It's not easy for her. She has to use both hands on the handrail (it's not a super wide staircase, so there's only one rail) and pull herself up each step. She'd already been up once to see the place, but for Madelyn she did it again. Margaret doesn't say I love you, but she does.

One of the activities we'd planned for the party was Easter egg coloring. We had 10 dozen perfectly boiled eggs (thanks again, Margaret!) for people to color and take home. Apparently nobody got the and take home part of the message.

Madelyn's part of the party was nice. Naturally my camera wouldn't even turn on when it was time to do the cake (yes, I'd charged the battery the night before... this is just not supposed to be my camera). Meija saved the day by snapping photos for us. The other activity was designing our backyard. Out of all the people there, we probably had a dozen entries. Two were from a six year old boy. His dad also did one, which included grass growing up the sides and dirt overhead. Imagine what the boy's looked like!

We had two prizes: For the winner, a prize of questionable greatness ($50 gift card for Red Lobster/Olive Garden); and for the loser, tools and gloves to come work in our yard.

There were two contenders for the loser prize. One from my friend Jesse. It had four stick people, a rat dog and a tiny house (roughly the same size as the adult sticks) with a chimney. She came in second. The winning loser was Tom's friend Ray. His had a pond with a "No fishing" sign, a horse in a cage (yeah, the yard's decent, but not horse-sized) and an outhouse with yellow stuff leaking out the bottom. Have another beer, Ray!

There were four top choices for winner; two were really pretty and two were very technical. One of the technical ones won. It has a garden on the side (yay!), trees and a place for Mad and Corey to play. Sure, Corey's nearly 16, but he's a very young nearly 16. We can't imagine Steve and Meija eating at Red Lobster, so we're getting them something more appropriate... a gift card for an organic nursery.

We're pretty good about making sure Mad gets organic baby cereal and I make all of her fruits and vegetables and meats. But if we can't find something organic, we move on. When Meija couldn't find organic barley baby cereal for her daughter, she found organic barley and ground it herself. As Tom said, "Whoa. They're hardcore." Props to them.

After the party was over, some of Tom's guys stuck around for a poker game. They're fun guys who really enjoy giving one another a hard time. I had a lot of laughs hanging out with them.
Oh, we did have a neighbor come by to welcome us the day after the party. We thought he was pretty cool right up to the point when he said, "You know, there are a lot of blacks in the area." Oh well, better to know up front than to find out later, I guess (uh... I mean about him... we'd already seen the neighbors before moving here... they looked nice).
Dad and Margaret brought my sister's family up to check out our new home this past Saturday. That evening Mad attended her first birthday party for a friend. She was quite a hit in her party dress.
Since our party day, nothing has been done besides laundry and a bit of straightening. We have only had one evening as a family (tonight). It was spent pulling Mad around the neighborhood in her wagon. We didn't meet anybody, but one woman waved. She's one of "the lot" but saw fit to be friendly with those of us who are pigmentally challenged (do I sound jealous? I might be) anyway. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Shooby Dooby Whoop Whoop!

I'd say it finally happened, but I'm not sure I really expected it would. I periodically participate in the One Minute Writer. The other day I saw a topic that I felt I could respond to, so I did. And I won! My head's about as big as the room I'm in right now and it's mostly a toothy grin.

Check out my cool button and then go check out Beth's site.

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Job#links

Me vs. The World

About a week ago I was stressing at work about how much we need to get done before our party this coming Saturday. Have I mentioned the party? It's an open house shindig for Madelyn's first birthday and our housewarming. How long have we lived here? Well by Saturday, we will have lived here for three whole weeks.

Jill sat down and gave me the old "you have your schedule, but don't forget that the world has its own schedule and sometimes we have to bow to the world" speech. I nodded and agreed outwardly. Inwardly I was thinking, "True, but I still have to get all of these things done by Wednesday."

Many of the things on our to do list are really necessary before Saturday. A lot has been done, but they're not the big pretty things, like painting the cabinets or staining the new table and chairs. Last weekend Tom and my dad installed all the really important blinds, changed our front door lock (again!), replaced a part on the washing machine connection and fixed the garage door opener (it worked fine, but had been disabled while the house was up for sale). I cleaned up the cabinets that Corey and I had started painting. During this past week Tom has been busting his hind end to get boxes unpacked and things put into place.

I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. To say I'm overwhelmed is... not even close. This morning I woke up because I thought I heard someone telling me that I shouldn't be sleeping at a time like this. You mean at 5:15 in the morning? After being up with Madelyn for 90 minutes starting at 3:00 AM because she's got a head cold and her afternoon nap turned into bedtime?

During the past few days I have been paring down the list of have-to-dos. Finishing the cabinets is no longer in the equation. In fact, I'm not sure how they snuck into the equation in the first place. When people show up on Saturday, we will have deep dark cabinets on either end, but the center will be wood.

Last night I finally got to work on our new chairs. We also have a ginormous new table that is still unassembled and raw. It seats 10. Let me tell you how glad I am that the chairs we loved best are discontinued; we could only get 8 chairs. Whew!

Today Corey and I got all the chair sanding done, and a couple coats of stain onto four of the chairs. Tomorrow I'll be working on the rest of them, along with the table. I have to go to work on Friday, so Corey'll be in charge of sealing everything. Lucky for all of us, Corey's helped with every staining project I've ever done, and he's the only one who worked on Madelyn's dresser before she was born. The boy knows what he's doing.

Aside from general cleaning and unpacking, the other things that have to be done are for Tom: installing all the cabinet doors and drawers that are painted; putting blinds in the downstairs bathroom and installing all the toilet paper holders and hand towel bars.

And in the midst of all this, we are getting sick. Margaret has a cough that sounds awful, but she feels great, I guess. However, now Mad's gotten the cough and the muck in the nose to go with it. Tom is also catching something, probably due to exhaustion he's more susceptible. And I... am either PMSing or I'm not.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Baby Goat

When Tom and I first started hanging out, we did a lot of hiking in the local mountains.

***I always assumed hiking was done in the mountains until we went on a "hike" (walk, really) to the highest point in Wisconsin.

I've never been exceptionally steady on my feet, so leaping from this stone to that was never my gig. Tom, however, loves it. And he's good at it. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen him fall. The occasional stumble, sure, but that's it. Tom said it's because he's part mountain goat. Ask him which animal he'd be if he could and it's a mountain goat.

Madelyn has definitely demonstrated her two-sided heritage. The first time we brought her to this home, she mastered the stairs. It's been two weeks and today she insisted that I hold her hands so she could walk up them. Of course the stairs are nearly as high as the length of her legs, so she has to swing her straight leg all the way around to the side and then up and over, but she did the whole flight.

We've unpacked 30 or 40 boxes, but we still have several sitting around here and there. One was in the living room, probably blocking her access to the wiring behind the TV stand. It's a regular banker box. Madelyn started figuring the thing out yesterday. Today she managed to climb up and have a seat. As Corey and I were debating whether I should let her do such things (you can guess where the protective big brother stands), it looked like Mad was going to fall right off because she was trying to sit down where there was no box. But she moved and we cheered. I was pointing out that we have to let her test things out or she'll never learn. Then, for reasons we'll never know be sure of (I'm guessing "testing gravity" was in there somewhere), she very slowly leaned all the way over to the side.

Mad's got a scrape on her temple. Mama, Daddy and Brother all had their hearts in their throats. And Brother spent the next half hour or so glaring and not talking to Mama.

Madelyn will be one in exactly one week. I can't even believe it. I looked on my MySpace blog to see what I'd done on this day last year. Tom and Corey set up the crib. I organized some of my belongings well enough that Tom made files for me, and we swapped out bookcases in our room, from an extra large that might fall on the baby (we had a cinderblock wall in the bedroom, so we couldn't anchor it) to a smaller one that held all of the books we'd gotten from a shower at work.
Here was my last line of that blog: I guess that’s enough for one very pregnant day. I can’t believe we’re into the single digits now. Eight days... and really, today’s pretty much over. I really can’t wait to meet this person!

We didn't know if the baby in my womb was Madelyn Kenzie or Oliver Canyon. It was a pretty exciting time. I worked halfway through that Wednesday. I was so afraid that not having enough scheduled things to do would result in the same "I'm-off-work-and-whew!-I'm-exhausted" feelings I had with Corey. I left work three weeks in advance of his due date. The next morning I felt like I had been concreted to my bed.
This time, I even scheduled an early morning manicure for my first day off. Bev massaged my hands in hopes of helping to stimulate labor. Then I took my car in to get the oil changed. While there I walked a few blocks away in not the best part of town to get a late breakfast. That was an experience! It's an area sometimes known for prostitution, but who'd have thunk that a nine-months pregnant woman wearing jeans and a collared T-shirt would garner any attention.
That evening Tom and I were laying in bed, chatting about our days before he headed off for tennis and I went to the grocery store. Sometime around 5:30 I had my first painful contraction. About 36 hours later, she was born and we knew her name.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I Love This Town!

Having lived down the hill, but occasionally working up here or working with people from here, I had a certain impression of the residents. Desert Rats is what many people call them... er... us. What I had noticed was that the people who came to my test sessions, whether it was for the GED or vocational assessment, were down-to-business, not necessarily polite. Generally speaking, they were also very smart. Considering that my main office... and main source of examinee interaction... was in downtown San Bernardino, smart very well could have been relative.

Oh, okay, I knew it wasn't. There's a sizable Ukrainian population up here, and even the majority of people I tested from Ukraine flew through the tests... in English. Sure, they had an interpreter, but most didn't need her.

Still, we've always said that people from up the hill were a different breed. That could mean the High Desert or it could mean up in the mountains, but either way, they were not the same as the flatlanders.

So I walk around the local shops and businesses with an air of suspicion. Maybe they're just waiting until I'm comfortable, but they're going to let me know I don't belong any minute. Yesterday I was sure the jig was up.

I went to the post office to deal with our mailbox lock. I'd like to add again in such a way that you know I have dealt with this three times now, but honestly, I can't muster the sarcasm. Here's why.

Early last week I went to our post office to see about getting keys for our mailbox. Every couple of blocks shares a box, so we have to have keys. I purchased the lock for $15. The woman who helped me told me I could do that or I could hire a locksmith to do it for about $150. No dummy here, heh! Corey and I couldn't get the old lock out. Tom couldn't either. We meant to get back to the post office, we just hadn't yet.

On Saturday morning the doorbell rang; it was our postman. (Nope, he didn't have to ring twice, but I'll bet he would have.) He offered to change out the lock for us. Half an hour later he came back. The lock turned to the right and we needed one that turned to the left. His supervisor said that if we trusted him, he could take it back to the post office and get the kind we needed. The Monday mailman would install it and give us the keys. We never got the keys, but I wondered if he'd stopped by while we were at work during the week.

Yesterday I went in to see about the status of our exchange. The woman recognized me immediately. When I explained the situation, she asked for my phone number, address and directions to our place. Then she said she was about to go on lunch, but that she'd drop by and get see what she could do. Half an hour later, there she was calling my cell phone. I looked out the window and saw her personal car sitting in front of our mailbox. She had opened it up and there was our mail from this week, as well as a bag with the keys to our new lock. I am still a little stunned. I cannot imagine the Upland post office doing this, and I lived about a mile from there. Our home is easily five miles away... and well away from any place that woman might have been going for lunch, too.

So I am re-evaluating my position. Not on the Desert Rat thing; I'm sure that'll stick. But over and over again I get the sense of living in a small town, even though the population board says we're just over 100 thousand people. Life is good!
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