Tag Archives: Pets

Uh oh

It’s cute the first time your kiddo says “Uh oh.”

It’s cute the second time, maybe even the third time.

Somewhere around two or three days after learning the word “Uh oh” it dawns on the stay at home parent that “uh oh” is toddler-speak for “Mom, come clean this shit up!” and it becomes infinitely less cute.

This week I did that foolish thing again where I go to the bathroom.  Alone.  I wasn’t gone thirty seconds when I heard “Uh oh” from the kitchen.

I hurried back out to the kitchen and there they were.  Lucy and Fisher.  Covered in baking powder.  Completely covered.

Fish likes to give me this look like he has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on around him.  Like all labs, you can catch him red-handed and he will still do the dog version of shrugging his shoulders.

I didn’t have the good sense to snap a picture before I started cleaning up baking powder.  But even a picture would not have captured the madness.  Dog covered in baking powder.  Floor covered in baking powder.  Baby delighted with herself.  “Lucy!  What are you doing?”  Lucy smiles.  Fish just looks around like he is as innocent as the day is long.  Lucy turns and reenters the pantry and emerges with a handful of dog food.

Kid ratted him out. She knocked the baking powder on the floor while getting him a little snack.  These two are thick as thieves.  Uh oh.


Do the Right Thing

I had one of those moments today where I was forced to make a choice in a split second.  I had one of those moments when neither option is really what I want but the confines of time and the number of arms I have forces me to choose.  I did the “right thing.”  But it didn’t feel good. It did not feel good at all.  And my heart still hurts.


I have told the story here before of how I fell in love with Fisher.  I have admitted that he sleeps in my bed with me. But I have never spoken of the way he tears my heart out of my chest every so often, mostly because I like to try and forget.

He will hop down from the bed and then be unable to move.  Or he will be in the midde of jumping up on to the couch and he will collapse.  A seizure, says the vet.  They do not happen often enough to establish any kind of pattern.  Blood work comes back fine.  No known cause.

His legs crumble beneath him.  He begins to pant and drool.  His eyes look deep in to mine as if he is frightened.  He doesn’t move.  It lasts for a minute, maybe two.  If I am alone with him I hold him in my arms and tell him that I love him and that he is okay, that he is safe.  If I am with MQD or my ex-husband I bawl and sob and say “Is he okay? Do you think he is okay?” repeatedly until I am kicked out of the room.  (I will wait here while you make a mental note – Kelly in a crisis, bad idea unless she is the only adult present.)

This afternoon marked the first time that Fish had an episode while I was alone with him.  Alone with him and Lucy.

Fish and Lucy like to look out the window in the afternoon and wait for the school bus. When it is warm they stand at the door.  When it is cold they stand and look over the back of the couch.  Today we were all snuggled on the couch, Fish with his feet over the back of the couch, Lucy Goose right next to him.  They were watching, waiting for the school bus.  They might have stayed just like that for the thirty minutes it would take for Emily to get home.  I considered reaching back behind me to grab my phone and take a picture of these two but I feared my movement would disrupt this quiet calm.  So, I just watched them.

And then his legs folded under him and he curled in to himself.  Lucy was quick to take advantage of this chance to climb on to his back.  And this was my moment.  My split-second “what the hell should I do now?” moment.  I wanted to take my sweet ten-year-old boy in my arms and hold him, shh-shh him and tell it was going to be okay.  He was scared, he is just an animal.

In that moment, though, we were all animals.  All three of us.  And I chose Lucy. I don’t think I should get a medal for having the presence of mind to grab Lucy and hold her away from my ailing dog.  Anyone with a pet knows that a good dog, even a great dog can be squirrelly when they are frightened.  I could pet his head.  I could shh-shh him but I could not hold him in my lap.  I could not hold him because I had this wild thing of a 13 month-old in my lap instead.  And my heart broke in to a million pieces.

20130304-194359.jpgThose big brown eyes.  The same eyes I fell so hard and fast for long before I became a mother they tore a hole straight through me.  “It’s okay, big boy.  I am right here.  I am just keeping Lucy Goosey safe, baby boy, keeping her from bugging you, okay?  But I am right here, I promise, I am right here.”

I must have told him in a thousand different ways that I wasn’t going anywhere and that I was just holding on to Lucy to keep her from bothering him.  But I knew even as the words were falling from my mouth that it was not completely true.  My big boy was hurting.  And I was protecting my baby.

It was the “right thing.”  But it did not feel good.  It did not feel good at all.

Minutes went by and his breathing steadied.  I sobbed the ugly tears on the phone and Fish calmed down.  So, eventually, did I. The school bus came at 2:37 and Fisher jumped off the couch like nothing was wrong.  Cautiously, I opened the door.  He’d either take a few steps and slow down and I would know that this time, this time was different, or he’d leap off the porch to cover his big girl with kisses.

He leapt off the porch.  I leaned against the door frame and watched those two run up the front hill, all zig-zag across the flower beds.  Lucy pressed her face against the storm door waiting for them to come up the front steps.  And just like that today was exactly the same as every other afternoon.

So help me, if these kids are not the death of me, this dog will be.


Money and Priorities

The decision for me to stay at home with the kids wasn’t easy for me or forMQD.  I had to wrap my mind around being largely dependent on him financially.  Since I would be taking on the bulk of the grocery shopping and management of the household it made sense for me to be responsible for our finances.  It can’t have been easy for MQD to simultaneously turn over not only the bulk of his paycheck to me but also the spending of said paycheck.

So far we have been doing a pretty good job of communicating.  Sharing finances can get messy and I expected there to be more bumps in the road than there has been.  A tight budget means that sometimes you have to go without.  Priorities are what they are and Mom and Dad tend to fall to the bottom of the list.  It’s hard to want to spoil the kids and not have the financial means to do so.  But I grew up in a house without deep pockets and I think it made me appreciate the things we did have.

Sometimes I am shopping and something just jumps in the cart.

MQD, I spent $3 on one of the kids today. But he looks so happy.  It was worth it.

It’s looking like maybe I should have spent $6.  Someone is looking awfully jealous.

Emily Explains It All

Clarissa she is not.  But Em is in the know.

There is a lot going on in her five year old life, and she is taking it all in stride. With the impending arrival of a sibling there has been plenty of talk of babies and new life.  I let her watch The Business of Being Born not too awful long ago and she ate it up.   She is curious and occasionally worried about me.  I think she is right at the age where she can grasp just enough information to make her want more but not she is not quite ready to wrap her mind around the rest.  MQD and I are perfecting the art of simply answering the question that was posed.  Not too much information, not too little. We  will be the Goldilocks of Sex Ed by the time it is all said and done.

About half of the time Em opens her mouth it starts with “Can I tell you   something?”  So yesterday in the car when she asked that very question it didn’t prepare MQD or I for what was coming.  “Did you know you will actually have to watch your wife?  Actually have a baby out her vagina?”

This is when I started furiously typing on my phone.  Typically advice that Em dispenses is good.  But the advice she gives MQD where she refers to me as “your wife” is classic.  “And this is important to know.  It is serious.  It might hurt Mom a little bit.”

And for dramatic effect she begins to get choked up… “And it will come out of her vagina like magic.  And you might be a little nervous, Dad. And a little excited.  I’m just telling you.  It is important that you know this stuff.  You might start crying.  And maybe we can at least read my baby books.  I have two baby books.  We can read them so you will know how it is.”

I had tears running down my face from laughter.  I just want to make sure I get in the right line at the midwife’s office.  I want the magical vaginal delivery, please.

Sadly, all conversation this weekend was not about Life.

I am not counting weekends between now and the middle of January yet. I don’t need to. It won’t be long before MQD has a shared Google spreadsheet “Things to Do Before Baby” with budgeted amounts of time and money in their  own columns.    But my Cook and Clean genes have been in overdrive.  And I can feel the Becky Home-Eccy in me taking over.

My keen sense of smell had me in a frenzy again on Sunday.  I woke up early, as I always do when I don’t need to actually go anywhere.  I read in bed until  7:45 when my “Take Vitamin” alarm went off on my phone.  I realized I should probably go upstairs and make sure Em was still alive.    As I ran up the stairs I had the “I smell CAT PEE” shakes.  I hoped it was the litter box with a fresh deposit.  But as I hit the top of the stairs I knew I was wrong.  As soon as I stopped at the landing and looked towards the guest room I knew.

Before the “I smell CAT PEE” frenzy took hold I did open Em’s door.  To find her naked and cleaning her room. “What are you doing?”

“Well, I woke up really early and I figured if I cleaned my whole room right away it would make you really happy.  And then we can just do fun stuff the rest of the day.”  Girl after my 0wn heart.  Her room was damn near immaculate.  But  even a total lack of legos on the floor, even all dress up clothes in the toy box, all markers in their box WITH lids was not enough to stop the CAT PEE frenzy.

A month ago it was on our bed.  Cat pee.  But maybe one of the cats got locked in the bedroom?   Last week it was cat pee on the couch.  But it was on a quilt, and easily washed, and perhaps since I had stopped nagging MQD about the  litter box it hadn’t been dumped this week?  And now it was in the guest room.

I turned to go back down the steps and stopped two steps down to open the window at the top of the stairs.   I sniffed and dropped to my knees.  And smelled CAT PEE.  On the landing. When you are pregnant and already striking the pose of a keening old woman it is tempting to throw your arms in the air and begin to wail.  I mean, in case anyone was filming a Lifetime movie about this poor woman and the CAT PEE I really ought to give them their money shot, right?   But I’d have had to bury my head in my arms.  On the cat pee carpet.  And I just couldn’t be bothered  Lifetime movie or no.

At first I was furious.  And then I thought we’d just have to bring another litter box upstairs, if Stan can’t make it down the steps.  And then I was broken-hearted.  If you’re not following along at home, it was a mish mash of  Kübler-Ross’ Stages of Grief.  The last being acceptance.  My sixteen year old cat that bites.  That has never been particularly friendly.  But that has lived with me in every home I have had since I was 20 years old.

She is unpleasant, as she has always been.  But she has never peed in the house.  I think it might be Time.

So, hours later, after the purchase of rubber gloves and oxy-clean and Spot Shot and Arm & Hammer carpet sprinkle…. I laid down on the carpet next to that damn cat.  And then I cried like an old woman at an Irish wake.

Stanley and I reminisced.  About the late nights on Mount Vernon Avenue in Williamsburg.  And the time she scared my roommate, Greg B, so badly that he actually called out in the middle of the night for someone to rescue him from her.  I reminded her about that creepy puppet I kept in a cabinet that she hated.  She’d stare at the cabinet for hours. Switching her tail back and forth.     We laughed about how she hid for almost two weeks in our master bedroom closet when we moved to the beach and how she hid again when we brought Em home from the hospital. I apologized for letting Fish chase her when he was a pup.  But it was so damn funny to watch her big, fat ass hiss at his tiny floppy puppy face.  And I apologized for the laser pointer shenanigans. Because that’s just really not a very nice game.

As we reminisced I realized that there isn’t much in the way of memories in the last few years.  She comes out from under the bed every now and again to holler at the youngins.  Hiss at Fisher.  She jumps in bed with Em on occasion.  But that is likely all the human touch she gets.  Since we don’t tend to hang out much under the guest room bed.

I assumed she came out to eat when we weren’t home.  Or rather I’d been hoping she was eating.  But lying on the floor surrounded by the Lysol cat pee smell I knew what I was looking at was the end.  And she bit me on the face.  And it made me laugh.  God damn that cat.  I never really liked her, even as a kitten, and now she was making me cry.

So, the latter half of the weekend we talked to Em about death.  She wants to have a party for Stan.  With cat treats.  And give her extra snuggles.  The strange conversation we had about how when someone is really, really old they  can die “any minute, right before your eyes”  is perhaps worth writing down.  But I can’t now.  I need to go ahead and call the vet while I am already crying about that god damn cat.

Stan, you’ve been my “god damn cat” for almost sixteen years.  You have seen a lot. Heart break, marriages, divorce, birth.  You have not consoled me on one single occasion.  But I knew you were around.  And I guess I got used to the idea.  That you’d always be around.  I kinda thought you’d just live forever.  It’s not the first time being wrong about something has made me cry.

Sitting in my lap on the floor in the guest room, Em put her arms around my neck and kissed me. “Mommy, we can get another kitty cat, another little girl cat.”

And with big fat heavy tears of sadness rolling down my face I hugged her back and said “Oh, no, honey.  Mommy hates cats.”

I’m gonna miss you Stanley Manley.

It’s a Zoo Up In Here!

Before you have children you have a tendency to treat your pets like they are people.  When Fish was a puppy I had a clear clipboard that I carried everywhere with me at work.  I laminated pictures of him to it so they showed through the backside.  Everywhere I went people asked me about my sweet dog, and I proudly told them what a wonderful creature he was, even though he was a hellacious, barking, running-away pain in my ass, but I loved him all the same.

Those pictures stayed there until my daughter was born and they were  replaced by her baby pictures when I returned to work.

Those friends of mine that have known me for a long time understand the love-hate relationship I have with my cat.  Stanley is a mean, cranky old  lady.  She has been mean and cranky since she was a kitten so this can not be blamed on her age.  It is simply her disposition.  We tolerate each other.  But she was my first cat.   The first animal I acquired all on my own.  Adopted from the Williamsburg Humane Society prior to my 21st birthday. So we  look out for each other.  We are family.  But I can’t say we are particularly friendly.

The last four-legged member of my family came to me by way of MQD.  Since he falls in to the category of “before you have children” that I mentioned earlier (or at least he did before he had me and Em) his Cat is spoiled rotten.  To be honest I never imagined myself becoming particularly fond of Cat.  In part because Cat is in love with MQD.  And MQD is in love with Cat.  Add to that my general dislike for cats, and I didn’t  see a romance blooming.  Somehow I failed to factor in what I sucker I am.  Inside of a week of moving in with us, I was smitten. Cat is a fine animal.  He is funny.  He is loud.  He likes to eat.  Short of being a great dancer, he’d make a great date.   I’m a fan.  I admit it.

Cat didn’t win me over to the point that I could say I’m as big a fan as this guy… seen here sleeping with BOTH cats.

All of these introductions, simply, to tell a short story.  Last night we got in bed.  I was exhausted, for some reason, the reason being it is tiring to throw PMS-y tantrums (highlights including the passive-aggressive “I am NOT cleaning tonight, since I am the only one in this house that even CARES!”)  Bless MQD’s heart, he not only let me stomp around and (as he said it so eloquently several hours later) “shoot your mouth off” but he also did the grocery shopping.  Returning home with wine and flowers.    Come bed time I was tired.  But no longer so cranky.

In the hopes of getting  a good night’s sleep I executed the last of my new rituals since Fish has moved in with us.  I took him upstairs to hit the sack with Emily. It is my fault he thinks that he belongs in a bed when he goes to sleep, as I taught him to spoon when he was a pup.  But it’s a crowd in our bed these days.  Emily (whose legs do not extend down to the end of her bed) seems a perfect bed-fellow for Fisher.  He happily followed me up to her room and jumped on the end of her bed. I turned to leave the room.  Tired.  In the dark.  When WHHOOOSH…. out of the little house in Em’s room runs Cat.  Or at least I hoped it was Cat.  It was everything I could do not to scream, thereby waking Emily.  Deep breath. I return downstairs and hop in to bed.  Heart pounding. MQD and I have a giggle about how I interrupted Cat’s secret game of House.  Imagining Cat in there with little oven mitts on his paws, making muffins in her little oven.  Rocking his “babies” to sleep.   We had a good laugh.  That kind of laugh you can have right before you close your eyes.  And I settled in to fall asleep.

MQD, more amused by the cats than I am generally speaking, is still giggling.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.    Did I just hear something?  I jump up out of bed.  “Shhh.”  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  I open the bottom door to my armoire.  “Meooooow.”  Not a “Thank you, I was locked in this cabinet where I was napping on Your CLEAN CLOTHES and you have rescued me” meow.  More a “I don’t know what the shit took you assholes so long.  Out there yukking it up while I was fearing for my life in here” meow.  And Stanley saunters out of the armoire.

I get back in bed.  Still laughing.

All of this to say…. I am now a person with a kid.  And I still think my pets are as funny and charming as people.  Telling long drawn out stories about them to anyone that will listen…