Category Archives: Pets

I’ll sit in the sinkhole tonight, honey

You want to know what true love is? Volunteering to sit in the couch sinkhole after a long day of work and raising kids so your equally tired partner can sit on “the good side” while you watch Netflix.

Wait, what? Oh, is that just in our house? You guys don’t all have a couch sinkhole?

Well, in that case, let me explain to all you fancy folk with your houses full of structurally sound furniture exactly what a couch sinkhole is. It’s when whatever it is that couches are made of breaks in one spot, but not completely, meaning there is now one precarious area on the couch that is lower than all the rest. And you can still sit there if you sit in it just right (although if you hear any creaking or groaning wood, freeze and stop breathing for a good solid three minutes until you’re sure it’s not going to collapse). And as long as you put down a pillow first before you sit, there is a good 80 percent chance you won’t be impaled by a broken spring.

On the plus side, having a couch sinkhole has greatly improved our children’s behavior.

Kid 1: Mom, she took my Batman! *pushes sibling*

Kid 2: No! Mine! *pushes back*

Me: Both of you learn to share or you’ll take turns sitting in the sinkhole during movie night.

Kid 1: You can have Batman!

Kid 2: No, no, you have it! I insist! *both frantically hug each other*

Yeah, our couch is old. If it were a human, it would already be well into puberty and rolling its eyes every time I talked. In dog years, it’s roughly 103-years-old. In couch years, it’s 700-years-old. A hard 700. It’s the Keith Richards of couches.  

My husband had the couch before we even met and it has traveled with us from Ohio to Texas to Boston. And so the sinkhole is just the latest of the couch’s maladies. There is the sticky and stained left side arm of the couch because a certain someone in the family that is definitely not me kept spilling martinis and wine on it when she was young and childless. Then there is the random mangy patch from where the dog kept licking that spot over and over and over again for mysterious yet very important dog reasons. And the good side opposite the sinkhole was our son’s favorite spot to sit while he was being potty trained.

And it took MONTHS to potty train him.  

We should get a new couch. We really should. In fact, we should replace a lot of things in our house. But we have three very good reasons why we don’t:

One, we have a pre-schooler and an 18-month-old, meaning anything new coming inside our home would instantly be baptized in a tsunami of juice and what we hope are chocolate stains.

Two, anytime we start even thinking of Googling the price of new furniture, a $600 vet bill magically shows up. Or Christmas is coming up…again. Or we do our taxes and discover we owe money to the IRS…again.

And three, buying big ticket household items is an aspect of adulting that bores me to death. In furniture stores, I instantly revert back into a whiny teenager. Why do we have to be here? How much longer? Just pick one already. Why is everything so expensive? Ugh. I wanna use my allowance to buy books and travel. Boo.

Sometimes I worry that we’re crossing over into pathetic territory with our couch sinkhole and our cheap rocking chair hanging on by a splinter and our almost 14-year-old red car that sports a gray hood (and a passenger side door that only opens from the inside) and our upholstered dining room chairs that have faded to a color that can really only be described as “angry pink.”

But I’ve never really been one to try to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, I’m more likely to duck and hide behind my broken-ass couch if I see a Joneses coming.

So, instead, I’ve decided I’m just going to change my entire way of thinking about this situation. Because I’m a grown-up. And I’m allowed to do that. Which is why, from henceforth, we will just be known as the quirky, eccentric family with the endearing couch sinkhole that they made a part of the family because they were too busy being eccentric and quirky to care to replace it. And eventually it will be a hilarious, quirky story my grown kids tell on first dates to the horror of the person sitting across from them.

Ah. Yes. That feels much better. Problem solved.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my 3-year-old just fell into the sinkhole and needs help getting out.

 

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Mama said there’ll be days like this

Now before I say what I’m getting ready to say, let me say first that I realize I am hardly the first person to ever say this. Thousands, or hell, probably even millions of other people have not only said this, but said it much more eloquently and with far less booger jokes than I ever could. But after the week I had, I feel one more time is absolutely necessary. So, here it goes.

This stage of life is hard.

Oh, so hard.

Not that all stages of life don’t have their hard parts. They do. I remember the hard days possibly even more clearly than the not-hard-days of my carefree childhood. Because even in the happiest of childhoods, there are still monsters under the bed and playground bullies and a big, big scary world to navigate while only having a waist-high view of the big picture.

But this particular stage…oof. It can feel like a battle. A battle that you aren’t even trying to win anymore but just trying to summon up the will to show up for day in and day out.

War may be hell but raising small children is setting up permanent residence there.

OK, OK, yeah, that one went too far. Sorry. I love my life and my children and could not have engineered a more picturesque family life if I tried. Most days I look around and can’t believe my incredible luck that I get to be surrounded daily by the most amazing people to ever walk this planet.

I’m just so tired, you guys. Oh, so tired. And no matter how great your life is, there are bound to be bad days. And sometimes those bad days stretch out for an entire week. And all this week I’ve been dealing with a sick baby and a sick toddler and a partially incapacitated husband who was trying his best but was also sick and still trying to do his job and work on a freelance project in his spare time. To top it all off, my stupid dog is getting old and was diagnosed with a heart murmur and arthritis and I love my stupid dog so much and if anything ever happened to him I would DIE.

Again, sorry. As you can tell, I tend to get dramatic when I’m tired. No, YOU need to tone it down, missy!

There were doctor appointments and vet appointments and a million miles walked around the house in the middle of the night trying to soothe a miserable infant. There were too many tantrums to count and too many meals that had to be made and too many arguments about stupid, little things and too many loads of laundry and dishes and too many boogers being wiped on my jeans (fine, mustard-stained sweatpants).

There were just too many tiny creatures needing tender, loving care and not enough of me to go around.

And it all culminated on Friday afternoon when I had to pick the dog up from the vet but since we only have the one car, I had to walk there with one kid strapped to my chest and pushing the other one in the stroller. The dog was straining with all his might against the leash and the baby was crying again and I was unsuccessfully trying to steer the stroller with one hand and the diaper bag weighed a million pounds and my back was aching from the dog’s constant pulling and then the dog zigged when I zagged and I dropped the leash and he took off running and it was the ultimate nightmare scenario. I’m trying to chase him beside the incredibly busy road while also trying not to jostle my 4-month-old too much or tipping over my toddler in the stroller. Meanwhile, visions of my stupid dog as bloody roadkill kept flashing before my eyes.

Long story short, I finally do catch the dog. And then I just stand there. And cry.

And cry and cry and cry.

Cars zooming past, baby still crying, dog still straining, toddler asking repeatedly “what’s wrong, Momma?”

And yet, all I can do is stand there and cry.

So, why do I bother sharing this horrible moment in my life? Simply to remind those of you who are in a similar boat, who are juggling kids and stupid, beloved pets and jobs and obligations and deadlines and aging parents and house buying and internal demons and external hazards and an aching back and a budget that never seems to stretch enough while in the background a steady hum of news reports declaring the end of the world is nigh plays continuously, that you are not alone.

This part is hard. But you showed up for today. You may or may not be wearing pants, but hey, you showed up. Better yet, you managed to sneak in some snuggles and a game of tickle monster and an almost coherent conversation about dinosaurs riding in rocket ships.

We’re going to get through this. Just like how I eventually wiped away my tears and continued on my way home, we’ll all eventually dust ourselves off and keep going.

And in the meantime, let’s all take a moment to breathe deep and look around and soak it in. Because one day all the noise will stop. All the chaos will stop. All the craziness will stop. And we’re going to miss it. You know we will. And we will wonder what we were ever complaining about in the first place.

 

Just call me Adulty McAdultface

You guys, I gotta be honest. I never thought I’d live to see this day. I was mentally prepared for World War III breaking out, or a zombie apocalypse, or Kim Kardashian becoming Vice President.

But not this.

Never this.

There I was sitting at the table, filling out Mother’s Day cards, when I realized that not only was I filling out holiday cards on time for the first time in history, but that I also, for the first time in history, had stamps on hand. Not only that, but I had enough stamps on hand to even cover the extra postage required for the extra weight the two tons of glitter that covers every Mother’s Day card added.

This foreign and unnatural act was then followed by paying our bills online. And by paying our bills, I mean just that. Going to each website, seeing how much was owed, typing in that amount, and hitting the “submit payment” button. There wasn’t one single instance of juggling, or robbing Peter to pay Paul, or digging for spare change in the gross crevices of our ancient couch, or awkward text messages to my husband asking “hey, would you rather go three days without electricity or five days without cell phone service?” followed by a gun emoji.

And in perhaps the most convincing sign of the End Times, I sent out the rent check. On time. Early even. With an actual check in the envelope. A check filled out properly instead of “accidentally” putting the date where the amount should go in a desperate bid to buy myself another week and a half.

But it was when I glanced over my To-Do (Hopefully-But-Probably-Not-Before-I-Die) List and realized it was almost empty that the full impact of what was happening hit me. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, and please excuse my language, but I think my husband and I might actually have our shit together.

Yeah. I think that’s what this strange feeling is. It’s having your shit together. I mean, just look at the evidence.

Everyone in my family has had their doctor appointment and are up-to-date on their shots. Even the dog. Speaking of which, the dog has tick repellent on him at a seasonably appropriate time and my husband trimmed his puppy nails before he even got close to the Edward Scissorhands phase.

Our car has been inspected BEFORE the expiration sticker expired. Our driver’s licenses currently coincide with the actual U.S. state we are living in. There was an error with our taxes and my husband called immediately and dealt with it calmly and efficiently. There was an error with our insurance and I called immediately and dealt with it while hollering over a screaming toddler and a barking dog. But still, efficiently nonetheless.

We took our vitamins this morning, we have a surplus of toilet paper in the bathroom, we have fresh fruit and at least one vegetable in the fridge. We have an actual friggin’ savings account. We bought sturdy wood bookshelves from a grown-up furniture store to replace our cheap death trap bookshelves made mostly of dust and cobwebs. And on any given day our house is clean-ish enough that I don’t have to hide in the bathroom every time the doorbell rings because it’s too embarrassing to even let the UPS dude glimpse at the unholy mess awaiting inside.

I mean, sure, I’ve been adulting for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve adulted so adulty-like. For instance, let’s compare today with a similar day seven years ago.

My mom wouldn’t get her Mother’s Day card until Halloween and only then because I delivered it in person because I never did get around to buying stamps. And mostly I never got around to buying stamps because I really needed the $8 to go instead toward the overdraft fee our bank charged us because I made a student loan payment and bought a Big Mac with super-sized fries that week. Naturally, all the financial stress would wreak havoc with my health but instead of going to a human doctor, I would just Google “weird rash on shoulder that looks like Abe Lincoln” and put some expired yogurt on it because hey, homeopathy is cheap and also I haven’t cleaned out the fridge in three years.

The only time we ever did get our vehicle inspected or make sure our driver’s licenses were up-to-date or that literally anything about our mode of transportation was legal was when we got a friendly reminder in ticket form from our helpful neighborhood policeman. And even then, it took no less than a minimum of five tickets to get our asses in gear. Taxes were attempted at 11:30 p.m. on April 14 and any letters dealing with any kind of insurance or other scary adult stuff were put in the ever-growing “don’t throw away but don’t open” mail pile. Which wasn’t a problem because the pile could never be found because we never cleaned unless someone who had better adult credentials than we did was coming over for a visit. In which case, most of our possessions were just thrown into the tub and we frantically dusted with an old T-shirt while tripping over our dog who looked like a scary homeless mutt on stilts because we never seemed to have time to groom him.

I gotta admit, it’s a great feeling. This shit-having-togetherness. And I look forward to sailing this sea of grown-up tranquility for the next two months. All the way up until my second child is born and everything falls apart again in the savage vortex that is newborn baby caretaking.

Ah, but it was nice while it lasted.

Wah 1

Being thankful for the crappy stuff

Every year around this time, I like to make a list of all the things I’m thankful for. One, because I think it’s an important tradition of the Thanksgiving holiday (in fact, I’d say it’s almost as important as the tradition of drinking wine all day while you cook).

thanksgiving_cook

And two, it’s the easiest column I write all year. The list just grows and grows the older I get. Loving husband, wonderful child, loyal dog composed of 95 percent fur, pizza that now comes with a hotdog-filled crust. I could go on and on.

But the thing is, it’s easy to be thankful for all the good things in your life. No one struggles to be thankful for having a roof over their head and enough money in their account to buy at least five pizzas with hotdog-filled crusts. So, this year, I’ve decided I’m going to be thankful for all the crappy things in my life. All the things that usually drive me frothing-at-the-mouth super nutjob crazy. Because if you can find a way to be grateful for sweeping up after a dog that sheds enough hair to fill the Atlantic Ocean on a daily basis, you have found the path to true happiness (or at least a path that doesn’t require wine for breakfast just to make it through the day).

So, for example, I am thankful for traffic jams, which give me a regular reminder that the zombie apocalypse is not yet upon us. Added bonus: When the zombie apocalypse does inevitably come, all our commute times will be cut in half. So, hey, a win-win.

I’m also beyond thankful that my toddler son’s lungs are strong and in working order, even when he demonstrates this by screaming directly into my face because his cracker broke in half. Because he broke it in half.

thanksgiving_cracker

I’m also thankful that over the years I have amassed such a wide and diverse group of friends that when I scroll through Facebook, I get a wide and diverse viewpoint of how the world will end. Which will be, in no particular order, global warming, terrorists, crazy gun nuts, crazy anti-gun nuts, disposable Starbucks cups, orphan refugees, evil CEOs, evil poor people, robots, Millennials, the Koch brothers, the Clintons, gluten, aliens, that damn blue dress (it’s BLUE), women, minorities, gays, straight white men and robot aliens.

I’m thankful for cold weather, and in particular this icy blast of wind currently assaulting my face, because it reminds me I’m alive and if all else fails I can just lay down and hope to freeze to death because at least when you freeze to death, you feel warmth for a brief second before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

I’m thankful for the Kardashians for reminding me that I’m not the worst person on the planet.

I’m thankful for my student loan debt because…hmm…let me come back to this one.

I’m thankful my dog feels the need to bark at an unnaturally loud volume at anything that moves, smells weird, makes sound, doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound but might be thinking of making a sound, etc. Because even though there is less than a 0.01 percent chance I will be murdered by the plastic bag floating down our street, if I ever am, he will finally be vindicated after all these years.

thanksgiving_dog

I’m thankful for people who are on a new diet and have to tell me about it in detail even though I didn’t ask (making sure to include everything that is wrong with what I’m eating) because somehow, it makes the deep-fried cupcake I eat right in front of their face taste even sweeter.

I’m thankful for my student loan debt because…education is…hmm…I know there’s a reason. Let me think it over some more.

I’m thankful I’m occasionally required to wear real pants because it makes me appreciate the magic of the humble elastic waistband all the more.

I’m thankful my son likes to wake up at 5:30 a.m. because there is something so satisfying about standing on your porch as dawn breaks and flipping off the rising sun.

I’m so, so, so thankful for extreme couponers at the grocery store because it gives me plenty of time to try to work out the details of how to get away with the perfect murder.

And lastly, I’m thankful for my student loan debt because there is a chance, thanks to my diet of deep-fried cupcakes and hotdog-stuffed pizzas, that I’ll die before the bastards are paid off.

 

The trick-or-treater always rings twice

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark and sprinkling a little bit. But that annoying kind of sprinkle that gets your clothes all soggy.

It was quiet inside the house. Perhaps a bit too quiet. Well, not really too quiet. I mean, the TV was on. And for some reason the fridge always emitted a high-pitch squeal that could be heard throughout the rest of the house. (But everyone always ignored that sound because it probably meant the fridge was on its last legs and honestly, no one really wanted to deal with it).

On the couch sat two nervous creatures. One wide-eyed and tense because she knew what was coming. The other wide-eyed and tense because he didn’t know what was coming but since she was acting weird, he felt there was no time like the present to also act weird. So while she absent-mindedly picked at her nail polish and cast furtive glances in his direction, he awkwardly climbed on her lap, not really sitting and not really standing, but nonetheless blocking the TV from her view anyway.

They sat this way as agonizing minutes ticked by.

Tick.

Tick.

High pitch squeal from fridge.

Tick.

And then, just when she thought they might have lucked out this year, thought that maybe by some miracle the porch light burned out, it happened. The very thing she had been dreading.

“Ding-dong!”

And that’s when all hell broke loose. Before she could stop him, he launched his (freakishly strong, by the way) 32-pound body like a rocket off her lap, hitting the floor mid-stride and doing a Scooby-Doo scramble around the corner of the coffee table until he reached the door at the top of the stairs of their second-story apartment, barking and howling the entire time like the neighborhood feral cats had finally gotten organized and were attacking the house en masse.

She, meanwhile, started calmly yelling at him to “shut up!” and “knock it the hell off!” while simultaneously trying to pull him back from the door by his collar so she could squeeze her frame through without letting him through (which, since she didn’t weigh 32 pounds, was no mean feat). This was followed by trying to close said door as he repeatedly launched his entire (freakishly strong) body at any and all openings. After finally getting the door shut and ignoring the desperate sounds of him howling and trying to dig his way under the closed door, she made her way as quick as she could down the stairs to the front door, which she threw open to some very startled trick-or-treaters and tried to breathlessly yell “Happy Halloween!” over the clamor of what probably sounded to a small child like a dog getting murdered.

Luckily, the little kids who didn’t burst into tears at the sight and sound of a crazed dog and even more crazed and out-of-breath woman, got their candy (name brand, of course, because said woman felt bad for putting them through all that trauma just for a bite-sized knock-off Twix) and went on their merry way, no more worse for the wear.

And then she slowly went back up the stairs, back to him, he who had finally stopped barking and was enthusiastically wagging his tail like “gee, wasn’t THAT fun!?”. They sat back down on the couch together, he once again not quite sitting, not quite standing on her lap, she once again not able to see the TV.

And they both breathed a sigh of relief.

Which was quickly followed by another “Ding-dong!”

Repeat 27 more times.

The moral of this story, kids? Appreciate your Halloween candy. Treasure it. And try to remember through the fog of your sugar-induced mania the sacrifices some of us dog-owning adults had to go through to ensure that the candy got into your little hands.

What the “Dog Days of Summer” really means

doghair1 doghair2 doghair3 doghair4 doghair5

The Tail of the Bald Puppy

This is a story of how a puppy ruined my life. And not just any puppy. An ugly, wrinkled, bald puppy. An ugly, wrinkled, bald puppy who doesn’t even know proper butt sniffing etiquette.

But I get ahead of myself. First allow me to introduce myself. Or re-introduce, as the case may be. You may remember me from the last time I took over Aprill’s blog. I’m Buffy, her long-suffering male dog.

Oh yes, you read that right…MALE dog. Apparently being a Joss Whedon fan means you no longer have to acknowledge gender when coming up with a pet name to impress your stupid, geeky friends. Never mind the psychological damage you inflict on said poor animal when the Duke’s and Princess’s of the world get wind of the name. Dogs may be man’s best friend but they can be complete assholes to their own kind (butt sniffing is not nearly as innocent an act as you guys assume). You’d think taking my manhood when I was a puppy (a PUPPY, for canine’s sake!) would be enough emasculation for any creature but oh, oh no. Let’s also add a frilly name from an obsolete 90’s show that only people with extensive knowledge of their parent’s basement watched.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

But back to the bigger issue.

Now, when they first brought the bald puppy home, I thought it was great. My very own interactive chew toy! Complete with neverending battery! And super gross smells!

Unfortunately, within the first 30 seconds of our initial meeting, it was made clear to me, in no uncertain terms, that this was not the case. I swear, that stupid crying lump’s first words are going to be “Buffy” followed by “No” followed by “I said ‘no,’ dammit!”

Buffy 1

And things only went downhill from there. For instance, every time the bald puppy cried (which was A LOT, by the way), I would growl and bark. In my mind, the only reason for any creature to make that much noise is when there is an imminent threat to all of our very lives, such as the neighbor from three houses down had closed a door or the wind blew through a tree in Delaware. So I was simply trying to help the bald puppy alert our owners that there was obviously an emergency on hand, such as the mailman was on our porch and was probably going to pee on all the spots in the yard I had peed on.

Incredibly courteous of me, right?

Alas, Loud One and Spiky Head (my not-so-affectionate nicknames for my owners) didn’t see it this way. I was told, rather rudely, to shut the hell up and then threatened with not just a rolled up magazine but a rolled up September Vogue magazine (the leading cause of concussions in dogs).

Meanwhile, the bald puppy, who was making just as much noise as I was (if not more) was cuddled and actually rewarded for his whiny bark with food!

FOOD!

My very favorite thing in the entire world besides BALL and ROLLING AROUND IN DEAD THINGS!

Can you believe it?

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, when I wasn’t getting yelled at, I was being completely ignored. Judging by the smell, the bald puppy was going potty every hour or something insane like that. Inside the freaking house! Which is something I’ve never been allowed to do if I don’t want to see the business end of the Sunday Times. They even put a wonderful poo catcher on his butt so he could do it whenever he wanted. And I’m all just over here, like, hey, I haven’t gone outside in 14 hours. But don’t mind me. I’ll just slunk off to the corner and eat my dog food…oh wait, my bowl is empty.

Again.

Buffy 2

It was getting ridiculous.

So then, deciding to make nice with the bald puppy, who was obviously here to stay, I began licking his face (mainly aiming for directly into the mouth, of course) whenever he happened to be within tongue’s reach. And I tell you what, I would get no more than six licks in when Loud One would suddenly push me away.

Knock it off, she said.

Buff, that’s gross, she said.

Well, let me tell you something, lady. You’re gross. Not to mention a hypocrite. I’ve seen you stick your tongue down Spiky Head’s throat many a time so you can just get off your high horse.

But before you go thinking that my owners are just absolutely horrible people, I should mention that they are trying to make it up to me. I get extra treats all the time now and during those brief moments when the bald puppy is asleep in his giant crate, they shower me with love.

And in their defense, they do look horrible these days.

Buffy 3

I’m starting to think they’re being punished by the bald puppy just as much as I am. Apparently he is the new Alpha and we all exist merely to satisfy his every whim (even if that whim is to walk him in a giant counterclockwise circle for three hours while singing “Close To You” by the Carpenters at 3 a.m.).

But let this be a lesson to all you other dogs out there. If your female owner starts to look like she has a giant ball hidden underneath her shirt, RUN.

Run away as fast as you can.

And hide out in the neighbor’s yard until the bald puppy is old enough to start dropping food on the floor.