Making the most of my "Dash"

Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

The Newest Member of Our Family

Today was a wonderful day for our family!  We added a new member…Mugsy!

Mugsy!  No, he doesn't normally look possessed. Thank you camera.

Mugsy! No, he doesn’t normally look possessed. Thank you camera.

Mister finally gave in to his missing-a-dog-in-his-life feeling.  He had two Shih Tzu‘s for over 16 years, but they passed away several years ago.  From everything he says about them, as well as others who had the pleasure of knowing them, they both were absolute darlings.

Mister fell in love within the first 5 seconds, and same for Mugsy with Mister.  The minute I saw their connection, I was in love too!

Mister fell in love within the first 5 seconds, and same for Mugsy with Mister. The minute I saw their connection, I was in love too!

I have been catching him looking at rescue websites to see if there were any Shih Tzus who needed to be adopted.  This past weekend a facebook friend of ours posted some pictures of a sweet doggie, and that did the Mister in.  He spent the rest of the weekend searching for Shih Tzus in our area, and came up empty.  So, he posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone knew of someone needing a home for a Shih Tzu.  Less than two hours later we received a reply!

The story is that Mugsy’s first home was with an elderly woman who became too ill to care for him.  Her neighbor took him in, but apparently wasn’t sure how to take care of him and maintain his fur, and so he ended up quite matted.  She gave him to a woman in Bullhead City who rescues dogs from kill shelters in surrounding areas.  She cut his hair and cleaned him up.  Her daughter was the one who replied to our ad, letting us know that she had planned on taking the dog from her mother, but wasn’t able to follow through.  She asked if we would consider him because her mother could no longer care for him, and so she sent us pictures.  Then, I fell half in love with the little feller.

We made arrangements to meet with him today.  The moment we opened the door and saw him, I fell completely in love.  Mister was only four seconds behind me with the falling in love part.  The dog’s name was Jaques, but they called him Joey as well.  He was a delight, running back and forth between all of us.  Playing, pawing at the ground, hopping around, and rolling over to let us pet his belly.  There was no way we were going home without him, and he immediately became part of our family!

All relaxed and enjoying his new home.

All relaxed and enjoying his new home.

We didn’t really like the name Jaques or Joey for him, and since he didn’t seem to respond to well to either name we decided to try Mugsy; short for Mugwump.  He has been responding to us just fine with that name.

We surprised the kids, as they each come home at separate times in the afternoon.  None of them knew of our plan, and were very excited to meet the little feller when I told him they were going home to meet their new fur-brother.  He LOVES the kids.  And by that I mean, this dog is seriously a kid lover.  I am glad for that, because Shih Tzu’s tend to be one-person dogs only, but this one seems to love everyone.  He may be a mix of some sort, and not pure-bred, which may be some of the reason he is doing so well with all of the people here.  The daughter, who contacted us, seems to think he is Havanese, or maybe part Havanese, part Shih Tzu, which is its own breed: Havashu.  Seriously.  A Havashu in Havasu, how funny is that?!

Anyway, he loves us, and we love him.  His first day in the house has been great.  He’s been relaxed, he’s napped, he’s eaten, and he’s done the potty thing in the right place. I am so glad!

Do you have pets?  How did they become a part of your family?

Whoops!

In my haste to get my post published yesterday, and in an earnest attempt at keeping it short, I completely forgot about one of the highlights of 2012!

October!

Not only is October my favorite month of the year (Hello, Halloween!!), but it’s Mister’s birthday month.  So for his birthday in 2012 we planned a trip to Oregon to bring the kids there to meet his family.  We had such a wonderful time!

The kids were able to meet his mother.  We spent time  with his sister, Jan and her husband, Mike.  The kids loved visiting with them, and they really enjoyed getting to explore their beautiful back yard… Koi pond, garden, and sweet doggies too! I’d like to say that the kids were well-behaved and using their best manners at Jan and Mike’s house, but…

Josh decided to interrupt just about every conversation by popping in with,  “Just a random thought…” and then go on with some odd thought.  Mike and Jan also served lunch and set out a veggie tray around 11:30 am.  The kids, who had eaten heartily at the Residence Inn breakfast buffet acted like I had not fed them in two weeks.  There they were, three children hovering over the vegetables, shoving them in their mouths like they were marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fountain at the Golden Corral. I gaped at them for a moment before having to shoe them away like flies.  My kids don’t even LIKE vegetables.  I really think it was some bizarre plot to make me look like a bad mother who forgot to teach social graces to her children.

On Mister’s birthday we went to our favorite pizza place in the whole wide world… Padington’s Pizza.  His sister had planned a surprise party for the afternoon, so we let him think we were just going out for pizza and “dessert” at her house afterwards. We met Mister’s other son and a few of his children there, as well as Mike and Jan and Mister’s mom.  We had a delicious lunch (Whippersnapper…Yum!), then headed to Jan & Mike’s house.

Mister is a big Jimmy Buffet fan, but he’s never been to a JB concert.  So, I bought tickets and a room in Vegas for an upcoming concert, and let Jan know what I planned.  So she decorated her house in a tropical theme and had Jimmy Buffet playing in the background when we got there.  Mike made this huge palm tree decoration, it was incredible!  I wished we could have brought it home, but there was no way to take it on the plane.  Funny thing is, Mister didn’t even put together the tropical theme or Jimmy playing in the background until he opened his present from me and saw the tickets.  Frankly, I was a bit puzzled at his initial reaction, because he did not look excited at all… more confused.  Then he admitted that he thought I was buying him tickets to Atlas Shrugged Part II in Vegas (Wha?! Seriously?!), so he was a bit uncertain as to what the tickets were.

Anyway, we had Jan’s delicious cake with a mexican chocolate mousse filling (to. die. for.), and had a pretty fantastic day.  The trip went by far too fast for us, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was such a treat for the kids to get to know his side of the family and see how kind and amazing they are!

Ready to eat some yummy food!

Ready to eat some yummy food!

The other fantastic part of October was… The Jimmy Buffet Concert!! BOY HOWDY, did we have fun!!  A couple of weeks after our Oregon trip, we drove up to Vegas in the morning and I took Mister to Margaritaville for lunch.  I mean, how could we go there for the concert and NOT go to Margaritaville to eat?!

Hangin' out at the pre-concert pool party.

Hangin’ out at the pre-concert pool party.

After that we headed over to the Flamingo pool for the pre-concert party.  That was so much fun we had to take a little nap before the actual concert!  Then, it was on to the MGM Grand Arena and the concert of a lifetime (to me anyway!).

Proudly sporting our fins!

Proudly sporting our fins!

I wore my styrofoam fin hat with pride, and a whole lot of giggles.  I think Mister and I laughed and smiled and danced (he doesn’t dance normally, but everyone else was too busy dancing to notice him anyway), and laughed some more.  What a fantastic day!

Whew.  Good thing I made a separate blog post.  I am WAY too wordy!  By the way,  I changed the blog appearance.  I thought it needed a fresh look.  I hope you like it!

Have you had favorite birthday or concert experience?

I’d love to hear about it!! 

I am Thankful

Several of us who have pages on Facebook have decided to post something everyday in the month of November that we are thankful for.  Diary of a Not So Wimpy Mom started this, and so many of us loved the idea we decided to join her and do it as well.

For November 1st, I posted that I was thankful for Mister, and November 2nd I posted how thankful I was for the people who have joined my  Facebook page.  However, today’s post was going to be a bit long for a Facebook status, and it is something that I really felt the need to blog.

For November 3rd, I am thankful for the fact that my kids love their Step-Dad, and that he loves them in return.  Anyone out there who has a blended family knows how amazing this is.  Introducing a new person into the kids’ lives, and making sure they understood that person was NOT a replacement for one of their other parents was quite a feat.  We worked very hard to make sure they knew that no one was going to require that they have any kind of affection for Mister, as well as letting them know that it was ok to have more than two parent-type adults in their lives.

Now, they all don’t outright say “I love you” to each other very often, but you can tell they feel that way.  Every night the kids give us both Goodnight hugs, and sometimes the younger two will give him a little kiss on the cheek too.  As they skip off to their rooms sometimes they’ll holler back, “Love ya!”  to both of us.  And the other day when I was introducing Mister as the kids’ step-dad to someone, Josh threw his arms around him and said, “And I love him SO much!”  That just melted my heart.

Mister & the kids at the Grand Canyon

I know how much Mister loves them, simply by how he treats them and helps to parent them.  They know it too.  Megan, the teenager, considers him her ally when she feels I am being unreasonable.  They all go to him with any serious questions or concerns.  There was even an incident about 6 months ago when Megan had finished a conversation with her Dad and immediately asked if she could speak with Mister and I afterwards.  When we asked her what was going on, she turned to MISTER, told him her issue and what her Dad had advised her, and then asked him what HE thought of it.  The kids all know that he is reasonable, fair, and they all know that he will give them an explanation if they ask for it (and many times even when they don’t!).  We never say to them, “Because I said so” although sometimes I am sorely tempted to!

I could not have asked for a better relationship between the kids and Mister.  I am so glad that they all do care for each other so much, and that they all respect each other.  I know all of that has come from no one feeling pressured or forced to “like” the other person.  It also comes from the kids having the knowledge that they have the freedom to say what they think and feel, and that they may respectfully question us, and our rules, and we will respond to them and their concerns just as respectfully.

I am thankful for this family!!

Our Family

A Havasu Halloween

Bring on the Treats!!

I love Halloween! In Havasu, we’ve had an entire weekend of ghoulish fun!

Callie had a blast with her sleep-over/Halloween party.  While she was busy with that, the rest of us went to the Fall Fun Fair.  Josh and Megan walked the whole fair and then chose the booths they wanted to spend their tickets at.  Josh SCORED at one of the booths where two little girls knew him.  They begged him over and over to play their game, and he finally gave in.  [I think he was playing hard to get.  Amazingly enough, he was doing it right.]  When he was done with the game they LOADED him up with candy.  Yep, definitely doing it right.  He also went back to their booth later.  Smart kid.

Nice Facepaint, Megan!

Megan had some freedom to roam the place, and I think she appreciated that.  She hung out with some of her friends, and got her face painted with a skull and crossbones.  That was another big “mom” step for me, letting her be free to walk around on her own.  But, I knew it was a safe place and it felt good to let her have some more grown-up like independence.  We all met up at the end and as we were getting ready to leave, we saw ‘them’.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!!

I’ve noticed more and more that Halloween seems to be an excuse for women to dress more ‘scantily’ than is socially acceptable.  I will NOT say ‘provocatively’, because in most cases it simply hurts the eyes and brains to look at them, thus being the exact opposite of provocative.  We saw a pair that would absolutely burn the eyes right out of your head.  Pink spandex stretched so tightly it became see-through-pink spandex.  The accompanying black spandex pants just gave that perfect ‘oomph’ to the sausage link look she was going for.  Her friend, in the white lacy top that had a bra-like closure in the back, was equally cringe-worthy.  For you women who want to dress like this for Halloween (or, God FORBID, any time of the year), I have one piece of advice for you that I dearly wish you heed for the sake of my eyes and brain: JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD.  Learn it. Love it. Live it.  Seriously.

Tonight we did the Havasu Main Street Halloween Fright Night.  The weather was a nice 80°.  I spent the afternoon getting the girls ready. I tossed together a quick dinner, threw on my costume, and Mister took some pictures of all of us before we left. I had to admit, I was not too thrilled with leaving when it was still light out. I mean, come on, that’s when the BABIES are out trick-or-treating.  But, I knew Mister wanted to get a decent parking spot.  And, he did.  Woo Hoo. (Yes, that was indeed dripping with sarcasm. I figured it was so blatant you just *might* have missed it.)

Main Street Halloween Fright Night!

There weren’t too many people there at first, and the kids were a bit hesitant about going up and trick-or-treating the booths that were set up. That shyness wore off by the third booth.  I realized that I really like that they’re old enough that I don’t have to hold their hands and go trick-or-treat with them.  I could just walk along, keeping them in my eyesight, and enjoy the evening.  No work for me! WOO HOO! (That was NOT sarcastic, by the way)  By the time it got dark, it had become completely crowded.  And that was when I was glad Mister wanted to be an early bird and get the very best parking space.  I also quickly became very irritated with the crowd.  People, leave your dogs at home.  Especially the couple trick-or-treating with their baby in the stroller.  I wouldn’t have minded so much if they would have moved more than three inches per minute.

We finally got around them, and managed to get into a city block-long line of trick-or-treaters.  That was tedious.  I am very glad I decided to stop taking the metabolism medicine this week.  I probably would have been on the 10 O’Clock news otherwise.  By the time the crowds and lines became overwhelmingly large, the kids said they were done and ready to get back home.  I was surprised, but oh-so-glad to hear it.  When we got home and looked in the kids’ buckets, I realized why they were done for the night. They were filled to the brim! Josh’s was so heavy, I’m shocked his arm didn’t fall off!  They are definitely set for candy for a LONG time.  None for me though. I’m TRYING to be good.  *sigh*

It was a great night, with lots of fun, and quite a few sore feet. The candy is safely tucked away, and hopefully the sugar high they got from free otter pops & cotton candy (not to mention any candy eaten during the Main Street trek) will wear off soon.  I can’t wait until next year! (Hopefully pink spandex lady will NOT try to wear the same, um… outfit? Costume?)

I put a slide show of the rest of the pictures below.  You need to watch it just to see Josh with his candy haul. Incredible.  Happy Halloween!

Enjoying my ghoulishly wonderful Dash…

Christine

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Ambushed…

Callie

The other day I was ambushed by two adorable 5th graders.  They had the sweet smiles and the super-politeness down pat. They wanted to ask if Callie (who goes by her given name, Amanda, at school) could have a sleep over with her friend.

I need to stop here for a moment and explain that I have a difficult time with the whole “sleep-over” thing.  When I was growing up, I quickly realized that my parents did not like them at all.  I remember going to four sleepovers at my school friends’ house. Once in intermediate school, and three times in High school.  I do not recall ever having any of my friends over to our house.  I hated asking my parents if I could go, because I already knew the answer would be NO.  I don’t remember why, on those few occasions, they said yes.  Regardless, the general (unspoken) rule was “Don’t even ask, because the answer is no.”

I’m not sure why they were like that.  Whether they just didn’t want the hassle of arranging it, or the worry of something bad happening, or even having their kid being exposed to other people’s lifestyle.  Probably all of the above.  As a result, I have a really hard time with the idea of sleepovers for my kids.  I have all those same worries I just mentioned.  So, I was completely taken off guard when those two very sweet girls came skipping up to me on Thursday and we had the following conversation:

Little Girl: “Um, Amanda’s Mom,  Amanda said you told her she could come to my Halloween party on Saturday night, so, um, could she, like, please have a sleepover at my house tomorrow night? You know, she can, like, um,  stay all day and, like, help us get food and other stuff like that ready before we have the Halloween party….” [insert two brightly smiling faces]

Me [Holy crap did they really just ambush me like that? What the crap do I do?!!]: “Did your Mom say it was okay for her to sleep over?”

Little Girl: “Um, no, I didn’t ask her yet, but I’m going to ask her tonight.”

Me [Huge sigh of relief]: “Well, have your Mom call me if she is okay with it.  I’ll have to think about it first and see if we have any plans or not [we DON’T, darn it!].

Now, I was fairly relieved at that point because I kept thinking that in NO WAY will this be ok with the little girl’s Mom.  She is planning a Halloween party for a bunch of kids, and why on earth would she want to have an extra one underfoot an entire day early?  I was also a little panicked because I’ve never seen this little girl before, and I certainly don’t know her Mom.  I was thinking that on the off-chance the mom says YES, that now I have to go through the entire process of meeting the other parent, figuring out if they’re a psychopath out to harm my child or if they really are sane and my daughter is going to be safe with them.

I asked Mister what he thought about it, and figured he would agree that she shouldn’t go.  I was incredibly surprised to hear him say it sounded like a good idea, and that she could benefit from the socialization.  That was a LIGHT BULB moment for me.  I never even thought about sleepovers that way.  Then I remembered how much I always wanted to go have fun at my friends’ houses, but never could.  I could clearly see that Callie was very excited about this, and I realized that I do not want to take her fun away.  I don’t want her to get hurt either, but I know I have good Mom instincts.  Now I was kind of hoping the Mom would be okay with two giggly little Tweens under feet for 24 hours.

The little girl called later and said her Mom was ok with it.   I told Callie about a bazillion times that if she got really scared or any bad feelings that she should call me and I’d come right over.  I also told her that everyone gets weird-ish kind of feelings when being in a new place and doing something different, and that those will quickly go away.  She reassured me many times that she understood and repeated my cell phone number to me.  Then she gleefully packed her clothes while I did the best I could to put aside whatever outrageous scary thoughts that were trying to creep inside my head.  I had many horrific ones, I’ll tell you that.  I met her Mom after school yesterday, and she was very nice.  I had no heebie-jeebies or worries of closet psychopaths.  Callie merrily skipped off on her weekend adventure, and I went to bed shoving any bad “but this could happen” thoughts out of my head.

I must admit to having a hard time with not knowing for sure if she’s ok.  I wasn’t going to find out until I picked her up after the Halloween party tonight.  I wanted to have an excuse to call her last night, but I didn’t want to embarass her with a “good night” phone call.  I wanted to call her first thing this morning, but I didn’t want to interrupt her current enjoyment of [supervised] freedom from the family.  However, Mister just came by and read some of this.  He had no clue I felt ambushed or that I was so nervous about sleepover type things.  Apparently, I handled myself pretty well yesterday.  He said, “You know, it’s not inappropriate for you to call and make sure Callie is behaving herself and not creating any kind of difficulties by being there today.”

It took me all of two seconds to pick up the phone and call.  All is well.  I’m told she is being super helpful (exactly like Callie), and she and her friend have been decorating and baking since this morning.  Sounds like a perfect sleepover to me.  What a relief.  And I’m going to have an exhausted, but very happy, little girl come home tonight.

Letting my little girl enjoy her dash too,

Christine

It’s time for the Pumpkin Massacre!

Nicely done, kiddos!

The Jack-O-Lantern is the quintessential Halloween decoration. It’s a must-do every year at our house, and that usually means, “Mom MUST-DO the yucky part”.  You all know what that means… Mom has to take the guts out.  And, Mom LOVES to do that part.  Ripping out all the squishy, sticky, ooey-gooey insides of the pumpkin is wonderfully gross.  Especially when I squeeze it through my fingers. The kids can’t stand that part. I call them chickens.

This year I decided to buy one of those cheap pumpkin carving booklet/tool-kits they sell for three bucks at the store. Before I could tell the kids I didn’t want them to pick the hardest patterns in the book, that’s exactly what the youngest two did.  *sigh*  I really should have seen that one coming.  At least the kids were helpful as we taped the patterns to the pumpkin.  Each of them patiently waited for me to finish helping with one of the other kids, before moving on to help them.  Since the tool that scores the pattern onto the pumpkin was missing from the package (I didn’t notice that in the store, but that’s my kind of luck), the kids were going to use a punch tool that came with the kit.  I suggested toothpicks would also work, and Josh and Callie worked quietly, diligently marking out their pattern.

The kids really surprised me, because I did not hear the usual complaints. “When is it MY turn?” “She/he is taking too long!”  “This is boring!”  “Mine’s not working!”  “When can I be done?”  They were calm, they waited their turn, they helped each other, they even said words like “please” and “thank you”.  Mister had his HAM radio set up outside and was listening & talking while we were all out there.  The kids were actually quiet enough for us not to be bother to him while he was focused on that.  Plus, the kids and I were greatly entertained by some of the conversations that were going on over the airwaves (like the guy who was openly talking about the diarrhea he got from a Walmart chicken… The kids and I about died laughing).  Anyway, I’d like to thank the person who stole my kids and replaced them with these well-behaved, kinder, politer children.  Actually, that only lasted for the pumpkin-carving, but I’ll take what I can get.

As far as carving kits go, why have I not done this before?!!  I thought having a sturdy metal spoon was fine for scraping out the pumpkin innards.  I was so wrong!! That cheapo piece of plastic scraper was a MACHINE at getting that stringy stuff out.  And those flimsy little saw-like tools? WAY better than the normal humongous steak-knife we use. When the kids started out working away with their little saw-knives, I figured they were still going to do the usual hatchet-job on the pumpkins (just using smaller, more annoying tools).  Ohhhh nooooo… Those things were fantastic! I started wishing I had got my own pumpkin to carve.  Until I had to help the youngest two with their patterns, and then I quickly got that out of my system.

We all had a great morning, and the kids really did a fantastic job on their Jack-O-Lantern’s.  They turned out so much better than I thought.  Next year I’m buying more of those nifty little tools.  Those things are BOMB!

Josh took some pictures of all of us while we were working, so I just put them all in the slide-show below.

Making my dash great by spending time with the kids and creating actual Jack-O-Lantern’s,

Christine

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Joshua and the Cold Shower Mis-Adventure

Grand Canyon August 2010Moving to the desert has really helped me to understand what a precious resource water is.  Conserving water was quite a change for the kids and I, after having lived in an area where wells were commonplace and water was abundant.  The kids and I have had to change many of our habits, one of which is 5-minute-or-less showers. While water conservation is incredibly important, the water bill is even more so.    Ironically, water is actually very cheap.  It’s not that the water bill is expensive, it’s the calculation they base on the water bill to charge you for your sewer that gets you.  And boy-howdy, if you’re not careful, it will put a serious dent in your bank account. So… 5 minute or less showers are required for the 5 people living in this household.

[Insert wistful memories of long showers where you could stand under the hot water for 5 minutes to wake up before beginning to actually shower… As well as memories of long, hot soaks in a bathtub filled to the brim… *sigh*]

Another change desert life has brought is the fact that during the summer you do NOT need hot water to take a hot shower.  Most people turn their hot water heaters to the lowest setting, or even off.  It simply is so hot that you don’t really need the water heated.  Which means that showers are always taken with the knob turned all the way to cold.  And on the 115° – 120° days you try to sneak the first shower so the water is as cool (warm rather than hot) as possible.  There’s just something really gross about showering, and then sweating as you’re trying to dry off.

Hot-Cold-Off

Image by scottnj via Flickr

Having said that, we’re going to insert Joshua into this little desert life informational post.  We told Joshua to take a shower the other night.  We time the kids to make sure they stay under/at the 5 minute mark. I thought I heard him making noises while showering, but I wasn’t sure.  After four minutes he comes out of the bathroom, with a towel wrapped around him, bawling like a four-year-old.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said, “The water is freezing! It was taking forever to heat up and I had to take a cold shower!”  The poor kid’s lips were even blue.

Mister and I felt badly and told him that we know that this time of the year we’re needing to actually use the warm water setting again and it takes a few minutes.  We reminded him we would never count the minutes it took for the water to warm up for his shower, and he should have let us know what was happening instead of torturing himself with a cold shower.  We also told him if it takes a long time again, to let us know.

Last night Joshua went in to take his shower.  We started timing him as usual, and right around the four-minute mark Joshua turned off the water and came out to tell me that the water was still cold.  We immediately knew something was wrong.  It only takes a minute or two for the water to warm up in our shower, which is the furthest away from the water heater, while his bathroom is the closest to it.  I went into Joshua’s bathroom with him while he was insisting that the water knob was turned all the way over to hot.  Um… No, it wasn’t.  It was all the way over to cold.  He became so upset with me, insisting that it has always been over on “hot” [cold!] and he’s taken hot showers from it before.  I reminded him about how hot the summer heat makes our water, and that we had ALL been taking hot “cold” showers until recently.  The look on his face as that information went through his brain and clicked into place was PRICELESS.  He started giggling, but then quickly became very annoyed when he realized that he had twice tortured himself with cold showers unnecessarily.

I went out to the living room shared with Mister what had happened.  While we certainly don’t like wasting water, nor do we like the kids having to torture themselves with cold showers, we did sit there laughing for quite a while about Joshua’s unfortunate mistake.  I mean, hey, why would anyone try turning the knob the other way when you could stand under a cold shower for 5 minutes?!

Enjoying hot showers while living my dash,

Christine

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