Archive | June, 2009

The Birds and the Butterflies and Twitter Morons

19 Jun

Wow, when I offered to answer the Internet’s problems Monday, some of you had some great questions.  Some of you should probably seek professional help. And some of you? Both “A” and “B” are correct.

First, I want to be clear that despite my comments on our dogs, I am not ACTUALLY an expert on animal sex habits. Although when my daughter was in kindergarten, the school district in its infinite wisdom decided that spring mating season would be the absolute best time to schedule a field trip to the zoo.

And so, I spent the entire zoo trip saying things like this to six-year-olds:

“Oh dear, the monkeys are wrestling! Let’s go see the kangaroos!”

“Huh, the kangaroos are playing leapfrog in slow motion! Let’s go see the hippos!”

And then, when we got to the hippos, they were doing this:

hippos

Thirty seconds after this picture was taken, it became a hippo porn movie. And so we decided it was time for a picnic lunch at the playground.

However, although no one asked about the mating habits of hippos, my sweet fellow blogger Bridget did want to know about bird sex. She asked, “Do birds get stuck while they’re flying? Do they sit down? How’s that work?”

Well Bridget, it depends on the species. In the case of storks, they don’t actually have sex. Humans bring them babies. It’s only fair.

Other species of birds, as I learned on BackyardNature.net, mate on the ground with male climbing on the female, and flapping his wings to keep from slipping off.  Either that or he’s really proud of himself. Interestingly, there are a couple of species exceptions to this. Swifts and swallows, which are in the bird mile-high club,  mate in midair.

Yes. Swifts and swallows. That’s what I said.

Go look at Bridget’s sweet angel face on her website, and remember — SHE IS THE ONE WHO ASKED ABOUT BIRD SEX.

Rene also had a nature question, although hers was G-rated. She wanted to know: “Where do butterflies go when it rains?”

Rene, that depends. Do you need to know this for small children? Small children that have been driving you crazy all day with whining and fighting and incessant questions?

If so, take them for a walk after it has rained. Point out the puddles on the street with shimmering colors reflected on them from the oil on the street. Say “Kids, isn’t that pretty? Like little rainbows on the puddles?”

And when they see the rainbows and comment on how pretty they are, drop your voice real low and whisper “those are melted baby butterflies who didn’t listen to their mommies.”

You’re welcome. Of course, if you are wondering for well-behaved children, the real answer is here: KidsButterfly.org.

Finally, Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka wanted to know something not at all related to the animal kingdom *or* sex, thank goodness.

She asked “Riddle me this: why do people on Twitter follow me only to unfollow me when I follow them back? QUESTION FOR THE AGES.”

Well, Riddler Aunt Becky, that is a tricky question. If you know the person, and you like them, you may want to give them the benefit of a doubt that perhaps Twitter is acting up and randomly unfollowed you on their behalf, and send them a friendly tweet like “Can you DM me the link to that genital wart treatment plan that worked for you? I would DM you but you’re not following me, silly!”

Or, if the person is one of the Twitter marketing “geniuses,” you can safely just assume they’re a douchebag and block them.

Then, there is a third possibility, one I hestitate to even mention because I would never react that way. But the person who unfollowed you *could*just be jealous of your excellent blogging skills and bitter that you are kicking their ass in the Funniest Blog Contest.

I hope the answers were helpful, Bridget, Rene and Aunt Becky. If I didn’t answer your question this time around either I will get to it soon, or I don’t have any idea.

Also, one more another loving reminder:
2009 BlogLuxe Awards
 You can vote every day. Come on, they will be narrowing it down to finalists soon.

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Saying Goodbye

17 Jun

Even when we know it’s coming, death catches us unprepared.

Quince

Quince had been doing pretty well, all things considered. A little slower in the step, to be sure. But still,  jumping up on the bed to greet us in the mornings. Standing sentinel at the door in case he was needed for a trip to Sonic.

Then one night, he kept coughing while trying to eat, and walked away from a full bowl. For a corgi, that’s serious.

We switched to soft food, but the cancer had spread, keeping him from controlling his jaw. He bit his tongue, and it lolled out like a prize fighter who had been one too many rounds. Still, he would bob his head up and down with that tongue out, trying to offer broken kisses as best he could.

We knew, hearts broken, that it was time to let go. I made a final vet appointment, and the night before, as he shuddered to breathe, my daughter and I sat with him until early in the morning, both crying and petting him. And she, in the wisdom only a child can have, prayed, “God, it’s OK. I just don’t want him to hurt anymore.”

She told Quince, too.

“You can go. We’ll miss you so much, but it’s OK for you to go.”

Between sobs, we talked about whether or not there would be dogs in heaven, and I told her “yes, I thought so.”

And, as I often am for so many reasons, I was grateful that I have spent a decade of Sunday mornings listening to Max Lucado preach. Because Max believes there will be pets in heaven, too. And although it is hardly the most pressing theological issue of our time, early Monday morning as I cried with my girl, it was the most important one in the room.

Quince settled in and slept that morning, and eventually, so did we.

When it came time for his appointment later that day, my husband  and I met at the vet’s office, barely holding back tears until we got to the exam room.

Our vet, Dr. Kyle Crowley, was gentle and reassuring.  He joined us in petting our brave little general, and told us what we needed to hear, that this excruciating choice was the bravest and kindest we had. That cancer was killing him, we were sparing him pain. We stroked Quince gently while Dr. Crowley gave him those final shots, and we told him what a good dog he was over and over until we knew his heart was not beating.

And then, I told him a few more times. Because he was such a good dog.

We stayed for a while, and then, the vet came back in and told us to take all the time we needed. We gathered up his collar and leash and turned to go. But Dr. Crowley stayed, and he kept petting Quince so that we would not have to walk out of the room and leave him alone.

I will tell him, when I trust my tears to let me talk, how that small kindness was a balm to my bruised heart. That sometimes the simplest moments of compassion mean more than we can imagine.

But because I can write and cry at the same time, I will tell you the same now. Your comments and emails have been a reminder of all that is sweet in this world, a reminder that has made the bitterness of loss easier to swallow. Thank you for that.

Sybil, Party of 3, Your Table is Now Available

17 Jun

Hi, I have a bad case of blogging multiple personality disorder this week. And bonus: if you would like to hear the other voices in my head, I will tell you where they are talking.

First, I am being rational and sensible and posting pictures of Baby Ruth’s in the pool at the San Antonio Express-News’ online site: MySA.com. I am exploring the phenomena of cowardly morons who make up fake names and act like idiots in the comment section.

Come, read and discuss the decline of society with me. Or make up a fake name and act like an idiot in the comment section. Either way, I’m cool with that. Just click here and comment.

Also today, I am guest posting for The Atomic Mom. Katherine  is young and hip and adorable, and you should read her blog all the time. But especially today. Because I am sharing an important life lesson about what you should and shouldn’t lick. Also, I have an  anecdote that may simultaneously reveal why newspapers are in so much trouble right now, and why I fear for the future of the teaching profession. Yes! All that in one story.

Go on, you know you’re curious now. Leave a comment so Katherine doesn’t think I’m a loser. Thank you. Again, click right here.

Thank you. I love you. 

Now, go away.

Move Over, Ann Landers. Wait, you’re dead? AWKWARD.

15 Jun

For those keeping track at home, we’re beginning the second full week of summer vacation, complete with triple-digit temperatures which serve as a barometer of how loud the “I’m bored” whining will get.

And when they’re not whining, they’re asking things. Lots of things. Questions I was not aware I was going to get to answer this summer.

Upon the sad diagnosis of a beloved pet:

“Mom, when IS he going to die?”

“Can we get another dog?”

“It just feels like God hates me and what did I ever do to him?”

You see how they do that? Get me off-guard with the inappropriate inquiries and then deliver the sucker punch to the gut?

Of course, I try to give as measured, reasonable responses as I can about how even though God is loving and just, we live in a fallen world where sad things still happen. And we have deep theological debates about the nature of free will versus the question of why an omnipotent God allows the suffering of the innocent.

Unless the whining has been going on all morning. Then I just say “God is mad at you about a lot of things. But He told me He would let the dog live if you cleaned your room every morning without being asked and stopped fighting with your brother over the Wii. It’s all on you.”

No, of course I don’t say that. I’m kidding.

I tell them it’s because Daddy votes Republican.

Hahaha. Kidding again. Maybe.

When we aren’t tackling theology, we are tackling sex ed. Because, as my regular readers reader knows, the Jack Russell Terrier went into heat last week. And even though the corgis are both fixed and one of them is terminally ill, hope springs eternal. So one recent morning, I got this round of questions.

“Why are Tutter and Bailey stuck together?”

“If Tutter can’t make puppies, why is he doing that?”

And of course… the question of the hour: “Do you and Dad get stuck?”

I answered them all without my head exploding. Like this: 1) In the animal kingdom, that is how the dominant male ensures he will be the one to father the babies, by making sure no other males are also trying to get the female pregnant. 2) Because he and Bailey apparently ran off to Vegas and got married without telling us and 3) Would you like to go get some ice cream?

So as you can see, my question-answering skills are getting totally awesome. And you know, as much as I enjoy my children’s excellent inquiries, I’m a giver. Why should they get all my expertise?

So how about if *you* fire off some questions? Surely there’s some issue I can help you with. You can post it in the comments or email me at: lettergirl@live.com.

What’s that? You want to know if this is a ploy to get some blog topics and comments? Uh, would you like to go get some ice cream?

Also, you know that red button over there? You should lick on it and vote for me every day. Wait, I mean “click” on it. Although licking is fine if that’s what you do. I don’t judge. Either way, you should vote for me. If you do, God will make it cool off in San Antonio. No, really. It’s all on you.

Summer Heat

10 Jun

My life experiences to date have included voluntarily climbing into a pit of live rattlesnakes, rappelling down a cliff, seeing a child through 4 heart surgeries and producing 9 hours straight of live flood coverage without a break to pee WHILE PREGNANT.

None of them have in any way prepared me for the horror of trying to wrestle protective panties onto a Jack Russell terrier in heat.

Bailey

Now before you start with the spay and neuter lecture: I know. Bailey went in for her surgical appointment on schedule, but there were issues with her blood work, and the vet wanted to wait until they cleared up. And while we were waiting, things happened. She does not leave the house without supervision, and the corgis are fixed.

We will not be contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. Put your freaking pitchforks down.

So, we are starting off our summer with an informational biology lesson. Unfortunately, Bailey will not sit still to watch the very special “Blossom” episode where Mayim Bialik learns all about the facts of life.

I would love to share that episode with you, but I can’t find it on You Tube. However, in this one, Blossom chair dances in the intro and then plots to go to a “Makeout Party” with her friend, Six. It also contains the following gems of comedy gold.

“This, this is premeditated kissing. That’s a lot of pressure.”

Also:  “Andrea said that Mel put his tongue in her ear.”

But back to Bailey. She can’t watch “Blossom” because she’s too busy spending half her waking hours fighting off our corgi, Quince. Who yes, is a) neutered and b) the one with the terminal lymphoma.

Apparently he missed the memo about dying with dignity and is instead trying to cross “sex with a minor” off his bucket list.  Bailey, not one to to outdone on the inappropriate futility scale, spends the other half of her waking hours trying to hump him back.

I’d love to relieve her boredom and take her for a trip to the dog park, but I saw that Jodie Foster movie, and I am not interested in re-enacting the bar scene from “The Accused” with dogs. So until this is over, she’ll have to amuse herself by tearing off her puppy panties, ripping them to shreds and stashing them under my bed.

At least she’s leaving my underwear alone for a change.

Hole-y Moley

5 Jun

Sometime late last year, our house started cracking up. Not giggling maniacally  like that crazy house in “Monster House.”

Cracking in half.

We first noticed when the bathroom door became a little hard to close, which meant I had to do my whole morning routine with a peeping corgi watching my every move. I would see the silhouette of giant bat-ears outside the shower curtain. He would sit and bark at the blow dryer, then carefully study me as I applied eyeliner. I think he’s emo.

But I didn’t really get worried until in the living room, a little crack started climbing down the wall. And then it became a big crack that looked like this:

Yes, those are Donkey Conga bongo drums on top of the TV cabinet. I rock that game. Shush.

Yes, those are Donkey Conga bongo drums on top of the TV cabinet. I rock that game. Shush.

So, we checked the warranty on our 10-year-old home. It, of course had expired like 2 months before the crack appeared. Yes, of course it had.  So we called a foundation company, who cheerfully told us it would cost eleventy billion dollars to fix.

I’ve mentioned, right, that I quit my job to go back to college full-time and become a highly paid educational professional? So awesome timing, you shifty little foundation, you.

As much as I occasionally would like the children to have their own home, we didn’t think letting the house split down the middle was the right answer. Mostly because the kitchen would be on their side, and then they would probably burn the place down. So we scheduled the two-day foundation repair process.

Monday, a small army of foundation repair crews descended on our home, and started digging holes all around. Not little holes. Holes big enough for the construction workers to disappear in. With their radios playing really loud. Every now and then, a little hard hat would pop up out of a hole. Kind of like life-size whack-a-mole, only I couldn’t actually hit anyone with a mallet.

ALTHOUGH I WANTED TO.

Day one seemed to go very smoothly. They dug holes, they unloaded their patented Cable Lock Plus system, and then in the late afternoon, they let me know they’d be back tomorrow. With the jackhammers, so they could also dig whack-a-holes under the porch and driveway.

The second day, I was brushing my teeth and unprepared for the earth to start moving when the jackhammering started. And I discovered that when your Sonicare toothbrush gets jolted up and brushes your eyes, it hurts like hell.

The sound and shaking was relentless. And of course since I had procrastinated, I had a paper to write. I plugged in my earphones and some tunes, and started working.

Suddenly, everything went dark.

The construction supervisor knocked on the door. They’d tripped a breaker, could he get to the fuse box?

The jackhammering started again. Pop. Dark. Knock.

Again. This time, it wouldn’t come back on. I called the power company, the supervisor went to get a generator. I kept my cheerful smile plastered on.

They got finished, we got power back, and the house was re-leveled lickety split. The crack in the living room went back together, the bathroom door happily opened and closed again, and two of the jackhammered holes were patched back up.

I heard water rushing outside. I happily messaged a friend, “oh good!  They’re hosing things down and cleaning up. Either that or they just hit a water pipe. Ha ha ha!”

Then, another knock.

“Uh, when we were working on the porch earlier, the jackhammer kind of hit a water pipe and broke it.” Shut my stupid mouth.

So the water was shut off, the plumber called, and the gaping hole left in the back porch. He came and guess what? More porch had to be jackhammered up to get the pipe fixed.

Day three, no water in the back half of the house, no plumber. About 4 in the afternoon, I called and said “where are the people who are supposed to be putting my house back together?” The construction crew arrived, went around back, then another knock.

“Uh, the pipe is not fixed, we can’t fix the patio.”

“I know. The plumber said he couldn’t get to it, and that you would need to jackhammer out more of the porch.”

“Oh.”

“You guys work for the same company, right? Do you talk to each other?”

“Let me call him.”

So of course, the plumber would have to come the next morning. Day 4 of the 2-day process. The same morning my daughter was graduating from elementary school, so I informed them they would be on their own.

She graduated. We went to breakfast, we got pedicures, we stayed away from the jackhammers.

And when we got home at 3, NO ONE HAD COME.

So, I called. Not cheerfully. And finally, the plumber and his jackhammer of destruction came and fixed the pipe and turned the water back on. And shrugged when I asked about the porch situation and said someone would fix it the next morning.

So today, the first day of summer vacation, we all got up and dressed bright and early so we’d be decent for the construction crews. Of course, that was unnecessary, since said crews came at 3 this afternoon, on day 5 of the 2-day process. After I had called again, and done what is known in some colloquial circles as “ripping someone a new one.”

But now, it is done. All level, all patched, and I am ready to let it go, and get on with the summer.

Although I am more than a little sad that I can no longer make jokes about living in a crack house.

I Am Pretty Sure My Mom Nominated Me

1 Jun

You may notice in the sidebar, a pretty red button announcing I’ve been nominated for a funniest blog award.

What? You didn’t notice? Well, I will post it here for you, too.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards 

If you click on it, you can vote for me and maybe I will win, and get to replace Sonia Sotomayor on the Court of Appeals after she gets on the Supreme Court. I am pretty sure that’s the prize. Or a Swiffer.

Also, did I mention you have shiny hair? And a nice smile? Go vote.

Of course, I will not win because Jenny and some pregnant lady I’ve never heard of are in the same category. Also Tanis, aka the Redneck Mommy. All these wonderful women, and probably all the other nominees, are way more clever and entertaining than I am. Plus, Tanis talks about her nipple piercings on the Internet, and I cannot compete with that unless I tell you about the Stiletto Fitness class I attended over the weekend.

No, seriously, I did. That post is coming.

Maybe.

Anyway, they are funnier, but *you* are nicer and better-looking than their readers. So you are going to go vote for me out of love and a wee bit of pity.

Then, you can come back and click on the links to those other blogs.

I won’t judge.

Much.

P.S. Also, one of my best friends, Elle, is also nominated, and you should vote for her, too. I am being very gracious about it mostly because she is in a different category. She cooks delicious things, and unlike me, does not go to Sonic so often the kids’ there know her first name *and* what she is going to order. 

 I like a lot of people on the internet, but I have known Elle long enough to have questionable photos of her, and vice versa.  So, also, please go in this category and vote for Elle’s New England Kitchen. Or she might publish them. Thank you in advance.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards

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