I saw The Today Show post birthday wishes to Donald Duck this past weekend and it made me think back to my first trip to Disney World in 1984. I was in first grade and my parents took me and my sisters out of school for a week to go to “the most magical place on Earth.” We trekked across country in our brown station wagon, hauling the pop-up camper behind. We stayed at Fort Wilderness, the campground at Disney, and it was equally as magical as the park itself. The antithesis of the theme park, the campground was quiet and serene, surrounded by tall pine trees and a slower pace. Every morning we would hop on a tram that would transport us to the Magic Kingdom. It was while we were waiting for the tram one day that I lost a tooth spelling “M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I”.
We are one week into summer…and what a week it has been for The Boy!
Day 1 – Cavity-free check up at the dentist! I’m such a fun mom…scheduling a dentist appointment on the first day of summer! Teehee.
Day 2 – Mt. Playmore. Again, trying to be fun mom, I carted the boy to this huge indoor playground so he could run around like a monkey and what does he want to do?! The arcade. So I indulge him, because it’s the 2nd day of summer, and I get him a $5 card (big spender). He blows through that in the blink of an eye before realizing that none of the games he chose will lead to any sort of prize. And because I’m a sucker…I put another $5 on his card…which lead to a foam ninja star and two plastic lizards. He then claimed that “all the other kids got 5 prizes”…which I know is a story because there are only a handful of kids there and he hasn’t actually talked to any of them. I quickly deducted that he was just being an ungrateful punk and I’m instantly annoyed about spending $10 on three little toys that probably cost $.15 to make. We redeemed the day with pizza at 600 Degrees and then we helped sort clothes for the uniform closet at school. Haha! Who drags their kid back to school on the 2nd day of summer?! ME!!!
Day 3 – Local pools opened! When I asked my kid what he was most excited about this summer, he answered “swimming!” And he’s proving to be a true Texas kid too…a natural swimmer who could stay in the pool ALL DAY if it weren’t for those darn “adults only” swim breaks. And, of course, that break happened about 10 minutes after we arrived. So he sat on the side, incessantly asking, “can I get back in now?” Inevitably, when the lifeguard blew the whistle after the 15 minute break, he got back in and then immediately announced that he had to go to the bathroom. 🙄 Once he got back in, I’m pretty sure we didn’t see him surface, except to take a breath, for the rest of the evening. We closed down the pool that night…which probably won’t be the last time that happens this summer.
Day 4 – Hanging on the lake with his buddy’s family. He rode on the tube by himself and got his first sunburn of the summer! When we arrived to pick him up, it was obvious he was living his best life that day…his buddy’s grandma feeding them endless cookies and marshmallows, a box full of vintage action figures to play with, and getting to use a pocket knife without an anxious mama breathing down his neck. And as expected, he sliced his finger with said pocket knife…which apparently is a rite of passage in a young boy’s life.
Day 5 – Pre-op tour at the children’s hospital for his surgery on Day 6. Again, I’m such a great mom…scheduling all the fun things for the first week of summer! We had big plans to visit the local children’s museum after our tour, but an acute stomach ache half way through our tour landed us in the emergency room instead. He never complains about anything…so when he doubled over in pain and couldn’t walk on his own, we decided to err on the side of being overly cautious since he was due for surgery the next day. We were in and out in under an hour with an official diagnosis of “he needs to poop” and sent on our way with a Fleet enema. Fun times!
Day 6 – Surgery Day! Pretty sure I win the award for signing my kid up for the lamest start to a summer! We fortunately got bumped up on the schedule which meant he didn’t have to be NPO until 4pm that day…just 2:30pm instead. We did pass our time that day with loads of Jello Jigglers. Who doesn’t love a Jello Jiggler?! All went well with his surgery and he loved riding the big wheel back to the OR!
Day 7 – Day 1 of post-op recovery and limited activity for 7-14 days. If I had a 2” incision on my groin I would be wearing pajama pants for days while binge watching Netflix and enjoying my narcotics high. However, by 8am he had already chased the dog, climbed on the counter for a cup, and hopped up and down on one leg to prove he was tough. If he could have gone swimming and ridden his bike…which you know he also proposed yesterday…we would have officially broken all the post-op rules in the first 24 hours. And there was no pajama wearing for this kid…it was jeans and a belt all day long which makes me just cringe thinking about it.
The other kids in our neighborhood start their summers today. We got a head start on them in days…but we’ll be behind slightly on the fun. Something tells me that we’ll catch up though!
We woke up to Ace in bed with us today. The little ninja was all snuggled up in my crook like he owned that place on my pretty, white bedspread. This might not sound like that big of an offense to fellow dog lovers. And I honestly didn’t really mind him being there…I *might* have pulled him in closer for a nuzzle before kicking him out. But what makes it weird is he was in his crate when we went to bed last night. So he’s either a little Houdini or I was sleep walking again. I’m not sure which is worse?!
It’s been one month and three days since we brought this rascal home…but who’s counting!? In one month he has gained ten pounds, explored every inch of our backyard, and devoured a three foot long jerky treat, several snails and two large grubs. He’s already starting to retrieve balls, frisbees and sticks and is learning how to sit, stay and come. He’s a real character too…he barrels across the backyard after a ball, rolling head over heels, when he gets to it. He sleeps on his back, legs splayed, in front of the fan. And he yields a hearty laugh from his six-year old human while they play in the backyard.
But, I would be spinning a yarn if I acted like this change has been a walk in the park. It has been five years since we had a furry friend in our home and I bucked the idea of having another one join our family for a very long time. I knew I had only so much capacity in my life for chaos and that was now being filled by my kid. There was a reason why we chose to have just one kiddo…cause this mama likes order and predictability…and it turns out, she’s not a very good multi-tasker. So I knew, deep down, that adding another being to the mix would stretch me in some very uncomfortable ways. But you can only deny those puppy dog eyes from the hubby AND the kid for so long. I finally came around to the idea, but with some stipulations.
- I wanted a puppy who would see my son’s mach-3 energy level as normal. An adult dog might not be so forgiving of my rambunctious six year old…but a puppy would just fall in line with it.
- I wanted a boy. We had two girls before and there’s a reason why they call girl dogs “bitches.” I was hopeful that a male dog would mean a little less drama.
- I wanted to have a few months on my own with the pup before school was out for the summer. This way I could find my groove with him and hopefully get us past the potty training stage.
- I wanted to be able to anticipate his homecoming. We put down a deposit for him two days after he was born…which gave me eight weeks to warm up to this change.
And all of these still hold some level of legitimate, thoughtful planning. However, several have backfired on me. Not only has our pup, Ace, fallen in line with our crazy six year old son, but he has also upped the ante. Turns out he believes my kid is one of his litter mates and will nip and wrestle with him non-stop. My son enjoys this about 98% of the time. The other 2% of the time is spent crying and yelling to stop the insane play. The ownness for this maddening behavior does not fall on the dog alone. My son is the king of mixed messages right now, giggling and squealing while also screaming at deafening levels to “make it stop!” It’s tons of fun. *smirk*
Let me tell you, this new pup is a real mama’s boy. He is the definition of sidekick right now and is on my heels all. Day. Long. And don’t even think about putting him in the baby play yard when you need a break, especially if you plan to be in his line of sight at all. When the breeder told us that “he loves his people,” I should have known that particular feel-good sentiment would actually be a neediness that can be maddening to this introvert. And let me just say that this dog has a real stubborn streak too. I think it’s rather ironic that a synonym for stubborn is dogged…teehee. The first time I raised my voice at him, he barked back.
We didn’t have a single potty accident during his first weekend home. Turns out we were on a honeymoon of sorts. I proudly announced this to my dad and not one hour later, he squatted right in the middle of the kitchen, and it hasn’t stopped since. I would say, one month into this adventure, that we’re about 75% potty trained. He’s notorious for going out in the backyard, getting distracted and then coming back in and hunching just seconds later. Since his homecoming, we have removed all rugs, gone through about thirty rolls of paper towels, and no longer have an endless supply of plastic shopping bags because it’s a literal shit-show around here. I’ve lost count of how many times he has piddled in the corner while I have been cleaning up a deuce. I calmly reprimand and then take him outside, where I follow him around like a ninny, chanting, “go potty…go potty…go potty.” Then the wind blows, a bird sings, or a squirrel scampers across the fence…and all concentration is lost for the task at hand. We head back inside and the cycle continues.
If any of my stipulations for this dog have come to fruition, it’s that I had ample time to wrap my head around the changes to come. During that time, I doted over his pictures. I nested at home…preparing his crate and buying all manner of dog accoutrement. I mean, for Pete’s sake, I even washed my son’s old swaddling blankets for the new pup! And I might have even read a chapter or two about puppy care…something I didn’t even do when preparing for my human baby! I admit, in my mind, there was a level of bittersweet realization happening too. I knew, as soon as he arrived, that my days of being alone during school hours would soon be over. I would no longer be able to sit at the coffee shop, reading and writing, for hours on end. And as silly as it sounds, I grieved over the fact that my undivided attention my six year old was accustomed to would now be shared with his “new brother.” Life would change…but I had ample time to brace myself for it.
Thirty plus days in and I find myself falling in love with his sweet, little ways. Like how he can be starving in the morning, but will take the time to greet me before scarfing down his food. Like how he proudly runs around the backyard with his hula hoop. Like how I find sticks in my purse and carry a supply of plastic baggies for those ‘just in case’ moments. He’s an addition that I can get used to having around. An addition that could be with our family long after my son goes off to college. Someday we will long forget his wild puppy days and instead enjoy the fact that we have a very loyal companion.
As my son often says with a grin, “you’re outnumbered now mommy!”…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My husband proposed to me on April Fools Day.
The year was 2000. He had just graduated from college in December and landed his first job in Dallas with a public relations agency. I left my first “real job” after college to move back in with my parents in Dallas so I could be closer to my beau. We had already dated for four years and felt pretty certain that we were moving in the direction of marriage so being in the same city was important.
Earlier that week, I got a call from my man saying that he had gotten an award at work and they were sending us to a fancy dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse as a way of saying “congratulations!” As new grads, we never really had the means to splurge on an extravagant dinner, so it was something we were both pretty giddy about. Turns out his giddiness was because he had something up his sleeve…my giddiness was just because I love a good steak that someone else is paying for!
Anyhoo, I worked that day, so I didn’t have a lot of time to fuss over my hair and make-up…not like I ever do…but I really didn’t that day. I raced home after work and managed to get changed right before he rang the doorbell. We jumped into his 1992 Ford Probe and took off for a night of celebrating his awesome start at his new job.
As we drove along, I thought it was a bit odd that he knew exactly how to get to the restaurant in downtown Dallas. These were the days before GPS, but he didn’t even have directions written down! It was like he’d been there before…but I just shrugged it off as luck and continued to dream about eating ourselves silly.
When we arrived, the maitre’d welcomed us to the restaurant by name. Now how in the world does he know our names? I thought. I blew it off, thinking, they probably know our names because we have a reservation and this seems like a “reservation only” kind of restaurant. He showed us to our table and rattled off the specials that night.
After a mouthwatering dinner, the waiter informed us that they would be bringing out dessert, special ordered by my boyfriend’s boss. About fifteen minutes later, we eyed the reward making it’s way around the restaurant. It was on a cart and had sparklers on it. They stopped in front of our table, picked up the plate and placed it in front of me. That is when I noticed the most perfect ring, a princess cut diamond set in platinum, sitting on top of the molten lava cake.
I’ve never been much of a squealer or a crier in joyous occasions. I remember smiling really big…looking at the ring and then looking at him. He looked at me, with a big grin, and said, “well?” I don’t remember if he put the ring on my finger or if I did? But in that unspoken moment, we both committed to spending the rest of our lives together.
People at the tables around us offered congratulations. The waiter stopped by to take our picture. And then we pulled out my calendar and picked a date…September 16th…one day before our fifth dating anniversary and just 4.5 short months away.
When we left the restaurant, we each made phone calls to our parents to share our big news…then we called our best friends and siblings. There were no Facebook posts or Instagram selfies to announce the occasion.
We spent the rest of the evening laughing about how the plan for the evening came together. My fiancé bought the ring at the beginning of that week during his morning work break. He later went to lunch with his boss and co-workers. While at lunch he showed the ring to a few of the girls, who shrieked with excitement and grilled him about his proposal plan, to which he admitted that he didn’t have one yet. They tattled on him to the boss who jumped at the chance to make it a company affair. He commissioned one of the girls to make all the arrangements at Morton’s, handed her his company credit card and the rest is history. This same boss also made dinner reservations for us in Sausalito during our honeymoon and handpicked our desserts for that night. I’d say my fiancé had made quite an impression during his first few months on the job!
We chuckle now about his decision to propose on April Fools Day. In hindsight, it was actually genius. If I said “no” than he could jokingly claim “April Fools!” But if I said “yes” than it would always be a story that amused everyone. To this day, it is still one of my favorite parts of our story.