Monday, June 30, 2008

Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz

“Without treatment? 4 to 6 months, on the outside.”

These are the words the veterinarian said to my husband last week.

Recently we found out that our dog, Bo, has a sarcoma growth near his shoulder blade. (Front, right leg) Bo is approximately 10 years old. They immediately put him on pain medication and a pretty strong anti inflammatory, since he had gone lame the day before. They did x-rays, blood tests, urine tests… and now we can’t go any farther unless we want to get a cat scan and surgical biopsy combination. Which would cost us in excess of $1200. BEFORE the cost of treatment once they found out what kind of cancer we are dealing with. On top of the several hundred we spent the other day on the initial testing.

Best-case scenario if we have the additional testing and treatments? 8-10 months of good life for our darling boxer after he spends 4-6 months recovering from an amputation of his front leg from the shoulder down, and follow up chemo treatments.

We aren’t going to treat his cancer. He is an old baby, and we are going to spend the next couple of months loving him, spoiling him, and thanking God for bringing this very special soul in to our family for the 3+ years that we have had him. It wasn’t long enough, but with a pup as special as he is it never would be long enough. We are Bo’s third home – and how anyone ever gave away a dog this sweet is beyond me. The day we met him it was love at first sight... and we promised Boxer Rescue that we would be his Forever Home. We have been through his adjustment to being part of our family, major surgery for mast cell tumors, and now this. I hate that treatment isn’t really an option – but Husband and I talked about it and even if we had unlimited funds at our disposal we cannot see putting him through the surgery and treatments especially since they estimate that the cancer would return within 18 months anyway.

We will give him the pain medication that the doctors have prescribed, watch him closely and when it is time we will lovingly let him go. We will treasure him in our hearts forever, he has given us love that we would have been incomplete without.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The fun of daughters...

My daughters are in dance. In this year's recital DD2 will be doing tap, and DD1 will be doing hip-hop. Dress rehearsal was yesterday.

Here is DD2, who has the true heart of a dancer, and would go to dance class every other day if you'd let her.

And here is DD1, who's face in this picture looks so much like my mom it hurts.

Dress rehearsal was so much fun - and I have video that I'll post this weekend. They both did great!

For more pictures you can click HERE.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jen Lancaster

Last night was so much fun! I saw one of my very favorite authors, Jen Lancaster, at the Tattered Cover.

Jen is exactly how you would want her to be: funny, warm, down to earth, and snarky without being bitchy. She told hilarious stories, and read from one of the funniest chapters in her new book, “Such a Pretty Fat”. She even did the eye roll when asked about her mother – and you can tell she loves the woman but that her mom stands on her very last nerve. Often.

One of the funniest things about Jen is that she talks exactly like she writes, footnotes and all. It was interesting to watch her, as she is so comfortable with the audience. The audience loved her - - but of course we did. We feel like she is a friend of ours. We’ve been with her through some of her hardest times, laughed with her (and, lets be honest, AT her) during the ridiculous, and we understand “The Fletcher Factor.” (Her fans were begging for more Fletch stories… my favorite being in her second book – the best of her three books IMO – where he chases the coyote and Jen muses about Fletch having lost his mind.)

When I went up to get my books signed, I told her my name and she remembered me from a few emails we have exchanged. A line from one of her emails to me ended up in her new book, and I was amazed that she remembered it was I on the other end of the email. I have to admit, I was a bit star struck – which surprised me. I had a hard time thinking of anything intelligent to say to her once it was my turn, and mostly just smiled and nodded my head I think. (The only other time that happened to me? When I met the Duchess of York at a Weight Watchers meeting. So! Damn! Exciting!) I’m sure I came off as some sort of creepy stalker fan, but I swear I’m not. I would have stuck around to see if she ended early and had time for extra chat time with her fans, but was sure that if she didn’t think I was stalking her before, that would turn the corner for her - and by the size of the crowd I didn’t think there would be any time left over.

I do hope that next time she visits Denver she can stay a bit longer. It would be fun to have her meet with fans away from the confines of the bookstore – so that we could all order the “Drink of 2008” with her and she could prove to us that it doesn’t actually have lawn clippings in it! I know that when she comes back to promote her “Pretty in Plaid” book (#4, which she is currently writing) I’ll be in the front row again.

Oh, and Jen? I would have never suspected the tattoo!


OK, here is the deal: it's not pronounced "Dottie".

"Dodi"? Rhymes with Jody. Just like the Dodi that was with Princess Di in Paris.

Now, if I could just get all the parents at DD's school to read my blog...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

This post is mostly for me. Sometimes I am afraid that I will forget things about my mom… even though right now it seems impossible that it would happen. The thing is, more than one person has told me to remember things often or the memories slip away. Like memories of my babies – who were babies not even all that long ago and I look back on pictures and have forgotten so many dear things about them.

There is the general bio stuff about my mom: born in 1926, third of five children… married my dad in 1949, Registered Nurse, mother to six children, grandmother to 10, great-grandmother to two.

Then there is the stuff I remember. Who she was to me…

When my mom went out with my dad on dates she wore Norell perfume. To this day if I smell this perfume in the store it takes me right back being a child, sitting on her bed and watching her get ready to go out.

My mom was a horrible decision maker, and as I write this I have a smile on my face. She never ordered a meal in a restaurant without finding out what everyone else was having first. “Decision making” for my mom consisted of finding out what others were doing, and doing the exact same thing. Music Lesson teachers, Orthodontists, etc. were chosen in this manner. She had always wanted the living room to be a green color but hemmed and hawed about the right color of green for so long that my dad finally went and bought some green paint. He picked a pastel shade of apple green, and the entire room (walls, ceiling, trim, door) was painted this color. She HATED it, and they went back to eggshell a couple of years later. The next time someone decided on a color that wasn’t eggshell for that room was when I finally picked a light gray/blue color for them to paint it in the early 90’s. It is still that same blue today.

My mom was funny. Some of my most fond memories of her are the two of us sitting up late at night at the kitchen table making each other laugh.

My mom loved gossip. (Hmmmm, guess I come by that naturally enough!) She loved to hear “the news”, juicy gossip, fun gossip, the good and the appalling – she loved it all.

My mom was an alcoholic for a good part of my childhood, and she went in to recovery when I was in high school. For a long time her alcoholism made her a very sick woman, and sometimes it was hard to love her.

My mom and I would stay up together in the family room to watch late night reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati and howl with laughter.

My mom hated her wrinkles. As a lifetime smoker (I don’t remember exactly it was when she stopped… I suppose some time in my late twenties? Early thirties?) she had that drooping skin that smokers develop which, coupled with her bout of polio in early adulthood that had taken some of her muscle tone along with it, resulted in her having deep wrinkles for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember my mother ever having an unlined face. I think she would have liked a face-lift, but being a child of the depression she would have never considered spending that kind of money on her own personal desires.

My mom loved Harry Potter, and awaited the newest releases with the joy of a child. I would make sure they were on pre-order for her so she could receive them the day they came out – because even if she was already in the middle of another book she liked having the newest Harry Potter waiting in the wings. One time we were out and bought some of the Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and she tried every single different flavor. We marveled at “how does someone go about making the flavor of dirt?” “Who would the test group for that one be?” “2 year old boys?”

My mom wore a pink dress to our wedding. She looked beautiful that day.

My mom was a “slapper”. If you spoke back to her or made her mad? Her right hand slapped you across the face so fast it was a surprise. Every. Single. Time.

She could keep certain secrets. If you said, “Please… don’t tell dad,” she didn’t. You had to make it right with her and take your punishment – but she wouldn’t betray you.

Mom mispronounced potassium every time she said it. It drove me crazy.

She made sure you always had your favorite meal on your birthday. One year I picked LibbyLand TV Dinners. (I’m sure I chose either Pirate Picnic or Safari Supper) I think after I went to bed that night the rest of my family finished the entire heart shaped, cherry chip birthday cake because they were still so hungry – but she made them all go along with my 5 year old wishes that evening.

My mom drove a lot of station wagons. I vividly remember 4 of them… there might have been more.

My mom didn’t like breakfast cereal. I know that, because I don’t like it either and she always made sure that I had instant breakfast or toast for breakfast every day of my childhood.

She never gave anyone the whole story. She would give random pieces of it to different individuals, so if there was some event or someone you wanted to know about you had to piece it together by calling siblings and finding out what they knew. I found out, when she was in the hospital, that I might have been the only one who knew that she only had one working kidney. I’ve known for years, and I have no idea when or why she told me this information. Obviously no one had ever needed that piece of information to flesh out a greater story?

My mom kept m&m’s in a bowl in the dining room for my youngest daughter. DD2 discovered early in life that she LOVED chocolate – and her Ammie shared her passion.

Mom was good at ironing. She ironed a lot. I remember setting up my play iron (back in the good old days – when play irons actually plugged in and got warm) and ironing board in the living room with her. We’d watch “Dialing For Dollars” (which she was sure she would someday win) and she’d let me iron my father’s handkerchiefs. I think she ironed every single dress shirt my dad ever wore – and he wore one practically every day of his adult life until he retired.

I’m sure each and every one of my siblings would have different remembrances of mom, because she was someone very different to each one of us while still being exactly the same person to us all. I will keep this list for myself, and I will add to it when I remember something else… something I’d perhaps like to share with my girls when they are older. Like, “My mom had the facts of life talk with me when I was 9. NINE. I was way too young – and she was ready to get it over and done with. I think the entire talk took 10 minutes, and there was no q&a afterwards.” Or, we’d discuss Steve and Alice from Another World, and what was going on in their lives… and darn if that Rachael wasn’t making trouble again! I wasn't yet in kindergarten then – so she taught me about following “the stories” early in life.

I also will try to think about things she would say, especially when we all get together. My brother-in-law lost his father a year and a half ago and this is something they try to do so his dad is still remembered. I like this idea. Because it still seems so unreal that memories of her will dim. But they will.

I miss her, and I just don’t want to forget all the quirky things that were so “her”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hey! I think it's time...

Anyone think it’s time for another celebrity biography review?? (Like the Tom Cruise Review earlier this year.) Christopher Ciccone has written a book titled, “Life with my sister, Madonna”… and it promises to be explosive. I cannot wait! I have it on pre-order with Amazon, and you’ll all be the first to know when it arrives. Because, really? Is there ever too much smut?

Book is due sometime in June.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

She baffles me

OK, the girls and I are sitting on the sofa the other night, looking through my copy of the Playgroup Cookbook. Now, the Playgroup Cookbook is a project that Mrs. Nielson put together when the first of our playgroup hens flew the coop a few years ago. She collected a couple of recipes from each of us, and then put it together with pictures, quotes, and it is really very beautiful. SO beautiful, in fact, that once we saw how great our collective gift to Allison was, we all decided we had to have one. (And? Mrs. Nielson totally made it happen!)

So, we three girls are looking at this book, when I point out a picture of me reading a book to the kids at playgroup one day. I mention that in the picture I’m pregnant with DD2. I kid you not (with Husband as my witness) DD2 looked up at me and said, “That was before you knew you were having white babies?”

What in the world? This is like the 4th time she’s referred to my not being white. The thing is? I am white – just like her. I have darker skin than she does (she is very fair) – but my sister doesn’t. My sister is actually darker than I am, and she thinks Aunt S is “white”. But… not me. For some reason she sees me as “brown”, and she was a little crushed when I looked right at her the other night and said, “Honey? I am white. My skin is a little darker than yours, but I’m still white like you.”

Now, let me clarify something... she has made it clear in the past that she doesn’t think I’m good looking. (And? If you knew my daughter this wouldn't shock you - she is truthful to a fault) I have many examples of this, the funniest of which is when she was 3 years old she started to have an obsession with lip gloss. She was in the car with me one day and playing with her gloss, and she said, “I wear lipstick.” I said, “Just like mama! You look so pretty.” She shoots back without a hint of irony, “Oh mama. You not pretty.” (It was too funny to even be humiliating, trust me.)

She wants to be like her sister – who looks nothing like me (and has olive skin, I might point out). I'm not concerned that she doesn’t think I’m pretty… she loves me to distraction and is heart and soul a mommy’s girl. I have never been a great beauty. I adjusted to this a LONG time ago. I’m not ugly, I’ve just always been one of those girls that the longer you knew me the cuter I got. But I wonder if her thinking I’m brown is her way of distancing herself from the way I look? Maybe she sees me as something different so she doesn’t have to worry about looking like me?

Or? Maybe the world is changing and she just thinks that people of different races are just naturally part of the same family. That it wouldn't be unthinkable that her mom could be "brown" even if she herself was "white".

I will tell you, though, that I have tried to curb my sadness around her. Because if I tell her I'm blue? She'll be ruined for life!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

OK, Experiment time...

Do we believe this? Do I have a few cell phone owning friends that want to help me conduct research??

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Life is full of surprises

So, have you ever received a package unexpectedly? How about unexpectedly from another country?? How exciting would that be? VERY exciting, right? Well, I have an Internet friend in Oz (being that my name is Dorothy, that might not strike you as so very odd, but it’s the other Oz, as in Australia), she can be found here, and she sent me the sweetest care package after my mom died. How fun to to be expecting only bills in the mail, but instead to see an Airmail package, open it up and find this:

…and you can bet my kids will be wearing these during the Summer Olympics (especially if the US boycotts… not that I’m saying how I feel on that one way or another):

…and I imagine SIS lives right on a beach, and her life looks like this:

Anyway, on the enclosed card she instructed me on the finer points of eating Vegemite. (Shudder) Vegemite comes in a jar, like this:

and it's a smooth, brown, chocolaty looking spread, which smells just the opposite of "chocolaty goodness", like this:

You take a piece of toast, butter it, and then spread on a little bit of Vegemite. Like this:

Now, a seasoned veteran of Vegemite might add a little bit more… but I was frightened, and had been working up the courage for 2 weeks to accomplish this.

Then you take a bite, like this:

…and you know what? It is really not so bad. It’s a bit like eating beef bouillon paste on toast. Nothing offensive about it, and really not as scary as I was thinking. I don’t quite know what I thought Vegemite might taste like – but it was a pleasant surprise. Of course, it’s a by-product of the beer making process… anything in the beer family is usually A-OK with me.

Thank you so much, SIS!! Your package came at a wonderful time, I loved that you cared enough to send it, I’m so glad we Parkview Moms have discovered you all the way on the other side of the world, and I cannot wait to gather a few American goodies and send them your way! Anything you’re dying to try? How ‘bout some grits?
Oh, and by the way, girls? Next time we get together for coffee? I'm bringing the Vegemite!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sometime "Pretty" just isn't worth it...

You'd think we'd love this time of year, when the Hawthorne trees bloom. We have 5 of these trees on our property! Aren't they lovely? They really are quite pretty to look at, and each little white flower becomes an equally pretty little red berry that are wonderful to see during the cold winter.

Alas, all is not what it seems with these beautiful trees.

It took me a while to figure it all out. For the first three or four Springs we lived here I smelled "a smell" that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Truth be told, I thought a raccoon had crawled up in to the rafters of our garage and died. Every time we would walk out the door for about 2 weeks each Spring the assault was striking. "Oh My God, do you smell that? I tell you, something has died around here!" Then, like magic, the smell would disappear. One day it would just be gone. I wouldn't think about it again until the next Spring... and like clockwork, "WTF is that smell??? It smells like death."

I think it was year 4 in the house that I was pulling weeds in the back yard and stood up to stretch and take a deep breath - right next to a branch of a Hawthorne tree in our back yard. I almost gagged - it's the TREE that smells like that? Those pretty flowers? Oh Good Lord! Are you kidding me? How can something so attractive smell like putrid, rotting flesh? So, I turn to the internet. I need to find out what is up with these things, I think our tree guy called it Hawthorn once... I'll start there.

Turns out, Hawthorn trees have a very myth filled past. The traditional may flower garlands were made from hawthorn branches, and faeries are believed to live in their boughs. People used to decorate their doorways with them. They are believed to be what Christ's Crown of Thorns was made of, and their leaves and berries are still used in Chinese medicines to this day. (Good for lowering blood pressure.) All fine and dandy, I thought, but didn't anyone ever notice the odor? Then I found this:

Medieval country folk also asserted that the smell of hawthorn blossom was just like the smell of the Great Plague in London. Botanists later discovered that the chemical trimethylamine present in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue. In the past, when corpses would have been kept in the house for several days prior to burial, people would have been very familiar with the smell of death, so it is hardly surprising that hawthorn blossom was so unwelcome in the house

Ah ha! I'm not crazy - it literally does smell like something died out there! Vindicated! Husband can no longer roll his eyes at my description - and he should actually be happy that I'm not going to make him rip down the dry wall on the ceiling of the garage to locate the fictitious dead rodents.

For 10-15 days each Spring my neighbors and I are treated to the smell of the Great Plague each time we leave our homes. Very nice! And, of course, it is considered very bad luck to chop down a hawthorn tree... I suppose because of some faerie curse.
Who The F$%k keep planting these things?
On purpose.
Knowing what they smell like every Spring?
(Other than the guy that lived here before us - who probably ended up selling the house because he was afraid to cut the trees down and couldn't live with the odor every year.)