Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Her name is...

Suzy! (our dog, that is.)
It was hard to come to a final decision. I wanted Ally (for the Alameda County Fair where we found her), or Elly, or Molly. Seems like a dog with brown eyes goes well with the name Molly. Besides, when I was growing up we had a dog named Suzy--she was a miniature poodle too, but all black. To me, "Suzy" should be a black poodle. But T was set with Suzy and he never wavered. I still think she looks like a Molly, but I wanted T to feel some ownership for our new dog, so I gave in. I bought a name tag for her with our contact information, so it's official.
And good thing about getting a name tag! She's an escape artist and does NOT COME WHEN I CALL HER. OMG. She innocently came close to me as I was carrying things out the front door and then, like a shot! She was on the run! She looked back briefly as I tried to catch her and she took off even faster!! Across a busy street full of fast moving cars and I could just SEE her go splat in front of me (but no cars at the moment she crossed, thank goodness!). The more I went after her, the more she ran. So I stopped and just crouched on the sidewalk, asking her to come to me. No luck. I felt so helpless.
Fortunately, the 15 year old kid across the street was out washing his mom's car and he ran after her when I did. He calmly positioned himself on the other side of her and when she paused to sniff something, he grabbed her.
Whew!! Almost had a dead dog, just one week after adopting her.
I was pissed. It was like I got kicked in the chest.
She actually looked at me and ran away faster! Away from me. The one that rescued her and loved her and paid money I didn't have to be sure she was well and comfortable, and belonged.
Suzy knew she was in trouble and gave me those puppy eyes all evening. I didn't show her any love. I couldn't. I was mad. I took it personally, stupid as that sounds.
But after a few hours, I got over it. She gave me the look that seemed to say, "I'm so sorry. Please cuddle me." How can a person deny such a cute little thing with such a request?
I have some serious training to do with her. And I'm sure she doesn't really understand where she belongs just yet. Who knows what her life was like last month? Or last year? It's weird not having any history on her other than knowing she was a stray that no one picked up at the shelter.
Last Tuesday, the little cough she had turned into a huge cough. It sounded like she wanted to bring up a fur ball, or maybe a lung. It was horrible. So I took her to the vet the next day (My birthday--birthday sucked. Let's just look forward to next year.) and spent 3 hours there getting her worked up and treated. They thought it was "Kennel Cough" that progressed a bit. More antibiotics of a different type and some more monitoring. She was fine after a few days of medication (we have to finish a full 14 days to be sure it's licked). And then came the bill: $300.
Sheesh! That's $650 so far for this newest family member. I wish I could add her to my health insurance plan! Hopefully we are over any effects of her living in a shelter and she'll stay healthy.
T is still over the moon with happiness with our doggie.
The cat...that's another matter.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Gilroy Gardens Horticultural Attractions

Last week I took vacation days to be with T (and give my parents a break). We didn't really go anywhere. I'd originally planned to spend 3 days in the Tahoe area at my friend's condo, but with T getting a nasty cough that turned into a bad asthma episode with sinusitis, I decided it was best to stick closer to home. He's doing much better now, but let me just say that the few days we took the prednisone tablets were challenging! The side effects of that drug are icky! He was so hyper and badly behaved! So much so, that I asked he be delayed for his Tae Kwon Do testing for his next belt so he might have a chance to show "self control" and think more clearly, 'cause self control--if there was ANY chance of that--was not going to be possible on testing day. Although T was pretty upset at not getting the chance to test with the others, he aced it the next week and now proudly wears his new green belt.
Wednesday we went with a school friend (a girl in his 1st grade class who also does Tae Kwon Do with T) to Gilroy Gardens. It was a beautiful amusement park, geared mostly to kids under the age of about 10. But the reason that Mr. Bonfante created it was to showcase his gardens and have a place for the 19 specially grafted Sycamore trees created by Axel Erlandson, a farmer and nature lover, in the 1920's. Erlandson took this grafting trick with him to his grave and his work has not been able to be replicated by anyone before or since. The trees were abandoned and nearly died but Michael Bonfante bought them and was able to transport them from Hilmar, California to Gilroy successfully.
The park was beautiful to walk through and small enough that you could easily see everything in an afternoon. Most of the rides were for small children and a few were more for kids T's age. He's afraid of roller coasters (that's my boy!) and wildly spinning rides, so he steered clear of that, but his favorite ride was "the Mushroom". It was a huge mushroom (most rides have a garden theme) with individual seats hanging from the edge of the mushroom cap. Then they lift the riders off the ground and go 'round and 'round. It even tilts giving a different sense of flying through the air. It's a common carnival type of ride. T loved it so much he got me to agree to ride it.
About 60 seconds into the ride, I wished it was over, and then I couldn't shake the nausea and headache that I got and was quietly miserable with it until late that evening. Ugg. I guess I'm just a sensitive kind of chick.
Overall, I was happy to see the park. It was on my to-do list for a few years but I don't think we'll be back. T will outgrow the rides shortly and for the money I'd rather go to Great America amusement/theme park (just 10 minutes drive away). That's on the list for next year.
But that's not the News.
We spent a few days at the community pool. That was fun. Mostly we played ball or Marco-Polo, but I was able to get T to practice his freestyle and backstroke and he actually wanted to do it. I'd tried to get him to practice before, but he would always do about 4 strokes and find something better to do. I think it was just a matter of giving tons of positive reinforcement on what he was doing right, instead of pointing out what he needed to change or work on (which is what I tended to do before). And why not? That method seems to work best for most people, doesn't it? :) Isn't there a song like that, "Accentuate the positive..."
Pretty soon he was doing his best to swim the whole 25 yard length and getting stronger and better with each effort. Yay.
That's not the real News either.
Last Saturday my mom, T and I went to the County Fair. I love going to the fair for all the fun to be had for kids. I tried to get another boy to go with us but we were unlucky in recruiting anyone. Bummer.
As soon as we arrived, we found the ticket booth for a wrist band pass for all the rides. One look at the selection and I knew I was not going to ride at all. They are all "throw-up inducing rides" and I'm not having any of that! But T was excited at all the prospects. Once inside the fair though he didn't seem like he could stomach the topsy turvy, brain slushing kind of rides either. It didn't help that it was at least 100 degrees on that black top surface. He rode the most benign ride he could find and checked out a maze/house of mirrors before he was done.
Great. I just spent $28 for 2 rides. Lesson learned.
Then we ducked into a big air-conditioned building to check out all the stuff for sale. LOTS of cool things to make life easier (new fangled iron board cover to make ironing a breeze. Yes, we bought one-- I need all the help I can get!), costume jewelry, comfy beds, super-duper pots and pans. Even a sale on teeth whitening--done right there on the premises with a glowing blue light and everything. Mom wanted to spend more time in there than T was ready to tolerate, so we decided to split up and meet later. T and I went towards the back of the fair grounds and found more rides. Some were the same as the entrance but all were displayed on a grassy ground which made the heat WAY more tolerable. Suddenly the rides looked more appealing and T was ready to try the "swing" ride and a few others too. His favorite was still that "mushroom" ride but he also went on the Giant Slide about 100 times! Just the stair case up to the top would be enough to slow me down after about 10 times. He was running on adrenaline, I think.
Along our travels discovering all there was to do and see (and before the Giant Slide), we came across a dog show. They were amazing with their tricks and abilities. As we watched, we noticed a tent off to the side with a whole bunch of dogs. We made our way there and T was immediately begging for a dog. "Pleeeez Mama, can we get a dog??? Please, please, pleeeeeez?" The display was to showcase dogs for adoption, rescued from the "E list" (euthanasia) from shelters in our state. There were some beautiful dogs too! I can't imagine there were no takers for these gorgeous, well behaved doggies! With the heat and all these strangers hands coming to touch and cuddle them from all directions, each one of the dogs were so calm and accepting of the attention. If I were one of those dogs I would have cowered in a far corner. Near a fan. They had fans and water misters going but still. It was miserably hot. Certainly oppressively hot if covered in fur.
Somehow I was able to continue walking past all the dogs, with T nearly dragging on my legs to say yes to a dog. Any dog.
But the second time we past by, with my mom in tow, we spotted a cutie in one of the rescue worker's lap. A little dog with curly white hair. I had to ask a bit about her. T was excited to see me pause with some interest. We asked to hold her but were immediately warned that they had just received her from a shelter the day before and to picture "the after" images rather than the way she was today. She did kind of smell and had a cough (common with shelter dogs) but nothing that put me off. I could totally see the way she'd clean up. She was A D O R A B L E.
I think I walked around with her and held her for about 45 minutes. Not sure what to do. T was cuddling her between rides. My mom was in love with the dog already. I couldn't come to a clear decision.
And then a woman walked up to us with her family and said, "There she is! We've come back to adopt her. We have another dog at home and she's going to be it's buddy." Then I see the rescue worker walking the grounds looking for me and the doggie.
Suddenly I felt a pain in my chest.
I wanted her.
But here was this lady who said she was here earlier and SHE wanted her too.
I spoke with the rescue lady and explained that we had an uncomfortable situation here with both of us wanting this dog. I kept holding her, figuring possession is 9/10th of the law. :)
As I spoke to the Rescue worker, she asked me about my family and my home and the other woman stood back about 20 feet. After a while the lady yelled over, "Are you going to take her or not?"
And I say "Yes." Oh Lord. I said it out loud. I'm going to be a dog owner.
She walked off in a huff.
I looked at the Rescue worker and I said, "I feel bad."
She quickly said, "Don't. I spoke with her earlier and I didn't get a sense she was the right owner for this dog. You seem like a much better match."
Really?? Well alright then.
So I filled out the paper work and the plan is they would bring her to their vet to be spayed and then I could take her home. Their headquarters are about an hour's drive from my home, so I'll pick her up on Saturday (work days and traffic make it near impossible to do it any earlier.
T was crushed that we couldn't take her home right away. But he was SOOO excited to finally have a dog for his very own. I wish I could post pictures in this post but, as you might remember, my computer is old and I might not be able to upload it. I'll try later. You really gotta see her cute little face.
It's a good thing we have a few days before we get her home. I have nothing for a dog, so we went shopping and got all the necessary stuff--crate, leash, collar, food, food/water bowls, comfy bed and some toys. Boy, oh, boy is my cat going to be surprised. :O
I'm pretty sure Hans (my cat) will balk at the newest member of our family, but I'm hoping after a few months they might be friends. Hans could use a buddy after all this time alone. At least I hope he thinks so. Eventually.
So THAT'S the News! We have a new dog!!! Now we get to name her.
T wants Bailey, but I'm voting for Ally (from the Alameda County Fair), or Elly (just sounds cute). We'll see. We're making a list.
Hard as it was, I was not ready for a dog just yet. Our backyard isn't ready and I'm not sure I can handle it on top of other responsibilities. But I also knew that I had planned for a dog at some point. I grew up with always having a dog and I think it's an important part of childhood. Plus it seems to really help T feel less alone as an only-child (judging on how he behaves and the pure joy he gushes when he plays with my parent's new puppy Lucy).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My boy is SEVEN!

Seven. It seems SO much older than six. Six is so close to five. And when you're five, you're still in kindergarten and that's just one step from preschool. But seven. That's like...almost 10. Yikes. He's growing up too fast! And he's so tall that most people think he's older than he really is. I should have chosen a really short sperm donor so he could be small child for longer. Hee hee. Not really. I'm quite happy with the choice and how it's all turned out.
T's birthday was on June 17, which fell on a Thursday this year. His day always comes after the school year finishes so he never gets to do the cupcake or classroom celebrations that most of the other kids do. But this year he was in "Splash" camp at our local YMCA. The camp only lasted one week but by Thursday he was feeling pretty comfortable and had gotten to know most of this group, so when I showed up (zipped over there on my lunch break from work) with 36 cupcakes, he was the most popular kid there! He was so happy to see me and hand out the cupcakes. I even got hugs and kisses--right there in front of all the kids and camp leaders. I'm so glad he hasn't hit that phase where he's embarrassed to be seen with me yet, let alone give hugs or kisses. I'm sure it will come, so I relish these moments while there here.
He started his birthday with my waking him up with a Happy Birthday song and a piece of cake with a big ol' "7" candle burning on top. He wished out loud
"I wish that it could be my birthday everyday!"
Then he got to open my gift for him: a Nintendo DSi. He started playing with it right away, even though he'd never touched one before. This younger generation has no fear of electronic gadgets and he was quickly mastering a few games on the preloaded "Brain Age". (a Costco find. LOVE that Brain Age is educational!). I also bought an extra game but kept that gift for his birthday party (A Toy Story 3 game).
After Splash camp we went over to Oma and Opa's house and they presented him with his gift--a shiny RED Mongoose bike. Red is his favorite color and even though the bike is a tiny bit big for him, it won't be long before his legs are too long for it. Then we all went out for Round Table Pizza! It was a really nice birthday and T seemed to be enjoying all the events that focused on him.
Oh who are we kidding? 99% of any given day's events are focused on him. Oh well. That's what happens with only-kids. They get all the attention or become very good at demanding it. :)
Then on Saturday, we had a birthday party at the local bowling ally. I was very nervous about this one. I'd sent out my first evite invitations about 2 weeks before the event. But 3 days before the party, there was only ONE RSVP. I had invited 9 of his friends from school, plus both my sister's families. I didn't even bother with my brother--I didn't think he'd come (and true to expectations, he never called to wish T happy birthday or give any card/gift). One sister didn't want to come because she "didn't think it would be fun hanging out with a bunch of 7-year olds." Excuse me??? She is the mother of 3 kids (ages 18, 16 and 14) and I have gone to ALL birthday parties regardless of their ages, gift in hand and ready to party. To be fair, a few weeks before T's birthday, I flirted with the idea of having 2 parties (one for the family and one for T's friends) but as time went on I realized I had way too much on my plate (bodily pains, backyard project and lack of potential projected funds) to give 2 parties. She was going to opt for the "family party". But I didn't call her ahead of time to let her know there would only be one party. I called her several times to see if she'd change her mind. But no. She just kept insisting that I should really reconsider and have another party too for just family members. They didn't come.
At least my other sister, her husband and their son came. Even though they had plans to leave on a camping trip for the week. I asked her to come and that it would mean a lot. And she delayed her trip by one day to make T's party. I was very appreciative of that. Two days before the party I scrambled to find alternate email addresses to be sure that the boys I'd invited even GOT the invitation. Some had received them but not answered and others didn't check or had summer plans and couldn't make it. But in the end we had 8 kids bowling and 8 parents hanging out and cheering on the bowlers. They bowled with bumpers which is WAY more fun. It's kinda like billiards. You can use those bumpers to ricochet the ball this way and that and get more pins knocked down. They had a blast! T was high-fiving with his friends with whatever they scored and all the kids were supportive of one another. Even when one kid started crying because he had the lowest score and just couldn't get that ball to knock down very many pins. He is the most cerebral 7 year old you might come across. His vocabulary is way beyond the average kid and it frustrated him that he couldn't will the ball to do what he wanted. When he gave up and cried to his mom, the other boys in his lane asked if they could bowl for him. T got a few spares on his behalf (heck, he got to bowl more times!) and brought up his friend's score and then the tears dried up and he jumped right back in. I loved that they all rallied and helped each other, because most of the time, it's not like that. Boys are SO competitive. At least mine is. Maybe they are growing up. Or it was just an unusual and lovely moment. Either way, it made me feel really good.
Then we all had pizza and soda and T opened up his presents. Some of his gifts were a remote control car that climbs on walls and ceilings (wow!), a beach towel and ball, $20 gift card for Toys R Us (he bought Wii Ski game), a book on Constellations and a Science/Physics project (gotta still open it and figure that one out), and Wii Mario Galaxy II game. The bowling alley also gave him a real bowling pin and a permanent marker so each of his friends could sign it. It's like a really cool memento of the day and it looks great in his room.
Later that day, Oma, Opa, T and I all went to the movies to see Karate Kid. I really wanted to see Toy Story 3, but T was more excited about Karate Kid. It was a really good show and we all enjoyed it. We rarely go to the movies and dad usually falls asleep. But he stayed awake and the experience was so fun we made plans to do it again the next weekend to see the new Toy Story in 3D! Cool.
And now I have a seven year old son. Wow.

**Addendum: Saw the movie last Saturday and Story Story 3 in 3D is a super movie! And the 3D experience was not annoying or scary. We never felt the need to remove our glasses. But there was one scary part in the movie but T held it together has he held my hand and the toys escaped what appeared to be almost certain death. Whew.