Sunday, December 28, 2008

For the Love of Dogs

We love dogs. We absolutely love them and the bigger, the better. Actually, we don't so much like little dogs. Chihuahuas in particular. I'm sorry to offend any Chihuahua lovers, but seriously, shouldn't they really be cats? Typically, they're mean and won't let you near their owners. Truthfully, they scare me, though I admit I have encountered a small number of them I thought were cool. I could probably count those on one hand. We're just more of a big dog kind of family.

I know I've whined about the dogs being in the house since Ike and still being without a fence, but my biggest complaint is that we can't ever really have a dog break. For one, they can escape from one of the neighbor's yard's, and Jaxon thinks our back neighbor is a meter reader and tends to bark at him when the neighbor is outside in his own yard doing his own thing. Not to mention that Abby is now 12-years-old and she often leaves us surprises due to her lack of bowel and bladder control as she begins to show her age.

Now we also have Charlie staying here. He's Lauren's new adoptee/rescue from College Station. Unfortunately, she started the adoption process and bonded with him prior to fully investigating the pet policy at her apartment complex and learning that he weighed 11 pounds more than they will allow. Call me crazy but we have volunteered to house Charlie for her until her lease is up in the late summer and she's able to move into a more pet friendly complex. However, the offer is only good as long as our fence is back in place and we have a fully functioning back yard to utilize prior to her returning to school in mid-January.

About a six weeks ago I started receiving emails from a co-worker about a local animal rescue organization and some rescued dogs needing homes. Those emails have completely torn at my heart strings and since those emails started coming my way, I've learned that there is such a thing as foster parents for dogs and cats. Who knew? As a result of effortlessly forwarding on the emails, my sister-in-law has been approved to adopt a rescue from them and will be bringing her new dog home soon.

I've also signed up with them to volunteer. Tomorrow the kids and I will be going to help clean kennels and play with five rescues that are currently being housed at Pet Paradise, a boarding facility for animals to stay while their owners are away. They are generous enough to donate a number of their spaces to help house animals for this organization while they're awaiting adoption and aren't fortunate enough to be placed with a foster family.

I'm excited and looking forward to it. As a matter of fact, we're on "Holiday Hours", since we're all out of school/work, but everyone is willing to be up tomorrow by 8am in order to meet and play with Luke, Peaches, Paco, Bingo and Chance. That speaks volumes because we're not morning people! Without doubt, I know we'll have more fun than the dogs will, and we'll probably leave wishing we could take them all home with us. If only we lived on a farm!

Dakota Rescue.

Take a look at Charlie. Doesn't he have a face that would be hard to turn away? I'm proud of Lauren for saving him. Oh, and we all just love saying, "Sorry, Charlie" and also talking to him in a British accent like in the hilarious video featured here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Gift Creativity (or Possibly Too Much Time on One's Hands)

My brother’s personality really showed this year in his Christmas gift giving. We started drawing names last year for all of the kids making our gift giving a little easier on us all. We haven’t done adult exchanges since we all started having multiple offspring.

This year my brother had drawn Lauren, Cassidy and my two nephews names. They’re all at the age where they really only want cash or gift cards if given a choice. It’s so hard to pick something out for a teenager and please them these days.

The first one to open her gift from my brother and sister-in-law was Lauren. She unwrapped a perfectly rolled up wad of 50 one dollar bills and when she attempted to unroll them to see exactly what it was, it ended up looking like a perfectly orchestrated magic show. The dollar bills unrolled just like a roll of toilet paper. The dollars had been strategically taped together one by one and then rolled up. I wish I had pictures but we weren’t warned ahead of time so everyone was caught by surprise, although my sister-in-law did get it on video. Cassidy had watched Lauren and knew better than to try and unroll hers when she opened them. Smart girl!

My nephews were the next victims. Trevin opened a shoe box of 50 wadded up one dollar bills, or I should say crumpled up one dollar bills, basically they were all wadded into balls. DJ was next and his dollar bills had all been stuffed into an empty beer bottle. He was very excited about breaking the bottle to get to his money.

I couldn’t help but wonder how long it took him to tape together one hundred one dollar bills for Cassidy and Lauren, to crumple another 50 and then to stuff yet another 50. He really needs to get a life! He did mention wondering if the tellers at the bank thought he might have a big night at the topless cabaret planned after he went by the bank to get the 200 one dollar bills.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Around Here

Christmas is a little bit different at our house this year. We’re not having a tree. Cassidy is the only one really bummed over it, but she’s accepted it. It just isn’t practical with our current living arrangements. Lauren came home for the holidays and brought her new dog, Charlie, adding a third dog to the mix. When Charlie and Jaxon start playing they get pretty hyped and up and a tree wouldn’t last a full day in this house. On a bright note, we are expecting the check back from our mortgage company any day and as soon as it arrives we will call the fence people and have them start on our fence ASAP. The dogs will still come inside to visit and sleep but we will finally have some much needed peace and quiet inside without tripping over dogs 24/7.

Christmas also feels different now that there is no one left who believes in Santa. The night is much easier on us now, but I will forever remember the days when they all still believed. It was always a challenge waiting on the kids to fall asleep after a long night with my family and our gift exchange. It seemed to take forever to get them settled down once we got home. Of course, we had to put out cookies and milk for Santa and then sprinkle the front yard with reindeer snacks (oatmeal and carrots). We were usually up all night assembling and arranging toys. Let me rephrase that, Les assembled toys while I arranged things and did kid checks.

Santa has never wrapped any toys for the kids. Each kid has a spot and all of their presents from Santa are neatly laid out and displayed. If there was a toddler kitchen set then it was all set up with the food (waffles in the toaster, etc) and ready to play with, and the same with a doll house, farm animals or tool workshop. We only wrap a gift or two to be from us that they open after seeing what Santa has brought.
That is how my Santa did our Christmas and it carried over for my kids. I could sit in front of my spot for ten minutes staring and picking things up and then look again and see something that I hadn’t yet noticed. I never felt like I missed out on opening gifts. I always liked looking at all of my things neatly displayed. My Santa would even put an outfit together on the couch or chair and I do the same. We also have a rule that was also carried over from my childhood that the first one to wake up has to wake everyone else up before they go into the living room. We all go together. My brother was always the first one up and I know that he always sneaked a good peak before waking the entire house. I am pretty sure my kids do the same thing but generally they abide by the rules. In this house it is usually Cassidy who wakes up first.

The kids usually have to wait on me to slip on my house shoes on and wash my face. Oh, and I usually have to run to the potty first. I remember the excitement as a kid of just dying to get into the living room to see what Santa had brought and how I could hardly contain myself while my parents were getting up and ready and having to wait for the all clear of us all being ready to go together.
Things are definitely different now that we don’t have much to assemble as the kids grow older and we don’t have to try to hide boxes deep in the trash anymore. One year we were almost busted when a box was left somewhere in the garage and we were questioned about why Santa would leave the box here. We’re definitely not up all night into the wee morning hours like we used to be. I will always miss those days but I’m not complaining.

One of my favorite Christmas Eve memories was about five years ago when we had ordered Cassidy and Cadent electric motorized scooters. They had a seat that could snap on and off so you could either sit or stand when you rode. They actually went 12 mph. and were so totally cool. Les got them all put together and charged up and we wanted to try them out. It must’ve been 3 or 4am and it was a very, very cold Christmas here that year. We got all bundled up and took off on the scooters. We rode around the entire neighborhood and in the parking lot of some businesses in the front of our neighborhood. It was freezing outside but we were having a blast. They were so much fun and I wasn’t sure how I could give them up to the kids. We laughed so hard riding around on those things until we almost ran the 2 hour battery charge down. I have to say those scooters were one of the best Santa gifts ever purchased in this house. They were a big hit with the kids, too. I was a little bit worried about them controlling them or having an accident after experiencing just how fast these things could go. That same year my sister’s kids got gas operated ones that went much faster than ours and they were also much louder. The next day our street was full of kids and scooters and parents waiting their turn for a ride.

We still have fun arranging their loot but it rarely takes very long and we actually get more than two hours of sleep now. As always, I am looking forward to seeing their reactions tomorrow and hoping everyone is happy with their gifts.

I am currently in a battle with Les over letting the kids open a joint gift right now. It’s a big gift, not a small one and one we can all enjoy, which is EXACTLY why he wants them to open it now. I said NO! Perhaps a smaller gift, maybe, but not one of their large ones just so he can entertain himself tonight. He’s not very happy with me now.

Who knows, in another few years when everyone is in high school maybe we’ll do what my sister does and have Santa very late on Christmas Eve and then everyone can stay up all night playing with their new gadgets and sleep in for a change. But I’m standing my ground on this. It’s a major part of their Christmas and will be wrapped for them tomorrow. (One of the few wrapped items they will have here to open).

Merry Christmas! Jesus is the reason for the Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Little Things We Expect From Our Children

I recently told this story at a party we attended and felt it was blog worthy so I am sharing it.

During Lauren’s junior and senior years of high school she worked at a well known sporting goods store (Academy). As an employee she received a decent employee discount. I think it was 25% or something. During Christmas of one of the years she was working there we made arrangements for her to meet us at Academy so we could do some Christmas shopping and she could save us some money. Yes, I am openly admitting that we used her discount. So, sue me!

Keep in mind this store has everything from clothing to fishing and camping gear. There’s not much you can’t get there, except milk and eggs. We shopped and shopped and ended up buying most of the younger kids Santa gifts and also some gifts for our nieces and nephews.

When we were finally finished shopping we called Lauren to come on up to the store to meet us so we could give her the basket of goodies and the money to pay for the stuff and use her discount. We were going to make the exchange and wait over by the exercise equipment right next to the check out area. We had a wide variety of items in our completely loaded down basket and the look on her face when she saw the basket was one I will never forget. Let’s just say it was the look of complete horror. She was so not happy and not looking forward to going through the line to make this very large purchase. We really didn’t give her much of an option. It was her duty as our child to help us save some money at this time of year.

I’m not sure if it was the bicycle, the roller blades, the skateboard, the basketball, the Astros jerseys, ball caps or what exactly it was to cause her such embarrassment, but if I had to bet on it, I’d go with the bicycle. I do remember her saying something like, “Do you really think they’re going to believe I’m buying my brother a bicycle for Christmas?”

As we waited for her to pay we got the giggles as she continued to shoot us dirty looks the entire time she stood waiting in line. They were the I can’t stop laughing we really need to get out of here giggles.

In the end she saved us over $150 so it was well worth the attitude she gave us for it. I’m sure she was mortified at the young age of 16, but she eventually recovered. That was the one and only time she ever did that for us. It just wasn’t worth forcing her to do it at gun point the following year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Explanation for the Lull

Obviously, I’ve been neglecting the blog. I’ve had a few loyal readers mention to me that they’re tired of checking here only to find that I still haven’t posted an update in almost two months.

Believe me, I love and miss blogging and have many failed attempts at a new entry saved to my drafts, but I just haven’t been able to produce a finished product. My brain has felt like mush. I think it might be writers block or so I’ve heard.

Truthfully, I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk since Ike hit back in September. Granted, we were luckier than so many and spared any serious damage, but things have still haven't got back to normal, and it’s been somewhat stressful. Between trying to maintain the house with two big SHEDDING dogs living in the house 24/7, (thanks to our insurance company dragging their feet and us still not having a fenced yard), my intense interest in following the missing toddler from Florida case, and my addiction to facebook, I have been letting my blog (among other things) fall by the wayside.

I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling more like myself again. Now, if I can just refrain from surfing the web for the latest information on Caylee Anthony and limit my facebook time, I might actually get around to updating more regularly. For now, this is all I’ve got but it's better than nothing, right?