Monthly Archives: September 2008

Dog Developments

Well, well, well!

I had a whole post devoted to me on another blog based on my last post, which was humbling and exciting! Rambling Mom had some great advice, as did others who emailed me privately. So here’s a quick update on where we stand:

  • I learned some rescue organizations won’t adopt out their dogs to homes with children under age 10, which rules us out
  • I’ve become completely obsessed with the Adopt-a-Pet site and applied for a puppy I found there, but who is now unavailable (presumably adopted by someone else, which is fine!)
  • I talked to a breeder, and one of the references he provided me, of a Cavachon. The reference had nothing but great things to say, and the breeder was OK. But I was not thrilled to hear that the dog I’d be getting doesn’t live in the house with them, but in a separate kennel with other dogs.
  • I talked to my friend who is a vet today, and she said “puppy mill, puppy mill, puppy mill”, which of course I do not want to support in any way!!
  • I posted a “wanted” ad on Kijiji, which is a free Craigslist-like site (I’m sure Craig would love hearing me say that!), But it was new to me, and even though it doesn’t have as many ads as CL (yet), I like the cleaner look and feel. (I’ve since learned it is an eBay offshoot)
  • Anyway, I got one response to my ad which was full of red flags, including telling me they were located in “Virgin land Cameron” – I have no idea what that means! I got another response from a woman a few towns away from me with Cockapoos and I called her. I got the old “warm and fuzzies” from her, which was sorely lacking in my conversation with the breeder the other night.

Long story short – we’re going to look at Cockapoo puppies tomorrow! Not sure if we’ll bring one home tomorrow, next week, or decide to wait a year, but I’m very excited. It’s not the breed I (think I) have my heart set on, but we’ll see what happens!

P.S. I have a dog name list that is growing exponentially – I wonder what that means!

When getting caught up in someone else’s excitement turns into real life

Our friends just got a new puppy last Friday. He is adorable.

I have spent the last 5 days researching puppies of my desired breed online. I have nearly convinced myself I want one.

It was only two weeks ago when I remarked to the mom across the street, also a single mom, that I didn’t know how she handled her three kids, two cats and a dog, as I was barely holding on myself.

Joey, our chinchilla, is just not a satisfying pet. He’s low maintenance, but he’s low reward too. I’m starting to wonder what the heck the point is.

My “first child” was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel I sort of inherited when a relationship ended. He was the best. Dog. Ever. I know everyone says that about their dog, but he even won over professed dog haters. My step-mother often said he would be the perfect dog if only he didn’t shed (she and my dad called him their granddog). I’m pretty sure he was really some sort of mutt, but his looks and personality were textbook Cavalier.

Well, in today’s age of designer breeds, they do make a Cavalier that doesn’t shed! The breed I’ve been focusing on primarily is the Cavachon which is a cross with a Bichon Frise. I’ve also seen Cavapoo (cross with poodle) and Cavanese (cross with Havanese). Given the allergies we deal with, a “hypoallergenic” dog is a necessity.

Of course as soon as the girls got wind that I was even thinking about this, they have been all over me. I said a few months ago I’d think about it when Belle starts first grade, which is in two more years. But I find myself thinking more and more about it now. And yet, I can’t help thinking that I’m really just getting caught up in our friend’s excitement and that the novelty would wear off soon. Like it has with Joey.

Except a dog can give so much more.

I either need the sense knocked in or out of me. Any takers?

Who Says Sports aren’t Real Life?

I’ve made no secret of my love of New England sports teams, particularly the Red Sox and Patriots. I’ve been a Sox fan since I was a child, through all the pain of coming *this* close for so many year, until finally winning our first World Series in 2004. And then again! In 2007! It’s a magical time! And of course the incredible run the Patriots have had this millennium, which sadly finished last year with a heartbreaking loss in the Super Bowl, which I still have not gotten over. Nope, I haven’t. I can’t read any articles about it, I can’t listen to any announcer speak about it. Still. And after the loss last year I made the decision that I was going to be less emotionally involved this season. Ha, yeah, right, we’ll see how that goes!

And then yesterday the unthinkable, yet inevitable happens. Our star, our hero, one of the best players to ever play the game, played half of the first quarter in the season opener, and suffered a season ending injury. And the jaws of all New England dropped and uttered a collective “Oh no!” Followed by, “What do we do now?”

I can’t help it, I care. But I am also glad I chose this season not to get (as) emotionally involved. The pundits have apparently written my team off for the year. As if Tom Brady is a one man football team. Seven years ago Tom Brady was a backup when he was called into duty when Drew Bledsoe, the starter at the time, was hurt in an early season game. We won our first Super Bowl at the end of that season, and a legend, and a dynasty, were born.

I feel sickened for me and for every New England sports fan at the news that Tom is out for the season. But mostly I feel badly for Tom, who is a true athlete, a worker and a lover of the game. I also feel for his backup, who will be starting his first football game since high school next week. Matt Cassel has been Tom Brady’s backup QB for 4 years now and has not been all that impressive. He did a fine job yesterday, but I fear it was an anomaly rather than an indicator. He’s in a unique spot – he has a chance to come in and shine, like Brady did 7 years ago, but he could also be the goat for all New England as the season slowly goes down the drain. It won’t be his fault, but way too many fans, and sports writers (local and national) will see it that way.

Aw, who am I kidding – I am emotionally involved. But I think for me it’s more about the human element right now than it is about winning and losing.

So I’m wishing Tom a successful surgery with a quick recovery and to come back next year better than ever. And wishing Matt the peace and strength to do his best always, and that as long as he does that, he can hold his head up high no matter what anyone might say.

Go Patriots!

Go Sox!  (who are currently beating the 1st place Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 in the 7th inning!)

Names, Stones, Reflections

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter **Krystal is named after my sister, who died in 1983 at age 17 after a 2 year battle with cancer.

We have photos of my sister Krystal around the house, and she comes up in conversation occasionally with my mother. My mother always uses my sister’s middle name along with her name, as in Krystal Lee for my sister, as opposed to Krystal Jane for my daughter. But the funny thing is, I don’t need to hear those distinctions as I always know which Krystal she is referring to.

My girls have been asking to visit my sister’s grave for awhile. It’s not a place I visit often – I don’t happen to believe that there is anything of “her” there. But they’d been asking, and we didn’t have anything else on the docket, so we made the 30 minute drive to visit.

One of the reasons I first shied away from naming my daughter for my sister was this gravestone. I didn’t want my daughter to feel weird about seeing her name on a gravestone. The two Krystals do have different middle names, but my sister’s middle name does not appear on her stone. This was Krystal’s first look at it, and my first visit with her. And remarkably enough, the name on the gravestone was my sister’s name. Yes, the letters and arrangement are identical to my daughter’s, but that wasn’t my daughter’s name. Despite identical spellings and pronunciations, the names are as distinct to me as the people who own them.

There were flowers, some pink geraniums, planted at the grave. One of my sister’s friends must be keeping that up, as my step-sister’s grave, which is a short walk away, was unadorned. Because this cemetery is in the town where I grew up, many of the names are familiar to me – parents of classmates, even some classmates themselves, are now buried there. It was a much more reflective visit than I expected it to be.

**Krystal is a pseudonym

Lighter! Cleaner!

It’s time for a light, clean post. Literally!

The floors in my house are primarily hardwood. I had the vanilla carpet pulled up and the hardwood put down before we moved in, partly due to Krystal’s allergies (we didn’t even know about Belle yet, but as it turns out she has asthma, so it was a good choice all around). However, I didn’t have the two flights of stairs or landings done because that would have cost half again as much as the whole house, and I left the playroom, which is basement level, alone, again for cost reasons.

Well, the small area that still has carpet has slowly gotten, shall we say, filthy, over the three years we have lived here. I wish I had a “before” picture to show you, but you’ll have to trust me when I say it had gotten really disgusting. I was embarrassed when people would come to the house, even just the neighbor kids at the door looking for the girls to play. I bought a can of foam carpet cleaner, and I was disappointed but not terribly surprised when that did nothing. I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about renting one of those carpet cleaning systems from the grocery store and her advice was – don’t bother, just have it done.

That conversation must have taken place about two months ago.

Last Friday I actually made a call to a carpet cleaning place (so I’m a little slow in the execution).

Today they came to clean the carpet. I had already decided that if I didn’t like the results I would have the carpet replaced.

Suffice to say – I am keeping my carpets for awhile. It’s a miracle, I tell you! And I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. I practically feel like I have a new house. Yay!

Good Grief

No, not a post about Charlie Brown….

First, a little background. Some or most of this I’ve already talked about on this blog, perhaps obliquely, perhaps not – it’s hard for me to know. The meat of what I want to say will make more sense if I describe this though, so here goes. I was single when I made the decision to become a parent via adoption. I did all the paperwork to adopt from China, then sat back for a year and waited for my referral. A lot of things can happen in a year, and in mine, I met a guy. While he hardly jumped on the parenthood bandwagon, he also didn’t want to lose me, and when I got my referral we chose a name together and he traveled to China with me when I adopted Krystal in 2002. She has always known him as Daddy, and we married later that year. During my marriage I was a single parent, and he even agreed with that assessment. With the wisdom of hindsight and perspective, I believe most of that was driven by his emotional immaturity, and I’m truly not saying that in a nasty way. He was not really ready or prepared to become a parent, and he disengaged from me and from our family pretty much immediately. I also believe he was depressed and angry at the change to his life that he didn’t feel like he had a say in choosing. At any rate, despite agreeing before marriage, and much begging by me during our marriage, he never adopted Krystal, and thus never became her legal father.

After our divorce we moved away, and he now lives 7 hours away by car. Over the last 3 years he has visited Krystal here at our house several times a year, sometimes staying in a hotel, sometimes he takes her to his parents who live about 2 hours from us. He will call her occasionally and sporadically, and she always loves hearing from him. I’m amazed at the progression in our relationship – sometimes he and I spend more time chatting than they do. Sometimes I see glimpses of the guy I thought I married.

Krystal’s birthday is in January, and for the last 3 years he has seen her for a weekend between Christmas and her birthday to celebrate both, and this year was no different. However, due to a heavy travel schedule on his part and various other conflicts on both sides (I suppose), that was the only visit this year, up till this past weekend.

He arrived in our area on Friday, and he, Krystal and I actually had lunch and saw the movie Wall-E together. Then Krystal spent Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night with him, returning home on Sunday. She called twice and had a great time as always.

And then trouble set in.

Krystal was weepy and sad Sunday night. I was sympathetic and acknowledged her feelings, comforting her and letting her cry. I let her sleep with a special stuffed animal of mine, which she likes to do when she is feeling lonely or sad, and I “put good dreams” in her head. All seemed well.

Yesterday she spent most of the day playing at a friend’s house down the street, so I barely saw her all day (for the 3rd day in a row). When I finally got her home for the night she immediately turned on the attitude¬† and began wailing about how much she misses “Daddy” and how she wants to see him everyday and why can’t he live near us. She said she wants us to get married again, and when I said that wasn’t going to happen she got angry at me. And I am not proud that all of this made me angry. If he had been half the father to her when we were married that she thinks he is now, we might very well still be married, and she could see him all the time. I also said a lot of things I know I shouldn’t say to a 7 year old, and I tried to leave the room when I felt it getting really bad. She was sobbing so hard, and the sobbing and the grief were breaking my heart, but I also could not help feeling angry and resentful because all of this is so misplaced. He deliberately chose not to become her father for his own selfish reasons. He is lucky I let him see her and need I remind you he does not pay a dime in child support – which was his spoken motivation for not adopting her – and this was said while we were married, mind you. A real prize, eh?

Tonight Krystal was cradling the movie ticket stubs, all 3 of them which I thought had been thrown away. She asked me if I knew which one were Daddy’s, and when I said I did not, she said she would keep them all to make sure she kept his. And I told her that hurt my feelings, because I was there too, and I’m the one who does all the hard work. “What do you mean?” she asked. And I just said that someday she would understand. She left the room right after that, while I was reading Belle’s book choice, and when she came back she insisted I go into my room after I turned out their light. She had written me a note, and left me a photo of herself at age 3, and a necklace of hers, on my bed. Melt.

So I’m left feeling broken at Krystal’s grief, angry at the cause of it (on several levels), guilty about my reactions, and at a true loss on how to deal with this, both with her and internally.

Just venting I guess. If you read this far, leave a comment and let me know!