Monthly Archives: October 2009

Bacon and Choices

When I was growing up I had a mostly adversarial relationship with my younger sister. Looking back, the responsibility for the tone of our relationship falls firmly in my court. When I was angry, she felt my wrath. When I was in a good mood, she didn’t. I can’t really say what drove my feelings, but the closest emotion I can pinpoint now, decades later, is jealousy. As teens we became friends, and I came to realize how much more alike we were than different. And of course when she died of cancer when she was 17 and I was 20, it felt all the more awful because we’d just started to enjoy our relationship. I know we would have been extremely close as adults.

Last weekend the girls and I were out for the day and stopped in to a Dunkin Donuts for a quick lunch. The girls each got a breakfast sandwich: croissant with egg and sausage for Krystal and bagel with egg and bacon for Belle. I had one of their “lighter’ options. I watched them make these sandwiches, and may be turned off to sandwiches there forever. They grabbed a pre-made sandwich from a cooler, popped it into a microwave, wrapped it in paper and stuffed it in a bag. We grabbed one of the small tables inside and ate.

We all like really crispy bacon. Like, practically burnt crispy. And the bacon in Belle’s sandwich was decidedly not cooked to our liking. Big surprise, huh, considering how it was cooked.  And all at once, Belle started choking, was unable to catch her breath. Three women standing in line near us, who must be mothers, leaned in with offers to help. I banged her on the back once, and swiped her mouth, taking out a piece of bacon. The choking continued, so I reached in again with my finger to swipe again, and pulled out a super long piece of bacon fat, which was halfway down her throat. Choking stopped, breathing returned to normal. It wasn’t really scary to me until it was over. But of course she was never really in any danger and we went on with our day.

Tonight Krystal and I were in the car on the way to pick up Belle and she said, “I’m afraid to eat at Dunkin Donuts because Belle choked.” I reassured her that it was not Dunkin Donuts that made her choke, but undercooked bacon, and she really didn’t have anything to worry about. Then she said, “I know sometimes I say I wish Belle wasn’t around, but I keep thinking, what if she really choked and died? I’d really miss her.”

I am pretty sure I didn’t have that kind of self-awareness at eight years old. Sometimes the wisdom this kid comes out with stops me in my tracks.

I told her a little bit about how I felt about my sister when I was her age, and how now that she is really gone, it is the one thing I’d change in my past if I had the power to go back. And this got her thinking about all the ways different choices or events in our life can color what comes next. She said that sometimes she wishes she hadn’t been adopted, but then she thinks about not having me for a mom, or Belle for a sister, and she can’t imagine it. She said she wishes she could have it both ways – to have me for a mom, and to know her birth mother and know why.

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One Year on Facebook

About a year ago I posted about my new obsession, Facebook. So a slightly belated Happy Facebook anniversary to me.

I do spend way too much time on Facebook. I don’t participate in any of the games (Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc), although my step-mother and I always have a game of Scrabble going which is a lot of fun. But that’s just between the two of us, no prizes or penalties for not watering your plants, or however the other ones work. I log in first thing in the morning, before bed, and usually several times throughout the day, just because I can. I do post a status occasionally, but more often I like to read and comment on other people’s status updates.

But the very best part of Facebook is the friends it’s brought me in touch with. Some of you, my readers, are now my Facebook friends, and it’s been awesome to get to know you in another way (if you’re not already my “friend”, let me know in a comment!). As cool as that is, the most rewarding component is the old friends I’ve been able to bring back into my life.

This past weekend we hosted a get-together at our house for one of my Facebook friends – someone I knew in high school, her husband and their 4 youngest children. Yes, me, the reluctant host, tripled the number of people in my house voluntarily! They came over to watch the Patriots pound the Titans (in the snow! Snow in October!?!?) and we ate and drank and made merry while the younger kids played and it was completely natural and wonderful, despite not seeing each other or even being in touch much since high school! An added bonus is that Krystal and her youngest daughter hit it off immediately.

People can sneer at social media if they want, but when it brings great people into, or back into, your life, I’ll keep using it.

Musings on Toilet Paper

I am a toilet paper snob.

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I will, and do, buy store brand milk, spaghetti sauce, crackers, cheese, napkins, trash bags and bagels (actually, we like the store brand bagels best!), but I have always splurged on so-called “premium” toilet paper.

What can I say? I really like the feel of something thick and soft on my bottom, rather than thin and rough (Git yer minds out of the gutter people!). I have always told my kids they only need “2 squares” after finishing a “typical” jaunt in the bathroom, but that rule is relaxed when out in public, since we typically need 5 times that to do the job. I have even wondered how much money people actually do save using the cheap stuff, considering you have to use so  much more of it per task, not to mention the lack of comfort factor during the process.

But recently I came across an article that has me second guessing myself. Apparently to make the really soft toilet paper (and tissues, paper towels, napkins and virtually any other product we prefer soft) they have to use old trees, since the fibers are longer. Recycled paper cannot be soft – only standing trees, the older the better, can do that. How awful to think of beautiful old trees being grown only to end up wiping you-know-what and being flushed away.

I like this quote at the end of the article and hope it’s true: “If they can put a man on the moon, they can create soft toilet paper without cutting down trees.”

For the record, I am an “over” person.

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Weekend Post Mortem

We had guests this past weekend!

I’m not usually the one who hosts. I guess I got that from my mother – she was, and still is, a reluctant host. I love to get together with friends, but I’m much more comfortable on someone else’s turf than having everyone invade my own. Just because I do feel a little invaded – my home is my get-away and I like to feel enclosed in it.

But these were good friends and we were all looking forward to seeing them at our house! They arrived two hours past the planned arrival time on Friday night due to rain and heavy traffic, with my friend not feeling 100%. No matter, we had a nice dinner (pork roast with a soy and peanut butter dipping sauce and roasted broccoli which everyone devoured) and we even had cake in honor of my friend’s birthday, which is next weekend. Also? I made mango margaritas, which has become our traditional drink when we get together. By the end of the weekend I no longer had to consult the recipe – and the final batch was the best yet! We let all the kids have a “dip” where we let them dip their finger into our drink and lick it off. Hey, I have a rather suggestive photo of myself at around age 4-5 sucking from my father’s beer bottle.

I meant to take photos of all the food I served, since that was such a cause of angst when I posted last. The pork was a big hit and the next night I did a pasta dish with roasted tomatoes and garlic, which everyone also liked. The last night we did make-your-own pizzas on pita bread crusts which was perfect since by then she and I were exhausted and just wanted to get the kids fed and into bed. Mission accomplished!

We did a lot of shopping, since our state offers a no sales tax buying experience which my friend can’t get where she lives, but we also managed to squeeze in an apple festival to appease the kids. Here are some photos from that:

From left to right are Belle, G, Krystal and K:

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Here is a better one of Krystal alone:

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One of Belle which captures her “Belle-ness”:

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And finally, my favorite of the two of them together:

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We all had a great time – next visit, on their turf, probably the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

To Do

We have friends visiting this weekend! We usually visit them, but this time they are coming to us, which is going to be really fun. I’m not so good at “entertaining” so meal planning for this weekend is stressing me out a bit. I just don’t know how to plan for more people than our usual three, and what they will/won’t eat. And little things like decluttering  – they will sleep in the “pink room” which is where my kids have their dressers, and there is no flat surface for them to put anything on. Plus, the bathrooms need to be cleaned. However, I have stocked up on plenty of adult beverages for us to indulge in – the mangoes are ripening on the counter for the mango margaritas, and the avocados for guacamole are almost ripe enough. They’ll be here in about 24 hours – I’ll probably technically still be working but hopefully I’ll have the bulk of my “must dos” done so I can visit.

Have I mentioned how much in love I am with our little Ruby?? She is such a sweet little dog!

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What’s that other dog’s name again?

Here’s Ruby sleeping in my desk chair. Where I’m supposed to be sitting and working. Usually she sleeps on my lap while I’m sitting here, but I had to get up and plopped her down. She made herself comfortable.

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A Tale of Tails

Listen closely and I’ll tell you the story of why most of my friends think I’m out of my mind.

Regular readers of this blog will remember that last September we brought Tessie, our little cockapoo puppy, into our family. Here she is:

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She’s 15 months old now and still a lot of work for me (for example, she can’t consistently make it through the night without having to go outside – sigh), and I haven’t worked a full day in the office since she came home because I can’t bear the thought of her being alone all day.

We went away for a week in August, and I posted then about falling in love with her, finally, when we got back. She spent the week with our groomer and her three dogs, and she was just different after that.  More enjoyable. The groomer even told me that a lot of her boarding clients talk about getting a second dog after their dogs stay with her.

Well, I’d been thinking about a second dog for a year. Yes, even though there have been lots of days I’ve questioned my sanity over this one dog, I have been looking for the right second dog for the better part of a year, ever since our friends with a dog the same age visited us last year and I watched then 13 week old Tessie transform from a pup afraid of blowing leaves to a confident, outgoing dog. It was amazing.

Before I became a mom I had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Or more accurately, he had me. He was the sweetest, most wonderful dog in every way. My step-mother once said he would be the perfect dog if only he didn’t shed. Even people who claimed not to like dogs could be charmed by him. I always said I would get another one if I ever got another dog. Well, we got Tessie instead, but when the second dog thing burrowed its way into my brain I decided to see what I could do.

I found two different Cavalier breed rescue sites online, and began checking them daily for available dogs. One site seemed to mostly have dogs available who had been relinquished by previous owners due to a change in life circumstances, although there were a few shelter dogs occasionally too. The other one focused primarily on dogs rescued from puppy mills. Both sites require mutual visits, so there would be no lengthy transports. If the perfect dog for us was in Ohio, for example, that would be too bad since it’s too far from New England.

Just before we went away in August a dog appeared on Site #1 – a three year old girl who sounded perfect for us. Over the last year I’d seen lots of dogs who sounded good, until the little line that they should be in a home with older children, or no children at all. Counts us out. But on this girl there was no such mention. I told myself that if she was still available when we got back from vacation I would call on her.

We got back, I looked, and she was still there. I called. I made it past the screener, who passed me on to the foster mom. She and I had a very nice conversation about our routine, our home and learning a bit more about the dog. She sounded absolutely delightful, and perfect for us. A few days later she called to say that she had chosen another family, but that it was really tough and she thought we were a great family – that they’d find the right dog for us soon. I was disappointed, of course, but I understood the rationale and was encouraged that she liked us.

A few weeks later Site #2 had a female, rescued from a puppy mill, who sounded like a great fit for us. I waited a few days, thinking about it, then finally decided to ask about her. I emailed the contact person listed and she called me an hour later. We had a nice talk, and during the conversation she asked if I would be interested in a puppy. “Do you have any?” I asked. “Yes, we do – we don’t put them on the web site because all the crazies come out.” I hemmed and hawed a bit as I’d really been interested in a 1-5 year old, but when she told me this particular little boy was 5 months old I thought, I can handle that. We made plans for her to bring the 3 year old female and the 5 month old boy to visit us that weekend.

She brought the dogs that Saturday and we fell in love with them both. The girls asked, “Can we get them both?” The woman who brought them said she would have no reservations about placing a dog with us, and I fairly glowed at that. She seemed to think the puppy would be a better fit for us because Tessie was more interested in him, but I truly loved them both. I told her if she left it up to me I would not be able to decide, that I’d have to put their names in a hat. Seeing them both at my house I suddenly did not feel crazy for thinking about another dog. It felt totally right.

Those two were scheduled to meet another family the  next day and the woman said it would probably be mid-week before she got back to me. By Wednesday I could stand it no longer and emailed her. Her response took what seemed forever (about 18 hours!), and it was a heart breaker – she had placed the puppy with the family they met the day after us, and she was still looking for the right placement for the older dog. But, but, but there was a younger puppy she wanted us to consider. She sent pictures. What could I say? I said we would be interested.

And this is my very long way of saying that we brought Ruby into our family last Saturday. She is a ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Cavaliers come in 4 “flavors” – Blenheim, Tri-Color, Black and Tan, and Ruby), almost 4 months old (much, much younger than I ever would have chosen). She and her mom were rescued from an Amish puppy mill a few months ago. Her mom is still in foster care and far too timid to be adopted just yet. She is positively gorgeous and sweet. I am in love with her already.

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Really, this dog has captured my heart and I am thrilled to have her. The long and winding road was worth it!