Monday, April 30, 2018

Oh, My Darlin' Clementine

If we are social media friendsies, you probably already know that we got a puppy. If you are anything like me, you may be questioning my sanity right now.

Here's the thing: I love puppies.

Here's another thing: Getting Cooper as a puppy twelve (12!) years ago, totally traumatized me. That guy chewed EVERYTHING. Air mattresses. Flip flops. Flip flops belonging to friends. Handbags. Harry Potter Book 5 (I'm still not over it). He was a nightmare. He was also a potty-training nightmare. He peed every 5 minutes and he was SO clueless about it, that rather than make a little puddle, he would streak around the house, living a dribble trail of pee behind him. I remember calling my mom sobbing as I scrubbed yet another trail of dog pee through our home because I was SO TIRED of cleaning carpet and I was also supposed to be studying for my major field exams.

Anyway, Cooper turned into the best dog ever, but I swore I was never, ever getting a puppy.

David recently got it into his head that our mornings are not chaotic enough and what we need is another dog underfoot. I was leery of this idea... Cooper is hit or miss with other dogs. He can be totally chill (as he is with my friend Monica's dog, Leia) or he can really get off on the wrong foot (as he did with my brother's dogs, who them taught him a stern lesson about picking a fight with two dogs who are each literally three times your size). I sort of thought that we should let Cooper live out his twilight years as an only dog and then worry about getting another dog much, much later.

But David couldn't let it go. He was sending me adorable dogs on Petfinder and my heart was melting.

I fell madly in love with another puggle named China who has a slightly deformed leg but is otherwise fine and she's 7 years old and needs to lose some weight and I was basically like, "THIS IS COOPER'S SOUL MATE" but we never heard back from our inquiry, so I hope/assume she was adopted.

Then David found a super cute little cocker spaniel named--wait for it--Caroline. We were joking about her being Caroline III in our family and we set up a time to meet her. Her foster mom suggested we meet at Michael's and we were in a grassy spot on the parking lot, but she is still not very socialized (they don't know much about her history... she apparently wasn't mistreated/abused, but she was not socialized and had little human contact so she's still warming up to her foster family). She did NOT warm up to us and the traffic noise scared her and then she panicked and tried to run and I was envisioning her pulling out of her collar (because she totally could have) and running into traffic and my children witnessing her get run over by a car, so I stayed calm, cool, and collected immediately started panicking and trying to cover my kids' eyes and David tried to pick her up but she was really freaked out and thankfully her foster mom emerged from the store at that time. She calmed down after that, but I knew this was not the dog for us. If I were single and dogless, I'd totally want to take her home because I know she just needs to bond with a human to come out of her shell, but the thought of bringing an anxious pup into my house with an elderly dog and two little kids was making me anxious.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that unless we happened into a situation where an elderly person could no longer care for a beloved pet, if we adopted an adult dog that had been rescued, we were going to be dealing with some trauma. Obviously I WANT these dogs to have a good home, but I also don't want to stress out Cooper or put my kids at risk (having little Mac taught me to love dogs but also to fear them). It occurred to me that we might be better off with a derpy puppy who would let Cooper be the alpha dog and would grow up socialized and gentle with the kids.

David set up a time to meet Caroline III again and see how Cooper did with her and I just stood there smiling because I knew as soon as we got in the car I would be SHUTTING IT DOWN. I didn't feel bad about it, because she's a gorgeous dog and very adoptable--no health issues or anything, and her foster mom mentioned that another woman is interested in her--but I knew she wasn't right for us. (Even though Zuzu wanted to name her Isabel and call her Izzy and she does look like an Izzy, so that was appealing.)

Anyway, I think David already knew that Caroline III wasn't right for us because on our way home, he suggested we stop at Petsmart. One of Zuzu's fish passed away (RIP Fish we've stopped naming because we can't get emotionally invested in these creatures with s 2-day life span--for real, though, we've got the tank water where it needs to be and this last fish actually lived several months and his sibling is still alive). She wanted a goldfish and the Petsmart employee kept trying to explain that a goldfish needed a bigger tank than the one we have until I finally explained that when we say "goldfish" what we mean is "yellow or golden-colored fish." So then she chose one and we were supposed to be headed home.

But it was pet adoption weekend. And there were a bunch of darling lab puppies (nope, nope, nope), and a really yippy chihuahua mix (nope), and this girl hanging out in cages.

So he got her out for us to have a look. She was nervous and shaky like Caroline III, poor thing, but unlike Caroline III, all she wanted was to curl up on our laps.

Coco's face looks concerned here, but she loves Clem.
Love at first sight.

Obviously I'm partial to these amber-colored dogs, and floppy-eared dogs. She looks like a farm dog mutt to me, but a very cute one. And I guess that's what she is--she and her litter-mates were rescued from Warsaw, MO (if you're not familiar with Warsaw, MO, think Winter's Bone). Her mom was chocolate cocker spaniel, and her dad was a black mouth cur. The owners wouldn't bring them inside for the winter and the puppies were freezing, so they surrendered them to an animal rescue organization.

So she is a farm dog mutt! And a six month old puppy! And we really have no idea how big she will get! BASICALLY THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT I WANTED!

But of course we love her.

I mean... go rescue a dog right now so you can have this at your house.
Also funny is I woke up on Saturday morning with the name Clementine on my mind. I actually love the name for a little girl, but then I woke up thinking that it was just as well because Clementine Duckworth was really a mouthful. When we met Caroline III, she did not look like a Clementine (she really did look like an Izzy), but that name was still in my head. It truly came to me in a dream.

So when I saw the puppy at Petsmart, the first thing that came to mind was, OMG she looks like a Clementine.

Oh my darlin', oh my darlin'...
Zuzu was not thrilled with the name... she liked Rainbow or Shimmer or Izzy (and suggested her middle name should be Audrey, lol), but once David was determined that she was coming home with us, I made her a dog tag that said Clementine so there was no going back. I mean LOOK AT HER! She's a Clementine if I've ever seen one. I explained to Zuzu that little cutie oranges are often clementines so she decided her middle name can be Cutie Pie.

There is nothing cuter than a kid with a puppy.
We are adjusting... she's been crate trained, so we're using our dog crate at night and while we are at work. She's mostly potty trained but had one accident. She and Cooper have had a few scuffles, and honestly I feel more stress about introducing Cooper to a new dog sibling than I ever felt about introducing Zuzu to a new human sibling! We are working on peaceful coexistence and taking lots of walks, which is good for everyone. Plus David is taking the lead on walking and he and Zuzu plan to take her to obedience training together. The girls are love her because she is so interested in them, which leaves plenty of time for me to give Coop extra love and attention (it's kind of clear to everyone at this point that Cooper would prefer to live alone with me, except that the girls drop food for him to eat).

A doggie scuffle occurred one second after I took this photo. Coco has on leftover facepaint from a carnival.
(The disparity of agility and reasonable BMI that I saw when we brought her home to Cooper was appalling. I immediately ordered him new diet food and am putting him on a strict twice a day walk regiment because holy crap. Bubba is super fat. I am not body shaming, but I am concerned about his health. I always knew intellectually that Coop is a few pounds over his ideal weight, but I didn't realize how much it was hampering his activity. I'm hoping by the end of summer he'll be slimmer and trimmer! #dogfitnessgoals)

At one point this morning, we had all six of us in one bathroom, with Clementine standing on her hind legs and putting her front feet up on the bathroom sink. So... chaotic mornings mission accomplished!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Conversations with Zuzu and Coco

I. Lucky

Scene: In the car

Zuzu: When I get home, can I have a treat?
Me: Sure. What a lucky girl you are to get to choose between a cookie and a cupcake!
Zuzu: No, a lucky girl would get a cookie and a cupcake.

II. Fox Trot

Scene: Zuzu has just woken up in the morning and is telling me about when she woke up during the night because she heard a noise.

Zuzu: I heard a stomping like a dinosaur! But I knew they were extinct. So I thought it might be a hundred and fifty five foxes marching all together!

III. Best Friends Club

Scene: A Saturday Morning

Coco: Is today a school today?
Me: (cheerfully) No! Today is a stay at home day.
Coco: (mournfully) But Evelyn will miss me!

IV. Attitude Adjustment

Coco: Mama, would you like to watch me dance?
Me: I would love to watch you dance!
Coco: Then you'd better stop that attitude.

V. Swings Both Ways

(background: We've been talking about where babies come from with the help of the Our Whole Lives program at our church and the book It's Not the Stork! It's actually been a really good thing, but we've had some interesting conversations!)

Zuzu: Mama, can girls marry girls and have children?
Me: Sure. But you need sperm to have a baby, so you'd have to go to the doctor to get pregnant by putting egg and sperm in a dish. (This is referencing a prior conversation about different ways to have babies.)
Zuzu: Why?
Me: Because you need a sperm and an egg to make a baby, and only boys have sperm, so you'd have to borrow some.
Zuzu: Hmmm. I was going to marry Gemma, but maybe I should just marry Ethan.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Birthday Party Idea and Two Other Things

One of my students is a bit older than traditional college-age and she has a baby who just turned one.  For her daughter's recent birthday, she asked everyone invited to the party to write her daughter a letter and include a photograph of themselves or their family that she is putting in a time capsule of sorts to have her daughter open on her eighteenth birthday.

Isn't that such a sweet idea? She even asked me to write a letter for it, as she's been in classes with me since before she was pregnant. I wish I had thought of it for my kiddos!

I guess there may be some people who aren't interested in reading letters from people they might not even know by the time they turn 18, but I think it's such an interesting way to capture the people involved in the baby's life in one way or another, and makes for such a meaningful gift, even though it doesn't cost anything.

It kind of reminds me of when my eighth grade English teacher had us write letters to ourselves as seniors in high school. It was such a big deal when she mailed those out four years later and we all received our letters and reflected on our thirteen-year-old selves. (shudder!)

* * *

Today on our drive to school, Zuzu asked me "How do bumble bees begin?"

Uhhhh... any ideas?

I started rambling about evolution and single cell organisms (LOLOLOL what the hell is wrong with me?) but eventually through more conversation I realized that she was really asking whether baby bumble bees are born with a stinger or whether they grow it. LOLOLOL Still have no idea! We decided that they are probably born with a teeny-tiny stinger that gets bigger.

* * *

I found my faculty ID! It was buried under a pile of papers on my desk, which means I have definitely hit my stride as English professor. Now I'm off to spill a cup of coffee on more student papers and lose my reading glasses before finding them on my head.

(I don't actually wear reading glasses, but you get the idea.)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Twirling, Running, Downward Dog

Well, it's April! Where has the time gone? See previous post about not having enough time to do the things I want to do. I got a stack of library books, so reading has beat out blog posting for what to do before bed and here we are.

Coco asked me the other night if I wanted to watch her twirl. I responded with a genuinely warm and enthusiastic, "Yes! I love to watch you twirl." But she must have not liked whatever I was saying before that, because she replied sternly, "Then you better stop that attitude."

Interestingly enough, David had to ask Coco to "stop that attitude" today in the car after dinner.

Zuzu is running a mile tomorrow with her kindergarten class. She is not super enthusiastic about it. In fact, she totally dragged behind at the practice race and walked most of it (complaining constantly). It was so bad that I had to jog ahead with Coco in the stroller and leave her behind with David because I was getting pissed off and (surprise, surprise) me getting pissed off is actually NOT a deterrent for her when it comes to behavior. Zuzu appears to be missing the "give a eff" gene so she does not care if I'm annoyed OR if her friends have all finished the race and are waiting for her. I still find this baffling. David says she has zero FOMO. I'm by no means athletic, and I can remember running in elementary school and knowing there were girls in my class I could never keep up with (Lori Nichols, Kelly Meyers, etc.). But I could also pace myself with girls who were more my caliber, and my pride definitely had me finishing races before certain kids in my class. So I just don't get why she doesn't want to keep up.

We chatted later (when I had calmed down and remembered this is a kindergarten race so who cares) and I said something appropriately parental about how we don't care if she finishes the race first or last but we would like to know that she worked hard and did her best. I told her that I wasn't convinced she'd done her best at the practice race. She made a noncommittal noise, looked at me for a minute, and then said, "Do you think the person who finishes last still gets a medal?"

(Answer: I'm pretty damn sure they do, and it looks like I'll be finding out tomorrow when my kid comes dragging in last of all!)

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be wretched because I live in a midwestern winter hellscape where spring will tease us with one or two 65 degree days with sunshine sprinkled into months of unrelenting cold, gray, rain. David jokingly asked the other day if we just lived in Portland now and I said we should freaking move there because here we're getting the soul-sucking weather without the benefit of liberal politics.

I'm starting to believe summer is around the corner as I just have a few weeks of the semester left. I swore earlier in the week that between the weather and the stack of ungraded essays on my desk, I was in a decline (physically, mentally, emotionally), but I graded the papers and kind of wrapped my head around another big project at work (a program review) and I'm feeling better now.

ALSO I'd like a moment to brag about myself... I am 24 days in to Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Challenge. This is BIG for me, you guys. This means I have gotten up 30 minutes earlier every day for the past 24 days to do yoga before work.

You may remember I started this challenge back on January 1 with the rest of the world as a New Year's resolution, but I got bronchitis and couldn't stop coughing so had to stop doing yoga. THEN I tried to start again in February but got a stomach bug. So finally I got serious over spring break. I also listened to an episode of the Sorta Awesome podcast where they interview Laura Vanderkam (author of I Know How She Does It) and she said that the thing about people who get stuff done is that they do something in the morning before work besides just get ready for work--they write or they meditate or they work out or they go for a run or whatever. I have been SO reluctant my entire life to be that person. I would rather stay up late and write than get up early and write.

But the thing is I DO write late at night. I do NOT motivate myself to do yoga late at night. If I'm going to be productive in the late evenings, it turns out I can only be the kind of productive that also involves being sedentary under blankets. (Know thyself, as Gretchen Rubin would say.)

So now I am a person who gets up in the morning and does yoga first thing and I can hardly believe it because I still kind of hate those people who do that stuff. Yet here I am! Feeling all the benefits (so annoying). Looking forward to it when I roll out of bed (so obnoxious). Even got up before 6am this morning (absolutely unheard of) because I had to leave my house by 7am today to make it to an 8am meeting.

I am really proud of myself though for being so close to the 30 day goal and I have plans to keep going and do another 30 day set after this. Assuming I don't get bronchitis, obvs.