Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baking Day: A bowl full of blessings!

Today I went to my first baking day! My neighbor and her friends get together once a week and bake. From scratch. And by scratch I mean they grind their own flours and such. Knowing how hardcore they are was a bit intimidating.

Though my neighbor invited me every week, I had not been able to attend due to electrician's, furniture deliveries, plumbers, etc. all who promise to be there at sometime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. *sticking my tongue out* I have been able to briefly appear to at least meet some ladies, taste baked goods, and preview what they actually do.

I told Caren I would finally be able to make it this week.

"What do I do? What should I bring? What are we baking?"

"Meh...we just sort of bake whatever." Not helpful. "Do you have something you want to bake?"

"I have about 8 plums that are too ripe to eat but might be good cooked."

"Perfect! Bring those and we'll make a tart or something with them."

So I marched down and up the hill this morning armed with baking pans and a bowl of plums. Caren and I flipped through a cookbook in search of a good recipe. We ended up using a cobbler recipe for peaches and blackberries but instead used our plums and another bakers raspberries.

I made it all by myself! Pretty much. The cobbler crust has fresh ground flour and cream from the fresh milk Caren gets from the dairy. Everything was organic and fresh! YUMM-O!

Somehow, while I made our cobbler, Caren whipped up some brownies with zucchini snuck into it. You can't even see the zucchini and they taste way better then anything in the Seinfield chicks cookbook. Other bakers made peach cheesecake bars, eight loaves of bread, and two loaves of basil bread. (Can't you just imagine that with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese?!)

There was leftover cobbler crust and raspberries so we made a tart and decided to freeze it and use it for the next time there is a gathering.

We all helped each other get our baked goods done and we all cleaned up after one another. Conversation mostly revolved around food (I mean, is there really anything else to talk about?) Oh! We did talk about our families a bit and how school has been going.

So there I was, working with lovely ladies as warm delicious aromas wafted around us. I don't know how many times I just felt giddy!

I am home now with all of my little treats. I have one loaf of bread in the freezer and the other will be sliced for the kids sandwiches. The cobbler should go great with the stew I have in the crock pot for dinner tonight and the boys will have brownies spiked with nutrients while they do their homework.

My mom called in the middle of it all and asked what all we had baked.

"Michal" she said, "You are so lucky."

I really, really am.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tiny Town Tragedy

About 3 miles from where we live, just around the bend, there is a little place called Tiny Town. Tiny Town, established 95 years ago, is a town of tiny buildings built along a stream and up the side of the mountain. It was a gift for a little girl who asked her daddy for a doll house. He made her a whole town instead and now, for a very small fee, children everywhere can come and tour the little town. Some of the house are built for entry. The kids can go in and peek out the windows, creating great picture ops. Others are furnished and staged with dolls like Barbie. You can peek inside and see the chiropractor adjusting Barbie's neck or Barbie and her friends square dancing in a red barn. Tiny Town is thriving with a grocer, several churches, schools, and the most recently added Home Depot. She even has a railroad system.

Running around and through the town is a child sized train that one can ride for $1. The conductor gives a bit of history on the town and safety instructions for the ride sprinkled with humor and then you are off for a 10 min. train tour of Tiny Town.

There is a lovely gift shop (life sized) full of train toys and other souvenirs. My sons very much enjoy the ice cream shop as well. You can buy lunch there or are welcome to bring your picnic basket and dine at picnic tables shaded by trees. A playground is available too so kids can play and run off even more energy before you head home.

For the first time in Tiny Town's 95 years there was a train derailment a few weeks ago. I believe 12 were injured. Some as severe as broken bones. It was a very sad event! Aaron and I were worried for the establishment, as the train is a HUGE draw. Drew was a little afraid to ride it the first time we were there and so we decided not to tell the kids about it.

Prior to the derailment, my old friend, Sarah, and I made plans to get our children together at Tiny Town. Sarah and I were friends in high school and, except for a few brief meet ups, we had not spent any time together in over a decade.

Before Sarah arrived the boys proceeded to tell me that there had been an accident at Tiny Town. Apparently it was much discussed at school last week. I made sure that they knew it would be safe and to not mention it to Sarah's little ones because we do not want to scare them.

As we pulled into the parking lot of Tiny Town we noticed a news truck. Apparently this was the day of Tiny Town's reopening of the train since the accident.

How fun! I thought, They will probably film us on the train. I figured there would probably be a glimpse of us on the news of us passing by.

The kids climbed into the caboose. The caboose is kids only. It's completely enclosed and they lock the door so they can't just open it up on their own while the train is moving. In the derailment it was the only car that stayed on track. Sarah and I found a spot somewhere in the middle of the train.

The conductor began his spiel that he/they always say. He seemed to go on a little longer this time then before....maybe hamming it up for the TV crew? His long windedness did not bode well with the little boy sitting in front of us. My guess was that he was not quite two. His poor parents felt really bad as their child did the arched back, floppy thing and cried and fussed and tried to basically escape. Sarah and I had been there and done that and tried to reassure them that their child was normal and we had seen/handled worse.

Finally we were off! I could hear Drew calling to me from the caboose and I turned back to smile and wave to him. The train ride was slower then usual but lovely just the same. Going around the curve where it derailed was mildly somber as you could just imagine how scary it must've been (a long fall into the stream below.)

When the ride was over, we retrieved our children and Sarah was promptly approached by a news reporter and cameraman. They asked her questions about any intrepidation she may have had regarding the train and how the ride was today. Sarah gracefully answered questions and we pressed on to the main attraction: a tiny town.

The kids were running from building to building except for Gabriel. Gabe poked along, shoulders slumped and dragging his feet.

"What's wrong buddy?"

"I am just so sad because they did not ask me any questions after they asked your friend! It's been my life long dream to be on the news!" he whined.

****NEWS FLASH: This just in. Gabriel McDowell has dreamed, for all of his eight years, to be on the news. This is the first and only time that his beloved mother (or anyone else for that matter) has ever heard of this lofty dream. More tonight at 6!****

Trying not to laugh, I put a comforting arm around his shoulder and told him that they are interviewing lots of people and so he still may get that chance.

"I can guarantee they will not interview a sad little boy who is moping around all day." My little trick worked...for about a minute and then "Eeyore" returned.

After we explored all of the little buildings, the kids went to play on the play ground. I sat on a bench to watch. "Eeyore" dragged his sad little body and plopped down next to me. The News reporter was nearby. To Gabriel's delight she approached us.

"Did you guys ride the train today?" she asked.

"We did! We had a great time but my son was very sad because you interviewed my friend and not him."


"Well, then lets do that!" she said as she waved her camera man over.

"What is your name?"


"Did you ride the train today?"


"Mmmhm...was it fun?"


"Why was it so fun?"

"Because it's a train."

"O..kaaay...I'm going to ask your mom some questions now. OK?"

So the news lady interviewed me and while she did Drew comes and saddles up next to me. He starts talking in his boisterous way...

"My brother and I rode the train and it was so much fun! And did you know there was a boy and he was almost killed because he stood up on the train?!"

The camera immediately was lowered and the interview quickly wrapped up.

Gabriel was in much better spirits! He was so excited! I realized that there was one more thing he REALLY needed to know about....editing.

The news report was to come on the 5 o'clock news. We set the DVR...just in case!

Roll Sound:

The report came on starting with a reminder to the audience of the accident a few weeks ago. They have a brief comment from the owner of the park and cut to the train setting off! A comment from the engineer on how safe it all is and then my girl Sarah!!

Cue the wind machine:

"We were a little nervous but it all went well and was fun."

Cut to the train driving away and me turning to smile and wave to the caboose though it looks like I'm waving goodbye to the audience.

End scene.

"Give me the number to the news station." a very grim and serious Gabriel said while pounding his fist into his hand. "Either give me the number to the news or the number for the police."

"Aw buddy! They edited you out. I'm so sorry!"

"I need to call them."

"Well, honey, you can't just call and they have already played the piece. Sweetie I'm sorry but that's why I wanted you to know that sometimes that happens."

He started to cry mad hot tears. "How could they lie to a little boy?!" he asked.

"They didn't lie. They never said you would for sure be on."

Sniffling, red faced and fighting back tears, "Well, the next time I'm ever interviewed I'm going to make them promise me that they will show it!"

Eeeeend scene.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three Cheers for the First Day of School!

Today is the first day of school!!! Drew woke up so excited. He got ready way early and kept saying "Don't I have a great attitude today mom? I'm in such a good mood!"

Gabriel, however, did not wake up so nicely. He was mad because he wanted to get up before the sun so he could play awhile before school. He kept saying "I had terrible sleep last night." Poor bud...

Aaron went into work late today so that he could see them off to their first day of school. He video taped Gabriel's first day and so he did not want to miss Drew's! (Thank you baby! You are such a great Daddy!)

It was finally time to go and the boys headed out down the hill. They stopped a few times to pick long grass to feed our neighbor's horse. My heart was full again, just so happy for my sons that they get to walk down a dirt road on a cool morning, feeding a horse as they wait for the bus! What a great experience!

I tried to get a picture of them by the bus stop sign but Drew kept dancing about.

"Do you need to go to the bathroom?" I asked.

"YyeeEEeesssSS!" he said as he wiggled about.

"Well hurry up and do it here before the neighbor girls get here!"

So he pulls his pants down and I try to protect him from being seen in case a car was to drive by or something. Gabriel whipped his little monster out too and everyone is peeing when....what's that sound? Sounds like a bus is approaching! I hurry and pull Drew's pants up, Aaron is exasperated by the whole thing, I'm cracking up and Drew is already shouting to the bus driver "Hi! We're the new kids in town!"


"What about the girls?" Aaron asked.

"They probably decided to ride to school with their mom." I guessed.

The boys boarded the bus. I met the driver and he gave me a form I'm to fill out and give to him when the boys come home from school. Then they were off!

I turn around to head back to the house with Aaron, when my neighbor and her daughters come flying down the hill! Even under fire Caren looks beautiful with her skirt flapping around her legs and her hair blowing back. The girls are the picture of Back to School posters with their new clothes on, hair in place and back packs.

"Oh no! I should've held the bus! I just figured the girls rode in with you."

"It's OK," Caren said "the driver will come back around for us."

This is a great bit of info! If we are running behind I need not ever panic too much. So I waited with Caren and the girls to catch a glimpse of the boys on the bus. Drew was in the window smiling ear to ear and waving! He is going to have such a great year!

After Caren and I got the kids off, I rode with her to the school for the Boo Hoo Breakfast that the PTA sponsored. Caren had made dozens of homemade muffins! They were delish... (I'm never going to lose weight with her as a neighbor. Realtors should really inform you of things like that.)

When we got to the school I saw the boys lined up for their classes so that was kind of cool! I don't think Drew noticed me but Gabriel did. He could not find his line so I helped him get to the right class and then went on to eat muffins.

I met two really nice ladies there. One is an adorable endocrinologist (or something like that) who is also new to the school. She moved up from the burbs. The other is a great lady from Texas!! (Woo hoo!) She moved here about a year ago. Both gals were talkers and friendly and I hope that we will get to know each other more.

After cleaning up the Boo Hoo Breakfast, Caren and I went home and toasted the new school year with mimosas. Ahhhh! So good!

I did not boo hoo at the breakfast. I never expected to. I love to see my children grow and become all that they are meant to be! I am excited about having the days to myself though I'm not quite sure yet what I will do with them. I'm Drew's room mom so I think I will be pretty busy at the school and I hope to take an oil painting class. We'll see. Right now a cool breeze is blowing through the window. The house is quiet except for the sound of my cat purring as she weaves in and out from between my ankles. I could certainly get used to this!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Meet the Teacher or Get Over It or I'll Throw You Over It

Well, the boys had their meet the teacher this morning. They do it a little differently here. Sort of like the huevos rancheros I had at a "Mexican" restaurant the other night. I kid you not the red sauce was MARINARA! It was so wrong!

The school is different too but not "wrong" like the huevos rancheros. Here, for meet the teacher, you drop your child off at 9 a.m. and pick them up at 11:30. During this time they get to meet their other classmates, put away their supplies and learn about bus loading and such.

When I registered Gabe there were some bumps that I did not expect to occur. The GT program here tests on more then what they do in TX. So they do not have enough information on him to allow him into the program. The TX scores did give enough info to put him in an Advanced Learning Program though so...that's nice. I'm trying not to be too upset by this. He had such a difficult time with school last year and the only thing he enjoyed was his GT class. He will be tested here in October. They will get the results in January but he will not begin the program (if he passes) until the following year. (Hm...now that I think about it I need to clarify if that is the following calendar year or the following school year... I think it means the next school year though. Which sucks.) Because of all that though, I was told when we registered that he would have Ms. Creel but when we got to the school this morning they had switched him to a new teacher.

The switch had me confused. I knew he was not going into GT but I thought Creel was the Advanced Learning part.... So I met with the very awesome principal of the school who was able to explain the whole thing to me.

"I know you don't know us yet but trust us. We very much care about the placement of each student here and he will not be overlooked and will certainly not be bored."

The school is excellent in that since it is smaller they are able to let those who are running academically to do so in the areas where they excel. In the places they don't they can move at the pace needed there. So that will be great for both boys. Also the GT program here is advanced academics not just extracurricular. The GT program in TX was more like an Odyssey of the Mind type of thing.

Drew is skipping K and going into 1st this year. His Transition class at his pre-school has him well prepared to do so. I am already impressed with the worksheet he brought home today. He is doing so well with his reading!

I was told to pick up the boys at the front of the school which was jam packed with parents and so I parked away from the school, a bit up the hill. I saw Drew right away. He loved everything about it! He made a new friend named Taylor and said that his favorite part was doing the school work. Excellent!

Since Gabe was not out, Drew and I headed in to find him. His classes are in portables so I thought he may be waiting there. We ran into him just inside the door.

"We need to talk." Gabriel said.

"Well, ok. How was it? Did you like it?"

"Well....it was kind of boring. I just put all of my supplies away AND you did not have all of my supplies!"

"I'm sorry about that but that is because I bought the supplies on Ms. Creel's supply list instead of your new teachers list. Was it fun though? Did you meet some new friends?"

"No. They kept me so busy I did not have any time to meet anyone. I was very upset that you were not out front to pick me up! I came outside and you were not there, so I went to Drew's class and it was empty. Then I went to the front desk and they made an announcement on the loudspeaker and you still did not come so then they walked me out and I saw you and Drew."

"Well, I'm sorry that it upset you but had you stayed outside with all of the other students, you could have waited for me with your brother, whom I found right away."

Gabriel continued to ride me about the supplies and not picking him up right away.

"Listen Bud, I have already told you why the supplies were not right. When I came to pick you up there were lots of other parents here too and so I had to park up the hill and walk down to get you. I was on time and where I should be. YOU should have been outside. Get off my case. Who wants lunch?"

In conclusion: Not the best morning I've ever had. The kids are at one of the top 10 schools in the state of Colorado so I know they will be getting the best to be offered. It WILL be a great year. I think Gabriel is determined not to like school. I'm determined to make him like it. I will prevail! *raises one fist high*

And now I need to right a letter to the restaurant serving Huevos Italiano.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Theodore's Finale

Gabriel has often called Theodore 5 Star. It's short for his ranking as a 5 Star General in Gabriel's little army. When I brought Theodore home from being lost, last Thursday, Gabriel shouted "The General is home!"

He finally had to go and be put down today.

This weekend we have had to sadly witness his fast decline. Saturday morning he struggled with the stairs and fell half of the way down. Since then he has been pacing the hallway until so completely exhausted that his legs would collapse beneath him.

Last night after such an episode I got him to lie down and he let me pet him to sleep. I stayed with him because he kept trying to get up to return to pacing the halls. We told the boys he would be put down the next day.

Gabriel sat with me awhile, gently petting Theodore and softly crying.

"I always wanted a dog," he said, "I just did not know that I wouldn't want any other dog but this one."

I kissed my son's head as he continued.

"I'll have to tell the other soldiers once he dies."

"You can do that," I said.

"And we will bury him in our backyard here but I also want a grave at our house in Texas where Papa and Gaga live now."

"We can do that too."

"It's just that we never had a birthday party for him! Can we make some cupcakes that look like him to celebrate that he is in a better place?"

I agreed. Oh my.

Drew came to love on Thee a bit too. He pet him softly and shuddered a little sigh.

When we went to bed Gabriel prayed that Theodore would die in his sleep.

"And please God, give me the strength and courage to live with out him." I pretty much lost it at that one. I cried a bit with Gabriel and kissed his sweet head again.

Early this a.m. Aaron and I could hear Theodore doing his Crazy Laps again. It was about 2 a.m! We decided he was going to have to be tested for rabies. He does not have any bite wounds but his behavior matches the symptoms. He has also bitten everyone but Gabriel and so we need to be sure.

When I got up, Theodore was still up doing his laps. He was shaking a little and so I thought he might be cold. I put a little blanket over him. He kept walking. It was kind of a funny spectacle and sad at the same time.

I called a vet and made his appointment. Aaron was to come home and take him so that I could stay home with the boys. Before Aaron got home Theo seemed to get worse. I made the boys play in the basement because I did not want them to see Theodore stumbling and falling about. I tried to get him to lie down but he would not let me touch him. One time I barely pet his ear and he cried out like I had hurt him! That was the worst part. I hated that the boys could not hug him or pet him to say their goodbyes. He was getting really bad just before Aaron got here. I thought Old Theefee was going to save us a $150 and go on his own. He hung in there though, continuing his march.

I thought it would be hard to get him in the crate but all we had to do was place the crate in his path and he walked right in. The boys each came and told him goodbye. Drew hugged the crate and said he would see Theodore again in heaven. Aaron tried to leave as fast as he could. I could tell the whole thing was tearing him up.

After they left I made the boys lunch. Drew lost his appetite half way through his sandwich and went to cry in his room. I tried to go in and comfort him but he asked to be left alone. So I closed the door and heard him weeping and telling God that it was going to be so, so long until he dies and finally gets to see Theodore. He eventually came out and cried in my arms on the couch. He eventually stopped and wiped his eyes. He looked out the window and noticed several dead flies in the pane of the window.

"Mom, can I clean this out?" Armed with a vaccumm hose, windex and paper towels, Drew learned about the therapy cleaning can bring! He kept saying "this is almost better then petting Theodore!" Umm...whatever makes you feel better bud.

Gabriel has retreated to the basement to play his PSP. I keep checking in on him and he said that he had promised Theodore that he wouldn't cry when he died.

"Baby, it's ok to cry about it."

"If I cry it will make me a liar."

And so we are all coping in our own way. I usually have a delayed response to a loss. Right now I'm more concerned for my children then anything. It's nice to not hear that constant click, click, clicking of his claws on the wood floors as he paced the hall.

Aaron called to let me know that the vet will be sending him off to be tested for rabies. He said Theodore cried the whole way to the vet but stopped once they got there. Aaron did not stay while they put him down.

"Are you ok?" I asked him.

Long pause...


Long pause...

"I'll be alright."

And so we will. I'm glad that Theodore was loved so much all the way to the end. I love that he went out for one more final adventure be for his departure. He was a brave little soldier and now at last the General is home.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Weekend Update

We are winding up a full weekend. Friday carpet was installed. I was worried for Theodore since it was his first full day home after his previous little escapade. Having a house full of strangers hammering and such was probably not going to bode well. He kept running nervously all over the house and then finally settled into a chair to nap.

That night the boys and I had plans to try and see a meteor shower. I set my alarm for 2 a.m. When it was time I tried to wake the boys up. Gabriel popped right out of bed. Drew moaned something about bears being out there and went back to sleep. Drew did have a point. The viewing instructions I read said they would best be seen with no residual light.

Gabriel and I stood outside of our sliding glass doors looking out into the pitch blackness and decided we would watch from inside. So we sat down on the floor in front of the sliding glass doors and waited for our vision to adjust to the darkness. The stars here are bright! We could see tons of them and decided to ask Santa for a telescope. We sat there for awhile and then Gabriel said, "The cats are sitting on the stairs looking at me."

"I would be more concerned about what's watching you from out there." I teased, gesturing to the dark wilderness just past our patio.

A few minutes later Gabriel asked, "Mom...what's that?"

I thought he was trying to tease back but then I saw the shadowy form just to the left of our door. I sat up a little straighter so the chills could run down my back with more ease. The shadow got up and walked right in front of us and looked at us! The shape was then recognizable as a fox! It was just two feet away from us!

Gabe and I jumped up, screamed and grabbed a hold of each other. We started to head down the stairs and ran into Aaron who heard the ruckus and was coming up to investigate.

That's what REALLY happened. Gabriel told everyone the next day that when we saw the fox I screamed. He said "Calm down mom. It's a fox." HARDLY!

We went back to bed but I woke up to the sound of poor Theodore falling down the stairs. When I found him he was on his feet at the foot of the stairs but he was not moving. I ran my hands over his body, examining him. He did not move for several more minutes. I carried him upstairs. He has not been the same since. He started pacing the hallway, turning at our bedroom door, running back down to the dining room and turning at the table. Sometimes he mixes it up a little with a trot around the island in the kitchen. When he does lay down it is with difficulty. His legs twitch like a dreaming dog only he is not asleep. He's also taken a turn at biting everyone in the family. Even Smee is staying clear.

So, we sat the boys down and told them the vet would be coming out Monday and very likely he will be put down. He's too old and this is just not a good environment for him. He has not been quite right since his Night Out and the fall down the stairs has somehow injured him or knocked something loose in his Thinker. They have shed some tears and Gabriel was especially upset that we never had a birthday party for Theo. He asked that we have cupcakes that look like him to celebrate that he is in a better place. Of course I said yes. *sigh*

Today we went out to meet some old friends for a little rock climbing and fishing. Before heading out I got the happy picture message I had been waiting for!! My niece, back in the arms of her mother who had returned from Kuwait!!! Our hero! My niece was wearing a little sailor dress that my Grandmother had made me when I was about her age. It fit her perfectly! I bet my Grandma never dreamed that her great Granddaughter would be wearing it to greet her Navy mother home from war.

Our friends were climbing when we got there so we got the kids set up for fishing. Fishing pretty much consisted of the boys casting and reeling, casting and reeling, casting and reeling. I did not climb but Aaron did. It was his first time but he was a natural! We were all so impressed. He was a quick and a very intelligent climber. He's hooked so I'm sure it will be something we will do again.

When we got home Theodore was running his "Crazy Lap," as I am now calling it. Poor senile thing. This will likely be his last night with us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He lives! Jesus and My Dog.


After talking to Pete I called Animal Control and placed a free classified. We cut up one of our moving boxes, dug out my paints and made a sign: LOST white male shitzu/poodle. Deaf and blind. Wears a diaper. Call: (xxx)xxx-xxxx.

Sometime this afternoon I get a call from Animal Control. They got a call from a kind lady named Barb. I called Barb and learned that she lives about 1/2 a mile up the road from us. She saw Theodore at about 6:00 this a.m. wandering around in her horse corral. She was worried he would get trampled and could tell from her window that he was disoriented.

I was so thrilled that he had been found! Seriously. I was really rooting for him. He has quite the legacy now. I was also glad it was Barb who found him because I have been wanting to drive up her road. Looks so pretty...!

I pulled up and he was dingier and more matted then just the day before. His eyes were barely open. She said he had slept all day. I picked him up and his little heart was beating a mile a minute. He was panting a lot. How he made it through the night is a mystery! I think there is a sticker or something in his back paw because he walks like his feet are tender but I'll investigate that tomorrow. Right now he needs rest.

Aaron said "Nothing is going to eat him. Too unappetizing." I agree. They probably think this old meat would be like jerkey.

Well, he is tough. And I'm so proud of him! I brought the old stinker home. He drank a ton of water, went into the bathroom where I keep his diapers (his was gone) and then laid down in a pile of dirty clothes in the bedroom. He's been asleep for about 2 hours now.

Hmm...better go and check on him to make sure he's still breathing...

All Dogs Go to Heaven. Or Do They....?

I awoke this morning well rested. I could not remember the last time I had slept in past 8 a.m. The kids and I both started stirring at about the same time. We had plans to make C3PO pancakes this a.m. and so as I told the boys to feed the pets while I brushed my teeth and such. Drew feeds the cats and Gabriel feeds the dog.

But Gabriel could not find Theodore. Sometimes he will sleep hard and not hear us awake. So we all looked through the house to see if he was asleep anywhere. Then it dawned on me as to why we all slept so long. Theodore did not wake me up, with his shrill little bark, to let him out.

We looked under beds, in closets, and dirty clothes hampers. We checked the basement, garage and laundry room. I thought that maybe he got out when Aaron left this a.m. Aaron leaves the house at 5:30 though so if Theo got out at that time it would not be good. Big animals hunt at that time.

I called Aaron and he said he did not see him this morning.

"I figured he was still asleep. He usually is at that time." Aaron mentioned that he took the trash out this morning and did not see anything.

Surely he did not get out last night. I tried to replay the evenings events in my mind. Yesterday was our first really warm day up here and I had ran the dryer twice yesterday so we had opened the garage to sort of air out the basement. I also remember making doubly sure that the cats were in last night because they are more prone to wander out. I also remember Theodore getting up on the couch with Drew and I when I read him his bedtime story. I remember that specifically because he's not supposed to be up on the new couch and I checked to see if Aaron was around. He's a stickler about those things...

I was becoming quite certain that the dog was not in the house. I put on my robe and a pair of boots. I told the kids to stay inside and I set out to find a carcass. Or at least an empty diaper.

My neighbor Pete was out. He's a retiree. Gruff, leathery, still muscular. Rough language but kind eyes. I relayed our situation to him.

"That SOB at the foot of our hill feeds the foxes. They are fun to watch but if there is a little animal out you can guarantee the big ones..." he pointed up the "hill" "...are watching."

He offered to drive around a bit and walk our property and his but he was pretty certain (as was I) that old Theodore was gone. An animal his size did not stand much of a chance out here with the sundown. A little guy, like Theodore, who is deaf and blind....zero chance.


He got out last night and was somethings Midnight snack.

He got out this morning and was breakfast.

He's been doing this sad moaning howl for three days. Maybe he was not well, got out and wandered off to die quietly.

He got out last night or this morning and got hit by a car or is just lost.

Either way he is gone, gone, gone.

When I got back to the house the boys were dressed in camo and armed with bats and swords. Gabriel had his army journal, that he got from his Aunt Cathy in Kuwait, tucked into the front of his pants.

"What's all this guys?" I asked.

"We are forming a search party!" Drew yelled (Because that's the only volume he has.)

Gabriel stood pounding a fist into his hand and said "We're not coming back with out a little white dog."

At this point I sat the boys down on the couch and explained a little thing called the Food Chain and then sang The Circle of Life to them. (Ok. I'm so joking about the singing. But we did talk about it.)

Gabriel wanted to load up his BB gun (Did we bring the pellets mom?) and go and hunt down the dastardly creature who took our Theodore! About that time Pete came by and offered to take the kids for a drive around the circle in his truck. I watched them load up from the deck. I could hear Drew talking up Pete the whole time. (Dang that boy is loud!)

I finally have the boys a little more settled. We did make the C3PO pancakes. I couldn't help but note how much easier it is to do things with out Theodore under my feet. Or with out him barking to be let in and out and in and out. The food was much more appetizing with out his death breath wafting up to give my senses a smack. It's nicer and also sad. It's bitter sweet. I'm not broken up about this but I hate that we don't know his fate and that it was possibly gruesome.

Pete just came to the door.

"Did he wear a diaper?"


"One of our neighbors saw him last night down near that old house they are tearing down. Said he heard some people talking down there and went to check it out. That's where the foxes have their den though so... Just call the humane society and animal control."

If that dog is alive....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pet Chronicles

I just wrote a blog last night and so I hate do another but the pets are acting so wonky that I have to. (Besides, the animals are much more entertaining then my whining.)

Before the move Theodore was stepping his paw tentatively in and out of Death's door. Smee hid from the kids and pets under our bed 85% of her day. She would come out at times and lay in the threshold of our bedroom to hiss and snarl at Theodore or the children. This was kind of cool actually because it kept my kids out of my room. Sinclaire had ballooned into quite the hefty girl that left her lazy. Then she had a sudden and drastic weight loss due to a hyperthyroid. She takes meds twice a day. (That's right people. I drop a pill down my cat's throat 2x a day.) The thyroid has not only brought her a new svelte physique but she is constanly thirsty and is now trying to drink out of toilet bowls, water that you leave out, or the tub. Ug. She is also all about playing outdoors again which I dig because it is one less beast in my home.

When we made the move we had all of the pets in crates in one vehicle and the Nuggets (my children) in another. Sinclaire was permitted to roam about the "cabin." Smee's crate was open but she never stepped out and Theodore slept most of the way only coming out at pit stops to use the restroom and drink water.

For the first week after we arrived here in CO, the pets seemed to have a new lease on life. The first night all three of them slept on the same air mattress as me! (I think they were as cold as I was.) It was shocking to see that they could be so close to each other with out any issues. They were courteous to one another, taking turns at the food and water dishes, and making way for one another to come in and out of entrances/exits.

Smee has stopped hissing and snarling at the children even allowing them to pet her. (Two strokes only.) She has not only been all over the house but has even ventured OUTSIDE! She spent all of 10 minutes outside the other day. This was shocking! In the past if she went outside she would cower and slink out low to the ground only to immediately run back inside. It's almost like she wanted to try it and then quickly decided that was enough.

The other morning Theodore woke up with an urgent need to use the restroom. The upstairs is all wood floors (sans the bedrooms.) He came barreling down the hall way, slid past the kitchen Risky Business Style (diaper and all), then slid past it again on the rebound. He gets through the kitchen to the back door and leaped off of the top step of the patio. Who is this dog?! He's supposed to be on his last leg! Dude, you are 16 years old! I'm not very good at math but I do know in dogs years that is ANCIENT! He has also been caught chasing the children in circles in the basement and in the yard. What the hell. We took him in "knowing" that his days were numbered, wanting to go with people he knew and loved. Now it seems he has 9 lives.

Sinclaire has been pretty much the same but her fur looks better and she has not been mewing her complaints of thirst.

Until this weekend.

Suddenly the honeymoon is over and the pets are back in form. Of sorts. It started Monday with Theodore howling/moaning the saddest howl you have ever heard. He kept restlessly wandering through the house with his tail tucked between his legs and periodically stopping to let out that awful cry. I think he is homesick. (Strangely enough it was the same day that I spent crying as well.)

This morning the kids and animals both were whining and barking and complaining all at once. Theodore took a spill down the stairs. He made it with out injury but all were a bit shaken. I was ready to crawl back into bed and call it a day by 8 a.m. On top of it for some reason Theodore kept barking for I Don't Know Why. He would be barking and I'd find him in the bedroom closet barking at nothing. Then he would be at the open back door barking at...nothing. Then barking at nothing on the stairs and so forth. One of the times he was barking I came upon him and finally saw what he had been barking at. SMEE!

She would be just around a corner taunting him and then when she would hear me coming she would slink away really fast. Poor Theodore was getting chewed out all morning. I was so mad at Smee! She was like those snotty kids that tease an old man just because he's weaker, slower, and can't see or hear well. Just awful!

Sinclaire is back to trying to drink from the toliet. Now where are those pills...? Theodore is still yowling sadly at random moments. Hopefully his day will get a little better. So I guess the pets are feeling the stress of the move now too. The only part of the family that seems to be unscathed by it all is Gary our snail and the boys. The boys are calling this home now and every day Drew says "Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day here in Denver!"

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spoil the Child?

Did you know that the three most stressful things you can experience in life are surviving the death of a loved one, divorce and moving? This makes sense seeing as how all three involve great loss. (Note that most divorce's tend to bring a move with it. OUCH!)

So for the most part this move has gone quite swimmingly for me and my family. First of all we have been moved to a beautiful (and I cannot stress that enough) location. The weather rocks. I'm even a little chilly in the a.m. Whatever the weather man tells you the temperature in Denver is, we are always about 10-15 degrees cooler.

Besides a drop in temperature and a raise in elevation, the move also brought a monetary raise. Always good. We have already met fabulous people. We have been fortunate enough to find a fabulous home and to be able to afford refurnishing it. (Most of our stuff came but there is a whole living area that we did not have before in the basement.)

So it's very hard for me to complain when things are so good. I have some close friends who understood and unjudgingly allowed me to unload my frustrations about only having my husband home on the weekends for two months, the relocation company dragging it's feet, and the ugly little details of relocating that are "hard." (Bless you ladies as you know well who you are! You of course know I my ear/shoulder is all yours!!)

Now my family is under one lovely roof and it is very, very good and I am very, very grateful. However.....it is still hard.

I miss my sweet friends. Our home, though lovely, is older and has a lot of quirks that we need to work out. So Aaron has quite the Honey Do List. And buying furniture is fun but I still have a hard time spending large amounts. Repeatedly. It's very uncomfortable for Aaron and I both. I also am constantly thinking of my family and friends and how they will fit here when they visit/vacation. It is definitely our home (no doubt) but I so want this to be a place where everyone can be comfortable and a place that everyone can enjoy!

The kid's school is very cool. It's small and will be an adjustment for the boys. It offers so much! I am excited about that. There is a glitch in Gabriel's placement. He was a GT student in Texas and here the requirements are different. It's not that he won't be in the program, it's that they need more information which means more testing. The testing won't be done until October and the results won't be in until January. GT is the only thing about school that Gabriel enjoys. I'm worried that he will have so much more to adjust to because of this.

Our furniture and belongings did not arrive until 4 days after we moved and so the boys were sleeping in sleeping bags and Aaron and I were sleeping on air mattresses. I only packed sheets and so I was very cold at night. Now we are in the guest bed but I have noticed every a.m. that my teeth hurt from clenching my teeth at night. I'm not getting good sleep. Right now there is a fox screeching/yelling. They make a terrible sound like a banshee. So, I think with the lack of sleep, the loss of my support team, the new dangers to be on alert for (bears, mountain lions, damn noisy foxes) the news that Gabe would not transfer into the GT program just broke me. I cried all morning. Well, really it started yesterday when I realized my sister-in-law would soon be returning from Kuwait to her amazing little family.

I cried because I could not be there to meet her. I cried thinking of the intimate reunion that was coming to them. I cried while picking out something to send to her home to greet her. I cried because I miss her so much.

Today I just cried about the darn school thing. It's so small and I know, I know there are much bigger problems that people have. My friends tell me that I need to stop acting like my problems are insignificant. That's hard to do.

I'm not fighting in a war overseas while my husband and two year old daughter are far away from me. I'm not lifting myself up out of the rubble left by an explosive divorce finding myself a single mother. Not only am I not homeless but have two homes. Two amazing homes. But regardless I cried because my healthy, brilliant son would not get to transfer into the GT program.

Father God, forgive me. I would like to chalk this one up to the stress of moving. I am extremely grateful for the blessings You have given us and am constantly baffled as to why You would favor us in any way. You are a mystery to me. Thank You and be with my family as we adjust. Help me to live in a way that is honoring to You. Forgive me for being such a spoiled brat...though I might add, it seems to be Your fault. I mean seriously, God. Amen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Hard to Meet New People With a Foot in Your Mouth

We are finally getting settled! The first three days we basically camped in our house. The kids loved it. The air mattress and I were not getting along so well. I did not think to pack a blanket, just sheets. It's COLD up here at night ya'll!!

With in about 10 minutes of getting in the door, two little neighbor girls came up to meet the boys. They are sweet girls and they all had fun running thru the empty house and getting to know each other! After awhile their parents, Karen and Kevin, followed. Karen stays home and asked if I did as well.

"I do. I was thinking of getting a job this year since the boys would both be in school but since we've moved I think I will just get to know Colorado instead."

For some reason I then added: "I'm...an artist. I like to paint. So I would like to take an oil painting class." They both thought that would be fun and that this was a great place to paint.

For a couple of years now my friends have been trying to get me to call myself an artist. I just don't think children's art qualifies... Whenever I say it, my Inner-me cowers in anticipation of the mocking.

The next day the kids and I went up to the school to check it out. The school is an adorable little building. There is one 1st grade teacher, one 2nd grade teacher, and so on. Just tiny! I marveled at the view my kids will have while playing out at recess. Everyone was really nice. I was introduced to a few PTA mom's as Karen M.'s new neighbor.

"Oh! I would LOVE to be Karen M.'s neighbor!" exclaimed one lady. The more I get to know Karen the more I see why. Karen and Kevin both are great people. I think our families will have a lot of fun together. She likes to make all her food from scratch. She even makes her own cheese! Every Tuesday a group of ladies gets together at her house to bake. They use the grain she ground herself. I kid you not. So cool!

When the movers came Karen invited the boys over to play. When I went back to fetch them she invited me to her patio to see the new sculpture they just had delivered. As I walked out I see hanging on the wall a large bronze (I think it's bronze. It's metal.)window with a demure Native American woman sitting in the window. She has one booted leg hanging over the side. Leaning up against the window is a Native American man about the size of my husband. I immediately recognized the sculpture as a work of Glenna Goodacre's. If you are not familiar with her or her work, Google her. She is a Texan but is most known as a New Mexican artist. She also designed the Sacajawea silver dollar. My grandmother and I love her work and always go to look at her pieces in Albuquerque. She is the mother of Victoria's Secret Model, Jill Goodacre, who is married to Harry Connick Jr.

"Is that a Goodacre?!" I asked. Karen's eyes flew open wide.

"Yes, it is! I'm so glad that you know that!" We talked more about the artist and how I was familiar with her work.

"She is a family friend of ours." Karen informs me. "My family owns an art gallery in New Mexico." She then takes me inside to see the other Goodacre pieces she owns as well as some other pieces of various artists. As I'm perusing her impressive private collection, my inner me went from cowering to slapping myself in the head.

"Idiot!" Inner-me says, "You are such a tool! Why did you tell them you were an artist? Oh my freakin' lands!!! They are family friends of Glenna Goodacre!!! They are art connoisseurs for crying out loud! BOOB BOOB BOOB BOOB!"

Inner-me says this over and over as I admire the art of Jill Goodacre as a child doing ballet. IDIOT!!! So, you see old friends, I am still sticking the proverbial foot in my mouth.

After removing said foot I returned home to unpack. I found my canvases. No brushes or paint yet. Could be a blessing!

I would also like to note that there are indeed many bugs in Colorado. All the folks that told me otherwise are getting a scowl from me right now. There is an interesting critter here that no one has ever seen before. It's small and brown (and no I am not referring to myself), it's about the size of a grain of rice. It's everywhere! So annoying. It does not seem to bite or anything though.

Much better then the bugs are the furry friends we've got up here. Every morning I sit at the window and watch the foxes play in our yard. One morning I watched one fox run about and then lay and roll around in a sunny spot. He then sat up, ears cocked, alerted to something else. I was intrigued...what else is out there Mr. Foxy?

The fox then started slowly moving with body low to the ground. I tried to follow his line of sight to see what it was but did not notice anything. The fox eventually moved out of my sight and so I ran into my room to look out that window. The fox was there. Stalking. Stalking what? Hmm....oh crap. It's my cat!

I ran outside and called my kitty in. Whew! Rule #1: pets and children in during dusk and dawn.

People are friendly here but not nearly as polite. The weather is AMAZING! To all the nay sayers regarding our non-a/c home...bah! It's quite comfortable. The pets are doing great! I'm not finding many snails for Gary but Karen said she would try to bring some back when they visit NM this week. The cats are loving it. Even the very non-social Smee, has taken to CO. She has ventured out onto the decks several times. This is a big deal since Smee-cat usually does not even venture out from under our bed. The road trip seemed to have forged a new camaraderie between Smee and Theodore (as road trips do). Theo is having a hard time with the stairs, being as how he can't see them. He had one spill that was scary but left him unharmed. Since the house is in the side of the mountain he can go out the back door from the upstairs level, walk down hill to the front deck and be on the lower level. Clear as mud? Anyway, this has proven to be interesting because when I let him in downstairs he can't walk up stairs. So now I'm carrying him around. Unbelievable. But mostly he stays on the upper level with me.

I guess that's all the latest. As soon as I find my camera cord I'll down load some pics. I miss everyone and everything in Texas but I am enjoying things here immensely!

P.S. I know my grammar sucks. Forgive.