A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Dear New(ish) Neighbor Across the Street,

I planned to come by and say hello.  I intended to introduce myself.  I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood, and do all the welcome-y things that good neighbors are supposed to do, just like Mr. Rogers taught me (well, maybe not the singing and the acting out stuff with puppets and toy trolleys and such, but you know what I mean).  Sigh.  But I haven’t.  And now literal months have gone by.  And I feel really bad about it.


I can make all of the excuses.  You moved in during Spring Break.  Spring Break!  During Spring Break this year I was busy in Florida hating the beach in the rain along with too many loud people inside of a too small house.  And then we got right back into school and activities and all of the things, so dropping by to say howdy to you fell to the bottom of my to do list.

Plus, you’re a dude.  And from what I can discern with my mad private investigator skilz, you do not have a wife but you do have a couple of every other weekend teen-aged kids.  What if you just went through an ugly divorce and now you hate all wife-type women?

And you rarely seem to be home.  I saw you walking your tiny dog in the mornings while I was waiting with the boys for the school bus.  But I never see you at other times of the day.  What am I supposed to do?  Sit on my front porch and wait for you to come home from work, and then go knock on your door?  What if you come home from work and immediately have to go to the bathroom?  I would be knocking and you would either have to poopus interruptus, or ignore me (because now I know you are home… I just watched you pull into the garage).  That would be so weird.  And not a little awkward for everybody involved.

I had a plan to bake you some brownies, which is what some very nice new neighbors of ours did when we moved into our house seven years ago.  But every time I bake a batch of brownies, somebody in this house eats at least one out of the tray and wrecks the possibility of gifting the whole batch.  OK, you got me.  I’m the one who eats them, but that’s neither here nor there.  And now I resent you a little bit for making it super convenient for me to eat brownies.

Then, I decided I would buy some Greenies treats or a toy for your dog.  I went to PetSmart down the street and I had a traumatic flashback to the time that I thought it would be a great idea to adopt two puppies at once, but I got so anxious that I had to return them after only 48 hours and my kids still hate me to this day because of it and I feel like a broken human being because I guess I don’t truly like dogs and the whole experience was just horrible.  Well, thanks for bringing that whole nightmare back up.

Maybe I will bring you a housewarming gift instead.  A six pack?  Maybe you don’t drink.  How about something crafty or homemade… soup mix or take out menus from local restaurants?  Something decorative or practical for the house… candles, a photo frame, a house plant?

A front door mat?

A front door mat?

OK, OK.  This is going in a weird direction.  I feel that I have made this way more complicated than it needs to be.  Let’s start over.

Welcome, neighbor.  Better late than never, right?  Here is my family’s contact information.  We’d love to get to know you.  Feel free to stop by anytime.

P.S.  I swear I’m totally normal.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…



Undercover Awesome

So… who had “48 hours or less” in the puppy pool?

Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  We have a winner!

Yesterday at lunchtime, after days of not being able to sleep or eat and after being on the phone for almost an hour with the dogs’ foster mom trying to have her talk me off the ledge, I loaded Maverick and Iceman back into the giant dog crate, along with about $250 worth of awesome puppy gear, and drove them back to the Chattahoochee River Club.  Oh, yes I did.  And I feel like a horrible, horrible human being.

You can not name a dog Goose, because Goose dies in the middle of the movie.  And yes, I realize that Maverick and Iceman were enemies.  But in the end they joined forces to successfully overcome their own flaws and shoot down the MiGs.  Yay, Top Gun!

You can not name a dog Goose, because Goose dies in the middle of the movie. And yes, I realize that Maverick and Iceman were enemies. But in the end they joined forces to successfully overcome their own flaws and shoot down the MiGs. Yay, Top Gun!

I have birthed and am raising five children.  I manage a home and our finances and a complicated schedule and I (occasionally) write this blog.  I keep food in our pantry and clean clothes in our drawers.  I am sometimes overwhelmed with chaos, but generally things run pretty smoothly around here.  Until Sunday when those little poop machines came in and set me spinning.  What is wrong with me?

I came into this situation with such pure and good intentions.  I planned and prepared and did it over a period of more than six weeks.  We came up with fabulous dog names from an iconic 80’s movie.  I took baby steps.  I still knew deep down inside that I am not a dog person by nature, but I truly believed that I could overcome my discomfort and even fear with the power of positive thinking.  Wow, was I wrong about that.  I was a complete wreck for almost three days.  I actually had a physical reaction once the puppies were here.  And to make things worse, I could not get out of my own head either.  It made me feel a little insane in the brain.

Facing a weakness or a flaw in myself is not my strong suit.  I like being good at stuff.  Moreover, I like being awesome at stuff.  But I don’t really want anybody to know because I think that being undercover awesome is way cooler.  Plus, fewer people will ask you to serve on the PTA if they think you suck.  So I point out my flaws every chance I get.  But in my heart, I know I am a good mom and a good person.  If I am truly content and confident, then I do not feel the need to shout my own accolades from the rooftops.

Then I go and do something that is making my kids cry and not speak to me and creating trust issues and possibly damaging them permanently, and I feel so very, very bad.  No more undercover awesome.  Just bad, bad mommy.  And of course I do feel the need to shout this from the rooftops.  I am embarrassed.  I am sorry.  I am flawed.

But I will not beat myself up over this forever.  I made the decision to return the puppies so soon because they will have a much better chance of being adopted permanently when they are young.  They are lab mixes and people love labs.  I also found some comfort in the dogs’ excitement when they were reunited with their litter mates back at the foster mom’s house.  I believe that it is much better for me to make this decision now, rather than to keep them and change my mind a few weeks down the line, or even to keep them forever but be resentful.

By the way, I can not tell you how many people admitted to me over the past two days that they don’t really like their dogs.  I have talked to so many people who said (now you tell me?) that they want to give away their dogs, that their dogs scare them, or that they just wish they didn’t have them anymore.  One friend even called her dog an asshole (mainly because he bit another friend on the butt when they were out walking).  I am sure none of these people would ever intentionally hurt their dogs.  But I definitely found it very interesting to hear about this secret side of the dog coin.

Now, I also know just as many – if not more – people who have dogs and love them like they are their own children.  Others have told me how their dog(s) complete their families.  I just saw last night on Dance Moms that Abby Lee Miller was thinking about having her three-weeks dead dog stuffed so she could keep it with her forever.  That is some serious dog love right there.  I get it, but I just don’t feel it myself.

So I sit here with my broken heart and my broken awesomeness, thinking about everything that has just happened.  I will get over it.  And I believe that the kids will eventually get over it too.  Sheepdog has been wonderfully supportive of me and my craziness.  Everybody will have to heal in their own way.

I did ask the dog foster mom to put my name on the Adoption No-Fly list, just to protect me from myself in a couple of years when I have forgotten this and again decide that I have overcome my fears and think that getting a dog will surely be a good plan.  She was so understanding and (too) kind to me when she told me one last thing before I left the puppies with her yesterday.  She said when she first met me she came home and told her husband that she wished that she had someone like me as her neighbor.  She thought I was strong and confident, but that I seemed fun and funny at the same time.  And then she added that she noticed right then that my family was already complete.  I never really thought about it until she pointed it out to me, but apparently I don’t need dogs to make our family whole.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Spring Broken

Last week was the kids’ Spring Break.  Spring Break for us is nine glorious days of no school, no activities, no alarms, no packing lunches, no carpools… nothing.  It is the absolute antithesis of our normal existence.  In the past we have traveled nearby over Spring Break (Dollywood and the indoor water parks of Sevierville, TN, anyone?), but the last few years we opted to stay home and enjoy a more relaxing time off.  The awesomeness is compounded by the fact that everyone else migrates to the beaches and this place becomes a virtual ghost town.

And now that the kids are older, I don’t have to entertain them every second of every minute of every day.  They can actually entertain themselves.  Which makes all of the nothing that much more something.  And by “entertain themselves,” I mean constant bickering, which I have come to believe that they will never outgrow.  Whatever, as long as they leave me alone.

Now, for those of you who have been following my crazy stories from the beginning, you may recall that despite my attempts to be a better human being, I Suck at Dogs.  But I am also very quick to forget things, which I blame on all of these pregnancies and resultant children that have permanently addled my brain.  The same kids who are constantly begging for us to get a dog.  Day and night, night and day.  Every birthday or Christmas or random Tuesday, the number one thing on their wish list is a family dog.  And I know that they think we are terrible, horrible parents because we never did it.  But still, Sheepdog and I did not get them a dog.

Instead, we got them two.


“Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” – DMX (from their album, “…And Then There Was X.”
But how perfect would it have been if it came from their record “Year of the Dog… Again?”
I know, right?

Their mother was rescued and when they had her on the table to spay her, they realized that she was pregnant.  She delivered five pups (four boys and a girl, all black with white markings except for one of the boys) just a few days later.  We met them when they were just under three weeks old and have been going to visit every weekend for the past six weeks.  We watched them grow and play with their litter mates and learn from their mama.  Incidentally, she and I were quite simpatico because we were both always bitching about having five kids who always wanted or needed something from us.  Solidarity, sister.

We were originally drawn to the girl puppy, but she ended up acting all uppity when we visited her.  I was much more drawn to two of the boys.  We went back and forth on the idea of one puppy versus two, but we opted for the double whammy mainly because people told us that they would keep each other company.  We also figured that, with our five kids, we would need more dogs to go around.  I know what you’re thinking… why not just get one for each?  But I emphatically drew the line at two.

They had to stay with their mom while they nursed and foster mom until they got neutered, which was last Thursday.  The rules of the rescue organization state that they could come live with us once they had a successful recovery from surgery.  So yesterday, on our last day of Spring Break, we all hopped into our XL vehicle, loaded a giant dog crate in the back, and headed over to the Chattahoochee River Club to pick up the newest members of our family.

And now, 24 hours later, with the kids all off at school and Sheepdog out of town all week for business, I am sitting here thinking, “What in the world did I get myself into?”  In my heart I know that we got these dogs because the experience will teach the kids responsibility and promote selflessness and there is nothing sweeter than a child and his or her dog(s).  But in my mind… let’s just say that it is very scary in there.  I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed and again like there is something wrong with me that I freak out when animals are actually living under my roof, despite my best efforts to be the willow.  I am definitely feeling much more like an unwavering oak.  Actually, it is kind of easy to feel like any kind of tree since two very active puppies are constantly peeing and pooping on me.

There is something seriously wrong with me.  I have decided that I am Spring Broken.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…