Sunday, November 01, 2015

Halloween Festivities

We hosted a Halloween party at our house this year, with each girl inviting up to 7 of her friends.

There are a few missing guests, but this was most of the party-goers.
The girls didn't have school on Friday, the day of the party, since it was the quarter break, so Lindsey's friend Ava came over and helped decorate. They put together a pretty amazing haunted house in Lindsey's bedroom.
Had to turn the light on to take the pic, but it was cool when it was pitch black.
The party was a blast, and the haunted house a huge hit. Marissa and her friends would gingerly step into the room, then one of them would scream and the others would join in and they would all run out. Then they would laugh and say, "Let's do it again!"

They played ghosts in the graveyard, despite the light rain, and nibbled on snacks.

The next night was Halloween. Lindsey planned a group costume with her best buds. They call themselves the Four Musketeers, so they decided to dress the part.

The four of them trick-or-treated a route that went between all their homes, ending at her friend Ellie's house, with stops for hot chocolate and cupcakes on the way. I didn't see them all night until Lindsey got home after her festivities.

Marissa dressed up as a police woman and I took her trick-or-treating with her friend Erika, the vampire. Erika's mom and I visited along the way while the girls hit house after house.

It was a beautiful evening with a bit of a chill in the air. The two girls took in quite a loot. The trading continued into the next morning.

Marissa's candy is in the shape of an "M."
They have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to turn in for money. They get $4 for each pound of candy they turn in, a pretty good deal for a kid.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wanna go for a run?

My family had a dog when I was a child. I was 5 when we got him and 19 when he died.  He was pretty much my childhood dog.

He was a golden retriever named Captain and was the nicest, sweetest tempered dog. My dad wanted a golden because he wanted a hunting dog, and Captain happily obliged. They went grouse and pheasant hunting, sometimes catching the occasional rabbit.

The night before a hunting trip my dad would pull his hunting gear out of the closet, the blaze orange hat, heavy overalls, the gun in the gun case. Captain would circle him and leap for joy in his excitement. When Dad would get up at some ungodly hour Captain would already be up waiting for him -- my dad joked that Captain didn't sleep all night he was so excited to go.

My dad and Captain out in the field
This memory came to me today as Wayne was preparing to go for a run. He disappeared downstairs to stretch for 30 minutes as he always does before running. Within minutes Beauty had trotted downstairs to join him. She licked his face when he got down to her level to stretch, she circled him and leaned against him, knocking him off balance as he did one-legged squats. I finally took her upstairs so he could finish stretching in peace.

Eventually Wayne re-appeared in running gear and with her harness.

"Hey girl, wanna go for a run?" he said, and Beauty leaped for joy.

He leashed her up and off they went for 50 minutes and 7 miles. Yes, 7 miles in less than an hour, meaning they were running an average of a 7:10 pace. One of the miles they clocked a 6:30 pace, and that was when Wayne said she finally began "running" and not "trotting."

"That girl is too fast for her own good," he said when they returned, both of them hot despite the 45 degree temperature, and a little breathless.

I think Wayne has finally found someone in the family as fast as he is, and Beauty has discovered that she's a runner.

Beauty circles the chair while Wayne gets his shoes on. He's not leaving the house without her.

Getting her harness on.
Ready to run!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Fart Story

My dad loves fart stories. He has his whole life -- he has never outgrown the idea that fart are absolutely hilarious. This trait may have been passed on to his daughters.

The other day, when dad was having a particularly bad day from the side effects of chemo, I told him the following story:

Last weekend we had our first fire in the fire place for the season. We don't know if Beauty's ever been around a fire, and she seemed quite anxious. We were accustomed to our sweet dog Dax, whose dog bed was perennially placed right in front of the fireplace, where he could be warm and cozy when a fire was roaring.

Beauty, on the other hand, was quite concerned about the fire. She did not want to go near it, even into her cozy dog bed. We pulled her bed several feet into the room, then throughout the course of the evening pulled it closer and closer to the fire, until she was finally right in front of the fire grate.

She snuggled down and seemed content.

But then we learned she was not.

I was sitting in a chair right next to the fireplace, and let out quite an audible fart.

At the sound, Beauty leapt up like something bit her, her tail down, ears back. She glanced back at the fire, then scurried up the stairs.  She spent the rest of the evening sleeping on Lindsey's bed.

Clearly she believed my gas was from that ominous fire. We all laughed uproariously. Tears rolled down our cheeks and we clutched our guts in laughter.

I told this story to my dad, and he responded in kind: He dropped the phone in laughter. It was perfect. Clearly the best remedy for a day when he wasn't feeling his greatest.

I think I'll hold on to all my fart stories until the days he's not feeling well.

Friday, October 23, 2015

PsychoKiller Dog

We have a killer on our hands. A psychokiller, to be exact.

A decimator of fluff. Of squeakers. Of yarn and string and rubber.

A toy killer, to be precise.
She looks the part, doesn't she?

This dog goes through toys like water.

Wayne and I had both had forgotten what it was like to have a young dog, a playful, energetic dog who leaps, bounds and runs to her heart's content.

If we don't have squeaky toys and chew toys at hand, we must prepare to have other items chewed to satisfy her need.

Stuffed toys last approximately 2.5 days -- or an hour, depending on the quality. Wayne decided to buy an expensive "indestructible" toy, which lasted all of one evening. Fifteen dollars down the drain. Or rather, strewn across the living room carpet.

Several of the girls' stuffed animals have seen their last days, thanks to Beauty's sharp teeth.

The other evening I came home from work to find that it had snowed in our living room. A fluffy, sparse snow that covered our carpet in eclectic little pieces.

Merry Christmas! Kind of.

I believe that was the $15 toy. Or maybe the $7 one. I'm not quite sure which amount of money was destroyed that day.

If we don't buy toys, we need to know that other items in our house will see their end. Like her more expensive dog bed. Or a beloved stuffed animals meant for little girls.  Or the couch.

If anything, it's finally teaching the girls to pick up after themselves, unless they don't want to see their prized possessions in one piece again.

Un-stuffing the turkey. It didn't make it to Thanksgiving.
She's a killer all right.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Happy 20th anniversary to us!
Our 20th anniversary date passed with a quiet dinner at home with the family. Our table was adorned with a beautiful fall bouquet of flowers and an exchange of cards. We were treated to special cards from our girls and an awesome Powerpoint that our oldest put together on the fly, celebrating our big anniversary. It was very sweet and very quiet.

We had bigger things up our sleeves.

The following weekend we flew to Chicago in time for dinner reservations at Benny's Chop House, one of Chicago's fantastic steakhouses, walking distance from our hotel. We dressed up, I in a new autumn-orange dress, Wayne in a shirt and sports coat. Yes, he finally recently purchased his first sports coat since burgundy fabric was in style.

Our dinner was absolutely divine. We had a nice little table to ourselves; it felt like we were the only people in the place. I had a scallop with my steak which was one of the best I've ever had. We shared a side of brussel sprouts and baked potato and sipped at a bottle of cabernet.

We ended the evening with a nightcap in the bar while a songstress played the piano and crooned tunes familiar to us both.

It was so relaxing, so wonderful to go back to a hotel room that we had all to ourselves.

An absolutely stunning autumn day in Chicago.
The next day we walked down to Millennium Park to check out the Bean -- I mean, Cloud Gate -- and some other art. There was also a little set up going on for a little event that was taking place Sunday morning.

Does that sign say "Start?"
We had a nice dinner at the restaurant at our hotel called Joe Fish which, ironically, was an Italian restaurant. We had their famous meatballs and some wine, then went to bed early.

Ah yes, that little event they were setting up for...the Chicago marathon.

Seriously, what couple do you know celebrate their anniversary by going to another city for one to run and the other to cheer a marathon? Just us.

Wayne left before the sun was up to get to his starting corral. There were 45,000 runners in this marathon and Wayne was concerned that he was going to be stuck in a pack of runners. Luckily, he got an ideal assignment of Corral A, just behind the elite runners, thanks to a previous marathon finish of 3:09. He had no problems breaking out of the crowd to run his own pace.

I, on the other hand, had problems seeing him. I had underestimated how big the race was. Unlike the Twin Cities marathon, where you could always count on a little break in the runners to jaunt across the course, there was no space to cross the course. The only way to get around it to see a runner at a different mile marker was to use subway tunnels or literally run along with the runners until you crossed the street, both of which I did.

Runners filled the street from curb to curb.
I kept missing him at every mile marker. Finally I was at mile 12 well before he should have gone by. I watched the fastest runners go by, then some more, and more. I cheered, all the time scanning the crowd for him or for his familiar pace.

Suddenly my phone buzzed -- I got a text message that he had just crossed the half marathon mark, a mile down the way from me. He must've run past and I didn't see him in the crowd.

After that I gave up trying to see him and instead went to a Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast and hot coffee. I wandered back down to Millennium Park where the finish was and waited in the sunshine for the text message that would tell me he crossed the finish line. (Isn't technology wonderful?)

The walking wounded after the fnish line, some with beers in hands.
Wayne finished with a time of 3:38:01, another Boston qualifying time, and under his goal of 3:40. We were able to meet up at the finish and walked back to the hotel together, giving his cramping legs the stretch needed to loosen up.

He cleaned up and we had a celebratory lunch of fish n'chips and beer, then off to the airport to catch our plane.

Short but sweet. A unique and fun way to celebrate 20 years together.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Moms Really Mean When They Say "I Have to Poop"

Credit to
When my husband and I were first dating and we spent time with my family, he was always a bit befuddled by my mom's need to announce her bodily functions.

"Well, I'm going to go sit a bit," she would state, and march off to the bathroom.

"That's more than I need to know," he would say to me, and we would go on doing whatever we were doing.

It didn't make much sense to me until we had kids.

It began with our first-born, who was crawling at the time and was attached to me every waking moment. The three of us were sitting around one Sunday morning, relaxing while she played happily on the floor. I suddenly knew I had to use the bathroom and yet, if I left the room, I would have a baby crawling after me,

"I'm going to use the bathroom," I told my husband. This was my subtle way of telling him that he was on parent duty and needed to entertain the baby, or at least keep her from following me. He looked at me like, "That's more than I need to know," but said, "Okay...."

I went upstairs and started doing my business and within 30 seconds there was a baby outside the bathroom, crying and pounding on the closed door.

"Wayne!" I yelled down the stairs through the closed door. "Get the baby!"

Apparently I needed to be more direct than subtle.

It has not improved over the years. When our dog Dax needed to be let out, he would whine and pace outside the closed bathroom door, while other family members walked around him, ignoring his pleas to be let outside.

I've had homework slid under the door to me to be checked. I've had children outside the door, telling me about their day. It. Can't. Wait. Another. Minute.

I've yelled instructions to people through the door because apparently they can't figure out what needs to be done without my assistance.

"Will someone please let the dog out?"
"Will someone get the telephone?"
"Marissa, are you getting your shoes on?"

I swear I have not had an uninterrupted bowel movement in my own home for 12 years now. It's not like I go frequently or for long periods of time. It's just that the minute I need to go, someone needs something that only mom can handle.

"Mom! Lindsey pushed me!"
"Mom! Marissa pulled my hair!"
"Mom! I can't find my [insert item name here]."
"Mom, can you help me get something down from the cupboard?"

That last one was the final straw. I washed up and went downstairs to help said child get something from a cupboard out of her reach, only to discover that my husband was IN THE KITCHEN right next to the cupboard where the desired item was.

You got me out of the bathroom for this?

Now, everyone in our house knows that when I say "I need to use the bathroom for a bit" it means "leave mom the fuck alone."

And I am also in the habit of announcing when I have to go, just like my mom, so that everyone knows that I am unavailable for the next 3 to 5 minutes.

I now understand how it is we turn into our mothers when we become moms ourselves.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Smidge of Hypocrisy

Not Beauty, but could be.
We had only had Beauty a few days when we encountered our first case of breed discrimination.

Beauty had met a few dogs in the neighborhood and got along with them. We had also been told that she was GREAT with other dogs, so we decided to take her to the dogpark one night. We wanted to make sure she stayed socialized with other dogs, unlike our previous dog, Dax.

I've never gone to a dog park before so I didn't know what to expect. We unleashed her and she took off like a bolt to the other dogs, then stopped abruptly when she reached them. She sniffed, they sniffed, they circled each other, then went romping off. They played tug of war with toys, dug holes, and ran around together, sniffing leaves and dirt.

There were several dogs including a corgi, a huge rottweiler and a sundry of mixed breeds, all of whom were well-behaved and having fun.

Then a man entered the park with his golden retriever. The golden met the rottweiler at the door and before 2 seconds had passed there was a snarling dogfight. The owners separated them and let them meet again with the same result. The woman with the rottweiler left the park, apologizing for her dog's behavior, saying she had never seen her dog fight with another dog before.

The man let his golden go and this time a fight ensured between the golden and a large white mixed breed. Again, the white dog had been in the park with everyone else for 10 minutes or more already with no issues.

Finally the man dragged this golden by the collar over to a bench and sat down, holding his animal back from every dog that came near. Each dog that came within distance of the golden was growled at in a menacing, non-playful way.

Once seated, the man began taking assessment of all the other dogs in the park. At this time there were probably 5 or 6 other dogs with a similar number of humans wandering about. He takes a look at Beauty and asks loudly, "Who brought the pitbull?"

I was not within earshot and did not hear him ask this question, but Lindsey was close enough and heard the entire tirade.

"I HATE pitbulls! Whoever brought the pitbull should take it out of the park. I was attacked by a pitbull two weeks ago. A person shouldn't have to walk down the street with a baseball bat to defend himself from one of those dogs."

All this time, Beauty is happily running about with the other dogs, while he has to hold his golden back from attacking every four-legged creature in the place.

I heard one of the other dog owners say, "Dude, there are kids here. Knock it off." I don't know what was said, if he had sworn during his tirade or had continued his bad-mouthing of Beauty, but no one else in the park appreciated what he was saying. I could tell something was being said, but was too far away to hear and didn't really want to know.

We decided that Beauty had had enough exercise and it was starting to drizzle, so we leashed her up to leave. I looked around and saw that everyone else was leaving the park, too. Every single person.

Everyone but the guy with the golden.

I don't know if they all walked out with us as a show of solidarity, or if the rain was driving them away as well. I would like to think the former.  Rain or not, no one wanted to be left in the park with the attack dog.

I hadn't even thought of how others may view her when we decided to get her. Even with animals, some humans tend to judge based on appearance and not on behavior. Such a shame.