Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happiest Girl...

Married 12 YEARS! This calls for the dedication of a supremely cheesy yet very sweet song...

Skippidity doo-da

Thank you Lord for making him for me

And thank you for letting life turn out the way

That I always thought it could be

There once was a time when I could not imagine

How it would feel to say

I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beware the Nevi

Unfortunately, I grew up with the skewed belief that if I kept at it religiously, I would become a person who tanned well. This led to years of blistering sunburns. I read somewhere that each blistering sunburn increases your chance of getting skin cancer by like 900%, so it’s no surprise that in the past few years I’ve had several basal cell carcinomas freeze-dried off my face, shoulders, and back, each time leaving a small, shiny, white recessed scar. (I call my doctor Mr. Freeze, like the Batman villain. He seems to get a kick out of it.)

It’s a highly unpleasant process.

We watch my moles like hawks. In the past year, a freckle beneath my eyebrow started expanding like it was Napoleon and my face was continental Europe. So the doctor shot novocaine into my head, removed the thing with a scalpel, and sent it off to be biopsied.

“I’d be highly surprised if it’s melanoma,” he said.

Never say the word “melanoma” in front of a pale person whose major regret in life is that her vanity led her down the path of sunburns, sun rashes, and some dehydration that may have led to mass faintings. Especially is she has libertarian leanings. She’s liable to go all Yosemite Sam, shooting at the ground and vowing to destroy melanoma varmints like she did when she discovered the sudden appearance of an ugly black mole on her chin. Thankfully, her self-diagnosis proved the spot to be completely benign (chocolate cake batter) and a crisis was averted.

(If I could go back and kick 16-year old Holly’s skinny little a@$, I would. Then I’d douse her with SPF 30 and tell her to stop skipping gym class; she’s gonna fail the semester and have to make it up her senior year.)

Last week, a nurse called me with the biopsy results.

“Your biopsy came back. It showed a dysplastic compound nevi.”

There was a moment of panic. A dysplastic compound nevi sounded like major cause for concern. I glanced at my poor sweet children who were playing happily with blocks, completely oblivious to the fact that I was suffering from a dysplastic compound nevi. The sun kept shining, my neighbor kept mowing his lawn, the world kept rotating in spite of the fact that I was sitting there with a severe case of dysplastic compound nevi.

“Oh no,” I said.

“Nah, this is good. That’s just fancy terminology for a benign mole. No cancer. Okay?”

I strongly believe she should have led off with the benign mole bit.

Crisis averted again. I remain happy, relatively healthy, and pale. It’s disconcerting, however, that the husband doesn’t seem to understand that I have to lay pretty low for the next month or so. I had a dysplastic compound nevi surgically removed from my eye. Or above my eye. Same thing. It was traumatizing. I demand chocolate pudding and popsicles.

And sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Nighttime Visitor

Four children, and not one of them had ever crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night. Nor have they bounced on our bed on Christmas morning; they howl from their rooms, as if we’ve imprisoned them in there, “Waaaake uuuup!!! MOM! DAD!” Most consider us lucky, but I always felt like I was missing out on something. I like cuddling.

Two weeks ago, Daniel woke up in the middle of the night screaming. I walked in his room and he started blubbering about a weird noise, the rain, a bug, the rise of China and the threat of global warming. He was bereft. So I gathered him in my arms and brought him into our bed. He burrowed down into the covers and lay completely still, like a warm loaf of bread. He let out a tiny sigh, went to sleep, and stayed perfectly still until 7 in the morning.

It was glorious.

My other three children are cuddling failures. Caleb slept for the first four days of his life and then took up a hobby: screaming at the top of his lung until he turned purple for large portions of the day and night. He adamantly refused to go asleep on his own. He required to be moving in his swing at about 80 mph or bounced on my knees for a good half hour before he would drift off. Forget about trying to set him down. The moment he felt that easy drop toward his crib, he would wake up and passionately recite a speech by Benito Mussolini. My life had been taken over by a 10-pound fascist dictator with no teeth and a penchant for drooling.

For the first four months of his life, I ended up curled up on the couch with Caleb, where I lay perfectly still and came in and out of uneasy, murky sleep. Living a life in perpetual fear of waking your dictator child is not really a life at all; I had to break Caleb of his habit. Which was like trying to unseat Mussolini, minus the hanging bit.  Since then, Caleb has been a restless, twitchy sleeper who gets about seven hours of shut-eye a night and is not one for cuddling.

Ben’s a good sleeper- has been since day one. He’s squirmy, though. We shared a bed once, and I woke up in the middle of the night with his heel in my eye. I gently moved him back into position and woke up 20 minutes later with no covers and his other heel in my eye. I pity his future wife.

Ella is too social to cuddle. She wants to talk. And sing. And discuss plans for her birthday, which is seven months away. She wants to jump on the bed and tickle feet and recite a monologue by one Dora the Explorer. She wants to dabble in Spanish and make animal shadows on the wall. She wants to giggle, randomly, for no apparent reason. She wants to know where her twin is; she sleeps well next to him. She refuses to be still with the rest of us.

A few nights ago, Daniel came into our room and tapped me on the forehead until I woke up. I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He was upset about something. I grabbed him and he molded into the side of me and stayed there until the morning. He’s so squishy and soft.

Sadly, it hasn’t happened since, so I’ve been telling him some slight untruths. Like the following:

1. The book “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet” by Maurice Sendak is based on a true story.
2. So is “Where the Wild Things Are.”
3. Sharks swim in oceans, but occasionally make it to Lake Ontario. Occasionally.
4. The buzzing sound in his room is probably a nest of bees in between the rafters, but they won’t get in unless they find that tiny hole in the corner.
5. I don’t think his stuffed animals came alive at night and gave him that bruise on his leg, but I can’t be sure.
6. Sometimes mommy forgets to lock the front door, but bad guys only rob yellow houses. Our house is yellow? Well, I guess mommy should start locking the doors!
7. Sometimes dogs turn into werewolves in the middle of the night, but only dogs who live in yellow houses.
8. Come to think of it, yellow also attracts aliens. Maybe we should get new siding?
9. Did I ever tell you the story about when an alien stole me from my bed and took me to his planet and made me eat copious amounts of peas?
10. Yes, that’s why aliens are green. Because they eat a diet solely consisting of peas.

Any night now…

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Obedience School

Holly's Turn

Dog obedience training at the local community center was postponed a week due to inclement weather conditions. Last week, I went to an informational session without Kiah, which was nice because there were no children or dogs there. Just a bunch of harried looking dog parents with questions like “How can I get my dog to stop chasing my cat?” and “How can I get my dog to stop chasing the mailman?” and “How can I get my dog to stop chasing me?” The girl next to me was the frazzled owner of a young golden retriever. As I looked over our training materials, I commented that my dog was going to be the worst dog in the class. The girl next to me insisted her dog was going to be the worst dog in the class. The argument escalated from there, both of us stubbornly insisting we had the worst-trained dogs in the entire world. There was arm crossing and glaring. When your dog’s bad manners become a point of pride, something is wrong. It’s like bragging to New Yorkers that Rochester’s crime rate is higher than New York’s.

Anyway, yesterday was the big day. I dragged Caleb along. Walking into a room with nine other dogs, quite frankly, filled me with a lot of anxiety. Kiah used to be really good on the leash, but this past spring, she went rogue. It has become impossible to walk her. Last week, I had two elderly gentlemen say, “Who’s taking who for a walk? Ha ha ha.” Real original, guys. Real original.

Kiah pulled on her leash and started walking on her hind legs, as she is apt to do when I won’t allow her to just run up to a strange dog. Caleb grinned as I pleaded with Kiah to behave herself.

All in all, the session went pretty well. Our first lesson was to teach the dog not to pull on the leash. Then we worked on sit and topped if off with the more advanced sit/stay combination. Kiah is a smart girl and catches on quick; I just need to be more consistent. One thing I’m really good at is the high-pitched gushing that dogs respond so well to. I was praised for my dog-praising technique, which consists of baby-talk and lots of scratching behind the ears. I say things like, “She’s such a good shmooki lovey boo boo doggie woggy yes her is and I loves her! Yes I do! I loves her!” Caleb rolls his eyes at me when I talk like that.

“That’s kind of embarrassing, mom.”

“Yeah, well, you loved it when you were four months old.”

“I doubt it,” he says.

The last ten minutes are dedicated to free play, which means the owners let their dogs off their leashes and allow them to run around the gym to sniff one another’s butts. I’m a little surprised this is legal in the state of New York. The trainer explained the rules for free play. She called the most submissive dogs to the center of the gym first, followed by more friendly dogs, followed by the most dominant dogs.

Molly, a meek black lab, went first. After she was let off her leash, Molly ran with her tail between her legs to a corner, cowered, and shook like a leaf. Next went Jenny, a yippy terrier. She stood in the middle of the gym and, well, yipped. Brody the chocolate lab went next. The two Codys were called, as well as the golden retriever puppy.

Kiah was called last.


The alpha dog went last.

We have a lot of work to do these next few months.

Kiah’s Turn

Last night, my non-fuzzy adopted mother and my non-fuzzy adopted brother accompanied me to a special program that trains adults to perform tricks while we canines watch them with amusement. Watching my non-fuzzy mother jumping up and down like an imbecile because I sit is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Yes, I can sit! I’ve always been able to sit. Why we’re celebrating this now is beyond me, but okay. It seems to make her happy, so I acquiesce.

There were so many other dogs there! I sniffed everyone’s butt. Every single one. There was this little tiny dog there; I’ve never seen anything like her. I took my paw and pushed her and sure enough, she kind of fell on her side. So I stepped on her, you know, just to let her know I was big and important and she was small and insignificant. Holly was mortified. She pulled me away and said, “No Kiah. Play nice.” The funny thing is, even though Holly’s bigger than I am, and I mean big- the woman is enormous- she has never pushed me over and stepped on me.

She is an inferior being.

We did a lot of walking around in circles. I’ve always been a proficient circle walker, but Holly felt she needed the practice, so we trotted around and the trainer scrutinized Holly to make sure she was performing well. She wasn’t. She was pretty much the worst walker in the class. It was kind of sad.

Then, the canines were taught how to train our non-fuzzy parents to jump up and down and make ridiculous noises when we sat and stayed. If you have the opportunity to try this at home, I highly recommend it. Watching grown men and women say things like, “She’s such a good shmooki lovey boo boo doggie woggy yes her is and I loves her! Yes I do! I loves her!” is a good time. It’s hard to believe this is the species that created the wheel, modern medicine, and those wonderful chew toys they call Nerf.

Before we left, everyone went leash-free and we had an official butt-sniffing convention. Brody peed on the side of the wall. I think he was trying to prove something, so I knocked him over and stepped on him. Holly kept trying to make me act in a manner to which I am not accustomed, and she knows I hate that. I think she’s jealous because I am social and loved by everyone, and she’s kind of shy and awkward and let’s face it, ridiculous with that high-pitched voice. I don’t know why she was even there. She did not sniff one butt. It was kind of rude.

We have a lot of work to do these next few months.