Saturday, September 29, 2012

Just Say No!

Remember that Jim Carrey movie "Yes Man"?  Me neither.  Jim Carrey is something I tolerate in micro amounts, like cough medicine or crack.  But the premise of the movie - about a guy who says yes to everything in order to break free from his rut - has rattled around my brain this week.  I believe the movie sends the wrong message for the ADD audience.  We already say yes waaaaaayyyyyy too much.  We need to practice our "no, sirs" and "no ma'ams" and "you've got to be freakin' kidding me-s."

Take this week, for instance.  I found myself pricing kid clothes for a bi-annual consignment sale that I usually attend at a time when, really, I had zero free time.  In one day, I managed to double-book myself three times!  Drop off clothes at sale.  Volunteer at the book fair.  Get my daughter to piano.  Drive back to school for Open House.  Sprint to the sale to get first dibs on cheap clothes.  The family didn't eat until 8:00 and it was definitely 10:00 before the kids finally settled in bed.  I think I took that 70s women's lib idea of "having it all" a little too seriously.  This is crazy living.  In the mean time, every spare second that I had I spent designing a program for a literary festival (volunteer work) and grading papers that I'm dragging my feet to finish.  And prepping for class.  And getting up two-three times a night for puppy duty.  Generally, I'm a slow-moving, contemplative creature.  This pace might make havoc with my metabolism. 

I remember a night, back in my twenties when I still worked retail at a local bookstore, when I complained to a friend that I felt overwhelmed with obligations.  Most of these were social, so really, what was I complaining about?  Being popular?  Poor thing!  But, my friend (who was a wise old 35-year-old) told me, in response, that her favorite word was "No!" and that I needed to practice saying it.

Isn't it funny (re: sad) that we are often doomed to repeat our silly mistakes.  Here I am, almost twenty years later, still saying yes too many times.  To appease and please.  To feel good about myself.  To assuage guilt.  To build up my resume.  To make a little extra cash.  Meanwhile, what will my kids remember of me when they are my age?  Mommy was always rushing off somewhere.  Or, Mommy was always on the computer finishing work.  Well, I say "You've got to be freakin' kidding" to that. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Add Puppy. Stir.

Charlie, the hell terrier, has been just the ingredient of chaos my household needed to send us spiraling out of control early into the school year.  Last night the kids got to bed close to 9:30 not because they were super procrastinaty (which they were), but because Charlie kept stealing my son's socks, which led to a giant game of chase.  Every time I'd wrestle the sock away, my son would "accidentally" drop it near the dog again. My daughter, always looking for a distraction from homework, will pick Charlie up and start swaying her, singing "Oh puppy, puppy, puppy." Yes, she's still friggin' adorable (and resting in a ball in my lap, so never fear, dear reader).  Yes, we intend to keep her and train her and we'll all adjust in due time.  Right?

Part of the problem is us, and by us I mean my husband and myself.  In an effort to get some bloody sleep at night, we made a cardinal error.  We invited the little bugger into our bed.  This was a terrible decision.

We initially wanted to crate train her to sleep through the night, but here's what happened with that:
  1. She whimpered.
  2. She cried.
  3. She screeched.
  4. She howled.
  5. She peed.
She hated her crate.  Hated.  It.  Dogs are supposed have a den instinct, but I suspect Charlie's former owners - the lovely ones who dumped her on the side of I64 at rush hour - may have abused the crate, putting her in for long periods without a break.  We just wanted some sleep.  That's all.  (Side note: our five-year-old still comes to our bed and on occasion, so does our eight-year-old.  A crib.  A crate.  It's all the same to old softy-pants over here.  Cries mean torture and that's not happening in our house.  Yes, I see the error in this logic.) The problem was that Charlie would wake up, one of us would take her out, then she'd come back to bed ready to play and bite our faces.  We were/are utterly sleep deprived.  Not a good situation for the chronically ADD.

According to my ADD bibles - You Mean I'm Not Crazy, Lazy and Stupid and the website ADDitude, sleep disturbances can really mess with one's ADD.  Just yesterday in one of the classes I teach, I called Amelia, who I normally call "Alicia," "Maria." I was so tired I couldn't even get the wrong name right! 

Here's the four most common sleep disturbances that ADDitude associates with ADD/ADHD:

1. Initiation Insomnia - That's going to sleep, in other words.  Puppy makes me anxious about rolling over on her, biting me or attacking my underwear under the covers, therefore, I don't fall asleep easily.  Also known as "resentment insomnia."

2. Restless Sleep - Puppy's presence in bed does not allow me to ever get comfortable as I sleep defensively with blanket around head.  And face.  I know puppy will wake up needing to pee, or having already peed on the comforter.  I sleep with one eye open.
3. Difficulty Waking- Not a problem as I never actually sleep.
4. Intrusive Sleep - Puppy is everywhere: in my face, on my back, licking my arms, chewing my hair.  I will never touch my husband again.

But . . . when my husband picked up the pooch the other night, holding her above his head and yelled profanities at her - frustration born from three weeks of little to no sleep - I knew I needed to step up.

Thanks to my friend First Laura, I discovered this awesome puppy training site: The House Breaking Bible.  I read over it twice and found great tips on crate acclimation.  So, when my husband got home late last night, he found the kids and me playing Headbanz while Charlie looked on from her crate.

"I'm taking over," I told him.

"I'm glad someone is."

So, last night I slept in the basement guest room with puppy in her crate.  My big girl Lucy joined us in the adjoining room.  Once I covered up the crate with a blanket, guess what?  That girl was QUIET!! Yes, I still needed to get up and take her outside to pee 3 times (I even set my alarm, but she beat me to the punch each time -- I reset the times so I can beat her to it tonight.  The goal is to get her out before she whimpers so she'll go back to sleep easier.), but it was big vats of improvement over the night and weeks before.  Instead of the hour of settle down time it used to take after a pee break, Charlie settled into her blanket-covered crate, whimper until she heard me say QUIET four or five times and sleep.  I actually got sleep last night!  It was crazy, interrupted sleep, but it wasn't the kind of sleeping-with-one-eye-open-for-fear-of-being-chewed-on sleep I had started to get used to!

What do I win?  I'll share my trophy with First Laura and my Facebook friends who fled to my rescue yesterday with advice and names of accredited trainers.  You guys rock!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trampled By Tweens

A few weeks ago I had two tween encounters that left me shaky.  Shaky as in I'm not going to allow my children to go through puberty.  Ever.

I found myself pretty much in the middle of tween twins, but the first incident was all my impulsive, vigilante doing. 

A little background.  I am a short woman, topping out at 5 feet and 3/4 of an inch.  I'm grasping onto that portion of an inch.  I also am fairly introverted.  The snark flies in my writing, but in person not so much unless there's a Negra Modela in my hand.  My next door neighbor - also a tiny woman - had told me about a bullying incident involving her neighbor on the other side of her house.  He's a middle school kid in a new foster home (or just adopted).  He's brawny, but sweet.  Apparently four kids harassed him on the walk home from school so he was carrying a rock the size of my head as protection.  Enter me, next day.  Quiet, short me.  The neighbor kid was walking home, in the middle of the street, and as I walked to my car he muttered, "They're throwing rocks at me."  He didn't seem overly concerned, but I think he was trying to act tough.  Quiet, short me decided this was not acceptable (and it isn't, people!), so I marched around my car right over to the four bully tweens and said something stupid like, "Is there a problem here?"  Let me just say that I'm terrible at confrontations and not so awesome at ad-libbing and here I was, doing both.  All four kids towered over me.  At least one had dreadful acne.  The rock thrower feigned ignorance, wearing his backpack strap across his face, and had the gall to tell me my neighbor was his friend.  He and one other kid kept walking and laughing.  Two stayed behind.  One was a lawyer.  "I don't understand what you're saying, ma'am.  I didn't throw any rocks." Technically, he was right.  However, he was a rock-throwing accessory.  I didn't say that.  I just got heated up and talked complete smack.  And he called my bluff.  The end of the story is that my tiny next door neighbor talked to the parents of the kid who was bullied and he called the school.  I'm not sure I, myself, did any good.

Later that same day I walked over one block to an acquaintance's house to interview her for a piece I'm writing.  It was lovely.  The air was slightly breezy and not too hot.  We sat on the porch and had a nice conversation. 

Then her twins came home. 

Once again, I found myself surrounded by tweens who were a head taller than me. Before I knew it, one twin had her arm around me and was calling me her best friend. She told me she liked my "pouffy" hair.  She was pressuring me to eat ice cream.  (Let me pause here to say, this was a way nicer scenario than the bully incident.)  I've listened to the interview on tape and I make a lot of uncomfortable laughs.  I felt like the butt of a joke, but it was confusing.  What was the joke?

To all of the middle school teachers out there who I know and love, and to those I don't know and therefore would be creepy to love, you are beyond saints.  I couldn't do what you do all day long, five days a week, 9 months of the year.  Thank you for what you do. 

I so owe you a Negra Modelo.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Puppies, Organization & Cleanliness: A Pro/Con List

Puppies have a very positive effect on organization and cleanliness
  • My kids have picked their toys up off the floor in every room of the house, as well as from all over the couch because Charlie has little needle teeth that chew Legos and Squinkies and Barbie clothes into tiny bits of uselessness.
  • Lucy, our 110 pound Saint Bernard mix, has been so stressed out about the new puppy that she has been drooling buckets of saliva and shedding tumbleweeds of fur all week, forcing me to mop and vacuum almost like a normal home dweller.
  • Charlie can't eat people food, adult dog food or household chemicals.  Charlie is not smart enough to know this.  We must keep these items off the floor and in their proper receptacles.
  • On the other hand, Charlie enjoys eating bugs so she is keeping the house moth/spider/fly free. 
  • Charlie is incredible cute, therefore making our chaotic house more stylish.  It's true.  I think they said that on House Hunters.
Puppies have a very negative effect on organization and cleanliness
  • I just carried my squirming, adorable puppy mid-giant-poop through the house in an effort to get her to squat on the training pad.  Somewhere between the living room and dining room, the poop sausage dropped and I squished barefoot and cussing right into it.  I got her to the pad after one more dropping next to the dining room table, but she just looked at me, bolted and crapped another load near the heating grate in the family room.
  • I've already spent my month's salary on Clorox wipes.
  • Now I have to start wearing slippers.
  • Slippers are not going to make the house more stylish.  That was on What Not To Wear. 

Look how clean that rug is!
Let's review:
  1. Puppies.  Cute (awwww).
  2. Puppies chew, therefore they demand cleaning and organizational diligence, thus providing a much needed impetus for the distracted and cluttered.
  3. I had poop between my toes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Road Trip + ADD = Rescue Dog

We were all exhausted.  My husband, the two kids and me.  Rick had driven 10 hours to DC for us to attend my cousin's daughter's wedding and then just three days later, turned around and headed back home.  The kids were so sleepy from playing with their buddy (we stayed at our friend First Laura's house and her 10-year-old son is like a rock star to my kids) and Smithsonian-ing and visiting with aunts and uncles that they didn't even want to watch movies on the travel DVD player.  They didn't want to talk.  They didn't even want to complain.  I kept drifting in and out of sleep, listening to the same damned Adele songs over and over as my daughter crankily controlled the music selections on her iPod.  It was a beautiful afternoon - some cloud coverage in the mountains, a little rain in spots, but mostly blue skies and green hills.  When we hit West Virginia, the trip was half over but felt like it would never end, just a steady bobbing up and down hills of highway.

"What was that?!" My husband was alarmed.  Having not noticed the brown bear road kill on the way up, I was not surprised that I missed whatever he saw, assuming it was another bear or possibly a kangaroo.  I'm not very observant.

"That was a puppy!"  He careened off the road onto the shoulder of I-64, jumped out of the van and took off running the direction from which we just came.

Bleary, I hopped out of the car and watched him go, one foot in the van to keep an eye on the kids . . . who were freaking out!  Fiona started crying, "I just want him to come back," and Toby mock-cried because his sister and father were both stealing his thunder and terrifying him. "I'm scared too," he said, forcing himself to tear up a little.

"If Daddy really did see a puppy, then we have a new pet!" I said, reassuring them and myself.  We had talked about wanting another dog as a companion for our 7 year old St. Bernard mix, Lucy.  We also decided it would be too much work.  As I waited for Rick to head back along the curve of interstate, I started worrying too.  Was he safe?  Would a semi hit him? Was this a trick and was he now being dragged into the woods?  A minute later, I saw my tall husband round the bend with something black cradled in his arms.  A bear? Possibly a kangaroo?

"If Daddy really did see a puppy, then we have a new pet!" 
I said, reassuring them and myself.

A smile broke out on my face.  It was a puppy!  A tiny black and tan bundle.  I reached out for her and showed her to the kids.  "Can we keep her?"  "Yes, of course."  She had been dumped on the side of the highway with an open bag of dog food and some sealed chew bones.  "What kind of person does this?" I texted First Laura.  "A monster with a lot of guilt?" she answered.

Since we found the puppy outside of Charleston, WV the kids have decided to name her Charlie.  We think she may be a Schnauzer.  The vet says she's perfectly healthy.

I'm thankful for my husband's ADD.  He noticed a tiny black and tan furball on the side of I-64 and now we have a new member of the family, Charlie our rescue dog.

Fifi with Charlie, the rescue dog