Archive for March, 2007

About 5:20 this morning I woke up for whatever reason and the first thing that hit me was the distinct smell of shit.

I opened my eyes and sniffed again.

Oh yeah, that’s shit all right.

I peered over the side of the bed and saw Molly laying there, sacked out next to the bed as usual.  Apparently the guilt over causing such a heinous odor was not keeping her awake.  I knew it was Molly before I got out of bed, put my robe on and walked into the living room to see the huge pile of crap she had deposited on the carpet.  This was not any crap, mind you.  It was the wettest, most foul smelling pile I have ever had the displeasure of cleaning up at 5:30 in the morning.

Of course Nathan had to share in the displeasure.  He got out of bed and retrieved our steam cleaner, which thank God we have or else I would have spent the rest of the morning alternating between wanting to puke and wanting to kill my dog as I tried to scrub the carpet clean.

So our morning was effectively ruined since we couldn’t really get back to sleep after cleaning up the mess.  Instead we lay in bed and talked about what the hell Molly’s problem is and how she’s going to deal with a house guest all next week.  Ryan and Marla are leaving town and we’re watching their dog Riley.  Nathan’s working from home all week in an effort to minimize Molly’s trauma and the damage to our new furniture.  Riley would have no qualms about settling in our nice, new blue couches.

And I really think that’s Molly’s problem right now.  The furniture.  We took her couches away, the couches that reeked of her scent, and replaced them with new ones that smell nothing like her and that she’s not allowed to enjoy.  She’s no longer allowed on the bed because she destroyed two flat sheets this past week and we’re putting her in a cage whenever we go out now.

I try to keep all this in mind while hoping these behavior issues will pass, but when you wake up before 5:30 in the morning and smell shit, the first thing you think is, “I hate that dog.”


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As promised, here are the pictures of the finished basement.

First, let me show you what it looked like before

These pictures were actually taken three years ago when I went through the house for the inspection before we bought it.  All that furniture and the pictures on the wall belong to the people who owned the house before us, as does the cat in the second picture.  I never took more pictures of the basement after we moved in because it quickly became cluttered and was more or less used for storage.  We certainly did not spend a lot of time down there.

Here’s what it looks like now:

We committed a decorating faux pas by painting over the wallpaper, but it was intentional and so much easier than trying to pull the paper off.  I’m a little foggy on the decorating details since we’re the third family to inhabit this house, but from what I understand the owners who lived here before us loved wallpaper.  Just about every room in the house had some sort of wallpaper when we moved in.  Even our garage is completely wallpapered with a hideous collage of Pandas playing with beach balls.

All that wallpaper wouldn’t have been a problem if the walls had been properly sized.  I knew nothing about hanging wallpaper and sizing walls and such until I tried to take down the wallpaper in the master bedroom.  Much of the drywall paper came off as we tried to strip the walls of paper and soon realized we had a bigger job on our hands than we originally thought.  The walls in the bedroom still don’t look right, but it’s our room and we don’t much care.  I imagine we’ll have to fix it if we ever want to sell though.

Nathan has since repainted the downstairs bathroom, another project that involved stripping wallpaper and much profanity.  That one did not turn out as expected and we will, at some point, repaint and rethink our vision for that room.  Now that the snow has melted we get to concentrate on our yard, what little of it we have.

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Family stones

My dad has not yet passed the kidney stone and my mother has had her fill of him.  She called early this morning and left a message on my cell asking if we wanted to meet her for dinner at our favorite Chinese buffet.  I called her on the way to work and told her that sounded like a great idea.

Before we ended the call my mother suggested I call my dad around 9:00 and see how he’s doing.  “Then call me and tell me how he’s doing because I don’t want to talk to him.”

“Is it that bad?” I asked.

“This morning he told me I was talking too loud,” she said.  “He had a headache.”

I wanted to suggest we be understanding because neither of us has ever passed a kidney stone, but the conversation was steered back to Chinese food and I didn’t get a chance.

“I’m not even going home on lunch. I’m staying right here at work,” she continued.  “He’s difficult on a normal day. You can’t imagine how horrible it is to be with him right now,” she said.

Nathan passed a stone a few years ago so I kind of do know how she feels, but neither men are about to get much sympathy from two women who have gone through the pain of childbirth.

Though I have heard, for a man, passing a kidney stone is about the closest thing to that kind of pain they can experience.

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In my room

Yesterday afternoon my mother called just before I left work to tell me my dad had to go to the hospital for an ultrasound because he might have apendicitis and could I please let Daisy out at 7:00? Daisy is their Cocker Spaniel and has lately been suffering from the same affliction as Molly; Squatus Oncarpetus.

It turns out my dad just had a kidney stone. I say “just” because I’ve never had to pass one, but a kidney stone sounds a lot better than apendicitis. At 7:00 I drove the four minutes from my house to my parents to let the dog out. Whenever I walk into my parents house the first thing I do is check for the goodies above the fridge. There were some there, but not as many as usual because my dad was just recently diagnosed with diabetes, so as soon as I let Daisy out I proceeded to paw through their snacks.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in that house alone, so while Daisy was outside I took my mom’s bag of cheeze curls and walked from room to room. I was especially interested in my old bedroom. I never get to go in that room anymore because it has pretty much become an extension of my mother’s closet and she hates it when we go in there. It’s also the local warehouse for QVC merchandise and it’s nigh impossible to even open the door to look inside. To be totally honest, it was no cleaner when I lived there so I can’t really say much about it.

My first impression was how small the room was. Sure there was clutter scattered everywhere, but it was obvious to me that Autumn’s room was quite a bit longer than my old room. Autumn only has one window in her room while my old room has two, but the difference in size was noticeable. And I had always believed Autumn’s room to be small.

The thing that got me the most was the twin bed. The low, narrow twin bed that was only as high as my knee. I used to sleep in that? Really? Nathan and I used to fool around in that bed? Granted we were a lot younger and a lot smaller, but holy crap.

With the exception of said tiny bed, the furniture in that room was my mother’s when she was growing up. She had a full-sized four-poster complete with a canopy that I inherited when I was young. The four-poster was eventually replaced by the wee twin bed, but the dresser with the mirror and the dresser with the hutch remain. The nightstand has somehow disappeared. My mother thinks my brother may have taken it, but so far it hasn’t turned up in his old room or where he’s living now. I have the feeling it will be found some day when my mother finally gets around to having that huge garage sale I’ve been begging her to do for years.

I know my mother would love nothing more than to see her granddaughter use her old bedroom set, but every time she mentions using it I hem and haw because I’ve always been sure it would never fit in Autumn’s room. It also isn’t exactly what I’d buy Autumn if I was going to spring for an entire bedroom set. We did buy her an amoire, changing table and crib, but we bought them knowing we’d probably wind up replacing them as she got older. They’re functional, plain and, best of all, they were cheap as far as baby furniture goes.

As I looked at the room, I remembered how much that furniture meant to me as a kid and thought perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to at least bring the twin bed home when Autumn outgrows her crib.  Of course the bed doesn’t go with her current bedroom set so I might as well take the dresser as well.  I looked at the mirror on the dresser and saw the labels my mother had cranked out on one of those dial-a-letter label makers that you never see anymore.  The name “BRUCE” was pressed into a strip of orange acrylic label and stuck to the top left corner of the mirror.  On the top right corner was the name “MARY.”  My mother had probably put those there when she was dating my dad and still living with her parents.

In the middle of those two names, on a clear sticker was my name printed in dark script.  I remember those stickers.  I went through a sticker phase and my grandparents gave me pages of them with my name printed on them in all sorts of fonts.  I stuck my name on the mirror in an effort to lay claim to it as my mother had.

I’m starting to think it would be cool to bring that furniture home.  Not only does it hold lots of memories for me, it holds a lot for my mom.  It would also be a great way for her to finally clean up that room.

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We took Autumn to the Frederick Meijer Gardens on Friday to see the butterflies. Every spring they ship in thousands of butterflies which flit and flutter inside a humid tropical paradise. The exhibit attracts about 150,000 visitors every year. This was the first time we visited and Autumn was mildly interested in the different sizes and colors of butterflies. Afterwards, I felt our money could have been better spent elsewhere, but we got out of the house for a bit and that was good. It’s really very warm inside the conservatory and they don’t let you bring in strollers, so I think the exhibit is best experienced by children who are young enough to be thrilled yet old enough so that you don’t have to carry them everywhere.

I took quite a few pictures and a few minutes of video, but my favorite picture of the bunch wasn’t of a butterfly.

She was just sitting there like that on Nathan’s lap, her little hand on her chin like she was deep in thought. It’s moments like these that keep me addicted to taking pictures of her. I felt very lucky because the moment ended as soon as the shutter clicked.

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Puke and paint

Yesterday I had the day off and wouldn’t you know I got sick again.  Why is it I only get leaning-over-the-toilet-wishing-I-were-dead ill when I have vacation time?  The last time I was this sick was Christmas Day and the day after.  I have no idea what happened.  I never get sick like that and here we are less than three months later feeling just as miserable as before.  Thankfully I had only eaten a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin and not an entire holiday spread.  Made my job much easier this time.

I do have a theory that perhaps Autumn is contributing to the frequency of my sickness.  She’s a toddler and touches everything and I have to admit I’m not as vigilant about washing her hands as I should be.  Add the other kids she hangs with at daycare into the mix and you’re looking at a whole mess of germs.  Note to self; pick up more Purell.

I was feeling much better last night after I begged Nathan to bring me home a ginormous Frosty from Wendy’s.  I’m trying not to indulge like that anymore, but seeing as the one thing I ate during the day made a return trip I felt I deserved a treat.  I was nearly recovered by the time I hit the sack last night, but I was mad about losing the day because I had plans to get so much done.  Our couches are being delivered tomorrow and I needed to shampoo the carpet because the odor of dog pee smacks you in the face as soon as you walk in the room.   I also needed to put the finishing touches on our fireplace.

Nathan painted the fireplace last weekend.  I was supposed to do it during my three days off this week, but I’m so glad he decided to do it when he did.  It turned out better than I could have imagined.  The website had all sorts of testimonials about how great this paint is, but I figured since we’re sloppy painters it would more or less come out looking like a Jackson Pollock experiment and not much more.  I should have given Nathan more credit.

Here’s the before:

Fireplace before

I didn’t get a chance to take the picture before Nathan had everything taped off, but you can pretty much get the idea how it looked.  The surly looking toddler at the bottom of the picture is holding a paintbrush but that is not fresh paint on it.  We’re not that stupid.

Now take a gander at the after:

Fireplace after
Is that not gorgeous? Nathan did a fantastic job and the color of the bricks compliments the new wall color so much better than the red did.  My only complaint is that I hung that wreath off center.  I’m not about to change it right now because hanging that thing involved drilling holes into the mortar and I think I’ve tapped into all the testosterone I’ve got right now.  Besides, there will probably be only a handful of people who will see it anyway.  Well, them and the internet.

There will be more photos to come as the room gets put together.  Have I mentioned that the couches arrive tomorrow?  Yes?  Well, I’m just really excited.  I feel like such a grown up.

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Ain’t misbehavin’

Twelve years ago when Nathan and I first moved in together I decided I wanted a cat. I could never have a cat growing up because my dad was allergic to them. I had this theory that in order to work myself up to actually caring for a human being I had to start with a cat. Cats were easy. They poop and pee in a litter box indoors (or so I thought) and were pretty self sufficient. I took in a stray at our apartment for a few days before reuniting him with his distraught owners and naturally thought I could take care of one of my own.

A year after we got the first cat came the second. You know how the first cat is dominant and asserts herself as the alpha in the mix? Totally did not happen at our place. Cat #1 was so damaged from whatever trauma she suffered before we came into the picture that she let that little pipsqueak run the place. He was like the abusive boyfriend who slaps you around for fun and then chills out on your couch for hours until he’s hungry or has to use the bathroom.

Then came Molly. Neither cat liked her, but getting a dog was the natural progression towards my assimilation to motherhood and so we got a puppy. A puppy who absolutely would not be house trained and at one time tried to dig her way to China via the mattress on our bed. Good times.

Molly was high maintenance, destructive and completely unpredictable. She’s everything I never wanted in a dog. We crated her for over a year because of the house training issue and simply because she couldn’t be trusted to have the run of our home when we weren’t there. After nine months of cleaning messes from the carpet and a failed attempt at obedience training, we shelled out $500 to have a specialist come to our house to work with our dog. I call this her “home schooling” period.

Since then she’s been a pretty good dog. She still has furniture issues, meaning she likes to shred cushions, so we’re really nervous about the two brand new couches that are to be delivered this week. She’s also been using the basement carpet for her personal toilet, so Nathan pulled the crate out of the rafters this weekend and set it up in the basement. She hasn’t had an accident since he set the crate up and he thinks Molly knows exactly what it is and what it’s used for. Just like the threatening thick, wooden bread board with the word “Welcome” painted on it that sat on our fireplace mantel when I was a kid. This is what happens to dogs that misbehave.

I’m trying very hard to be patient with the dog. We’ve had a lot of snow and I think she just didn’t want to go outside even though that’s exactly what dogs are supposed to do. It’s amazing that an animal who’s been known to eat dirty diapers can be so finicky about where she does her own business. Also there’s the whole issue with the child and how Molly’s world has never been the same since. So you see, the girl has issues.

Neither cats are with us anymore. For various reason we had to find other homes for them and I regret that I couldn’t follow through on the commitment I made to them when I brought them into my home. If I could do it over again, I would never have gotten them and wouldn’t have fallen in love with Molly’s precious little puppy face. It would have saved me a lot of stress over peed-on laundry and the anguish of a destroyed Tommy Hilfiger comforter.

So I guess we’re going to keep Molly around for awhile, if only to watch Autumn give her kisses.

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