Friday, October 20, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Our oldest dog Casey is old. She will be 14 in a month. She's a Siberian Husky, so it is quite an achievement that she has lived this long. She is not overweight and is in pretty good health. But her age is showing. She's a little slow getting up and down from a nap. She can't make it down the stairs to the basement anymore when she has to "do her doggie duty" in the middle of the night, so we have been finding "Casey presents" on the living room floor in the mornings. She doesn't like loud noises, and she twitches when she hears them (I call her "Katherine Hepburn" when she does this - it looks like a palsy shake). She doesn't eat two meals anymore...only one.

Our vet tells us that Casey has very low liver enzyme levels. This is typical with a tumor of some sort. While nothing shows up on the latest x-ray, our vet has prepared us that Casey might not be around for very much longer. We can spend a lot of time and trouble finding this tumor, or we can let her live her life out to the inevitable end.

We've had Casey since she was a puppy - we got her when she was about six months old. We had been married about a year and she was our first venture into committing to someone other than each other. I was worried we would never be able to go out at night anymore - that we would have to rush home to feed to dog. Mr. Goofy assured me that we would make it work. We did.

I remember the first night we brought her home. She was in her crate in the corner of our bedroom, and upon waking up to find herself alone, she made these funny bark-yelping noises that sounded exactly like a dying monkey. We buried our heads under the covers laughing until she calmed down and went back to sleep. After about three days, she settled in and decided that we would take good care of her. And we did.

We've been good Puppy Parents. We've taken her to various parks, to St. Louis for family visits, to PetSmart to go shopping, and to friend's houses. We've gotten her piles of squeaky toys, big bones to chew, and cozy blankets to sleep on. We've adopted two "siblings" to keep her company, first Tucker (who was only with us a few years until getting slammed with a heart tumor) and then Murphy (who is currently the resident "diva" in our house). She accepted each addition willingly and with an understanding that she was not the only dog in the house.

When we adopted Goofy Junior, she became the Mother Hen. We were worried that she would be jealous. She was not. She took her place as "Third Parent". If Junior cried, she would rush to come get us (as if we couldn't hear). If he was crawling on the ground, she would hover around, protectively. She willingly submitted to tail pulls, eye pokes and skin grabs, all without any show of anger or irritation. Mr. Goofy was looking at some pictures from the last several years and came to the realization that in almost every picture of Goofy Junior, Casey is also present. She sticks by him like glue.

So now, Casey is nearing the end of her long and comfortable life. The end is inevitable, as it is for all of us. When we put Tucker down, I took the stand that we should be happy that we had been able to adopt him and give him several years of happiness and love at the end of his life (he was an older dog when we adopted him). I'm trying to keep that same perspective about Casey. But it's hard. We have given her many years of love and care over the past fourteen years, but she has given us so much more back. She has given us thousands of happy door greetings, hundreds of face licks, tons of tail wags, miles of playful puppy sprints through the house, many paw shakes and countless nose nuzzles. And I will miss all that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

After much prodding from MY SON (yes, the 3 year old), I went to Great Clips last night to get my hair cut. I normally go to Salon Feux-Feux* and pay about $60 for a shampoo, haircut and blow-dry. Great Clips was $13; I had a $2 off coupon and I left a $3 tip, so we'll call it $14. Someone check my math, k?

So I didn't get a great conversation, the latest salon gossip, a neck massage nor a cold beverage...but I got a great cut. I can't tell the difference.

My frugal buddy Cagey did this same experiment about two years ago and bragged about how much money she saved. Me being stubborn (Capricorn that I am), I defended my choice of Salon Feux-Feux:

"My hair is short, so I need a special cut". Guess what? Great Clips can cut short hair...pretty darn good too!

"Feux-Feux is close to where I work". Great Clips is close to where I LIVE, and they are open until 9:00pm.

"It's also close to the donut shop" Okay, this is just a BAD thing!

Also, my Great Clips cut took about 20 minutes, where I usually waste an entire lunch hour (and then some) at Feux-Feux.

So call me slow. But now I've got $46 to spend. Maybe I should take more advice from my 3-year old son. Whee!

*Name changed to protect the damn over-priced place.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?*

I know what I wouldn't do...
  • buy a roach-enfested, 80-year-old house in "the hood", 40 minutes away from anyplace I would ever be;
  • partner with a gal that I ended up meeting once before she was run out of town by people she owed money to (one of which was her mom);
  • have the rehab work contracted by a guy who told me "6 weeks" when in actuality it took "12 months";
  • end up with a averagely rehabbed house in a market where no one is buying;
  • end up renting this house;
  • to a Section 8 tenant.
Looking on the dark side:
I have not sold the house. My money is still tied up in it. I have to go get a "real" mortgage to pay off the rehab-only loan. There is still work to be done on the house to get it ready for a tenant. I know nothing about being a landlord (lady?).

Looking on the bright side:
I have a renter to help me make my monthly payment. And a teensy-tiny bit of monthly cash flow. She doesn't mind that there is no off-street parking. She has no car. And she has three kids. After a year, I can possibly sell the house (complete with renter!) to another investor. Hopefully for a profit, or at least my money back.

The value of the learnings I've gotten from this endeavor: (say it with me...)

* I have this motto on my email return address line. I don't always live by it, but when I do, it's pretty cool.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Shootin' Some Hoops w/ Goofy Junior

Goofy Junior loved his Sports Skills class so much, that I signed him up for another class. The sport skills they didn't cover in sports class (which did include kicking, throwing, catching and hitting w/ a bat) were basketball skills. GJ has been nuts for basketball since he was little (yeah, I know, he's not that big now), so I thought a Basketball class was in order.

The Basketball class I found was for ages 4-6. GJ is 3-1/2, but he really is pretty good at the ball dribbling and shooting at his Playskool basket, so I figured he'd do okay. And did I mention that he is nuts for basketball? Yeah. My LEAST favorite sport. Couldn't be volleyball. No that would be too perfect. Anyhow...

I pumped him up for it. I started talking about Basketball class really early. The class is held at the Elementary School almost right across the street from our neighborhood. I thought it would be cool to walk to class. GJ did too.

So we walked to Basketball class this past Wednesday. We got inside the gym and all the kids (and parents) were dribbling little toddler-sized basketballs, shooting the ball and generally having some toddler fun. We grabbed a ball and joined in.

Then they had all the kids go into the middle and sit in a circle. Parents sat on the bleachers. This was familiar - we do something similar in Sports class. The difference came next - instead of coming back to the parents and doing drills together, the parents stayed sitting on the bleachers and the coaches worked with the kids.

What!?!? I wanted my money back! Not because of GJ, but because of me. Part of the fun of having a kid is getting to do things like play basketball with them. GJ was a little thrown off too. They did some stretching, then did a slow jog around the gym. Then they broke off into groups of about 3 kids per coach (there were several coaches) and did different drills.

The entire time, GJ was looking at my with a frown on his face (insert heartbreaking sigh here). I probably had the same look on my face, too.

During the first drill, he put down his basketball and came over the bleachers. "C'mon, Mommy. Come with me," he said. (insert more sounds of my heart breaking in two here) "Go on, sweetie. You can do it by yourself," I encouraged.

But he was having none of it. He sat on my lap for the duration of the first drill. I could feel the judging eyes of the other parents on me, but my son's psyche was at stake, so I was giving him a moment, dammit.

I got him to agree to get involved in the next drill. It was across the gym from the bleachers. I walked him over there and took a seat on the floor by the closest (but not TOO close) wall. This helped!

He got involved in the drill (bouncing a ball on the floor, against the wall) and started to smile. After each of his turns, he would put his little ball down, come over to the wall, and give me a hug (say it with me...AWWWWWWWW).

After the fourth drill, we were back around by the bleachers, so I took a seat with the other parents and GJ did his thing. Not so much looking at Mom this time..he was focusing on the drills.

I'm sure there's some analogy here about how kids rely on their parents in the beginning, then not so much, then not at all. I suppose I should wait and see what happens next week when we go back.

Oh, I did I mention that he is a basketball STUD? Ahem. Not that I'm biased or anything.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Tidbits

Mystery Solved!
The mystery of the Sonic Cup Guy (see post below) was solved by my clever staff of commenters. Er, not that I pay them to post comments. I would never do that.

Ahem. Anyway...

It appears that this is a Sonic promotion. If you go to Sonic and tell them you saw the Sonic Cup on the guy's trunk, you get a humonsterous drink for 99 cents. I haven't tried it yet.

I'm considering gluing a pizza box to my Jetta trunk. Then maybe Pizza Hut will give us all free pizzas. It's worth a try, huh?

When Love & Logic Backfires...
The weather has turned a bit colder here in Kansas City, but Goofy Junior is having none of it. He insists each morning on wearing his No-sleeve-shirt/shorts/flip-flop combo outfit. We fight, cajole, hide flip-flops and offer bribes. EACH MORNING. This morning, I had had enough.

When my choices of jeans and t-shirts were scorned, I told GJ, "you wear whatever you want". Of course, he appeared at breakfast with t-shirt, shorts and (surprisingly) tennis shoes. I think his flip-flops were hidden, in hindsight.

I kept my mouth shut, and brought some jeans to school with him. I told his teacher Miss Muffett* my plan. Let him freeze on the playground until he gets the picture, then let him come in and put the jeans on. So.....

It never got cold. Nope. It was a beautiful day. *I* wished I had shorts on.

A smug Goofy Junior came home from school, shorts still on and jeans in his smug little hand.


When Open Houses Backfire...
Our daycare had an Open House last Thursday, where parents could come and talk to the teachers about their kid's progress, overall curriculum and how they can support the school lessons at home.

I couldn't make it, but Mr. Goofy (and Goofy Junior) went. They showed up a few minutes into the open house and stayed for most of the entire time. The odd thing?

They were 1 of 2 families there. Yes, TWO. Our daycare probably has at least 100 kids that go there.

And we wonder why our kids can't keep up in school. Hmmmm.....

Adventures in Food and Stuff
Here's some good stuff I've tried recently:

Caribou Coffee - really, really good. Starbuck's ain't got nothing on Caribou. But stay away from their pastries. They are not good.

Mediterrean food - My fellow food adventuress Cagey mentioned HolyLand Cafe. I went there and cannot get enough of this delicious food now. Their hummus is like a little puddle of heaven. I think I've successfully converted Mr. Goofy and Goofy Junior too. And it's inexpensive..bonus!

Had a Birok last Saturday, thanks to Jane. It's a sweet bread roll filled with meat, onion and cabbage. Just delicious, but it gave me horrible gas all weekend. Whoops! Probably more than you needed on that one, huh?

I listened to a great audiobook this past week by a local Kansas City author, "Virgin of Small Plains" by Nancy Pickard. Great character development, great mystery and great use of present time versus flashback to fill in different versions of the story. I drove around the block a few times so I could listen to it more. Yes, it's that good. Support our local authors and check it out!

I finally went to Pierpont's for lunch. What a treat! I had the Blue Crab Sweet Corn Bisque and the Walnut Pear Salad. Unfortunately, I was having lunch w/ a friend that just got laid off, so that sucked. But the food was good. And the prices weren't bad for lunch. Dinner's probably another story.

*Not her real name. Yeah...duh.

SCG UPDATE: It appears that they pay the Sonic Cup Guys $200 a month to drive around with the cups attached to their trunks. Where can I sign up???