It’s another rambler. I won’t say verbal vomit again. Merde!

The last post with no real purpose served me well because I wanted to get some junk out of my head that was taking up real estate, so I’m doing it again. But this isn’t going to be a habit. I’m reasonably certain. You, however, should be pretty certain I’m lying.

Here come the bulleted items, people! Yay.

  • Federer is out of the French. However, Nadal is also out of the French. So, I’m going to call this even because Nadal is still holding at 14. Why do I care anymore…..?<sigh>
  • The French Open has prompted me to curse in French. Blame all the French tweets that I’d sit and try to decipher while standing in line for something over the course of the tournament. I have no idea why I was compelled to use Twitter as my source for updates. I think I was enjoying the chance to test my French again, and so many of the tweets were in French. Of course it just reminded me of how little I remember.
  • Topamax is still having fun with me. It, in cahoots with my brain (that evil, gelatinous monster), substituted taciturn for succinct. They embarrassed me with a clear misuse of laying/lying. Then, there was the incident where Cheerios became Cheerycane. That was a head scratcher because at least it’s usually a word. A real word. And not like the words I use on this blog that I’m clearly creating on the fly and taking ridiculous liberties with because that’s how I roll. Anyway, they made me drop about 8 gabillion f-bombs at St. Vincent last night, which wouldn’t be a problem (It’s a concert!) but there were teen fans everywhere. I should be above the f-bomb when the kiddos are around. I’m not going to pretend for a minute they weren’t dropping their own, but theirs aren’t as exuberant as mine. Plus, every time the artist uses one during concert commentary, and you hear their astonishment followed inevitably by cries of WOOHOO!!, you know you need to tone your bombs down for the new ears. I mean, come on, you don’t learn to drive a manual on the NASCAR circuit. Did I make that one work? Probably not. I don’t have any NASCAR knowledge. I’m not a very good southerner. However, I do love the SC Lowcountry and grits. And I’m still trying to ascertain whether or not I retain that ridiculous twang that I appear to have sported during my childhood if you believe those cranberry-pancake-serving Nantucket snots in this post.
  • I’m 98% certain my dog is broken in that she is not a dog. She appears to be an amalgam of the following animals:
    • Cat – She is constantly grooming. It’s a very specific grooming, sure, but still! She spends a great deal of the day grooming her paws. And it’s all very feline in nature. It’s not like, “I can smell the grass. I was outside running. Frisbee.” I can’t even really talk about it. It’s faintly grotesque how she goes about it. And I feel like I need to sit down with her and chat about how very gross feet are, but I guess that foot issue is mine. I shouldn’t pass it down to my kids.
    • Sloth – She sleeps about 98% of the day. OK, I’m exaggerating. 80% of the day. Like yellow dog from Funny Farm. But yellow dog was a dog actor playing against type. I mean, really. The dog tried to burn his own damn tail in the pursuit of sweet slumber. I can relate. As I was saying. Lexi is pretty solitary about the whole thing, too. She won’t sleep near her humans. Unless it’s Matthew. I think I hate her. Wait. I think she’s coming. I don’t want her to know I typed that. I love her. But I don’t like her. There. That’s better.
    • Cheetah + Dingo = Cheeto…. Well that name is certainly not going to work. I have no money, Cheeto people. Don’t come after me for that combo. I’ll try again. Cheetah + Dingo = Dingah – She’s really fast. She’ll get into a “mood” and it’s time to scatter. For real. The kids and I will see the hair on her back and tail start to creep up, and know it’s time to seek shelter. Immediately. Drop anything and everything. Let dinner burn and throw it out. Because she’s starting to run, and she’s locking on targets while running. And you can see her crazy eyes. If she sees you, well, you’re just toast. Meditate and reach acceptance. You will find out your fight or flight response has completely stalled, leaving you standing there looking at your new dingah, and you’re not really sure what that animal is capable of. Dingahs can jump very high, by the way. Also, they don’t do things that are scary in the actual sense of injury. It’s just the mental and emotional anguish. The kids and I usually hold little therapy healing events with each other after these “sessions” and we give Lexi a very wide berth for at least a couple of hours lest she unleash a second round. It’s happened, people. Oh, the carnage!

I feel immensely better. My brain hurts ever so much less with that junk ousted.

I talk to my dog all the time. She’s less than interested.

She's way too cool to listen to her human mom.

If I measure my ability to weave a fascinating tale by my dog’s attention span, I’d be forced to conclude that I’m no more interesting than a fallen pine needle……or that crud that lives at the bottom of the toaster. Actually, the detritus at the bottom of the toaster could be somewhat interesting if you were REALLY bored and wanted to sort the types of breads that you toast. Obviously, you’d have to be incredibly bored to resort to that kind of madness. But the pine needle is not getting any attention. Anyway, I refuse to let her disinterest deter me from regaling her with stories and anecdotes. I spend a great deal of time teaching her things, too. As she leaves the room in the middle of my ramblings, I just continue the story or lesson when she returns to the room. Sometimes she seems to be paying extra attention, so I talk fast to get as much content in as possible. It’s good to take advantage of her moments of clarity. And then she’ll leave again before I’m done. If I have an extended story or lesson, she does begin to get a little annoyed as it continues on over multiple visits. She’s busy after all and does get bored easily. But I’m not here to be her friend. I’m here to be her parent.

Lexi has full run of the house. She’s drunk on the freedom.

Lexi in attack/crazy dog mode.

We took the baby gates down a couple of weeks ago. Yes, you read that right. Baby gates. For a dog that is 14-months-old. We had baby gates up for a year confining her to a three-room area of the downstairs. For our sanity. And now she’s running free. I’m not sure I’ve seen her for a span of more than an hour since. I’ll come across her laying around in one room or another. She’ll look up and appear quite surprised to see me. Oh, hi, human mother! I love you. I’m super happy to see you! How about a belly rub?!?  And after 30 minutes or so she takes off to find another room to relax in. I think she views me as a distraction best avoided as she attempts to leave her scent on every square foot of the house. She’s also doing her very best to explore the scene from every window of the house which are all thankfully right at eye level for her. She can sit her little butt down and still have a decent view of what’s happening out there in the nabe. She’s got a lot of time to make up for as she’s been cooped up in three rooms for a WHOLE YEAR! And I can imagine it’s awfully fun to go all Ponce de León and whatnot – at least in her head (Aside to Lexi: Yo, we’ve already discovered all areas of the house. There’s no undiscovered territory left. Sorry. Pick another enterprise because discoverer of unknown lands/territories/spaces is no longer available. Oh crap! Please don’t pick the activity of leaving me a special surprise in a hidden place to see if I can track it down based on the smell.)

But what I think I was trying to say so very poorly, is that the whole family is giddy with the removal of barriers. We were getting so sick of having to open and close baby gates all the time. When you have a little baby, it’s a whole different deal. But when it’s because of a dog, people tend to give you that careful look (understandably, I think) of “Have you lost your ever-loving mind? Why in the hell would you keep something like baby gates up after house training is completed? Are you mad?” And if we were a little mad, we are now just plain manic. We are skipping around the house marching through doorways where gates used to halt our progress, and we all nod knowingly at each other. This is what it means to be living the dream, people. Our household has gotten a rather interesting dose of perspective. And by perspective, I mean a rather interesting dose of just how clearly not right in the head we all are. We are a bunch of loons, and we added the right puppy to our family as she is as much of one as we are.

All hide and seek games should include a dog for optimum enjoyment.

Dogs really enjoy playing hide and seek. Many humans also enjoy playing hide and seek. But humans are smart enough to know that being “It” sucks. Dogs think being “It” is exciting and they feel all smug and giddy about this important position that has been bestowed upon them. This sets up a perfect scenario. Plus dogs are just terrible at hiding. You’ll be covering your eyes all counting while everyone is hiding, and half the time your loyal canine buddy is right beside you panting in your ear waiting to see what happens next. Guess who’s it next, canine buddy?

A year ago yesterday…

We drove out to a farm to pick out our new family puppy.

We selected the breeder specifically because they only have one litter a year which made us feel slightly better for abandoning the SPCA, which is where we found our last (AWESOME AND SORELY MISSED) dog, and what I still feel guilty about not repeating. We’ll be back for our next dog, SPCA!! Or Humane Society!! But my daughter was equal parts desperate for a dog + terrified of certain personality quirks, so we picked our breed carefully. And that brought us to that day a year ago.

We picked carefully through a squirming bunch of black female labs. (And I can hear you now. You chose your breed carefully. Because your daughter was terrified of certain personality quirks. And you chose the high energy lab puppy to bring home. Good one, Stephanie. But she is a sweetheart despite her earnest belief that she should always be able to jump up to execute an energetic bear hug or to lick any exposed piece of skin until it’s thoroughly pruney, or to act like a maniac whenever the mood strikes.) But I digress. As I was saying, we were there in the middle of a group of little, black females. Each one cuter than the next. Female, because they are supposed to be smaller. And she is a small lab, 14 months later. Black, because our last dog was a black lab mix. A very interesting mix. But there was definitely black lab in there. She was the sweetest dog, and I grieved for over a year when she died. It took me 5 years to be able to talk about her without tearing up. I don’t love my pets, I LOVE MY PETS. You can judge. I’ll give you a few moments.

So, we brought ribbons to tie around the necks of the pups so we could differentiate and make our decision easier. I can hear you snorting with laughter now. I’m snorting as well. But at the time, I thought it ingenious. And, of course, I did. It was my idea. So, we tied a green ribbon around one of the bigger girls who was a little charmer. She stole our heart and grabbed an early lead on the others. But that was before Curly set her sights on us. Curly received a ribbon early. I believe it was blue. She dispensed with it so quickly, I really can’t be sure. She was a little ball of energy and adorable mischief that you really couldn’t take your eyes off of, and she took over the top slot from Greenie. We decided to ignore the fact that she had removed the ribbon while looking at us disdainfully and gave her our hearts. We nicknamed her Curly since she was the only one with a curly tail. This helped differentiate her. But it became impossible to misidentify her as the afternoon progressed.

Since Curly was our pick, we settled in for a bit to watch her interact with her sisters. We just wanted to get some insight into her behavior, and we wanted to see when she would finally nap. HA! Curly decided that she needed to make sure this wasn’t a passive process from her side of things and began to test us. First, she made sure that she would be able to treat any other animals in the house as she pleased. Since she didn’t know if we had other pets, she just needed to see if we would stop her if she treated any of her sisters poorly. So, she began to assault them. Poor Greenie received some mistreatment and began to whine. Unfairly or not, we decided that Greenie wasn’t the pup for us should our love affair with Curly end due to the fact that her whining never really stopped from that point on. Curly pranced around the rest of her sisters and administered swats and kicks, charley horses and noogies, she stuck her tongue out, and body slammed most of them at least twice. She was pretty bloodthirsty. But we called her spirited in order to maintain our love for her.  So, she decided to administer another test. She began to eye my son, JT. And she eyed a big stack of newspapers placed behind him. She eyed him. She eyed the newspapers. Eyed him. The newspapers. Him. Newspapers. JT began to twitch slightly but held his ground because: puppy. What’s a little puppy going to do? And she launched herself. And hit him in the chest when she landed. A bit too low. She returned to her spot and eyed JT again. JT laughed. She eyed the newspapers. JT. Newspapers. JUMP. She landed on JT’s chest again. JT laughed, but this time there was less humor and a little bit of internal thought that we could all hear, “WTH is going on with this puppy? Is she possessed? I’m a little scared of her now. I don’t want to admit that though because she’s tiny. She can’t hurt me at all. BUT SHE’S CLEARLY NOT SANE!” Curly returned to her spot. JT. Newspapers. JT. Newspapers. JT began to twitch. Curly jumped OVER JT and landed on the newspapers. We all looked at each other and IMMEDIATELY back at Curly because who knew what she would do next but surely it would include garroting one of us with some twine she had found binding the newspapers. Opposable thumbs be damned.

We all silently agreed to fall out of love with Curly and to select from the small bundle of puppies slumbering peacefully beside us. We pointed at one of the three that looked small and heartbreakingly adorable. Matthew picked her up and she continued to sleep peacefully. The decision was made. And Lexi joined our family.

Pictures!!

The pup pile with Lexi in the green collar
The pup pile with Lexi in the green collar
Can you almost see that pup belly?
Can you almost see that pup belly?
Lexi's Mum
Lexi’s Mum
Lexi's GrandMum
Lexi’s GrandMum
Lexi's first car ride to her new home
Lexi’s first car ride to her new home

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Lexi's a big girl now.
Lexi’s a big girl now.