Monday, November 26, 2007

Your Basic Evening at Home

Wow, I guess the kiddo and I were more exhausted than I thought. We took Suzy to the dog park in the late afternoon/early evening, and she had a lovely time finding laps to sit on. Really, it was so funny to me to look over and see her being cuddled by one after another of the many regulars who sit in the resin chairs while their dogs run in a little pack around the park. Good for Suzy. I know she just loved all that love. As for the kiddo, he immediately took to playing "soccer" with a dog that dropped his ball at our feet. The dog's owner was a nice-looking, 40-ish man wearing a ball hat, so I told the kiddo to ask what team was on his hat. Naturally the kiddo already knew it was a Boston Red Sox hat, and it turned out the dog's name was Fenway. Cute! The kiddo played with Fenway nonstop while I chatted with the owner. Suzy did spend a little time wandering around and sniffing, but I think she was a tiny bit overwhelmed, because when I bent down to pick her up at one point, I caught her off guard and she snipped at me. As soon as she recognized that it was me, she immediately licked me as if to apologize. Good thing she eventually found her way to the cuddlers so she could relax for a while. They enjoyed her, too, and said goodbye to her by name as they left the park at dusk. (They'd read her tag.) With the rare exception, dog people are so darned nice. :-)

Anyway, we all came home around 5:15 p.m. and generally hung around the house, playing video games, surfing the Net and such. There was a little blip when the kiddo's dad called and the kiddo was whiny and disrespectful to him. Afterward, I told the kiddo he would be respectful the next time Daddy called, and he tearfully told me he wanted to call back to apologize. The two of them then spent a long time on the phone, watching the football game on both ends of the line. At one point, our next-door neighbor (not the one who called about the dog!) came over to give us an extra sweet potato pie left over from Thanksgiving. The kiddo is allergic to eggs, so that pie is mine -- all mine! Before bedtime, the kiddo and I watched Elf for a few minutes, and he fell asleep on his sleeping bag in the living room. I crashed on the couch, waking up around 12:30 and remembering I hadn't taken Suzy out for the night. Oops. No accidents, but I felt a little guilty awaking to the sight of a little doggie basically doing the potty dance. I took her out and she almost refused to pee where I asked her to, but I waited her out and all was well. When we came back in, the kiddo woke up and climbed upstairs to his bed. Ah...peace again.

I suppose I should get back to sleep myself. A to-do list awaits me tomorrow morning, and the kiddo will be going back to school unless his evening headache, alleviated with ibuprofen, proves to be the start of a cold. I'm hoping it was just due to the crying he did after I gave him the respect talk. He's already had two colds this season and it would be nice if he could stay well until at least New Year's.

And speaking of wellness, I'm really off to sleep now!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Can You Believe I Forgot My Leftovers?? Grr!

On Thanksgiving, we packed Suzy in the car and drove 93 miles to my folks' house. Traffic was awful the entire way, and it took us an extra hour to get there, but we arrived safely and were glad to see everyone. Once we arrived, Suzy made a bad impression by peeing on the carpet twice and pooping in the living room once. Hoo-boy. She never does that at my house. Thank goodness for my parents' heavily Scotchguarded carpet is all I can say! I kept Suzy on her leash during dinner so I could keep an eye on her while I ate. Later, I let her off-leash to hang out with my baby sister's dog, Woody, and the two of them had a great time. Woody is very sporty and active, and Suzy is more of a homebody, but she did enjoy following Woody around and sniffing the place out, to the point that I often found myself if she'd gotten stuck somewhere -- normally she stays glued to me, but she seems to be developing some confidence. The kiddo and I had a great time with our family and my baby sister's girlfriend (who's part of the family), my sister made margaritas per my request -- I'd been jonesin' for one for about four years! -- and the kiddo and I spent the night there before driving back the next morning to meet the kiddo's dad at 10:00 a.m. (The kiddo and his dad always get a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.)

My sister-the-shrink took the train to San Diego on Friday and we hung out. We tried to get to Hillcrest (for brunch) from the train station, reasoning that since Hillcrest is a very gay town and (we joked) "the gays love dogs and brunch," * we had a good chance of finding a dog-friendly brunch place and wouldn't have to leave Suzy in the car. However, I got lost and we wound up in Normal Heights ("gay-adjacent"), where we found a very cute cafe on Antique Row with some outdoor seating. The food was great, the atmosphere was relaxed; Suzy was pleased, and so were we. I'm sure I'll be back there soon.

After brunch, we went back to my house for a while, where Sis showed me the scans of the family photos she'd brought from my Chicago aunt's house on a recent trip. Wow -- lots of great, old photos. We talked for a while about many topics, some light and some heavy, then took Suzy for a little walk before heading off to the animal shelter for a tour. Sis wanted to see the place, since I'm always taking the kiddo there. We had to leave Suzy in the car, but by then the outdoor temperature was very cool, so she wasn't in danger, although she did cry, poor thing. Later we drove about a mile to Old Town to poke around the shops. I bought a few Mexican(-style??) handmade items including an ocarina for the kiddo's Christmas stocking, and after dinner, I took Sis to the train station for the trip back.

Now the kiddo is back from his dad's house and we're having an extremely lazy day, although I feel like we need to get outside, although none of us (I'm including Suzy) is particularly motivated. We shall see. Maybe we'll stay home and play video games and just watch TV movies. Maybe we'll go to the dog park. The kiddo seems to like this plan, seeing as we'll have to stay in the small-dog section and he won't have to deal with big, slobbery dogs jumping on him like he did last time. Oh, and I have some work to do. *yawn* Better get to that.

Hope everyone is doing something they enjoy! :-)

* I hope no one interprets our jokes in a negative way. Our baby sister is gay and we love her, her girlfriend, her friends, and all the gay boys we (okay, I) dated in college. Yay gay. I'm just sayin'. :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doggie Dreamin'

Last night Suzy's owner came over one last time before flying back home (she got a Thanksgiving Day flight, amazingly) and we went out to dinner with the doggie. I found myself feeling kind of sad that Suzy's owner was leaving, not because of our challenges with Suzy, but because Suzy's owner and I have such a great time talking whenever we see each other, and I've missed having a local single (i.e., not occupied with husband and such during times I'm free) friend with whom there's so much to talk about.

Anyway, when we got home at about 9:00 p.m., there was a message on the answering machine guessed it: the neighbor across the way. (Did you guess?) She said she'd heard Suzy barking and wanted to let me know she was home and could watch the dog if I wanted. Well, I called her back and very politely told her she couldn't have heard Suzy, because Suzy had been with us for the past four hours! I told her there sure are a lot of dogs in our area, and it's likely she hears other dogs quite a lot. Whatever!

Bleah. I'm sorry we exchanged phone numbers; I certainly don't want her calling me every time she hears someone's dog barking. (BTW, Suzy doesn't bark; she whines, cries, wails, howls...but doesn't bark.) I suppose if I don't ask her to dogsit, the neighbor will eventually get the hint. I'm also going to tell her, the next time this comes up, that I'm treating the dog with various meds and want to see how those work for now. Suzy's owner said it's okay to take Suzy with us and leave her in the car sometimes (weather permitting) when we go out, since she won't mess in the car and will just hang out by the back window and whine for a while. Since the weather is cool enough, we might do that if the situation is appropriate. Although Suzy's behavior is a challenge, it all feels very workable.

Now I'm off to squeeze in some editing before the kiddo returns from his dad's house and we start celebrating Thanksgiving. Have a lovely day, everyone! :-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We Could Do This Until We're Ill...inois

Yesterday as we were getting ready to go to the store (thereby plunging Suzy into a fit of misery), I almost bumped into the kiddo coming around a corner.

"Oh, hi!" I exclaimed. "Oh, hi...O is a state!"

At first he didn't get it, so I repeated it once or twice. Then the lightbulb went on and he said, "Are you going to Wash...ington your clothes?"

I started laughing, so he followed with "We're walking on the Flor...ida!"

Followed again by "I'm going to get Mi...ami toothbrush and brush my teeth!"

And more.

I think I'll keep this kid. ;^)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sad Suzy

Yeesh. Apparently I didn't kill the dog when I gave her twice the recommended dose of a homeopathic anti-anxiety remedy. I jest, of course, because the main ingredient of said remedy is L-tryptophan, so essentially the dog is enjoying effects similar to those I will be enjoying on Thursday after eating an obscene amount of turkey. Still, I was a little concerned when I reread the directions on the bottle after the kiddo and I successfully fed Suzy a full anti-anxiety tablet. Oops. And when the animal poison control hotline (oh yes, I did call) wanted fifty bucks to answer my question, I hopped on the Internet for free and learned that the dogger would indeed be fine.

I hope this homeopathic stuff has the desired effect. That is, I hope it helps ol' Suzy settle the heck down and not cry like a dying cat whenever we leave the house. Today the kiddo and I needed to go to the store, so we crated Suzy per her owner's routine and instructions, then left. We could still hear her crying all the way downstairs although the windows were closed. Poor doggie. She was miserable. We're doing the ignore-the-dog thing for twenty minutes after each return home (so she won't associate our returns with special treatment), but I doubt that will be enough to modify her behavior -- hence the meds. *

If the homeopathic stuff doesn't work after a week or two (as I understand it, these things take a while to accumulate and have an effect), we're looking into Clomicalm. Suzy has a prescription for it that was never filled, but perhaps that will be the silver bullet. Who knows?

I was a tad embarrassed when I was downstairs in the garage and the neighbor across the way said she could hear the dog crying. She was nice about it, but I don't completely trust her opinions at this point because a.) she said she could hear Suzy this morning, when in reality I had been home all day and the dog had been quiet; b.) she was overly reactive when we had the recent round of wildfires (she swore the northern and southern fires were going to meet, surround us and force us out toward the ocean, when such an event was a hundred million-to-one longshot); and c.) she has that look. I can't explain the look, other than to say that she looks like she's constantly sizing me up and wondering if I'm on to her. Anyway, she volunteered to babysit Suzy when I go out, and although it's nice that she seems to care, I don't feel great about it and will probably continue to work with Suzy on my own terms. Also, and maybe this sounds terrible, it would be pretty inconvenient for me to have to call a dog sitter every time I just want to go to the store on the spur of the moment, so that's probably not going to happen.

I suspect part of her motivation is partly altruistic and partly her desire to keep a lid on possible noise, but let's face it -- her husband's motorcycle (coming and going before dawn and after dark), loud radio, and myriad car power tools are a hundred times more annoying. Add to that the car power tools of the other neighbor, the yelling and loud musical instruments and barking dogs of other neighbors, and it's probably about time I started exercising my right to make a little noise around here. ;-) I joke, of course, but my point is that I'm abnormally quiet and a little noise (faint to others in their homes) from Suzy won't upset the status quo.

Nonetheless, I do hope Suzy starts feeling better with some medication or other. She's a pathetic little thing when left alone, and her crying just breaks our hearts into a million pieces.

* She has weak teeth, so I can't give her a treat-filled Kong to chew on in her crate, and we're in and out a little too much to effectively conduct a systematic desensitization routine, so we're resorting to meds and hoping for the best. I have a feeling we're going to need to go to the good stuff (Clomicalm), but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If You Knew Suzy Like I Know Suzy

Well, we have a little visitor for a while. A little creature who does not like to pee on anything other than grass, and who mostly refuses to eat her food. A little creature who obsessively licks people and follows me into the bathroom. A little creature who cries when left alone, and is still learning to stay out of the kitchen. A little creature who will go nutso when she sees a slice of cheese.

A few weeks ago, I responded to an ad on Craigslist asking for a foster home for a 10-pound Chihuahua/Dachshund/Spaniel mix named Suzy. (Picture a Golden Retriever shrunk to 10 pounds and stretched a bit long.) The owner, a single woman in her thirties, said Suzy had separation anxiety and doubted whether I'd want to take on another separation anxiety case after I told her about having dealt with the separation anxiety of my Golden Retriever, Brody, back in 2004. Nonetheless, I said I would still be interested in meeting her and the doggie, so the kiddo and I met her and Suzy at Starbucks and we all hit it off tremendously. Turns out Suzy's owner is pregnant and single, and was working two jobs to prepare for maternity leave next year. Her schedule was such that she just didn't have time to spend with Suzy, and Suzy's crying was driving her roommate crazy.

Of course, I have plenty of experience in dealing with pregnancy while in a tumultuous relationship with the baby's dad, and I have plenty of experience with single motherhood and custody litigation (ahem), so we had a very full conversation and left feeling like it was fated for us to meet. A few days later, Suzy's owner brought the doggie over to sniff around my house and check it out. While Suzy explored and hung around for lots of skritchy-skratchies, her owner and I talked more about what she might be up against as a single mom. She said her family was urging her to move back home to the East Coast.

A few days after that, she called and said she'd decided to move back home, but that her family definitely did not want the dog around. Actually, it was her brother-in-law who told her not to bring the dog because "people get attached to animals and then the animals die and break your heart." Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but that was the reason he gave. Bottom line: Suzy needed a home.

Suzy's owner is still very attached to her and is considering looking for her own apartment when she gets back home this week, but she brought over all of Suzy's things (car seat, crate, bed, bowls, harness/leash), food, treats, flea medicine, shampoo, anti-anxiety meds and a few other things. The girl is equipped.

So far, Suzy is adjusting fairly well to being here. She follows me everywhere, hops onto my chest when I'm lying on the couch, licks my neck and hands until I can't stand it, cries just like a baby when I leave (honestly, you'd think we had a baby or a cat in here), and can't figure out that I want her to pee when I take her downstairs to the patch of dirt/ivy under the deck. She also keeps me from feeling too lonely when my son is at his dad's house for long weekends.

There's a slight chance that Suzy will eventually return to her owner sometime, but judging by the way Suzy's owner hugged me and thanked my for looking after her precious girl, I think we may have inherited a dog. That's okay with me. Between Suzy and the kiddo being home today, the house has a good energy. Over the weekend, when my son was at his dad's, I was a lot less lonely and anxious. (And I know anxiety -- a subject for a later post.)

I think Suzy is helping me as much as I'm helping her.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Steroids Save the Day

I really appreciate all your comments. You guys are great. :-)

On Friday, I took the kiddo to the doctor. At first, the receptionist wanted to stick us with the doctor I hate, but I held out for a new doctor we'd never seen before. Hey, I figured even the unknown was better than the doctor I hate.

Anyway, the new doctor listened to the kiddo's lungs and said she heard "creaking," and told us (the kiddo's dad went with us) the kiddo had asthma. Oh no, I thought. Here we go again with an asthma misdiagnosis that will lead to walking pneumonia. I told her about what had happened in March -- that the doctor I hate had said the kiddo had asthma and sent us home with an inhaler and instructions to give the kiddo mini-doses of Nyquil, and a couple of days afterward, the kiddo was feverish and limp and coughing nonstop and vomiting blood into the bathtub while I made frantic phone calls. Dr. New looked at me like I was a problem for her, but said she would send in another doctor. How about Dr. You Hate? No! Oh, how about Dr. Owns-the-Practice? Yes!

Second doctor came in, listened to the kiddo's lungs, and told us the same thing -- asthma -- but offered a much more plausible explanation. He said the kiddo likely didn't have asthma, per se, as in the kiddo doesn't have asthma year-round, but that he had constricted airways as a result of his cold and needed steroids and an inhaler for a few days. Dr. Owns-the-Practice said he himself uses an inhaler about once a year, especially if he's hiking (Mt. Whitney -- hello!) in chilly weather or has a bad cold, and likened the kiddo's situation to his. That made a lot more sense to me, and I appreciated his attention. Dr. New, although nice enough, has a lot to learn from Dr. Owns-the-Practice about bedside manner. Both the kiddo's dad and I are educated people and need/want detailed explanations about things. Of course, the kiddo's dad leaves it to me to be the assertive one in these situations, so I come off as being overprotective, but SO BE IT.

The doctors had a nurse come in and administer a nebulizer treatment to the kiddo, which increased his lung capacity a little bit according to the flow meter. Still, we headed off to get the three-day steroid prescription. On our way out, I touched Dr. New's arm and told her I wasn't trying to be difficult -- I just didn't want the kiddo to go through what he went through last time. She said she understood and gave us a free inhaler and flow meter. Then I burst into tears and had to leave.

The cheap pharmacy (Wal-Mart!) was closed for lunch, so the kiddo, his dad and I had lunch nearby and returned afterward to fill the prescription. We started the kiddo on his steroids right there at the pharmacy, and the kiddo went home with his dad. When I spoke with them the next day, the kiddo was doing SO MUCH BETTER, to the point that I heard him in the background asking his dad, "Why don't you just admit that you caught my cold?" Heh.

When the kiddo returned to me on Saturday evening, the steroids were having a bit of an effect on his mood and energy, that is, he was kind of PMS-y and having trouble sleeping. We spent from 2:30 a.m. to about 4:30 a.m. chatting and watching TV because he couldn't sleep. I finally got him to fall asleep on the couch and carried all 56 pounds of him up to bed. As his head hit the pillow, he awoke and said cheerily, "Hey, there's that mommy I love so much!" and promptly fell back to sleep.

Last night (Sunday) I just let him sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor in the living room while I watched TV and coughed/slept/coughed all night. He was feeling wonderful in the morning (coughing only a little bit after not having coughed all night), whereupon I discovered there was no school today due to Veterans Day. Tomorrow he'll go back to school for sure.

I believe the difference this time was the steroids because the inhaler (Xopenex) really didn't seem to have any effect on his coughing. My brother made jokes about 'roid rage and bacne, but really, the steroids had him scoring over 150 on the flow meter after having scored only 60 at the doctor's office.

And now I'm exhausted, although not coughing much, if at all. Here are some cute puppies to watch (courtesy of while I go sit on the couch until my son's bedtime. *yawn*

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Second Verse, Same as the First

Thanks for your well wishes for my son. Last year he had a long-lasting and initially misdiagnosed ordeal with walking pneumonia. The first doctor we saw (the one who insulted me a while ago) walked into the exam room, prepared to diagnose the kiddo with asthma. Really, he seemed to be determined that it was asthma, even before examining the kiddo. He gave us an inhaler and sent us home, and a day or two later, the kiddo was coughing even more and vomiting blood, and believe me, I insisted on seeing a different doctor after that. But I digress from my original point, which is that I tend to be a little extra vigilant nowadays as a result of that terrible experience last year.

So the kiddo was in good spirits today, which I think is a very good thing, but he's once again coughing through his sleep, despite a dose of regular cough medicine (not triple whammy medicine -- see below) because the regular cough medicine has 10mg of dextromethorphan compared to the triple whammy medicine's 5mg. Sometimes he settles down for a few minutes and I think he'll get some rest, then he starts coughing again, occasionally to the point that he almost throws up from coughing so hard. I put a bucket next to the bed and told him how to use it, and he's used it once so far.

Now I'm just surfing the Web in the next room, periodically checking on him to turn him onto his side when his coughing gets too intense, making sure he remembers the bucket during the more intense bouts, and waiting for 11:00 so I can dose him with triple whammy stuff in the hope that the antihistamine helps him breathe through his nose more and therefore cuts down on the coughing despite the lower amount of cough suppressant.

Sometimes this all just feels like such a crapshoot.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tonight's Soundtrack... my son's periodic coughing, occasionally to the point that he sounds like he's going to throw up. I rush in, see if he's awake, and if he is, help him blow his nose. I've already given him the "triple whammy" medicine (fever reducer, cough suppressant and an antihistamine), I'm running the steamer in his room, and I've got him slightly propped up on pillows (but on his side). Still, he keeps coughing intermittently. It's not the noise, per se, that gets me, but rather the knowledge that he's miserable and I don't know what else to do but help him ride out the night.


What does it mean when you wake up with this song playing in your head?

Yeah, I thought so.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Do You Believe in Magic?

For Halloween, the kiddo went as a haunted house. The kiddo's dad doesn't believe in doing much, if anything, for Halloween, but I love making costumes and sending the kiddo trick-or-treating all decked out in our creations. I worked about six hours on Tuesday at school, lifting boxes of fundraiser cookie dough (ouch, my legs!) and found a great big box to use. We went to the store that evening and bought brown paint and stuff, then painted the box at home. During the day on Wednesday, I cut a hole in the bottom of the inverted box, cut out four-paned (or one-paned, depending) windows in all sides of the box, outlined the windows with black paint, covered the windows with fuzzy cobweb stuff, painted black bats (with red eyes) all over the box, and stuck letters here and there to spell out BOO, EEK, HA HA HA, and SCARY. I used a corner of another box to make a roof-hat and painted that up to look like a gable/attic. The kiddo helped with some of the less messy stuff, like the lettering and the bat eyes and cobwebs, since we were getting pressed for time and I didn't want to clean paint off the kid. It was awesome.

He wore it for about 30 minutes because it was uncomfortable, kinda paint-smelly and everyone was "looking" at him. Well...duh. ;^) It was a lot of fun to make, though! :-) Oh, and I stupidly bought oil-based brown paint because it was the only type that came in brown (i.e., didn't require mixing), and man...was it a nightmare to clean. I hadn't had the foresight to buy turpentine or the like, and naively assumed I could rinse the brushes in the sink. HA! I wound up smearing brown paint aaaallllll over my hands and had to use grease-cutting dishwashing liquid and a lot of friction to get my hands looking even halfway clean. I think I may throw the brushes away. The kiddo wanted to keep the messy brushes "as a memory" (uh, that's a negative), but we shall see if environmental concern trumps my impatience and feeling of overwhelm enough to make me clean them.

Today the kiddo had a soccer game, and afterward the three of us (kiddo, me, his dad) went out to lunch. As the kiddo was about to take a bite of his usual grilled cheese sandwich, he noticed his left front tooth was finally loose enough to come he pulled it out. After dramatically gagging on the small amount of blood that accompanied the event, he showed us the tooth and flashed his newly partially toothless grin. I made sure to pocket the tooth, since the tooth fairy does not come to Daddy's house. He would do without Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy if he could, but I believe the window in which kids can believe in magical stuff is small compared to the length of time that they won't believe in such things, and the kiddo's dad agrees not to screw it up for me.

Tonight the kiddo and I put his tooth in the tooth fairy bag (a be-ribboned mesh bag meant for wedding favors and the like) and he put it under his pillow. However, one thing we have plenty of around here is emotion, so he dug out the bag and proceeded to get all misty-eyed, telling me he was really going to miss his tooth and could we please take a picture of it? What he doesn't know is that I keep his baby teeth in an envelope in my desk drawer (just like my dad did with my baby teeth), and he'll be able to see them any time he wants to after he's old enough. Nonetheless, I told him he could postpone putting the tooth under his pillow so we could photograph it tomorrow. He told me we'll need to take twelve photos of it in order to get it from every angle both inside and outside the bag, but he did feel better instantly and put the bagged tooth on my desk. A minute later, he asked if I was sure the tooth fairy wouldn't find it there and take it anyway, so I suggested he put it in my desk drawer so she wouldn't find it. He did and then fell promptly asleep.

See, these are the sweet and innocent moments I don't want to cheat him out of. I don't know who blew it for the kiddo's dad, such that he says he doesn't want to "lie" to our boy about fantasy characters like the tooth fairy (he has also made a point of calling the Resurrection of Christ -- I grew up Catholic -- the "resurrection myth," which may be a topic for another post), but I feel sorry for him for whatever is broken there. I honestly can't imagine a childhood without Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and other magical characters. That just strikes me as sad.