Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This is Jake, the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener.

Jake is a very thankful dog. As detailed in his story, he's survived abandonment, a car accident, the mean streets, amputation, a kill shelter, and major back surgery. He never really forgets any of this, as evidenced by his behavior when he thinks we're going to leave him.

Jake is thankful for things like this:

'His' chair, which he graciously deigns to share with me and Gater, as long as Jake has dibs on the lap. Also, his blankie, which, despite his best efforts, still somewhat exists after six years.

His food bowl, and its regular employment.

This is Gater, the four-legged whatever he is.

Gater has had an easier life, compared to Jake. He spent his first year chained outdoors, but he got regular food. He was surrendered to the Humane Society, so he was never faced with making the long walk. As a result of this, he's not quite as thankful.

He does appreciate the chair, though.

He recently graduated to spending the night snuggled in the chair with Jake, instead of having to sleep in the crate. He still has to stay in the crate during the day, though.

He's also thankful for food bowls, and the food in them.

And the toys. He's a big fan.

However, that's all about to change. You see, today is Thursday. Thanksgiving. Jake is more thankful for this day than any other day of the year. That's because he knows what's coming.

Oh, yeah. Thanksgiving is the Most Wonderful Wiener Dog Day of the Year. Jake waits 364 days for this one day and all of its turkey goodness. It doesn't hurt that Thanksgiving is at my folks' house, where it's rumored that my mother is a soft touch when it comes to dogs and table scraps.

Gater has no idea. He's never seen one of those huge roasted birds before. He's never nibbled at dark meat so delectable, it fell off the bone. He's never known the joy of the full-bore capacity of my dad's cooking skills.

Oh, yeah. That's the good stuff.

But he will.

And I'd bet all the tea in China that he will be thankful.

As am I.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Quiet Week

Boy, oh boy, last week was quiet. Nothing funny happened to me at all. In fact, ever since The Tailgate, things around this house were dull to the point of deadly. It was so quiet that I was driven to drink.

True. In some twisted hope of livening things up around here, I broke into the wine at 2:23 on a Thursday. And then I sat down and watched Batman Begins. In the middle of a work day, no less. And then, slightly more than half-drunk, I took my dogs for a walk.

And that was it. That was the excitement for the whole of the week. I don't even have a funny picture to put up. It was just that lifeless around here.

What's that? Why was it lifeless around here?

Excellent question. It was lifeless because of this.

What's that?

That's China. As in, Shanghai. As in, the city where my husband spent a week on a business trip. See?

Okay, so you can't see. Trust me on this. The man was in China, where exciting things like Shanghai traffic and, most especially, a dish they told him was called "The Drunken Fish" happened to him. "The Drunken Fish" may have been a mistranslation, because according to my husband(the vegetarian), it was a big glass bowl, filled with an alcoholic salt brine--and live shrimp. As in, still living. As in, one actually jumped out of the bowl and made a break for it across the table. Don't worry, he didn't get far. He was drunk.

No doubt about it, he was in China. How do I know? Normally, I'd trot out the wonderful gift he brought me as proof he was there. However, that man--the love of my life, the father of my child--decided his gift to me was so nice that he's going to 'save' it for Christmas.

To which I responded, Nice? Better be fantastic!

Still, he did bring these:

The travel kits supplied by China Air for business travelers. Thereby proving that he went to China.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Awesome travel kits! And it's true. But perhaps you're wondering if my son missed his father? Got a little lonely in all that quiet?

Not a chance in hell.

Here's the perfect example of what kind of mother I am. When I put two and two together--in this case, husband leaving on business trip the week after we hang out with my mother at a tailgate, I acted fast. I called my mother up and said, "How would you feel about just taking the kid home with you for the week?"

To which she replied--well, I didn't really understand what she said, but there was a lot of jumping up and down and shouting to my father excitedly in the background.

My boy didn't have the chance to miss his father, more or less me. They went fishing at the Lake. They went to a Blues hockey game with his Aunt Leah. They played toys all day. They went to the Magic House. They even went grocery shopping. Everything's better when you're being spoiled by grandparents, really.

So, husband in China. Son at grandparents. It was so quiet around here, I could almost hear myself think.


This week has been completely different. First off, everyone came home. Suddenly, the house was filled with trains whistling, people shouting from other rooms about missing socks, cars vrooming across the floor.

Yesterday, well, yesterday was the most exciting day of the week. The month, in fact, because after a crap-tacular Authorial October, November has been good to me. My Agent, Laurie, e-mailed me to say that three--THREE!--editors want to look at No Man's Land, aka the bull riding book.

So, I'm excited. The husband is excited. The kid is excited, but that's mostly because he got a brownie for dessert last night. The dogs, well, they were excited (see above picture) but now they are asleep.

The quiet was nice while it lasted. But I'll take this kind of excitement every day of the week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Tailgate.

So, we went to the tailgate.

My wonderful sister Hannah and her fan-atic husband Steve have season tickets to the Mizzou Tigers football game. We get one game.

And we want to make the most of it. This year's tailgate was Nov. 7th, a 1 p.m. game against Baylor. 1 p.m. game. In other words, we were officially tailgating by 8:45.

How do you make the most of tailgating before most people (certainly all college students) are normally out of bed on a Saturday?

First, you make omelets:


Of course, you need someone to make the omelets. Ladies, this is up to you: Marry a man who enjoys combining the art of cooking, the love of American sporting events, and the challenges of cooking on a portable campstove while a 4-year-old-boy keeps threatening to accidentally tip the whole contraption over.

In other words, a man like this:

The results?

Happy tailgaters. That's my brother-in-law, Steve--giver of football tickets. We felt omelets were the least we could do, so that's all we did.

What else do you need to tailgate in the early hours?


We spared no expense. That's Andre champagne.

I love this:

I don't think baseball players read this label.

Anyway, Mimosas. The perfect tailgating beverage, and at the top of the list of kinds of alcohol you can drink for breakfast.

Note I'm not pointing that at anyone. I follow directions.


That's my sister, Hannah. She's so nice, I'm actually going to remember to buy her a Christmas present this year!

So now, we're really partying.

Hard Core.

Oh, did I mention my mother was there? Yeah, that's one hell of a tailgate.

This was her normal pose for most of it. She took all the pictures of my kid, and then, when the game started, took him home for us. A wonderful woman, my mother. All the more so because of all the jackasses screaming such choice words as "Horse SHIT!" at the top of their jerky little lungs, like that would help the coach make better play calls. In other words, God bless the woman for taking my son home BEFORE it got ugly.

Moving on. So, as you can see, we are a perfectly normal group of people, sipping our mimosas and dining on our custom-made omelets at 9 in the morning in a parking lot. How do I know we're normal?

At least we weren't dressed like Waldo.

Seriously. Waldo showed up next to our area and played a little catch with his buddy, Nanook of the North over there. This outfit was a joy to begin with, but the hat was made all the more special that it was about 70 degrees outside by this point. (Yes, November. We got lucky). So this hat, much like this poor sap's pants, was something he chose to put on. Willingly.

So we drank our Mimosas, ate our omelets, and basked in the late fall sun. Then we went to the game with jackasses and watched the home team lose (which only made the jackasses jackier, really). Afterward, we went home, watched Wall*E, and crashed hard.

The next morning, we were all dragging, so I let my kid dress himself. Oh, who am I kidding? I always let him dress himself.

Note that it's the accessories that make this outfit. A Pooh-Bear fleece pull-over matched with camo fleece pants is one thing. But throw in his favorite pink bag, the one he uses to carry his toy cars around? Now that's an outfit!

Somewhere, Waldo is laughing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Like Pulling Teeth

No, wait. It wasn't like pulling teeth.

It *was* pulling teeth.

Here's what happened. Three and a half weeks ago, we noticed the kid's teeth--lower front--were looking a little wonky. And because we are uber-observant parents, we assumed he was in the middle of another growth spurt, and his jaw was outpacing his teeth.

It could happen. Really.

But it didn't. Two weeks passed. His teeth got wonkier and wonkier. And then, eleven days ago, I noticed that one of the lower front teeth was no longer wonky. It was sideways.

"Open your mouth," I said, toothbrush in hand. And both of his teeth wiggled. A lot. And there, behind these wiggly teeth, were two brand-spanking-new teeth already popping up.

So we aren't terribly observant parents. We're good enough. I'm sure we'd notice if he was missing a limb or something. Reasonably sure, depending on the limb.

Anyway, that was Sunday night. Those teeth were loose, but still attached. I sent him to bed with the admonishment that if a tooth fell out while he was in bed, he could come down and get us and it would not impact his Handy Manny viewing time in the morning.

A week of this went by. My boy wavered between excitement that the Tooth Fairy would come and bring him a 'shiny dime' (because that's what Sister Bear gets in the Bearnstein Bears, although I later learned on Facebook that the going rate for teeth these days is $5!) and stark, sheer terror that his teeth were going to come out. Mostly the terror part.

We tried Wednesday night to pull the sideways one, and it didn't budge before my boy began to scream. He wouldn't let us near his mouth after that, but those new teeth had to have somewhere to go, and soon.

At this point, we broke out all of our experienced parenting skills and went for the big guns: bribes. Specifically, bribes in the form of broccoli.

No, I'm not kidding. See for yourself.

Note that if you hold this up to the light and look through the window, you can see the broccoli stalk inside the car:

Yes. This bribe was a one-time only, first tooth 'reward' for being brave enough to lose some teeth. It sat, unopened on the counter, for two days.

(Why does Lightning McQueen have broccoli on his head, you ask? Excellent question. Lightning McQueen is supposed to have a tumbleweed on his head--it's a scene from the movie.

See? In this pic I stole from PitStop ToyStop, you can clearly see the tumbleweed. But, somehow, broccoli was how they translated 'tumbleweed' in Chinese, apparently. This is exactly the reason I teach English as a Second Language. To avoid irresponsible vegetable abuse.)

By Sunday night, I was serious about this. That tooth had to come out. I drank a little wine and had the following conversation with my husband: "You turn on Handy Manny, I'll get the car. You grab the kid, I'll get his teeth. And Break!" A well-oiled machine, that's what we are.

And it still almost half an hour. Kids, if you don't know already, are slippery little suckers. Just try to hold onto a kid some time. For added fun, do it someplace important, like the all-glass-bottle wine section at your local grocery store or a funeral home. Good times, I promise.

Finally, my husband had my boy wrapped up on the floor. One (possibly more, but by this time, things were getting confused) dog was snuffling around, licking anything he could get his tongue on. My boy had the still-unopened, licensed-broccoli-wearing-animated character in his hand. Handy Manny was nearing the end of the show. I could not keep yanking on my poor boy's mouth without throwing up. So I did what I had to.

I tickled him.

He jerked back so hard that I wound up with not one, but TWO teeth in my wad of wet cotton.

He screamed. I nearly threw up again. My husband--my rock, the love of my life--laughed his fool head off.

And then we all ate some ice cream and played Cars until bedtime. We carefully placed the multiple teeth in the handmade-by-Mom-with-love tooth sleeping bag, seen here:

(Yeah, that's right. I made that. Out of an old sleeping bag. True, I was going for something more in the 'pillow' department, but once a sleeping bag, always a sleeping bag. Plus, even the broccoli-head Lightning McQueen can fit in it. It's a multi-purpose sleeping bag. So there.)

And he went to bed. I drank a lot more wine (I ripped out my baby's teeth!) and deposited two shiny quarters in said sleeping bag.

He's the big man in class right now. Most of the other kids are far to young to grasp that, in our house, the Tooth Fairy is a little stingy. Heck, most of those kids aren't going to start losing teeth for another year or so. Plus, they loved broccoli-boy on show-and-tell day.

Which just goes to show that you should never, ever underestimate the power of a leafy green vegetable.