The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 3

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Family, No Whining, Our Kids, Pets, Vestibular Migraine, Weight Loss

I groggily woke at 8:30 to grab the free breakfast before it closed down at nine and fixed a plate for Naughty Bear since he was moving too slowly to get it himself. I’m nothing if not thrifty and didn’t want to pay for breakfast that was freely provided.

I threw on sweats and headed to the “gym” which included an elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bike. I did my running program on the treadmill, and while it was a pain in the ass doing the intervals that way, I’m really glad I did it. I was dizzy afterward, but also supremely energized for the rest of the day. Since I knew NB would be driving, the dizziness was not going to be an issue.

I was able to verify that the treadmill workout is not as efficient as a road workout, at least not for me. I was simply unable to hit my usual heart rate (using my usual HR monitor from home) without increasing the incline to 2 and running faster than I would normal do on the road. The program I use insists on avoiding overexertion, preferring endurance to speed. I threw that out the window because I decided to see if I would be able to hit my usual HR. I did, but it was an all-out run. Still, I’m glad to know I was able to replicate it and I’m no worse for wear. I’ll continue my roadwork, but still want access to an elliptical so that I can follow my program when the weather is too nasty. All in all, I burned a little over 600 calories, which is lower than what I do at home for a workout of that length, but I was happy to have done it.

I returned and we showered and headed back to Naughty Bear’s apartment to finish up and turn off the utilities in his name in time to pick up LT at 3 pm from school. We were shocked upon arrival because the roomie had cleaned the living room. Even the missing kitchen trashcan was returned! It was quite remarkable.

I played with Not My and took him out back to go potty and whatnot, and I fell even more in love with him After a good long playtime and frolicking, we put him in the roomie’s room so that we could get to work and load up the car to take stuff to the hotel for the last night.

On a heartbreaking note, when we arrived Naughty Bear noticed his door was open and that Not My had gotten the stuffed animal that I’d sent him for Valentine’s Day off his bed. He was utterly shocked because Not My had NEVER chewed on anything other than the dog toys. It’s the only thing he’d ever taken that wasn’t his, and Naughty Bear decided that he took it because it had my scent on it. My heart broke at just the thought of it, and I wanted to bring him home even more. The roomie is less than financially stable, like many of us, and I couldn’t help but hope that if he couldn’t keep him that we’d be able to get him. Isn’t that terrible?!?!

We loaded up the car and dropped everything off at the hotel and went to pick up LT. I’m saddened to say that we still had to shut off the utilities, so didn’t have a free chill out afternoon with LT on our last evening together. It really couldn’t be helped, and he seemed fine with it since we were all together. After those errands, I plunked down at my ex’s computer to pull all the financial information together for what was expected to be a very unpleasant discussion with the roomie. He was expecting to get stuck holding the bag because of my son moving out a month early, but Naughty Bear had no intention of doing that. The meeting was to sort out who owed what for the last month of the six month lease, and to reassure the roomie that he wasn’t leaving him in the lurch. NB is committed to honoring his verbal contract and to continue paying his half of the expenses for their agreed upon lease term of six months.

Once I finished the financial document, I offered to go with them since I didn’t think I could explain everything involved for the meeting starting in a few minutes. My ex didn’t happy about it, reportedly because he didn’t want me dragged into unpleasantness with the roomie, who is also the drummer in his band. I told him I didn’t care if the roomie hated me or blamed me or got mad at me because I didn’t expect to ever see him again. I had nothing to lose in explaining the facts that they had trouble sorting out from the spreadsheet I made. (My ex reports for work at 4 am and the meeting was at 6 pm, a very long day indeed.) His wife, M, felt pretty strongly that I should go to make sure there was no confusion and because, like me, she thought he might be more amenable with someone he didn’t know there. Naughty Bear agreed and ex did to, so the three of us left for the meeting.

I’ll admit that I had one of my silent panic attacks on the way, and told them I’d stay quiet unless explanation was needed or take the lead, whichever NB and his dad wanted. They suggested hanging back unless something needed explaining, but once we got there it was pure silence, awkwardness and testosterone. So I did what I’ve done my whole life as a middle-child diplomat – I started chattering to smooth the ruffled feathers. I introduced myself and just then Not My came running up to me to play as we’d been doing the last two days. He apologized for the dog’s exuberance and I told him no worries and explained how smitten I was with the dog. (I had to be careful to call him Bricktop instead of Not My.) He seemed surprised at this, because most people complain how wild the dog is, which it wasn’t with me because I exerted my dominance over him immediately, so he knew how to behave. I told him how he reminded me of my Kaylee and we talked dogs for a few minutes while NB and his dad hung back. By the time we sat down to go over the spreadsheet, Roomie seemed very comfortable and at ease. I felt good about this, because I felt bad for him and didn’t want him to feel ambushed or put on the defensive. I could empathize with his feeling that he was going to get screwed because as a younger woman I had a roomie move out and had gotten stuck me with a financial mess to sort out.

NB reassured him that he was sticking with their agreement and then I started explaining the spreadsheet. He was appreciative at the effort I took and at NB’s maturity and morals and agreed down the line. I expected this, as I carefully documented everything factually and honestly, so there was nothing to dispute. In honesty, I didn’t expect him to do so as quickly as he did. It was left on such good terms that we ended up inviting him to join us for dinner at the Chinese buffet where I had been invited to join my ex’s family the night before.

Dinner was much like it is when we have gatherings with local friends in DC/MD/VA at DFH and the like. My ex and M (his wife) have a rambunctious and hilarious 5 year old son (Wild G), an adorable, sweet and thoughtfully intelligent 8 year old daughter (Tranquil M) and ex’s wife has a very friendly and kind 11 year old son from her previous marriage (Charming C). Add me, Naughty Bear, LT and Roomie and it was a par-tay. We took over the joint, as the kids told stories, laughed and entertained us all. The adults joined in as well, and it was a much better time than I’d anticipated. In truth, I was absolutely anxiety-ridden as there has been … difficulty … in the past.

I think there were some great in-roads made, and that has made the trip even more valuable than I’d hoped. As the check arrived, I reached for my wallet and was immediately told by my ex’s wife “Don’t even think about it, this is our treat.” I naturally tried to argue at this unexpected kindness and was laughingly warned by others at the table not to argue with her. I offered my sincere thanks, as I was truly appreciative. We’ve come a long way, baby!

I especially enjoyed getting to know the kids better, as it was really the first chance I’ve ever had to do so. I took time with each of them, and they are each endearing in their own ways. It’s easy to see why my sons love them so much, beyond the sibling bond.

We said our farewells, and I made a point of reminding the Roomie what I had said earlier in the night, which was that if he ever found himself in the position of having to find another home for Not My, to contact me and I’d try to come and get him immediately. He refused the offer, saying he’d never get rid of him but I made sure he knew I was sincere. He’d be a perfect fit for our family and a great friend for Kaylee.

After we all said farewells, Naughty Bear and LT and I ran to Wal-Mart to try the Cherry Cheesecake Blue Bell as a farewell dessert. All I can say is, after 35 years I think that Cookies and Cream is no longer my fave Blue Bell ice cream.

We left the rest for the family to enjoy and then said our final goodbyes. Naughty Bear and I were both sad at leaving LT, but he had additional sadness at leaving the other kids, his dad and M. Things were finally becoming very real for him, I think.

Upon return to the hotel, in typical fashion I have trouble changing gears and started working on my blog posts before I could forget the events of the chaotic days. NB spent some time on Skype with his girlfriend and then went to sleep, utterly exhausted.

Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life.

Diet progress: Being more cautious. Had cheerios, banana, hard boiled egg and 2 cups of decaff tea. 2 more bananas during the day due to very late lunch at 3 pm of a tendergrill sandwich with no mayo at Burger King. (Yes, I’d sworn off fast food but had literally no choices not having a kitchen available to me.) Chinese buffet for dinner as planned by ex and his wife, I had a small amount of hot and sour soup, loads of fruit, 4 veggie sushi rolls and one chicken on a stick. All the veggies were sauteed in oil, nothing was steamed except the white rice and I skipped both. Afterward we had more Blue Bell ice cream. With the Runkeeper program that I did in the morning, plus all the physical exertion of packing, cleaning and loading up the car I feel like I did “okay” for the day.

As in the two previous posts, if you click on the flickr album you will be able to read my descriptions of what you’re viewing, so they’ll make much more sense. In today’s photos, you’ll even learn why I tweeted “Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life."
If this post interested you at all, you should check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Edit: Can’t believe I forgot to share this, remembered when recapping trip with Chooch last night and he reminded me that I tweeted about it. @cwseidman and I were tweeting about how gross motherhood can be as she was dealing with her daughter’s excessively runny nose. My response was “@CWSeidman I’ll let you know when the gross outs end. Dinner was punctuated by NB dropping a semen joke, so we aren’t quite there yet.” The joke was from a conversation between LT and his dad at the Chinese buffet. His dad asked if he tried any of the sushi, and LT said he doesn’t like seafood. His dad said, “Did you like the tacos I made the other night, because those were seafood?” Before LT could reply, Naughty Bear said, in a very quiet voice so the kids wouldn’t hear, “That wasn’t seafood, that was semen.” Roomie, NB, LT and I erupted in laughter, and explained the joke to my ex and his wife when the little ones were out of ear-shot. Hi-larious!

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 2

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, No Whining, Our Kids, Our Kids, Pets, Vestibular Migraine

Monday morning is very foggy but Mark arrived and we grabbed the complimentary wall of carbohydrates, err, I mean the complimentary breakfast before hitting the road to Get Stuff Done.

First up was doing three loads of laundry since, in typical bachelor fashion, he had nothing clean.
While we hung out we chatted and tried to untangle the confusing finances between he and his roommate and the final month of the six-month lease. After I sort of understood that, his dad stopped by so we could have a plan of action on the possibly hostile meeting with said roommate to finalize everything. I took a private moment with my ex to ensure that there were no issues from the night before with his wife, and he reassured me there were not. She was simply having a rough day and they were both very grateful that I’d gotten the printer working.
Edit: After back tracking through my tweets, I see I forgot to mention this “Ah, the laundromat. Dude accidentally spit in a ladies basket thinking it was a trash can. Then wants pat on the back for telling victim.” It almost got REAL up in that laundromat!

After ward, Naughty Bear and I grabbed lunch at Subway and picked up boxes to head over to his place and start boxing things up. We spent the next several hours working in the kitchen and his bedroom. The common areas were disgusting. Literally. I wished I had grabbed rubber gloves and tongs. No exaggeration. I cleaned the kitchen as I went through seeking out what I’d stocked him with, just as a kind gesture to the roommate. The kitchen looked decent after I’d scrubbed the counter and washed the sink full of dishes. Naughty Bear confessed that the only time he spent in the apartment was in his bedroom and bathroom because the common areas were taken over by the roomie and he was tired of cleaning up after him. It certainly looked to be true.

The bright spot of the time at the apartment was falling in love with the roomie’s disallowed pet, a black lab mix named “Bricktop” seemingly named that because he survived a fall or some kind of head injury from a brick and survived. The dog was wildly lonely and hyper for attention, so I spent quite a few minutes soothing it. It was silent the hours we worked, but when I peeked in to see if it was okay I fell in love. I took him out for a potty break and while he was wild and untrained he started responding to my commands and leash training pretty quickly. This “wild dog” is simply untrained and lacks attention and discipline. Even Naughty Bear was really impressed with how well he was behaving. As for me, I could see the potential and fell head over heels with his sweetness. He has the kind facial structure of my sweet Kaylee and I couldn’t help but imagine them playing and frolicking together.

I thought that Bricktop was a really stupid name; similar to naming a dog Shotgun after it had been shot. I renamed him “NotMy” so that every time I said his name I was reminded that he wasn’t mine to love and take home. After his potty break and playtime, we put him back in the roomies room and NotMy whimpered the entire time, something that Naughty Bear said he never does. Does it seem like I’m gushing over this dog I’ll never see again? Yes, I likely am. That’s how much I love him.

We finished up for the day so we could pick up LT, and headed out to dinner at a favorite Mexican food chain of mine, not available in our area of the country. Keep in mind, I lived in Texas from age three to seventeen and I know what I’m doing without! After a tasty dinner where I ate light, we returned to LT’s place and chatted with their siblings and my ex and his wife for a bit as they cooked dinner. It was late-ish and LT needed to work on the project due the next day, so we made plans for dinner together on Tuesday night, and then Naughty Bear and I left to go in search items needed for the trip from Wal-Mart.

We grabbed the soft car top carrier to maximize storage space for the drive and on a whim hit the ice cream section for the end-all, be-all ice cream of my childhood, Blue Bell Ice Cream. This is something you cannot buy in most of the country. I grew up with it, and in my opinion there is no other ice cream as good. I admit that it is partly due to rarity and nostalgia, but I dare you to say it’s not tasty. We found a huge case of it, and I grabbed a small of my beloved Cookies and Cream and Naughty Bear grabbed a small of Banana Pudding, which was a flavor new to us both. We wondered if it had Nilla wafers in it, and as I read the ingredients aloud, I actually shouted “Nilla Wafers!” when I saw them on the list. Apparently, I’m easy to please and will always be a fatty no matter how much weight I lose.

We headed back to the hotel since Naughty Bear was planning on avoiding further difficulty with the ex by staying in the other double bed in my room. He logged in to Skype with his girlfriend as Scott Pilgrim played and I started going through the stack of papers in order to try and make sense of what was owed and by whom. I didn’t get to talk to Chooch before sleepies, because it was so late when I finished my hope was that he was already asleep for work the next day.

I was asleep in no time, after I took my sleeping pill, praise be!

As for the diet, I had a waffle at breakfast which was a no-no, but I did it anyways. I ate fruit all day long, with a super healthy Subway 6-inch, soup and chips at the Mexican restaurant and half a pint of ice cream. With the physical exertion of the day, I think I was only slightly higher on calories than I should have been.

Puppy Love, Again

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Pets

I’ve been afraid of dogs for as long as I can remember. Still am, if truth be told, except for a few dogs and only after careful observation of their behavior.

I was 18 the first time I met a dog that I really loved, and eventually lost my fear of her. A beautiful Brittany spaniel named Lady owned by my ex-husband’s parents. She was a gentle and loving pet, smart as hell and was like Nana (The Darling’s dog from Peter Pan) to my sons. I remember her always going up to Naughty Bear when she would enter the room, giving him a sniff to make sure he was okay before going off to do her thing. There was even a time when a two-ish year old girl was petting Lady, until someone called her name. When she girl turned, her fist clenched reflexively. It would have been no big deal, except that it caused her to catch Lady’s upper eyelid in her little clenched fist. Lady didn’t bark, snap, growl or even move as the little girl’s fingers were gently taken out of Lady’s eye. I sat in awe as she held perfectly still and silent, and then immediately left the room when freed. I’m guessing she went to hide, but that inspired total trust in her on my part. She showed me that a dog could be more than just a high maintenance cat. And I’ve never really loved a dog that much since then, until Kaylee.

The two attempts in my Old Life to have dogs were disastrous, on many levels and for many reasons not worth going into here. I decided I was simply a Cat Person, and didn’t give it another thought until recent years led us to circumstances to be able to get Kaylee. I was going a bit baby crazy, and since we very maturely decided against having any more, that morphed into puppy crazy. We waited a few years for circumstances to be right before we began looking in earnest. Because of my base fear and previous experience, we sought out a puppy by breed rather than through the shelter. Oh, I tried the humane route and after being viciously barked at and seeing dogs throw themselves against the pens to try and get at me I gave up. They scared the bejesus out of me, to the point that I sat shaking in my car after each attempt.

We eventually found our pup through an online service and went to meet her while she was still too young to adopt. The owners were clearly devoted to their pets and the litter, and were lovingly attended to by the entire family.  Spending time with both of Kaylee’s parents prepared me for their large size and also enraptured me with their intelligence and sweet dispositions. Hubby, son and I completely in love with her, Kaylee Sioux Valentine joined our family about a year and a half ago.

Me and Kaylee - six months old

With Chooch’s help, and great follow-through by the boys, she has grown into a wonderful and loving, yet spirited companion. We definitely got lucky with her loving disposition, but it is clear to me that our consistency in training has helped with almost everything else that is so wonderful about her. She has even taken to our adventures, going with us to visit friends (she occasionally gets a little TOO excited playing with their pups, so we’re still working that out) and also on our runs around the neighborhood. She is great with strangers and other animals, although she still gets super excited when squirrels cross her path. This dog is a lifelong companion, and I look forward to our future together.

I have to say, this comes as quite a shock to me, even after all the years of having Lady in my life. My mother always attributed my fear of dogs to being bitten when I was very young. I don’t know if that’s it, as I certainly don’t remember the incident, but it’s definitely a primal fear. Even interacting with dogs owned by friends I still feel a flutter of panic when I encounter a new dog. And regardless of size, if the dog shows any aggression, the panic kicks in full force and I’m pretty much done. Instinct is key for me, and I always follow it. Maybe the dog bite actually is the root.

With this background, you can imagine my surprise when I came across some photos from when I was very young, playing with a very large dog. I’ve always remembered that we had a dog named Black Jack , but had no recollection of the animal itself. The joy in my face as I played with this beast shows that I wasn’t always terrified of big dogs. I was younger than 4 years old when we left that residence in Alaska, but beyond that have no idea how old I am.

Me and Black Jack

I’m still a Cat Person, and plan to have another some day. But I have to admit that
I kinda look like a Dog Person, too.