Category Archives: Family

THE CHOPPER SAGA: PART THREE (In Which His Reign of Terror Comes to an End)


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Almost two years had passed since I’d begrudgingly welcomed a dragon breath, mangy furred, one-eyed shaky little mutt into our home.

We inherited Chopper from my in-laws who, in a final display of their wicked sense of humor, left us their smelly, obese, geriatric dog instead of a palatial estate.

I didn’t really want him.  After all, I had already welcomed three kids, a cat, and my devoted German shepherd mix, Buddy, into my heart and home.   There was no room for more.

But the little dog needed a place to live, and given his age and poor health, I figured it would only be for a few months anyway, so I agreed.

When he arrived at our home he was so obese he could barely walk.  I immediately put him on a diet and within a few months he was running and jumping.  The vet said that I probably bought him a few extra months.  Great.

I sincerely hoped that since I’m a dog person at heart, I would eventually warm up to Chopper, but sadly, that was not the case.  Months after he joined our family, I was no fonder of him than I was at the start.

Sure he looked like a cross between a hedgehog and a footstool, but that wasn’t the problem.   What bothered me was that Chopper didn’t give me any normal, dog-like affection, and there was a blankness behind his eyes . . . oops, I mean, eye.

My husband shared my disdain, but my kids and their friends did not.  They loved Chopper.  To them, that stinky little beast was the most wonderful dog on the planet.  “Chopper is so cute!” they would often say.

My youngest adored him, so she was the most irritated when I routinely offered Chopper to anyone who came to visit.  “He’s on sale today!  I’ll throw in a six month supply of food!”

She got especially upset when I joked about wrapping him in bacon so the hawks might find him more appealing.   (I guess I did cross the line with that one.)

My daughter couldn’t understand why I didn’t like Chopper so I tried to explain, “He’s just not warm or friendly, and besides, I already have a dog.”

“Well you have more than one kid and you claim to love us all the same – or is that just something you parents have to say?”

She had a point, so I promised to reform my ways, and reminded her that even though I joked about Chopper, I was the one who was actually taking care of my in-laws’ dog.  I fed him, bathed him, and spent what seemed like an eternity at night putting him to bed.

For her sake I made an effort to say nice things about Chopper and I even gave him a cute nickname, “Chop Chop,” hoping that would change how I felt.

But Chopper made my mission more difficult when he started losing control of his bowels and had repeated accidents in the house.

We had to move him permanently outside so we fenced off a part of the yard so he wouldn’t fall in the pool and then crated him on our enclosed patio at night.

A few months later we made another unfortunate discovery. Chopper had started pooping in his crate.  Though we’d clean it up each morning, the kids started to avoid him.  They didn’t want to pet a dog that had been sleeping in his own poo.  Frankly I couldn’t blame them.

It seemed inhumane to let him live out his remaining days in such a manner.  Something had to be done.

The vet agreed, and also said that Chopper was clearly in pain.  We hadn’t noticed but his constant shaking had gotten worse and the arthritis had spread to his front leg.  He was almost completely deaf and blind and his endless pacing was likely a sign of dementia.

We talked to the kids and together we agreed that Chopper deserved to die with dignity.  But weeks passed without us taking any action. It was just too hard.  Then Chopper developed a tumor on his front leg, making each step incredibly difficult.  Finally we made the call.

The little guy must have sensed what was going on because that morning somehow he managed to hobble about the yard looking like he was game to play.  We joked that you could probably remove three of his legs and he’d still find a way to get around.

Since I wasn’t feeling well, my husband offered to take him in, but I insisted on going.  We would do it quickly like removing a Band-Aid; pay the fee, and don’t look back.

The soft-spoken technician took hold of the leash and asked if I needed more time.

No.  You don’t understand.  He’s not really my dog, I felt I should explain.  But, I petted Chopper goodbye, just the same.

“Come on, lets go get some treats,” he said as he led him to the back.

“Don’t go Chopper!  It’s a trick!”  I almost yelled.

Then the lady at the counter said those two words that messed up my plan – those two words that always make everything worse.

“I’m sorry.”

I could barely sign my name before I had to turn and run.

“Stupid dog,” was all I was able to say.

We got back home and cleaned out Chopper’s crate, removed the fencing, and packed away the bowl that my eldest daughter made for him so many years ago.

Life would be easier now, I told myself.  No more messes, no more vet trips, no more endless goodnights.

But the yard looked so empty without his pen and without his toys and without him.

Stupid dog.  I guess you were mine all along.

 

 

Previous Chopper Posts

Chopper: Our New One-Eyed Mutt

Chopper Lives! And Lives and Lives and Lives . . .

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Filed under animals, dogs, Family, pets, Uncategorized

The Hazards of Computer Parenting

imagesI often feel badly when I have to work late especially if I miss seeing the kids before they go to bed.  What’s worse is that sometimes I can’t call home because it disturbs my co-workers.  As a solution I set up an instant messenger program that lets me “chat” from my office computer with the kids on the home computer.  This way, if they have a question for me or if I need to nag them to do homework, we can just type each other a quick note.

But sometimes they take advantage.  Big time.   That’s clearly what happened when my eleven-year-old “I.M.’d” me the other night.

Sam: When are you coming home?

Me: Not for a couple more hours, I’m sorry.

Sam: Oh.  Did u say that I get my phone when Sabrina gets hers? Continue reading

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Filed under Children, computers, Family, parenting, Uncategorized, women, work

I’m Sorry I’m Thin and Irksome

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How do you stay so thin?”

That’s a question I’ve been asked many times in my life, often followed by, “You better enjoy it now because once you go to college/get married/have kids/turn forty, you’ll wish you had.”

Well, I’ve passed those hurdles and yet I remain thin, much to the annoyance of pretty much everyone. When people ask about my weight it’s never meant as a compliment. Rather, it’s an irritated demand, like, “Why the hell do you get to stay a skinny bitch when the rest of us have to count every calorie? Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Family, food, health, holidays, humor, Uncategorized

Hollister Horror: A Back to School Shopping Tale of Terror

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I’ve been to a little place in parenting hell and its name is Hollister.

My sixth grade daughter asked for a few new shirts to start the school year. She lobbied hard for a trip to Hollister because she heard they had “cute tanks” on sale.  Since she cleverly showed price awareness, I relented.

Hollister, it turns out, is the equally perfumed spawn of Abercrombie and Fitch. It has a beach-themed facade and the clothes in the window displays are indeed quite cute. I could understand why my daughter wanted to shop there.

But, as I walked into the store, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sound of thumping, booming, ear-splitting pop music.

Now I’m not noise sensitive. I’m married to a sound mixer and in my own line of work I have had to stand right next to speaker columns during rock concerts. In fact one particular Keith Richards shoot probably half-deafened me.

I’ve videotaped airplane take offs and I even stood on pit road filming during the Daytona 500. But, none of these experiences prepared me for the deafening decibels I endured at Hollister. It was like a top-forty terror attack on my senses.

Yet workers seemed oblivious to the assault. Maybe news stories tying hearing loss in teens to earbuds and “iEardamage” technologies are off base – loud stores like Hollister may be more to blame.

My daughter, unbothered by the rave-level racket, bolted for the back of the store where the desired sale items were housed. I tried to follow, but kept bumping into tables and clothing racks. Was I getting a sudden onset of cataracts, I wondered.  Why was the store so very dark?  Did Hollister forget to pay its electric bill? Continue reading

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Filed under comedy, culture, Family, fashion, humor, life, Shopping, Uncategorized

I’m A Gluten-Free Drop Out! (Featured on Scary Mommy)

I’m honored to have a Guest Post on Scary Mommy.  It’s all about how our family had to go Gluten-Free, and how I pretty much sucked at it.  Check it out!

GOING GLUTEN-FREE (KIND OF)  And if you’ve never visited Scary Mommy – scroll around – you’ll be glad you did!

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GOING GLUTEN FREE  (KIND OF)

It started with a pretzel, the deliciously crunchy stick kind; my favorite snack food before the gluten-free edict came down.

Oh, how I savored that pretzel and it’s crunchy salty goodness, all the while promising myself, I’ll just have this one. But seconds later, somehow the contents of the bag were all gone. Good Lord, what was wrong with me? How could I have been so weak?

Not even a month had passed since my fourteen-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the autoimmune disorder that attacks one’s own digestive system if even specks of wheat, rye, or barley are consumed. Samantha’s lengthy illness had been a mystery, so when we finally found out the cause and the straightforward remedy (maintaining a gluten-free diet) we were quite relieved.

We didn’t bat an eye when her doctor said that to prevent cross-contamination and to be supportive, our entire household should also go gluten-free. Of course, we’d do whatever it takes to help Samantha feel better again.

I knew I wouldn’t have a problem going gluten-free. Parents are used to sacrificing for their children and, besides, I had been pregnant three times and never had a problem giving up my sushi, coffee or wine (well, you know, within reason). Continue reading

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Filed under Family, food, health, humor, kids, life, medical, parenting

Guest post on Wise Sister!

My “10 Ways to Annoy Your Teenager” piece is on Wise Sister, a blog devoted to “Lifestyle Design for Clever Young Women.”

Check it out and other musings by guest writers and blog host, Jenny Wise.  (Who is a clever young woman herself)

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Filed under comedy, culture, Family, kids, mother daughter, mothering, parenting, teenagers

Featured on WordPress Mother’s Day Blog & a post

I’m honored to be featured in a special WordPress Mother’s Day Feature on MomBlogs!  Thanks WordPress and welcome new WordPress visitors!

As Cheri wrote in her lovely post, I write about life with my three daughters, my aging and heightist mom, or about things that irk or baffle me.  Really, I write about whatever I want to write about, damn it.

In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s a piece I’ve written about my mother.

“LUNCH WITH TWO WOMEN NAMED JOAN”

also known as, MY 85 YEAR-OLD MOM AND HER FRIEND HAVE LUNCH, CATFIGHT ALMOST ENSUES

Two Women Named JoanWhen she was ten, my mother met a girl who shared her first name. They quickly became best friends and stayed so for the next 75 years. Together they shared schoolyard memories, weddings, and years of family get-togethers.

But in the year and a half since my father passed away, my mom had not been able to see her best friend, Joan, because they live an hour apart and neither could drive on the freeways. (Though unfortunate for them, likely countless lives have been saved by their motoring absence.)

My brothers and sisters and I felt badly about the situation especially because this was when my mom needed her friend the most, in the lonely time that followed the loss of her husband of sixty years. So first my brother and I decided to reunite the two Joans through email.

But as much as we tried to simplify the process, our Joan could not, or rather would not, embrace the use of a computer. At each tutorial she would play along and pretend to listen to us, while refusing to let anything sink in. Though my mom would nod or respond occasionally with an “Uh-huh,” I knew she was secretly worrying if we’d finish the tedious exercise before the start of Dr. Oz. Frankly, we could have gotten more genuine cooperation from my cat. Continue reading

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Filed under Family, humor, mother daughter, mothering, Uncategorized, women, Writing

My Column in Working Mother Magazine

Here’s a humor piece I wrote that was in the Feb/March issue of Working Mother Magazine.  I wrote it last year when I was trying to talk to my daughter while editing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Now, I’m in the edit bay on another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show! Oh, and my daughter thinks she should get half of the money I earned for selling the article.

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Filed under comedy, Family, humor, kids, parenting

The Big Comfy Chair

Really, It’s Just a Chair

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After the moving van pulled away, we took stock of our old shabby chic style living room furniture that sat in our new sixties-era modern home and decided, “This stuff has gotta go.”  It looked completely out of place.   We immediately added “new furniture” to our growing list of things we needed to fix or change in our new home.

Three weeks and thirteen years later, that new furniture finally arrived.

After positioning our new couch and chairs, the deliverymen and I moved the old antique couch and its two chair friends out to the covered patio, ready for a closely timed pickup from the local thrift store.

Unfortunately, the thrift store workers deemed one of those chairs, the overstuffed pink one, too worn and unsightly to sell.  So they had to reject our donation.  Wow, I didn’t think it looked that bad.

When my daughter arrived home from school later that day, she quickly passed by the new furniture, and honed in on the lone, banished chair.  “Why is our chair outside?  You’re not planning to get rid of the comfy chair, are you?  You can’t get rid of the Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Home, life, Uncategorized

Teachers – Give Us Parents A Break!

I know it’s a huge cultural taboo to criticize teachers, but they are not always perfect and I can’t keep quiet about this any longer.

My beef is with the relentless assignment of outside projects.  I am fine with kids doing regular homework, but don’t teachers realize how much time and money these extra projects cost us parents? Continue reading

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Filed under comedy, education, Family, humor, kids, mothering, parenting, Uncategorized