Potty Training Is Not For Wimps

Yesterday was kind of rough for me and Val. She was cranky from the
minute she got up and I was cranky myself. It's not a good

Add to that a toddler who refuses to nap and the precious time I needed
to myself just didn't happen. This all came together when Val and I
headed up to Thunder's birthday dinner. No sooner did we get in the car
did she say she had to go potty.

Usually this means we pull over, find a bathroom and she goes.

Not yesterday. That's when I started to get an idea that letting Val
eat 4 yam cakes in 1 day was a Very Bad Idea. Poor her, she couldn't
poop but she knew she needed to. So we sat there in a nasty bathroom
with me holding her up over the toilet.

After a time, this gets a little hard on your arms. Even a
small-for-her-age kid gets a bit heavy. Finally I ask her if we can try
later and she says yes.

Strap her back in the carseat and attempt to head out again. At this
point we're 1/2 hour late. Before I'm even out of the parking lot she
says she has to go. I head back home and there we try again. Except
that she fell asleep between nasty bathroom and home so when I sit her
on the toilet, she's falling asleep. But she won't get off, she knows
she needs to go.

It was so damn sad, my little girl falling asleep, whining while she was
awake but trying so hard to do well with her potty training. After a
phone call where I totally lose it and wind up crying myself, Andrea
wisely suggests that I get her some apple juice. So I leave my
struggling-to-stay-awake child on her elmo potty seat and get some

At this point we're 30 minutes into the Val needs to poop saga and my
patience, which was wearing thin, starts to return. Thank God because I
had some moments that I'm just not proud of.

Finally, 35+ minutes after we first attempted to leave the house, Val
toots a little toot and a minute later, there is poop!

I have never been so happy to see toddler poop. I can only imagine how
much better Val felt.

While the whole thing was hard for both of us, later I realized how
amazing it was that my little girl didn't give up. Even when, in
desperation, I offered her a diaper for the car, she flatly refused.
She's committed to potty training.

And on that front, I have the following to report:
2 weeks of preschool has meant only 1 potty accident for her, not even a
full one, just a didn't quite make it in time moment.
1 week of cloth diapers at night has meant only one night where she woke
up wet.

We are going to give away the rest of her disposable diapers and the
diaper trash can goes to the basement. I'm hanging onto a few pullups
for our upcoming plane trips since you never quite know how long it will
be before you can get up. And yes, we're stocking up on portable potty

But I'm so proud.


So our man Zeus is on the decline. He's almost 15 1/2, that's a good run for any dog. I know this. He's mostly blind, has increasingly selective hearing and his breath, good God, that breath leaves a lot to be desired. Like an industrial-strength breath mint, for starters.

He's basically a sweet guy, but here's the thing, or at least part of the thing. Since he tried to kill himself via a box of Clif bars a few years ago he really hasn't been the same. I don't blame him, that was quite an ordeal, but it nonetheless, he's a changed man since then. Basically, he's senile. He barks at random times, he bumps into things and lately his legs are starting to give out on him. We suspect he may have had a small stroke this winter, since at first it was just one side of him that had all the trouble.

We've done our best to keep him happy, keep him a little on the fat side, give him some tasty vittles to eat. But it's coming to a point where we're going to have to make a decision.

CAUTION: I'm about to discuss some very gross things here, you may want to skip ahead...

This one is harder than it was with Gus and Ellie because with both of them, the path to their demise was marked by vast quantities of shit and blood throughout the house. Less so for Ellie, but Gus, my sweet Gus, he became a spraying faucet of bloody poop that was no picnic to clean up. This is sort an understatement because this all went on while Andrea was at work and I was home with a 3 week old baby. In case you didn't know, 3 week old babies require a fair bit of care and c-sections don't exactly heal overnight. Adding this level of mess and sadness to all that work made for some dark days.


A couple of times, we thought this was it for Gus but then he'd perk back up. We tried to follow his lead and not rush things, balancing that with not waiting too long. Because with Ellie, we waited about a day too long and I'll always carry some guilt around that. I'm sorry, El. We should have taken you in that Saturday night.

So with Gus, maybe we waited an hour too long but our timing was strategic. We wanted to get to the vet's late at night, when the summer heat had broken for the day and when the vet's was quieter. We'd been through it before and it seemed better for all of us to have that plan.

I remember carrying him to the car, holding a towel around his stomach to hold his back legs up. He could barely get in the car but he was kind enough to pee outside just before we went into the vet. As he died, I held him and said 'thanks for picking me.' He remains the easiest dog we've ever had, in so many ways he was simply the best.

But we knew his time was up. His body failed in such a dramatic way, there was no other option.

Zeus, like always, he's a different story. He's still fairly mentally intact (senility aside) and still eats every damn thing we give him. But. But he can hardly walk and he's having a harder time getting comfortable as the days go on. I just cannot tell when his time will be, which marker will be the one that makes us say, oh yes, he's ready now. Last Friday, he couldn't stand up and I thought okay, this is it.

But then he stood up, thus re-instating our confusion on the subject.

The bottom line is that we just don't know what to do. Which I guess means we should wait, that it's not quite his time yet. I really wish we knew for sure that it was the right thing.


This cracks me up every time

So I thought I'd share it with you all. Please view it in my Flickr stream for the maximum funniness, which you'll see in my most excellent note.


This Makes No Sense To Me

Yesterday we were at a lovely party with a bunch of nice lesbian
families. At one point I found myself sitting with 2 moms who had
expanded their families by one mom giving birth, then the other.

The moms I was sitting with started to commiserate about how nice it is
that their partners are, by default, the primary parent for the child
they gave birth to.


This completely blew my mind, even as I watched one mom send her partner
to tend to the child that her partner had given birth to.

Even though I bitched and complained my way through 40 weeks, 2 days of
pregnancy and 1 year of breastfeeding, not once did I really consider
myself to be any more Val's parent than Andrea. Yes, obviously the
pregnancy and breastfeeding bits are work that is done by one parent but
that gave me no special license or even great bonding with Val that
Andrea didn't get. We are both her parents, each of us is, at different
times, her 'other mommy.'

I think I have more thinking to do around this yet...


Where The Story Ends

We were hunting for a potato salad recipe tonight and it only seemed natural that we turn to the cookbook of my Grandma's recipes. The summer after she died, my mom and her siblings all worked hard to collect, organize and transcribe the hard-to-read cards from Grandma's box of recipes. They made a really lovely book, had it bound and everything, and sent it out to all of us.

I was stunned at the sheer volume and variety of jello-based salads. There are also a ton of things I just don't remember her making but I'm thrilled to find them now. Seeing her handwriting is just so special.

On the cover is a picture that I took back in 1997, before Grandma got sick. She's sitting in the Lazy Boy chair in the den of the house I grew up in, smiling and propping up her head a little. It's how I think of her, that picture. I think of her happy and not in much pain.

So I love that it's the cover.

Val was sitting with us as we searched (in vain, as it turns out) for a potato salad recipe. She asked who that was, we told her it's her Great-Grandma. After a time, Val said 'I love you, Great-Grandma!'

With quiet tears in my eyes, I said Val, she loves you too.

The date on the cover of the book is 2005. I looked at that date and I thought, that's the year her story ended. But then I realized, that's just not true. Grandma's story continues today, with every tear my family and I shed thinking of the loss we feel, with every smile at the memories of her with her coffee cup, playing cards at the breakfast table. Her story continues every time I sit down in what used to be her chair, every time Val sits on our porch in the metal rocking chair that used to be on Grandma's porch.

Her story continues, in a way, in this little girl who bears her name. And I know without a doubt, that wherever Grandma has gone to, that from that place, yes indeed she loves Val too.

Lunch Highlights

Most Fridays I take Val to Arby's for lunch after gymnastics. We often
see some interesting folks, like the elderly identical twins who, each
time we see them, tell us they're twins. But today was kinda special.

First, a grizzled old woman wearing a kerchief told me 'this is the
life! You don't have to make something at home. I could stay here all

Then I heard a bunch of kids and looked back to see that the place was
being overtaken by a group of Amish moms and their flock of kids, all of
whom were clamoring for popcorn chicken.

As I was taking Val to the bathroom a boy pointed out that when you see
the ATM sign backwards, it's totally MTA.

3 star meal, indeed.


Preschool Part Too

I left work early today to go and get Val. Somehow I thought that maybe
she'd be a little wistful or at least happy to see me.

But no. She was totally busy playing with the other kids outside and
didn't want to go home. After a few minutes she did give me a big hug.

She also had 0 potty accidents all day. Just like we taught her, she
went up to the teachers and told them 'go potty, please.'

I'm so proud right now.

Preschool Report, Day 1

Val apparently rolled right into preschool like she'd been there
forever. This is both good (because it means she's confident enough to
do this) and bad (because it means she's confident enough to not need us
as much as we think she does).

I just called over there and heard that she did well this morning but
did have a little crying bout. The kids are napping right now, but
she's just hanging out on her mat not sleeping. I didn't hear how her
potty training is going but I'm sure I'll get the full scoop when I pick
her up this afternoon.

This Is What A Badass Cake Looks Like

awesome cake
Originally uploaded by cheddah j
If you're lucky enough to have a Godmother who makes one for you.


Originally uploaded by liz2d2
This is what 2 looks like.


And Everything Changed

Friday, Val turned two. We had a lovely day together. I took the day off thinking I'd spend the day with Val and my folks, getting stuff ready for Saturday's party. Turned out they went to Santa Cruz with my brother early in the afternoon, leaving me and Val to our own devices.

We hit Costco with Soosan and the girls, got what turned out to be a few too many sandwiches, then came back for a nap. We got up in time for a really nice dinner with Soosan's crew. It was Val's favorite, mac and cheese and a lovely cake. I had to run off to my hockey game, where I played a largely uninspired game.

Saturday was party day. We got up early and started gathering stuff for the party. I'm always stunned at the vast lengths people go to for kids parties -- next to us was a gigantic tent filled with food, across the way were two bounce houses and caterers for a 1 year old birthday party. We looked pretty damn pedestrian with our trays of sandwiches, fruit and snacks.

We'd been lucky enough to have Viv reserve the picnic spot for us at the most badass park in all of Sunnyvale. We had the spray pool turned on so the kiddos had a blast splashing in there. We took shifts watching the kids while everyone else hung out at the picnic tables.

Dare I say, it was just super nice.

We wound up with an extra cake because Soosan seriously outdid herself with Val's Zoe cake. It was totally perfect, and big enough for everyone so we didn't need the one we'd bought. So we did what anyone would do -- invited everyone who was there at the end of the party to come out to Pepper Lunch for dinner with us and have more cake!

That was also super nice, even when the sugar and a long day added up to make all the kids a wee bit cranky at the end. I had to take my parents to the airport to drop off their rental car, on the way home I was so damn tired, but pleased that our little girl had such a nice birthday.

Today, we had dim sum then I came home and put my pj's back on. I was not leaving the house. Val and I had a really long nap together. I got up before Val and put together all her stuff for preschool.

Which starts tomorrow.

I'm torn between doing everything I can not to think about it and worried sick about how she'll do. Rest assured that either way, I'll let you know.



Happy Birthday Val.

2? How is that possible??


Are You Kidding?

Just saw this guy from some Catholic group say that gay marriage is
against the will of children, who all want one mother and one father.

Sorry pal, I'm pretty sure my kid doesn't give a rat's ass about that
and you sir, make me ashamed to be Catholic.


My parents are here for Val's birthday party.  In a fleeting moment of enthusiasm I told them that yes!  We're Getting Married! 
I went on to explain that the Supreme Court had ruled today, blah blah blah.  Finally I had to say 'now's the part where you say 'Congratulations.'
I should not have to spell that out.

Holy Shit!

We can get married.




Originally uploaded by gadgetgrrl
She's all Little Kid now. But, I assure you, she's funnier every damn day.


What It Was

The thing on Zeus' toe was a warty mole (Molly Russel's wart, perhaps).
The nice vet who saved his life in 2004 sedated him, then hacked the
shit out of it. That was pleasant to watch.

It bled a fair bit but she got a sufficient amount of the Molly Russel's
wart off. He's now sporting a giant bandage on his leg and we're $224

The mild sedative is apparently not mild enough to wear off quickly. We
had to carry his half-awake self out to the car.

The vet thinks this warty thing will grow back but like us, she's loathe
to put him under general anesthesia. So we'll have a repeat of
tonight's procedure if we have to in a few weeks or months.

At this point his care is such a balancing act. Happy life vs. Less
happy life with some pain vs. Life with a lot of pain interspersed with
treatments that grow harder to recover from, etc., etc., etc. We'll
walk this tightrope as long as it seems fair to the old man. Despite
his rather unique and (at times) challenging personality, he most
certainly deserves a good end of life.

I think the trick always becomes how exactly we define that on his
behalf. It's not like he'll stop eating, so the barometer rests in a
different place. I'm just not sure where that is.

In the meantime he's snoozing in the back of the car and we're headed
home so he can sleep with Patrick like he always does. That's enough
for now.


Zeus has had this little teeny tumor on his toe for quite some time.
I'd say a year or more. It's been looked at a number of times, not
grown or changed so there it stayed.

Until last week, when all of a sudden it got three times it's size and
red, red red. We almost took him in for an emergency visit but weighed
the cost/blood/trauma ratio and made an appointment instead.

We're waiting now. The waiting room is full of dogs with abcesses,
things that look like they're also about to pop open and ooze all over
the room while we all dodge the flow of blood and pus. I feel bad for
all of these poor dogs, all of whom should be at home right now.

Hell, all of us should be home right now.


So Proud Right Now

At dinner, Val used her chopsticks to pick up, then eat carrots. Go,
kid, go!


Yes, It Was Worth It

Today I got a phone call from a woman who I'd adopted a dog to 6 years
ago. His name was Bailey and he was a middle-aged man when this lady
adopted him.

She called to tell me that he'd had 6 wonderful years with them and that
he'd passed away from cancer 2 weeks ago.

She cried as she told me, I understood. To this day I cannot talk about
Alice without tearing up.

It reminded me that 6 years, or 2 years with an animal you adore is a
lifetime. For all the heartache that went with doing rescue, hearing
that Bailey had a wonderful life reminds me why I did it.

It was so worth it. (But I'm in no hurry to do it again just yet). Rest
in peace sweet Bailey and of course MissAlice, who, even now I miss like


A Whole Trip Of Lessons Learned

On our recent trip to Disneyland, we learned a number of things, here
are the highlights:
-a hotel deal that's too good to be true probably is, even if the hotel
is a name brand.
-there's something seriously fucked up about an Anaheim hotel that
doesn't have cribs
-carseats can get cracked, likely from being checked on airplanes but
possibly from wheeling them through airports.
-installing cracked carseats is sometimes the best option when the other
choice is to rent one from the rental car place
-going to Disneyland with a 2 year old means riding a lot fewer rides
but it's fun in a whole new way
-saving money by flying into LAX, even if it's part of a really
great-seeming hotel/air package is not at all worth the money saved over
flying into Orange County

So, we spent a bit more money than we intended to on this trip but we
still had a great time.

The carseat people are replacing Val's seat, a new one is on the way.
We ended up putting the seat in forward-facing for the last day or so
since the crack was getting bigger. I felt a little ill but it was the
safest way to use the seat at the time so that's what we did.

At bedtime now, Val asks where Goofy is. Don't even try to tell me
she's too young for Disney parks!


Sometimes It Is Too Good To Be True


I got a *great* deal on our now-in-progress Disneyland trip. Airfare +
hotel for almost nothing. Woo! The hotel was an Exten.ded Stay 'Merca,
which I honestly thought was similar to the same chain that has the same
name, only it ends in Deluxe.

FYI, it's not.

The place reeked of smoke, the bed crunched (people, why would a bed
make a crunching noise???) and there was no place for Val to sleep.
They offered a recliner, which was covered in nastyass stains. Gee,
thanks but no.

It wasn't that surprising that the hotels section of the yellow pages
was well-read, with lots of notes in the margins.

We wound up at my beloved Residence Inn, where yes, it's not super cheap
but it's clean, so clean and Val is snoozing happily on the fold-out


Apparently A Post Got Lost Yesterday

So I had this post about my day yesterday, which would have made the
post about the other things more relevant. But sadly it was sucked into
the ether.

The long and short of it was:
-we spent some time getting Val acclimated to preschool. It took her,
no shit, .2 seconds to join the crowd, only once did she glance my way.
Playdoh had a lot to do with that success.

-she found the little potties there and got a huge kick out of it.

-on the potty front, she had 0 accidents all day. That makes 2 days out
of 7 since we stopped putting her in diapers during the day.

-the teenager who was supposed to watch her while my band rehearsed
didn't show. So I swiped a play kitchen from the church (where we
played) toddler room, brought it to the stage and let her spill 5 kinds
of snacks on it while we played.

-she also moved my music, put cheese crackers (in the package) inside
the bell of my sax, pried my fingers off the keys so I could open the
crackers for her, but by and large she did just awesome.

-i also installed Val's now-outgrown Roundabout in our neighbor's car,
giving me a chance to marvel at my growing carseat installation skills
and be glad someone can use Val's old seat.

It made for a very full day. Andrea got stuck at work so after the
ill-fated rehearsal, me and Val wound up at Popeye's for a rather lonely
late-night dinner.

We. So. Suck.

When we did rescue, dogs would come in sooo neglected. One of the
markers was the status of their toenails, sometimes they'd have grown so
long that they'd curl into the dogs' footpads. We'd shake our heads and
whip out the nail trimmers.

Today, Andrea told me to get the nail trimmers and cut Rainie's back
feet right now.

Because we were somehow that family. Rainie's back nail had curled over
into her pad. Sigh.

I trimmed them all so now she's good to go, but yes, we need to pay more

Sorry, Roo Roo. Please accept a ton of treats in the near future as our


Other Highlights Of Today

Val discovered the little potties at preschool. "Little potty! Just
for me!" This was followed by "my tinkle, in there!"

When I learned that the teenage babysitter was a no-show for my
rehearsal, I took Val to the potty and discovered the toddler room at
the church where we're playing. They had a little kitchen, which I
promptly grabbed and brought onto the stage where we rehearsed. Val
poured every snack I'd packed into that thng, but I was able to

She was sooo good, ate her snacks and stood next to me, sat in front of
me and on a chair behind me. I had to adjust where I held my horn to
accomodate her but it was very sweet. She also moved my music a couple
of times, just for fun. During the second half of the rehearsal, my
friend ran after her so I was able to focus more.

I can't think of a good closing, so, um, late peeps.

Today By The Numbers

Because I'm too tired to write in full, witty sentences, I give you
Preschool visits: 1
Seconds it took before Val ran off to play with Play Doh: .2
Carseats I installed in our neighbor's car: 1
Wet underpants Val had (so far): 0
Teenaged babysitters who failed to show up at my sax rehearsal: 1
Times Val pried my hands off my sax to encourage me to open some string
cheese: 1
Times Val put cheese and crackers (still in the package) into the bell
of my sax: 1
Times I turned around to check on her during rests: about 200
Badass new diaper/toy bags I bought at the REI sale: 1
People at dinner with me and Val: 2- me. And Val. It's a little

Can I go to bed now?