Saturday, July 26, 2008

My little hero

One thing that Jennifer takes pride in talking about is how she once "saved" me. When we were moving in, I was pulling a bookcase through a narrow area of my bedroom. I had the bookcase leaning towards me and was very carefully pulling it along. My foot got caught on something and I tripped, falling to the floor. I looked up to see the bookcase coming down towards me. I screeched and threw my hands out to block it from landing on me but immediately noticed it was going back up in the other direction!

Apparently, Jennifer, who was 4 at the time, had been close by and seen what happened. She ran into the room just in time to grab the bookcase and sit it back upright before it got anywhere near me. Never mind how amazed I was that she was so freaking STRONG enough to do that; my heart was racing that she'd actually come to my rescue! In between trying to catch my breath and waiting for my fear to fade away, I clutched my little girl against me and kept thanking her for helping me. I told her how strong she was and how she was my "hero" for "saving" me. (It may not be a big deal to other people, but having a bookcase fall on you isn't exactly a good thing!)

Well, today, Jennifer got a chance to be a hero again. This time, she saved her baby brother from getting bitten by a poisonous spider.

Today, I cleared away EVERYTHING on the floor in the living room -- toys, pillows, baby's blanket, TV dinner trays -- and did the sweeping and dusting to prepare for the vacuuming job. This is something I do lots of times, and I tend to notice the occasional penny on the carpet or a forgotten small toy car Jennifer left out. The little "hazards" to my crawling 9-month-old son, who will put anything into his mouth. This time, though, I hadn't noticed something that was another hazard. Jennifer had been the one to find it: A GIANT black spider against the wall, near the fireplace. I ran in one direction to get the flyswatter to kill it, the spider ran in the other direction to get away. I'd seen where it had gone: Behind the entertainment center.

Now cue the visual of me practically TEARING everything out of that entertainment center and AWAY from the wall as I frantically hunted for that beast.

After I cleared the stuff out and ended my search, I sat there, puzzled. WHERE had it gone?

Jennifer once again spotted it. She informed me that, during my attack on the poor entertainment center, the spider had gone the OTHER way, towards the fireplace.

"Did you see where it went?" I asked, almost out of breath from my rampage.

"There," Jennifer answered, fearfully pointing at a corner of where the wall and fireplace met. (This was a BIG spider we were dealing with! We're talking Charlotte's Web big!)

I looked but couldn't figure out where it could have gone. I didn't see a hole, or anything.

"Where, Jen?" I asked, confusedly studying the spot.

She got closer and pointed. That's when I saw it: A tiny crack in the wall, right next to the fireplace. Apparently, the spider had gotten into the house through there.

I gingerly tapped at the crack with the flyswatter, even though I couldn't see anything. I shrieked and Jennifer fell back as the spider came RUNNING out of that crack and charged right at me. It looked MAD! EEK!! I was fumbling first with the duster as I tried to keep it away from me then I grabbed the nearby flyswatter and, when it was on the bricks around the fireplace, I swatted at it. It took two swats to get it to stop moving. The danger thwarted, NOW I let out my fear and cried out. "Oh my God! That was a big spider!"

I went to the bathroom to get a thick bundle of toilet paper to pick the spider up with in order to give it a water funeral. I came back to where Jennifer had been inspecting the crushed arachnid, only for her to tell me that it wasn't dead! WHAT! THE! HECK! I got down on my knees to look at it, even though my instincts wanted me to RUN! I studied it and, sure enough, the spider's mouth with the sharp fangs (FANGS!!!) was going up and down. I let out an "eek!" and swatted it again as hard as I could. This time, it was ALL flat. (Note to self: Get a stronger flyswatter.)

But after THAT, there was noooo way I was gonna trust anything to pick that spider up with my hands. It was the spider from Hell! The spider that wouldn't die! So Jennifer suggested I use the toilet paper to scoop up the dead spider (and, yes, it WAS finally dead!) onto the flyswatter then carefully carry it to the bathroom to empty it into the toilet. So that's what we did. And I was glad to be rid of it!

I'll definitely be even more glad after we patch up that crack on the wall. I am NOT taking my chances of anything else getting in. And you can bet I'm going to be more attentive to any other cracks or holes that might appear where outside creatures can get in.

I told Jennifer she was a hero today. If she hadn't seen that spider, I wouldn't have destroyed it. And if I hadn't destroyed it, it could've bitten my baby boy. That spider definitely looked poisonous, or that a bite from it would really HURT. And an aggressive spider is never a good thing. So I'm glad that is not a threat anymore. Jennifer had saved her little brother today, without him even noticing it. Well, at least her mommy and, later, her daddy took notice. And we're proud of her for it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Creativity knows no age

Last night, I was chatting with my husband while he was at work. I am planning to attend a NKOTB concert in Portland in November and I mentioned my concerns about travel. Since the show is on the weekend, I don't have to worry about care for my children. That's not a concern. What is a concern is getting to Portland and getting around. I have been to Portland a few times (thank you, parenthood!) so I've been able to see what it's like. And to sum up: There's no way I could find my way around in that city. Trust me on this. I am known for getting lost! And even...driving there, at that. So I told my husband I'm going to a show in Portland in November and did he have any ideas about the travel issue? When he asked what show it was, I said "A NKOTB concert."

"Aren't they a little too old to be doing this?" he asked.

That question is the very same thing people who are not fans of the New Kids are saying. "They're too old." Geez, it's not like any of them are old enough to qualify for a freaking senior discount! They're not that old. And, besides, if you think about it, these guys are doing what they love to do. And doing what you love to do is the greatest thing in the world. If you can do it, I say do it!

The long and short of it is, they are creative people. And creativity knows no boundary. Creativity knows no age. When you are creating something -- be it a song, a story, a piece of art or a movie -- it doesn't matter how old you are. These guys obviously are blessed with the skill to make music thousands of people around the world love and enjoy. And I totally support their decision to bring that music back to the world.

As for the whole "age thing," well, it's like asking Morgan Freeman, "Aren't you a little too old to be playing pretend?" Or asking Gisele Bundchen, "Aren't you a little too old to be playing dress up?"

My opinion, if someone has what it takes to do what they love to do, to do what they want to do, then they shouldn't be judged by their age. Let's not judge the members of the NKOTB based on how old they are. Instead, let's take a look at what they've got. And they've obviously still got "the right stuff." Those who love them are grateful the guys are tearing down those age boundaries to share with us their gift for song.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Yesterday, I took Jennifer to Eugene's annual Touch-a-Truck event. It was a free event open to the public and kids were allowed to climb aboard police, fire and medical vehicles, as well as industrial and government vehicles. They could actually "touch" these cars, learn about them and sit in the driver's seat to steer the wheel. Jennifer had a blast while we were there. She was so anxious to go just so she could climb into a firetruck, and that's exactly what she did first:

She looks good in a firetruck, doesn't she? She told me she wants to be a firefighter when she grows up. (She knows firefighters saved her mommy's life when she was trapped under a burning van at the age of 20 months.) I was so proud. *sniff*

Next she checked out the police cruiser. I took three pictures and had a hard time deciding which one to use. (Thus the delay in posting this!) But I finally decided on this one:

There was also a garbage truck, cement mixer, sweeper, tree cutting truck, mail car, dairy truck, public bus, and some others that I don't know the names of. Ha! But she climbed up into almost every one of the trucks and had fun honking the horn, steering the wheel and stepping on the pedals. Some of those trucks were GIGANTIC! I even had her stand next to a tire on one truck that was almost bigger than she was!

Finally, she had fun climbing into the trailer of an 18-wheeler. Mostly, the children ran back and forth in this truck. She soon tired of that, though:

It was a very cool event and they even had free cotton candy. I'm glad we went and hope to go again next year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I heart Chewie

When I tell people I have a dog, they want to know what kind. While technically, my dog is a Chi-Poo (part Chuhuahua, part Poodle), I just tell them he is a Chihuahua. After all, he's more Chihuahua than he is a Poodle. So, Chihuahua he is! Still, he's a little furry for your average Chihuahua. That's the Poodle in him. Maybe this is why I gave him the name that he has. It is a name that makes people laugh, because they KNOW he is a small little Chihuahua doggy: Chewbacca. I guess it is kinda silly to imagine something as small as this:

being named after something as BIG (and scary) as this:

As a side note, I realize there ARE other dogs and even cats given the name Chewbacca. I wonder if their owners get the same laughing reaction I get from people when they say what their dog or cat's name is?? If anything, you can bet that when any of us are watching a Star Wars movie, it's Chewbacca we root for. YAY, CHEWBACCA!

Chewie DOES try to live up to his namesake. He may be small, but his bark is BIG! I've been told his bark makes him sound like a BIG scary dog.

I got Chewie when he was just a puppy, when I was 19 years old. Which would make him 15 years old now. He was one of the puppies my mom's Chihuahua gave birth to. At first, Chewie was my second dog. I had another dog, an Australian Shepherd named Lukas. They got along pretty well, even though there were times the two of them tried to "compete" and show who was "top dog" around here. Maybe it was a size thing. Nevertheless they played a lot and shared a den that they had to sleep in. Then Lukas got sick later on and passed away. Chewie didn't handle it very well. I could tell he was really depressed his buddy wasn't around anymore because he was always curled up on a chair, just sadly looking around. Or he just slept. He was hardly active at all and barely ate. Forget about getting him to sleep in the den anymore (which is where Lukas died). I eventually allowed him to have free reign to sleep anywhere in the house he wanted to. Instead of my bed, though, he preferred a favorite chair.

As with Lukas, I gave Chewie some nicknames. Lukas had the following nicks: Luke, Luka, Luke-Duke (because of a song my dad made up about him), and Luka-Duke. I called him "Luke" a lot, though, maybe because I liked the idea of there being a "Luke" with a "Chewbacca." (Haha. My parents joked that if I ever got another pet, I should either name it Han Solo or Princess Leia.) With Chewie, sometimes I call him Chew Boy, Chew-Chew, C-Dawg and Bacca.

Officially, Chewie is not a licensed hearing dog, but I DO rely on him the same way I'd rely on a hearing dog. Mainly, to let me know if someone is at the door. I realize an actual hearing dog could do so much more than that, but so far I've managed pretty well with just Chewie. (It's not a perfect system, but this HAS worked most of the time so far.) I tried to teach Chewie handsigns or signals once, but lost my patience too easily. Then he got to be too old to learn that. I DO regret not investing the time to teach him hand signals, but at least we've managed okay so far.

Nowadays, Chewie is definitely showing his age: He has glaucoma in both of his eyes, which means he can only see out of the side of both eyes. His left paw is also a little arthritic, and that arthritis acts up every once in a while. It can get to be so bad, he'll be limping. He also lost some of his teeth after an accident with someone playing too rough with him. (The vet had to remove the damaged teeth as well as some other teeth that were in bad shape.)

Still, he is basically in good health. As I said, his bark is worse than his bite, and Chewie is always up and ready to show just how tough of a doggy he can be. He will bite at strangers, but mostly at their feet. And he'll definitely attack if he feels his home turf is being threatened. When he sleeps on my bed and someone knocks at my door, he'll snap awake imediately and start barking his head off. Which made for a good "alarm clock" when I didn't have one to wake me up at a certain time, because all that moving around he did on my bed while he was barking was enough to wake me up!

I try to take pictures of Chewie, but he doesn't like having his picture taken. Mostly, he'll turn away from the camera. Which is why sometimes I will have to "surprise" him with a quick snap of my camera if I want a picture of his face!

Here are the pictures I HAVE managed to take. Hopefully, I can find a way to take some others.

He's been around for my college days, my marriages and my children's births. He's survived all the moving we did, all the new backyards he had to get used to and natural disasters (earthquakes mostly). And now he is adjusting to my pet-sitting of ANOTHER Chihuahua, my friend's sister's dog named Angel.
(She was NOT given the right name!) At first, he took to this new companion pretty well. But sometimes he gets too cranky to play with her or sometimes he'll get really possessive of his doggy bed or the food he is given. (The, ahem, "Demon" likes to snatch away any food I try to give to him! Which is why
I've taken to feeding them seperately.) Still, it's been good for him to have a fellow canine buddy around again. Even if she's not really his buddy. Haha! But it's put a spring into his step again. Instead of sleeping all day, like he did before she arrived, he tries to "show off" in front of her by guarding the backyard or showing her who is boss around here. And at least there is another doggy for him to play with again (he WILL play with her sometimes).

I really love my doggy, even though I realize it won't be long before he is not with us anymore. His days are indeed numbered. I don't know how I will handle it when his time comes to go, but I am grateful for the time I have had with him. He's definitely touched my life and I'm not looking forward to when he has to leave us. But, meanwhile, I'm spoiling him every so often. He usually has to stay in my kitchen with Angel (we have to keep her AWAY from the baby's toys because she chews on them -- and EVERYTHING ELSE!) or he'll be outside with her, but sometimes, when I can get away with it, I let him roam freely about the house and enjoy his company. I certainly don't want him to spend his last years pent up in my kitchen all day! I am making sure those last years he has on Earth are as happy and lovable as they can be.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The youngest Anne Rice fan

Not too long ago, Jesse started crawling. At 8 months old, he's finally roaming around on all fours. I was SO excited to see him start crawling! We were all there to see it. It was just awesome! (His big sister never crawled; she went right from cruising to walking.)

So it would happen that he'd soon be EVERYWHERE! There is just no stopping this little explorer now. He's so curious about his surroundings and often wants to be put down just so he can take off. We've all kept reminding each other that, with a crawling baby in the house, we all have to be extra careful about where we walk and before we move around in the computer desk chair. (Jesse is getting around very fast! Today, when I put him on the couch, ZOOM! He took off right across it and started climbing up. He's even been practicing standing on the couch, something that has caused me a bit of a heart attack or two.)

Today, while I was going about the house, cleaning up, and Jennifer was outside playing with a friend, Jesse was on the floor, making his rounds. I noticed he was headed for the lowest shelf of one of the bookcases. I wondered if he would go for the books and, sure enough, he crawled right up to that lowest shelf and started reaching for the books. I thought this was so cute and took a picture:

Interestingly enough, he was reaching for his daddy's books on computer programming and computer science. (Like father, like son!) But then he went for the other bookcase, which had novels in it. Once again, he reached for the books on the bottom shelf. I started to wonder if he'd manage to pull any books off the shelves (just as his big sister did when she was a baby). The next thing I know, I see him holding two books he'd pulled off the shelf! Haha. I thought that was really interesting. The books he pulled off the shelf were Blood Canticle by Anne Rice and Cold Hit by Stephen J. Cannell. (Very good picks!) I thought it was interesting he picked an Anne Rice book. Maybe he liked the cover!

Here he is with the two books. Doesn't it look like he's giving that "who, me?" look? Heh-heh.

Soon after, his big sister came into the room. She quickly took action, taking the books from him, putting them back on the shelf, reemoving her brother from the scene of the crime and scolding him for getting his paws on Mommy and Daddy's books.

If anything, maybe it's a good sign. A sign that he, too, will someday share the rest of his family's love for books. I'm starting to wonder, though, if I should worry that he decided to bypass the school textbooks and went for the fun stuff to read instead.