Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer O' Fun

We are not taking a summer vacation. To my knowledge, we have never taken a summer vacation. Short trips, yes. Summer vacation, no. Up until last year, Mike managed a Chuck E Cheese and taking a week or two off during their busiest time of the year was a no-no. We usually vacation in the fall, around Olivia's birthday in October or occasionally in the spring. Mike's with a grown up restaurant now (hallelujah!), but still, no summer vacation plans.

The kids, mostly the oldest kid, are bummed. Everyone they know is going somewhere fun and exciting. Well, not everyone, but you know how kids are. Even their great grandparents just spent a week at the beach. So, in an effort to make some super fun memories that don't involve leaving Daddy behind while we go on vacation, I have started the Bell Summer o' Fun 2014. Every day, until August 3 (the day before kindergarten starts-SNIFFLE!!!), we are doing something FUN! Some days, it will be free, some days it won't. Some days it will be at home, some days it won't. But, it will be fun!

So far, this has been our fun!

Monday, June 2-Pinson Mounds with friends, playdate at our house.

Tuesday, June 3-Savannah Park and Splash Pad, fishing at Pickwick, and Frozen in the park.

Wednesday, June 4- SICK DAY! This wasn't planned. However, we made the best of it with tons of Play-doh, building an airplane, making chocolate chip cookies, a dinner and movie picnic in the living room, and Phillip learned to play Go-Fish. Olivia and I played Black Jack for a while, which we love.

We have lots of other things planned: swimming, Pink Palace, Memphis Zoo, Smyrna Blue Angels Show, $2 Movies in Corinth, a Nashville visit to see our family there, and some other fun things. Not every day will be a big deal, some days we may play in the sprinker, stay up late looking at the stars on the trampoline, or just have ice cream for breakfast. Basically, I just want them to REMEMBER this summer (and quit whining about no change in venue). If you want to follow our adventures, find me on Instagram, I am journaling it all there. My user name livismom0317.

Have a great summer!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The story of Pepper, part 2

So, we left off with Pepper bolting out of our house after Wilma (my brother's dog) harrassed her on Christmas Day. We assumed that she made her way back home, as we did not see her again for a couple of days. Then, late one night, the kids and I were coming in from an evening at my parents' house when there she was, waiting for us in the driveway. She was whining and crying and limping. I was sure she had been hit by a car. I hustled the kids inside, because injured dogs make me nervous. I have seen the sweetest animals bite and nip when hurt and I didn't want to risk the kids getting hurt. I gave Olivia the task of putting them to bed (having a teenager rocks, especially when your husband works 5 nights a week) and went outside to check on the dog. She was laying on the front porch and her right front paw had a gaping wound in it. I called Mike and he said he would be home shortly, to just wait until he got home.

Once Mike got home, we brought her inside and he and Olivia cleaned the wound (I'm squemish unless I birthed you). He told me that it was a gunshot wound and she needed a vet. I messaged my friend Monette on fb and asked if she knew of a vet open on Sunday (this was around midnight Saturday night). She checked around and I sent her pics of the wound. I was also worried about the cost, as a big vet bill for a strange dog was not in the budget. She said that the rescue group she volunteered with would be glad to help and a vet could see Pepper on Monday. They had all looked at the pictures of the wound and decided she would be okay until then. Monette did have some antibiotics and pain pills on hand and I got those to tide us over. Pepper slept almost all day Sunday and seemed happy when she was awake. The wound was dressed and she seemed no worse for the wear, but I knew she had to be hurting.

Monday Mike took her to the vet and left her. They cleaned the wound and set her leg. The rescue group said they would take care of the vet bills if we were willing to keep her. We discussed it and decided that since Jesus AND Santa had sent her, we probably should keep her :) She was not microchipped and no one answered the lost dog ads. So, she was sent home with a cast, a tons of meds, and we waited for her to heal.

 She had to wear the "cone of shame" for SO LONG! She was so good about it.

Sadly, this was not to be. They tried cleaning and resetting the wound for three months! The bullet had gone through her leg and shattered the bone and it would not mend. Finally, in late March, the decision was made to amputate the leg. I cried like a baby. She and I have become very close and it just broke my heart for this healthy, sweet, loving dog to have to go through this because some dumb redneck shot her.

I had to keep a sweater over her wound and a sock on her foot to keep her from scratching. Bless her!

Well, she took the amputation like a trooper and hasn't looked back. She can run, jump, play and snuggle like a four legged dog. She and the cat are best friends, she jumps in the lap of anyone who dares sit down in the house and she is just such a joy to have as a pet. She thinks that she's the baby of the house, so anytime one of us is holding the actual baby of the house (who is almost 3), she has to be held too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's a dog's life (the story of Pepper)

Those who know me will tell you that I love animals. Quite frankly, I love them more than most people. Specifically, I love dogs. When we were growing up, my brother and I had a feist/cocker spaniel mix named Ginger. She was the best dog, we loved her so much! She would sleep at the foot of Keith's bed or my bed. If she couldn't decide, she would sleep in the hallway between our rooms. She was the perfect pet. We got her when I was in 6th grade (I was 12) and she lived a very long life, dying on Olivia's 2nd birthday (I was 24).

When Mike and I were dating, he got transferred to Memphis. After a year or so there, he got transferred back to Jackson and decided it was time to stop "apartment dwelling" and move into a house. He had marriage plans on the horizon, but I didn't know that :) He decided he needed a dog to make his house a home and adopted a Rat Terrier named Wiley from a friend. She was between 1 and 2 years old. This was early 1999. A few months later, I was on the way to class and drove past a litter of tiny puppies playing in a very busy road. It was right down the street from the Humane Society and someone had dumped them off. I quickly pulled over, piled all five of them in my lap and drove to the Humane Society. As I was handing them over, the generously told me I could keep one of them if I wanted. I chose a tiny little black and white puppy and immediately headed to Mike's house.

He was off work that day and was laying on his couch watching TV. I came in through the garage door into the kitchen. He sat up, saw what I was carrying and started saying "No, no, no". As I got closer, he softened. By the time I made it to the couch, he was smitten. We took the new pup, aptly named Lucky, to the vet (she only weighed 2 lbs) and got her healthy. Mike's terrier, Wiley, immediately took over as the puppy's mother and taught her everything she knew. They became the best of friends and remained so until Wiley died in September 2012. She was 14 and had lived a long, healthy life. Her best friend Lucky was HEARTBROKEN by her mate's death. When Mike went to bury her at the back of our property, Lucky stood in our big kitchen window and sobbed. I have never heard an animal cry like she did. She refused to eat for a couple of days, but rebounded and enjoyed a full life for several more months, until she passed away March 2013. She was 13. She was my first baby. We knew she was dying, she had stopped eating and drinking several days before and the vet said it was just a matter of time. She did not seem to be in pain, but spent all her days trying to get to her mate's grave. She would make it back there and lay down and sleep. It was pitiful. The night she died, she cried unless I held her. I sat up until 2 a.m., rocking her like a baby (I should mention she weighed around 60 lbs!). I was dreading the moment she died, as I could not fathom my sweet girl dying in my arms. Around 2 a.m., our human baby woke up screaming, which he never does. I put the dog down and went to check on the baby. I was gone less than a minute. When I came back, she was gone.

After she died, we decided to wait a while before we got a new dog. Mike has always wanted an English Springer Spaniel, so we decided to wait until we found one and until our hearts healed a little. We did get Olivia a kitten for her birthday, so the house was not empty of pets, just dogs.

A few days before Christmas, Phillip announced he wanted a dog for Christmas. Not a puppy, a dog. We gently shot him down, telling him Santa had already loaded his sleigh, etc. He would not let up, he said he was asking Santa AND Jesus for a dog and was sure he would get one. No amount of cajoling or excuse making could sway him. After a brief, insane conversation about getting a puppy of Craigslist or something, we decided to just let Phillip learn a hard life lesson, you don't always get what you pray for. Ha! God was ready to give us a life lesson, don't mess with a 5 year old boy with BIG faith and a direct line to Jesus and Santa.

A beautiful black dog showed up in our yard a couple of days before Christmas. We live in the country, in a subdivision, so dogs being "dumped" out is not unusual. It's also not unusual for people to let their dogs roam free. So, we figured she was one of those two things. She was shy, keeping her distance. I noticed right away that she was super skinny. I went inside, piled a bowl full of leftovers (no dog food in the house anymore) and set it outside. I slipped back in and peeked out to see her inhaling the food. We kept this dance up until Christmas Eve. She wouldn't really let me touch her, but was coming closer and closer. I took her picture and posted it on several lost pet sites in case she was someone's pet.

Christmas Day we were playing outside with the boys' new four wheelers when she wandered up and let us pet her! It was a Christmas miracle! She even came inside with us and laid down under the tree. She was having a grand ol' Christmas until my brother's dog (chihuahua) attacked her (I don't like little dogs, they are too yippy!). After that, she was nervous and bolted back outside the first time the door was open. We did not see her again for a couple of days. We were bummed but hoped she had found her way to her owners. did she become ours and lose a leg in the process? Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The psychology of being fat

Two years ago, I got fed up with being fat. I was SO overweight, so unhealthy, and worn out. I had three children, two were babies, and I did not have the energy to do anything with them. So, after much prompting and prodding by my brother and sister-in-love, I decided to give Advocare a try. It worked. I lost 70 lbs in about 7 months. I felt great and uncomfortable. I can't explain it exactly, but there is comfort in being fat. Obviously not physical comfort, but a psychological comfort. It's your shield. Don't feel pretty? Oh, well, you're fat, what does it matter. Don't have cute clothes? Oh, well, nothing looks good on you anyway. Want another cookie? No worries, what could it hurt? Losing weight is tough, keeping it off is even worse. Not physically. Physically losing it and briefly keeping it off was a breeze. Advocare made it easy. But, if you're a comfort eater and you hit a bump in the road, it's just downhill.

Boy did I hit some bumps. There is not point in rehashing the past, but to say the last two years have been the hardest of my life would be an understatement. I had some pretty scary health issues (that I amazingly didn't talk about on facebook or real life, I can keep a secret!). Some of the medicine I took made me hungry and bloated, which was a former fat girl's ticket to EAT! I couldn't help it, it was the MEDICINE! Yeah right, I could help it. But I didn't.

So, I gained 30 lbs. In the last year. Which stinks, but is totally fixable. I start back on my Advocare vitamins tomorrow and I know that 30 lbs will be gone by May. What won't be gone is my brain. My inner critic, my inner fat girl who feels safer being fat. If I'm thin, then I need to be well dressed, pulled together, and pretty. People take notice of you when you're losing weight, so you feel like you have to be "on" all the time. So, what if I'm not? Will I feel like a failure? Maybe. But I know that I have to take control of my body and my health now, or I will regret it in 10 years. I already wasted part of my 20s and most of my 30s being overweight. There are so many things I could have done differently if I had been healthier. So, I am taking a new approach this time.

I have always felt like God didn't care what I weighed. He loves me anyway. And He does. But he also wants me to be the BEST me I can be. So, as I embark (AGAIN) on a weighloss journey, I will be embarking on a spiritual journey too. With God's help, I can do this. I can be the BEST me.

For comparison purposes, here is a picture of me at my heaviest and my lightest (in the last two years). Underneath that is a picture of me today (well, really tomorrow, as I am scheduling this to post tomorrow when I can put a picture of me in decent clothes instead of pjs). I have a long way to go, but at least I'm 40 lbs closer than I was 2 years ago!

 The picture on the left was my lowest (and biggest). The picture on the right I was a size 12/14.

This is 30 lbs later. Still able to fit in some Misses sizes, but getting very uncomfortable and depressed. 

This post will appear sometime Saturday and I plan to begin the program Monday. So, let the games begin!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Opposites Attract

No mother (or father) worth their salt has a favorite child. Though you cannot fathom how you will love a 2nd, 3rd, 4th child as much as your first, you do. As soon as they lay that little angel in your arms, your heart doubles in size and you love them just as much as their older sibling. Amazingly, it happens every time you have a baby. It is one of the most amazing things about parenting to me. I remember being sick with worry when I was pregnant with Phillip that I wouldn't love him as much as Olivia. Olivia was our world. An only child for eight years, the sun rose and set on her whims (terrible, I know). We scheduled our lives around her and worshipped the ground her little pink clad feet walked on. I could not fathom loving the next baby as much, even though he was VERY wanted and highly anticipated. Then, they brought him over to me, fresh from his previous home, and he cracked his beautiful blue eyes open for the first time and starred right into mine. I was in love! I loved him every bit as much as his sister in that instant. The same thing happened with Matt. They brought his tiny, yelling, peeing self over and I just knew he was my heart, my baby, THE baby of the family. I loved him fiercely and wholly, even though I just "met" him. So, to have a favorite would be impossible. They are all delightful little combinations of me and the man I love most in the entire universe, perfect little beings with all of our good traits and none of our bad (yeah, right!). But, they are equally and completely loved and adored.

However, any parent that tells you they get along with all their kids the same is lying. About the time they start talking and walking (or sooner), their little personalities start shining through. In our house, Olivia and Matt are essentially the same person. Olivia has been fiercely independent, outspoken, loud, temperamental, slightly aloof, and a million other things since birth. Matt is a slightly MORE version of that. He's everything she was, but a little moreso. Both of them could give you this "drop dead" look long before they could talk. They don't meet a stranger and don't have a shy bone in their bodies. Both could get up in front of a huge crowd and not miss a beat. They were both delightful babies, troublesome toddlers (though Matt wins the prize for angriest) and great kids. Basically, they are physical and emotional replicas of me. I can also give that drop dead look. I am aloof until I get to know you, loud, temperamental, moody at times, determined, and outspoken. I forget to say please and thank you more often than not, despite being raised better. I love fiercely, but have a hard time telling you.  Basically, you love me or hate me, there's not a lot of middle ground. I have been this way since birth. Mike loves me anyway :)

Phillip is Mike. He was a perfect, cherubic baby who rarely cried, played quietly, cooed and giggled. He was the easiest toddler, learning manners quickly, always wanting a cuddle. He's a little emotional, quick to cry, quick to apologize. He tends to obsess over things like Mike does, instead of shrugging them off like I do. He is extremely stubborn like his daddy too. He wants his family to be happy. He loves the ladies, is a wonderful friend and brother, and is just a really mellow kid. He is his father made over. Looks like him, acts like him. The world adores Phillip. He is charming and sweet, always looking for a way to help his fellow man.

Guess which kid I get along with the best? Yep, Phillip. We mesh. He is yin to my yang, just like his daddy. My high powered personality suits his laid back personality perfectly. We rarely fuss. He adores me, I am his favorite human on earth. Guess which kid(s) Mike gets along with the best? Yep, Olivia and Matt. They adore him. Olivia will unashamedly tell anyone she loves her daddy the most. His laid back, sweet temperament, his innate ability to figure out why they are upset instead of just butting heads with them wins every time. When Matt just can't take me another second, he starts bellowing for Daddy. For the first year of Olivia and Matt's lives, they MUCH preferred Daddy's arms to Mommy's. Phillip would be happy if I could carry him in my arms until college. It's the craziest thing. Don't get me wrong, we are a very happy family and everyone loves everyone, but it tickles me to see how the children that are MOST like a parent gravitate to the other parent. What I saw in Mike that I liked all those years ago (and vice versa) are what the children most like us look for in their preferred parent.

This post really has no point, just something I have noticed more and more as the boys are growing into their personalities. Is the same true in your family? Which kid do you get along with the best or am I the only one with that situation :)