Monthly Archives: June 2017

For the Love of a Dog

We take a break in the Sweet Summer Funtimes for the Love of George.

Warning – this post is about our beloved dog who probably doesn’t have too much time left with us. But boy, is he loved.


Last week was a frenzy. I was gearing up for the BlogHer Conference, a dream trip that I much needed, and the prep was near Doomsday level. That’s how it works when a mom leaves home for a few days. I needed to leave early-ish Thursday morning, so Wednesday was a blur of cooking, cleaning, and strategic packing. Wednesday night, I went into the city to see a rough cut of the short film I wrote (more on that in a future post).

I came home inspired and happy, carrying an external drive with the culmination of a year’s worth of work on it, excited to share with my husband. I hadn’t even turned the car off before I realized something was terribly wrong.

My two boys stood on the front porch well past their bedtime, distraught. I opened the car door, and before I could say anything, my husband, visibly upset, pointed to the front steps which were slicked with water.

“George had an accident,” he said. I wasn’t sure why this merited a three-man report. Due to decreased mobility from a tumor on his leg, our dog has been having more accidents these days, mostly inside the house. I was happy he’d made it outside.

Middle Child unleashed a tearful explanation.

“Georgie couldn’t walk. He collapsed in the backyard. And he was running, and he was fine because we were all looking at the sunset and he came out with all of us and then he just stopped running and then he fell over and he’s been whimpering and crying. He can’t walk. He can’t move.”

It all came out in a jumble. He is the animal lover, the child closest to our dog. When we told the kids the other week that George’s tumor had grown back again, this time so entwined with the tissue and muscle that removal would be nearly impossible, that at best we could de-bulk the tumor and give him an extra three months, it was Middle Child who took it hardest.

This latest development was a little more real and happened sooner than we’d imagined. The dog’s tumor is complicated by the fact that he has arthritis. He’s been compensating for the tumor putting more and more weight on his front paws, but it seemed that he just could not handle both ailments anymore.

I went inside. They had moved the dog’s pillow from our bedroom out into the main room so that he didn’t have as far to go when he needed to go outside. George was panting hard and yet refusing the water we offered him. He was shaking. He tried to adjust his position when I came in, and he whimpered and yelped in pain.

That sorrowful noise told me everything, especially that there was little I could do make it better. It will forever be the sound of my heart breaking.

I sat down next to his dog bed, and he leaned up against me the way he does during a thunderstorm. Eventually, his breathing calmed, and we nuzzled one another. He rested with his head against my chest the way he did when I was pregnant and on bed rest. The boys sat on either side of us and gently stroked his back.

The kids began yawning, so we told them to go brush their teeth and hit the sack. Once they were out of earshot, I asked my husband if he wanted to take the dog to the emergency clinic right then. He shook his head, then asked me to take a taxi to the airport the next morning for my trip because he was going to take the dog as soon as we dropped the kids off at camp.

He looked at me steadily. “Just make sure you say goodbye to George before you go.”

Middle Son ran back in the room and asked if I still had all the pictures I’d taken of him and the dog (Of course.) He then asked if we would be burying George in the backyard. Then sweet Middle Child dissolved.

It was that moment I decided I would not be going on my trip. My husband started to argue, but Middle Child just said, quietly, “George is more important than a trip.”

I canceled my plans and informed those who needed to know.

We cried a lot.

My husband took the overnight shift with my dog, letting our crying, limping dog out at about 1AM. Then George came back to the bedroom. I think if he were able, he’d have been up on the bed with me. I just couldn’t lift him. My son asked if he could stay home from camp the next day, and I said yes.

It was tense as we waited. The dog jumped into the back of the car as soon as we said the magic words “Doggie Road Trip” and instantly knew he shouldn’t have done it. Both because it was a painful thing for him to do, and also because he remembered that most of our recent “doggie road trips” have been to the vet.

It was an excruciating wait for the update. Son and I sat and poorly distracted ourselves. I kept checking social media to see what was going on at the conference I was missing. My heart felt as though it had been shot with a thousand arrows and that all of them were being pulled simultaneously. Finally at 9:35 am: “All good. Rimadyl for arthritis and we’ll keep an eye on him.”

And that was that. Within half a day, George put weight back on his front leg. Within 24 hours, he was back to the dog he was 6 months ago. Middle Child spends lots of time checking in on George, who spends most of his day sleeping. They have long conversations, and it’s pretty hard to not peek in to see, but I want to respect the sanctity of that relationship. A boy and his dog. A dog and his boy.

We’re day-by-day now, keeping an eye on him. He’s certainly no puppy, but when he’s outside, he runs a bit, he’s happy, and during meals he begs for table scraps again (in a gentlemanly fashion, as is his way). When it’s time, it will be time. We love this dog too much to keep him in pain and misery just to make us feel better.

George will be 11 on July 4. It’s a holiday he detests due to all of the fireworks, but it is one we are glad he’ll be around for.



A boy and his dog. A dog and his boy.



Sweet Summer Funtimes – The First Full Week

Wondering about the great life decisions I made to get to this point? Check out last week's Sweet Summer Funtimes update here.

Day 4 – Feeding the children was a little sporty today. Scoured the depths of the pantry for lunches, because I haven’t grocery shopped out of fear of wrangling three kids in the cereal aisle. Told kids that Triscuits and cheese is too a continental lunch treat!

Kids started an art installation called Band-Aids A-plenty. It’s cool and magical because every day I find 6000 wrappers and used bandages that I pick up and throw away and then they reappear the next day. I think it’s a commentary about the fragility of life and how we also need to take care of our planet.

New word — bouleversé, which is apparently French for summer break.


Day 5 — Heard the children excitedly working together on something in hush-hush tones. This tends to set off warning systems in any mother’s head, so I peeked in to see them going under furniture and through bags searching for coins. I oh-so-casually mentioned that if they happened to find anything that needed to be thrown out/donated they should do that, because I’m hopeful and apparently never met a child before. YET — after thirty minutes they had made a donation pile and thrown away some nasty stuff that had been lodged in various crannies. I dub this day the Feast of the Under Bed Miracles.


Day 6 – For several hours, kids played catch with the Magic 8 Ball. In the middle of the playing field was a giant tom-tom drum that somebody who is no longer welcome in my house gifted to us. Constant drumming remniscent of an approaching army let me know that my children need lots of practice catching balls, Magic 8 or otherwise.

Added Excedrin to my shopping list, should I survive all this fun long enough to make it to the store.


Day 7 – Let the kids have some ice cream on the front porch/driveway. When I joined them about 10 minutes later with a spoon I notice there was some Vanilla Chocolate Chip that had melted on a plate they left in the sun. Fortunately my kids love me enough to stop me from eating what was actually quite accurately-deposited bird poop.

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Day 8  – Child saw hummingbird at the feeder and other two thundered over to the window like a herd of wildebeests. Many tears were then shed that the hummingbird flew away. I spend the afternoon writing bad poetry about being a hummingbird.


Day 9 – Took the family to the pool, an exercise in watching the kids flail about pointlessly in the water while screaming at me to watch. For some reason, all of the men and boys at the pool started competing to see who could do the stupidest splashiest jumps off the diving board to their own amusement and to the second-hand embarrassment of everyone else there. My husband stopped after he, and I quote, “broke his butt.” He limped over to a deck chair and we both watched in horror as our clumsiest child, who’s never met a surface he couldn’t impale himself on, slipped as he went down the length of the diving board, slicing a quarter-sized piece of skin off his thigh, thus ending the first pool visit of the season much like we ended the last pool visit of last season. Fortunately, it only took 45 minutes to get the kids from the pool to the car 100 feet away, as they were “freezing” and “so cold” on this 95-degree day. Injured child limped bravely and not-at-all dramatically toward the car. I asked if he wanted to see a doctor or if he wanted to go home and get a snack. Snacks won the day, as they usually do.


Day 10 – Waking up now means getting a medical report on accumulated bug bites, including size and itchiness level. Also got an update on the diving board wound, and a slide show presentation of how said wound had bled into the bandage and then started to scab up. You can all look forward to those photos in this year’s holiday card.


Day 11 – The kids entertained themselves by trying to figure out a song on the piano. I know that sounds great on the surface – they’re being creative and they’re problem-solving — but it’s a trial and error process that involves banging out the part they’ve already mastered, then hitting every wrong note until they finally arrive on the correct one, and then starting over and getting it wrong, and finally starting over again and getting it right but then having to figure out the next note.

Went to the library, which is a place I always called the amusement park until they learned how to read (which I suppose is my fault for taking them to the library). Shout out to the tween next to me at the new junior high fiction section who intently picked at a massive scab he had on his arm. At least I know my gag reflex is fine.



Sweet Summer Funtimes — Week 1: Preparing for Takeoff

The first in a series of posts that are supposed to be weekly but probably won't be because it's summer break and I will probably be incapacitated by ALL THE FUN within a few days. 

In order to both record the summer fun and to be considered fun at parties that I'm not even invited to, I will share with you weekly notes about my family's dangdongdarnit summer fun. Short notes, though, because I am too busy making Sweet Summer Funtimes to have much time do anything like hide in my office and write while they knock at the door and wail plaintively. 

In fact I would assume that the Funtimes will be so time consuming that by mid-June, these entries will be but two words.

But since this last week was mostly preparation and anticipation, I have many words. Pre-fun words.

May 31 — T-2 days.  Two more days of school. There have been “countdowns to summer” going on at school since mid-March. The excitement has been ramping up with special theme days to commemorate these perfectly teachable days, and today the kids are celebrating attaining educational goals with Crazy Hair Day. I like this one because I just let them go to school without having to comb their hair or wet it down or at least run their fingers through it. They should call this day One Less Thing to Fight About In The Morning Day, Thank You. For once, bits of last night’s dinner miraculously encrusted in the kids’ coifs is thematic rather than just gross.

Still a little gross, though.

June 1 – T-1 day. Kids came home from the penultimate day of school (Clean Out Your Desk Day) full of energy. They have extra room for energy because in preparation for summer they have defragmented and largely wiped their brains of 90% of what they’ve learned this year.

The sun peaked out from behind a cloud and the kids begged to go to the pool. The fact that it was 55 degrees mattered not. “Are you sure? It’s gonna be cold,” I said over and over. We belong to a community pool which means the pool is solar-heated except in the shallow end where the toddlers hang out.

They were sure.

I quickly deforested my legs, which I had let grow wild over the winter in an effort to save on both shaving cream and leggings. We went to the pool –  the kids in swimsuits and shorts, me in a swimsuit and parka. After spending 25 minutes lotioning them up, putting up the daughter’s hair, showering per pool regs, finding a good spot in the sun, then having the kids make me watch them dive off the board, they spent exactly 42 seconds in the water before they decided they wanted to go home. I was only slightly less irritated than I would have been had they made me watch them do somersaults or jump off the diving board ten million times. I got three blue-lipped, shivering children dressed and took them home,  where they promptly asked for hot chocolate while they ground their SPF 50-greased up bodies into the couch.

D-Day. Last day of school. Kids were surprised I knew all the words to that chestnut, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” I helped them tote home 147 pounds of school work and old snacks that had been lovingly preserved in their desks and backpacks all year, and we all promptly collapsed, rousing only to answer the door when the pizza delivery dude brought dinner. All hail summer.


First Official Day of Summer — Kids spending the day in the deep study of magnetism, by which I mean they are all on top of each other laughing and screaming. It’s charming for about 10 minutes. Then I begin to regret not living in a community with year-round schooling.  I really want to open the windows and air out the house but don’t because the risk of neighbors hearing my yelling outside-voice-parenting is too great.

Day 2 — Sent the children outside to go play in the backyard, damn it. It was not an idea that they took to readily.

Have changed my name to Clodor. You Game of Thrones fans will understand.

Day 3 — Called in a bunch of favors and planned for a playdate for tomorrow. Kids woke at the crack of dawn (5:16 AM) and proceeded to come into my bedroom and tell me that they were bored.