Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Monsters!

Last month we were out and about, perusing the goods at some local toy stores, when the kids came across UglyDolls. From what the nice lady at the store told me, these are the latest rage for the kiddies and I have to admit, my kids were pretty taken with them. But, being the thrifty person that I am I could not see spending $29.99 for some polar fleece and polyfil! I promised the kids that after Halloween we could dig through my fabric stash and they could pick out some polar fleece and I would MAKE them custom monsters. I had the Monkey Man draw a very basic pattern for his monster. I just needed to know the specs, arms or wings, fangs or a tongue, how many eyes, what type of ears, etc... I also quizzed the Piggy on what she wanted. It was cool to see how different their monsters were! So, here is step by step instructions on making your own monster!

Step One: Make a pattern out of cardboard. I will be the first to tell you that neither of our monsters were symmetrical in any way. That's just not how I work! Also, make the pattern about an inch bigger all the way around to take seam allowances into account.

Step Two: Lay the pattern on two layers of fabric and cut it out.

Step Three: Use other polar fleece or felt and cut out the eyes, nose, fangs, etc... handstitch those onto the monster. I handstitched the pupils onto the eyes first then handstitched the eyes onto the monster. I used a triple folded length of yarn for the mouth and handstitched it onto the monster.

Step Four: Sew the monster inside out. Make sure you leave a decent sized spot unsewn so you can stuff it.

Step Five: Turn the monster right side out and stuff the little bugger! I used regular polyfil and I stuffed it until it was pretty taut. I used a wooden dowel to smush the polyfil into the arms and ears.

Step Six: Talk your wonderful mother-in-law into slip-stitching the hole! :-D

Step Seven: Present finished monster to a very eager child and get that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart!

Now I wouldn't have paid $29.99 for these silly things, but I had a WONDERFUL time designing them with the kids and it probably cost me less than $5 in materials for both of them! So it was a total win/win situation and the kids ADORE them! Now go wild and make your own monster creations!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ode to Adam Lambert

I would like to give a shout out to Adam Lambert in a special limerick I wrote just for him!

Adam Lambert, dressed in yella
Fondled dancers and kissed a fella
Parents got enraged at the AMA's
For showing little kiddies that it's hip to be GAY!

So what's up? It's OK for Britney and Madonna to snog on primetime but not poor Adam? Tsk, tsk, such a double standard in so many ways. I find it totally amusing that we don't want government intervening with anything unless it has to do with the moderation our naughty bits!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A New Beginning

Life without Otis has been HARD. He was just such a presence in our home and now that he is gone it has been almost unbearable to be in here. The kids have been sad and restless and I've been doing stupid things like telling the Monkey Man to go let the dog out and crazy stuff like that. Every time I come around a corner or up the stairs I halfway expect to find him laying there asleep. But he's not and it depresses me even more.

Big Daddy and I had determined that we would wait until after the holidays to even think about getting another dog, but I just couldn't help it. I started looking at shelter and rescue sites, feeling guilty and pathetic like some lovesick, dog junky cruising for a fix. Until one morning I came across a picture of "Samantha" that stole my heart and I knew I had to see her. I packed the kids up and told myself I was just looking, no big deal. I can just look, just to see what was out there, you know? I was absolutely NOT going to adopt one. I was JUST LOOKING. And then I saw her. She looked just like her picture only sweeter and sadder. She walked up with those droopy eyes and saggy ears and I knew it was all over. We asked to take her for a walk, I secretly hoped that she would totally suck with the kids, but she didn't. She was wonderful. Bouncy but not spastic and totally floppy and lovey and full of kisses. She would get into your lap and just melt into you. SHIT. So we put her back and proceeded to look around at the other dogs.

The Monkey Man begged to see a little dog dubbed "Castaway". OK, that is already completely sad, who names a dog that? I was pretty sure this dog was not going to be THE dog, after all he was a chihuahua mix and I'm not a big fan of little, shivery dogs. But then I saw him and wanted to kick myself 20 times for even coming to this god forsaken place! He had the most beautiful deep black eyes and black nose and the sweetest disposition! And just like "Samantha", he was awesome with the kids. In fact, the Piggy was seriously in love! I sat down on the grass and he crawled into my lap with those big, black doe-eyes and proceeded to melt right into me as well. DAMN THESE DOGS! So I quickly gave him back to the volunteer, packed up the kids and drove away as fast as I could, telling myself that we were NOT adopting a dog.

Then it started... the nagging, the heart ache, the guilt. My insides just started to gnaw at me. How could I leave a perfectly good dog at the shelter?!? So I had a heart to heart with Big Daddy who resigned himself to the fact that we'd be getting a dog before the holidays. I managed to talk him into coming to look at both the dogs because I didn't want to make that kind of decision alone, after all he'd have to live with the consequences too! So he came, he saw and was just as indecisive as I was, ha-HA! And I think he knew in his heart that if we only got one, I would have eaten myself up inside and ended up with ulcers! So he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Just go adopt the damn dogs!" And he went back to work.

So I did. I adopted them both and hoped like hell they would get along! And yes, I know what you're thinking. Two pups? Are they insane? Apparently we are, in fact I think insane would be a gross understatement! If there was a book called, "You Might Be a Dumbass" there would surely be a picture of me and my family on the cover! But just look at them? Could YOU have walked away?

First off, meet "Samantha" who from this day forward will be known as "Penelope" or "Penny" for short (no pun intended).

She is a young, most likely Bassett Hound/Beagle mix, a Basseagle if you will. She is short and really long, kind of like a white and brown polka dot stretch limo!

She has the sweetest, droopiest little face with some seriously sad puppy eyes. I was a sucker for her the moment I laid eyes on her! She's a little bitch to be sure. She's great and totally submissive to her humans but she's an Alpha bitch to be reckoned with around other dogs. That will take some work, but she's a puppy and we have lots of manners we need to learn!

And then there's "Castaway".

The Monkey Man liked that name until he looked it up in the dictionary and found out that it meant something you discard or throw away. Once he knew the definition, he thought the name stunk, and frankly I couldn't have agreed more. This little dog did not deserve to be discarded and he has found his forever home with us. He is now known as "Nigel" because he's not a ten, he goes all the way to eleven! And at this very moment, he is sleeping soundly in my lap, he's been very tired since coming home from the shelter.

We think he is probably some strange mix of Italian Greyhound/Dachsund/Chihuahua which would make him an Italian Dachshuahua. He is very quiet and timid, until you leave his little ass alone for 2 hours and then he becomes the Tasmanian Devil and destroys your master bathroom! But alas, he is also a puppy and as much as I wanted to choke the living shit out of him last night, I know that he too needs some work. After all, how could I expect two pups that have spent a great deal of time in a shelter situation to come to me perfect? Everything that is worth having in this world takes time and effort, after all, my kids are my greatest joy, but the hardest things I have ever endured. So I have high hopes for these pups. We have given them a home and a second chance and they have given us the ability to start healing and to love again.

In closing I would just like to say that if any of you are searching for someone to share your home with who will give you undying and unconditional love, you don't have to go any further than your local shelter, humane association or rescue organization. As far as I'm concerned "Adoption IS the best option!" So give a repo dog or cat a second chance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Simply the Best

And just like the song says... "Better than all the rest!"

In the summer of 2005 we decided it was time to get a dog for the Monkey Man. We had a little 15 y.o. Min Pin who was NOT a big fan of the rambunctious 3 y.o. The boy needed a big, goofy dog that could be HIS pal. We contacted a local rescue group who thought they had a perfect match but he was in El Paso. They agreed to transfer him all the way up here just so we could see him. We showed up and I was stunned at what an amazing beast was before us. He was so cool looking, totally mellow and everything I could have ever asked for! We played hard-to-get though and decided we needed to go home to "discuss" the situation. Within an hour we were calling back telling them we'd come get him the next morning! So "Rexx" the rescue dog from El Paso became "Otis" the Uber-Dog of Austin! We took him to the vet, just to get him checked out and to see if they had any idea as to his breed. They had no clue. We quickly decided he was nothing but the finest example of a true Tex/Mex Shithound! We cleaned him up...

Wasn't he handsome after a bath? And my little boy proceeded to fall in love with the most loyal, loving and protective dog I have ever known!

One of my favorite Otis Potis stories happened 2 days after we brought him home. He was unaccustomed, to say the least, to Big Daddy's late night band rehearsal schedule. Daddy came home LATE that Tuesday evening to find his wife and child sleeping soundly upstairs while a snarling beast was firmly planted on the stair landing. He spent 20 minutes trying to convince Otis that he belonged here and was getting close to having to have me call him off. Otie eventually sniffed Big Daddy and re-assessed the situation deciding it was OK to let him pass. Although my honey wanted to cluck the damn dog for being such an ass, he had to pat him on the head in passing with a "Good Boy" thrown in there for good measure, knowing for a fact that this dog would protect his family with his life. I ALWAYS felt safe with Otis.

He was a severely mellow dog. He very seldom got overly excited and he was rarely obtrusive or underfoot. He would totally come and sniff your crotch when you came to visit, but what self-respecting dog of his size wouldn't, right? He liked to play ball, but was happy after about 4 throws.

He put up with ALOT! But I think he knew it was all in good fun!

Almost a year after adopting him, the Piglet arrived. I was worried at first about how he would react to her, you know, BIG dog, LITTLE baby, but it was love at first sight. There was hardly a time that he was with us and not within sight of his kids. If we were upstairs, he was upstairs, if we were downstairs, he was downstairs. It's just how he rolled.

This was how you'd find him most of the time.

He definitely took to the good life with us! He even had a motto, "It ain't for me if it ain't got A/C!" He was the only dog I ever knew that HATED being outside.

The Oatman was not only the object of my affection...

but the object of some of my favorite shots!

He constantly tormented and was constantly taunted by his Archnemesis... that bitchy, little cat!

Much to our great sadness, about 2 years ago, she succumbed to cancer, the biggest nemesis of all. I think even Otis missed his favorite foe. He learned the greatest lesson of all from her though... there is ALWAYS time to nap with a friend!

He always had a smile to brighten your day and lighten your heart!

He was always there to welcome us home!

And always happy to just lounge around.

He had a couple of his own good friends that he enjoyed spending time with...

But most of all, he was LOVED. The only thing I knew about his previous life, was his owners abandoned him after he was badly hurt in a car accident. Their loss was our gain! We shared our hearts and our home with this wonderful dog and our lives were richer because of it. And although he was a quiet and mellow soul, our house has an eerie silence without the vibration of his existence. I have endured these losses before, but have never had to share the sadness with a child. Seeing the Monkey Man through this has been so unbelievably hard. And the Piglet, she's so little still and wants to know when we're going to bring him home. It's just so damn hard to explain! But we will go on, and the infamous "Otis Potis Who Drinks from the Commodus" will forever live in our hearts. So I bid a final farewell to my faithful companion, hoping with every fiber of my being that if there is a heaven, his wagging tail and goofy smile will be waiting at the front door for me when I arrive! We love you, miss you and will never forget you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spooks and Goblins

We took the kids trick-or-treating in one of Austin's coolest neighborhoods, Hyde Park! The residents totally deck out their awesome historic homes with ghouls and gravestones and spiders. It is a family friendly atmosphere with kids and parents alike dressing up for the festivities.

In fact, Big Daddy and I dressed up this year paying homage to Dia de los Muertos!

There were so many great costumes, my favorites being my own little spooks! The Monkey Man was the best Ghostbuster ever, thanks to Big Daddy!

And the Piggy was the Wickedest Old Witch out there even if I do say so myself!

The kids had a great time and got loads of loot! Afterwards we headed to EZ's Diner for Poblano Chile Burgers much to the horror of the nice little family in the booth behind us. Obviously they had never seen a family of painted heathens before! BOO!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Uncharted Territory

Oh jeepers! Time to trade in the Pilot for a mini van and my flip-flops for tube socks and sneakers, Little Mama's about to be "Sports Mama"! Here I was cruising through life, enjoying the creativity, art, music and crafts that so define my family when I was blind-sided by my 7 year-old. "Mom, I wanna play basketball!" Cue crickets....

"Basketball? Really? What about karate? No? Swimming? No? So basketball, huh? OK, give me a minute to think." Or panic if you really must know. Team sports are about as foreign to me as frog sashimi and social grace! I was raised by pot-smoking, peace-loving, hippies for Pete's sake. It was all about expanding the mind to allow for greater creativity, enhanced by music, nature and color. So naturally, I chose the path of art and music. I stayed as far away from sports as possible. In fact, PE was like Guantanamo Bay for me. Water-boarding sounds like a treat in comparison! I was never fast enough, limber enough, big enough or good enough to play anything well, so I was teased relentlessly. I was that "Breakfast Club" geek who was razzed by the sporting elite daily. So I learned a healthy loathing for anything athletic early on.

I have, in my later years, learned to appreciate watching a good game of basketball or hockey or even the occasional football game with friends (granted I'm usually the one chatting with someone in the kitchen with the food) but I had not really ever entertained the idea that my son would have an interest in team sports. So... what to do? Well, like any good parent, I researched and researched and found a program at the local YMCA where they teach basketball in a non-competitive setting. I understand that this can only last so long. If he is good and he enjoys it, he will have to enter a league. OK, feeling hyperventilation coming on! A league! OK, I don't mean to generalize, but the horror stories I've heard of crazy, gung-ho parents at these youth sporting events freaks me the hell out! I want my son to play for the love of the sport, not because he needs to help somebody else's parent relive the fucking high school glory days! I know these people are probably the minority, but it just weirds me out. And we all know that it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bushel. OK, so BREATHE!

I enrolled him in a SportsZone class where he has 4 classes to learn some of the basics of team sports. Then I have him enrolled for 2 months of basketball starting in January. These are both at the Y and are both non-competitive classes that are to teach him how to play the game in a safe environment. I can do this. I can do this. He wants it so badly and I want to support him in anything he wants to do. So, it's time to pack up all of my baggage and let him have his own unbiased experiences. Time will tell, he will either love it and excel or he'll hate it and we're back to writing songs, painting pictures and playing the dulcimer. Either way, if he's happy, I'm happy... except for having to get up early for games every damn Saturday morning!