Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Me, as My Own Guest Blogger

I wanted to share this post today, originally written in the summer of 2009, when Small was not quite 3, MC was a feisty almost 15 year old, and my Oldest had just graduated from high school. It seems like just a minute ago, yet my oldest two have left the nest, and will be 20 and 24 this year, and my littlest is getting dangerously close to being a "big kid", and will turn 8 in the fall.  Maybe I'm feeling sentimental because my hormones are in an uproar. (I'm having PMS of above average intensity this month, which is to say that I'd really enjoy a raw steak for nearly every meal, with a side of chocolate covered butter, if possible.) Anyway, this may also be making me a little more sentimental than usual, but I don't think my nostalgia is the only reason this post resonates with me. Whatever the reason, I wanted to share it again.


Cherries and Childhood

The last day at the mountain house, we sit on the back porch, the Small One and I, and eat cherries. The sun is low on the mountains, and it’s the time of day when the world seems benevolent and warm. I bite the cherries in half, being careful to take the seed in my half, so I can give her a seedless chunk. She’s impatient for more, but I relish the time, watching the cherry stains spread across her face and fingers.

I suddenly have the thought that this is the way I want parenting to be, but it rarely is- I always want to hand them pieces of life from which I’ve stripped the obstacles and rotten parts, and watch them enjoy themselves. The cherries I bite are sometimes not sweet, and when they’re not I throw them off the deck, so she only gets the choicest pieces. I tell her we’re throwing away the yucky cherries, and she looks at me with her trusting, not quite three year old face, and nods agreement. “We don’t like yucky cherries,” she says, “because they’re not so yummy.”

Looking into the serious eyes above the cherry stains, I have a flash of the years to come. I’m all too familiar with the difficulties ahead, having raised two other children almost to adulthood, and I want to hold her right where she is, while she still trusts me completely and loves me without reservation. I want to sit with her and listen to her say that she loves cherries because they’re red, and red is her favorite color. I want to know her favorite color. I don’t want to fight with her about tattoos and piercing and curfews, I don’t want her to assume I’m setting rules because I hate her, I don’t want to look into her face and see a hostile stranger.

I’m thinking this as she hops off her rocking chair and stubs her toe. She yelps, and I hand her a cherry half. She examines it for a minute, then looks at me and brightens up. “Thank you, Mom,” she says, “that will make me feel better.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

O Da Wo Da Wit Da Weeus

My family intentionally misquotes a certain line from a Robert Burns poem. The poem is called "To a Louse", and the line is:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us! 

My family says it this way:

O da wo da wit da weeus
See ourselves as others see us.

(Or, abbreviated, it just becomes the first line.) The line, of course, speaks to the unwise nature of putting on airs, and references a girl who is completely unaware that there's a louse on her fancy bonnet. Whenever we notice someone being obtusely lacking in self awareness, we shake our heads and tut. "O da wo da wit da weeus."

Of course, it makes me wonder, how often is that person me? I think of myself as self aware, but in my experience, most people seem to think that of themselves, and many are mistaken. There are zillions of versions of the "how I think I look/ how I really look" meme. 

I'm thinking about this today because an acquaintance of mine posted an article on social media last night that she considers representative of her personality. I was astonished. It didn't even come close to how I perceive her, and even when I tried tipping my head sideways and squinting, I still couldn't see it.

I think this goes along with what I've been thinking about lately, with classifications, labels, and the boxes in which we put ourselves and others. Maybe part of it stems from a need to belong to a group, and maybe it's a desire to be more that we are. If I say I'm a Tiger Mom, when clearly I am not, does that speak to my yen to push my children into higher achievement? Is it a case of "fake it til you make it", or pure pretension? And anyway, where is the line between those two?

Here's what I think. Young adults tend to say "I'm an adult." Elementary kids declare, "I'm a big kid!". In the same way, insecure moms feel the need to stand on a figurative chair and announce their mom philosophy to whomever might be interested. Most of the time, when a person feels the need to have everyone affirm whatever it is he or she believes about him or herself, it's because they don't truly believe it in the first place. 

Not that I'm throwing stones. I often feel like I'm on the verge of being discovered as a phony. Doesn't everyone? In a way, we all put on a persona every time we leave the house, don't we? I'm a pretty transparent person on the whole, but there's still that moment of panic when I'm asked to explain my point of view, or stretch my professional abilities, or meet a new person.

Aside from opening oneself up to sometimes brutal criticism, how does one go about seeing what others see? I find myself asking those to whom I'm close: "Do I do that? Do I come across like that? Would you tell me if I did that?"

What about you? Does it matter to you how others see you? Do you know whether your own self image is accurate? Do you care?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Which Vert are You?

Introvert, extrovert...these terms get thrown around all the time, and I sometimes wonder about them. They are often described in such clear cut terms, but I think most people aren't one or the other, but rather a mixture. My husband is introverted, for sure, unless he's in a group where he feels he has something worthwhile to contribute and then, whoa, look out. This is the Man who often goes into the other room to read a book during a party, because he just can't be involved any more, and who literally never seeks out the companionship of friends. Yet give him a neighborhood pool next to his house, and he's Mr. Friendlypants. (Just add water?) Give him the opportunity to expound upon a topic during a class, and he's an orator. Not that he'll necessarily speak to any of the people in the class afterward, but man, he's on fire when he's sharing his knowledge.

Small is a similar creature, in many regards. As I mentioned before, she eschews group activities, and prefers to spend time playing alone, setting up elaborate games, for hours. On the other hand, she's extremely friendly and talkative, always ready to reach out to someone if she thinks that person needs a friend.

Does that make her an introvert or an extrovert?

What about me? When I was a child, my mom had to pry me away from my books and make me go play with the neighborhood kids. On the other hand, I was a total blabbermouth who loved being in dance recitals and school plays, concert choir and flag corps. As a grown up, I spent years in the marketing field, constantly glad-handing and schmoozing. Now, I work from home, and see people pretty rarely. Sometimes this bothers me, most of the time it doesn't. I have days when my only communication with other people, aside from Small One and the Man, is online. That's ok with me. On the other hand, I'm often delighted to have a marathon phone call with a friend or my sister or mom. I talk to complete strangers. I seek out lunch dates with friends. I volunteer for things. I tell good stories, and I'm great at making small talk, when the occasion calls for it. I used to really love singing and acting in front of people. On the other hand, if I'm cracking a joke in a group, it's typically to the person next to me, under my breath. If someone asks me to repeat a funny story in front of a group, I feel like my face is on fire. Don't get me wrong, I tell the story, and I would guess that no one else knows that I'm embarrassed, but I am. I love the idea of a party with good friends, but I always almost chicken out before we go. I very much dislike social events where I'm not going to know people.

Does that make me an extrovert or an introvert? I think maybe I'm an ambivert.

This raises another question for me, though. Why do I care? Why do any of us care? Why do we have a need to be classified, and to classify others? My only guess is that it's part of our need for order- everyone needs to be in the appropriate box.Maybe we also feel that if we can classify ourselves, we can truly know ourselves, and by truly understanding ourselves we can be the best, most successful versions of ourselves.

Readers, what do you think? Is the introvert/extrovert distinction clear to you? And why does it matter?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Weird Kid

As you've probably gathered by now, I think Small One is pretty spectacular. Smart, funny, and charming, she's also pretty easygoing and well-mannered. School is a breeze for her, because she is also a rules follower, which makes her easy for her teachers to manage. She's also a pretty entertaining student- in fact, most adults find her a really enjoyable child. Recently, however, she's had a complaint about school, and it has to do with her interaction with her peers. She's begun referring to herself as "the weird kid".

She can't explain this to me, she doesn't know why she doesn't feel like she fits in, she just knows she feels like a misfit. I totally "get" this, as I've felt this way most of my life, and I remember feeling completely out of place in elementary school. When I look at her objectively, I can identify these particular items that might set her apart from her fellow first graders:
  • She's a stand up comedian. For the second year in a row, she's picked comedy as her talent show act, asking her father to participate. She's been extremely instrumental in the writing of their material: we help her, but she is a really active participant in the process, vetoing certain lines and making up her own jokes as we go along. When she auditioned this year, the judges expressed amazement at her ability to memorize such a long piece, and I wanted to tell them that it wasn't such a big deal, as she'd single-handedly written about half of it. 
  • She has wanted to be a movie director since she was about three years old. Even before she understood the term "director" she's known that she did not want to be a person in the movies, but rather a person making the movies. To that end, she spends hours constructing elaborate "movies"...this is to say, she sets up all her toy animals in different scenes, creating various scenarios for them to enact. Her "movies" have titles like "Duckland" and "Pink Poodle Land". Unfortunately, her storytelling skills are not yet honed, and when she tries to retell these tales, they are the longest, most rambling epic tales of toy animals that I have ever attempted to hear. So when she comes home from school and tells me that no one will let her tell them about Duckland, I have to say that I fully come down on the side of the other kids. 
  • She is the bossiest of all the bossypants. No joke. Perhaps because she is a pseudo-only child, with siblings who both left the house before she was 6, she has a bit of the Red Queen in her; this is to say that all ways are her ways, according to her. I suspect this leads to difficulty in making friends. It also probably does not endear her to her classmates that she tends to apologize to her teacher for their behavior, if they are not falling into line the way she thinks they should.
  • She speaks like an adult. Adults find this pretty hilarious, especially since she is small for her age, but I think it adds to her weird kid reputation among her peers. Here's an example of the way she expresses herself: riding Space Mountain, she was terrified.Was she crying? Nope.

    She was yelling "I wish I hadn't agreed to this!"
  • She prefers animals to people. This, I think, probably also adds to her weird kid reputation. She doesn't play with dolls, she plays with toy animals. At Disney, she cared nothing for meeting the princesses, but stood in line to have her picture taken with an Aristocat. Given a choice between playing with the neighbor girls or playing in the back yard with the dogs, she'll often pick the dogs. I don't know why this is, but I will wager it adds to the label.
  • She's not a joiner. I remember a birthday party for a friend a couple of years ago, with a superhero theme. The grandmother of the birthday girl had made capes for all the kids, and there was a party person there, tasked with leading all of them in fun activities that had them zooming all around the house and yard. Except Small- she was not involved in any of it. She still has the cape, she zooms around our yard in it: solo. When it was time to participate, she wasn't having it. This goes for singalongs, dance parties, audience participation, and so on. For another Disney example: we went to an audience-participation heavy Beauty and the Beast attraction. She had no interest in any of it, including the part where little girls went up to have their pictures taken with Belle...until she realized they were offering bookmarks. She still didn't meet Belle, but she waited until after the show and requested a bookmark anyway.

The bottom line is this: I wish I knew how to help, but I don't. I've tried to tell her that one day she'll meet "her people", and it will all feel better. I've discussed the situation with my older kids, and the consensus is, as MC so eloquently put it, I "only know how to raise weird kids". She may have a point. Sometime soon, she'll move into gifted classes at her school, where I hope she'll meet other kids just as "weird" as she is. Right now, being socially awkward makes her want to stop going to school and be home-schooled. I don't think that's a good enough reason to home school.

So how about you, readers? Are you raising weird kids, or are yours perfectly normal? Is there such a thing as perfectly normal? Does anyone not feel socially awkward in grade school?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Caturday, the Talented Mom Edition

I certainly have plenty of cat photos to fill a year of Saturday Caturdays, but this week, I thought I'd do something a little bit different. This week I'm bragging on my mom.

In case you're wondering, this is not a photo of a cat. It's a photo of a painting of a cat, and I think it's totally amazing. It's a painting my mother did as a gift for my sister in law, and I have to reiterate, I really love it. I'm commissioning her to do one of Rick James (the dog, not the man), so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, if you'd like to see more of her work, you can visit her website.
Happy Caturday!  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Doesn't Anybody Stay in one Place Anymore?

It's my brother's birthday, and I have to say, I'm very proud to be his sister. He's an amazing person, a great friend to an enormous number of people, and a successful entrepreneur. He's married to his business partner and best friend, and they've made a fabulous life for themselves. Admirable, and wonderful.

And so, so very far away. I love that technology allows for far-flung families to stay close to each other, but I hate that my family is so far flung. I visited my brother last spring, and had to break the drive into two days. I suppose I could've done it in one, but it seemed unwise to spend thirteen or more hours in a car with Small One. We had a great visit, we always have a great visit, but it always seems like we've barely scratched the surface when it's time to leave.

I guess this goes along with yesterday's post, and maybe I'm just getting sentimental as I get older, but I sure do wish it was easier to see the people I love on a regular basis. My mother and sister are four hours away, my brothers are six and thirteen hours away, it takes ten hours to get to my dad. The world is bigger and smaller, we all know, but I'm finding myself dissatisfied with the digital connection to people I once saw every day.

In any case, happy birthday to one of the greatest men I know. I always knew you would be, and I was crazy about you from the first moment I saw you. I love you immeasurably, my dear brother, and I hope this year brings us together more times than once.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday- How does time pass so quickly?

It's the blink of an eye, really, that takes you from this:

to this:

and it's not until you reach a certain age that you really understand it. 

When I started this blog, my life was naturally overflowing, because I had two teenagers and all their rowdy friends, and I was a member of the homeschooling community, which is an active place to be, I was extremely active in my church, and I had a toddler, who required a lot of time. I lived in town, and there was always something going on, and always somewhere I had to be. Now I live in the burbs, I have one grade school child, I no longer homeschool and, while I'm still a committed member of the church, I'm no longer as "hands on" as I once was. I live further away now, and I have no one in the youth group, and no one at the preschool. 

I guess my point is that you never know how much life changes until you've lived it, and you don't really notice the changes while they're happening. A few years back my new year's resolution was to live life purposefully, and I really try to do that, being mindful of my choices. I sometimes fall flat. Right now, it's a reflective period for me, while I try to reassess my priorities and see where I'm missing the mark, but the one thing that keeps hitting me is how fast these people:

become these people:

and even how fast this:

becomes this:

I know this is only the beginning, but in this moment I'm feeling a little sentimental, wishing I could make time stand still. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mom Classification

I have a complicated life. Although we only have one child at home now, I'm working pretty much full time- from home. This is something that can be difficult, and it's also something that most people don't understand.

Last week, I worked upwards of fifty hours, writing things for which I am earning a paycheck. At the same time, I supervised homework, planned a mini-vacation, handled extracurricular activities, cooked dinners, did laundry and housework, and so on. In my particular phase of life, working from home is basically working a full time job while trying to be a stay at home mom. I'm not in the mommy wars, I am the mommy wars.

I tried to explain this to someone the other day, not taking into account that she had, for a time, been a work-outside-the-home mom to her stepdaughter, during the preteen and teen years. She raised an eyebrow at me and said, rather dismissively, I thought, "What do you think a stay at home mom does that a working mom doesn't?"

I was taken aback by this question. I've been both types of mom, and there's plenty a stay at home mom does that a working mom doesn't. I mean no disrespect to working moms when I say this- it's obvious that they do many things that stay at home moms don't, and those things add up to a paying job. But I was rather shocked that anyone would be incredulous that stay at home moms have any extra tasks.

For one thing, I don't know any moms who work outside the  home and don't eat restaurant food on a fairly regular basis. Maybe there are some out there who cook almost every night, but I don't know any. I'm not faulting them for extravagance, I totally get not wanting to cook when you've been working all day. But if you're a stay at home mom, you're much less likely to eat out.

If you're a working mom, your kids probably go to afterschool care. I worked in childcare, and I know that there are tons of working moms who drop their kids off early in the morning, and pick them up at 6pm. Again, I'm not faulting them, I understand hectic work schedules, and I've had to leave my kids all day, too. But the reality of that lifestyle is this: there's no one at the house making a mess, and someone else is helping the kids with homework. If the kids have extracurricular activities during working hours, someone else is taking them. By the time they get home, it's tremendously hectic, because they've got to get the kids fed and into bed.

Stay at home moms are much more "in the thick of it" with their kids. They're helping with homework, they're cleaning up messes, they're listening to endless stories about who said what to whom at school, and what happened on the bus. They're playing chauffeur, trying not to curse in traffic while they ferry kids to their chosen after school activities.

I realize I'm generalizing, and I don't mean to offend, but this is my experience, having been on both sides of this fence. I realize that moms fall somewhere on the spectrum, and it's not all black and white. But what I'm experiencing now, and what I'm trying to manage, is this odd amalgam, wherein I feel like I have to wear twenty hats at the same time, and play multiple roles.

For one thing, I work for more than one company. This gets stressful sometimes, because I'm not the most organized human, and sometimes it seems like too many balls in the air. In addition, my child is a first grader, which means she requires a lot of interaction, as opposed to a teenager, who would be content to hang out in her own room if I was under the crunch of a deadline. She's also a very active kid, with piano lessons, choir, and dance lessons. I end up doing quite a bit of work while I'm waiting for one of these activities to end.

Today is a perfect example. I was writing all day, then was supposed to have a conference call in the afternoon, while the Man took Small to the audition for her school talent show. (He wouldn't normally be home in the afternoon, he typically works until almost her bedtime, but he's part of her act, so he was supposed to be there.) As it happened, he was not actually able to get out of work- because he does not work from home. So because I'm the work at home parent, I had to shuffle things around and reschedule the conference call. I'm grateful they obliged me, and I know I'm utterly blessed to have abundant work with wonderful people. The conference call got the same time as Small's choir. That meant no choir tonight, which by extension meant no church supper, and since I hadn't been to the grocery store, I had to improvise dinner. I'll admit, I ordered in. While I was on the conference call, with a particularly difficult client, Small was quiet, since I'd asked her to be. She did not, however, stop dancing around me, pantomiming requests and, at one point, holding up a sign that said "Food? Check yes or no."

Work-outside-the-home moms do not have to check yes or no on a seven year old's food request in the middle of a meeting. That's pretty much the summation of my entire post.

This was a long one, I know, but I can't help but wonder. Is there anyone else out there struggling with the work from home thing? Do you have any tips or tricks you can send my way? I'm open to suggestion.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jiggety Jig

Not much to say today, it was a travelling day. I mean, I could post gratuitous Disney photos.

Or I could talk about what was strange about the Disney visit, which is that Small has become so caught up in being a "big" kid that she's lost a little bit of the wonder she had last time we visited. It's funny, on the one hand she has no interest in talking to the princesses, who were her primary focus on our last trip, and she didn't want anyone to treat her like a baby, but on the other hand, we had an exchange about Mickey Mouse that showed me how little she still is.

Small said "How does he get that squeaky voice? I know this is just a man in a mouse suit."

I said, "I don't know, it looks like Mickey Mouse to me. And if it's just a man, how does he get that squeaky voice?"


She said, "Mom. If it's really the real Mickey Mouse, why does his face look like it's made of wood or something?"

I said, "Because he's a cartoon."

And that was a satisfactory answer! It made perfect sense to her- if a cartoon comes to life, obviously it'll still have fake looking features. Case closed, mystery solved.

I grew up near Disney World, so on our way home I persuaded the Man to drive through my old neighborhood. Two things struck me: 1) there's been a lot of growth and 2) it still seems like a charming place. It was really a good place to grow up. I said as much to small, and she said, "But you don't like it when you are a grown up?"


"You're saying it was a good place to grow up, but once you're a grown up, it's not such a good place? You don't like it as much?"

I told her that no, it didn't stop being a good place, and yes, I still liked it just as much. Hard to explain the twists and turns of life to someone who is seven years old. Even if she is a big kid.

Monday, January 20, 2014

They Wanted Us at Disney

When I was a child, sometimes we’d go somewhere- say, a new church, or a restaurant- and parking would be scarce. My mom would say “Obviously, they don’t want us here!” and we’d move on. Alternately, sometimes we’d get a spot by the door and she’d say, “See, they want us here!” Today, the Man and I took Small to Disney World, and I have to say, I think they wanted us there.

We managed to keep the visit a complete secret from Small until we were literally pulling up to the park, and she freaked out in a very satisfying manner when she understood what was happening.  We parked so close that we didn’t need to take the tram to get to the station. We never had to wait in line longer than 30 minutes. The weather was sunny and mild. All in all, it was the perfect day to be there.

Of course, any family outing has its hiccups. Small was very excited to be tall enough to ride the roller coasters for the first time, so of course we took her on Space Mountain. She’d been on roller coasters before, at Six Flags, but Space Mountain was too much for her. Almost from the beginning of the ride, she was yelling, “I don’t like this! I don’t want to do this! DADDY!!!! I wish I hadn’t agreed to this!”
My seven year old often says things like "I wish I hadn't agreed to this." It's part of what charms people about her, because her adult speech, combined with her smaller-than-the-average-7-year-old size makes her a really funny little creature. She does not, however, like it when people exclaim over how cute she is, and God forbid someone laugh. She's not a baby, she's a big girl.

On this trip, she was all about being a big girl, and bragging about how tough she’s gotten. She used to be afraid of Snow White, can you imagine? (Sidebar: that Snow White ride was scary!) Well, she’s seven now, and there’s no way she’s going to be afraid of any silly ride.

Yeah. All that bragging was about how she was going to ride Haunted Mansion, because she IS old enough, and she KNOWS that all that stuff at Disney isn’t real.

Anyone want to guess how the Haunted Mansion went? She got into the first room, started frantically backing out, yelling “I want to quit this! I want to quit this!”  We had to beat a hasty retreat through the back door. Of course, the day was all about her, so we didn’t care. We just laughed and ducked out. Interestingly, she was too consumed with panic to notice that we were laughing.

One really interesting thing we did today is to play one of the new interactive games they have now at the Magic Kingdom. This game was one in which you have to try to defeat a bunch of evil sorcerers, through a series of quests, and it was really fun! I’m impressed with how they’re integrating new technology into the various attractions at the park.

Tomorrow we head home. It was a really good trip, and not quite over yet, as we have one more lunch date to go. I have to say, though, I’m glad to be heading back- there’s no place like home.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Slow Moving Sunday

Despite having to work this weekend, I have to say it's been pretty perfect. Beautiful weather, fun with my brother and sister in law, a walk on the beach with my sweet aunt, and now a day with plenty of down time. And of course, tomorrow- Disney! Tonight, I'm trying to wrap up some work and head to bed, but of course I couldn't without stopping here first.

The most surprising part of my weekend, I have to say, is how idyllic the time has been at my in-law's house. I've only been here four times over the course of my seventeen year relationship with their son. Even stranger, two of those four times were more than a decade ago, and the other two have occurred in the past two months. I've never been at the top of my in-laws' list of favorite people, but maybe they're warming to me? Or maybe they've figured out that I'm a permanent fixture. More likely, they've noticed that Small One is a pretty fun kid to have around.

Today has been exactly the type of day a little girl should have with her grandparents. Last night they gave her a new book, which she devoured over the course of the evening and this morning. Today was full of games and conversation, and the Man and his father took Small out and taught her to ride a bike without training wheels, while her grandmother and I looked on and applauded. Then I ran an errand, and the men took the little girl to the yacht club to look at boats, and after dinner she read stories with her grandmother until bedtime.

I know this sounds boring, and to be honest, she's had this kind of visit with my mother a million times, but it's something new for the other side of the family. So I'm sharing it, I guess, to say "Hooray!", but also to say to anyone else whose mother in law didn't come to your wedding reception... where there's life, there's hope.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


 Because I just really never get tired of gratuitous cat photos, especially when the subjects are these handsome men...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Is a No-Pressure Weekend Possible?

This week, I've spent most of my waking moments working, often on three different projects at once. I've gotten very little sleep, I ran very late today, and I spent my morning feeling extremely frazzled and anxious. Of course, the work is totally worth it, because I also made some serious (for me) cash this week, but I am utterly delighted to say that we've taken a long weekend to visit family, have some fun, and relax in sunnier weather. I'm delighted, but with a caveat.

See, the thing about being a mom is that it never feels like you get to be "off". In preparation for this weekend away, I spent time and energy on the planning part, deciding on the schedule, budgeting for the trip, working it out with Small's teacher, the relatives, the pet sitter, and so on. Then it was time for the preparation phase, wherein I washed all of our clothes, cleaned the house, packed for myself and Small One, took care of veterinary needs, packed the snacks, and everything else that goes into getting a family into the car and onto the road. Now we're at our destination, and I'm still working to coordinate with people's schedules and tend to Small One, but I also have work to do for my job, because in order to take off Friday and Monday I have to do some work over the weekend.So while I could not be happier to have this vacation, it still strikes me that it's not so much a vacation as a work relocation with more breaks.

All of this should not make me resentful of The Man, but if I'm being honest I'll admit that it sort of does. This morning, I whirled around the house like a tornado, making things happen, getting things done, while he sat on the couch, taking his time with what he was doing, not noticing anything that needed to be done until I specifically asked him to do it. I don't think I'm alone in this. I know that studies have been done that showed a disproportion in household responsibilities- when both partners work, the wife often still does the lion's share of the housework and childcare. The problem for me is that I don't know what to do about it. The Man is a very nice person, with very good intentions, but he simply is not programmed to notice that a counter needs to be wiped off, or laundry needs to be done, or the carpets need to be vacuumed. He doesn't comprehend the need for strategy in running a house or planning a vacation. He means well, but he just doesn't get it, and I know that I'm partially to blame, because for our entire marriage, I've made all the pieces fit together, and he's been free to just go to work, come home, do what I specifically ask him to do, and take care of himself.

This brings me back to my own central question, which is the theme of my life recently. Now that I'm working pretty much full time again, how do I balance my responsibilities and alleviate pressure? I need to work as much as I can, because we need the money. However, in the years that I worked part time, when Small was preschool aged, we fell into certain patterns that are now difficult to rework. Complicating matters is the fact that I work from home, which makes me seem like a stay at home mom, when in fact I am not.I am a working mom who has to take time out of her day to do the things I would be doing if I were a stay at home mom; it's like two jobs in one. Then, too, since I don't work out of an office, there are more hours of "at home" time, which means more messes to clean, more meals prepared at home and more working while interacting with an elementary aged child.

I know it is my responsibility to strike a balance in my own life. But it strikes me as... I don't know if ironic is quite the right word...what I'm looking at is that I have to be responsible for fixing the problem of too much responsibility. I have to add a responsibility to my already full plate, and that responsibility is the task of convincing someone else to take some of my responsibilities. Even that sentence makes me tired.

So I guess I just wonder- does anyone else feel this inability to strike the right balance? Am I alone in wondering how I'll get it all done and still manage to sleep? And is it possible for a mother to ever have a no-pressure weekend?

If anyone has this all figured out already, I'm open to suggestions. Right now though, I'm going to sleep. And when I wake up, I'm going to walk with my Small One, and some greatly loved extended family members, on a beach. Responsibility will have to take a hike, at least for a little while.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday- Disney Reminiscing

I've been to the Magic Kingdom roughly 6739 times in my life, having grown up in Central Florida. Funny thing about it, though, it never fails to thrill me, planning a trip. We never do the big stay-at-the-park-for days thing, we just go for a day, and I'm happy. We're planning a pop in on Monday, and we're not telling Small until we get there, and I'm beyond excited. My difficulty in keeping this secret is making me laugh at myself...picture this Kristen Wiig character from Saturday Night Live and you'll have a pretty good idea of what I'm going through.

Anyway, planning this trip got me misty, thinking about the first time we took Small. It was the summer before she turned 3, and she was madly in love with Cinderella.

Of course, MC was with us on that trip, too, because she was not quite 15.

It was truly idyllic family time, really the perfect day, which Disney always should be, but often isn't. 

We've been back once since then, but this is the trip that sticks in my mind as the best, the most magical and truly one of the most pleasant days we've ever spent. It was the kind of day where everyone did exactly everything they wanted to do, no one got too tired or cranky, and we closed out the night with fireworks in front of the castle. 

This time is going to be strange, because it will be the first time in 19 years that I've been without MC. It's going to be different, for sure, because it will be very 7 year old oriented. Whatever the day brings, I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it only Tuesday?

The world of freelance is definitely "feast or famine". This happens to be a feast week, which is not optimal, because I'm leaving town on Friday. I mean, it is optimal, because I won't have to fret over how we're going to pay bills when we get back, but on the other hand, I really need to do laundry and pack and plan snacks and all those other things that moms do before the family gets in the car and drives for 7 hours. I want to make a CD for the road, and other trivial things that would be no problem if I were a stay-at-home mom instead of a work-at-home mom, but tend to get lost in the shuffle when I'm under a slew of deadlines.

Anyway, I'm feeling the pressure this week, and when I'm feeling pressured, I talk to myself. A lot. Do you do that? I talk myself through projected difficult conversations, I boss myself around, I talk out situations that feel tricky, and I tell myself why it's all going to be ok. I might be nuts, but I'm just being honest.

Yesterday, as previously noted, was full of procrastination. Today I planned to turn over a new leaf, get a ton of things done, make a huge dent in my workload, being truly productive. I wrote things down in a datebook! I set alarms to remind me of things I needed to remember! When I went to bed last night, I was a girl on a mission, and today was going to be a whole new day.

Except...I didn't sleep. Like, really at all. And Small One woke up cranky and complaining of a stomach ache, and didn't want to go to school. That all adds up to a disaster of a morning, and by the time I finally dropped her off and headed home, it was almost 10am, which is hardly the kind of get-to-it early starting sort of day I'd planned.

I gave myself a pep talk on the way home, by myself in the car. I listed off, out loud, which projects took priority. I said, out loud, that there would be no more procrastination, and I would get plenty of things turned in, and other things would be well underway by the time the school bus rounded the corner, and I would MEET the school bus! With the dogs! Walking the dogs! Because I'd have gotten so much done I'd be ready for a work break, and by golly I'd deserve one!

It may give you some insight into my procrastinating ways to know that, as I stopped saying these things out loud, and started sort of zoning out, I suddenly had a flash of inspiration, and said, before I could stop myself,

"But FIRST, I should organize my Facebook photo albums."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Procrastination Monday

I started today with a full workload. Blog posts and content pages to write, ideas to generate, calls to make about various "business" facets of life, housework and laundry needing to be done, and details to arrange for our upcoming trip- all of this filled my plate to overflowing, and I was determined to get the lion's share of it done today.

Don't get me wrong, I did get some of it done. I also took a nap. Well, that was necessary, because I was so sleep deprived that I couldn't think straight. I was certain that when I awoke, everything would become clear, and I'd knock it out in record time.

And yeah, sure, I spent some time on Facebook. But I needed to come up with blog post ideas for a social media marketing company! How was I to do that without being on social media? Duh. Ok, so I got sucked into a few things while I was there. Maybe more than a few. I started to feel guilty about procrastinating, but couldn't help giggle when I saw this procrastination meme:

But of course that reminded me that I needed to get on with my work. Certainly I turned in some of it today, and I've gotten a good start on more than I've actually completed. Obviously, I had more research to do, in order to get these tasks done. Unfortunately, my research is done inside this terrible black hole known as the internet. I actually wish I had spookier font for that.

While I was there, hanging out on the internet,  I read this blog post on Why Procrastinators Procrastinate. That, of course, led me to read his follow up post How to Beat Procrastination, but unfortunately, I zoned out on that one, so I still don't know the answer. Of course, someone came to the door, too, and wanted to talk to me about some things going on in our neighborhood, and so I chatted with her awhile, because I can't let my friendships fall by the wayside just because I've got work to do! Then I had to call my mom, because neither my sister nor I had heard from her all day, and what if something was wrong? By then, it was time for dinner, and of course since I'm the mom that's on me. I have to feed my child, don't I? And what kind of mom would I be if I just ignored her after dinner because I was working? What message does that send about living a balanced life and prioritizing family?

Of course, as soon as I read her a story, she'll be headed for bed, and I'll have the rest of the evening to finish working. I am definitely going to get a bunch of work done tonight, because I'm on a deadline, and things need to be turned in tomorrow, for sure. But I couldn't get started until after I came here to post, because after all, it's Nablopomo, and I don't want to miss a day! What am I, some kind of slacker? Clearly, I'm not.

It's all about to happen. As soon as I have a snack and take a bathroom break. And of course I need to ask you- how about you? Do you procrastinate? Or do you know the secret to getting things done without wasting time?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Homework Headaches

Obviously, I've done this kid-in-elementary-school thing before. Twice. In addition, I've homeschooled one of my children, fairly successfully I'd say, because we made it all the way to a high school diploma. A casual observer might therefore conclude that I'm really good at helping with homework, and extremely patient as I guide my little darlings through their educational process.

That casual observer would be dead wrong. I hate helping a reluctant kid with homework like I hate few things on earth. I thought I'd get better at it, but after over 18 years of doing this, it can still make me feel like all of the blood in my body is about to shoot out through the top of my head. I start thinking my eye is going to twitch permanently, and wondering if this is what it feels like to have a stroke.

Don't get me wrong, my children are all pretty smart. If I'd had a child that wasn't very smart, I don't know what would have happened, but in all honesty, it may be their very "smarts" that get that get them into trouble. How could a child who could recall and recite the plot of every movie he'd ever seen not be able to remember how to read the same words when they were printed on every page of his reader? How could a girl who could calculate how much clothing was going to cost, after a 30% discount and allowing for sales tax, within a matter of minutes, not be able to complete her third grade math homework? And how can Small, who constantly regales us with fantastic tales of the adventures her stuffed animals are having in Pink Poodle Land, not be able to come up with "What I did over my Christmas break?"

Seriously. I always feel like maybe I'd be more patient if they were stupid. I'd think, "Aw, poor stupid darling, (s)he just can't do the work." But no. I always think "WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE YOU CAN'T DO THE WORK, WHEN YOU'RE SO BLINKING SMART?" I try not to lead with that, at least out loud. I try to be extremely patient. The thing is, inside, I'm really not.

This weekend, Small had to complete an assignment about her Christmas break, which she'd been assigned in class, but failed to complete. Apparently, there were even missed recess times involved, and yet she failed to complete it. What in the world is wrong with my child? Yesterday, she still didn't complete it, because:

  1. She couldn't find a pencil.
  2. The pencil she found didn't have an eraser.
  3. She didn't know what to write.
  4. She'd figured out what to write, but now her eyes were too tired.
  5. She had a hand cramp, from writing half a sentence. 
  6. She lost her pencil.
  7. She found her pencil, but then she made a mistake, and discovered that she'd also lost her eraser.
That is not the entire list, but you get the idea. By the time I threw in the towel and told her she could finish it today, my neck was in serious need of a masseuse, and my head hurt.

Tonight, I started out on a positive note! If she'd finish the homework, I'd read her a story and paint her nails before bed. Whee! Those things did happen, but only when I balanced them out with major threats. If she didn't finish it in time for those things to happen, I told her, she'd be in big trouble, I might spank her, and she'd most definitely be on Kindle restriction for a whole week. This is a big threat, because her dad's Kindle is her new favorite toy, and we have a super long road trip coming up during the week, so that will be prime Kindle time, unless she's on restriction.

When I was a child, my least favorite thing that my mom did was to pile on the punishments. She'd get mad, start with one threat, and end with a long list of punitive measures, most of which she'd actually enact. Now that I'm a mom, I totally understand the urge to make the list longer as the moments of my personal annoyance tick by.

I didn't have to spank Small tonight. (In truth, I never spank her.) I didn't have to take away privileges. The assignment, praise God, is done and in her folder. All that to say, at least this story has a happy ending, and part of that happy ending is that Small One has the fanciest nails in town.

How about you, readers? How do you handle the homework wars? Do you have the patience of a saint, or are you, like me, in need of a strong drink by the time the work goes into the backpack? And how do you deal with disobedience? Are you a punishment piler? I'm interested in how this all goes down in other households.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stormy Saturday

Man, the weather has been insane lately, hasn't it? Earlier in the week the temperature was in the single digits, which is crazy for the south. Nuts when school is canceled for a "cold day" rather than a snow day, because there was no snow. Today, it's not cold at all, probably in the upper 40s, but it's been storming like crazy all night and morning. I had to go out in it, because Small had dance class, and the man is out of town, but now we're back home and hunkered down, with DVR'ed movies and a pot roast to sustain us. Tough life, out here in the 'burbs.

I'm absolutely uninspired today. No desire to do anything creative at all. (This is in strong contrast to my Small One, who is currently singing to herself as she works on collages.) I thought I'd check and see what the Nablopomo prompt was for the day, and wouldn't you know it, they don't list prompts on weekends. What's up with that?

So then, I'm thinking about pressure, because of course that's the month's theme. I have a little work pressure right now, with a bunch of things to write between now and Thursday, but I'm not sweating that too hard. It's pleasant to have that kind of pressure, a steady stream of income-producing activity.

I've gone back to pressuring myself in another way, though, by jumping back on the Weight Watcher's wagon. I'd been chugging along until the holidays hit, and then I sort of let it all go, so now it's time to get back to it.

Well, that's sort of a lie. I lost almost 40 pounds last year, but at the end of the summer, I was feeling pressured from all sorts of directions, and a little sad, and stopped paying attention to my own dietary intake for about a month. I gained a pound or two, which I felt was actually perfectly acceptable, and then I got back on track, but then... I don't know. I threw three major parties in the fall, prior to the holiday season, and money was tight, and I was hustling, trying to get all the work I possibly could, and it just all seemed so much to handle. I went back and forth all fall, and finally threw in the towel just before Thanksgiving. I'm ok with that decision, but I don't really want to step back on the scale just yet, either.

I have a strange relationship with my own weight. I'm overweight, and probably need to lose another 40 pounds, but I'm pretty relaxed about it. I'm healthy, I've got a husband who finds me attractive, and I'm not in a business that requires me to present an "image" or, indeed, interact with people on a regular basis. Mostly, I'm at home, in comfy clothes (sometimes pj's, I'm not going to lie) writing, playing with Small, snuggling dogs, tending to my family. It's only when I have to shop for clothes or see my mother-in-law that I feel the pressure of how much I weigh. I spent a large portion of my life feeling the societal pressure to be thin, and in truth, I'm not meant to be thin. I'm a curvy girl, and I like that, so the weight that I lose is not to reach a socially approved size or weight, I'm in it to make myself happy and healthy.

I think I'm doing alright. This is me last Thanksgiving:

And this is me in May:

And this is me on Christmas.

So obviously, it's a process, but at least I'm getting somewhere. The funny thing is, I lose weight best when I'm not stressed out about it. When I'm just being myself, being happy, confidently feeding my body what it wants, the pounds seem to melt. On the other hand, when I'm overworked and under pressure, I can't concentrate on even noticing anything that doesn't seem essential to survival. I guess if I had high blood pressure, or diabetes, or some other weight related health issue, I'd see the whole thing as more crucial, but as it is, I don't. So when there's a time that I have to relieve pressure from my life in some way, that's the first thing to go.

I guess that seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? I mean, it seems like when I feel pressured, I'd focus on taking care of myself, and that would mean having a better diet, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and so on, but that's not where I go with it. Self care translates to comfort, and comfort translates to yoga pants and not giving a thought to tracking my food intake.

Of course, I also absolutely refuse to "diet", in the traditional sense. I think it has to do with my age, and the place I've reached in my personal development. I have no interest in feeling deprived, I want to only do things that make me feel better, and for me that means happy and relaxed. So when I say I'm back on the wagon, what I mean is that I'm committing to purposeful eating, and working in more activity- I don't mean that I'm giving up butter. I'll never give up butter.

So how about you? What's the first thing to fall by the wayside when you're under too much pressure? And what are your thoughts on weight? Do you feel the pressure to be a different size, or are you comfortable where you are?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Petulant Friday

So, it's 11 am on a Friday, and I'm alone at home. I'm supposed to be working, but I'm actually watching American Horror Story: Coven, and cooking a pound of bacon in the oven. If that doesn't give you a general sense of my state of mind, you probably don't know much about women.

Anyway, I'm grouchy and pouty. I'm not sure why, even, except that I haven't had enough sleep this week, I have a ton of work to do, and the Man is leaving town today, which has made Small One a gigantic mess of angry elementary girl. I have no idea why this is, because we're all going out of town next weekend, and I've told her she and I will have fun this weekend. I honestly thing she's not so mad that her dad's leaving, but she's pretty upset he's taking his Kindle with him.

On the topic of AHS, let me just say that it's awful. It's too dark, and often extremely offensive, and I shouldn't watch it at all. But I do, and I can explain why in two words: Jessica Lange. I have the most major girl crush on Jessica Lange, and she keeps giving me more reasons for it. So while I'm sitting here being grouchy, and trying to think of a fun thing to do on this blog to cheer myself up, I thought maybe I'd do a Friday list. Without further adieu...

7 Reasons I love Jessica Lange:
  1. Everybody's All American. Seriously, I remember nothing about this movie except I think there was a tiger in it, and Jessica Lange. Also, she had a line in that movie about Southern girls learning from their mothers how to flirt and use a fry-daddy, which is true, and she delivered skillfully despite the fact that she is, indeed, NOT Southern. 
  2. She plays Southern in a way that doesn't make me want to vomit and gouge out my own eyes. Seriously, often people who are not from the south play southerners with such condescension that I actually get mad about it. I really never feel that way about Jessica Lange, and in fact she sometimes reminds me of my own mama, even though she's from Minnesota.
  3. She played Patsy Cline so brilliantly that it made me actually want to like country music. Seriously, this is a huge feat.
  4. She's my favorite Maggie the Cat. It was just a TV movie, but sheesh, she was good.
  5. She's almost 65 years old, and crazy sexy. I mean, seriously. What other woman that age so completely owns it like JL? Do not say Susan Sarandon, because I will punch you in the throat.
  6. She has children with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sam Shepard. While I don't advocate having multiple boyfriends with whom you procreate, if that's the way you're going to go, you might as well do it with of the coolest men on earth. Of course, it's not surprising, because she's crazy sexy. (See #5)
  7. Admittedly, she gets the best lines on AHS, but also, her delivery is unbelievably perfect. One example: she slits a girl's throat, causing her to bleed to death all over the Oriental rug, because she's afraid that girl is going to be the new supreme. Her follow up line? "We don't need a new supreme, we need a new rug." Here's another one: another character says "Ohhh, you look.." and JL interrupts her to say "Younger?", to which the other woman says, "I was going to say beautiful." and JL says, in her inimitable way, "Both are correct."
Ok, I've cheered myself up. I now return you to your regularly scheduled Friday. Before you go, though, you're welcome to leave me a comment, either affirming the awesomeness of Ms. Lange, or telling me of someone equally awesome. As long as you don't think that's Susan Sarandon.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday- 2001 Edition

Perhaps I'm suffering holiday hangover, perhaps I'm a little too nostalgic, but when I came across this photo today, I knew I had to use it for a Throwback Thursday post.

Beautiful little girls, waiting for the Christmas parade, on a small town curb. Love the conspiratorial nature of their pose, love the shot, and feel a little misty when I think that these pretty babies are grown women now, off in school and making their way in the world. Why does time pass so quickly?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to the Grind

School is finally back in session today. And I don't say "finally" with a sigh of relief, as if there's been too much togetherness and I'm ready to be alone. I just mean it was supposed to be back yesterday, but the cold postponed it.

I had big plans for all I was going to accomplish today, but it didn't really come to pass. One thing I was determined to accomplish is the baking of 3 dozen cookies, but that was not a realistic plan. Small One had volunteered these cookies, baked in the shape of Wise Men, as a treat for her choir's "Epiphany Party". When she came home from school, I had the dough out, softening so we could cut it, and as she washed up I baked the first sheet of cookies, so that she could decorate them with colored icing and melted chocolate.

Fast forward an hour and a half, and the first tray was still not decorated. I had baked the rest of the dough into camels and wee (three) kings, and had mixed another batch of dough for the rolling, while fielding texts and phone calls about a work situation and a death in the family. Despite my encouraging hand gestures, Small was not, indeed, speeding things along, but was painting each little wise man as if this was her greatest work of art, worthy of careful attention to intricate detail.

It is apropos that I'm writing about this when the theme of the month is "pressure". Twenty minutes before the party was about to start (a thirty minute drive away), I was thinking that it was no problem, I'd just wear what I was wearing, and if I rushed her, we'd only be thirty minutes late...

And then I stopped. Because- why? Why all the pressure? Of course she wanted to paint them beautifully, they were an expression of love for her choir director. Why should I hurry her through this labor of love, making it unpleasant for her, while making her late for the party? It's bad enough that I put myself under that kind of pressure, but putting my seven year old in that position just teaches her that it's the right way to live, and it isn't, is it? Do I want to perpetuate this panicky push to accomplish all these things that aren't even necessary? No, I don't.

(Side note: That was a lot of p's. It could have been more. I wanted to say "Do I want to perpetuate this panicky push to perfection so prevalent on Pinterest?" But I didn't. You're welcome. But I digress.)

I unclenched my jaw, and smiled at her. I said, "I'm going to go change my clothes and wash my face, and while I'm gone I want you to choose the three best wise men, and we'll give them to your director as a present."

She said, "But I wanted to make all of them beautiful, to make all the children happy!"

Raise your hand if you understand that none of the children would have, for one moment, even comprehended the pressure she had placed on herself, as they were eating the cookies. Because they really would not have. I explained that they'd be happy anyway, because there would be pizza, and cake, but if we didn't leave soon, she'd miss it, and they'd miss seeing her, which would be sad, because playing with her would make them even happier than cookies. (Probably untrue, but I want her to believe it anyway.)

I got ready, she chose the preferred wise men, I packaged them beautifully, and we ran out, leaving decorated wise men on the table, their undecorated brethren on the counter, because I'd decided that I didn't even want the pressure of dealing with them, and would put them away later, because nothing would happen to them before I got home. (Spoiler alert, the dogs ate the decorated ones before we got home.) We were only a few minutes late to the party, and arrived in plenty of time to give her director the gift befoer the games began. She was gratifyingly appreciative. All is well.

Tomorrow, we'll have our own Epiphany party. Small will decorate these guys, taking as long as she wants to do it:

We'll bake them some camels, and we'll even bake a new holy family so our cookie magi will have someone to visit.

The important thing is, there won't be any pressure. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snow Day and Seven

We're having a snow day, which is funny, because there's no snow. Our snow day looks like this:

Except you can't really see how blue the sky is in this picture. But please, notice the green grass.

It's fine with me, though, because it's given me some extra time with my Small One. You'd think that after the crazy debacle of sick days that was December, and a winter break that's lasted from before Christmas all the way to Epiphany, I'd be tired of hanging out with her, but no, I hardly ever get tired of that. She's a few of my favorite things, rolled into one little person, funny, smart, and engaging.

We played hide and seek today. There aren't a lot of great places for a grown-up to hide in our house, especially when Small insists on counting so FAST, so I was deeply gratified when I found one that almost stumped her. She ran past my hiding spot in the shower many times, and even enlisted my dogs in the search -"Got the scent, boys? Go find her!" My dogs, in case you're wondering, are terrible trackers. They're more slobbery snugglers than detective dogs, as was evident as they spent 10 minutes running back and forth 5 feet from where I was sitting, following Small. To be fair, when I asked her what she let them smell to get the scent, she said "Me! Because I smell like you! Because we're both humans."

She makes me laugh all day, with her view of the world. She also makes me take deep breaths, because she's seven. Seven is such a strange age, straddling big kid and baby, still young enough to want to sleep in our room after a nightmare, but old enough to get highly offended if anyone refers to her as "little". She wants to help, wants to do everything herself, and in order for her to succeed, I really have to be at the top of my game. All the time. Patiently. I have to remind myself that it's really important for her to have the opportunity to set things right after she spills something, even though I know I could cut out the middle-man and just clean it up myself, which I'll do anyway, after she does it and when she's not looking.

The Man, who has always been incredibly patient with her, is not having the best time with this right now, and it's causing conflict and tears. It makes me sorry for them, and I try to help without interfering, because he's not around her as much as I am, and I don't think he quite "gets" it. That's her complaint, all the time, by the way. "Daddy doesn't get it!" "You just don't GET it, Dad!". It makes me giggle, though not in front of her. To her I say, "No, ma'am, you do not speak to your father that way." But she's right, he doesn't.

It's ok, he will. And I will. And by the time we master 7, she'll be 8.

Monday, January 6, 2014

He's Rick James

I realized that since I took my almost full year off from this blog, we've acquired a new family member. The thought occurred to me when I published yesterday's post, because I realized he was prominently featured, but I have yet to introduce him.

I'm not talking about this guy...

 ...because he's been here since the beginning.

And I don't mean either of these guys...

...because you've certainly met this one...

...and this one actually belongs to MC, and only sometimes comes to Grannycamp at my house. 

Nope, the handsome fellow who has recently joined our Creature collection is this one:

Rick James. 

Yep, you read it right, he's named after the inimitable singer of such classics as "Give it to Me, Baby" and "Superfreak". When the Man initially suggested the name, I thought he was being unkind, but then I suddenly saw it. And, well...

 He's Rick James.
(photo credit: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

While the human Rick James may have had some issues, morally speaking, and may have made some regrettable choices, our Rick James was apparently put on earth to love our family. 

Sweetest dog on earth. We rescued him when his prior owner couldn't keep him, only to discover down the road that this lovable middle aged pooch (he's 8 years old, just like Teddy) came to us with heartworms. Given that Cavaliers are not known for strong hearts, and this one already has a murmur, this was not good news. We're treating him, remaining hopeful, and giving him as much love and attention as we possibly can, though not as many treats as he requests, because his requesting is perpetual. This is his treat face:

So obviously, he gets a fair number. Perhaps more than necessary.

All in all, we're enjoying having him with us, for however long he's with us, which we, of course, hope amounts to many years. In the meantime, he'll snuggle cats, and pal around with his dog brother...

 ...and you can rest assured that Small One will keep him well-outfitted.