Compassionate Creatures

Have you ever had one of those days where things were just hitting you from every direction, all at one time? Normally, I tend to take things in stride;  If I have a missile fired at me, I may be a bit wounded, but I dust myself off and carry on.

Yesterday, was one of “those days” where everything kind of comes at you at once- physically and mentally. My brain could only handle “INCOMING!!!” so many times. Call it a meltdown, call it just being spent, or call it what my mother would call it, “The Change” (too early, Mom!).  Whatever it was, it consisted of many tears streaming down my face, and my children not really sure how to handle me because they don’t normally see me this way. In fact, they never see me this way, so they had no idea what to make of it. So, given the spontaneous creatures they are, they simply sprung into action.

Here’s how it went:

  • Tons of hugs from the both of them. PRETTY AWESOME.
  • Dylan : Threw together a “Snack Bowl” consisting of Annie‘s pretzels, cheddar rabbits, yogurt, applesauce, and a kid’s drink. He promptly brought it to me, as if I was starving for snacks. Even though I was the opposite of hungry, DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • Honey Badger: She made beautiful pictures of an Invisible Car, and a Spider Web. I’m not sure I would have guessed each of those on the first try, except Dylan labeled them in cursive. 🙂 DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • While I’m “eating” (pretending to enjoy, rather) my snack, Dylan disappeared to his room and wasn’t to be heard from for at least 15 minutes. Hmmm, I’m a little curious.
  • During those 15 minutes, HB ran circles around me – from the kitchen, family room, and dining room, it’s a perfect oval for children to run. In her case, she KNEW it would make me feel better if she ran that course, chucked the Twister “board” at my feet, continued on, and then chucked the Twister Spinner board at my leg. It definitely made me feel kinda better. On her final lap, she dumped “Baby” in my lap. I was pretty verklempt at that point.

By this point, my tears had dried up, and I was thinking that, as usual, my kids were pretty amazing.  I got up to go to the other room. and Dylan stopped me in the hallway. He was genuflecting, Tebow style, head down with something on his palm lifted up to me: He made me my very own Rainbow Loom bracelet.

Man.

That was pretty strong. I gave him a giant hug, because I thought it was so sweet. He grinned at me, because he knew I loved the bracelet, and I grinned back.

BUT.

The Honey Badger witnessed my embrace with Dylan.  All of a sudden, she let loose a gut-wrenching cry, and ran out into the family room with her arms covering her eyes in disgust and sobbed:

“I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!!!!” and the heaves and heaves of sobbing that went along with this was so very sad. Oh, man. I tried to talk some sense into her. IT HAS NO SENSE!

MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Sean walks in the door:  “I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!

Dylan tried to comfort her and offer some ideas.  She cut him off:    “MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Oh, man. I am NEVER crying in front of the kids again.

It’s hard out there for a Honey Badger.

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FREE BACON!!

Either I had you at “free”, or I had you at “bacon”. Does it really matter? They both are pretty awesome.

Listen, I only take orders. One of my bosses is The Honey Badger. And, when she wants bacon, well…she’s not joking around.

Does she look like she’s kidding? “ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE GOODS, OR NOT? STOP MESSING AROUND.”

So, I set off on a mission today. Retrieve bacon for the badger….among other things. I was desperate to get out of the house, anyway. I have been cooped up here for two days with a child that was possibly feigning illness to stay home, and the one pictured above. Ok, ok, Dylan was not actually feigning illness. He had really swollen tonsils, a fever, and is quite bored to tears now, and is ready to get back to school tomorrow. Usually, I despise going to the grocery, but my husband doesn’t mind one bit. Today, I was absolutely THRILLED to go myself! I had a ton of coupons; one of them was – free bacon! Who gives away free bacon??? You have to be on your game, but it can be done.

Proof.  I speak the troof.

It’s been a rough week. I redeemed myself by saving over $90 bucks at the grocery. I would like to think I could do this every week, but I think it’s absurd  to even tease the idea that this might become a regular occurrence. Too…..much…..work. Too much organization, prep, execution…not to mention, embarrassing yourself while standing at the cash register with a mountain of coupons while everyone else is pissed off that they ended up in your line. (Alright, let’s be honest, this last one doesn’t really bother me. It takes a lot to embarrass me, and this is not one of them.)

What it all comes down to is this: “SNACKS”.  Be it bacon, or vegetables, or fruit, or carbs, I don’t go more than a millisecond without hearing the words, “I wanna snack!!”. I absolutely loathe the word “snack”. It’s one of those words that just…strikes a chord. I just got a chill even thinking about it. Usually, I hear it in a slow, animated motion, “I WAAAAAANNNNA SNAAAAAAAAACK.” So simple, yet so LOADED. You offer up several different suggestions, all turned down. It’s a true testament to will power to give something healthy, but not redundant….lest they lose their healthy-ability (new word, just made up.)

Speaking of snacks, the  Honey Badger was also enjoying a “snack” while her Daddy read her a bedtime story.

Sean starts to read the book and Erin says“HOLD ON, SISTA!” as she quickly indulges her snack. When she was done, she acknowledged that she was indeed finished, and ready to move on with the story.

It’s hard out there for a honey badger.

Last Night’s Dinner

It’s been awhile since my family sat down to dinner together at the kitchen table. Football practice from 5:25pm-7:30pm really threw a wrench into our routine, but now it’s over, and things are settling back to normal. Or, at least I thought they were. I like to think I feed my family a healthy dinner. So, when I saw a “Turkey, Spinach, and Parmesan Meatloaf” at my favorite place on earth (Costco), I was super excited to pick up this $8.79 gem and head home to pair it with some mac ‘n cheese for dinner. We had asparagus in the fridge as well, but that was too much work. Don’t judge, it was still a school night.

Anyhither, I was reclined in the leather sofa in the Wellness Center when my husband was ready to get the dinner ball rolling. He tried to preheat the oven, then became completely confused when I said we didn’t need to bake the meatloaf.  I admit, I didn’t read the directions before buying; it was a complete impulse purchase. I was also a little taken aback that it didn’t cook in the oven. Reluctantly, I boiled a pot of water, per the directions on the package, and placed the heavy (gross looking) mass of meat into the pan. Sean came into the kitchen and immediately displayed a very foul face at the boiling meatloaf on the stove. “I’ve never seen meatloaf boiled before. I might be sick.” I said, “Honey, you just wait, this will be AWESOME.”

Cut to all four of us sitting down at the dinner table. Dylan actually loves meatloaf. Homemade, that is…with meat, cheese, and BBQ sauce. So trusting, he was actually excited for this humdinger. I felt nervous, like I was blindsiding him with this high tech, futuristic loaf. Poor kid. As for Sean, I was ready to kick him under the table for the exaggerated, vile faces he was making to…. just me. He “allowed” me to transfer the tiniest sliver of meatloaf onto his plate. However, I cut up generous portions for the kids, and myself.  Truth be told, the more I cut into this thing, the more disgusted I felt. But, I wouldn’t let Sean know that. Furthermore, I took a bite discreetly. I tested the waters. No one saw me, and so they didn’t know what I knew: It was repulsive.

Then, Erin took a bite. She has a very, VERY discriminating palate.

“Mommy, this is sooooo good!”  Wow. I’m second guessing my own opinion!

Clearly, she then swallowed it, because next,  “It tastes like THROW-UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.  Of course, we all three completely lost it. I almost wet my pants at the dinner table, Sean was choking he was laughing so hard, and Dylan was completely red-faced and losing it . We were such a sight, right in front of the giant kitchen window. All of us were bent over at the table laughing, except Erin. She was looking from side to side, no head movement at all, just furtively moving her eyes back and forth. That’s what Honey Badgers do when they are at a loss for words, apparently. She thinks she is so funny when she does this! It was her contribution to the party. Oh, the jokes did not stop rolling in. Sean choked out between laughs, “This looks like something FEMA would hand out to survivors!”  We really had a field day with the meatloaf. It provided a litany of memorable quotes and hearty belly laughs. It did not provide nourishment to our bellies, but it did to our souls.

Below are some pictures for verification purposes. Side note: I really do love Costco. Please do not let this post sway you either way on the  ever, in your whole entire life, purchase the “Turkey Spinach Parmesan Meatloaf”.

“SPAM WANNA-BE”. It failed miserably, and so will you if you ever try to feed this to your family.

Sean is trying so very hard to muster up the strength to just keep pushing the meatloaf around on his plate, to make it look like he’s really digging into it. Or, he might be trying not to throw up.

After she stopped furtively glancing back and forth, she thinks she’s pretty hilarious, which, let’s be honest, she is.

“MOM!!! STOP MAKING ME LAUGH!!”
Me: “The Turkey Meatloaf started it!!!!”

Heavy Petting

Erin is completely, utterly, recklessly, 100% infatuated with Flash, her brother’s hamster. Dylan has been at his ‘other’ Dad’s house this weekend, so he has been spared the flagrant love affair. So far. He has no idea the extent of her crushing devotion to his pet. I am awakened every morning to a tiny, sweet whisper, and a tug on my arm, “Mommy?…… Mommy? I wanna go pet Fuh-lashhh!”  It’s such a simple statement. With many, many, many inconspicuous undertones. Such an awesome thing to wake up to. Of course I would love to torture the hamster, in the name of petting, prior to my first cup of coffee. Sean had the pleasure of hearing those sweet words Saturday morning and early this Sunday morning. I get to do it 5 days a week and he’s only relegated to 2. That’s not counting the multitude of times during the day that she requests to pet Flash. She’s under his spell. And, poor Flash, he’s under lock & key. He’s in the slammer until he gets monitored visitation from the Badger and her keeper.

Definitions of “To Pet” as per the Honey Badger

1) To fondle, grope.

2) To remove from cage by manhandling.

3) To place into her brother’s toys for amusement, such as: A-Team Van, and Military Transport Helicopter, and, well, see #4.

4) To nearly decapitate in the “Back to the Future” DeLorean (with working lights and actual swinging doors!).

5) To kiss, despite our pleas. “Erin, please don’t kiss Flash on the lips, or anywhere else for that matter.”

6) To fly in her pink airplane.

**Hang on, I need to take a swig from my Banana, Blueberry, Avocado, Kale, Flax Seed, Psyllium Husk, Almond Milk Smoothie that my husband made me a moment ago. **

Ok, I’m back. Erin just asked her Daddy if she could go “Pet Flash” again. We said he was pretty worn out from their playdates yesterday and this morning, sooooo he’s sound asleep.

Before I post pictures of their love in action, I will close with a quote from HB herself. Sean had to leave her alone with Flash for just a second to run into the other room. He shouted to her, “How’s Flash doing, honey!?”.

Her haphazard response:

“He’s still alive, Daddy!”

The exercise ball is intended for….wait for it…..exercise. I suppose he is getting exercise when he is scrambling to get somewhere, like OUT, while she holds it and colors in her coloring book, does a puzzle, or watches a movie.

In case you couldn’t see him before. Here’s his head shot, or profile, or whatever.

“1.21 gigawatts!” I bet Flash would really enjoy watching “Back to the Future” from solitary. I mean, from his exercise ball.

Flash could stand a little bit of a makeover. I wonder if I can find some gold chains, Mr. T style, that would fit around his little neck. Might help his self-esteem.

It’s not fun for Flash unless he has NO WAY OUT of anything, ever.

HB is a gentle giant.

“HE’S FLYYYYINNNGGGGGGGG, MOMMY!!!”

Ahhh, playtime is over and he’s back in the Clink. Erin will stand there and watch him until we drag her away. Bye, Flash!! See you in few, when Erin pleads with us to “pet” you again!

Of Hamsters and Honey Badgers

It finally happened.  After 364 days of grueling anticipation, my son finally celebrated his 10th birthday! He found out last month, by accident, that he was going to get a hamster from my Mom and Dad. He begged us all to let him just get it “early”, but we all stuck to our guns. The actual word “hamster” was banned in our house, lest this year’s entire birthday be canceled. Oh yes, it went to that level. So when my Dad left work early to drive he, my Mom, and Dylan to the pet store yesterday to pick out the lucky gal or guy, I was most excited that I didn’t have to almost cancel his 10th birthday anymore.  Dylan came home with “Flash“, the newest male member of our family….and the most galvanizing creature to Erin, the Honey Badger.

Let me interject a bit about our track record with pets. (Not dogs, we have a good track record with those.)

When it comes to amphibians, we are 0-2. (Flash may stand a chance by default, just because he is NOT an amphibian. This is what we are banking on, anyway.) First there was Robbie, the turtle. Oh, how I loved Robbie. I just couldn’t snuggle with him and kiss him. One must assume all turtles have salmonella. So, from the moment we rescued him from the giant water tank at the surf store in Myrtle Beach, I was adamant that no one touch him. Poor Robbie. What a lonely life he led.  He grew and grew. He played Hide ‘n Seek a few times, slipping out of his tank somehow, once hiding under my bed and another time hiding in Dylan’s pajama drawer. Luckily, we always found him and scrubbed ourselves ridiculously clean afterwards. Sean was in charge of cleaning out the tank, and I was in charge of asking him incessantly if he touched anything that may have touched Robbie that may have touched the tank, etc, etc. Finally, we grew weary of the ritual. To be honest, I think I’m the only one that *really* liked (ok, loved) Robbie. Sean had to talk me into reality, and I reluctantly agreed. He then pitched a pretty impressive, yet subtle, plea to Dylan: We raised Robbie from birth (practically) and now, he was a grown man (the turtle, not Dylan). It was time for us to do the right thing: Set him free. We’re keepin’ the man (turtle) down. We decided, as a family, the time to respectfully part ways would be on our way to Florida for summer vacation. I envisioned setting Robbie free somewhere along the backwoods of Alabama, where there was plenty of green, lush forest and rolling, clean waters. My husband envisioned gently tossing him out the window. I can’t confirm this; it’s just a hunch. Like any turtle on a road trip, Robbie was in a Tupperware container on the floor of the van, practically riding shotgun, not quite riding bitch. It was pretty small and he couldn’t quite see out of it, compared to his vast, glass tank that he called home most of his life. Unexpectedly, it started to smell really, really bad. Then, it started to smell really, really, really, REALLY, bad. Robbie was in his own urine and feces. We were in the McDonald’s drive thru, somewhere in Alabama, when it became….an issue. Sean and I looked at each other and silently said, “It’s time”.  There was an apartment building nearby, some vacant stores, a dumpster, some dirty water, and a patch of about 10 trees. We looked at each other and nodded. It was perfect. To Dylan, “Hey buddy, this looks like a GREAT place for Robbie. I think he’s really wanting to strike out on his own.” Dylan wasn’t emotionally prepared for this to be “the moment” to let Robbie free, but the odor in the van was unbearable. It was definitely time. Dylan put on a brave face and I let Sean handle this one. (You’re welcome, Sean.) They meandered down to the trees: Sean, Dylan, Robbie. I saw them let Robbie go, and then they were out of my view. They were gone several, long minutes. I had my phone in hand, ready to speed dial 911. It was just that kind of atmosphere. They finally came back to the car, and we all had a moment of silence. There was a creek back there, it turns out, and Robbie leaped for joy. Strike out on his own, he damn well did. We wish him lots of love wherever he is (heaven) at this moment. Present or future, may you always R.I.P., Robbie.

And then there was Tony, the Toad. We found him in our yard. We set him up in a similar pad to that of Robbie. They were neighbors on Dylan’s dresser, back in the gold ol’ days. I sure did like Tony. We all did. That’s what makes this whole situation so sad. Tony ate live crickets. So, you can imagine what a pain in the ass it was to head to the pet store on a regular basis to buy live crickets. Well, one time we forgot. Just that one time. That’s all I can say about Tony because the rest is Top Secret. As far as YOU, or Dylan, or anyone else is concerned, Tony ran away. And, we know this, because there was a recent Tony sighting in our yard, and we reassured Dylan that Tony was just checking in to show what a grand life he was living and that he was relaying to him how super happy he was/is.

So, now there’s Flash. As I said, Flash has A LOT going for him – he’s not a frog or a turtle! But, I do foresee a very small (3 feet, to be exact) threat. I’ll just come right out and say it: Repeated exposure to the Honey Badger COULD possibly result in peril. Her face constantly pressed up against his cage should be enough to frighten the living daylights out of him. Or, it could be the way that she talks about wanting to hold him non-stop. When she does get to hold him, she “opposite of gently” handles him so that his eyes almost pop out, despite our numerous attempts to help her be careful. Just like Lennie, she has all the best intentions. She LOVES Flash!! She thinks about him day and night and every moment in between! She has been restricted from her brother’s room unless he is in there, or  an adult. We found her in there all by herself today and it was a very, very scary moment. Oh, how she loves Flash. SHE LOVES THE SHIT OUTTA HIM!!!!!!!! Quite literally. But, we are teaching her that you can love from afar. Like the examples below! I will leave you with those, and our very sincere reassurance that we are doing everything possible to save Flash’s life every moment of every day! 🙂

“Flash” is in safe hands for now. If Honey Badger’s eyes were open, you would notice glazed look.

This is an example of “loving Flash from afar”. Notice he is running down a flight stairs (one of Dylan’s skateboard toys). No hands needed! We can play with Flash without touching him!

Another example of loving and playing with Flash from afar. HB is literally trying SO HARD not to touch him. Ultimately, she fails.

She is swooning. She states she wants him to sleep in her bed.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE CAN’T BREATHE?”

How the Honey Badger Helps With a Project

Here we are, it’s Sunday night and I’m relaxing in my brand new “Sitting Room / Office”. Sean and I spent the entire weekend working on this “little” project where we revamped our traditional dining room. The walls went from a deep burgundy to a subtle light blue. The giant gold chandelier was ditched for a more modern light fixture. The chocolate leather love seat and recliner were brought upstairs from the basement. And last, but not least, we were given my father’s handmade oak desk from my sister. It’s huge, heavy and absolutely gorgeous. I have been sanding and staining it meticulously the last two days. Anyway, the room has quickly become (as of tonight) a place where we quietly enjoy wine, a sophisticated set-up and it just so happens to be the furthest room from the kids’ bedrooms. I think we should call it: The Wellness Center.

We couldn’t possibly have gotten this project done without the help of the Honey Badger. Dylan was gone for the weekend, so he came late this afternoon to the…….aftermath. The Honey Badger helped A LOT. Here are the ways in which she helped:

1.) A well versed game of Hide ‘n Go Seek : HB Style. It gets painting underway like nothing else. This version consists of hiding in a blanket on the floor and HB tells you exactly where to look for her (even though she’s a big lump on the ground in plain sight) and then she giggles loudly. For example, “Mommy, look for me in the garage!! Mommy, look for me under the coffee table!!”  Here’s a visual aid:

Oops. This isn’t Erin! Silly me. It’s Sean, following her directions when it’s his turn to “hide”.

2.) All painting prep work and anything in regards to dining room project must pause for Dylan’s playoff football game. We drag Erin there, with a bag of full of books, toys, snacks and beverages. Dylan played great, but took a really hard hit to the head in the 3rd quarter. He left the game with me wondering if we should be heading to Medcheck. He likely has a mild concussion, but he’s doing ok. It was a gut-wrenching game, with horrible replacement officials making horrible calls, to the point where we lost the game by ONE point. I was devastated. Dylan looked at me and said with a smile, “Football’s over!!!”. Last week was CYO Basketball evaluations. He mentally checked out of football and checked into basketball at that time. Poor Sean had to watch the game from the playground because Erin insisted on playing. She was a ball of mud by the time we got home.

3.) Back to painting….Erin really, really, really wanted to help paint. We set her up in the kitchen with her Crayola easel paints and paper. That lasted about 5 minutes. She was intent on the real deal. Then, Sean had to leave while he ran to Menard’s.  She was happily sucking on a pouch of applesauce when he left. I had just started painting, I was so happy to be done prepping and finally getting underway. Erin wasn’t amused. She was actually pretty tired of asking to paint. So, she squeezed the rest of her applesauce into my (full) paint tray. That was neat. I used her middle name when scolding her. She cried. I didn’t feel bad. But, then I remembered I wasn’t three. So, then I felt bad. She just wanted to be in the mix. And, so on to #4.

4.) Finally, I succumbed to her requests for painting and set her up on the dining room floor with a real can of paint (small, it was a sample can), a paintbrush, and a box. She was absolutely thrilled to be painting a box. She asked for tape as well, so I sent her to the drawer for some scotch tape. I didn’t need to know what the tape was for, I didn’t care. Here is Exhibit A:

“I’m in my pajamas AND I’m painting. This is the best day EVER.”

Here is the final product. She’s so proud of it. You might not be able to see all of the many, many strips, so many strips, of scotch tape:

Anyhither, she helped in a lot of other ways too. She stayed in her pajamas all day and so we didn’t have to get her dressed. Also, she helped herself to snacks in the fridge and pantry, so we really didn’t have to feed her all that much. We were REALLY busy, so she was doing a super job of handling the most basic of tasks – dressing herself and eating. Oh! she also found a caterpillar and named it Audrey – a boy – and she set him up in the lap of luxury with a container with holes in it, a SKATEBOARD, half a Lego man, and a Crayon. He is livin’ the life. Or, he was, until she set him loose. Then, it’s all kinds of crazy here while she and Sean try to track him down at BEDTIME and suddenly Erin (amazingly) finds him and we get him back in his home. We are AWESOME with “pets”. Annnnnnddddd, if you stay tuned, it’s about to get EVEN BETTER. Dylan turns 10 this week, and well, you should just stay tuned.

I leave you with the Before and After pics of the Wellness Center:

BEFORE

AFTER. Decorated with some lovely stuffed animals.