Carrie has been planning her own birthday parties for several years now. For those of us who believed she'd never top the Chinese pony party, well, we were wrong.
HPD Officer brought K-9 Gunner to meet everyone. He answered dozens of questions (from kids and adults) and even brought the birthday girl a Houston Police K-9 tee shirt!
Pretty wow, right? Happy 7th birthday, Carrie!
Last weekend while we were out of town, our cat Caspar disappeared. The petsitter thought nothing of it, but we knew something was up. He vanishes on a regular basis, but he never stays away for very long. It was dark by the time we got home so I searched only in our yard and our neighbors' yards on either side. After a lousy night's sleep, I went looking further. I found him dead in the yard behind our house. He'd been hit by a car and was stretched out in the grass beside the curb. I've never picked up a dead body before. It was reality's slap in the face.
We miss Caspar very much. He and Finn, our other cat, are brothers. Finn still goes out every night in search of his brother, his very best friend.
At Saturday afternoon my whole family was in our car. My mom Marcia was driving us to Pup Squad. We arrived there. I went inside Pup Squad's adoption center. After looking at Pup Squad's puppies, I got to talk to Fran. I asked Fran how old was Pup Squad. She said 4 years old. Also Fran told me how she loved dogs.
Fran is the person who helped us adopt our two dogs, Cody and Scout.
After I stopped talking to Fran about Pup Squad, I talked to another volunteer named Christy. She joined Pup Squad in January 2009. At home Christy has a mama dog that is sick is going to get healthy.
Then when I finally finished interviewing Christy, I went to go look at these dogs. How fantastic they were!
I looked over to a window and there I saw another puppy. It was off to the side, almost in a corner maybe. I walked over to the strange dog, but I liked it a lot.
I walked over as quickly as I could. I asked Christy if I could play with this dog. She said the puppy might want to sit on the couch with you.
By Carrie, age 6
Marcia's birthday is on Valentine's Day. Pearl, Carrie, and Cody (with a special cameo by Finn) made this video in honor of the special occasion. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!
Pearl and Carrie are selling magazines with their Girl Scout troop. Here's their video sales pitch (time 1:30). If you'd like to make a purchase, click here please.
This month we have been babysitting two huge bunnies for some friends. Here are a few things we have learned from this experience. According to Carrie and Pearl:
Baba can a few more details.
You may recall that it was Carrie who planned my birthday party this year so you might assume that her own birthday would receive even greater enthusiasm. And you'd be right!
Carrie's party theme was... interesting. As in, very. Have you ever been to a Chinese horse party? This five-year-old loves horses, and she's learning Chinese (or at least she thinks she is). So in addition to the trusty steed pictured below, she had the bakers draw a picture of a horse with the Chinese symbol for horse beside it. We gave chopsticks, Chinese candy, and fortune cookies for party favors. Carrie help choose everything for the great occasion.
There are many more photos of the Chinese lanterns, petting zoo, and birthday cake on Marcia's facebook page.
They say that every young girl imagines themselves a princess, but I never did. Just to verify this assertion, I double-checked in with my mom. She confirms it. This Baba skipped the princess phase with no regrets.
Of course They say a lot of things, but I suppose that most of them are true.
Here's the story of my recent birthday. I walked into the house at 5:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Pearl and Marcia were doing the usual things, and Carrie was *hiding* behind a chair. She jumped out, yelling in her loudest voice: SURPRISE!
Carrie (let's call her Party Planner Junior) had worked out everything--decorations, food, and activities. Baba's favorite color might be blue, but at this birthday party, all was pink, pink, pink. Everyone got a pink princess cap except for me--as the honoree, I got to wear the tiara.
We ate drank, ate, opened presents, and other jolly activities. Then the two younger princesses performed a special birthday dance for the elders. Carrie seemed to be air-bending while Pearl's moves resembled break-dancing.
And while the royal children "did their thing" so did the royal kittens. Napping in the laundry, naturally.
For this *princess*, parenting has taught me one thing: never say never. Celebrate.
There's been a lot of whispering in Grrrville lately, but it's not me--I swear it! The Secret Kitty Cat Club is so secret that I haven't even been invited.
Marcia explained to Carrie and Pearl that when someone loses a loved one, you let them grieve for a while. You give them time. And they've been patiently waiting. A birthday kitten, maybe that would be the best way?
Well, the plot to buy Baba a kitten has definitely thickened. Pearl seems even more excited than Carrie. The whispering has become almost deafening! And my next birthday, Sept. 22, is not so far away.
The Secret Kitty Cat Club has meetings, minutes, everything. I imagine there's even a gavel and Robert's Rules, although I can't say for sure. According to these notes--which I "borrowed" from the kitchen counter for an hour or so--the big event is in the offing. But until then, I know nothing! And neither do you, okay?
In a house lives a family. There are 2 mothers, 2 daughters, and 2 pets. There are three bedrooms containing four beds, each a different size:
Any given morning, nobody wakes up in the bed they began in the previous night. Except for the dog. Viva la crate training!
[Warning: Headline contains spoilers!] Pearl cried when Marcia left her in the kindergarten classroom this morning, and although I didn't ask, it seems somewhat possible that Marcia shed a tear herself. But when she picked Pearl up this afternoon, she was a happy student. She reported four (yes, four!) things that had happened in class and said her teacher "has some cool ideas." This is high praise, coming from Pearl.
Unfortunately Marcia had sad news for Pearl when they got home. One of her African Dwarf Frogs, Fred, had died. Because of who she is--and no doubt amplified by the anxiety du jour--Pearl was heartbroken and sobbed for over an hour. Eventually, though, Pearl helped clean the aquarium for Tad, who has always been the more exuberant of the two frogs. By the time I got home, a pizza party had started. Carrie had had a great day at her new preschool. They were ready to celebrate.
Marcia's word for today was "bittersweet," and it's fitting. One of the books we read tonight was Cynthia Rylant's Dog Heaven. Afterward Pearl imagined Frog Heaven, the new home of Fred the frog. One day, we'll all be there together, swimming.
Pearl's latest pet-endeavor involves the lizards in our garden. She catches one every morning, keeps it as her pet all day long. It stays in a plastic "habitat" she got from Target. She names the pet and then renames it. Often her cousins Sarah and Max are the honorees in these monikers. She lets the lizard watch Dino Squad with her. And then at night, she lets it go free.
Today you can see the Houston finals at Discovery Green.
This weekend the kids were sick, but we did let them out of the house for a few minutes Saturday afternoon. Cody had his first (and I suspect, last) race. It's an event that takes place each year on the same day as the Kentucky Derby.
Participants place their bets in dog biscuits, and the pups run (theoretically) in a straight line about 50 yards to their beloved owners. Cody did not seem to understand the point of the race, and he lost his first heat. Carrie felt so bad she only stayed for the first 5 races (the dogs ran 2 at a time). The good news, though, is that Carrie picked the winner of all 5 of the races that she watched. I'm scheming, I'm dreaming.
The whole gang had the day off. After lunch outdoors at Cedar Creek, Pearl decided to catch tadpoles in a plastic cup. Patience led to success. She caught two and Carrie, one. Marcia agreed they could come home with us, thinking we'd release them--as frogs--into the garden. Matter of days, right? It was too late when we realized that they are not tadpoles but small fish, bringing the pet count in Grrrlville from two to five. My head is spinning.
We have a new pup named Cody. He was a sweet little Jekyll of a boy until exactly 3 weeks after his arrival. On day 22 he transformed himself into 100% pure Hyde-bound hell-on-paws animal chaos. Grrrlville was pretty chaotic before we adopted this fellow. What were we thinking?
Cody has a lot of Marley in him. He aspires to bipedalism. He loves fun and food, and his definition of both of this items is extremely broad. He's scared of Moriah and water. Pearl and Carrie adore him. When visitors arrive as our door, Carrie warns, in the loudest voice she can muster: HE'S NOT TRAINED. She's right about that.
Cody loves the chill winter days. He runs awkwardly, in an unpredictable lope, gulping down gallons of wind and chasing the brittle leaves. He is my boy.
Note: This post is part of a blog carnival celebrating Freedom to Marry Week 2009. Feel free to write your own post on your blog or facebook page. Then leave the link to your "something new" post, and I will share it with the group. Check out the other posts on this topic:
Susan Naomi Bernstein on Facebook
Our cat Moriah is 20 years old. That's 96 for you or me. Or am I presuming too much? Perhaps there are a few cats who read this blog? You never know. My teacher, the poet Adam Zagajewski, knew my cat when she was a newborn kitten. He and Moriah were neighbors. He begged me, Robin, teach this cat to read before it's too late!
I dare say it is now officially too late. At 20 Moriah is not taught; she teaches. And she is one stern taskmaster. Cody the pup is terrified of her. The rest of us play it cool, but we inevitably do exactly what she says.
I never really wanted a cat. As a kid I was frightened of cats myself. But something happens when the cat in question is yours. In other words, one might fear or dislike CATS but still like one cat in particular. Does that make sense?
Moriah was a gift, one given, not one received. My partner wanted a cat for her birthday. Twenty years later the partner is long gone but the cat remains. For whatever reason, I do love her.
Once when Moriah was a kitten I wrote this description of her:
The marks on her face look like a mask. Who is she? Sometimes she leaves for days. Her eyes send out beams of light into the night. She is a hunter. And then she returns to me, small ball at my chest, kneading, needing.
Although it's been many years since Moriah has done any of these things, the magic is still in her. If you know her, you know what I mean.
Note: This post is part of a blog carnival celebrating Freedom to Marry Week 2009. Leave the link to your "something old" post and I will share it with the group. Check out some of the other posts on this topic:
Melissa Beattie-Moss on Facebook
Susan Bernstein on Facebook
Favorite object = blue blankie
Favorite book = buster by denise fleming
Favorite animal = puppy
Career aspiration = super hero
1) the state of my hair
2) the state of our laundry
3) the state of the refrigerator
4) the state of my wallet
It also means that bad luck seems to follow me (and my hair), even when I leave the state we call home. For example, today at work the rear tire on my Subaru spontaneously exploded. And then our mechanic said he wouldn’t be able to work on it for a few days because he just broke his finger!
Anyway, back to the point. When I am in a funk, I don’t like to read nonfiction books. I’d rather play Scrabble or eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream or crack open a Swedish mystery novel.
So, when we got our puppy Cody, Marcia took it upon herself to read several doggie books for us. They ranged from beautiful personal stories by authors we know (Mark Doty’s Dog Years) to old favorites that have been updated (The Monks of New Skete: Divine Canine) to new ones that our trainer recommended (Patricia McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash).
Although Marcia left these books sprawled about in opportune locations such as my bedside table, my desk, and the bathroom magazine rack, she eventually realized that I had not touched them.
So, Marcia did what anyone with a Partner-in-Funk would do: she grabbed her highlighter and went to town. Yes, she actually marked in pink and yellow for me every important passage I need to read in The Other End of the Leash to make life with Cody happy and pleasurable. Then she plopped the book on my lap.
One of the sections that Marcia (and through her, I) found particularly interesting deals with a human’s need for ventral-to-ventral contact. McConnell argues that humans find tremendous pleasure in relating chest-to-chest. Like our primate relatives, we also enjoy holding hands, kissing, and snuggling. The writer explains that this need for touch in us is powerful—it can actually lower our heat rate and blood pressure.
She says that young girls are particularly fond of hugging things to their chests— dolls, dogs, you name it—and so far, we are finding this to be SO true. Pearl and Carrie constantly fling their arms around Cody’s neck to hug him—tightly, furiously, as if he is their younger brother preparing to head off to boarding school or some foreign war.
The problem, according to McConnell, is that dogs really don’t like to be hugged. Many don’t even like the way we pet them. She even argues that some dogs don’t obey the “come” command because they don’t want to be patted on the head!
Since reading (the highlighted passages of) this book and
studying Cody’s responses to us, I’ve become much more aware of his body
language and ours. I’m learning to
temper some of my natural tendencies and think about Cody from a canine’s
I’m even learning a little about myself. Cody reminds me to enjoy each breeze, try new foods, and sleep with abandon. Have your dogs (or other pets) taught you anything important?