Pets

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So, besides all of this donor egg stuff, there have been lots of other things going on in my life over the past two weeks or so.  Let’s see if I can summarize:

  • I booked our hotels for Rome and Florence in April.  WE ARE GOING TO ITALY!  I can hardly believe it, I’m so excited.  I hope to write another update about my planning soon.
  • We’ve turned our cat into an indoor/outdoor cat.  I have a great story about how he fell into the drainage sewer.
  • My dishwasher broke again a couple of weeks ago, and we just got it repaired yesterday.  We definitely got a lemon when we bought it a year ago, but it’s pretty much been rebuilt now.  Going a few weeks without a dishwasher over the past few months really makes me appreciate technology.  What an amazing, wonderful world we live in!
  • Our six-month-old coffee maker hadn’t been working right for months and I finally got around to calling Bed, Bath, and Beyond about it.  It was still under warranty, but they exchanged it with no questions asked.  I figured I’d have to send it to the manufacturer myself or something.  That was a wonderful surprise.
  • Adam has grown a beard.  He had one when I met him, but I asked him to shave it off.  He looks good in a beard, but I’m not a big fan of them, generally.  However, I kind of like it this time around.  Change can be kind of sexy.
  • We paid off our second mortgage and refinanced our house.  We actually started off with three loans because Adam’s parents lent us the money for the down payment.  But after paying off two of the loans and the refinance, our monthly payment is reduced by just around $1000.  We have an extra grand every month.  Wow!
  • I signed up for a creative writing class at the local community college which starts next week.
  • We completed our 2010 Adventure Box.  2010 was not a great year for us.  I guess the best part was that Adam got tenure.  OCON was also a big highlight.
  • When we took down the Christmas decorations, Sam was so disappointed (and so were Adam and I!) that we decided that we’re going to start a new tradition of putting up snowmen decorations for the rest of the winter after Christmas.  January and February are really the most drab months of the year, and the Christmas let-down doesn’t help.  Let’s keep the cheer going until spring, when nature will provide the delight.
  • We saw a nice performance of The Nutcracker (but it wasn’t a ballet – more like a fancy puppet show with singing and dancing).  Sam seems to really love live performances.
  • Speaking of live performances, we’ll be seeing Mary Poppins during our trip to Manhattan in a couple of weeks.  It will be only my second Broadway show, and Sam’s first.  I’m really looking forward to it.
  • We tried to take Sam to an elaborate ice-sculpture exhibit (so elaborate that they charged $25 each for tickets!) but she got so scared she wouldn’t go in.  I know another mother who physically forced her sobbing, scared three-year-old to go in and I got all judgmental about what a bad mother she was, but then I realized that she has more than one child, and that makes things not quite so clear-cut.  The other child might have missed out if they hadn’t all gone in.  Maybe I’ll have to deal with those issues someday.
  • My slacker-mom tendencies have resulted in Sam getting a staph infection on her bottom.  And I had to suffer the embarrassment of the doctor telling us we should bathe her more often.  Okay, so I wasn’t really embarrassed.  I actually found the whole thing quite funny, except for the infection part.
  • Adam and I had a nice adult night out at a party just after Christmas.
  • I sent my spit into a company who will analyze my DNA.  I’ll get the results in a couple of months. Fun!

That’s all I can think of for now.  It’s been a very busy time, but mostly good.  I have high hopes for 2011.

Sam and Jinx

This video captures EXACTLY what goes on in my house every single day, except the tiger is just a regular domestic cat and the gibbon is a four-year-old girl:

I didn’t intend to watch this kind of movie for Family Movie Night – it’s really a kids’ only kind of flick – but Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue was okay.  I stayed awake and I laughed at the fat, mean cat a couple of times.

Speaking of cats, we almost put ours to sleep today.  He’s been peeing in places other than the litterbox and howling at night and tearing up the carpet and really just doing all the evil things cats do.  We put him on Prozac last week because we’re so desperate.  But he didn’t pee at all for at least two days so this morning we called the vet and they said it would cost $1200-$2000 to unblock him.  (He has a condition where crystals form in his bladder and can block his urethra, a potentially fatal problem which he’s been treated for once in the past.) We are not spending any more money on this cat when all he does is cause us stress, so we prepared ourselves for the worst.  Our only hope was that he might pee out of sheer terror as soon as we put him in his carrier.

We got “lucky” and he did just that.  I can’t say I’m all that relieved.  In that hour or so when I thought this might be his final day with us, I felt a huge burden lifting off of me.  No more allergy attacks, no more dread of cat-urine-smell every time I enter a room, no more unwanted half-hour serenades at midnight and sunrise, no more pawing at Sam’s bedroom door to awaken her to get my attention, no more claw caps, infected scratch wounds, or Achilles-tendon bites (cats must have an instinct about that vulnerable area of the human body), and no more contests to see who can get down the stairs undamaged when six legs are twisted together in unnatural ways.

We’ve decided to give him two weeks to shape up.  If the Prozac doesn’t kick in and help him by then, it’s over.  I’ll miss him a little bit, but not as much as I’ve missed my last cat, Geddy.  (We put him down while I was pregnant with Sam.  He was 17 and he’d been with me my entire adult life.)  I think Adam loves Jinx a bit more than I do, but he’s okay with it, too.

The real heartwrenching part of this is how it might affect Sam.  She loves this cat.  She probably spends an hour a day tormenting him.  (Now you know why he needs Prozac.) We put the claw caps on him because she never did learn to avoid getting scratched.  Actually, she learned, but not the lesson we would want; she learned that if she provokes him, he’ll attack her and she can try to duck out of the way and if she does it is HILARIOUS and if she doesn’t then Mommy or Daddy will give her hugs and cuddles.  Hey, it’s a win-win!

So, I guess I’m pulling for him just a little bit.  And seeing that fat, mean cat in the movie reminded me that I can’t really complain.  I knew what I was getting into when we brought him home ten years ago.  All cats are like supermodels – they’re gorgeous, vain, stupid, vindictive, petty, and prone to hissy-fits.  In other words, they’re entertaining.

Family

I just noticed something.  Adam and I have had our cat, Jinx, for ten years now. We got him shortly after we moved in together in Chicago.  As with all pet owners, I’m sure, we have all kinds of unique and silly ways of interacting with him.  We hold him like a baby and he chews on his tail, we sing him a dinnertime song every night (to the Bonanza theme song, “din-dindin-din-din, din-dindin-din-din, DIN DIN!…), and we say “ROLLY-POLLY!” in a really annoying voice whenever he rolls around on his back.

Today I heard Sammy say ROLLY-POLLY and it just struck me that there is now a third person in our house who interacts with this cat in the exact same way.  She is a Mossoff.  It’s not her genes that make her so.  It’s the fact that she has lived in this house with us for four years.  She is a part of the Mossoff culture.  That’s what makes her family.

I’m highly focused on this issue of heredity versus environment because it looks like we’re going to try to get pregnant using an egg donor in the next few months. I’ve also spoken to friends who know something about adoption, either as the parent or the child, about how it feels to have a family whose members do not all share genes.  The more I think about it, the less it seems to matter.  Part of that might be me just trying to see the positive in the situation.  I know that it seemed to matter to me greatly when we had Sam, that she was a mixture of Adam and me.  But in reality, the “mixture” that I see every day has so much more to do with the choices we all make and the experiences we have together, than it does with her hair or her eye color, or even her temperament.

A fourth voice in the house saying ROLLY POLLY would be a Good Thing.

We love animals in this house.  We have a dog, a cat, and a fish, and I think I mentioned recently how much we love going to the zoo.  We give our pets lots of affection.  Our dog won’t eat his breakfast until he’s had some attention from us.  This usually means that someone has to get down on the floor with him as he lies on his side and hug him and rub his belly.  We call it “giving him some lovin’.”  Toby has his priorities straight: lovin’ comes before food.

Sammy’s school had a field trip to the local zoo today.  We saw some cool things, including watching a python squeeze and then devour a rat.  But the best part was that we got to see Daddy Goat again.  Sammy named Daddy Goat last time we visited this zoo – over a year ago.  She just fell in love with this goat, and we were tickled when she named him after Adam.  She talked about Daddy Goat so much that we actually framed this photo and put it up in her room:

Daddy Goat

So when we arrived at the zoo today, of course we sought out Daddy Goat.  The farm animals are all kept in a big barn and there must be at least 40 goats in there, but we recognized our favorite right away.  He’s the biggest goat they have, and he was just lying there, and wouldn’t eat much food.  I got a little worried when I saw how lethargic he was, but I didn’t say anything to Sam.  After touching his horns, stroking his ears, petting his fur,and trying to get him to eat a bit of those strange food pellets, Sam finally said, DADDY GOAT IS SAD.  WHY IS HE SAD, MOMMY?

I told her that I didn’t know, but that I agreed that he looked sad.  Later, she said:

DADDY GOAT IS SAD.  HE’S SAD BECAUSE NOBODY CAN GET INSIDE THE FENCE AND GIVE HIM LOVIN’.

Toby and Jake

We dog sat this weekend.  We had Jake for 3 days, and it was way harder than I thought it would be.  He and our dog, Toby, got along great.   Sam loved Jake.  We all enjoyed the dogs’ endless play.  Jake is a very well-mannered dog, and learned our house rules quickly.

But I didn’t think about the cat.

Our cat Jinx is a spitfire.  He’s the boss of the house, in many ways.  It just never occured to me that he would do anything but hiss and scare the crap out of Jake and go on his merry way.  But Jake chased him down the hall one time and that cat peed all over himself and then didn’t come out of the closet for the rest of the weekend. 

Jake was also very lonely.  He normally sleeps in his crate peacefully, but I guess because he was in a new environment, he whimpered constantly if he was left alone.  We would have let him sleep in our bedroom except that this was the safe-haven for the cat.  So Adam actually slept on the sofa in the basement next to Jake’s crate all 3 nights, and had to shush him about once every hour when Jake would start whimpering.

We are all exhausted, but I must say, it was worth it.  I wouldn’t do it again because the poor cat was traumatized, but 2 doggies playing is just so cute.  We laughed all weekend.  Adam taught them how to play tug-o-war and I managed to get it on video:

Exercise

Both Adam and I are finally exercising a little bit again.  I’m skeptical that intense, formal exercise is all that important to good health – I mean, the ones who tell us so are the same kind of experts that told us that all fat is bad – but common sense tells me that I should be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.

Neither Adam nor I are physically active people.  We don’t like any sports or activities enough to spend much time on them.  If I had a pool in my back yard, I’d probably swim, but if I have to drive somewhere to do it, it’s not going to happen on a regular basis.  When we had a gym in the basement of our high-rise condo building in Chicago, we’d work out regularly.  It was convenient, and I liked being strong.  But joining a gym is expensive and when you have to drive there, a workout can take a couple of hours.  It’s just not worth it.  I don’t feel guilty about it – it’s a choice that I’m comfortable with.

I do like cardio workout classes and yoga, though.  I joined the YMCA when we lived in San Diego and in Lexington because child-care was included and it was very inexpensive.  It was the only way for me to get any time away from Sam, too.  When we got to Northern Virginia, however, I replaced the classes with day care for Sam and physical therapy for my mystery pain.  I haven’t started up any kind of regimen since then because I’m a little worried that the exercise itself might have contributed to my pain problems.

I was really starting to feel like a slug, though, so I finally started walking the dog again.  When I was pregnant with Sam, I walked him almost every single day.  It didn’t matter that it was the hottest part of the summer when I was eight months along – I still enjoyed it.  Toby really needs to be walked or he becomes a nuisance, so I decided to once again make a point of walking him at every opportunity.  This means twice a week while Sam is at day care, plus maybe once on the weekends while Adam is here to watch Sam.  I can’t walk the dog with Sam along.  First, she isn’t fast enough.  But more importantly, if I don’t have 100% focus on the dog, he is unruly.  The minute he senses that I am not focused on him, he runs and pulls on the leash and makes the walk very unpleasant.  It is a very dangerous situation if another dog comes along, not because Toby would attack the dog, but because he wants to play so badly that he’ll pull me to the other dog.  Toby is only 63 pounds – small for a Lab – but he is extremely strong.  A couple of times, I got into really bad situations where Toby was pulling me over and I had Sam in the stroller and I just couldn’t hang on to both of them.  It was just awful, and I decided never to do it again.

On the other hand, when I do focus on the dog, I barely need to correct him.  He can sense that if he gets out of line, he’ll get a correction (a tug on his leash).  When we get in a rhythm of walking, with him heeling and obeying me, it’s a beautiful thing.  When he sees another dog, he needs to be reminded to heel and “leave it,” but he’s usually just fine.  There’s a unique communication between us that seems to be a special dog-human bond.  It’s my very favorite part of having a dog.

So at least I’m doing that, and as soon as Sam starts going to school every day, I’m going to try to do it at least four times a week.  I might try to find a yoga class I could attend once a week, too.

For his part, Adam has started riding his bike to the Metro station and riding the train into work.  It’s just a mile and a half ride each way but, just like for me, it’s a lot more than nothing and it kills two birds with one stone.  And that’s the best kind of exercise there is.

Introducing, the latest addition to the Mossoff clan:  Fishy.

Fishy

We’ve had him a couple of weeks now, but we weren’t sure if he was going to make it for a while, there.  Apparently, Bettas can be pretty moody and don’t like moving in to a new home, so they refuse to eat.  This guy also doesn’t like his food pellets whole – they must be broken up into even tinier little particles.  I don’t really care since I refuse to accept any responsibility for this extra mouth to feed.  This one is Adam’s.  I tried that deal with the dog, but didn’t count on the fact that I’d be the one who was home all day, making it impossible for me to avoid doggie-walking, doggie-playing, doggie-training, and doggie-loving.  The fish, however, is working out just fine.  Adam feeds it and cleans its bowl.  I just get to enjoy it.  Him, I mean.  I’ve been wanting to add some royal blue accents to my living room anyway.

MOMMY. TELL JIJI-BABY STORY!

Once upon a time, there was a little kitty cat.  He didn’t even have a name.  He lived in a cattery with many other cats.  His brothers and sisters all got sick, so they took him away from his mommy.  He was sad.  They put him with a new mommy who gave him milk, but he still missed his real mommy and his brothers and sisters.  Then, one day, a man and a woman came into the cattery.  The kitty smelled them.  [sniff]  They smelled good.  He wanted to go home with them.  The man sat on the bed and the kitty jumped up on the bed and bit him on the butt.  The man said, “I like this one. Let’s bring him home.”  The woman said, “Ok, if you insist.”  They brought him home and named him…[dramatic pause]…Jinx!

MOMMY. TELL TOBY STORY!

Once upon a time there was a brown puppy dog.  He was left on the side of the road, but at least he had his brothers and sisters with him.  They were scared, but a lady came and picked them up and brought them to her home, which she called, “The Rescue.”  She named them all.  The brown puppy was named Spencer.  One day, a family took Spencer to their home, and changed his name to Buddy.  Spencer especially liked the little boy, but every time he went near him, the boy would sneeze and cough.  The daddy said that the boy was allergic to Buddy and they would have to take him back to The Rescue.  Buddy was very sad.  At The Rescue, the lady changed his name back to Spencer.  He was confused.  Then, one day, a man and a woman came to The Rescue.  Spencer smelled them. [sniff]  They smelled good.  He wanted to go home with them.  He jumped out of The Rescue lady’s arms and ran to the woman, who picked him up and kissed him.  The man said, “He loves you.”  The woman said, “Let’s bring him home.”  The man said, “Ok, if you insist.”  They brought him home and named him…[dramatic pause]…Toby!

MOMMY. TELL MOMMY DADDY STORY.

I’ll tell you that one when you are older.

My dog has been refusing to eat his dry food lately.  After his bout of Pukinson’s Disease (credit for that term goes to Rational Jenn) he got used to eating wet food and rice, so now dry food is just oh-so-dull.  He’ll wait until he’s sure it’s the best he’s going to get before he’ll take a bite.

This morning, he wasn’t eating his breakfast, but Jinx, the cat, wanted some.  The cat is usually the dominant animal in the house, but when it comes to food, Toby will stand up for himself.  So Jinx goes into Toby’s crate where his bowl is, and Toby growls and snaps at him.  It’s a pretty scary sound, coming from a dog who is otherwise completely non-aggressive.  Jinx then either runs away, or starts a face off, where they just look at each other until Jinx makes a move, and Toby snaps at him again.

This is all a bit scary to Samantha, who is not used to the dog sounding so mean.  After a few rounds, she got fed up and decided to solve the problem.  She went to Toby’s crate, picked up his bowl, and put it up on top of the crate where neither of them could get to it.

I thought that was pretty darn smart.

I don’t think there is anything on the internet that gives me more consistent smiles than Dooce’s photos of her dog, Chuck, balancing things on his head.  And here is the video that started it all.

Our Mutt

Adam just said this to our sweet dog, who is supposed to be a Labrador Retreiver, but since we got him from a rescue, we don’t know for sure:

Toby, you may not have gotten the Lab’s love of water.  You may not have gotten the Lab’s love of retreiving.  But you got the Lab’s Love.

He got a song too.  Happy birthday, buddy.

Ferocious Furry Friend

I could write a really funny post tonight about all the bad things that happened today, but the whole point of this Three Good Things exercise is to help me stay focused on the positive.  Still, throughout the day, I’ve been blogging all these crazy moments in my head: diarrhea on the walls, dog eating cat poo, dog puking in back yard, cat escaping the house, girl puking on the kitchen floor and then slipping and falling in it, getting the cat out from under the basement stairs with a broom (classic!), cat turning over trash can to get to empty dog food can, empty trash can sitting on our front porch since last Tuesday because we’ve been too sick to bother bringing it in, girl puking on my leg, girl having diarrhea as I’m putting ointment on her diaper rash, and, well, I guess I cheated by writing all of that.  Sometimes it helps more to write about the bad things.  Still, I’m sure there are Three Good Things.  Here it goes:

  1. I caught up on my sleep for the first time in a week and was able to handle most of the day without losing my temper or my good attitude.
  2. I vacuumed the entire house, which was quite an accomplishment on a day like today.
  3. Samantha climbed up on her chest of drawers.  She is definitely in a physical developmental stage, doing things that I understand most kids do when they are about 14 months old.  She pooped all over the wall and the drawers about 30 seconds after I took this photo:
Proud Climber

Proud Climber

Mysteries

Why does my dog sniff around more outside when it snows?  Aren’t smells muted when it is colder?  Is he just desparate to find his usual scents in the yard?  Does everything just smell different?

Or maybe it’s all that yummy smelling bacteria and sulfate.

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