There’s a Pox On Our House

It appears that there’s a pox on the House o’ Tater.  

I went to the doctor Monday and begged for (A) really strong drugs to kick this sinus infection to the curb OR (B) a strong dose of hemlock to put me out of my misery.  I’m sure you’re all none to happy about hearing about it for the 329th time, either, so I’ll stop whining about it.

At about 3:00 Tuesday morning, Tater Tot started moaning/crying, and when I went into his room, he was standing up in his crib, holding his ear, saying, “Mama, it hurts.  Kiss it, Mama.  Make it better.”  And then the kicker, “Pweeeeeeeeze!”

If you’re a parent, you know that awful feeling that washes over you when you know you can’t make it better right away.  No amount of kissing that sweet little ear was going to help him.  So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I picked him up and we went and got in the spare bed.  Somewhere around 4:3o it occurred to me that I had a bottle of Children’s Motrin in the medicine cabinet.  I tried earlier to get some Tylenol with Codeine in him, but he recognizes the bottle and knows that the taste of that stuff is worse than the pain of an ear infection, and he closed his mouth so that I’m pretty sure it was airtight.  Anwyay, it took my husband and me both to get a dose of Motrin down him, and even then his sleep was sporadic.

We went to his doctor yesterday afternoon and there it was.  A big, honkin’ ear infection.  Poor Tater Tot got a shot and big dose of Tylenol.  He also charmed the nurses and came away with a sucker and three Curious George stickers.  We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening snuggled up together on the couch  Basically I was being held hostage by a sick two-year-old who knows that if he says, “Don’t get up!” in his most pitiful I’m sick so please don’t leave me voice, I’ll sit there until I have to ask my husband to make a trip to Walgreen’s for a package of Depends so I don’t have to leave our child and scar him for life just because Mama has to go to the bathroom.

It’s now Wednesday morning, and I’m happy to report that Tater Tot is feeling much better.  I think I’m on the mend, too, but I don’t want to jinx it.

I’d love to say that I’ll be back in a while with a post about 2008 in review or a list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2009.  But those things would require way too much thought.

About all I’m capable of thinking of right now is easing into 2009 as quietly as possible.  That and easing the pox right out of our house.

I hope your New Year’s Eve is a safe and happy one.  I’ll see you next year, friends!

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A Merry Christmas Recap

I have to preface this post by telling you that, once again, I have been beaten down by this sinus infection.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  I went to the doctor this afternoon, and let me just warn  you.  This girl is all jacked up on decongestants that make me feel loopier than… than… Well, I can’t really think of a good ending for that one.  So let’s just say that I am woozy and wordy and picture happy!

Bless your hearts.  If you stick it out to the end of this one, you are the kindest souls on earth.

Like most everyone else, our Christmas and the days leading up to it were busy and frantic and absolutely wonderful.  We got to see family from as far away as Boston and San Francisco.  We visited with family members who live fairly close but whom we rarely get to see just because our schedules never seem to allow it.  We laughed and talked and had a jolly good time.

Tater Tot and I finally got to meet Ella, the beautiful daughter my friends in Texas adopted from Ethiopia.  

ella

If you think she’s beautiful in pictures, you ought to see her in person.  She is the tiniest little thing, but she is full of spunk and she’s running the show!  Two months ago, Ella was described as a child who did not like new people and who rarely smiled.  When we met her last Monday, there was no sign of that little girl.  She is thriving!  Even with a cold she was happy, and she wasn’t bothered at all by her new admirers.  It’s amazing how being loved unconditionally by her parents completely changed her, and it reminds me that it’s the same with God’s love.  He brought this family together and they are all changed forever.  

If you’ve read the blog for a while, you know I could go on and on about Ella and her family.  But I’ll try to show a little restraint.  Here’s the only picture I could get of Tater Tot and Ella’s first meeting.  

meeting-ella1

Tater Tot and I left for my mother’s house Tuesday afternoon and spent the night there.  His hair was looking much too shabby for Poopsie’s taste, so she called the girl who cuts her hair and made an appointment for a Christmas Eve haircut.  I don’t know what it is about getting a haircut, but Tater Tot likes it.

haircut

h

He had everyone in the shop convinced that he never misbehaves or acts like the 29-month-old that he is.  Of course, Santa was watching.

After his nap, Poopsie gave Tater Tot her big gift — his very own Thomas the Tank Engine ride-on train!  Chugga-chugga-woo-woo!  

here-he-comes

Later that night, after we peeled Tater Tot off of his new train, we went to our cousins’ house for supper.  This is Lynn, wearing red (not the lady in blue — bahahaha!), whose husband is my mother’s first cousin.  Clear as mud?  Great.  (Their dog, Annie, is our Pearl’s mama.  We like to keep things in the family, don’t-you-know.)

lynn-and-bo

Here are Tater Tot and our cousin, Brick.  It’s hard to believe that he’ll graduate from college next December.

brick-and-tot

I remember playing with someone about Tater Tot’s age when I was in college….

brick-years-ago

Brick is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, and my father was just crazy about him.  Though only related by marriage, the two of them have a lot of the same qualities.  Since my husband nor my brother hunts, and I am mighty scared of firearms in general, it’s not practical for Daddy’s shotguns and rifles to come to us.  He wanted Brick to have one.  Here he is with his Dad looking over his “new” over-and-under shotgun.  I have no idea what that is, but Brick does, and he seemed touched by the gift.

gun-2

We finally made it back to Memphis and Tater Tot was asleep within a few minutes of being in bed, while Santa’s elves stayed up and got everything ready.

It was a big year for Thomas the Train at our house.

santa-brought-trains

more-trains1

A couple of trucks made their way into the mix, too.

dumptruck

My mother and brother came to our house, which was the first time we’ve ever had Christmas here.  Tater Tot loved showing off his new toys, and we had a wonderful time.  My mother brought just about everything for lunch, and Jim…well, you can see for yourself.

trains-with-jim

Later that afternoon, we loaded up and drove to my in-laws’ house.  My husband’s brother has three kids who are so sweet to Tater Tot that it’ll just about make you cry.  Here’s their youngest, Emma, with our little one showing off the scarves that Gammy knitted for them.  Seriously, isn’t Tater Tot’s caterpillar scarf the cutest thing EVER?

new-scarf

We stayed at their house longer than we’ve ever stayed, and it was one of the best Christmases that I can remember.  There’s one more present that Gammy and Pawpaw gave Tater Tot, but my camera’s batteries died. 

As has your patience with this post, I’m sure.

We are truly blessed, but not because of the gifts we opened.  We are blessed to have one another.  We are blessed to know God’s love and grace.

It was a Merry Christmas for us, and I hope it was for your family, as well.

Scat, Cat

Evidently one of the neighborhood cats is cattin’ around at night because there are pawprints all over my car.  I don’t so much mind having a dirty car because, well, my car is always dirty.  We don’ have a garage, so it doesn’t know any different. It’s usually spotted with all kinds of tree fallings and bird — well, you know.  What are a few pawprints going to hurt in the grand scheme of things?

Unless you’re talking about the Broadway  musical, I’m not especially fond of cats.  I don’t wish them any harm, but I’m just not a cat person.  My family wasn’t a cat family.  I grew up with dogs, and I never recall asking for a cat.  To me, having a cat was about as useful as having a doll.  (I wasn’t especially big on dolls, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

As far as I know, cats don’t really do anything.  You can’t take them out for a walk or a run.  They’re not particularly fun to take on Saturday afternoon errands.  And they’re awfully aloof.  My friend, Amy, had a cat for longer than the 10 years I’ve known her and I swear I don’t think I ever saw Huxley.  EVER.  He disappeared whenever strangers came to the house.  Another friend, Beth, has a cat that does the same thing.  I hear that a lot of cats do that.

And then there are the felines that do the opposite.

When I was a freshman in college, I was completely smitten with a young fellow who took me home with him one weekend.  I was to spend the night with his grandmother, one of the most charming southern ladies I’ve ever met.  When we got to her house late one Friday afternoon to drop of my bag and get acquainted, I was introduced to her very large and very beautiful Siamese cat, Sam.  Or Siam.  I couldn’t really tell what with our drawl and all, so we’ll just call him Sam.

So anyway, this fella and I left and had supper with the rest of his family who, by the way, had a dog — a cute little daschaund who ruled the roost, as nature intended, thank-you-very-much.  Not the vile animal who was waiting for me over the river and through the woods at grandmother’s house.

At the end of the night, the fella took me back to Grandma’s house and about the time we crept in the back door, Sam whizzed by us at about shoulder level doing about 84 miles-per-hour.  That cat scared us both half to death.  There was a bit of muffled cursing on the part of the fella, as I recall, not being a cat fan himself, but we finally got over the shock at having been nearly assaulted by the flying cat, said our goodnights, and he left for the safety of his parents’ house.  I was left to fend for myself.

Later that night, I climbed into bed and was almost asleep when I had that feeling of being watched. When I opened my eyes, that dang cat was sitting in the doorway, and before I could get up and close the door, he sprung up onto the bed.  I decided to make nice, seeing that I was a guest in his house.  I petted him and scratched him.  And then I picked him up and put him back on the floor.

Right.  Like that was going solve the problem.

He was back on the bed before I was fully stretched back out.  This went on several times until I finally shut the door.

That made it mad.  He started to meow.  Not wanting to wake Grandma and have her think me to be an ungrateful guest and find out that I really wasn’t fond of her wacked-out kitty, I opened the door.  And so it was to be that Grandma’s cat slept not only with me, but on top of me.  I remember lying in that bed with that cat perfectly balanced ON MY SIDE.  Stretched out, just as still as the night itself…except for the occasional I-am-not-going-to-let-you-go-to-sleep flick of his tail.  

I rolled over onto my stomach, and that cat walked around on my back before lying down across my shoulders and neck.  Maybe it was trying to suffocate me.  I don’t know.  At some point during what was one of the longest nights of my life, I finally fell asleep.  Or perhaps I passed out from the cat smell.  Either way, I woke up feeling like I’d been beaten within an inch of my life with a very furry object.

Grandma fixed a huge breakfast for the fella and me, and while we were sitting in the kitchen eating one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten, in slinked that cat.  (Slinked is a word, right?  Let’s say it is.)  He padded over to a chair, hopped up, stretched out in the sunlight, and started to purr.

All in all it was a nice weekend, and I thought the world of the whole family.  By the time fall rolled around, however, the nice fella had dropped me like a hot potato.  I ‘ll admit that I was a bit crushed.  

But then one of my friends told me to look on the bright side.  “You’ll never have to see that cat again.”

King of the Labs

For the last little while I’ve been sitting on the couch with Zeus, watching Tater Tot play with the trains that Santa brought.  It’s like having our own little reality show, because there’s nothing like watching a 2-year-old’s imagination at work.

As I was rubbing and scratching on this old brown dog, it occurred to me that I’ve never really introduced you to Zeus.  

zeus

Big Zeus.  Mama’s Sweet Angel.  Chocolate Thunder.  Take your pick.  He answers to all those names.

I suppose one reason I’ve never written about him is that I don’t even know where to begin.  He’s been with us since about seven months after we married, and he’ll be 14 on his next birthday.  In dog candles, that’s 98.

When we married, my husband had a dog who was about two-and-a-half.  She was a yellow lab/golden retriever mix named Belle, and even though she and I got along fine, she was most definitely my husband’s dog.  After a few months I decided that I needed a dog of my own.  And since Belle was, um, a little rambunctious, we thought it might be a good idea for her to have a playmate.

We heard about some friends from home whose dog had had a litter of puppies, and there was one chocolate male left.  I’m not going to lie to you when I tell you that it was love at first sight.

These people kept their Labs outside (Horrors!), so Zeus was a little brown ball of dirt and fleas, and he rode home with us on the floorboard of the Jeep, snuggled between my feet.  We got him home, gave him a bath, and introduced him to Belle.  She immediately became a mama dog.  She loved him, and he loved her.  For the next seven years, they were inseparable.  Zeus has never been quite the same since Belle died.  Some people say that dogs don’t remember other dogs.  But I’m here to tell you that when Belle died, she took a little bit of Zeus’s spark with her.  

Here’s a picture of the the two of them.

zeus-and-belle

Here’s a picture of Zeus as a puppy.  We’d taken him to a park with a dog pond.  Check out his huge ears!  The yellow dog walking away from the camera is Belle.

zeus-puppy

I had never raised a big dog from a puppy.  With Zeus, I was in heaven.  He was my own personal teddy bear, and we were perfectly happy to snuggle up on the couch together.  We still are.  

Zeus has his own set of peculiarities.  He’s afraid of the vacuum cleaner.  Now that he’s old and moving around isn’t as easy as it once was, he either stays in his chair or goes into the next room when I vacuum.  But when he was younger, he hid from it.

The flashlight used to send him into an absolute fit.  Bless his heart.  He’d chase that light and try to catch it until he was nearly dead on his feet.  Our first house was in the first phase of a new development, and ours was the last house on the street for several years.  Everything to the east of us was an undeveloped field, and Zeus and Belle would frequently get away from us to explore the vast wilderness.  Nine times out of ten, we could get them to come right back to us by getting our huge flashlight and waving it around.  Zeus would follow it home and chase it right through the front door.

One of his best tricks was catching dog bones.  We’d put the small dog biscuits on his nose and he would throw them up and catch them.  Then he learned  to just barely move his head and catch them as the slid off.  The deal was that he kept getting treats as long as he caught them, but when he dropped one to the floor, that was it.  His record was 14.  His eyesight is now so poor that he can’t do his trick.  But let’s be real.  He doesn’t have to work for anything anymore.  He gets plenty of treats just for being Zeus.

My husband is hot-natured, and as much as he loves our dogs, he just can’t stand having them snuggled right up next to him for a long time because he gets so hot.  Granted, Pearl is like a walking radiator, and Hatch and Duke are as good as electric blankets set on HIGH.  I like to snuggle with all of them, but after a while, even I sometimes get a little uncomfortable.

But Zeus?  I’ve never once had to move or move him away from me because he’s too hot.  I swear, I could sit with that dog right next to me all day — outside on the hottest day in July — and never be uncomfortable.  My husband says it’s because Zeus adjusts his body temperature to match mine.  He may be right.

Several years ago, I had a minor surgical procedure and when my husband brought me home and put me to bed I could NOT get warm.  After putting several blankets on me, he went off to find more.  By the time he came back with an armload of them, including an electric blanket he’d pulled out of the storage bag, I was perfectly warm.  Zeus, without being called, had climbed up onto the bed and gently laid down as close as he could get to me, his head tucked under my chin.  I don’t know how to describe it other than to say what my husband said, which was, “It looks like you’re wearing Zeus.”  I fell asleep and woke up about four hours later.  Zeus was still there, and I was still warm.  He didn’t move until I did.  Have I mentioned how much I love this dog?

Like I said, Zeus will be 14 this spring.  For the most part, he’s pretty healthy and I’ve convinced myself that he’s going to live 14 or 40 more years.  His typical day consists of sleeping, being loved on, eating a couple of dog biscuits, roaming around the yard if he feels like it, and waiting for supper.  He has his pick of where to lounge, and the rest of us work around him.  As my husband says, he’s earned the right to pick his throne.

After all, he is King of the Labs.

old-zeus1

Are Y’all THIS TIRED, Too?

We had a wonderful Christmas, and I have every intention of blogging about it at some point.  But exhaustion has taken over.  (Not to mention about 65 loads of laundry that are waiting to be taken care of.)

I wouldn’t have thought that I’d neglect the blog this much over the last week, but I had NO idea just how tired I could get.  Clueless, y’all.  Completely clueless.

When my husband and I married, our niece, Caroline, was about three.  Even though her family lives in our hometown, they always spent Christmas Eve at my husband’s parents’ house because Caroline’s mom wanted her folks to be there to see Caroline’s Christmas morning reaction.  At that time, we only had one dog, so we’d load her up and spend the night with my husband’s family, too.  We wanted to see the WOW moment, too.  I mean, Caroline was the kind of child who was genuinely appreciative if you said, “I got you this Wal-Mart sack.”  She would oooh and aaahhh over it and tell you she loved it and that it was exactly what she hoped for.  And, yes, we’ve tried our best to spoil her rotten for that reason alone.

After Caroline was finally asleep and down for the count, we would stay up and help my Deanna put out the goods.   It was fun for us and it wasn’t at all tiring.  We simply did as we were told and by the time everything was all set, we were wired!  We couldn’t wait for morning to come, and when she did wake up it was magic!

But were we tired?  Heck, no!  We were up, dressed, and drinking our coffee when that sweet little girl pitter-pattered into the den to find that Santa had left her some presents!  We had energy to spare and couldn’t wait to play with her and her new toys.  We would leave for a few hours and have lunch with my family, followed by a nice nap in front of the fireplace.  Then we’d go back out to my in-laws’ house for Christmas supper with my husband’s family.

Was Deanna tired?  Heck, yes!  She was exhausted.  I never understood why.  Why is she so tired?  I thought.  You buy the toys and then put them out.  What’s the big deal?

Yes.  Yes, I AM the dumbest person on earth.  

I know that the tired that I feel is the best kind of tired that you can feel.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, so please don’t think that I’m complaining.  It’s just a fact that I never really thought much about before now.  Last year, Tater Tot was only 17-months-old at Christmas, and this Santa thing was E-A-S-Y!  Tater Daddy wasn’t feeling well, so I handled putting the little fellow to bed AND Santa duties by myself after spending the day with my Mom, brother, and (very sick) Dad and then driving home from my extended family’s Christmas Eve party.  I was pretty sure I was the new Wonder Woman, only without the great figure and invisible plane.

This year, I am Droopy Woman.  I can barely stand up, and I frequently bump into furniture and walls.

I had to have a mammogram today, and when the boob technician had me firmly latched to and leaning on the “booby-trap” and told me to “Hold real still,” it was not a problem.  I was practically asleep.

THAT’S tired, folks.

Merry Christmas To Us All

It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re at my mother’s house for a few hours.  My brother pulled into town a couple of hours ago, and Tater Tot has been on cloud nine ever since Jim walked in the door.  I can hear them somewhere in another part of the house laughing and playing, and it makes me smile.

Every Christmas Eve we go to our cousins’ house for a delicious supper.  It’s casual and relaxed, and I’m thankful that we live close enough that we never have to miss it.

The three of us will head back to Memphis tonight, and tomorrow morning our two-year-old will wake to find that Santa has come.  Of course, he doesn’t really understand much of anything about Christmas except to say that, “I wuv Cwismas!”  He loves the lights and the decorations and the music.  The cookies aren’t bad, either.

We’re doing things a little differently this year.  My mother and brother will come in the morning to our house and we’ll have Christmas dinner there.  As my mother said, “Christmas day is going to blow Tater Tot’s mind,” and we still have my husband’s family to celebrate with in the late afternoon and early evening.  At some point we’ll need to convince the little fellow to take a nap so that he’s not a holy terror by five o’clock.  We shall see.

Of course, everything about this Christmas is different.  It’s the first without my father.  But, you know, it’s really been all right so far.  I miss him, that’s for sure.  But, if it makes any sense, I can hear him laughing with us as we watch Tater Tot play.  I feel like he’s with us even though I can’t see him.  And every now and then I have the sensation that I’ve been gently hugged, and I like to believe that it’s him.

I’ve written before that my Daddy was not the kind of man who would enjoy for one second knowing that those he loved missed out on a moment’s joy because of a moment’s grief.  So, while I my heart is still broken, through his memory, somehow my father is helping put the pieces back together.  

Our Christmas will be different.  But it will be merry, and happy, and very much blessed.

I hope yours it, too.

The Ghost of Christmas (Cards) Past

Our Christmas cards went out in today’s mail, which is the latest I’ve ever sent them.  I’ve cut it close before, but never like this.  Most of the delay came from trying to get Tater Tot to sit still in front of the tree and smile at a time when he was relatively clean and dressed nicely.  Didn’t happen.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I even tried bribing.  Evidently the art of bribery doesn’t work until the day after Christmas, when you could not care less about those Christmas cards.

So this year I picked a card that showed four pictures of Tater Tot from the last few months and gave Walgreen’s a big chunk of my money.  As I was looking through all of the pictures I’ve taken since October or so, I couldn’t help but look at the whole photo library.

It doesn’t seem like two years have passed since we sent Christmas Cards out with this picture.

2006-picture

It’s still one of my favorite pictures.  Sleeping babies are beautiful, aren’t they?

I’m going to show a few pictures from Tater Tot’s first Christmases, if you don’t mind indulging a mama who’s taking a short walk down memory lane.

My Dad was holding Tater Tot and put this Santa hat on him.  We have it in a Christmas frame and will put it out every year!

santa-hat

Here he is in his Christmas pajamas.  We spent Christmas Eve with family and drove back home that night.  We took this right before we put him in his crib.

christmas-eve-2006

After lunch, we would put Tater Tot in my Dad’s lap and within just a few minutes he would snuggle down into the crook of Daddy’s arm and fall fast asleep.  It never failed that Daddy could get him to sleep when no one else could, and I think it tickled him when I would say, “Daddy, will you try?”  Like any good Papa, he was happy to oblige.

papa-and-tt-12-25-06

Here he is with my Mama.  As you can see, Tater Tot had just discovered that sucking on someone’s finger was loads of fun.

poopsie-and-tt-12-25-06

Here we are at Tater Daddy’s parents’ house.  That’s Pawpaw in the picture with us.

mama-pawpaw-tt

And here’s a happy Tater Tot.

giggling

Fast forward one year.  Here’s the picture we used for last year’s card.  We said something clever (cough, cough) about “having a ball this Christmas” on the card.

2007-picture

Santa came, even though we didn’t have a tree or any of our decorations up.

santa-came-07

I’m not sure why we didn’t take more pictures last Christmas.  I really meant to.  This is a picture — the last one — of me with my sweet Daddy.

daddy-and-me

Here’s Tater Tot in the middle of everything, riding one of the toys his cousins gave him.  He has had more fun with that ride-on toy than just about anything, and it’s sad that he’s outgrowing it.  (He really is too big for it, but he loves to ride it anyway!)

country-07

You’re all caught up on Tater Tot’s first two Christmases.  I can sense your relief, although I’m pretty certain that the relief stems from the fact that the blog world only missed out on TWO of them.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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