Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Leizle

Our sweet, sweet Leizle passed away on Christmas Day. She was the "number one smartest dog around" and was a beloved family member. This is her story.

In November of 1998, I was truly on my own for the first time. I decided that I needed a dog and there would be no changing my mind. I had wanted a Dachshund because my friend had two. They were small and snugly and sweet. I was looking in the paper at pets and came across an ad for "Yappy Hour" - a time to adopt pets at Pets Incorporated, a great no kill animal shelter here in town.

The next night my friend Shannon and I went to Yappy Hour. As we approached the entrance, I saw her through the window. She was a small, light brown, short haired dog with perky ears and a curled up tail. It was love at first sight. We went inside and I went right to her. I didn't want to see any other dogs. I had to have her. I found out that she had six puppies at a foster home that would be there in the morning. My friend and the volunteer at the shelter encouraged me to come back and see the puppies the next day instead. I would have no parts of it. I filled out the paper work and she was mine. I found out during the process that she was listed as a "Doxie" mix and her name was Misty. This was no Misty. She was definitely a Leizle. This was not a traumatic change for her - she didn't really seem to respond to her name anyway. Over time, I decided that the mix must be Chihuahua because of her longer, skinny legs, coloring, curled tail and the way she would shake at times, even if it wasn't cold.

I was so happy to bring Leizle home and then all of a sudden it hit me. I never discussed it with my roommate, Jason. It never even phased him though. He immediately fell in love with her too. In fact, Leizle really had that effect on just about everyone she met. Leizle especially had an effect on my parent's dog, Leon. Leon lived with us for about six weeks before we gave him as a Christmas present to my dad. They have visited on weekends dozens of times over the years. He has also vacationed with us a number of times. I have never seen any one love someone as much as Leon loved Leizle.

I really enjoyed getting to know Leizle. She was so sweet. She loved naps and would burrow under the covers any time of year. She was all about some comfort and warmth. I also figured out that she must have been abused at some point. She often would pee when anyone would pet her and for about two months she would never bark. You could tell she wanted to - noises, cats, squirrels - but she would just shake. It didn't take Leizle long to become trusting though. She quickly realized that she was safe with me.

Just after she came home, we went shopping for all of the essentials - dog food, dishes, collars and of course toys. Her first toy was a plush rope monkey. She adored the monkey and could spend hours playing fetch with it. How funny to realize that every toy after that one , whether it was a bear or a bunny, had to be called a monkey. She had learned to "get the monkey" and from then on they were all monkeys.

Over the next ten years, Leizle was a great friend and family member. She never complained, always forgave me for anything I had done wrong and was always so excited to see me. She was very bright. At one point I listed about forty words and phrases that she knew. It was always fun to see her perk up when she was asked if she wanted to get into the car or to see her slink away when asked if she wanted to get in the bath.

Leizle was a good judge of character. When someone she was unsure of was around, her ears would flatten and she would hide behind me. She was usually right. When Leizle met Mark the fact that she warmed right up to him was a good sign. One day, he was sitting on the couch with her and she began to nuzzle his neck. She rubbed her head against him and rolled it back and forth repeatedly. It was the funniest thing. I can still see it and hear Mark giggling in my mind like it was yesterday. This was either Leizle marking her territory or giving her stamp of approval. Either way, I knew then that Mark was a keeper.

Pup Pup joined our family about five years ago. Leizle was never jealous and although they had words here and there, as sisters sometimes do, they loved each other very much. Leizle especially loved Pup Pup's babies. I think she thought of them as hers ans was so gentle and sweet with them. Pup Pup will be lost without her Leizle for a while too.

When Seth came along, Leizle sort of took a back seat. She never complained about that either. She was perfectly content to to sit by my side on the couch as I fed him. As he grew and became more mobile, Leizle demonstrated immeasurable patience with him. She knew when to run and would otherwise take what he had to dish out. Seth adored Leizle. Whether feeding her Cheerios, chasing her about or hugging her neck just a bit too tight, Seth always smiled when he was with her. "I lub Leeah.", he would often, and still does, say.

The past few years, Leizle really began to show her age. November 18th marked our 10 year anniversary and she was between one and three when I adopted her. Her fur was greying, she lost muscle mass, she was slowing down and wanted to snuggle on her terms. She still had some spring in her step though and I thought we had a few good years left with her. We are still in shock and deeply saddened by her passing. Some people may think it is silly to feel this way about a dog but in a way she was my first born. She was definitely a family member. Our home is not the same without her but we take comfort that she is in heaven - with Papa, the angels and Baby Jesus. We look forward to seeing her again some day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Holidays

Despite our sadness, we still managed to have a bit of fun on Christmas. Here are a few highlights:

A Blue Christmas

On Christmas Eve, Seth was napping. When he woke up he got a hold of the Children's Tylenol. He came out from his nap with red on his face and said, "Mommy, I drink medicine." In his room it was all over the sheets and floor. It is all kind of a blur. But I called poison control immediately- turns out he could have drank most of it and been ok - but he didn't get much at all. Leizle , our beloved dog that I adopted ten years ago, must have gone in and licked it up before I could get it up while I was on the phone with poison control. I didn't even realize it at the time.
That night when we came home from Mimi's Leizle had gotten sick in three places. It was red and I had made a recipe with cherry Jello earlier that day. I couldn't figure out how she got into it - it still didn't click. Later that night we could tell she wasn't feeling well. In the morning she was worse - lethargic, swollen face, mucus in eyes etc.. Mark asked, "Do you think she got some of that Tylenol?" It was like a light bulb went off and I litterally saw the whole event relpay in a flash. How could I not have realized? How did I let this happen? I said that that was exactly what happened. Everything had been so chaotic with making sure that Seth was ok and rushing around to get to church on time. I feel so stupid - this horrible accident was completely preventable.
I called the emergency vet and they said I should bring her on in. Basically there was nothing they could do. For $1400 they could try some things but it was pretty much a lost cause. He said the prognosis was very bleak. Dogs cannot process Tylenol at all. It shut down her liver and kidneys. She was suffering and we decided to put her to sleep. I stayed with her while they did it. I couldn't leave her. She just went to sleep - she was very peaceful. I really cannot believe it.
Needless to say, this was the worst Christmas ever. Dana and Dan both said the same thing - that she was a Christmas present for Papa in heaven. It's funny, but that was one of the first things I thought too. Papa passed away almost a year ago. He loved all animals, especially dogs, and it is very comforting to think of the two of them running around and playing fetch in the clouds. I feel totally in shock and to blame. Pup Pup, our little Dachshund, seems lost without her - as do we all. Even though she was a dog, she was a family member and was deeply loved. We will miss her forever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums

Well, Christmas has come too quickly and we ran out of time to do all of the fun things I had hoped to do. We did have a lot of fun with the activities we did get to. Here are some highlights:

So proud of making a gingerbread house with Daddy. I originally wanted to make one from scratch, but when I saw a kit as I entered the store for five bucks, I couldn't pass it up! Seth really loved this.

Shimmery, glittery pine "tones."

Baking carrot cupcakes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is it possible?

Maybe Seth really is part monkey. Even before he could walk, he could climb. I'll never forget the first time that he climbed onto the window sill. All of a sudden, Seth was missing. Mark and I called his name and scrambled around the house, but he was nowhere. Then, I saw the curtain move and heard a little giggle. There he was, standing on the sill. There was nothing under him to catch him if he fell! At the time, his eyes were about even with the middle of the window. From looking at this newer photo, he has grown so much since then. I have tried so many times and many ways to stop him from climbing, but alas nothing works. I just try to make it as safe as possible. I suppose twenty years from now, I'll be trying to stop him from climbing mountains.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hand Painted Ornaments

Last night we painted some ceramic ornaments. This was a fun and cheap activity. The paints came from the Dollar Tree and we got the ornaments at Hobby Lobby for $.29 each. Seth really loves to paint and says "Want to do painting" several times a day, so he was really excited when I showed him the ornaments. He did a really good job with the paint - at least until the black paint was opened. It always turns everything black! The acrylic paint was messier than the water colors that we usually paint with, but much more fun. They washed right off though. And now we have some fun new ornaments for on our tree!

Mimi & Seth

This week we celebrated Mimi's birthday. Seth and Mimi have such a special relationship and I'm so glad that they have gotten to know each other so well. Seth goes to Mimi's three days a week while I work. Each morning Seth wakes up and asks if we are going to Mimi's today. He cannot wait to see her along with Princy, Tuddles and Papa George. Lately, with the unseasonably warm weather, the anole lizards (as I have found out they are called) have been coming out. Seth gets so excited to go to Mimi's to catch a leedard (lizard) - a blue one. She is so good with him and has a patience that I haven't yet quite mastered. Seth is a very lucky little boy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jesus is the reason...

I've been trying to teach Seth to say, "Jesus is the reason for the season." But so far he just says, "Jesus is da readon." A nice thought in and of its self.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wee Tree

Seth really loved decorating the tree the other night but can't seem to keep his hands off of it! How can you blame him, with all of the pretty lights and shiny things? When we went to Hobby Lobby the other morning and I saw some mini trees and a light bulb went off. I bought Seth one of the trees and put a strand of 50 lights on it. I gave him all of the soft, wooden and sturdy ornaments and told him that it was his very own special tree. He loved the small size and the fact that he can decorate it however and as often as he likes. At first, he piled a bunch of felt snowmen near the top. And of course what is a Christmas tree without a monkey on it? He still is a bit tempted by the big tree, but I'm not so worried about our special ornaments plummeting to the ground. I don't brag about myself very often, but this just might be a stroke of genius!

Deck the Halls

We finally put up the Christmas tree Friday night and Seth was quite a helper! He was so excited to help Daddy open the box and fluff up the branches. He quickly figured out how to hang the ornaments on the branches and took delight in seeing what each new ornament coming out of the box would be. As we hung the ornaments, I told Seth about the special ones - from when I was a baby, our honey moon and from when Seth was born. Seth put one ornament on top of the next and wasn't satisfied until every decoration was on the tree. We kept saying, "OK, that's enough." - to which he would reply, "No. Day's anudder (there's another) one." He doesn't quite grasp the concept of less is more. When he went to bed that night, he said, "Goodnight tree. Goodnight 'deco-ray-sheen'. Goodnight no man (snowman)."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mad Skills

Seth has been feeding himself for a long time now. He has been an aficionado with the fork but the spoon has been a bit more elusive to master. Yogurt and pudding has been fairly easy, but cereals and soups have often ended up on him, the table, the floor and me! He has got it down pat now. The other day, Seth was having chicken noodle soup for lunch. He gobbled up every last drop without a spill. I noticed he was mostly eating the broth and leaving behind the noodles - one of his favorite foods. When I asked him to eat the noodles too, he said "Not want 'noowee' - want soup."

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Little Scare

Last night Seth was very congested and could hardly breathe. We heard him gasping for air and crying in his room. Mark ran to him and brought him to the living room. He was crying real tears and sounded like he was having an asthma attack. Once he sat up and calmed down he was alright. We were able to get some more decongestant in him and prop him up on the couch so he could breathe better. He seems to be feeling fine today other than the congestion. It is a terrifying feeling to see your baby gasping for air and not being able to help him.

Party Time!

Today was Grandma's 80th Birthday Surprise Party. Everything went off without a hitch. Grandma was so surprised and seven of her nieces and nephews showed up from Texas and surprised everyone. (How funny that the Steelers whooped up on the Cowboys today!) Seth played with Ashley and Molly all day and had no nap. Tonight he is exhausted but as I carried him from the car to his bed, trying not to wake him, he sleepily said, "Want mo' Bolly (Molly)." Oh, how he loves his cousins!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hometown Holiday

Yesterday, we had a large time. Molly got to spend the night on Friday. (Her first sleepover at Grandma & Papa's.) She and Seth played all day and the whole gang went to the Matthews Hometown Holiday Festival. We brought the wagon which was perfect. Seth, Molly and Ashley (along with Heath and I) rode the merry-go-round. We heard Christmas carols, saw Santa and watched the tree lighting. It even snowed! (Bubble machines - but it really did look like snow. It was pretty amazing.) The best part was spending time with family - four generations worth.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

When were at Mark's Aunt Becky's House for Thanksgiving, we collected these great gigantic pine cones. The other night we decided to make a bird feeder with one. First I clipped off all of the sharp points with fingernail clippers - very tedious but worth it to keep Seth's little fingers from being pricked. We spread the peanut butter all over the pine cone petals then went outside to sprinkle the bird feed all over the cone. We tied a string around the top and hung it from the tree in the front yard. We told Seth tha now the birds could come over to eat. He held out his arm, curled up his fingers to call them, and said, " 'mon (come on) birds." Mark explained to him that the birds had already gone to sleep and that they would eat tomorrow. In the morning, Seth was very excited to look out the window and see the bird feeder. "I see pine tone." As we drove off that morning, Seth waved goodbye. "Bye pine tone. Bye Peanut Budder. Bye Bird Seed." This was a fun activity that Seth could help with. Stay tuned for glitter pine cones and scented pine cones.

Eighty Years and Counting

We are in Charlotte this weekend celebrating Mom's birthday and Grandma's 80th birthday. I am so glad that Seth gets to know his great grandmother. She loves him so much and lights up when he is around. Grandma always says, "There may be someone who loves their grandchildren as much as I do, but there is no one who loves their grandchildren more than I do." Eighty years is quite a landmark. Here are some of the things she has seen in her lifetime:

The stock market crash of 1929.
The Great Depression.
A Brave New World.
Gone With the Wind.
Pearl Harbor.
The Holocaust.
World War II.
The Cuban Missile Crisis.
The beginning and end of the Cold War.
The Civil Rights Movement.
The Beatles.
The assassination of JFK.
The Vietnam War - to which she lost a son.
Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
Test tube babies.
The Steelers winning 5 Super Bowls.
The First Female Supreme Court Justice.
The Challenger Explosion.
The Internet.
The Election of the first Black US President.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"It's Santa Claus."

Yesterday, we heard a helicopter flying over the house. Seth got really excited and went running to the door saying, "It's Santa Claus!" Apparently, he has traded in the sleigh for a chopper.

It's in the Bag!

Seth loves to pack a bag with his favorite things whenever we go somewhere - even if we are just running to the store. I guess he doesn't want to be caught in a situation where he needs a monkey and doesn't have one. How embarrassing would that be? I picked up this little canvas Dream bag for a buck and let him write with glitter glue pens and glue cotton pop-poms all over it. He enjoyed the activity and was so proud of the result. As soon as Mark came home, he went running to show him what he had made. He was also very excited to pack his bag for Mimi's today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"I Miss You."

Seth says so many cute things but this one ranks up there pretty high. He hugs me so tight and says, "I misch (miss) you, Mom." He really is saying, "I love you," but is just a bit wobbly on the meaning. I just hug him back and say, "I miss you too Seth, whenever I have to leave you. I love you," to show him the right context. Secretly, I don't want him to figure it out for just a little longer.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We are loving...

We are loving Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell's Catch the Moon. It's 13 tracks of children's music that Mom can enjoy too. Instead of a regular CD cover it comes in a little board book full of delightful watercolor paintings. It has classics like Oh Susana and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, tracks in other languages (French, Spanish and Japanese) and even a Bob Dylan cover. It is very soothing and I am happy to say that it has been nearly a week since I have had to listen to Dalmation Plantation nonstop in the car! Seth loves Little Red Caboose and especially digs saying "Choo Choo" along with the children in the song. I love Free Little Bird, with it's sweet folksy sound. When we're traveling down the road, jammin' to our tunes everything is right with the world!

Pièce de Résistance

Over the weekend we had our first foray into the world of watercolors. Seth has enjoyed "painting" with sponge brushes and water in the past, so he was very excited when I asked him if he wanted to paint. I set him up with the paints, water (which of course spilled several times), paper and a paintbrush. He was shown how to do it and then went to town. Here is a shot of the pièce de résistance. As you can see, he was heavily influenced by the abstract expressionists. We may have a young Jackson Pollock on our hands!