I Will Not Get a Dog

"I will not get a dog," I said. There's just too much craziness going on right now. Things are too busy, and I cannot possibly have another life form dependent upon me at the moment.

Never mind that children have begged and read books about canine obedience and have DVR'd The Dog Whisperer until it can't be DVR'd anymore. 

"I will not get a dog," I said. Someday, just not now.

Never mind that I really, really love dogs.

Never mind that my sweet eight-year-old boy loves dogs to the core of his being, and he's needed a boost of something special this year. 

Never mind that the book is almost done and a little whiff of Normal seems to be (Lord willing)  just around the corner.

STILL. Just can't do it, not yet.

I will not get a dog.

But.

For reasons completely unknown to me, late one night my typing fingers made their way to Petfinder.

And I saw this guy:

Toby1
He'd been living in a rescue for four months. 

I looked at his picture and tried to explain that I'M NOT GETTING A DOG.

His picture looked back.

And guess what?

I got a dog.

And I am entirely besotted. Deadline, schmedline–sorry, Editor O' Mine, but I can't work today because I have to sit on the couch with this puppy curled up in the crook of my leg. There's really only so much work that can be done with a wet puppy nose rested on your laptop.

He's one-half Corgi and one-half Havanese. His name is Toby, although in keeping with this family's tradition to bestow multiple nicknames on anything that moves, he's also known as Tobalicious, Toby Wan Kanobi, Totally Tobular, and Tober Meister Meister Tober.

The rescue organization did the best they could, but he was surrendered by a breeder–his first four months were spent entirely in a kennel. He is painfully timid, and the poor thing now finds himself smack in the middle of the Loudest Family In America. But the kids, to their credit, are so eager to woo him back to confidence that when they bicker over whose turn it is to cuddle him, they bicker in whispers, so as not to frighten him.

I love it.

In what has been a swirly season of book-writing, and a double-soccer season, and swine flu, and scout campouts, and a hundred other frantically frantic obligations that keep us out of breath, enter Toby, to slow us down. Love something together. Give of ourselves together, as a family, to pull this little guy out of his shell. It may be the sweetest time we've ever had.

So Internet, meet my Toby:

Toby

He's a 12-pound, eight-month-old bundle of Just Exactly What This Family Needed.

A Very Squishy Public Service Announcement

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I'm rerunning an old post I originally published last fall.

This summer I got a birthday card from my health insurance company. 
"Congratulations!" it read.  "You're 36!  To help you celebrate, we'd
like to pay for you to have your tender anatomy squeezed into shapes
flatter than God ever could've possibly intended!  Happy birthday!"

I'm kidding.  It actually said something about "being responsible
with your breast health," and "getting your first mammogram" and I
thought with great thankfulness that I was glad my health insurance
takes preventative women's health seriously.

And I also thought that I would've enjoyed a Sonic gift card a lot more.

But I'd been doing my homework, and I knew that having a mammogram
in your mid-thirties is a very good idea, even if you don't have a
family history of breast cancer.  It hopefully gives you and your
doctor a healthy baseline for later mammograms, in case future problems
arise. 

Since I know that many of you reading this are my age or younger,
and maybe you've never had a mammogram yourself, I thought I'd use this
as an opportunity to be frank with you about what a mammogram is really
like.  Knowledge is power, right?  I'm kind of a wimp ("kind of?" says
my husband), and I was a little nervous about the test.  You hear
horror stories now and then–were they true? 

So here we go.  Frankly.

In preparation, they tell you not to wear any lotions, perfume or
deoderant before you test.  (No worries on my end, though I'm not sure
I can say the same for the moms around me at preschool drop-off). 
Deoderant can cause false positives, they explained, so it's an
important guideline to follow.  Another good piece of advice?  Check
your calendar and schedule your mammogram at the point in your cycle
when you're least likely to feel tender.

I arrived at the House O' Squishing this morning.  I checked in at
the front desk, and they handed me a pink lapel ribbon and a pink
bottle of water.  Then I sat down on the pink sofa to fill out my pink
paperwork while sitting next to a pink sculpture of two breasts.

Evidently, they were going for a bit of a motif.

The tech (would you like to guess the color of her scrubs?) called
me to the back, and she had me undress from the waist up.  She gave me
a pink and white floral poncho for a cover-up, because you know that nothing restores your dignity like a pink and white floral poncho.

After I changed, the tech led me into the exam room, where two additional techs were waiting.  There were three of them.  Three?  I gulped.  Good grief, does it take three of them?  Does someone have to hold me down? 
They must have seen my flicker of nerves, because they warmly laughed. 
The woman, who was clearly the Squisher In Chief, told me they were
doing some training today.  Squisher In Chief told me that she's a
mammography educator who has been teaching at MD Anderson in Houston
for 20 years.  She was there to train the other techs about the latest
techniques for "getting every possible bit of tissue in the scan."

Alrighty then.  This sounds like fun.

Off came the poncho, and the (three!) techs applied (pink!)
stickers.  They're locaters, they told me, to help the radiologist know
what's what.  I think there's a punchline there, but you'll just have
to go for it yourselves.

The scanner itself was not what I expected–you know, no skulls and
crossbones or piercing, vibrating electrodes.  It looked less like a
torture device and more like a popcorn popper.  The squisher panel
(that would be the technical term) on top appeared to be made of
acrylic, considerably less scary than, you know, the cement block I had
envisioned.  The corners were rounded, and the machine (despite the
horror stories I'd heard) was pleasantly warmed. 

Squisher In Chief began positioning me on the popcorn popper.  There
was no room for modesty in that scan room, but that's okay.  These
women were there to do a job, and that requires a good bit of, um, handling
The Squisher In Chief and I are verrrrrrry intimate now.  But she was
professional, and remarkably, she kept me at ease the whole time.  And
I felt some comfort in knowing that this was going to be thorough.

So.  The moment of truth.  The positioning was over and the squishing began.  And you know what?

It was no big deal.

Even though the Squisher In Chief was there for extra thoroughness, and even though I'm a wimp, and even though (I'll be honest) I've had thicker pancakes than that…IT WAS NO BIG DEAL.   The squishing was tight, but there was no pain.

They squished me four times (two on each side), and none of them
hurt.  The entire process, even with the extra training The Chief was
doing, was done in under ten minutes. 

When it was over, and I was straightening my lovely poncho, I told
The Chief that I was a blogger, and I'd probably write about this. 
What, I asked her, is the one thing she'd like women to know about
their breast health?

She didn't hesitate.  "Tell them not to depend on just a mammogram or just a self-exam.  The process is three-fold:  they must have mammograms and BSEs
and have manual clinical exams by a doctor.  There are some tumors we
can feel but can't see.  There are some tumors we can see but can't
feel.  You must take control of your health and do all three, faithfully."

And there you have it, straight from The Chief.  And I'm vouching for her, because she and I are verrrry intimate.

She went on to tell me that she had scanned women who were having
their first mammogram in their 80's, because they had been too
frightened to come in earlier.  And I'm telling you, that is just a
shame, because there is nothing to fear about a mammogram.  Breast
cancer would be way scarier than a little squish.

Call your doctor or health insurance company to find out what your
options are, even if you're under 40.  If you don't have health
insurance, Google "free mammogram" or call your local hospital to ask
what resources are available. 

Be strong.  Be squished.

Goodlinkage

Charming Clothespin Tutorial :: Twice Remembered

Child Survival 101 :: Compassion

Gifts You Can Sew :: Skip To My Lou

The Great Myth :: SimpleMom
"And at the end of the day, we need to trust that God gave us the energy to do those things to which He called us, and no more…"

How I Stole Someone's Identity :: Scientific American
This article will make you change every password you've ever used.

The Next Thing :: Andree Seu
"To me belongs obedience; to Him belongs outcomes…" 

Laborious

This post was originally published in August 2008.

In honor of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, I thought I’d pull out this meme I found. It’s about…well, labor. And not the kind you get a day off for, either.

How long were your labors?

Kid #1, 12 hours.
Kid #2, 13 hours
Kid #3, 5 hours.
Kid #4, 10 hours.

Clearly, Kid #3 was a speed racer.  Still is.

How did you know you were in labor?

Kid #1, water breaking.
Kid #2, water breaking.
Kid #3, mind-numbing contraction that came out of nowhere and sent me to my knees.
Kid #4, water breaking.

Clearly, Kid #3 liked to make an entrance.  Still does.

Where did you deliver?

With all of them, at a hospital.  Where the drugs are.

Drugs?

See
above.  Oh my stars, YES.  Actually, I recall an especially precious
moment during my first labor in which I grabbed my husband’s shirt,
pulled him in toward my face, and growled “I WANT AN EPIDURAL IF YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TO ME.”

C-section?

Nope, though Kid #3 almost was.  He was breech until the doctor did a successful “external cephalic version” at the last minute.  That was an delightful procedure in
which my sweet husband stood watch over my shoulder, holding my hand,
and then he leaned in to whisper, “Sweetheart, right now your belly
looks like something out of the movie Alien.”

Who delivered?

Doctors, and really great ones.  I’ve been so thankful for them to them for helping my little ones get to me safely.  And also, for bringing the drugs.

Kid #2 was born in a teaching hospital in a Chicago. After all the pushing and the breathing and the glowing over my new boy, I looked down to find my doctor, joined by ELEVEN doctors and nurses in training standing where the sun will never shine.  Goodbye, modesty.

And after a slow labor initially, Kid #4 made a sudden, dramatic appearance, beating the doctor.   The nurses did the job.  (Though the doctor, interestingly, still got paid all the same…)

If you want to play along with this meme, just cut and paste the questions into your own blog, and leave a comment so we can find you!

Oh, the Sleeves! The Sleeves!

This post was originally published in August 2007.

My parents recently moved to our city, and in the process they cleaned out their attic.  They determined that since I am now a grown-up, it was time I kept up with my own high school keepsakes.

Like, whatEVer.

It’s been a hoot going through it all–if you’re all very nice and well-behaved, I might even print some excerpts from my senior-year diary.  Because, oh my word, I don’t know who that girl was, but she wasn’t from this planet.

The best keepsakes have been my big stash of formals and majorette uniforms.  I swear, they all still smell faintly of Final Net.  I’m not sure why I insisted my mom keep them.  I think I honestly expected that my future life would be so sophisticated that I would be
in dire need of a great stash of formalwear.

First up is my prom formal from 11th grade.  Can we all just pause for a moment of silence at the memory of my waist actually being this size?  If I pulled this on today, it wouldn’t get up past my knees:

Sleeves1

Next was my 9th-grade majorette uniform.  That flesh-colored elastic strap was on my uniform only, not the other girls’, thanks to my adolescent prayers in which I begged God for anything resembling a bosom.  I wept many tears over that elastic strap:

Sleeves5

Next was a dress I wore in the Miss Mayberry High School pageant, in which I was a runner-up not once, not twice, but a whopping three times.  Could you just die over the square rhinestone belt buckle?

Sleeves2

This was my senior prom dress.  Now, let me just tell you that this dress was the creme de la crème of my high school experience.  My mom and I shopped and shopped for this most perfect garment in which to end my high school career.  From the looks of all the chiffon ruffles, clearly I went out with a bang:

Sleeves3

Here, you have to see the back.  I clearly remember thinking that it was so beautiful, I might wear it again for my wedding.  Can you imagine?

Sleeves4

But wait, there’s more!

This was my majorette uniform in 12th grade.  Now that I look at it, don’t those gold things kind of look like hands?  Kind of creepy:

Sleeves7

Sleeves8_2 Last is the set of pompons the majorettes used my junior year.  Yes, majorettes with pompons.  There was a horrible uproar between the Mayberry High School majorettes and cheerleaders over this issue–horrible,
let me tell you.  Oh, there were dirty looks and snide comments and
nasty notes.   The very foundations of the earth trembled.

Really, wasn’t high school such a fine preparation for the serious issues we would face later in life?

Thus concludes my little fashion jaunt down memory lane.  Thanks for coming along.  I have to go now, because I’m feeling the strangest urge to go tease my bangs.