Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sammy

We've known for some time now that Sammy was nearing the end of his time with us. One of the first signs was the day I tried to take him for a walk and he just sat down and wouldn't go any farther. He was just in too much pain. We thought we'd try treating his arthritis, and hoped that he'd be able to enjoy life with us for a little bit longer. Unfortunately, his dementia started to increase to the point where it became obvious he wasn't really enjoying life anymore - just surviving, confused. We realized a couple weeks ago that he wasn't obedient or responding to discipline because he simply didn't remember or understand rules anymore. He's always been docile and loving, but he really was becoming as wild as we could ever expect such a personality to become. We knew we could keep him with us longer, but that we were taking a risk that our family would remember him in a less and less positive light.

I have to admit, letting Sammy go has been more difficult than I expected. With Sammy it was love at first sight. I remember first seeing him at the shelter where I got him, and recognizing that he needed to be mine. He had the perfect "love-me-I'm-cute" eyes and his personality was magnetic. After I met Mark, he was equally drawn to Sammy. We were both excited when we moved into an apartment that would allow him, so we could take Sammy back from my parents. He was exceedingly difficult - we actually decided to move into a house in large part because he'd started peeing on our neighbor from the apartment below us - but he was always a good friend.

Since I know my boys won't really remember him much, I thought I'd just write some of my favorite Sammy stories for them to read later:
Going to the groomer was something Sammy had mixed feeling about - he HATED baths, but when he got home, he'd prance around showing off his bandanna and making sure everyone saw that he was clean.
Sammy used to refuse to go to bed without my pink beach towel and a stuffed duck to snuggle with.
Sammy's best friend was Lady. When we had to put her down, he sat by the garage door with his ears perked, just waiting for her to come home again. For days. It was heart wrenching.
A while after Lady died, we got Ginger, an exceptionally stupid Lab. Nice, but stupid. Sammy had no respect for her whatsoever, but she was a lot bigger than him. So when she totally disrupted his peace, he couldn't stand up to her directly, but he figured out how to get her goat. He would hide her favorite ball just out of her reach, and he seemed to enjoy it so much when she started to freak out.
Sammy had a dog house at my parents' house. He would climb up on top of it and sleep up there on his back, just like "Snoopy".
He had an amazing internal clock - an extremely accurate 23 and a half hour clock. He was always anxious to remind us of dinner half an hour before it was actually due.
Once, we had a whole box of Greenies (which we've always called "bones") and Sammy stole them while Mark and I were at work and hid them all around our apartment.
Sammy loved whatever we threw in the garbage and was a highly skilled procurer of such. Even under the sink behind child locks, he managed to get it, turning the entire bag inside out as he pulled it past the locks. The best defender of our trash was a tallish, bottom weighted contraption we call R2, but even it, bolted to the wall, couldn't always keep Sammy out.
All dogs like it, but Sammy really LOVED getting scratched behind the ears. He would often give us a very strangely human closed-mouthed grin when we did this. We could never decide if that came naturally, or if he was trying to "speak human" for us.
When he was younger, his favorite nap spot was snuggled into your arm pit.
Sammy had a special way of showing affection that we called his "chin thing". He would walk up and rest his snout and chin on us and sort of nuzzle us and just gaze up at our eyes. He always knew when we were upset, and he would always try to cheer us up with his chin thing.
A drunk man fell through our apartment door one day, and Sammy didn't even bark - he just sniffed him.
Sammy hated car rides, until he figured out how to roll down the automatic windows. He and I would drive over to a reservoir to walk sometimes, and he'd roll down the windows just to give himself extra time to sniff and whine at the prairie dogs.
Sammy had to go under anesthesia once, to have some teeth removed. He was super groggy when I tried to walk him out into the car, and when he tried to jump in, he missed the open door and bonked his head on the side of the car.
After we moved into a house, Sammy liked to escape and go hang out with our next door neighbor in his garage.
One time, Sammy decided to visit our other next door neighbor, and we found him in their basement, after he'd snuck into the house through their garage door.
Sammy tried to take off with a trick-or-treater one Halloween - he hoped right up into their truck after they'd collected their candy.
One of our favorite games to play with Sammy was for one of us to sit at the top of the steps and the other at the bottom, and take turns calling him. He'd run up and down to each of us for a few minutes, and then just get too excited to come to us anymore, but instead he'd just run in circles and then out the dog door.
Sammy was TERRIFIED of thunder. We left him home alone once, with a gate up to keep him in the kitchen. When a thunderstorm hit, he jumped through the cut-out in the wall and skidded over the top of the piano. We came home to a piano covered in mud, with deep gouges from his nails.
Sammy was so good with kids that when a little boy tried to pull the pads off his feet once, Sammy just laid there until we realized what was happening and stopped the boy.
Sammy has worn a lot of nicknames: Samson, Samuel, SamBome (Bane Of My Existence, that is), Goober, THE Sammy, in later years Sambuelito (hint: it's a play on words en Espanol), and an all time favorite, Butthead.
As he got older, Sammy only barked when the door bell rang. Isaac and Jon would stand on the milk box outside and ring the bell just to hear him bark - even though he'd just watched them go out the front door. When Isaac was about 2 years old, he used to call this "barking the dog."

Mark and I have been trying to prepare Isaac for the eventuality of putting Sammy down - which has been very difficult, since Isaac is both very astute and very sensitive. We've spent a lot of time holding him while he cried, and a lot of time being amazed by how strong the simple faith of a child can be. We knew it was time when Isaac said "It's okay to let Sammy go back to God now. He'll be happy that way." It's been harder for Mark and I to get to that point. After we scheduled the appointment to let Sammy go, we decided to tell Isaac so that he'd be prepared to enjoy the last few days with his dog. He took a minute to count the days. Then he contemplated a bit, and asked: "After all the days, will we see Sammy again?" I thought he just wasn't understanding that we meant that Sammy wouldn't come back, but Mark realized that Isaac was asking if, after his own life was over, he'd see Sammy again. I know there are many conflicting opinions on this matter, but we have come to the conclusion that we'll see him again, just as we know we'll see our human loved ones who have passed on. It's been comforting to all of us to remember that the end of this life is not the end for us.

Rest in peace, little buddy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Week

Sooo.... I have about a million pictures and videos to post again, but here's why I haven't done it: Things have been beyond crazy around here... Again. Always. I don't know why I ever think things will slow down. Here's the summary:
1. Jon had an allergic reaction to the meds he was on for his ear infection. Serious rash. Serious itch. Serious grouch. We haven't slept through the night in a  few weeks. Running on empty here.
2. We tilled up and reseeded the entire back lawn and a good portion of the front. Now the big issue is keeping birds and kids from wrecking the new lawn before it gets a good start.
3. Sammy is leaving us on Saturday. We've debated over it for almost a year, but we realized it was finally time. We've been trying to spend lots of quality time with him.
4. Nicole is coming to visit next week. Grandpa Tom is coming the week after. The guest room was full of everything from the basement. Needless to say, that had to change.
5. Isaac has a new obsession with "Wild Kratts" - which keeps us on our toes as we are always trying to guess which creature needs saving, and which power suit we'll be using to save said creature.
6. Learned how to make yogurt in the crock pot. Still perfecting the art. Definitely enjoying the result.
7. Getting ready for General Conference. Would I have ever guessed that preparing for two solid days of church with two kids would be so time consuming weeks before the event? Nope. Reality is that it takes an awful lot of energy on my part to get ANYTHING out of those two solid days of church. Worth it.
8. Planning a birthday party for a boy who thinks he needs a Lego Star Wars theme. Nothing commercially available here... Luckily, Pinterest exists and mine is not the first kiddo to want such a party. Now it's just a matter of making a bunch of pool noodle light sabers and some Yoda Soda.
9. I had the dumb idea of timing my runs with the kiddos. My first time was humiliating, so I decided to see if I could cut the time each week per mile. They've spent a lot of time in the stroller. I've spent a lot of time getting weird looks from the neighbors as I pant my way up the hill pushing the stroller while trying to keep up a conversation about "Wild Kratts" and handing snacks to the boys.
10. We've been getting TONS of compliments on our flowers from the neighbors. I finally feel like I've earned back my place among the snooty rose ladies of the neighborhood. And all that without a single rose in my yard! (If only they'd seen me tilling up the one wild rose I found last weekend... I'm pretty sure I'd never have recovered my reputation from that one...)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chili Sauce

Jonathan ALWAYS wants to eat Mark's food - Jonathan will reject a full plate of food to eat the exact same thing from Mark's plate. We had Chinese with Keynan and Gage on Friday night. Yum! Mark put a dab of chili sauce on his plate to mix into his rice. Jon wanted some. Mark is very accustomed to the routine, and knows that if compliance is prompt, he may end up with an opportunity to eat his own food with no one climbing into his lap. So he proceeded in thoughtless automation to give Jon some chili sauce. Jon acted in kind. I guess no one realized that the first thing he always does is taste a sauce directly; no dipping - just finger in the sauce, then in the mouth. Nothing in his prior experience had ever led him to view this as a time for caution. Immediately, he started screaming and went into some kind of violent seizure of oral rejection, making inhuman sounds as he tried to vent the oral cavity. Reaching into his mouth with his little fingers and scraping off his tongue, he was clearly in a panic. We quickly realized what had happened and Mark tried to get him to drink some milk. Jon REFUSED - his screaming got louder and he started throwing everything that he could reach. We reacted deftly, removing everything remotely nearby.

Keynan was watching the whole episode with his jaw hanging (His only younger brother is not on solid food yet)... Isaac just went on eating like nothing was happening. We tried to get Jonathan to eat rice or noodles to cut the heat. Robyn prepped a sippy with milk. We could offer this closed container more aggressively. Mark held it before him, and the batting arms did not abate. So he shoved the spout in his mouth, trying to pour some in. Jonathan blew into the spout...

Now, there was no valve in place. I don't know if everyone reading is familiar with the physics of fluids, air compression, and pressure, but essentially, the milk was compelled to escape the cup with exactly the same amount of force as Jon's violent blowing. And yes, the cup was still aimed directly at his face. Then, he STOPPED BLOWING for a moment...

So the screaming stopped. Milk all over his face, in his hair and eyes, Jon just stared, blinking, stunned and confused. Keynan howled in laughter. Isaac looked up at what had transpired and started laughing. We started to laugh. Jonathan... looked at us; blinked. I don't know if this was the blinking of a totally befuddled child, or if he was trying to blink the milk out of his eyes. But he stopped screaming. Mark apologized for the lack of warning, but the offer of affection was rejected.

Bath time!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sick Day

Poor Jon. We finally gave in and took him to the pediatrician this morning. Apparently, he's got one heck of a pain threshold, because he's got two bad ear infections to go with his croup. We figured he'd been crying all night because of his cough and snotty nose... Oops. Still haven't convinced him to eat the chocolate pudding with the steroids for the croup, but he took his antibiotics like a pro! Here's hoping we get through this one fast. Poor little guy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

TGIF

It's been a rough week - I took a little too much on, I think because I'm into self-sabotage. The kids, oddly enough, have mostly cooperated with my lack of attention to them. Isaac helped me bake and decorate cakes. Jon helped me clean up and cook meals. Mark listened while I whined about everything I had to do because I agreed to do it. And you know what? I didn't do any of it very well, but I got it all done. I think that counts as a success. Lessons learned: say "no" sometimes, and, even when you're not that smart, your family has your back. Thanks guys! You're awesome!!!
The best part of this week, by far, is yet to be celebrated. Isaac finally hit that milestone: two weeks with NO accidents!!! Chik-fil-a for him tomorrow, as promised. We're all pretty stinkin' excited and proud of him. He's excited, and proud, of himself. Good job kiddo!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Isaac's Plan

Mark's account of bedtime the other night:

I tell Isaac I'll start reading scriptures, but he has to lay down and be still and quiet while I read if he wants to read Narnia afterwards. He says "I have a better idea. Step 1: We read scriptures. Step 2: We read Narnia. Step 3: We talk for a while. Step 4: We build a tunnel in the morning. Step 5: We have a dance party."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Something exciting arrived at our house today, but before I get to that, I've got some older photos to post...

At the science museum, we've got a cool kids area where they can play and explore. Jon's favorite part? Flipping the stools at the stations upside-down and sitting on them that way... Way to explore, man!


Our crocuses have decided that spring has sprung. Isaac and I check their progress any time they aren't covered in snow.


When we went to pick up Mark the other day, we ended up having to wait for a while. I let Jon sit in the front seat while we waited.


Mostly because he kept screaming "Isaac" while Isaac was trying to do this:


Jon demanded that he be buckled in, since we were in the car. It was pretty awesome.


Mark is ALMOST done with the piano project. We think we're down to about 30 minutes worth of removing strings. Jon finds it fascinating.


He also loves climbing in the stroller just because he's in the garage.


Now to the point: the robot!


Robomow! I don't think Mark has ever been more excited about a purchase. He HATES mowing the lawn (which is why I usually do it). Here's hoping the robot lives up to it's name!