Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Break

I feel like I am having a breakdown. Another one. Summer break if you’re me (with this wiring and this brain) SUCKS. Sorry for the crass word choice (I am sure I’ve offend myself more than you with it) but it’s apropos.

I work from home and have my own PR agency but I also double as a stay at home mom. I define “stay at home moms” as the moms who keep the house running, do the laundry, plan the meals, shuffle the kids,  schedule the camps, make the dr/dentist/hair/play date arrangements, make sure the children pen their thank you notes, etc. --you get the picture. 
I live these dual lives simultaneously. It is never a smooth road but when the kids are in school for hours it is less bumpy. While I still have to find time to exercise and do the bills and there are appts. that always need to be made or attended I do not do it with anyone underfoot. Except for 3 smelly dogs and I made this unkempt bed so I am sleeping in it.

Summer time overwhelms me. I know it’s all my fault. That’s the worst part.

I lived an idyllic childhood if you ask me. My mom stayed at home (she did all the above too --with the exception of running her own business). She could get as overwhelmed and stressed as the next mama but I never saw her guilt ridden for either having to send me to camp during a summer day created for total relaxation or from letting me squander away the sweet days of summer time doing nothing but chilling.

I drown in guilt. I am guilty that the kids are home this summer with nothing to do. They went to day camps for years and protested about going again. I never thought it fair since I never had to go as a child (if I did not wish to) and so this year I told them they could relax a bit as they are older.

I feel guilty that their way of relaxing is in front of a TV. My infamous line of, “TV does not make you smart” is sure contradictory when school’s out and I allow them to plunk down in front of the boob tube. They cannot watch TV during the week when school is in but when it’s out --all bets are off. They are great at reading in their rooms, listening to music, playing outside but there is a LOT of down time and I know they’re bored. And I feel guilty about it.

I feel guilty that they want to do projects that I half ass. You see, them tackling projects is me tackling projects. I do not have time to build a lemonade stand, dammit!

I feel guilty work wise that I  do not have total uninterrupted hours of work time. Thankfully it all gets done  (my team rocks and Lord knows I thrive on delivering). 

I know so many parents that send their kids to summer camps as they have no other choice--they work in an office and that is simply how it is. They seem to deal just fine--as do their children. 

Remember, I know this is my issue. I know this is not forever. 

I also know I have helped Audrey design and create her birthday invites and create the party day’s agenda. I have also cleaned out her bookcases and redesigned her closet with her.  Both girls have tackled sewing projects and we’ve been to the store to buy the fabric. We also spent an afternoon at the park, a morning at the craft store, and a day at the beach. 

Olivia will be in drama rehearsals the entire month of July so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Audrey is also at a drama camp and taking sewing, piano and voice lessons. It is not all bad. But it is not all good.

This is why I am having a mental breakdown. It is what it is. I have no idea how to embrace life just as it “is”. I want it all to be picture perfect with the wave of a magic wand. Active kids, checkbooks balanced, thighs toned, house tidied, clients satisfied.
It is so hard for me to see the forest through the trees when I am in the thick of things. I constantly wonder what it would be like if I just had one major role and not two. I absolutely love what I do for work and I love being the girls mama. I wish I felt more in sync. Feeling so guilty is no way to exist. 

As I type Audrey has entered the room and told me she is grateful for all I do for her and she thinks I handle life beautifully (she has no idea what I am blogging about), my husband brought home Godiva (with nuts), and my neighbor texted me asking if I was ready for a tasty Stout. Trust me, I am so very blessed and I definitely count my blessings but I would not be truthful if I did not say that a lot of the time I am overwhelmed. Very much to my dismay...

Hoping this summer to find a way to give myself a break and quiet my head, listen to my heart, and simply be.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In an effort to help quell my early morning frustration and ANGER, I will recap how we went from owning the world's greatest dog to the world's worst.

As newlyweds in a new city we decided to get a dog. Eric is a huge dog lover and I needed more than just the job and the husband in my world so we adopted Thurman. World's greatest dog.

To say Thurman was our world is a bit of an understatement. We took him everywhere. As we drove he'd stand on the arm rest between our car seats and would go from kissing one of us to the other. He went to every party we attended whether we took a ferry to a dinner party at my former boss's house or went to a couple's wedding shower hours away where dogs were clearly not on the invite list. During that particular event,  he stood outside the house and wandered from window to window depending on which room we were in.

We were hands-down "over the top" obnoxious dog lovers. We were blissful. 11 months after our love affair Thurman died. Autopsy showed he died of an enlarged heart. How fitting.

Three weeks later I was pregnant and craving a Friendly's Ice Cream "Fribble." And a dog.

So in Kent, WA we found Fribble. The dog.

He was sickly, homely, and slated to be euthanized the next day. We adopted him immediately.

I recall seeing him poop in the backyard on the first night and knowing it was a mistake.

He bound into the house and jumped on all the furniture. We confined him to one room. After wreaking havoc in that room he'd escape. We'd leave the back slider door open as we went to work and he'd drag in to the house whatever he could find outside. He pulled off all the fake red apple shaped decorations on the Christmas tree and attempted to eat them. All 10 of them. On the white couch. On Christmas Eve--the night I had announced my pregnancy to our families. I was spotting and terrified and Frib ruined the night. Again.

I had a neat little contraption that allowed me to attempt to hear the baby's heartbeat in utero which I'd do each night before bed. Frib ate it. He also had chewed up two mattresses by then. To date he's done this to at least 6 mattresses. When the mattresses get shredded so do all my quilts--ones from my beloved gram, one from a trip to an island in Canada, one that was my first textile splurge when we were newly married. The list goes on.

On Eric's birthday he ate an entire bag of chocolate. I spent the afternoon on the phone with poison control trying to get him to throw up.

Days after Olivia was born he ate a cotton ball covered with Ben Gay ointment. I called poison control. Again.

Eric ran Frib up to the park one night when Liv was two months old. Eric returned shortly after and  said, "Frib ran out of the park and into the street. He has been hit by a car. Don't freak out". I did not freak out.  He stayed over night at the emergency clinic and just suffered some internal bruising. The next day we were off to the pumpkin patch and had to keep Frib with us to "observe". Before we dashed home to dinner with our friend's from pregnancy class, Eric let Fribble out to pee. He jumped a fence and landed in a cow pasture. When Eric called him back from the other side of the fence Frib got electrocuted. Twice.

Each visit to the dog park he'd jump the fence in the "allowed" area and bound through the "habitat protected" fields.  Oh, the looks and the finger wagging we'd ensue as a result.

When Audrey was born he would wake her from every. single. nap. with his incessant barking. He'd bark at the kids outside. Or at the cars going by. Or at the wind. We put him up for adoption on Craig's List. We got one taker and a boat load of messages from animal lovers about how awful we were to want to be rid of him (don't get me started).

As Eric explained to then 3 year old, Olivia, that we may be sending Frib to live on a farm with lots of animals and fields to frolic in and the freedom he so craves, she started to cry.
"No, Papa, we cannot!"

"Why?" Eric asked dumbfounded since Fribble generally growled when people got close to him. We refer to the sound as "throaty disdain".

"Because he's my dog. And I love him." Thus, we still own Frib.

He would never stay put in the yard. I have baked countless brownies & cookies and sent numerous emails & cards to more than a half dozen neighbors because of Fribble upsetting their worlds. I have also had the door bell rung and gone out to find piles of dog poo on my porch courtesy of Frib. The neighbor scooped it up from her yard and presented it to us.  Twice.

Olivia and Audrey lost more pacifiers to Frib than I can count. We knew Frib took them because we are the ones who scoop his poop. Nice, I know.

We also had a diaper service when both girls were babies. I am not sure how necessary it was. Frib would swipe the dirty diapers and feast. He was not only a menace but disgusting to boot.

If you're curious--yes, Frib's been to obedience class. No, he did not graduate.

We were always trying to figure out why his behavior was so out of control. He spends much of his time shaking. Uncontrollably. People would always comment on how cold he must be. It is not the cold. He is deathly afraid of rain. Yes, we live in Seattle.

Once Frib ran away in the middle of a rare thunderstorm. He was gone for nearly 4 days. Life was definitely more peaceful but I felt irresponsible and so left word with animal control, local shelters, and at all the area police departments. They found him. A kind woman several streets away said he showed up in her garage. Frib had been going to her children's clothing store with her each day and sleeping under her desk. She was smitten. And totally offended when we offered him up to her.

So Frib was back.  By this time it had been 7 years of "no joy" (how Eric describes life with Frib). I was ready for the loving dog experience I'd been craving and I so badly wanted to provide it for my girls, too.

We adopted Alice-- a little old pound dog. She was sweet and calm and just what we needed. Despite 3 breast cancer surgeries this little miss has been pure sweetness. Therefore, I wanted to give her a friend so we adopted a basset hound named Bella. For 18 months Alice and Bella were the best of friends. I was blissful. Every time I'd round the corner I'd find these two love bugs tucked in together. Total joy.

Sadly our Bella girl died in May from cancer. We all miss her madly. We just adopted another Basset a few weeks ago named Lucy. She is a timid sheep but very sweet and slowly but surely settling in.

Every day for weeks now I've returned home to "accidents" from the dogs in the only downstairs carpeted room.  The barricades don't work (Frib either jumps the gate or knocks it down- as evidenced below), and taking them out to pee/poop before we leave does not work either. I called a hardwood floor guy for a bid.  I designed a half door in my head while I was showering the other day and my handyman comes Monday to begin creating it. I had the carpet cleaner come out yesterday (comes nearly monthly) to do the front room and the girls rooms (the only other spots with carpet and while they keep the dogs at bay by closing their doors I knew it could not hurt to have the rugs shampooed again). I was losing my mind. I was not sure which dog to blame.

Liv came into our room last night at nearly midnight crying about missing Bella.  I comforted her a bit and sent her back to bed. Six hours later Liv was back in my room. She was woken up by a terrible smell. Poop and pee ALL over her room.

Lucy and Al were asleep in my room all night.

The culprit? You guessed it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

sweet summertime~ Audrey style

School is out, the calendar shows summer has arrived (despite the weather reports) and planning is underway at Wilkinson Manor for fun & bustling days. That is, if you're Audrey.

She has been out of school for less than a week now and has named and designed her lemonade stand and logo (as well as made thank you cards for each client). I have had two visits to her spa~ "Sally's". She has designed that logo, too. And created special appointment reminder cards. She made a trip to the paper store with the babysitter. And the craft store. Next stop Home Depot with her dad for wood for the lemonade stand.

She has cleaned out her closet, two book cases, and her vanity drawer.  She hums and primps and plans as she goes. She just handed me a beautiful picture she made of sweet Bella (our beloved Basset who passed away in May and whom I miss. madly. daily). Because I am "such a treasured client at the spa", she gave me this masterpiece from her line of "Audrey E. Works" drawings (complete with Bella sleeping & bearing her prominent nipples whilst dreaming (bubble over Bell's head shows her happily eating a bone)). I was not charged last night for the visit because she was trying out some new techniques and she said she'd normally do those on an employee and that would take labor time so she was grateful to have me sit in. I tipped her quite well since I had to cancel and postpone an appt. for some 30 hours. You see, it is not summer vaca for all the habitants of The Manor.

Speaking of which- I must put on my publicist hat now and dash off to a day of client meetings. I promise to return soon~  to Sally's, to "Sunshine & Sweets" lemonade stand, to Audrey girl and beautiful Livvie Bliss, to this houseful of smelly special needs beasts (we just adopted a Basset named Lucy- more to come on that), and to my prince.

I wish you the happiest of summers in the best way I know how~ in the words of Sally's motto,  "Relaxation is just around the corner" and for the tag line for "Sunshine & Sweets"..."may every bite be blissful".