Monday, February 28, 2011

Update on Tootsie

Well, she's still here.

Jason completed adding the additional underground fencing along the house so the only door they can now get to is the laundry room.

But... she's currently not wearing the collar for the fence system.

Why?

Well, the other morning Jason asks me to take a look at her. Says she's been acting weird since the night before - is shaking uncontrollably, hasn't eaten (and she's our little piggy!), and won't come out of the doghouse.

Ugh. Fine. I'll check out the dog.

Yes, I still hold a grudge against the dog.

The minute I see her my mommy-gene kicks in. Poor Tootsie. Something is definitely wrong. She is indeed shaking uncontrollably, and refuses to exit the doghouse, even when I or Jason call her. Very unlike her. He drags her out of the doghouse, and she wants to go right back in.

Long story short (really, I had typed the whole thing out but it ended up being really long), we think her underground fence collar had been malfunctioning for 1 - 2 days, basically shocking her randomly (but thank goodness not constantly) for noapparent reason.

We figured this out because we took her collar off of her (it needed new batteries anyway), and I was carrying it thru the house when it went off. For no reason.

And now she's traumatized. Seriously traumatized.

We've been working with her several times each day to try to get her to come out of the doghouse. She'll come out while we're outside, but within a few minutes of us going inside, she's back in the doghouse.

She also hadn't eaten two days, and still won't make the 15 foot walk to their food dish, so I've been taking small amounts of food to her several times a day. Don't want her to starve, but also don't want to take away a motivation for coming out of the house.
Also took the water bucket to her the other day, and as much as she drank in one sitting, I'm gonna guess she wasn't coming outside for water either.

We took her collar off of her, until we can figure out why it's going off randomly. If we can't figure it out, we'll have to buy her a new one.

I'm a little nervous about her not having it on, not only because of my anxiety over keeping her out of the house, but also because she's our wanderer. I don't think she means to, but the few times she's gotten loose (once at this house, a few times at the old house), she just... goes. She doesn't move very fast, but she doesn't stop either. And unlike Buddy, who bolts, but always comes back, she just keeps going.

But there's also not a chance in the world that I'm letting her stay in the house unsupervised while we're gone. Not even locked in a separate room. Not happening. Not after before.

And as much as I'd like to think there's some sort of doggie karma going on here, the mommy in me has been sitting with Tootsie, petting her, reassuring her, drawing her out of her doghouse, getting her to follow me around the yard, trying to convince her it's okay, bringing her food & water (and even treats), and just checking on her numerous times throughout the day. I'm a little resentful that she's making me like her again. Stupid dog.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Thoughts on Gov't Union Busting

I have written, deleted, and re-written this post several times. I feel that I could be more effective if I could put specifics of FireMan's job, pay, benefits, and union membership, but don't feel comfortable revealing that on here for fear that he in turn have professional issues because of something I wrote. So here is my attempt to address the issue from a broader perspective.

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Currently, or recently, there have been union-busting legislation proposed and/or voted on in several states, under the guise of balancing the budget.

The theory goes that because so many public employees are unionized, then state & local governments are running out of money because the employees' unions are forcing them to pay for unreasonable pay & benefits, thus draining the government entities' funds.

Therefore, the theory states, by stripping public unions of their strength in negotiations with their members employers (ie. the state or local gov't), the government entities will have more power and ability to reduce their budgets, thus preventing them from raising taxes on their constituents.

There are a few problems with this theory.

#1 - the assumption that the politicians introducing and/or supporting this bill have nothing but the best interest of their constituents at heart.

^  The fact is that in almost every case this has been introduced, and strongly supported, by Republicans, while Democrats tend to get the lions' share of support from unions. In the states in which this is occuring, this union-busting measure has typically been introduced shortly after a Republican took an office previously held by a Democrat. Almost every version of this bill also includes removal or limits on the unions' abilities to donate to politicial campaigns. Therefore, Republican passage of this bill equals a quick and severe blow to the future campaigns of Democratic candidates.

  ^  Public employees are constituents of said politicians. A very large portion of said constituents. They pay the same taxes. They vote in the same booths.

#2 - the belief that this will balance the budgets of state & local government

 ^  this bill does nothing to get rid of waste. It does nothing to reduce the supposed "unreasonably high" wages & benefits already in place. And in fact, in some states, there is "pork" included in the bill that seems to create more waste, just in a different area

#3 - the belief that unionized public employees are receiving pay & benefits that are vastly greater than citizens in the private sector

I really want to elaborate here, based on my personal knowledge of pay & benefits in our area, but this is where I hesitate to get personal.

I will tell you that to take his dream job as a full-time firefighter, FireMan accepted a nearly 40% cut in pay from his previous private sector job. Forty percent.

His benefits are comparable to what he was receiving at his private sector job, but not above.

I can tell you, that in our area, nearly all firefighters, especially those that are married with children, work second and sometimes third jobs. Not just to keep busy, but to pay bills. Second jobs are the norm.

I will tell you that FireMan's benefits are less than any I have received at any full-time permanent private sector position.

After noticing that many of my Facebook friends are for this union-busting measure, I posted a question on my personal Facebook page. It was, basically: tell me where public employees are getting such awesomely good pay & benefits that you feel okay taking away their negotiation abilities. Just tell me where. Just one example of where this is happening. And what are they getting that is so above-and-beyond.Needless to say, a day-and-a-half later not one person can provide any actual data showing me even one example of where this is occurring. Although I do have a couple of more examples of where it's not occurring, with actual facts to back it up.

I guess what I'm saying is that just because they have a union to support them thru negotiations doesn't necessarily mean that they are requesting outrageous pay & benefits. It means that they need help negotiationg fair & reasonable pay & benefits. And in many cases, less than fair & reasonable.

#4 - sometimes raising taxes is necessary. It just is.

Some of you aren't gonna like to hear this. But I propose that you need a reality check.

Your taxes pay for certain services: fire protection, emergency medical response, police protection, school teachers, waste collection, water provision, animal control, etc. The list goes on & on.

These services have to be paid for. They do. For example, funding a fire department is expensive. It really, really is. The building(s), vehicles, equipment, protective gear, everything. And yes, the cumulative compensation of enough firefighters to make sure an area is adequately staffed.

Just because it costs a lot of money to fund something, doesn't mean it's not worthwile, or that the money isn't being managed properly, or that there is waste to cut. Some things just cost money. They just do.

If you are confident that your state & local government entities have done everything else they possibly could to reduce waste and manage their budgets effectively, the answer is not stripping rights and (the assumption is) pay & benefits from your public servants. It is to raise income. In most cases, this means raising taxes.

But no politician wants to be the one who raises taxes. Especially knowing that many of their constituents may be struggling due to the recent economic problems faced in our country.

So they will avoid raising taxes, even to the detriment of these very constituents. Brown outs at fire stations put your safety at risk. Reducing police forces as crime rises puts your safety at risk. Enlarging class size to reduce classroom staffing in an attempt to save money puts your child's education at risk. The list goes on and on.

The fact is, that if you want services such as fire protection, emergency medical response, police protection, school teachers, waste collection, water provision, animal control, and much more to be provided by your state and local governments, then you have to pay for them. Thru taxes. You just do.

Does it suck? Sometimes. Does the fact that it sucks make it any less necessary? Nope.

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And those are, in a very long nutshell, my thoughts on government union busting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TBP #4 - where I live (what makes it special)

Well, I'm gonna focus specifically on our new home.

We live in a rural area in Northern Kentucky, but are still close to everything we need. We are four miles from the center of town, nine miles from the interstate, and 10 miles from the largest city in the county, which is actually pretty big (ie. plenty of shopping, restaurants, hospitals, etc).

We have over five acres of partially wooded land, and our house sits over 400 feet off the road.

It's a major renovation (still in progress), which has it's difficulties, but lets us make it exactly what we want it to be.

Should we choose to send FireGirl to public school, the district we live in is ranked very well, plus has tons of extra-curricular activities, including numerous programs in the fine arts.

Besides the rural setting, the land, and being so far off the road (an extra bonus when you have a young child), I love that we have so much wildlife. Our property is filled with various birds, raccoons, squirrels (red & gray) and best of all... deer.

The pictures below are kinda blurry (I was in a hurry & shooting thru a window), but this is what I saw out our bedroom window one January morning as I was getting ready to leave for work.



there were five all together that morning. Five. {{happy sigh}}

From November thru January deer regularly greeted us in our front yard & driveway. We'd pull in, and have to stop for the deer standing on our driveway. Or we'd stop just to watch the ones in the yard.

Love. It.

And... it's ours. Mine & FireMan's. The first house we bought together. Hopefully the last. Our plan is that this will be our "forever home".

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To play along with the blog challenge, click on the link below:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh yeah, so how have I been dealing with the loss of FireKitty?

Okay, I guess.

It definitely seemed to affect me more than anyone else. Although Jena has started talking about her again. The other night we were saying our prayers at bedtime, and she said "Pray Tess feel good". I finished the prayers blubbering.

My mom said she's not surprised at how upset I got. She said it's "in me" to be that way. I've always attached myself to the animals I'm around.

It actually surprised me. I didn't realize how attached I'd gotten to Tess in the short nine months she was part of our family.

But... grieving is just par for the course, right?

The real issue I've had is with anxiety. I can still feel it, rising up in my chest, every time I drive home. Every time. It's worse if I'm driving home after dark, as it was dark when we got home that night.

I now get out of the car, lock the car doors, unlock the front door, go into the house, and do a quick survey of the house before I go back to get Jena out of the car.

If Jason is with us, he must go in first, before I'll even get out of the car.

And I think I'm driving him nuts asking, and re-asking, if he's checked the doors, checked the locks, etc.

I've always been good about locking doors myself, but now I'm fanatical.

Before I go out the back door, for any reason, I lock Tucker in the spare room, and then still exit & return as quickly as possible. Yes, even now that we have the underground fencing keeping the dogs from coming too close to the entranceway (by the way - Buddy & Flopsy understood the new perimeter right away, within a few hours).

Tucker has gotten shoo'ed away and yelled at more than once, if I catch him too close to any of the doors while someone is entering / exiting. Sometimes I think he does it just to freak me out.

Every now and then I have some horrific scenes roll through my mind's eye. Some of them what I imagine happened that night. Some of them anxiety-inducing visions of what I might find has happened to Tucker when I come home. I wish I could get these scenes out of my head.

I'm wary now of someone breaking in. Something I always had a small amount of anxiety about when I lived in the city or suburbs, but what I had never experienced in a rural area before. I was, in fact, before this happened, telling a "city boy" co-worker of mine how much more relaxed I am now that we live out in the country, how much more comfortable, how much less anxiety (he's exactly the opposite - it was an interesting conversation). But not so much anymore. It is quieter though, so strange noises are more easily heard, and identified.

I'm assuming hoping that this anxiety will fade with time. Although part of me hopes that it doesn't. It does make me much more diligent in our home security, especially with regards to Tucker.

So... that is how I'm doing. Dealing with it. Just not always well.

Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a difference a month makes

A month ago, I thought I had nothing left. I was so empty. So desparate. So lost.

Now? Well, there are still struggles, but there is so much hope too.

Work is going better. Figuring out the "dance" with the new boss.

FireGirl is really starting to love her day care arrangement. She's starting to open up more socially with the other kids, and is blossoming in pre-school as well.

My dad is doing really well, is working thru his physical therapy, but it's going well. They watch FireGirl one day a week now, and last week kept her overnight for the first time since November.

And FireMan & I? Well, there's definitely still work to be done, but things are going well. I think.

Although I don't know that I can say I've 100% forgiven him, I can say that over the past few weeks, my hard feelings towards him have dissolved, almost completely.

The truth is, I'm not angry with him anymore.

That feeling that has sat in my chest for almost a year now? It's gone. That heaviness, that pain... it's gone.

To be sure, the memory of pain is still there, threatening to become fresh again with any new strikes, but... it is a memory.

And I am beginning to trust him again. That is what is going to take time. Rebuilding trust. I guess it's like knocking down a skyscraper. You can tear it down in a day, but to build it back up again takes many, many moons.

It frustrates him to no end that I don't trust him yet. But trust, once destroyed, takes time to rebuild. It just does. I don't think there's anything I can do to speed that process. But every time I "catch" him telling the truth, every time he does what he says he's going to do, every time he follows thru on his word... they're all building blocks, building it back up again.

I guess in a month, the outside difference doesn't seem so big. There's still work to be done. We still struggle.

But inside... my inside has changed. My heart is soft again. And I have hope, real hope for our marriage.

And... he makes me happy. Again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

TBP #3 - a hobby of mine

Well, I have to say that there's not been a whole lot of time for hobbies since FireGirl came along, but... scuba diving would have to be my current top hobby.

I got my Open Water certification in 2007, and my Advanced Open Water certification in 2009. Still haven't decided if I want to proceed with any further certifications. Right now AOW allows me to do pretty much everything I currently want to under the water.

Here are some trips from our last ocean dive - Bahamas 2009.



my dive buddy

there was no "zoom" used for any of these shark pictures




Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Fat Butt

Had my appointment the other day.

I'm down 32 lbs in three months.

He said he wasn't gonna ask me about my homework from the previous month, nor give me any more homework. Said it would be like "punishing the honor student".

Apparently, percentage wise, I've already lost in three months what most patients will lose in six months on this treatment plan.

Yay me!

So he asked me what advice I would give other patients.

The only thing I could think of is to trust your body & listen to what it's telling you.

See, with the way this insulin disorder causes your body to process food, you get hungry sooner & don't feel as satisfied as a "normal" person. My doctor has explained the "how" to me, but I won't go into it here, partly because I'm sure I'd be lacking as I try to explain it. Anywho... so when I told people that I promised I was only eating when I was hungry, and was stopping as soon as I felt satisfied... I was telling the truth. It's just that my body was lying to me.

So when you start the medication, and your body normalizes, and you're not hungry as often, and feel satisfied sooner than usual, it plays a mental trick on you.

The first six weeks or so I would eat lunch, stop when I was satisfied, but keep the rest of my lunch on my desk all afternoon. Why? Because I was convinced I would be hungry later.
To me, in my experience, it wasn't possible that a lunch that small would suffice. Everything in my experience told me that I needed to either eat more now, or save it for later, in order to avoid real hunger in the near future.

The doctor found this interesting, and said that fear of hunger is a common theme among people with any sort of eating issue - medical, mental, or emotional. The fear of hunger is such a primal feeling, such an instinctual reaction, that it's very difficult for patients to overcome. He said this is just as true for the person who grew up in poverty and truly did struggle for food at one point, as for the person fighting obesity their entire lives and getting a handle on their eating for the first time. And everyone in between.

So that is my advice, to anyone else going thru this treatment, or anyone struggling with any sort of eating issues - listen to your body, and trust it (assuming you've got any medical issues straightened out that might cause your body to "lie" to you).

It's hard. It really is. There are still times when I think I need to eat more. Need. Not want, need. But most of the time, it's a lie, a mental trick.

Now that my system is getting straightened out, it's getting easier & easier, a little bit at a time. I now stop eating as soon as I feel satisfied (95% of the time anyway), and can trust that if I feel hungry, then yes, I really do need to eat. It's a game though. Playing a game with yourself.

So far though, it seems that I am winning. Finally.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Did you hear the one about the husband who handled everything perfectly?

No, really.

Last week, you know, the night of the horror scene, he handled it perfectly.

I mean, perfectly for me.

When we were still trying to find the cats, he firmly ordered me around, forcing me to get out of my hysterics and get into action.

After everything was discovered, he took care of all of the... stuff.

You know:
    - burying FireKitty
    - cleaning up the blood
    - burning things that had blood on them
    - throwing away FireKitty's collar & bed, and random other items I asked him to because they reminded me of her

He watched me be hysterical, helped me up off the ground, gave me light hugs, but didn't force me to be all cuddly with him. Which is good.

He let me take a shower. A long, hot shower and when I came out he had swept and mopped all the floors in the house, and done quite a bit of tidying up.

I think, in his world, where he had to fix it, but he couldn't fix it, so he had to do something, so... he cleaned. Not sure why he cleaned, but I suspect it had something to do with making sure I didn't accidentally come across any random miniscule drops of blood anywhere else in the house, even if we didn't know they were there.

And when my mom called me back with perfect timing about 10 minutes after I got out of the shower (I had called her on the drive home, before we knew anything had happened), and we talked, and it was so good.
And I found out later that he called her while I was in the shower, and told her what happened, and that she needed to call me back, and gave her a timeframe.

And he didn't say a word about the fact that I used up all the hot water.

Or that I didn't do a darn thing the rest of the night, but sit on the couch in my flannel PJs, staring off into space.

And he didn't say a word when I turned on Netflix, and pulled up Gray's Anatomy Season 3, and started watching it, to distract myself.

And he didn't insist that I come to bed. He let me stay up, not even mentioning the fact that it was already really late and I was supposed to be at work early the next morning.

And two days later, when we had our next trainer appointment, he didn't even ask if I were going.
Because somehow he knows, that there's a tiny part of my mind that thinks "First time back to the trainer since August, and this is what happens. I didn't even want to go. I could've put in some laundry, and sat on the couch watching FireGirl dance to her "shows", and everything would've been fine. Stupid gym".*note* as silly as I know that thought process is, it's there. And even if those thoughts aren't there, it's gonna be hard to remove that association. I still get anxious every time I drive home, let alone trying to go back to the place I was when it happened. You understand?

Yes, he handled it perfectly. For me. He handled me perfectly.

And I remembered. That is why I married him.

Well, one of many reasons. But yes, that is why I married my FireMan. Because he gets me. When it really, really counts - he gets me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Did you Ever Figure Out How the Dogs Got in the House ??

No.

We've run several scenarios thru our minds, discussed them, reviewed our memories of the scene, etc, etc, etc.

We don't know.

We were both in & out of that room several times before leaving, but neither of us went outside thru that door. We are both 100% confident that the door was closed, completely. We are both also fairly confident that the door was also locked.

That being said, we currently believe this is the most likely scenario:

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The dogs are sleeping in their makeshift doghouse, which is adjacent to the deck. We didn't get around to buildling them a proper one before it got cold, so it's made out of leftovers from renovating the house (ie. it doesn't look like a doghouse, it looks like a pile of scrap material).

A would-be intruder sneaks around to the back of the house, approaching the French doors on the back deck.

The dogs, sleeping in their well-insulated house, don't hear him.

Said intruder manages to get the door open.

The dogs, whose ears have been trained to listen for the sound of the doorknob turning, and especially for the click of the lock (this is the door we go in & out of when entering the back yard, the only door they are were permitted to enter the house thru, and the door thru which we feed them), hear the door being opened, and rush out of their house, leaping onto the deck, expecting us.

The would-be intruder freaks out at being ambushed by three dogs, two of which are rather large, and runs away before entering the house (we checked the house thoroughly for any missing items, nope).

But the damage is already done, in that the door is now open, granting all three dogs full access to roam the house, unsupervised.

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It was actually the next day before this thought came to us, and by that time, in our frantic search to corral the dogs and find the cats, we had both gone in & out of the back door numerous times, destroying any possible prints that might have been left in the snow.

In short, we'll probably never know for sure.

We've come up with another scenario in which the dogs managed to get the door open themselves, which was our original theory, but... the longer we dwell on it, the more we realize that the chances of that happening are so very, very slim. You know, without them having opposable thumbs and all.

Don't want to say that it's impossible, that the dogs got in themselves, since we don't know for sure what happened, but it really looks like someone had to have opened our back door. And since we are both in agreement that we are absolutely certain that the door was completely shut (which really is enough to keep the dogs out), and we are both fairly certain that it was also locked (I'm actually a lock freak, and have been known to accidentally lock FireMan out of the house when he steps out side "just for a minute"), it really, really looks as if we may have had a would-be intruder that night.

I find myself wishing very bad things on this person. I know this is wrong. But... I'm just being honest.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Weekend

Well, FireMan hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

He has never done anything so romantic, so special for me. Actually, no one has.

Yep, he got it right.

Planned it for months. Which is, in & of itself, worth major brownie points. Voluntarily got dressed up, something very uncharacteristic of him, so bonus points there. And took his hunny out of town for the weekend.

At this point I feel I should clarify that this is VERY atypical of FireMan. Very. Romance, well, it's not exactly his middle name or anything.

Every Valentine's Day (four of them) we've shared thus far has gone something like this (yes, this includes both dating years, and married-but-pre-baby years):

we say we're not doing anything for Valentine's Day.
so I get him a card.
he stops at Kroger on his way home and picks up: (insert choice here: bag of chocolate [why pay extra for the heart-shaped box], cheesy stuffed animal [which I still love, by the way], bouquet of whatever flowers might be left [which explains why I ended up with yellow miniature roses one year]).
he walks in the door with said last-minute gift.
I act surprised, because I actually am. (apparently I have a memory problem, and every year forget that even though we say we aren't doing anything, he stops at Kroger).

I just want you to realize how HUGE this romantic gesture was. Huge. Big. Really, really big.

Okay, got it? Good. Then I'll proceed.
I didn't know where we were going until we were halfway there. He accidentally said something about having to be "on board" by a certain time. After a few guesses, I got it. Only because one of my friends from work had taken a girlfriend there a few years ago, and had asked my opinion on it. Otherwise, I would have been completely clueless.

And it was wonderful.

Saturday night he took me to My Old Kentucky Dinner Train!







don't we look snazzy?

It was really neat, totally unique, and a great surprise. Since it was quite a drive from our home, FireGirl spent the night with my parents and we got a hotel in nearby Louisville.
Sunday we slept in, enjoyed the continental breakfast at the hotel, then slowly started making our way back to Ohio to pick up FireGirl. We stopped at the Carrollton Outlets, but they were closed, then took the scenic route back.

Stopped for a mile hike at General Butler State Resort Park.

FireMan at the overlook, General Butler State Resort Park



I'm laughing. I forget why.

the view from the top
Had lunch at a local burger joint along the way, and stopped at the hospital to visit FireMan's uncle, who was recently admitted.

By the time we got to my parents' house, FireGirl was already taking her afternoon nap, so we played cards with my folks for a couple of hours until she woke up. Then we got her all packed up, and decided to head to a park for the first time in 2011! She had to keep her coat on, and we didn't stay too long, but we all had a blast. She definitely didn't want to leave.



Going down the slide with Daddy. They do this at least once every time we go to the park.

And then she decided she wanted to go down with Mommy. First time I've gone down the slide with her.

Dinner at a McDonald's on the way home (FireGirl's choice), then back home to get back into the groove and start the normal work week on Monday.

All in all, a very enjoyable, wonderful, awesome, Valentine's Weekend.

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, February 14, 2011

So What About the Dog ??

Well, right now it looks like we are keeping Tootsie.

Against my wishes.

My feeling is that having her in our household, on our property, is now a known threat to Tucker's safety.

We took steps to keep her separate from the cats, but something happened (we still don't know what), and the first chance she got she killed Tess, and went after Tucker.

To me, the best decision is to:
    - fulfill my responsibility to Tucker to take every step possible to keep him safe, by finding Hydrant a new home
    - fulfill my responsibility to Tootsie to take every step possible to make sure her new home is a good, loving, responsible one. With no cats. Ever.
    - for several reasons, acclimate Buddy & Flopsy to living primarily inside the home, but crated when we are not home

Jason disagrees. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You see, Tootsie is his dog. He's had her the longest, for eight years.
So I don't know that it's so much that he disagrees with my reasoning, as much as he can't bring himself to get rid of her.

I understand. I disagree, but I understand.

We talked argued about it last night. In short order our mature, reasonable discussion of possible solutions degraded into a childish exchange, just using big words to mask the immaturity. And just to be clear, we both fell into that.

His idea is to use our underground fence system to fence off all openings to the house, except one: the laundry room, which is where the dogs currently used to stay on nights it's too cold for them to be outside.
It's actually been cold enough (single digits) for me to bring them in the past two nights, but I can't bring myself to do it. The "what-ifs" won't stop running thru my mind.

He feels this will not only prevent Tootsie from getting into the house unexpectedly, but also keep gun-shy Buddy from damaging the doors trying to get in, come hunting season.

I agree that it is a good idea, and possibly still worth doing, even if we get rid of Tootsie, but the biggest problem is that we already had taken steps to separate the dogs from the cats, and while we were out, something had happened, and they got together. Something beyond our control. So what happens if the fence shorts out? Or we miss the battery on her collar running low? or there's some other malfunction?

I don't feel that it's worth the risk.

The risk of reliving that scene again. Or of that scene happening at a time when Jena comes home with us. Or that scene repeating itself (God forbid) in a time & place where we see it unfold, and maybe Jena sees something so... awful.

Or Jena gets a little older and decides that Tootsie wants to play with Tucker so brings Tootsie in the house, thru the laundry room. Or takes Tucker out into the yard so they can play. And then not only witnesses what happens, but lives with knowing that she did it.

Yeah. To me, that's not worth the risk.

To him, it is.

To him, those are all random "what ifs" that are very unlikely to happen. But after what Tootsie did to Tess the first time she had the opportunity, I see it more as a matter of time before the opportunity presents itself again. We can't be there all the time, we can't be everywhere, see everything.

He also thinks getting rid of another pet so soon after losing Tess would be too traumatic for Jena.

I think we need to remove the known risk from the household, to prevent the likelihood of an even greater trauma in the future.

But not only is it his dog, he is also the head of the household, so he will most likely "win". Although I decided from the beginning this is one of those things that no one "wins". It definitely feels like one of those situations where there is no "right" decision, where every possible solution, is a bad one.

As we went to bed, I asked him if he'd made a decision. He said he had not. I told him if he planned on keeping Tootsie, then I expected to see additional locks installed on the French doors, and the additional fencing installed around the house, like yesterday.
My husband & I are both world-class procrastinators, but I told him there would be no "next time I'm off, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year". Not with this. That if he decided to keep her, then his next day off I expect to come home from work to see the new locks in place and the supplies for the fencing purchased and the installation at least under very good progress, if not completed. And that if it couldn't all be completed in one day, it would be completed his very next day off.

Period.

I guess we'll see what his final decision is. But I think I already know. {{ sigh }}

Friday, February 11, 2011

How is Jena Handling the Loss?

Thankfully, Jena was not with us when we discovered that Tootsie had killed Tess. Jason & I had a late appointment with our physical trainer, and his mom had offered to keep Jena overnight. I really didn't want her to, but reluctantly agreed around 5pm that night. So glad I did.

I picked her up from the in-laws' house after work the next day. As soon as we left their driveway, I turned off her CD of children's worship songs and told her I needed to talk to her about something important, as I adjusted the rearview mirror so I could see her face.

I told her that the night before, while she was spending the night with Mamaw & Papaw, when Mommy & Daddy got home, we found out that while we were gone, something had happened and Tess had died. Tess was dead.

I asked her if she knew what "dead" meant, and she just stared at me. I told her that when someone dies, it means they are gone. Forever.

She paused.

Then began repeating:

"I spend night at Papaw's. Mom & Dad come home. Sumfing happen. Tess diiiieeeeeevvvvvvv"Over, and over, and over again. All the way to McDonald's (because Lord knows the child was getting whatever she wanted that night). I suppose repeating it was her way of processing the information.

At McDonald's, when I saw that our food was dwindling and we would be leaving shortly, I told her I just wanted to make sure she understood that Tess had died, and was gone. That when we got home, Tess would not be there.

She repeated the phrase again.

"I spend night at Papaw's. Mom & Dad come home. Sumfing happen. Tess diiiieeeeeevvvvvvv"

Then she looked up at me, with a twinkle in her eye.

"Mommy! Ask Tess what happen!"
{{ insert heartbreak here }}

Just the way she said it. Like she had just thought of the most brilliant idea. We'll just ask Tess  what happened.
So I explained that we can't ask Tess, because, remember, she's gone. She's not going to be at the house. Ever again.

Jena seemed to ignore me, and went on playing with her toy that she had gotten with her Happy Meal. And then it was time to leave. And she threw a world class tantrum. Throwing things, lying on the floor, the whole bit. And I was by myself. So gathering food, throwing away a tray, collecting things that had been thrown, getting a coat on a flailing toddler... well, these things take time.
So I really didn't appreciate the glares I started getting from other customers. And then from the manager. I mean really?!? Can't you see I'm by myself here, trying to get her out of the restaurant. I suppose I could have left our food on the table, but I'm sure that would have drawn a glare or nasty comment as well. Or left the things she'd thrown on the floor, but again, another glare or comment. Or not taken the time to try to get her coat on. But it was 18 degrees out, and she's two, so... yeah, I'm gonna take the time. Geez! Cut a mother a break.

Anywhoo, I digress. I told her again a few minutes into the drive home. I just really wanted her to understand that Tess was not going to be at the house. As much as she could understand.

And so, we pulled into the driveway and I turned off the engine and turned to look at her.

"I just want to make sure you understand that Tess died. She's not here anymore. She's gone. We only have one cat now. Just Tucker. Okay?"

"Mommy, Tess hidin'"

"No, Jena, Tess isn't hiding. She's gone. She's just not here anymore, not here anywhere, okay? Just Tucker now. No more Tess."

"Tess sum-wer (somewhere)"

I paused. There was one way to handle pet death that I hadn't wanted to go, but Jason had (he was working, so I won by virtue of being the one who had to do it). But maybe I should say it now. Now that she had said "somewhere".

"Jena, Tess is in Heaven. When pets die, that's where they go, they go to Heaven. Do you know where Heaven is? Heaven is where God lives. So since Tess died, she's living with God now. And He's gonna keep her, okay? She's gonna live with Him, and He's not bringing her back. She lives with God now."

 No response.
We got out of the car, and went into the house. She started walking around, mumbling something. I couldn't really make it out, although I did hear "God" repeatedly.

And then... she became obsessed with Tucker. She wanted him to play kitchen with her. She tried to read books to him. She wanted him to sleep in her bed. And she talked about taking him to the sitter's house the next day.

Sweet girl.

A couple of hours later, while eating her snack, she looked at me and very matter-of-factly said:

"Mommy! Go pick Tess up now! She hidin'."
"Hunny, she's not hiding. I can't pick her up, because she's gone, remember? She's not here anymore. Ever."
 
And that was it for that night. When I tucked her in, and we were saying our prayers, I said a special prayer thanking God for the time we had with Tess, and for what a blessing she had been in our lives the short time she was with us.

The next morning, no mention of Tess at all. Until we were leaving. We have a habit of saying goodbye to the cats when walking out the door.

"Goodbye Tucker! Have a nice day! We'll see ya later!"
"Bye-bye Tucker! Bye-bye Tess!" {pause} "Nope. No Tess."
 
She continued walking out the door. I, however, started bawling. I have taken very strong efforts to not cry about this in front of Jena. I don't want her to feed off of my emotion, I want her to have her own reactions to this event in her life. But this time, I lost it. We got in the car, and drove to the sitter's.

And that was that. That evening, we cut our nails before bathtime. First Jena, then mommy, then Tucker's claws.

"Do Tess nails!" she exlaimed excitedly.

"I can't, hunny, remember? Tess's gone."

She mentioned her again this morning. She was singing, and kept saying Tess's name over and over. I couldn't really make out the rest of the words.

And that's the last time she's mentioned her. I keep waiting for her to start looking for Tess. Or to call for her. Or to ask me questions. I keep waiting for it, but so far it hasn't happened.

She seems to be handling it very well. Much better than I am, anyway. I'm still a mess.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scenes from a Horror Film

**WARNING** this post contains content that some readers may find disturbing. Read at your own risk.




Do you ever feel like you're living a scene from a movie? And even after it's over, it seems like it couldn't have really happened? Like it must have been a movie? And you can actually almost see yourself from the outside, like you're watching the movie?

*********************************

Like when you come home at night, and you're gathering some items from the car to bring in while your husband goes inside, and then he comes back out and yells to you that the dogs were in the house?

And you're confused, and you're like "What do you mean the dogs were in the house? How'd they get in?", and you actually chuckle, because it's not like your dogs grew opposable thumbs the two hours you were gone.

But he yells back "I don't know, but all three dogs were in the house".

And you shake your head and walk toward the house, confused, puzzled at how this could have happened, when all at once that confusion just doesn't matter any more and the how doesn't matter any more as the realization of what this really means sinks in.

It means that your cat-agressive dog has been loose in the house, unsupervised. With the cats.

 You push thru the front door and drop the items you'd gathered from the car on the floor and scream to your husband "Where are my cats?!?"And he looks at you and says plainly "I don't know"

And then you begin hyper-ventilating, and repeating over and over again "where are my cats? where are my cats? where are my cats?" and you nearly collapse on the floor, but do manage to get your feet under you in time to stumble to the garbage can to vomit.

And by this time your husband has locked the dogs in the laundry room, and informed you that the back door was wide open when he came in, and that you need to get it together to find the cats, because you're the only one they'll come to, and they could be fine, they could be hiding in the house, or could be outside somewhere, but you have to find them, because you are the one they trust.

And you remember that your male cat, when he got out at your old house, would hide under your deck, so you go out the back door, and look around, and down the steps, and around to the front of the deck so you can bend down to look under it.

And then you see an unusual... shape... a few feet away.

And you don't want to look, but it could be anything, and you have to get it together because you have a responsibility to these cats to find them. They could be fine. Or they could be injured, and need help. So you cannot not look.

But it's really dark out, living out in the country like you do, and so you have to take a few steps closer, and still your eyes are struggling to adjust, and then you see...


And you hear yourself let out a wail as you stumble a few feet away, and then you sink onto the snowy ground and you know you are yelling something, but you don't know what.

But your husband does hear you and comes running out the back door and yells "What?!?" and you look up at him, and point to the lifeless body of your female cat, your daughter's kitten, as you cry out "They killed her!"

And he says "You have to get up. You have to find the other cat". And you know he's right, so that's it, you're composed, you're on a mission.

You meet your husband on the deck. He hugs you. He asks if you want him to bury her. You tell him yes, but make sure it's somewhere the dogs can't dig her up. He tells you to check the spare room for the male cat, because that's the room the cat-aggressive dog walked out of when he came in.

Then you walk past him to go inside, and you see it for the first time. How you didn't see it before, you don't know, but there it is.

Blood.

On the floor of your fireplace room, just a few feet from the back door.

It happened in the house.

You pause for only a second before moving thru the house, calling out to your male cat.

You push open the door to the spare room, and there he is, sitting, frozen, staring at you wide-eyed, filthy, having just crawled out of a vent in the floor.

As you go to move toward him, he moves toward the vent. He's still scared terrified.

You leave him alone, shutting the door so you'll know where he is and he can feel some security.

You go back to the deck to find your husband, walking past the blood once again.

You can barely see him, he's so far away, almost in the woods. With a shovel in his hand.

You stare at him, frozen at the scene. He yells to you "Did you find him?!?"

At first it's all you can do is to nod, then you yell back "He's okay, I think he's okay"

And then, now that your mission is complete, and your adrenalin is beginning to subside, the emotions come flooding back, and you collapse in the snow on the back deck, sobbing so hard you can't breathe, your chest hurts.

You're not there long, as your  husband comes as soon as he finishes his task, and pulls you up from the snow, he gives you a light hug, then turns to direct you in the house, telling you to find your cat, go hold your cat.

You go, pointing to the blood as you walk past it once again and mumble something about how you really need him to take care of that please.

And the rest of the night is spent in shock and mourning, over-reaching grief, confusion, disgust, sadness, and... heartache.

The kind of heartache where your chest actually hurts.

Not only because your beloved pet has died...

    ... but also because you now have to explain to your two-year-old that her cat is gone, forever.

    ... and because you know that this night sealed the fate on at least one of your dogs


*********************************

My God, I wish I didn't know that scene either. Lord, do I wish that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TBP #2 - Our Wedding

I loved our wedding. FireMan loved our wedding. By all accounts, everyone loved our wedding.

We got married on a rescue boat on the Ohio River. We stood on the bow of the boat, our guests were on shore. I was in a wedding dress, FireMan in his dress uniform. We had no attendants. Just... us.

The preacher who married us is the pastor of a Bikers' Church nearby, someone FireMan has known since he was little. I'd never met him, until the day we went to Bikers' Church to ask him if he would perform the ceremony. I remember that moment so clearly. He got up to give announcements, I wasn't even 100% sure that was him, but the minute I heard this man's voice, I just knew. I knew he had to be the one to marry us. That voice had to recite our vows to us. I remember tearing up in my seat, thinking "what if he says 'no'". But of course, he said 'yes'.
We kept it simple. Just us, in front of our loved ones, saying our vows. No music, no candles, no walk down the aisle. Although we've been told that our entrance was quite grand. The photos & video seem to agree.

The reception was in a lodge at a park along the River that our guests could walk to from the ceremony site. We had hotdogs & hamburgers catered. There was cake. There was dancing, a little bit of dancing. No bouquet toss, no garter toss.

We kept the things that meant a lot to one or both of us: the dress, a man of God performing the ceremony, our family & friends being there. And gave up most of the rest.

And it was... perfect. It was ours. Uniquely, perfectly ours.

Enjoy.

I love this pic. See my dad holding up the back of my dress so it doesn't drag? So sweet.
My parents. See? Joy.


our "entrance"


Told ya it was grand


the vows


the preacher
the deck gun holding my bouquet for me





cracking up after "the kiss" because when we started kissing the captain hit the lights & sirens

On our honeymoon our divemaster asked me if I could negotiate getting from stern to bow by myself. I looked at him and said "Hunny, I've done this in a wedding dress & heels". Indeed, I had.

the cake


First dance



heading out. Who needs a limo?

What a night. Perfect.


*note* we had so many people taking picture for us that day, that when posting these, I'm not 100% sure who took which photos (I'm a bad bride & mixed all my photo files), but... I can say that our only professional photog for the day (and I mean the whole day - followed me around from morning till night) was fellow blogger and looooooooong time friend Candace from over at The New Adventures of The Princess and the Peanut. Thanks Candace! Since all other pictures are from family & friends who are not paid for their services & are not published, I will be protecting their privacy by not revealing their identies on this blog. If you would like more information, please contact me privately via email (kyfirewife@gmail.com), and I will return the information to you with their permission. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm a Christian. But I'm not God.

This isn't the usual, "not perfect, just forgiven" post. Although that is certainly true. Certainly. My flaws have definitely been staring me in the face lately. But this is not that post.

The message at church on Sunday was about forgiveness. Not just forgiveness, but forgiveness to righteousness.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."  -- John 3:15-17

The idea being that when we accept Christ as our Saviour, we are forgiven of our sins, all of our sins, made as a new creature. Hence the term "born again".

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  -- II Corinthians 5:17

And that it isn't a one time deal, happening only at salvation, only for our past sins, but that it is a continuous exercise in grace, a continuous forgiveness of our sins. And should we be struggling with sin, we have only to come to the Father with a contrite heart, and He will forgive. And forget. Automatically. Gone. Our sins are gone. Instantly. We are covered with Christ. We are new. Again. A new start. Forgiven. And forgotten. A gift of new life.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  -- Ephesians 2:8-9

Beautiful, isn't it?

And yet, I sat in church, and felt my body tensing up. I could feel the anger and resentment rising within me. And then the sadness.

Because somewhere in there, my mind wandered, not (shamefully) to my own sin as I should have, but to FireMan's. Not to his sins against God, mind you, but his "sins" against me.

I have never forgiven him for what he did last year.

Not for the one big thing. Not for the many little things before & since.

And I certainly have not forgotten.

And I sat in that sanctuary and told myself I needed to forgive him, that as a Christian I am called to be like Christ, and it's right there: God has already forgiven FireMan.

But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

And so I anguished in my seat, bouncing between sadness and anger, all mixed with resentment. Resentment towards FireMan for ever putting me in this position.

And yes, resentment towards God.

It doesn't seem fair. My heart is ripped out of my chest, I am open, gaping hole, bleeding. Wounded beyond belief. Pain beyond what I thought I could bear.

And since? Stabs and slices here & there. Gashes and punches to add cuts & bruises to an already ailing body.

Why should I bear so much pain for something I have not done, yet he gets immediate forgiveness with no sign of having to pay for his actions at all?

Well, because God is love. And God is perfect. And God is better than I am.

I wrestled with myself, and wrestled with God for much of the service. And then our pastor said something that clicked. Something about "God... in His perfection..."

And it clicked.

God can forgive instantly, because He's God. Because He is Perfect Love, and Perfect Grace, and Perfect Mercy. And the added bonus? Because He is omnicient.

I cannot forgive instantly, because I am human. I have love for FireMan, but it is not perfect. I have grace for FireMan's actions, but it is not perfect grace. I have shown FireMan mercy, but my mercy is not perfect.

And I certainly am not omnicient. Not even close.

Wait? Where does omnicience come in to this?

Because, for me, at least in this instance, I think knowing that FireMan is actually contrite is going to be the key to me forgiving him.

And, not being God and all, I can't know that instantly. FireMan can tell me that he is truly sorry, but I cannot know that until he proves it thru repeated actions, until he literally and actually changes his ways.

And that takes time.

One "I'm sorry" for a year of heartache does not cut it.

One great date (he's planning an awesome Valentine's night), while much appreciated and really is a huge step in the right direction, does not heal a year of deep wounds.

It takes time. There is debridement of dead tissue that needs to take place. Scar tissue that needs to be excised. Infection that needs to be treated and removed. Before we can even begin to think about repairing the actual wounds.

At least, for once, we both seem to be looking at the same chart.

This journey, this fight, to restore our marriage - I've learned a lot about myself. And I'm still learning. I know this forgiveness issue is an issue. My issue, not his. I know I have a lot of room for growth myself. A lot of room.

After all, I'm not perfect. Not even close.

But I am trying. And I believe that God knows my heart, and knows how hard I'm trying, knows my struggles, knows my heart.

And, being God, knows that I am not perfect, and understands that I will never be perfect, but I will strive to be better than I am. And, being God, extends His mercy to me, and is graciously patient with me as I work it all out.

And maybe one of the lessons I need to learn, is to maybe show those around me a little more grace and mercy. Including myself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FireGirl is afraid of...

fire.

Of all things. Terrified is more like it.

As in, for her 2nd birthday we couldn't have birthday candles on her cake.
As in, at her cousin's birthday party, when they brought the cake in, she had to be removed from the room house.

Terrified.

Did I mention the primary source of heat in our home is a wood-burning fireplace?

That took a lot of talking, coaxing, explanation. Fire is okay in it's special place. Only grown-ups can do it. As long as it stays in it's place it's safe. And so on and so forth.

We've been in our house for five months now. She still rarely goes in the fireplace room. And if she happens to be in site of the fireplace when we're opening it to start or stoke the fire? She will run away until she's out of sight.

I just recently told her that FireMan's job involves more than driving the fire truck. That when there's a fire, he goes and puts them out. She sat and thought for a really long time about that, and showed no other reaction, good or bad.

Terrified.

Last night, about 45 minutes after she went to bed, she starts calling my name. I realize she sounds like she might be crying, and she's saying something about "Turtle" (her lovey). Normally, I wouldn't go in, but I decide maybe she's dropped Turtle off the side of the bed and can't find him. She is crying, and she's visibly upset. It took a few minutes to get her to calm down enough to talk.
I kneel next to her bed and ask her to go back to sleep.
"No want sleep!" she cries
I give her Turtle (which she only gets at sleep time).
"No want Turtle!" she sobs

Now I know something's wrong. For some reason she really doesn't want to go back to sleep. So I start talking to her. I ask her if she had a bad dream. Then quickly realize she doesn't really understand the concept of dreams.
I ask her if she saw something scary.
"I... {pant} see... {pant}FIRE !"
Then she falls back into the bed, shaken.

I sink down to the floor, tears in my eyes now, now also shaken. Heartbroken, that she is so scared. And fire. Well, obviously this is her phobia. Interestingly enough, it was my phobia as a child as well. And for added bonus, being in a fire family, fire brings added fears.

Knowing that I'm the mom, I recover quickly and assure her that there's no fire, I promise. I really, really promise and I would never, ever tell stories or lie about whether or not there's a fire. I tell her that in fact, I think the fire that Daddy started in the fireplace has gone out (this may or may not be true) and I promise her that we won't restart it tonight at all (this is true - ain't happening - not now). She is listening intently, wide-eyed, taking in every reassuring word her mommy is telling her. I ask her if she wants to sit up so she can see for herself that there is no fire.

"Uh huh"

I help her sit up. She looks around the room. She looks out her window.
"NO FIRE!" she declares triumphantly, and giggles as she drops back into her bed.
She rolls on her side. I kiss her cheek and leave the room.

There are no more interruptions thru the night.

FireGirl is terrified of fire.
FireGirl's daddy is a firefighter.
One day, she's gonna figure out what that really means.

Friday, February 4, 2011

TBP (themed blog post) #1 - something I'm OCD about

The towels on the towel rack / bar.

Bathroom or kitchen.

Have to be perfect.

Or I'll fix them.

Even if I'm in your house.

Especially in the bathroom. Closed doors means I can hide my compulsion to "fix" your towels.

If you have different colors hanging, I may also rearrange them so they are more aesthetically pleasing.

Don't like towel hooks. Too messy looking. Don't like towel rings. Too difficult to get perfect.

Want to play along?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Okay, Why Have I Kept So Much Private?

Because it's not all mine to share.

That's the simple answer.

Yes, it's good & okay & therapeutic to be able to write down your experiences, especially bad ones.

Yes, it's good & okay & can be wonderful to find support thru your turmoil from your readers.

I know this.

But over the past few weeks months year, even though the (negative) experiences are mine, they also belong to other people.

Most notably, but not solely, my husband.

And FireMan has not given his permission for me to share what has happened. Not details anyway.

He knows I've shared in vagueness what has happened, he knows I have shared my feelings at times. He is okay with that.

He has not given me permission for me to share things he has done, to share specifics of our marital issues.

And he is my husband. So I will respect that.

Even though sometimes I really want to write it all down, put it all out there for the universe to read.

But it's probably good, because I have a feeling that if I did write posts about specifics, I would probably end up regretting it & deleting most of them anyway.

Maybe.

So, that's why, even though I have shared so much with you, there is so much none of you know. So, so much.

That's why, sometimes, when I post and it seems like I'm having a breakdown (and most likely am), you might think it's come out of nowhere, or that it doesn't seem like very much happened.

Trust me, I'm not the type to have meltdowns over nothing. Very likely something very big happened. Or a million little things happened that just became too much to bear.

So that's why. This blog is about me. But in being about me, it also becomes about the people in my life. And sometimes I have to check myself, censor myself, out of respect for them and their privacy.

That's all. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Themed Blog Postings

I like these. Sometimes. Gives bloggers a springboard for writing. Gives readers an insight into the bloggers they read. Decided I would do a few.

Usually they're encased in something like a "blog challenge". But, yeah, I'm really not into challenges or anything.

So I decided I'd just find a few of these to write on, and... there it'd be.

The first list of themed postings I'll be choosing from comes from:


Actually found on Mrs. E's blog, Baby Bits.

Enjoy. And feel free to play along. Just please credit the blog shown above (let's all give credit where credit is due, right?).

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FireGirl has a blog (sort of)

FireGirl has begun telling the most wonderful stories.

And so I have decided to begin writing them down, in blog fashion.

http://thebigbrownhorse.blogspot.com/

Enjoy!
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