Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life's quick update

The kids are doing spectacular. They excell at both regular school and Hebrew school. Both are growing into distinctly different personalities. The first instinct for each of them is to want the opposite that the other does, i.e. if Haley wants restaurant A, Robbie wants B, if Robbie wants the truck windows down, Haley wants them up.
Haley is the compromiser. She gives in to Robbie a lot to get things going because he can be stubborn and gets his whe. However, she has learned and does push his buttons to get him riled up. She is also quick to snap at him when he doesn't do as she desired. But when an adult is listening, she is agreeable.
Robbie is all boy. He plays rough, is physical, but in the end needs to sleep in the same room as his sister.
Haley likes to have play dates awhe from the house. Robbie is content playing with his action figures in the house. Both are big time outside players and when they do they prefer to visit a friends house together.

Both are still very active. This year they have done: Brownies, Cub Scouts, basketball, dance, skiing, karate, gymnastics, and flag football. The sports are done with the end of school but both have done one triathlon and are doing another soon. They love the camps they have been going to especially Skull Island.

We love watching them grow.

Favorite Aussie Vids (as promised)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keeping Up

The kids are great. We signed up as a family to do a fun run at Michigan Stadium two weeks ago. We each had our own race numbers (the kids loved that part). The race was one mile starting outside the stadium, around the parking lot, through the players tunnel, and around the field, finishing on the 50 yard line with a video shot of us finishing on the big screen! It was awesome (BTW, awesome is Robbie's favorite word right now).

We arrived in Ann Arbor. Just as we hopped out of the car they wanted their race numbers pinned to their shirts. I had the 2-kid jogging pram (oops, that's Aussie talk for stroller). I didn't think the kids would make it. There were no kids 4 or 6. The kids were older or younger. The younger were much younger and in strollers. The older were running on their own. We started in back. They were impatient while the leader was on the mega-phone going, "Blah-blah-blah...great thing for charity....blah-blah-blah." They just wanted to go. When the gun went off, they both started jogging in place with no where to go because the pack wasn't moving yet. Jogging in place...it was so damn cute. (It's OK for a guy to say cute if he say damn first!) The pack started moving and they knew the rule - don't run ahead of other people and leave mommy behind. They did an excellent job of following the rule. They did weave in and out of people to pass them but only as long as mommy could too. I was left in the back with the stroller because it was too packed to pass until after the first turn at 1/4 mile.

After that turn though, boy, watch out. I was doing all I could to keep up. They were passing many people. I was fortunate enough to be behind them because I heard so many complements that my chest almost exploded with me puffing it out so much. Most of the time I'm told that it's my head that is going to explode from me becoming big-headed from a compliment but my kids expand my chest.

The kids made it up to the water table, stopped for a quick gulp, and quickly raced away again. Robbie didn't finish his water. He was too intent on racing like Lightening McQueen. About 3/4 mile mommy made them walk a bit. But they started running again as they made their way up to the stadium and the fans were cheering for the runners. They raced down the tunnel, exploded out onto the field, and ran around then up to the 50-yard line. They got to watch themselves on the TV. They thought it was "Awesome".

They took in the sights too. There was a balloon man that made them each a sword with holster. They wanted to go running through the endless rows of seats. They played/danced in the end zone on the M in front of the band. And they complained about walking up about 92 rows to get out while mommy and daddy carried the stroller up the same stairs.

They both took their race bibs in to school on the following Monday. The kids both still tell their stories about the race. Yesterday morning Robbie took his race number back into school because one teacher wasn't there when he brought it in last week. He told his best friend's dad, "I ran the whole race, by myself, without stopping....except when mommy made me walk. But I wasn't tired. Only she was."

Monday, September 15, 2008


If you don't want to read a sad blog stop now and skip to the next one. The subject of 2 was chosen because our second dog passed away this weekend. Rocco was 14. Rocco has been with the kids their entire lives. In fact, Rocco has been 'our' dog for 12 years. 'Our' meaning he was the first thing that I and Stacey got together.

Rocco started out as a trick; a good trick but none the less a trick. Stacey and I were dating. I lived in my first house in Commerce with two roommates and Lucky (my brown dog). Stacey was trying to talk me into getting a playmate for Lucky. I was sticking hard that she didn't need a playmate. Stacey said it would be easy to get one because Pet Supplies Plus had an adopt-a-dog day one Saturday per month. I told her we won't go on that Saturday. Months roll by and my guard was down. One Saturday afternoon she suggested that we go up to the pet store and get Lucky a special treat. My guard was down and we went. (For the past 12 years Stacey had fully taken the blame of such trickery, only to be revealed on Sunday that my mom called Stacey and told her to get me up there because there was an absolutely beautiful dog that she connected with and that I should get).

We walked in and there was Rocco. In a kennel by the door. A gorgeous, white furrball looking at me with the sweetest eyes. I knew I had been had but I couldn't resist Rocco. We found out that he was a pure-bred American Eskimo, he was two years old, he was trained as a show dog, and his previous owner had gone away to college and couldn't keep him.

I normally slept on my bed with Lucky. When I brought Rocco home I wanted to acclimate him to the house and Lucky. The dogs were indifferent to each other. I didn't want to upset Lucky so I didn't let Rocco sleep on the bed the first night. Instead, I slept on the floor next to Rocco so he wouldn't be lonely in his new home.

Rocco used his teeth a lot when he first came home. Right after he got home we noticed he wasn't neutered. He was suppose to be. The American Eskimo rescue league told me to take him to their vet to have him neutered. I obeyed and took him to a vet I knew nothing about. I got Rocco back later that day with a lamp shade on his head (protective collar attached at the neck designed to keep him from licking the stitches off). He was trying to jump up into the Camaro but kept catching his collar and falling to the ground. It was funny and sad. All he wanted to do was go home. A week or so passed and a friend came over to meet Rocco. I was in the back room when I heard him barking. I paid no attention because Rocco barked at a lot of things (totally unlike Lucky so I wondered why I got this new one). Then came the snarling rage, attack bites, and the human screaming. I rushed up to find my friend bleeding from her hand. She came in as a stranger, Rocco barked and went under the table to hide. She reached down to pet him, he thought she was trying to grab him. He bit her finger. She bled. It was not deep. It was 'but a flesh wound.' I cleaned her up and put a band-aid on it. Two days later she was convinced that she had to go to the hospital or it would turn gangrene and need to be cut off. With going to the hospital and claiming a dog bite, she had to fill out paperwork accusing my dog. A week after the bite, an agent from Oakland County Animal Control came to take Rocco away for observation. They needed to see if he had rabies within 10 days of the bite. The agent was convinced that Rocco was in the right, he didn't appear to be a mean dog (he was snuggling up to her) and she allowed me to quarantine him at home until the 10-day observation period was over. A dog was allowed three strikes (bites) and it would be put to sleep on the third. Rocco had one. Fast forward a few months and I opened a letter from a law firm stating, "as you know, your dog, Rocco, bit so-and-so which has caused her much pain and suffering and extensive medical bills". I remember this letter as if it were yesterday. I remember the words. I remember the law firm. I remember it all. Turns out Rocco bit the vet tech while she was trying to cut his nuts off. Strange, but I don't blame him. Strike two. We had a friend that would always come over in a hat. Rocco didn't like men in hats. Rocco eventually caught him on the hand. Essentially strike 2 1/2 but Luke didn't turn him in. While we were in Utah this past Holiday break we got a call from our dog sitter. She was hysterical. She didn't know what to do. Rocco bit her and she was bleeding all over the house. We told her to go to the hospital and get it fixed. We were very worried. This was strike 3. Our poor Rocco. That damn dog - why did he have to bite. We had many mixed emotions between being mad at him, mad at us, and sad for him. Turns out the emergency room cleaned it and put a small band-aid on it. And apparently didn't file any report to Oakland County. We just spent the next few months worrying about when they were going to take our dog away and that day never came. You beat them Rocco.

Turns out Stacey was right. Lucky did need a companion. Whenever I came home from work both dogs went nuts to see me. They ran around the house. They demanded my attention. They enjoyed sharing walks. Only trouble is, as my roommate Jim observed, "Those two don't give a hoot about the other one when you're not here. Lucky sleeps in one room and Rocco in another until you're here." Hmm, maybe Stacey wasn't as 'right' as she claimed.

Rocco was a very loving dog though. I was the center of his world (after I saved him from the rescue league and he forgave me for getting him fixed). He loved to lick. He could lick one spot on your body until it went numb. He could lick feet, shins, hands anything on anybody. Except the face. He would only lick my face. My brother Sean tried to get him to lick his face for years but Rocco wouldn't. He finally progressed to licking both Stacey and Sean in the face once or twice but he clearly reserved that for me. He would also follow me around everywhere. That must be where the phrase "follow like a little puppy dog" comes from. When I was out front, he would watch threw the front screen. When I say watch through the front screen I mean it. He would want to get so close that he would press his eyeball into the screen.

Rocco spent a year living with my brother Sean when Robbie was a baby. He also spent 6 months at a friends house while we were in Australia. The couple grew very fond of Rocco and hated to give him back when we returned. He grew attached too and eventually licked their faces (he must have thought he was kidnapped and he was never going to see us again).

Rocco fit in well with our family. He knew his place with Lucky. She was the queen and he was just there. He slept on the bed with Lucky and I after he got her permission. When Timber was later introduced, he used his 30 lbs size to put the 110 lbs Timber in his place. Til the end, Timber always would try to rough house with Rocco; ending in Rocco snapping and telling Timber to stop. Rocco was good with the kids too. If I were in the room and Haley or Robbie came crawling up, he would look up with those sad puppy dog eyes saying, "Please keep them away from me." He would most often move away but sometimes get caught and ask for help. He was very good on walks and always would follow our directions. If we asked him to sit and let the neighborhood kids pet him, he would as long as he could see me. Kids loved the little fluffy, white dog. They didn't care as much for the bigger brown one or the huge black one. Little did they know that it was the white one that was the most dangerous.

We never saw this coming. We always wondered when and how soon it would come but we didn't expect it now. Lucky had gone through months of deteriorating. She was in pain. She struggled moving around. She had accidents on the floors. Rocco got just sick. On Friday we noticed he didn't eat Thursday night or Friday morning. Friday at dinner I gave him food and watched him eat while I protected his bowl from the other two vultures, Timber and Max. He reluctantly ate but the whole while he looked up at me like, "I don't want this. I'm only doing this for you." He was lethargic on Friday. On Saturday he just laid there. We called the vet and the earliest they could fit him in was in a few hours. Robbie was having his 4th birthday party with 10 four-year-olds jumping around him and running by and Rocco didn't move away. He was too weak. He was excessively panting. We tried to encourage him to get up but he wouldn't. I ended up taking him early to the vet. He would not walk for me. I carried him to the truck. He laid in the back while I drove there. I tried to coax him out but he again wouldn't move. I had to climb in and carry him again. Still I didn't think he was dying. I carried him in and laid him on the scale. He had lost 3 pounds since April but that wasn't unexpected. He hadn't been eating the last few days. He then did walk with me to the examination room. He tried to sit but his butt kept sliding out. I ended up making him lay down. The doctor looked at him, took a chest x-ray (everything looked fine), and took some blood for blood work. She didn't know what was wrong with him. He laid there and let them all poke and push on him without showing a tooth. He was very calm and weak. Without finding anything we went home to await the blood work results. He walked out of the vet and jumped out of the truck when we were at home. He acted like himself for an hour or so. Then he went back to being lethargic. He would only eat one handful of food from my hand (except for the food droppings that he vacuumed up after the kids ate). I moved him to a quieter spot away from the kids. There he stayed as long as I was there petting him. A neighbor girl was afraid of him. I coaxed her into petting him. She was very happy when she finally did pet him. He was, "so soft and nice." Her dad later told me that she is very afraid of dogs and has only pet three others in her life. Rocco helped her make strides to learn dogs are good to have around. That night Rocco went upstairs and into our room as normal at bedtime. Sunday morning he was already downstairs and laying in the living room. He again wouldn't eat. He wouldn't get up. He wouldn't pick his head up when I tried to give him medicine. This lasted a few hours. When we were eating lunch I watched him move from one spot to another and then to his final spot. Shortly after lunch his panting got worse. I didn't know what to do. I called the vet again but they were closed. While I was calling he had a BM. I thought, "Poor dog. He doesn't even have enough energy to get up to go to the bathroom." I still didn't know he was dying. Very shortly later his legs went outward, he was then just involuntarily twitching. His breathing had stopped. His eyes were glassed over. He was gone.

We were all there with him - me, Stacey, mom, Ron, Sean, Erin, Haley, and Robbie. We explained to the kids that Rocco had just died. They asked us why we were crying. It's a hard thing to explain. Even as very young kids, Haley and Robbie have both gone through two other deaths. They know that everything must die. They know of the Circle of Life. They know they will never see Papa, Lucky, and now Rocco again. They know that they are all going to live on in only our memories. Yet they are not sad. We explain to them how the memories are good memories. Those memories should keep us happy. Death itself is sad but the memories are happy. How do we, as adults, change to be so sad at death when we can explain the opposite to a child?

They asked what happens next. We didn't know. Stacey told them he may be cremated and turned to ashes. Some people bury their pets. They came over and gave a final pet and kiss before I moved him into a sheet and into the garage. Haley unexpected asked, "Now that he won't be mad, can I see his teeth." We showed them. In the garage, Robbie wanted to see Rocco's face one more time. We unwrapped it and showed him. Then for the two of them life was good again and they went off to play.

Rocco is in the back yard. The kids want to plant a tree over him. They already have at least one name for the tree:
First Name: Rocco
Middle Name: Good Dog
Last Name: Nice Dog

Rocco, always remember that Robbie is fast on his ice skates....always remember.

Robbie started hockey at 3

Robbie had his first Learn to Skate practice last Tuesday. He did awesome. They give beginners a folding chair to push around the rink.

It was stressful for me on the whe there. We were trying to get to the rink around 5:10. We got stuck in horrendous traffic and we were going to be late but still before the 5:30 start time. On the whe my head is racing...
"I should have explained more about hockey and what he will be doing" - He knew, and was excited, that he was going to play hockey but he didn't really know what that meant. He saw his cousin play a year ago and Robbie doesn't remember that. He has seen me play floor hockey but that is much different. He tried on all of his equipment....a month ago.
"I should have had him walk in his skates." - Obviously.
"What am I going to do if it's hard for him to get up and he quits?"
"Why the f*^% isn't this traffic moving!"

We got there and the kids were on the ice. It was then that Stacey told me that hockey starts at 5:20 and it was 5:30. We rushed to get his gear on (he was excited at every piece, giggling and jumping and air punching and pumping). Stacey was trying to help but wasn't briefed on the order of the equipment (another thing I should have done). It was then he took his first steps on skates. He was a little wobbly but didn't fall. His skates were size 11. His shoe is 10. His skates should be 9. His grandma went and rented skates that were 8/9 with a buckle instead of laces. Robbie saw them and wanted them instead what he had on. I took them off and put on the rentals. The rentals didn't give enough support at the ankles but he insisted on wearing them.

He walked to the ice, stepped on, and hit the ice.....and sat on the ice......and wiggled his feet........but gave up because he couldn't move. I picked him up and a coach came over and he fell again.

It went better after he got the chair but he came over after 5 minutes, "I have to tell my daddy something." His feet hurt. uh-oh. We changed skates back to his 11s with laces and sent him back out. He got better and had more confidence with the new skates. When he was first out there he was draped over the back of the chair and hanging on with his armpits. The coach kept trying to get him to hold on with his hands but he refused. After the new skates he held on with his hands and really pushed the chair around. He could push the chair back and forth across the ice with a skating motion by the end. He wanted his stick like some of the other kids (who have all skated before yesterday and were buzzing around the ice). We took the chair awhe and he froze. The coach did get him to walk on the ice. We were proud.

A drill they did was to have one kid push another in a chair around the ice behind both goals then switch. Robbie got a ride from the coach. The coach flew around and gave Robbie a crazy, twisty, back and forth ride with a quick snow-spray stop. Robbie looked like he didn't breath through the whole ride. His eyes filled his helmet. But he got off and then pushed the chair around himself to catch up to the kids.

In the locker room we had a conversation while taking the equipment off.
"I was really, really fast daddy!"
"You were just like Lightening McQueen buddy!"
"Vroom! I want you to remember that I was really fast daddy."
"I will Robbie."
"...even when you're dead daddy."
"I will Robbie. Even when I'm dead."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hair Cuts

Daddy Daycare comes complete with hair cuts. The kids have differing opinions though. Haley wants daddy to cut her hair and Robbie has his usual wavering opinion. In December daddy cut both Robbie’s and Haley’s hair with mommies help in distracting Robbie. They both did great and got nice cuts. Cutting a girls hair is trickier than you’d think. How do you make her look cute but not sexy, sweet but not sassy, adorable but not hot? Mommy was happy with the cut but daddy wasn’t sure until the hot moms from playgroup approved. A job well done!

Time rolled on and hair grew longer. Robbie needed a cut badly in February. He was getting quite a mop on top. Daddy asked Robbie if he wanted it cut by daddy or someone else. He said, “Daddy only.” We were all set up and ready to go. We had the towel wrapped around him. He was cozy and ready. Daddy got one cut in then the screaming “NOOOOO” with the twisting head and the kicking feet started. I got that to stop but I couldn’t get Robbie to stop following the scissors with his face. His head spun around like an owl. He did have the best shaped bangs in town. We ended up taking him to a salon where he sat like a statue for his cutter. He was wonderful. Haley didn’t want her hair cut there she wanted daddy to do it.

Another month rolled on and Haley still didn‘t get her hair cut. She was looking a little ratty at the ends. She was also getting wavy hair instead of her normal straight. Since I’ve had a flat top for a decade I knew nothing about split ends. For a week Haley has told me she no longer wants me to cut her hair she wants a pro (mommy got her hair done last week and it cost me a fortune --- and don’t ask how it cost me a fortune if I’m not working. It still cost me a fortune!) We wanted to surprise mommy when she got back from Sydney with a new do so today was the day.

Today’s journey was to find a salon to cut her hair. We rode the tram and while we were walking up to the salon Haley said, “I want my hair cut where Robbie got his cut.” As any great dad would do, I told her I already knew that and we were on our way. We entered and there was only a man cutting today. There was also a 15 minute wait. Since I didn’t think Robbie could last 15 minutes plus Haley’s cut plus my cut I asked Haley if she really wanted to get her cut there. She said no. I had no hard feelings leaving since there were no hot chicks cutting hair there.

We went to the next place I knew of. We marched up. Haley looked in and told me that she didn’t want to get her hair cut there either. Again, no hotties so no disappointment from daddy. I asked her why she didn’t like the two places. She said, “I’ll pick the next place you want, daddy.” What a sweetie. She is converting over to the spoiled, snooty girl who only gets her hair done at top of the line places (and too young for that I might add) but yet still wants to please daddy (which will be over way too soon). I was out of known places except for my barber.

We went walking through the city. I found another place and just before walking in she says, “I only want you to cut it daddy.” What love and trust, huh? We turned around and started walking home. We passed another salon. We went up and I asked Haley if she wanted it cut there. No hot chicks so she said no. We went back home. PS - None of the salons give a break for cutting kids hair.

The whole tour took about an hour and then we were home with daddy cutting Haley’s hair. Daddy took about an inch off last time cuz he was afraid to make it too short. Mommy told him that they normally take an inch off. With the known split ends and such a long time between cuts daddy went to take two inches off. I must have wet and combed her hair for seven solid minutes before getting the courage to make the first cut. It was a nice, accurate two inch cut in the middle of her back under layer. Yes, I was going to try to layer. The next cut was horror. Turns out it was about four inches. That was a little too much. Then I had to make the rest even with it. When I was done, it was still long hair. My cutie had four inches off but that was OK she still had long hair….wet. As it dried the wavy curls came back and pulled it up. Mommy’s gonna beat me.

It’s cute but it’s short. It’s only to her shoulders (err, umm, chin when it dries) now. Quote after dinner tonight, “Robbie, mommy’s going to think I’m a boy cuz my hair is so short.“ If any of you ladies know how to weave please let me know before Stacey comes back.