A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: dog

This job is crap.

First day of summer vacation and I’m already crying Uncle. And so are my kids.

There’s a very pretty woman in my neighborhood who takes her 6 or 7 children on a structured walk every morning around 9:30 AM, rain or shine. The kids appear to range in age from about 10 to newborn. The older ones are usually on bikes or scooters, the younger ones are often in an industrial grade stroller. And the baby is usually strapped to the mom’s front in a very elaborately wrapped organic cotton sling. She homeschools all 6 or 7 of those kids and I’m pretty sure she gave birth to each of them with her back pressed up against a tree in her yard.

Our paths cross all the time when I’m walking Ike. They look like a preschool on a field trip. She always seems so completely unruffled by all those kids…even the older ones who are up way too far ahead and doing figure eights on their bikes while cars are zooming by, or the littler ones who have dawdled and are way behind. She just smiles and keeps on trucking. I’ve never heard her raise her voice or snap at any of those kids. She just seems so at peace and happy. And her kids seem equally happy just doing their thing, day in, day out.

One time a few years ago, I was in my front yard doing some gardening when she walked by. My kids were in the yard with me and they struck up a conversation with some of her kids. One thing led to another and then next thing I knew, we had a total of 8 or 9 kids in our backyard for an impromptu playdate. It was sheer chaos.

There we were, two very different moms trying to make small talk while our vajillion kids did the human equivalent of two dogs sniffing each others’ butts. And you know me, I’m sure I made some wise crack like “Damn, how much wine do you drink to tolerate all those kids all the time?” or “Shoot, if you ever want another kid, I’ll just give you one o’ mine!” I don’t think I need to tell you that she didn’t find me very amusing. And frankly, the feeling was mutual.

One of the toddler-ish looking ones came up to that mom with a dangerously full diaper full of fresh news. He wanted to jump on my trampoline and Mega Mom said, “Sure honey… go for it.” But I was like (in my head), Aw hell no! That load is already creeping up that kid’s back. Don’t you see or smell it? WTF! I don’t even want this kid in my yard, let alone bouncing that ticking time bomb on my trampoline!

Instead, I kindly suggested: “Why don’t you change his diaper and then he can get on the trampoline.” She looked at me like I was wearing an Abortion ROCKS! t-shirt. Fine, she would change the diaper (reluctantly), but she wanted to use my powder room because they were potty training and little Mr. Stinky Pants needed to actually see his poop go into the potty or it would totally mess up his training process. Whatever.

I was on the spot so I let her go inside while I stayed out and supervised the rest of the mob (just shoot me.) Longest five minutes of my life. What was she doing in there? Why was it taking so long? Ugh, was my bathroom semi-clean? Was there toilet paper? Who was crying and why?

When she finally came out, she was carrying the dirty diaper in a grocery bag she must have rooted through my kitchen to find. And she was very complimentary about my decor. It was weird. Really weird.

It’s even weirder now because every time I pass her on the street and say hello, she always acts like it is the first time she’s ever seen me in her life. I reeeeeeally fucking hate that. Clearly she doesn’t watch Oprah or she’d know that the one thing we ALL have in common is the desire to be loved and validated. Acting like you’ve never seen me before or flushed your kid’s shit into my septic tank makes me feel bad, lady. Damn, I already feel like an invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations most days. Throw me a bone and just pretend you remember me, k?

I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. I think maybe she just has a severe case of Mommy Brain, with all those kids and all. Or maybe she’s vision impaired and can’t see me. Maybe it’s not about me being so forgettable and more about her not having a great memory, or social skills, or enough energy to do anything more than walk around the block and pretend to be so calm and composed. Maybe she’s doing everything she can to hold it together and make the rest of us think she’s so together so she doesn’t break into a million little pieces or drive her Econovan into the Chattahoochee. God only knows. But I desperately want to believe that she knows something I don’t know.

So there we were this morning, the first day of summer: Cartoon Network blaring, dog pacing, kids fighting, and I found myself thinking about Mega Mom and her peaceful daily walks. Maybe that daily walk is THE KEY to parenting like it is with Dog Whispering. Shit, if Ms. Mommy Brain can do it every day with her umpteen spawn and that sweet smile on her face, I should surely be able to do it with my three kidlets and a mildly psychotic dog.

Famous last words.

“Saddle up, Ankle Biters. We are walking the dog as a pack today.” (Groans all around.)

TV off.

Teeth brushed.

Sneakers, check. Poop bags, check. House keys, check. And we’re off!

Not ten minutes in and 4 year old Bucket Head is whining. “My feet hurt. I hungry. I want to go home.” Now I don’t know about you, but there is nothing that makes me want to stick my head in the oven quicker than the sound of a kid whining. It’s torture. I’d rather have papercuts on my eyeballs than listen to that. Honest to Pete.

Then 8 year old Mini-Me starts teasing the Whiner by telling him she is faster than he is. He’s going through a phase where he absolutely HAS TO BE first at everything. She knows this and loves to get his goat by saying “Yay! I’m FIRST! I win! I’m the WINNER!” Naturally, Bucket Head begins to cry. He can’t go on. He just can’t.

All the while, Ike is trying to pull my arm out of the socket and I’m doing my damnedest to channel my inner Cesar Millan and be the pack leader I’m called to be. I’m yanking his choke chain, giving the signature little side foot pop, and making the “Ch!” sound all at the same time, hoping he’ll get the message to focus and stop pulling. Frankly, I think he just wanted to get the hell away from the Teaser and the Whiner. Can’t blame him, really.

Yeah, he’s pretty excitable. And that’s just what he looks like when he sees a squirrel. (Or a delivery truck.)

At one point a rogue Chihuahua charged us to challenge my leadership and I thought for sure someone was going down. And we were only halfway around the neighborhood. Not good. Not good at all.

Finally, Ike pooped. I scooped it up, double bagged it, and handed the bundle to my 11 year old, Nature Boy to carry so I could focus on leading my pack home. Without missing a beat, he turned to me and said “This job is crap.”

I couldn’t agree more.

And only 77 more days of summer vacation to go. Yes. I’m counting.

dreadfully yours, and now without my daily dose of Oprah,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Crime and punishment, doggie style.

It’s never good when a police cruiser appears in your driveway. Just sayin’.

So yesterday afternoon, the second day of Spring break, when I was hanging by my last nerve, trying to gather three uncooperative kids to run to the grocery store, the last thing I needed was to deal with the Po-Po.

Frankly, I knew we were living on borrowed time.

But let me back up a bit.

A few weeks ago I became acquainted with a charming new Internet friend, Erin. I commented on her blog, she commented on my blog, yada yada yada, and the next thing I knew, I was devouring information about the all-natural Shaklee cleaning products she sells. The stuff sounded incredible and I just had to have some. An order was placed. A box was shipped.

Enter the courier.

But wait, there’s something else you need to know.

I have a very entertaining and artistic dog named Ike.

Ike is a 6 year old Black Lab.

Black Labs are very loyal dogs.

Very loyal dogs like to protect their people from threatening things like noisy delivery trucks and strangers dressed in brown uniforms carrying large boxes.

For legal reasons, I cannot divulge any details, but long story short, the courier beat Ike in my front yard with a long black stick and Ike allegedly bit the courier.

I do not know what happened first, the biting or the beating.

I only witnessed the beating, not the biting. And it was a horrendous sight and sound to behold, let me tell you.

But it doesn’t matter in the eyes of Animal Control. It doesn’t matter that the courier was inside my invisible fence line. It doesn’t matter that she was beating my dog with a large stick and that he was yelping in agony with every whack.

All that matters to Johnny Law is that Ike (allegedly) bit someone. Period.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let the record show that Ike has never bitten anyone before this alleged incident.

The following photo is graphic in nature and intended for mature audiences only. Please look away if you do not have a strong constitution.

This is what it typically looks like when Ike attacks:

Help! Help! A dingo is eating my baby!!!!

Luckily I was there to save that poor child from being licked within an inch of his life.

Here is another example of Ike’s aggressive behavior (with a slightly less appealing angle):

Help! Somebody save me!!!

The courier sought medical treatment due to the alleged dog bite and did not go to work the next day. I know this because I made numerous phone calls to inquire about her well being. My family and I certainly hope that she feels better and are praying for her speedy recovery.

But apparently, anytime someone seeks medical attention for an alleged dog bite, the authorities are summoned.

Hence the unannounced visit from the Sheriff’s department yesterday afternoon.

There was a lengthy interview. I had to write a statement. The deputy took photographs of my yard, the “Invisible Fence” sign by my mailbox, and of Ike.

I was apprised of my rights and of the county laws regarding dog bites. Shockingly, even though Ike’s rabies vaccination is valid until 2013, the law states that he must be quarantined for 10 days, at my expense.

I had until 5:00 PM to surrender him to the authorities.

The kids and I loaded Ike, his dog food, and a favorite blanket into the van and drove him over to our vet’s office where he will be closely supervised in solitary confinement until the end of his quarantine period.

Turning him over to the vet just about broke my heart in two. I haven’t cried that hard in a long time.

I felt like I was walking him down The Green Mile.

Not to condone a dog bite, but there’s something just not right about a good dog doing ten days in the hole for the crime of protecting his family.

And as my kids’ friend Justine informed me a few minutes ago, 10 days to us is really like 70 days to a dog. Damn. That’s a stiff sentence for man or beast.

Please keep Ike in your thoughts and prayers during his time in the pokey. For as much as I complain about that boy, I sure am missing him.

with a heavy heart,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

… and then my show-and-tell fantasy was shattered.

When I saw the sign on Ms. Evelyn’s preschool door that it was Pet Week, I should have just walked away.

But that was when the Mommy Guilt reared its ugly head and I found myself signing up to bring Ike into school for show-and-tell on Friday.

Ike, formerly known as The Devil: our 75 pound black-lab mix, adopted from the Humane Society six years ago. The dog who once tried to exhume a freshly buried dead basset hound next door. The dog who once ate an entire popcorn garland in the making… string, needle, and all. The dog who once ate a full box of crayons and shit a rainbow. The dog who attacked the new mailman who was just trying to deliver a children’s book entitled The Kissing Hand.

Long story short, Ike is not the most well-behaved dog in the world. Certainly not the kind of dog that most intelligent parents would willingly bring into a room full of three year olds.

But poor Bucket Head, I thought to myself. He’s the third kid… I never have time or energy (or desire) to do anything special with him. I’m going to bring his dog into school and watch him bask in the glow of being in the spotlight for once. It’s going to be great! Boo-ya!

It wasn’t great.

Don’t worry — no children or teachers or school supplies were hurt in the process. He didn’t gobble up a child’s lunchbox or poop in the classroom. He didn’t even hump the pillows in the reading center. It wasn’t that bad. But it definitely wasn’t what I expected.

First of all, I wasn’t expecting that one of the kids would be absolutely terrified of dogs. When we burst into that preschool classroom, cute little Carmella jumped onto one of the tables and started screaming at the top of her lungs “I’m scared! I’m scared! Help me Ms. Evelyn! Don’t let him get me!”

Ike doesn’t really like screaming. He doesn’t even like singing. This is a dog who assumes the pounce position and immediately starts to bark whenever it gets too noisy at home. So Carmella’s little freak show was definitely not going to get our visit started on the right paw.

Let me illustrate the scene with a little math equation for my engineering friends:

1 spastic dog + 1 screaming preschooler = chaos ²

Never fear. I brought a secret weapon! In my hand I had a little quart-sized plastic baggie filled with dog biscuits. My plan was to have Ike sit and let the children approach him one by one to give him a treat. In my mind, I had this fantasy of Ike calmly doing all his tricks… sit, stay, down, shake, speak… one after the other. The children and teachers would ooh and ahh over how smart he is. And Bucket Head would get to show all his friends that he is the coolest kid ever for having such a smart dog and fun mom!

What really happened is that Ike pulled me so hard into the classroom that I dropped the baggie onto one of the tables and was using both hands, arms, and legs to corral him away from screaming Carmella and over toward the circle-time rug. While I was doing this, Bucket Head sauntered over to the baggie, opened it, and emptied all the dog biscuits onto the table. All twelve of those three year olds (every one except Carmella) ran to that table like a SpongeBob piñata had just exploded. Before I could even open my mouth to intervene, the kids had circled me and Ike and had started throwing the biscuits at us. You probably know this already, but three year olds don’t have the best aim. Ike caught a few of the biscuits though, and the ones he couldn’t catch, he just lunged for like a starved tiger, practically ripping my arm off with each fevered pounce. I kept trying to get the kids to back away with the treats but the scenario had downgraded from a melee to a feeding frenzy, and it was really hard to hear over Carmella’s cries from on top of the table. Once the biscuits ran out, Ike started to bark for more. Ike has a really loud bark. And Carmella didn’t like the sound of Ike’s big boy bark.

Just like what happens with every piñata, there was that one kid who didn’t get any treats to give to the dog. And naturally, that one kid was pretty upset about it. He did what any three year old would do in that situation; he started bawling like Carmella.

The two teachers in the room were pretty busy at this point soothing the two crying kids, and Ike was starting to foam at the mouth from the all the excitement. It was clearly time to go.

It really hadn’t been the show-and-tell fantasy I had hoped it would be. But luckily, Bucket Head looked none the worse for wear. As we were leaving, I overheard his best friend say to another boy: “I’ve been to Bucket Head’s house lots of times and Ike really likes me.” The other boy said “Lucky!” So maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Next time though, I’m definitely bringing the cat.

With big slobbery dog kisses,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

This Is Not a Photography Blog

My friend Laura calls me a “Jill of all Trades.”

I think she means it as a compliment, but I’m not totally sure.

I do indeed have a menagerie of random skills that speak more to my A.D.D. than to any special prowess. Laura finds it mildly entertaining… my ability to use a toilet auger, sprout alfalfa seeds under my kitchen sink, repair a small engine, save a choking child, and knit a prayer shawl all on the same day. Sure, it looks good on paper, but you know what they say… “Jill of all trades, master of none.” That is me. Hi. I’m Jill.

I’ve always admired the people who can focus on one goal and hone one craft or skill. Like Laura and photography. This girl is seriously talented. And she’s living the dream… building her own photography biz on her own terms. You should book her now before she gets super famous and can’t fit you into her busy schedule.

As for me, photography isn’t really my thang. I have a Nikon D40 that my sweet husband bought for me a few years ago so I’d stop whining about missing every shot due to the long delay on the tiny little pocket Olympus I was borrowing from my 7 year old son. This past Christmas he bought me my first big-girl lens: an AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED. I have no idea what that means, but it takes real pretty pictures. Like this:

That’s my little girl, playing in the big snow last week in the cute-as-can-be kitty hat her Grandma bought her. I don’t know if this is what the pros call depth of field, but I love the soft gray background and all the different sized snow flakes.

I’m still trying to figure out how to work the dang zoom…

Ooops. Too close. How ’bout that booger just clinging to the nose hair in his left nostril?! Sorry hon.

Now this one turned out just right:

That’s Ike. He’s waiting for a meter reader to chew on. Look at his cute little gray beard. He takes after his mama.

I have so much to learn… like how to capture motion. Sometimes I can get a good shot:

But usually not:

That’s my youngest having oodles of fun with an empty 7-Up bottle. Please don’t tell all my relatives who sent him a metric ton of real toys for Christmas.

And don’t get me started on how much I need to learn about lighting and shadows.

Ouch… that just hurts. Look at his cute little face behind those dark window pane shadows. He was so proud of himself for trying a green smoothie that looked SO GROSS but tasted soooo good. Damn. That could have been such a cute photo if I spent less time making green smoothies and more time reading Photography for Dummies.

So, just wanted to put it out there that if you are looking for one of those Mommy Blogs with gorgeous, artful photography like The Pioneer Woman (my fave!), you are totally barking up the wrong tree. The most artful photo I ever took was when Ike ate that box of crayons… For the record, Laura took the lovely “before” photo of the crayons and I took the “after” photo of the rainbow colored doggie doo. Classy. I know.

Mostly I’m just a blissfully ignorant novice, which is par for the Jill of All Trades course. But once in a while, through the grace of God, I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right lens, and the camera on the right setting. And when that happens, I can see the light! Literally.

“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.”
– John 1:32

Can I get an Amen?!

Thanks for reading,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Crafty Dog

This is my dog.

As you may recall, he looks nothing like Gwyneth Paltrow’s lady parts.

This is my jar of Crayola Crayons.

Isn’t it pretty?

And this is what happened when the two got together for a little intestinal par-tay.

Not my favorite way to start the day.

At least this time we didn’t have to go to the vet.  My vet is on speed dial because of this dog and his dietary habits.

Listen, this dog is trouble. He eats ANYTHING. Socks. Little People. Cat litter. He has a special affinity for dirty tissues….he’ll watch you blow your nose or wipe a kid’s nose and he’ll follow that dirty tissue with his chocolate brown eyes.  Then he’ll wait until you are distracted and he’ll snatch that booger-bundle right out of your hand.  He can wiggle his snout into the tightest or deepest of pockets for a tissue.  Then he’ll gobble it up and poop out a folded swan napkin the next day.  Not really sure how he does that, but it is a sight to behold.

That reminds me of the time the kids and I were stringing popcorn garlands to hang on the Christmas tree. Oooh-weee, that makes me sound like such a good Mommy, doesn’t it?  Well don’t kid yourselves, I was probably drunk while we were doing it.  Anyhooo, we were using upholstery thread and real sewing needles and listening to The Chipmunks Christmas album (which is probably why I was drinking), and the next thing I knew, Klepto starts crying, “Mommy!  My popcorn is gone!”  That dog was stalking her…like a lion on the savannah, waiting patiently for her guard to be lowered, and then, the pounce and the dash.  That so’mbitch swallowed her whole garland: popcorn, thread, and needle, faster than you could say “Turn that God-awful music down and pour Mommy some more eggnog!”

When I called the vet I learned that the needle wasn’t really the most dangerous part of this equation…it was the thread.  Apparently, if your pet doesn’t pass the thread all at once, it can cause the intestines to bunch up and lose blood flow.  If that happens, the animal will die.  So there are two choices, poop out the thread, or perform surgery.  Time is of the essence in a case like this.  It has to be passed within 24 hours, or the risk goes way up.  And intestinal surgery is risky at best due to the high likelihood of infection (poop = bacteria).  The vet advised that I “watch the dog closely for the next 24 hours and if part of the string comes out, no matter what, DO NOT PULL IT.”  Um, yeah.  Santa is practically on his way and Dr. Doolittle wants me to drop everything and focus on my dog’s pooper?  I believe my reply was something like this:

“Hmmm, interesting idea.  Or, how ’bout this.  Why don’t I bring him to YOU and you all can watch him for the next 24 hours while I wrap presents and bake cookies.  It is five days before Christmas!  I have more important things to do than wait for this asshole, pardon the pun, to poop out my Martha Stewart Homemade Christmas Garland.  I’ll see you in five minutes.”

Lord, I know that sounds very insensitive, but seriously, I didn’t ask that dog to eat the string and I shouldn’t have to be held hostage by his butt-hole five days before Christmas while we wait to see if he is gonna live or die.  That is not the Norman Rockwell painting I envisioned when we rescued this beast from the Humane Society.

Long story short, we got our Christmas Miracle that year.  The dog passed the garland: thread, needle, and all. He didn’t die.  And that was a “Good Thing.”

In summary:

Microwave Popcorn:  $2.49

Upholstery Thread: $0.99

Sewing Needles: $0.49

Vet Exam and Radiographs: $128

Not having to watch my dog pass that nasty garland or tell the kids that he died 5 days before Christmas: Priceless.

© Copyright 2008, The Bearded Iris.

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