Mama to the rescue!!

Holy crap crackers! So much has happened since my last post, I don’t even know where to start.  And I thought this week was busy!

First of all, I forgot to tell y’all I was invited to be a contributor at MomsLA. How could I forget that? Well…it happened kinda fast, and amidst this. Nonetheless, it is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious HONOR, in my opinion, and deserves special mention. The group of mommy bloggers they have assembled is spectacular, and I feel blessed to be included! If you would like to read my first post over there, which happens to be about my family’s participation in the making of the book trailer for the zombie thriller, “100 Days of Death”, click here 🙂

So.

As I mentioned, the first weekend in July, my family made a zombie movie. Not just me, mind you, but all of us. The Man and Middle Girl remained human, while I, The Oldest and Youngest got….zombified. I ran…A LOT…and eventually got shot in the head. Theatrically speaking, of course. The Man did what he does best (SOUND) while The Middle One acted like a frightened 8-year old when I attacked the car she was sitting in while The Oldest and Youngest made a feast out of the “prop” entrails of a friend. I know, Mother of the Year Nominations are being accepted, and I’m a shue-in based on allowing this alone…lol. Sounds like fun though, huh? Honestly, we had a blast, and aside from the possible therapy my girls may need later on, I can absolutely guarantee they will never be scared of any horror movies, monsters, or Halloween costumes for the remainder of their lives. They now know it’s a movie magic! 

Moving on….

While I wasn’t being all ‘undead’ and running from gun-weilding, leading men I was actually helping my sister, Shane, get her blog up and going. She is an even more talented writer than I, and she has stories to tell about our family that happened long before I was so much as a blip on the Romine Radar. There are some about me, and you can read those here and here. So, when you get a minute (or right now) hop over and see what she has to say. You won’t be sorry, I promise. Oh, and leave comments for her just like you do for me…she LOVES some feedback!

Oh and I got a job. A real one.

You are probably thinking….WTF? When does she have the freaking time?  Yeah, me too. But I am making time, and all I can say is that it was divine intervention. Won’t say anything more yet for fear of jinxing it. But I am very excited to have the opportunity and see where it goes 🙂 Of course, I am hoping for mad success, so say a little prayer for me.

And finally….just to make sure you realize there is NEVER A DULL MOMENT UP IN HERE…this past Saturday afternoon, while driving The Girls home from a trip to the local public library (because they were bored)…I rescued a red-eared slider turtle from the middle of the road. Yep. There he was, trying to cross the street a few blocks from my house and I stopped and picked him up. Since he is an almost entirely aquatic creature, I saved him from certain death in the heat we had that day, or more specifically, from being squashed like a bug by another car. Our first instinct was to put him in the pool when we got home and let him swim, because that’s what turtles like to do. And let me tell you…he was elated! However, I did a bit of research and discovered chlorinated water wasn’t good for him (shocker), so he spent the night in our bathtub. Then, yesterday after going both door to door asking if anyone had lost him and putting up “Found Turtle” signs–with zero response– I became worried that he wasn’t eating and decided we needed to consult with the experts (i.e. The Fish Cove, our local pet store specializing in aquatic creatures). They agreed to foster him for a few days while waiting to see if anyone claims him, as we are simply not equipped to properly care for him. I mean, we have a bearded dragon and a dog, but neither of them require almost constant submersion in water. So we are T-minus 2 days and counting until we must figure out the next move. In the meantime, we named him Bing.

That was my last 9 days. Oh, and during the composition of this post, I had to stop writing briefly because my washing machine flooded the laundry room and kitchen. Thank God I don’t sleep much now. Otherwise, it would have really made a mess! 

 So…whatcha got for me? Let’s hear it 🙂

N

Seriously Sucky Start to Summer Sabbatical

Honestly, this post was supposed to be about something else entirely.

That being, The Oldest Girl must attend summer school. Because she sucks ass at math, just like her mama. It’s not because she doesn’t try, it’s because she is entirely left-brained and creative, which severely impairs her ability to wrap her multi-faceted, artistically inspired mind around logical problems with finite answers. Go figure. She excels in EVERY OTHER SUBJECT, and barely passes math. Oh well. What’s a girl to do? I’ll tell you what. Drag her butt out of bed in time to BE AT SCHOOL, IN CLASS by…SEVEN-FREAKING-THIRTY, EVERYDAY for the first five weeks of summer vacation. Guess who has to drive her? Um…yeah. Me. With her complaining all the way there, and all the way back when I retrieve her two and a half hours later. You’d think she had done a stint in San Quentin.

Oh, the joys of motherhood. 

Anyway, that rant is what inspired the title of this little post.

Then lots of other shit happened, before I even wrote the first line. So I had to ‘save to draft’ with just a title, until now. Somehow, the title still seems appropriate, given the dichotomy of this past weekend. So.

We had both the incredibly joyous occasion of a birth happen in our family on Friday. (No..I didn’t give birth. My BFF did.)  Followed by the unexpected, tragic death of a beloved canine member of our immediate family on Saturday morning. 

I ask…WTF do you do with THAT?  Put on a brave face, and smile though your heart is shattered? Adding insult to injury, the circle of folks involved are all quite tight, so I had to break the news of Buster’s passing to my friend while she was still in the hospital, one day postpartum celebrating the best thing that has ever happened to her. Then, rush away to wrap my arms around my MIL and FIL, who are understandably inconsolable. To them, Buster was their child. And the grieving is just as intense.

One gorgeous, cuddly, innocent, perfect human child born, while another, equally gorgeous, cuddly, innocent, perfect canine companion is taken away. There simply is no justice in that. I’ve cried myself to sleep the past two nights, and so have The Man and The Girls. My eyes are puffy and red, and my head really hurts. Which come to think of it, may actually work in my favor this weekend while shooting a zombie movie. (more on that later)

But, here is the thing. Buster was majestic, respectful, obedient and never wanted anything more than to give everyone he met…human or animal…LOVE. And the only thing he sought in return was LOVE. He touched the lives of so many people in such a way that his memory will live in them for eternity. I believe he was given to all of us as a gift, a teacher, and when God believed his mission complete, he called him back home…without warning…

…and sent this precious angel baby in his place to remind us all to return to our true innocence and live our lives giving unconditional love always.  Who’s with me?

Anyway, I just needed to get that out. Hope you don’t mind.

I’m again, teary eyed and sleepy.

Night y’all,

N

Our first family loss :-(

Leroi, the day he joined our family, at 16 weeks old.

Leroi, the day he joined our family, at 16 weeks old.

A year has come and gone. Flown by, in fact.

Today marks the second of two very sad anniversaries. The first was April 27, a devastating day in 2011 that changed the lives of many friends and family members as well as so many others back home in Alabama. You can read about that here.  Now I am looking square upon the anniversary of a less destructive, yet equally painful day. The day we bid farewell to our beloved, furry family member, Leroi.

Leroi became part of our family in May 2005, after I found a photo of him online and decided I had to have him! Off I went to a place called Puppy Playground, located in the eastern part of Los Angeles. Shortly, I returned home with him, and I must say, at a tender 16 weeks old, he was one of the cutest puppies I had ever seen, in both looks and personality! So adorable in fact, his picture was chosen to be among a group of photos featured in the credits for the Disney film “Shaggy Dog”. The Man happened to be working on that project when we got him, and showed off his picture. That’s how he got the gig…lol 🙂 If you haven’t seen it, you should. And look for Leroi at the end. It’s the same picture shown above. He would surely wag his tail at that!!

So. The story of his name. Kind of a no-brainer, for those who know me best and are aware of the things I am passionate about. He was named for the late LeRoi Moore, the former saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band. You see, the meaning of the name Leroy is “king”, and his breed is just that: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Also rather ironic, is that our Leroi’s last home on earth was on Moore Street, where our family moved a year ago.

Although we had 2 other precious doggies when we got Leroi, he was quite special. Rarely did he bark, and he never met a stranger. Whenever someone came to the house, he would wag his entire body with excitement! Our cue to let him out to potty was the sound of his wagging tail banging against the water cooler beside the door, so loudly you couldn’t ignore it. Oh how I miss that sound! A very smart doggie indeed, but somehow I could never teach him to fetch like our little miniature Dachshund, Edie. But I digress. Leroi was very sick for the last years of his life. Almost 4 years ago, he was diagnosed with diabetes, as the result of obesity. Hard to keep scraps away from the furry friends when toddlers are in charge of food and delight in sharing when you aren’t looking. Unfortunately, Leroi was more than willing to share in their joy of giving, and the overindulgence in snacks caused a severe case of pancreatitis, and thus, diabetes. When he fell ill, we rushed to our vet, giving her instructions to do whatever was necessary to save him, regardless of the cost. He was one of our children…just a canine one. At only 3 years old, he deserved a chance. We prayed to God, a miracle was granted, and he pulled through. After two shots a day for another 3 years, the disease got the best of him, taking its toll on his system, causing him to be 100% blind and to have a heart attack. Strange how very similar animals and humans react to the same diseases over a span of time.

He got very sick in the midst of my massive relief effort for the Alabama tornado victims. Again, we rushed him to the vet, where he spent 2 full days trying to recover. They stabilized him enough so he could come home, but the outlook was grim and we were told it would only be a matter of time before his body gave out. The Man and I agreed we would not be selfish when we knew it what had to be done. He would not suffer. The time came on Mother’s Day of last year. Of all days! Rather ironic, considering he had been my Mother’s Day present (to myself) 6 years earlier. It was an extremely challenging decision and an emotional time. The Girls were very sad and crying, but were able to say goodbye which was important, it being the first time they had been through the loss of a pet. I was beyond consolation. My friends, Kim and Ray drove me and Leroi to the vet, where I held him as the staff helped him pass into Heaven. He went peacefully with no resistance. He wagged his tail just a bit and drew in his last breath as I cradled his head, whispering “We love you” repeatedly. It was time, and he let me know it was okay to let him go. The only thing I can compare it to is being in the room with Mama when she passed. As she took her last breath, with her eyes closed, she exhaled with a big smile on her face. She was with Daddy, and wanted us to know. Peaceful, loving closure to a very full life. All dogs go to Heaven, so I have no doubt that Leroi…and now Lester…are with my parents.

We decided to have a private cremation and to keep his ashes until we know where we would like him to rest eternally. I made a call to Very Important Pet Mortuary in Venice, California. Carol is the sweet lady I spoke to about the arrangements. During the course of the call, she inquired about my Southern accent and asked where I was from. When I said Alabama, she asked if my family was okay. I told her yes, and spoke of my relief efforts through the newly formed cause, California for Alabama, and how the timing of it all was just so tragic and difficult. With that, she said she would like to help the cause by donating her services. In turn, I would donate the fee to the relief efforts. Of course, I agreed, and am happy to say that in loving memory of Leroi, who only knew love and companionship, the relief resources were increased a little. In life, when it rains it pours, both good and bad, but most often from storm clouds, right?

I’m sure his tail is banging against the water cooler in Heaven, knowing that he helped too 🙂

xo,

N

Leroi. January 16, 2005 ~ May 8, 2011

Leroi. January 16, 2005 ~ May 8, 2011

The dreams dashed. The dog died. The heart broke.

So tiny he almost got lost among the pillows!

So tiny he almost got lost among the pillows!

Monday was bad in epic proportion. The dashing of dreams, refers to that. But I will get to that later in a different post. Because, as bad as it was…it was a trip to Disneyland in comparison to yesterday. Today? Well…see for yourself.

The house is quiet, and I’m a mess. Still in my pajamas, even after taking The Girls to school. Sobbing. Probably only a matter of time before it turns into weeping, because I am exhausted, and will not have the energy left required to sob.

I miss Lester. A lot.

I got Lester in November 1998, when I traveled back home to attend my Granny’s funeral. He was the last of a litter of puppies my brother John’s dog, Aubie, had birthed. My brother had already named him Lester, after our Papa, and it really seemed to fit. The picture above was taken about a month after I got him. My reason for wanting him was simple: I had a tiny Miniature Dachshund named Edie who had been an only dog for a year, and she needed a friend. So I paid fifty bucks I didn’t have to put him on the plane with me. She was overjoyed to have a playmate and they have been buddies ever since. At one point, they tried to be more than friends, but we “nipped that in the bud”…literally. Lol. Shortly after Lester came to live with me and Edie, we all went to live with The Man at the beach. It was the beginning of our family. Two lovebirds and their K-9 babies 🙂

Over the years, we added to our family. Three precious daughters and a revolving door of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, lizards, bunnies….you name it! We are animal lovers, what else can I say? Each time a new critter came to hang out at our house, Edie and Lester just shrugged it off. They reigned supreme, and they knew it. We had them first. The Girls have been raised to love living creatures, so it’s no surprise that I have a treasure trove of priceless memories involving them and our pets. If y’all have pets, I’m sure you understand. The obvious drawback, is they don’t live forever. A reality our little family is faced with yet  again, in less than a year.

Almost a year ago, and just 3 weeks after we lost Leroi, our King Charles Cavalier to diabetes, Lester had a seizure while hanging out on the front lawn. The Man immediately rushed him to the vet. The diagnosis we received sucked. He had a Stage 3 heart murmur and was in congestive heart failure. Due to his robust size…almost 14 pounds…his heart was working in over-drive to circulate his blood. As a result, fluid was collecting around his heart and in his belly, putting pressure on everything. What I thought was a seizure, what in actuality, a heart attack. Essentially, his heart was being squeezed and his breathing compromised. All because he liked to catch scraps more than he liked to exercise, bless his bones! The vet said he would be lucky to make it another year. Medication was prescribed, and he was sent home. We vowed to let him enjoy the time he had left. No holds barred 🙂

All of us, but especially The Girls, took a renewed interest in him. Loved on him more, took him on extra walks, tried to no avail to teach him to play around, rather than just lay around. At first, his medication seemed to keep fluid retention and mini-heart attacks at bay, and put the spring back in his step. Of course all the attention certainly did! The Oldest even began having him sleep with her at night. Lester LOVED that, and sort of became her personal protector. He would seek her out at bedtime, and make her follow him to her room. HE was tired, and it didn’t matter if she was or not. LOL. But we all knew the inevitable was going to happen. We just didn’t know when. An agonizing purgatory to be caught in.

About 3 months ago, his ‘episodes’ increased. They became more frequent. Instead of having them once in a while, when he got excited, they often happened a couple of times a day, unprovoked, and he would lose control of his bladder/bowels.  Then he would stand back up, and appear normal. However, we noticed a change in his personality. The spark was fading from his eye, he no longer stood at our feet begging for food. You want to know the most notable change though?

He stopped his sympathetic crying. 

Throughout the course of The Girls lives, anytime Lester heard the sound of them crying, he howled like a banshee. Having 3 daughters in the house, you can imagine the amount of crying we witnessed…daily. Lester’s “sympathy” was a running joke among friends and family members. Inevitably, I would be on the phone talking to someone, a sibling rivalry would break out, causing an injury, and one or more of The Girls would cry. Lester would instantaneously begin making a sound that can only be described as shrill and eardrum splitting. “EYE, EYE, EYE, EYE..,” he would howl! In the midst of it all, the doorbell might ring, just because God thought it would add to the chaos and be damn funny. I swore I was going to get it all on video someday, but I couldn’t ever manage to diffuse all the problems and get everyone calmed down while handling a recording device. Go figure.

Anyway, about 2 weeks ago the CHF really started digging in and it was clear his time was approaching. His fluid medication was no longer controlling the retention very well. Despite continuing to eat, he was losing weight everywhere except his belly, and his mobility became compromised as a result. He didn’t want to walk anymore. Nothing to do but wait until he indicated he was ready to let go, or that he was in pain. So far, he hadn’t given us any indication of that.  Until Sunday morning, when he refused food for the first time in his life. Then Monday night, he started whining. I stayed up with him all night, cradling him in my arms and making him as comfortable as possible. When he lost control of his bladder, I bathed him in warm water, and gently dried him with the blow dryer. I hugged him as tight as I possibly could, without adding to his discomfort, while rocking and whispering to him how much we loved him and how we were going to miss him. I also told him about whom he could expect to see and play with in Heaven: Mama and Daddy; Leroi; Aubie (his mama); Hannah (my sister’s dog); Zoe & Ginger (my in-laws doggies); Mazzy & Keely (Vicky’s kitties); Sasha (Grace’s dog); Lucca (Shea’s dog) and Ben (our neighbor’s dog). I wanted to make sure he knew he would be in good company 🙂

Yesterday morning, The Man said his farewell to Lester before leaving for work. The Girls gave their before heading out to school. They were very brave, and no tears were shed. After the trauma of our loss a year ago, they were, obviously more prepared than I for the void about to be created in our lives. Once everyone had been delivered to their obligatory places, it was up to me. So, with a heart as heavy as stone, yet as fragile as glass, I pulled up my bootstraps, gathered him in his favorite blanket, and drove the half mile to the vet, with him in my lap. For his last visit. It was time to say goodbye to our precious doggie after 13.5 years. He was suffering, and we all knew it. It was the right thing to do, because he needed to rest peacefully.

The weather was shitty. Cold, gray and rainy. It’s the same today. Having called ahead, they were expecting me, and the entire staff was very sad. They knew Lester. They loved him too. It was awful, but their compassion made it bearable. He slipped peacefully into eternal rest, with his human mama holding his paw and kissing his nose. Once it was over, I sat in the room with him, alone, for what seemed like an eternity, yet not nearly enough time….crying.

And I haven’t stopped since.

We sure are going to miss this guy.

We sure are going to miss this guy.

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