Singing

I love singing.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m not great at it.  I’m just kind of okay.  I can mostly stay on key, I don’t normally sound like nails on a chalkboard, and if you hold a single note for 5 or 6 seconds straight, I can even find harmony. Sort of.

For the record, in my next life I’m going to have a voice like Julie London, or maybe Ella Fitzgerald, or Etta James – all smoky and sultry, and come-hithery.

In fact, since the majority of you will never actually hear me sing.. can you just imagine I sound like them? Please?  And in this imaginary daydream, can I be wearing some kind of evening gown, and I’m all draping myself over the back of my couch, crooning some jazzy thing, and I’m holding a drink in my hand, and it’s not sloshing over the side, because that’s just how cool I am?

Thanks.

Anyways, back to singing.  I love to sing, and one of the things I was most looking forward to was singing to my boys as they got older.

I could just see it – I’d sing them soft little lullabies, and eventually they’d get old enough to sing along with me, and we’d just totally bond….

I just remembered right now I’ve already written a blog post about what happens when I try to sing with my kids.

That video?  It’s still like that.  I’ll start bursting out into song – REAL song, not loud, goofy Rickrolling –  and my beloved offspring will do everything they can to make me stop.  “Mama?  No singing.  Please.  STOP.  STOP.  NO SINGING.  NO, I NOT WANT TO SING WITH YOU.  NO, I DON’T WANT YOU TO SING.  NO SINGING, PLEASE.”

I’d be insulted, but they think Carly Rae Jepsen is better than Etta James, so I don’t really trust their musical taste.

Anyways, this brings me back to this afternoon.  The boys went down for a nap, and The Bean was studying for the last section of his CPA exam (woot!  You’re gonna do great, babe!), so I snuck down to the barn for a little quiet time with Caspian.

The truth is, I don’t get much quiet time with Caspian.  I know this is going to come as a shock, but it’s actually not very relaxing, trying to clean and care for a horse while chasing after two hyperactive little boys.  It’s better than the alternative of not owning a horse, but still.  Trips to the barn aren’t quite as soothing to my soul as they used to be.

To throw another log on the fire, up until a couple of weeks ago, I was really having problems bonding with Caspian.  Oh, that doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy my time with him, and he’s an awesome horse – but he’s no goofy, puppy-dog gelding.

(Spoiler:  Last month we had an unbelievably awesome breakthrough that I’m planning on blogging about later.)

He’s an awesome horse, gorgeous to look at, wonderful to ride, sound, steady, sane… but for the most part, while he’ll stand for you to hold him, or love on him, or even hug his head, his heart really isn’t in it.

Except….

After our ride today I had him in the cross ties in the barn aisle way so I could untack him and brush him down.  He’s starting to shed, and it’s actually been kind of amusing watching him try to remain stoic and “manly” when I scratch his itchy spots (another spoiler:  He totally can’t.  I win every time.)

I’d finished everything and was getting ready to put his lead rope back on to lead him to the stall, when I felt him lean in towards me.

The thing is, with Caspian, his friendship offerings are very quiet.  If you aren’t desperate for them, like I have been, you’d probably miss it – but the barn was quiet, and I was moving slow and quiet, and I felt it.

He’s so good – so very good, with the boys, with their craziness, with my fumblings, with everything – that I’ve been trying to respect his desire to not be pawed on.  I mean, I want to hang all over my horse, and scratch under his chin, and play with his lips, and kiss him on the soft part of his nose….. but he would prefer that I don’t.  He’ll let me – but that’s just it.  He’ll let me, because he’s nice, not because he likes it.  And since he gives me everything I ask for, and more… it seems like the least I can do is not force my neediness on him.

The thing is, ever since I made that decision and quit trying to force him to be something he’s not, he’s been relaxing more and more.  And this afternoon, as he leaned towards me that infinitesimal amount, it felt like such a gift.

I stood there beside him, leaning my forehead on his strong neck, right behind his head.  With Jubilee, I used to lean in the hollow of his withers, but with Caspian, it’s the dip where his neck meets his head.  And I leaned there, ignoring the way his shedding hairs were starting to stick to my chapstick, and I felt him enjoy me being there.

We both just stood there, motionless for awhile, while I reached under his jaw with my free hand so I could cup the other side of his face and scratch his cheek.  And then, I’m not really sure why, I started to sing.

I was singing very, very softly, mostly because for all that I felt alone, I knew that someone could come into the barn aisle at any moment, and it felt like such a personal moment that I didn’t want to share it – I wanted to be able to hide it if they did see, and just pretend I was grooming him, or something.

But the thing is – when I started to sing… Caspian leaned into me heavier.  His head dropped, and his neck curled slightly around me… and as I stood there, with the rain pouring hard on the tin roof of the barn, and my finger curling through the bristly hair of his cheek, I felt my horse listening to my song.

His head dropped even further, and his breathing became very soft, and I watched, amazed, as his eyelid fluttered lower and lower, until finally, it closed.

And that, my dear blog friends, is why I’m selling my children so I can spend more time with my horse.  Because he lets me sing him to sleep.

And, also, because he’s better looking than they are. Hopefully by the time they get old enough to search the internet, this post where I admit that will be so far buried that they’ll never find it.

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It’s all my fault, really

You don’t mock Murphy’s Law.

If there’s anything I learned this week, it’s that you. Do. Not. Mock. Murphy’s Law.

Monday night I wrote this on my Facebook wall:

And you know what?  I did find some cheap lights at Walmart.  They looked great on the tree after The Bean put them up, but by the time I decided to go out and put the porch lights up, I was just too tired. It’d been a long day, I was feeling a little wrung out, and to top it all off I had some cramps.

I decided to put it off until the next morning.  Sure, the boys would watch me hanging them and might get ideas about crawling around on our porch in unsafe ways…. but I really did have some bad cramps.  They’d started earlier in the afternoon and had been getting steadily worse.  I almost never suffer from those, so why not lay about on the couch with a favorite old book and feel sorry for myself?  It seemed like a good plan.

Eventually the Bean dragged me to bed.  I got in bed beside him, curling up, and tried to drift off to sleep.

Long after his breathing had deepened and he’d joined the land of sleepers, I lay beside him, completely awake, curling up around my crampy stomach. I just couldn’t get comfortable, no matter which way I lay.  It was a shame, too, because I was really exhausted and felt like I could really use a good night’s sleep.

I tossed.  I turned.  I tried curling up.  I tried laying flat.  Nothing helped.  Was it cramps, or was it indigestion?  Maybe gas?

I just get sexier with every passing year, don’t I?

Anyways, at about 4 am, I gave up sleeping and decided to try sitting up on the couch.  I found an old, unopened bottle of Pepto Bismol and took some.  It helped a little bit – the cramping went away, but after about ten minutes I felt that familiar prickling on my skin.

After two pregnancies I knew exactly what that meant, so I calmly hunted around the couch cushions for a scrunchy, went to the kitchen to get some some tissues so they’d be ready to blow my nose, and walked serenely over to the toilet, arriving at just the perfect moment to puke without any pausing. 

If there’s one good thing about having suffered from such bad morning sickness with the DragonMonkey and the Squid, it’s that it’s made me the Michael Jordan of puking.  I’ve got the timing down flat – I dare anyone to do it with more finesse.

“You got a stomach bug?” I heard the Bean call from the bedroom.  His alarm had already gone off – he’d come home early the night before to celebrate decorating the Christmas tree with us, so he was leaving early to work to make up for lost time. 

I admired the festively pink color I’d just reproduced into the toilet (seriously – it’s even prettier than Skittles.  If you’ve got to puke, Pepto Bismol is the way to go), rinsed my mouth, and crawled back into bed beside him. 

“No – I don’t know what’s wrong.  My stomach really hurts.  Do you… do you have to go in early today?”

“I do.”

“Well, since my cell is broken, can you leave yours with me?”

“Sure.”

The Bean got showered and gave me a kiss on the head, and told me to take it easy, and off he went.

I dozed until the boys got up, but I was still feeling really crappy.  These were obviously the worse gas cramps in the history of all mankind.

I let the boys tear the house down around me until about 10 – then started to get them ready to go to a friend’s house. I was supposed to be there at 10:30, but when 10:45 hit and I wasn’t even in the car because I felt so icky, I decided enough was enough. 

I’d puked.  I was in pain.  The pain was mostly upper stomach, but if I pressed down on my appendix area, the rebound pain was terrible. 

On the one hand, we have crappy insurance.  Oh, it kicks in, but not for several thousands of dollars, and then only it only partially covers it.

On the other hand – dude.  Burst appendix.  Death.

Besides – I had been chatting with Mugwump all morning on Facebook, and she’d practically yelled at me for not going to the hospital yet. 

What would you do if it were your boys, or Caspian, or The Bean?
Simple – I’d take them to the doctor.
THEN WHY AREN’T YOU ALREADY THERE? 

I dropped my boys off at a local daycare and made my way over to Urgent Care.  As I shuffled down the extremely long hallway to the lab area, I realized that it might be more serious than just gas – maybe it actually was appendicitis? I mean, I’d never heard of gas pains keeping you hunched over and shuffling like Igor.

I asked the lab, but no, they didn’t have the necessary equipment to diagnose appendicitis, so I shuffled back to my car, grabbed a piece of gum to keep the nausea down, and headed off to downtown Portland.  I left a message on The Bean’s work phone that I was heading in, and started down the road. 

We live about forty minutes outside of the heart of the city, so by the time I got there, I wasn’t feeling very well at all. Like, at ALL.  I found the ER, but couldn’t find any parking there.  I circled around the block, cruising at about 10 miles per hour because I couldn’t trust my reaction times faster than that.

In retrospect – dude.  I make dumb decisions when I’m not feeling well.  If I couldn’t drive faster than 10 miles per hour, I probably shouldn’t have been driving at all…. but somehow, it made sense to me at the time.

I finally found parking about a block and a half away from the hospital… but when I pulled in, I took one look at that block and a half walk I would have to walk- even IF I found a parking spot near the entrance, and I just felt defeated. I couldn’t do it – even if it was only two blocks.  I just couldn’t walk that far.

I turned my car in the world’s slowest illegal u-turn and circled back around the hospital.  And then I saw it:

Valet Parking.

I could have cried – it was so perfect.  If ever there was a moment for Valet parking, this was it.

I pulled my little Scion up to the curb and slowly gathered my purse and wallet, and began edging my way out of the car.

“Hi there!  Are your keys in the car?  What’s your first name?”  The valet attendant was all smiles and sunshine – perfect for a valet attendant, but just grating to the nerves to someone who was feeling sick.

Death.  I am death warmed over.  Quit your stupid cheerfulness.  “Becky.  It’s Becky.  Is this the ER?”

“Nope!”  He grinned a huge, disturbingly cheerful smile at me.  “The ER is over that way – you just go around the edge of this block, down two sets of stairs, and over the….”

I tuned him out.  It was… it was just too much.  Too far.  He might as well have been describing how to get to the moon.  I’d held it together through the drive to the hospital, and I was so close, I was so close to the ER, but I was just never gonna make it…….

I burst into tears.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay?”

I burst into tears even harder.

I’m telling you – these were magnificent tears.  It was like that scene on Alice and Wonderland where she’s a giant, and she cries really hard, and fills up the entire room with the tears that are catapulting themselves out of the corner of her eyes?  It was just like that.

“Oh.  Oh my gosh.  Oh, oh, geez.  Do you need a wheelchair?  Oh, my gosh.  Are you okay?”  he sounded genuinely horrified.  I felt guilty for making a scene, so I tried to mop my face with the back of my arm.

“A wheel chair would be nice….”

By the time I’d gotten checked in The Bean had found my hospital and joined me – I think my pitiful sounding message I left while the guy wheeled me in might have worried him a bit.

It took almost two hours for them to get me to the CT – and in that time the pain went from bad to really bad.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was banging my head on the side of the hospital bed and biting my knuckle to keep from making noise.  It was about that time I quit worrying that I was “wasting” our Christmas money with an unnecessary trip to the ER.  

The doctor finally made it in to ask a few questions and do a physical assessment. 

“I need to make sure this isn’t an internal problem, so I’m going to give you a quick pelvic and make sure I can’t recreate this pain from the inside.”  She slapped on a pair of gloves, asked me to scoot to the edge of the bed… and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Bean move that fast.  One second he was sitting at the foot of my hospital bed, and the next moment he’d disappeared behind the head of my bed, resolutely staring the opposite direction. It was like magic – I didn’t even know he had moves like that.

The exam was mercifully brief, and at the end she did offer some pain medications.  The nurse came back in with morphine – and I know junkies all over the world are facepalming, but I took as little as I could.  I hate the way morphine makes me feel – it’s as if all the air in my lungs is too dense, and too heavy, and I’m going to forget how to breathe. 

Four milligrams later, the pain finally got to the point where I felt like I could think again.  No surprise, the CT came back positive for an inflamed appendix, so they ushered me up to surgery. 

The staff up there was genuinely sweet and reassuring – they kept repeating themselves, and talking in calm, soothing tones, as if I were a horse about to bolt.  I finally had to be blunt with them, “Look.  I’m not nervous at all.  You guys do what you need to do to make my stomach feel better – I honestly don’t care if nurse number one is going to exchange places with nurse number two during recovery.  Seriously.” 

I meant it, too.  If they had told me they wanted to get naked and dance the cha-cha around the room –  that a bunch of naked, dancing medical personnel would magically make my stomach quit hurting, even for a little bit…I was all down for it.  Jiggle those jiggly bits, people.  Or don’t jiggle.  Give me an appendectomy, or cut me into little tiny ribbons.  I don’t care.  Just give me a break from the pain.

Surgery took a bit longer than expected – closer to two hours, but when I woke up I felt like a million bucks.  Apparently my appendix had actually been leaking for some time, and (this is a direct quote from the surgical team when they made rounds the next morning) – “When we opened you up there was a lot of pus – your entire pelvic cavity was filled with pus and green infectious liquid, and the whole thing looked gangrenous.”

I sat there on the bed, trying to think what I was supposed to say in response, but what the heck are you supposed to say to that?  “Oh.  Well.  That sounds really sexy.”  

One of the medical students laughed, but stifled it almost immediately when the head surgeon didn’t even crack a smile.

“Well,” said Mr. No-Nonsense, “We flushed it out.  It smelled really bad, but we were able to get it all out.”

“Oh.  Uh… I’m sorry?”  But seriously – why did he wait for a response?  What the heck am I supposed to say?  Dear Abby never gave advice on the proper way to say “I‘m sorry you had to smell my gangrenous pelvic cavity pus“.  So sue me.

Anyways – miraculously, I never spiked a fever, and after an extra few doses of hospital antibiotics, they sent me home on Wednesday afternoon. 

All of this to say:

#1:  I’m really, really lucky.  Appendicitis doesn’t always present with a painful lower right quadrant of the stomach, fever, and lots of vomiting. Until the pain got so bad I couldn’t see straight, it felt very similar to gas pains.  I’m just amazed at my wonderful immune system.  It may attack my joints whenever I feel stressed, but I had an entire body filled with pus, and I didn’t get the least bit septic.  Go, body, go.

#2:  This is why you still haven’t gotten your darn clinic post.  Although, in better news, I am more than 50,000 words through the rough draft of my book and one appendix lighter.  So there’s that.

#3:  Except for a bowl of oatmeal, one piece of pizza (it’s the only thing that looked semi-appetizing), and one bowl of mashed potatoes, I didn’t eat between Monday night and this morning… and I gained 7 pounds.  Dude.  Who even does that?  I know it’s supposedly from the IV, and water retention from the meds, yadda yadda…

Dude.  I gained 7 pounds from a bowl of oatmeal and a slice of pizza and a small bowl of mashed potatoes.  That’s, like, against the laws of physics.

Anyways, how are all of you doing?

PS:  Here’s a picture of an angry appendix. This is kind of what I imagine mine looked like before they clipped it off, put it in a plastic bag, and sucked it out of my belly button (hey, man, if I have to have that mental image in my head, you do too.  Sorry.)

Bubbles the FreeRange Kitty

I keep wanting to blog about the clinic, and I want to get it all out while it’s still fresh in my head.

Needless to say, I had the world’s most incredible time… and in addition to having the time of my life, I learned so much my brain hurt.  In some areas of how I approach horses I experienced a completely revolutionary shift in thinking… which was both weird and awesome.

I have a ton of pictures to go through – I’m only about halfway through going through them, and I have over 50 “favorites”.

I even took a bunch of notes on the long drive home, so I know exactly what I want to write about.

And then I woke up on Tuesday, physically exhausted but happy and ready to write….

And a freak accident occurred, and we lost our kitten Bubbles.

Even though he was still young, he was just an AWESOME cat.  He was one of those one-in-a-million cats.

I mean, we drove him to the DragonMonkey’s  preschool for show and tell and handed him around to twenty different preschoolers, and he never even complained, or tried to wriggle away.

That’s a pretty awesome cat.

On the one hand I’m just incredibly sad, although I’m not as devastated as I could be… mainly because when I lost my best friend (also another incredible cat) when I was in my early 20s,  I spent about three months just going through the motions of life, feeling like I had a hole where my heart used to be…. and I realized how ridiculous that was.

Our pets do not live as long as we do.  We live 80 years.  They live about 15 years.

I knew I couldn’t survive having my heart destroyed every 10 or 15 years, and I made a conscious decision to not lose myself completely in any of my pets again, at least not the shorter lived ones.  Oh, I still love them passionately, but I just don’t let myself completely go with them.  In the back of my mind I realize I’m going to outlive them.

Hey, maybe that’s not the healthiest way to approach it, but it’s what I had to do to keep myself from flinging myself off a bridge if I ever lost another pet.

Which I guess is why it surprised me that it hurt so much when Bubbles passed.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – he was an incredible little cat, and I bottle fed him from the time he was about 5 days old.  Once they were old enough his sister found a home with my very good friend here in town, and we kept him. 

So, anyways, before I go on and post anything about the clinic, I just need to take a moment to say goodbye.  I kept trying to just keep it to myself, because I didn’t feel like writing about it, but the sadness was seeping into my clinic posts, so I realized I needed to do this.

Miss you, Bubbles.  You really were the best of kitties.  I’ll see you again someday.

Fetching with Artemis

I don’t usually do fancy stuff like “click here for a bunch of photos after the jump” or anything, but I figured it’s worth warning everyone.

This blogpost is less “lots of words about something funny”and more “here are lots of semi-blurry photos of my dog”.

Sorry.   It’s the best I can do with my life right now.  I did mention I have poison oak on my hoohah…. but did I mention that it migrated?

I thought poison oak of the vajayjay was bad.

It turns out that poison oak of the butt crack is even worse.

YEAAAAH.

Also, I know everyone is just sooooo turned on at the mental image of me with butt crack poison oak, but sorry, I’m already married.  What can I say?  You snooze, you lose.

Oh, did I forget to mention that patches of the poison oak became infected, and I developed cellulitis?

It’s okay. I know you’re disappointed, but not everyone can be me.

Anyways, here’s a bunch of photos of Artemis playing fetch to scrub that mental image from your brain.

Lots more photos after this pic:

I love playing fetch with Artemis.

I know all labs love to play fetch, but her intensity is amazing.

Although she’s still completely obnoxious for the first five minutes after she meets new people, for the most part she’s one of the most laid back dogs I’ve ever owned.

I find that pretty amazing, considering she’s still only 10 months old.

The thing is, she’s only laid back until you ask her to retrieve.

Then she’s all business.

(If you stare at this picture long enough, after awhile she doesn’t even look like a mammal.)

(This one’s not much better.)

As soon as she gets the ball in her mouth all of that I’m-a–wolf-about-to-pounce-for-the-kill body language shuts off and she reverts back into her normal, happy-go-lucky self.

She charges so hard after the ball (or bumper, or toy, or whatever I ask her to retrieve) that even though she loves it I try not to let her retrieve more than about two times a week.  She’s still a growing puppy, and while I haven’t read any literature supporting my instinct, I figure it’s like any growing thing – you really don’t want to stress their joints too hard.

Besides, if I throw it, she will absolutely give everything she has to get the item back to me, no matter how far or how buried in the brush or how deep in the water it is.  I feel like I need to take this borderline god-like responsibility seriously.

The best part about our fetch sessions it is how much the boys enjoy playing with her. I’m all for activities that tire all three of them out.


The only downside with this arrangement is that there are two kids, and only one dog. 

This means that while we play fetch there is always one kid who is gloating:

…and one kid who is, well… not:

That’s okay.  Life goes on, and we switch off throwing the ball every five minutes, so eventually they’re both equally happy (or miserable.)

Besides… Artemis has enough fun for all of us:

Run.

Derp.

Run.

Derp.

 I seriously love my dog. 

How to Feel Sorry For Yourself

“Artemis Bean, you get your butt back in this yard, right now!”

Artemis broke off playing with our neighbors’ dogs, wiggling her butt excitedly as she romped back to the fence dividing our properties. 

OMG HI!  HI!  I LOVE YOU!  HI!  I’M PLAYING!

“I’m not in the mood, Artemis.  We’ve fixed this fence THREE TIMES.  How are you even getting over there?”

OMG!  I LOVE YOU!  I’M GONNA GO PLAY NOW! I LOVE YOU!  BYE!

“NO.  Artemis, COME.  You’re a bad dog.”

OMG.  YOU HATE ME.  I’M SORRY.  YOU HATE ME. I’LL LEAVE.  I’LL LEAVE FOREVER. I’M SO SORRY….. LOOK!  A DOG!  TWO DOGS!  I LOVE THEM!  I LOVE YOU!  I’M GONNA GO PLAY NOW!  BYE!

“NO.  I said COME.  COME, Artemis.”

OK!!!  I’LL COME!  OMG!  THERE’S A FENCE HERE.  DID YOU KNOW THERE’S A FENCE HERE?  I LOVE YOU!!!  I’D COME OVER THERE, BUT THERE’S A FENCE.  I LOVE YOU!”

“You got in there somehow, so you can get out.  Artemis, COME.  Show me how you got in their danged yard again.  COME.”

OK!!!  I’M COMING!  WAIT.  THERE’S A FENCE.  DID YOU KNOW THERE’S A FENCE?  I CAN’T… OH, LOOK!  LOOK!  I FOUND A HOLE!  WELL, NOT A HOLE, BUT I BET I CAN MAKE ONE IF I SLAM INTO THE FENCE HARD ENOUGH AND FORCE IT TO GIVE….. YAAAY!  I’M HERE! I LOVE YOU!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!! YAAAY!!!!!!”

Sigh.  “Good come, Artemis.  At least I know how you’re getting through.”

OMG!  I’M A GOOD DOG, AREN’T I?  I LOVE YOU!!!  …… OMG.  LOOK!  THERE ARE DOGS OVER THERE!  I WANT TO PLAY!  BUT THERE’S A FENCE.  DID YOU KNOW THERE’S A FENCE HERE?  HI, FRIENDS!  LET’S PLAY!”

“Artemis, NO.  NO, NO, NO.  You may NOT go through that fence.  Bad dog.  BAD dog.”

OH NO!  YOU HATE ME.  I’M HATEFUL.  I DESERVE TO BE HATED.  I LOVE YOU.  I DON’T DESERVE TO LOVE YOU.  I’LL LEAVE NOW.  I’LL JUST GO… GO OVER HERE?  OMG, LOOK!  THERE ARE DOGS OVER THERE!”

“Oh, for crying out loud. Artemis, NO.  No fence.  No.  Just… go inside.”

YAY!  INSIDE!  I LOVE INSIDE!  IT’S MY FAVORITE!!! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE EVERYTHING!

I stomped my way back to the laundry room and proceeded to change the loads.  I popped the dry clothes into a hamper, popped the wet clothes into the dryer, and filled the washer with a load of colors. At the last second I decided to wash the jeans I was wearing, so I stripped out of them and put them into the wash, too.  Sure, all my other pants were dirty, but I didn’t have anywhere to go.

Besides… I was just going to sit on the couch and fold laundry while I watched Malcolm in the Middle.  You didn’t exactly need pants for that.   I hefted the laundry hamper onto my hip and walked into the living room to begin folding.

YOU HATE ME.  I’M SORRY.  I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT I’M SORRY.

“Artemis, you don’t have to give me that look.  I’m not mad about the fence thing.  Just don’t go out there anymore.  You might get out of their yard and get hit by a car.”

I LOVE YOU.  I DON’T DESERVE YOU.  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, EVEN THOUGH I DON’T DESERVE YOU.  I NEED TO BE WITH YOU.

“Ooof.  Artemis, no.  Down.  You’re too big to crawl in my lap.”

I NEED TO BE NEAR YOU.  PLEASE.  COMFORT ME.  COMFORT ME BY LETTING ME BE NEAR YOU.  PLEASE LET ME CRAWL ONTO YOUR LAP AND INTO YOUR SOUL.  I LOVE YOU.

“No, Artemis. Off.  Here – you can just lean against me while I fold laundry.”

I NEED TO BE NEAR YOU.  I’M GOING TO PLACE MY HEAD ON YOUR LAP AND LEAN INTO YOU, AND MAYBE IF I PRESS HARD ENOUGH I CAN MERGE SOULS WITH YOU.  PLEASE.  CLOSE ISN’T CLOSE ENOUGH.  I LOVE YOU.

“You can put your head in my lap.  Fine.  Just don’t lean on me so much.  You’re heavy.”

And so we stayed for nearly thirty minutes- the dog leaning her head in my lap with all her might, the laundry slowly getting folded on the couch, and Malcolm in the Middle quietly blaring on the tv.

Only…….

Did you know that a dog’s fur is very effective at transporting the oil from poison oak?  Dogs aren’t allergic to it, but they can bring it into your house.

I learned this the hard way last summer, trying to hunt down how I kept getting infected by poison oak.  It took several weeks before we eradicated most of it in our yard.

Here’s another interesting fact:

Did you know my neighbor’s back yard has poison oak? 

Yeah, I didn’t either.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.  Guess who has poison oak rash all over the inside of her thighs?

It gets better.

Do you know how they say you can’t spread poison oak by scratching?

I have found that to be a lie.  Maybe the blisters contain some kind of an oil, but I seem to have an unusually strong reaction to poison oak, and each time I’m exposed it is a little more severe, and it lasts a little longer.  Two months ago I had some on my wrists that lasted almost 5 weeks and left a little light scarring.  It spread a little bit each day for the first week, until it traveled almost to my elbow. 

The problem is that it usually takes a few days before my poison oak rash blooms into something recognizable – it starts off as a series of small bumps that look almost like mosquito or flea bites.  Unfortunately (and this may just be for me, and not everyone) while it’s at this innocent-looking stage it’s still able to be spread – it’s only when it slowly progresses into the stereotypical welts that ooze that I tend to recognize it, but by then it’s too late.

Anyways, here’s another fun little fact.

Do you know what else is located near your inner thighs?

Oh, yes.  That’s right.

Call it what you want – the love canal.  Cooter.   Muffin.  Honey Pot.  Cooch.  Mommy Parts.  Hoohah.

There are many different names for it, but it all boils down to one fact: 

Life is very, very sad when you have poison oak of the vajayjay.

Bad dog.

VERY bad dog.

    Neat!

    The Shake (an online Australian magazine) published one of my articles.

    COOL.

    It makes me feel like a legit writer, or something.

    Anyways, you can go read it here:

    Click here to read about animal sex, because I’m classy like that.

    Also, in the spirit of “it’s my blog and I feel like bragging on myself”:

    Guess who had a bright red face and cried when she crossed the finish line of her first 10k last Saturday?

    I didn’t even puke afterwards, although there were a few minutes where it was touch and go. 

    I said as much to the bake sale lady while I was sipping water, trying to calm down, and the look on her face reminded me that I really need to find a way to get better at small talk.

    Anyways, I went for a nice, slow run today (and by slow I mean that the DragonMonkey leaned his head back at one point and asked if he could get out and walk beside the stroller) and realized that one day I may even be crazy enough to try a half marathon… or at the very least a Ride and Tie event.

    Maybe I’ll even learn how to cross the finish line without bursting into happy tears.

    Knott’s Soak City

    I was attacked by ninjas.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to type up a blog post when you’re fending off silent shadows of death?

    I did write a post.  It was the most inspiring, poignant blog post anybody had ever read, in the history of all literacy.  In fact, it was so brilliant that I was singlehandedly responsible for every single Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City ticket sale during the 2012 season.  You’re welcome.  What’s that?  You don’t remember reading it?  Well, they say that mind is the first thing to go.

    Oh, no!  Someone stole all my fingers!  It’s really, really hard work typing things out with my tongue.  You can’t be angry with a tongue-typer, can you?  It’s like hitting a man with glasses, only worse.

    Disneyland caught wind of how much fun I had at Soak City and sent mobsters to my house to rough me up and scare me out of publishing my review.  They said if I published my blog post that they’d hurt a kitten…. a KITTEN.  I could hear its pitiful, heart-wrenching meows in the background.  A poor, innocent kitten!  Those MONSTERS!

    Or, perhaps, the truth:

    What in the WORLD was I thinking?  I was in the middle of leaving my job, packing my house, and seeing to all the details of a 1,000 mile move.  I can barely make it to the grocery store on a schedule.  Why did I think I was going to be able to say yes to Knott’s Berry Farm’s offer of free tickets to the Soak City opening weekend, and then somehow come up with an honest, interesting review within a decent length of time?

    If I’d managed to write it within a week or two… or maybe even a month or two, it could have been forgiven.   I did manage to get down the framework of the day, but I kept putting off polishing it up and posting it. 

    The thing was, I had such a great time that I felt obligated to turn in the WORLD’S MOST INCREDIBLE REVIEW EVER!!!  It would have been a lot easier if I’d had a crappy time, or even a mediocre time.

    Unfortunately for the Knott’s, I didn’t.  I had a great time.  And the longer I took to post (seriously, how did all the other bloggers manage to post within a day or two of going?  I bet they’re the same kind of weirdos that remember to write thank you notes and always pair up their socks before putting them away in the sock drawer), the more I realized that I was going to have to make it a really, really, REALLY good review to make up for how long it took me.

    But the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months… and the next thing I knew it was November, and cold, and I lived a thousand miles away, and writing a review about a water park which was closed for the season just didn’t even make sense.

    So.

    Yeah.

    Heya, Knott’s.  I bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you?  Well, I didn’t.  In fact, so you know, we had such a great time at your park that when my family came up from Mexico to visit last summer, the first place my parents dragged them was to Soak City.

    Anyways, here goes.
    ******
    Have you ever had one of those absolutely perfect days?

    They don’t happen very often – not once a week, or once a month, or even once a year.  Maybe it’s their rarity that makes them so precious – rich, warm, golden moments where time itself seems to slow in honor.

    The day we went to Soak City at Knott’s Berry Farm didn’t start out like a perfect day.  Maybe that’s why it made such an impact on me.

    In fact, the day itself started out pretty crappy.

    I was fat.  I know there’s no one to blame but myself for that one, but it didn’t make cramming myself into a bathing suit any more pleasurable.

    Also, the Squidgelet was sick.  He’d started in with the coughing the day before, and by the time Sunday morning rolled around, he was trailing green snot down his face, occasionally smearing it around with a grubby little hand.

    I know I’m his mom, but when I walked into his room that morning to get him out of his crib, even I didn’t want to touch him. 

    There was no way I could take him with me…. which meant that instead of the wonderful day of bonding I’d envisioned with The Bean, the kids and myself, I was going to have to take my parents instead. 

    Don’t get me wrong – I love my mom and stepdad, but it just wasn’t what I had in mind.  I was having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that I was going to be parading around in public in a bathing suit (who invented women’s swimsuit fashions, anyways?).  Having my plans derailed by greenish, slimy snot and a grumpy baby turned my mood from grumpy into downright foul.

    And then there was the DragonMonkey.

    “Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?  Go fwimming?  Go fwimming?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm Soak City?”
    Stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid Becky.  Why?  Why did I always forget ,and end up telling the DragonMonkey about things early?  I guess it’s because I liked seeing him happy, but really, I ought to have known better.  No good every came out of telling a three year old kid about something ahead of time.  What was I thinking?  Did I really think he would hear the news, nod sagely, reach for a toy, and continue playing peacefully?

    Quite right, Mother.  We are going to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Soak City today.  What a grand adventure we shall have.  Thank you for this lovely opportunity.  Would you please pass me Thomas the Train?  I shall endeavor to keep myself quietly busy while you prepare everything for our outing.”

    Nope.  He was three.  This meant that from the moment he’d heard about Soak City the night before, he’d been trailing around behind me like I had him on a leash, tapping me with his hand to get my attention, and repeating the same cycle of questions over and over again.

    Where we going to Knott’s Berry Farm?
    Yes.  Well, sorta.  We were going to Knott’s Berry Farm’s water park.

    Where we going on the train?
    No.  The normal section of Knott’s Berry Farm had the train.  We were going to Soak City – their water park. 

    Soak City?
    Yes.  It’s across the street from the regular Knott’s Berry Farm.  It has water.  Slides.  Pools.  We could go swimming.

    Fwimming?
    Yes.

    Fwimming on a twain?
    NO.  There were no trains.  Besides, you can’t swim on a train.  There’s no water.

    Does Knott’s Bewwy Fawm have a twain?
    Yes.  But we are going BESIDE Knott’s Berry Farm – to Soak City.  They will have pools.  And slides.  And swimming.

    Soak City?
    Yes.

    Fwimming?
    Yes.

    Fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?
    Yes – at Soak City.

    Soak City?
    YES!  YES, WE’RE GOING TO SOAK CITY. 

    By the time we were loaded up in the minivan and on our way, I was daydreaming of taping his adorable little mouth shut.  Just two minutes of silence.  Please? Just give two Mama two minutes of precious, beautiful, blessed silence.  PLEASE?!

    “KNOTT’S BEWWY FAWM?  WE GO FWIMMING AT KNOTT’S BEWWY FAWM?”
    “Yes!  YES!  WE’RE GOING TO SOAK CITY.  PLEASE JUST SIT THERE AND BE QUIET, FOR THIRTY SECONDS.”

    There was a brief moment of silence, just long enough to give me hope, and then, “Go fwimming at Soak City?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?”

    “Here.  Have a cookie.”  It was a little early in the morning for cookies, but chewing kept his mouth occuppied, and an occupied mouth meant a brief reprieve from “Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?”

    Parking was easy – I’ve never been in a more convenient parking lot.  With most amusement parks you have to park way out in Timbuktu, and memorize latitude/longitude coordinates so you can hopefully find your way back to the same zip code.

    The parking lot for the water park was wonderfully close to the actual water park (gasp!  What a concept!), so score one for Knott’s.

    On the other hand, the happy glow brought about by nice parking soon faded when we started dragging all of our stuff out of the car.

    Unloading bag after bag of kid-related crap was vaguely depressing, and can best be described by haiku:

    I love my children
    But they need way too much stuff
    Stuff, stuff, stuff, yuck, stuff

    Thankfully we didn’t have a very long walk to the front gate, where I met a friendly woman at the check-in table.

    I tried to be classy, and act like I was someone cool, but I’m pretty sure I ruined it by audibly squealing when she handed me my favorite thing in the entire world:  Free Stuff.

    I want to say that I am a classy person with a discerning palate…. but the truth is, I go gaga over anything that’s free.

    That said, it was some pretty awesome stuff.  There was a mesh swim bag that I still drag with me EVERYWHERE, even though it’s been a year since they gave it to me.

    I’m not the only one who loves it – it’s Fat Cat’s favorite place to pee in the entire world,  but that’s a different story.  Also, Knott’s?  Whatever you paid for that bag was worth it – that thing holds up to a LOT of washing.

    Inside the bag was all sorts of cool stuff.  There were a couple of bags of Knott’s Berry Farm cookies, which are one of my all-time-favorite things ever.  If you haven’t had any, I highly recommend them.

    Those cookies are AWESOME.  They come in flavors like “Raspberry” and “Boysenberry” and other fruit like that, so you can pretend you’re actually eating something healthy.

    Yes, yes, I know there’s a reason I don’t look good in a bathing suit.  Shut up.   

    Anyways, I’m pretty sure the cookies in the Bag of Free Stuff were for me to share with everyone… but the parents were on a diet, and the DragonMonkey is allergic to gluten, so it fell on me to eat all four bags.  I mean, I couldn’t just drag them around all day, right?

    Oh, the humanity.  It was terrible. 

    Because I didn’t make a note of it, and because I have the memory of a houseplant, I only remember two other items that were in that bag :

    1. A Knott’s Soak City OC towel: this towel has become the bane of my existence.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very nice towel.  The problem is that according to the DragonMonkey, it’s HIS TOWEL, HIS KNOTT’S SOAK CITY TOWEL, NOBODY ELSE CAN USE THAT TOWEL, and woe to anyone else who dares to touch it.  He seems genuinely attached to the towel, so for the most part I try to respect his unreasonable passion for it…. but as you all know, I’m terrible at keeping up with the laundry, and, well… a towel is a towel.  Sometimes, when you need to take a shower, you just plain need a clean towel…. and there’s nothing quite as creepy as pulling back the shower curtain, and reaching for a towel…. only to have a short, angry person burning holes in your skin with his WHY-ARE-YOU-TOUCHING-MY-TOWEL glare. 
    2. Flaccid, wrinkled, pointy noodles –   I’m serious.  I had no idea what they were for most of the day…. and then about 30 minutes before we were ready to leave, I suddenly figured it out.  All around the park they have little water stations.  You take your flaccid, semi-phallic noodle thingie (I’m sorry, but that’s what it looked like), plug it into the little water tower stations they have situated around the park, and VOILA!  It fills with water (one might almost say it becomes turgid), and you have a neat little water gun type toy.  I wish I’d figured it out sooner.  I’m not one for purchasing souvenirs and stuff, but those things are definitely worth the money.  We had some awesome water fights with them.

    The entrance to the park was really pretty.

    I know this because I spent about 15 minutes there while my stepdad trotted back to the car for some cash.  It turns out that to rent the locker rooms was cash only – that may have changed by now, but that’s how it was when we went last year.

    For the record, I wasn’t going to write about the cash-only thing, but my mom insisted I put it in there.

    “This is cash only?”  She shook her head in disappointment at the attendant as my stepdad made his trip to the car.  “You guys are missing out on some business.  What if we didn’t have any cash in the car?”

    The attendant mumbled something apologetic, and my mom turned back to me, shaking her head.   “Make sure you inform your readers about this.”

    “Mom, it’s not like that.  I don’t have ‘readers’ – like, actual people who hang around and wait for me to review stuff.”

    “They need to know about it anyways.  What if they didn’t bring cash?”

    So, there you have it.  A year later:  Bring cash if you want a locker.

    Speaking of lockers and boring non-ride stuff like that, the bathroom facilities are pretty legit.  Once again, my mom took her reviewer responsibilities very seriously.  She walked the entire length of the shower/changing areas with pursed lips, examining every nook and cranny, before returning.

    “These are very nice facilities,” she announced.  “Make sure you let your readers know they’re nice.”

    “Mom… seriously.  It’s not that kind of a blog.  People who read my blog aren’t interested in the bathrooms, unless I embarrass myself in them, somehow.” 

    She ignored me. 

    “Becky, take a picture to show how nice they are.”

    “MOM.  I’m not taking a picture in the bathroom.  I’m pretty sure that’s against the law.”

    “Why?  Nobody’s here.  Here.  I’ll move out of your way.  Take a picture to show your readers.”

    “Moooooom.  Seriously.  I can’t walk around and take pictures of a changing room and shower area.   This is where people get naked, and change clothes and stuff. What if someone sees me?  Someone’s going to think I’m a pedophile.  That’s the kind of creepy thing that will get me sent to jail.  I’m not doing it.”

    “Rebeca Bean, just take the picture.”

    See, there’s a problem with bringing your mom to your fancy functions.  She’s, like, your MOM.  And when she pulls out your full name… well…

    “Fine, fine!  Just… here.  Get DragonMonkey in the picture, so it looks less weird if someone comes in.”

    Becky Bean:  Taking creepy bathroom pictures because her mom told her, since 1981.   

    Also, Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City:  Passing my mom’s very strict “are the bathrooms nice and clean” standards, since 2012.

    Anyways, once we made it out of the restrooms, the rest of the day was, well, it was perfect.

    The venue was perfect, as you can see from the exquisitely detailed picture below:

    Just kidding.

    Dear Knott’s:  This is a ridiculously tiny image because I totally stole it off of your website.  Dude.  What is this… a water park for ants? (Zoolander reference for those of you who don’t watch it nearly as often as I do.)

    Seriously though, you guys need better pictures.  That Toyota Beach House “ride” thingie, with the pullies, and the levers, and that giant bucket of water that dumped on you was, like, THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER.  That picture you have of it looks like a bunch of tiny naked people standing in line for a group shower – which is exciting for some people if they’re into that, I guess, but it doesn’t really show how totally awesome it is. If you need a recommendation for new pictures I’d go with John Norling Photography – he’s done work for Hearst Castle, and other fancy places like that, and is very affordable for how great he is.   Or if you have your own photographer, just have him take some new pics.   Also, if you do have better pictures and I’m just too ADD to find them, you need to make them more ADD accessible. 

    After all, how many ADD kids does it take to change a lightbulb?
    Hey, wanna go ride bikes?

    Anyways.  Where was I?

    Ah, yes.  The perfect day.

    The venue was perfect.

    The weather was perfect. 

    Even the DragonMonkey was perfect:

    Like I said, the whole day was just perfect.
    Now, here’s the secret, and yes, Knott’s Berry Farm sent me here for free, and yes, I’m a great big slut when it comes to free stuff, but believe me when I say that I’m telling the 100% non-biased truth:

    We had that much fun BECAUSE of how cool Soak City is.

    And that was due to one very, very important factor:

    Soak City is not a meat market.

    I feel like I’m doing a disservice to Wild Rivers by even bringing this up, because I honestly loved that place and was really, really sad when it closed down, but if you ever went to Wild Rivers, or Raging Waters, then you know what I’m talking about.

    Those places are a creepy dude’s dream come true, and a low-self esteem chick’s worst nightmare.  I even felt that way when I was 14 years old and in my skinny prime.

    Wild Rivers was a lot bigger than Soak City – I’m not gonna lie.  They had more rides, and the kid/lounging area was significantly larger.

    The thing is, I never really enjoyed myself there, because I was too busy feeling annoyed and ashamed as I watched 14 year olds mincing around in string bikinis, batting their eyelashes at college-aged guys.  It bothered me on a lot of levels – first off, they were too young for that crap.  I mean, I hate to sound like a boring mom, but I the last time I went I wanted to grab them by their thin little shoulders and shake them.  “You’ve got your whole life to play ‘Who Wants to Hide the Sausage’ – knock it off!  Quit the flirting, grab what’s left of your childhood, and just enjoy yourselves!  Stop mincing about!”

    Also – did they really have to look so skinny, tanned, and perfect in their teensy little bikinis?  Stupid little taut, thin-thighed teenagers.  
    The thing is, Soak City didn’t have that sex-charged vibe.  Even though everyone was still running around in bathing suits, and bathing suits show a lot of skin, the place had a very family-friendly, easy-going feel to it.  There were a couple of teenagers flirting about, but they were the exception to the rule, rather than the norm.

    And you know what?

    It was really nice.

    For an entire day I just hung out with my family, and relaxed, and rode rides, and just stopped caring about how I looked in a bathing suit, or if we live in an over-sexed society, or the fact that I had to pack a whole bunch of stuff and move 1,000 miles away in a few short days, or any of that.

    I went down slides with The DragonMonkey:

    I lounged in the sun chairs with my family.

    I watched my son have an absolute blast the entire time he was there – there were no meltdowns, or crying, or anything.
    I’d go into description of all the rides, but I didn’t take a lot of pictures (I was too busy having fun), and, honestly, their website does a better job of describing it anyways, although you shouldn’t judge the coolness of their rides from their sparse pictures:

     

    So it was a perfect day, with the exception of one thing:
    Holy CRAP, I got sunburned.

    Dude.  I mean, I know I’m white.  I may be half-Mexican, but you sure can’t tell it from my skin.

    My forearm is pretty pale, and, well… here’s what it looks like against my leg:

    The thing is, I know I’m really white, and I take precautions. Before I even left the house I slathered myself up with SPF 50, waterproof… and then I reapplied it several times throughout the day.  And yet… if you look in the picture above, you can already see the pink starting to sprout. 

    It only got worse from there.  When I tell you I fried like a lobster, I’m telling you:  I fried like a lobster. The next week, once it had started to heal, my skin didn’t peel.  Oh, no.  I freaking molted.  It was disgusting.

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to avoid it.  SPF 50 is pretty strong stuff, and it didn’t do a darn thing to protect my skin. Unless they start coming out with SPF Wool Sweater, I think I’m just destined to sunburn.

    Still, the mom in me wants to warn you.  If you are going to check out Soak City, bring some sunblock.  Lots of sunblock.  The sun reflects (refracts?) off the water and turns it into some kind of nuclear ray with skin-searing power. 

    Anyways, there you have it.  If you’re in there area, I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out Soak City OC.  There season passes are pretty affordable in the grand scheme of amusement parks – I think they go up in price starting on May 27th, so if you’re thinking of buying, buy soon. 

    As far as how The DragonMonkey liked it, well, it’s been a year since we went there and he still asks to go back, from time to time.  A year to a four year old is a pretty huge deal, so I think it’s safe to say he had a great time there.

    Also, Knott’s?  Seriously.  I’m sorry it took so long for me to write this up. 

    Also, thank you for the memories of a really wonderful day. I know it sounds like I’m sucking up, but I’m not.  It was really that awesome of a day.