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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Wish That I was Jessie’s Girl

(this originally ran two years ago as a guest post on Chicky Chicky Baby. Two nights ago, Belly saw Jessie's photo on my desk and asked about her; it made me want to retell her story here)

More than a dozen years ago, on my first day as a volunteer for a local animal shelter, I was taken for a tour of the tiny facility and grounds. This was a town shelter; a ‘kill’ shelter, where space was always needed for the constant stream of unwanted and lost cats and dogs. A volunteer took me to the back of the shelter where the dog runs were---the barking was loud as every dog tried to plead his case: “Take me! Take meeeeee!

We paused in front of one cage. A small black dog was
channeling Tigger, bouncing straight up and down in the air, and barking wildly.

“This is Jessie”, the volunteer said. “She’s been here for almost a year.”

Those words hit me hard. A year? In a cage? But why? It seemed pretty clear that Jessie was going to be hard to adopt. Hyper, jumpy, loud. . .why had this dog been allowed to live for so long when many others had died?

I soon found out why, and also became one of her biggest supporters. For while Jessie was hyper, jumpy and loud, she was the kind of dog that smiled and made you feel like you were the best playmate in the entire world. She was smart, sleek and cheerful, even after months and months in her doggie jail cell.

But, so help me, she presented herself to the public so badly. No sooner would I start to tell a prospective family about Jessie then I would see them recoil from her cage as she leaped vertically off the ground again and again. If I took her out into the play yard, she would race around us in circles at top speed, like a sheep dog trying to keep its flock together.

Her one-year anniversary was getting closer. Her name was put on “the list” more than once, but I argued that she was still adoptable, we just needed more time. This became my sort of “Sophie’s Choice”, as I continued to pick one dog over others. Each time, afterward, I would walk out to my car, get inside, and cry.

The object of my affection

Then one Monday evening, I arrived at the shelter and saw a funny look in one of my fellow volunteer’s eyes. “There are two couples looking at Jessie”, she whispered to me. I ran out to the play yard and saw Jessie playing fetch with a young couple, about my age. They were smiling and laughing, not recoiling and frowning. The other couple watched Jessie from outside the fence. “We like her too”, they said, “but we can take another dog.”

An hour later, paperwork complete, Jessie walked out the door with her new family. I asked them if I could say goodbye and gave Jessie a hug. I cried big, fat embarrassing tears and tried to explain that they were tears of happiness. Of course, I was happy, but I was also saddened beyond measure that this happy little creature was exiting my life.

Months later, I visited Jessie in her new home for a follow-up story to run on our low-budget “Pet of the Week” cable-access television show. Her new owners were warm and funny. Her yard was huge and completely enclosed by a fence. She even had a dog playmate, as they had adopted a second dog a few weeks after Jessie. It felt good to see her happy and running free on the grass, under the trees.

I turned to walk back up the porch stairs, and Jessie darted ahead of me. She turned, a few steps ahead of me, and sat down so that her face was level with mine. I reached my arms up to rub behind her ears one last time. She picked up her front paws and put them on my shoulders and smiled her goofy little grin.

I had wondered if Jessie would remember me. After all, I was just another volunteer who played with her twice a week for a few months. But, as she sat in front of me, I felt like she was trying to say, “Hey thanks! It all worked out in the end”.

And then she bounded away to play beneath the trees.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Our main reason for traveling to Pennsylvania this month was to visit Fairly Odd Father's aunt and cousin, two people we have grown very close to over the past few years.

We enjoy seeing them so much and consider them such a part of our family, it is almost hard to believe that they were not at our wedding, didn't receive our first Christmas cards, weren't invited up to our home for the first several years of our marriage.

For reasons I can't discuss, it wasn't until a few years ago that a curious email found its way onto my husband's computer. It was his cousin, wondering if this was indeed the same boy she had last seen many years ago. I am so thankful for the internet, for its ability to reconnect people in this way---just one Google search and years of distance went POOF! into history.

And, you know who has benefited most from this reunion? The kids, especially my girls.


They light up when they see their Aunt and their crazy Cousin (who is the one who sent me these photos).


And D? He's getting there, but I think he really likes the bike.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Our Vacation In Photos














(photos include scenes from a family friend's son's birthday party in NJ; "trainville" Strasburg, PA; hotel basketball court; cousin's Harley; Springton Manor chickens; Dutch Wonderland; Ocean City, NJ; the long ride home)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted. . .

So, we're on vacation! And, we're determined to have a blast despite the world's crappiest vacation weather. It's almost like we haven't even left Massachusetts, where it has been wet for so many days, I swear my home is growing a fine coat of moss.

But, we've just spent 5 lovely days in Pennsylvania where we gawked at the Amish, rode an authentic steam train (which is probably destroying the ozone layer as I type), screamed in terror at Dutch Wonderland (what can I say? those swings were S-C-A-R-Y), and soaked up much love and affection from Fairly Odd Father's adorable aunt and cousin. We also saw UP, the movie, and, let me tell you, that movie is hard to watch from behind two hands pressed over the eyes. Did they really have to make the "high in the sky" scenes so authentic? I was either crying over the plot or cowering in my movie seat with sweaty palms.

One thing though? When did my kids get so loud and restless? I haven't wished for a tranquilizer gun so much in my entire life.

Today, we took a scenic drive through Philadelphia via Rt 76 and arrived in Ocean City, New Jersey to visit FOF's aunt and uncle. The rain, bless its little soul, decided to follow us here, but that didn't stop us from running on the beach and getting what is known as "ocean hair".

We leave tomorrow, just in time for the sun to come out. Isn't that a funny coincidence? Ha! Ha!

I've also heard that it will be raining when we get back home. I'm putting a hit out on Mother Nature.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dear Mo Willems:

We've got an idea for a story. Don't worry, it isn't too much of a stretch:

Don't Let The Turkey Drive The Motorcycle


"Oh look! There's even a helmet left behind!"


"C'mon! Pretty please?"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friends Don't Let Friends Screw Up S'mores

The Year: Pre-children, sometime between 1997-2000

Fairly Odd Father (FOF), otherwise known as my husband
College Roommate (CR), my beloved college roommate
BFF, my best friend from high school

SigOth, her Significant Other
Shop Clerk 1
Shop Clerk 2

Various Others, including Yours Truly

The Scene: Cast is sitting around a picnic table next to the pond enjoying the early summer air, bellies full of barbeque and beer. Someone mentions S'mores, and the group glances back at the grill whose embers are still glowing pink. The time is approximately 8:30p.m.

Fairly Odd Father and College Roommate jump up: "We'll get the stuff for S'mores!"

Fifteen minutes later, FOF and CR return from store, park at top of hill and walk down to rest of group eagerly awaiting them at picnic table.
A shopping bag is placed in the center of the table and items are pulled out one by one.

First to come out of bag is a box of graham crackers. Next, a bag of marshmallows. Last, a bottle of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup is plunked down on the table.



SigOth (confused): "What the hell is this?"

CR (cheerfully): "It's chocolate. For the S'mores!"


Me (completely bewildered, looking back and forth at these two people I love dearly): "Chocolate SYRUP? For S'mores? Weren't you guys in Scouts?"

Silent weeping.

BFF: "OHMIGOD! What time does that store close? It's almost 9! Maybe we can still get chocolate bars!

A flurry of activity as BFF and SigOth leap up and run to top of hill in a sprint to get to the store before it closes. Remember we are in the boondocks, where stores do not stay open after 9pm.

New Scene: At little strip of stores in "center" of town. BFF and SigOth burst into Convenience Store and look wildly for candy aisle. Spotting it, they run up to the candy and see that there are no Hershey Bars remaining in any of the slots. They turn and run to the Cashier who is bored and watching the clock.

SigOth: "Chocolate bars! We need chocolate bars! Our friends were just here to get stuff for S'mores and WE NEED CHOCOLATE BARS!!!!"

Shop Clerk 1 (who speaks ever so slowly and deliberately): "Hey. . .I remember those two. When they came to the register, I thought, "I sure hope they aren't trying to make S'mores." Well. . .we're out of chocolate bars. But, you could try the pharmacy next door. They close at. . .(they all look up at clock as the minute hand clicks to the top position). . .nine".

BFF and SigOth run out the door as if on fire and grab handle of pharmacy door. They pull and. . .it is locked.

SigOth starts to pound on door, yelling, "PLEASE!!! Please open the door! It's an EMERGENCY! We need CHOCOLATE!!!!"

Shop Clerk 2 appears at door and turns key. He opens door a crack and says, "Can I help you?"

SigOth: "PLEASE! Our friends are idiots! They don't know how to make S'mores and we need chocolate bars! Please! Just some chocolate!"

Shop Clerk 2: "I'm sorry. The register is already closed."

SigOth, thinking quickly and digging into pocket: "Here!!!! Take twenty! Don't worry about change! Please!"

Shop Clerk 2: "Um. . .okay."

BFF and SigOth run into store, scoop up a dozen Hershey Bars, thank Shop Clerk 2 profusely and return to gang at picnic table. Friends cheer arrival of chocolate bars and happily begin making S'mores.

Spotlight slowly comes to focus on FOF as he bites into a freshly-made S'more and realizes he hates them and will now have to endure S'more jokes for the rest of his life.


Curtain closes.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

I Have A Woody

Guess who woke me up AGAIN by banging on my shutters at 6am?

My neighbors are going to think I'm crazy for hanging out my window, yelling and pounding on the side of my house, but this bird better be ready for a turf war.


I hated the cartoon too.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

One Stressed-Out Shredhead

I can stress about anything, so it should come as no surprise that I'm becoming increasingly stressed over my decision to exercise (almost) daily. I know that runs counter to what all the experts say about exercise, but the experts don't live in my tortured brain.

First, there is the time issue. Mornings are ideal. But, mornings are ideal for a lot of things: working, planning my day, doing school with the kids, picking up the house, starting the laundry, talking to my mom. Oh, and lately mornings have meant soccer on Tuesday and art class on Wednesday which totally throws off my schedule.
I am certainly not the busiest person in the world, so this shouldn't be so hard to figure out.

If I don't exercise in the morning, the spirit of Jillian follows me around the rest of the day as we go from one activity to another. "Gargle your heart", she whispers to me. "You want abs like that?". I know, I know. . .I'll fit it in. . .later. Maybe.

When I get in front of the TV and pick a program from On Demand, I'll fret about my decision: this is too hard! Why do I suck so much?, or I'm not even sweating! This isn't going to do anything for me!

And then woe is me if I skip a day (or days). . .am I losing all the muscle tone I worked so hard to get? Why do those pants feel tighter? Why do I even bother?!?!

It's enough to make me want to buy elastic-waist pants and forget about this entirely. But, I can't. I won't.

Instead, I add to my angst. As if making a sweaty fool of myself in the comfort of my own home isn't enough, I've gone and added a layer of stress that comes from exposing myself to the public: I've joined a gym.

Someone give me a Valium.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Let's Hope He Doesn't Check the Phone Bill

When was the last time you reached out and touched someone?

No, not like that. I mean, just called or wrote to an old friend, neighbor or relative with whom you used to share huge chunks of time. (And, no, just "friending" them on some social media site doesn't count.)

Recently, my husband found an old friend on Facebook. But, more than just adding him to a long list of "friends", they've actually spoken and made plans for our two families to meet this month.

So, it is in that spirit that my dear husband has gone and started a Movement of sorts, to see if other people might be interested in reconnecting with those long, lost souls of our past:


Beginning today, you are all invited to reconnect with a few old friends and family members. If you do it, write about it on your blog or Facebook page, or send me a postcard if you do not yet use the internet to broadcast your personal life to the masses. Let's spread the love. And, hope that not too many of us hear a phone slam in our ear when we cheerfully re-introduce ourselves.

Think of this as an active meme. C'mon, it'll give us something to write about this week.

You can even borrow the fancy button above. I'm generous like that.

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