Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rest in peace.


Tragic weekend in the Kautzi home, friends. On Thursday we took Maddie to the vet to have her teeth checked out (see previous posts on the world's worst dog breath) and they had to run some pre-anesthesia blood work to make sure Maddie was up for the teeth cleaning procedure we were planning on doing. On Friday afternoon Kelsey got a call from the vet letting us know that her numbers came back and her kidney function was horrible- essentially irreparable -and her red blood cell count was way too low. Jessica said if she was a human with those numbers she'd be on dialysis at least three times a week. The doctor said she'd been toughing her way through discomfort for months or possibly years, but it was going to get worse very quickly. In short, we had to make the unfortunate decision to put her to rest rather than let her suffer over the next few weeks, watching it get worse.

Apart from the sudden nature of it and losing the most entertaining member of our family, I think the worst part is knowing how good Maddie would have been with a baby. She was as sweet as any dog owner could ask for; those of you who were lucky enough to meet her can back me up. When I was initially trying to convince Kelsey that we should get a dog (which I did frequently since our wedding day) I used the familiar excuse that it would be great practice for a baby. While she was a bit skeptical of the parallels between dog ownership and parenthood, the idea of getting a dog gradually grew on her and, after an intense few weeks on the hunt, we came home with the sweet border collie that most of you affectionately knew as Maddie. And you know what? Even though it might have been a feeble excuse to win my wife over, I think she really did help prepare us for Short Round's arrival. If nothing else, our hearts were tethered to Maddie in a way that I've never experienced before. And while I'd never compare the love of a pet to the love of a child, I think we're a step ahead of where we would have been had Maddie never been in our lives. Perhaps I'm bandying about the sentimental drivel a bit too freely, but it's still fresh. Thanks for extending a little grace.

So, those of you who have been there know. It's tough. But while the last eighteen hours have been filled with tears and frustration and grasping for affirmation that we did the right thing, nothing can take away the joy of what is coming in December. Sure, I expected our kids to grow up and fondly remember growing up with Maddie, The World's Greatest Dog. And I imagined her looking skeptically at the new naked puppy thing that we brought back from the hospital, wondering why it stole all the attention from her. But we're doing our best to remember the wonderful two years she gave us. Well done, Maddie. We're so proud of you.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Practice.

Some of you know our dog Maddie. Those of you who do also know that she's somewhat neurotic. Borderline manic, in fact. Not that I can blame her; her puppyhood involved being passed around between shelters and questionable home environments only to be abandoned regularly because she didn't eat for a day or because she killed a chicken. Whoops. While they're mostly entertaining, sometimes her idiosyncrasies are a little intrusive on normal life, like when we're out of town and she gets nervous and won't eat or poop until it's absolutely necessary. Or when we return and she poops seven times in less than twenty-four hours, including one time in the laundry room. Quick play by play of Sunday night/Monday morning:

11:30PM. Per nightly routine, I let Maddie out. Poop.

2:30AM. Kelsey wakes up to an alarmingly familiar odor. Uses her phone LCD to scan the floor in the dark. Looks in the laundry room. Poop.

3:15AM. I wake up to Maddie's bad breath in my face and her tail wagging in anticipation. I let Maddie out. Poop.

4:00AM. I wake up to the ringing of the bell hanging from the back door and Maddie wagging her tail once again. I let Maddie out. Poop.

7:00AM. I've already hit the snooze twice. I wake up to Maddie's bad breath for the second time. Guess what? I let her out. Poop.

8:00AM. Maddie wakes Kelsey up looking like she really really wants to do something. Possibly outside. What could it be? Poop. Plus Elissa, one of the interns we're housing for the summer, let her out again later that morning. More poop.

Why such detail about our dog's poop habits? Because, after the 4:00 wake up call, I found myself in agitated disbelief that I had to get up for work shortly and my sleep was being interrupted because this creature of ours was having stomach issues. Then it hit me like a ton of poop. Pardon the expression. Just wait until December, friend. Someone that you like a whole lot more than Maddie will be a whole lot more demanding of your attention at regular intervals throughout the night. And it won't just poop in the laundry room and quietly ring the bell. It will scream unapologetically, unlike Maddie who looks remorseful every time she wakes me up.

I think Maddie is smarter than I give her credit for, though. See, Sunday just happened to be Father's day. My first Father's day. And I'm relatively certain that Maddie had the presence of mind to pick that day to begin preparing me for what's coming. Or her resentment for introducing a new presence in the house is starting to churn and she's taking it out on me. Or she's just a dog with anxiety issues and sometimes poops a lot. I have a feeling we'll see more evidence of the latter over the next couple months. Just heed this warning, Maddie: we just had the carpet cleaned. Kelsey spent an hour and a half raking your fur out of the floor that Short Round is going to be crawling around on. Do not mess with her.

Now check out the video that Paul made for Shoebox chronicling a similar experience with my parent's dog. The little weasel.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For Jason

Here. A picture. Now will you read our blog?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baked Potato, Please.

Ahh, the second trimester and its promise of pregnancy bliss. Pregnancy bliss my rear end. As I rounded the corner on week 13, I was naively anticipating a total body rejuvenation. All the books say the morning sickness lessens, you start to have more energy, you make less trips to the bathroom, your belly begins to look pregnant instead of just fat. In my fantasies, the second I hit week 13 my body would, like clockwork, turn off the nausea. But now as week 14 rears its ugly head I have wised up. If you were a fly on the wall in our house a few days ago you would have overheard this conversation:

Me: Baby, you must not have read the same books I'm reading. I'm supposed to be done with this puking stuff.

Baby: (no comment)

Me: Baby, I'm almost 14 weeks and I'd really prefer to be done with the whole throwing up thing. Can we work on that?

Baby: (still, silence)

Me: Well, you just let me know when you're ready.

Sheesh. I'm such a push-over already.

Which leads me to my newest list:

Depressing Revelations of the 2nd Trimester

Depressing Revelation #1: My child is already the boss of me. That's right. I haven't even seen its cute little finger that I will inevitably be wrapped around and Baby is already taking charge. Sorry, Mom, I'm calling the shots and I say you'll puke for as long as I see fit.

Depressing revelation #2: 2nd trimester not all it's cracked up to be. I won't subject you to the gory details of my last few weeks, but suffice it to say it has not been the euphoric season of a blooming belly and a settled stomach that was promised. Well, maybe the belly part. That part seems to be progressing on schedule. Or maybe all my pants shrunk.

Depressing revelation #3: I'm slow. Yesterday Eric and I went on a short run. I use the word run loosely because as I was chugging along, Eric was doing his best to not leave me in the dust and still get his heart rate up. At one point he even started walking next to me and he could still keep up. At which point I moaned breathlessly and tried to pick up the pace just a little bit so it wasn't a total waste of a workout for him. A few blocks later I said in between breaths, "Am (pant) I (pant) running (pant) any (pant) faster (pant, pant, pant)?" To which he kindly replied, "Yes, a lot!" He may have been lying, but I willingly believed it.

Depressing revelation #4: My list of tolerable foods is quickly diminishing. Basically I subsist on baked potatoes (I've had one 5 out of the last 6 days) and Chipotle. And the list of Foods That Make Me Gag or Worse is growing longer and longer. What's a girl to do?

To add a ray of sunshine to the storm cloud that is this blog post, I'd like to share with you a recent discovery my dear friend Kathleen made that I'm certain will revolutionize my pregnancy: Caffeine-free Dr. Pepper! Have you ever heard of such a glorious thing? Do you know what this means?? It means I can now consume the bubbly fuzzy goodness of the one craving that has outlasted all of my fickle food urges without even a smidgen of guilt that I'm shrinking my baby's head or whatever other terrible things my caffeine intake was doing before! Forget the high-fructose corn syrup and the complete lack of any positive nutritional qualities. This discovery is going to change my life. And Kathleen, you have been officially promoted to my new best friend. Congratulations.

Now, do we have any ice?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

With apologies in earnest to all Fern Gully enthusiasts.

Seriously. I didn't know the Gully was remembered so fondly. For those of you who I offended and let me know about it in person or in post, sorry. But take heart, friends. There are more of you than I would have imagined.

So Kelsey was on the last straightaway out of the first trimester when Short Round got feisty today. Tomorrow marks the start of the second trimester which, as I understand it, is the fun one. Apparently expectant women feel great, can travel with less concern, and really start to show. Well Shorty had to go and throw in one last jab before the fun started and Kelsey has been throwing in all day. And by in, I mean up. And by all day, I mean all day. My poor wife.

Let me tell you, though- I'm experiencing a psychological test of will that I hadn't counted on. On any given day I have to remember to not leave any spilled substance on the counter, mention any food that may contain the word (or ingredient) marinara, or let the dog breathe within 20 feet of where Kelsey happens to be sitting at the time. And that's a toughie, cause Maddie seems to favor breathing.

So if there are any guys reading that are planning on one day being fathers, listen. Your already sub-par standards of hygiene and your lack of awareness that you're constantly bringing up nauseating subjects in conversation are going to be amplified when your lady is pregnant. Take heed, gents. Best to just lay low until the exact second your wife needs something, then spring into action like a sort of domestically paternal James Bond. She won't forget it. Right honey?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parenting 101

Jason Carrigan told me a definition of the word blog he found online the other day. "Never have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few" (did I get that right, Jason?).  Anyway, it was something to that effect.  To which I say, in my most gangsta voice, "tru dat."  In fact, when I do find myself browsing through the blog world, my most frequent thought is, "Does this person actually think anyone cares about this stuff?"  Yet somehow, I conveniently forget that definition when I begin my ramblings on this very blog.  So if you are reading this, I'm going to assume you are either really bored...or you just really like me.  Either way, I'm glad you're here.

I got some parenting practice today.  I am spending two days a week this summer with two kiddos who aren't very cute at all (note sarcasm).  Tatum, 14 months and Isaac, 3 years.  I'll try to get some photos to post soon.  We had an eventful day today which I'd like to share with you now.  Here's the play-by-play:

9:00 I arrive at the Anderson's.  Tatum tosses her bottle aside and toddles toward me babbling. (My heart swells...nothing like a cherub-cheeked, curly-haired cutie-pie coming toward you with her arms raised)
9:08 Tatum is down for her nap after refusing her bottle and wrenching her binkie out of my hand then pointing to her crib.  The girl know what she wants.
9:09 Isaac and I have all the cushions off the couch and we are building our fort.  This is our routine; he bosses me around and I rearrange couch cushions to suit his fancy. 
9:18 Isaac is a "snapping tuwtle" in his cave (formerly our fort) who is mean (he tells me), but I'm instructed to pretend that I am peeking into his cage so that he can scare me.  Also, he periodically becomes a tiger and I'm a dog that is scared of the tiger.  This generally involves him chasing me around the couch growling and I'm supposed to whimper and howl in fear.
9:24 Isaac suggests we play "wed lump" again - a game in which he hides under his red blanket and I'm supposed to comment on the strange noises and movements coming out of the red lump that has mysteriously appeared where Isaac once was. Oh my! What a big lump!  Oh! It's moving! I hope it's a nice lump.  Oh! There's a foot sticking out from the lump!  That lump is giggling! What a wiggly lump! 
9:38 We play Red Lump for the 28th time.
9:45 Isaac finds his cars and we build a tent for them to park in.  It has to be "weally, weally dawk, okay?"
10:00 Tatum wakes up and is ready to go!
10:03 The fort is destroyed in less than 30 seconds by the Tate-zilla
10:08 I say "Be careful, Isaac" 87 times as we spend the next 13 minutes jumping around on the couch without the cushions. 
10:21 It's raining and we're beginning to go a little stir-crazy.  Tatum wants whatever Isaac is playing with and squawks with discontent when she can't have it.
10:30 We decide to go up to church to play in the famed Tree House Room.  A little change of scenery will help, I think.
10:45 I pack lunches, grab a few diapers, wipes and sippy cups and throw them in my bag.
10:55 We're in the car and Tatum is "singing" something akin to "ee-i, ee-i, oh" but Isaac does not want to sing that.
11:00 At church we are looking for my dad, but he's not there.  Instead we commandeer his office.  Isaac makes him a "drawing" of stamps and staples.  Tatum opens drawers and pulls out files (sorry Dad).
11:10 We decide to distract Jordanne from her work - a feat we easily succeed in accomplishing.  I'm guessing it's probably pretty hard to focus when you have a toddler squawking and chattering on incessantly just outside your office.
11:20 We eat lunch.  Isaac has a cheesy hotdog. Tatum has a spaghetti something which she spits out with every bite I shove in there.  Stinker.
11:30  We clean up our lunch and Isaac's artwork and head down to the Tree House Room.
11:47 I change Tatum's diaper, much to her displeasure.
11:48 Tatum poops in her new diaper.
11:52 I change Tatum's diaper again and discover that we've had a bit of an explosion.  Her cute stripey pants are the casualty.  She's now stripped down to diaper and t-shirt.
12:00 Tatum hints at the beginnings of a meltdown.
12:01 Meltdown confirmed.
12:05 We head down the hall.  I hold Tate's binkie in front of her to motivate our progress toward the car.
12:08 I realize it's raining a LOT harder than it was when we got there.
12:14 I enlist the help of Sara and Jordanne to play with the kiddos while I pull the car up as close to the building as I can.
12:18 Tatum and I make a run for the car as Isaac looks on with trepidation.
12:20 Isaac and I make a run for the car as Tatum looks on with binkie in mouth and therefore no discernible emotion other than contentment.
12:21 I pull the umbrella into the car and realize just how wet I am.  Very.
12:22 We pull away from church.
12:23 It starts to hail. A lot.
12:24 I debate going back to church vs. driving through the weather, but Tatum, wearing no pants and now dangerously close to nap time, has dropped her binkie and the drama begins.
12:40 We get back to the Anderson's and nap routine promptly ensues.  Prompt is not soon enough for Tatum who is now in full-on melt-down mode.
12:45 Isaac is watching Curious George, drinking his warm milk and Tatum's bottle is ready.  We had upstairs and Tatum devours her bottle.
12:48 I put Tatum in her bed and she flops down willingly.
12:50 Clean up time.  Isaac watches his show while I replace couch cushions and pull Legos out from under the ottoman.
1:20 Isaac tells me he's ready for his rest now.  I am ready for my rest, too.

About 20 times today, I thought, "Am I really ready for this whole parenting thing??"  Probably not.  Is anyone ready before they actually are parents?  The thing is, even when they aren't my kids, being with them, watching them learn, engaging their imaginations, cuddling with them...it's so worth it!  Minute by minute, it's worth it.  Meltdowns and poopy diapers are worth it.  And if it's worth it with other people's kids, surely it will be worth it with mine - who, by the way, is now the size of a medium shrimp, though nothing about my body feels shrimpy these days.  But even that, I'm sure, will be worth it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hello, My name is...

I once thought that naming my baby would be easy. In fact, before we got pregnant, we actually had names all picked out. Names we both agreed on. Names that we could rearrange depending on the birth order of our children. If we have two girls and a boy, these names. A boy, a girl, a boy, those names. Four girls? These. The thing is, now those names seem like they belong to all of our imaginary pre-pregnancy children. And I can't name my real baby a name that belongs to those fake babies! My real baby needs his or her own name! So we're back to square one.

The thing is, I'm pretty opinionated. I know that surprises the lot of you, but it's true. And naming a kid is a big deal. After all, this is what they will be called for the rest of their lives. So, you gotta think about ways kids might tease them, the nicknames they might have, how hard it will be to spell their name, whether they will have to correct their teachers' pronunciations every year, whether is sounds good with Kautzi.... This is tough stuff. Bottom line? The wrong name could really screw a kid up.

You know, I'm beginning to wish I had the kind of relationship with God that Sarah and Abraham had. Not so much the make-you-a-promise-and-then-make-you-wait-300-or-so-years-to-fulfill-it kind of relationship. More just the "you shall name him Isaac" kind of relationship. What I mean is, I wish God would just say, "name your kid, ______ cuz it means _______ and that's pretty cool." And then when people say, "What the heck kind of a name is Naphtali?" (see Genesis 30:8) we could just say, "Hey, don't hassle us, God picked it."

Well, despite my requests that God would speak to me in a dream and tell me what to name my child, I've had no such revelation. So up to this point, our approach has been to set up some rules. (I like rules.)

Here are a few of them:
*Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is named any of these names, we're sorry. We don't think they're bad names, we just don't want our kid to have them. Don't get mad.  We like you.


Eric's Rules:
1. No made-up names. Now this one is debatable and really just comes down to whether or not Eric thinks it's a made-up name. He particularly doesn't like the trend of adding "en" to the end of other names and sounds: Aiden, Jaden, Jaxen, Caedon, Peyton, Clayton, Braden, etc, etc. I have tried to reason with him, but he insists they aren't real names. *See Disclaimer
2. No names that are hard to spell or pronounce. No weird spellings of common names. Ashleigh, Ashlea, Ashly. *See Disclaimer
3. No names that all of the cheerleaders had when we were in high school. Caitlyn, Nikki, Ashley, Katie, Mandy, Brittany, Tiffany. *See Disclaimer
4. No names that Kelsey really really likes. (Just kidding on this one. There's really only one name that fits into this category, but I won't bring it up. Sore subject.)

Kelsey's Rules:
1. No names that will make our child the next Katie or Sarah. *See Disclaimer. Meaning, no names that 500 other kids in the first grade will also have. This is a hard one to predict because you just don't know if the brilliantly unique name you've just chosen for your unborn child is the very same brilliantly generic name that 10,000 other new moms and dads are also choosing.
2. No names that don't have a good nickname. Now this applies if either they don't have a nickname at all or their nickname is terrible. Al. Chuck. Pete. Hmm...I just realized I have uncles with all of those names. Sorry Uncle Al, Uncle Chuck, Uncle Pete. *See Disclaimer!
3. No names that Eric will say in a funny voice. (See previous blogpost)
4. No arbitrary names. It has to mean something. I refuse to pick a name just because it sounds nice. I want a good story behind the name. The trick is to find one with a good story, a cool meaning that also sounds nice.

In all honesty, it's the boy names we're having trouble with. And since everyone seems to think we're having a boy, that's a problem. How do you find a boy's name that's not made up and that 500,000 guys out there don't already have? I'm getting to the point that I might just settle on Eric Jr. and have done with it.

Good thing this kid's not coming for another 6 months. The thing is, come the end of July, we might find out that we're having a girl and we'll be able to avoid the boy name dilemma altogether. Until then, I'm still listening for that still, small voice saying, "You shall name him, Chuck."

POINT.

I love Pixar. I would think that most of you who are at least relatively familiar with their work would say the same. I mean, it's almost uncomfortable anymore sitting through an animated feature that they didn't produce; with the slew of trite scripts, sub-par animation and weak art direction that most CG toons seem to be built on, I rejoice every year when the trailers for next summer's Pixar feature start popping up on the interwebs. And for that I am thankful, Steve Jobs. Even though you're a bit of a jerk and a resounding control-freak, you went above and beyond developing a mere computer empire and created what is now undeniably the best animation studio in the industry. Good one.

Before Kelsey and I went to see Up last night (re: the title of this post), I'd been hearing that it left all of Pixar's previous work in its wake of awesome. I was reluctant to accept such a hyperbolic review, seeing as I love Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. and Wall-E, and I think Brad Bird's Ratatouille and The Incredibles are two of the finest films ever made, animated or otherwise. Tell you what, though. As a man of constant exaggeration in regards to pop-culture preferences I will be try to be particularly clear on this: I have literally never laughed as hard for as long in any movie I've ever sat through. In fact, we have to go back and see it again because we lost a good 25% of the dialogue under the cacophony of the audience's laughter. Plus it was in 3-D which, to be honest, didn't make a huge difference, but everything felt more jovial in funny glasses.

So what does this have to do with pregnancy and baby plans and prophetic notions of Short Round's relative awesomeness? During the trailers (which were all for 3-D animated features) Kelsey leaned over and said something to the effect of, "Isn't it weird that this is going to be the norm for our kids? They won't grow up with regular cell animation like we did." To which I say Huzzah! Well, I didn't in the theater. But I do now. I am perfectly content with our kids growing up on Pixar. In fact, considering how many CG movies I'm going to be watching with them on a weekly basis, I'm almost inclined to declare our house Pixar exclusive (except for Kung Fu Panda- good stuff, Dreamworks). It made me think of all the horrible merchandise-pregnant animated garbage our generation's parents had to sit through before animated features started getting good again. Sure, there were quality films like Lion King and Aladdin and The Emperor's New Groove. But there was also Fern Gully. And Watership Down. Sorry, mom.

The funny thing is there weren't that many kids in the crowd last night. The vast majority of the audience was high school and college kids and kids in their twenties. And a few kids in their fifties. And they were all laughing or crying or both from the first frames of the pre-feature short to the end credits. So the studios are looking out for us, the young parents. And be joyful, because it's about time. If we didn't have the options that we have now, I'd be playing The Iron Giant on repeat in our house every day. Not that I'd necessarily have a problem with that.