Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dog Discipline: Using Your Words

We love our little dogtard. We really do. But he can be kind of a snot. Every so often—usually in the mornings/afternoons/evenings, etc.—Fritz turns into the most obstinate of creatures. It's like his brain gets swapped out for a JV cheerleader' know the type: all sass, no class, and so on. He doesn't smell good enough to get away with it, either. Instead of smelling like Pearberry or the inside of Hollister, he smells like beef jerky and indomitability.

My poor husband. He tries to be patient, he really does. But sometimes, he loses it just a little bit. When he does, you can usually tell by the way his vocabulary expands from "sit," "no," and "off" to language that's just slightly more complicated.

Here are some of the actual phrases Rob has used while disciplining Fritz:
  • Do you understand now why what you did was so bad?
  • You're getting really brave, son.
  • Nuh-uh, buddy. I win!
  • Are you serious? You're too lazy to turn your body around?
  • Don't be stingy with your love, buddy
I'm sure there are more, but right now I can't remember I'm too busy weeping like a crazy person because I saw this on the Internet. See, people who don't have dogs? This is why we invite these disgusting creatures into our lives. It's because they are the best.

    Friday, August 19, 2011


    I started this project yesterday. I was watching the dog-tyrant at the same time, so I was a bit distracted.
    But, honestly, I don't think you can tell.

    It speaks for itself, I think.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Confessions of a New Dog Mom

    One Easter, Rob's sister brought her wee bairn to our tiny house for a visit. While the rest of us were distracted by a wild and crazy game of Mario Kart, Sister-in-law busted out the baby supplies and started changing the niece's turd-filled diaper on the new duvet cover. Immediately, Rob and I objected. "Woman! There's poop in there! Where exactly is your head at?"

    "It's just poop" she replied, continuing her nasty and dangerous task.

    "Exactly," we said. "Poop is poop! And poop is disgusting! Beds are not changing tables! Top sheets are not toilet paper!"

    "You'll feel differently when it's your kid," she said, unphased, while we looked on in horror.

    You'll feel differently when it's your kid. About poop? won't be gross? It will smell like roses? How will I ever feel differently about something so stinky and stain-y? No. I will always think gross things are gross.

    Well, now I have a dog.

    You may not know this about dogs: they have very efficient digestive systems, or something like that. Meaning they poop quite a bit—often and in large quantities. And I pick this poop up. I put my hand in a little orange bag laced with baby powder, and I scoop up the poop, tie the bag in a knot and throw it in the nearest garbage receptacle. Dog poop isn't the only nasty thing I handle now that I'm a dog mom. I've also dealt with dog vomit, dog snot, dog pee, dog eye-boogers, and dog penis-fur snarls. I smell dog breath, kiss dog lips, and I often leave my house covered in dog hair. My life, my clothes, my home used to be clean and sanitary. Now, at any given time, everything I am and everything I own is covered with a solid layer of kanine saliva and millions of invisible germs.

    And guess what? It's still disgusting.

    You're right. My dog is not my child. I did not birth this furry beast. But I do love, feed, nurture, and care for this furry beast. I touch all his nastiness and smellables because someone's gotta do it. But it grosses me out every time. And you know what? It should. You know why? Because it's gross.

    The takeaway message is this: we deal with all the disgustingness of small helpless creatures because someone has to. My dog doesn't have the mobility to poop in the toilet. And he can't pick up his own turds. Well...he could pick them up in his mouth and I'm sure he would if I let him, but that's not the point. We have these dogs and these babies because we want to love them and take care of them. Poop is part of the package. I don't like it, but I can tolerate it.

    Not on my bed, though. Not. On my. Bed.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Gretta's Lazy Book Reviews: Summer Reading Edition

    If you know me—and I assume that you do if you're reading my blog, because this drivel is way too totally uninteresting for strangers— then you know that I have roughly 7,000 hobbies that I simultaneously adore and neglect. In my short life, I have picked up and put down a whole buttload of amusements because I keep running out of time and money. I promise myself that as soon as I get an extra $100 bucks a month or as soon as I'm done with grad school, I'll pick them right back up. And that's a lie. I mean, I hope it's not a lie, but come on, guys...the only thing I really do consistently is read, like, a ton. Also, I'm always eating gummy bears, as is evidenced by these bloody persistent saddle bags.

    Reading is fun, free (sort of), and required (for me, anyway), so right now I do it constantly. You might be surprised to know all the things I get done while reading. I read while I'm walking the dog, watching TV, waiting at red lights, baking, laundering my underwears, sitting in church,'s true. (I guess you'll be thinking twice before you borrow one of my books.) It's the ultimate multi-tasking task. So I've made this little list of some of the books I've devoured this summer, complete with reviews. Really short ones, though. What, do you think I'm made of extra time? There are important episodes of Master Chef I need to catch up on.

    Listen. I know the title of this post makes it sound like this is something I've done, like, more than once. It's not. So could you just ignore that please? Thanks, guys. You're the best.

    The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America, Dr. Drew Pinsky
    Oh, Dr. Drew. So wise. So very swoonable. And so right about the damaging effects of celebrity narcissism on all of us. I dare you to read this and not start pinpointing narcissistic traits in everyone you have ever known, ever. Everyone who hopes to raise a child successfully in this Reality TV era should read this book. Plus, gaining a little bit of sympathy and understanding for the fame-obsessed around us is helpful. Especially when you live in a toilet like Hollywood.

    Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
    The people who haven't heard of this book are the same under-rock dwellers who haven't heard that Geico can save them a bunch of money on car insurance. I mean, this thing is everywhere. So I picked it up to learn what all the cool kids are talking about and let me tell ya, I have mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong, I am fascinated by Gladwell's findings. But I gotta say, I'm a tad discouraged. For example, the whole "perfect timing is imperative for success" thing? Doesn't that mean we Millennials are all pretty well screwed, much like those who got married and entered the work force during the Great Depression? Also, have any of us really spent 10,000 hours—the amount of time necessary to truly master something—doing anything? I mean, other than watching Saved by the Bell?

    The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Stephen Adly Guirgis
    This play was recommended to me by my theater professor friend. He mentioned it as a must-read one Sunday after my church lesson on the Crucifixion, and being the type of person who appreciates semi-sacrilicious, biblically-based fiction, I took his advice and read the crap out of it. It is truly one of the most honest and provocative accounts of Judas I've come across. And it's beautiful. The final scene is wood-burned into my memory planks. I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.

    Lives on the Boundary, Mike Rose
    When I first started pursuing this Master's degree, I would get all panicky and defensive when people would ask me if I planned on teaching. Do I have to? I mean, can't I just read and talk about what I've read with other people who like to read? Like, you know, a pro book club or something? Fast-forward to six weeks from now when I'm teaching my own college writing classes. Holy...I think I just pooped my pants a little. Rose's account of his experiences in the public education trenches has taken me from "Why would I ever want to teach?" to "What kind of monster wouldn't want to be a teacher?" The fact is, for every Gretta Ruth Parkinson Whalen whose parents nagged her about homework and helped her study for Spanish and dropped her off at Jane Hinckley's for math tutoring, there are about a hundred kids who are struggling to stay afloat in school. Mike Rose knows who these kids are, what they're like, and how we can help them.

    Guys, have you read these books? What did you think? I'm itching to discuss them and Rob has read exactly none of them. He has, however, read roughly 1,000 pages worth of The Walking Dead, which gives me comfort since we probably won't be having book club during the Zombie Apocalypse, will we?

    But if we do, I'll happily lead the discussion on The Mirror Effect.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    It should be uterME, not uterus.

    Friends. Family. I love you. But please, kindly back away from my womb.

    Do not misunderstand. I'm more than happy to discuss my reproductive future with my loved ones. Ask me if we plan to have kids. Ask me how many. Ask me how I feel about crib bumpers and prenatal yoga and breastfeeding. I have fascinating opinions about all of these things. If you have time for a little bit of a discussion, you can even ask me when and under what circumstances I'd like to birth said babies. (The time requirement is a result of my personal confusion regarding when and under what circumstances I'd like to give birth. Confusion = long answers = a time commitment from you, you understand.) But if you could do me a favor and just not pressure me, that would be fantastic.

    I totally get that culturally, Rob and I are a little behind the curve. We've been married for more than three years now and heaven knows we're not getting any younger. I've been made aware that my prime childbearing years have come and gone while I've selfishly chased useless degrees and pursued a lucrative and rewarding retail career. Meanwhile, my ovaries are slowly shriveling like raisins in the sun after so many years of neglect. These things I know.

    Additionally, I've tricked you. I've gained weight for reasons like "laziness" and "depression" rather than baby farming. Then instead of letting those extra pounds grow into a nice round baby bump, I've turned around and lost them (and gained them and lost them, etc.). I've complained of nausea and heartburn that turned out to be just heartburn and nausea. I've worn billowy tops and tunics just because I like them. And every once in a while, I eat for two despite there being only one of me.

    Here's the truth: the Whalens want to have children! If one were to grace our home in the next 9-10 months, we would be elated! And terrified! And eager and anxious. We would make any and all necessary arrangements. We would laugh and freak out and giggle and melt down with horror and glee. But this is not a race, my friends! Rob and I are growing our brood at a nice Whalen pace. I promise you, we're doing it thoughtfully and prayerfully. We're not waiting for the "right time" because, as you all well know, there is no such thing. And we're not waiting until we have the money, because we never will. (Despite my many fervent prayers, babies still don't come wrapped in hundred dollar bills. Unfortunately.)

    Of course, there are things to think about. I'm smack dab in the middle of a graduate program that is both wonderful and stressful. And the two of us are just about as poor as welfare church mice. But that's what makes this all so exciting! There are many bridges in our future, and we'll cross them when we reach them.

    But in the meantime, remember: good things come to those who wait for Baby Whalens. And a Baby Whalen? Now that's a good thing.