How a Mexican chinchilla found his vacation dream home

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Twins | 0 comments

Two years ago, Gabe was invited to a birthday party.  His twin sisters, who were 6 at the time, were very upset to learn they had not been included on the invitation.

“It’s not fair, Momma!  Why does Gabe get to have all the fun?!” they cried.

“It is fair,” I disagreed.  “Grant is Gabe’s friend.  Gabe will get invited to things that don’t include you.  And someday you will get invitations that don’t include Gabe.”

“But what are we gonna do while Gabe’s at the party?” they complained.

“We’re gonna go on a date with Daddy!” I tried to sell the idea.

“That’s boring,” they complained.

“Oh stop it!” I demanded, having heard all the negativity I cared to hear.  “You’re not going to the party, and that’s the end of the story.  Now go get dressed for our date.”

A short while later, they came downstairs ready for their date.  They opted for frilly dresses, white tights, high heels, wide-brimmed hats and purses – because that’s what they wore the last time they went on a date with Daddy to the Father/Daughter dance at school.  They looked adorable.  Craig and I had to hide our giggles when we realized how seriously they had decided to take this so-called date.

While Gabe was at the party, we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant to eat.  Much to my surprise, Craig ordered a pitcher of margaritas.

“Why did you order a pitcher?” I asked, shocked.

“I figured we’d be here awhile,” he explained casually, with a sly grin.

“That’s true,” I agreed.  “But don’t you think one of us ought to be able to drive our children home safely?”

“Oh yeah,” he pretended to be hit by my genius revelation.  “Oh well,” he shrugged.  “More for me!”

“Oh God,” I rolled my eyes, realizing this was his plan all along.

A couple of hours later, we left the restaurant in good spirits – especially Craig.  We still had a little time to kill before Gabe’s party ended.  We got in the car and the girls spotted PetSmart immediately.

“Momma!  Can we please go to PetSmart and adopt an animal?” Sydney, our animal lover, begged.

“Yes, we can go to PetSmart.  No, we are not adopting an animal,” I stated firmly.

“Why not Momma?” the girls pleaded.

“Because we already have 2 dogs and 2 fish.  The last thing we need is another animal,” Craig willingly supported me.

I felt safe walking into PetSmart.  I was confident we were just killing time.

When we entered, the girls walked straight to the hamsters and guinea pigs – as they always do.  Craig followed their lead while I went to find food and chew bones for the dogs.

I was only gone 5 minutes.  I should have known better than to leave Margarita Myers alone in a pet store with his precious twin daughters dressed in their Sunday best.

“What is that?” I heard Craig ask the sales clerk, who had spotted him as an easy target the second I walked away.  He was pointing at a small, white, fuzzy rodent with large ears.

“That’s a chinchilla.  It’s my favorite animal in the store.  We don’t carry them regularly, and it’s rare to find one this young,” she sold him.

“Really?” his interest peaked.  Craig is a sucker for anything “rare.”  “Why?” he needed to know.

“They’re usually older by the time they get to us,” she explained.  “It’s great to get one this young so that you can tame him to feel comfortable with humans.  When you do, chinchillas are super friendly pets.”

“Can we hold it?” he asked.

“Craig!” I scolded him under my breath.  “What are you doing?”

“The girls want to hold him!” he claimed.

“The girls have no interest in him!” I hissed the truth.  They were still busy debating which guinea pig was the cutest.

“Sure they do!” he lied through his teeth.  “Look girls!  It’s a chin-chill-a!” he grabbed their attention with his syrupy “Daddy’s-the-best-Daddy-ever” tone that he uses when he’s being smug with me.

He was drunk and playful.  I was in trouble and I knew it.

When Craig is drunk and playful, his inhibitions go out the window and his common sense goes missing.  When Craig is drunk and playful, he will do anything to get a rise out of me.  Anything.

“Oh Daddy!  He’s so cute!  We love him!” they swooned.

“I know you do!” Craig nodded his head condescendingly and flashed me one of his  famous “I told you so” smiles.

“Oh Daddy!  Can we get him?  Please!!!!!!!!!” they begged, as they batted their twin eyelashes at him.

“Well, it’s okay with Daddy as long as it’s okay with Mommy,” he offered them phony assurance, while daring me to be the buzz-kill.

He was drunk and evil.  He didn’t want that chinchilla any more than I did.  But he loves to be the hero – especially in the eyes of his little girls.

My competitive spirit got the best of me.  I was going to teach him a lesson and beat him at his own game.

“Girls, you know Mommy loves animals!  Mommy doesn’t mind if Daddy doesn’t mind,” I threw his bag of tricks right back at him.

YAY!!!!!!!!” they jumped up and down and cheered.

Wait a minute.  What had just happened?  I was merely engaging in a quiet verbal battle with my drunk husband.  Our words had  nothing to do with the actual purchase of a chinchilla!  We were still deciding.  We hadn’t said “Yes.”  Why were they squealing with delight?!

Craig looked at me with horror.  “What did you just do?!” he accused.

“I didn’t do anything you didn’t do!” I defended myself, warding off the blame.

To make a long story short – we went home with a chinchilla that night.

After we got home, Craig spent hours setting up the cage while I hopped online to research the irresponsible, uniformed decision we had just made to buy a pet.  Imagine my surprise when the first site I stumbled upon stated the following:

So, you are thinking about getting a chinchilla.
WARNING!! Although these furry, nocturnal creatures are cute and cuddly their favourite pastime is gnawing everything and anything in sight. So, if they are to be given liberty to run around please be aware of this fact.
LIFE SPAN – A chinchilla’s life span is between 18-22 years.
ADVANTAGES
As they sleep all day, they are just waking up when everyone’s coming home and therefore can be ideal for someone who works all day, wants a pet, and doesn’t want to feel guilty for leaving it all day. Fun to watch. Cannot be housetrained but relatively clean with hardly any odour.
DISADVANTAGES
Their gnawing habits. The fact that they really need to sleep, undisturbed, during the day which may disappoint children.

Good Lord.  What did we do?  18-22 YEARS????  Are you kidding me?!  Hell – at this rate, our grandkids will be able to play with Willow too!

He does indeed sleep all day, never making a peep.  At 9:15 every night – just after we’ve put the kids to bed and are craving peace and quiet – he wakes up.  And runs in his squeaky wheel.  And runs.  And runs.  And runs.

When he’s not running, he’s shitting.  Willow shits more than any animal I’ve ever encountered.  His rear-end is like a projectile missile launch.  There’s shit everywhere – inside his cage, outside his cage, on the closet shelves next to his cage.

That’s right – he lives in a closet.  A closet that we cleared for the sole purpose of containing his shit.

Unfortunately, the kids – especially Sydney –  love him.  He is a friendly pet, in direct contrast to his red, demonic eyes.  Due to his pleasant nature, Willow is a hit when the kids’ friends come over to play.

This leads me to the rest of the story – which is as close to a happy ending as Craig and I will ever get wherein the damn chinchilla is concerned.

The girls have a buddy named Luke.  Luke fell in love with Willow.  He used to have 2 hamsters of his own, but unfortunately they both contracted a sudden disease when they were 8 months old.  The pet-store owner that diagnosed their mysterious disease was certain it was contagious and life-threatening to other animals.  For the safety of their beloved dog, Lily, it was imperative that Lukes’ hamsters be returned to the store – according to Luke’s mom, Chelsea, anyway.

Chelsea is a good friend of mine and a great mom.  She’ll do anything for her 3 boys.  She’s also a big fan of cleanliness.  When Luke came home from our house begging for a chinchilla, she was seasoned enough with rodents to know that it wasn’t going to happen.

But Luke is her baby.  And I know this.  Which is why I mentioned to him that we would be happy to share Willow with him whenever he wanted.

“Really?!” he couldn’t contain his excitement.

“Really!” I promised him.  “If you can talk your mom into getting a cage, Willow could even sleep at your house!”  (Yes – I’m that devious.)

A week later, Chelsea called me from the pet store.  After she delivered me a good thrashing that included some of the most vile expletives in the book, I guided her to purchase a duplicate cage, food, water bottle, bedding, treats, toys, exercise wheel, hide-out, litter, etc.  She even bought Willow a striped carrying case, for optimal comfort while the dirty rodent travels between residences.

The girls and Luke are thrilled to share custody of Willow.  Every week, the chinchilla travels to school for the hand-off between Chelsea and me.  Every week, the kids are sad to see him go and thrilled when he arrives.  Every week, the moms are sad when he arrives and thrilled to see him go.  Inappropriate parental banter is sure to be exchanged along with our pet chinchilla.

Willow loves vacationing at Luke’s lake house.  While there, he is the only rodent I am aware of that could be defined as a pampered pet.  Since Luke bathes in Chelsea’s bathroom, she contains Willow’s projectile shit and his cage in Luke’s walk-in shower.  It is the Ritz Carlton of rodent resorts – always pristine and shit-free as possible, which is a feat.  Because she spends so much time cleaning up after him, she has grown quite fond of the little ear-muff – even though she’d never admit it.  The evidence tells a different story: she knows his favorite spot to be pet, and recently bought him a leash.

Unfortunately we are stuck with this chinchilla.  At least now we only have to clean up his shit 26 weeks per year as opposed to 52.  If Willow does live to the age of 20, he’ll only have to bear slumming it in our shitty closet for a mere 9 more years.  I can only  hope that Luke never wants to start using his own shower – for Willow’s sake, of course.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Mess It Up – I only get one shot at parenting my kids

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in From My Perspective | 1 comment

Every parent – including myself – hopes they’re doing it right.  However, because raising children is an ongoing process, you never know if you’re making the correct decisions.  It’s much easier for me to identify parental behavior that feels wrong.

The hard part?  Remembering what feels wrong and choosing to implement the right behavior when I find myself stuck in the heat of the moment with my kids.

Along the way, I have compiled a “Don’t” list that I try to follow.  I am not always successful.  The heat of the moment is stressful.  And sticky.  And maddening.  And embarrassing at times.

When I fail, I feel ashamed.  Why?  Because I know better.  It is my job as the parent to behave like an adult.  It is the job of my kids to behave like children.  When the two roles get confused, I end up making both jobs more difficult.

Following are the “Don’ts” that I believe will lead to the most trouble for my kids if I fail to incorporate them into my daily parenting:

Don’t be afraid to say “No.”  My children will forgive me, and learn to be appreciative when I say “Yes.”

Don’t make excuses for ill behavior.  Being rude or throwing a temper tantrum is never okay.  Not even when my kids are tired or hungry.

Don’t be a hypocrite.  Kids are smart.  They’ll see through my phony words and learn to ignore them.

Don’t cushion every blow.  Life isn’t fair.  My children must learn to cope with disappointment.

Don’t label them.  They will use the labels to their advantage now, and to their detriment later.

Don’t pity them.  I must teach my kids how to hold their heads high when faced with adversity.

Don’t solve their problems.  Instead, it is up to me to teach them the language and tools necessary to stand up for themselves.

Don’t entertain them every moment of the day.  They need to learn how to find comfort and peace when they are alone.

Don’t be afraid to zap them with doses of harsh reality.  The best lessons are learned the hard way.

Don’t ignore them when they speak to me.  Someday I’ll want them to feel safe talking to me.

Don’t tell my kids to “Shut-up!”  It’s not nice.  “Not nice” is a learned behavior.

Don’t placate them.  Everything will not be okay.  Life is hard.  It’s healthier to prepare my kids with gentle honesty along the way.

Don’t lie to them.  The truth always surfaces.  I need my kids to trust me and they need to be able to do so.

Don’t put off or avoid the hard truths.  My kids will learn them one way or another.  It’s safer and more accurate when they come from me.

Don’t set bad examples.  I have no one to blame but myself when my children follow them.

Don’t be upset with them when they behave just like me.  I must admit my weaknesses and encourage my children to grow better.

 

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Identical Twins and Costume Drama

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in From My Perspective, Twins | 0 comments

I dread it when our identical twin daughters have to pick out costumes.  Whether the costumes are for Halloween, a spring concert – whatever – the process is bound to create drama.

The on-line selections always end with the same result:

Taylor goes for glitz and glamour.

She is drawn to girly-girl costumes that hi-lite her beauty and femininity.  She seeks the prettiest, most fashionable costume – banking on her good looks to gain the most praise-worthy attention.  For Halloween, she was a princess fairy with stunning wings.

Sydney goes for playful originality.

She is drawn to the uniquely creative costume that is guaranteed to get a good laugh.  She counts on her quirky personality to set her apart from the rest of the group.  She opted to be a Twister board for Halloween, wearing the spinner on her head as a hat.

When the order arrives, the girls squeal with excitement.  As they tear their costumes out of the box, Taylor is still thrilled with her selection – just sure that she made the right choice.

“Okay, Sydney,” she states with a judgemental giggle, “your costume is just weird!”

“No it’s not, Taylor!  I love it!” she wards off her twin sister’s criticism with confident ease.

They race to see who can get dressed the fastest, each one eager to be the first to show off her new costume.

We can’t help but crack up at Sydney’s clever spontaneity – most recently dressed as a sock monkey.

“Syd!  That’s hilarious!” we laugh as we tell her, always impressed by her bold originality.  She beams with radiant confidence, as she dances in place to show off the funny features of her costume.

“Aw Tay, you look so pretty!” we tell her truthfully.  But she detects – and detests – a lack of shock value in our reactions to her sweet costume of Little Red Riding Hood.

Taylor covets the boisterous reaction that Sydney gets, but is never brave enough to step outside her comfort zone.  Her very particular sense of fashion dictates her costume selection.  She forgets that the purpose of a costume is to transform you into something new or different.  Thus, her costumes always look the same.

Sydney, on the other hand, has no interest in fashion.  It is easy for her to make outlandish selections because she is never bothered by a mismatched outfit.  She dresses according to comfort, not style.

Hopefully Sydney’s example will teach Taylor that true fashion isn’t about being the same, but rather having the courage to be different.  Syd possesses the confidence to pick what she likes.  Maybe one day Taylor will learn to use her love for fashion to please herself, without worrying about the opinions of  her audience.

 

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You are Invited: Follow My Blog on Facebook!

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in From My Perspective | 0 comments

Recently, my blog has been getting a lot of new visitors.  I’m really excited about this!

If you’d like to keep up with me on a more regular basis, I invite you to Like my official blog Facebook page “Kristin-Myers: Just Saying” by clicking on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/JustSayingK?fref=ts

It’s an easy way to keep up with new blog posts, and I enjoy keeping it real with frequent status updates.  I encourage you to join in on the conversation.  It’s a fun crowd!

Hope to see you there!

-Kristin

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The shoe is on the other foot. It is good for him.

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in From My Perspective, Raising Great Kids | 1 comment

Gabriel recently joined an AAU basketball team.  Three nights per week he is eager to make the 30 minute trip south to 8 Mile Road for practice.  This is the first time Craig hasn’t coached one of Gabe’s teams.  He is learning how it feels to be just another player on the team.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

This is the first team Gabe has been on without being one of the best players.  He is learning what it feels like to support his team from a hard seat on the bench.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

Gabe is used to playing with confidence.  Now he is nervous and flustered when the ball comes to him.  He is learning to cope with the anxiety that goes along with being benched if he makes a mistake.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

This is the first time we’ve had to fight with Gabe to prioritize his homework over basketball.  He is outside shooting and dribbling every chance he can get.  He is driven to get better – he wants off that bench.  He is learning to work hard to get to where he wants to go.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.  

Gabe is used to being the leader of a team.  Now he has no choice but to follow the examples set by the stronger players.  He has to prove his worth before they will accept him as a leader.  He is learning there is value in being a good follower.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

Tonight there are 15 kids at practice.  Gabe is the only white boy on the court.  There are other white boys on the roster, but they are the minority by far.  Coach just called him Adam – another white boy on the team.  I chuckle as I wonder facetiously if all white people look alike?  Gabe is learning what it feels like to be different because of the way he looks.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

A few weeks ago they participated in the LeBron James Shooting Stars tournament in Akron, Ohio.  Gabe was ecstatic when they won the opportunity to play on LeBron’s high school court  – the court where the dreams of his idol came true.  When his team got slaughtered by 30 points, his own dream of winning on the court King James made famous was shattered.   He is learning how devastating it feels to lose in the moments when only winning counts.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

The team that beat them in their final game flew in from California.  He was intimidated by their fancy uniforms, full warm-ups and matching duffle bags.  His team wears mismatched uniforms straight from a sweaty duffle bag that Coach carries with him to be sure that none go missing.  Gabe is not used to having less than the other kids.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

Every night after practice, we ask him if he’s still having fun.  He assures us that he is.  We hug him tightly and tell him we are proud of his work ethic and positive attitude.  He is learning that we love him because of his heart, not because of his statistics.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

Gabe is becoming a better basketball player at each and every practice.  More importantly though, he is becoming a stronger, more well-rounded individual.  He is learning empathy.  He is learning patience.  He is learning the value of hard work, commitment and dedication.  All of this is happening because he is learning how to struggle.

The shoe is on the other foot.  It is good for him.

 

 

 

 

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