He’s defective…..I’d like a refund.

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you all on the freeloaders, so lets catch up. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and let me tell you a story about how incredibly dumb I am. It will be fun, settle in friends.

Alright, so you all know that our sweet Bailey had 8 adorable puppies. The little freeloaders came into our life like a whirlwind. We’ve never reared puppies before, hell….I’ve never seen a dog give birth until this litter….so we may have been a tad bit underprepared. Oh hell, let’s just be real…we’re all friends here right? We had no clue what we were doing and it was a shit show, but we managed.

We found amazing homes for 7 out of our 8 puppies. They all went to our friends and family. We have a Facebook group to share pictures and stories. A few of the owners even get the puppies together for play dates….it really is a beautiful thing. It will give you all the feels. However……one lonely little puppy didn’t find a home. We talked to everyone we knew, we posted him online, we shared his face with everyone who would look. No one seemed to be interested in him.

He’s not particularly outstanding. He’s an average sized puppy, solid black with a few white markings. He wasn’t the overly obnoxious one, or the loud one, or the adventurous one. Think “Average Andy” from the Ellen show. That’s this little guy. In fact, most of the litter had nicknames given to them by us. There was Tank, the town crier, the smart one, the runt…..and then this guy. We called him the little black boy, due to his color and his solid black collar to help identify him from the others.

This past Sunday, we went to church and then we took him with us to watch the Chief’s game with some friends. I felt bad that he was in his crate all morning, so he rode in the back seat with my youngest son. They snuggled….bonded….and I could see the look of “want” on his face. My husband and I joked about calling him Chief and then proceeded to remind the kids that we were NOT keeping him. He was only coming along for the day, so he wasn’t stuck in the crate. “Stay strong, do not cave! We don’t need another dog!” I reminded myself as I stared at my son, who longingly held the puppy in his arms. I knew this wouldn’t be easy…..even I wanted to keep him when I saw him snuggled next to my littlest minion. That’s because I am an idiot my friends….

I stayed strong though! I did not give in to the sad eyes from my kids!! It was incredible…..and I was so proud. 😇 My husband on the other hand, was not so strong….after a few beers and some football, the kids came inside to tell me that Andrew said they could keep him!!! They excitedly told me they had named him Chief. Awesome…..I can’t wait to take care of him, I thought to myself. 🙄

We brought him home and told the kids he is their responsibility. Just like we said about the bird that I feed or the lizard I have to remind them to feed, or the gerbil who never gets his cage cleaned until it smells. Clearly this was going to work well for us. Never the less, the kids were excited and I am not one to go back on our word….so it looks like we were going to make the most of it.

Meet Chief

Day 1 went great. We brought him inside the house, the boys watched him and cleaned up after him. They played with him and he didn’t have any accidents inside the house. It was great news for my husband, who was afraid he would be sleeping in the doghouse with the puppy after he agreed to keep him without consulting me. The more good days this dog has, the more good days my husband will have. You see….every time the dog pees in the house or chews something up…..I will remind him that he agreed to this…..for the rest of his life. It’s my duty as his wife, to remind him of his poor life choices, so he doesn’t repeat them.

Day 2 was all me though. The kids went to school, the husband went to work and I stayed here to manage the funny farm. I work from home, so I’m here all the time. I got up early, took a shower, got dressed, got the puppy and started work. I totally have this, I thought to myself. I’ve trained dogs before, it will be fine. We’ve got 2 other dogs, what’s one more?

Can I just say how wrong I was? This dog should have been named Jaws. In the course of 3 minutes….he managed to chew my laptop cord in half. He then went on to eat my cell phone charger, and finished his day by chewing through the cord that plugs in the Wi-Fi router. As if that isn’t enough, he also loves to chew on wood. The legs of my chairs, the end table, the bottom shelf of the coffee table….anything his tiny little razor teeth can grab onto is fair game. 🤦🏻‍♀️😤

The laptop cord was the first to go. No worries asshole, it’s not like I need that to work and pay for food for your freeloading self. 😤
What’s left of the cell phone charger. 🙄
The final straw….the cord to my google nest. 🤬

Day 2…..the day I was in charge of him….was a disaster my friends. When my family arrived home, I proceeded to tell them all the things he’d chewed up. I threatened to rehome him, I yelled a little, and I cussed a little. This damn dog was defective…..he was going to have to be rehomed.

But then, I sat down and watched B play with him. My youngest son was adopted, so we’ve had many emotional challenges with him through the years. He struggled to form close relationships for a time, and has always been one that had a hard time with empathy. This dog though, has given him something to own. He’s taken it on and decided he wants to train him. He feeds him, changes his puppy pads, cleans up after him and chases him around the yard. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t roll his eyes, he just gets up and does it. Then he reminds me how thankful he is that we were able to keep him. This damn dog is good for him guys. He needs this right now……as much as I may want to get rid of him….my little minion needs him.

So here we are….on day 3. Just me and the defective dog, hanging out. Today, Andrew blocked off all the entrances that lead to “behind the couches”. I pulled the dogs toy basket out into the middle of the floor, so he has all the toys. I showed him 3 different bones, we played rope for 15 minutes, we walked around the house twice in hopes he would sleep and so far….it’s working. So far…he hasn’t chewed on any cords, he hasn’t peed in the house, and I haven’t had to cuss yet today. So far….today is a good day.

He naps with his tongue out…..ok, he’s a little cute. 🙄

Please send prayers and good vibes our way as we navigate life with another freeloader. Also if you’d like to donate any charging cables to our home, just let me know. 😉

That hat though…

This weekend we spent time with family and friends on the water. Our kids were all with their other parents so Andrew and I got some much needed time together. As I watched my husband swim this weekend, I couldn’t help but think of our first summer together, when we were falling in love on the lake.

We had just started dating and the lake house was a safe zone for us. We weren’t quite ready to introduce each other to our friends or family yet, so we lived inside this little bubble. Our time together was just ours. We didn’t have to balance kids or work or everyday life. On the weekends we just got to be us, and it was incredible.

We had so much fun on the lake that summer. I remember realizing how quickly I was falling for him. I remember the excitement of the new relationship, the butterflies, the giggles and laughter we shared. It was perfect.

Do y’all know why it was perfect? Because the man I was falling in love with…..the man that was so incredibly handsome….the man that completely shook up my world…..that man wasn’t wearing this hat.

Sexy right? 🤦🏻‍♀️

That’s right ladies….he’s all mine. Lounging on the boat with his salesman smile, those ice blue eyes hidden behind his sunglasses, and wearing that hat. Sexy right? I mean, aside from reminding me of my grandfather, it’s a really great hat. Especially for a weekend we don’t have kids. Some people pack sexy outfits, or special cologne for a date weekend. Nope, my man packs the worlds ugliest hat. He really knows how to impress a lady folks. Be jealous…..

Flashback to our first summer…..isn’t he cute?

Seriously though, he really used to impress me. His hair was always cut to perfection, he always smelled amazing, he was very well put together. It was one of the things that I was attracted to, he was always so handsome!

As I watched him this weekend, wearing his favorite hat, I couldn’t help but think about how goofy he looks. This old man fishing hat, is one that I would burn if I didn’t love him so much. Seriously folks, I’ve had the opportunity. I could have sunk it in the lake with a rock once. He jumped in and lost it. I had it for a good 10 minutes before he realized. The thought crossed my mind. I’ve considered throwing it in the fire pit when he turns his back. Or placing it at the bottom of the dumpster when he gets up to make a drink.

But this weekend, as I watched him….I didn’t see the ugly hat that drives me crazy. Ok that’s a lie, I totally noticed it, but it didn’t drive me nuts. In fact, I couldn’t help but laugh as I remembered how perfect he was that first summer. Would I have come back for a second date if he whipped out that bad boy on the first date? Probably not….🤣🤷🏻‍♀️

This weekend though, I saw the man that I love, happily enjoying his weekend with friends and family. I couldn’t help but think to myself, I love him so much more today than I did that first summer. I love his quirky personality. I love his self confidence, I love his care free attitude. I love his type A personality, that will wear this ugly hat until the day he dies, because he knows how much I hate it. I love everything about him, including that ugly hat.

That hat represents true love my friends. It represents everything in life I’ve ever wanted. It represents unconditional love, peace and true happiness. I love that man and that ugly old hat. ❤️

Can we talk about tweens for a moment please?

As most of you know, I’m a mom to two boys of my own and one bonus son. We are a boy household through and through. There is baseball, football, nerf guns, countless nerf bullets, legos, stinky socks, smelly gym clothes, and lots of video games. As a boy mom, I find myself saying things like:

  • “Don’t hit your brother! Please just be nice.
  • “If you’re going to fart, please leave the dinner table.”
  • “Why is this sticky? What is it?”
  • “Who forgot deodorant today?”
  • “Why does it sound like a herd of elephants is stampeding in the house?!”
  • “The bathroom smells like pee….AIM or CLEAN it!”
  • “4 hours of Call of Duty is plenty….”
  • “I’m sure I’m not the ONLY mom in the pickup line without a bra.”

There are countless other things I can list but I’m sure you get the idea. Boys are a unique creature. When mine were small, they were so easy. Peyton was literally the kid that played with boxes. He really enjoyed the plastic wipes container. As he grew, it was trucks, hot wheels and legos. Bradley has always been equally as easy to please. He liked action figures and hot wheels more than legos but still didn’t require much. Little boys see the world in black and white. Everything is so literal to them, so you always know exactly what they are feeling. My boys have always been great at showing emotions. It often looks like their hands around their brothers neck…..but I never questioned how they felt! Black and white….clear cut and direct. Obviously that means you’re pissed….I am a pro at this parenting game by the way. Clearly, I’ve got it figured out.

That is….I was a pro until we hit the tween years. My sweet, sweet boy is 12. With 12 comes all kinds of new things that I wasn’t prepared for. For those of you that don’t have boys, or haven’t reached this age….let me just explain. 12 year old boys are awkward. Like seriously weird right now. They aren’t quite young men yet, but they aren’t really a kid anymore. Just like everything else in my life, they are stuck in the middle. It turns out, that’s not an easy place to be. 12 year old boys are like a little ticking time bomb. You know it’s going to explode, you know something will trigger it…..you just aren’t sure what.

They are beginning to explore their independence. This looks like being dropped off at the football game with his friends, or letting him stay up a little later since he’s arrived at junior high. 12 year old boys also begin exploring other things. Mine seems to be exploring the shower a lot. He sometimes takes 3 showers a day, and is usually in there for a minimum of 20 minutes. I’m sure he’s just admiring the carpentry of the bathroom. Maybe he’s studying to be a plumber, the bathroom is a good place to start. He is also the cleanest person in our home, so at least we have that going for us. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Lately, my beloved 12 year old has been slightly….moody. 🤦🏻‍♀️ That’s putting it nicely friends, he literally goes from sweet and loving to demonic possession in an instant. Some days he may spend the better part of the day in his room, only emerging for food and bathroom breaks. Sometimes I’m certain he looks like a little vampire, squinting at the lights.

I will be working on my resume next.

Let me provide an example for those of you that are visual learners. I’m sitting on the couch, Peyton emerges from his bat cave. He ducks his head and walks towards the kitchen, hoping I don’t speak to him. “Hey bub! While you’re up, would you grab your socks from the floor and put them in the dirty?” I say, as nicely as I can to avoid poking the bear. “Seriously, MOM?! Why do I have to do everything around here?” He screeches as he begins to cry.

It took me a few moments to process what was happening. Ok, now we’re crying….super. Why are we crying? What did I say? Was it my tone? Shit….he’s still crying. What do I say? I have a 50/50 shot at saying the wrong thing. My adrenaline is going like it’s the last 3 seconds of the playoffs and I’ve got the ball.

“Ok, obviously you’re a little upset right now but I’m not sure why. I just asked you to pick up your socks. No one else needs to pick them up because they belong to you. You left them in the floor. See where I’m going with this bud?” I tried to end light hearted in hope we would avoid a fight. My plan was foiled by the copious amounts of hormones he has raging through his little body. We went from crying to full on melt down, stomping, sighing loudly, rolling eyes, the works. Listen y’all, 5 years ago I would have stood up, yelled some things about respect, and sent him to his room. He would emerge 10 minutes later a better boy with a whole new attitude. But not today, nope….Jesus took the wheel to save my mouthy little demon child. Instead, I took a very long….deep breath to compose myself. I prayed a quick prayer in my head because I knew only the good Lord could save my baby from what I was prepared to do to him.

“Excuse me sir, I’ve tried to be nice. I’m not speaking to you that way and I suggest you don’t speak to me that way. Pick up the socks, go to your room, and do not come out until you have adjusted your attitude.” I said with a stern tone so he knew I still meant business. He quickly picked up the socks and walked to his room. The positive side, he didn’t slam the door. Poor kid had to go back and walk the stairs at our apartment every time he slammed a door or stomped away. He’s never done it since. 🤣

Y’all, I just want my sweet boy back. The one that wanted to snuggle in the mornings or watch tv with me at night after dinner. I miss the kid that loves to ride around in the car with me while I run errands. Or the little guy that sings in the shower because he just has so much joy in his heart. I know in my heart, he will return. After some tough preteen and teenage years, he will return to his sweet, gentle self. At least I pray that he does.

Until that happens though, I’m gonna need y’all to pray for him. He is going to need it if this attitude keeps up! Pray for me, as we navigate another uncharted territory together. You see, I was 21 when he was born. He and I have grown up together in a lot of ways. We’ve had lots of “firsts” together. This is just another first we must walk through together. It may be the most challenging one yet though. I don’t know about y’all but I’m just trying not to raise assholes. 🤣🤷🏻‍♀️

Stuck in the middle

On a side note, I have to share a good story about the middle with y’all. As I previously mentioned, if there is anything related to the middle, it will likely happen to me. This really is my lot in life, and I’ve accepted it. Now, I can make fun of the irony in the situation.

Several years ago, (before we adopted our youngest son) I did some traveling for work. I wasn’t quite in the middle yet, so I was still very much enjoying my twenties. That also means I didn’t always make the wisest decisions. Naturally, it would make sense that my next sentence starts with “Ok, so I was hungover.”

Ok, so I was hungover, and not just a little bit either my friends….nope I was all in. I was full blown headache, sunglasses, and headphones, kind of hungover. I was holding the barf bag kind of hungover…..when I had to board a plane home from a trip. I carefully made my way down the isle to find my seat. Just my f*cking luck….it’s the middle seat. I stow my backpack, grab my barf bag, and scoot my butt as far down on the seat as I can. I extend my legs and cross my feet, so they are straight out in front of me. Carefully, I fold my hands, one on top of the other. So that in my slumber, I won’t accidentally whack my neighbors. I lay my head back and let myself drift off to dream land. Dream land?! Who the hell am I kidding, I passed out because I had 2 hours of sleep and I was probably still drunk.

I was awakened to the loud screech of the tires squealing against the hot pavement. We had landed….wait…we landed?! We just took off?! I wracked my brain for a moment, confused as to what just happened. I lifted my head, that was pressed heavily against the shoulder of the man to my left. I could feel the imprint of his shirt collar against my cheek, as I quickly wiped my hand across my face. I had to wipe the drool that was coming from my chin….😳😳 That’s right. I was drooling. I hadn’t fully raised my head yet and I could see a small wet spot on the mans shirt from my slobber. F*cking great, I thought to myself. I just passed out on this poor man for TWO HOURS!! Y’all…..it’s bad enough that I passed out on his shoulder, it’s worse that I drooled on him, but it’s even worse that I snore!! That’s right friends, when I’m drunk or very tired, I will snore. Loud and proud….like a freight train. It’s not the least bit attractive. Nothing about this was attractive. This was……absolutely horrible.

I composed myself and quietly mustered out “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” I avoided eye contact and hoped he’d stand up to get his bags and just ignore me. Nope, instead he looks me squarely in the eye and says, “It’s ok sweetie, I have a daughter about your age. You looked so peaceful sleeping, I didn’t have the heart to wake you.” I’m like “Yea, that’s great but I drooled on you. I am so sorry, that’s so gross!” The nice man just laughed and said “Ha, I ain’t worried about that young lady. Do you feel better?”

I did feel better. I felt rested from my nap, I felt a little less embarrassed, and I felt relieved that this man wasn’t creeped out by me. Maybe he was a creeper? Maybe he enjoyed it? Perhaps he has people in his basement? 🙄😳🤷🏻‍♀️

Or maybe he’s just a nice guy. Shoutout to the nice man on the airplane that day. You were a hero!

Back to School!!

Y’all…..this week holds one of my favorite days of the year. It’s right up there with Christmas and my birthday, I mean it may not be my number one favorite day….but it’s definitely top 5. It’s BACK TO SCHOOL!!

My Facebook is flooded with the obligatory back to school pictures. The kids look perfect, every hair in place, the sun glistening through the tree behind them. You can almost hear the birds singing in the background. Here’s mine:

Aren’t they handsome?

However, what we don’t often see is the background. We don’t see the 5 pictures taken before this that have silly faces or closed eyes or hair out of place or children fighting. We don’t often share the imperfect parts of our lives because it makes others uncomfortable. Heck, it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not one to get into my feelings and things. I’m not the girl that cries in movies, I’m the girl laughing at my husband who is crying during the movie. He really does, it’s hilarious and adorable. 🤣 Like everyone else….I have those moments in my life and like everyone else, I don’t often share them. However, some of them just lend themselves well to being shared, so here you go:

Peyton: “Now you smell like my armpits” 🙄

This was captured right when the moment struck. They look so happy and playful because they were! What it doesn’t show is the thirty seconds after that, when Bradley pinched Peyton and then they started fighting. It doesn’t show me yelling at them to stop. It doesn’t show their foul faces when they left the house. It doesn’t show you the whole picture.

It doesn’t show me, dressed in pajamas that I’ve owned for 15 years. The t-shirt slightly worn around the collar, the small whole in the bottom where I caught it on a counter drawer, the pants are worn out sweatshirt material, stretched out from years of lounging. It doesn’t show the mom-bun that’s still up from yesterday or the day old leg hair that’s starting to grow because I was too lazy to shave them. It doesn’t show the whole picture.

Ok let’s be honest, the real thing that’s missing from our picture is what back to school means to MOMS!! (or stay at home dads, or grandparents, or stay at home….whatever gender you identify as). The real grown ups that stand behind the little people we so graciously send off to school this week! What does this day look like for you?? It’s different for all of us obviously. Some of us have more availability but we all share those same feelings. You know the ones, the sadness you feel as you watch them grow older each year, the guilt you feel for not spending enough time with them…..oh hell, who am I kidding?? The real feelings we want to discuss are the ones of delight!! The ones of freedom, like you can breathe a little easier today, the feeling of relaxation when you realize the house is totally silent. Those are the REAL feelings we want to talk about friends!

Now, I know what you’re thinking 🤔….. “Mallory, you can’t just say things like that.” Or perhaps you’re on the team that says , “Mallory, I can’t believe you don’t miss your kids when they are gone?! You MONSTER!” Or maybe you’re more of the type that says, “OMG, did you see what Mallory said about her kids?! She doesn’t even like them.” That’s right, I see all you Karen’s. And let me just say, I HEAR YOU! Seriously, I get it. You love your kids with everything you have. You would take a bullet for your babies. You love them so much that they are all you think about!

I get all of those feelings because I have them too. Don’t worry, I’m totally normal, Karen. I love my babies more than anything. I would take a bullet for them, I do miss them when they are away from me…..for longer than 24 hours. There….I said it. For the first 23.99 hours, being away from my kids feels like freedom. As long as I know they are safe, healthy, and taken care of…..I can relax. I cried the first day of preschool, I cried the first day of kindergarten, and I’m sure I will cry the first day of senior year. But for now, we are stuck in the middle. The middle of life. Middle aged, with kids in middle school, just hanging out here in the middle.

I was a middle child, not the coveted “oldest” or the precious “baby”….but the middle. The black sheep. I hated being in the middle. Put me on an airplane full of people, I will inevitability end up in the middle seat. *see the next blog for a bonus story about the middle seat* I am used to spending life in the middle and usually I hate it. But not right now, the middle is amazing.

The middle is a place where I feel like life finally gets easier. You’re no longer in your twenties learning those valuable lessons the hard way. You’re more mature and able to face things from a more rational perspective. The middle for my kids means they are mostly self sufficient. They are capable of staying alone for short periods of time and not burn the house down. They are more fun to take on vacations, because they are finally old enough to enjoy it. I’m learning that the middle is actually a beautiful thing. Being in the middle is my favorite part of life so far.

Mostly because being in the middle also means that I can do things like drink wine on a Tuesday because I feel like it. Or use my vacation day to get a manicure and pedicure instead of cleaning my house, because…..why not? Being in the middle means I care less about what others think and more about what makes me happy. It also means that I can be honest about my feelings and say that I am so glad my kids are back in school! I have all the praise for our teachers, y’all deserve a raise. Thank you for taking our kids back….because as much as we love them….we are tired. As much as we love them, we need a break. Now excuse me, friends. I’ve got a glass of wine to poor. 😎✌️

Visiting the In-Laws

This weekend we went my husbands home town to visit his family. The journey from our house to theirs takes about 4.5 hours and is filled with beautiful scenery and amazing sites! That’s a lie, they live in Kansas, in case you all haven’t been there yet….don’t go. There really isn’t much to see aside from some wind mills and corn fields. Andrew and I spend the better part of our time participating in carpool karaoke, using our curled up fists as a microphone. When the really dramatic parts come on, we squint our eyes and gaze briefly (very briefly since one of us is driving) into each other’s eyes for added effect. It sounds similar to the mating call of a cat, you know the one that sounds like they’re dying? It really is a beautiful thing. When we tire of that, we sometimes sit alone with our thoughts, lost in the moment of a song. Both have become like therapy to my soul and my favorite part of any road trip.

Allow me to introduce my littlest buddy, H. He’s our five year old nephew, his attitude would rival that of a fifteen year old, but his smile melts even the hardest of hearts. He is quite possibly the cutest kid around. But I don’t just love him for those adorable doe eyes, I also love him because he has no f*cks to give. That’s right, I said it….no f*cks will be given by this kid. About anything…..and that makes him my hero.

You see friends, H just tells it like it is. If he likes you, he will cling to you and make you watch his every move, because he’s 5 now, and in kindergarten, and everything is awesome! But if he doesn’t, he will tell you. He thinks your hair looks funny? Yep, never fear….he will let you know. He farts on you while he’s snuggling? He will giggle while he shares the news. He says whatever is on his mind. This weekend, he had visiting us on his mind. “Hey, I wanna come to y’all’s house, ok? And I will play with your boys and we will swim, ok?” He then repeated it periodically so we wouldn’t forget. “Hey, I’m coming to y’all’s house in the morning, ok? I’m not going to kindergarten.”

See what he did there? He doesn’t ask….he just tells you. He’s one hell of a negotiator for his tender age of five. I envy his ability to make you feel like all of it was your idea too. I’m like, “Sure buddy, let’s see if mommy and daddy will come down in a few weeks! Hey it’s Labor Day; y’all should come down and visit us!” I made that statement with such conviction, because little H, made me think it was my idea. He really may be a genius…..or I’m an idiot. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Today, we met with my in-laws at Taco Shop for lunch before we left town. Going places as a family is always a good time. You see, Andrew comes from a large family. There were 4 kids and each one of them had 1-5 kids….throw in the step-kids and blended kids like mine….and it’s quite the show. When we descend on a restaurant, you can see the high school kids that work there start to panic. I imagine we look like a cross between The Clampets and Cheaper by the Dozen. There are usually kids running, a few will be fighting, someone is almost always crying, someone else doesn’t want to eat there, and we are guaranteed to spill something. Some kids are dirty when we arrive from a day spent outside, and some are dirty when we leave from enjoying their meal to its fullest. I’ve learned that there is no graceful way to take 15 people to a restaurant. It simply just isn’t possible.

When my little man, H, found out we were going to taco shop, he informed me that he doesn’t want that. I ignored him for awhile, hoping he’d change his mind before we got there. The last thing we need is another crying kid when we arrive at lunch, because he doesn’t like the food. After a few moments of trying to get my attention, H takes his tiny little hands and places them firmly against my cheeks. I could smell what might have been urine and little boy sweat on his fingers as he squished my cheeks harder until I turned my head to look at him.

“Hey, I think y’all should take me by McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. I don’t like it Taco shop.” he said as he slowly released my cheeks from his death grip. There was a little bit of drool coming off his chin as he locked his eyes on mine, so focused, so I’d realize how serious the situation was. Naturally, I couldn’t say no to his pleading little eyes, so we stopped by McDonald’s to grant his wish. When we arrived at Taco Shop, my husband looked at me with surprise as I grabbed for the happy meal box. “Babe, we can’t just take that in there. They won’t let us, will they?” he asked, hoping I would agree to let him eat it outside. “Watch them try and stop me.” I said, as we entered the restaurant. Andrew was mortified. “Please don’t get us kicked out of my favorite taco place….” he begged, as I found a table close to the family.

“I think I will call you Chicken.” H…….age 5.

As we sat there I couldn’t help but laugh at how funny we must look to others. This giant family, with tons of kids and chaos. One kid even has food from another restaurant. But then I looked at little H and noticed his smile. He had no f*cks to give. He had his happy meal, his Hi-C, his McDonald’s toy, and his family. That’s all he needed to be blissfully happy. Suddenly it occurred to me, we all need to be more like H. Enjoy the simple things in life. Like time spent with family on a Sunday afternoon, no matter how chaotic that may look. Give no f*cks what others think of you, because at the end of the day, no one else matters. Do what makes you happy, say what’s on your mind, and give no f*cks my friends. Little H is wiser than he knows, he’s doing it right folks. 😎✌️

It’s a boy! Umm….hold on…

Let’s talk about the tiny freeloaders today, because as cute as they are….let’s face it, puppies are disgusting. I mean, don’t get me wrong, after their bath, I love to snuggle them. However, aside from that 5 minute window of time, I’m mostly over them and their freeloading ways. Get a job freeloaders!! And take a bath, you smell like poop.

When the puppies were born though, I was overly excited to share the news. Text messages went out to everyone I knew. There were pictures of them coming out, pictures of them being cleaned, pictures of them scooting across the floor to find their mommy, pictures of their first poops. I was like a new mom, sharing pictures of my first kid with the world. Except mine had fur and there were 8 of them….but you get the point. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Newborn Freeloaders

Anyway, as they grew we began finding homes for them. A good friend and extended family member got pick of the litter, her father owned the stud, so it was only fair. With all the excitement of the first week, I didn’t spend much time identifying male and female. I tried to leave them alone as much as possible and let Bailey do all the work. This was her first litter so she was a bit….extra. While they grew, I continued to share pictures with the few people that had shown interest in the pups. After all, these little free loaders eventually need homes. I’m not making gourmet puppy smoothies and changing puppy pads forever.

It wasn’t long before they were big enough to have visitors. Great!! I can finally start planning for their future homes. When they were about 2 weeks old, I spent a few minutes while changing their bedding, determining which were male and female. Our friend, Amber, who had pick of the litter decided she wanted a boy and he must be brown. Awesome!! According to my count, we have 2 brown boys and one female. No problem! She was beyond elated to bring her kids and show off the adorable pups!!

One lazy Sunday, they dropped by for a visit that lasted most of the day. There were puppy snuggles, wet kisses from the tiny freeloaders trying to get another free meal, and lots of pictures taken. After all, this would be the kids first real pet! It wasn’t long before Amber had made her decision, they would take the darkest color brown puppy and his name would be Zuse! We found homes for a few more pups and continued caring for them and watching them grow.

Zuse….the chosen one

Last Sunday, Amber and the kids wanted to come for another visit. They want to bond with Zuse as much as possible before he comes home. Before their arrival, Andrew and I set out to feed them, change their bedding, and give them baths before they came to visit. No one wants to hold a tiny freeloader that smells like poop.

I prepared my bath station at the kitchen sink. Towels ✅ Washcloth ✅ Extra mild puppy shampoo ✅ Water adjusted to the perfect temperature ✅ We we’re ready to bathe the mob! I recruited Andrew to bring me one at a time. I would wash and rinse, he would dry and return them to their bed, then bring another one inside. We had the perfect assembly line and the pups would be smelling fresh just in time for Ambers arrival. We totally got this shit, I thought, as I bathed the first freeloader.

We made it through the first 3 and I asked Andrew to bring Ambers pup inside so he’d be clean and dry by the time they got here. “Which one is it babe?”, he yelled from the garage. “The dark brown male!”, I hollered loudly over the sound of the fan. He returned with a giant grin and a tiny brown puppy. “Babe, this is the runt. The one she’s taking is darker brown, he’s the only other brown boy out there. I will wash this one, but make sure you get him next.”, I barked, as I hurriedly washed the runt puppy. I pondered in silence for awhile as I washed the tiny runt. “How could he not know this is the runt?!”, I thought to myself. “I know every single one; they are 4 weeks old. Ugh….men really don’t pay any attention.”, I continued in my thoughts until I was interrupted by Andrew.

Andrew- So, there’s only two brown pups left….and they are both girls.

Me- (here we go, he clearly didn’t look hard enough) Babe, the dark brown boy….the other brown one has a home. She’s big, light brown and female! I need the one Amber is getting. Little, dark brown, BOY!

Andrew- (obviously frustrated with my lack of understanding) Ok, but honey….there are only two BROWN dogs outside and they are both GIRLS.

Me- Fine, just bring me whatever one is out there. The smallest, darkest brown one. (No sense in arguing with him now, I’m clearly right so I will just show him when he brings it inside.)

Andrew hurried down the hallway, desperate to prove me wrong and returned with the tiny brown freeloader Amber claimed for herself. He hands me the puppy and says, “Now look! It is a GIRL. I know how to tell if it has a penis. Obviously YOU DO NOT!” He chuckled as I held the small puppy over the sink to have a look. “Huh, there’s no wiener. It really is a girl?!”, I said, still puzzled at the findings. Andrew spent the better part of an hour making fun of me, while I sulked and tried to figure out how to tell Amber that her little Zuse was actually Zusette.

She could pass for a boy…..right?

I decided a text message to Amber was the best way to break the news. I knew she was on her way over and I didn’t have the heart to do it face to face. Ok, that’s a lie. In the interest of transparency, I actually just really hate to be wrong. You see, I’m pretty much the smartest person that I know, so admitting in person that I clearly didn’t know how to find the penis, wasn’t something I was ready to do. I sent a nice text before she got to my house and prepared to find a new home for the tiny, dark brown, female, gender confused, freeloading puppy.

Amber showed up with a small glimmer of hope in her eye. “You’re just messing with me right? It’s a boy? I’ve already picked out his collar and food dishes. I’m having things made that say Zuse!”, she said, with a downcast tone to her voice. “Yea, I wish I was kidding. Apparently I suck at this puppy thing and I had it’s gender wrong. Andrew figured it out today during bath time. I am so sorry, but in my defense, you held her for like 4 hours and didn’t notice either!! Not entirely my fault.”, I said, as I tried to flash some of the blame onto her because I’m also a little shallow.

We spent the next several hours holding puppies and discussing how much of an idiot I am for getting it wrong. I mean, this wasn’t exactly a small screw up. I totally got the gender of a puppy wrong. Anatomy 101 people, we learned it in Elementary school. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention during that lesson. 🤦🏻‍♀️

The tiny mob of freeloaders

Thankfully Amber is a good sport and agreed to take her anyway. Ok, that is also a lie. She had already bonded to it and her kids had planned on bringing it home. She really couldn’t back out. No one wants to face two devastated children and tell them you’re going to have to find a new puppy because Mallory is a moron. At least I had that going for me. I spent most of my afternoon trying to convince her to take a male and a female, so she could have the best of both worlds! The little runt is pretty cute, I saved his life, and he will probably be the smallest of the litter, so much easier to take care of! Aside from being deprived of oxygen for a short time at birth, he seems to be perfectly healthy! He may be slightly….slow….from the lack of oxygen, but nothing some good training can’t fix! My sales pitch failed miserably as she stuck to her guns and continued on with her plan to bring home the tiny, dark brown, female, gender confused, freeloader. They have settled on the name Mocha, which is absolutely perfect and completely gender neutral, just in case she decides later in life that she’d like to go back to being a boy. I mean, she was a boy for the first 4 weeks of life. 🤷🏻‍♀️🙄 I can’t wait to find out which gender she chooses. #girlpuppy #boypuppy #puppymom #toomanypuppies

Why not add one more….

This week, I volunteered to watch my nephew because I don’t already have enough going on. His mom has some appointments and I’m trying to be a good aunt. Also, I’m not usually known for being the “nice” one in the family, so when I have the opportunity to score some points, I try to do my best…..I need all the help I can get. We already have 2 kids, 10 dogs, a bearded dragon, a cockatiel and a gerbil in our home this week, so why not add one more.

Nephew is 6 and has carrot top red hair. When he was born, I teased that he would be the wild-child, the red headed demon baby, the one that would throw fits that would resemble the baptism of a cat, the one that would make my kids look like angels. Needless to say, I wasn’t entirely wrong and he’s lived up to the reputation that I predestined for him. Which is both hilarious for me, who lives for sarcasm and “I told you so”, and painfully awful for me when I agree to babysit….

None the less, I love him and his wild-child ways, so I agreed to keep him. I don’t keep him often, so we are still in what’s known as the “honeymoon” phase. You know, the first few days of a new babysitter where the kid is pretending to be good? They aren’t quite comfortable enough with you to throw the Tasmanian devil fits, even though you know they are capable. You spend the first few days holding your breath, waiting for them to crack; it’s inevitable, they will freak out soon…..you just don’t know when.

I spent the better part of my day tucked away in my office, working with the door shut so I could concentrate. Periodically I’d peak out on the kids if they got quiet, or open the door without telling them so I could listen to their conversation. Sometimes you need to get a sneak attack on them, these little sh*ts are smart, so if you really want to know what they are up too….just make sure they think you’re not paying attention.

For most of the day, the boys did well. I heard the occasional yell, squabble, and chaos filled nerf gun war but no major incidents until there was a loud thump from across the house. Not just a normal thump, but the kind that means someone was thrown off something, body slammed, jumped on, or otherwise maimed by another human. “BOYS!!!”, I yell loudly, hoping one of them will hear me over their own squeals and racket.

Bradley – “That wasn’t me!!! He jumped off the bed!!!”
Me – “Nephew!! Come here now please!”
Nephew – Comes running into my office with a sheepish grin on his face.
Me – “Did you jump off the bed?”
Nephew – “UGH…..I just can’t handle this. I can’t handle any of this!!”, he says with an exasperated sigh.
Me – Confused as to why the 6 year old is having some kind of breakdown. “You can’t handle what? Being at my house?”
Nephew – “I just can’t handle this,” he says, while cradling his little carrot top head in his hands. “I don’t know the rules here.”
Me – Trying not to giggle at his obvious anxiety. “Ok, I understand. So the rule here is, we don’t jump off the furniture. Think you can handle that?”
Nephew – “Yes….”, he sighs again as he rolls his eyes and walks out of the room.

Just remember, if you thought your day was hard, it could be worse. You could be a stubborn 6 year old trying hard to follow the rules at your aunt’s house. Life is hard for all of us friends, be kind to each other! You never know who is learning new rules today!

An Update From The Warden

On today’s episode of freeloader Friday, let’s discuss the littlest freeloaders in the house right now…….the puppies. Friends, let me just preface this post with the fact that I’ve never raised puppies before, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

Bailey was brought home to be Andrews dog. I had Gizmo…..who regularly reminded Andrew that he was in charge. Gizmo and Andrew had a love-hate relationship. They were fine, until it came to spending time with me. Gizmo growled and bit at him every time Andrew got close to me. So in an obvious attempt to reclaim his manhood in our home, Andrew found a giant dog breed and brought her home. He was so proud and she was an awesome pup. He finally had a big dog that could show Gizmo who’s boss!! Until…..she quickly bonded to me because I’m with her all the time! Oops….🤷🏻‍♀️ So, naturally, when she went into labor, she wanted to be near me. We let her have her puppies in our bedroom to make her more comfortable. 🙄 For those, like myself, who have never birthed puppies….don’t do it in your freaking bedroom. They stink. They are dirty. They cry….a lot. Their mom only likes them for the first week and then she hides in the closet to get away from them, so you’re stuck with 8 crying puppies while she naps, in your putrid bedroom. The miracle of life is amazing…ly exhausting! 🤷🏻‍♀️

We lasted 3 weeks with them in our room, before they were relocated to more appropriate accommodations, known as Hotel De Garage. It features weekly rates, a window unit Air Conditioner, concrete floors, and a well stocked beer fridge for social gatherings. Little freeloading mooches can stink up Andrews garage, I needed my bedroom back. 💩😝 Relocation was an excellent idea, except for one minor problem. Bailey had lived her entire life in our home. Now, she was isolated…..left alone all night with a mob of tiny freeloaders who were starting to get teeth. Needless to say, she was pissed. In retaliation, she decided she’d just wean them, instead of feed them. After all, when you’re a dog…you can call your offspring freeloading moochers and walk away, and it’s totally acceptable. The human will pick up your slack and feed the tiny mob. 🤦🏻‍♀️

The freeloaders……

Monday morning Bailey was anything but happy. She was lethargic, exhausted, and appeared to be in significant pain. After a quick trip to the vet, it was determined she had mastitis in one teet. It was a little smaller than a baseball, hard, hot, and very clearly painful. Antibiotics and express the milk twice a day by hand, don’t let the puppies nurse off of it, begin weaning, and keep it clean. The vets instructions were pretty straightforward, I got this!

Have any of y’all ever tried to milk your dog? No?? Just me?? Ok, well it’s great fun. I am the Warden ok, a city girl with a small country side when the mood strikes. I can fish and pick up snakes with the best of them but I’m gonna need a manicure and a pedicure when we are done. This means that “milking” anything….isn’t in my wheel house. Thank God for Google. Also watched some YouTube videos to make sure I was doing it right. It felt a bit awkward and dirty to google “how to milk my dog” but, I prayed no one would check my search history and kept pressing forward. The first day of milking was ok. The vet had just emptied it earlier that day so it was relatively easy. By day 2 she was on to my tricks…..she was not going to sit for me, or lay down. Instead she would stand with her head down and feet locked while I tried desperately to empty her. For those of you that know me well, i can be rather stubborn. It’s only fitting that we get a dog with my same tendencies, that’s Gods sense of humor, I’m sure. She and I spent the better part of an hour battling the wills. I was going to milk her and she was not going to let me. Eventually we compromised and I didn’t milk her. Completely my decision and in no way stemmed from the fact that she’s a bigger bitch than me and won the fight. 🙄 Awesome, now not only did she hate me….but she also hated her puppies. Those little assholes have teeth now and they aren’t exactly gentle when they nurse. Their razor sharp claws dig into her skin and leave scratches on her. Her teet is infected and incredibly painful. Don’t worry Bailey, I wouldn’t feed them either. Get a freaking job, freeloaders!!

Since Bailey had gone on strike, it was up to me to begin feeding them. In between working a full time job, taking care of 3 kids and a husband, attending regular baseball games, spending hours googling how to milk my dog and another several hours unsuccessfully milking her…..I also make puppy smoothies. That’s right, these little mooches are being fed gourmet meals, full of next step puppy milk and dog food. They can’t chew well yet (we are only 3 days into textured food) so it’s blended to make sure they are eating. Each day I make the smoothies thicker until we get to hard foods.

Gourmet Puppy Smoothies

What were y’all doing last night at midnight? I bet you weren’t making gourmet puppy smoothies?? Or changing puppy pads for the 87th time that day!! My life right now, is really glamorous, being a newlywed and all, so I had to share. Be jealous friends, it’s amazing over here. 🙄😝 After the last 4 weeks, I feel like I’ve earned an extra title. Going forward I will no longer be known as the warden, you can call me The (game) Warden!

If you need me this weekend, I will be at home. Taking care of all my freeloaders, unsuccessfully milking my dog, changing puppy pads, and making gourmet puppy food while Bailey watches me from her thrown. Have a great weekend friends!

The Queen on her thrown.

Love,

The (game) Warden

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