Twitter Facebook

Guilty As Charged

Valentine and Theo are, without a doubt, the center of the universe as far as Mike and I are concerned.   Our daily lives revolve around whether the dogs have pooped and whether or not they’ve had enough exercise.  We worry that they’re too cold or that they haven’t had enough to eat.  We delight in seeing their little faces whenever we walk in the front door and we love bringing home new treats for them.  Mike teases that the way I mother them is dangerous because there was a point when Theo gained too much weight and it was because, in my worry that he wasn’t eating enough, I overfed him until he gained an extra two pounds.  Two pounds might not sound like much, but two pounds on a Dachshund is like fifty pounds on a person.   I’d been over-feeding Valentine as well, but that bitch* could eat her weight in chocolate and not gain an ounce.   Theo, on the other hand, has a slow metabolism and because his back is so long, extra weight could put stress on his spine that could cause fractures and then he’d be paralyzed and if he survived it would surely cost us a million dollars in vet bills.  It’s a serious thing when Dachshunds get fat and so that is why my mothering is deadly.  And that was a long story for a short point:   The dogs are my practice babies.

Last night, after we’d put the dogs to bed in their crates, brushed our teeth, washed our faces, and curled up with an episode of Law & Order, a long, low howl reverberated from the living room.  It was followed by a sharp succession of ear-piercing ruffs.  This has been Theo’s bedtime routine for the last four nights. He waits until we are in bed with the lights off and then he starts in with a howl followed by barking.

“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“Why is he doing that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“What should we do?”
“Ignore it.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”
“Is he trying to tell us something?”
“He’s trying to tell us he’d rather be sleeping in our bed, but that’s not how it works, so he’s going to have to get over it.”
“Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!”

The baby books say to let Baby cry for fifteen minutes and, if after fifteen minutes, Baby has not put himself back to sleep, Mother may go in and comfort him.  So that’s what we did.   We let him “Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!” and after about thirteen and a half minutes he stopped ruffing.  As soon as he was quiet I whispered:

“I seriously don’t know what we’re waiting for.”
“You can’t leave a baby in a crate when you go to work.”

They’re practice babies.  It sounds kind of awful, but it’s true.   I’ve never in my entire life loved something small and furry the way I love those little dogs.   Every day I am amazed that I have enough love in my body to love them but every day it’s there and it’s bigger.  I hear people say that about their kids all the time and I am sure that the way people love their kids is at the very least one hundred times more than the way I love my dogs.  Does that mean that when I have children I won’t have room to love my dogs anymore?  A staggering number of perfectly wonderful dogs and cats are given up every year because their owner has a new baby and just can’t deal with them anymore.  It must be very frustrating to have a new baby at home and have your dog suddenly start humping the coffee table, peeing on the sofa cushions and chewing bald spots into his fur.  At least I imagine that’s what’s going on when someone decides to get rid of the dog now that they have a baby.  Or maybe it’s just that now you have a baby and two other baby-like things that aren’t actually babies and your priorities change.  I have no idea.  But the whole thing makes me nervous.  What will they do when I have a baby?

Let’s take a little tour of my writing chair…


Well hello, Valentine!  So you’re the reason why I can’t sit back and get comfortable.  Aren’t you a little chair-hog?


And here’s Theo, curled up behind Valentine.  He’s an even bigger chair-hog than his sister.

My hope is that when we have children the dogs will come to see the babies as precious pack members that must be fussed over and adored and protected from danger.  Like the way Chip, my cousin’s five-year-old four-pound Chihuahua, came to see her new baby:


If we are that lucky, it is then my hope that our children will come to love the dogs as if they were treasured little old great-grandparents to be treated with gentle hands, quiet voices and adoring hearts.  After all, by the time our children are old enough to know Valentine and Theo, the dogs will most likely be just that:  Little old incontinent doglets with stinky breath, grumping and gurgling and leaving strings of slobber behind when they kiss you good morning.

*bitch [bi*ch] (noun):  female dog, wolf, fox or otter.

Wet Hot Saturday Night

In honor of the New Year, Mike and I spent last Saturday night going over our financial records, making a budget, and figuring out how to climb out of the debts of despair. While you may not think a financial meeting is a good way to spend a Saturday night, for us it was much hotter than a night on the town. All right, neither of us really enjoys nights on the town, we’d both rather stay in and watch a Law & Order marathon, I’ll admit it. If we’re feeling really crazy we’ll pick up two different pints of Ben & Jerry’s and swap flavors back and forth until both cartons are empty.

Whenever people tell me about how much their social lives changed when they had kids, I feel a sense of relief because it’s one less thing to worry about. We love not having social lives.

Where was I? Right. The New Year. Climbing out of debt. Thanks to Saturday’s meeting, we now have a Pay Our Debt plan and are fairly confident that by December 31, 2010 we will be credit card debt free. We also have a budget that includes weekly allowances, bi-monthly dates and ice cream.

Is that not the most exciting thing you’ve heard in weeks? Are you jealous? It’s ok if you are, I’m not weirded out. Because here’s the thing: When we moved to New York City three years ago, we had just spent the last year and half busting our asses to pay off all of our pre-marriage credit card debt. You read that right. When we moved to the City, we were credit card debt free. (I specify “credit card debt” because we were still carrying my student loans, loans that I am scheduled to pay until I am one hundred-three years old, and since they are an expense my great-grandchildren will inherit, they don’t count.) To be once again saddled with debt feels like a giant step backwards. We want to be taking steps forward, not backward. It’s about progress, people.

We love our financial meetings. They give us hope. We’ve been having financial meetings since our engagement in July of 2005 and they have always been a way for us to connect and remind one another that we have the same goals in mind. Having the same goals reminds us that we’re part of a team and being a part of team makes the wild ride of life a lot more fun.

If I had to explain why it is that a Saturday night of financial planning with my husband is something I find irresistibly sexy, I’d say it’s because it gives me a sense of safety. That my husband and I are taking equal measures to take care of one another, to plan for the other’s future, to plan for our future family, makes me feel taken care of. It makes me feel like I’m married to someone who wants to see me happy and fulfilled, a man who cares about my best interests in addition to his own. And that is incredibly sexy. Also, I have a thing for data entry.

An Entirely New Adventure

After several years of writing a website where I talked mostly about poop and the rest of the time complained about my first-world problems, I wanted to start a website with a broader purpose. I wanted to write a blog that a wider group of people could relate to. For months I tried to figure out how to do that. And then, as the new year approached, I found my topic.

I have spent most of my life as a cute-but-dumb Valley Girl. Last year I realized that I don’t have to hide behind that obnoxious facade anymore. Once I realized that it was OK for me to be smart, that it’s even more fun to be the smart girl than the airhead, I started to wonder if there was something else in my background that could make for an interesting blog besides the fact that I have dogs who like to eat one another’s feces.

So I groped around in the recesses of my pretty brain until I remembered what is most important to me: My marriage and my family. My wonderful, wild siblings taught me to believe in family, my parents taught me to believe in marriage and my husband taught me to believe in true love. In my opinion, those three things are indelibly intertwined: Marriage, family, true love. But not everyone is so lucky. I’ve known far too many people mired in bad relationships. I’ve watched too many loved ones suffer through vicious divorces and devastating heartbreak. I’ve known too many couples who’s families don’t support them or who don’t support their partner’s familial binds.

When I was fourteen I started working as a clerk in a family law firm. By the time I was twenty-one I had earned my paralegal certification and was specializing in family law. For over seven years I watched hundreds of families break into pieces; I saw couples fighting over children, over money, over assets and debts. I learned a lot about marriage and divorce. Most nights I drove home from work crying. Other nights I drove home numb. I know that in some cases divorce is necessary, some people shouldn’t be married to other people. Some divorces are a matter of life or death for an abused spouse. But some divorces are a result of couples who’ve simply given up. These are the divorces that break my heart. How can we give up on family?

If I’m good at anything, it’s being married. I love being a wife. I’m proud of my marriage and I’m excited about the life my husband and I are building. I believe that family is the most important asset any of us will ever have and I’m afraid that the value of family in this country has dropped to frightening lows. When I started dating Mike I also started collecting articles and exercises and books on how to keep relationships and families healthy because I’d be damned if I ended up with anything less. I have a wealth of information to share.

This year, 2010, I want to focus more on my marriage and my family. I want to focus on being a stronger, better woman. I want to work towards becoming the role-model I want for my children. This website will reflect that. Ideally, eventually, this website will also become a way to reach out to people who are thinking about getting married, who are newly married, who are in troubled relationships, who are in great relationships, who are thinking about divorce or trying to avoid divorce. I hope this blog will be a place for readers to find information about prenups, co-parenting, life-after-divorce, life-after-marriage, case law, family counseling and whatever else I can come up with. I will share my own stories, family stories and maybe, if you’ll let me, your stories. Of course I will also write about my daily life, my copraphagious dogs and whatever small adventures I happen upon. Maybe you think my goals sound lofty, but I say, It’s a New Year! Let’s dream big.

Welcome to A Serious Girl.