Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Retraction

I am posting this retraction in response to a comment Keith made to me about my Notta Lotta post. He says I cannot claim to care for the yard...so for now we agree that I no longer twiddle my thumbs in the middle of the day. Like when I twiddled my thumbs when we lived in San Diego and Pueblo.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Naked Baby Boy

Friday, July 25, 2008

Notta Lotta

Not too much going on around here. We think Bax is allergic to fleas. He tears up his skin with itching and scratching. I have bathed him twice this week, tried garlic powder in his food, lavender spray on him and the furniture, and last night I covered him in baby lotion to see if that helps the redness. I spend a good amount of time vacuuming in case we have any more fleas hanging out. Exciting, huh?

People have been asking me a lot 'What do you DO all day when Keith is out of town?' As if taking care of a baby, two dogs, a house and a huge yard by myself isn't enough work. Well, we go to the store, the pool, the library, the mall and to visit friends. We go on walks when it's not too hot, and we do tummy time inside when it's rainy or muggy. Oh, and we watch JEOPARDY! and lots of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dolly

Here we go!

Toot Woot

I got the name Toot Wooten off of a Utah radio show. It is the name of a long haul trucker. They were joking that Toot Wooten must be from the town of Toot Woot. For some reason Remington thinks this is hilarious. Cutest laughs start at 1:15.
video

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No Meat

Keith calls my being a vegetarian an "obnoxious fad." Not too popular in Texas, either. This summer marks 12 years of no meat.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Surrogate

This is our little surrogate, Rudy. He and Bax have fallen madly in love. Rudy is very obedient and sweet. Niles hates him. Rudy growls like something out of Jurassic Park and he snores like an adult man. We love having him around.
Keith found this specimen outside of the garage. I don't know what happened to it's body, but the wings are quite stunning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ahhhh Memories


Keith here, I got an Email from an old High School buddy wanting some pics from back in the day for the reunion next month. It gave me the opportunity to look through our seemingly endless stash of pictures. We decided to organize them. It has been so much fun, and a little depressing. I love seeing the pics of friends and family. I especially enjoy the pics of me and Candice when we first met and were married. It seems so long ago. Looking back over these short seven years, I can't help but think how lucky I am that I landed a babe like her. I still smile when she walks in the room. Here are some of the pics I found. I can't believe how young we looked, that's the depressing part. It sucks we've got to get old.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rice Cereal

The day has finally arrived. Remington needs more than just milk to feel full. We gave rice cereal the old college try. Baby bird really liked it.


Doy doy doy

Keith has really only had two 'blonde' moments since I met him.
1. I added him as a user on one of my credit cards when we first got married. When the card arrived in the mail, I asked him to do the responsible thing and sign the back of the card. I gave him a pen and left the room. I come back and find him furiously digging the pen into the back of the card. He proceeds to curse about the stupid credit card companies making cards that are impossible to write on. I take the card and find that he has quite thoroughly etched his name into the magnetic strip, and he honestly didn't see the spot for his signature.
2. (Keith told me this story, so I writing it how he told it) While training in Louisiana, he was driving with a group of guys to go get dinner. They were looking for a specific restaurant, but were getting lost, so Keith was reading the names of each cross street as he passed them, and every street happened to be named after a president. His friend told him to turn right at the next street, which should be Washington. Keith read the sign and said 'This isn't Washington this is "Beegan". Who the hell was President "Beegan"?' The sign actually read 'One Way Begin' and he didn't realize it until after his friend pointed it out. Everyone in the car got a good laugh.
Times like these make me love him even more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Haircuts

Baxter and I got haircuts today. The groomer said Baxter was the worst dog they've ever had. He was a wiggle worm the entire time. The groomer asked Keith if a previous groomer had given up on him and the answer was yes, her name is Candice. Do you know why I gave up on him? Because he is the worst dog I've ever had.

But he looks like a lovely gentleman...



My stylist said I'm the worst dog they've ever had, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

When you are tempted to argue with your spouse...

A poignant view from someone who has loved and lost

Good-bye to Tony Snow and Denise Gallagher
By Mike Gallagher
Monday, July 14, 2008

Tony Snow's death packed a particularly hard punch to my gut this week. Because during the past year, Tony had been warmly and graciously corresponding with my precious wife Denise, who had also been battling cancer. When Tony found out about her diagnosis, he asked for her email address so they could exchange words of inspiration and advice.

They did. And she relished every word. Here was my wife, a frustratingly liberal-leaning woman and wife of a conservative radio host, sharing a bond with a fellow cancer fighter, one of the giants of conservatism. It was proof that a life-threatening disease is the great equalizer, a reminder that there are more important things than Democrats and Republicans. Denise loved Tony. She admired his faith, his optimism, and his "live-for-the-moment" approach to life.

I imagine right about now, they are arguing politics face-to-face. Because my beloved died almost two weeks ago.

It's awkward to tell others that your spouse has died. Everyone becomes so sad and sorry, and you just hate like heck to have to break the news to someone who hasn't heard the news. It's as if you just know that you're about to cast a pall over someone and you wish there was a way around it.

I suppose that's why I've taken so long to write this column. When I first wrote about my wife Denise's diagnosis of endometrial cancer last year, I guess I brought you into my family's fight whether you liked it or not. And now that she's gone, I feel somewhat obligated to finish the story.

Sharing bad news with strangers is most certainly a selfish act. Over the last year, I've noticed that a sense of comfort occurs from opening up to others. Since I'm a professional communicator, I think I instinctively cling to doing what I do best, even in times of crisis and turmoil. And I have been inspired and uplifted by the goodness of others.

I watched Chris Wallace's amazing tribute to Tony this week on "Fox News Sunday." On tape, Tony often spoke about what a gift it was for him to receive the love and support of thousands, millions of strangers. I, too, have taken great solace in the kindness my family and I have been receiving during this difficult time.

So please forgive me for opening up to you about saying good-bye to the love of my life, my Denise, my sweet, precious, funny, big-hearted best friend. But I think it might make me feel a little better to be able to tell you about this amazing, wonderful lady.

Denise died at 7:12 in the morning on June 29, 2008. She was where she wanted to be, in our bedroom, surrounded by the husband and four sons who adored her. A hospice nurse, an angel if there ever was one, sat quietly nearby. It's a dumb phrase right out of the movies, but she died in my arms, our son Matt holding her hand.

She died the day before her 52nd birthday.

It all happened fairly quickly. During the final six weeks, she just kept getting progressively more fatigued. We thought (tried to convince ourselves?) that it was just the chemo and radiation she was receiving. She would bounce back, we kept insisting. It would get better.

But of course, it didn't. We finally accepted that she was, indeed, dying.

That realization, along with the terrifying stage four cancer diagnosis a year earlier, was a peculiar gift to us. Many couples never have a chance to say good-bye. I think of someone like Tim Russert who went to work one day, his family never knowing it would be for the final time.

As preferable a way as that might be to die, it has to be absolutely agonizing for the family and friends. My heart goes out to those who just don't know it's about to happen.

For Denise and me, this last year was a time to live. Funny, but that's how she always lived her life. She was constantly scolding me for worrying too much about the future, for sweating the small stuff.

After the doctor gave us the horrible news last year, I knew our lives were changed forever.

But in many ways, the past year was the best time we ever had together. We laughed. We traveled. We reveled in family and friends.

I learned to do what Denise had been doing all along: I lived.

When your spouse is given a bleak prognosis, you become an expert in soaking up every moment of every day. During this last year, I memorized every inch of her face. I soaked in her throaty laugh (boy, I loved that laugh). We rarely disagreed about anything. After all, when you both know that cancer is all through your wife's body, does it really matter if someone forgot to put away the ice cream?

We never failed to be optimistic. She once put it best: since there was only a 5% chance for a five year survival (or better), why can't she be in that 5%?

That was my Denise. Always hopeful, never pollyanna. A month or so ago, she grabbed my hand and told me how sorry she was, that she just couldn't believe she was putting me through all this. Knowing that I lost my mom and dad to cancer and leukemia, she said that if she had been able to predict this was going to happen, she would have never married me. Through my tears, I told her that the last 20 years with her made me the happiest man in the universe, and no disease could ever change that. Smiling, she told me that she was so peaceful because as a believer, she knew where she was going. But she hated to leave the rest of us behind.

In fact, she was never afraid. Denise never complained, nor did she wonder why this woman with a lifetime of good health would suddenly get so sick. As she said, "Why me? Well, why not me?"

I'm not really that brave. I have to admit to asking God, "Why her?" on a pretty regular basis. I find myself feeling pretty sorry for myself these days. The person that I would rather be with more than anyone else in the world has left me. Once in awhile, the grief kind of takes me by surprise and I feel panicky, like I can't catch my breath. Our four adult sons who always relied on their Mama for guidance and wisdom are now stuck with dumb old me. Her Mom and Dad had to attend their only daughter's memorial service. And our friends who loved her so very much now have to live without this special woman in their lives.

One day, I'll understand all of this. Some day, I'll get to hold her again.

For now, I'll just try and live the way she taught me to. When my kids ask me about a girlfriend problem, I'll try to imagine what Denise would say. When I'm overwhelmingly sad, I'll try and think about our happiest times together, like strolling hand in hand through one of her favorite places, Disney World or New York City. Or maybe my absolute favorite moment, on any given Saturday morning when we just loved running errands together. For us, going to Target was a blast.

I will never figure out a way to thank people for their overwhelming kindness. Total strangers have poured out their hearts to me and reached out to my family in ways I never imagined possible. Through my devastating sadness, I have been touched deeply by the kindness of so many.

And my message to them: live life the way my Denise did. Hold your family close. Treasure your child's laugh, your wife's tender brush of your hand. When you're tempted to argue about something, think for a moment about what your life would be like without the person you promised to spend a lifetime with.

Believe me, it's not fun.

And my message to Tony right about now? Please be patient with my Denise while trying to explain the wisdom of conservatism. Lord knows I tried, Tony. I really tried. She's going to drive you crazy.

But her heart is in the right place. And she loved her husband, her sons, her parents, and her many friends so very much. It's that love that I carry in my heart that keeps me going right now. Just like I know the love you had, Tony, for Jill, Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi will keep them strong, too.

Like most married couples, Denise and I had a bunch of little rituals. One of mine was to say the exact same thing every single night that we turned out the lights to go to bed. I literally didn't sleep very well if I didn't say it to her.

"Good night, my princess. Sleep safe."

Mike Gallagher is a nationally syndicated radio host, Fox News Channel contributor and guest host and author of Surrounded by Idiots: Fighting Liberal Lunacy in America.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A live one!

I felt bad about posting a crispy fried squirrel so I thought I would post one that still had some fur.
Eating pine cones upside-down.

Lounging, or maybe he has a stomach ache from eating upside-down.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Newsletter: Month Four


Dear Remington,
Today you turn four months old. I know it's cliche, but I can't believe how big you are! It has truly been a pleasure and joy to watch you grow. We started this month with a trip to Utah. You were completely spoiled by all the doting relatives who wanted to hold you. Makes me so sad that we don't have all your family around. You were an angel on the plane ride home. But the next day you were stuck with just me and it took you a good four days to adjust to being put down. To remedy this, we got a high chair that reclines so you can watch me work while playing with toys.
Grandma Sano calls often to check on you and 'Mama She She' plays an answering machine recording we left for her all the time. Your Aunties miss you, too. You were completely spoiled with a new wardrobe with hand-me-downs from Callie and an adorable Remington Guns sign from Katie. Brenna gave you a black t-shirt that reads 'I Cry When Ugly People Hold Me' I love it!
New things about you this month:
You don't like to hear other kids cry. You will start crying a high-pitched cry in response.

You only like to ride in your own car seat in your own car. We learned this the hard way on a trip to Target with a friend who had an extra car seat.
You can't poop to save your life, but the doctor doesn't seem worried. You wake up in the middle of the night screaming just to fart.
You like to fake cry at Daddy. It is a mix between a howl and a coo.
You fight going to sleep. It almost always takes an hour to get you down. This is a relatively new problem.

You have really started using your hands, whether it be pulling them together to suck on, grabbing my hair, or clumsily grasping for a toy.
You discovered that nothing is more fun than grabbing a burp cloth with both hands and shoving it in your mouth.
You love to stand up. So strong!
You love the pool. Whether it be dipping your feet in the water or watching the other kids play. It is always a pleasant experience to take you and you sleep like a log afterward. So exhausting!
You have nearly outgrown the sink for baby bath time. I'm not sure what we will do now...Our tubs are to deep to bathe you in just yet.
You took your four month shots like a champ. But this is the first time you cried during the sticking. They left tiny bruises on your legs.
You like to have 2 naps per day. You have almost put yourself into this routine. It is heaven for everyone involved.
You laughed for the first time this month. It seems you save your laughs for the really funny stuff because you have only honored us with that beautiful sound twice.
You have become a very efficient but very distracted eater. My quiet reading time has been reduced to 5 minutes every couple of hours. You will stop eating to look at your blanket or to smile at me.
Your hair and eyelashes have really sprouted.

You are so fun to be around. We are so lucky to have such a good provider in Keith. I'm so so lucky to be able to stay home with you all day. You are an adventure and you have already taught me a lot about myself. I love you!
Love,
Mama

Velveteen


This morning I was rinsing off my breakfast dishes and staring out the back window when I saw the fence slowly give birth to a big beautiful brown bunny. This same bunny has been the source of many woes for Baxter, because he is never quite quick enough to catch it. It brought back a distant memory of reading along with a recording of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margaret Williams. The woman reading the story had a soft and sad voice (just found out the narrator is Meryl Streep.) The book always stirred up my strong fears of abandonment similar to the Velveteen Rabbit being tossed aside. So strong that I still remember a recurring dream I had as a child. My mother and I were in a beautiful desert oasis. Four beautifully dressed Victorian women fanning themselves came and convinced my mother to join them with the promise of fancy dresses and a better lifestyle. So she left me there. I recall begging and pleading with her not to leave. I would wake up sobbing and run to my mom's bedroom to make sure she was still in bed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When it rains, it really does pour

After the whole lightning fiasco, when are still discovering problems with our house! On top of all that, our lawn mower completely died, our garage door is falling off it's track when opened manually (which we have to do because our garage door opener got fried) brisket is no longer on sale, our home alarm had to be fixed and Niles keeps throwing up. AND IT'S HOT...AND HUMID. UGH!!! Dave Ramsey's emergency fund idea really hits home on days like these.
This gives me pause.
Actually, a lot of nice things have happened too. Our friendly old neighbors brought us a beautiful handmade baby blanket, we got Remington's first professional pictures taken (very impressed with Target's portrait studio,) Keith watched Remington so I could go to lunch with a friend, and the dogs learned a new trick this week.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

First Parade, Huzzah!

Friday morning I grabbed baby and dragged Keith to our town's annual 4th of July parade. We made out like bandits! Not only do they throw (hurl) candy to you (at you) the parade participants hand out icy cold bottles of water, coupons, dog treats, hand fans, whistles, chips, flags, Otter Pops, and Mardi Gras beads! We had a fun hour and then gave up fighting the humidity. My favorite parade entry was the 'Mothers of Multiples' with twins and triplets galore!
Remington shows a little patriotism:

The guy behind me in blue is getting hit in the head with candy:

My All American Boy!

Nature's Fireworks

So there we were, just minding our own business, when a nasty little thunderstorm comes passing through on the 4th. We usually pay no mind to the thunder, Baxter just needs a little extra comforting. Keith and I were making room for a weight bench in the gym in the back corner of the house upstairs. We were both standing near the doorway when we heard an enormous house-shaking BOOM! The BOOM! was so loud it even set off our burglar alarm. After running into check on a snoozing Remington, Keith gets a call from the neighbor telling us that he witnessed a tree in our yard get hit by lightning. Once the rain let up a little, Keith went to investigate... This is what he discovered:
Look to the tree left of the chimney towards the top of the picture
A closer look. Our chimney (which runs along the room we were standing next to) is in the bottom right corner:
Keith originally thought this was a rat. On closer inspection, we realize it is a squirrel that met it's untimely and fiery end in that very tree. Tail completely singed, blackened to a crisp.
Probably a Cajun delicacy.
Luckily no one was hurt (besides the squirrel) but as the night wore on, we began discovering things that had gotten fried: internet modem, wireless router, Keith's laptop power cord, garage door opener, alarm system, sprinkler system, a few outlets around the house, neighbor's cable and internet boxes. That evening while I was washing my face, I noticed that the water looked red. I turned on the bathtub to find that dirt was pouring out of the faucet, possibly an after effect of the lightning. So I finished rinsing my face with dirt water and ran the faucet for a good 15 minutes. That problem seemed to clear up by itself, and I am so glad that everyone is okay! Remington even slept through it all!
Just a side note: It's funny how much you think you need internet when you don't have it for three days. Actually not funny, pathetic more like.