Labernese Dogs for special needs

After much research online & talking to moms who have kids with special needs I have been in search of a “labernese” puppy.  In the whole of MD, DC and VA I couldn’t find one, nor a breeder of this new hybrid “designer” dog.  It seems that although there’s proven research to show that these gentle giants make not only great family pets, but they can emotionally support & bond better than your average Labrador.

Across Europe they’ve successfully taken the Labrador and the Bernese Mountain Dog, and produced a “labernese”.

I decided I wanted to find out if an assistance dog would improve the lives of my child and our family.

At first, I started doing searches on the internet and there wasn’t much research listed on “assistance dogs”. I then came across various (mostly on special needs forums) statements from families with assistance dogs who spoke of the improvements in their lives and how they were able to take part in normal activities again.

Having a special needs, or autistic child in the family does not just affect the child but it also affects the whole family. My son requires a lot of sensory input to keep his body under control.  He has little or no comprehension of safety and has run away from us in theme parks, shopping malls, playgrounds, and it leaves me feeling like a nervous wreck.  He is prone to temper tantrums, fits and bolting away and he hates crowds, loud noises or “too little structure”.

I stopped blogging for a long time because so many hours of my days are just emotionally spent looking after him & trying to get him as socialized & as up to speed developmentally as I possible can.  This isn’t easy when he doesn’t want to sit for more than 3 minutes at a time.  We can barely get through one letter of the alphabet, much less work on “upper and lowercase” letters.

I have another child who requires my love and attention also, and sometimes there are days when it’s very difficult to have quality one on one attention.  Luckily she gets lots of wet sloppy kisses from our Labradors 😉 lol.

I also decided that after two years of “pep” pre-school where he was surrounded with other children who had “more” issues, or severe autism, that it was time for a change.  (Because he has a late Oct birthday, he’d have been repeating pep for the 3rd year in a row, and won’t start kindergarten until he’s almost 6 years old).

My husband is a high school teacher & his school has a “training program” pre-school where the students become the teachers, and are supervised by real adult, trained teachers, but who in effect allow the students to come up with the curriculum for the year & oversee the classes.  For me, this meant he’d be in a “normal” school setting and in my “hope springs eternal” mind, would have to “strive”, and would also see different (more positive) models of behaviour.

I put both him and my daughter into this almost 2hrs a day, 5 days a week program & stayed in touch with his teachers.

A normal day in our life would consist of me explaining (upon waking) to my son, the sequence of events for that day. That’s so nothing comes as a surprise (when he was with infants & toddlers we had pictures with velcro on the wall, depicting everything in the order that it would happen, but luckily we’ve moved past that to an oral method)… potty, brush teeth, wash hands/face, get dressed, come downstairs & play while breakfast is being made.

Then I normally will spend a good hour or more convincing him to eat.  His body doesn’t have the same hunger signals that yours or mine does & because eating requires slowing down or even heaven forbid sitting down, it was something he was unable to cooperate with.  Some days this turns into a full on temper tantrum, other days just mild coaxing.

After breakfast I would allow him to help with the dishes & he likes moving heavy objects around, so pushing all the kitchen chairs back into place is perfect for him.  I usually then have both children go pick out a book & we would read, then while I get myself pulled together & HIS room picked back up, my daughter would watch some tv, while he would race around like a maniac wrecking the place & throwing his toys everywhere.  He’d take a 30 second break every now and then to stand directly in front of the television before getting back to his chaotic behaviours.

Pre-school was at 11.45am so I’d make a light lunch & snack and once again try to force feed him while my daughter ate & coloured.  Getting him into the car and strapped in can sometimes take up to 15 minutes, depending on how his day is going.  By the time I got home from dropping them both off at school it was around 12.20 & I’d usually pick up the disaster that was now our living room, family room, kitchen & bathroom.  I’d grab lunch for myself, wolf it down & try to get in “hot topics” from the View before pulling out a string cheese & ensure drink to take with me, so that as soon as he got in the car I could entice him to eat again.

Typically when the weather is good we spend a lot of our time outdoors at playgrounds, walking on trails, riding bikes, swimming, or playtime at our gym.  Lunch would as usual be a fight, and I spend lots of my time following him around, asking him to take another bite.

Hiking & Tree Climbing

Dinner time started out with a “timer”, he had to sit and eat for 3 minutes.  Some days this was just impossible.  Now that he’s older, we expect him to sit for 5 minutes, and between the end of dinner and bedtime I try to entice him with little nibbles, or a yogurt with blueberries sprinkled into it, or another string cheese, or a protein/weight gain shake (usually he’ll accept a mouthful at best).  He LOVES healthy foods and vegetables & unlike my daughter, doesn’t get enticed by cake, or cookies, or “dessert like” treats.  Sometimes all he wants to eat for dinner is a bowl filled with two pieces of cooked broccoli & 2 carrots, with maybe 2 small slices of chicken breast.  It usually weighs less than 3oz.

After dinner they get to choose a family game, or we do flash cards (well rather my daughter and I do, and my son comes and goes as he needs to).  We may watch a disney movie while he plays with his “trains”.  He has been addicted to his trains since he was very young & frequently has a meltdown when he can’t remember where he put one, or worse yet when he’s lost it.  He loses many things in one day, even though I’ve tried to streamline the processes as much as I can.  He has containers in his closet for his shoes, his socks, his underwear, but he continually loses or can’t focus enough to find these things when they’re needed.

During a meltdown he’ll bang himself against the floor, or hit himself on the head & Max will go over and nudge him into stopping the behaviour.  If that doesn’t work then I’ll physically pick him up and go somewhere dark and quiet with him, and hold him tightly.  When we’re out in public it’s much harder.

Hiking Appalachian Trail

He loves to have “chores” (although they have to be of his choosing unfortunately) so since the age of 3, he’s in charge of making sure our labradors have their food bowls filled with dog chow.  He also goes out to the deck and makes sure that their water bowl is clean and filled, and during this time the dogs are usually rubbing up against him & it appears to calm him down and make him more focused on his “chore”.

Prior to bedtime, he’ll want to do chin ups, or jump the stairs, do hand stands, headstands, cartwheels & yoga to get himself “centered” and ready for bedtime.  I usually give “warnings” 30 minutes out, then 15 minutes out, then 5 minutes out, and then finally 1 minute, this way he knows what’s coming and that 30 minutes allows the screaming to come out, or the temper tantrum to have fizzled before we head upstairs.

Chin up's and back flips

The dogs follow the whole family upstairs for bedtime – we all get into my sons big bed and he and my daughter are allowed 3 books each, which my husband and I will take turns reading.  Afterward it’s time for sleeping, and this is his time to kiss the dogs & everyone else good night.  He squeezes out the tightest hugs ever and is the most loving little guy I’ve ever met.  We take our daughter to her room & kiss and tuck her in.  We’re done by about 8.30, maybe a little later depending on his mood.

His room door now has an alarm on it (due to another scary incident that I’ve blogged about previously), and we make sure it’s set each and every night.

When I’m done, I usually get online for an hour or so & read up more on all his various issues.  I’ve asked many questions, not just for my own family requirements, but those that would also include children with spectrum disorders, adhd, autism, sensory integration disorders, and children who are handicapped.

What Did I Find:

The greatest impact of the emotional/assistance dog is on the child’s independence and safety. Improvements were noticeable in physical stamina, ability to exercise and play with the dog, development of communication skills and calmer behaviour. The responses from the therapists clearly displayed improvements in social skills, communication, motor tasks, ability to follow instruction and level of motivation. The data collected, indicated that all subjects display affection towards their emotional/assistance dogs.

An assistance dog can enrich the quality of life for children with special needs and their families.

I’ve also found out many amazing facts about dogs in general:

  1. Dogs can smell human fingerprints that are a week old. Their noses are so sensitive that they can even smell electricity. While conducting an experiment, a researcher found that a dog could smell which of two boxes contained an electric current. He concluded this was because the charge resulted in the release of tiny amounts of ozone that the dog could detect.
  2. Apparently dogs prefer Bach to Britney. A study looked at the way hundreds of distressed rescue dogs reacted to different kinds of music. The sound of human voices and pop music by artists like Britney Spears did nothing to calm the stressed dogs. Heavy metal and grunge music made the dogs even more agitated. However, the scientists discovered that dogs relaxed and enjoyed themselves most when they were played classical music. They liked the sound of Bach in particular.
  3. Male dogs tend to be left-pawed, while females favour their front right paw.
  4. The ten brightest breeds of dog (ranked according to their ability to understand new commands in fewer than five repetitions and to obey first commands 95 per cent of the time or better) are: 1 Bernese Mountain Dog; 2 Poodle; 3 German Shepherd; 4 Golden Retriever; 5 Doberman Pinscher; 6 Shetland Sheepdog; 7 Labrador Retriever; 8 Papillon; 9 Rottweiler; 10 Australian Cattle Dog.
  5. The ten least bright breeds (ranked in descending order of ability to understand new commands, even after hundreds of repetitions) are: 1 Basset Hound; 2 Mastiff; 3 Beagle; 4 Pekingese; 5 Bloodhound; 6 Borzoi; 7 Chow Chow; 8 Bulldog; 9 Basenji; 10 Afghan Hound.
  6. Happy dogs wag their tails predominantly to the right. A study of how dogs respond to different stimuli was conducted by Italian neuroscientists and vets. Over a month, they watched a group of 30 dogs respond when they were briefly joined by their owner. The dogs’ tails wagged vigorously to the right when they were shown their owners and much less so when they saw an unfamiliar human.
  7. Some dogs are more likely than others to demand affection. Highest-ranking breeds: Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier, English Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle. Lowestranking breeds: Chow Chow, Akita, Bloodhound, Rottweiler, Basset Hound, Collie.
  8. Dogs are good for human health. In the 1980s the University of Maryland found that recovering heart attack patients tended to live longer if they had dogs.
  9. Female dogs have a lower boredom threshold than males. In a major study in which both sexes were encouraged to look at a selection of different humans, the females got bored more quickly.
  10. A dog’s bark lasts on average for 0.2 seconds. A Beagle was once recorded barking 907 times in ten minutes. Some dogs are more likely than others to be guilty of excessive barking. Highest ranking breeds: Yorkshire Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, West Highland White Terrier, Fox Terrier, Beagle.
  11. Dogs that bark the least are: Bloodhound, Golden Retriever, Akita, Rottweiler, Newfoundland.
  12. Dogs are born with an equivalent of a thumb on the side of their feet. The extra digit, the dew claw, is a remnant of their evolutionary past that has become obsolete.
  13. Dogs can tell the time. During his famous experiments, the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov trained dogs to expect to receive food every half an hour. But when he changed the rules of the experiment and failed to give them anything, they still started salivating after almost exactly 30 minutes. Consciously or unconsciously, their internal clocks had told them to expect food.
  14. Dogs have around 1,700 taste-buds – almost four times as many as cats.
  15. An adult dog needs a diet of only 4 per cent protein, compared to 12 per cent for cats. This is why dogs are much better suited than cats to vegetarian diets.
  16. Chocolate can be poisonous to a dog because it contains high levels of theobromine, which is a cardiac stimulant and diuretic.
  17. Dogs are more likely to become overweight than cats. One vet reported that 30 per cent of dogs that came to his clinic were overweight. Only 10 per cent of cats suffered from obesity. Anorexia is more common in cats than dogs, though dogs can suffer from it. In their case, the condition is often associated with anxiety about being separated from their owners.
  18. Contrary to the familiar saying, old dogs can learn new tricks – provided, that is, they are following a healthy lifestyle. A study discovered that when elderly Beagles were fed on a diet of fruit, vegetables and vitamins and exercised regularly, they were able to learn a whole range of new tasks. Scientists think the healthy regime and mental stimulation stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s and other brain-related illnesses common in older dogs.
  19. Dogs are not colour-blind; they just don’t see the range of colours other species, such as humans, do. A study concluded their world is predominantly made up of yellows and blues. Cats can see limited amounts of colour.
  20. The source of the dog’s exceptional ability to smell is its wet snout. The moist leathery surface acts like Velcro, catching even the tiniest molecules of smells, then dissolving them so that the dog’s internal smell-receptor cells can analyse them properly. To keep its nose wet, a dog must produce a constant supply of mucus through the nasal cavities. Scientists reckon the average dog produces a pint of this mucus every day.

I definitely can see that our dogs have calming effects around our son & in fact the whole family.  I know that due to high stress, I get anxious, but a few minutes of petting the dogs, or getting kisses from them, it lowers my blood pressure and removes the rash I get when I’m at “my limit”!

My only sadness comes from knowing that Max and Air Bear are getting old, and will not be with us for much longer & I suppose that pushes me into looking at which breed of dog we should get next, that will benefit our particular family.  I’m thinking either a Bernese Mountain dog, or if I’m lucky enough to find one, a hybrid labernese.  Maybe if Max hangs around long enough, I’ll breed him with a Berenese!

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It’s been a long time..

Well some of you know that just over a year ago I miscarried AGAIN.  (Hence not blogging)… I’ve just not been into doing anything extra, except taking care of my kids, dogs and husband.  I’ve totally withdrawn from the world, and today was my first day out in ages.

It’s quite enough to keep up with all of my sons therapy appointments & get him to petting zoos and horse farms for some emotional support & bonding time.

I still can’t quite seem to get it together. I don’t know why I keep putting off going to the DR’s, and getting the basic stuff taken care of, like a pap smear, and my blood levels checked, but I just can’t seem to pick up the damn phone and call.  (I probably should go back on adderall & see if that helps with the ADD & lack of focus, and I definitely want to get off of the Prozac.  I feel nothing at all while on it).

I lost all my interests in anything that actually made me happy. It’s not like I didn’t know that I love to go spinning, or that I really enjoy hanging out with the moms from my moms group, but for whatever reason I just didn’t want to do it.

Today is one of the first days that I have actually felt like my old self. I took the kids to the C&O Canal today and walked for almost 5 hours. It was beautiful.  Beyond beautiful actually.  This weekend when hubby is home, we’ll have to go back there and take the dogs, they’d love it!  Max could swim & fetch rocks for hours!

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Why can’t they always be little darlings?

This would be totally false advertising. They look nothing like this right now. Their faces are instead contorted, red, sweaty, booger covered, and dare I say crusty?

For the last week they’ve been totally unreasonable, whiny, bad tempered, and unintelligible for about 17 hours a day, and they REFUSE to nap.

Cough syrup, cold and flu medicine have absolutely no effect on them. In fact with my son it makes him worse, it winds him totally  up.

The upside of being sick (yes, yes, yes, there is indeed one) – they LOVE to cuddle much more than normal.  For the last two hours we (the kids, the dogs and myself) were all on the couch laying down and watching Cinderella.  It was a beautiful sight to behold (except when they’d cough their germs all over my face)!

My son is always attached to my hip, but when he’s sick, I can’t peel him off.  I can’t even go to the bathroom, or try to prepare some food, he just holds on with this super human strength!

Gotta love them, right?

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The depressing news..

I was going to try and go back and post various dates in between (to cover the last 4 months I’ve been MIA), but that would take forever, and as a mom with two toddlers, two dogs & a husband, I have precious little time left! SO, the quick version, (if anyone is at all interested): after my stint in hospital, I visited a gastrointestinal Dr, and I didn’t have a gallbladder issue, or pancreatitis, I had a broken rib!

I then went to see a blood disorder Dr for my anemia. Turns out I was more than severely anemic – they rushed me into infusion services immediately and I spent the next 4 + hours getting an infusion of iron and some steroid.

The next day I went back in (for another 4 hour round of iron infusion) and found out I was in fact pregnant. Big shock. Not only had the hospital who’d done 3 X-rays and a CAT Scan not found my broken rib, but they’d not found out I was pregnant either. Whomp Whooomp.  AND, surprisingly no, I wasn’t using fertility drugs either. It was a GREAT Big shock.

For the next week or so I went almost daily for iron infusions, then we went on vacation. Vacation was totally awesome! We spent a week in San Diego, at Paradise Point, then we went to Yosemite National Park, and then we spent a week in Reno with hubby’s family. It was an amazing trip, and the kids were awesome! They were so well behaved on the plane rides, that the people around us were shocked getting off, because they had *no idea* that we even had children with us!! Be still my beating heart! They do have their good days.

Yosemite National Park

We had a great time in San Diego, at the beach, Lego land, Wild Animal Kingdom, Sea World, Harris Ranch, and the casinos in downtown Reno! Unfortunately most of the water in the falls at Yosemite have dried up, so it wasn’t spectacular, like I know it’s been in the past. We hiked, and relaxed, and it was so scenic in places that I could have cried.

A few weeks after we got back into town, and at the beginning of my 13th week, I had a miscarriage. Of course. Just what I needed, and just when I was starting to get used to the whole idea of the pregnancy actually being viable. SO, I’m now anemic again (because the bleeding just won’t quit), but can’t seem to get myself together to start doing the iron infusions again, or go to the DR to get anything taken care of.

Within about two weeks of all that, my in-laws flew right back out for 3 days to help take care of the kids, so I could just stay in bed with the covers over my head. While in bed, I picked up this awful flu like thing, that has this cough that just won’t go away. I sound awful, and I can’t seem to shake it. Thankfully now, I have no other symptoms other than the bloody cough.

It’s been about 3 weeks since they left, and I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’ve finally left the house, started back to the gym (because of course while I was pregnant, I ate like a friggin’ horse, and put on 26lbs) so I’m trying to work that off, and would like to find some more of the old motivation I’d usually have.

The last 4 days have been hellish – we’ve been stuck in the house because the kids got whatever God awful thing I’ve had (and still have), snotty noses, and this bad cough, so taking them to kids club, or playgroups has not been an option. It’s amazing how crazy you can go after a few days straight in the house with two toddlers. We finally got out today and went to Savage Mill, and walked on the trail, and then ate lunch at the tavern.

I’ve also got new furniture…. however, take my advice, NEVER pick out furniture on the internet when you’re depressed. It arrived today and I’m hoping it gets more comfortable, really soon.

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Stroller Hell

So, I have been desperately looking for a jogging stroller for the kids.

My Combi Twin Savvy has really taken a beating on the trails & even going around the block. My husband has also managed repeatedly kick the middle wheels in the back when he’s pushing it.

When I bought it at Buy Buy Baby I was sold on the fact that it would fold in half, like a golf bag, and slip into my trunk. The fact that it only weighed something like 24lbs was also a big selling point! Even though it’s never been “one handed” folding like they claim, it is still pretty easy to pop open and shut, and throw in the boot.

I got a bunch of referrals from my local mommies group who all had various experiences with the different models. I even joined a “stroller swap” group. Who knew that snobbery existed so strongly among moms about “makes and models” of the stroller. Apparantly there is the crowd who just have to have all the latest bells and whistles – you know the Phil & Ted E3 kind that cost around $550, versus the real life, stay at home moms who value the dollar, and still think they can be stylish with a lesser model. Each group has it own’s reasons for hating the other.

SO, because I need to fit it in the boot of my car, and not remove the wheels to do so, and because I desperately need to lose another 30lbs, I bit the bullet and headed to Burlington Coat Factory after a call from a mom who said they had them, assembled, light weight, good price, and ready to go. Well that took care of my Amazon quandry – I simply didn’t want to get a stroller without trying it out, nor did I want a stroller that *I* would have to put together. So the kids and I took off on our most excellent adventure yet… NOT…

The place itself is a logistical nightmare in the layout. I couldn’t get my stroller down the “wheel chair accessible ramp” because that’s were they decided to set up their displays & signs… DUH!!! How is a mom of two with a double wide supposed to get down 5 or 6 steps into the store otherwise? Secondly, as a mom with a double wide, you need to be able to navigate aisles – forget it at this place. Thirdly, the “baby depot” is upstairs, and they’ve hidden all signs for the elevator. I watched as one mommy loaded her Peg Perego and new baby onto the escalator, because she’d given up looking for the elevator! Gasp, shock, doesn’t she know how dangerous that is??? LOL, if only I coulda figured a way to get the combi stroller onto the escalator, I too woulda tried it. However, their escalators are wide enough for one skinny lady to ride.

Eventually I found someone who worked there… they don’t wear a uniform, and are all in hiding, trying to do as little work as possible, obviously. Was directed to elevator, but had to move racks out of the way to get to the doors, and then roll over a bunch of broken hangers and crap on the floor. Finally got upstairs to baby depot, and found that was in even more of a mess than downstairs had been. Baby sh*t everywhere! It was a nightmare. Why can’t discount places look like the inside of Nordstroms? I mean does it really have to be this unorganised? It was literally like a mine field trying to find the stroller department.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got ADD issues, but for me, just getting through this store would make me NEVER want to go back. I will for sure NEVER go back with kids in tow. I may go back if I’m bored and want to clean up someone else’s crap.

Found the InStep Safari TT, but had to move 20 strollers out of the line up just to get it out into the aisle (where I’d left my stroller and kids unattended). Loved that it was so lightweight, and fairly easy to fold. It is a mammoth size stroller though for sure. Nothing else will probably fit in my trunk if that’s in there. The combi only takes up half of the space, so I always have room for “junk” in the trunk.

Got the kids into it, and played with the straps, all the while looking for a sales person to come help me out. I asked two people – one I found hiding in a storage room, and the other one who was talking on his cell phone to page someone to come up to the stroller dept.

About 20 minutes later, I was ready to just abandon ship when finally a guy came over. I explained that this was the stroller I wanted, and would like to pay for it, and have him wheel it out to my car. He told me I couldn’t have the model that was already put together, and they DON’T put together products for their customers. I could have it in a box, ready to assemble myself. I told him first off that I could have bought it from – same price, free shipping, and not had to navigate all the hassles of coming to the local BCF, but for the fact that they would either sell me the display model at full retail price, no less, or put a new one together for me… but nope he wasn’t going to budge.

Thus far I’d invested several hours, getting there, unloading the kids, navigating my way around their screwed up store, waiting around for a sales associate, and as much as I just wanted to leave, I just couldn’t do it. I know… I shoulda not only left without buying it, but I probably should have written them a letter about my experience! Might I just also say, that if their price and’s prices are the same, then they cannot have a store that looks like a bomb hit it, with their excuse being that they are a “discount” store.

SO… here I am, a day out, with a stroller still in the box. I am overwhelmed & stressed out at the thought of attempting to put it together!!  Help please!

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An Aries Girl thru and thru..

I’m an Aries – and boy do I have all of the traits! I’m quick tempered, (although I’ve forgotten about whatever it is that set me off in a matter of minutes usually), fearless, enthusiastic, adventurous, impulsive, headstrong, and will say exactly what I want, when I want, and rarely engage my brain before opening my mouth. It gets me in trouble.  I lose interest almost immediately if I don’t get “quick results”. (Which I wish I didn’t)!  Although to be fair I’m not sure if that’s from ADD for being an Aries girl!

I’m definitely not a follower, and I want to do things my way. I am easily irrated by slowness in friends, and can’t stand “stupid”.

I love people who are straightforward, and tell it like it is. I enjoy people with a lot of get up & go.  I would prefer to figure things out while I’m doing them, instead of reading the instructions. (Which means, I never buy anything from IKEA, or that hasn’t been put together already)! LOL.  I suck in the DIY dept of housekeeping.  I’m kinda like Ready, Fire, Aim.. – doesn’t always work, but I’m to much of a get up and go girl to slow down and read the damn book.

What you see, is basically what you get from me. I suck at lying & try to avoid it at all costs. Unless I don’t want to hurt your feelings, then don’t ever expect subtlety, or “tact” from me. I’m very direct, frank and honest, sometimes to my detriment. I prefer to do things for myself, rather than wait for other people to do them. To me, that’s the fastest way to get something done.

I’m fiercly proud & in love with my family. As a mother, my kids will usually be clean, happy, healthy and loved. I probably won’t pick them up every time they trip, cry or fuss and I’m not going to over protect them, But my kids get loads of warm, wet, impulsive kisses and big bear hugs. I’m not a permissive parent by any means, and my favorite weapons of child psychology are: time out, a wooden paddle, (joking, joking, but at least a good “hold your hand out for a slap” now and then), bedtime stories and goodnight kisses.

There is NOTHING that I won’t tackle. If it’s a challenge or just something I think I want to brighten my life, I’ll make some kind of a stab at it whether it’s practical or not 😦

I have shining optimism, and love other positive people to surround myself with. Probably the thing I hate the most about my personality is that when I’m done with something, or someone, I’m done. I can’t go back.  I can hold a grudge like nobodies business (unless I really thought we were *friends* at which point, I’d have to cool down before attempting to reach out again)…

Are all Aries women like this?  Does your personality match up with your star sign?

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So I take my kids to the outlet mall to find the new sketcher’s croc’s (with the backs on them and straps across the foot). We roll in with our great big double stroller, which of course doesn’t fit down any of the aisles, and I’ve got to park it nearby. So, I’ve got my kids parked and strapped in. I find a pair of shoes for my daughter, get her out, sit her down and put them on, and just as I set her down on the floor to have her walk for me, I hear a huge commotion and next thing I know my son is buried under about 12 boxes of shoes.

As he weighs about 21lbs dripping wet, he is literally buried. He’d pulled the bottom box from the shelf, and the rest came toppling down. I quickly scoop the boxes up, shove them back on the shelf, and I swear, 30 seconds later, I turn around and my daughter is gone. Gone. GONE!

I frantically called her name, and started searching the aisles – but what the fuck is up with shoe stores who have those shelving units up to my breasts, and barely able to see over. I ran throughout the store calling for her, and ran to the door.

I ran out into the mall and must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights, trying to figure out which way she might have gone. A very young couple walking past, totally nonchalantly asks if I’m looking for a little girl. WTF? NO SHIT SHERLOCK, I’m looking for a little girl. My little girl. They said she was about 9 or 10 stores down… I ran frantically…. as I’m running I feel sick to my stomach, and almost want to puke. I then realise as I’m running and screaming her name, I’ve left my wallet on top of my stroller, and my other kid in the stroller, alone, in the shoe store. I keep calling and there’s no answer. I can’t see past the sea of people, and I’m thinking when and if I get her, I’m going to bloody kill her. She is obviously coming into the “terrible twos” stage.

I finally see her. She’s “shuffled” her way at a high rate of speed, with the stupid anti-theft device holding the stupid crocs together in the middle. So much for their fucking anti-theft program. I grab her up, and I admit the first thing I wanted to do was slap her silly. Or puke. I couldn’t figure out which. I screamed at her the whole way back to the shop, and as she’s so sensitive by nature, that was probably worse than a spanking. She was balling her eyes out when we got back to the shop, and thankfully Houdini hadn’t gone anywhere. God knows I was in no mood for him to do a disappearing act.

I pulled the shoes off her, grabbed my son’s, and slapped them down on the counter. Of course the one and only store employee is oblivious to all that’s gone on, (which makes me want to slap him too) and he wants to sell me the doo-dads for the shoes. I’m barely lucid enough to get money out of my wallet, which was thankfully still sitting on top of the stroller, and the last thing I want to do is ponder fucking pins for the shoes.

I’ve hated the idea of “leashes” but I swear to God, my children need to be leashed.

I felt like such a bad mommie, and it took days for me to settle down, and not feel nauseous everytime I thought about it.

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