Back in the Saddle

Today I thought to myself, “Self, you should start a blog about being a stepmom,” and then I remembered I have a blog. So, I log into dear ol’ WordPress, and there’s a nice little note for me, right in the middle of my stats page: “It has been almost 2 years since your last blog post.” Hmm. Thanks for reminding me about what a slacker I am, WP. So here I am to give the catch-up version of my life in one blog. Then, if I don’t become #1 Slacker again, I will go into more detail on the things that are actually interesting.

Also – for anyone who read the December Turning 30 edition, no, I am not engaged, yes, I survived turning 30 (Se├▒or surprised me with a night downtown), and now I am enjoying thirtyonederful. ­čśë

I vaguely remember December 2014. Se├▒or graduated police academy and immediately afterwards, the holidays were upon us. We were also house hunting amidst all of this, getting more time with the kiddos, and BAM. Life came to a halt as Se├▒or and his family had to travel to Mexico for the death of his grandfather. A few short months later, I was let go from my job. About a month after that, we found out we couldn’t buy the house we had seen and fallen in love with. It was SO FRUSTRATING. I have no better words than that: FRUSTRATING. However, instead of letting it get us down,┬áSe├▒or and I pulled ourselves together and brainstormed. We took immediate action to fix what was hindering us from buying a house, and my wonderful in-laws offered for us to move into the house they had bought as a gut-rehab project and had planned on renting out.

The month of May 2015 was a busy one. In the midst of interviewing for jobs, I was spending all available time at the new house, helping get it move-in ready. It was nothing but sub-floors and drywall when I started. At the end of the month, however, we had a shiny new home that we had gotten to put our distinctive personal touches on.

I also started a new job at the end of May 2015, putting me at 3 jobs within 1 year. I wasn’t feeling to great about that. Fortunately, my new job is great, and I have been there for over a year now.

We now have the boys 50% of the time, which means I have a lot more responsibility as woman of the house, especially with the schedule of a police officer. Thankfully, I work from home and have a lot of flexibility to help take care of things in a pinch. The boys are all turning older this Summer/early Fall – they will be 12, 10, and 7 – and I have the mushy-mom-feelings about all of it, especially the 12 year old’s new voice & entering junior high & girls texting him (what?! I swear he was just learning how to read) and the 7 year old going into First grade. Be still my heart.

Our home was broken into Summer 2015, and since then I have been more accepting of owning a handgun (I know, I know. I date a cop). I never saw a need for one, as that is how I was raised, but considering the circumstances that surrounded that experience, I will be prepared to protect my family if there is ever a next time. This is a big change for me, as my entire life I have a been an on-the-fence-leaning-left liberal.

While 2015 saw a lot of changes, 2016 has just been a year from Hell. My grandmother (maternal) fought valiantly but lost her battle to cancer in February. A couple weeks later my father was admitted to the ICU, and was in the hospital until May 11, when he passed away. Currently, my grandfather (maternal) is fighting Stage III lung cancer. He has radiation M-F and the treatment seems to be working, Praise God. I don’t know if our family, especially my mother, can handle a third death, especially of someone so near, dear, and important to so many people.

Currently, I am trying to get my life back in order. It has been weird not spending all of my free time at the hospital or being a road warrior (my family is all 1.5 hours north of me). Can I please tell you how much money I have spent on gas & tolls since October when my grandmother was diagnosed? Oy vey.

We just finished up a full week with the boys – in even years we get to have them for their first week of summer vacation, and then they will spend the next week with their mom. While this “childless” stepmomma needed some peace and quiet restored to her house, it’s a little too quiet right now with┬áSe├▒or being on night shift currently. Aw, shoot, I’ll admit it: I miss those darn kids already.

Well, that is it for now, but I wanted to give this blog a refresh. As the title suggests, I have been bucked off my horse a few times in the past 1.5 years, but I’m back in the saddle and grabbing the reigns once more. I know I’ll end up on the ground again at some point, but for now, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Hound Dog Houdini

pancho park

Houdini. 

I didn’t want a dog.┬áSo when I was approached by someone to take on this sweet pup who had an abusive owner, I deferred to Se├▒or via text while at work one day. After shooting off a text asking if he was interested in a dog, I forgot about it and went about my day since I was certain he would say no and then I could blame it on him.┬áMy phone buzzed, and all I saw on the text preview was, “Yes.” Well, damn.

Our dog came to us as a 1 year old pup who was not housebroken or trained. We had a roommate who had a similarly aged German Shepherd, so when we went to work, we used his cage for our dog and his dog was left out since he was better behaved. Unfortunately, Houdini discovered how to get out of the cage after just a few days and we were dumbfounded. I considered one of those nanny cams to record him during the day but then realized he would probably just chew up the sweet teddy bear it comes in. So we bought a new cage instead. This one was of the plastic variety that came in two pieces and screwed together with a wire door in front that hooked into the top AND bottom of the cage. Take THAT Houdini!

Silly humans.
He chewed a hole in the plastic. He chewed a HOLE through the HARD PLASTIC CAGE. This dog was 100% determined to not be kept in a cage during the day. Unfortunately for him, we 100% did not care what he wanted. So off we went to the pet store, yet again, to buy another cage for the escape artist. We settled on a metal Kong brand cage that was big enough for himto stand up in and move around a bit, but was also reinforced so he couldn’t escape.

Houdini and his Kong cagepancho cage

[Funny note about that picture: This is what he does after I tell him it’s time to take a bath. He would rather be in his cage than take a bath. Dirty dog.]

So we brought the Kong cage home and set it up and gave him a blanket and said good bye the next morning when we went to work. We came home… and Houdini was still in his cage! Halleluyah Baby Jesus thank you!

However, my readers, the story does not end there with all the joy and happiness brought forth by the Kong cage. If you’re thinking, “There’s no way he got out of that cage!” then, treasured reader, you are wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

The Kong cage worked for about a week. Then one day, we came home to the mess we had known so well before the Kong cage but had forgotten so easily. Poop. Trash. Torn up things. I almost pulled my hair out, but I was paying a lot of money at that time to make it many lovely shades of blonde so I quickly scrapped that idea.

After cleaning up and eating dinner, we went to Ace Hardware in search of mini u-bolts. That’s right. We were going to put bolts on the cage. It turns out that he was squeeeeeeeezing himself through the sides of the cage that weren’t reinforced. Not only was this ridiculous, genius, and slightly humorous (you have to admire his perseverance) – it was dangerous. He could hurt himself badly. And despite him making me want to pull out my expensive hair, I loved the scrappy beast.
And so, we bolted our dog in his cage. He sat there with that curious dog head tilt while Se├▒or used his power screwdriver to attach so many tiny u-bolts all over the cage.

A week later it was the same mess a different day. Poop. Trash. Desire to pull out golden blonde locks.

Dear reader, please look again at the picture of Houdini in his cage. Look at what is hanging on his cage. That’s right, a lock. The smart little f%&^*! figured out how to open the door. So, we padlocked it.

And that is how Houdini came to be crate trained. By sheer will power and force from his humans. Wily dog.
Now, nearly 3 years later, he is my sweet boy and I can’t imagine not having him around. Even when he still makes me want to pull out my hair.

pancho me lake

Houdini & Momma time at the lake trails.