All I wanted was a hot cup of coffee

Our hound dog is being harassed by a bunny.

Yeah, you heard that right.

We are officially one week and one day into this mess and it just keeps getting weirder. Sit back and let me paint you a picture of what’s been going down in the Romano house these last eight days.

After a busy few weeks at work, all I was really looking forward to over the long Labor Day weekend was a chance to sit down and drink a hot cup of coffee. See, as a mom, I’m always brewing coffee and pouring myself fresh cups, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I was able to sit down and drink a full cup while it’s still hot. There’s always some interruption that pulls me away–Stevie, the kids, the dog, the doorbell, the dog running out the door because the kids opened it after one of their neighbor friends rang the doorbell. So I finally decided I was going to brew my coffee, pour a cup, and then take it outside on the patio to enjoy a little early-September sunshine and maybe even do a little writing.

I took one glorious sip before Henry came over and tapped me on the arm.

“Mommy, Electra’s digging,” he said, pointing behind me.

I didn’t even bother to turn around. On hot days, Electra will occasionally dig herself a cool spot in the dirt near the garage and flop down to snooze in the shade.

“It’s okay buddy. Digging won’t hurt anything.”

I opened my notebook and held my pen to the empty page, taking a second sip while I gathered my thoughts.

“Mommy, Electra’s got something in her mouth,” Henry said. And then I heard a muffled squeaking noise before Electra let out an excited hound dog whine.

I set my coffee on the table, tossed my notebook and pen in the empty chair beside me, and jumped up from the chair all in one frantic motion. I hollered at Henry to stay back and braced myself for whatever I was about to find. Electra has surprised us a few times over the years–digging snakes out from under lilac bushes, chasing (and sometimes killing) birds and rabbits, trapping an opossum and her babies in a dark corner of the yard. Hell, there was one night I caught her stalking a screech owl that had perched itself on the post of our chainlink fence. Luckily I managed to grab her and drag her away before she pissed the owl off and suffered any damage.

And as soon as I saw her gingerly pulling something small and brown and squeaking from a hole she’d carefully excavated in the flowerbed, I knew exactly what we were dealing with.

Electra had gone and found herself a nest of baby bunnies.

Now, if you’re new to this blog, let me give you a little bit of history…

We adopted Electra when she was just shy of a year old. Her life pre-Romanos was spent with a dozen other beagles and beagle-basset mixes living in a kennel and being trained to track rabbits. No lazy couch naps. No gourmet dog cookies. Just training and tracking and learning how to put that hound dog nose to good use finding rabbits.

Electra obviously knows how to catch a rabbit scent, and knows to make a helluva lot of noise to let us know when she’s on the trail. But we’re guessing that’s about as far as she made it in her training before she was surrendered to the Arizona Beagle Rescue and adopted by us. There’s no mistaking it when Electra starts tracking a rabbit. She puts the whole neighborhood on alert with her booming hound dog voice. But the thing with Electra is she doesn’t quite seem to understand what to actually do with the rabbits once she finds them.

Hell, half the time she’s so focused on tracking that she doesn’t even realize the damn rabbits are sitting less than two feet from her face.

Then the rabbit takes off and Electra takes off, barking and howling and hauling ass around the yard in hot pursuit. And somehow, as lazy and uncoordinated as our sweet dog is, she has managed to catch (and unfortunately kill) more than a dozen full grown rabbits. Most of the murders unfortunate incidents honestly appear to be mistakes…like she somehow managed to catch up with the rabbits when they hit a fence or took a wrong turn.

Once, Electra even managed to trap a rabbit in the space between our chainlink fence and the neighbors wooden fence and all of her excitement and barking scared the damn thing to death. She spent the rest of the afternoon whining  and crying like she’d just lost a dear old friend.

But baby bunnies? Totally different story.

Electra has managed to find two rabbit nests in her life. And both times, all she wants to do is pull all of the babies gently out of the nest so she can lick them and love them and apparently make them her own.

Poor sweet hound. She just doesn’t seem to understand that’s not how it works.

So, I managed to grab Electra by the collar and wrestle her away from the nest. She’d only had a chance to pull one baby out and drop it gently in the grass. Behind me, Henry was squealing.

“Oh look at the baby! He’s so cute! Look at the baby rabbit Mommy!”

“Don’t touch the baby, H. Just stay back. We gotta get Electra away and help him.”

Henry followed close behind as I pushed Electra back in the house and grabbed a pair of gardening gloves from the garage.

“What are you doing Mommy?” he asked. “You helping the baby?”

“Yep, I’m helping the baby. We gotta get the baby back in his nest so his Mommy will come back.”

The baby was squirming and trying to burrow into the lawn. I nudged gently, looking for any sign of blood or broken bones. But other than a thin layer of dog slobber, the little guy seemed to be in good shape. He made little clucking noises and kicked his legs as I scooped him gently into my gloved hands. I peered into the hole in the flower bed and saw three other little bunnies huddled together, so I carefully laid Electra’s baby on top of the pile. He wiggled and snuggled back in with the others.

Then I gathered the scattered piles of dry grass and tried to rebuild the nest the best I could. Inside the house Electra was howling in protest.

“Okay H-man, we gotta stay away from the babies now that they’re back in the nest. And we gotta keep Electra away, okay?”

“Okay,” Henry agreed.

I grabbed Electra’s old tie-out chain from the shelf in the garage and wrapped it around one of the trees on the opposite side of the patio. Stretched taut, she would be at least five feet away from the bunnies. I figured that was as good as it was going to get, and as long as Mama Rabbit would come back, we might be able to watch these babies grow and bid them farewell with no casualties. I reached out to a local wildlife rescue to make sure we had a solid plan, and a very helpful lady named Vikki told me all would be well if we could keep Electra away for a week or two.

For the next few days, we kept Electra on her chain and left the nest undisturbed. We even saw Mama Rabbit come back a few times to check in on the babies. All was well, right up until Friday evening when someone let Electra out without putting her on her chain.

(I’ve got two guesses…ahem…Cadence and Henry)

And then, the nest was empty. No sign of Mama Rabbit or the babies (and thankfully no sign of any carnage either). So, we assumed that we’d seen the last of our little rabbit friends, and wished them well.

Now this is where shit started to get weird.

Saturday morning, approximately 7:30 am – Cadence bursts into our room yelling that Electra is barking really loud and there’s a bunny on the patio. Sure enough, one of the bunnies is hiding behind the stack of plastic patio chairs. With Electra safely wrangled in the house, we manage to shoo Baby Bunny into a small box, fill the box with some of the discarded nest, and place the box in the flowerbed near the original nest hoping Mama and Baby will figure this shit out. Baby hangs out in the box most of the day and then disappears mid-afternoon.

Saturday night, approximately 9:30 pm – Electra has her last meal of the day and we put her out on her chain, just in case. Lots of barking and whining, so obviously Mama or Babies (or both) are somewhere close by.

Sunday morning, approximately 11:00 am – Electra goes into full-blown tracking mode and everyone in Southeast Lincoln knows it. It’s been a long time since Electra has tracked this hard (she’s honestly gotten way lazy in her old age) and the kids think it’s hilarious, so I pull out my phone and start recording. As I try to get in front of Electra and get some good video, I suddenly look down and see Baby hiding in plain sight, burrowed in a patch of long grass near the tree trunk less than six inches from Electra’s nose. That’s me almost dropping my phone as I quickly grab Electra to pull her away. (And what I really should have been recording was the next 10-15 minutes of us shooing the Baby over to the side of the yard away from Electra’s chain. Every time Baby would jump, Henry would squeal and Cadence would holler and laugh. It was like a slapstick scene straight out of a Carol Burnett Show special).

Sunday afternoon, approximately 1:30 pm – I come down from putting Henry down for a nap and hear Electra going nuts in the back yard. Cadence let her out and forgot to put her on the chain. I go around the side of the house near the gate and Electra is trying her damndest to shove her face between the brick garage wall and the chainlink fence post. On closer inspection, I see Baby Bunny oh so casually lying in a patch of overgrown grass near the garage about a foot from Electra’s slobbery face. Electra spends the next four hours whining and pleading with Baby Bunny to please just come a little bit closer. You gotta give Electra credit for being persistent.

Sunday night, approximately 11:00 pm – Heading to bed late (always a bad idea when you’ve got work the next morning) and I put Electra out one more time. She’s off-chain because I couldn’t imagine the rabbits would actually return after being so thoroughly shepherded out of the yard. Suddenly, Electra’s hound dog voice is echoing in the darkness. I pull on my slippers and head outside. She’s on a fresh scent in the yard. It’s late, and I can’t indulge her anymore, so I grab her collar and haul her into the house. I turn around and Baby Bunny is sitting on the edge of patio, not three feet from the back door, just hanging out like he owns the place. He doesn’t even move when I grab my phone to snap a picture. I’m starting to think Electra might have a stalker, or this poor Baby is all sorts of confused and thinks Electra might be his mother.

Today (Monday) noon – Stevie comes home for lunch, let’s Electra out, and she’s tracking again. Baby is back and exploring the yard.

Today (Monday), approximately 7:00 pm – Electra is trying again to shove her face between the brick garage wall and the chainlink fence post to lick Baby Bunny who is hiding in the grass less than eight inches away.

Today (Monday), approximately 7:30 pm – Doorbell rings. It’s Cadence and the neighbor girls telling us that Electra got out of the yard when one of the other neighbor boys opened the gate. Baby Bunny is gone. Electra is tracking like crazy.

Tonight (Monday), approximately 10:00 pm – Stevie puts Electra out and notices Mama Rabbit is hanging out in the yard, so he hooks Electra to her chain. Mama Rabbit hops away without Electra even noticing. Now Electra is tracking in the yard and occasionally howling when she catches a whiff of a fresh scent.

At this point, Stevie and I are convinced that these rabbits are just screwing with our dog. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

To be continued?…

365 Project – Day 90 – Renew

As we celebrate Easter and say goodbye to March, it’s time to welcome the warmer weather and begin April with a sense of renewal and hope. There are some very exciting things on our horizon–new job, new schedules, new opportunities, road trips, family vacations.

Our lives have been blessed in so many ways.

And even spending a lazy weekend at home recovering from a recent run-in with an icky stomach bug, we enjoyed our time together and made some great memories.

Here are my favorite photos from this year’s Easter Egg hunt…

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And just one last collage to serve as a Public Service Announcement (and to prove just how ill-fitting girls’/women’s jeans are, even in kid’s sizes). Just remember kids…crack kills.

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Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

I missed my blog post yesterday. Total 365 Project failure folks. I’d like to say, I did try. After the long day of packing and traveling and utter mayhem, I put Cadence down to sleep and turned on my laptop to discover two things:

1. Pawpoo Shawn changed the password on his wireless network, and

2. I just didn’t have the energy or the motivation to try logging in with my phone to post.

So, here I am tonight instead, making up for lost time and filling you in on yesterday’s craziness.

But first, let’s back up a few days…

So, as you all know, I’ve been battling some fierce allergies this spring. I’ve never had allergies so bad, and there have been several days that I’ve given serious though to just sewing my nostrils shuts to keep the pollen out of my sinuses. If I didn’t hate breathing out of my mouth so much, I just might have tried it.

Steven keeps telling me that he thinks I’m sick, that it can’t be allergies. And then, as if to prove his point, he goes and gets sick over the weekend. He even had to stay home from work Monday and Tuesday because he was a coughing, sneezing, achy, congested mess. So, maybe I was a little sick, but everyone at Steve’s office said this kind of cruddy flu has been going around for a couple of weeks, so we’re not the only ones suffering.

Since Steven was home Monday and Tuesday, I decided to get a jump on packing for my Colorado trip. I’m the world’s worst when it comes to packing. I always put it off until the last minute. And then I stress myself (and my poor hubby) out and end up overpacking because I’m just frantically throwing anything and everything that we could possibly want or need into the suitcase. Since it would just be Cadence and I traveling, I didn’t want to overdo it, and I wanted to make sure I packed our carry-on bag smart with a variety of toys and activities and snacks to keep her occupied during the flight.

Mostly, I just didn’t want a repeat of our last flight alone together. In case you need a refresher (and a good laugh), follow the link…

The Joys of Traveling with a Toddler

So, I was seriously proud of myself when I managed to get my camera bag and our carry-on/diaper bag fully packed and set aside on Monday. Go me!

Since I’d booked a 7:40 pm flight on Wednesday, I figured I could spent Wednesday morning packing the suitcase. The plan was to get up, get Cadence situated with some breakfast, take a quick shower, turn on a movie to keep Cadence busy while I gathered all of the clothes and bathroom items for the trip, then wait until Steven came home for lunch to pack. Then, I’d have the afternoon for any last minute stuff and time to get Cadence down for a quick nap.

That was the plan. Here’s how it really went down.

Cadence woke up and her crib was soaked. Apparently, she’d taken off her pajamas during the night, and managed to pull her diaper halfway off. So, I got her up, bathed her, got her dressed, and put her in her high chair to eat some breakfast while I stripped her crib and started a load of laundry to wash her sheets.

I sat down for a quick cup of coffee while I went through my email. I wanted to make sure I had all my projects and work stuff taken care of before the trip. And wouldn’t you know that I had half-a-dozen new inquiries and assignments waiting in my inbox that morning, so I spent the next 30 minutes replying while Cadence ate breakfast. I took a quick break to get her cleaned up when she was done eating and rotate the laundry, then spent the next hour or so replying to the rest of the emails and updating my calendar.

At some point, Cadence managed to get into the diaper bag and unpack half of it trying to get to the new Elmo coloring books I’d bought for the trip. Of course, there was the threat of an epic meltdown when I took everything away from her so I could repack the bag, but I managed to pull the good ol’ “bait and switch” by popping Hop into the blu-ray player and bribing her with a fruit snack.

I managed to get the bag repacked by the time Steven came home for lunch, so I sat down and inhaled a plate of leftover spaghetti pie before heading upstairs to pull out all of the clothes Cadence and I would be taking on the trip. Then, I took a quick shower and gathered our toiletries for the trip. By the time Steven headed back to work, I had everything ready, I just needed to put it all in the suitcase.

And then, everything started to go really wrong.

Electra followed Steven out as he left to go back to the office, and was content to spend the afternoon in the yard sniffing and tracking. And Cadence seemed content playing in her kitchen on the sunporch, so I snuck into the bathroom for a moment to pull my wet hair up into a ponytail. I was just finishing up when Cadence suddenly appeared in the doorway.

“Uh-oh Momma. Poop. Poopy potty,” she said.

I had about 3.7 seconds of being excited and thinking that Cadence had come to tell me that she needed to go poop on the potty, but then I realized that she’d already gone and that she was wearing big girl underwear.

You wanna know what’s worse than trying to get a pair of poop-filled underwear off a squirming 2-year-old?

Nothing.

There’s nothing in the world that’s worse than that.

I’m not even exaggerating, folks. You should consider yourself lucky if you both make it out alive.

An hour later, after both of us were sterilized and wearing clean sets of clothes, I started another load of laundry and then took Cadence up to put her down for a nap. She wasn’t tired at all (and in all honesty, I think she’s about ready to drop her afternoon naps), but it was already 2:45 and I hadn’t even started packing the suitcase yet. If nothing else, I figured I could put her in her crib, zip the crib tent closed, and have an hour or two of uninterrupted packing time before we had to head out the door to the airport.

Cadence went in her crib without a fuss, and as I finally began packing the suitcase, I listened to her over the monitor singing her ABC’s and jumping up and down. I managed to get all of our clothes packed, then carried the suitcase downstairs to finish packing the last of our toiletries. The only thing missing was the stack of overnight diapers I’d left sitting on Cadence’s changing table, but those would have to wait until it was time to get her out of bed to go.

I figured I could go ahead and get my camera bag and backpack in the car, so I grabbed the car keys and opened the back door.

In all the afternoon craziness, I’d completely forgotten about Electra, but I saw her as soon as I opened the door, standing off to the patio to my left, half-hidden by one of the planter beds. She looked up at me, as if I’d startled her or interrupted something. Then, she bent down, grabbed something in her mouth, and darted off around the side of the house.

I’d seen just enough of the grayish-brown fur to know it was a rabbit.

Damned if our lazy hound didn’t finally caught herself a rabbit! And of course, it would happen today!

I just shook my head as I put the bags in the car. Then, I went around the side of the house to see if the little bunny had actually survived Electra’s overzealous playfulness.

No such luck.

There was the poor little bunny, stretched out on the sidewalk, and poor Electra licking it and nudging it with her nose, probably wondering why her little friend wasn’t getting up to hop anymore.

RIP little bunny

I took Electra by the collar and led her in the house, locking her in while I disposed of the carcass. Ugh! It wasn’t even 5:00 and I’d already cleaned up shit and dead bodies. How much worse could this day possibly get? Oh, that’s right, I was getting on a plane with my 2-year-old in a few hours. At that point, I began to prepare myself for the worst.

Luckily, except for my sinuses plugging up tight just in time to board the airplane, I have absolutely no complaints about the trip. We got to the airport early enough to grab some dinner as a family. Cadence and I said goodbye to Steven and managed to make it through security with no issues. Then we boarded the plane and got strapped in for the short flight to Denver. Cadence was content to eat her snacks, color, and watch movies on the Ipad, never once complaining for the entire flight. There were no diaper explosions or screaming trips to the airplane lavatory, no crazy overtired meltdowns, nothing at all.

Cadence showing her Momma what a big girl she is and traveling like a champ on the airplane.

Thank God. After the day I had, I don’t know if I could have survived it.

And so, we have arrived in Colorado, safe and sound, and we’re having a blast hanging out with Pawpoo Shawn, Granny Wendy, Aunt Whitney and Uncle Collin.

Cadence showing her Uncle Collin all her favorite Ipad games and movie trailers.

Now, if you’d all pray for us to have an uneventful trip back home on Tuesday, I’d really appreciate it! 🙂

Just A Few More Easter Photos

Just had to post a few more to finish up the set. We’ve got the egg-dyeing festivities…

Cadence and Daddy making goofy faces…

A try at a family photo. But, oh wait, where’s Electra?

And here’s what happens when you try to get an uncoordinated hound dog up on a porch swing…

Cadence woke up Easter morning, and the first sounds we heard through the baby monitor were, “Bunny? Bunny? Hide eggs? He’s here! Bunny! Eggs!” So, we hopped out of bed, got her dressed and headed downstairs to investigate. By the back door, we found our empty egg carton, and Cadence was hot on the trail…

And here’s the little drama queen doing her best to squeeze out a tear when we headed back inside and she thought the fun was over.

But as soon as she found out that we get to open and peel all the eggs, she was happy as a clam again and ready to help Daddy…

Luckily, she managed to eat a couple hard boiled eggs and drink some milk before she discovered the candy in her basket…

But all bets were off when she found a Cadbury Egg. Looks like she inherited her parents’ Cadbury Egg addiction. First bite = heaven!

And we wrapped up the day in a chocolate coma, watching movies and baseball and playing with some new toys.

It was definitely a Happy Easter! 🙂