Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Tales Of Scales

By Deanna, The Unnatural Mother

My son Richie, the 7 year old is an animal fanatic. It doesn’t matter if its snail, a great white, or even a squirrel. He loves animals and has absorbed ridiculous amount of information about them to the point where if we step outside we can’t walk two feet without him pointing out a “Great Eastern Humming Bird that is indigenous to the Eastern United States because of its yellow beak and mating calls” with more confidence than Bill Clinton spewing “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. When I took him to see Jungle Jack Hanna he actually stumped the man on a question about Hippo’s. Umm, that was a little uncomfortable, as Jack is the “expert” on animals, right? It’s like asking me about McDonald’s french fries, if I can’t tell you how many granules of salt is on each fry I should tearfully remove my “French Fry Expert” hat right before your eyes.

Nevertheless, the little bugger has been asking for a pet since he could walk. Every. Damn. Day he’d ask my husband or I “Can I have a zebra?”, “Can we get a bird?”, “Can I have a dog?”, “Can I have a giraffe?”, “Can we get a turtle, fish, cat, frog, tiger, lion, parrot, parakeet, pelican, or maybe a kola bear?” obviously our answer was “No, no, and NO!”. Until this Christmas as you may of read that his entire Christmas wish list consisted of animals, oh and Mario Kart for his DSI. There was no way Santa could not bring this boy a pet. And for some reason my son got in his head that he wanted a lizard, a bearded dragon named Scales. So as you may of read here, Santa listened and brought him Scales and made this 7 year old a very happy little boy.

Man, oh man was he happy. He took care of Scales better than I take care of him and his brother – he actually paid attention to him! Gave him so much love, fed him, loved him, cared for him like I have never seen a 7 year old care for an animal (well, he’s my first 7 year old, but it was remarkable). And this little lizard loved him right back, any time Richie came to his terrarium Scales would jump up to his basking spot, look at Richie and smile in a lizardy kind of way. It was really amazing to see a bond between a three month old lizard and my son. Scales consumed our lives. I’d rearrange plans cause “I gotta get the crickets to the house before they die in my car”. I’d make sure that our errands were strategically planned so that I got home at feeding time, and I tried every green vegetable out there: spinach, iceberg, collard greens, and a spring mix until we realized that Scales really liked romaine. I hand fed him romaine lettuce Every.Damn. Day. Ya see, I fell in love with him but my son, well, he was infatuated. Every writing assignment, drawing project at school was about Scales, every sentence, thought, anything that came out of his mouth was about Scales: “Do you think Scales likes sitting on my head?”, “Wow, that was a big poop, glad Scales doesn’t poop like that”, “I hate broccoli, but I bet Scales likes it”, “Mom, do you love Scales?”. Matthew the three year old was jealous of Scales, and knew how to push Richie’s buttons with retorts like “Uh Oh Richie, Skillz is dead”. Horrible. Horrible. Evil little bugger.

Than Scales got sick.

We did everything in our power to get him well, warm baths, visits to the pet store, new lamps, new food, new everything. I slipped right back into PPD faster than Cameron Diaz could change boyfriends. For over a week I obsessed, googled, called and was a complete wreck about Scales. I forced my husband to spend a lot of money, and take as many visits to a specialized lizard pet shop to get Scales healthy. During this time we tried to prepare Richie that Scales may visit ‘Lizard Heaven’, that we were taking good care of him and that sometimes when lizards are really small it’s hard to keep them healthy in the winter. My husband and I took turns telling him what a great care-giver he was, that Scales loved him so much, and that we are so proud of him for all his hard work.

The day Scales died my son didn’t realize, as usual Richie sprung out of bed, ran to the terrarium and said his good mornings; he was thrilled Scales was in his cave, little did he know was that Scales went to his resting place, to‘Lizard Heaven’. Telling my son Scales died was one of the hardest things I had to do as a parent, the look of horror on his face is imprinted in my mind. He sulked around for a good two weeks, cried himself to sleep, had nightmares and was definitely going through the stages of death. In school Richie wrote about how much he missed him, drew pictures of him, and on one assignment he wrote that he would be getting a new lizard soon and that it would make him “happy & sad”. One day I found Richie at the computer, feet on the desk, pillow on his belly, crying as he was watching a video we had of Scales.


Heartbreaking.

He literally broke my heart, my husband’s heart and everyone’s heart, except maybe the three year old who kept saying “Skillz is dead” for about two weeks, we don’t want to believe that he’s evil, so we’re chalking it up to “that’s how he deals with death” instead of being a sarcastic scootch at the tender age of three.

We let Richie grieve for a about month and this week we got another bearded dragon, when we asked Richie what he wanted to name the new lizard he said Scales, of course, naturally it would be Scales. And once again, he is the happiest 7 year old in the world, the three year sarcastic scootch is happy too, he did try the “Skillz is dead” act but as soon as he saw how upset Richie got, he went to the terrarium and said “Skillz, I’m sorry for saying mean things bout you”. Perhaps, he’s not evil after all, a scootch absolutely.

I present to you Scales version 2.0:


Posted in bearded dragon, deanna, lizard, pet death, richie, The Little Buggers

Cock-a-doodle-nightmare!

By Tiffany Zehnal

We never set our alarm clock in our house. Not even when we have to get up early. Our iHome doesn’t know what to make of us. What kind of people NEVER set their alarm? Hobos that’s who.

We are hobos.

Monday, 6:11 am: Max enters our room.“Mom, I had a nightmare” as he crawls into our bed.

Tuesday, 5:54 am: Max standing over me. “I had a nightmare, Mom” and then he slips into our bed.

Wednesday, 6:04 am: Max suddenly in our bed. “I dreamt I had a nightmare.”

Thursday, 5:48 am: I roll over to find Max. “Had a nightmare.”

Friday, crack of crack am: Max. Bed. Me. “Nightmare.”

Almost daily this morning routine happens. Unfortunately the only one to blame for my seven-year-old son being a scared little rooster is me.

I dwell. If there is any tragedy or disaster or kidnapping or accident on the other side of the freeway, I have to know what is going on. I’d like to think it’s the journalist in me that has to know the facts – I aced a Journalism 101 class my first year in college eighty-seven years ago- but I know it’s more because I can’t help but think, that could’ve been me! After I think of all the victims and their families and the motherless / fatherless / brotherless / sisterless / grandparentless children left behind of course. Then, that could’ve been me! I’m not proud of this. Seems a little narcissistic if you ask me. Airplane crashes into the ocean on the way to Paris. Those poor passengers. Hey, I went to Paris a year before on almost exactly the very same flight – that could’ve been me! Toyota can’t brake on the freeway and crashes into retaining wall. That poor driver. Hey, I have a Toyota and go on the freeway and sometimes think my brakes act a little wonky – that could’ve been me! Mother of two kidnapped at grocery store and later found dismembered in her trunk. That poor woman. Hey, I’m a mother of two who shops at grocery stores and has a trunk! I never took Journalism 201 if you’re wondering why those headlines aren’t better. But you get the picture. I dwell.

I am a facebook friend with CNN.

Cut to poor Japan a couple of weeks ago. Earthquake. Tsunami. And then a volcano erupts?! I felt so terrible for that country – really, really, REALLY terrible – and thought a lot about those poor people on that dinky little island in the ocean. Those poor people on that dinky little island in the ocean. Then. Hey! I live on a dinky little island in the ocean – that could happen to me! And, well, it’s true. Earthquakes happen in New Zealand. We are surrounded by water on all sides. And I can see a volcano from the end of my street. I think, for once, I felt justified in my narcissistic thinking. It really could happen to me and my family. I knocked on endless wood. I updated all three of my earthquake kits which are now known as my earthquake / tsunami / volcano / dear-God-I-hope-I-never-have-to-use-these kits. And I watched A LOT of news. Normally I try to shield my children from bad things. They don’t need to dwell on stuff that doesn’t affect them. I’ve got that covered. But with Japan it was different. Max was raising money for the tragedy at school (by coming to me and asking for a gold coin – NZ $1 or $2 – every other day) and it was important to know why.

CNN packed a bag and moved into our hobo house.

Monday morning/this morning, some God-awful hour a.m.: Max crawls into bed with me and it went exactly like this:

Max: “Mom?”

Me: “Yes, honey.”

Max: “I had a nightmare.”

Me: “Oh no. What was it about?”

Max: “I dreamt that a volcano erupted and hot lava knocked over the Corunna Avenue (our street) sign and came down our driveway. And then I went to China in my flying car to see Donny.”

Me: “Who’s Donny?”

Max: “Kid from school who’s from China.”

Me: “Oh, well, it’s a good thing you had a flying car.”

Max: “I always have a flying car in my dreams. Just in case.”

So now I’m looking into getting a flying car. Just in case.

More about Tiffany:
Tiffany Zehnal is a Los Angeles wife, mother and writer who moved to New Zealand. Because her husband and his new job made her. She has two little boys who are so happy to be on this shoe-less adventure. Kiwis don’t wear shoes. Don’t get her started.

Posted in alarm clock, china, flying car, funny, japan, The Little Buggers, tiffany zehnal

Ooh, Ooh, That Smell… I Can Smell That Smell

By The Girlfriend Mom

I volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Well, actually, it’s Kosher Meals On Wheels. Aren’t I altruistic, fabulous and riotous? I know, I think so too. I began my journey towards sainthood, (or mitzvaland) about two months ago and I love it. I deliver on Monday’s and the people that I’ve met are truly wonderful and they’re a constant reminder never to get old! Holy crap, that is not pretty.

I try to spend a few minutes with each of them, talking and basically keeping them company. My benevolence knows no bounds. In any case, I pick up the meals at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) for the gentiles in the crowd. I’m given a cooler that keeps the meals hot– wait is that an oxymoron– and a paper bag for milk and other such beverages, and I lay them both in the back seat of my car.

If you read my post, I Am Cool, And So Is My Mini, found here for your convenience, you would know that I recently got the Mini Cooper. Guess what my sassy new car smells like after tooling around with kosher meals? I’ll give you a hint. NOT new car smell. That’s right, my brand new Chili Red Mini smells like Potato Kugal and Stuffed Cabbage.

If I was visiting my grandmother (which would be really weird, since she’s dead) I’d find it rather comforting. But now I’m driving with a pungent bouquet of Gefilte fish and sardines, wafting around in my car. Now putting up with that is truly a mitzva!

More About Dani:
Dani is a Virgo, writer, Pilates Instructor, Kindle lover, sleep enthusiast, world traveler and ‘girlfriend mother’ to her boyfriend’s two kids. Whatever the hell that means.

Follow Dani on Twitter @pilatecologist
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Posted in dani alpert, funny, grandmother, kosher meals, meals on wheel, mini cooper, mitza, pilates, That's Life, volunteer