Happy Birthday, Goofballs.

When CC and I were on the road together years ago, back when he was just my boss, I used to ask him if we could get a sound department puppy. Preferably one that the props crew would take care of. Nobody went for it.

The kids started asking us when we were going to get a dog pretty much the minute they started living with us. We had lots of conversations about care and taking responsibility, but really it all boiled down to one thing: dog poop. We weren’t willing to talk seriously about a dog until all the kids unanimously agreed that they would handle the dog poop. It took longer than you might think.

I didn’t know this before, but puppies are contagious. All it takes is for one kid in the neighborhood to get a puppy and bam! everybody’s got one. There is apparently no vaccine.

Two years ago, a kid across the street got a puggle puppy and would bring it over to our house to play. It was summer, and CC was letting me sleep in until the puppy came over for its morning visit and then he would let it into our bedroom, where it would jump on my head and be all like “Oh my gooood! I’m a DOOOOG! Isn’t it GREAAAAT? I can’t BELIEEEEEEEVE it! YAAAAAAAY!” 

It’s something, being around so much enthusiasm.

Before long I was online, looking for puppies. We did a little research and a lot of soul-searching and decided that more than anything we wanted a puppy that was happy. Enthusiastic, if you will. That led me to a puggle breeder about two hours away that had two puppies. They were the entire litter. I wrote a little about them here.

I packed four kids into the minivan one Sunday and trucked out on a road trip to look at some puppies.

We couldn’t decide. I’d thought that there would be some magical bond, some way that I would know The Right One For Us, but it wasn’t like that. Especially when there were only two to start with. It was more like eeny-meeny-miny-moe.

CC had to work and I sent him pictures, but he wouldn’t say which one he liked best. The kids were evenly split (#1 had opted out of the road trip). I wanted both of them, but that’s insane. Who gets two puppies? I picked the goofy looking one because he seemed to fit into our family the best:

He howled the entire way home, and he doesn’t look it, but he’s loud. That’s the Beagle in him. Then he pooped on my shirt. The kids thought that was hilarious.

As soon as we got him home, I realized the error I had made. Our puppy-to-kid ratio was way off.  There was so not enough puppy to go around. Poor Jack was all tiny and blinking, cowering there with five kids hovering over him. CC admitted that he wouldn’t say which one he liked best because he wanted them both. I traded some texts with the breeder. They were willing to cut us a deal.

Three days later we went back for the pretty one:

When we brought her in the front door, Jack smelled her before he saw her and started dancing in circles around us. They were so happy to be back together. Then they immediately started fighting:

And it’s been like that ever since.

I will probably always refer to them as “the puppies” but today, Jack and Casey are two years old. They are ridiculous dogs. They are way more expensive than they should be. They are the one thing that we all agree on: we love them bunches.

Back when CC and I were just touring together, before any of this crazy stuff happened, I wasn’t ever planning on getting married to anyone or settling down on the east coast or buying a house or definitely not being a parent, but I did want a puppy.

I finally have a crew of five to take care of them.

I gotchya meditation right here…

I ran my ass off today.

I had a completely worthless session with my trainer (worthless on my part, not hers- down from 17-pound dumbbells to 5; dizzy, winded and cranky), had a meeting, ran errands, walked the puppies, ran out of time to eat, and picked up #3 from school to take her to an eye doctor’s appointment, where I congratulated myself on getting her there with thirty seconds to spare, at which point they told me I was actually fifteen minutes late.

The eye doctor always takes approximately half a day longer than you think it will. Our first time there I made the mistake of taking all the kids at once, thinking we’d just hammer it all out in one afternoon.

That was the last time I did that with any kid appointments.

(My dentist is always trying to accommodate all of the kids at once and doesn’t seem to understand when I say it’s unnecessary. This is probably why all of my children always have at least one cavity, and why I always owe the dentist about five hundred dollars.)

By the time we were heading home from the eye doctor today, I was having serious nap fantasies. One of my very favorite things in the world is napping with the puppies. They are intense nappers.

It may be the only they thing do really well. They have assigned places. It’s like being bookended by two small, furry furnaces. Except they sort of lay on you too. CC calls them the sleep weights. Any attempt to come out of your nap is thwarted by the extra effort of trying to move 17 (Jack) or 24 (Casey) pounds of puggle off your arms and legs.

I knew that if I napped today, I’d be out for hours, so I decided to meditate instead.

I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to sneak off and do a thirty minute meditation after all the kids got out of school.

I got turned on to this cheating meditation thing. I love it. I totally live for it now. It uses sine waves to force your brain into specific brain wave patterns like pro meditators get into- you know, those dudes that can walk on hot coals or sleep on nails or calmly answer emails without losing their train of thought while sitting at the dining room table in a household with five children and two dogs.

Being a soundguy, I love both that it uses sound, and that it’s kind of a cheat. Instant gratification on the spiritual plane, sign me up! I tried for about twelve years to develop a regular meditation practice and mostly found reasons why I couldn’t meditate. But these soundtracks work for me because I gave myself permission to screw it up. It took the pressure off. Lots of times I put on the headphones and instead of meditating, I fall asleep. I call this a win also, because bonus naps are always a win.

But in order to meditate, I first must clean up my room. I can’t possibly zen out with the bed unmade, plus the chair I want to sit in is piled with a guitar, sweaters, and a Book of Mormon opening night poster. During this time #3 comes in and asks me if she can use my iPad, which of course, she can’t, because that’s where my meditation soundtracks are and if I ever get my room cleaned up I’m going to use it.

Next, I can’t find my beads. Stupid meditation beads. I need them. Round things comfort me. They’re missing. Who would swipe meditation beads for god’s sake? Oh wait, I can think of at least five people that live here besides me who might be distracted by something shiny. Nevermind. I dig around long enough and come up with the spares.

Whatever it is, always carry a spare.

I sit down with the beads and the iPad and the headphones in the newly-cleared chair and put my feet up on the newly-made bed and think that it would be really really nice to have a cup of tea and light a candle. I get back up. #1 and/or #2 have swiped all my matches again for their own candles (let’s hope). I have to go hunting down matches. I nuke a cup of tea. I go back in, light the candle, sit back down. Put the iPad on my lap and start cueing up a soundtrack and suddenly, there are three kids and two dogs on my bed.

#2 has found Casey’s tickle spot. #3 is trying to find Jack’s. #5 wants to jump on #3. Jack runs off and comes back with his tug (or as we call it, the grrrr). He then launches into a loud, fierce, and drawn out game of grrrr with #2. Casey watches in an agitated state. #5 jumps on #3. #3 screams and tickles #5. Jack peaks in a frenzy with the grrrr and in his momentary attention lapse, Casey swipes it from him and now they are racing in circles around and under the bed, over and over again.

Me: I like how you guys are all out there in the dining room, doing homework, having a snack, minding your own business, and I come in here to meditate and suddenly everybody’s in my room. Being loud.

#2: Yeah, meditation doesn’t really work in our house.

I kicked them all out. The dogs busted the door down and chased each other around, unmaking the bed. I was interrupted no less than four times by #5, and once by #3. My candle went out. My tea got cold. I never dozed off, though halfway through I noticed that the dogs had, in a small pile on the newly-unmade bed.

But I got through a thirty minute soundtrack and if I didn’t necessarily feel like a zen master when I finished, I checked something off my list and I did get a moment’s peace and several moments of amusement.

Maybe that’s the whole point of it anyway.

Waiting

This makes me happy. The puppies keeping watch, waiting for their kids to walk home from school.

Yes, those are lightsabers behind them. They took a break from their Jedi battle because it was coming on three o’clock.

Lots of little kids walk past our house after school.  The puppies are known for their flatulence, not their eyesight. I always wonder how they can tell their kids from the others.

God forbid if someone has an after school activity. They’ll stay here all afternoon until they all come home.

Waiting.