Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is My Pillow Back

One of my fondest memories, with both my kids, is resting them on my pillow at night, when they were babies, and listening to them breathe softly in my ear as we drifted off to sleep. I am sure no one could argue that in those moments there is nothing more lovely.

But let us compare that to sleeping with a puppy.

Now there are, I am sure, sensible, pragmatic people out there, who dash out to buy the Cesar Milan books (and read them cover to cover, nodding enthusiastically), and then obediently stick their puppies in their "den" or "kennel" or "cage" at night to sleep. But not me. Z is lucky to sleep three hours a night in his den. Otherwise, I am desperately trying to cuddle him like he's a newborn babe.

If any of you are teeny tiny dog owners, you will agree that their lives are spent mostly living in ridiculously close proximity to our faces. For some reason, we all feel compelled to be nose to nose with these petite creatures every moment of every day, even when they have little pointy dagger teeth, sharper than shark teeth, teeth that could literally tear your nostrils to bloody shreds as you coo "you're so CUUUUUUUUUUUUTE!" at them for the bazillionth time while kissing their right eye.

Because of this constant and real threat to my nose, I took to creating a chihuahua goiter at night by letting Z sleep on my neck. Because see, sleeping puppies do not bite. I even let him do this when he was infested with roundworms...and giardia...and coccidia, even though every roundworm Yahoo thread I read screamed at me in BOLD LARGE TYPE TO NEVER EVER EVER LET THEM SLEEP IN YOUR BED BECAUSE THE WORMS WOULD CRAWL OUT AT NIGHT AND INFEST YOU THROUGH YOUR TORN UP BLOODY NOSTRILS! Naturally he was bathed under the faucet three times a day and pumped full of meds until he was completely well, but, we all know that story...

So for the first two months, I bragged on little Z, because he would sleep through the night and kept my neck warm like a little hot water bottle, barely moving, barely waking up. He was 1.5 pounds of utter and complete ooooey goooey cuteness...

Now he's a 4 pound teenager...

Currently nights consist of him deciding it's time to terrorize his favorite toy, Ms. Pink Poodle, while we sit in bed and watch our favorite shows. He is not sure if he wants to have itty bitty pink ChiPoodles with Ms. Pink Poodle, or rip her front left leg off entirely and endure me or my husband constantly reaching in his mouth to retrieve cottony stuffing. The whole process is horrifying, amusing at best, but at least he is exhausted after about 20 min.

From here I often stick him in his den, hoping he will stay asleep for the night. There are nights he sleeps several hours, but, there are nights he wakes up completely ravenous, or in desperate need to use his potty park. After addressing his needs, I try to slip him into bed with us, and, for a while he cooperates and seeks a warm space on the bed under the comforter.

But, he is a teenager, after all. He is embracing his inner Alpha...

He wants my pillow.

So, around 4 in the morning, he starts moving around the bed, trying to lick my husband's face and rattling his ears so forcefully I think there is a bat in the room, which is NEVER a good thing for me. With my adrenaline surging, I try to coax him back into a curled-up position under the covers, to which he balks as he maneuvers himself up to the middle of my pillow, and plops right down.

From here, I try to wear him as a hat, but I think he hates my hairspray scent, so he then proceeds to move around the pillow, staying as close to the middle as possible. There is very little possibility for me to share the pillow without having dog feet, or worse, right in my face.

So I decide to put him in his cage.

That goes over VERY well...


Three minutes later he is back out of the cage and nuzzling my neck. It's like he says, "oh! I get it! I will sleep riiiiiiiiiiight heeeeeeeeeeeere to avoid my cage!" And I say, "oh! He's finally curled up under the covers and there are no more frightening bat sounds to contend with!"

I fall asleep, and 20 minutes later it starts all over again.

Around 7 or 8am, depending on the night, I stagger out to the living room with a pillow to endure the last few hours of my much needed beauty sleep on my 7 ft long, 2 ft wide park-bench-200-year-old "couch" (ya know, the one that was infested with alien spider pods? The kind of alien spider pods that make your ears burn and your heart jump right out of your chest while you try to suck every last one up in your vacuum?). For some reason this is when Z decides NOW is bed time, and he falls asleep IMMEDIATELY, sometimes until almost noon.

Amazingly, I manage to sleep without permanent damage done to my neck and spine or being attacked by remnant alien spiders, though I am painfully aware I should have listened to Cesar (or, ahem, my actual husband) in the first place...

Just as a quick side note to this post, I had to stop writing mid-way because Zimmel started vomiting up frothy bile, and walking around the house much like Gollum walked on all fours in LOTR when devising an evil plan. Thank goodness for the hubs and Google, because I was able to deduct that this frightening display of malaise was simply and over-production of stomach juices and bile because he was very, VERY hungry.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I *might* be a wee bit crabby today, and it *might* have to do with the fact that I can't turn my head to the right, because it is completely whacked out from nothing more than the apparently dangerous activity of sleeping...but in fact, I think it's mainly because it is snowing outside. This is what I think of snow right now...

See this remnant of a snowman? Someone around here built him with love and joy and all that blah blah yakity yak yak. And yesterday, he had a sweet lil' smile on his face. But then, he slowly started leaning towards the ground at the end of the day. This morning I found the happy snowy guy bent over with his head splattered all over the pavement.

No, I did not kick his head off his body and smash it into obliteration. Moving on.

See, we now live in an area of the country where snow is a novelty, at least in any amount over 1 inch that stays for 3+ days. We are experiencing that phenomenon at this very moment. This is all great and gravy and wonderful, when you're inside, next to a crackling fire, drinking a home-made eggnog latte off your fancy espresso machine, watching Elf for the 76th time, because you have nothing else to do and HEY! it's snowing so, going out in your fancy light windbreaker, and sandals, would be just plain crazy!!!

But I have kids.

Kids want to go outside. In the snow.

They want to play in the snow. And make cute little forts and happy snowmen and serene snow angels and have AFV-worthy snowball fights. This is GREAT in oh, say, the NORTH...

But in the southeast portion of the US?



Here's why:

Kids: "MOOOOOOOOOOOM! We want to go outside and play in the SNOW!"

Me: "Blarghing Cripes!"

I proceeded to open every closet and drawer to concoct some sort of winter attire, suitable for my kids to romp around in slushy, wet snow, most certainly mixed with dirt, dog poop, and any other nasty germ that isn't killed by freezing weather.

20 minutes later I had torn apart my entire house to come up with two pairs of jeans, two pairs of thick polyester track pants, two pairs of soccer socks, two pairs of wool socks, 2 three-layer sets of shirts, a pair of rain boots for the boy, my fancy pair of GAP brown boots for the girl, two pairs each of "one side fits all" cotton gloves, one pair of over-sized "wow, we didn't throw these out when we moved here?" gloves, and my fancy leather gloves, for the girl...all of this covered by their "winter" coats and hoods.

It doesn't snow where we live.

Do you know how long it takes to get two squirming, semi-cooperative children, talking randomly about everything from Pokemon to jumping spiders, into ALL that attire? I'll tell you. About 25 minutes.

45 minutes of my life. Gone.

It was then time to go outside.

Me: "OK kids, here are the rules. Do NOT throw snow in each others face, or down each others back, do NOT touch any yellow snow, do NOT eat ANY snow, yellow OR white, do NOT mix snow with dirt to make mud. Understood?"

Kids: "YeahmomwegotitletusgooutsideandplayNOOOOOW!"

15 flippin' minutes later, they were begging to come inside. Here's what happened within those 15 minutes:

Audge: "Moooooooooooom! Jake won't stop throwing snow at me!"

Jake: "Moooooooooooom! There is yellow snow EVERYWHERE!"

Me: " Jake, do NOT throw any more snow at your sister! And, that is not yellow snow."

Jake: "Yes it is, there is dog pee EVERYWHERE!"

Me: "Jake, do you see any dog tracks?"

Jake: "No?"

Me: "Well, I know dogs are talented, and can mark their territory with amazing precision and distance but, that is not yellow snow."

Jake: *Brings me a chunk of snow* "See mom?"

Me: "That is DIRT! Don't play with it!"

Jake: "I am not having a good time, there isn't enough snow!"

Me: "This is KENTUCKY! What do you expect??"

He rallied and made a small snowman.

Jake: "MOOOOOOOM! Look at my snowman! MOM!"

Me: "I can't!"

Jake: "Why?"


So I took a quick picture by sticking my arm out the door.

See it? It has a branch for a scarf.

They also made a small fort and endured an agonizing papped pic for me, as I stood outside in my PJ's, holding Zimmel, who was shivering so hard I was pretty sure he was gonna shake his eyeballs right out of his head.

Then, after those 15 minutes, they were COVERED in little snowballs, which were beginning to melt, and they tried to barge in the house at the same time.

Even though their noses were red and running and their fingers were nearly blue, I made them continue to stand outside as I beat them from head to toe with the gloves, to get all the snow off that I could (not because I was angry or anything), and then I forced them to stand on towels, laid over plastic bags, while I slowly peeled off the outer layer of their freezing wet, germ-laden clothing. This took another 20 minutes. An hour of my life had been used up for 15 minutes of playing in dirty, wet snow. Joy to the world!!!

I am NOT about to go out and by snow suits and gloves and boots for kids who won't fit into them come next year for a season that normally looks like this, like last year, on Christmas Day:

It does not snow here!!!

After the 15 minutes of playtime I had at least TWO loads of laundry to do and I had to clean and disinfect the kids and the surrounding areas exposed to the outside elements.

Once they were clean and thawed, the kids were glowing and bouncing around, demanding hot chocolate. I gave into their demands, and, just as the last dollops of whipped cream were added to their cups, I collapsed on my park bench couch to write this post.

Can someone make me an eggnog latte for the love??? I am about to cry!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When I Become Ruler of a Small Island, I will Open Grocery Stores, and People will Buy Their Produce by the Tz

Grocery shopping is awesome! It's like going to a concert with a buffet and a lottery!

concert + buffet + lottery = awesome!

Mainly because I get to howl, at the top of my lungs in the car, to the music I like while driving to the store (because I shop alone), and because I love all the money I save using coupons. AND because the store I shop at plays rockin' music from the 80's and 90's. Except for that cover of "Like a Prayer". The chick singing that song sounds like she's preforming in a local theater musical. Drunk. They could take that version out of the musak loop...and they could wipe off the check out line belt tops more frequently but...

So I have a very OCD stream-lined way of shopping. I am so fanatical talented I can picture each aisle and write my list in the order of the items in the aisles.

I use exactly 2 cart wipes every time.

I shop the aisles first, then the perimeter.

I even group all my items together while loading them onto the belt, ya know, like fruits, veggies, meats, frozen foods, toiletries, boxes, cans of like items...

And I always buy myself a Coke.

Then I get home, and wipe down all the items and my fridge with a bleach towel before putting everything away.

Grocery shopping is awesome. I get to fill my house with food. *feeling all warm and thankful and fuzzy*

But, there is a conspiracy tucked quietly into a certain corner of the store...

See, once I get to the produce section, I become paranoid and irritated...well, more so than usual. There was that one time someone stole my cart w/ bananas in it (something I liken to the experience of alien abduction) and then there is my on-going mistrust of the produce scales, that's the real conspiracy!

I am pretty sure the scales are rigged to show produce weighing-in less than it really does, so you'll bag up more and not notice the insanely high price you pay when you check out. How can I possibly pay $10 in bananas when they are 39 cents a pound? Again with the bananas. Frickin' driving ME bananas...

OK OK. That was a slight exaggeration. But still. Those scales are not to be trusted. I am 88.2% sure of that!

So there I was, needing to buy some red potatoes in bulk, and I knew I didn't want to bag over 3 pounds, but at the same time, I knew I couldn't trust those cold, slimy scales hanging from the ceiling like robotic money grabbers...

Then it hit me.

For the past month or so, I have been carrying around three pounds nearly every second of every day! ZIMMY!

Yes! I have been a home-grown, domestic version of Paris Hilton, carrying Zimmel around Bookstores, Best Buy, soccer games, Starbucks and Dick's Sporting Goods, to name a few places...SURELY my under-used muscles could determine what 3 pounds feels like!

So, I bagged my potatoes, and gingerly cupped them in the crick of my arm, and began petting the plastic bag of taters ever so gently as I cooed, "gooooood little boy!" while walking circles around my cart, and ignoring the wide stares I was suddenly garnering as I assessed the approximate weight of what would become smashed taters on Thanksgiving Day.

"Yep! That's about 1 Zimmy!" I declared victoriously to my new oglers.


So now, I shop with even MORE money saving confidence, because I no longer weigh my produce by oz. or lb. in those scandalous scales; I weigh by tz.** (Tzimmy).

1 tz. = 3 pounds


8 small red potatoes = 1 tz.

this + this = this
+ =

Isn't that great? Now I can coddle and stroke bananas, onions, peaches and tomatoes with confidence in order to determine if they weigh more than a tz. or less than a tz.

Or, I could simply kangaroo up with Zimmy (he often rides inside my zip-up hoodies and pokes his head out of the top of the zipper. I tuck the bottom of the hoodie under his feet and we are good to go) at the store and perform a little surprise juggling act to amaze store employees so they won't kick me out for bringing in a live animal before I get to buy my organic naval oranges.

Either way this new system of weighing items simply adds to my grocery shopping pleasure. Awesome.


**Tzimmel is the nickname a dear friend invented for little Zimmel, which works out perfect for my new weight conversion abbreviation. She knows a lot about dogs, especially her dog. She picks out red potatoes by measuring them against the size of her dog's poo. That way she gets the perfect size for her famous potato au gratin. Hmmm...I might skip her au gratin...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Really Don't Notice Dog Hair when the Hairs are the Size of Eyelashes...

*Blowing dust off the blog...a-gain*


So, I went rogue, again, a real Jack Bauer move. The past 3 1/2 months have been dramatic and life-changing. Mainly because of the 3 1/2 pound terror who took over our lives...and I cut all my hair off. See how Jack Bauer that is? The makings of an awesome episode, with plenty of explosions, and awesome hair. And possibly a flea killing...

Tiny Terror Dog + Awesome hair + Explosions + Flea killing = Jack Bauer.

I was never super good at math...

So, maybe a handful of you all are wondering how we are all managing with Zimmel, eh? Well, let's give a real quick update:

-Zimmel no longer has worms/coccidia/giardia. However he replaced all these monstrosities with gas emissions that should be reported to the EPA, or at least investigated by a

-Speaking of his noxious gas (see explosion pic above for visual reference), it stems from his posh-life of eating super high-quality, unbelievably expensive food and treats, seen here:

He eats better than us, but if you sit with him long enough, you may think we feed him directly from a land-fill...

-Zimmel is no longer in danger of passing out from low blood sugar, and therefore I do not have to feed him Karo Syrup from a chopstick, the diet of celebrity champions. What?

-Zimmel no longer has to have any contact with the outside world, EVER, because he is fully potty trained using his inside, best-invention-ever Potty Park. I do not miss standing outside at 2am, in my PJ's and hubby's shoes, being freaked out by cave crickets and garden spiders on my steps, or grabbing leaves, rocks, or partially chewed-up ants out of Zimmel's mouth. Really I don't.

-Zimmel can execute about 7 amazing doggie stunts, and I expect to be called by any late-night show host, preferably Conan, very very soon...

-Zimmel no longer fits under the bathroom faucet for a quick shower.

-Zimmel made it through all of his shots. Maybe I should say I made it through all of his shots. The Vet clinic LOVES Z (I noticed all the cute little hearts they drew around his name on his file), and, even after all of my crying in the examination room, on-going gibberish about rabies fears, and arguing over when/how he gets his vaccinations, they seem to love me too. I just might bake them cookies.

-We are actively searching for the cutest Christmas sweater and reindeer horns ever made for little Z. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, as would hand-made gifts. I can send measurements. This is his leisure sweater...his ears are blurry because he is about to take flight:

- And as you can see from the tiny picture above, Zimmel is THE cutest dog EVER, and none of us can control ourselves when we are with him; we constantly stick our faces in his face and make silly, gushy, nonsensical noises. In fact, if you were a fly on the wall, you would witness all of the following, right before you were killed with copious amounts of Simple Green:

Audge: "Awwwwww! He is SOOOOO CUUUUUTE! He is SO ADORABLE! Mom, isn't he just SO ADORABLE?"

Me: "For the 2,638 time today, YES!"

Jake: "I want to hold him!" *tries to snatch Z away from Audge*


Zimmel: *Squirming* "Grrnnnnrrrglagnrrrr!"

Jake: "Moooooooom! She won't give me Zimmel!"

Me: "BLAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! In 10 minutes you will switch!"

Yes, Z now works in shifts. He is passed back and forth and manhandled every 10 to 15 minutes by greedy, eager children whose hands are smeared with chocolate and boogers, meaning he never gets a real solid chunk of time to sleep, eat, or to sit in silence with a bone. This might be why, when he finally escapes, he bolts for sanctuary under my legs, or the park-bench sofa. Either way he is still the most patient Chihuahua in the world.

My frantic house cleaning/constant freaking out/ perpetually Googling dog diseases tendencies have slowed down since he is now healthy, and therefore the 10 pounds I lost, and was thrilled about losing, are slowly creeping back on. I am once again behind on laundry, and not so motivated to have every dish clean and in the cabinet. My vacuum is actually back in the closet and my carpet still has a few fibers left, even though it has been vacuumed so much I am sure the padding has disappeared. My nose hairs and fingerprints are growing back because my bleach usage has slowed down as well, and finally, I am eating again, attempting to blog, and watching ridiculous Youtube videos.

So you see, as much as my life has to offer to the ever curious reader, the blog has fallen by the wayside, since during this time of trial I only had enough energy left at the end of the day to play scrabble or Frontierville on Facebook or cry.

And with that, I am now about to make a full-hearted attempt to get back into the hobby I love, blogging. And, to thank you readers who have decided to come back and read, I leave you with this, knowing it will most certainly bring you back for more. I love you all, you are SO ADORABLE!

Zimmel doesn't bark, I kinda wish he did this. I love Steve Carrell, and this weird dog:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener...When It's in a Potty Park...

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

Zimmy has been bombarded with a full arsenal of medications for roundworms, as you know. He has also completed 15 days of meds for coccidia, and thus I thought we were in the clear. Then another stool sample test revealed something quite annoying...he has GIARDIA!

Noooooo...he didn't eat that Italian TV chef, this is yet ANOTHER parasite. It went like this:

Vet: *calls*

Me: "Hello?" (riveting, I know)

Vet: "Hiiiiii this is Vet Person. I am calling to discuss Zimmel's stool results."


Vet: "Good news! He is clear of roundworms and coccidia, turns out he has giardia"


Vet: "I know! I'm sorry! It's quite common in puppies, and it's hard to diagnose so it didn't show up in the other tests! Really though it's common!"


Vet: "I know you've been through a lot!"

Me: "Is it transmittable to humans?"

Vet: "Yes it can be."


Vet: "I know! It's gonna be ok! Just keep doing what you're doing..."

What I am doing? WHAT I AM DOING? This is what I am doing!!!:

-Laundry: In hot water w/ bleach ALL our clothing! Like at LEAST 2 loads a day! Colored, delicates, EVERYTHING! I figure if it can't stand the brutal washing and bleaching, it's probably too stylish and thus we don't need it.

-Vacuuming: Let me add here that I had to completely clean out my vacuum, as I used it once without realizing there was no bag in it (can you say GAG?). Have you seen the inside of a vacuum that was used to vacuum an entire house, without a bag??? The inside of the lid on mine has more ridiculous, non-functioning compartments than an apothecary! It was torture cleaning it outside, in 90 degree weather...

-Changing bedding: Oprah would sleep in our beds I am changing the sheets so much. Even the dog's bedding. Why? It's part of the hysteria.

-Bleaching everything: Pretty sure my house smells like a swimming pool, but all the little hairs in my nose have been burned off so, not sure I can smell anything...

-Washing hands: Kind of surprised we have any skin left...

-Washing Zimmel: He is now half fish...I mean half dish. Dawn dish soap does that.

This all with homeschooling, trying to shower, cooking, remembering to pay bills, keeping kids in their activities, and scouring the Internet.

You should see my eyebrows! They are out of control!

Anyway. Despite this temporary hell, there are many benefits to having a small dog. Despite the initial purchase price and first 6 months of vet bills, they are much more affordable. Especially short-haired, robust Chihuahuas. They eat less, make less of a mess, and end up being a good family investment because of their overall good-health and long life span. They also create minuscule poo and pee...

This is why Zimmy hasn't peed or pooped outside in 3 days.

Don't freak out. It's me remember???

I got him a litter box. Ohhhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh...

Why, you ask?

Let me give you a quick lesson in parasites that affect both humans and dogs. See, these parasites that we have been fighting now for the past month and a half well, they live in EVERYTHING! And, NOTHING KILLS THEM! Except fire. And they can live for YEARS in the soil...or earthworms, birds, livestock, raccoons, squirrels, crickets, etc. And since I can't burn the ground here at the apartment complex without being arrested, I have decided to just eliminate Zimmy's exposure, and expose Z to elimination in a box. I informed Zimmy of the impending change. It went something like this:

Me: "Zimmy! Wake up Zimmy!"

Zimmy: "Hwhaaat eeeez eeeeet?" (give me a break ok? He's originally from Mexico. In my mind, he has an accent. Just like if he were from France, like a Bichon Frise, he would then say, "oui madame, ca va?")

Me: "You're doing such a good job going potty outside!"

Zimmy: *gnaw gnaw gnaw* "Hyesssssss..."

Me: "But now, you're gonna go potty inside the house!"

Zimmy: "Hwhaaaaaaat? Are you loco? Hyou teach me to not go in theee house, now, go in theee house? Hwaaaat?"

Me: "Oh don't worry. It's in a litterbox. Like a cat!"

Zimmy: "Ho no...I am nooooooh caaaaaaaaaaaat!"

So...of course the company, Rascal Dog Litter Box realized pups may not want to pee in something that looks like this:

The bow is even more offensive. So, the grass comes slightly scented, for encouragement, and, if that doesn't work, it comes with a free spray.

The box came and I ripped it open with my bare hands. I assembled the litter box and promptly sprayed some of the spray on a spot. I thought to myself, "gee, this smells like urine!" Then I looked at the back:


But...seeing as it was a STERILE fox...or, the urine is now sterile, I didn't immediately spray on top of the spot with bleach. Or fire. Moving on...

So, if you're still with me (have some grace it's been a hard month) Zimmy uses the litter box with no problem, as long as he is brought over to it. And he needs to actually go. If he doesn't need to go, he

-rips it
-scratches at it
-licks it
-jumps out over the side
-runs in circles and barks

But let me just add that these behaviors, though annoying, are better than,

-trying to stop him from eating crickets, ants, and bird poo in between producing #1 and #2
-trying to stop him from rolling in the dirt
-trying to stop him from eating sticks, leaves, and then gagging on them
-standing outside at 2 am, praying that neither Z or I are attacked by bats.

Here is Zimmy, totally annoyed that I am taking a pic of him using his new potty...

I realize it's gonna take a while, and some treats, to get him to only eliminate in the box, and not destroy it. I plan on buying some Bitter Apple soon, I bet fox urine and Bitter Apple smell just FANTASTIC together!

But seriously! This litter box is amazing! Every small dog that can be carried away by a hawk should use this. It is SO easy to clean! You can even machine wash the grass! Wooohooo!

So, not sure this post was worth reading, but I said I would update you all on the litter box, and on the pup. The vet is pretty confident that Z has no more parasites or problems of any kind, and I am praying that is the case.

If anyone has a great story to share in the comments please do. I would love to co-miserate!!

Oh! And I forgot to mention, I am catching his poo in a bag before it touches the grass, just until the giardia test comes back negative.

Someone HELP meeeeeeeeeeeee!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Great Way to Lose 10 Pounds...Roundworms!

It's been a long month, people...

Have you ever seriously pined for something, but successfully warded off the pining for a long, long time? Then suddenly you give in to the pining, and suddenly, you have a puppy with worms and a controversial diet plan? too...

Here's how it went down.

August 2007-August 13th, 2010: *Sigh* I ("I" being, any of us, at any given time) want a chihuahua soooooooo badly! (don't judge on the breed). Family pines on and off, each experiencing moments of weakness, but some have waves of sanity, staving off a puppy purchase...

August 14th, 2010:

Me to hubby: I really want a dog. Maybe it's the right time?

Hubby: Yeah...I think so...

Me: It wouldn't hurt to check the 'Net...

Hubs: No, it wouldn't

Me: Oh look! So cute! It wouldn't hurt to call...

Hubs: Nope, it would not.

Me: OH! *Blah blah blah about details* Well...should we drive the 1 1/2 hours to see the pups?

Hubs: We're not doing anything else...why not...we don't have to buy one, we can just look...

Me: Of course! Let's just look...

That night...after a haz-mat type cleaning of the pup AND my family (the breeder's home was, well, not too clean)...

Me: I can't believe we got a puppy!

Hubs: He's pretty cute...

Audge: I LOVE him! He's SO cute! He's SO adorable! I am so happy I could cry!

Jake: Ack! He keeps licking me!

*bliss for 48 hours*

August 16th:

Dog won't wake up.

Seriously. Cute as can be, sleeping, but, will.not.wake.up.

Vet appointment soon.

Vet: "He is experiencing extreme hypoglycemia, he could go into a coma and DIE (emphasis mine of course)...we need to keep him for a few hours."

Audge sobs. I try to stay positive. Don't want pup to die!

Finally we get to pick him back up. And OH! By the way...he has coccidia...and roundworms.


Get home. Get on 'Net.


From here it is kind of a blur. I start a cleaning regimen of my home, the outside of my home, the pup, my kids, myself, and anything else I can reach with a vacuum, bottle of bleach, or a flame thrower. OK not really...I also become crazy about potty goal is to NEVER let him poop in the house. Which means I don't leave his side. I don't sleep. I barely eat...


Seriously? Remember, I freak about fleas. Nasty little buggers...they move FAST!

Dawn dishsoap kills them. Pup gets several baths. Several. He smells like clean dishes.

I do nothing but cry, clean, and search the Internet...pup is nearly in a constant sudsy, quarantined state...

August 18th:

Pup manages to sneak a poo in his kennel...and he eats it.

I have a nervous breakdown, and tell hubs I am not sure I can do this anymore. I start concocting a blatant lie plan to explain to kids that the pup they LOVE WITH THEIR ENTIRE BEINGS was only visiting and must go back to his old 11pm at night. In another town. Hubs talks me down from my panic attack...he's good that way.

I get on the scale. I realize I am losing weight, that I couldn't lose with constant diet and exercise, at an almost alarming rate. Oh stress and constant effective it is!

ANOTHER FLEA? FRICK! I vacuum like a madwoman and administer more Dawn dish soap baths. I give in to flea and tick meds, finally understanding the necessity of it all...

August 19th to basically, well, today:

I continually ride a wave of complete insanity, calling any medical person and/or vet I know, trying to figure out how to manage to survive this roundworm infestation without driving my family crazy and dropping under 130 pounds. Kids' arms and hands are starting to crack from all the washing. Neighbors give me weird looks as I bleach and rinse the sidewalk. Pup, all 2 pounds of him, thinks nothing of being put under the bathroom faucet to be washed about 1,354 times a day. I manage not to pass out when I see worms fall off his poo. I demand de-worming meds from the vet office, according to my several Internet searches. He should be cleared of them by now...I am awaiting another stool sample result.

I break down and buy a litter box for him. You'll all hear about it when it arrives on Tuesday...

If you know nothing about dog roundworms, look it up on your own. If you are thinking of getting a puppy. RESEARCH EVERYTHING! And in fact, have a vet appointment set up immediately, and make sure the breeder has PROOF of de-worming and vaccinations.

I haven't weighed this little in quite a while. Roundworms will do that to you.

As you see I have found a moment to share all of this with you. I even had him added to my banner...he's gonna be a hot, hot topic for a long, long time...

So, if you love this craziness, please comment, send some love and support, or names of therapists, my way. It's the only way I will manage to find my way to the computer, between the laundry, dog washing, and panic attacks, to keep you all updated.

Oh and by the way, I looooooooove him...

He is our Zimmy. And through thick and thin (if I stay thin) he's here to stay.

Welcome to the Z Chronicles...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I am Returning, On you Front Porch! With a Gift, No Less....Let's JUMPSTART Our Relationship Eh?

*Blowing layers of dust of the surface*



Miss me?

"Where the heck have you been?" You ask? (Not that many of you actually inquired...)'s been summertime so...I have been:

-Growing out my eyebrows
-Gutting my house
-Growing out my eyebrows
-Watching Last Comic Standing, among other reality shows which I will not name...
-Eating lots of ice cream
-Splashing in the pool
-Taking pictures of various bugs, butterflies, flowers and hummingbirds
-Growing out my eyebrows

No, no, I didn't lose my eyebrows in some tragic, fire-eating exhibition. I was just over-zealous in the plucking. It happens.

So yeah, we had a great summer, and I'll have a blast sorting through my brain for inspiration to keep you all laughing and happy as you lament the fall schedule approaching, meaning you have to get up before the sun, drive more than a limo driver in Vegas, and stay up all night finishing science projects for your kids...


I have a giveaway.

OK now I know some of you stopped reading right there, or about here...maybe you're still reading...if not SHAME ON YOU! This is a great giveaway and it involves your kids...I have two selfishly awesome giveaways coming up LATER, so stick around and win your kids something awesome OK?

Look I sandwiched that paragraph with OKs. Ahhh...the simple things...

NOW. Onto the giveaway!

Let me suggest that this is will be a great bartering tool for your kids to finish homework so they can play a fantastic on-line computer's called JUMPSTART!

Let me tell you, this is adventure-based learning at its best! JumpStart is a "3D virtual world", which includes math, reading, and critical thinking skills cleverly packaged in exciting and engaging worlds for your kids to explore! It's like hiding broccoli in a hot-fudge sundae! WOOT!

The main page is clear and a breeze to use , the characters are bright, HELPFUL and cheerful, and the quests and games are award-winning! Your kids can design their own avatar and explore underwater worlds, fly above the clouds and even adopt and raise dragons and the newly added Pegasus! Jump Start is ever evolving, so your child will be delighted to sign in and find a new adventure to begin, another creature to adopt, and to see their progress in their games!

This is what my daughter has to say (aged 7) about the program:

"It's fun! You get your own dragon, and it breathes fire! It has science, and the Enchanted Sanctuary! And there's Ghost gives you money. You can change your character any time! You can watch movies! You can go to Future Land where you do missions, like attacking mini guys, and you can play games at the arcade! Oh and you do missions at Adventure Land, like finding Cappy's sea dog, he's actually an old turtle..." Did you follow all of that?

Then my son chimed in, "it's great for kids my age, mom..."

Thanks Jacob, my mature 9-year-old, that's great. But, I happen to know that Jumpstart is great for kids 3 to 10! That's even greater!

There's so much to explore, I simply can't add it all here (my kids are continuing to rattle off things as I type...and they are checking their dragons...) Watch this!

Navigation is easy enough for young kids to handle, so you can sleep watch Home and Garden pluck your eyebrows allow them to be independent, and the games are exciting enough to hold an older kid's attention for HOURS on end! Parents get information on their kid's progress, and can follow the blog for new information! You can download software, and they even have Wii games! (you can even connect on Facebook!)

So basically my kids fight over the computer to play this program. And really, how can I mind when they are actually learning something? Heh heh...

Now yours can too!

You have a chance to win a 3-month subscription to check out this amazing program! Here we go!

MANDATORY ENTRY, counts as ONE entry:
1. Go to Jumpstart, come back here and comment on what part of the program impresses you the most.


2. Become a fan on Facebook. Counts as ONE entry.

3. Tweet! Say, "insanitykim is helping your kids JUMPSTART their learning with this giveaway!" and add the url to this post to your tweet. Then come back here to leave the twitter link in the comments. YOU CAN TWEET ONCE PER DAY FOR THE LENGTH OF THIS GIVEAWAY (total of SEVEN entries).

4. Blog! Blog about this giveaway, with a link to this post, come back here and leave me the link in the comments to your post. This counts as FIVE entries.

And there you have it folks!

This giveaway starts today, August 14th 2010, and ends Saturday, August 21st 2010 at 12pm EST. At that time I will use the Random Number Generator (RNG) to choose a winner. The winner will have 3 days to contact me. If they do not, I will use the RNG again to choose another winner.

We love Jumpstart and we know you will too! I sure hope you win this, for your kids! And by you I mean, you...

I provide reviews and giveaways as a packaged deal, I do not provide review only or giveaway only posts. This blog requires compensation, and all shipping costs paid, for review/giveaway packages in the form of receiving the review product for me and/or my family, not to be returned. I give exception to any independent business owners of handmade items, as found on Etsy, and I will host giveaways for such business owners without the need for review and/or compensation.

I am not monetarily compensated to provide my opinion on products I review and/or giveaway. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. If I claim or appear to be well-informed and versed on a certain topic or product or service area, I will do so only endorsing products or services that I believe, based on my expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

I will always be honest and forthcoming with my readers and the businesses I work with, providing the best review/giveaway posts that I can.

And lastly, I reserve the right to change or amend any part of this disclosure as needed on a case-by-case basis.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art I Glad my Kids Got Talent!

Recently, the latest catalog from Pottery Barn hurled itself into my mailbox. So, like any normal busy mom, I plopped my little assiduous-self down and leisurely flipped through the pages, oooo-ing and ahhh-ing at all the prettiness that Pottery Barn has to tease me with, while sipping my afternoon coffee. Drooling over page after page, my mind began to wander off, and I dreamed of all the creative and enviable projects I could do, and all the Pottery Barn decor I could accumulate, if I had the time and money, just like Trump, except I don't want anything gold-plated, mmmkay? But of course, a kid quarrel managed to body-slam me back to reality, and I did a total pendulum swing, thinking about the dude who lives in a house the size of my kitchen. My kitchen is small. His house has no frills, or even room for a Pottery Barn magazine, I would imagine.

There is of course a happy medium.

So during this season of our life, we are living in an apartment, and forgoing all the frills and all the accouterments Pottery Barn provides, but, staring at white walls is much like eating dirt, or falling down the stairs. I don't like it.

Enter the local artist.

It probably all started during my mind-numbing daily routine of dish cleaning and laundry folding and vacuum wielding, that my daughter, unable to get my full attention, found the tape and began adhering her drawings to our cheaply painted apartment walls. She used copious amounts of tape, enough to cause me to kiss our deposit goodbye, because removing the tape she used means severe drywall exposure. Before I knew it, nearly every inch of my walls (up to about 3 feet high) was covered in her art, and enough tape to patch up the Titanic. The kitchen, living room, even the stairway was covered in art...and tape...mostly tape. Here's one wall:

So once I finally sat down from my endless cleaning to allow my fatigued body to recover, I realized, my house was decorated.

I have to admit, I wasn't thinking (I blame those smelly dryer sheets) when I started removing the pictures from the walls. Audge looked at me, like I was single-handedly destroying the Brazilian Rain Forest, and she said as tears welled in her big, brown eyes, "you don't like my drawings?"

In case you were expecting the "Worst Mommy in the World" trophy in the mail well, sorry, I already won it.

I mean, how could I? Here I was, lamenting the whiteness of my walls everyday, and how boring they were, and how I yearned to be able to afford color, dimension and utter JOY to be displayed on every vertical surface to help get me through the winters and confides of tiny living spaces!

And that is when genius sprung from my mound of guilt.

Admittedly this is a work in progress, but, I painstakingly peeled allllll the tape from the walls and her drawings, matted them on fancy stuff called construction paper, and started hanging them up in my living room. I think it's beautiful. Here is my favorite:

This is of our family on top of a mountain we climbed back in Alaska. It was a hard day, full of steep stairs, falling rocks, intestinal issues and Audge constantly screaming, "we are gonna diiiiiiiiie!" But, this is how she remembers it. Totally warms my heart.

Soon the whole wall will be covered in some of the rarest and most priceless art in the world, made just for me. I am richer than I know.

PS My son managed to draw a picture for me to display, even though he would rather fall down the stairs than draw...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You Reap What you Throw...

I think I am being forced to endure a severe punishment...

I mean...

I do believe that you "reap what you sow" in most instances, and I think the reaping happens most in parenting. At least, for me it does...

My poor mom. I am pretty sure I drove her to temporary insanity. See, there was a time in my teen years where my ability to clean my room was akin to my ability to build a high-tech laser, or pole vault, or something like that. My room was the perfect storm to be tackled by Kim and Aggie...

Now, I know you just read about my bleach fetish and desire to have everything clean and germ-free, but now, I'm coming clean about my dirty, dirrrrrrrrty past...

I was a funky, messy, nasty teen-aged slob. Oh, the horror.

I had a liked to eat rotten bananas, and it pooped. A lot. It never cleaned its cage...I rarely did rarely I mean maybe, MAYBE once a month...

I had newts. They like to shed their skin, and poop. And, they loved to hurl themselves from their bowl and into my shoes. They were desperate to escape their dead skin.

I loved salsa. So I would bring the jars into my room and eat the salsa. The jars would stay. Homework, dead flowers, gym socks, make up, popcorn bags, soda cans, VHS tapes, gum wrappers, clothing tags, magazines and shopping bags...all on top of salsa jars.

My mom is the kind of mom who likes to vacuum the walls; she hated being driven up them by her only child who was a sloppy, sickly mess! My dad told her to just let me be, that I would come around, and eventually clean my room.

Anyone want to hug my mom right now and slap me silly?

So, she learned to live with me by simply keeping my door closed and looking at my baby pictures through her tears, to help her remember how cute and wonderful I once was, compared to the slovenly slob I had become. I managed, though, to not get kicked out of the house by daily vacuuming the living room and dining room floors and taking two hours to empty the dishwasher. Hey, I never broke a dish or cup, they were completely dry by the time they reached the cabinets, and for the most part it kept me out of trouble.

And, to her utter relief, my dad was right, I did eventually come around, and I gave the tortoise and newts away, learned to eat my salsa and soda at the breakfast bar, and do some laundry now and then. And now I am a mom of two, who prefers to have a neat and tidy home, sprayed diligently with bleach. How things have come full circle.

I can barely keep up with my own housework, so, do I have the right to bang my head against a wall when I tell my kids clean their room, only for it to look like this A DAY LATER?? Do I have the right to withhold games, pool time and even treats if this mess isn't cleaned up IMMEDIATELY! I mean, I don't even vacuum my walls! How can I of all people, allow this mess to overwhelm me and make me want to pull my eyelashes out?

Well, it does, and there aren't even any salsa jars...

Sorry mom. I hope my perpetual agony makes you feel better!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kill Bugs, Not your Brain Cells, With This Natural Bug Killer...Review and Giveaway Courtesy of EcoSMART!


Recently I was contacted by a lovely company called EcoSMART, and they kindly sent me their products to review AND offered a giveaway for all you lovely readers...isn't that...lovely? Why yes, it is, and it is lovely because...



So, let's talk about it shall we? Then I will offer you many chances to win these products and try them yourself mmmkay? Yay!

I received the Safe Picnic Value Bundle to review for organic home pest control. This included a 24oz home pest control spray, two 6 oz insect repellents, and a 14 oz can of flying insect spray.

I had read the long list of positive testimonials on their website, and about their commitment to safety and using natural, organic pesticides, so I was eager to try the the sprays out in the summer, and as soon as the mosquitoes started ganging up and mercilessly attacking my son, I knew it was time!

The insect repellent had, to me, a rather strong alcohol smell at first, but that quickly evaporated and what was left was a mild lemongrass scent that beats the smell of DEET any day! It is not greasy or overpowering, which is important, and it is especially nice that I am not spraying my kids with chemicals! You do have to use quite a bit of it; I found that a general spray around the body still allowed those skeeters to do some damage. However, a full spray on all parts of skin exposed seemed to do the trick. I would give this product an 9/10 and would recommend it for days when you're at a picnic or BBQ.

The home pest control did not fare so well for me, and that would mostly be due to the scent. The testimonials on their website were full of positive comments regarding the scent, but, for me, it was way too strong. The oil that I didn't care for is listed as peppermint, but smells more like a wintergreen scent to my nose. Because of this, I couldn't even spray it inside my house and instead used it outside. I sprayed this around some ants that were invading my patio, and while it deterred them for a while, they soon walked right over the barrier. Then I sprayed it right onto the ants. This seemed to irritate them more than anything, and did not kill them. In fact, they seemed to clean themselves off and went on their merry way! I was a little shocked by this, since many testimonials said this product worked great for them. Needless to say I am now scared of the ants on my patio, and I sleep with one eye open. It could very well be I needed to spray more but, again, the scent was too strong for me, and I didn't care for it lingering, even outside. I would give this product a 6/10, based on my aversion to the scent and the ants not being affected by it, as far as I could tell. (They could have wandered off and died, but, I didn't stay outside to verify that.)

The flying insect killer faired better, and I found that it kills flying creatures, of all kinds, on contact; the spray killed the huge nasty houseflies that are nearly impossible to swat or catch or spray, which is nice because then I am not screaming my head off as a huge fly zooms from one end of the house to another, trying to take me down along the way. I also had a strange bug infestation in a plant outside, so I sprayed the snot out of the plant and bugs. While it killed the bugs I saw, they kept coming back the next day, but the daily spraying didn't seem to affect my plant too much, so I at least felt like I was keeping tabs on the crazy critters. I also sprayed it on a wall of gnat-like pests impeding on my kids' play area. This got rid of them, but of course being outside they just showed up again once the spray dissipated. But again, the scent, which is key to it's power, was not my thing. I am more of an autumn, warm, apple-cinnamon type girl, so this scent is pretty much the opposite of what I enjoy, and so I couldn't even bring myself to use it in my house. If you love wintergreen scents you will like this I am sure. I would give this a 7/10, since I am pretty convinced this product will kill smaller, soft-bodied flying insects easily.

Overall: I am impressed that EcoSMART uses natural oils to repel and kill bugs, which is a great alternative to the dangerous chemicals out there, affecting the health and safety of our young children and pets. I like the thorough explanations of the products on their website and the history of the company, and it seems to be that they are on to a very good thing! I would use the insect repellent again, because I feel it did the job, it had a pleasant scent that didn't linger or leave a residue, and it is much safer than the chemical products out on the market. Thank you to EcoSMART for this opportunity and for their concern for our young ones and healthier living for all!

And now, it's your turn!

You get a chance to try these same products from the Safe Picnic Value Bundle yourself! Here's what to do:

1. Visit EcoSMART and then come back here to comment on what you like about the company and which product interests you most.

2. You may tweet this giveaway, ONE PER DAY, through the length of the giveaway (equaling 10 entries) say, "visit @insanitykim and win this giveaway and kill bugs naturally with EcoSMART " with a link to this post. Come back here with the tweet link for each day you tweet it.

3. Blog about this giveaway, with a link to EcoSMART and to this post. Come back here with the link to your post and receive 5 entries. You may blog about this once.

4. Please leave me a safe way to contact you in your comment.

NOTE: This giveaway is open to the continental US only...but hey, I lived in Alaska, so I know there's nothing there to scream about and kill, and Hawaii, sorry y'all...

Otherwise, wooohooo!

This giveaway begins TODAY, Wednesday, July 7, 2010 and ends Saturday, July 17th, 2010 at 12pm EST. At that time I will use the trusty ol' Random Number Generator (RGN) to choose a winner. The winner will have 3 days to contact me, and if they do not, I will use the RGN to choose a new winner.

So get to it y'all! I SO hope you win! Yeah, you, reading this, right now... I hope you win!

I provide reviews and giveaways as a packaged deal, I do not provide review only or giveaway only posts. This blog requires compensation, and all shipping costs paid, for review/giveaway packages in the form of receiving the review product for me and/or my family, not to be returned. I give exception to any independent business owners of handmade items, as found on Etsy, and I will host giveaways for such business owners without the need for review and/or compensation.

I am not monetarily compensated to provide my opinion on products I review and/or giveaway. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. If I claim or appear to be well-informed and versed on a certain topic or product or service area, I will do so only endorsing products or services that I believe, based on my expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

I will always be honest and forthcoming with my readers and the businesses I work with, providing the best review/giveaway posts that I can.

And lastly, I reserve the right to change or amend any part of this disclosure as needed on a case-by-case basis.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Sometimes Feels like a Mosquito Bite you Just Can't Scratch!

We moan and groan, waiting for the glorious summer break to begin, ya know, sunshine, sleeping in, vacations and BBQ's...but...

about a week in, we suddenly start going out of our summer-loving minds, because the kids are already BORED and all they want to do is eat Starburst candies melted on Saltines and play videogames while you bang your head against the wall...

Or, you're the perpetually tired mom, driving your kids from summer camp to summer camp, you know, those week-long camps that pop up every other week? Yeah, you thought you would be relaxing the day away...who knew you would spend your summer in the car, gassing it up and repeatedly filling the tires with air, not to mention drowning in summer camp projects overtaking your passenger seat and dining room table?

Or, you're the family who planned that fantastic vacation, it's already OVER, and you missed all the summer camps, and you forgot to have a plan for the 45 free days you have left, days of either perpetual rain, 90+ degree weather, or angry hornets head-butting your windows...

Well...let's stop writhing on the floor and eating carpet fibers and help each other out!

I have been visiting one of my favorite blogs, Smashed Peas and Carrots, and I love her blog and totally stalk her, and well, she inspired me.

See my FB page over there ---------->?? Well, over to the right. Just look. Look up. Upper. To the the'll see it...see it? Good.

What is it you ask? Well, I am trying to put together simple and inexpensive science projects and what-not for my kids to do over the summer. But, I can't do all this alone peeps, I want your HELP! LIKE SERIOUSLY NOW!

OK I'll stop screaming. Maybe.

Go to the FB page, click like and check it out...but then, I want you to add YOUR experiments, or recipes, or links to cool blogs or websites because I DON'T WANT TO GO OUT OF MY SUMMER-LOVING MIND ALL ALONE PEOPLE!!!! ^@*~!&!%&@! <---- means blarging cripes.

Yikes, I'm screaming again...

So far we have made super miracle bubbles, quicksand, and plastic milk...I have already added pix AND video AND links!! So please please PLEASE! go HERE and let's make this page so popular, by ADDING YOUR RECIPES, EXPERIMENTS, IDEAS, LINKS AND PICTURES AND VIDEOS, that FB takes it over so I can do things like spontaneously fall asleep while pretending to play Pokemon Rumble with my kids after cleaning vinegar-laced cheese curds off the floor...

Thanks y'all! I'm depending on you to help me have a fun and creative summer and to somehow STOP SCREAMING! Love and fuzzies!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes Frog Legs Taste like Chicken, Other Times Chicken Tastes like Bleach...

Everyone has some erratic and irrational tendencies, right? (Hint: say yes.)

Everyone has a quirky issue or two, or ten, yes? (At least nod your head!)

I mean, sometimes that is what makes one endearing to others, those little idiosyncrasies... (That's what my friends tell me at least!)

You could be the coolest person on the planet, or at least second to me, and we could get along better than chocolate and strawberries on Valentine's Day...but our friendship could spiral down waaaaaaay quick into a chaotic and dismal abyss if you decide you want to cook for me or invite me to your BBQ. If you don't concede to my irrational tendencies and cleaning practices then we will have a huge problem. And by problem I mean problem. See I am no longer polite and silent about my hang-ups; I scream them from the mountain tops.

Actually, some very responsible and safe-food handling friends recently got a first-hand experience with my haz-mat BLEACH THE CRAP OUT OF EVERYTHING approach to cooking, and we all survived and we are still friends and I am still allowed in their house but...

You see, I have a teensy, itty-bitty issue with the potential slight trace of...


on my chicken and salads and...
...lurking in my burger or side dishes.

And, I am convinced that if I do not oversee every moment of your cooking I, or my family, will end up in the hospital.

Summers make me wring my hands gnash my teeth seek biofeedback therapy a little uncomfy; everyone and their grandma is having a BBQ and I'm invited, along with my family, as ground beef, chicken and pork are pulled out to be grilled and served next to home made fruit and potato salads...

Here's a head's up, so you won't get offended. I probably won't eat. And I most definitely won't let my kids eat. Unless we bring our own food. Like hot dogs. And bleach water...

Why? Well, unless I can personally verify that the watermelon's rind, or any fruit rind for that matter, was washed with at LEAST soap and water, and unless I can verify that separate tongs are used for raw and cooked meats, and that all gnasty meat juices have been eradicated with bleach, I just won't be able to try your "secret recipe" or "famous dish". Because to me "secret" is evil and "famous" means I might find it highlighted it in the most current Mayo Clinic book. And that's not Mayo the condiment, that's Mayo the HOSPITAL!

OK OK so, this is a bit harsh. I am not THAT bad...I mean, there are some reasonable bones in this body. I realize that MOST BBQ's and meals go without a hitch and living in fear is about as fun as putting Africanized bees in your mouth, but, when it comes to kids and their underdeveloped immune systems, no risk is worth them getting sick, especially since they get much sicker than adults and sometimes sustain permanent injuries from food poisoning.

And for that reason, let's just lay down 10 simple safety tips for your BBQ parties, so you have a safe summer and I don't visit a room with padded walls or IV drips mmmmmkay??

1. If you are the meat prep person, keep raw meat and juices away from all other foods, never preparing them at the same time you make a fruit salad or potato salad or storing them together. Wear gloves and/or wash hands with warm soap and water immediately after handling raw food, don't forget to clean every surface you touch! Keep meats covered and nice and cold until cooked.

2. If you can, prepare all your other foods before your meats and keep them refrigerated until serving, on the TOP shelf and covered so nothing can drip/fall inside. Bleach out your sink and spigot/handles and clean all surfaces before preparing salads of any kind. Your sink and that nasty sponge/rag you keep around is often dirtier than your bathroom!

3. Don't prepare foods in your bathroom. Kramer was whacked.

4. The person handling the grill should have sanitary wipes handy, and a garbage can for meat packs and/or soiled paper towels. Two sets of tongs and plates should be provided, one set for the raw and one set for the cooked. A big bottle of hand sanitizer is a good idea too, since everyone can take advantage of that. Just keep it away from open flames. IT'S FLAMMABLE LIKE SERIOUSLY, BOOOOOOOM!

5. Have a reliable meat thermometer and make sure all meats reach the correct internal temperature. Hamburgers at least 160 and chicken at least 170.

6. Keep your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold! Don't leave food sitting outside for flies to enjoy and for the sun to sour. It's even hotter in the shade than you think and that pistachio Jello salad thing is already green and chunky so...

7. Wash all your fruits and veggies (yes, even those with a rind!) with a 3 parts to 1 solution of water and vinegar. I mean come on, do you lick doorknobs? Of course not! People do not realize that when you cut the rind of a watermelon or cantaloupe, apple or orange, that the bacteria on the surface (usually from the harvesting hands and grocery store workers) is dragged through the flesh by the knife, and LOTS of hands handle your fruit and veggies before they get to you! Imagine leaving unwashed fruit and veggie salads in the sun for a few hours, with a few flies sampling your talents and your day will become cramptastic! Keep a spray bottle of the vinegar solution handy for last-minute jobs!

8. Do NOT eat that burger or chicken breast that looks slightly undone unless you thoroughly love riding the Porcelain Train. In fact, repeatedly slap the BBQ handler for not reading my list, chuck that e-coli-ridden monstrosity out and get a new one.

9. Do everyone a favor and bleach out that cooler before you dump tons of ice into it and load it full of drinks. We know you used that cooler to bring lake fish home last summer and didn't clean it out! DON'T LIE! I'd go one step further and wipe the cans/bottles down before adding them but that's just me. By 4pm you have melted ice, many hands that dove into the cooler to get a soda, and your drinks miserably swimming in a soup of bacteria. GROSS!

10. And lastly, enjoy yourselves. That might best be accomplished by not inviting me. But I am pretty fun, and have a mean volley ball serve so, weigh that decision carefully.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July y'all!

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