Cozy Tales: 42. Down the Shore

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Lauren grew up spending her summers at the Jersey Shore, loving everything about it from the sand between her toes to the nasty jellyfish in the surf. For her birthday in 2002 she wanted to go back since it had been far too long since her bare feet had felt the sand.

We decided that it was far past time to take our water-loving dogs to see the ocean. We had talked about it forever, but somehow life had gotten in the way and it had never happened. While taking two huge dogs to the beach was difficult enough, we were now faced with the prospect of bringing two huge dogs and two small children to the beach. We figured it was never going to get any easier, so we loaded everyone into the Outback and trucked on down the shore. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 37. 2001

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With two small children in the house, our priorities had shifted and the dogs seemed to become part of the backdrop. They were still a major part of our family, but they were no longer the primary focus in our lives. It was almost as if they had previously been the stars of the show but had lost their parts to the pretty new girls.

Looking back at my archive of photos and videos, before Meghan and Colleen most of the pictures were of the dogs. Starting in 2001, when we had two children to care for, very few of the memories recorded focused on the dogs. To anthropomorphize a bit, I’m tempted to think that this made the dogs sad, though I think they embraced their new roles in our growing family with typical Newfy aplomb.  (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 36. Colleen

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March 16, 2001 was a beautiful clear March morning in northern New Jersey, or at least it was once the sun came up. March 16th was a special day, and this is how the events of that special day unfolded to the best of my recollection.

3:00 a.m. Lauren woke up to go to the bathroom. Being very pregnant, this was not unusual, but this time she told me that she thought her water had broken, but she wasn’t really sure. When Meghan was born there was no question when the water broke as it was an event unto itself. Being tired and unsure Lauren went back to bed while thinking that she was having mild contractions. I went back to sleep thankful that nothing was expected of me except more sleep.

5:00 a.m. I got a nudge from Lauren asking, “Where is the stopwatch? (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 35. Meghan Learns to Stand

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Babies have no preconceived notions of what they should or shouldn’t use for leverage while learning to stand. Coffee tables, legs, couches, tripods with expensive cameras attached or even the nice furry coats of big dogs are fair game. Meghan learned to stand with help from all of the aforementioned items, but she also pulled herself up with something better: Cozy’s face.

Since Cozy was always around me, she often ended up in the same room as Meghan. On hot days, when Cozy’s tongue would be hanging out of the side of her mouth, Meghan would grab for it, but Cozy would usually slurp it back into her mouth to get it away from those grippy little fingers. Meghan was persistent though, and she really wanted to stand. If the tongue was out of reach, Meghan would try and grab a lip, or perhaps some loose skin around Cozy’s face. Whiskers were also in danger, but grabbing was one thing; it was the pulling that was a problem. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 32. Graviditas Redux

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I remember Lauren calling me at work and inviting me home for some fine lunchtime lovin’. I can vividly remember sitting at my desk at the ISP and getting the call, and I can vividly remember the surprise and wonderment at finally getting said call. You see, Lauren was fond of telling people that pregnancy was a nine month up and nine month down affair, meaning that while it took nine months to grow and deliver a baby, it also took nine months for a woman’s body to return to normal. Here it was eight months post-partum and I felt like I had won the lottery.

I also remember sitting on the couch with Lauren some time later reading an alphabet book to Meghan. We were the picture of family togetherness. Meghan would stare lovingly as I’d turn the page and read the words with happy Daddy abandon. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 30. The Spoon

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Lauren was sitting outside on the deck enjoying the summer breeze while Meghan played with the latest high-tech toy: a pot and some wooden spoons. As Meghan happily sat on the deck banging the pot with her spoons, the dogs lay lazily about, content to be with their family on such a fine day. Meghan didn’t seem to care that her drum set wasn’t being advertised non-stop on the TV, nor did she mind that these were last year’s spoons. She was as happy as a kid could be, making noise and having fun.

Young children are naturally very good at some things. Banging pots with a wooden spoon is one of them. Making poopy diapers is another, and let me tell you, when it came to this particular skill, the kid was a pro. Noticing that the pro had scored again, Lauren scooped Meghan up and headed inside to clean her up. The dogs evidently decided that they’d sniffed enough diapers for one day and remained contentedly in the sun. If a loaded diaper wasn’t reason enough to disrupt a snooze of this caliber, nothing was. Or so we thought. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 28. Meghan

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As the pregnancy developed, Lauren took the idea of eating for two to heart, all the while telling everyone that the idea was a myth. Lauren had naturally researched pregnancy to the extreme, so she knew what she was doing, and we just figured that nature would take its course as it had for millions of years before we got involved.

In Lauren’s ninth month of pregnancy we went in for one of the many ultrasounds to check the baby’s health. Lauren’s OBGyn was very smart, very type-A, and very young. We had long ago nick-named him Doogie after Doogie Howser from the TV show of the same name. Doogie took one look at Lauren and told her that he wanted to induce her. Lauren flat-out refused, insisting that nature should take its course and that nothing should impede the beauty of the process or some damn thing. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 22. Graviditas

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The dogs had known that Lauren was pregnant before we did. I’m also sure that they knew we were never pregnant – only Lauren was. Daisy, having had litters of puppies before her retirement seemed especially intuitive regarding hormonal events such as pregnancy. Cozy just seemed to go with the flow for the most part;  Daisy was the natural midwife.

We had gone through this once already. As soon as Lauren’s body started changing in order to grow a new baby, Daisy would know, and even before we knew Daisy would start acting strangely. As Lauren would try to walk down the hallway, Daisy would walk in front of her, then stop and turn around in circles, almost as if she was trying to make a bed for Lauren. Daisy would become very attentive and be with Lauren constantly to the point of annoyance. When Lauren miscarried the first baby, Daisy lay on the couch with Lauren while Cozy and I looked on helplessly. Daisy had been there, and she knew just what Lauren was going through. (more…)

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Cozy Tales: 21. Grandma

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We visited my mother and her husband David in New Hampshire for thanksgiving in 1998.  My mother had moved there with her then new husband back in 1984 and I had made the trip once or twice a year since then with one of those trips always coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday. Traveling the 350 miles by car was usually a six to eight hour experience that could range from boring to fun depending on who was in the car, and this trip was surprisingly uneventful given the fact that we had almost 300 pounds of dog in the back of the Subaru.

Since we had two slobbering beasts stuffed into the car with us, we stopped often to let them out so they could walk around, relieve themselves and enjoy some time doing anything other than being stuffed into a car. Come to think of it, those were the same reasons that we usually wanted to stop. After what seemed like 384 hours on the road (it was seven) we arrived safely, setting a personal record for the most stops caused by the need to clean drool off of the back window (four).  (more…)

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Eulogy for my Mother

My mother, Joyce A. Grier, recently died. As her son, I was honored to give the eulogy. I had so many requests for copies of what I wrote, that I decided to share it with the world. This eulogy was delivered by me at a small Catholic church in New Hampshire on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012.

As anyone who knows me will attest, I am not a people person, which is the polar opposite of my mother who was the most gregarious person I’ve ever met. I do love an audience though, so please indulge me a bit while I tell you of my mother from my point of view. My view may not be the same as anyone else’s, but I promise that it is an honest view from where I stand. In many ways, my mother helped define me as a person. I don’t think she set out to mold me in any way. I think she was simply who she was, and it was up to me to see the example. What follows, is nothing more than a small list of those examples.

My mother was a positive person. Now, there’s a joke in there about how my mother was always positive that she was right, but I figured that it wasn’t appropriate for a eulogy.

<laughter – ad-lib: “Judging from the laughter, I don’t think that I need to say anything more on that subject.”>

It has been said that the average person lies on their death bead, lamenting the things they’d wish they’d done. In fact, the average person (myself included, just ask my wife) likes to complain about a lot of things. (more…)

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