January



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... 98% is not so bad...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It can be exhausting... but equally rewarding.
     The college search and selection can be an overwhelming experience for our children. First, they have to research the various options, take part in the open houses, and take entry exams that are supposed indicators of their knowledge. Then they have to fill out applications that often include essays... and then... and only then... they wait for what seems like years for an answer.
     It was not like that for me when I selected a college.
     I had a few schools that were interested in me because of baseball. I received numerous letters... if you consider six to qualify as numerous... from schools that were recruiting me. The final three choices were the University of Maryland, American University and High Point College in North Carolina.
     Now let me be clear: it was not as if I sat around contemplating which school I wanted to attend. It really came down to Maryland or AU. In fact, I think that the only reason High Point showed any interest at all was because my brother had gone there.
     Here was the big recruiting war: I received the letters; I spoke with the coaches on the phone; and then I went back to playing PONG.
     There was no fanfare involved in my final decision. I received a call from Maryland's head coach asking me if I were going to accept their offer. I told him that I had applied but had not yet been accepted into the school. This was at a time when a monkey with a crayon could have gotten into Maryland. He put me on hold and after about three minutes came back on the phone and said... I just called and you are in. I need to know if you are coming!
     Yes, I guess.
     Great, fall practice starts on August 26th... see you then. Click!
     Come to think about it, he did not even seem really happy about my decision, but I am sure he was on pins and needles, so I couldn't very well leave him dangling in the wind.
     I had not even discussed it with my parents. They weren't home when he called, and he pressured me to tell him right then and there.
     It was not going to be like that for my baby girl.
     No sirree. We were going to do our homework... and we were going to select five or six schools of interest... and we were going to visit the schools that made the first cut... and then we would make an informed selection: the Community College.
     That's right, the Community College.
     I thought that Grace and I had a deal. When she was thirteen, she showed interest in the Community College and asked me where she would live if she went there. Right where you live right now sweet stuff! Free room and board and built-in maid service. 
     I knew I was overplaying the maid service angle, but I did not want her to get any "big college" ideas.
     She had said that sounded great to her, so we pinkie shook on it and we made a deal. Alas, when she reached seventeen, all of the sudden she did not want to stay in her own room... with or without the crummy maid service. I should have made her sign a contract!
     The first school on Grace's list was Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Do you know anything about it, Daddy?
     I know it is cold... real cold... and I know you don't like the cold. By the way, it never gets cold at the Community College.      
     My arguments fell on deaf ears. She wanted to make a campus visit. I told Cheryl to take her up there in January or February, so she could get an idea of just how cold it could get. Cheryl complied with my wishes and scheduled a visit late last January. This was perfect because I figured when she started walking around in sub-zero temperatures, she would come crying back to me... with frozen tears, no less.
     Inexplicably... the day that she visited... in late January... the temperatures were in the mid-sixties.  Grace was giddy... Oh Daddy... I loved it. Everyone walked around in flip flops and sweatshirts and it was beautiful. I love, love, loved it!
     Surely, my girl Cheryl would have brought her down to Earth, pointing out some of "The Mount's" shortcomings. Cheryl's response was not exactly what I was looking for... Oh my Gosh! Tell Dad to just send my stuff up here... I never want to leave this place!
     I told Cheryl, Yeah, I don't mind so much if you leave, but I want to keep Gracie home. 
     Cheryl followed up with... Any school she sees now will pale in comparison!
     Hey Cheryl... why, you're throwing gas on the fire! Rip out my heart and stomp all over it, why don't you!    
     Okay, that disaster (my words, not Gracie's) seemed to pass, so we could move on to school visit number two and, chances are, eliminate that choice.
      Gracie, are you going to visit Towson? Are you going to visit Salisbury? Have you completely ruled out the Community College? 
     Yes, yes, and yes! But Mount Saint Mary's is having an open house in November. Can we all go?
     Grace, we need to keep our options open. You cannot put all of your eggs in one basket! There was a lesson to be learned here, and I wanted her to understand: you cannot count on any one thing... you have to stay prepared.
     I think it was starting to sink in when she said...
     Is that a yes? Will the boys be coming with us? 
     Sure, but promise me you will fill out the applications for the other schools.
     I will!
     She didn't. In fact, this was not an exhaustive search at all. This was a laser-like focus on one school to the exclusion of every other school. This was not what I had in mind for my... er... uh... Grace's college search, and it had disaster written all over it.
     Either she was going to get a rejection letter and Cheryl and I were going to have to console a sobbing daughter, or she was going to get acceptance letter and Cheryl and Grace were going to have to console a sobbing husband/father.
     The November visit to Emmitsburg was my first visit to the campus of Mount Saint Mary's.
     Perhaps the most important thing that I learned all day was that the campus is a 90-minute drive from my house. Much closer than I had thought. The other thing that impressed me was the beauty of the campus. I could see how both Gracie and Cheryl fell in love with the place. Although, struck by its beauty, I must add that it never occurred to me to leave my wife behind and set up shop there.
     After spending the day on campus, I felt much better about the school.
     If Grace were going to go away... and not attend the Community College... I felt that this might be the right place. Still, I encouraged her to have a "plan B."
     Although both her SAT scores and her GPA were above average, the competition is tough and they only accept 500 applicants in the freshman class.
     It is possible that you may not get in. Just so you know, everyone gets into the Community College. 
     On the drive home, I was thinking that I would be very comfortable leaving her at Mount Saint Mary's when/if that day ever came. I also knew that there was no way that Grace was going to even consider anywhere else unless she had to.
     Cheryl and I had many conversations about Gracie's college education, and when I expressed my frustrations and fears about Grace limiting her search, Cheryl always pointed out that God was calling Grace to Mount Saint Mary's for a reason. It is impossible to argue with Cheryl when she invokes the whole God angle, but I also thought, why does God have to irritate me while He is calling her?
     With all of that being said, for the first time, I felt 100% comfortable with the idea that Grace will be going away to college. I was at peace with her sole choice... and happy about the distance. But there was still this little detail that involved her getting accepted. We (and by we, I really mean Cheryl and Grace) decided to take advantage of submitting an early application (no formal essay required). We were advised we would have an answer by Christmas.
     This week, she got her answer and Grace will be attending Mount Saint Mary's College next fall. She opened her letter and read the first sentence and saw she had been accepted and stopped reading.  She put the letter down and began to hug everyone, so I picked up the letter and continued to read.
     There was more good news.
     Grace received the highest academic scholarship possible. Although, truth be told, it would seem that every student gets some form of academic assistance. Mount Saint Mary's appears to be the Joseph A. Banks of colleges... an initial high price tag... but always on sale.
     After all is said and done, I think Grace learned a valuable life lesson: sometimes you can put all of your eggs into one basket, and you don't really need to have a plan B. Hopefully, all of her decisions work out as well as this one.
     We could not be prouder of Grace's persistence and her achievement.
     This Thanksgiving season, we are thankful for so much that God provides and among the most precious gifts He gives is opportunity. As I have tried to tell Cheryl, God has called Grace to The Mount and we are sure that He intends for great things to follow.
     Upon hearing the news of his sister's acceptance, Matthew asked if he could have her room when she leaves for school. Of course, an argument ensued and the two of them came to me to settle it once and for all. The answer was simple... Grace, you can keep your room... but only if... you attend the Community College.
     Okay, maybe I am only 98% comfortable with the idea that Gracie will be going away to college.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... I like dreamin'... Well... maybe not so much...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I don't sleep much.
     Most nights, I wake up in the middle of the night with a thousand things going through my head. Sometimes these things are work-related and so incredibly important that I think if I could just act on them immediately, they could change the course of my career.
     Of course, when I actually get to the office, I find that some of these matters need no action, or better yet, I discover that I have already taken care of them and had forgotten about them... and my career is pretty much status quo.
     There are other nights when I wake up because of some stupid dream. I've had some of the most ridiculous dreams you could imagine.
     For years, I have had a recurring dream where I am dating Cheryl, wanting her to marry me, but she won't. In each dream, she always has some excuse as to why she cannot say yes. These dreams are never quite the same but always end with Cheryl refusing to marry me. My personal favorite reason why she could not commit was that she wanted to date ex-Yankee manager, Joe Torre.
     I pleaded with her. I told her that Joe Torre was older than she thought, and besides, where would she ever even see Joe Torre? Of course, at that point, she pointed over to Joe Torre, who was sitting at the next booth (we were in a restaurant when I was asking her to marry me), and this idiot Torre looked at me and gave me a little wave of the fingers.
     I hate Joe Torre.
     Then she told me that if things didn't work out with Joe... she would call me. This infuriated me, and, as I often do at the end of these dreams, I woke up, completely ready to fight with my sleeping bride. In fact, at the end of each of these "she won't marry me" dreams, I wake up extremely agitated and ready to attack.
     I waken Cheryl and ask just one simple question... Why?
     Her response is always the same... Who was I dating this time? Honey, I love you... I chose you! Now, go back to sleep.
     I'm not too sure about any of that. I still think she has something for Joe Torre.
     A psychologist friend of ours once opined that maybe I have these dreams because deep down I feel that there is something that I am not giving to Cheryl... and that somehow I feel I'm not worthy of her love.
     Not giving to her? Not worthy of her?... Bwa-ha-ha-ha! That's a good one! No... that's definitely not it. If that were it, Cheryl'd be having the dream, no?
     Another dream that I used to have on a regular basis, and was easily traced to events in my life, involved the Incredible Hulk... and no, Cheryl did not want to date him.
     When I was studying for the bar exam, my best friend, PJ, was getting married and I was in the wedding. Since this was less than a month before the exam, I attempted to balance the wedding activities with my studies. During that two or three week period, I would have the same exact dream almost every night.
     It would start out with PJ and me, as young kids, playing in his parents' house.
     We did something to trigger an explosion and we both ran out of the house. The house exploded and out of the fire rubble came this huge figure... the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk was angry and came running after us. PJ ran one way, and I ran the other. The Hulk always came after me.
     I ran through yards, jumped fences, and turned corners. I did everything I could possibly do to get away, but the Hulk was always two steps right behind me. Finally, he made his move and pulled up right next to me. Turning his head toward me as we both continued to run, he said... You are not studying enough!  
     That was it. I would wake up. Resentful of PJ, I would grab my books and resume studying.
     Now, I tell these stories because I had a dream the other night that simultaneously irritated me and made me laugh.
     I was playing softball and I came up to bat. The first pitch was nowhere close to being a strike, but the umpire called it a strike. As I turned to argue that it had no arc and "we are not playing baseball!" I saw that she had taken off her mask (no softball umpires wear masks, by the way) and revealed that she was an elderly black woman. Because of her age, I didn't say a word... I just thought she must have been confused.
     The next two pitches came in and they bounced in front of the plate. She correctly called them balls.  The count was now full, because in softball, you start with one ball and one strike. The last pitch was another fastball that was clearly low and outside.
     STRIKE 3! She yelled.
     Elderly or not, that was a horrible call, and I was not going to let it go this time. I told that old biddy she had no idea what she was doing and that she didn't even understand the rules. How could she be umpiring?
     She took off her mask and I thought she was going to throw me out of the game. Surprisingly, she turned and said in her best elderly, black woman voice... Here is what I do know: I know that you are a lightning bug!
     What? Lady, I have no idea what that even means!
     It means that you... are the first person... that I lit up... with a called third strike. I lit you up like a lightning bug! 
     My teammates did not back me up. I was left there, by myself, to think of a clever comeback, but I could not. I was a speechless lightning bug.
     I woke up furious that this lady, who didn't even know the stupid rules, would call me out on strikes. Cheryl woke up and asked me what was going on.
     As I recounted the dream, I just started laughing because I have never in my life, ever heard anybody refer to another person as a lightning bug. I have never heard anyone say, I lit you up like a lightning bug! 
     I think that I just created a whole new phrase for the English lexicon. I love it and will use it whenever I can.
     Cheryl and the kids think two things: first... that I must have heard it somewhere before.
     And second... that it is ridiculous and should have been left buried in my unconscious.
     I, of course, completely disagree.
     I think it is a very handy little saying that I intend to use again. For starters: If Joe Torre keeps messing with my wife, I am going to light him up like a lightning bug. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... A train wreck in the making...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy.
     Two unrelated events occurred this week, each seemingly having nothing to do with each other. Yet somehow, some way, they weaved their way together, colliding in a tragic train wreck of an ending.
     Event number one was a joint Bar Association meeting between the Calvert County Bar Association and the Saint Mary's County Bar Association.
     Although a member of the Board of Directors of the Calvert County Bar for eight years, I am not a big fan of attending these get-togethers. It's not that the meetings are bad, in fact they are usually pretty fun. It's just that I have a wife and three kids that I don't see enough of, and these meetings are just more time away from the family.
     But this particular meeting was kind of a big deal. The Chief Judge from the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State of Maryland, was scheduled to speak.
     I don't do appellate work because, frankly, I'm not smart enough. I don't pay much attention to the judges on the Appellate Courts, but I do know this... they pepper attorneys with questions that they already know the answers to. And they are the smartest of the smart. I often say that I don't always know the law, but I have a pretty good feel for it. That kind of idiotic statement does not work with these guys.
     Anyway, this guy was coming to our little county, and I knew enough that I should be there.
     At least that was my intention.
     Then on Tuesday, my nephew had a baby. Well, he didn't have the baby exactly... his wife did. But I'm pretty sure he had something to do with it. You know you are getting old when the ring bearer from your wedding is having kids. This is their first child, but this new little guy is my mother's 24th great-grandchild.
     My mom lives in Calvert County, near where I work. The hospital is near my house in Annapolis, about forty-five minutes from my office. Cheryl called to ask me if I could pick up my mother and bring her to our house, and then we could go and see the baby. Unfortunately, this was the same night as the Bar Association meeting.
     You know, first-born babies are a bigger deal than some silly Bar Association meeting. Besides, this is my mom we are talking about. Mother of 6, grandmother of 26 and now great-grandmother of 24.
     I will go to next year's Bar meeting to see that old coot.
     With that being said, I picked up my mother and brought her to our house. We had a delicious dinner and then headed off to the hospital.
     I must say, I have three kids and I thought all of them were beautiful babies... ahem, kind of looking a little bit like me. However, one look at this little guy and I was embarrassed for mistakenly believing that Cheryl had had cute babies. Now that I think about it, each of our kids looked more like Cheryl's side of the family when they were born. Cute, but nothing to shout about... like a true Palumbo baby... like this little guy.
     He is perfect.
     Now, you may be thinking, big deal, he missed a bar meeting to go see his nephew's baby. Where is the train wreck?
     If that was all that had happened, you'd be right. Unfortunately, there is more to the story.
     Yesterday, I finished with court early and went to see my friend, Judge Chandlee, who was just sworn in about a month ago. He was still on the bench, so I waited in his chambers for him to finish. In the meantime, I had a nice chat with his secretary.
     After about fifteen minutes, another judge from our county, Judge Clagett, came into Judge Chandlee's chambers with three other women. I stood up to greet them and was introduced by Judge Clagett. As usual, I wasn't really paying attention to their names as they were introduced.
     This is a terrible habit of mine. I don't listen carefully and tend to forget people's names as soon as I hear them. This is a character flaw that may come back to haunt me someday. These women had something to do with the court... decorators or some such thing.
     The one woman mentioned that I looked familiar.
     Being the funny guy that I am, I responded... I get that a lot. Tom Cruise? No? Perhaps you are confusing me with Brad Pitt. 
     She countered, Well, you are a funny guy, I am going to remember you! 
     Oh, if I had a nickel for every time a woman said that she would remember me, I'd be a rich man!
     The visitors, led by Judge Clagett, wrapped up their little visit to the new judge's chambers, and I heard one of the women mention that she had gone to law school at the University of Maryland.
     I joked, Oh, you couldn't get into Catholic University, huh? 
     Guess who went to law school at Catholic University... me, of course!
     I was at my best... cute and charming. They loved me!
     Then one of them said that I reminded them of an attorney in Montgomery County. Staying cute and charming, I said, Oh, he must be a handsome guy.
     They chuckled, talked amongst themselves and then moved on.
     Now you may still be thinking...where's the train wreck.
     Well, had my nephew not had that stupid baby... and if I had attended the Bar Association meeting as planned, I would have known that the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals is not a man at all. He is a woman. He is a very nice woman who often travels with his law clerk and visits various counties. Often times, he is accompanied by the Chief Clerk of the Court.
     All three women.
     All three, way smarter than I.
     All three taking a tour of the new judge's chambers in Calvert County.
     The good news is that I was cute and I was charming. And she did say that she would remember me.
     I am never going to do any appellate work.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... What I did on my summer vacation...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It's been a rough week.
     It started off with such great promise.
     We did not go away this summer, so I decided to take the week off. We had intended to go on a nice family vacation sometime this year, and Disney World sounded like a good idea. I thought we could do this in November because our kids are unemployed home schoolers.
      But this fall, Cheryl enrolled the boys in a two-days-a-week tutorial where, I assumed, they would get help with subjects in which they were struggling or instruction in classes that Cheryl could not handle. Turns out, the teachers cram five days of eleven-subject classroom work into two days, and the boys are working from sun-up to sun-down just to keep up.
     This is not how I remembered it last year when they would come and go as they pleased. They would spend the day at the pool and count it as gym class. Or they would whittle, shop and bake and call it art, math and home economics.
     This new program is like real school... only realer. You miss a week of this school and you are a month behind. Here I was figuring that we could spend a week at Disney and call it a lesson in marketing.
     But no. Even if the boys could miss a week of "tutoring," we still couldn't have gone away because my girl Gracie went and got herself a job. We have occasionally gotten fresh-mex takeout from California Tortilla, and one evening Gracie commented that it seemed like a nice place to work. Next thing you know, she has filled out an application, has interviewed and has been hired to work part time.
     Now mind you, neither Cheryl nor I have ever asked her to seek employment outside our home... and our requests for her to work inside the house have been met with mixed results. She did this on her own, she says, not for the money but to get the experience and the responsibility of having a job.
     In my job, I hear people say that they don't do things for the money, but I never believe them... it's always for the money. But, I do believe Grace because she has no idea how much money she is making, and after one month, has not asked about her paycheck. She keeps mentioning direct deposit, but she doesn't have a bank account.
      Details, details.
      I will say, Grace brings a big smile to my face every time she starts off a sentence with, Now that I work in the food industry....
     Oh yeah, Grace also thought it might be a good idea to enroll in a class at the community college to supplement her home schooling. She is taking Italian. Can you say Ciao Florida vacation?
     All of this means no Disney World. So I had a week off to do stuff around the house.
     On Monday... I went to work.
     On Tuesday, I went to SAM'S Club and shopped and shopped and shopped and then had to clean out all the pantries in the house to clear space for all of the stuff we stocked up on.
     I kind of wished I had gone to work.
     Then there is Rocky the dog.
     We had been taking Rocky for a test drive, and we have officially decided that he is here to stay. However, because he spent a day at the pound, Maryland mandates that he has to be neutered. I know what all you men are thinking... tough law!
     Anyway, last Friday, he had his, ahem, uh surgery... ix-nay with the esticles-tay. They had to put Rocky out during the surgery (I would have liked to see the vet try that surgery if the dog had been awake), and when he got back to our house, he was totally out of it. He just stood there and swayed back and forth struggling to keep his eyes open. This prompted Matthew to declare that if he ever fell asleep and woke up without any testicles, he wouldn't want to go to sleep again either.
     To make matters worse, ol' Rocky had a terrible reaction to the anesthesia and threw up all over our living room carpet. I'd say about eight times. The carpet is ruined, so this has sped up our plans for wood flooring. Although the dog came free of charge... there is a cost!
     Then there was what will forever be known as "the little mix up."
     We are still not quite used to having Rocky in the house all the time, so we are becoming more vigilant about keeping the front door closed, vacuuming more often, and not leaving little "chew toys" around the house.
     You'd think that we would have to be more careful about leaving our food around, but that has not been a problem. Rocky looks interested when we eat, but he has not partaken of our mealtime feasts. So far, he has only sniffed around, gotten bored and walked away.
     However, there was one little food issue. The other day, I walked into the kitchen and saw that Cheryl was preparing to make clam chowder. I knew this because she left those yummy little oyster crackers out on the counter. I love clam chowder, and I love those little crackers. I reached into the bag and helped myself. They were kind of heavy and seemed more like oatmeal cookies than crackers. They tasted okay, but I've had better.
     The next day, Matthew had a friend over and he was showing him Rocky's new treats. My interest was piqued... Wow, they look a lot like the oyster crackers that I enjoyed yesterday. I inquired and 'lo and behold, those were not oyster crackers at all.... why... they were dog treats. I wish I would have sniffed around, gotten bored, and walked away.
     Fortunately, I have had no ill affects from the mix-up other than an odd desire to scratch my left ear with my foot and go lie down at the foot of the couch and have Cheryl rub my belly.
     So anyway, having had enough of my "stay-cation," on Tuesday night, I declared that we were going to go somewhere for a few days. After arranging for man's best friend to re-visit with my nephew and his wife, we headed off to a family-friendly resort in Williamsburg, Virginia.
     Once we arrived, my lovely wife scheduled me for a massage at the spa. Having just finished back-to-back spring and fall baseball seasons, coaching multiple teams, I was ready for a nice relaxing massage. My masseuse was a nice little lady who took note of my sore spots... basically the right side of my neck, my right shoulder, the right side of my back, and my, ahem, right cheek. I am right handed and throw a lot of batting practice.
     The room had candles, incense, and soothing music... very relaxing. And then it began. Thirty minutes of complete torture. Not only did my trouble spots hurt, the coordinating spots on the opposite side of my body were even worse. I wanted to cry but said nothing because this woman probably only weighed about 105 pounds.
    She was not a nice lady at all! She was 105 pounds of terror.
    You know it was bad when, in the middle of all the relaxing music, candles and scents, she stopped and commented... Boy, you are a mess! 
     I guess things could have been worse...I could have had Rocky's week. I suppose when all was said and done, it wasn't such a bad vacation.
     And I did some math... a trip to Disney was going to cost about six grand. The trip to Williamsburg, from soup to nuts, cost about a quarter of that; we dropped a thousand at SAM'S Club; and the new hardwood floor should run us about $3,000.
     This leaves more than enough money for a nice dinner out... complete with clam chowder.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... No dogs. Well... maybe a dog...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     The answer is no... No... No... No! We will never have another one!
     They're dirty.
     They're stinky.
     They shed.
     And they have that less-than-wonderful breath.  
     No, I am not talking about our kids... I am talking about dogs.
     Cheryl has been steadfast in her refusal to even consider a dog.
     When we were first married, I had a beautiful Golden Retriever, Justice. Justice was the best... dog... ever! I said sit, he sat. I said stay, he stayed. I said come, he came. When I locked myself out of the house, Justice would open the door for me. No lie. He was that good.
     Then Justice sired several puppies and we took the runt of the litter. Mind you, Justice was a big Retriever, a very fit 90 pounds. The runt was about 70 pounds. And as smart as Justice was... Quincy was that stupid.  I said sit, Quincy would lick himself. I said stay, Quincy licked himself. I said come, Quincy licked himself. When I left the house, Quincy locked me out.
     He was cute... but he was a dope.
     Unfortunately, both dogs got cancer and had to be put down. Cheryl swore that there would be no more dogs in the house. There have been a few moments of weakness where she would consider it... for a second... a brief second... but then quickly return to the No Dog Ever policy.
     Friends of ours got a little CavaPoo over the summer. Our kids thought it was the cutest little dog and put on the full court press. Unfortunately for them, Cheryl is very adept at breaking the press. Although, I will say, that fluffy little rat of a dog seemed to soften Cheryl's stance just a bit.
     Recently, my nephew and his wife went to see a movie. When they left the theater, they found a dog that seemed to be lost. If I found a dog that seemed to be lost, I would say, Hey that dog looks like he's lost... Did you enjoy the movie? My nephew and his wife, on the other hand, chased down the pooch and took him home. This was no small feat as my nephew had recently torn his ACL... and his wife is 8 1/2 months pregnant. Think about that for a second... the two of them hobbling and wobbling after that stray mutt. That, in and of itself, is kind of funny.
     They put out an APB on facebook... and made every effort to find the owner, or alternatively, a home for the dog. The facebook post prompted Gracie to text me to see if we could claim him. Gracie, of course, knows that her mother is the Maginot Line in doggie defense. Nobody is getting a dog unless they can somehow get it past Mom.
     Not wanting to throw Cheryl under the bus, I texted back, No problem... as long as Mom says it's okay. I look like a hero, and Cheryl gets all the blame. Look, the bus only wounded her, it did not kill her.
     Staying true to form, Cheryl did not bend. No dogs!
     A few more days went by and my nephew was back on facebook as well as communicating with Grace. If they could not find a home, he would have to go to the pound, as they already have two dogs. Grace and the boys really wanted to take one last shot at getting this dog. After a drive with Grace, Cheryl emerged from the vehicle a bit upset. She called me outside and broke down about how everybody wants this dog... and she does not like being the bad guy. But you are the bad guy! 
     I didn't say it, but I didn't have to.
     What I did say was... That's not true, I am on your team, I don't want this dog. 
     I, of course, was playing both ends against the middle. My kids love me because I want the dog and Cheryl loves me because I don't want the dog. I just have to figure out how to keep the kids and Cheryl out of the same room for the next fifteen years and this little secret will be safe.
     I came up with the perfect solution: Let's get the dog for a weekend and see how we do. Take him for a test drive, if you will.
     Surprisingly, this was not immediately shot down.
     She blinked.
     Cheryl blinked and the kids had her right where they wanted her.
     I called my nephew, and as luck would have it, they had just taken the dog to the pound that day. He thought he might be able to go the next day to retrieve him, but he was not sure. Fortunately, his wife had had second thoughts about leaving him at the pound, so she was there the next morning as soon as the place opened to re-retrieve the puppy, now commonly referred to as Rocky.     
     Joseph and his wife Jess dropped Rocky off at our house the next day.
     When they walked through the front door, the first thing that struck me was his size. When I said we were taking him for a test drive, I didn't know he'd be as big as a car.
     We're not sure, but we believed him to be part Black Labrador Retriever with traces of Rottweiler... a Rotten Retriever, if you will. Turns out the vet said he's all lab.
     He seemed confused at first, not knowing if this were his home or not. We all seemed a bit confused, not knowing if this were his home or not. Fortunately, none of us lifted our leg and piddled all over the furniture.
     Rocky is a beautiful dog with some minor defects like helping himself to a comfy spot on our couch. That little issue is magnified because he smells more like a dog than most dogs. If you don't believe us, ask the girl that groomed him and told Cheryl that even after his bath, she was still getting a whiff of barn!  
     What to do. What to do.
     It's only been a week, so no final decisions have been made.
     The positives are that Rocky has a very pleasant disposition, and he appears to have learned the rules of our home pretty quickly: no begging, no barking, no whining, and no messing with our stuff. We are a bit disappointed that we didn't use similar training methods on our kids.
     Cheryl read that dogs like to be led... they enjoy an Alpha male. We took a family vote and I won 3-2... which is kind of impressive because I voted for Cheryl.
     The biggest negative is that we really have no idea about his history. What is the exact mix of dog breed? Because of his size, was either parent a horse? Was he abused? Has he ever been trained and if so, what methods were used? Does he have a kill word that we don't know about? You can see how that could be a concern, can't you?
     Here's the bottom line...
     He's dirty.
     He stinks.
     He sheds.
     But he is good and he is loving.
     He may just fit right in.
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