Dog days are here!

October 31, 2012

“Four hours till home.  Anyone want to place bets on how long it will take my husband to get a dog now that the trip is over?”  –my Facebook post, Monday, October 22nd

 

Five days.  That’s the final count:  home Monday night; dog Friday night.  She’s curled up next to me on the sofa, sacked out, as I write this.  And she’s been such a blessing.

A very brief history of where we’d come from:  one dog owned for fourteen years, another owned for twelve years, neither one of which were big fans of “those kids” once they came along nine years ago.  Bo was a mean enough dog we were genuinely concerned about how things were going to go; it turned out to be fine, but I never trusted him much.  Basie was tolerant but skittish; he’d just leave the room if a child wandered in.

So much for the idea of “a boy and his dog.”

For three days after we were home my husband and I researched dogs; we looked online at three different shelters and a rescue and compared notes about who we’d found that was interesting.  (This involved lots of “Oh, look at this one!”; and hormonal pregnant woman having to leave the room when the family would look at the homeless doggie videos.)  I was surprised–pleased, really–at how quickly some promising dogs came and went; a dog there one day might not be there the next.  But I collected a little list of names when my husband said we’d go by one of the shelters Friday night.

When we pulled up, I saw her.  I knew it was her, but I didn’t say anything to my husband; who had already assured me he’d done this before and that what we really wanted to do was walk the kennels and see who we were drawn to.  So I said nothing as we piled out of the car and took in all the incessant barking around us, and then I heard him say, “Look at that black one….” and I got to smile and know that this would be easier than I thought.

We went in, though, to ask a worker for some more information about my list of four; she was an amazing source of information and could rattle off all sorts of things about each dog:  “Alex was just adopted this morning; Carolean….you really don’t want her in a family with kids, that wouldn’t go well; Kina would be wonderful, she’d be great; Jullian, well…..”  And then I had to laugh as she went on to describe behavior that pretty much fit our old Bo to a “T.”  (At one point later, I was talking about Jullian-dog with another worker, who used the phrase, “He can be…..weird,” which made me burst out laughing.  That was the exact same phrase we used about Bo.  Often.)

“He can be so sweet and so affectionate, but there are times, if he’s cornered….he can get really aggressive….but he can truly be a really good dog….”

Yeah…I’ve done that for fourteen years, thanks.  I’m done.  Time for a friendly dog.

So we went out to collect sweet Kina and get to know her a bit, in the huge play yard/agility training course they have in one area.  Of course, for the first ten minutes, she had absolutely no interest in us, as the area had probably been marked by dozens of dogs, and there were so many things to smell.  (At one point my foster-parent-trained husband looked at me and laughed, “She has attachment issues.”)  But she finally decided that the people were more interesting than the smells, and as I watched my family play with the dog–the one I felt from the start was ours–I knew it was official.

Why would anyone get rid of such a friendly, precious dog?  It turned out their grandchildren had allergies.  Our extended family has had much discussion about who they’d get rid of….the dog or the kids.  lol  (My pharmacist husband’s comment:  “They make medicine for that.”)

So we came home with a pet.  Not a former stray, or just a dog, but someone who’s been a pet for six years and who’d been passed over time and again at the shelter (age-related concerns, I assume) but who is an unbelievably well-trained, well-behaved, sweet-tempered pet.  She loves to be loved, and will snuggle with my kids. (!!!)  It broke my heart the first few nights she was here as I realized we were having to teach my kids how to play with a dog; they’d never been able to before.  Now they can play with her and walk her and love on her and I’m able to relax a bit and not spend every waking moment saying “Careful of the dog!”

And then, that first night home, she went outside and rolled in something completely heinous.

Yep…..we’re officially dog owners again.  🙂

 

The title from this post came from the announcement my daughter wrote on our dry-erase board the night we got Kina, playing off the “Florence and the Machine” song “Dog Days are Over.”  I thought it was pretty ingenious for a seven-year-old.

 

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Happy Halloween?

October 30, 2012

I have to admit I’ve never really understood the obsession with Halloween.  I love autumn; it’s my absolute favorite time of year, and fall “stuff” sucks me in each and every time it rolls around.  (One of the biggest reasons I’ll never make it as a true minimalist:  fall decor.)  I’m relieved when the temp starts to cool; I love the bite in the air each morning and bundling up in jackets as we head out the door to school.  I love the changing leaves; though for all the huge trees in our yard we really only have two pretty ones.  I love crunching through the fallen leaves as we walk out to get the paper, or the mail…in spite of the fact that our neighbors on either side keep fastidious lawns that manage to make ours look more than a little unkempt.  (I believe the word is “trashy.” lol)

What I don’t get is the gore.  The desire to “decorate” with corpses and zombies and skeletons…..and I’m always struck, each year, at how we as Americans wail about the cost of everything, and yet people will shell out their hard-earned dollars for things like inflatable spiders to sit in their front yard.

I don’t get it.

October is the time where I’m finally willing to start walking to and from school….and it’s also the month where I had to change the route we took when my kids were younger, because there’s a house on one street with zombies overtaking the front yard.  I don’t mean a few scary items; I mean the entire front yard is covered with creatures….it truly looks like a graveyard come to life.  They have to have over thirty creepies on their lawn, including a large Satan-like creature suspended above their front door.  Each year as it goes up I realize how grateful I am that our neighbors at our last house got into Christmas instead of Halloween.  (To their credit, the whole mob scene is taken down promptly on November 1st.  No lingering zombies hanging out for Thanksgiving dinner or anything.)

That’s the stuff I don’t get.

Time magazine states that this year, “Americans are expected to spend a record $8 billion on Halloween-related products and activities this year, up 17% from 2011.” (From “More Trick Than Treat,” October 29th issue).

$8 billion….

I don’t get it.

We got costumes for the kids; my daughter’s was actually her birthday present.  I bought not even $20 worth of candy, which might not sound like much, but it’s a ton; trust me.  I think we’re covered.  I’m calling it good.

Because there’s loads of other things I’d rather spend my money on.

 

 

Or, “Pursuing Enough” pursues more than enough….

 

It’s been awhile.  It’s been so long and I’m still so off-kilter that I’m not even sure I’m quite ready to start writing again…but I felt the need to check in after such a long absence.  Our family got back Monday night from an eleven-day (road) trip to Disneyworld and Legoland, sponsored very generously by my parents.  Six people in a twelve-passenger van; three days down, two days home (you know it’s a long trip when driving through five states is a good day).  Monday through Saturday we spent at all the different parks.

Overwhelming?  Yes.  Wonderful?  Absolutely.

The drive didn’t go nearly as badly as I anticipated; portable DVD players are beautiful things…and bringing along all the kids schoolwork they were missing out on helped, too.  (Full disclosure:  due to our school district’s quirky calendar, we were able to take an eleven day trip with the kids only missing three days of school.  We were NOT the only people to jump on that opportunity.)  My dad and husband sat up front and took turns driving, continually arguing with the GPS system and making her angry (“Recalculating!”).  The rest of us spread out in back, switching places when needed, since siblings can only sit together for so long.

Our time in the parks was great…my daughter met everyone she wanted to meet, including Tinkerbell, and my son rode all the coasters he wanted to ride.  My husband quickly learned how to work the Fast-Pass system (and I mean really work it), which meant that we didn’t have to wait in line more than twenty minutes for any ride we did.  (It also meant blisters for my poor husband as he ran the parks to collect the things…)

And then….Monday night at 7:30 home, Tuesday morning at 8:00 back to school.  There’s a nice jolt of reality for you.

I think, three days later, I’m just now starting to feel like things are getting a little back to normal; although with my son’s birthday plans this weekend (9 years old today!  Happy birthday, sweet boy!) and the relentless talk of getting a new dog now that we’re home, I’m still not quite feeling settled.  October is one of my favorite months of the year.  I think it’s time I slowed down a minute and tried to enjoy it.

One last thought on vacations and returning home:  I know that technically, what we come “home” to is just a bunch of wood and siding and insulation and metal, etc.  I know that really, it’s just a bunch of “stuff” that shouldn’t really matter all that much.  But after you’ve been gone for eleven days, it becomes much more than that.  It’s what it represents:  home base, safety, the comfort of the familiar, the “normal,” Home.  Night after night of sleeping in hotel beds gives you a new appreciation for your own bed; night after night of sleeping in hotel rooms gives you a new appreciation for your own room, which my children disappeared into the moment they got home, introducing their new stuffed animals to their old ones.  Right now I’m so grateful for this house, this home, and for the comfort of (slowly) getting back into a routine.

It’s good to be back.

Party time!

October 3, 2012

I was at my daughter’s field trip recently, joking with a mom about how I seem to spend all my time counting heads when I’m out with the class that way.  (We were only in charge of four little girls, so the job should have been easy, but I’m learning that there’s always one in any group who wanders.  A lot.)  She laughed and commented that it was like those big birthday parties that you have somewhere “out;” where she could never relax because she kept needing to make sure they had everybody.

And I had to laugh, and admit that we’d never done that.

While we’ve had family parties every year, it wasn’t until the kids were in kindergarten that we started doing parties involving friends; and even then, they were small, involving five or six little ones.  My children are invited, often, to parties where kids invite the entire class or all the girls/boys in a class; while I suppose that saves on hurt feelings, I have no idea how people do it.  The cost.  The headache.  The hassle.

My daughter just celebrated her seventh birthday, “Rainbow Magic Fairy”-book style.  (On a side note, my kids have a knack for picking birthday themes that you can’t find party supplies for.)  We intended to invite six little girls, but once she got to four, she got hung up.  A domino effect seemed to be occuring:  “If I invite A, then I have to invite B and C; and if I invite C, then D and E have to come…”  Finally she stopped and looked at me.  “Can I just invite four people?”  Absolutely!

Out of the four, three showed up, and they had a wonderful time playing fairy games and making fairy crafts and eating pink-frosted chocolate cupcakes.  It was absolutely hilarious to see how much noise four little girls could make….coloring.  They laughed and danced and “helped” unwrap gifts and when it was all over, my daughter told me how much fun she’d had.

“I’m glad you liked it!”  I told her.

“I didn’t like it!  I LOVED it!!” she shouted; and honestly, if she LOVED her small party, why on earth would I want to do anything bigger?

Realistically, a bigger party would have meant missing out on some of the crafts; buying supplies for four is much easier than buying for twenty.  I was able to include a “fairy book” (from a local used-book store) in everyone’s party favor bag, instead of a plastic kazoo.  It just turns into a completely different party with fewer kids.

My sweet son approached me recently with a request for his upcoming birthday:  could he just go with a couple of friends to the local science museum?  And then maybe out for a treat?

These parties just get simpler and simpler…..