Friday, September 30, 2011

Yesterday's Proclamation at Last (Sorry!)

I realized at one point yesterday afternoon that I had never mentioned Michael's 'new proclamation' after titling the day's post that way. Just how my brain works at four in the morning--I knew what I wanted to write about then went off on a completely different tangent and never made it back to my original point. Never fear--I can be slow coming to these realizations sometimes, but I'll get there eventually if you'll just bear with me.

So, as we were driving home after bowling practice Wednesday afternoon, he tells me that he's never getting married. He only wants to live by himself so that he can do whatever he wants and not have to listen to anybody else telling him what to do. And he's not having any pets because they're too much hard work and they waste a lot of your money. I think that would be a pretty sad and lonely existence, but I doubt he realizes that. I also don't buy it for a minute. It's all words right now. He's too much of a Romeo to not have a girlfriend and eventually a wife. Someone for him to love and call his own who loves him back just as much. Yeah, his attitude will change soon enough, without a doubt.

And, yes, pets do require some work and create quite a bit of expense at times, but they give you so much more back in love and happiness, it's worth every penny. Maybe you don't need to have three dogs and six birds, maybe just one puppy would suffice. I just like having a crazy canine family--I am a total dog person to my very core and know that I'll always have at least two or three. And I never intended to have six birds, but they're complete characters and I can't imagine not having them now, their constant chatter filling the otherwise emptiness of the day. For Michael to grow up in a home that has multiple pets, I think it would be only second nature to want that for himself as an adult--but I could be wrong. My own experience though, growing up with a family dog, only made me terribly miss having a dog when living situations didn't permit one. I think he'd miss having the love and companionship of a dog as well if he denied himself because he didn't want the work or the expense. Nothing worthwhile comes without responsibility. That seems to be the core of our struggle with him, getting him to accept and take on responsibility. All part of growing up, I think. Some days we do better than others. We just keep on trying to do better.

Face off--this looks a lot more serious than it is...they'd never actually hurt each other, just make a lot of noise, especially when you want to watch some TV...

Down for the count

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A New Proclamation

Michael started practicing with a new bowling coach yesterday afternoon. This is the fourth year he’s been bowling in a youth league now and he really enjoys it. He bowls way better than I do, but that’s not saying a whole lot. I might bowl once or twice a year, if I’m lucky. But, I also think he has the ability to do much better than he has in the past if he could simply learn to focus and control his ball better. So when one of the bowling lane's coaches offered to work with him, I graciously accepted.

We went to the lanes straight off the school bus yesterday, postponing homework and reading until later. I figured he could do his school work while I was making dinner-not a big deal. I was really excited to see how he’d do at the lanes with one-on-one coaching and no other kids or the pressure of a game as a distraction. Hope was there waiting for us, so he got his shoes and headed to our assigned lanes. She bowled three games with him then let him bowl a fourth on his own. I think she may have wondered what she’d gotten herself into! Michael is a stubborn little bugger. He’d follow her instructions for a couple frames and then tell her how he was going to bowl on the next frame-after all, he’s got three years of experience under his skinny-minny belt. He knows what he’s doing. Yeah…welcome to my brick wall.

Fortunately Hope has a great sense of humor and a heaping helping of patience! She’d give him his leeway then have him try it her way again. He needs to slow his approach and he still needs to keep his arm from swinging wide on his throw. He had a great time working with her and actually listened a lot better to her than he’s ever listened to anyone else who dared offer him advice before. I think it’s because he has a crush on her. Boys! Or at least my boy…he falls in love so easily. He kept whispering to me, “She’s my type! If only we were the same age!” Then a quick admonition: “Don’t you say anything to her!” Oh my…he’s really too much!

So, he did pretty well. Bowled his average two of the games, bowled over his average one and under another one. But he was happy when we left, a big smile on his face. We have league on Saturday and Hope offered to work with him again next week. In the very least it’s extra practice for him and that always helps. And he loves the attention from Hope. Win, win, I think.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Around the House and Sleeping

I sometimes have difficulty staying motivated when the rest of the house is sleeping, or at least the dogs, and they sleep a good twenty out of every twenty-four hours. Lazy buggers! Everywhere you turn, there's one of the three, either sprawled on the couch, head tucked under the bed, or falling off the puppy pillow in the kitchen. Must be nice to have such a care free, laid back life! Someone to bring you your food every day, open the door to let you in and out according to your will. Okay, so they have to eat out of a bowl on the floor, and it's the same food every day--boring brown kibble topped with chunks of boiled sweet potato. That would get old very quick, I think. But they're not responsible for cleaning up after themselves, let alone anyone else. They do have to go outside to use the bathroom regardless of the weather, be it pouring down rain, or ninety-eight degrees with a heat index of 106, or in three feet of snow with an arctic blast freezing the tears from your eyes! I kinda enjoy indoor plumbing, thank you. I suppose it's not all fun and sweet dreams being a dog after all, no matter how easy going they have it...

Queen Pea's favorite spot on the couch

Tucker has outgrown the pillow bed

Sleepy pups

Mama's beautiful Tuck and yes, that's my favorite Christmas blanket...I leave it on year round. It's festive and happy.

No you can't make the bed!!
This was my super fuzzy Wooley Bear I found yesterday. Look close and see how long his fuzz is--made me think of a little Persian kitten and he was just as soft!!

I saw some of this artist's work at the Butler Fall Festival and fell in love with her stuff. Check it out:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Early Start

I went to bed almost right after dinner last night. Another migraine day, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon on the couch holding my head and wishing the pain would go away. Needless to say, I didn't get very much from my To Do list accomplished. Fortunately today's list is rather light so it shouldn't be too hard to get caught up again.

I crawled into a dogless bed (it was still too early for any of the pups to retire for the night--Dad might offer up some treats yet...Not that he ever does, but dogs are full of that eternal optimism.) Thunder and lightening kept me awake for a little while. We were in for a rainy night. It's lonely in bed without any dogs, but there's a lot more stretching out room. Eventually I got up and begged Tucker to come to bed. I still like a little company during a thunderstorm.

Four o'clock came early. Michael came peeking into my room, claiming he heard my phone alarm. Um, not my phone--I hadn't set any alarm. I can wake up all by myself by four-thirty or five, no alarm required. Bill's phone, however, was making that annoying alert tone to let you know the battery is running low. I'm a super anal battery charger--if I get any where close to half a charge left on whatever battery, be it my phone, tablet, or kindle, I've got it plugged in and charging. Bill likes to let his run to completely dead--drives me bonkers! Finally the phone offered up it's "I give up, I'm shutting down now" tone, so I dug out his charger and plugged it in. Most likely he'll end up leaving it here today since he wasn't the one to charge it, he tends to zone out if things aren't right where they're supposed to be, wherever he left it.

Just after five Michael came out to the porch to tell me good morning (again) and ask if he could watch cartoons. Fine. He wanted a Pop Tart. Go get one--I don't believe we have room service here in this house. Then the dogs started fighting over who had whose chewie. Next thing I hear is Michael crying. Tucker had jumped up on him, scratched him by his eye and stepped on his precious special Pokemon card. Really? Why is the Pokemon card even out if it's that special?? I didn't think cartoon watching required special power Pokemon cards. Now the card is dented and Michael wants Tucker kicked out of the house. Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Apparently I hate Michael now. No, I hate Pokemon cards and having to listen to a three year old temper tantrum from my ten year old at five-thirty in the morning. Surely this will turn into a whining fit, begging to go to Target to buy another tin of Pokemon cards after school today. So not gonna happen. Maybe we might learn to keep our Pokemon cards out of harm's way instead. Probably not, but I'm trying to have some of that eternal optimism like the dogs. Is it time for the school bus yet???

Monday, September 26, 2011

Doggie Heaven

Yesterday we spent a good chunk of the day meandering through the Butler County Fairgrounds, taking in all the sights of the Kennel Club's Autumn Classic Dog Show. I was truly in heaven. Dogs of every size, shape, color, and coat were there--great multitudes of them. I couldn't have been happier if I was surrounded by as much mountains of chocolate. This was pure joy for me!

As soon as we parked and got out of the car, the first trailer we passed had a couple adorable Boston Terriers and two or three French Bulldogs. I grew up with a Boston and they're such great dogs, full to bursting with personality in their formal black and white tuxedo attire. Frenchies just kick it up a notch if your a Boston fan. They're fat little tanks of dog, almost toad-ish in a way--a very cute toad-ish way, if I need to clear that up (I like toads...fat and squishy, big bug eyes...definitely love....) Yeah, I'm also a Pug fan, and there were plenty of those around, too, yesterday. Just something about that squashed in face, bulbous, bulging eyes, next to nothing nubby tails, and happy, squiggly, squirmy, super excited snorts--I can't resist!! So much fun squished into these smooshed face pups--complete joy!

We met quite a few Bassett people and shared stories of our Sweet Pea. I'm awed by the show standards massive paws on these dogs, and the piles of wrinkles! And the freckles!! Bill and I both are suckers for freckles! Bassetts have to be some of the squishiest dogs ever born. I think they must have some extra layer of velvety fat beneath all those piles of wrinkles, silken ears, and sad, droopy eyes. They're so soft and your hands almost sink into them when you give one a good hug and a scruff around the cheeks.

The Mastiffs! There were two gianormous Mastiffs-one named Sherlock (I can't remember the other's name! Shame!) But Sherlock's head was easily bigger than a basketball and just as round. He oozed slobber all over you...LOTS of slobber. Ewww...not so much a slobber fan, but I do love these monster dogs. The sheer size alone blows your mind--huge! Massive, impressive and no one will mess with you if you're in the company of one of these guys! No one!

Poodles and Cockers and Vizslas and Coonhounds...some incredibly beautiful Newfies were there. Baby doll little Malteses, Chihuahuas, a whole slew of Shelties, an Italian Mastiff-also called the Cane Corso, Bill's favorite-Spinoni's. I realized I no longer want a Chinese Crested. They're so pretty to look at but feel really, really weird to pet since they have no fur. Definitely gonna pass on those little guys! I could go on forever! Just about every breed imaginable was there. I saw a beautiful tri-color Collie that reminded me so much of my old Digby that I had years ago, I broke into much I loved that dog! But there were two breeds I wanted to see more than any other yesterday: Belgian Turvurens and the Leonburgers. I'd never seen either of those in person before (you don't realize how many breeds you've never seen in person before until you step into a dog show!) and there were two each of these wonderful, beautiful dogs. The Turvurens were much, much smaller than I thought they'd be. Gorgeous black and rust rough coats with incredibly intelligent eyes peering at you under sharp upright pointed ears. Almost reserved and elegant, unless you had food and they were just as excited and playful as any puppy! Then...after combing the entire show ground and seeing literally hundreds of dogs, I'd almost given up on seeing the Leonburger. But all of a sudden, there he was right in front of me and I just melted! Now, these dogs are every bit as big as you think they're going to be, for sure-and then some! And incredible lush, thick coats your hands just get lost in! Dozer was getting ready to head into the show ring while his brother, Gibbs, was on the outside, observing and cheering his beautiful brother on. We got to sit with Gibbs and his owner while the judges looked over the working group entries: a Great Dane, a Great Pyrennees, the most striking black and white Akita, a Boxer, an Alaskan Malamute, the Cane Corso, a gorgeous Bernese Mountain Dog, a Dobe, a Schnauzer, a Rott and a Mastiff all took their turn sitting and then running for the judge. Dozer took fourth in his class and we all cheered. The Malamute won the group, though most of us thought the Akita should've taken it. Ah well...they were all more than worthy.

We made our way back home, covered in fur, slobber, and mud from sitting on the ground playing with frisky, friendly pups all day. There was no way we'd be able to hide where we'd been from our three waiting at home for us--we all reeked of dog by the time we were done. A beautiful smell after an incredibly beautiful day. I can't wait to do that again some time! We've watched so many dog shows on TV but it's so much more fun getting to meet all the dogs in person! Best day ever!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Take on Grey's Season Opener

My favorite TV couple for the past six years has to be Grey's Anatomy's Derek and Meredith. We've been through so much together and it's tearing me apart to think this latest glitch in their relationship might be the end. I am in denial--I refuse to believe they won't make it through this. All I wanted Meredith to do in the series premiere the other night was yell "Post-it!" and make it all better. They vowed neither of them would walk away. No matter what happens. It's all there on a blue post-it that they both signed, framed and hanging above their bed. Through old, smelly, senile, even when they hate each other, and I get that Derek is hating Meredith right now for messing up his clinical trial. But--it's in his handwriting, "This is forever." They have to survive this and they have to get Zola back--is she the cutest thing ever or what?? Did you get the glimmer of hope when Derek was explaining how much Meredith's incredible love for the people in her life gets in the way of her judgement? I saw it...Yeah, Post-it...everything's gonna be all right.

As for the rest of the crew--really Bailey? A little judgemental, are we? So even if Meredith does get to keep her job and stay on at Seattle Grace, (I love you, Richard Webber, by the way!! Alex, I'm not buying it, though...) I suppose Dr. Bailey will make her, in Callie's famous words, "Rue the Day!! That's right, I said Rue!!" that Meredith ever stepped foot in that hospital as an intern. And how is it that they're only fifth year residents when we've been watching this show for eight seasons now??

Is dying Owen's hair blonde supposed to make us like him better? I'm only more annoyed. Seriously Christina--you had Burke! What could you possibly see in Hunt?? He should've gotten back with Teddie when Christina offered him up as a trade off for cardio training and they both could've gone off on some post-Iraqi-war series spin off that I wouldn't have to watch. Not that I don't like Teddie--I'd just like to see Owen Hunt long gone from Grey's. I can't see how his all of sudden supporting Christina's decision to have an abortion is supposed to make him a better guy. I believe he'll only harbor resentment towards her killing their unborn child and make her life miserable wanting his forgiveness. Christina's too strong of a woman to live that life. I want Burke back!!

I also don't believe that Alex is truly remorseful for costing Meredith her job--and marriage--and parenthood. He's more shallow than a paper thin sheet of ice and just as transparent! He'll always only do whatever it takes to win him the good graces of whoever he's trying to suck up to and forge his way ahead in his own career. He really could care less about anybody else. Yeah, I felt bad when Lucy stole his job in Africa--that was pretty cold. It's also karma. Too bad, so sad Alex...

Will Lexie and Mark get back together? I can't say I really care. She's got Avery--who needs McSteamy?? You just have to worry about a show when they start bringing all these babies in--Zola, and Callie and Arizona's baby...Isn't that typically the sign that the writers are running out of ideas so they cast in cute babies?? Hmmm...Anyway--just my thoughts....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bug's Tenth Birthday

Okay, I caved. Standing in Hallmark, looking at birthday cards, I broke down and cried because I couldn't celebrate Michael's tenth birthday. Ten!! Double digits! It was hard enough to believe he was turning ten already, but to not be able to celebrate was too crushing of a blow. I made Bill take me to Target to buy him a new scooter. The one he's had was a hand-me-down from a neighbor in Tennessee. Most of the paint had been worn off and the wheels were all cracked. It was a terrible piece of junk, but he's loved riding it the past couple of years. I just thought it was time for a new one. So off to Target we went and picked out the Pulse Slither for him--the thing is pretty wild. It's like a combo scooter, skate board, surf board three-in-one. Our only other option was an electric scooter and we just weren't going there. I didn't realize how expensive these things are! $150--for an electric scooter! Or more! Craziness! His bike didn't cost that much!

So, since Michael had had a pretty good week, keeping up with his chores and homework, earning his stars on his behavior chart, we had agreed to take him out to dinner for his birthday. All he really wanted was chocolate cake, so we made sure that was on the menu and headed to Natili's North for his birthday dinner. The scooter was in the back of Bill's car and Michael almost missed it climbing in the back seat. He tentatively asked what the scooter was for, not quite sure it was his since he wasn't supposed to be getting any presents. He looked at me and I just smiled and told him happy birthday.

"Is that my present? Only one??" he dared to ask! Only one!!! You rotten bugger!! You weren't supposed to get ANY!!! Yeah only one! And it was expensive enough! Kids!! I couldn't imagine ever saying something like that to my parents--only one?! There is a serious lack of appreciation from this child. Only one...such audacity!

So, we had a delicious dinner at Natili's. Michael had pepperoni pizza and root beer, brought his double chocolate toffee birthday cake home for later. He helped Bill put the scooter together and off he went, zigzagging and swooping up and down the street on his new Slither Drifter. He was pretty happy with his only one gift. Of course Sissie and some friends sent him some birthday cash which is going to burn a hole in his pocket until he spends every penny, so I think I know what we'll be doing after bowling this afternoon. So much for the model train show I thought he'd want to check out. Maybe we'll manage to do both...

Happy Birthday Bug--I love you!
Whacko--something about this reminds me of Mick Jagger...??

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ruby Love

Cancer. Insidious and impartial, it steals from us. The ones we love, people and pets. Precious pieces of our lives. Joy replaced by sorrow, anxiety, and fear. Bill’s finally noticed. Ruby is losing weight. She is, slowly. Her face is thinner and her waistline is more visible. For how many years I had her on weight maintenance dog food, topped with green beans, trying to get her to lose weight so the vet wouldn’t lecture me at every appointment. Now, she could eat to her heart’s content and yet she’s losing weight.
She’s had a good life. Nine years. I found her in a shopping cart out in front of Wal-mart one late summer morning. A little ball of white fluff. Her brother the same but with a dark brown mask over his eyes. “She’s got a great personality,” her owner claimed. I was sold. I ran through the store buying puppy chow, a collar, leash, treats and a handful of toys. She tried to sit under my feet as we drove home. Not the safest way to drive, but fortunately we lived only a few minutes away.

Michael was a few weeks shy of his first birthday. He would crawl around the house, Ruby right at his side. Nose to nose, they were inseparable. She grew much faster than he did. Our Willow was almost a year and a half old by then-my very first Mother’s Day present when I was pregnant with Michael. The two dogs were constant companions for our precious baby boy.
Soon we would pack up and move to Ohio. Michael climbing into their crate, sandwiched between black and white. I think he often thought himself to be one of them as much as maybe they did. Their little pack, an odd lot, but family just the same.

Cancer took our Willow this past February. She was ten. I never knew a more loving dog. She gushed love, practically oozed it from her pores. Now it’s stealing our Ruby, little pieces at a time. There isn’t anything we can really do for her. Surgery isn’t an option, even if we could afford it. Chemo might give her a few more months. Months. Being sick. I can’t see putting her through that. She doesn’t act like she’s hurting, though I think dogs are very good at masking their pain. They don’t let on until it’s too much for them to bear—unlike us, who whine and complain over the slightest ailment. Animals are so much braver and stronger than people.
So, we take one day at a time. Thankful for what God has given us that day. A hug, belly rubs, kisses. She’s a good, good dog. We’ll love and spoil her up until the end, every day together a precious gift. Love you Boo Girl—more than you’ll ever know!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Appliance Annoyance

The 'new' new dryer is coming today. Yep, Lowe's is already replacing the dryer we bought two weeks ago. The problem? The lights aren't bright enough on the dryer's display. They're barely visible if you squinch up your eyes and look at the lights from a few inches away. I should be able to see what functions I have set without giving myself more wrinkles and straining my eyeballs. The lights on the washer are as bright as a Christmas tree! That's how I want the lights to be on the dryer. So Lowe's offered to send us a brand new replacement and it arrived at the store late last week after being on a brief back order. Bill has to be here to hook up the 'pigtail', which is just a weird name for 'the plug'. Lowe's won't claim any liability for using an old pigtail, so you have to hook it up yourself if you don't buy a new one. And this is Bill's day off this week, so hopefully Lowe's will get here bright and early and we can be off and adventuring the rest of the day--and by that I mean wandering around Butler for a few hours until it's time for Michael to come home from school...Yes, it's an exciting life--I don't know how I stand it most days. Hard to keep up a lot of the times.

I missed a great picture yesterday. A squirrel had a double cluster of acorns hanging from his mouth as he perched oh so cutely on a garden fence post, peering in the porch door at me as I worked on my Word 2007 book (trying to understand WHY anyone would bother to use the paragraph editing button!) He dared me to grab my camera and try to snag a shot before he was off and running. I fell for it--Word wasn't holding my attention much anyway. Just as I got the camera turned on and tried to zoom in on Mr. Nuts, off he went, scampering up the nearest tree. I think I heard him chuckle as he stole a quick glance back at me lamentably putting the camera back on the shelf...Squirrels are really insufferably annoying little creatures. I don't care how cute they are!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Sunshine in My Heart

Dare I say that things are starting to look up a little once again (knock wood, just in case...) Ruby's ear is finally beginning to look better. The swelling has started to go down and if it continues to shrink I will most likely cancel her appointment next week since the vet wants to put her under and my girl isn't exactly a young lady anymore. Anesthesia can be very stressful, especially on older dogs, so I don't see a reason to put her through that if it isn't absolutely necessary. Tucker is almost at the end of his coccidia treatment, with his last dose of medicine due on Monday. I had to put him back on rice, ground beef, and pumpkin this week since his runs came back Sunday night, but so far he's doing well--fingers crossed that he'll stay on the mend! Ms. Pea has also had another flare up of her anal sacs but that seems to be under control now. Perhaps I caught early enough before it had a chance to get seriously inflamed and burst, so she's looking good this morning, too. Aaahhh...a little sigh of relief...for now.

It's just a beautiful morning, got a quick run in on the treadmill downstairs before it was time to get Michael off to the bus. He's had a few good days in a row and earned some TV time back along with buying lunch at school today. He really wants to celebrate his birthday and asked if he'd earned any presents back. I think we'll at least have a cake and some ice cream after dinner, and let him have his birthday cards from Grandma and Sissie. I have a surprise in store for him for later, if he can continue on his good behavior streak. I finally found Steeler sheets and a matching comforter for his bed and Grandma agreed to sew up some Steeler curtains for his window once I get the fabric measured and bought. That will be his belated birthday present. It's not Hot Wheels and Gogo's or Pokemon cards that he's been begging for--but all of those make great stocking stuffers anyway.

I also managed to do a little weeding out front. It's such an overgrown mess out there--my poor neighbors who have to look at it every day, I'm sorry! It's just been such a hot summer and then so wet lately, there really hasn't been much time to be outside doing yard work. Hopefully now that the weather is cooling off, more opportunities will arise--surely I'll need it since our leaves are already starting to fall as well! There's always something to keep us busy around here!

My beautiful Ruby

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Day is It?

I don't know. I'm so lost as to what day of the week it is most of the time...I've got multiple calendars and planners to help me keep track of what I need to do, places I need to be, events going on at school and around Butler. In my kitchen alone, I have two hanging calendars, well, three if you count the Steeler schedule that's now posted on our refrigerator, and then on a dry erase board is a list of "Important Dates"--all special things happening this month: birthdays, holidays, golf tournaments, doctor appointments, etc. Then! I have a pocket size calendar to carry in my purse, along with my daily household calendar where I list all the chores that need done each specific day, with special notes highlighted for any appointments or happenings I need to be aware of, and there's the calendar on my laptop, my desktop, my tablet and my phone...I am inundated with calendars! But yet, if someone was to ask me what day it is, I'd be hard pressed to come up with an answer. Oh, I'd get it after I put a little thought into it...searched the brain a while to recall who am I packing lunches for the next day, or do I need to scour Michael's room for library books that are due back at school...And now my routine has had a wrench thrown into it since Bill's changed his work schedule this week, I'd really have to struggle to come up with the answer to what day it is. Usually he's off Sundays and Wednesdays, works late Mondays, so I don't have to pack Michael a lunch on Friday, just Bill, then no lunches get packed Saturday since everybody's home on Sunday, but I have to pack a dinner for Bill for Monday, and Tuesday I get a little break and only have to pack for Michael since Bill is off on Wednesday. Nope, not this week. Bill works late tonight, so I had to pack him a dinner last night and he's not off until Thursday, which means I have double lunches to pack today for tomorrow since he's now working Wednesday, and then he's off Saturday for his golf league's end of season tournament, so no lunches to pack on Friday...this week. I have no idea what he'll be up to next it any wonder I'm lost as to what day it is? Do you know??

Mom & Pop out adventuring this morning

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Bug Man

Michael has discovered Wooly Bear caterpillars and he is in love. We found two yesterday that he named Mr. Flubbers and Mr. Silverstein. You gotta love the names! He's also discovered those fuzzy yellow caterpillars with the tall black spikes and is equally fascinated, mostly because I've warned him they can sting and cause his hands to swell up. So he's got a million questions about how they sting, why they sting, how bad does it hurt if they sting...Found a couple of those out back as well and I think Tucker even ate one. That can't be good. The dog will eat anything it can get in its mouth! No wonder he's always sick...I believe all the caterpillars have been relinquished back into the wilds, except the unfortunate eaten one. Well, we all must meet our demise one day...

Michael has always had a fascination with bugs-hence his nickname, Bug. I told him he should become an entomologist. "What's that?" he asks. "Someone who studies bugs." Yeah, he thinks he'd like to do that--and get paid! To look at bugs! Cool. Who knows, maybe he'll end up in the movies someday like those two bug nerds in "Silence of the Lambs"...he could be a star! Or he could have his own reality TV show, flying to exotic locations around the world and tracking down the world's weirdest bugs. It could happen! As long as he's not eating those bugs like Andrew Zimmern...yuck!

There's actually quite a lot of interesting jobs for entomologists--who knew? Forensic entomologists study the bugs found on corpses involved in criminal investigations (ewww!) There are all sorts of research avenues in pest control, agricultural as well as medical studies. Jobs exist with the government, at colleges, universities and museums. Apparently they even make a pretty decent living!

So long as all the bugs are kept OUTSIDE of my house, McBug can study all the creepy critters he can find in the yard and around the neighborhood. We've already gone through myriad bug houses and terrariums over the years--fortunately they're fairly cheap and easily replaced. You never know where simple curiosity might take you...
Mr Flubbers

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Love Fat Books

One of the cool things about being adopted when you're a little kid is that it opens up your imagination to an entire realm of possibilities regarding where you came from. I could be anybody! And I suppose most little girls fantasize that they're princesses at some point in their little girl dreams, but their reality, when it was all said and done, was that they belonged to their family, and unless that happened to be the Royal Family, then true princesses they were not. Me, on the other hand, did NOT belong to my family. I had a whole other family somewhere out there and they could be anybody I wanted them to be in my mind! Maybe that's what makes me such a romantic at heart, all those daydreams as a little girl of being some stolen princess, held captive by this cruel, uncaring family, ever waiting for my Prince Charming to come rescue me and take me back home where I belonged once more. adoptive family wasn't really all that cruel, unless I'd been grounded or suffering some other impervious injustice and I felt so forgotten and unappreciated...oh, so woe was poor me!

I also wonder if that's where my love of great epic novels of both fiction and fantasy comes from? I can get so swept away in some stories, I almost feel like I'm living in them. I truly don't understand people who don't love to read. They're obviously not reading the right books. Boring??? Reading?? Yeah, I've read some boring books, but you toss it aside and find a new one to read! Books are endless opportunities to go exploring wonderful new worlds, meet incredibly fascinating people and creatures. Anything can happen in books! My husband, one of the great non-readers, makes fun of me when I'm crying over a book I'm reading. "It's not real," he laughs. It doesn't have to be real, it just has to be believable, imaginable, and then it becomes real in my head.

A big, fat, juicy, epic novel is my all-time favorite escape. And I never truly appreciated fantasy novels until I fell head over heels into Harry Potter. JK Rowling has created such an incredibly realistic yet fantastical world, I think part of me still lives there at Hogwarts, long after I've finished reading all seven books and indulged repeatedly in the movies. I actually go into Potter-withdrawal some days and feel almost homesick, missing the comraderie and misadventures of the world's three favorite magical characters-Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Fortunately now there's Pottermore to explore--JK Rowling's new website to enhance the reading experience of her beloved books, so whenever I need a few minutes amid the magical world, it's only a few clicks away on the laptop!

Another favorite set is Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, a sweeping saga set way back in Medieval England. Knights and kings, and monks and priests, paupers and peasants, witch hunts and beheadings are all just the icing on the cake of these two rich works, wonderfully woven around the lives of Tom Builder's family, new and old. Mr. Follett released the first of a new trilogy earlier this year with The Fall of Giants, set in the more modern twentieth century. I couldn't let go of the Pillars pair and kept wanting to link Giants in with the other two books--which certainly doesn't work. They're completely unrelated, but my mind inextricably links Ken's writing with 12th century England now. Hopefully whenever the second book of this new trilogy comes out, I'll be past that confusion. One can always hope, right?

My latest reading adventure is amid George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice fantasy series. Five books long, I'll be able to hide away in this mystical world for a good while to come. I'm already completely wrapped up in the great cast of characters--the different Houses and Great Families. There's even a breakdown of the family trees in the appendix to help sort out who's who--it does get a little confusing. But he's got my full attention--I'm in for the long haul and looking forward to a great ride.

And there's still a little part of me, that given up little girl who can picture herself in these stories, as part of these families--that's the beauty of being adopted, I guess. I can still pretend to be anybody (even though I know a good portion of my birth family now and, yeah...they're not the Royal Family...but I don't know ANYONE from my birth father's side, so the possibilities are still wide open!) Seriously, I can't believe there are people who don't appreciate getting lost in a great story! That's almost tragic to think about all that they're missing...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Plans

There’s just too much to do this weekend, so much so that we’re staying home and doing nothing…Well, that doesn’t make any sense, does it? And it’s gorgeous outside, sunny and not quite sixty--definitely my kind of weather! So, what should we do? There’s Butler’s Fall Festival in town. They shut down Main Street and vendors line up and down both sides, selling food and crafts--lots of great stuff to see, eat and buy. Then heading out the opposite way, there’s also Evans City’s Oktoberfest happening this weekend. Yeah, I know, it’s only September but they’re getting a head start on things. And you all think I’m nuts for starting Christmas early? At least I know what month it is! I also believe the Penn’s Colony Festival is happening over in Saxonburg this weekend and next--but you have to pay admission for that because they do this recreated colonial times village thing with battle reenactments and such…I’d rather spend my money on goodies instead of just to be able to get in somewhere! So Penn’s Colony is out. Since Oktoberfest will still be going on tomorrow and Butler’s Fall Fest is only happening today, I think the plain choice is to head into town and see what all is going on there. Tomorrow we can head to Evans City and experience their Oktoberfest in September. I saw a flyer up in the library for next weekend about a dog show out at the fairgrounds! We’ll definitely have to check that out!! Pups everywhere! So--time to put the birds away here and head on out to enjoy a beautiful fall day in Butler--I hope you’re enjoying your day, wherever that might be!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Michael, Master Negotiator

Michael. The boy is too much. He’s trying his hardest to ensure that he will have some sort of birthday recognition this year. He keeps giving me the boo-boo eyes, asking tentatively if he can have his birthday back and sadly I have to remain adamantly against it. It hurts not being able to celebrate this year, especially since ten is such an important birthday—moving into double digits. Oh the joyous pre-teen years…But, he’s done what he’s done, his punishment has been set, and we have to follow through. He has to learn some way and he also has to learn that what Bill and I say as his parents really does matter. Even if it breaks my heart. Parenting can really be the pits some days.

So, the worry is setting in. Michael is trying to find ways around the No Birthday decree and has started soliciting for presents elsewhere. Seriously. I overheard him telling our next door neighbors that he wants Gogo’s and Hot Wheels for his birthday and reminded them of the date. We have super sweet neighbors and no doubt Charlene would actually go to the store and buy him something, unawares of his grounding, so I had to send Bill over to ask her not to buy any gifts. Now if that doesn’t make you feel like the scummiest parent ever, I don’t know what would! You may as well have ‘EVIL’ in red stamped right across your forehead! But, Charlene has two little ones—someday when they’re older and rebellious pre-tween heathens, she’ll understand the frustration.

Our Michael is also a little money miser. He wants money for everything! Don’t we all? And with our new behavior and chore chart, he is able to earn some allowance, which inevitably will burn a fierce hole in his pocket and send us rushing to Wal-mart to buy the coveted Gogo’s and Hot Wheels that he’s been trying to solicit from the neighbors! First, however, he has a little debt to us that he has to pay off before he can go on his shopping spree, and so he’s endeavoring to earn as much as he can as fast as possible to get that paid off before some other more fortunate child buys out Wal-mart’s entire stock of Gogo’s and leaves him enviously empty-handed. Doing chores isn’t earning him cash fast enough, though, so he’s begun negotiating other terms, or at least trying. I haven’t been buying. He wants money for doing his homework. Nope. He wants money for scoring well on quizzes. Nope. He wants money for getting strikes and spares at bowling. Mmm, nope. Really? Bribe the kid to bowl better? I do know parents who do that…as much as I don’t understand it. He’ll offer to do chores to earn money, but it has to be a chore he actually wants to do—which we haven’t quite figured out what that might actually be yet. Pick up dog poop—doesn’t wanna do it. Pick up the sticks around the yard—doesn’t wanna do it. You know, they’re not chores if they’re fun! So, we’ll keep trying. In the very least, he’s learning some excellent negotiating skills if he ever decides to head into the business route later in life!
An oldie, but a goodie--this has to be my all time favorite picture of Michael, so silly and cute, the essence of Bugalicious!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Living in a Zoo!

So we’re home from the vet with Ruby. She has to go back in two weeks for another follow up. Apparently now both ears are inflamed and the doc wants to sedate her so he can get a better look at what’s going on. So..could he share any thoughts of what it could be? No…that’s just too much to ask. Grrfff!! See ya’ in two weeks, then…Who needs money any way? Groceries…what’s that??

And just as I was trying to get Michael out the door to the bus, Tucker had had an accident on the back porch and there’s now blood in his stool. Seriously?? But, I Googled bloody stools while we waited for the bus and it’s most likely a side effect from the round worms and coccidia that we’re already treating, so I’m not gonna panic about him just yet. You know, one crisis at a time is about all I really care to handle…

That leads us on to our Squiggy dilemma. He decided he’d try to attack Brodie yesterday during play time. Flew right at him, all claws and beak ready to dig in. My heart stopped as I tried to divert Squiggy’s trajectory. Nobody messes with my Brodie! Fortunately, no one was hurt, other than the couple of years taken off of my life…Squiggy was sent back to his cage for the rest of play time, and this morning I clipped his wings so he no longer has the ability to launch an all out attack anymore…or at least until his flights grow back in. Why can’t we all just get along?? Stars for whoever can behave and not be sick the rest of the afternoon!!

So…that’s where my day is at. It’s one o’clock and I haven’t had any lunch yet, so I think I’ll head to the kitchen and see what sort of caloric damage I can whip up. Maybe try to get some cleaning done this afternoon before it’s time to pick up Bugalicious from the bus stop. No pics today, people--I’m under duress. Cut me a little slack. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get luckier.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Life Lessons

I love learning, which I suppose is a good thing since we spend a lot of our lives learning. Learning from mistakes is a good one. Learning to adapt-especially in parenting. Those little buggers keep growing and changing and what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow. We need to learn to adapt, to grow our parenting skills along with our growing kids. I’m not a great parent-I realize that. I see moms who are so patient, so smart in how they teach and treat their kids and I wish I could be more like them with Michael. He is my heart and my joy and I could have given him so much more…our relationship could be so much better…Maybe he wouldn’t be going through these struggles right now if I had been a better mom. And you can’t take back all those years that have passed, all those opportunities lost. But, I can learn and try to do better today.

I’ve set up a behavior chart for him that lists both responsibilities and chores. We made a morning priority list to hang in his room so I could stop the daily nagging of, “Get dressed, brush your teeth, wash your face, make your bed…are you ready yet? It’s almost time to go! MOVE!! Where are your SHOES??” Yeah, every day…for at least the last four years that he’s been in school. So, really, he KNOWS what he needs to do every morning and I certainly don’t need to remind him a hundred times every morning. It drains my patience and absolutely annoys him. So, here’s your list—it is now YOUR responsibility to do these things without me nagging you about it. Homework is also his responsibility. And he is responsible for being honest with us and for having a good attitude. He gets a star every day for each of these things, when he completes his morning routine on his own, finishes his homework and for not whining or arguing about doing what is expected.

Then he also has a few daily chores. I watch The World’s Strictest Parents sometimes and I see these kids who are cleaning houses from top to bottom, or doing serious, heavy farm work and Michael doesn’t realize how easy he has it! Maybe I’m too lenient on him but, being a stay at home mom, the housework is my job-not my kid’s. He can keep his room clean and set the table, feed the dogs and take out the trash. Maybe I can incorporate some of my least favorite chores into a consequence list for him…This could work! And he gets a star every day for each of these chores he does without my nagging or him whining, then at the end of the week accumulated stars can earn him some allowance and privileges—most of which he’s lost this month for bad behavior. I think he deserves some recognition for positive behavior if we expect him to improve at all right now.

And he likes the stars! I found some old encouragement stickers that say ‘Super!’, ‘Great job!’, and ‘Way to go!’ That sort of thing, like teachers use on school papers. I’ve put them on the days he’s done really well. He smiles at the chart when he sees he’s doing good and I think it’s helping. I get more “Yes Ma’am”’s now instead of “I don’t wanna!”’s.

I still need to sit down with Bill—if he’d ever be home long enough to have a discussion about all of this! We need to come up with a good consequence list that we can use rather than blurting out extreme punishments in the heat of the moment. That way we’ll all have some structure and a guideline of consistency to fall back on. We’ll all know what to expect when behavior gets out of control and maybe that will help Bill and I feel less frustrated and slower  to lose tempers as well as helping Michael to know what’s expected of him and what to expect when he doesn’t meet those expectations. It’s a start, anyway. We’re all learning here.
One of my spider plants blooming

My favorite purple mini-rose died this summer but now a spider plant and a christmas cactus have somehow started growing in the pot all on their own!

This is what happens if you leave your shoes laying around our don't...unless you don't like your shoes or you just wanna go shoe shopping...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Headache, headache, go away...

It’s been an awful year for headaches for me. And I am not one to pop a bunch of ibuprofen to try and cope. I don’t like medicine. I’m much more likely to suffer through the pain, hoping it’ll go away on its own, or try more natural remedies with food or hydration. I just don’t like taking pills. I worry they’ll mess with my metabolism and, being forty-something, I don’t need anything slowing down something that is already slower than molasses all by itself!

I seem to have the worst headaches after a long run. I’ve tried adding electrolytes to my water and eating headache-preventative foods, but I still get slammed every now and then with a killer migraine and I so don’t want to live that way! And I don’t want to give up running…I’m not only completely addicted, I’m also scared of getting fat—this girl loves to eat too much! Haha!

So yesterday I only ran three miles instead of my usual four or five, and I was headache free all day! Yay! Today is strength training and a power walk, so I should be fine. Tomorrow I run again and I’ll keep it at three miles, see how I fare after that. I’m disappointed a little at the thought of having to cut back. It’s not gonna get me to run a half marathon this way…but if I can have a headache-free day, I guess that’s the better option. And, who knows—it may turn out to not be exercise related, and I can go back to running as much as I want! This is just an experiment for now…so, we’ll see—fingers crossed and all that jazz. Happy Tuesday all!

PS: I know I’ve slacked off with my photo Project 365…I’ll try to get back in gear! I stole this one from the web for your enjoyment:
My aunt (this isn't her) actually got to ride an ostrich on a trip to Africa...I don't know why one would want to do such a thing, but, to each their own!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday at last!

It’s Monday and it’s LAUNDRY DAY!! I’m well aware that it’s really super pathetic that I’m excited about this. Sadly this is where my life is at. Excited over laundry day. Really? Okay, so I do have that brand new super sonic, high efficiency, way cool washer and dryer set that I’ve waited all week to accumulate enough laundry to finally wash a load (and let me just apologize to my friends’ multi-multi-kid families who don’t have to wait more than five minutes for a full load of laundry in their houses…I don’t mean to gloat.) I even woke up yesterday in a moment of glee, thinking it was finally Monday—the day I tear off all the sheets from the beds, gather all the towels from the bathroom, scoop up any other clothing stragglers laying about, and head to the basement--then realized it was only Sunday. The laundry would be waiting for tomorrow…There went the wind from my sails. *Poof*

Laundry and cooking are probably my two ‘favorite’ chores, if you can have a favorite chore. They’re at least the two less dreaded out of my daily and weekly to-do’s. I know lots of folks hate doing laundry, but I feel like something tangible and visible is actually getting accomplished with each load. The dirty piles disappear, then fresh, warm, lavender scented piles reappear, stacked neatly in individual piles according to person and/or item. I’m a sucker for organizing, and clean, neatly folded, organized sweet-smelling laundry feeds my OCD organizer quite well. It makes me happy inside.

And cooking feeds the fat happy person inside of me—what else needs to be said? If only washing the dishes and putting everything away seemed so satisfying. Rather it’s an anti-climax after a well prepared meal shared with the ones you love. They magically disappear once the food is gone! Funny how that happens every day! Food on the table, they appear! Food gone from the table, so are they! I could make David Copperfield proud!

Dusting and cleaning the bathroom are by far my two least favorite chores. Well, dusting isn’t so bad anymore since they invented the lavendar scented Swiffer refills. It’s like aroma-therapy while you clean. Slow deep breath in….aahhh, lavendar…and Swiffer away the dust. Instantly calmer and more relaxed as the house gets nice and shiny again…for five minutes and the dogs shake their fur and dirt and dander all over everything you just Swiffered. Yeah…that can be rather unencouraging to see how quickly your work can vanish and it looks like you never did anything in the first place. Rotten dogs.

The bathroom…well, that’s just gross. If there’s anybody out there who enjoys cleaning bathrooms, feel free to come do mine every week and I’ll gladly come do your laundry! I’d even cook a meal or two if you’d like! I mean it!

You know you're a redneck when this is the highlight of your weekend plans!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


So it’s the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Crazy that it’s been ten years already—but I’ve got the living proof right beside me every day. I was nine months pregnant with Michael when the attack happened. Sat on our bedroom floor in tears that morning, scared to death, holding my huge—and I mean huge!—belly, thinking we were heading for WWIII. What kind of world was my baby being born into? I don’t think I ever felt so helpless on the brink of this soon to be newborn’s life. I saw a magazine cover in the checkout at Walmart the other day, showing the kids of 9/11—those who were born after their fathers were killed that day. At least Michael’s dad came home that night. So many other little ones’ did not.

Lifetime and the History channels are running these simultaneous tributes of the events of 9/11 today. I thought about watching, remembering…but really—could we ever possibly forget? Is watching it happen all over again going to help us move past what happened that day? Or does it only drag up that old fear, the insecurity of knowing it happened then, and realizing there’s still no reason why it couldn’t happen again today. Michael watched part of the coverage last year with us and now he thinks of New York as probably the most unsafe place to be in the world because bad people fly airplanes into buildings there.

Maybe I’m missing the point of the remembering, though. I know I can be pretty dense sometimes…Maybe it’s more poignant to remember those who lost their lives trying to save others.  Not just focusing on the tragedy of so many needless, pointless deaths that day, but rather the love behind the sacrifices made that day. Firefighters, emergency workers, police officers, and the rest—the regular people like you and me that we’ll never really know their stories…who, even knowing they had families waiting for them at home, babies in bellies yet to be born, still faced giving up their own life that day in hopes of trying to save another’s.

Even still, I don’t think I want to watch it all over again. People jumping from windows over 100 stories up. The flames and smoke followed by blinding, choking clouds of dust. People on the street running in fear like they’d never known before in their lives, or staring up in disbelief as the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, then even worse, watching the twin towers crumbling down, crushing those unlucky enough to still be inside or on the ground nearby. I think those images are well emblazoned in all of our brains and will remain for a long, long time to come. I don’t need to watch it again to remember.

Today would also be my younger brother’s forty-fourth birthday. He passed away six years ago from diabetes. So I remember and miss him every year along with remembering the bigger, more tragic events of this day. Some years seem to be more emotional than others. Fortunately he blessed our family with his wife, Wendy, and their beautiful daughter, Emily, before he passed. He would be so proud of his Emily who is super smart and sweet. She exudes such kindness and love. And I can’t help but see Tom when I look into her face. She’s definitely a bright spot shining in our family tree. Love you Emily! And we miss you Tom!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Maurice Dog Hierarchy

There is a defined hierarchy in homes that have more than one dog. There is the Alpha dog, the leader of the group—the big cheese who claims the best sleeping spots, gets treats first, fed first, and who can claim possession of any toy at any moment, even, sometimes especially, if it’s being played with by another lower member of the group. Alpha dog rules!

Next in line comes the Beta dog, who is like the Vice President or the second runner up in Miss America. Should, for whatever reason, the Alpha dog not be able to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of their position, Beta dog can step in and assume this new place and therefore is entitled to all titles, trophies, choice napping spots, treats and toy possession.

On the bottom rung of the dog food, er, hierarchy chain, falls the beloved underdog or Omega dog. This is typically the puppies, the grunts, those not mature enough or not ready to assume the responsibility of running a dog hierarchy within the family home unit. But this is not such a bad spot to be. Sure, you have to wait your turn to get your treats—but there’s lots of dropped crumbs to gobble while the higher ups are distracted with maintaining their grand importance. Maybe the toys are a little slobbery by the time they get a chance to play with them—but I’ve never really known a dog too proud to play with a slobbery toy, though. And, what happens when you’re the underdog? Don’t you usually get the most support and encouragement from others? Everyone loves the underdog! Pity not these little ones…they will have their days of glory. For now they’re enjoying their complete lack of responsibility—it’s a pretty good place to be.

Our Ruby received Queendom earlier this year when our beloved Willow finally succumbed to the cancer that had slowly consumed her. Willow was a wonderful Alpha dog—fair and gentle with her underlings. Full of love and wisdom. Ruby would try to challenge Willow every once in a while, but Willow would not be shaken from her position. A swift snap and a sharp bark would put Ruby back in her place once more and all would be right with the world again.

Once Ruby did gain the Alpha position, the power went straight to her fluffy white head. Of course, she only had Sweet Pea to boss around and, let’s face it, a short legged little Bassett isn’t much of a match for an eighty pound Pyrennees mix—she wasn’t about to attempt a coup even on her best day. Ruby’s new position was fairly well locked and she wasn’t remiss in gloating her supremacy over the unfortunate subordinate Sweet Pea. Ruby’s favorite form of torture would be to lay lengthwise, blocking the entire entrance of whatever room she might happen to find Sweet Pea in and not allowing any exit. Sweet Pea would be trapped. She couldn’t possibly manage to jump over the Pyrennees mountain that lay before her, so she would bark and whine, bemoaning her tragic circumstances, hopefully rousting a human to rescue her from the Evil White Queen Ruby. Even still, upon the appearance of said human, the eighty pound brat would refuse to budge and had to be dragged at least partially out of the doorway to finally release Sweet Pea from her dungeon.

Well, then along came Tucker. Exhuberant, hyper ball of energy and happiness, gleeful  stumpy tail wagging, non-stop maniac Tucker. He may have been smaller and shorter than Sweet Pea at first, but being of Boxer blood, he has that natural Tigger bounce and it didn’t take long for him to discover he could quite easily bound over that snowy white Pyrennean landscape laid out in the doorway. He would not be contained! Ruby was dismayed. How to control this black and brown brindle bundle of bouncing energy?

I believe that sad moment of mortality realization set in for Ruby then. She’s not a young dog anymore. She celebrated her ninth birthday this July. She no longer has the energy or the desire to try and keep up with crazy Energizer Bunny puppies! A lazy laid back Bassett may not have presented much of a challenge to her authority, but this Boxer, this barking, wiggling, long-legged-growing-into-a-horse-rather-than-a-dog thing, was more than she was willing to take on. Not that she’s relinquished her golden Alpha crown, mind you. She has just mellowed in exercising her position of authority over the others. Rather than lay in the doorways trying to trap the other two, she’s more content to lay peacefully half-under my bed where bouncing puppies aren’t as likely to come bothering.

Soon enough the battle will ensue over who should be the next in charge. Sweet Pea senses this, I think. She tries to stand up against Tucker, who now towers over her much shorter stature. She’ll give him a sideways body length shove and he laughs, bouncing over top of her and bounding away in a come-and-catch-me flash. He’s not concerned yet about Alpha or Beta or anything that doesn’t involve peanut butter flavored chewies, slobbery squeaky toys, or his bowl full of puppy chow. All he wants to do is play…and nap…and play some more. Oh yeah, and eat. Lots of eating! There’s plenty of time later on for him to worry about Alphadom, but right now he’s got other much more fun priorities to occupy his carefree puppy mind.
In loving memory of our sweet Willow

Friday, September 9, 2011

Considering Consequences

So I’m still trying to make some sort of sense of Michael’s recent abuse toward Tucker, if there is any sense to be made of it. I just want to be able to stop wracking my brain over the why of it all and possibly come to some level of understanding to try to help him through whatever is going on. There’s obviously some anger issues he’s trying to deal with that he’s venting in a very inappropriate way. So I asked him about school and he’s told me he only has one friend this year. The other kids laugh at him when he makes a mistake. Even Sebastian, who was his best friend last year, seems to be picking on him when he messes up.

Michael is extremely sensitive, which he gets from me. He also has a tendency to shut off his sense of responsibility when he’s done something wrong. He is just as quick to laugh at or tease someone else when they mess up, which he quickly dismisses as okay or justified because they laughed at him—even if he was the one who started it all. He never acknowledges his own responsibility when it comes to receiving consequences. Nothing is ever his fault. Someone or something else is always to blame. Always. I took away his birthday party this month because he kicked Tucker in the face. So, the other night when I caught him hurting Tucker again and asked him why, he said because Tucker made him lose his birthday party. He refuses to accept the thought that his action, his choice, to kick Tucker is the reason for the consequence. But Tucker pushed him down. That’s still no reason to kick a puppy in the face. I truly don’t know how to get through to him to make him see how he is the one who is wrong.

So why is he hurting the puppy? If he had a younger sibling, would he vent the abuse on the other child? Not that that would be okay, but I have to wonder if that would be the direction he would take. My older brother used to beat the crap out of me and my younger brother on an almost daily basis when we were growing up. I remember getting punched in the stomach by him for no reason. Would Michael do the same thing? Dale who is heading on fifty now, still refuses to see when he’s done something wrong. I worry that Michael will end up the same way!

How do I make him understand and accept his responsibility in his consequences? I can repeat the same things over and over to him and even make him repeat the reasoning back to me, or write it down twenty times, but he will still disassociate himself from the punishment. He still refuses to accept any blame for his actions. I’m so tired of beating my head against this brick wall! I know he can be good. I know he can be very loving, kind and considerate. He’s so brilliantly smart and always does great with his school work.

And I understand he’s hurting because he feels like he only has one friend—but I know that friend and he’s a good boy, so I’m happy that they’re friends this year. One good friend is all you need. He doesn’t need to be the most popular kid in class, especially considering the standards for which other kids judge you to  be the most popular. I don’t want him to be shallow, or materialistic, or to be cruel to other kids who don’t seem to ‘measure up’ to those standards. I want him to appreciate his own self-worth. One friend or fifty friends doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t appreciate who you are yourself.
Silly Ruby

Squigmond Freud

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Strong Tower

It’s clear to me this morning that I am engaged in the midst of spiritual warfare. Everything lately is swirling around me, conspiring to pull me down, to make me want to throw up my hands and quit. Daggers from the enemy pierce my heart, my mind, and my soul as I fight to stand firm and hold fast against this storm.  I feel utterly broken, defeated, and at such a loss…

Ruby’s sick, Tucker’s sick, my brother’s sick, there has been a death in the family, household expenses have skyrocketed, Michael’s been horrendously badly behaved at home, then ended up in the emergency room last night, only to come home to continue his awful behavior-hurting Tucker again and lying to me about it. Even the birds—Mama Crash bit Squiggy’s toe yesterday morning, hard enough to make him bleed. I contemplated my baby bird’s blood on my shirt last night as I sat in the hospital waiting for Michael to have xrays taken of his arm. Everything seems so out of control.

It all feels like some unbearable weight, hanging around my neck, pulling me down, threatening to  break my back along with my spirit. Bill and I struggle to come together in agreement on disciplining Michael and are so frustrated. We both feel as though it’s creating a wedge in our marriage.

But, I’m not giving up. I won’t just throw in the towel and quit. This will not defeat me. I turn to my Father, who gives me strength and hope.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my strong rock, in Him will I trust;
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower.
~Psalm 18:2

Kutless - Strong Tower

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunnier Days

So finally things are beginning to look up a little here. (*A collective sigh of relief from the audience*) The new washer and dryer arrive later today and, as much as I dreaded having to spend that much money right now (thank goodness for extended, interest-free financing at Lowe’s!),  I am excited to have a pair of brandy shiny new appliances to call my very own! We settled on the new high efficiency models, hoping to offset maybe a portion of the ever climbing utility bills. The washer only uses about a quarter of the water that the old standard washers would use, and the spin cycle is so fast, the clothes are practically dry already before they even go into the dryer! Less time in the dryer also means I can actually FINISH the laundry faster, rather than waiting endless hours for all the loads to finally be done. Less water, less energy to heat the lesser amount of water, less electricity to run the dryer…all sounds fantastic to me. Good gosh, I’m getting old when things like that make me happy…*sigh* I used to drool over those pretty red or blue front loading washer and dryer sets that are ridiculously expensive and have to sit up on even more ridiculously expensive pedestals…and they’re not even energy efficient—they just look pretty. Yeah, I didn’t even bother looking at those this time. Seriously…do I need something that pretty to sit in the dark in my basement for the spiders to enjoy? The spiders can get a kick out of my new super efficient washer and dryer. Yeah, they’re white and nothing spectacular to look at…pretty standard, actually, almost boring. There is an impressive strip of lights and buttons for all the settings on the washer (new toys for me to play with and figure out what all’s what…yay!) Maybe the spiders will like the pretty lights. If they don’t, too bad. I’m not a big fan of spiders anyway—they can all go next door and see what the neighbors have in their basements and a good riddance to all of them as they go!

Also on the happy side, our Tucker had an accident-free night! Hallelujah! He’ll have a series of meds to take over the coming month to kill off the round worms and coccidia, but he should be just fine. He happily gobbled down his bowl of boiled ground beef and rice for dinner last night. I had to top off Sweet Pea and Ruby’s bowls with a spoonful of the blandness—they think Tucker’s getting some special treat and they’re being deprived, just like jealous siblings! Next to the vet will be Ruby next week for a follow up on her ear. It’s always something in this house…
I’m really proud of Michael this morning. He brought his first fundraising packet home from school yesterday—they hit you right off the bat every year. He showed me the prize sheet, pointing out the game he wanted to win and so excited--sure he was going to get it. But he had to sell ten items. I might buy one or two things but I can’t buy ten for him! So he asked if he could go around to the neighbors and see if they’d buy anything. We agreed on which neighbors he could go to—he’d happily go three streets over to perfect strangers’ houses if I didn’t set him a limit! And off he went. A little while later, he came bouncing back in, grinning from ear to ear! He surpassed his prize goal, selling well over $100 worth of items, and still has a few neighbors that have asked him to come back in a day or two! I was really impressed with my little salesman!

And the final, happiest note of the day is that I finally got my email notification that I can now log into Pottermore! JOY!! I only explored the website for a little while this morning, but I’m pretty excited about it! Makes me want to re-read the books all over again, and I think it will be an even better treat for the first time readers who’ll get to experience Pottermore as they read each new book and see the stories come to life on the web. Very super cool! So…happier days appear ahead at last…Now bring on the laundry!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Out of Control

I feel like everything is swirling out of control lately. I haven’t slept a whole night through in weeks with Tucker being sick. He either wakes me up to let him out or I wake up to the smell that he’s had an accident in the house. I’ve tried everything I know of to help him get  better, hoping to not have to go to the vet since I still have Ruby I’m dealing with, with whatever is going on with her ear. Her redness and oozing seem to have gone away, but there’s still swelling at the base of her ear that isn’t normal. I have to take her back for a follow up yet and apparently I’ll have to take Tucker in for some tests to hopefully find out what’s causing his diahrrea and clear it up so maybe we can sleep through the night again soon. I’m exhausted.

The money just seems to be dwindling away. Vet bills. Computers crashed from viruses. New mufflers and car inspections. Motorcycle registrations. Dryer deaths. Every week seems to bring some new crisis and we’re struggling to keep up.

Then I have Michael misbehaving on some astronomical level of cruelty so that I can’t even begin to put that together with the child that I raised. My head is still reeling, trying to make sense of what he’s done. My mom’s cousin passed away yesterday morning after battling lung cancer for the past several months. Now my brother is in the hospital fighting an infection from a burst appendix. When it rains, it pours, doesn’t it?

I am thankful that God carries us through times like these, where nothing seems to make sense and I feel like I’m drowning. I know He’s there, keeping my head above water and He will never let me go. He always provides everything we need, exactly when we need it-my Jehovah Jireh, and I find rest in His peace, my Jehovah Shalom. I know He’ll see us through this storm. He never fails. Praise the LORD.

I asked Michael to pull the sheets from the couch and loveseat for me and he made himself a little lounge area for watching cartoons...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

Today is a holiday but I feel far from celebrating anything. Michael did something yesterday that still has my head and my heart reeling. Something I never would have imagined he would do, I never would have believed he'd have the heart, or rather, the lack of heart, to do. He kicked Tucker in the face. Very intentionally. I watched him and my heart broke when his foot hit my puppy's sweet face. Michael kept taunting Tucker, teasing him, trying to get him to come close enough to get a good swing in. Finally, Tucker came in and Michael's foot swung out. I heard the impact and watched Tucker's head roll before he took off running in the opposite direction. I, for the life of me, can't begin to understand where this act of cruelty would come from. I screamed immediately for Michael to come inside. Yes, I paddled him--call child services. I threw away toys. I grounded him from the computer and deleted his Facebook page and he is not going to be celebrating his birthday this month. I'm still sitting here crying at the thought of what he did, sick to my stomach that my child could do something so cruel like that. Boys may be boys, but this is beyond a 'boy thing' in my book.

I'm at a loss. Completely. There is no punishment enough to rectify what he did. When I asked him why he did it, all I got was his typical response of "I don't know." I spent a while online this morning, researching punishments for ten year olds--obviously whatever we've been doing hasn't been working very well. One thing he's going to start doing is feeding the dogs every day so he learns not only how to properly care for animals, rather than abuse them, but to learn some responsibility as well. I'm also making him start to run with me. Running is excellent discipline, physically and mentally. And he's lost all privileges he would've otherwise had this month.

I'm praying. Praying for enlightenment and guidance in how to handle this. Praying for a change of heart for Michael, that whatever is in him that would make him do this, would be brought to light and changed. Praying for a better day today. Feel free to pray with us, we can certainly use all the help we can get.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Come on Fall!

Thunderstorms are in our forecast  today. It’s just a little after four this morning and I’m sitting out on the back porch, listening to thunder rumbling off in the distance, and watching the storm grow closer on WeatherBug’s radar map. An angry red blob reaches wider and farther, surrounded by a gentler green, slowing crawling, spreading ameoba-like in our direction. I love the rain and I love even more a good thunderstorm, complete with an amazing lightening show. And I’m thrilled to have the air conditioning turned off, hopefully for the year now as a cool front washes in with this storm. Beautiful, fall like temperatures in the mid-sixties, yeah-I said that right-sixties!--are posted for the week’s forecast and I’m ready. We’ve had an unusually hot, humid summer and the a/c ran non-stop for weeks at a time as our electric bill soared sky high along with the rising outdoor temperatures. So, I’m definitely ready for a break from the heat, the ridiculous utility bills, to throw the windows wide open and breathe in the fresh, cool air of autumn as we wait for the leaves to begin to turn colors, slowly, slowly as the season winds down and the temperatures drop bit by bit as October and November unhurriedly slip off into winter’s sweet snowy slumber. Summer has gone, our Bug is back in school, soon we’ll be watching the weather reports for snow closings, bundling up inside, watching white swirly fat flakes fall silently from a sullen slate sky. I’m ready…

Found this pic lightening--cool!