Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dear Farmer Brown

In celebration of Thanksgiving today, I thought I'd share a letter MiniMe wrote in class. She and her classmates had to write from the perspective of a turkey and pen a letter to "Farmer Brown" convincing him not to cook and eat them for Thanksgiving. Below is the letter in its original form and spelling. Take it away MiniMe:

Dear Farmer Brown

Frist of all I wipe with my feathers. Second of all I taste like shrimp (I've tried myself). And you probly need a diet! You should have a chicken insted of a turcky. I know it's a traidtion but, you should try something new! Insted of geting a gaint belly you should eat helthy. An apple a day keeps the doctor away!!! you should relly keep the barn neat, Mrs. Cow died last week from a spider, if you keped it clean she would't have died. any way you should not eat me, I mean come on, how would you like it if we ate you? So I'm not going to be eatin'!!! right?

Your turcky (not any more!)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Crazy Dog Ladies

I attended a committee meeting this week. All the committee members are women. Half of us have kids, all of us have dogs.

We were making small talk when the subject of our pets came up. I read in the newspaper this week that although the economy is bad, it has not affected what people are spending on their pets. We're still spending like crazy on our dogs. And I do mean crazy. Consider the expenditures of the members of my committee . . .

One spent $8,000 for her German Shepherd to have a knee replacement
One spent $4,000 on chemotherapy for her Schnauzer
One paid for her bulldog to have a corneal transplant (no price divulged)
And I have been taking my Corgi to get allergy injections for the last year and a half. Cost to date approximately $1,200.00.

The youngest member of our committee is a woman in her late 20s who adopted a dog last year. Us older, crazier dog ladies encouraged her to get vet insurance for her dog. Now!

With the advent of medical treatment for pets, dog and cat owners are often faced with a decision you would never have had to make 20 years ago. On the upside, there's no longer a reason to put a dog down for a bad knee or cancer when it can be treated and the dog can have a good quality of life. On the other side, the costs can be like euthanasia to your bank account.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who are these kids and why am I holding a hot glue gun?

Before I helped serve the holiday feast in my daughter's classroom today, I was one of only two parents helping out with the holiday crafts in MiniMe's classroom. I showed up just as crafts were getting underway and with 5 different holiday craft "stations" and 26 kids, it was a little like a zoo. The teacher said "Thank goodness you're here!" and practically flung me into a room where 5 fourth grade boys were covered up to their elbows in paint. She shoved the hot glue gun into my hand and said "Can you take over this station so I can help with the other stations?"

Before I had time to answer she was gone and I was left holding a hot glue gun with 5 messy boys looking up at me expectantly. I began to examine all the wooden pieces and parts and finally figured out what craft I was now in charge of. A wooden turkey craft. See MiniMe's completed craft below.

There were several wooden pieces that had to be painted. Then the pieces would need to be glued together. Googly eyes and a foam beak would then be attached (again with hot glue) and finally they would write their names and the year on the back and move on to the next station. Here were some of my challenges:
  • If the painted pieces were not dry enough, the hot glue would slide right off and nothing would stick together.

  • The kids would come through in groups of five and I had only about 10 minutes to coordinate giving each the correct pieces, instructions and hot glue everything together.

  • I had to keep the three different colors of paint stocked, cut out foam beaks, help clean up paint spills, wipe clothes and hands and actually complete the craft in only 10 minutes.

  • The boys invariably wanted to paint their turkeys "blood red" to signify bleeding turkeys.

  • The boys wanted to use only one big giant googly eye to make "Cyclop" turkeys.

  • The girls were so meticulous and perfectionist that they couldn't get finished neatly and creatively painting in time for their projects to dry and me to get all the little parts glued.

  • The girls wanted to use the "strings" from the glue gun to make "hair" for their turkeys.

  • Both boys and girls wanted to paint themselves or their friends instead of the turkey craft.
I finally managed to get all 26 turkey crafts completed and clean up. It was only then that I realized I'd done the craft wrong. Seems I glued the head and body together backward so the turkeys wouldn't actually stand up on their own. Oh well, slap a magnet on the back and you've got a cheeky holiday refrigerator magnet for mom and dad!

Feast gets slim as kids get older

I decided at the last minute to take the day off and help out in my daughter's 4th grade classroom. Today was their Thanksgiving celebration and they were having a special lunch and doing some Thanksgiving crafts. Unlike last year, my daughter is in a classroom this year filled with kids whose moms love to help out and volunteer. Or so I thought. Boy was I wrong.

Classroom Mom Michelle had planned a great program. MiniMe and I have been fortunate enough to be in a classroom with Michelle as Classroom Mom before. Believe me, this woman is a force for good. She coordinates all the classroom volunteers and projects and does so in a way that makes every mom/dad feel welcome and appreciated no matter how much or how little they volunteer or give. Some Alpha Moms look down on those parents who don't have the time or latitude to volunteer. Thank goodness Michelle isn't like that at all. And don't even get me started on those Uber Moms who treat the classroom volunteer assignment as an opportunity to relive High School and form her own "cool click" with other moms like herself. Though thankfully, I haven't had to deal with one of those up close and personal (yet).

Back to my story. Poor Michelle was without much help today. I showed up bearing mashed potatoes for the "feast." Two other moms showed up to serve lunch, and one even brought a dish. But if it weren't for Michelle, the "feast" would have been slim pickings. She brought pumpkin pie, fruit, a turkey & ham cold cut platter, hot and cold apple cider, and cups/plates/napkins. I arrived with a vat of mashed potatoes. One other mom showed up with a cake and some rolls. That was it.

Why is that the older the kids get, the less involved the parents seem to be (until you get to high school and sports, don't get me started). I have to admit I feel a little ashamed of myself for letting almost the entire year go by without volunteering to help with anything other than the school carnival. When MiniMe was in first and second grade, I volunteered almost weekly. Last year, I helped out with all the major projects like the holiday celebrations, the school carnival, and the school fundraisers. This year, I took a look around open house and recognized a lot of the faces among the parents of my daughter's classmates. Faces of women (and men) who were regular volunteers. So I just didn't think they needed me.

I made a commitment today to help out in December for the next class holiday program. No one is going to confuse me with an Alpha Mom, but I don't want to be one of those moms who stops helping out as my child gets older and the excitement of being classroom helper wares off. Besides, how many more years do I have before MiniMe's classmates stop referring to me as "Miss Isabel's Mom?" That's so cute!

I guess MiniMe is going to be stuck with her mom around to embarass her at school more often.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Cool! Oops, no I'm not.

For reasons that would take too long to explain, MiniMe was out of school on Monday and I ended up having to drag her along with me for the day. I had to teach my college class and film an interview with a camera crew for a client, so off we went together.

First stop, college class where my students were presenting their final projects. The projects involved developing a public relations plan and campaign for an assigned client. The students did a good job and had some very creative ideas. MiniMe was warned to sit quietly throughout the class, which she did much to my amazement.

On the ride to my next stop, MiniMe had lots of questions about what she'd just seen in my college class.

MiniMe: "So, Mom, is that what public relations is?"

NativeMom: Yes, the students were presenting their PR plans. Public relations is what Mommy does for a living. It's not all just talking on the phone and typing on my computer.

MiniMe: "Really, that's cool. Maybe I won't be a photographer. Maybe I'll do public relations."

MiniMe decided last week that she wanted to be a photographer. I can't recall what led to this decision. Prior to last week, she had wanted to be a mountain climber, a cheerleader, and an artist.

NativeMom: Well, you know I work with photographers in my job. You could do both.

So we arrive at the next stop where I park MiniMe with the executive secretary of the businesswoman I'm there to film the interview with. I've set her up with markers, paper, a snack and a book to keep her busy and out of everyone's hair.

After the interview, I find her sitting with the executive secretary, Miss Esther, surrounded by stuffed animals and deeply engaged in conversation. Seems Miss Esther took a liking to MiniMe and has been actively entertaining her. I would be embarrassed but I quickly realize that to this kindly grandma, engaging with a very verbal and curious 9-year-old girl is much preferable to typing memos.

On the ride back, I get an earful from a very excited and obviously impressed MiniMe.

MiniMe: "Mom, Miss Esther has a pet sitting business!!!! Look, she even gave me one of her business cards (card thrust in front of my face while I'm driving) I think I'm going to be a pet sitter when I grow up Miss Esther says I can even start pet sitting in our neighborhood now Can you make me some business cards this week I'm going to pass them around the neighborhood Don't you think that's a good idea This is going to be cool!!!!"

NativeMom: Really? She has a side job pet sitting?

MiniMe: "Yea and she even got to pet sit a horse A real horse Wouldn't that be cool? And some birds She got to pet sit birds AND a horse And she pet sits people's dogs and cats Pet sitting is cool I'm going to be a pet sitter!!!"

Well, I guess public relations is now out. There go my dreams of my daughter taking over the family business. I was cool for about 20 minutes. Thanks a lot Miss Esther with your fancy business cards and horse tales.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not So Scary Bikers

48 hours, 28 gallons of gas, 500 plus miles, 3 states, 11 people, 6 motorcycles. The weekend motorcycle trip can't necessarily be measured in miles or minutes, because there's no real way to quantify some of the experience. New friendships were made, old stories were told, fresh memories were created in the midst of lots of laughter, driving rain, freezing cold and spates of glorious and much appreciated sunshine.

It was a picturesque ride from Florida through Georgia into South Carolina as six couples and one very entertaining single rider braved I-95 and a Saturday morning under driving rain on motorcycle. Beloved and I were the only riders not on a Harley, but our Honda ST1300 held its own. We were on a mission of sorts to make it to South Carolina in time for the start of a charity poker run to benefit a fellow rider and friend of my cousin who is battling cancer. Biker folk are nothing if not generous and we love to rally around a cause, especially if it involves food, fun and some foilage-lined back country roads.

We started at the RBar just outside of Hilton Head, SC. Then we traveled en masse to a few local bars and restaurants in and around the area. Each stop gave us all a chance to get to know each other better. A typical stop would find the men sauntering around in small groups checking out each other's bikes while the ladies clustered together laughing, sipping light beer and mostly talking about the men. Although there were some jokes and even a few tap dances tossed in for good measure.

The highlight of the day was a stop at a little place called Pepper's Porch in Blufton. It was the last stop of the night and we were all ready for a good old-fashioned porch sit. The men collected their final hand in poker and my cousin Troy was awarded "Biggest Loser" status for drawing the worst hand. Good thing he donated his "loser" winnings back to our charity ride beneficiary because we were all scheming to stick him with the bill for dinner if he hadn't donated his winnings.

Pepper's Porch was a great country place with a unique back bar area under the stars and the boughs of an iconic old moss-draped oak tree. Our group grabbed a table on the porch and warmed up with some SheCrab soup, fried green tomatoes, oysters and such. Plans were made to take a ride to another part of Hilton Head to enjoy some late night entertainment. And those plans were quickly forgotten once the food had been eaten and the weather turned colder and wetter. Instead we had a good old-fashioned hotel party that was one for the books.

That's when we learned about the complicated love life of our single-rider Dave, who was a good enough sport to share his life lessons with our less than sympathetic group. He wasn't the only one telling tales. Unfortuntely Scott and Troy decided to bring up a video they had once seen of Indonesians feasting on monkey brains a la Indian Jones. An unfortunate tale for the monkey of course, but even more so for our story tellers who were then teased endlessly by our group for their bizarre story - one monkey mallet coming up.

Scott's wife Cathy impressed us with her determination to capture all the hijinks with her digital camera. She even took photos of each of the riders in our group while crusing down the highway from her perch on back of her husband's Screamin' Eagle Harley Davidson. Can't wait to see the photos.

Unlike the Hell's Angels, our group of mostly middle-aged, white, urban riders seemed to draw a friendly crowd wherever we went. Stop at the gas station and every car rider, passenger and gas station attendant had to come ask us where we were from, where we were going and wish us a safe journey. Stop at the Subway sandwich shop and the other diners happily strike up conversations. Breakfast at the local pancake house and we're the object of every child's fascination - real bikers up close! I guess that's a secret only us bikers know. Riding attracts friendly people. No matter what age, race or background, we made friends where ever we traveled this past weekend. I guess you could say we're the "not so scary" bikers. That is until we break out our monkey mallets.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ouch, that chaps!

This weekend, Beloved and I are going to be taking a long motorcycle trip with my cousin and his friends. We're heading north, out of the Sunshine State, and Beloved warned me that the weather was going to be a tad brisk so I should plan on wearing my leather chaps for the ride.

The only problem is, I've put on a few pounds and I don't think I can get in those chaps anymore. So I tell Beloved:

"If I had known I was going to have to get into those chaps, I would have signed up for a colonic and not eaten all week."

Him, confused: "What do you mean? What's a colonic?"

"Nevermind what a colonic is. What I'm saying is that I've put on a few pounds and I don't think I can squeeze into those chaps."

Him, obviously blind with love: "You haven't put on weight. Your butt is as skinny as ever."

"Cute, Hon. But I have put on weight and besides it's not my butt I'm worried about. It's my thighs."

Him, shaking his head in (feigned) bewilderment: "There's nothing wrong with your thighs. You women are crazy about your thighs. Before you go deciding your chaps won't fit, you better try them on. It's going to be cold and you're going to be wishing you were wearing your chaps this weekend."

Hurmpf! So, I get the chaps out this morning to try them on. If you've never worn chaps before, I can tell you they are not easy to get into when you haven't put on weight. So this morning, as I struggled in the 80-degree heat, wearing jeans and a tank top, to put on the chaps, I was grateful that no one else was home. I'm telling you, it was comic. I swear the dogs were laughing.

But, Voila! I got them on. So I decided I would wear them around the house for a few hours in the hopes that they would stretch. Because right now, I look as if I've got a pumpkin shoved into the back of my jeans everything has been squeezed so tight.

By the way Wondertwin, I can hear you laughing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Funny things observed at the pump

Now that gas is back down to around $2 a gallon (never thought I'd see that again in my lifetime, did you?), the pumps were swamped yesterday when I pulled in to fill up my gas hog truck. And before anyone gets all self-righteous and scolds me for driving a gas hog, I have kids, dogs and a camping trailer I regularly haul around and you can't do that with a Ford Focus.

Sorry, guess I'm a little defensive today.

Where was I? Oh yea, so after circling the gas pumps a few times, a spot finally opens up. Next to me pulls in two teenage girls in a cute little green VW bug. They both hop out and proceed to chat while filling the gas tank.

I had a flashback to 1985 when my best friend Lliba and I would cruise around in her VW bug. Only the gas gauge didn't work, so we ran out of gas more than a few times. Two blonde 16-year-old cheerleaders in a ragtag VW bug with a broken gas gauge, and each time we ran out of gas, we seemed perplexed as to why that had happened. Duh?

So I recognize these two young ladies as members of my son's high school swim team. They both did very well in competition this year and in fact, one of these young ladies is headed to the state competition this week. The driver is filling the tank when all of a sudden her friend points out that instead of filling her tank with regular, she's actually using the premium. The driver immediately stops filling her tank and much chatter ensues in alarming tones. The driver then whips out her cell phone and proceeds to call Dad to find out what to do now that she's started filling her tank "with the wrong gas."

It was all I could do not to get involved and assure these two blonde high school athletes that although they didn't mean to use the premium pump, they had done no harm to their car. But, then what kind of story would they and their parents have to tell years later about the time the girls had to call Dad from the gas station because they'd accidentally used the wrong gas.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Florida & the first Thanksgiving

September 8. Could this be the day we should be celebrating Thanksgiving? It was on this date in 1565 when an official ceremony of thanksgiving was held with an accompanying feast in St. Augustine, Florida.

The event marked the Spaniards first official claim on Florida, land originally discovered by Spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 when he landed near St. Augustine. The Mass and feast of Thanksgiving was a move by Spain to ward off encroachment by the French, who were attempting to settle and claim the "New World" for themselves and country.

On September 8, 1565, more than 50 years before a little feast held by a group calling themselves Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass., Pedro Menendez came ashore in St. Augustine for a Mass of Thanksgiving and a thanksgiving feast, attended by the real Florida natives, the Timucua.

So what makes the Sept. 8 ceremony of thanksgiving sigificant? Well, according to Florida history scholars, it was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving that also marked the first permanent settlement in North America. St. Augustine is recognized as the first permanently occupied European city in North America. Or as natives like myself call it "The oldest city in the New World."

I learned all this from Robyn Gioia when I bought her book this weekend aptly titled "America's REAL First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, FL, September 8, 1565."

It's a book for children with easy to understand information about the native Timucua, the Spanish, the French, the fight for Florida and the first official celebration of Thanksgiving in North America. Robyn is a teacher in Jacksonville who decided to research the subject of Florida as the location of the first thanksgiving in the United States after she attended an educational workshop on Florida history in 2005. Her book is full of colorful illustrations and facts that kids will love, such as what might have been on the Thanksgiving menu in 1565.

The book is available through Pineapple Press and in all bookstores worth their (sea)salt in the Sunshine State. I plan to loan it to MiniMe's fourth grade teacher to share with her class next week as they prepare for the holiday celebration.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

History Making Florida

With the all excitement over Barack Obama playing out across the nation, here in Florida I'm reminded that our state has played a pivotal role in history as it pertains to African Americans. That's right, I'm talking about Fort Mose.

Fort Mose was the first free African American settlement in America. Today, it is a National Historical landmark on the Florida Black Heritage Trail. You can find it (if you're lucky) just north of St. Augustine. It's not very well marked.

More than a century before the Emancipation Proclamation, British slaves were granted freedom in Florida . . . if they proclaimed their allegiance to the Spanish and the Catholic church (yea, that's right, there was a catch). In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered Fort Mose as a settlement for freed Africans. The settlement, located in the Florida marshland north of the Spanish fort, the Castillo San Marcos, was home to 100 free African Americans (or would that be African-Spanish-Floridians?) who grew their own food, built homes and joined the Spanish in defending their freedom from British invasion.

And you thought we were just a battleground state!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

I don't cook breakfast. Around Casa NativeMom if you want breakfast your choices are bagels, cereal, toast, fruit and anything else you can make yourself. There are lots of parents out there who believe it is essential to cook breakfast for their kids and/or loved ones every day. I'm not one of them. And I'm ok with this. But I have to admit, I was a little hurt when my dog decided to have breakfast next door where my neighbor, whom I call "SingleSuperDad," cooks breakfast every morning.

There have been mornings when I've had a very early meeting and SingleSuperDad has been more than happy to take MiniMe to school for me. You see, he has twins (a boy and a girl) who are MiniMe's age and go to her school. So there've been a few times in the last couple of years when I've sent MiniMe next door about 7:15 a.m. so I can get to a 7:30 a.m. meeting. She doesn't mind because SingleSuperDad serves up pancakes, bacon, omelets, and all sorts of other home-cooked breakfast goodies.

MiniMe spent Friday night next door where SingleSuperDad was having not just my daughter as a guest, but a house full of neices and nephews, too. Did I mention I love this neighborhood because of all the kids and families who live here? On our street alone are two girls about MiniMe's age and they regularly run in and out of our homes giggling, playing, and angling for a sleepover. Whichever house the girls happen to end up in each evening is where they eat dinner. It's the stuff idyllic childhoods are made of.

But back to my story. Saturday morning, MiniMe and her friends can be heard giggling and playing in the backyard of SingleSuperDad. So it was no big surprise when I let the dogs out that morning for a pee, that Scout didn't come back right away. But half an hour later, Beloved and I have both been out several times calling for the mangy mutt to no avail. By about 9:30 a.m., I hear the patter of little feet and here comes MiniMe charging into the kitchen followed by neighbor girl, her cousin and my wayward dog, Scout.

"Where's he been, we've been calling and calling for him," I ask MiniMe as she whirls past me.

"Scout? He's been with us over at Mr. SingleSuperDad's house," she says, "he even had breakfast with us."

Seems Scout followed the sound of happy kids to the backyard next door then just trotted his carefree dogass inside with the children when SingleSuperDad called them in for breakfast. Not only was SingleSuperDad nonplussed at the site of my dog in his kitchen, he even made Scout an omelet and some bacon. Quite frankly, I'm surprised the dog came back at all.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Strange Christmas Present Request #1

Now that Halloween is officially over, the kids are completely focused on Christmas. Our kids can have some strange requests for Christmas. We've already gotten strange request #1. I say #1 because I fully anticipate more unusual and impossible-to-find gift items to be requested by any and all of the kids before Christmas. It's a given.

MiniMe wants a Venus Flytrap, as in the carnivorous plant. I don't know where to get one of these or how to take care of one. And if you're a regular reader of NativeMom, you know I can't keep anything but kids, dogs and an occasional guinea pig alive in this house. Plants are doomed. So I'm appealing to my fans ... er, I mean readers, to offer suggestions as to where to find a Venus Flytrap, what to feed it (gulp, don't even tell me I have to purchase crickets or flies) and how to keep one alive in Florida.

We've found some strange items on the kids' lists for "Santa" over the years. But last year was a relatively easy year with items I found after only frantically searching every store in town and shopping online for only an hour or two. It's a bad year when you can't find the requested item. But I think last year the award for unusual Christmas gift request went to Wondertwin's daughter. She wanted a unicycle. Wondertwin searched high and low . . .at bike shops, big box stores and toy stores before finally finding it online. And would you believe her 11-year-old daughter can actually ride this thing? It's amazing! And I thought I was cool at the age of 11 when I could stay atop my pogo stick for more than 15 minutes straight.
Ah, those were the days . . .

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend of Giving

The stars have aligned in such a way that my to-do list for this weekend is nearly taken over with good deeds. Today, Friday, I'm dropping off clothing, toys and shoes at two different locations. Adult clothing for women headed into the workforce and kids clothing and shoes at Goodwill. This evening I'll be taking MiniMe to dinner at MickeyD's where she can use her "Terrific Kid" certificate to get a free happy meal. Each week, every class at school singles out one student as "Terrific Kid" for things like hard work, kindness, friendship, good manners, etc. Last Friday, MiniMe was Terrific Kid for her class. Job well done MiniMe! Thanks MickeyD's!

Saturday Easter Seals dominates my to-do list. First we'll be dropping in on a little event called Abilities Expo. It's a day-long program with vendors, exhibits, seminars and workshops for people with disabilities. Then it's off to Barnes & Noble which is holding a book fair to benefit Easter Seals.

After lunch we'll be doing some shopping for items to fill the holiday boxes that MiniMe's girl scout troop is working on come Monday. Each year, the girl scouts gather shoe boxes and fill them with items for local migrant families. The boxes hold toiletries, small toys, school supplies, socks, and other needed items for children. The girls even giftwrap the boxes to make them more festive.

And finally, we'll be picking up some extra canned goods at the grocery store Sunday evening. The girl scouts are collecting canned goods at next weekend's bonfire event and we'll be dropping a few canned goods in the humane society's drop box to feed the dogs while they are waiting for a home.

The best part about this weekend? I get to bring MiniMe and SuperMimi along with me as we work on the to-do list. Not only is it personally important to me to give back to my community, it's even more important to model volunteerism and charity for my children. It's going to be a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November is Shelter Dog Month

The month of November is "Shelter Dog" month, a time when I have a great excuse to extol the virtues of shelter dogs. Not that I need an excuse, as I have become such a supporter of my local shelter since adopting a little more than a year ago.

By the way, those of you who know me in my real life and who read this blog, can skip past this post. Really. It won't hurt my feelings. I know you hear enough about this from me on a regular basis.

But for the rest of you, meet Radley (as in Boo Radley). I adopted him just over a year ago. Before adopting him, I had some real misperceptions about shelter dogs. I'll list them to save time.

1. Shelter dogs had something "wrong" with them. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in a shelter.
2. Shelter dogs would be ill-behaved and hard to train. Time spent in the shelter would somehow affect their behavior negatively and permanently.
3. Unlike adopting a puppy, which you raise practically from day 1, an adult dog would come with "issues."

All of these assumptions are absolutely wrong. There's nothing wrong with shelter dogs, but maybe there was something wrong with the people he/she previously lived with. Some people just don't take the responsiblity of owning a pet seriously and will simply discard a pet when it becomes inconvenient.

Shelter dogs, especially adult dogs, are some of the most loving, well-behaved and grateful - yes grateful- dogs you'll ever encounter. I raised my pedigree dog Scout from puppyhood and Radley is much better behaved than Scout (and what does that say about my dog training skills?!?).

Puppies are only puppies for a short time. Why go through potty training, obedience training, long nights of puppy crying, and the dreaded teething/chewing phase? Adult dogs are already past all that and just as cute, charming, funny, and loving as a puppy.

I know that I am the third home for Radley, a Welsh Corgi-Australian Shepherd mix. For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would ever give him up. He's sweet, loyal, friendly, well-behaved, great with the kids, wonderful with my other dog, and a great companion.

Adopt a shelter dog and you'll be adopting a lifelong friend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Early Release Wednesdays

There has developed a routine for my stepson and I this year. I decided to write about it today because when I went through the routine this afternoon, it was very comforting. So many things are changing . . . change for good, scary change . . .change, change, change. So I enjoyed this simple routine Wednesday afternoon and just knowing that some things remain the same.

Our school district here decided a few years back to let the kids out of school early most Wednesdays throughout the year to give teachers more time for planning. They call it "early release."

So just about every Wednesday, around 1:30 p.m., I hear the door open and the familiar shuffle of my 17-year-old stepson.

"Hey," he shouts out as he walks through the door, his voice carrying over the sound of the dog's feet skittering across the tile floor as they rush to greet him. The dogs love him and are always beyond thrilled when he comes home.

"Hey, how's your day?" I yell back automatically from behind my desk in my home office.

That's when his head pokes through the door, goofy smile on his face, his mop of thick blonde hair sticking up in all directions. "Ok" he says as anxious dogs circle at his feet. "I'm gonna get something to eat."

I hear the cabinet doors opening and closing in the kitchen, the rustle of boxes and bags, the clink of bowls and silverware. The sound of Spongebob Squarepants as he switches on the TV in the kitchen floats through the house along with a steady murmur of enthusiasm as he chats to his furry friends. It's not unusual for him to eat two peanut butter-honey sandwiches, a bowl of cereal and some chocolate chip cookies. The dogs get a couple of milkbones. I keep a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen and my stepson will definitely do some damage to it, especially if there are apples. The stomach of a 6-foot tall, 165 pound teenage boy is never full.

Around 3:00 he pokes his head back in my office and says "I'm heading to practice," and off he goes to swim team practice, where he'll burn off everything he just ate in only a matter of minutes. The dogs whine as his truck pulls out of the drive, but eventually they settle down and fall back to sleep.

I go back to typing away at my computer . . .

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mimi to the Rescue!

I found myself in a bit of a predicament today. MiniMe had a slight fever this morning, and while it was only slight, the nurse at school would have sent her back home faster than I could say "contagious." Only, like that commercial currently running on TV, I looked at my planner and realized I just couldn't fit in a sick kid today. That's when it hit me. This looks like a job for SuperMimi!!

I placed a call to my mom to see if there was anyway she could drive an hour to my house and spend the afternoon and evening with my only slightly sick daughter. At first glance, she seemed to think her schedule was going to be a bit too full (what with work, taking care of my grandmother and her own life and all). So I assured her I would think of something.

Wait for it.

Fifteen minutes later and SuperMimi had cleared her schedule and was packing up the Smart car. Because, let's face it, nothing's more important to a grandma than her granddaughter.

She arrived a short time later with her trusty Tupperware bowl full of homemade chicken and dumplings (which is sure to cure anything that ails you!). Not only did she take over the care and keeping of MiniMe so that I could teach my college course and work, she did my laundry, cleaned my kitchen, and helped MiniMe clean her room to the point where I almost don't recognize it (who knew there was carpet in there?). She even managed to work in some quality time drawing with and reading to MiniMe. In addition, she fed my husband and stepson and took care of my dogs.

Tomorrow, MiniMe will go back to school and my mom will probably spend the day doing something slightly less amazing than she did today . . . like walk on water.

Thanks Mimi! You're a lifesaver!