Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Randomness

August has been a busy month, and as it comes to a close, I feel the cumulative effects of Mommy ADD. My thoughts dart hither, thither and yon, without a chance to become complete, coherent, and cogent.

I'm proud that I could use the word cogent appropriately. Perhaps there's hope after all.

Anyway, here are some of my random thoughts for August:

1. Vacations that require four days in a car should come with an extra four days of vacation at the end.

2. Bill Cosby was right. Parents aren't interested in justice; they just want quiet. For this reason, I'm finding our new school schedule a blessing. Nick gets up horrifyingly early, so I get up with him and we have a few minutes to talk while he eats breakfast. Then, Jack gets up after Nick leaves, and we have some nice time together before he gets on the bus. Then I get 6.5 blissful hours of quiet. Nick gets home an hour before Jack, which gives me time with Nick again, and when Jack gets home, I can focus on him. The bickering that drove me crazy this summer is pretty much gone with this new schedule, and the angry mommy face that screamed for quiet has entered hibernation until next summer. Good riddance.

3. If you have a friend who's going through a divorce, please remember that she (or he) is still a person who needs friends and that she (or he) will not automatically try to steal your spouse. I've had several friends tell me that their married friends started pulling away after they separated from their spouses...just when the newly separated really needed their friends, and this makes me very sad.

4. Daisy is currently chewing on a blue ball (yes, please laugh). The ball is hollow and has holes in either end. Now that Daisy has the ball good and slobbery, the open ends make a disgusting noise as she chews. It's very distracting.

5. I wish she would stop.

6. Oh, good. She dropped the ball. It rolled closer to me, so she got up, pounced on it, and plopped down right at my feet to continue making annoying noises.

7. I don't have the energy to take it from her. Does this make me a bad person, or just whiny?

8. My favorite picture from our recent trip to the Newport Aquarium:

Doesn't this matamata turtle look cheerful? Of course, it could be an evil grin. Perhaps he is contemplating biting the hand that feeds him. But I'm happier anthropomorphizing his grin and have added him as the wallpaper on my computer.

9. I bought a stamp set recently that has lots of inspirational Bible verses and quotations. One of them is my new mantra: "In every ordinary day there are a thousand miracles." Don't you just love that?

10. Here's a miracle from an ordinary day:

I bought two pansy plants for my front porch in the spring. They died in June because I kill pretty much every plant I ever own. Since then, the pots have remained sadly on my front porch while the dead pansies rotted in the hot hot sun. But one of them is coming back, without any help from me and despite an incredibly dry month. A miracle.

And now I invite you to share a random thought from August in the comments. Silly or sublime, it matters not. Just share.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gratitude Journal #102

Today, I am grateful for two birthdays last week: my mother's and my younger son's. I'm also grateful for nine years with this beautiful boy.

Self Portrait

Today, I am grateful for the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., for his courage, his intelligence, his ability to communicate clearly God's message of dignity, compassion, and love for all.

Photo credit

While we were driving to the Newport Aquarium Saturday, we listened to an interview on NPR. It's just a few minutes long, so please take time to listen. I am so inspired by--and grateful for--Nate Masters' perspective on life.

"Life is not hard. It's just a little troublesome sometimes." That's faith.

Today, I am grateful for faith, optimism, and rejoicing in the morning.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Words, Words, Words: A Tale of Two Children

"I hated school. Even to this day, when I see a school bus it's just depressing to me. The poor little kids." Dolly Parton

Nick's Back-to-School Mug Shot

"I loved school so much that most of my classmates considered me a dork." Natalie Portman


Which were you, a lover of school or a hater of school? I loved school, everything about school...except getting picked on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gratitude Journal #101

Today, I am grateful that school starts in two days. Oh so grateful.

Today, I am grateful for this news story I just clicked on from  Happy News. Semper Fi, indeed. Get a tissue.

Today, I am grateful that my father-in-law should be leaving the hospital today and is well on the road to recovery.

Today, I am grateful for laughter. Especially at the expense of sleeping pups whose cheeks are subject to mean ol' gravity.

"Check out my fangs. Grrrr. Terrifying, aren't they?"

Not really, Daisy. Not really.

"Then stop laughing and rub my gloriously furry belly."

Yes, ma'am.

What are you grateful for today? 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Children

"You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again." Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762 (This debate has been around for a long time!)

"Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything." Giacomo Leopardi

"Children make you want to start life over." Muhammad Ali

Jack was sitting at the kitchen table reading a book and playing with his slinky while the rest of the family watched Bend It Like Beckham. At one point, he simply walked into the family room and stood, waiting for us to look at him. The little comedian got his laugh. Oh, yes, he got his laugh. Perfect comedic timing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Coffees of Hawaii Sale

Just a note that Coffees of Hawaii is having a sale: 20% off everything, plus free shipping on orders over $80. CLEAR20 is the code, but it should happen automatically when you order. Just ordered my favorite Malulani Estate, a Moloka'i Coffee. If you're a coffee drinker, I highly recommend it!

Things on Thursday: Less than a Week to Go!

As the commercial says, it's the most wonderful time of the year! Nick looks like the children in the ad. Jack, on the other hand, can't wait for next Wednesday.

Today, we're going to Nick's school to practice his locker combination. It's hard to believe my boy will have a locker and that he wanted a messenger bag instead of a backpack. I hope the whole locker thing gets him a tiny bit excited for school. Since school isn't a choice, it's much better to have a good attitude about it.

Life is easier if you're a geek, you know.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Daisy

Mommy tells me that a lot of people who read her blog want me to share my story with them.

Is Mommy crazy? I don’t smell anybody in this box. You can’t be real, can you? You’re not even like the people in the television. At least I can see them, but since I can’t smell them, they are not real. I don’t understand why Mommy, Daddy, and my two Brothers stare at the thing so much. Where are the wonderful, interesting smells?

The first smell of my human family was heavenly. I still lived with my dog mommy, but she wouldn’t let me have her milk anymore and most of my brothers and sisters had gone away. So sad. I loved bossing them around. But one night, Spirit Dog came to me, and he smelled like Heaven. I’ll never forget our talk because he smelled so so good.

He said, “You are about to join my human family, Daisy.”

“Who is Daisy?” I asked.

“You are Daisy. Your human family has already named you even though they haven’t met you yet. They have seen a picture of you and they love you.”

“Of course they love me!” I said. “I’m adorable. Everybody says so.”

“That’s right, Daisy. Now listen to me. Your new family is very special. I lived with them for 13 years. I had to leave, and now they are very, very sad. It’s your job to help them heal. Especially Daddy because he hurts the most. It’s a big responsibility and will be scary at first, but you are a golden retriever and were made to love people, just like I was. I picked you to love my family because you will do a very good job. God agrees. They need you.”

“I’m scared. I don’t know them. What if they smell funny?”

“They smell great, so don’t worry about that. Change is scary, though, and leaving your dog mommy will be hard. I want you to know that you will be okay. Just love them. It won’t be hard once you start because they are really very special. Any time you get sad, just present your glorious butt to Mommy, and she’ll scratch it. Trust me. Her butt scratches make everything wonderful. Oh, and try not to eat too much carpet. For some reason, they don’t like that very much.”

Then, Spirit Dog went away, leaving a bit of the smell of Heaven behind to help me fall asleep.

The next morning, I was glad that Spirit Dog had given me a heads-up because things started changing very quickly. A woman came and took me on a long car ride to her house. She gave me a bath and trimmed my claws even though I growled at her and tried to make her stop. Why is no one afraid of me? I have teeth. Grrrrr. Be afraid. Grrrrrrrrrr. Are you afraid?

Somehow, it just doesn’t work for me, does it? The schnauzers at the end of the street growl and scare me. But no one is afraid when I growl.

That’s one of the many things I don’t understand.

Anyway, that night, Spirit Dog’s human family picked me up at the woman’s house. Even though Spirit Dog said they were nice, I was scared and unhappy. I made lots of noise in the car and in the crate that night. They laughed at me and petted me. Why did they laugh? The petting was nice, though. When I kept making noises instead of sleeping in my crate, Daddy got out of bed and slept on the floor with his fingers sticking through the crate door. I gnawed on them. That helped.

Those first days with my family were very confusing. I didn’t know the rules so they were very patient with me. For some reason, I had to go outside to poop and pee, but there were so many cool smells outside that sometimes, I would forget to do my business.

Also, they got upset when I chewed on things. Every time I would find a sock or napkin or piece of furniture to chew, they said, “NO!” and handed me a bone or rope or stuffed toy. I kept forgetting that the Spirit Dog said not to chew the carpet so Mommy sprayed stuff all over it. It tasted bad. I eventually got the point but still say that chair legs and carpet make the best chew toys.

I’ve learned a lot, but there are so many things that don’t make sense to me.

Why won’t Mom let me lick the smelly stuff she rubs on her hands?

Why do I dig before lying down to go to sleep? This makes no sense but I have to do it anyway.

My butt occasionally slips off the bed or sofa. Why do Mommy and Daddy laugh when this happens?

Why does my ball roll away from me?

Why can’t I dig holes in the yard?

Why does my gloriously furry butt need to be brushed? Bad brush! Stay away from my butt!

Why do people yell when I paw them in the crotch?

Who is the dog in the glass? She's beautiful but I can't smell her.

Why does my knee hurt so much? One morning at the Place of Many Strange Smells, I went to sleep feeling just fine and woke up with pain in my knee. I suspect it has something to do with that nice man who wears funny clothes and looks at my teeth, but I can’t prove it.

Why do they yell when I eat food off the kitchen counter? What else is food for?

Why does Mommy take my collar off and throw it beside the crate at night? I stare at it and contemplate the sadness of collar separation. I love how the tags jingle.

Why doesn’t Mommy let me lick the soap scum in the shower? You’d think she would appreciate the help.

Why can’t I eat grass, leaves, socks, paper, shoe laces, underwear, bottle caps, legos, stuffed animals, mulch, and dish cloths? WHY???

I’m starting to suspect that God gave me a big heart, glorious golden fur, and a little brain for a reason. Spirit Dog said it would be easy to love my human family, and he was right. Daddy isn’t sad anymore (which makes me feel like a good and useful dog), Mommy gives the best butt scratches in the world, Big Brother is an AWESOME play toy, and Little Brother rubs my ears. Life is good. Very good.

I may not have a lot of answers to my questions, but I do have a lot of love. And I give it as freely as I give my glorious golden fur because I am a good dog.

Perhaps if you let me smell you, I’ll share some love and fur with you, too. Until then, I’ll just take Mommy’s word for it that you exist. You gotta trust a person who gives butt scratches like she does.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal #100

Wow. One-hundred gratitude posts. That's pretty cool.

Today, I am grateful for laughter on long road trips. We were listening to NPR somewhere in Illinois. Or was it Indiana, Wisconsin, or Minnesota? Wherever. Someone quoted Ted Williams, who said, "If you don't think too good, don't think too much." *chortle*

Today, I am grateful for regional speech patterns. I heard my first "ya, you betcha" in the McDonald's in Virginia, Minnesota, and knew we had arrived at our destination, the place where George's roots grow. It's just like the "y'all" I hear in my family home in Charlotte...comforting and welcoming.

Today, I am grateful that when George sank his and Nick's canoe in three-foot-deep water, we got the funniest story of the entire vacation. Neither fisherman was hurt, and all the gear (most of which belonged to my father-in-law) was saved. Nick didn't panic and even learned a few new words. ("It was a rated R canoe voyage," he said.) When George retrieved his rod from the bottom of the lake, there was a perch attached to the line...the only fish he caught the entire trip.

Today, I'm grateful for time spent with family in a beautiful place where we had nothing much to do except enjoy each other's company, relax, read, kayak, fish, and watch the eagles and ospreys soar. What a blessing to us all.

Today, I'm grateful we are home safe and will pick up Miss Daisy today at the kennel. We missed our Furry Golden Sunshine so much!

Today, I'm grateful for the fact that the back-to-school countdown is in the single digits.

Today, I'm grateful for rest and the energy that follows it.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Words, Words, Words about Vacation

"No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one." Elbert Hubbard
I would qualify this by saying that our vacation has been delightful, but the two-day drive back home will definitely make me want another vacation.

A stay-cation.

Did you take a vacation this summer? If so, where did you go and what was most relaxing about it? What was least relaxing?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things on Thursday: Muskrat

Well, I wanted to share a picture of a bald eagle today, but of course my little Nikon won't take a good picture of the regal birds soaring around our cabin. George got some great pictures, but as he hasn't bothered to share them with me yet*, I'm stealing a picture of a muskrat off the interwebs because we did see one of these (looking remarkably like the one in this picture) swimming across the cove of our beach yesterday.

I imagine one muskrat looks quite different from another to other muskrats, but to me they all sort of look alike.

*In fairness, George has been having way too much fun to bother sending me pictures, which I believe he's not even downloaded from his camera. Thank heaven for huge memory cards, because there will be lots of awesome Minnesota photos sometime next week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Difference between Adults and Children

Here's a picture of pure childhood joy standing on an inflatable in a lake.

Here's a picture that further contextualizes that joy.

Children do not feel cold. Adults, however, do not consider it advisable to get into a lake when the air temperature is 65 degrees F and the breeze is gusting to twenty miles per hour. Instead, adults put on a coat.

Joy comes in many temperature settings.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gratitude Journal #99

Today, I am grateful for George's Grandma's 100th birthday party, and for brothers and sisters.

And mothers and daughters.

Today, I'm grateful Grandma wasn't hurt worse in a recent fall from her wheelchair.

Today, I'm grateful for what happens when little boys get hold of the camera and take pictures of themselves...

...and their brothers.

Today, I am grateful for that cool feeling kids have when life is REALLY super-sized.

Today, I am grateful for giant inflatable slides on cold Minnesota lakes.

Today, I am grateful for family, log cabins, bald eagles, laughter, hand shakes, and hugs.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things on Thursday: Progress

We no longer have to get up, walk across the family room, turn a knob, and adjust rabbit ears to change one of three (or four, if you got PBS) channels on the television. Instead, we have to get up, search the room for one of three misplaced remotes, find the one for the cable box, aim at the television, push a button, and select from several hundred channels.

This is progress. Sort of. Especially if you were the one who had to stand forever holding the rabbit ears because every time you let go, the reception went all fuzzy.

We no longer have to collect dozens of catalogs to do our holiday shopping. Instead, we receive emails that link us to every single thing we could ever want...and lots of stuff we don't.

This is progress. Sort of. Especially if you prefer to do your shopping in your jammies at midnight.

We no longer have to go to the bookstore once a year to get the most recent Rand McNally Road Atlas. Sometimes, Rand even marked road construction on his maps. Instead, we plug the Garmin into a laptop and download the latest updates; plus, thanks to satellites, we get all sorts of real-time information on traffic and road delays and speed limits. Even more of a plus, we can get Yoda to give us directions and an X-wing fighter icon to stand in for our car on the electronic maps.

"Lost you are. At the next right, turn you must."

THIS is progress. Except George and I are too cheap to pay $12.99 for the Yoda voice and X-wing icon. Still, it's cool that we could.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Word of the Year Update

Some of you, like me, chose a word to be your inspiration this year, a mantra or focus for your attention. This morning, I had to look my word up. I forgot what it was. When I discovered my word was Learn, I thought, "Oh, good. You're doing that every day!" See how smart it was for me to choose a word that is a part of my life each and every day anyway? Guaranteed success!

Here's the list of people who shared their words this year:

Me: Learn

George: Relax

Mom: Practice

Starla: Leap

Sue B.: Celebrate

Francie: Appreciate

Sue: Satisfied

Susan K.: Bigger

Lisa: Free

Linda R.: Enjoy

Claire L.: Delegate

Mickey: Acceptance

Cheryl L.: Create

Karen L.: Reflection

Marilyn: Believe

Amy: Positive

iriseyes: Act, Kind

Mari: Expand

Susan: White Space

Angela L.: Nature

Courtney L.: Write

Ginny: Focus

Nicole: Unrepentant

Janet: Trim

Kathy: Redefine

So, what have I learned this year?

I've learned that magazines are like bacteria: they multiply exponentially if you let them. Last week, I gathered up all the unread and half-read magazines and put them in one stack. I've been plowing through them ever since, learning all sorts of cool things about black holes and the human brain. As I dove into the Scientific American Mind and  Discover issues, I realized anew how little we really know about the universe and the human mind and pretty much everything else. So much of what humans thought they knew 100 years ago in science has been found lacking or outright wrong, which leads me to wonder how much of what we think we know now will stand the test of time. Not much, is my guess.

I've learned that even though dogs take forever to heal from patella surgery, they don't whine or complain. In fact, they pretty much ignore their injury and try to have as much fun as possible. There's a life lesson in that, if only I can remember it when I feel like whining and complaining.

Stephen Ministry continues to fuel my learning. Our current study is on spiritual gifts. I've learned what my spiritual gifts are and the next step is to figure out how we can develop our current gifts more fully and deploy them in the world. Good stuff.

I've learned to buy my boys' back-to-school supplies in July. The day we went to Target to get everything, I left the lists at home and berated myself as I stood there in the middle of the boxes, bins, and shelves of supplies. Suddenly, I remembered that the lists are posted on the school district website and that I had the technology to access the website right there in Target! I pulled out my Blackberry, Googled the lists, and did the shopping. Needless to say, I'm learning to love my smart phone!

I've learned that bodies need to move. Mine hasn't moved enough in the past few years, and I'm fixing that. It feels good to move again.

Now it is your turn. How is your Word-of-the-Year project going?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gratitude Journal #98

Today, I am grateful for love and kindness.

Today, I am grateful for this photo George took.

What are you grateful for today?