Monday, February 1, 2016

The Joys of Puppy Parenthood

When we embarked on the adventure of adopting a new puppy, never in my wildest dreams did I remember how much work an active puppy is. Some of the things I had forgotten were:
·      House-breaking and those “accidents” that are completely intentional because Puppy simply doesn’t want to go outside right now.
·      When the puppy discovers how much fun it is to run away while holding something she isn’t supposed to be holding.
·      Ignoring the commands you know she knows.
·      Chewing on anything BUT her large box of toys (including emptying out the box and then chewing on it)
·      Standing out in the rain and blizzards waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for her to do her “business”
·      Wanting to hold her on the couch because she is sooooo stinkin’ cute, but knowing that we won’t want her on the couch when she is a full-grown dog with muddy, wet paws.
·      How much FUN a roll of toilet paper can be!
I have been exhausted ever since we got Betsy. From the first week of sleepless nights and her constant need for supervision. This experience has thrust me right back into being the parent of a young toddler. If it’s quiet…there’s trouble. My friend came over and said “I’ve never seen your living room so clean!” We literally can’t keep anything below waist-high because if she can reach it, she will destroy it. Bitter Apple Spray has become my new best friend. Chewing on wires behind the couch? One quick spritz stops that in a hurry I quickly found out.

In spite of all of the frustrations that go along with that first year of puppy-hood, the rapid growth and learning that takes place is really fun to be a part of. She seems to learn something new everyday and each morning she literally looks bigger. She is so happy all the time. The thing I missed most when we lost Molly, was that pure joy when we got home, whether we walked to the mailbox and back or were gone for spring break. I love my cats, but when I come home they barely lift their heads. In my attempt to be the best dog mom ever, I have exchanged “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for “The Border Collie’s Owner’s Guide,”  “Training Your Working Dog to go from Obsessive to Companion,” “Border Collies,” and hours of YouTube videos on How to Train Your Dog. I’ve left behind Piaget’s Stages of Child Development for Zac George’s Training Revolution. I know, like with kids, this is a stage that will pass and once again I’ll forget what it was like to have a puppy so I’ll do what I can to treasure every frustrating, irritating, funny, and adorable memory.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Watch out for those Impulse Purchases!

We almost made a huge impulse purchase. One of the worst kind. A
puppy. A puppy is a terrible impulse purchase because they are so cute
and sweet at that 8 week mark. They snuggle in and murmur in your neck
"take me home." Unfortunately, about one sleepless week later the
Tasmanian Devil emerges and you are wondering what the heck you were
thinking. Tom found an ad (with pictures) on Craigslist for Border Aussie puppies;
just the mix we had been hoping for. It took us several months (and 4
chickens) to cope with the loss of our beloved Molly, but being the
dog people we are it wasn't long and we were again craving that
undeniable devotion that only a dog can give. But we wanted to wait
until spring. I have had puppies in the winter and puppies in the
spring and when I have the time in the summer to devote to
housebreaking and training a dog things go much better. That weekend
in particular we got sucked right into the throes of impulse-puppy mode. We
were thinking up names and Googling How to Get Ready for a Puppy videos. But since we had one roadblock keeping us from going to get her we were forced
to end the weekend puppy-free.
"Wow that was close!"
"I do not want another dog!"
"The middle of winter is a terrible time to get a
puppy!"
“Did you see the neighbor trudging through the rain walking his dog? Glad I’m not doing that!”
"I am so glad we didn't get that puppy!" I even said to a
friend in the copy room.
But we couldn't let it go. We thought, and talked, and strategized. And then, exactly one week later we drove downstate and got a puppy. She was cute and snuggly that first sleepless week and then came the Tasmanian Devil. We now find ourselves doing and saying all of the things new puppy moms and dads do and say.
“Bite the toy!” (instead of the furniture or my hand)
“Go pee outside!” (instead of in the dining room or under the Christmas tree)

We take her out at 11:00pm and 3:00am and get up with her at 5:00am. We take her for walks in the rain. We drive home at lunch to let her out and eat our lunches in the car and the next day start all over again. We watch puppy training videos on YouTube and we get puppy snuggles and puppy breath. We are exhausted and frustrated…and happy. It might be an impulse purchase, but if you’re ready for the hard work and challenges that go along with it, it’s the best kind. Welcome home Betsy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

An Old Fashioned Knitting Bee

We are an old fashioned “knitting bee.”  We meet on Thursday nights in the lobby of a church in Charlevoix. We range in age from 11ish to 60-something.  We knit (or crochet) tell stories, laugh, relax, and unwind.  A friend of mine invited me to this knitting group a year or so ago. The ladies who attend are a mismatched set of individuals with the same common goal; to make stuff. Some of us aren’t very good at it, some are absolute beginners, and some are advanced, with yarn collections that could put you in awe. Only a few attend every week without fail, but we keep in contact about who is going to try and make it with our weekly Facebook messenger thread that not only includes who is coming, but who needs thoughts, prayers, or hugs.  The dictionary definition for a bee is:
            (noun) a social gathering  for a specific purpose, as to carry out a communal task or hold competitions: a quilting bee

I am guessing that the “hold competitions” part refers to things like spelling bees. We don’t do any competing. We do begin each week with our little “show and tell” of projects we have completed. Stacey usually has the most to show. And then we show what we are working on this week. If Carrol comes, she is our resident expert in both knitting and crochet and helps those who need it. She usually brings skeins of cool yarn she has recently added to her collection. Greer is the youngest of our group and one of the regulars, who doesn’t seem to even notice that she’s the only youngster among moms and grandmas (although sometimes she does bring a friend). Not to mention that her knitting skills could put any one of us to shame.  There are many Thursday nights that I don’t make it. Most of the time I am just too doggone tired from the stress and business of my everyday life, which is exactly the reason I should go. When I do make it, I find a spot at the round table where I can get ahead on a project without distraction from the pile of dishes that need to be washed or papers that need to be corrected. I can chat with or listen to a group of ladies with whom I have at least one thing in common. I may not see them at any other time during the week, but when we get together in that lobby, around that table, with our yarn and our stories, we are friends.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

To Confess or Not to Confess?

I was having a texting conversation with a friend about some shoes I was considering buying. They were a little pricy, but of course I could justify them due to the increasing number of mornings I hobble out of bed with foot pain,(If you don't know what I'm talking about just wait, 40 is right around the corner). They are the Dansko brand which are expensive by nature, but I had found them online at a good price, (score!). The conversation was about whether or not I should confess to Tom that I was planning to get these very necessary, yet wallet-squeezing pair of shoes.
"I just have to decide if I'm going to sneak-buy them now and take the consequences later or be a grown up and say something before I buy them" I said.
"Say something now and get it over with and buy them...it's a great price!" was her advice.
So I humbly confronted Tom to tell him I was getting these shoes because I really need them and they are really a bargain, compared to full price! It actually didn't go as bad as I thought. In fact, I don't know why I'm so reluctant to divulge my little spending sprees, which really don't happen that often. Maybe it's because as wives and mothers, we don't feel like we deserve to indulge a little on ourselves every once in a while. I mean, I have shoes that are older than Sammy, so why do I feel like I need to ask permission to replace them? Maybe it's because there's always someone else who needs something so we feel guilty putting ourselves ahead of someone's new pair of winter boots.
If I'm confessing here I probably should say that my sneak-buy it now-repent later spending isn't anything new. Tom has already learned the old "buy something and destroy the packaging-leave it in the closet for a week and then wear it saying that it isn't new" a long time ago. Now he says "When'd you get that?" instead of "Is that new?" I'm really trying to turn over a new leaf, especially after last tax season when I had to sit next to him and scroll through pages of books I had bought off Amazon for my classroom without his knowledge. And then I wonder why he thinks I spend more that I really do? So I humbly pledge to turn over a new leaf. No more sneak-buying...right after I check out the sale at Old Navy.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Just Like Riding a Bike...Be Specific



Have you ever heard the old saying, “It’s just like riding a bike!” which means that hypothetically, once you learn to ride a bicycle, you never un-learn. No matter how old you are you can just jump back on one and go. Notice I said “BI-cycle”. I did that on purpose because I don’t want you to confuse bike, the pedal kind, with bike, the motorcycle kind. I’m here to tell you there definitely is a difference. For me there is anyway.
            I grew up riding motorcycles. We had dirt bikes at our home in Grand Ledge where we rode them around the neighborhood and through the motorcross track that some of the guys made in a field behind our house. We also had dirtbikes at our family’s summer property in Grayling. We would ride those through the sandy fire trails near Camp Grayling. It was a blast! I never got to be an expert rider by any means. When the guys in our neighborhood would go flying over the jumps on the motorcross track I would putt around them. But I could hold my own.
            Fast forward to about 5 years ago. I had been on the back of Tom’s bike for about 10 years and got the bug to ride again. Basically, I was feeling a little sick of staring at the back of his helmet. My friend and I decided to take the basic rider course offered down at Ferris State in Big Rapids. It was a weekend course where we got reacquainted with the bikes and earned our cycle endorsements.  I have to admit that I was pretty rusty. OK, really rusty. It was like learning all over again. It seemed like when Tom got a motorcycle after 15 years, he just jumped on and off he went. Me? Not so much. I did have fun chuckling about a lady who said she only rode her motorcycle up and down her driveway. Ha! That wouldn’t be me. I was now “street legal” and had that little CY on my license to prove it. Shortly after that class we bought my VW Bug and the dream of owning my very own motorcycle was shelved.
            Here we are in 2015. The bug is gone and I’m the proud owner of a Harley-Davidson Sportster. I stood there and stared at it and wondered, “What was I thinking? I can’t ride that thing!” I actually had it delivered because I was afraied to drive it home. Here’s where we return to the “Just like riding a bike” saying. It wasn’t. First I watched the first ½ hour Tom’s “Ride Like a Pro” video to refresh my memory. 
            Lesson 1: Practice the friction-zone (a brake/clutch drill)
With my boots, jeans, leather coat, helmet, shatter-proof sunglasses and gloves, I got on my bike and started it up. Then I proceeded slowly-slowly down the driveway. Then I pushed-turned it around and went…back up the driveway…just like the lady from my class. It took me almost a week to get out of the neighborhood. But with lots of encouragement from Tom and some good-natured ribbing from our friend Dave, I made it around Lake Charlevoix on my maiden voyage. Just like riding a bike? No, not in the slightest. But fun? Oh heck yeah. Maybe you’ll see me out there. I’ll be the one cruisin’ into my 50’s on 2 wheels.