Family 2013

Family 2013

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Letters

Over the years people have let me know how they feel about the infamous Christmas letter.  Some are for them, but many are against a "form letter".
My family has been writing Christmas letters for over 50 years.  I have a scrapbook full of them.  My mother would agonize for weeks over every word.  I do the same.  Does the letter hit the high points of each person's year. Is everyone equally represented?  Is it creative (some years I've been lucky just to finish the letter)?

But I have finally realized something about those letters.  They are a record of our family's history.  To you, they may be something to read and toss...but to me, they are a yearbook!

About 5 years ago, I started adding a photo greeting card to go with the letter.  Each year I save one letter for my scrapbook and one for each of the kids.  I have friends who are known for their creative letters.  I wish I was, but at least I have a record of each year!

So when you receive my Christmas letter, I hope you enjoy it.  But, if you don't, please understand that I am writing a love letter to my kids...and just sharing it with you!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Adulting is not the hard part...

Yeah, you read that right!  You know how it think that each stage you're in is the hard part.

  • Kids wanna be grown ups
  • Teens are smarter than grownups
  • Young adults are gonna "do life" better than their parents
  • There's no way I'm doing this better than my parents
  • I wish my parents were here to tell me HOW to do this

And, somewhere in there, your kids grow up.  Now they're adulting...without you!  And do know what the hardest part of that is?  You don't know what is going on in their lives.  Oh, sure, you know they're still alive.  You might hear about what they made for dinner or that they went to a party with friends you've never met.  You might hear about a work project that, frankly, you don't understand.  But remember when their car was parked in your driveway and you knew that it had good tires?  Remember when they asked your advice on what to wear?  Remember when you drove to their university with a "flu care package" because you knew they were low on groceries?  You probably even remember sitting up waiting for the headlights in the driveway, so that you knew they made it home safely.  You don't have that involvement anymore.  In fact, they don't live in the same state as you do anymore.

Really, it's not about that involvement.  You've raised your kids to adult successfully.  You knew it was coming.  It's just that you don't like the feeling very much.  And you realize that you never gave your parents enough credit for adulting with adult children.  They were far better at it than you could ever hope to be...

Monday, April 27, 2015

It Takes 8 Months OR The Frozen Dogs!

We have only had rescue dogs.  They have all been wonderful dogs.  The first 2 dogs were puppies when they came to our house.  The last two were 3 year olds--they are "The Frozen Dogs"!

When you adopt an adult dogs, you're getting a dog with a that you may not get any information on.  When I say that, I'm not saying that they are "bad dogs", just stating a fact.  When these dogs come to your house, they'll use their "company manners" least for a bit.  We had Lucky for a year before she made a mistake...she was too afraid to.  Sheba spent her first month marking her territory in every room of the house.  I read an article yesterday that might have helped us to avoid some of that...but oh well!

In both cases, though, the dog needed 8 months to settle in.  Don't give up too soon.  If your dog has guarding tendencies or any sort of aggression, please get help.  A returned dog has a much harder time being re-homed.  It is definitely worth the investment to help "Rover" fit in to your house!  Which brings us to the "Frozen dogs".

Lucky was very much like Elsa.  When she was little she had been abused.  For the entire time (14 years) we had her she worried about making a mistake.  She was a truly elegant dog, very empathetic, wanted to be loved.  She tried not to ask too much of us.  It took my husband 2 1/2 years to get her to trust him (a man had been her abuser).  Because she didn't want to be a bother, she was very easy to have around!

Sheba is totally Anna!  She is now energetic, always happy and curious.  Sometimes she's clumsy.  She seems to think  that humans were put on the planet to love her.  If she's lonely at 1 a.m., of course you'll want to be woken up to be with her.  We needed every bit of that 8 months to settle her in!  Now she sleeps at night, I've learned to go for a walk twice a day.  Since she "marked" every room in the house, she does all her business outside.  She didn't bark when we got her, but now Miss Nosey alerts whenever someone is on our property...and she's so proud of herself when she does!  Since this was our year of the empty nest, she is really good company...and instead of talking to myself, people think I'm talking to her.

So...if you're looking at a rescue dog, good for you!  Please read the article linked above.  Then give yourselves 8 months while you watch your precious dog emerge.  You'll be so glad you didn't give up!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thanks for the memories!

I'm coming to the end of my time with the Pinellas Parent Educators Association.  It's not because I don't support the organization.  It's not because I don't enjoy volunteering.  It's just time.  Some might even say that I stayed past my time.  After all, our last homeschooler crossed the graduation stage in 2012!
I leave the organization in great hands!  I have spent the last 10 years volunteering with a great group of people!  We've done a lot of really awesome things.  How did we know what to do?  Usually our board members plan events that they want to do with their own kiddos and then the rest of the membership gets to come along.  Some events were raging successes, some were a blip on the radar.  All you can do is try!

Naturally, there is a secret...and I'm going to let you in on it!  Are you ready?  Listen really closely...whatever you love to do, do it for your friends!  That's it!

I have a wonderful friend who has agreed to make sure everyone has something to eat at the holiday tea.  She loves to bake and cook.  She's organized.  And unfortunately for her, she's totally on my radar for our Holiday Tea.  And she graciously takes care of all the food tables for me on that one night--everyone enjoys the treats and the beverages that she has displayed for us.  And that one night makes a huge difference in the lives of 70 women!  For that one night, we aren't wives and mothers, caring for our families.  We are pampered princesses!

I have another friend who has been my "sanity keeper" this year.  This is quite an important position.  She stands beside me and takes care of all the little details that I'm not able to get to.  When she's there, I know that everything will get done...and I will even have fun.

And that's the secret.  You don't have to give your all everyday. If you are part of an organization and you enjoy their services and want the group to keep being awesome--volunteer to do one thing!  Just one.  Because if everyone does just one thing, there will be so many awesome things happening that it will be like winning the lottery.  There is another awesome advantage to helping.  Now you're part of the inner circle--where everyone knows your name.  Where you are loved.  And who doesn't need more love?
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Herd Dog's Gotta Work!

As I have said before, Sheba is our 4th dog.  In FIFTY years (only 3 of which we haven't had a dog) Sheba is our 4th dog.  All have been herding dogs.  This time is different...and I finally figured out why...

Dixie had 3 kids to supervise.  She was also pretty laid back.  We were probably pretty entertaining for her.

Casey had 2 kids to supervise.  She actually herded 2 labs and a German shepherd out of our yard once.  Another time DJ tried to go through a gate (when he was not quite 2) and this little dynamo blocked him every time until I could get there.  She weighed a mere 9 lbs...but she was quite a girl in those days!

Lucky was a couch potato.  She watched your every step...but it had to be a big deal for her to move off the couch.

Sheba was supposed to be less active.  She was for a little while.  As I mentioned in a previous post, she has now settled in and we're seeing what I believe to be the "true Sheba".  True Sheba is not so quiet.

Unfortunately for True Sheba, we are old.  There are no children to chase.  She doesn't particularly like other animals.  What True Sheba likes to do is to supervise her humans' work.  It's kind of a herd dog thing.  They work WITH their peeps.

In the "World According to True Sheba", work is NOT sitting on the couch with your laptop, figuring out SAT tips.  Work is--

  • gardening (she adores being outside, as long as I am there too)
  • vacuuming (although the vacuum terrifies her, it gives her something to supervise)
  • cooking
  • dusting
  • laundry
  • cleaning out the broken fridge (although I hope to not have to repeat this task for a while)
And before you suggest that I ship her out to the yard to lay in the sun while I work on my laptop...she will not go out in the yard without me (spoiled little dickens) and we have already established that working on my laptop is not working....

And since my house is the place that plants go to die...I'm not sure we'll be adding gardening to our list of chores

One thing is for sure, True Sheba will keep me moving.  Also, I think we all know who is in charge...
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Friday, January 30, 2015

When It Comes to the Wedding, Bigger Ain't Necessarily Better!

My kids are adults now.  That means that weddings are happening with great regularity.  I don't get invited to all of them.  But thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I get to see many of them!  And I age is showing!

Our son got married last August.  The wedding was beautiful.  It was very simple compared to many of my friends.  They didn't want to go into debt for the wedding, and we're proud of them for that!  They rented an art room.  So the wedding ended and the reception started right away.  The wedding was totally them!

One of the things that has changed since when we got married, is that there is a whole pre-wedding process.  People go in before the wedding and set up.  Conversely you need a tear down crew.  Hair and makeup are a process that begins hours before the wedding.  Cakes are works of art.  If TV shows are to be believed, brides spend months shopping for the perfect dress.  Budgets must be significant (we didn't pay for our son's wedding, so we don't know).

When we got married, we didn't have TV shows that gave us wedding expectations.  The internet didn't exist.  And I didn't have any friends who had already gotten married.  All I had was a budget of $1000 which would be about $3500 today (according to an inflation calculator I used).  That included the wedding, reception, photographer, my dress, my sister's dress, my mother's dress and my dad's and brother's tuxes.

I tried on 1 wedding dress.  It was $600.  Obviously I couldn't spend that much on a dress.  So I made mine (for $80) during my spring break weekend.  I sewed for 20 hours a day for 3 days.  I prayed that it wouldn't fall apart on my way down the aisle.  I swore my mother to secrecy.  There was a spot of blood on the headpiece, where I pricked my finger while sewing on the lace appliques.  I didn't know to bustle the train, so when Mom took the dress to the cleaners, it had footprints on it!

We got married on the same day that we graduated from college.  That meant we had the chapel for about 2 hours (graduation day was back to back weddings).  We had 2 floral arrangements for the altar and 6 pew bows.  That was all the decorating we did.  Oh, and my bouquet. We took the floral arrangements with us to the reception.

I probably should mention that we graduated from college in the morning, moved out of the dorm in the afternoon and got married in the evening.

The hotels in the area were all full because of graduation, so we had one hotel room for our family of 5.  I got to the hotel room 1 hour before we had to leave for the wedding.  I had 15 minutes to do my makeup and get dressed.  I couldn't find my contacts, so I went through the wedding blind.  Actually that's not so bad because you're always on someone's arm.

Back in the day, sit down dinner receptions weren't the norm.  We had appetizers, punch and cake.  No tables and chairs.  We had a great photographer.  I figured that the day after the wedding, I had my husband and pictures.  I wanted good pictures!

And the piece de resistance was that there was gas rationing in 1979.  Many of our guests couldn't get a tank of gas, so they couldn't come.

2015 will be our 36th wedding anniversary.  And all of the things I just told you are great stories from our wedding.  So...if you can't afford the wedding of your dreams, don't worry.  Because you're still married.  And in 36 years it will be the wedding of your dreams.

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

As the Sheba Blooms!

I have never had a dog that wasn't a rescue.  Of course, since my dogs have all been long lived, I haven't had very many dogs.  Sheba is #4.  She follows Dixey, Casey and Lucky.  All have been herding breed mixes.

Sheba has been in our home for 5 months.  We're just now moving out of the honeymoon period and into the "settled" period.  It has been an interesting path.  We had less info about Sheba than we have had about any of our previous dogs.  We know that she arrived at the shelter in Alabama on July 15th.  She had all her shots.  She has a heart murmur.  She is about 3 years old. She was transported to Florida with about 30 other dogs in late July or early August.  According to my sources, she was a "transport mistake"; the shelter had 2 dogs with the same name and accidentally loaded both on the transport.

We got Sheba from Ewenity Farms Herd Dog Haven at the end of August.  I actually went to her foster mom's house to see a different dog.  All the other dogs were running along the fence lines, supervising the neighborhood.  Sheba came up next to me and sat down, leaning into my leg.  I get more dogs that way!

We were told that Sheba was a timid, submissive, low energy female border collie/spaniel mix who was housebroken and didn't bark.  Now that she's settled in, I think we can all agree that she's a female dog. LOL!

You see, that's what happens with a rescue dog.  What you see isn't always what the dog really is.  Most dogs don't "enjoy" the shelter experience.  Frankly, it scares the spirit right out of them.  Add a multi-state transport, in a truck with a bunch of other dogs, and being sent home with a stranger and then sent to another stranger's home...well, you'd probably be submissive and scared too.

When you adopt an adult shelter dog, you are getting the entire dog, including all their previous experiences.  The difficulty here is that we don't know what those are.  So you love them and you wait.  You establish a routine.  You love them some more.  You wait some more.  And you get ready to do some basic training when you see the dog's true personality start to emerge.  And with Sheba, it didn't just emerge, it busted out.

First we realized that Sheba marked territory (unusual for a spayed female).  Then we found out that she wasn't quite as submissive with other dogs, now that she had a family to protect.  Then she barked.  And I thought she was settled in.  But now we've found that she is impish.  She is always searching for food.  She hides what she doesn't eat.  She'll steal food related trash. Everything goes in her mouth.

Our best guess is that she wasn't an inside dog where she lived before.  She was probably part of a pack of dogs, so she didn't have to be the one to bark to go out.  She just followed the others.  And since she is a submissive dog, she learned to scavenge for food (and based on her weight, I'd say she's pretty good at it).

Based on my description so far, you're probably saying "I'd never take a rescue dog".  And if you feel that way you'd be missing out.  Big Time!  Sheba is a lot of fun.  She is great company and very happy!  And like every other rescue dog I've met; she doesn't take what she has for granted.  Oh, I know that dogs live in the moment...but rescue dogs never forget where they came from.  And they will spend the rest of their lives showing you how thankful they are!  So we are the lucky ones--because of the love of a rescue dog!

Feeling blessed, how about you?