Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Christmas Eve

Today is our Christmas at home.  Santa is coming tonight and we are doing our family Christmas tomorrow morning.  John mentioned exchanging ONE present tonight and the kids are all excited about that.  (Although I don't know if they will still have the excitement once they see what I'm letting them open....more of a "needed" gift rather than a fun one.)

I'm all done wrapping presents....Santa needs to catch up though, I hear.  My fingers are sore right now though from all the tape tearing so I think I'm going to lay down and read whilst eating a snickers.

I have to go register Hans for his next puppy class today too.  The instructor said if I did it before Christmas, she'd knock $20 off the class price.  This one will be with a different pet store.  The trainer is pretty crass and rough, but I kind of like that when it comes to the dogs.  No nonsense training, I guess.  We go to her free puppy play time twice a week to meet other large breed puppies.  Every time we go to the pet store we get the same "Oh my, he's going to be a BIG dog!"  I don't think their definition and my definition of "big" are the same.  I mean, we didn't want a 10 pound dog.  We were shooting for 40-60 pounds and if he ends up being close to 70, that's ok.  To most people, I guess that's a BIG dog...especially around the metro.  But to me, it's what we were going for. 

I just weighed Hans, and he's weighing in at 29 pounds.  He turned 14 weeks on Wednesday.  There's an old wives tale that you can double the weight at 14 weeks and that's what they will be at a year.  (I had heard 16 weeks too....)  So spose that means like 58-65?  Assuming he might gain another 5 pounds in the next 2 weeks.....

We got a call from the crass trainer on Tuesday night asking if Hans could come in to play with a 4 month old Chesapeake Bay Retriever who was having trouble socializing.  Katie and I took Hans in and the trainer worked with both of them for almost an hour.  Boy, this other puppy had some issues.  Seemed he's only played with their much older dog, and obviously puppies play a LOT different.  He was very aggressive toward Hans, which freaked  the other owner out.  It didn't freak me out at all - it was actually really interesting and good for Hans to find out that other dogs have limits.  You can't just play, play, play as hard as you want to.  Sometimes it's good for him to be told by another dog - cut it out!

Anyway - she'd grab Hans by the collar saying she didn't want her dog to hurt him.  I told her not to worry about it - I trusted the trainer and she would take the steps to make sure both dogs were safe.  She kept calling her dog a "brat" and a "bad dog".  Finally, the trainer had to send her out of the training area to just walk to store because her tension was freaking the dog out.  It was interesting because after she was about 20 feet away - he was a different dog.  Still timid, but actually ran around and played a bit.  We always knew when she was close because the dog would go back to his old habits.  I guess it's very similar to moms and kids.....

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friday Funny...a little early

I needed a good laugh today as I wait and wait for the weekend to finally get here and have enerything crossed off my to-do list.

...and oh, what the's another one.  Merry Christmas. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Alright....I'll try

Here goes.  I know that I don't have anything close to words of wisdom or insight into what happened in Connecticut last week.  In fact, I probably know less about it than many of you do.  Because of the young children in my home I kept the TV off on Friday, and John and I did not let them watch TV for most of the weekend. 

(I think they did watch some of Elf on Sunday night....seeing Will watch "the burp scene" is about as good as it gets.  He almost fell off his chair in fits of giggles.)

I tried to keep up with developments on my ipod on Friday.  Then on Saturday night they started releasing info about the victims.  I think I read one story about a teacher and one little girl named Emily, and I lost it.  The tears filled my eyes so much I couldn't continue to read the words. 

By Sunday afternoon John had taken the kids into his office so that he could grab some work for at home.  I was getting ready to bake cookies for the neighbors and the office staff at Katie and Will's schools.  I thought - I'll try it again, this time I'll have the TV on and listen to some stories about the victims.  This time it was about Jessica.  The parents were having a hard time explaining to her little brother why his sister wasn't at home to play with him.  That's it.  That's all it took and I had to shut off the TV and it was 10 minutes of sobbing before I could go about baking in silence. 

That's nothing new - people are crying and sad and the whole country is mourning.  I feel guilty because I literally can't watch or listen or read about any of the victims.  I feel like their life ought to be shared and celebrated, but am sad because I can't bring myself to do that.  This happened in a town about the same size as ours in a school about the same size, with the same layout.  It's obviously hard for me not to "go there" in my head.

Now that we've got to "my head" - let's stay there.  I have an over-active mind and especially ever since I've had kids, images of bad things happening to them sometimes pop into me head.  A few months after Will was born I began to have reoccurring nightmares of him and Katie - but especially Katie - walking along the edge of a skyscraper.  She'd get to the end and just keep walking.  No matter how loud I yelled or how quickly I tried to get to the top of the building, the same thing would happen.  And I would wake up with tears on my face, go back to sleep and have a different version of the same events.  The next one would be them on fire.  Then they'd be in a car going off a cliff.  Then someone was grabbing them and abducting them.  No matter how fast I ran, I couldn't catch up.  After about a month of this I decided that I needed to talk to a professional about these dreams because I was becoming very overly protective of Katie and Will while I was awake and was having a very hard time letting them do anything that I wasn't not a part of.

In talking to someone, she helped me learn to categorize rational worries and irrational worries.  Honestly, we spent about 1/2 an hour on this and about 2 1/2 hours on other stuff that just kind of creeps up with you're talking to someone only about yourself!  Anyway - walking off the edge of a skyscraper - irrational.  (Still, it makes me want to throw up having them at high heights....) Bursting into flame spontaneously - irrational.  Yep - that came up. 
Being in a car accident - rational.  And let's talk about ways to minimize that.  Riding on a tractor - yep, this was one too.  Rational, to a point.  Cab tractors/combines - great.  Open seated tractors - take a pass and wait for a better chance next time.   Anyway, I'm constantly categorizing any fears I have about their safety into these two categories.  Most of the time, I'm doing ok, but I never thought I would have to ask if going to school was a fear I needed to consider.  So these events have sort of shaken my radar a bit.  Katie had the opportunity to go to the Mall of America with Girl Scouts tonight and have some play time at the Microsoft store while they earned their computer badge.  Cool right?  Well, all I could think of was a crowded mall a week before Christmas, icy roads and Katie's ability to get lost and blend in in a crowd.   I couldn't go, and John was sick.  So I chalked this up to an irrational fear and let her go - and she had a blast.  But I would have hated myself if something had happened.

So yes, I've had a bit of therapy.  2-3 sessions to be honest.  I was scared and ashamed before I went - I even kept it a secret from John until after I'd gone a couple times.  And how do I feel after my time with her?  Awesome.  I think therapy should be offered as freely and without judgement as yearly check-ups.  It's preventative care just like a mammogram or dental exam.  There's something in our society about viewing people who need to seek help as weak or damaged goods.  And don't get me started on the cost of something like this if you don't have great insurance. Or the ability to even GET good help for seriously ill kids.

I kind of forgot where I was going - common these days.  I have ZERO answers or ways to make these mass killings go away.  I just know that I'm not even close to being able to watch the news yet.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do you realize....

Do you realize that I have been outside more in the past 4 weeks than I have probably all winter most years?  I know that is sad and pathetic, but I really detest winter - actually, I just detest being cold.    And here I am, taking the dog for a walk - 3 times a day most days.  (The weekends are more like 2....and sometimes John will do 1.)  But I would say I've gone on 50 walks in the past month.  Granted, they are pretty short - 15-30 minutes, but a few have been over 40.  Hans is getting better on the leash.  I had developed a blister last week and it ripped open on one walk - ouch.  But I realized today that my hands don't hurt and my shoulder doesn't hurt as much when I correct his pulling habit.  AND I realized that I don't mind being outside.  Let me rephrase...I don't mind being outside as long as I have my snow pants, boots, scarf, gloves (double layer) and warm coat. :) 

Now, don't ask me how much I've run in the last 4 weeks.  (3 miles.....I think I'm gonna have to start all over again.  Oh well.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Puppy class

Katie and I took Hans to his 3rd puppy class this weekend.  Usually we go on Thursdays, but the instructor encouraged us all to take in as many classes as we could so we are going to try to go on Saturday mornings too.  This class is through PetSmart and is, well....ok.  It's an hour long class, and it seems this is the way it goes -
10-15 minutes of off leash puppy play time. 
Potty break outside
10-15 minutes practicing our 'skill' for the day - come, sit, down, etc. 
30 minutes of lecture where the instructor just tells us stories of her and her dog. 

Now during the 30 minutes of lecture....Hans is going ballistic.  He wants to play, he wants to be off-leash, he wants to go greet the other puppies.  So there is a LOT of barking from him and constant pulling and yanking to get away.  The last 2 classes I've had to get on the floor with him and literally hold him own with both arms.  It's either that, or feed him treat after treat after treat after treat after treat.....  It seems none of the other dogs are going ape-shit, however I'm not paying much attention to anything else.  It bugs me that SO much time during the class is spent sitting and listening, when the puppies would rather be doing something else.  I love the instructor, but wish that she would give me some helpful tips to keep him calm.  After class when I asked what I could do to stop the barking, she suggested a squirt bottle.  I said he doesn't bark at home - only here at puppy class and puppy play time.  Oh, then I wouldn't worry about it - try massaging him.  Ok...  She did mention that she could see in him, during play time, a very strong "herding" instinct that may be hard to break. 

After January 1st, when this class ends - we will try another puppy class at Petco - the other pet store in the area.  We go there right now for free puppy play time.  Their instructor seems a bit more gruff and "to the point" - ready with suggestions and orders before you even ask the question.  There is also a great dog school in the area that offers classes as well. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The tree...

We put up our Christmas tree this weekend.  And it's big.  It's big and great.  I'm pretty sure it's the biggest tree that we've gotten since we've been doing "real" trees.  I spose it's 7 feet tall and would take 2 people to get their arms around it.  Luckily, thanks to the kids making ornaments over the past 8 years, we have enough decorations to fill it quite nicely.

You'll notice there's gifts under there already....
Be ready Grandma Mary, Grandpa Hanson and Grandma Lyla -
the kids got your shopping done already!
No you're all asking what about he leaving the tree alone?  Well....Molly is leaving the tree along.  Is that enough? :)  Honestly, he isn't too bad.  He hasn't tried to pee on it yet...only chew on some branches.  Maybe they'll improve his breath.
Remember Katie and I tried out for the church musical a few weeks ago?  Well they e-mailed the cast list to us today!  Katie is a "townsperson".  She will sing 3 songs and be in 5 scenes.  All of the other "named" parts went to junior high/high school kids or adults.  (Which I knew they would.)  Katie is happy with her part because that means she gets to watch the scenes inside the chocolate factory.  She also thinks it's funny that I got cast as "Ms. Teavee."  I'm the mother of "Mike Teavee" the kid who wins the Golden Ticket and gets shrunk by Willy Wonka's invention.  He's the last kid to get into trouble inside the factory - which means I'm onstage for kind of a long time.  It's the biggest part I've ever gotten in a play and I'm pretty excited about it. :)  I listened to one of the songs I have to sing, and there are some (GULP) solo parts.   I also read a bit about the character online and I think I know why I got the part:
"Ms. Teavee is a take on all television moms of the distant past. Think June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) or Marion Cunningham (Happy Days) or even Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch). She's perfectly put together and a bit vacant. She sings "I See It All On TV" but does not require a polished voice."

A vacant mom with an un-polished voice?  Um, YEAH! :)

Rehearsals start in January....I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Silly...

Remember - this is just for laughs!  I have a bunch of friends who are English majors.... :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back home....

We are back home and into the after-holiday routine.  "Pebbles" was gone to visit her grandparents in CO all last week, but she's back now.  So the biggest change this week has been juggling her and the puppy.  It's been hard because he gets so wound up in the morning, just when she comes.  So I have to crate him when she comes so that she has a chance to get in the door.  I also have to crate him when she gets picked up because it's just too much to try to handle.  I hope that gets better soon - but not exactly sure how to go about making it better, other than just waiting til he's older.

Pebbles is also pretty Hans' head is well above her waist and easily knocks her down when he's excited.  I'm working on getting him not to jump up, but it's hard when she's SO little because it's not like he has to jump up far.  A good thing to work on with the dog trainer this week.  We start Puppy Kindergarten with him this Thursday.  It goes for 6-8 weeks and hopefully they'll have some tips for us.

The nights are going better.  Hans gets very tired about the same time the kids are getting into bed so he's asleep in his crate by 9.  We can't seem to keep him awake past that.  Last night he slept until 4:30 - I got up to take him out because he started barking.  He's in his crate in the living room while I was asleep in the bedroom upstairs.  I can't hear him whining from up there, so he has to bark.  I'm not sure that's a good idea because then he gets FULLY awake and is hard to get him to go back to sleep when we come inside again.  Last night he barked in his crate until I layed down on the couch, and then I spose he could smell me.  He still didn't fall asleep for another hour because I could hear him playing in there and rolling around.  By 7 he was more than ready to get back out and be up for the day.  It made me realize that there will NOT be a day (weekends included) where I can sleep in again past 7.  And I was JUST getting used to staying up to watch Saturday Night Live.

Now you say - well, you have kids - you must have done that before.  Yes, you're right.  The kids are up by 7 on the weekends.  But there is this wonderful invention called "tv" that lets me sleep til 8.  And of course if the dog hears the kids awake, he'll be damned if he's going to stay in his crate.  TV does not seem to appeal to Hans.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moving in the right direction....

We seem to be moving in the right direction with this puppy thing.

Things that are getting better:
- No barking/whining/crying when in the crate at night.  We covered the entire crate with a sheet...instead of just over 2 sides.  We also turned on NPR so that he could hear quiet voices.  To cure the barks at the beginning of the night we used an empty can filled with 15 pennies and taped shut.  As soon as the barking started....I shook the can loudly next to his crate.  I think after 3-4 times, he was quiet.
- No barking/whining/crying when returned to crate after nighttime potty trips
- Better at responding to name and "Hans, COME!"
- Better at responding to "OFF!" when he tries to climb on the couch or reach the cat's food
- Better at fetch inside with his tennis ball
- Accidents in the house are becoming very rare
-Walking on the leash in a straight line
- And best yet!?  Hans just went in his crate....ON HIS take his nap.  The door remains open during the day when we are here and should become his "space" to take refuge instead of random places on the floor.  It makes putting him in there at night or when I am away much easier and happier for everyone involved.

Things that we are still working on:
- Can't seem to go longer than 2-2 1/2 hours at nighttime before needing to go out.  However, if he happily gets back in his crate with out barking and whining...I can do frequent wakes for a while.
- Chasing Molly.  He's getting better - and is not vicious about it at's totally a play thing.  He usually doesnt' chase her upstairs though.
- Balancing the nighttime routine.  Right now I'm getting up with Hans, but on nights when I have to get up with the kids too, (like last night - Will had a nightmare) it makes it very hard to deal with both situations simultaneously.  Hans needs someone sleeping on the couch next to his crate, listening for his "pee cues" but Will wants to sleep in my bed upstairs with me.  Oh well, it doesn't happen every night, but it means I could fall asleep by 8:30 most evenings.

Will liked the crate too. 
This was a one-time deal when we first set it up and before the dog got to check it out. 
 Now it's the dog's private place, and Will just has to make due being "free."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dog is still alive

We had a rough night last night with the crate training.  He barked and whined for almost 2 hours before he finally went to sleep at 12:30.  (Jamie - I think I had e-mailed you 75 minutes....but then he started up again.)  We didn't let him out - hung in there.  And kept to our bathroom routine of taking him outside, but only when he is quiet.  There were no inside accidents.  He likes the crate for resting in during the day - even though we have to coax or put him into it.  Hardly any barking.  We are going to try the radio tonight - thanks to Joe for suggesting it, and probably will be NPR. :)
Even though some things are going well, and some are requiring lots of work it's much easier because John and I are on the same page about the training.  While others may have opinions all over the place - it seems that we agree on about 100% of what we need to do, and how we need to do it.

I went with Hans to the pet store today for "puppy play time".  But the website was wrong - it's tomorrow.  I'd like to learn more about introducing dogs to each other and get some socialization started right away.  As of right now, Hans is pretty cautious of other dogs and hasn't approached any on his own. 

Even though there was no puppy play time - it's fun to take him to the pet store because people tell you over and over again how sweet and beautiful he looks.  We tell new moms to take their baby to the grocery store when they are having a bad day.  Everyone will stop and tell you how beautiful your baby is and it's a great mood lifter.  Same thing with puppies.

I took Hans for a long walk today and we ended up running about a block and a half home.  This guy was yelling at me to not run the dog - don't run the dog, over and over he shouted at me.  Then I swear he shouted something about an attack dog.  (Like dogs don't know how to run on their own?)  Anyway - after doing some research and talking to a few people it seems that it may be for the health benefit of the dog not to run - I don't know, I guess I just made my 19th dog-raising mistake of the day.  Won't be the first, won't be the last.  All I do know, is that afterwards, I was able to take a whine-free shower.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Worried and concerned.....

This whole puppy thing is still moving forward.  Still working on it, as a total team.  John took last night's shift so I could get some priceless sleep.  Since I'm unwilling/unable to breastfeed the puppy we can both pull duties at night.  :)  (That could have also been "doodies")
John took him out at 11 and then he slept until 3:30, til he had to go out again.  And then again at 5:30 and 6:30.  If we can switch shifts here and there I think it will work well. 

John's tactics last night was to have Hans fall asleep outside the crate, and then put him into the crate, and he stayed asleep.  We'll try that for a bit and see if it works.  I'm not yet ready for him to be loose in the house for the whole night. 

There are very strong coloring in him of a Bernese Mountain dog.  From the nose down, that's him.  From the nose up, it seems to be Rottweiler.  If you google Bernese Mountain Dog Rottweiler mix, it's pretty much a picture of him.  The weird thing about Bernese Mountain Dogs is that their life expectancy is 6-8 years.  Cancer hits them very hard it seems.  But there's also lab, terrier, pointer and boxer in him as well. 

Behavior wise - he's getting better everyday.  I think we've done a good job of putting ourselves in the "alpha" position - so far.  When I went upstairs to get Will this morning, he waited at the bottom of the stairs until I called for him.  And then this morning when I went to the bathroom to put my contacts in, I made him wait at the bottom of the stairs for my return - and he did.  He got treats for that one.  He goes outside with us everyday to wait for the bus.  When the bus comes, he sits while the kids get on the bus - no barking or whining.

Let's see....Molly and Hans.  They are really doing quite well.  Molly's vet told me that it may take 3-4 weeks before she starts eating in her regular place, and following her old schedule, but last night and this morning she ate her regular food in her regular spot, drank from the same water bowl as the dog had and spent the night with me in bed - like normal.  She walks around Hans in the same room, and oftentimes, it seems, tries to bait him to chase her.  He doesn't "go after" her at all.  He's very curious.....cautiously curious since he's gotten her claws before.  It's cute because he faces her with his butt up in the air - begging to play with her, and jumping around her waiting for her to play with him, but it doesn't happen. :)  She also doesn't run away every time.

The only thing John and I are concerned about is his size.  When we were in the process of getting him, we were told that, of course, nothing could be for sure - but his mom is 32 pounds and they expected him to be a medium sized dog - perhaps 50 pounds.  We were ready for him to be even as high as 70 pounds - we could deal with that.  His mother was even in the "small dogs" category.  When I picked him up, I was surprised by how big he was, but he certainly wasn't the biggest of the litter - pretty much in the middle.  According to the staff at the pet store and friends that have commented on pictures - he's more than likely going to be 90-100+.  This is not something we are sure that we are ready for, and honestly weren't expecting.  I can change the behavior - I can't change the size.  John and I are worried that we don't have the house for a dog like this.  What do you think?  (Because we can't decide.)

Oh, and if he is our "furever dog" - do you think we should keep the name?  I'm not 100% sold.  I liked it at first because of the story - he started out as "Solo" because he liked to lay in his own area, and the Fosters changed it to Hans - short for Han Solo.  Also, it's almost like "Hanson" - my maiden name.
BUT it's really hard to say when you are redirecting him or calling for him.  There are no hard consonants in there, ya know?  Something like "Jack" or "Charlie" or "Buddy"seems to be easier to say.  I put I poll on the side of the blog - let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day......what day is it?

Jim asked a good question - did Katie and Will prepare us appropriately for a puppy?

In some ways yes - in some ways no.  But mostly I think we made the right decision to have kids FIRST to prepare for a dog.  Because a puppy seems to be a lot more work.  I knew going in it was going to be a lot of work, but maybe I'm just sad that I was right. 

Things you CAN'T do to a puppy that would make it SOOO much easier. 
- you can't breastfeed a puppy - this would take care of SO much whining, barking, and general puppy behavior. 
- you can't "babywear" a puppy
- you aren't supposed to sleep with a puppy (for a while I thought this was a bunch of hooey from people that say you aren't supposed to sleep with a baby....but it seems this one should stick to keep the dominance behavior of the dog in check.)
- you can't put a diaper on a baby
- you can't leave the puppy in another room alone to play for a few minutes - did that yesterday and I ended up cleaning up a mess from the garbage can.
- There is no oxytocin hormone release going on inside my bonding checmicals going on here like after a baby is born.  Would make it really easier to love him at 3 am.

Things that are the same after having a baby and after getting a puppy
- I haven't slept more than hour chunks since Saturday night.  (Because before we got the puppy....Will was sick all night.)
- My emotions are sitting on the edge of a pinhead.  I had to go to the grocery store this morning and I was so tired that I started packing another woman's groceries instead of mine.  When she pointed this out to me - I started crying and apologizing.  Of course, I'm sure she thought I was mentaly unstable - which I am at the moment.

Ok - so fine.  What are you going to DO about it instead of complain about it?
I have been reading about specific issues I want to work on first.  Leash walking, crate training, fetch, etc.  I started with "fetch" and "drop it".  You know - when the dog brings the toy back, but won't let you have it.  The tips that they suggested atually worked.  Reward him with treats when he brings the ball back (as you are shouting for him to come back) - he has to drop the ball to have the treat.  Repeat words "drop it" as he takes the treat and soon enough he will do it automatically.  By golly, if he didn't pick up quickly and we were playing fetch without treats 15 minutes later.  BUT then we tried again after the grocery store - and he seems to have forgotten.  But that's ok, I know it's possible.

We also went for our first leash walk to the park this morning.  He kept up and only stopped and wouldn't move forward a few times.  The tips of calling him, rewarding him with praise and petting, then keep moving seemed to work well.  It was funny to watch him on the return home because he was getting whiney - like he didn't know where he was.  Then as soon as he got to our yard and smelled it he started jumping up and down like crazy.

I need to work on the crate training a bit more.  He was very unhappy in it last night.  I had to literally push him in there and you aren't supposed to do that.  He whined and barked and carried on for most of the night in there while he was awake.  So he'd whine and bark for a long time, sleep a bit, wake to go outside, then carry on again over and over through the whole night.  This morning it was very evident he was not happy with the crate because I couldn't even entice him into it with treats. It's getting better.  I'm also not going to let him sleep in the evening tonight - while we are awake, he is too.

On a bright note - he hasn't had any inside accidents since that first day.  He is really very good about going outside, and I guess I'm very good about making sure he gets there. 

And while I write this, he seems all very innocent and perfect.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This was earlier this afternoon...

Molly met the puppy for the first time!

Day 2

I thought a dog was supposed to help you relax.  Just kidding - I'm a little on edge today just because it's the puppy's first day and I want to make sure I get him exercised enough and worn out, etc.  It's hard to do when he doesn't want to go for a walk.  Right now, he's content walking around the yard on the leash and smelling everything everywhere.  We did get some running done in the back yard.  We also made a trip to Petco - just the puppy and I.  The workers there were tickled pick to see him and he was excited that there was someone to give him extra attention.  (He whined at the door after John left for work....and he whined as the kids got on the bus.)

Molly came out at some point before dawn to sleep on Katie's bed.  I moved her food/water downstairs and have shut the door so the puppy can't get down her just yet.  I'm off to Fleet Farm after Will gets home from school to see about getting a crate.  (They are 50% cheaper at Fleet Farm versus the pet store.)  I looked online for a used one for the size I need, but it's obvious that those were all bought at the pet store because they aren't marked down much!

Once I have the crate, I'm thinking I'll put him inside and then bring Molly up to "meet" him in a closed room.  It's going to take a while, but I think they'll get used to each other. 

Well, I must have done something right in tuckering him out because he's taking his 2nd nap of the day and it's only 11:00 am.  So far we've only had 1 accident inside - which was my fault for not seeing his cues.  He does a good job of going right away when we are outside.

The pet store gave me a sample of gingersnap puppy treats to take home.  I told them that I give the kids 2 days before they try to eat the treats themselves.  They smell really good....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The new puppy

Working on making him part of our pack.....

But no one has seen the cat yet.....

Holy crap, I think we have a puppy.

I just got notice that we have a puppy. 

We are #1 on his list and all that has to be done is scheduling a meet & greet/pick-up.  My hands are shaking a little bit!  Do you want to see him???  His name is Hans.  He is a boxer/terrier mix.

Here is his description from the foster parents who are housing him in Minneapolis -
"If you are looking for a good behaved dog, we think Hans is it. He is forever calm and never gets over excited. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything and is always willing to calmly check things out. Of course, everyone can see how handsome he is!!!!"


Our bathroom

We are painting our bathroom!  John has been suggesting we should paint it for a while now, but it's been easy to put off.  We finally decided to just go ahead with it, so we both picked colors we liked.  We soon found that they were very different colors, and neither side was budging.

We agreed that we would paint the cupboards and wood trim black (actually it's not quite black....but almost.), and here is a sample door up against the two paint choices.  The one on the left is called "dill pickle"...the one on the right is called "sweet honeydew melon".  It looks white in the picture, but it has a light green tint to it.  Should I tell you which one is John's favorite and which one is mine so you can vote?  We seriously thought about that.....but then I caved and let John have his "sweet honeydew melon" bathroom.  The color is growing on me. 

Plus, John said I could have my way in the bedroom (well, that doesn't sound good on a family blog....)  I MEAN, I could could have the color I want in there, since we didn't agree on that either!  I have most of the walls painted in the bathroom - it's taken 2-3 coats because of the deep brown color it was before.  John has started sanding all the cupboard doors and will work on painting them 2 coats of almost-black.  Then we have to get a new light, new light switch/plug-in plates and new fixtures.

I will post pictures of the result soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Silver Lining...

Will threw up at 2:30 this morning.  The silver lining?  He actually made it to the bathroom and there was no mess to clean up.  Another sweet milestone of growing up.

Even though there was no mess, I slept in the chair in his room.  Translation: I didn't sleep.  We were up and back to the bathroom every 10 minutes for about 2 hours because he felt like he was going to get sick again, but never did. 

Another silver lining - even though we don't have a loyal, protective dog, we DO have a loyal protective cat. :)  Molly (who usually doesn't give Will much of her time) never left his side.  Every time he went to the bathroom because he felt sick, she was right behind times even beating me!  Then when he would come back to bed, she'd hop up and lay at his feet.....and she NEVER sleeps with him.  Obviously, she's a bit tired today too.

Today, Will feels much better.  It's almost noon, he just had some toast and is watching shows on the iPad.  We are gonna try to nap after lunch.  He has a field trip to the city library on Thursday that he doesn't want to miss.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Thanks for all your thoughts.  The teacher was nice enough to write me back - on a Sunday morning, no less, AND after surgery.  She was immensely thankful and loved the fact that I'm checking and interested.  She said that on an average week she has to enter over 1,000 grades so she's appreciative of having extra eyes checking it over.  That made me feel better. And I will keep an eye on it, and I guess start keeping worksheets for a bit longer period of time. 

My birthday was yesterday and we all went to a restaurant called Osaka.  It's a sushi/hibachi grill place where they cook the food right in front of you (with a bit of entertainment mixed in for good measure.) I had made reservations so we got to sit right at the grill.  The chef shot sake in the adults mouths and Sprite in Katie and Will's - which they thought was ridiculously funny.  We didn't have much luck catching any food in our mouths as it was tossed to us, but the food was very yummy and we have plans to maybe make another trip back for the next birthday in April. 

Katie and I auditioned for our church's musical today as well.  This year we are doing "Willy Wonka."  Should be a fun one to do - and Katie did a GREAT job in her audition.  I'm always so blown away by her ability to stand up on a stage in front of 30 people and belt out a solo.  She was very funny during her read-through and had great expression and energy.  It will be fun to see the cast list in December.  She's hoping to play Violet Beauregarde (the one that blows up like a blueberry) but she will also be just as happy to be an Oompa Loompa. 

We went to an animal shelter yesterday for a meet & greet with a litter of lab/retriever puppies.  Of course, when we got there at 9:45, we were told that the puppies weren't going to be there until 2.  Originally, we had planned on 10, but I missed a message they left the night before.  I guess that one was my fault.  We couldn't make it at 2 and had to cancel that meet & greet.  Turns out the foster mom is adopting the one I had my eye on. 

Right before we headed out to the animal shelter we checked their website and saw that there is a litter of boxer puppies that were just added.  We had originally requested a boxer, so we were happy to see that there were some available!!  And oh boy, are they cute....
Just our luck - those puppies are in Superior, WI.  So now, I am waiting to hear from the owner when he is planning on bringing them to the metro for adoption.  They are already over 8 weeks, so I'm hoping it will be soon.  Correction - I can't contact the owner....I'm waiting to hear from the shelter person, who will hear from the owner.  This red tape is so frustrating.  We are getting closer....I can feel it, but I'm also hesitant to get my hopes up too high.  I am also willing to offer to meet the owner halfway to pick up a puppy, just so we can get him sooner!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What would you do??

So Katie's grades and assignments are all accessible online as they are recorded and entered in the teacher's grade book.  It's nice for parents because they can help with lost assignments and help keep track of what homework needs to be done.

I hadn't really been checking it, but I looked the other day and saw that she had an assignment in Social Studies on maps that she got 3 out of 23.  And, because they only have 5 graded assignments in Social Studies, this was giving her a D-.

I e-mailed the teacher and said basically - oh my, is this something that we should go over with her at home, did she totally misunderstand the directions?  What happened? Etc.  I hadn't seen a homework sheet like this come home yet.  The teacher e-mailed me back and said that as soon as she read my e-mail she knew there had been a mistake. She went back and checked, and sure enough - it should have been 23 out of 23.  No problem.

So then, today I started going back through Katie's grades for the last 10 days that I still have corrected worksheets for.  (They haven't been recycled just yet!)  Another one pops out at me - a Media and Technology worksheet where it says online that Katie got 5 out of 15, but on the actual worksheet it says 5 out of 5.......but the way it's written, at quick glance it looks like +5/5....or 15/5.....but there are only 5 questions on the page and she got them all right and there is a star and a sticker.  So I'm thinking that this one got entered wrong too - giving her a C- average instead of an A. 

I e-mailed the teacher again - totally feeling like a pestering parent....especially since the teacher is having her tonsils out today and will be gone from school for the next 2 weeks!!  She will be back 4 days before the 1st trimester ends and report cards go out. 

Am I being too picky?  After all, it's 3rd grade.....but these mistakes are dropping Katie from an A to a D- and C-..........should I be double checking all of the worksheets coming home????  Great, more work.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Just voted!

We just got back from voting!  John voted before work this morning.  (I know because I saw his name on the sign in sheet!)  We've been talking a lot about this particular election in our house because the kids are getting older and know the names of lots of the people on the ballot. 

We also have 2 amendment issues on the ballot in MN this year - one concerning a voter ID and the other is a definition of marriage.  We have been strongly against both in our house this election season - even going as far as putting a "Vote No - Don't Limit the Freedom to Marry" sign in our front yard, which we had never done before.

As I was filling out my ballot, I was holding Will up so that he could see too.  When I got the amendment section, I filled in the "No" circle. 

Then, Will (being Will) shouted SUPER LOUD "YAY!  You voted NO!"  We got lots of smiles, laughs and encouraging looks so hopefully that is an indicator of others' feelings as well. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post Halloween post

The kids had a fun time trick-or-treating.  John even scored a beer at a neighbor's house.  All in all it was a good night, not too cold, no wind, and our light was off at 8:30. 

We have to go to the grocery store today for potatoes, orange juice and milk.  I told Will that we could check on the clearanced Halloween costumes in hopes of finding a bigger Batman suit. 

I got a call from one of the shelters last night and we are all approved and ready to go!  If we select a "bully" breed then there are a few extra steps that we have to go through.  She did tell me (on the down low) that there are some pretty cute puppies being put online in the next week or so.  They are currently being weaned from mom.  The mom's name is Magic and she is a small black lab mix (about 30 pounds).  The previous owners didn't know she was pregnant when they had to put her in the shelter's foster program and they don't know who the father is.  So they don't know EXACTLY how big the puppies will grow to be, but that's a risk with all shelter animals.  I did see pictures of Magic, and oh my....she is gorgeous and sounds so sweet. 

I got an e-mail this morning telling me that the foster mom who is taking care of Magic will contact me when the puppies are ready and we can have first choice and go see them.  So, we may be getting closer....just in time to go for walk, upon walk upon walk in the cold November wind.  :) 

Who knows, maybe we'll have a new member to celebrate my birthday with.

Maybe that means we'll be getting take-out for my birthday instead of leaving to go to a restaurant....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dogs of our past

Like I said, I don't have a picture of Stanley - or the other dogs my friends own.  BUT I thought I would see what dogs we DO have pictures of. 

Here's Katie and Gracie - the puppy who lives at Grandma's house. Well, she's not exactly a puppy anymore. The do get bigger, I have learned.

Even then, Katie felt Gracie was big, I guess.
This is me and our dog, Paco.  (Did I spell that right?)
I was told he was my best friend while I was still eating in a high chair.
This is Muskie our new puppy as we introduce him to the cat, Gizmo.
As you can see, Gizmo let it be known right away who had the upper hand.

Muskie slept with me every night....

....but he was really my Mom's baby.  He was her protector.  When we would go camping and go swimming, he cried and cried if she went out on an air mattress without him.  He would NOT go into the water to get wet.  So she would have to paddle back to shore so that he could ride with her. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trying this again....

Ok, I'm getting excited about a handful of new dogs again.  This time they are at a different shelter, which promises on their website to move quickly.  It says "adoption approval can take up to a week."  Well hell, we've been waiting 3 1/2 weeks with the other place and I havn't even been able to get our adoption counselor to call me back.  A week sounds damn good.

There are about 5-6 puppies that we would be happy to get I I don't want to jinx it, but......

Katie checked out a MASSIVE book on dog breeds and training from school.  That's been very helpful!  And also made us realize that there are a lot of ugly dogs out there.  I'm sorry - but there are.  I'm sure they are wonderful companions when you get to know them. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

End of October

This year is just flying by - I know people say that all the time, but this one especially seems to be really moving along.  The note in the previous post was left by my sister.  If you haven't read it - I strongly encourage you to do so.....she really surprised me with that one.  Usually she's pretty mature and reserved....but occasionally she'll get a little wild. :)

Still no dog.  We are slowly moving forward with the shelter, BUT getting frustrated now that ALL the dogs we initially were crazy about are gone.  John has started looking in the eBay classifieds, so if we find something there we like, we'll do that.  There is a puppy at the county shelter that looks good - I may call on that too.  Since they are paid employees and not volunteers, it may move a bit faster. 

A friend of mine thought it was crazy because years ago her husband just walking into the pet store on a whim and came out with a dog.  Wham, bam.  Plus, it ended up being the absolute sweetest dog....ever.  (And part of the reason why I'm excited for the kids to have one.) His name is Stanley and they had family pictures with him a while back which prompted me to think - gee, I don't have any pictures of me with Stanley....I should have a picture of me and Stanley!  I still need to do that. :)

Halloween stuff this week.  We are going to the nature center tonight to do their "Walk When the Moon is Full" program with Katie's Girl Scout Troop.  Shouldn't be too cold.  Tomorrow evening is the annual trick or treat party at the grocery store, which is always fun.  You trick-or-treat around the inside of the store, but they don't give away candy.  It's cartons of milk, packages of crackers, fruit snacks, carrots, etc.  Wednesday the kids will wear their costumes to school for their parties.  I'm helping at Will's school running some sort of a bean bag game I believe. 

Have I even told you what they are going to be?  Katie is Supergirl, and Will (this should come as no surprise) is Batman.  Three years ago I bought a Batman costume off Craigslist for $8.  This will be the 3rd year he's worn it for Halloween (not to mention the hundreds of times inbetween).  Last year we added a mask to it....this year, we added cool Batman gloves.  It's getting a little small so I will be on the hunt after Halloween is over to find a marked down Batman costume in a larger size. 

Katie has been trying to get Will to wear his Superman costume at some point so they can match, but so far Will hasn't been up for that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keep trying!

I called Monday - the shelter was closed.

I called Tuesday and they assigned me to a new adoption agent because they were surprised I hadn't been contacted yet.  So we'll see....I'm going to bug them again on Friday if I haven't heard anything. 

Katie is flip flopping about wanted a dog.  She does, she doesn't.  Good thing we aren't getting it for her!  Will is excited to play fetch.  I'm excited to have a walking/running buddy.  I think John is excited to have someone jump for joy when he comes home.  (I try, but the effect is lost.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dog adoption

John and I went through a list of animals on the Midwest Animal Rescue Center's website.  We picked a handful of choices and submitted our application over the weekend.  It said that someone would be in touch within 24 hours because they are eager to get animals placed and get the process started. 

After not hearing from anyone for 4 days I got frustrated and called them myself.  Seems there's only one person working in the office and she couldn't find my application.  Finally, she was able to dig it up and said that she'd have someone call me back.  I'm a bit eager to get the process started because it takes a looong time to go through.  We have to pass a phone interview, a home inspection, our references need to check out and then we need to schedule meetings with the animals. 

In the days it took to just get a call back, one of our top picks seems to have been adopted.  Good for him, but sad for us.  So, sorry guys, no Tanner. :(

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Friday...

The weeks are sure going by fast now that school is in full swing.  We have such a scheduled fall, things run in half hour time slots it seems.  Katie is getting better with the homework load.  It seems she is getting more done in school, and instead of an hour or "down time" after school, I'm only giving 30 minutes.  That seems to help too.  Although yesterday I let her and Will watch James and the Giant Peach after school.  We had finished the book a while ago and the movie was a special treat.  Seriously - if you haven't read that book (by Roald Dahl) pick it up. It was one of the funniest children's books I have read in a long time.  I think I mentioned the swearing it contained in an earlier post. 

Speaking of Roald Dahl, the church musical this year is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Auditions are in November.  Katie obviously wants to audition and I'm hoping for a small part.  She'll probably be an Oompa Loompa, right?  I'm trying to decide if I want to audition again.  Even though the week of the dress rehearsals and performances were really exhausting last year, it was so much fun.  Katie and I both made friends and connections that we wouldn't have made otherwise, and it's such a fun group of people. 

We have a birthday party this weekend that should be fun - friends celebrating their daughter's 1st birthday.  It's their first child it'll probably be a big blowout. :)  There were a lot of babies born this time last year....

Ok - I'm off to wash the kitchen floor.  I can't run today because the 3 year old doesn't have preschool today.  I may be able to work in a workout while I'm cleaning. :)  It's also Homecoming this week so we have a parade to go to this afternoon.  Katie will be walking in it and handing out pencils. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where have I been?

I've been "post-less" for a while now because I had major computer issues last week.  It was working fine Monday night, but when I went to turn it on Tuesday morning I only got a black screen.  I could hear it running, fan blowing, etc.  I did some messing around with it - hooked it up to an external computer monitor and the HD tv - still nothing to display.  From searching on the Internet (thank goodness for other gadgets to go online with!) I deduced that it was probably the video card.  Unfortunately, in a lap top the video card is part of the motherboard itself and you'd have to replace the whole thing. 

As I was trying to get something to display on the external monitors, it seemed the fan had quit working as well.  I wasn't really making any sounds, but there was a slight "hum" to it.  In speaking to 2-3 computer savvy people they all agreed that it was shot.  It had overheated a couple times this summer and spontaneously shut off.  They said that if it continued to overheat, the motherboard and who knows what else, could be severely damaged.  That's why (I'm now told) that it's important to get your laptop cleaned every 2 years or so to avoid this.  A desktop computer has lots of air and circulation space in the tower so that isn't as necessary, but a laptop has very little space to move air around.

It really made a week from hell even worse.  In the end, I did get a new computer on Wednesday afternoon.  That night when I was trying to install software on it, it kept crashing.  My printer software, my anti-virus software, even Microsoft Office.  I called the computer center where I bought it, and they agreed - I had gotten a lemon.  I brought it back on Thursday and they gave me a new one to try again.  This one has worked wonderfully. 

I have an external hard drive that I would use to back-up my previous laptop.  My last back-up was done this summer, after a spontaneous shut down (due to an overheating issue!)  So I THINK I have most of my information saved.  I have yet to hook up the hard drive and see what I can get off it.  Worst case scenario, I've had two guys offer to transfer files for me from the old hard drive to the new one, but hopefully it won't be necessary.  As long as I can get the pictures and videos of the kids and my music - I'll be fine and manage.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

So far, so good.

School is a couple weeks in now - finishing up week 3 - and things are going well.  We're getting into the groove and haven't missed a bus, yet.  I've also have 5 mornings now for about 2-3 hours of "me" time....well time that I run errands, get housework done and try to squeak in 30-40 minutes of "me" time.  Since "Pebbles" is getting taken to preschool by her parents, I don't have her until noon those days.  So, once 8:15 comes and both kids are on the bus, I'm "off the clock" until 11:20.  Here's my routine....

8:15 - 8:45 - have a cup of coffee and catch up on e-mails I have to return. 
8:45 - 9:10 - get dressed and ready for a run.  (This may seem like a long time, but I have a process that I go through)
9:10 - 9:50 - run and stretch
9:50 - 10:00 - water/banana/apple
10:00 - 11:10 - shower and run any errands that are needed - store/school/library/etc

Once I did this a few days, I realized that I didn't really have much time.  In my head - it seemed longer. :)  But, I figure I'll do this as long at the weather is cooperative. 

Will seems to like kindergarten.  It will be interesting (as it always is) to go to conferences in October and hear what his teacher has to say.  But he seems to play with lots of kids - and always has good, funny stories to share.

Katie is liking 3rd grade too.  It's officially "upper elementary", you know.  It seems to be more serious this year.  Homework is really corrected and graded - not just stars and stickers.  Points are taken off for punctuation, misspelled words, etc.  And if your name is missing from any homework, it gets crumpled up in front of the class and thrown away.  Then you stay inside during recess to re-do it.  This hasn't happened to Katie, yet.  Although I did hear from a parent of a girl that it did happen to - and that little girl was NOT happy. 

And of course, blamed her mother for not reminding her to put her name on her homework. :)

Strangely enough, I think Katie likes this extra structure and rules.  It's comforting knowing what to expect each day.  And the teacher has told us that she is really strict and firm early on in the year while the kids get used to her, and then as the year goes on it's easier for her to take a step back and watch them take on the classroom expectations themselves.  It should be a fun year!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Funny

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I don't know these kids....

One night last week, the kids were playing quietly together downstairs.  Then, they came up.....and this is what they looked like......

Swapped clothes and identities.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Off and running

School is off and running.  Katie has already gotten into the homework routine without much complaining, and Will is excited to get on the bus each morning.  Today he made sure to walk ALL the way to the back of the bus so he could sit in the last seat. 

Katie has her own caterpillar in her 3rd grade classroom, in a jar right on her desk.  (All the students have their own.)  I saw hers last night at a school meeting and it's already in it's cocoon.  This year, Katie tested into the Program for Academic Challenge as well.  So on Tuesdays she gets to go to the "PAC" room for an hour and work on more challenging problems, read more difficult books, etc.  As part of this program, she also gets to have 15 minutes of "relaxation and mindfulness" every Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday.  This is where she has a scheduled time to go into the "PAC" room, lights dimmed and soft music playing.  She lays on the floor and they practice deep breathing, letting things go, etc.  Sounds kind of nice.

Will has very positive things to say about Kindergarten.  He got to go to the library and check out a book this week, which was a big deal.  He talks about a few friends in his class already (one that lives right down the street!) 

Heading to school....

Waiting for the bus.  Since it was Will's first day riding the bus, I was planning on riding along. (As all parents were invited to do - and many did.) John stayed home to make sure Katie got on her own bus. 

Will waiting with his classmates before going into school.  The 2 little boys to the left are in his class and ride his bus. 

M/W/F "Pebbles" is in preschool.  So I leave to pick her up after Will gets home on the bus.  That means I have about 3 hours before kids start trickling back into the house.  Monday I went for a run, had a cup of coffee and went to the grocery store.  Today, I plan on going for a run, having a cup of coffee and taking the car in for an oil change.  Friday we are camping with friends so I'll spend that morning getting everything ready...and go for a run.  Wow - 3 runs in a week.  It's been a LOOONG time since I've been able to work that in!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Funny

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No school pictures

Ok, so I keep forgetting to take pictures of Katie in the morning before school.  We WILL do it tomorrow...then it will be Will's first day and Katie's third.....

In the meantime, here are some pictures of when we visited Itasca State Park!

Walking across the Mississippi.....John helped Katie walk across the rocks so she wouldn't get too wet.

Then, being the good dad he is, John came BACK to help Will across the rocks. 
 (Hey, I was holding the camera!)

And here would be John climbing out of the water after he slipped of a rock. 
But notice how dry the kids look!

Riding bikes on the trails....John and Will are up ahead.

Nothing better than ice cream after a 3 mile bike ride!

100 foot tall fire tower.
I was a little shaky on the way up....not wanting to go up to the top and not wanting the kids to go to the top.  After stating this, Will yelled "I'M GOING TO THE TOP!"  Ok.
I did get there - just after the other 3.

....If I stayed low, I didn't have to look over the edge. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

More vacation....

The Wednesday we were up north, we went into the local town of Longville.  Every Wednesday from June through August they have turtle races at 2:00.  An entire street is blocked off and people buy a chance to pick a turtle and race it.  (You can also bring your own turtle as long as the shell is over 5 inches wide.)  The racetrack looks like a bullseye.  12 people (and their turtles) start in the middle, then on "GO!" you let them go, and the first one out of the outside ring wins.  Also, the turtle still closest to the starting line wins too as the slowest. :)

Of course Katie and Will both raced their pick of the litter.  Katie came in second fastest.....Will's came in second slowest.

The other big kid-centered activity of the week was the fishing contest put on by the lodge we were staying at.  All kids - fish for 30 minutes (or until everyone has caught at least 1 fish) using whatever bait you wish.  The owner of the lodge went around and took pictures of every child and their first fish.  From then on, he wanted measurements and pictures with what could be the biggest fish or the smallest fish.  Also keep track of the number you catch because there'll be a prize for the most caught too.  Katie missed out on biggest fish by something ridiculous like 1/4 of an inch.  She caught a really nice small mouth bass.  In the end Katie caught 5 and Will caught 4.  AND they were both fishing like pros by the end of the week.

    Stay tuned for details about our stop at Itasca State Park and the Mississippi headwaters.  BUT I have a feeling tomorrow I'll have first day of school pics for Katie......

Friday, August 31, 2012

Funny Friday

Ok - I'm a mean mom, but I thought this was funny.

And as I showing Katie and Will the pictures later....they laughed too. 

So the three of them were riding on the paddle board.  John started rocking it and they thought that was fun.

Pretty soon they started begging Dad to tip them over.....


Just about...


They are also mad...

...very mad.  :)  But it didn't last long.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Busy week back!

Holy cow - it's been a busy week back at home.  State fair, 2 school open houses, beach day, pool day, and it isn't even Friday yet!

Let me see where were we....ah yes, vacation pictures.....

On Tuesday last week we rented a boat for the day.  The kids were able to catch fish off the docks, but they really got a kick out of catching them in the open water.  I didn't mind putting the worms on the hooks, but I let John deal with getting the fish off.  I attempted one time and then gave up.  I DID however manage to get one off later in the week.  Deb: 1  John: 50

Katie driving the boat!

Will is the king of the world....