Monday, September 21, 2015

Ruby at 22 Months

I mean, come on.  She's just delicious.

And here's what she's been up to this month.

Reading lift-the-flap books

Eating popcorn

Wearing her too-cool-for-school summer shades

 Playing with all the remotes, computers, phones, etc.  In other words, everything she shouldn't be into.  But also, Woody.

Watching Tangled

Naming certain favorite characters, especially Minnie (aside from all the "Elsa-s" around here)

Also, she's strongly expressing her desire to wear certain shoes at certain times.  She certainly doesn't get her shoe fetish from me!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The First Day...Finally!

The first day of school could not come soon enough (and it didn't, considering the lateness of Labor Day this calendar year).

Friends,  look.  Things have been rough around here lately.  This summer has brought with it a whole lot of togetherness {good!} and it's brought with it a whole lot of togetherness {not good!}.  These boys of mine continue to rage on with each other - for every moment of awesomeness, (it seems like) there are three times as many button-pushing and anger-producing screaming sibling matches that are making this space a very un-fun place to be.  And gosh, parenting is no joke!  So much of the boys' life experiences right now involve each other, and I know a good amount of growing up with each other involves disagreement and quarrel.  But when do I brush these moments off as regular sibling stuff and when do I need to step in and *attempt to* teach a lesson?  Gah!  I have two very awesome boys - but good Lord above - are they ever different in just the right ways.  Why, oh why, do they feel the need to create problems where there doesn't need to be any problems?!?!

All of that to say - it isn't all sunshine and roses.  At times, it feels like there have been more clouds and rainshowers.  Summer is great, but so is school.  And right now, a regular school routine with time spent apart is just what all of us need right now.      

By now you know that the first day doesn't come without a little pomp and circumstance.  I hung our banner last night and whipped up some double chocolate muffins for breakfast.  Oh yeah.  The teachers will thank me later for that. 

And then the traditional first-day-of-school-taking-of-the-pictures on the front stoop.


Reed had been expressing all of last year his desire to have Miss Cooper, Drew's first grade teacher, as his teacher for this year.  We did make an informal request for that to happen, and when we received our teacher assignments last week, Reed was over-the-moon excited to have been placed in her class.  He walked into the classroom and totally owned the place, with nary a backward glance at Brad and me.  He is confident and excited about this year.  His only problem: he wanted all of his friends from last year to be in his class this year.  Thankfully, we have a very small school so he'll see his other former classmates plenty.

Ah.  My Drew.  Such a stud!  While we knew who his teacher is this year, we had yet to meet her.  So with that came a bit of nervous excitement for all of us.  But after greeting Mrs. Rajewski this morning, and getting settled into his desk, I'm quite certain the nerves that came along with that unknown disappeared.  Drew is ready for this year - ready for routine and learning and reconnecting with his best buddies.  Like the last couple years, he walked into his classroom today with quiet confidence.  How can he be in third grade???


This morning was as easy breezy as I needed it to be - as we all needed it to be!  And once everyone was where they needed to be, I think there was a collective sigh of relief.  Here's to a new year.  Here's to new things.  Here's to both boys getting the individual attention and independence they need from me, and from each other.  Here's to teachers everywhere!

And then there's this little stinker.
When we got back home after drop off,  she volunteered to help "clean" up the breakfast mess.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Summer by the Numbers

In summers past, we created Lists {2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013} - to do, to see, to go, etc.  And they were great.  The goal wasn't necessarily to cross everything off the list but rather to provide ideas for those days when we were bored and stuck and didn't know what to do.  Last year, we skipped on the list making, primarily because we had a fun summer of travel and guests already to look forward to.  I was anxious to remove any kind of "we should" "we will" "we haven't done this yet" rigidity and instead allow ourselves a little more flexibility while still doing some fun stuff - and the stuff on our previous lists was getting repetitive (I need new ideas!).  This summer, we took things in yet another direction and decided to count our summer by the numbers.

As school neared to a close back in June, we sketched out a few different categories of the things we knew we were going to do this summer that we could keep track of numerically.  We narrowed it down to nine categories - from new things we were anxious to try to everyday things we'd be doing anyway.

And here's my disclaimer - this is a lot easier said than done.  Especially when you're tallying for five different people.  You'd think it'd be simple enough - read a book and mark it on the sheet.  Well, not so much.  We had our sheets taped to the back of the garage door in the kitchen, which made them visible and accessible, it really was just a matter of remembering.  Every day.  All the time.  And after a while, while the idea is awesome and fun, it does get a little old.

(You can see our papers posted on the door here...amongst the excitement Ruby has when her Daddy comes home for lunch.)

So, here is our Summer by the {approximate} Numbers :) as well as some of our favorite photos from the last three months (that likely have nothing to do with our categories, but here they are anyway!). 

Books Read: 57   So this was to include only chapter books, and not the endless amounts of board books and picture books we read every day.  Some of those got written down, however, and likely many of the chapter books did not (as I couldn't keep up with what Brad was reading and Drew would often forget to write his down).  So we'll call this a nice estimate of the book variety.

Parks Visited: 9   These are local parks only, and don't include repeat visits to the same park.  There were many of those.

Visitors Welcomed: 10  Our house was full during the month of June!  

(Servings of) Ice Cream Eaten: 21  But we know it was so much more than that.

Caches Found: 11  I blogged about geocaching just a bit back on this post, and it was something I hoped we'd really get into this summer.  It was great at first, but then Drew lost his enthusiasm for it (Reed was way into it) and I learned that trying to take all three kids on my own was a bit difficult, especially when it came to hunting into hard to reach places. So we'll keep this on the "to try again" list for next summer.

Meals BBQ'd: 7  I'd love to see this number be so much greater.  And I'd love for the menu to include more than burgers and hot dogs.

Movies Watched: 14  Does not include movies watched while traveling.  Inside Out and The Minion Movie were seen in the theater.  And who says you can't watch Elf in the middle of summer???

Miles Traveled: 3,293   Brad to and from Chicago; us to and from the Detroit Zoo; us to Pella, Brad back home, the kids and me to Mankato, back to Pella, to Davenport, and back home again; and us to Genesee County to pick up Buddy.  Oofta!  Next year I think we'll track our biking miles!

And lastly, Pictures Taken: 2,285

Then there were the untallied categories of arguments had, knees skinned, and moods ignored.  But the memories made far out count them all.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Say Hello to "Buddy"

Alternately titled, "It's All Brad's Fault"

One of the first things Brad told the kids upon our return from our Midwest vacation (after "I missed you!" and "I'm so glad you're home!") was "So, I think we should get a dog."

Excuse me, what???

...I said, not because this was a surprise (see this post here) but because he spoke it outloud.  Into the world, for all {of the children} to hear.  He might as well have just said "We're getting a dog!" or "I got a dog!" or "A dog shall be ours!  Soon!  Like, tomorrow!"

Excuse me, what???

So I guess that's that, and we got to work finding a dog!

Since Ruby's love affair with our neighbor dog, Coco, began, Brad has been online on and off again, seeking to find the perfect dog for us.  While we were looking at most of the middle-aged, good with kids dogs, we are (obviously) pretty partial to Beagles.  Every one Brad found he pointed out to me, and then for one reason or another, we'd inquire or we'd pass.  After Brad made his "let's get a dog!" declaration, we began to get really serious and starting seeing what the local shelters had available, Beagle or not.

What were we looking for?
        1) Not a puppy.  We weren't against a geriatric dog, but would prefer a dog in the 2-5 year range.
        2) A medium-sized dog.  Previously, I had stated that the next dog I'd like to get would be a big dog.  Right now, though, with the size of our home and the size of our yard, we wouldn't be able to accommodate one.
        3) Clearly, a dog good with small children.

Other than that, we weren't too picky, but the cuteness factor certainly played a role. :)

We started at our local humane society, and found Goldo.  He was a some kind of Beagle mix (maybe Pug and Lab?) and was brought into the shelter as a stray.  We went to visit him last Friday, and we all fell in love.  He was calm and gentle and sweet and kind.

Not much of his history was available to us because of how he arrived there, but the staff informed us of the process and fees and all that we needed to know (as we've never rescued before).  The gal helping us did tell us that there is a waiting list for Goldo, and one other individual is before us on that list.  There is a required 7-day waiting period to adopt Goldo, to allow his family time to find/reclaim him.   The 7-days expire on Monday, and we would hear back then as to whether or not his family found him, the first person on the wait list decided to adopt him, or if he would be ours.

Unfortunately for us, Goldo was adopted by the first person on the list.  And many little hearts were broken.  Especially Reed's.

After we got that bummer news at the beginning of this week, and after we didn't see any other dogs suitable for us at our local humane society, Brad got serious about expanding his search a bit outside our immediate area.  In the end, he found what could be a few options for us in Genesee county (the Flint area, which is about 65 miles south of us).  He took off of work Wednesday afternoon so we could head down there to see what we could find.

Not ever having gone the rescue/humane society route before, there were a few things we were completely not smart about - namely, stopping at Genessee County Animal Control to find a dog.  Hindsight, if we had actually been thinking about the purpose of animal control facilities, I don't think we would've stopped there.  We certainly wouldn't have taken the kids with us, had we thought things through.  We didn't see any dogs being mistreated, or anything else suspect, but there were so many dogs in small spaces, it was very smelly, and very, very loud from all the barking.  I don't think we scarred our children for life, but it's just a really sad place.  Or perhaps because of the nature of the place, it's the best place to adopt from, but because there are so many animals and their main objective is not necessarily to find forever homes for these dogs, the staff isn't as connected with the animals as they are at a humane society.  Consequently, they aren't really helpful when it comes to finding a dog that's a good fit for our family.  We did happen to run into one staff member who works pretty closely with the dogs (so she said), and she was able to pick out a few she thought would be a good fit for us (mild tempered, sweet, etc) but in the end, I don't think we felt comfortable enough adopting with so many unknowns.

Onto our final stop, then, and the place where we would find our guy.  The Genesee County Humane Society was just across town, and when we arrived, we were greeted by an awesome facility.  It is clear that this shelter is well-loved and donated to, as all of the animals have ample space indoors, and although we didn't go outside to the romping grounds, I'm sure it was just as spectacular as the inside.  The very kind and helpful staff listened to what we were looking for and directed us back to see the dogs.

And in one of the very first kennels we found this little guy...

And there was a collective exclamation of joy.

The paperwork on his kennel door said that his name is "Bisquit."  He's five years old and he's been at the humane society since the beginning of June.  He was an "owner surrender" due to "too many dogs".  It also said that he is good with other dogs and with small children.

While I think we had all fallen in love at first sight, in fairness to ourselves and to the other dogs we had yet to see, we circled throughout the remaining kennels - but then decided quite quickly that Bisquit was our guy.  I could not get over the fact that he looked so much like Luci! 

We returned to the front desk and asked for more information about Bisquit.  The little bit more we were told about his previous situation is that he was not, in fact, surrendered by his owner but taken from his owner.  We didn't get any other details, but our best guess is that it was a case of neglect/improper care due to the large number of animals his previous owner had.  We then asked for a "meet and greet" and we were given time with Bisquit in an enclosed room, to get to know each other.

It took all of 10 minutes for all of us to decide that he was the one.

Upon committing to adopt him, we were told that his adoption fee had been covered by one of the volunteers at the shelter.  Apparently it is a mother/son duo that regularly volunteers and for a few of the dogs they've grown especially fond of, they've taken care of the fees for the families that choose them.  What an unexpected gift!  The paperwork was then started, Bisquit was fitted for his collars, and he was ours! 

We had been talking about potential dog names for the past week, but we had to get serious as we drove home.  We aren't sure if Bisquit came into the shelter with that name or if it was given to him there, but it isn't uncommon for adoptive families to give pets a new name.  And of course, none of us could agree on anyone else's suggestion.  As far as Reed is concerned, Bisquit is his name and Bisquit he shall be.  :)  As we were driving him home, I kept referring to him as "Buddy", as there was no other name to call him yet (I myself was not a fan of his shelter name).  And it just kinda stuck.      

He's a tiny little thing - only 22 pounds, compared to Luci's 33 - and I'm still marveling at how similar he looks to our Luci.  We are slowly getting to know one another - he is so kind to the kids, he loves to be outside, and he loves loves loves to snuggle.  He finally starting eating yesterday after having fasted since we brought him home on Wednesday, and he's sleeping like a log in his new kennel.  He did pee a couple times in the house when we first brought him home (more reasons to have this dang carpet removed!) but nothing since.  He was heartworm positive when he was brought into the shelter back in June, and he was fully treated there, but it is something we'll have to have tested again in a few months to check up on.

I admit that when I went to bed Wednesday night, I turned to Brad and said "what have we done???"  I had been quite enjoying not having the burden that comes along with having a pet.  

But.  This is so right for us.  We are a dog family.  

And there's a reason why Goldo wasn't for us.  It's because Buddy was.