Every once in awhile a dog enters your life and changes everything…

Every once in awhile a dog enters your life and changes everything...

We’ve had our newest addition, “Sierra Rose” for three weeks now. I am sleep deprived, witnessing the sunrise each morning as I stumble out of bed to let her out. She wakes up around 6am and starts nuzzling against my face as I lay on my pillow in dreamland. I used to wake at this hour all the time, but I’m retired now and I like to get up a little later. I can no longer make it to watch late night TV with this new schedule. The shift hasn’t been that easy. I haven’t seen Letterman or Leno since she arrived. I miss them.
My arms look like I’ve been in a cat fight with 5 or 6 vicious felines. Cuts here and there from her little teeth thinking she is playing and that I’m having fun too. Yoo Hoo – this is called blood… NOT fun you little dickens.
We have band aids in every room of the house and on the back porch. We have a variety of chew toys – ropes, tires, squeaky animals, nylabones, balls and kongs. And treats – lots of treats for praise. She can sit and she can stay, and come here on demand, but… come evening and it all goes out the window.
For some reason between the hours of 5 and 8pm she gets all wound up and wants to attack, bite and chew everything in sight. She puts a whole new meaning behind the word frisky. What is this? She is no longer adorable during these hours. She is a four legged pain in the ass with lethal teeth.
Then all of a sudden, she winds down, the dust settles, the chaos ends, and she crashes out on the floor. She becomes adorable again, lays her head on my feet and just like a dog… she changes everything!

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Are chimpanzees monkeys? No they are not!

Are chimpanzees monkeys? No they are not!

Today I chaperoned my granddaughter’s first grade class on their last field trip of the school year. We went to our city’s zoo. I love field trips. They are a way for teachers to approach knowledge in a completely new form and for kids to have fun while learning. The children have a chance to experience hands-on education while also being introduced to new environments.
Most kids of this age have been to the zoo at least once in their lives. But when it’s a planned activity, through a school, educational criteria is involved and required.
Today we saw a reptile show. The kids got to pet an iguana, a snake, an armadillo, and a California deset turtle. We watched a hawk fly around the outdoor theater, going from one zoo keeper to another and landing on their arms. Fascinating how they never stray off course. We were introduced to a kinkajou and an African hedgehog.
As I was watching the children, I was amused by their attention span and how intent they were about learning about animals. I noticed a few students that have a hard time focusing in class were actually paying attention and excited about what they were learning.
As we were leaving, we stopped to say goodbye to the chimpanzees that were sitting and staring at us from inside their cage. There was a zoo keeper nearby and he asked the children if they thought these primates were monkeys. The children said “yes!” Well, we learned they are not. They do not have tails and that means they are apes. I think they learned a lot today and had a lot of fun doing it.

Hey Baby… What’s your sign?

Hey Baby... What's your sign?

Rounding out the zodiac cycle is the Pisces – the sign of eternity and reincarnation. Pisceans are in a constant battle between balancing life’s realities with the dream world they’re drawn to.
Emotional, intuitive, lazy, impractical, compassionate, impressionable… Everything is based on feelings and the dream world we feel such a strong pull to, instead of logic and rationality.
Born in March, that’s my sign. My element is water, my special color is turquiose – the color of the sea – and my symbol is two fish.
Today my husband suggested I clean out my dresser drawers – they are a mess. They started out organized but that was 7 years ago when we moved in here. I could also give my closet an overhaul. I scramble to find things when I’m running late and it’s because I really do need to reorganize. The thing is… I just got this picture of my two grandsons who live at the beach. I once lived there too and it is my favorite place in the universe. The ocean moves me – it moves me right into dreamland where I’d rather be. I don’t really care about the chaos I have created in my closet. I’d rather dream…
In 5 weeks I will be on the island of Kauai. I will be basking in the tropical sun, frolicing on the beach, snorkling with my beloved fish, and appreciating God’s special gift to me – the ocean.
I am a dreamer – I am a Pisces… what’s your sign?

Open House – a special evening of pride…

Open House - a special evening of pride...

Every Spring, open houses are held all over the country. Students and teachers scramble to get their classrooms ready for this big event. Projects are completed, rooms are decorated, desks are cleaned and organized and the walls and windows are adorned with reports and artwork.
Tonight I attended my granddaughter’s open house. She is in the first grade. She was excited for tonight and eager to show us her work. Her journal, poems, workbook, assignments… all the tasks she has diligently worked on this past year. Organized on her tidy desk – she was anxious to tell us all about her accomplishments.
What I noticed tonight was the joy that radiated across the faces of these 6 and 7 year olds. They have worked very hard. They are delighted, they are pleased and downright elated at all they have mastered in these past 8 months.
I know, they are first graders. Fresh out of the gate. They have a lot of school years before them. But right now, they are starting out being eager to learn and to show the world that they are interested in… everything!!
They are trying hard… they are proud… and I am too.

I want them to enjoy just being a child…

 I want them to enjoy just being a child...

With the recent bombing in Boston, I have been thinking a lot of how all the violence in our world is affecting our children. It’s on the news almost everyday. Some new school shooting, a massacre, an Amber alert, an explosion, a senseless act of terrorism. It just seems to happen more and more. I did not grow up in fear. No child should.
As a child, I played outside until the streetlights came on. My neighborhood was safe. I went to the mall, the state fair, the 4th of July parade, the theater, roller rink. I went everywhere without one thought of impending danger.
I do believe there is way more good in the world than evil. But… evil is still out there. When, where, how… none of us really knows. Do we shelter our children from everything? I do not think so. To me, that just empowers the sick and twisted, emotionally unsound morons that walk this earth. I do not want them to win!
I want our children to have a childhood. Carefree, and fun. I want them to feel society is watching out for them, keeping them safe and allowing them to go to sleep at night without any worries.
Tonight I dedicate my blog to Martin Richard. A little eight year old child, innocent, with his whole life in front of him. Just a little boy that meant everything to his family. Gone in an instant just after hugging his father as he finished the Boston marathon. A little boy that thought he was safe, protected by his family and by society. Gone…
I pray for the Richards family and those that have lost loved ones in these senseless acts of terror. And I pray for my grandchildren that they might still be able to feel safe in an uncertain world and be able to enjoy just being a child.

Starting over… filling a void.

Starting over... filling a void.

Five weeks ago we had to put down the love of my life, Maggie, our nine year old yellow lab. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. She was many things, but most of all, sweet. That is the word that would best describe her. During the night if she had to go out, she would come to my side of the bed and lay her head next to my pillow. She would “whisper” a little whimper, as though she knew I didn’t want to be disturbed. I would always wake up of course, and let her out. She was just sweet like that, in so many ways. Gosh… I miss her… my sweet, sweet friend.
We decided to get a new puppy, another yellow lab. We have become very fond of that breed because they are eager to please, good with children, gentle and intelligent. A good family dog.
We have now had our new baby, Sierra Rose, for a week and a half. She is not with us to replace our Maggie but she is with us to fill a void. Our sweet girl left a huge hole in our hearts.
Sierra knows nothing of her predecessor. She is here simply to be a puppy in her new home, with her new family, in her new environment. She is work, she is taxing, she is a baby. She deserves our love.
After such a short time with us she has already learned many things. She can sit, stay, come here, and retrieve a ball on command. She is eager to please.
To be honest, I was not sure if I was ready to love another dog. Who would be able to live up to my sweet Maggie?
I have learned in this past week and a half that no dog could ever replace my first sweet girl. But Sierra Rose is loved and wanted and adored and she is filling a void.

Cousins… the goodbye dance…

 Cousins... the goodbye dance...

When I was a toddler, my father was transferred and moved our family out of state. We left my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to live 2,000 miles away. We got together every two years during the summer and I looked so forward to these reunions on my grandparent’s farm. These visits are still some of my favorite childhood memories. Getting reacquainted with my cousins never took too much time. My brother and I would quickly pick up where we had left off and the antics would begin.
For three weeks we got to experience “family” – all of them – all of us – together.
Leaving was never easy. I can remember my mother crying in the car, every time we said our goodbye’s. We’d wave out the car window as Dad drove down the road until they were all out of sight. My grandmother in her apron, my grandfather in his bib overalls, the dogs barking, my aunts, uncles, and cousins all waving in the road – I can still picture these sad farewells.
Two of my three sons do not live locally. We’re not 2,000 miles apart though, so our visits are much more frequent. Yesterday my eldest son just left for home with our grandson after a weeks visit. He and our granddaughter who lives here are the same age. They
have always been very close even though they only get together once or twice a year. They instantly pick up where they left off from the previous visit and begin making new memories. There is a special bond there, and they enjoy every single minute with each other.
They won’t forget the fun they had this past week, they’ll save it in their hearts, and relive it through pictures. When the visit comes to an end – they hug and giggle and don’t want to let go. Then they make one last sweet memory of another great time together – their goodbye dance. Then we stand in the road, and wave.

How I spent my Easter vacation…

How I spent my Easter vacation...

During school holidays and summer vacations, I have my granddaughter during the time her parents are at work. I try and plan activities to keep us both busy between 8am and 5pm. We sometimes have playdates with her friends, go to the movies, the park or other places that we wouldn’t ordinarily visit. There is still a lot of time to cover in a 9 hour day.
This past week was Easter vacation and we had several things planned. She also has an important project due in school the middle of April. We decided we would spend some time on that, a little each day.
Being in first grade I didn’t think this report would be too complicated. I had no idea how much is expected of 6 and 7 year olds these days. First grade has changed a lot since I was in school, reading about Dick, Jane and Spot.
Her project is on an insect of her choice. She picked the pond skater. First of all, she is to answer 4 pages of questions about her chosen insect. The topics on this part include it’s description, habitat, life cycle, predators, prey and defense.
After these questions are fully answered, then she is to write a report. This report is to be 3 paragraphs long, and each one is to include a topic, details, and a conclusion based on the information she gathered from answering the 4 pages of questions. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Oh wait, we aren’t done yet. Lastly she is to either make a model of her insect, a poster with pictures, or a shoebox diorama of the insect in it’s environment. HOLY COW!
Well I don’t know how you spent your Easter vacation but I am now an expert on a bug I have seen swimming in my pool. It’s called a pond skater and did you know, there are over 500 species???