Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Moment in my Mother's shoes!

I remember my mom saying to me..."just you wait until you are a mom" or "when you're a mom you can do it however you want!"

Funny how now that I'm that mom, I think incredibly like my mom did back then!

This is Taffy's mom...and Taffy is in that pile of puppies somewhere!

Taffy was a puppy we got when I was 6 or 7 years old. We had moved to England the year before and lived out in the country with a huge backyard.

Of course with 4 kids under 8, I'm confident that we did the fun cuddling and playing and mom did the hard puppy work.

When they gave her back to the dog farm a year later I couldn't seem to understand but of course I wasn't the one that...

-had baby #5 two months after adding a puppy to the chaos!

-had to house train a high energy puppy while potty training a 2 year old and holding a newborn!

-had my house destroyed time and time again!

-cried after my dog ate half of a beautiful cake I had spent all day making for Valentines day!

-cleaned up throw up in the back of the station wagon every time we had to take the dog somewhere in the car! (I still remember the smell!)

-if we chose not to take Taffy with us (like on one of the three 1 hour round trips into town each day for school runs) we had to risk the evil neighbors coming and beating her to death! Seriously, these neighbors--the Mulligans--were out of a movie! They hated Taffy!

Those are just a few of the things I remember...I'm sure mom could write her own book to rival Marley & Me!

Our family was probably a bad fit right from the start--just not enough time and energy to devote to a dog with so much energy and enthusiasm. But from my little 7 year old heart, giving Taffy back was like giving up one of my siblings. I'm quite sure my vocal little self didn't hesitate to let my mom know how mean I thought she was. I'm quite certain I made many emotional and cruel accusations as I fought for Taffy to stay. I can just hear myself saying "would you get rid of me?!"

For that...I'm truly sorry mom. Your efforts to succeed with Taffy were more valiant than I can imagine! I will hold onto the hope that as my children scream bitterly at me someday...that 25 years later we'll see eye to eye and I may even get an apology!

This brings me to a confession...

I now have my own 6 year old daughter. And of course, she desperately wants a dog. She is even giving up some of her toys for our future "dog Messick."

Laugh, mom, laugh! I deserve it!

I feel the need to justify and explain the long and painful path that has led us to our current search for the perfect dog for our family....because I know what most of you are thinking!

  • I don't pretend to even begin to understand Hayley's passion for animals or her need to connect with non-human life. I thought I loved dogs as a girl but as an adult I must admit there is not one bit of attraction towards dogs left in me! As my Mom used to say "I raise children not dogs!" When a dog comes up to me I have to fight the urge to put my hand in my a dog?!?! Yuck!
  • Ryan and I have held a united front for years on this issue. We have all the reasons clearly down pat and regularly go through our arguments against and Hayley's arguments for a dog.
  • One big argument is the size of our house...someday when we get a bigger house with a bigger yard we'll think about it. But in the current housing market situation (we're stuck!) Hayley may have her own 6 year old by the time that happens!
  • The arguments coming from the 6 year old gallery have intensified in recent months. I thought they'd play out like they always have before. We'd fight the battle over and over until it eventually subsided for a while. But in the heat of one battle Ryan quietly admitted to me that he "kinda wanted a dog too." I knew from that moment that I was toast!

But I take full responsibility. I realize that this dog will fall into my care more than anyone else's so I better be on board. I started finding all the pros of having a was hard at first.

For now we'll say at the top of the list is a hope that this will fill a need for Hayley and maybe help ground her in a way that we aren't able to...if you know Hayley well, you may understand that...if not, trust me--after all, I'm the mom! I guess it's amazing what you'll do for your kids!

So for the past month we have spent countless hours pouring over breed books and learning all sorts about temperament testing. This past week we began visiting local animal shelters and today we spent several hours at adoption events. Our goal is to get a dog with a calm temperament that isn't a puppy (although those puppies are so dang cute!!!) It's a little adictive and somewhat fun but overwhelming to hand-pick our next family member.

We bore our friends constantly with our "dog talk" right now. But if you care two cents about dogs and want to know: breeds we've considered seriously but that are ruled out at this point are beagles and king charles spaniels. Our current favorite is yellow labradors (larger than we first wanted but with the right child-friendly and potential obedience qualities). We're open to advice on breed and temperament!

What do the kids think about this new pursuit?

-Hayley: has been surprisingly patient with what a long process this is. She asks regularly if "we're ever going to get a dog!" She also begs to do chores constantly to save money up for our dog. I have to be's wearing me out to have to come up with chores for her all the time but I'm glad that she's willing to work for a dog.

-Maya: just wants a "sweet" dog. To her "sweet" dogs come when you call them and don't bite. She fell in love with a little Chihuahua at the shelter and even though we told her someone else was going to get that dog she now wants to name whatever dog we get "Chihuahua" and with the cute way she says it I could almost agree.

-Alice: thinks she's in heaven getting licked by dogs. She gets so excited to go see all these dogs and isn't the least bit scared or intimidated.

Where am I in this process???

Surprisingly excited. As we meet new dogs I find myself really trying to get to know them. I even pet them for long periods of time (thankgoodness for hand sanitizer when we get back to the van!) I think dogs, imagine a dog in my life, and even dream about dogs right now. Part of me wants to hurry up and find one so I can get on with other stuff! (whatever...I'll be training and cleaning up after a dog from here on out!)

When we first started these discussions I dreaded having another body in my house all the time...but now I am actually looking forward to the potential companionship. So hopefully this is a good sign. Now if I could just stop getting emotionally attached to dogs that other people end up getting this would be so much easier. But hopefully we'll have an exciting announcement in the next month or so...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We're Going on a Worm Hunt...

Ever read this book? It's a favorite in our house. Such great repetition and rhyme that the kids end up reading it with us even if they can't read!

Well, in honor of a very rainy week in our part of the world and to ward off some fast approaching grumps, we went on our own "worm hunt". Yesterday, we hadn't left the house all day and Hayley was suffering from two straight days of no recess. Dad was getting home late and so I locked the door on the messy house and forgot about the fact that dinner wasn't made. Put my grumpy unwilling kids in boots and started singing silly songs and marching along the sidewalk like a crazy mom. Within a few minutes I had a willing army of happy worm hunters. An hour later I had to drag them all into the house equally unwilling as when we tried to leave. Guess the idea was a hit!

We're going on a worm hunt,
We're going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day
We're not scared!

(go worm-hunters!)
(and you're cute too Alice, even if you don't have rain boots!)

Oh Oh!

A sidewalk.
A slippery slide-y sidewalk.
We can't go over it
We can't go under it
We have to go through it...

Left, Right...
Left, Right Left!

We're going on a worm hunt,
We're going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day
We're not scared!

Oh Oh!
A puddle.
A deep wet puddle.
We can't go over it
We can't go under it
We have to go through it...

Splishy, Splashy!
Splishy, Splashy!

The happy worm hunters displaying their catch! (Maya didn't want to touch it so she carried a worm all the way home on the arm of her coat)

They even had fun watching one of the worms split itself and I was reminded again how much I don't know when they asked me about the biology of how that happens and how the worm is still alive? Home to research so I can answer these important questions...


I'm so grateful for the seasons! It always feels so good to slip into a cozy warm sweater in fall when the air finally feels cool again. And as summer approaches my toes are so excited to reunite with flip flops and have more freedom again!

It's so easy to complain about the weather. We all do it. But right now I'm enjoying the teasing nature of spring. Last week we got a little taste of summer...

Maya has been asking me for the last month if it's hot enough to run through sprinklers and I keep telling her not quite yet. So when we hit the 90's and were still in April I was a little shocked, but couldn't really say no to swim suits and sprinklers anymore!

But alas, it was just a little taste of things to we enjoyed slipping back into those ever so fun boots and splashing in puddles with clothes on!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Museum-ing with the kids

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of entertaining and engaging the mind of a preschooler. I used to do so much with Hayley when she was Maya's age and I'm getting back into the groove of it again. It's such a fun age...they are just little sponges! Maya is more of a homebody but is slowly getting less stressed-out in crowded areas.

A week or so ago we hit the downtown scene with some friends while Hayley was at school. I love the American History far my favorite Smithsonian! Such a variety of displays to check out. And now that they've added two awesome kids science-y areas we are just in heaven there!

This was the winning picture of the day! I left Maya arranging these shapes in mirrors while I chased Alice and came back to find her entertaining herself with funny faces! What a cute little goose!

So many other cool activities but I only pulled out my camera now and then!

I love all these hands on learning things! We could have stayed so much longer but had to get home to pick up Hayley from school. She was such a great sport about missing out. I think leaving Hayley out is half the reason I don't ever want to plan fun things with Maya and Alice during the day but I'm learning to just get on with it. I did so much with Hayley when she was younger so she's really not "missing out" it's just her turn to do other things, right?!

And gotta get that shot of the car ride...after all that's half the fun...what kid wouldn't love chocolate chip cookies and a movie as you are magically beamed home?

Happy Birthday Hayley!

Our Hayley bug is growing up so fast! She turned 6 in April. It seemed like a week-long celebration.

The Saturday before her birthday we had a simple easter-theme party at home (it was the day before Easter). It was the day after we got home from our little vacation, so we threw together an easter egg hunt, games, easy crafts and snacks (gotta love oriental trading!). Kids are so easy to please!

I thought I'd be up half the night before making some amazing cake request. I was thrilled when Hayley said she wanted chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting that has mini-chocolate chips in it. I can handle that! I don't know where she got the idea but I highly recommend the mini chocolate chips in frosting idea--yummy!

Games in the basement: here's our easter egg dart throwers...Ryan is the target!

This was a really fun game idea that they loved...kind of like musical chairs with no winners/losers. Start with multiple hoops. When the music is playing everyone dances outside the hoops. When the music stops everyone has to hop in a hoop. You take away a hoop each time. The kids think it's hillarious to squish into one hoop at the end. We made them yell "Happy Birthday Hayley" everytime they jumped in the hoop. Pretty fun! Here's the silly kids...

Ryan had to work a long day on Hayley's birthday so we went out to dinner at Chuck E Cheese the night before and even let her open her presents that night.

Here's my pretty birthday girl on her actual birthday! A conversation with Hayley...
My name is: Hayley

My favorite color is: every color

If I could spend all day doing one thing it would be: draw all day

I really like to: play with my friends

One of my favorite foods is: bananas

My least favorite food is: plain celery (has to have peanut butter!)

I am really talented when it comes to: racing

If I could be a book/cartoon character I'd be: Belle

My favorite animal is: horse

If I could have a pet I’d have a: dog

My favorite memory with my family is: when I was born (I'm impressed if that's a memory! I think she means she loves to hear the story!)

My favorite scripture story is: Moroni

My favorite Primary song is: I am a Child of God

Anything else you want to tell us: I love looking at pictures of me and my sisters. I love to make bracelets.

Her big present was a scooter. It had been rainy all week so she had practiced in the house but this was the first spin outside on a dry day. Within a couple of days she was a pro and goes so fast I can barely stand to watch!

Little sisters trying to keep up! The scooter has been such a hit that we actually went and got a 3 wheeled one so Hayley and Maya can scoot around the neighborhood together. Fun times!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Living the High-Life!

Hayley had a week off school for Spring Break at the beginning of April. Some friends of ours have a time share and had a reservation for a couple nights when their dad visited from Iraq...but then their plans a couple days before they called to see if we wanted to go in their place. Score! Here's our fun jaunt into a luxury vacation...

This was our cabin: 2 bedroom, 2 bath, full kitchen and frontroom with TV, etc. Maya cried for a long time when we had to leave. She still wants to go back to "our cabin". They had pony rides and horse riding on-site.

We had fun just hanging out with the animals. There was this big turkey wandering aroud the yard. Alice gets so excited when she sees any type of animal--she does this little excited scream and can't seem to decide if she wants to touch them or run away.

I don't know if you can see it but in the picture above she's laughing and doing her excited scream.....then the turkey did it's "gobble" noise....

...scared her to death. That gobble thing is really loud! Luckily her knight in shining armor (dad) came to the rescue before she was gobbled up.

The indoor swimming pool was also a big hit!

Maya spent the first 45 minutes on the ladder...eventually she warmed up and got in!

Hayley was a little fish.

Fun at the playground.

Beautiful scenery and pretty walks.

And the final stop before checking out was to say goodbye to those horses.

Love this shot of all three girls trying to get the horse's attention!

Yummy carrots!

On our way home we stopped by Monticello. Home of Thomas Jefferson. So beautiful! We didn't make it through the house tour (there was no way our tired kids were going to make it without multiple melt-downs). But we enjoyed the grounds.

Hayley has been learning about money at school and was excited to tell her teacher that she's been to the house that's on the nickle!

This is a little pond next to the house that Jefferson would store live fish in from his fishing trips then re-catch them to eat. Alice donated handfuls of rocks to the dinner!

Ever seen the famous picture of Jefferson standing in his little house looking out over his gardens and land. This is that little building. I learned a lot about what an amazing person Thomas Jefferson was. I'm grateful that our country was blessed by the talents and convictions of such a man.

You can't really see it in this picture but the view was breathtaking! I'm so glad we stopped by.

Tired kids heading back to the car. Gotta get some pictures of the roadtrip home....

Hayley's back there somewhere!

Maya was bored so after this shot I turned the camera over to her. Here's her best pics...there were a lot of random shots of garbage and snacks in the back of the car too that I won't bore you with!