I brought my kids to the pool this afternoon. I had about as much fun watching the people, as the kids had swimming!
It’s so nice to finally be at the stage where I don’t have to be right “on” my kids when we go to the pool! Grace is a good swimmer, and does well on her own. Michael is not a great swimmer, but he pretty much has fun just splashing around in the shallow area.
One of Grace’s good friends from school happened to be at the pool. The two girls disappeared pretty quickly, while Michael splashed around in the fountains. I sat back, read a book (with one eye on the pool of course)… it was quite relaxing!!
There was a family sitting on the grass next to me. A younger Mom and Dad with a baby in a stroller, and a little girl, I would guess to be about 2. The little girl kept running back to tell her Daddy something, and would run back to the pool. Every time, he would tell her to walk, and she would turn and run back in! After what seemed like 50 times of her doing this, he got clearly frustrated. He said in THAT tone of voice, “You HAVE to STOP RUNNING!”. She looked at him, turned around, and ran back in! He gave a very exasperated sigh, and rolled his eyes.. At this, another Mom nearby and I busted out laughing. You couldn’t help it!! Then, he looked at his wife, and said, “Did she JUST laugh at me?” Yes, yes we did!!!
Every parent at the pool was doing the same thing. Telling their kids not to run, while watching them running back into the pool… it was VERY comical (except when it was my own son)!!!
After we’d been there a little while, my neighbor showed up with two of her kids. They are both very close to Michael’s age, and they are all good friends. While Kathi and I sat on the edge of the pool, our kids pretended to be dolphins. Then, Michael decided to brave the waterslide. The cute lifeguard at the end caught him, and so began his 25 or so times going down, walking back up to the top, and going down again… We all had an absolute blast!!!
Michael landing safely in the arms of a very cute lifeguard!!!
It reminds me though, how quickly my kids are growing up! Just a few summers ago, Grace was afraid to go near water, and Michael needed to be followed every second! Last summer, Grace was a bit more independent at the pool, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of not being right there with Michael! Last summer, he wasn’t tall enough to try the waterslide, even if he wanted to (which he didn’t – he was too scared)… Last summer, I enjoyed every minute I had with my kids. This summer, I plan to do the same!!!
Anyone who has met my dog will agree, he is a spaz!!! He’s got some major anxiety issues, and it seems to be getting worse!
We got Duke about a year and a half ago. I was recently separated, and was really freaked out being home alone. I borrowed the neighbors’ dog for a weekend, and felt much safer… I decided I needed to get a dog. The kids had always wanted one anyway! The only hesitation I had, was that my daughter is allergic. I told her I wanted her to get retested, but she said, “Mom, I’m on enough allergy medicine, I’ll be fine!” So, I began my search…
I have always liked black labs, I grew up with Samoyeds, I thought a Beagle might be a good choice… Growing up showing dogs, I had some definite opinions on what I did NOT want (Schnauzer, Dachsund, Poodle, and a few more). I looked online at the local shelters. There were some beautiful labs, a gorgeous Coon Hound, a Boxer, so many choices! I was doing daycare from my home at the time. We took a field trip to the local shelter to meet the Coon Hound. She was beautiful! The kids seemed to like her. She needed a little work on the leash, but I was up for the challenge! That night, I did a little research on Coon Hounds, as that was one breed I knew very little about. I discovered they tend to be runners. Not a good match with a home daycare where kids will be in and out all day… The search continued. As I called around, I realized that I didn’t have the $300 or so get the dog spayed/neutered, shots, etc. I narrowed my search to only dogs that had shots and were fixed. My Mom got involved, and found Duke on Craigslist. I never thought to check there!
Duke was a hound/lab mix who lived in Hayward. They had gotten him to be a hunting dog, but discovered he was afraid of loud noises (especially gun shots). I e-mailed back and forth for about a week with the current owner. He needed a family where he could just be lazy… Perfect for us! We met halfway, and Duke was ours! He had really bad dandruff, and was very skinny. I think he must have had a lot of competition with other dogs for food. He was a bit aggressive when he was eating, but otherwise, was a total sweetheart! We switched him to a better food, and his dandruff quickly went away, and he put on some weight.
Luckily, my awesome neighbors used to foster dogs, so they gave me lots of great advice on socializing him. Duke and their dogs quickly became friends! Sometimes, I got a little nervous because they played so rough, but they assured me it was normal play for dogs. As long as they weren’t nervous, I wasn’t going to be. He also had Rusty, my Mom’s dog, to play with. I thought this was enough socialization for him. He was spoiled, in my opinion, and that was good enough for me!
We noticed Duke’s anxiety early on, he’d chew things up when we were playing outside if he wasn’t out with us. He’d spread the garbage all over the place… He really liked being in his kennel, so I started putting him in there if I was gone, and chaining him up outside if we were out playing. When I was gone for longer periods of time, I put him in the laundry room, so he’d have more space. He’d sit and WHINE – ALL THE TIME! He’d bark – a lot… I live in a townhome, the neighbors don’t exactly appreciate having to listen to him bark whenever I wasn’t home. I got him a bark collar. He quickly learned just how much he could whine and whimper before it would zap. Sometimes, he would even just bark through it… Ugh!! When I went back to work last September, and the neighbor with his friends (dogs) moved, his anxiety increased! I considered trying to find a family who is home all the time for him. He was part of our family though, and I couldn’t do that to the kids. I need to find a way to help him…
In the past couple months, he has not only gotten more anxious, but he has also started showing aggression towards other dogs. He still plays just fine with Rusty, but twice in the past month, he has snapped at other dogs. It makes me nervous! One dog he snapped at was another neighbors’ dog that walks past our deck every day, sometimes several times. Whenever Duke sees him, he freaks out, barking like there’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t seem to bother him that his collar is zapping the crap out of him! The second time, was yesterday. We were walking down the little road by the river, minding our own business. All the sudden, I see this beautiful Samoyed running down the side of the road, with its owner following in a car (really, how lazy do you have to be?). Since I grew up showing Samoyeds, I was excited, and wanted to pet the dog, but was nervous how Duke would respond, especially since he was on the leash, and the other dog was not. I tightened up the leash, and when the other dog ran over to say hi, Duke must have thought it was going to attack. He lunged with teeth baring… Freaked me out!
I started reading some articles… It appears I may have inadvertently trained this response. One article I read said that: “Dog to dog aggression is most often inadvertently trained in by owners. When an owner sees another dog and tightens the leash, the owner’s tension is often relayed to their dog. The dog growls, the owner tightens the leash more and maybe yells at the dog. Over time, the dog becomes conditioned to get tense, as he makes the association between other dogs approaching and his owner’s anxiety. So now the dog wants the other dog to stay away, and one of the ways he tries to accomplish this is by growling and barking.” (
The articles I read also talked about the importance of continuing to socialize your dog. If the dog doesn’t see other dogs for a while, then other dogs might make him nervous… I have considered getting another dog, so he doesn’t get so lonely, but I need to wait a while on that one… I also heard that Chippewa has a new dog park. I’d LOVE to take him there, but I’m nervous about how he might react… I think I’m going to start by taking him, but walking him around on-leash outside the fence to see how he responds to the other dogs. I don’t know if getting a muzzle is a good idea, I would feel so bad for him (and I’m afraid that it might make him feel more anxious)! I’d really like to be able to take him to run and play frisbee!! For sure, I am going to get better at taking him for regular walks so he gets better about being on the leash again, and gets used to other people and dogs… I’d appreciate any advice on introducing him to the dog park, and on what to expect…
He looks embarrassed, but really, he likes it!!
Despite him being a spaz, and having anxiety issues, he is still our Dukie. We love him, and only want the best for him. Heck, we even dress him up from time to time!
I am learning that different people have different opinions on Father’s Day…
To some, it is a day to let Dad relax. Some people use Father’s Day as another excuse to get family together for a BBQ. Some people use today as a way to celebrate a man in their life who has made a difference. There are other people who see it as another day to give Mom a break by “making” Dad spend time with his kids. That it’s not really a dad to give dad a break, like Mother’s Day is for moms. I don’t think all the facebook statuses picking on “Dead Beat Dads” helps this line of thinking much… I have always thought of it as a day to appreciate important men in your life – the men that shape the lives of children in a positive way. A day to say, “Thank you”
The Father Figures in my life:
I grew up in a family with a “Dead Beat Dad”, and an abusive Step-father. Later in life, my Mom met an incredible man that was more of a Dad than any other man in the life of my brother and I… Here was a man who never had children of his own. He grew to love my brother and I as if we were his own. We were already teenagers, with problems and and attitudes. He stuck through so much with our family! As we became adults and had our own children, he treated our kids as if they were his own flesh and blood! He IS their Papa – there is no doubt in my mind or theirs! Blood bonds don’t always matter!
Because of my lack of a real bond with a Father-figure, I found my own male role models. There was the Choir Director at my church who was also my 1st grade teacher; my 5th grade (or so.. when did we have Mr. G??) math teacher who always picked on me (in a fun way), but was also encouraging; my Youth Director at church; Mr. C – a science teacher who I looked up to in every way. These men were all very important to me. they took the time to talk to me, get to know me, and encourage me. Pastor Steve and Mr. C went through more than their fair share of tears with me. Just to be clear – it was me crying, not them!! If it weren’t for both of these men, in particular, I may have made some very poor choices in my life!
I don’t remember ever celebrating Father’s Day when I was growing up…
As an adult, I married a man whose parents were still married after 30 years of marriage. One of our first dates was to his grandparents 50 year wedding anniversary party. Jason’s dad was his Best Man. They had a very strong bond. This appealed to me in a way I can’t even explain! His Dad welcomed me into the family with open arms, and treated me like I was his daughter early on in our relationship.
Father’s Day in that family was always a big deal. It meant we would all spend the day with his dad. His dad loved to grill out, and so we let him work his magic! Sometimes, Jason would do the cooking, or they would work together… The men would do their thing, and the women would sit around chit chatting. As the kids came, we let the dads cook, hang out, do whatever they wanted, as we Moms chased the kids around. Father’s Day was a day for the dads to just relax and do what they enjoyed…
Now that I am divorced, Father’s Day is kind of weird… I have the kids go with their dad for some time together. The kids still pick out/make a card for their Dad… I sit here… This year, while the kids were with their dad, I took a nap. Then I did some laundry, and I met them out at Irvine Park, and I brought them home. He got his special time with the kids, I had some alone time… Not a conventional day, but that is one reality of a divorced family.
After my Grandma died several years back, my family hardly EVER saw each other. Christmas was pretty much the only time we saw each other any more. My Grandpa started having a BBQ at his house on Father’s Day as a way to get everyone together. We all played volleyball, ate, and had a good time! This year was the last year the annual BBQ would be held at my Grandpa’s, since he recently sold the house that he’s lived in since well before I was born. I didn’t go this year, because my kids were with their dad, and I didn’t know when they would come back…
To different families, Father’s Day means different things. I don’t think any one way of “celebrating” is better than any other. To me, it should simply be a day to say, “Thank you” to the men who’ve made a difference in your life!
What the Bible says about Fathers:
Over and over, the Old Testament tells us that God is our Father. “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?” Malachai 2:10. He created us, he gave us laws to live by (The 10 Commandments), he makes sure we have food and everything we need… In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to pray, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed by thy name” Matthew 6:9… God is the Ultimate Father. Today, let us honor God and say Thank you for all he has done for us!!
Grace is a child, stuck between a little girl, and a teenager…
Ever since Grace was a toddler, we knew she had a flare for the dramatic. When she got hurt, no matter how small, she would carry on as if someone had just cut her leg off! When she was happy, she was ECSTATIC!
We put her in dance class when she was 3 to give her an outlet for that energy. Since her aunt and I were both dancers growing up, chances were good that she’d have a knack for it. That and the fact that before she could walk, Grace was tap dancing as she held on to things. She didn’t disappoint! In her dance recital when she was 5, her tap shoe came untied… the assistant teacher hopped on stage to tie her shoe so she wouldn’t fall. She just kept on dancing as if there wasn’t a teacher attached to her laces – smile and all… oh yeah, this girl was born to perform!! She has now been in 6 dance recitals, and is about to enter the world of competition dance…
This year, about a month before the dance recital, my hip hop class decided it would be fun to have our daughters join us in the recital. That meant Grace had 3-4 weeks to learn the entire dance that we had been working on since December! I was a little nervous that she wouldn’t be able to do it, but wanted to be encouraging… She spent 3 weeks going to her own dance class, coming to mine, and even taking a Saturday morning to work on the dance. I couldn’t believe how hard she was working! She was tired, but she kept working… she was willing to take constructive criticism without taking it too personally… I was so impressed!! Even the day of the recital, we were backstage practicing the dance – she was trying to keep arms straight, hit the moves hard… we got on stage, and she ROCKED IT!! From my perspective, you couldn’t even tell that she hadn’t been in the class all year! I can’t wait until the video comes, so I can watch it!
The day of Dress Rehearsal, Grace got a letter from the dance studio inviting her to take part in Company – the competitive level of dance… she’s been watching those girls and wanting to be a part of their groups for the entire 4 years we’ve been in WI. She was so excited!! We just started the required summer dance class on Wednesday… The summer class is 2 hours of intense strength training mixed with dance technique. Grace didn’t take ballet last year, so she struggled a bit with the ballet portion of the class (which was probably a good 45 minutes). By the time we were doing drills across the floor (about an hour and a half into class), she was crying, saying, “I can’t do it!” I just kept trying to encourage her, reminding her that all the other girls in the class had been doing it for a couple years, and that she just needs to keep trying, and all her ballet will come back to her. This is the moment where I struggle with tough-love vs encouragement. I get a little tired of everything turning into a drama… luckily, Miki, the teacher let her try some of the combinations at a slightly slower pace, so she kept trying. She was wiped at the end (so was I)!! As we left dance, she said to me, “Mom, I feel like I’m really growing up!” She was proud of herself that she made it through this intense class, even though it was hard. Even though she was the youngest one in the class, she kept trying…
She wants so badly to grow up, but sometimes, she’s just a little girl… when she’s at daycare, sometimes she runs up and gives me hugs just like my preschooler does, other times, she acts like she’s too cool to do more than say hi to me. She’ll walk around acting like a Diva one minute, but then, all the sudden, she’ll have an emotional breakdown, want hugs… I don’t think she really knows how to deal with her ever-changing emotions… and to be honest, neither do I!
I try to find the right times to encourage her, and the right time to push her… Most of the time, I think I do ok, but like any other parent, there are times when I don’t respond the right way, get frustrated, and just plain screw up…
I have had some Bible verses about children in my head since I decided to start this blog. I thought I would put a few of them here, as well as a few more I found… may you allow yourself to “be like a child” and love God with all your heart and soul!!
“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And he took them in up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”
-Mark 10: 13-16
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
-Matthew 18: 2-4
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ -Matthew 19:14
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” – 1 John 3: 2-3
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
I remember my 1st practicum in the Child Development Center at Bethel College. I transferred to the school as a Junior, so my 1st practicum was my 1st semester as an Education Student. It was Fall. I remember walking through the beautiful Bethel campus with a group of children, probably about 4 years old. I remember clearly, feeling like I was seeing Fall for the first time. The college campus has trees everywhere – in particular, Sugar Maples. The colors were beautiful!! How had I gone 20+ years and never noticed them before? How was it that the crispness of a Fall morning was just cold to me before??
Ever since I saw Fall through those 4-year-olds’ eyes, I love the season! I can’t wait to make the drive along 94 between MN and WI – the colors are gorgeous! Here in the Chippewa Valley, we have a ton of apple orchards. I look forward to driving the back roads out by the orchards, just to see the beauty of it all!
That semester changed how I view life…
Today, I had another one of those moments. This day most likely will not have such a profound impact on my view of the world, but it brought me back to the 1st day I saw things through a child’s eyes.
At the child care center where I work, we are remodeling our largest of 3 playgrounds. Various Skidsteers, etc have been out there working for a couple weeks now…. We brought our class of 2 1/2 – 3 year olds out to the middle playground to enjoy as much fresh air as we could before it started raining… Soon, almost every child was lined up along the fence, watching the Bulldozer leveling out the ground to get it ready for Astro-turf and rubber chips. A dump truck would bring in a pile of dirt, and the guys working on the playground would push and pull it around until it was all level. I’m not sure what it was about today that made it seem so magical… I found myself amazed at the teamwork between the two different companies working out there, and the crew doing most of the work… Everything was flowing so smoothly, like a dance…
A little while later, after coming in for a quick snack and potty breaks, we took the children for a walk. These little children spotted every “pretty” rock along the side of the road. Every once in a while, one would stop and try to pick one up. Amazingly, we only had one wipe out (imagine 14 little kids holding onto the handles on a rope – one goes down & it could be a heck of a domino effect)! We passed several large trucks (or they passed us). The kids were fascinated by every semi, dump truck, and delivery truck that went by! They giggled when two of the trucks honked at us.
Such simple pleasures make the world a better place to be. I’m so glad that I get to work with young children who remind me of these simple pleasures from time to time!
After an incredibly late night on Saturday, I took my kids to the Blue Angels Air Show on Sunday… the kids and I had a great time! There was very minimal fighting, we hung out together, enjoyed each others’ company… I don’t really know who was more into it.. the kids or me!
That being said, I didn’t exactly win Mom of the Year Award for the weekend. It wasn’t a bad weekend by any means, but I completely ignored signals I should have paid better attention to… poor Grace!
*On Friday night, the kids were with their dad. I had to be at work early the next morning for our Spring Cleaning day. Dad took them to Red Lobster for dinner to celebrate straight A’s for Grace, then off to the Blue Angels Meet and Greet. That night, they were up a bit late. Saturday, they slept in at their Dad’s, while I scrubbed walls and floors… oh so exciting!
*When I was done, I met them out at Lake Wissota, where Grace was out trying to land another small mouth bass, and Michael was perfecting his casting skills! After fishing in the rain for a bit with nothing to show for it, we headed home for some much needed naps. We managed to make it several hours without a fight!
*The kids were so excited to go to a BBQ at my boss’s house. When we got there, it was still raining. Kids were running everywhere, having a great time! I was immediately invited into the Wii bowling tourny. I should have practiced a bit – needless to say, I didn’t make it out of the first bracket! The kids ran around like they had a case of the crazies! Eventually, it stopped raining, and people (big and little) dispersed all over the place, inside and out. Grace and the older kids played volleyball with one of my co-workers. The younger kids were running around “shooting” at each other… pretty soon, a bunch of us grown-ups started playing volleyball until well after dark. Then, as we sat around the bonfire, I relished in the fact that my kids were playing nice with other kids, not fighting, etc… as the clock approached midnight, I decided we should probably get home.
…if you know me, you are probably surprised I let my kids stay up that late. I tend to be a stickler on the 8:00 bed time, even in the summer! I let them stay up a little late on GREAT occasion in the summer when we don’t have to get up for anything the next day, but it’s extremely rare I let them stay up past 9. Here it was after 11, and we weren’t even home, let alone ready for bed!
*Anyway, Sunday morning came, Grace said she wasn’t feeling good. She had a red, sore throat, and a headache. I figured she was just run down from being up so late, and inhaled too much smoke from the bonfire. We just chilled around the house a bit, rather than rushing out the door to get there by 8:30 when the doors open (as was my original plan). We got there around 10, which ended up being perfect. Poor Grace carried around a box of Kleenex which she used up before the Blue Angels even flew! She was sneezing, blowing her nose, and told me she felt miserable. She also was very excited about the air show, and didn’t want to skip it… I just kept hoping the Motrin would kick in at any moment so she would enjoy herself. This was the first air show for all of us, and none of us knew what to expect!
There were all sorts of different air craft. Stunt planes, the Mayo Helicopter, military planes… it was all very cool. We even got to go inside an old gunship nicknamed, “Spooky.” Michael thought the guns were “awesome”! There were military booths along one side of the field. Michael said he might be an “army guy” some day, or he might fly a plane.
Finally, it was 12, the time the air show was supposed to start. We took a seat out in the field, frozen lemonades, corn dogs (and a pork tenderloin sandwich for Grace) in hand. Eventually, the paratroopers started with the National Anthem, which we couldn’t hear because of our ear plugs, until half-way through the song – oops! We stood up, took off Michael’s hat, and gave our little guy a quick lesson in what to do when the National Anthem is playing.
The paratrooper carrying the flag for the National Anthem.
Soon enough, trick planes started. The kids and I were amazed by the upside down tricks, and close encounters of the planes. What we weren’t prepared for, was the half an hour or so of waiting in between the different “acts”. Grace started going downhill quickly as the Motrin wore off… eventually, she feel asleep.. right there, in the field! Michael was playing with his toy Blue Angel, and eventually, he laid down too. He didn’t really sleep, but rested a bit… I enjoyed the peace for a bit! Little did I know, the Blue Angels weren’t actually scheduled to fly until 3! We had planned on catching the air show, and then getting Grace to her softball practice at 3. Oh well!
The Blue Angels eventually did fly, after a slight weather delay. The kids were pretty much ready to leave by then. Being the nice Mom I am, I wouldn’t let them leave… Who cares if it’s raining (drizzling, really)… we came to see the Blue Angels, we’re going to see them, darn it! Grace was feeling awful, Michael was getting bored… But, once those Navy planes started flying and doing their thing, all that was forgotten!! The close flying, amazing speeds, rolls, the upside-down and backwards flying was amazing! I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as they flew over our heads in such a tight formation, you’d swear it was one giant aircraft! At one point, two planes looked like they were playing chicken! At such a high speed, how could they possibly know exactly when to roll just enough to not hit? How do they know just how much to turn?? Wow!!!
Micheal says his favorite part was “all of it”!
Grace’s most favorite part was “when it was raining.” When asked why, she said, “It felt good, ’cause I was sick.”
The final break in formation for the Blue Angels
If they come back next year, we will be back for sure!!! Completely amazing!!!
I know several people who have blogs on all different topics. Everything from food, to gardening, to techie talk, to life in general are covered in these blogs… I don’t pretend to be an expert on anything, or that I might have anything to say important enough for people to want to read. This said, I think it would be fun to share some of the craziness in my life in a format where I can type more than 160 words! Plus, not everyone has a facebook account (which I still find hard to believe), so I can use this space to share with these people too…
Here are some of the things you may see…
* as a parent and Early Childhood Teacher, I have lots of funny stories that come from the many children I am in contact with – Kind of a “kids say the darndest things” segment…
* there are days that I have a moment of brilliance that I might want to share. I’m not saying every day or even every week, but… sometimes, we teachers have those moments, and if we don’t share them, we might forget them! I personally LOVE hearing about other teachers’ (or parents”) brilliant moments, so I can “borrow” their tricks!
* I LOVE music and concerts… It’s always fun to discover a new group/DJ/etc. and to hear about ones other friends find…
* Gardening is something that I really enjoy… every year, I learn new things from my mistakes or successes and from others…
In other words, it will be a hodge podge of thoughts, stories, etc.. I am hopeful to get some interaction – especially when it comes to teaching/parenting topics… I hope it won’t put anyone to sleep (like a certain movie about someone who blogged for a year as she went through a cookbook did)… but, if it does, then I know you’ll be reading it at night to help you fall asleep!!