Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Losing smarts

I was privileged to overhear this little gem of a conversation between Lilian and her Grandpa while we were at their house celebrating Fathers Day this past Sunday. I couldn't stop laughing...

Lilian: Hey know how they dug a piece out of your head? That place where there is a dent on know? (He had a patch of skin cancer removed a few years ago.)

Grandpa: Yes, I know what you mean.

Lilian: Well, when they removed that part, did they take away some of your smarts too?

Grandpa: {Teasing} Yep. They did.

Lilian: Really? What did you lose?

Grandpa: What do you mean, Lilian?

Lilian: Well, like is science or math gone?

Grandpa: I think I might have lost all of the 3rd grade.

Lilian: {Gasp} Really??? Well, don't worry, Grandpa. I just finished the 3rd grade. I can fill you in!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Puppy Love

I've gone through spurts in past years where I am massively puppy hungry. Not sure exactly why. If it had to do with all my neighbors getting puppies, or if I was baby hungry but knowing no more babies were meant to be it was manifesting itself in a longing for a puppy, or maybe just the idealic traditional scene of a family with a dog...who knows. I've never had a dog. Not even as a kid. Maybe that had something to do with it as well?

Three years ago my friend got a Havanese puppy. I oohed and ahhed and wished for one myself. She said her puppy had a sister still available and maybe I should look into that. So I did. It was hypoallergenic. She wouldn't get very big so she would make a great indoor pup. I talked with Bryan about it. We (I) researched the breed specifically and puppies generally. It seemed like I was making progress with Bryan...until he heard how much the puppy would cost. Because apparently hypoallergenic puppies tend to be a bit more on the pricey side. And that led to Bryan nixing the whole idea, cost being a factor but also more thought about just puppy craziness in general...Bryan didn't want the house destroyed by a puppy who pees on the carpet, chews the furniture and scratches up the floorboards. But oh, I had come so close!

Later I was kind of relieved. Puppies really did look like a lot of work. Maybe I had dodged a bullet? But I tucked the research and the longing into the back of my head to save for a later date. Because maybe it would be worth looking into again when the older kids were gone and Lilian was home alone. Would a puppy be a nice companion for her?

The puppy hunger reared its head occasionally, but I was able to keep it at bay until a few weeks ago. I came across an ad on FB placed by some friends from our old neighborhood in Centerville. Three little 8-week old goldendoodle puppies looking for a forever home. I was smitten! I could not stop looking at the pictures. I went back time and again to that FB page. The puppy hunger took hold in a big way and I started researching goldendoodles. These specifically were F1B which meant puppies bred from a goldendoodle and a full poodle. This makes the puppies 75% poodle, 25% golden retriever. Which for me meant, even less likelihood of an allergic reaction for my allergy sufferers (Bryan and Brandon) and little to no shedding. The puppies had been born into a home where there were lots of kids to play with them. They had been loved and bathed and given shots and were ready for their new families.

I emailed Bryan and started the process with him. He predictably thought I was crazy. And maybe I was. But I couldn't get over the thought that though this was a few years earlier than I had been originally thinking, maybe now was a good time for a puppy. Rebekah on a mission and heading back to USU as soon as she returns home. Julianne moving out and heading to UVU at the end of the summer. Brandon at gymnastics for long hours every evening. We were already heading into the scenario I had envisioned with Lilian being home with just the parents most of the time.

I gave him reason after reason why this would be a good idea. And why the timing was good. And why this puppy over others would be a good fit for our family. He wanted to talk about the downsides of owning a puppy which were admittedly, many. Finally he said he wasn't 100% opposed and we could talk later when he came home from his business trip. I emailed my friend in Centerville and told her we were potentially interested but that we'd need to bring Brandon and Bryan over to meet the puppy first. I wanted to rub that little puppy's fur in their faces. I wanted them to rub their eyes and breathe in puppy scent. I needed to make very sure if we brought this puppy home to be a part of our family that they wouldn't be miserable or even the slightest big uncomfortable due to allergies. It is their home first and foremost and I was not willing to give up their comfort for my dreams of a puppy.

But they weren't allergic! All went well with the meet and greet. We had a great time talking with our neighbors again after all these years, and they gave us loads of great information about raising puppies in general and goldendoodles specifically. It almost felt meant to be as we talked and they brought up concerns or issues and answered the questions we hadn't even told them we'd had. Their puppy raising philosophy aligned so exactly with the things Bryan and I had been talking about earlier. And the one little puppy left that we were considering was just adorable. Bryan told them that we'd go home to think about it and get back to them by the end of the day. And it looked good, it really did! It looked like Bryan was getting comfortable with the idea of the puppy.

But then we went home and reality sunk in. For me. I knew that puppies were a lot of work and needed serious time and attention to train and take care of. But I also knew that being the beginning of summer, my schedule would be lighter and I'd have helpers. Great timing! But oh, looking around the house and thinking about the ways in which I'd need to puppy proof. Thinking about our comfortable schedule and routine and the ways in which that would get a lot more difficult...did I want to really do that? And yes, it looked like I'd be able to talk Bryan into the puppy. But I didn't want it to be a reluctant thing or like I had bullied him into it. I knew he'd let me bring this puppy home. And I knew that in the beginning he might just tolerate him. But I wanted to feel like eventually he'd be fond of him. I didn't want him coming home from work every night and be irritated about puppy antics. So I texted my friend and told her that we needed to sleep on it.

I dreamed of puppies all night. And early the next morning I awoke to a text from my friend...a video of the puppy running around the yard and being the cute little guy that he was.  I left Bryan and the kids sleeping and puttered out to my computer to do more research. I went back and forth on my pros and cons list. And finally went in to talk to Bryan still in bed. I spilled my guts as to everything on my mind. He listened patiently to my somewhat tearful puppy ramblings and finally said...he would be okay with the puppy. He would help me when he was home. He enjoyed having dogs when he was growing up and knew that our children would likely enjoy it too. Specifically he liked the idea of Lilian having a companion and some more responsibility associated with owning a puppy. And he was pretty sure he would become fond of the puppy over time. We could do this if I really wanted.
(Oscar is a bit obsessed with our water fountain in the backyard.)

So I texted my friend, told her we were on board.
And then got really excited and nervous and felt all sorts of emotions.

We decided to wait till Friday to pick him up so as to be a birthday surprise for Lilian. (Plus, a little easier to get through the crazy last week of school which included Julianne's graduation!!!) Bryan ordered puppy necessities on amazon. I texted all my dog owning family and friends asking for advice and reassurance that I wasn't crazy. (Some of them told me that I was. But it was tempered by the ones who said I'd never regret know, after we got through those first crazy weeks.) I emailed Rebekah and told her what we were getting a puppy (she was rightfully stunned) and asked her to send me some name suggestions so she could be a part of the process. Julianne, Brandon and I talked names all week...we had a running list that we texted to each other with additions or cancellations. We wanted Lilian to help pick a name...but we also wanted to be set with a few approved choices to present to her so we could guide her...knowing on her own she would likely try to name the puppy some silly or generic name.
(And being a baby...he sleeps a lot.)

And then we brought the little guy home. And it was indeed quite a birthday surprise! We named him Oscar. (Trumping Bryan's suggestion of Dorkadoodle...haha.)

And then our lives changed. A lot. More than I had even expected. I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew this! But wow, it wasn't too long before I was rather overwhelmed. Could I really do this? Had I bit off more than I could chew? Regardless of the years of longing, had I jumped into this too soon? Oscar was adorable. But taking care of him was hard. And he wanted to continually poop under my grand piano, regardless of potty timers and signals. He's a puppy and so naturally he was nippy at times. Especially in the early mornings when he was super hyper. And that made me nervous...because though it didn't hurt too much, there's just something about a dog lunging or jumping at you, even in play, with his mouth open wide and those teeth trying to grab your hand or clothing. (Shades of my past childhood fear of dogs coming back, maybe?)

I called a trainer. Which I had always planned to do. She came to the house and started training Oscar AND me. And suddenly I felt hope again. I knew of course that eventually we'd make it through the puppy phase. I could see that in the future we'd have a sweet dog that was truly part of our family in a calm, happy, companionable sort of way. But this puppy thing? I could do this. And this was what would make that future happy vision I had in my head come to fruition. She assured me that Goldendoodles were a highly intelligent breed, and people pleasers to training shouldn't be horribly difficult as long as we were consistent.

We got a fence/gate to put across the entrance to the kitchen in as we got serious about potty training. Oscar will be confined there and the back yard for the first few weeks until he "earns" his way into various other rooms of the house. We took Oscar to puppy class on Saturday morning and let him socialize with other puppies.
(I tripped over the fence a couple days ago. Oscar was ringing the bells on the back doorknob which is the signal we are trying to teach him that means we will let him out to go potty. I was hurriedly trying to get to the door when my pinky toe slipped in and got caught on that top rung and the fence and I went down hard. Multiple bruises and a pretty deep gash in between my pinky toe and the one next to it. Who would've guessed training a puppy could be so hazardous to one's health?)

Every morning I get up somewhere around 6:15. (This morning it was 5:45, but yesterday it was 6:30.) He is forcing me to become a morning person. And because the two of us spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I'm usually pretty on top of my dishes and laundry. He's sleeping a lot better, early mornings withstanding, at least he's not waking up in the middle of the night, or whining and barking when we put him to bed.

Every day I wonder what I've got myself into and think back somewhat longingly to my days of sleeping in and being able to leave the house and do whatever I want, whenever I want to. But every day I also spend a lot of time on the floor petting and scratching and loving on my little furry baby and know that it will be all worth it. Puppy phase is hard but oh so cute and I'm sure we will miss it when it's over.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Birthday surprises

Lilian turned 9-years old on Friday. It was the last day of school so she was rather jazzed about that. Kind of a double celebration of sorts. She originally wanted to celebrate by having a slumber party complete with homemade little lean-to tents that she had seen on Pinterest. Yes, my 9-year old looks at Pinterest. Have I mentioned she is a teenager in a little kid body? I mean seriously, check out this conversation I had with her just last night while she was watching The Bachelorette...on her own, even. Not even with her older sister!
Lilian: I think JoJo will probably send home Chad instead of Alex.
Me: Well, isn't Chad just the worst? Doesn't everyone hate him because he keeps threatening to beat everyone up?
Lilian: Well, yes. But Mom, just hear me out....I actually think Chad and JoJo look really good together. You know, the strong man taking care of the girl. (On the episode Chad had been helping JoJo as they were hiking.) I think maybe he's just mean around the other guys and that he could be really nice to JoJo. 

Umm....okay. Maybe I shouldn't let her watch The Bachelorette anymore.

So, back to the story. She was insistent on having a slumber party. The thing is, we don't usually have sleepovers. And even if we made an exception, many of the girlfriends she wanted to invite have the same sort of no sleepover family rule. I told her between all the many varied things we had going on that week, I wouldn't be able to have a party on her actual birthday anyhow. Plus, I wasn't overly worried because I knew we were having a surprise to top all birthday surprises....

I went to school with her in the morning and did a little VIP sort of presentation in honor of her birthday. Then left the kids to their yearbook signings and ran home to decorate Lilian's room. I'm not sure I will ever again be able to listen to the "Hamilton" soundtrack without associating it with blowing up balloons, but so be it. She came home from school doubly happy. Birthday happy and last day of school happy. She watched The Bachelorette (sigh) while I made the cake and did other such birthday prep. Cousins Megan, Emily and Nathan came over for birthday dinner consisting of the requested salmon, potatoes and veggies. Also requested, a treasure hunt with clues leading to her birthday presents. Julianne and the cousins had come up with riddles leading to various hiding places throughout the house. Her final clue led her to the back deck. And waiting for her there was...


She was nothing short of stunned. A little mini goldendoodle puppy wagging his tail in excitement. We told Lilian that though this little guy was a family dog, he was adopted mostly with her her in mind...a companion and snuggle buddy as all her older siblings are moving out of the house (mission and college) or continuously gone (gymnastics). We discussed names while the puppy scampered around on the grass and Lilian opened the rest of her birthday gifts. You know a puppy is a big deal when it trumps the awesomeness of getting Pentatonix concert tickets. (See you guys, she's a teenager at heart. What 9-year old wants tickets to see Pentatonix and is willing to wait till October when they come in concert? Granted, she was also pretty excited to get a nerf bow and arrow.)
But yes, a puppy. A birthday PUPPY!

Up next: The story of how I convince Bryan to agree to said puppy....

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Despite the fact that we have had four 3rd graders, this was our first experience with the very popular wax museum project. Maybe it's a newer thing that came around after Brandon finished 3rd grade? Well whatever, I have to admit that I had a very bad attitude about it at first. I'm not entirely sure why. I mean, it's all about researching famous historical figures...what's not to love about that? Especially if you are a history major like me, am I right? Another admission...I'm so over elementary school. After three kids and then a six year gap before Lilian, I've moved on mentally. Been there, done that and much more focused on higher education, you know? At least this is what I've told myself. Maybe it truly had more to do with a roller coaster of a year that had me preoccupied with other things...things that took higher precedence in my mind than 3rd grade homework. Maybe next year I'll be totally on top of things in regards to elementary school again? Who knows, really. But whatever it was, the wax museum was giving me grief. I was frustrated with all the research and the worksheets to fill out and the poster to make, etc. It was just one more thing. One more thing that after sitting with Lilian to do said research and fill out said worksheets, I would frequently hear back from the teacher that it was all good, but...could I have Lilian fill out the worksheet in this different way, or make sure to highlight pertinent information in this other print out? Which just made me all the more irritable. Despite the fact that I had rather enjoyed learning interesting facts about Pocahontas. (Because you know, as awesome as I think the Disney movie is, it is not historically accurate.)

The big day came. We couldn't find Rebekah's old Pocahontas Halloween costume from years back. Of course...because that would've been too easy. We ordered another native american/indian costume on amazon and Lilian delightedly dressed up the morning of and let me put braids in her hair. Which is a feat in and of itself...she rarely lets me do anything with her hair other than brush it. Just saying. Lilian and I discussed a few poses she could use while standing all wax-like. She made sure she had her note cards for the oral report she was to give later in the afternoon to just her class. And off she went. Bryan and I followed about 30 minutes later.

But then. Oh, but then! I was blown away. Truly. All four 3rd grade classes were set up in the gym. Classical music was playing over the speakers. Parents were making the rounds. The 3rd graders were standing still in their wax poses, all dressed up as their historical figure. Props and posters helped tell their stories. So much work and creativity...they were nothing short of fantastic! I was so hugely impressed. And then I felt ashamed. What an amazing project this had been! What a wonderful learning experience and incredible way to show off their hard work. I wished I had been more supportive and less irritable. This is my last child, the last time I will be doing any of this. And though that thought does relieve me to some extent, shouldn't Lilian get as much attention and focus in her projects as I gave to Rebekah, Julianne and Brandon when they were her age? Because when it boils down to it, I'm normally a huge supporter or education in general and public school particularly. And the programs and projects that the elementary teachers devise to teach my children are often times very creative and just downright cool. The wax museum certainly was.