Friday, November 27, 2009

A Regular Shih Tzu Pro'dog'jee

Yup, I've got to admit it. I have the beginnings of the smartest dog on the block. (And he doesn't even have the benefit of a SmartCard!) Carter has been reading to him in order to give him a jump start on the so-called 'normal' puppies.

I've been working on the house breaking routine. Which, by the way, is different from breaking the house, which he is doing one chunk of wall, one piece of floor tile at a time. That we have down pat. As for house breaking Herbie, I got him a litter box and I keep spraying it with a product invented by a mad scientist who boiled his dirty socks and his dirty underwear together in the same pot until it boiled dry. Then he bottled that aroma and talked somebody into marketing it as an attractant so a dog will have the insatiable desire to do his business wherever you spray it. It's definitely attracting Herbie, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.

As you can see, Herbie is sleeping in the litter box.

Now, before you go thinking sleeping in the litter box makes him not so smart, just imagine sleeping on a surface that conforms to every - and I mean every - lump, bump, curve, dimple, joint and angle of your body. I mean litter doesn't cost near as much as those beds they advertise on the informercials. (Which, by the way, has to leave you wondering what they do with the beds that are returned after a customer's "90 day in home trial" is less than satisfying.) And litter won't leak like a water bed, either. Maybe Herbie is actually smarter than we think and is on his way to making millions of dollars with the Litterpedic Bed System. Hmmmm. Surely I would get a percentage of the royalties since I bought him his first litter box and bag of litter!

Anyway, back to getting Herbie Tate house broken. A long time ago, like the last century long time ago, Alan bought some of those nasty yellow gooey fly strips guaranteed to annihilate the fly population. After hours - maybe even days - of not getting the promised results, and suffering from exasperation, Alan started using the fly swatter to kill all the flies. Then he stuck them on the fly strip. Somehow he thought the sight of a smashed dead fly on a sticky yellow streamer would scream out to other flies in the vicinity so they would want to be stuck just like he was. Well, since I figured Alan was so smart with that scenario, I figured the same technique might work for what I'm trying to accomplish. So....

I collected a small piece of Herbie's #2 and placed it in the litter box. Surely, not only the smell, but the sight of his bodily byproduct actually in the litter box would entice him to add to it. The end results of my little experiment weren't exactly what I was working towards. However, it did reinforce how smart Herbie actually is. He dug the sample out of the litter box, put it out on the floor in another room and then walked away.

Now, tell me, honestly, how many dogs do you know who are not only able, but willing, to clean out their own litter box????? Herbie Tate's off the charts!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Frosty Mornings

Even though I would love a garage - or even a carport - there is one thing I love about frosty windshield mornings. I love watching the ice slowly melt off the windshield. All the vehicles are equipped with long-handled ice scrapers but I'm not a scraper. Alan puts a tarp over his windshield every night so he doesn't have to be bothered with the frost, but I'm not a tarp-putter-onner either.

I love to get in the car, crank the defrost up to the max and watch as the melted spots slowly take over the icy spots until I have a clear windshield to look out of. There's something mesmerizing about it and I find myself wondering if I'm watching more than ice melt.

I think I'm also watching my life. Not melt away, by any means. But I think each new good thing I learn, each good choice I make, each time my testimony is strengthened, a little more clear glass is revealed. Maybe if I can get my entire 'windshield' frost-free, I'll be able to see a little of His countenance in me. Maybe. Maybe if I'm lucky someone else will be able to see His countenance in me, too.

There's been a time or two I haven't had as much time and I've headed down the road with more than a safe amount of frost still clouding my forward vision. It's amazing watching everything out there become clearer and more in focus and how much more I appreciate it after having squinted through the frost.

Why is it the rear defroster always works faster? I know it's got those little heater wires going through it but I figure it must be mimicking life again. Hindsight's 20/20, right???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grateful to be a Grandma

I don't think I could ever feel any grander than when Mariah introduced me to her class as "Grandma Janis". What better title in all the world is there? Besides "Mother", of course.

I had the most fantastic afternoon with Mariah at Grandparents Day in her Kindergarten class. They sang songs to us - one that made me want to cry - and then made us do the actions to a funny song with them. Then we got to decorate paper grocery bags that the teacher will take back to the store and when you buy groceries at that particular store, you just might get a decorated bag. Whoever gets Mariah's will get the best one in the whole place!!! She made a wild turkey under a rainbow and with a bear chasing it (the black place is a bear paw print). I have a new appreciation for Kindergarten teachers!

When we were done, we got to get Jodi out early and we went and had root beer floats/freezes. Hmmm. Doesn't get much better than grandmahood!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Two Trees

Crazy, I know, but these two trees are my most favorite trees in the whole yard. I wanted to have a foresty looking frontyard but it hasn't really 'grown' into what I had originally imagined. Go figure.

Both these trees were planted at the same time. They're both evergreens. One has obviously grown up while the other has grown out.

When they were still fairly new, one of them got run over when the drunk driver ran through our front yard. The other one suffered from a massive infusion of salt to its roots when the Culligan Man dumped the remaining salt water out of a water softener in a spot that was slightly uphill from where the tree was. Path of least resistance had the tree smack dab in its crosshairs.

So, one of my trees suffered an external conflict. The other tree was attacked internally by such a vicious plot that its very roots were involved. However, they both bounced back from their individual afflictions in very different, character-creating ways. And, yes, so glad Heavenly Father looks beyond our outward appearance!!!  It's definitely what's inside that counts! Anyway, that's why they're my favorite trees.

PS: You may find me chained to the most 'interestingly' shaped tree one of these days, though, as I continually find it in the crosshairs of Alan's chainsaw.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Appreciating My Position in the Battle

Obviously, given the time of year, I've been thinking a lot about all I have to be grateful for. It seems I'm standing outside a lot trying to watch out of the corner of my eye for Herbie to poop so that has become my thinking time. Fall has definitely fell and he loves playing in each and every leaf of it.

My list of everything I'm grateful for is endless. That's a rather trite phrase but it's true. This particular thing I'm grateful for will be judged differently by everyone but, just the same, it's something that is at the forefront of my life. At points it may take on a discouraged tone, but that is how it has to be in order for me to truly appreciate and be grateful for the epiphelation that I have been given in the acceptance of it. Besides, you'd be shocked if anything I wrote on here made straightforward sense!

There was a post on FaceBook by my niece. She said, "I'm glad my daughter can talk to me about anything." Her daughter is eight years old and that is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of. A trust like that does not come without a lot of concentrated effort.

I like to trick myself into believing I had that kind of relationship with my children. I loved talking to them and prided myself that they would come to me. Now they're older, though, I wonder if I'm stuck in the past. I'm not sure I grew up with their problems and concerns. I still want to have a small one come and sit on my lap and let me read to them or comfort a broken heart by making cookies or put a band-aid on their latest owey or ask me to help them build with their bricks or blocks. I want to be invited into their fantasies one more time. Put our imaginations together to create a world where everyone is safe and ice goes in drinks instead of smashed fingers.

It seems like all I say now is, "What do you think?"; "How does that make you feel?" or "That's a decision only you can make." I don't have a place within the immediate walls of their world now. I live on the other side of the moat and must wait patiently for the drawbridge to be lowered, allowing me entrance.

There were no fireworks or massive fanfares or a ritual passing of batons. The change occurred unnoticed by everyone involved at first. Unnoticed, that is, until a block tipped over or a page in the book ripped or the band-aid fell off. That's when I realized I was watching from a greater distance and must pull back into the forest while someone else tended to the repairs, the entertainment and even the maintenance.

So much of life we aren't prepped for - can't be, actually. Kind of a different feeling still wearing the armor but not being on the front lines.

But, you know what? Even across the moat; even when the bridge is up; even when I may not be heard - I can cheer! There is a constant conversation going on in my head and my heart as I pray in a 'cheer'ful way! I will always be found rooting for the good guys! And when one of them tells me things are better because they prayed, I will do a somersault! It might not be pretty, but I'll do it. Now, if you were to ask for the splits, we might have to have a conversation!


Thanks to all of you for allowing me the chance to cheer for you!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Too Funny

I'm sitting here surfing the net for Christmas ideas. I'm looking for instructions to make a trunk for 18" dolls. Grampa thinks maybe he could do something basic. I just love search engines. All of a sudden, across my screen flashes a photo of Ken in a pair of knitted swimming trunks. Probably would have to be in my frame of mind to find that as hilarious as I did, but I thought I'd share anyway. You just never know where those links will take you and what images you'll be exposed to!!!! I need to go get a large Max!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From the Mouth (or should I say 'nose') of Babes

I have the opportunity of babysitting Hunter for a couple of days. Which means he got to accompany me to my work while I did my CPR recertification. He was fine until I made him use hand sanitizer on his hands after playing with a toy in the reception area. Then he started itching his eye. And wouldn't stop. Pretty soon he looked like a poor little homeless urchin with his red, swollen eye. Then he sneezed several times, creating a trail of stuff that is beyond words. In exasperation I asked, "Where is all this coming from, Hunter?" [Meaning, of course, "Why all of a sudden are you looking like I beat you and acting like your sick?" Like people aren't already hypervigilant enough with all the flu scare going on!]

Hunter's reply was swift and to the point, "From Hunter's nose, Ma-ma." Duh.

I Have a Card that Says So

I am officially certified again until November 2010. I can give rescue breaths or CPR or whatever it's called now. Blow air into someone who for some reason is temporarily unable to take oxygen into their body on their own. Amazing to realize how absolutely necessary that air is for these bodies Heavenly Father created for us. Every internal organ requires oxygen to perform its function. And now I have a card that certifies I can administer that life-saving ingredient. Wow.

May I just say, I hope I am never in a situation where someone's life depends on me to give them that air.

Or maybe I already am. Maybe I've been in that type of situation since the day I was born. Maybe we all have. I wonder how many people's internal organs have suffered because I wasn't in a position to give them the life-saving help they needed? Was I being selfish or was I blissfully ignorant to their needs? Or was I gasping for air myself? Kind of hard to give what you don't have. I wonder what training it takes to be certified to give spiritual rescue breaths? The test said I have to remember to do these three things:

1, Check the scene

           - what caused this situation; is it safe now?

2. Call for help

           - has more specialized, professional help been called for?

3. Check for circulation

           - is there blood spurting (or just oozing ever so slightly) from some unseen wound?

Maybe the test I took today for the Red Cross and my employment actually empowered me with the same knowledge I need in any situation - physical or spiritual or emotional or mental. Maybe there's more truth to what I say when I jokingly tell someone (or myself), "Breathe, breathe," when the stress of the moment is taking control. Slowly taking in life-carrying oxygen so those internal organs can do what they do best - function efficiently and maintain their optimum output. Hmmmm

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

Just sharing a couple of thoughts I've had recently and a couple of things I feel I've learned. Your ideas and comments are welcome as I don't expect everyone to agree with me. As I've been reading here and there about the importance of our thoughts and the Law of Attraction and such, I worried that I might be getting carried away with the 'mingling with the philosophy of men' part of the warnings we hear about Satan's techniques. However, more and more I feel like what I've been reading has fallen into the truth of the Gospel and, in some cases, enhanced it for me.

One of the basic tenets of the Law of Attraction is never forgetting to express gratitude for all the good in your life and acknowledging the true source of all that goodness. In Primary a couple of weeks ago, Sharing Time was on being thankful for our families. Doctrine & Covenants 78:19 was quoted:

"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea more."
I felt like it was being confirmed to me that all this new stuff I've been learning is good and is of benefit and is not taking away from my testimony of the gospel. I'm actually becoming more grateful for the little things and allowing (or rather accepting) bigger things to come into my life.

The second thing I read is from a book about 'shifting' and explores 12 keys to helping women through various transitions they may encounter in their lives. Right at the first my attention was peaked when the author wrote:

"The key to heaven also opens the door to hell. We need to learn how to open the right doors in order to overcome the obstacles which life presents us with. Life is not unfair but it is difficult ... We all become, in a sense, like water. Water can change from liquid to solid to vapor depending on the conditions it meets in order to survive. It knows how to find its way around and over all obstacles it meets, and you never hear water complain because it knows how to find its way through life."

Not only do I love the analogy but my immediate thought was the Primary song, "Give Said the Little Stream". And again, maybe simplistically, I felt a validation that I was learning things that could or already were helping me in my life in a positive way.

Just wanted to share as I rambled. Something else I read said,

"When there's a strong desire in you to express or create something, know that feeling is Divine discontent. Your longing is your calling -- and no matter what it is, if you go with it, you'll be guided, guarded and assured of success."
So, if you keep reading my blog, be prepared as I guess I'll keep on writing and rambling in the name of Divine discontent.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And the Correct Answer is . . .

The final answer is: Herbie Tate. Herbie (thanks to Alan) as in Herbie Hairball; Herbie (thanks to Janis) as in the Love Bug and hers was orange, back in the day; Herbie (for the grandkids) as in they all like the Disney movies about Herbie. Tate (thanks to Carter) because that was his suggestion for a name and his definition of 'suggestion' is 'this is what it will be'. So, Herbie Tate it is. At least in formal settings. At this point (two months old) he enjoys digging in and burying himself in his litter box and peeing on the floor. And that particular chew toy Herbie Tate is so cutely playing with is now in two pieces so: BEWARE OF DOG!

I am lucky enough to have a picture of what Herbie Tate will look like when he grows up. Either that or it's Alan trying to look like Herbie Tate in an effort to get as much affection. Actually, Alan sent this to me before Halloween and it was the perfect opportunity for me to prepare him for the fact that I was looking for a Shih Tzu with that same coloring. I don't think he realized how serious I was at the time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Never to be Forgotten

Sunday, November 5, 1978. Another one of those days that is a big piece of our family history but one I definitely wouldn't want to relive. Nathan was in the middle of that lovely stay in Shriner's Hospital. The stay that was only supposed to be two weeks and ended up being six. Anyway, 8:20pm Stephanie came and left - leaving my arms with nothing to do but put the blessing dress away for another spell.

I wonder what our family life would be like if Stephanie had lived? Would she have survived anyway . . . being in between Nathan and Joseph? That would have been interesting! Maybe she would have been our true redhead. She probably would have had to be to survive in the middle of those two. How many more grandchildren would I have? If she had stayed, would I have been able to give her as much as she has given me by not staying?

I know she, too, had a choice regarding her role in this space we call life. I know she only needed a body and that she returned to a loving Heavenly Father perfect. Sometimes, though, a mother still needs that warmth cradling in her arms and when it's not there, it's easier to feel the lack than remember the wholeness. When she was stillborn, in the 'olden days', they didn't even let me see her or hold her. I wasn't given the opportunity to say 'I love you' and 'Goodbye'; giving me closure. We were concerned with finding out if there was anything physically wrong with her that had caused this early birth, so they whisked her off to perform tests and an autopsy. All the medical profession's tests proved what we already knew:  Stephanie was perfect.

What will it be like to be able to raise her in that other realm? Am I living my life so I really will have that opportunity and privilege? Sometimes. I'm not doing as well as I should. Or as I could. It's easy for me to lose sight of that awaiting responsibility. Joseph posed a question to me a few years ago:  "Do you wish you could raise your kids over again, knowing what you know now?" Not sure. I don't know if I'd really be any better; different - but not necessarily better. Wonder if it will be easier or more challenging to raise a child when Satan is chained up?

Happy 31st Birthday, Steph. I'll celebrate more with you at another time. Don't give up on me. Love you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Solution to the Empty Nest Syndrome

I don't dare ask my grandkids for name suggestions for fear they'll all feel bad if I don't choose their idea but I'm open to suggestions and ideas. Right now two potential names (courtesy of Alan) are Seis or Once. The first is the Spanish word for six and the second is actually the Spanish word for eleven, which are his tentative numbers in one of our packs. I need to decide which pack - child or grandchild. The first is pronounced Says, with a long 'a' sound and the second is pronounced On-say, with a long 'o' sound. The puppy is a boy, if that narrows down the choices at all. He is a pure bred Shih Tzu and has been around young children. He's still a little low to the ground so it's a rather difficult to know when he's done outside but I imagine the colder it gets, the quicker I'll assume he's done.