Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fergus: The Artist?

Fergus is totally a puppy.  You can't walk without having a little head attached to your shoe.  He is always ON. Full speed. 100 miles an hour. OR he is off. You know, in a puppy coma.  Every day when he wakes up he is SO happy!  Every day is the BEST DAY OF HIS WHOLE LIFE!  Every food is the best food he has ever tasted, even if it is just dirt.  You have to admire that puppy attitude.  If we could ALL be that happy, think how awesome our world would be.

And puppies are not scared to try new things, either.
Fergus is willing to do anything. 
Make a break for the street?  Sure!
Climb in the tub to try and get the water off your feet after your shower?  Sounds like fun! 
Attack that plant in the flower bed?  Awesome!
Bark at the strange puppy in the mirror?
Arf!!  Arf!! Arf!! Arf!!
Jump from the couch to the coffee table?  Yeesssss... Ouch.
Try jumping from the couch to the coffee table again?  Okaaayyy...  Ouch! 
Try jumping from the couch to the coffee table again? 
No, Fergus!

So when I noticed his recent interest in the arts, I tried to encourage it, while also keeping a close eye on him.  One man's paintbrush is another dog's snack.

He helped Jessa work on her poster for Student Council:

And he is totally willing to try any medium. 
Pencil on the poster board, of course.

Markers are always a fun choice.

Or colored pencils:
He seems to like yellow.  Bright and sunny, like his personality.
 And then there are crayons, these are his favorite...

Y'all, I couldn't figure out where he was getting these tools for his "artwork."  I would come home and there were crayons bits of crayon all over the place. 
He is carefully choosing his color.  Is it pink enough?  Too pink?  Is it Blush or Bashful?

So one evening, I found him chewing on a crayon.  I know I should encourage him and nurture his gift, but I hate when he devours his tools, so I took the crayon and threw it away. 

He was not the least bit upset.  So when he walked away, I followed him and discovered his "stash."  A cup of writing and coloring utensils from Spencer's desk had fallen.  They were spilled everywhere on the floor under his desk, but the chair was pushed in!  I couldn't even see the tools, but Fergus could.  I would take one away, and he would simply go back to his hidden treasure and choose another color.  I have now moved the utensils.  I am trying to control how much of his time he spends creating.  I want a well-rounded puppy, after all.

Now, when he got out the paintbrush, I had to draw the line at fetching him some paint.
This is not staged.  I promise!

Before I close, may I take this opportunity to give a shout out to Crayola for keeping it real, keeping it colorful, and most importantly, keeping it non-toxic.

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's all French to me!

Ever since I was little, there have been little bits of German sprinkled into conversation.  You know a "danke" here or an "auf wiedersehen" there.  And my parents NEVER said "Bless you" when we sneezed.  Nope, we were firmly in the "gesundheit" camp.

And of course all of these common German words were reinforced when David and I lived in Germany.  We added more phrases and words to our repertoire.  I even have this sign on the back of our front door:
We like telling people "bye" in German without saying a word.

The kids, especially Jessa, LOVE to hear stories about Germany and see pictures of places we visited.  Jessa loves to eat brotchen and feel like she is a cool German kid!  And even though they both take Spanish in school, we still use lots of random, broken German at home.  "Want some milch with your cereal?"  "Set the table, bitte."

So Jessa took this little thing we do to school.  When her teacher would hand back a paper, she would smile and say "Danke."  Her teacher was intrigued.  She asked her what did it mean.  Jessa told her "Thanks" in German.  So her teacher asked her, "How do you say, 'You're welcome.' in German."  Jessa told her "Bitteschön."  Other children sitting near her heard this.  Other children started saying "Danke"  and the teacher started saying "Bitteschön."

Now, I think that is pretty neat, don't you?  Our little trendsetter!  Teaching her teacher and classmates a little bit of German.  And they must think she is pretty cool to want to emulate her.  Isn't imitation the highest form of flattery??

The other afternoon, Jessa says, "Mom.  Do how do you say thank you in French?"  I thought for a minute and said, "This is more Daddy's area, but I think it is 'Merci'."  She said, "Oh, OK, Mom.  Do you know how to say "You're welcome in French?"  "No, honey.  I know how to say it in Spanish."  She looked disappointed and said, "I don't need Spanish."  I didn't think much of it.

A day or so later, Jessa asked, "Mom, do we have a French and English dictionary?"  I told her, "No, I don't think we do, honey, why?"  "I just wondered," she said.

The next day, she asked me again.  So I finally said, "Jessa!  What gives?  Please tell me what you need it for."

She looked pained and said, "Well, Mom, now everyone around me is saying thank you and you're welcome in German."  I said, "Uh, OK, and?"  And she paused and said, "Well, now it isn't special anymore.  Everyone is doing it.  So I was thinking about starting to use French to say thank you and you're welcome.  Then I will be special again."

Bless her heart!  I tried to convince her it was super cool that she started something neat in her class.  And to be proud of herself for teaching everyone something new.

She wasn't hearing any of it.

So here's to our special girl!

I may need to start learning some Mandarin to keep up with her.
How much is Rosetta Stone again?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Special Day

I am a sucker for anniversaries.  I always think, at this time last year...  Or at this time 5 years ago...
Please indulge me while I stroll down memory lane.  Since I cannot celebrate "our special day" this year with David, I am just going to tell you about it.

So today, I am thinking:
On this day, 16 years ago, I was student teaching.  But David invited me to have supper in Dahlonega with him.  (Y'all know I robbed the cradle and graduated before him!)  It was a special day because it was the one year anniversary of when David gave me his lavalier.  So I finished with my classes and headed from McIntosh High School all the way up GA 400 to meet him for supper.  I kind of knew something was up because a couple weeks before, David had talked with my parents.  Alone.  And after their talk, Mom made a funny comment about finally getting rid of me...

So I met him at his dorm.  I parked my car and hopped into his car, presumably to go and eat.  But first, he drove me back to the parking lot.  At the time, it was called the Green zone.  And it was the place where we first met.  My roommate and her boyfriend had set us up so he could go with me to a sorority formal, and I knew he was amazing because he agreed to go before even meeting me.

Ah formals!  College was so much fun!
I was totally unprepared to meet him then.  I had a HUGE zit on my forehead.  The kind of blemish that today, years later, he jokes about the extra nose growing out of my forehead.  But not on that day.  We shook hands and chatted, all while I was nonchalantly trying to hide my forehead. Mom said on that day when I told her the story, "Wouldn't it be funny if you married him and told your children that story about how you met?"  Indeed.

So we parked in the parking lot and he handed me a red scrap of paper that said, "We started here in the parking lot.  Your head was a little red and uncertain."

Then we drove over behind Donovan Hall, the dorm where we were RAs together during summer school.  I was the RA of some super cool NGC girls.  And he was the RA to the GA Tech Football Team who had to attend summer school with us that year because of the 1996 Olympics being in Atlanta.  We spent a lot of time hanging out every night, just talking and laughing.

We walked to our "spot," and he handed me another red scrap of paper.  It said, "In rough, difficult times and places, our love grew."

We hopped back in the car and started driving.  We ended up on Crown Mountain.  This was another landmark at NGC.  The cadets always ran up the hill on the last day of Frog Week.  It was a long standing tradition.  And when my parents were at North Georgia, my Daddy gave my Momma his lavalier on top of crown mountain.  My sweet D knew that, and so that is where he gave me his lavalier.

We walked off to the side and he handed me another red scrap of paper.  It said, "On the mountain, we went higher to the next step, your lavalier."
My lavalier candlelighting
We were back in the car and started driving.  The way we were heading, I thought we might be going to Pine Valley, a popular place for parties and socials.  But then he turned off.

We were headed to Amicalola State Park, a favorite spot for us to hang out and sometimes study and picnic.  He drove to the top and we walked out onto the bridge over the falls.

He handed me another red scrap of paper.  It said, "Now we are higher than before, and you now have all of my heart."

It was at that point that I realized that the scraps of red paper were actually like a puzzle that he made.  And now that I had all of them, they formed a heart!
I can be a little slow...
He got down on one knee right there on the bridge and popped out the ring.  Strangers were gasping and watching and giggling!

I was crying and so excited, he said, "Will you marry me?"  And I immediately hugged him.  He put the ring on my finger.  And I think we were back in the car before he said, "Um, I don't think you answered me.  Will you?"  And I said, "YES!  OF COURSE!"

I so wish we had a picture of that night, but that was in the dark ages before cell phone cameras.
Here is one of our engagement photos, though.  
Infants, we were!

So 16 years ago today, he asked and I said YES!
Happy Special Day, D!
(And thanks for letting me tell our story.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Life with Jack Handey

I may be dating myself a tad, but who remembers Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey?  We used to love those things!  My whole family would look forward to them every week on Saturday Night Live.

Well, I live with Jack Handey.  Well, not the Jack Handey, but our own smaller version of Jack Handey.  We just call him Spencer.

Spencer is always thinking.  And always planning.  I never know what questions are going to come out of his mouth, what questions I will then have to answer, or what plans he is making.  Here are a few recent topics that little Jack Spencer has wanted to discuss.

S: Mom, what is the difference between a Catholic and a Methodist?  Or what about someone who is Jewish?
This led to a lengthy discussion where I explained Protestants and Martin Luther.  To which he said, Martin Luther KING?  And I said, no.  And he asked again, oh, you mean Martin Luther KING JUNIOR?  It took some time, but I think he eventually got it...
S: Mom when I grow up, I want to have a cat.
Me: OK, buddy. That sounds good.
S: Do you think I should have him micro-chipped?
Me: I guess so, that is probably a good idea.
S: Yeah, that's what I thought, too.
S: Mom, I know that we have to move because of the army.  Can people who are not in the army move, too?
Me: Of course they can, it is just a little harder because the army pays for our moves and schedules everything for us.
S: Aw.  But when I am a grown-up, I want to move. But I don't want to be in the army.
Me: Son, you can still move.  Daddy and I will help you.
S:Oh, OK, good.

S: Mom, when I grow up, will you be upset if I don't live in the same state as you?
Me: No, son, but it would make things more convenient when you visit me the required once a week.
(he grinned at my joke)
S: OK, well, I think I want to live in either Illinois or South Carolina.
Me: Alright, where in Illinois?
S: O'Fallon.
Me: Perfect!  And you already know where to go to church!
S: Yes.  Wait, what was the other place I said I wanted to live?
Me: South Carolina
S: Oh, yeah.  What's in South Carolina?  Would I like it there?
Me: Oh yes!  There is Charleston and the beach and it is close to GA.
S: OK, then.  I will live in Illinois or South Carolina.
S: Mom, I am going to open a school when I grow up.  And I will be the Principal.
Me: That is a great idea, buddy.
S: Do you think that I can still teach at my school, even if I am the Principal?
Me: Of course!  It will be your school.  You can do whatever you want, I think.
S: Good.  I think I will teach Pre-K.
Me: OK.  Why Pre-K?
S: Well, that is before the kids start to get rough.
Me: Son, do you need to tell me something about school?
S: No, why?
S: Mom, when I grow up, do you think I could go to Niagara Falls?
And he has planned his future dogs.  They will be one boy names Gulliver and one girl named Constance.

S: Mom, can I ask you a question, since you know, you are a grown up?
Me: Ok, sure.
S: Can 2nd graders be boyfriend and girlfriend?
Me: Well, I think that 2nd graders can have crushes and like each other and be really good friends.  But y'all are a little too young to be too serious.
S: OK.  It's just that my friend Chris LOVES someone in our class a lot.  And he said that you can are boyfriends and girlfriends until you are 18 and then you get married.
Me:  Well, maybe it is OK to get married when you are 18 in Chris's family, but in this family you can't get married until you graduate college.
S: Oh, OK.
Me: You have to be able to take care of your wife.  You need a good job, so college first, OK?
S: That makes sense.
I was in the middle of writing this post when Spence struck again:
While I was cooking supper, he was hanging in the kitchen with me.  He ran his hand along the wall.
S: Mom, I think I know why our walls are white.  I think that a lot of Christians all have white walls.
Me: Why do you think that, buddy?
S: Well because white walls are like clouds.
Me: Yep, they are.
S: And clouds are very peaceful.  And if you are a Christian, you are peaceful.

This kid!
I pray that I can always answer his questions and appreciate his thoughts.
And I pray harder that he is always as receptive to my answers, even if they aren't exactly what he wants to hear.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Still my little girl

Jessa cannot wait to grow up one minute, and then wants to be a 4 year old the next.  She wants to be in college and preschool all at the same time.  I can remember wishing I was little again, too.  And I also remember wanting to be older.  This is the story of life, though, right?  We can't wait to grow up and then when we are grown, we long for the carefree days of childhood.  (I mainly just wish someone would make me take a nap.)

Jessa has taken to wearing these shoes that are almost high heels.  They are wedges, and they are fancy.  Someone made her feel bad about how tall she was last year, so now she always tries to make herself look taller.  The wedges fit the bill, but they make her look so grown-up.  Sometimes I can't believe how much.  Most of the time when I look at her, I still see my baby, you know?

So this morning, we went to church.  She wore her fancy shoes, of course.  And it was an absolutely perfect day.  After church, we went to Subway and picked up lunch.  Then we took it to a playground to eat.  They hurried through their sandwiches to get to the playing part of our impromptu picnic. 

As they started to run toward the play area, Jessa realized that wearing those fancy shoes was not the best choice for playing.  So even though she looked so pretty and so grown-up in her church clothes and those fancy shoes, at that moment, she wanted nothing more than to still be a little girl. 
 So she kicked off her shoes and off she went.

And I enjoyed watching her play a little bit more than I usually do.  Because she is growing up.  She is learning so much.  She understands so much more.  Every day, I feel so proud of her accomplishments and her amazing spirit.  But every day, I also feel sad because she is a little less my baby girl.

So on this beautiful first day of fall, I watched my girl play.

I watched her hair blow in the wind.  I watched the sun shine on her hair.
I heard her rich imagination as she described avoiding the lava covering the playground
and the kid Olympics that she and Spencer were competing in.  I celebrated her victories when she made it across the balance beam with no hands.
And when she climbed all the way to the top of "Mt. Everest." 
 I listened to her make beautiful music on the drums.
And I loved looking at her feet.
Her sweet bare feet. 
With dirty bottoms from playing without her shoes.
With chipped toe nail polish.
And I savored the afternoon with my Jessa, who is still my little girl, no matter how fancy her shoes are or how much she can't wait to live in the dorm.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Put a fork in me...

You know how when your husband is deployed for a year?  And you are sad when he leaves, but you are super determined to put on a brave face and "soldier on" at home?  And there are a few days, especially at first when you feel weepy and little things make you cry like a baby?  But then you get in a routine and the kids are busy and school is busy and you are doing great.  And you know how you are super proud of your husband and what he is doing for our country?

And how proud you are of yourself and your kids for not falling apart and for being tough and courageous, even though some days are just plain hard?

Then you know how one day, you look up and say, "You know what?  I am done.  I am over it.  Let's just end this now."  Yeah.  I had one of those days.

Nothing happened out of the ordinary.  The kids were in good moods.  We got lots done at school.  I bought groceries.  I cooked supper.  The dogs were nice, and Fergus did not have one accident all day long (KNOCK ON WOOD).  The kids did their homework without a fuss.  Things were just fine.  Normal.  Above average, even.

We are doing OK.  But then a wave comes over me - and I am just done.
Where in the heck is my husband??

Every deployment has those moments.  Every military spouse has those moments during every deployment.  The crazy thing is that you don't usually see them coming.  There are those obvious times that you miss them.  I can vividly remember holding a 2 year old Jessa at 2 AM after she threw up all over my bed, while 8 months pregnant with Spencer.  I actually said outloud on the verge of tears, "Where is my husband?"  No one answered.  But I changed the sheets.  Jessa was OK.  I was OK.  We survived, but it would have been awesome to have him there.  Or perhaps the most obvious moment of all, the moment that I am laying in labor and delivery about to meet Spencer.
Without him.

I am not talking about those times.
I am talking about the times when you are running into the PX to pick up a couple things around lunch time and you see nothing but couples meeting for lunch at the food court.  And your heart actually hurts for a split second.
Props for Spencer's photo bomb :)

Or you are just walking out of the school building and you see a Daddy headed to the car holding the hands of his children.  And you almost can't breathe.

Or those times when you can't decide what to cook for supper and the thought crosses your mind that today would be a perfect day to grill...
But your master grill chef isn't here.

Or you are looking out the window and you see a family walking their dogs after supper.  And you wish your family could do something as simple as take a walk.  All together.
Or when the house is quiet.  The kids are asleep.  I am laying in bed trying to go to sleep.  And Fergus wants to go out.  Odds are, even if David were here, I would be the only one who heard him get up.  But I miss being mad at him for not hearing Fergus!

Now, even though I had a "moment," by the time I woke up the next morning, I was thrust back into the daily grind.  I had my head down, powering through another day.  Make lunches, pack snacks, fold clothes, drop off, pick up, feed dogs, clean out cat litter, take out the trash, cook supper, grocery shop, all the day to day "stuff."

And before I know it, the day is over.
I erase another day from our countdown board.
And I smile because we are one day closer to this actually being over.

And I then I smile even bigger because I realize that when David gets back he will be on my nerves within a week.  The laundry will double.  I will trip over boots in the middle of the night.  He'll forget to tell me he'll be late.  He'll be frustrated with me for not getting gas in the car until the light comes on.  He'll sigh as I tell him a story that should take 5 minutes, but when I tell it, it takes 20.  He'll toss and turn trying to go to sleep because I need the TV on for noise, but he wishes it was quiet.

But I will also get to enjoy watching him help Jessa with her homework or help Spencer with a computer game.
And we can take a walk after supper.
All together.
And then all will be right with our world.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good Boy Fergus?

When we got Fergus this summer, I was wondering how long it would be before he figured out the doggie door.  Molly picked it up pretty quickly, but her older dog example was Max.  And he was not too big on going in or out or getting up or being awake.

So Molly didn't really "get it" until she was around Abby and Cooper while May and Bay were visiting.  But Fergus had crazy Molly to teach him.  And even though he was only 6 weeks old when we got him, and even though he only weighed 4.5 lbs, he was throwing himself out that door within about 2 days.
This is the 3rd day after we got him:

So with the doggie door comes freedom.  Molly figured this out pretty quickly.  Freedom to go out anytime you want.  Freedom to come in anytime you want.  And freedom to take whatever you can drag through the hole in the door outside. Molly loved this part the most.

So it was only a matter of time before Fergus figured out the dragging things outside thing, too.  Sometimes it was things that he wanted to eat/play with/chew up without us trying to stop him.  Sometimes it was shoes.  Sometimes it was trash or yarn or water bottles or snacks.  You name it, he wanted it outside.

One time, he dragged yarn in and out and all around to create a simulated laser maze.

And I will be honest, I knew that he was continuing to drag stuff outside.  But unless it was a shoe that one of us wanted to wear right then, I had the tendency to just leave it out there.  But this week, I realized that I hadn't cut the grass in months.  (The backyard is really shady, so it hadn't needed it.  But then David just informed me that it is just like hair and I need to trim the dead ends.  Who knew?!)  Before I could cut the grass, I needed to go on a scavenger/ Easter egg hunt: Fergus Style.

I tried to take a picture of what it looked like before I picked everything up.

I am not sure if it makes the severity of this situation clear.

So I started just putting everything that I picked up on the table.
Well, I think that you can tell from this picture that he has a problem.

Apparently, there are few things he will not try to take outside.
One day I saw this when I got home:

Thank goodness we didn't get the large doggie door!  But can't you picture that 9 lb dog trying to get that pillow that is bigger than him out that door???

Oh and a day or so after I cleaned up the yard, I went to the grocery store.
That Fergus!  Apparently, he wanted to help me unload the bags.
Later that afternoon, I found these out in the yard.

Bless his heart! 

He was trying to help me clean!

I guess I'll keep him.