Our Dog Auggie, and Also, Kids Are Awesome.

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We almost got rid of one of our dogs. I was almost a huge jerk.

I’m not one of those people that thinks of their pets the same way they think of their children. They just aren’t the same to me. I got as far as contacting no-kill shelters in town to find out if they could take him. They couldn’t, but they were happy to help spread the word about him to try to get him adopted. The entire time I was going through this, chatting with these people, and contemplating this huge change, I kept having the same thought: “It would be so much easier without him here”. That was always followed immediately by another thought: “That’s an irresponsible way to handle this problem. It’s not fair to the dog”. I didn’t know what to do.

Things had been out of control with the dog pretty much ever since we took him in. My mom got him while she was in a relationship. The relationship turned out to be not great, and it ended with threats and police and lots of really bad feelings and memories. Unfortunately, and unfairly, the dog was tied up in those memories, both for my mom and for me. She was going to give him up shortly after the relationship ended, but upon discussions with my husband, we decided to take him in ourselves. We’d always talked about getting another dog.

Of course, at the time, I was pregnant with our fourth child. I’m notorious for nonchalantly making huge decisions while pregnant. The result of taking him in while pregnant (and homeschooling and working from home and all the other things) was that I didn’t have the necessary time or energy to train the dog. He was potty trained when he came and knew some basic commands. But without further training from us, and lacking consistency, he just got more and more out of control as he got bigger, and oh so very stubborn. I found myself hating him. It was so unfair and miserable for everyone involved.

When things started to get real with the potential adopters, I brought it up to the kids, and was shocked by their responses. When I said we were trying to find a better home for Auggie, they both responded the same way: “WHY?”

I should mention that these kids haven’t particularly enjoyed Auggie, either. The adults have had bad attitudes toward him from the beginning, and the kids definitely picked up on those attitudes and acted accordingly. Even so, it seems he is still family to them. I thought overnight about their reactions, and the next day asked them if they wanted to keep him. Without hesitation, they said they did. So, I resolved to fix the mess I had made.

Some of the intolerable behavior includes:

  • obsessively chasing the cat (though he would never hurt her)
  • barking, loud and ferocious, scary even, and nearly constant. He would bark at everyone that walked by, and we live in town, with sidewalks, and people are always walking, running, riding bikes, etc. We live near a school, and kids were always out and about. He would bark and snarl and be ridiculous while outside at the fence, scaring people to death, and while inside, thus disrupting the entire household multiple times every day. I’m one of those people that cannot stand loud, sudden noises beyond a certain point, and I reached that point months ago.
  • running over the little kids
  • running through the screen door (the screen is just flapping in the breeze at this point – he completely ripped it, and we are loathe to replace it until this problem is under control)

These things had all built up to the point where the task of training him felt insurmountable, and the only thing I felt I could do was give him up. Now I had to rethink the whole thing, and figure out how to help him be a good dog.

I started by giving him a bath. This made it much more pleasant to pet him, and since a huge part of the problem was that he was craving some attention and love, this was a concrete and relatively easy step to take. I talked to the kids about how things were going to have to change, and that Brian and I would be leading the change. We needed to officially make him a part of the family. We needed to love on him and play with him and teach him how to be part of the household. They were on board. The bath certainly helped :)

Next, I put him on a leash and kept him beside me constantly. I didn’t let him pull on me. I made him obey constantly. He had to sit and lay down and watch out for other people. I took him walking in our yard and helped him learn that people walking by aren’t a threat. I played with him and threw the ball and the stick for him. I scratched his back and took him for walks. The walks were tough – a definite challenge and a huge test of my patience. But he picked up on the rules pretty quickly, and this gave us lots more chances to get him used to strangers and to train the incessant barking out of him. I worked on teaching him that the doorbell doesn’t mean armageddon and a knock on the door is no reason to bark his fool head off. He proved his intelligence over and over, by learning quickly and behaving better than the good old dog.

on guard

On the lookout!

guarding the kids

Guarding the children <3

All of us at the playground

We took over the playground…

The house has been so much more peaceful than I ever thought possible. He lays down and relaxes much of the time. He doesn’t bark at every single noise. He comes up for love and attention and we give it freely. Instead of trying to launch himself into our laps for fear that he will never get another pat, he happily goes and lays back down.

I feel horrible for waiting so long to do this, but man. Things are sure looking up.

 

I’m Healing! There’s Hope!

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Not to be overly dramatic, but I kind of doubted if I’d ever recover from this knee business. I just felt really old and broken, and after such a short time of run/walking, that’s discouraging. Very discouraging. I’m going to share the 3 things that have gotten me quickly on the road to recovery, in case you’re ever in such a situation.

1. GO TO THE CHIROPRACTOR. STAT.

It turns out that my chiro, who I hadn’t seen in about a year, just had a baby (yay!), so her office referred me to another chiro. I felt like approximately a zillion bucks when I left her office. I had all kinds of things “out” in my back and hips – it’s no wonder I was in so much pain, and why I probably had issues with my knees in the first place.

2. Take glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM.

I don’t know whether it was one or all of these supplements (or none?) that helped. But they certainly didn’t hurt. The bottle says to take 1 pill 4-6 times a day, and I did. I was popping them like candy the first couple days. I used this one from Natural Factors.

3. Wear a knee brace. Or 2, if both knees are toast.

I just grabbed a couple of stabilizing knee braces at the store, because after the chiro, I felt like my knees were just all over the place. I needed some extra support, especially because the kids had 4 soccer games over the weekend, between the 2 of them. The braces made my knees look very rotund under my jeans, as well as quite sweaty, but they definitely served their purpose.

Even though it has felt like my knees were broken for approximately 4 years, it was really just over a week. I know, I’m a total weenie. When I woke up this morning, I felt notably better. Not stiff or sore or anything bad. I handled the stairs a couple times today without making things worse. There were some twinges while going up or down the stairs, but nothing insurmountable. I feel very hopeful that with some regular strengthening exercises and yoga, I’ll be back on a run/walk/5k program in a few weeks. I’m excited!

Flying Caterpillars and Monkey Babies

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My littlest monkey is now climbing up on All The Things, including the thing we use to keep her safely enclosed in the living room. It’s a tote full of books, and her new favorite thing to do is wiggle herself up on it, stand up, and look around proudly to see if anyone is noticing. Her father is less enthusiastic about her new skill, but I think it’s pretty awesome. We started putting a basket full of socks on top of the tote of books, which is successfully thwarting her for now. On a related note, am I the only one that has totes and baskets full of things that most people have on shelves or in drawers? Hmm.

She also enjoys climbing up and standing on the raised hearth of our fireplace. This is a bit more troubling due to all the sharp edges and corners, but again, her absolute joy at being in such a forbidden location seems to really thrill her to no end. She’s figured out how to scoot off and land on her feet (most of the time). It’s all very enjoyable to watch, when it’s not terrifying. My mom often chooses not to watch.

Sometimes, when she tries to break the glass front of the bookcase with a hairbrush, and I prevent her from doing that, she does this:

She’s also a favorite pet of the 3 year old. Watch what happens when Fi plays with the baby…

There have been multiple days this week that were warm enough for the kids to go outside for many hours on end. It has been amazing. AMAZING. The baby even spent some time out with the kids, walking around in the now soft grass and mud, picking up things to examine, and waving and laughing at me as I look at her from the window.

Charlie Brown otherwise known as a wooly bear

Yesterday, Fiona got irate with Eli, because he told her to put down a charlie brown that she found and she wouldn’t. For some reason, he was all fired up about her putting it down, and when she wouldn’t, he took it from her and threw it. The shrieks were intense, as was the snot-faced distress of my little girl as she came in crying to me and screeching about how “ELI….DID FROW…..MY CHARLIE BROWN AND I’M NOT FORGIVE HIM!” It was heartbreaking and adorable. I made Eli go search for that thing, and bless his heart, he did. He couldn’t find the little guy, so he brought her some pretty rocks. She pretty staunchly snubbed her nose at them, but her heart started softening after he sincerely apologized. These are the fights that happen when it’s warm, and I much prefer them to the alternative. I’ll take it.

Couch to 5k, Day 3: The Day It All Went to Ca-Ca

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Brian and I had to run separately for the first time on Saturday, because Nini was off visiting her dad and sister. Bri asked to run with me instead, and I let her. And she kicked my butt. It didn’t help that my knees started hurting as soon as I started running, and I kept going, thinking the pain might chill out. It didn’t. I finally gave up running on the last interval, and I was pissed. Pissed that I only made it to Day 3 before getting hurt. Pissed that I spent a zillion dollars on shoes that I can’t use, at least for now. Pissed that I was feeling good, strong, motivated, and invigorated and it’s all come to a screeching, aching halt.

Pardon all the pissing.

Going up and down stairs hurts. A lot. Sitting hurts my knees and standing hurts my knees and all at once I feel old and creaky and broken. I hope I can run again, but at the same time, I’m a little afraid to try. Walking isn’t an option. It’s so BORING. Riding bikes isn’t my jam, at least not for the purpose of exercising. Swimming = bathing suit + membership fees. No bueno.

I’m dejected. I’ve resorted to ibuprofen for the pain, because rubbing Panaway on the sore spots isn’t helping. The ibuprofen absolutely does help, but I hate taking medicine.

Any tips or words of wisdom? I’m all ears. My knees thank you in advance. Meanwhile, I’ll just be over here. Being old and pouty.

Monday Things

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Today was special in a way that only Mondays can be. You’ll notice a trend if you stick with my little blog for long enough: Mondays suck, and if one doesn’t, LOOK OUT FOR TUESDAY. Snot has been thickly oozing from the baby’s nose for a few days now, so we were up a lot last night. There’s not much sadder than a nursing baby who is too stuffed up with phlegm to nurse. Horrible sounds, that one was making. We woke up around 8 and hit the ground dragging.

Interestingly enough, today we read the chapter in Parables from Nature titled ‘Kicking’. I had no idea as we read it how freakishly apropos it would end up being for today, but I should have guessed that something apocalyptic was going to occur. It’s all about a colt who resists authority and discipline, and thus never gets broken, and so bounces from owner to owner, always blaming others for his unhappiness. Bri enjoyed it, ‘got’ the message, and then promptly acted it all out, with her in the role of Firefly, the unruly colt.

I asked Bri and Eli to clean up the kitchen this afternoon. Eli cheerfully (I know – what??) set himself to the task, while Bri busted out her best bad attitude and started giving Eli a hard time. He basically dismissed her, saying he’d do it himself. I told her to pick up the living room and dining room instead, which would have been Eli’s normal chore. She freaked out, blamed Eli for not letting her help in the kitchen, and donned her best stone face, frozen in a look of absolute derision and disregard for All The Things. This was not going well. I thought perhaps she and Eli had pulled a Freaky Friday moment, and switched bodies, but no. This was Bri, fully fired up with pubescent hormones and total indignation.

She wasn’t even looking at me. Just standing there, staring disinterestedly over my right shoulder, and right then I realized it was going to get ugly. I told her to do the chore. I explained that her behavior toward her brother wasn’t acceptable. I repeated that she needed to start cleaning. NOW.

The blank hate stare continued.

I added another chore, to which she didn’t react in the least. This cycle continued with me warning her, assigning punishment, and her ignoring, until the list looked like this:

  • Clean the kitchen floor
  • Clean off the school bookshelf
  • Match all the socks in the sock basket
  • Clean the stairs/landing
  • Grounded from everything for a week
  • 8:30 bedtime for a week
  • No soccer

She also gave her camera to her brother and said she didn’t want a birthday party (she turns 11 next month).

Does anyone have kids that do this? They play like they don’t care about things that they absolutely do care about, so they give them up, as if it somehow punishes me. They then proceed to cry inconsolably with regret. WHY?

Regardless of the reason, I was grateful for the torrential tears, because it meant no more Hatey Hatey Stoneface Girl. She went through the stages of tween grief, we had to talk a lot while she cried a LOT, and eventually she proceeded with her long list of chores. She recovered, as did I. Her brother sweetly gave her back the camera, and we gave her soccer back (as that was another one that she had taken away from herself).

Later, she requested that I chop off her hair. To her shoulders. So I did. She’s certainly lovely and precious. But I don’t know that we will both make it through her teen years.

My Baby, World Traveler Extraordinaire – Paris Edition

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After a couple of fabulous days in London, it was time to hop on the Chunnel (because the girl clearly hadn’t done enough insanely awesome things, yet) and head to Paris. The highlights of their stay include Deb getting her wallet stolen on the subway before they even got to their hotel, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Bri’s first beret, and of course, Disneyland Paris! Enjoy :D

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These Eyes

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I have 3 daughters, and they all have beautiful eyes, each with their own unique color. My oldest has brown eyes, a chocolate shade somewhere between milk and deep dark.

Bri of the chocolate eyes

Then there’s my middle girl, the one with eyes somewhere between amber and hazel and green, depending on the light. Look at that child!

Oh, that face. Oh, those eyes!

And last but not least, the baby, with her perfect, still-blue eyes. It’s kind of looking like they’re going to stay blue with this one!

Baby blues

Love.

Couch to 5k, Day 2

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I was up late last night, as I often am after a miserable day. It’s not really a conscious thing that I mean to do, but more a need for solitude and peace for awhile. Maybe it’s my body’s way of trying to prevent the sins of today carry over to tomorrow.

Regardless of the why, the fact is that I was up until 2. It felt good to purge the day out into words, and I was definitely excited to get Bri’s London photos up. My phone woke me up at 7:30, I reset my alarm for 8:30, and finally crawled reluctantly out of bed at 9. I was a little apprehensive and I carried a bit of the previous day’s residue on my heart. Kind of like an emotional hangover.

Anyway, I’m very thankful that Brian is on board with the running thing, because without him spurring me on, I probably would have skipped today’s run. He came home early, as he generally does on Wednesdays, and whipped up some delicious homemade tortillas for taco night. I got ready and we started out around 3. The run/walk intervals went 5 minutes longer than yesterday, and while I struggled a bit toward the end of each running interval, I felt stronger overall. My body started to ‘remember’ how this running thing works and I didn’t feel as much like an elephant trying to glide gracefully as I did on day 1.

Our route ended up being 2.1 miles, which seemed significant enough to make me happy, and took 30 minutes. When I got home, I stretched a bit, then figured it was a good time to do a little strength training before I changed clothes. I did this quick homemade workout that I made up on the spot, which fatigued my muscles and kept my heart rate up for awhile longer. Here’s what I did:

- 6 regular squats
- 6 more squats, but as I stood up on these, I threw my baby in the air, caught her and squatted again (She was fussy because I wasn’t nursing her yet. How dare I tarry??)
- 10 push-ups (girl ones)
- 20 crunches, half of which were done with a baby crawling on my chest
- 10 lunges on one leg
- 10 tricep dips (done on our raised hearth)
- 10 lunges on the other side
- 25 Russian twists
- 10 push-ups (girl ones again)
- 5 more baby throwing squats
- 20 Russian twists

Now my legs are jelly and I can absolutely feel shin splints coming on. However, that’s pretty standard for me, and it’s well worth my improving health. I also noticed afterward that some more of that residue was gone from yesterday’s debacle. Now I’m off to recruit someone to rub magnesium lotion and peppermint essential oil on my achin’ legs!