Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Down to one

My husband and I went to the shelter last night with a list of seven possible dogs.  The shelter asked us to bring the dog's name and number so it would be easy to identify which cages to visit.  We found out that only three of the dogs we were interested in learning more about were available.  The others had already been adopted.  It was good for them, but bad for us, especially since our first two choices were no longer available.

We met the first two dogs and didn't feel like either was a really good fit.  One was better than the other, but neither seemed like our dog.  We asked about our third choice and wandered around while the shelter employee looked for more information.  It was overwhelming.  The noise, smell, bright lights, cinder blocks and metal cages were really depressing.

We were looking for our fourth choice when we found a beautiful, black and white, blue-eyed Huskey.  He is about a year old and just beautiful.  When our third choice was "MIA" as the shelter employee said, we immediately asked to see the Huskey.  He wasn't on our initial list, but there was something about him that drew us in.

He was very friendly with us.  The shelter doesn't know a lot about him as he is an unclaimed stray.  He seemed to listen to a few basic commands.  Within a few minutes, he plopped down under the bench by my legs.  I was in love. 

My husband, on the other hand, needed a little convincing.  It wasn't about the dog.  He's clearly a good dog.  It was the shedding.  Huskies are hairy -- really hairy.  It will take a bit of work to keep the hair under control.  I went out this morning and bought a "Shedzilla professional de-shedding tool."  I'm sure we'll use it a lot, starting with the day we bring the dog home.

Today I'm going to take the girls to meet the dog.  We have a hold on him, but we have to finalize the adoption today or someone else will have the opportunity.  I am a bit nervous about taking the girls.  Last night after we came home, my husband and I both needed to go to bed early.  It was exhausting and we're adults.  I hope the visit won't overwhelm the girls so much that they lose sight of the importance of meeting the dog.  I know it's my job to keep them on track, but I had a really hard time staying on track last night.  It makes me glad we're only taking them there once for the final visit.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More steps towards bringing home our new pet

We're well on our way to adopting our dog.  We went out this weekend and bought a lot (A LOT) of stuff ranging from dog food to toys to a crate.  We spent hours yesterday reorganizing the girls' bedroom to minimize future toy damage.  We created space in the house for the crate and dog stuff. 

We're going to the shelter tonight to submit our application and ask about our favorite dogs from the shelter's web site.  Our top choice isn't on the website any more.  He was there on Friday, but gone today.  On the one hand, I'm a bit sorry we won't get to see him.  On the other hand, if he was adopted, I hope he found a good home.

We're adopting an older dog, which has generated quite a bit of conversation from people asking why we didn't go for a puppy.  Basically, I was the one who didn't want a puppy.  I'm not up for having another baby right now, and the reality is that having a puppy in the house is like having another baby.  The other reason is that there are so many older dogs available for adoption.  I think these dogs are most often overlooked because they are older.  We're going to take a dog someone else couldn't care for and give it a forever family.

Adoptapet.com has five good reasons to adopt a shelter pet.  I would say we agree with all of them, except the second part of #2.  We want to save an animal, but we're not looking for public kudos.  Just having a pet we love and who love us will be enough. 

From adoptapet.com, here are five more reasons shelter pets are win-win for owner and pet.

1. When you adopt an adult animal, you can see his/her size and temperament. This helps ensure that the pet is right for you and your family.

2. It feels great to know you have saved an animal’s life and everyone you meet will give you kudos for that for years to come.

3. Adopted pets are very loyal and know they have been given a new home. They understand the stress of moving from place to place and when they are introduced to routines they will really open up and appreciate your choice to adopt.

4. Adopting a pet can be an important lesson to teach your children-- both about the value of life, and also about civic responsibility and even recycling- in this case recycling a living and loving animal into a new home.

5. Choosing a mixed breed animal can help avoid many of the genetic health problems that have developed in purebred animals due over breeding and inbreeding.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Karl is his name

The girls take everything Daddy says as THE WORD.  So, when they asked him what he wanted to name our new dog, he replied, "I like Karl."

Karl it is -- at least in the planning stages. 

When you ask the girls about our upcoming family addition, they say, "It's going to be a boy dog so that Daddy is not the only boy in the house anymore and we'll name him Karl."

Last night he tried to tell them we might not name the dog Karl, and that the girls could name the dog.  They wouldn't even think about changing the dog's name.  They were a bit upset that he wanted to change it. 

They take this very seriously.  Daddy just starts smiling or laughing quietly.  He might find it funny now, but he's going to end up with a dog named Karl.  After all, his word is the final word in this house.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A dog fact-finding mission

We're going to adopt our dog from a local animal shelter.  Yesterday I decided to visit so we could figure out the process before taking the girls there.  I'm really glad I did.

I walked out overwhelmed and sad.  The shelter is large, and it's filled.  When I walked in there were small animals (kittens, bunnies, etc.) stacked throughout the lobby.  The smell made my stomach turn.  The constant animal noises didn't even make the employees' heads turn.   

There was one desk just for people relinquishing their animals and dropping off "found" or hurt animals.  It was open all day.  Another desk was just for adoptions.  It was open fewer hours.  I guess more people want to relinquish their animals than adopt pets. 

I found the information I needed, but didn't feel good about it.  I felt like I needed a bit of time to process the reality of how many animals need homes.

The people who work in such shelters really must believe in their mission and love animals.  I was in awe of the staff when I left.

I'm glad I did the advance work on the shelter.  We're better prepared to explain what is going to happen to the girls, and I have a bit of time to figure out how to help them when they actually see the shelter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lunch Time

The girls seem to be doing well taking their lunches to school.  We haven't forgotten lunch -- yet.  We also bought a five lunch punch card as a back up or for days when the school is serving something like cheese pizza.

The brunette twin has been coming home with food in her lunch box.  I said, "Don't you like your lunch?"  She replied, "Mom, I have a problem at lunch.  There's not enough time.  I cannot finish lunch and talk to my friends." 

It's her first, real lesson in time management.  Either she talks the whole time or she gets to eat her lunch.  She loves to talk and she loves to eat, so in her six-year-old mind, this is quite a problem.

We talked about how she could solve this problem.  She decided to eat first and talk after she was done.  Now I get a daily update on how her lunch went and whether or not she was able to finish her lunch and still talk to her friends.  When she really likes her lunch, she has more time to talk.  When she doesn't like something and it takes her a long time to eat it, she doesn't have a lot of talk time.

She's getting better, but she's still working on her first, real time management lesson.  Then again, I don't know anyone who has really mastered time management, so it's a good life lesson for her. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Change of Heart

A year ago the brunette twin spent every morning trying to talk me into driving her to school.  She really, really did not want to take the bus.  She spent every evening trying to convince me that driving her to school was the best thing for everyone.

Last week the girls decided to stand up on the bus while it was moving.  They didn't listen to the bus driver when he told them to sit down.  He did tell me about it when I met them at the bus stop.  He has a zero tolerance policy that I respect.  If you are messing around on the bus, you will get in trouble.  There are no second chances with him.  He will not let you do anything dangerous on the bus. 

This morning as we walked to the bus, I reminded the girls that if I heard about any more trouble on the bus, I would start driving them to school.  The blond twin promised to be good.  The brunette twin was nearly in tears. She started explaining how much she likes taking the bus and how she would never be bad on the bus again.

A year ago I would not have used driving them to school as a threat.  Knowing that the brunette twin likes taking the bus now made it a threat worth using -- especially since I really dislike driving them to school.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Asked and Answered

Overheard at the school bus yesterday...

Mom:  "My girls are home.  Did you have a good day at school?  I missed you so much."

Brunette Twin:  "Really?  I didn't miss you at all.  We had so much fun at school.  We have our own desks and all the kids in my square are girls."

Blond Twin:  "I didn't miss you either Mom.  We got to play with the Smartboard.  I can't wait to go back to school tomorrow."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Six Hours and Counting...

Since the day the girls started preschool, people said, "just wait until they are in school for a full day."  It was like that was a day for celebration.  Well, we're done waiting.  Today is their first day of first grade.  The girls leave for school at 8:30 a.m. and return at 3:30 p.m.

I always thought I'd be relieved when this day came, but I'm a little sad.  I don't want the girls to be gone all day.  I like the half day schedule that gives us all some space in the morning and lets us spend the afternoon together.

I wasn't sad when they started preschool.  I'm sure there were bets about when I'd cry the first day we took them to preschool.  It's well-known that I cry at commercials, so leaving our girls at preschool should have been a prime crying opportunity, but it wasn't.  I was happy they were going to school.  They were completely ready and it was a fabulous preschool on a children's farm.  Who can be sad about that?

This is different.  Even though they are going to a school we like and have a teacher who we hear good things about, this is the first time someone else will be caring for our girls for nearly the whole day.

This means someone else gets to celebrate their success and protect them from pain.  Someone else gets to help them when they need help and watch as they learn new things. 

They are so excited about first grade.  They bubbled from the time they rolled out of bed until the bus arrived.  They didn't even look back to wave goodbye as they boarded the bus.  They couldn't wait to see their friends.  They are big girls, going to school all day and taking their lunches. 

I stood there staring for a minute when the bus drove away.  It wasn't until that moment that it really hit me that they would be gone all day.  It's like they have a whole life we only hear about through stories.  They are only six.  I'm not ready for that leap yet. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

School Lunch Anxiety

The girls start school this week, so this weekend we did a lot of organizing.  As usual, when we went through their clothes, quite a few didn't fit any more.  They sharpened all their pencils and filled their backpacks, and a another big bag, with school supplies.  We organized their closets and shoes.  We're really pretty set.

In the middle of it all, I had to make a complete mind shift about what they eat for lunch.  We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which the girls like a lot.  When it comes to school lunches, I need portable fruits and vegetables, so my options are more limited.

When I look in our refrigerator right now, we have plums, peaches and apples.  I realized this morning that none of those are suitable for school lunches.  Really, have you ever tried to eat a peach four hours after it was sliced?  The brown, gooey mess isn't very appealling. 

I need portable fruits like cut melons, strawberries, grapes, cherries, blueberries, etc.  Costco sells pre-cut apples preserved in a citric acid, so that will go on our next shopping list.  We'll find organic raisins and other dried fruits to make up the difference when the portable fruit isn't available.

We also need a daily snack.  First graders in our school district get a mid-morning snack.  This has to be something healthy, so cookies, cinnamon pretzels, etc. are out. We're also discouraged from sending anything with nuts because of the risk to students with food allergies.  

The idea of having to send them with a snack and lunch each day is causing me a bit of stress, so I reacted in my usual form. I organized everything. We created a single shelf in the pantry where all their reusable plastic containers sit with our "school only" food.  We have lots of options to pull together snacks and lunches.  I think our plan is to get as much as possible ready the night before, but we know how that goes.  Some stuff just needs to be done in the morning before school.   

I think the hardest part is just the idea of getting two snacks and lunches ready each morning.  I realize people do it all the time, but we're going from zero to two.  The first few weeks will be a bit dicey, but we'll make it.  We'll find our routine and they will still have healthy, tasty lunches.  

It will all be fine, and I'll keep telling myself that until it really does just become a daily routine. Then again, I'm the mom who forgot to send juice and a snack for an entire week last year when it was all I needed to send, so it's not looking good that this will go smoothly.  Still, it's a new year, so I'm hopeful.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I want to go back to school

This is my favorite time of the year. Even during the time between graduate school and children, when I had no reason to do so, I always marked back to school on my calendar. I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to go to school and didn’t want to leave. Each new school year was filled with possibilities — new things to learn, new adventures and new friends. I have the master’s degree to prove I didn’t want to leave school.

Instead real life intervened and now I live my school excitement through our girls. They are nearly ready for school. We’ve sorted out the too small clothes and bought enough in the next size to get them through Christmas. They have new snow boots, winter coats, hats, mittens and snow suits. We’re set with shoes, raincoats, umbrellas and fall jackets.

They are taking lunches to school for the first time this year. They also have to bring a morning snack. We have insulated lunch bags and lots of plastic storage containers. We have small water bottles for lemonade or juice. We’ve been working out lunch menus and snack ideas.

This week we’ll go supply shopping. The school just sent the list home, so we’re finally ready to get it done.

The funny thing is that more than once I’ve wished I was the one to go back to school. It would be so great to have so much uninterrupted time to just learn and be with your friends. How perfect would the day be knowing that the biggest problem of the day would be whether to do homework before or after playing outside?

Instead, I’ll have to live in the real world where work, bills, cars and houses take up so much time. Still, I can send them to school and encourage the same love of learning that I have. I can only hope it sticks with them the way is has with me.

This is an original post of The Chicago Moms.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Angie's Kettle Corn Review

I'm over on my review blog talking about how much we enjoyed Angie's Kettle Corn and why.  Join me...


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grown Up Decisions

Overheard at our house...

Brunette Twin: "I think I want to get a motorcycle when I get older.  I like them.  It would be fun to ride a motorcycle."

Mom:  "Really?  We'll talk about it when you're older."

Brunette Twin:  "I'm going to wait until I'm a grown-up to get one that way I won't have to talk to you about it.  I know you'll say I can't get one so I'll just wait until I can make all my own decisions to get one."

Mom:  "Really?  How old do you have to be before you can make all your decisions yourself?"

Brunette Twin:  "I have to be a grown-up.  I can do whatever I want then.  I won't have to talk to you about it."

Mom:  "Okay, let me know when you think you're a grown up."

Monday, August 9, 2010

I want to be mad at them

I really want to be mad at the girls.  They are having the kind of morning that makes me regret letting them go off their sleep schedule for even a night.  They are just a little clingy with me and a little too snappy with each other.  I want to put them back to bed.

The problem is they are being really cute at the same time.  I have them working on a few pages of "homework" since schools starts next week.  It's really just a few simple pages to get them back in the habit of writing words and spending a little time doing homework.  Normally it would take them about ten minutes to do it.

This morning the brunette twin doesn't want to cooperate at all. She's fighting me every step of the way.  Things like, "Remember to put an upper case letter when you start a sentence" are causing her to be near tears.

Just about when I decided it was time for her to go back to bed, the blond twin stepped in.  I told her to stop helping her sister as the brunette twin knows how to do the work.  The blond twin replied, "Mom, I'm her older sister.  It's my job to help her.  You always tell us to take care of each other, so I'm going to help her.  This is how I'm taking care of her today."

She was so cute and sure of herself when she said it.  I wanted to be mad at her, but I just smiled and kissed them both.  I am still mad that the girls are being difficult (even if most of the reason is my fault), yet I'm proud of the blond twin for standing up for her sister.  I do always tell them it's their job to take care of each other.  I only hope they continue to do so long after they master their homework assignments. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Easy Way to Support Local Businesses

Have you heard of the 3/50 project?  It's a great way to support local businesses.  I'm writing about it on the Chicago Moms blog.  Join me...

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's only funny when it happens to him

You know how sometimes you can step back and look at something happening and laugh?  I had a chance to do it this morning.

Our girls are in Zoo Camp at Brookfield Zoo this week.  This is their third year in the camp and they LOVE it.  We have them in the morning session, so each morning we have to be at the Zoo at 9:00 a.m.

Today my wonderful husband took the day off.  The weather is nice, and it's the last day of Zoo Camp.  He decided it was a good day to see the "end of camp production."

This morning the girls woke up at the usual time and the race to get them ready started.  They dressed, brushed their hair, ate, flossed, brushed and slathered on sunscreen.  We covered them in bug spray, handed them their water bottles and pushed them out the door.

Of course, it didn't run that smoothly.  Daddy took control of the morning and things went just about the same way they do every morning.  The girls puttered about what to wear.  They negotiated their shoes like it was a matter of national security.  They tried on multiple hats to see which one was the cutest with today's outfit.  It's not that they were bad, they were just moving like they had all morning to relax. 

I just laughed.

Some days I think they just go through these things because they are with me.  It's always fun to watch them do the same thing to Daddy.  It reinforces that they are just six-year-olds getting ready to get out the door.  I'm not even part of the equation when it comes to how long it takes to get them out the door.

I really laughed when they had to come back because the girls forgot their pine cone name tag necklaces.  The brunette twin found hers right away.  The blond twin was in tears because she couldn't find hers.  While she was panicking, Daddy walked over and found it among on our breakfast bar.  She smiled, squealed and hugged him.  Daddy wasn't amused, but I found it funny.  I've seen that seen many times while trying to get them out the door to school.

Today I found it funny because it was happening to him.  In a few weeks, I won't find it so funny when I'm trying to get the out the door to the school bus.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Giving the Right Answers

We're planning to adopt a dog from our local animal shelter.  We've looked on the website and realized we could walk out with any of a dozen dogs.  There are a lot of dogs in need of homes.  Most of those we liked were either labs or lab mixes or shepards or shepard mixes.  We know a bit about both breeds, so it a comfortable fit.  The process seems pretty straightforward.  We complete the application, meet the dogs, make a decision, hand over our check, and walk out the door with our new pet.

Of course, we know it isn't that easy.  We have friends who were rejected by their local animal shelter.  They tried to adopt a cat from a shelter near their vacation home in Wisconsin.  This is a retired couple who have always owned cats.  They already had two cats.  The shelter informed them that they were unsuitable as they spent too much time going back and forth between their Illinois and Wisconsin homes.  They said it would be too unsettling for the cat, who also might not like being one of three pets.  Yes, they were rejected by the local humane society.

Instead, they walked into the local humane society near their Illinois home.  A few hours later, they walked out with a new cat.  Shortly after they adopted the new cat, the oldest of their previous cats died.  Now they are a two cat family again.

This story sticks in my head as I read the adoption application we are completing.  I look at the questions and don't want to give my real response.  I just want to know what the right answer is. 

For example, "Does anyone in your home have allergies to animals?"  Well, yes.  I am allergic to dogs and cats.  I get allergy shots to control my symptoms.  The brunette twin is mildly allergic to a couple of things.  She has a nasal spray.  I'll answer it honestly, but I wonder if this will eliminate us as an acceptable family?

Another question causes more problems.  They are asking about crate training.  I don't know how we feel about crate training.  We have talked to several friends and family about why they keep in their pets in creates.  We always had dogs when we were growing up and we never kept any of them in crates, so I am interested in learning more about why crates are the new "in" thing for dogs.  As far as I know, we don't have any strong feelings about crate training.  What I do know if the humane society believes in crate training, so our answer is "Yes, we do think crate training is a fabulous idea."  

At some point we'll turn it in and see if we're worthy of adopting a dog from this shelter.  I'm feeling really nervous about completing the application.  I don't want to go through all the work only to have to tell the girls we'll have to go elsewhere to get a dog.  It would break their hearts not to walk out with a dog, which would create a whole new set of problems for us.