200!

You are a part of history…right now as you read! My history anyway. This is my 200th post on this blog! That is a whole lot of thoughts, words, randomness and emotions. Four years worth, almost. Next month is actually the fourth anniversary of my first post. I’ve shared a lot with friends and random strangers. I always have been a pretty open book so that part isn’t really shocking. The fact that I’ve stuck with it for four years is a bit surprising. I usually move on more quickly than that. Some of you may think I did move on as sparse as my posts have been in the last year. Sorry if you were eagerly anticipating more words of wisdom from me. I think I’ve been reserving all my wisdom for my new job and family.

None the less, I thought it time to write this 200th post. I’ve actually had others swirling in my head, but just didn’t want to write them before I commemorated this momentous event. But how to celebrate? I thought about linking back to some of my favorites posts, sort of a walk down memory lane. But I know once I start reading old posts, I’ll be lost for the rest of the evening. That’s one of the reasons I’m thankful I have blogged this long – my memory stinks and this is a great way to remember what was happening and what I was feeling.

I’ve mulled this over for a month and no post:(. Phooey with that!

I thought about sharing 200 random thoughts. That’s a lot of random thoughts! Maybe more than you want to read? I don’t know if I have that many…Hubby would probably disagree. So here goes…I may get to 2, 20 or who knows.

  1. Blog posts that tell people what they should/should not say to (fill in the blank) annoy me. You know, the 9 things you should never say to a new mom. Please, you don’t speak for all new moms and telling others how to be nice to you is just rude.
  2. My ears have been plugged for two weeks! I flew to LA 2 weeks ago and they plugged on the way there. One or both have been plugged since. According to the doctor I am suffering from Eustachian tube dysfunction. Huh?
  3. The inhaled steroids they gave me to make my ears functional again smells like lilacs. I love lilacs! I’m having my own little springtime in my head.
  4. I don’t have a musical cell in my body. I know this and if you heard me try to sing, apparently you would know too. I’m not shy about this, I tell people I don’t know music. But then I feel bad when I tell someone they played great. Doesn’t really mean much coming from me:/.
  5. I need a bigger closet. I’ve been considering knocking out the back wall of my closet when Middle Son goes to college in the fall, just so I can make his whole room my closet. Is that wrong?
  6. Speaking of Middle Son, he’s leaving for a summer internship in less than 2 months! And then college 3 weeks after he gets done with his internship. AHH! Mama not ready for that!
  7. When I started this blog the boys were 12, 14 and 16! That seems like forever ago!
  8. We now have 5 drivers in the house. Well technically one of them is not in the house, he’s in his dorm. And one can’t drive solo til this summer. But, still. We have 3 cars. Hmm…
  9. So we bought a motorcycle. Ya, weird. And questionable decision. But it’s kind of fun to do something questionable now and then. As long as its legal and questionable.
  10. I don’t want my sons to do questionable things. Maybe I should put more qualifiers on my number 9.
  11. I heard Youngest Son play a snare solo tonight and I was pretty much blown away. He’s really good! See #4. See what I mean, now you wonder if he is really any good. Other people thought he was. People who can play music themselves. So he must be good:).
  12. As my kids get older, I think more and more about when Hubby and I met. We were so young. We didn’t know we were, but we were. It makes me think about what my 40-something self would tell my 20-something self. But then I remember, my 20 something self wouldn’t have listened to me anyway. And that’s ok. I think the best lessons in life are the ones we learn our selves.
  13. Lessons like falling for a phishing scam. After saying, “How could anyone be so dumb?” It was supposed to be a rhetorical question. But I guess I answered it for myself. Lesson…trust your gut Judy. All 10 times you questioned yourself! Won’t repeat that mistake. See, the best lessons are the ones you learn yourself.
  14. I heard a news report today that they arrested the person who shot into a crowd at the zoo. He is 16. And on parole. People were saying he should be put away for life. That there is no hope for someone like that, he’s beyond help. And I couldn’t quit thinking about my sweet 16-year-old boy. Thinking about how much that kid must have been through to be where he is today. And wondering if his mama is hurting as much as I think she is right now. Wondering where she went wrong, what else she could have done. Or does he have no one to worry over him? A 16-year-old boy doesn’t get to that point without going through a lot of pain. Makes me feel sad and helpless. I just want to give him a hug. My reaction surprised me.
  15. I’m in denial about graduation. Two months from now it will all be over. I’m screaming in my head. Hold on, I’m so not ready for that. And it is going to happen whether I’m ready or not.
  16. I love sunny days, but I really hate how people drive on sunny mornings. You drive this way every morning and you know when you come around that curve the sun will be bright. Put down your visor, put on your sunglasses and keep driving. You do not have to slam on the brakes because there is a sun! Please, remember you survived it yesterday.
  17. Our sweet Gracie has been gone 3 months and I can still see her laying on the table looking at me when we said good-bye. Don’t think I will ever forget looking into her eyes as she took her last breath.
  18. I have 59 posts in my drafts folder. That is a lot of unfinished thoughts. Some of them have potential. But I know me, and if I don’t write when the thoughts come, I will never write it. I used to jot ideas to come back to later. That doesn’t work for me. Without fail, when I come back later, I got nuthin’. The words just aren’t there.
  19. It’s hard being a mom. Revelation there! My boys are close in age and often wanting the same things, like internships, jobs and cars. It’s hard when one gets what they want. I want to be excited for them, but my heart goes out to the others. I know, it’s life and it builds character and all that crap, but I still empathize.
  20. Only 2 1/2 years until Youngest Son goes to college. Then what? Sometimes I think I have put so much of my energy and focus into being a mom I don’t know what comes after. But then I think of Oldest Son away at college. I still get to be his mom. It’s just different. It’s Mom-lite you might say. Instead of needing my help/input/money daily it’s more like weekly or monthly. I think that’s good.
  21. The search term that brings people to my blog most….drum roll please…..loin cloth. Ya, weird huh? Of all the things I’ve written. Guess maybe there aren’t too many people writing about loin cloths.
  22. My most used tag….Family. Shocking huh? Not really.
  23. I have a problem buying shoes. I used to love shoes and had so many! Now, I think if others saw my shoe shelves, I would lose my girl card. It’s sad really. And I don’t know where I went wrong. I just can’t find shoes that are cute and comfortable and inexpensive. That’s my criteria for a good pair of shoes.
  24. I love those surprise moments when you reconnect with old friends and laugh until your stomach hurts and the tears run down your cheeks. I did that a couple of weeks ago while I was in LA. It was a Facebook conversation with three friends from college; one in Washington, one in Colorado and one in Iowa. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I miss them…
  25. 95% of my blog posts are written in the shower. There are two problems with this. 1) I can’t write in the shower (I think it’s bad for the laptop) so I am stuck remembering them until I get out and have time to write them down. Remember I have a horrible memory. 2) It takes a long shower to compose a blog post. Other people in my house shower in the morning too. They dislike being late and they really dislike cold showers. :(
  26. Sometimes I think I can’t be a good Mom and professional at the same time. I tend to be someone who throws myself into a project. Maybe that’s why? It’s a lot of throwing when you go from home to work to home again. I get a bit motion sick.
  27. We are redecorating our bedroom. (See it’s the perfect time for #5.) I’m trying to pick a shade of grey that goes with the beautiful quilt my mom made us. I’ve bought 5 of those sample size jars they can mix for you. So now our bedroom has 5 shades of grey…hehe. I don’t like any of them:).
  28. I don’t read like I used to. I always had a book I was reading and there were so many I couldn’t put down. Now I pick up books by the same author and get part way through and lose interest. I think I am reading 3 books right now. Hope I finish one of them.
  29. We have bread in our trees. Yes, you read that correctly, bread in our trees. As in loaves of bread in the trees. Don’t judge. We came into lots of bread recently and some molded before we could eat it. It was a LOT of bread. I put it in the trash. Hubby said we should feed it to the ducks. Huh? We haven’t fed the ducks in years! I’m sitting in the living room when I see something flying in front of the window. What was that. There it goes again. Huh? Oh that’s just a son who shall remain nameless throwing the bread up to get it stuck in the tree so the birds and squirrels can eat it. Oh, make sense.
  30. I took pictures tonight and realized I hadn’t used my camera since January 23rd. That is a really long time for me. Like record-setting. See, blogging isn’t the only love I’ve been ignoring lately.
  31. My boys did not know who my favorite musical artist is! Isn’t that appalling?! I’ve seen him in concert 3 times and own all his CDs. And they didn’t know. They had a lot of good guesses, but they didn’t get it right. Where did I go wrong…
  32. Bacon might be the best food in the world. Just sayin’.
  33. I am constantly amazed by the kindness of my friends. From friends who give me cards and remember something I was stressed about a week or two ago, to friends who support my kids in their endeavors. I’m a lucky girl. I need to work on being a better friend. Doing the things I appreciate in others.
  34. I knew it! I went back through old posts to look something up and just spent the last 30 minutes reading about 2010!
  35. Whew! That was a lot of randomness stuck in my head. I’m stopping here. Here’s to more focused posts to come:)!

So there you have it. And kudos to you if you stuck with me this long- both on this post and with my sporadic writing in the last several months. I appreciate you reading and hope you are able to somehow connect with what I have to say. Life is challenging and it’s easy to feel like you are all alone in a sea of people. I hope you’ve found a little connection in some of my words…or at least a laugh.

Here’s to the next 200!

Thanks for following along.

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Time to Speak Up

I was at the Kansas Capital on Monday advocating for individuals with MS. I was there with others who care about issues that impact those living with a chronic disease like Multiple Sclerosis. There were lots of appointments scheduled with Senators and Representatives. I knew the “religious freedom” bill was up for discussion that day, but honestly didn’t think much of it. However as the program portion of the day wrapped up and we got ready to make visits, we received word that many of them would be cancelled because the House was still in session discussing the “religious freedom” bill.

I have a twitter account, but I don’t tweet. And honestly, I only use it to check up on my kids. But someone more hip than me showed me how to follow the action in the house on twitter. I was truly riveted to the feed. It was shocking to hear the 140 character descriptions of what was happening. {As an aside, I think we just figured out why I don’t tweet…140 characters?} Just as I was considering going into the gallery to hear the discussion live, I saw they had voted. And it passed.

I will be the first to admit, I don’t totally understand our legislative process. And yes, I’m embarrassed that I don’t know exactly how things work. It has kept me from speaking out when I probably should have. I like to know the facts, know and understand what I’m talking about before I run my mouth. Not completely understanding the process or the legal verbiage used in bills keeps me from talking. I know enough to know, that I don’t know a lot.

But what I did realize, is that I do know enough to have an opinion. I probably understand the issues as well as the next guy. Maybe better on some topics and undoubtedly less so on others. I also realized from participating in advocacy days…our Senators and Representatives are just like me and the next guy. They know enough to be dangerous on some topics too.

In the interest of not sounding like a fool when I express my opinion, I try to be a diligent consumer of information. I watch sources; look at who wrote a piece, where it came from, how well it is cited. Essentially is it worth reading? I try to go to the source. I have read more bills lately than I ever imagined I would, in the interest of knowing what I’m talking about. {I tried but didn’t make it through the Affordable Care Act, but then neither did those who passed it:)!} I try. I try to understand where they were coming from and more importantly, what injustice or wrong is being corrected. What travesty avoided, what problem solved by any legislation that comes to my attention.

So when I read this bill had passed the House, I felt the need to read the text for myself. Now I’m not a lawyer, but what I read is concerning at best. Down right frightening the longer I sit with it. By my read, in my understanding of English, it sounds to me like this bill gives every person the right, based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs” to not only refuse to serve someone, but refuse to recognize them in very basic ways. And then it goes further to say that the individual being refused does not have the right to claim they have been discriminated against. Huh?

Let’s play that out a little bit. So my “sincerely held religious beliefs” call me to polygamy. I believe with all my heart this is the way God intended us to live. I also happen to be the clerk in the county office that issues marriage licenses. I have the right to refuse to issue a license to someone who is choosing a monogamous marriage. The idea of marrying just one person goes against the way I was raised, the faith I follow and my personal beliefs so I will not issue a marriage license to someone who believes differently than me. And don’t think you can sue me for this, because this law makes it perfectly acceptable for me to refuse to serve you. It even adds adoption, foster care, social services and employment to the mix. And I cannot be fired for refusing to do my job.

Sit with that for a moment.

Government employees, private businesses, big corporations, small mom & pop shops. They all have the right to refuse to serve someone who goes against their “sincerely held religious beliefs”. Every employee of every agency, business or organization. That’s a lot of sincerely held religious beliefs.

Certainly there must be a horrible injustice being corrected by this legislation. Well…So if…Maybe…Nope, I got nothing. I cannot figure out the problem. I can’t figure out the horrible oppression religious people in our state are experiencing to precipitate this law. I don’t get it.

It doesn’t pass muster.

The reality is, it is a thinly veiled attempt to take a preemptive strike against the inevitable ruling of the Supreme Court rendering gay marriage bans unconstitutional. It is a blatant attempt to single out a group of Kansans as less than. Less worthy of the pursuit of happiness we are all promised by our Declaration of Independence. It is glaring discrimination! Yet they have said it is not and just in case you don’t believe them, they will prove it by declaring you cannot claim it is. This legislation is dangerous. I don’t care where you stand on gay marriage, homosexuality or polygamy for that matter, this is scary legislation. And it is a giant leap back in time to a day when it was normal to fear those who are different from us. A time when our world views were so narrow, we would rather hate than learn about someone else.

On our vacation last spring break we drove through Montgomery, Alabama. We made a quick stop at the Greyhound bus station to read about the Freedom rides. One of the things that struck me as I stood there was how certain the whites were that they were doing the right thing. And how easy it was today to see how wrong they were.

If you live in Kansas, please get involved in the legislative process. Make your opinions known to your Senator and our Governor before it’s too late. This link will take you to the bill so you can read it for yourself. Go to openkansas.org to find your legislators.

If you don’t live in Kansas, please know that many of us are feeling like our state has been hijacked by a few with beliefs that I simply can’t understand; a real fear of those they don’t know. I am a conservative Christian and these people do not speak for me.

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Filed under Faith, Intention, The State of Affairs

But Wait…There’s More

I got a text from Oldest Son tonight.

“So we picked an apartment.”

My response?

“Ahhh!!!”

What I really wanted to say is, “Wait, just hang on a second. I forgot to tell you some things.”

Lots of things actually. Things like deposits and renters insurance. Utility deposits and the cost difference of gas verse electric heating. The importance of reading the fine print before you sign anything. I suddenly felt apprehensive, like when we first left him with a baby sitter. Or when you drop them off at their first overnight camp. Did I remember to tell him…

I think that’s the hallmark of parenting; always feeling like there is more to teach. More life lessons to share. I know  I continue to learn from my parents, the lessons just come differently. More of me asking and less of them telling if that makes sense.

The reality is, he’s a smart kid. Actually, he’s a smart man. He’s 20 years old. That happened when I blinked. He is smart, and grounded, and responsible. There really isn’t anything to worry about. And I’m not so much worried as maybe awakened; brought back to reality. I think back to how terribly hard it was when he left for college. How I was so happy for him, but really unsure of how I would survive with him gone from our daily routine. I survived and we settled into a new normal. He does his thing and we love having him come home every few months.

I guess this was just one more step on his journey to creating his own life. It’s all good. He will be fine.

The bonus is I have three sons! That means I get three chances to do it right:). Next up, Middle Son heads off to college in the fall. And then I learn to have kids at different colleges with different schedules and a long ways apart. And we will go back to having one son at home. Youngest Son has never been the “only child” in the house. What will that be like?

Life is again changing at break-neck speed, just like when we went from a couple to a family of 5 in 4 years and 4 months. It will only take 4 short years to go from a family of 5 to empty nesters.

Life it is a changing.

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Switching it Up

Hubby and I are switching it up! Doing a little role reversal. It’s exciting and scary.

For the last 16 years he has done inventory the end/beginning of every month. Let that soak in a moment. And think about what happens the end/beginning of each month…New Years, Super Bowl Sunday, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving. Yup. He works every one of them. And not just works, but stressful work. So today, he is doing his inventory for the last time! I am beyond excited!

16 years ago this month we made the move to the Kansas City area. It was a crazy time for us. Oldest Son was 4, Middle Son was 2 and I was 8 months pregnant with Youngest Son when Hubby made the move – 4 hours away from us. It really sucked, but it’s what we needed to do at the time. He took a job as Bakery Manager with his company and it was a great career move. I stayed behind and continued working my full-time job. I was overwhelmed with my job, being Mommy and growing that third son. Hubby was overwhelmed with his new role, being away from family and adjusting to a much bigger community. It was hard. Right after Christmas Youngest Son arrived in speedy fashion and we were finally able to move to KC and have the family all together again. We moved when he was one week old and I knew exactly 2 people in this new town; Hubby and his boss. We were 5 hours from family and way stressed out. To add to the stress we made the decision for me to quit my full-time job to focus on our boys.

In all honesty, I think we were pretty ignorant about the cost of raising three kids in the area we live. The cost of living is high and the affluence abounds. I don’t think we had any clue how hard it would be. But we made the decision and didn’t look back. I worked part-time jobs and short-term gigs to supplement our income. We made it work. Hubby soon learned he didn’t love retail management. Finding people willing to work tough hours and do physical work is hard in this community. And the hours required to be successful were brutal. This isn’t earth shattering news, but I think it needs to be acknowledged. He did a lot of things he didn’t enjoy for a lot of years. He has always loved to bake, but management often means getting further from those things you love and spending more time crunching numbers. It means the stress of turning a profit, monthly inventory and managing difficult personalities.

All those part-time jobs and short-term gigs I worked led me to a full-time job a few years ago. I’ve learned so much along the way by having the flexibility to do things that didn’t necessarily pay big wages, but paid big in experience and connections. That all led me to where I am today. I took a new job this month as executive director of a small non-profit. It is exciting work! I love the challenge.

Hubby took a new job beginning next month as a baker. He’s going back to what he loves. As a result he will have more flexibility, less stress and a chance to explore some hobbies. It’s about time. Working the job he did, gave me the freedom to stay home with our boys- something that was important to us.

So we are switching it up. Now it’s my turn to feel the pressure of making payroll. I’m the one who will be stressing over the numbers on a regular basis; worrying about funding and outcomes. He will be picking up the slack at home, making sure one of us is at the kids activities and keeping food in the cupboard. It will be different, but good.

I hope what our sons get from all this is the understanding that when you love someone you make sacrifices for them. In a relationship it’s give and take. It’s about compromising, doing things you may not love for the good of the family. It means talking things through, working together and being willing to be a little (or a lot) uncomfortable for a while. Life is full of seasons; some you love, some you work through. That’s part of living in relationship. And I hope, actually I know, they see the sacrifices we have each made for them and for each other.

Wish us luck. And if you are the praying type, maybe you could say one for us. I didn’t say change is easy! This will be a good change for us, but it won’t come without growing pains.

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Not Giving Up On Our Children

There has been a hot issue in the news in our community this week that I think represents one of the current problems with parenting.

It centered around the sex education curriculum at the middle school our kids attended. We liked their school and most of the staff. It seems, however, they are using a new curriculum. One component is to learn how people express their sexual feelings. Sounds appropriate enough. But upon closer inspection, I have to question. Things like hugging, grinding, holding hands, touching each others genitals are all expected. Even vaginal intercourse. {I do have to say even that was different -back in the day- when I was a teen. We called it sex, not vaginal sex. Why? Because that is what sex was. But not anymore, welcome to the enlightened era. Now there is so much more that we must differentiate. And yes, we probably owe that to one of our own Presidents.}

The way of expressing sexual feelings they think it’s important to teach 12, 13 and 14 year olds that frankly shocked me? Anal sex and oral sex. Don’t misunderstand me. I know this happens. I’ve heard the tales of the back row at the theater. And I know about girls who think if they have anal sex they are still a virgin and of course they can’t get pregnant so it’s a great option. What shocks me is that a group of intelligent, well-educated professionals decided this is the best thing to teach pre-teen/teens in their abstinence-based curriculum.

What I read here is, we know you have hormones and we think so little of you we are sure you cannot control yourself. So we are going to inundate you with information, make it seem normal and then “protect” you by telling you how to avoid disease while doing these things.

I think this is equal to raising the white flag. Saying, I have no idea how to parent you. I don’t think there is any way a teen can get through middle school without sexual activity. You are just a blob of hormones controlled by your genitals. Therefore, do whatever feels good at the moment. I will do my best to make sure there are no consequences for you.

I find it interesting that we don’t feel a kid is mature enough to enter a contract, make a decision about whether or not to smoke or drink until they are 18 or 21. But the most personal and intimate way you can connect with another human being…sure go for it at 12! If we applied that mentality to these other areas there would be no drinking age. We wouldn’t be outraged by the pictures that circulated a while back of the toddler smoking. Hey, they’re gonna do it eventually, what’s the big deal?

Laying aside the antiquated concept of saving yourself for marriage, what about the emotional consequences of sex? They are huge! How do I say I care about a teenager’s wellbeing and not consider the emotional impact of sex…especially at 12, 13 or14? I guess it fits with our society that values mental health like they value used news papers – kind of an inconvenience we just don’t want to deal with.

Encouraging teens to avoid sex may be an uphill battle – especially considering what they are exposed to on a daily basis. But does that mean we shouldn’t try? Do we simply give up on our children in other aspects of their lives? Would we consider saying, “I know you are not equipped to decide whether cheating is ok or not, so I’m gong to go ahead and teach you the best ways to cheat and not get caught.” Or “I know you can’t decide whether or not it’s ok to steal so let me give you some pointers on how to do it.” I’m sure some of that happens, but I doubt most parents would openly admit to this philosophy. And yet, parents are more than willing to admit to giving up on them in the area of sex. I have heard countless times, “they’re going to do it anyway best to make sure they are safe.” And this doesn’t just come from the parents who seem to have this attitude about most of their parenting. I think the issue of teen sex conjures a lot of emotion from parents as well.

So what is the answer? How do you keep your teens safe, and not bury your head in the sand? I have a few suggestions based on my experience as a teen and a parent of teens.

  1. Set the expectation that they will wait for marriage. I know this may not happen, but I want my sons to know that is my goal, my hope, my expectation for them. It’s no different than me expecting they will get a job, pay for gas in their car, get the best grades they are capable of, and be a respectful member of our family.
  2. Have rules in the house. For us, girls are not allowed here unless a parent is home. And then, only in common areas. They know that I am welcome in any room in the house at any time. I don’t abuse that right. I show them the respect they deserve, but they know it’s always a possibility.
  3. Know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. Ask questions, set the expectation that they let you know when their plans change. The same rules apply about being at someone else’s house when no parents are home.
  4. My advice to our sons – Don’t put yourself in a position to have to make a decision in the heat of the moment. There is only one decision most teens will make when they are alone and worked up. So make the decision prior that. Make the decision not to get in that situation. Don’t allow yourself to be in the position to make that choice.
  5. Be a techie. Read their texts, follow them on twitter. Have the password to all their accounts. You don’t want me to have the password, I don’t let you have a phone. My philosophy is if you wouldn’t say it to me, you shouldn’t say it to the world. We all know that nothing goes away once it is put out there. Our teens don’t fully grasp that and the long-term impact it can have, so it’s my job to monitor what they do. Period. The beauty of this is, I rarely read their texts. They know it is an option and that’s enough.
  6. Communicate. Bottom line is you need to maintain open communication with your teens. They need to be comfortable coming to you with challenges. I’ve had many conversations about texts they weren’t sure how to respond to or concerns over friends’ risky behavior. They trust me enough to let me think through it with them. I offer them suggestions, talk through scenarios, and let them come up with a plan. They make the decision, but I help them see the bigger picture. This doesn’t work if you start when they are 13, it starts from the beginning.

All this takes time, effort and constant attention. Parenting is a full-time job. It’s exhausting – physically and mentally. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. Don’t give up on your kids! Stay in it with them. Help them navigate the perils of being a teen in our crazy messed up world. Don’t make them go it alone. They probably won’t tell you, at least not til they have kids of their own, but they will appreciate the boundaries, the structure, the high expectations.

As far as the school’s curriculum, we received word from the Superintendent that they have suspended use of this curriculum pending further review. I don’t know how it will ultimately be resolved. I’m skeptical at best. It will take diligence on the part of parents who are already overwhelmed with parenting.

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Saying Goodbye

I’m sitting in my bed watching the labored breath of my sweet baby Gracie Mae, and my heart aches. We adopted Gracie from a shelter on a very hot, muggy, July day ten and a half years ago. She has been so much a part of our lives over those years. The boys were only 5, 7 & 9 years old. They were so excited to finally have a dog! And they learned so much from her! We spent the first several years trying to keep her from running away – not always successfully. We have lots of memories of chasing her through the neighborhood when she slipped out the door. If it hadn’t been for her need to stop and poop after a long run, we never would have caught her.

On a vacation to Wisconsin, {why we took a new dog on a camping trip is beyond me!} she decided to go exploring. We were on a walk in the woods and one of the boys had a hold of the leash. She lurched and his little hands couldn’t keep hold. I think he even fell down trying. And she was off! Ears flapping in the wind, like she didn’t have a care in the world. Hubby and I went into full panic mode, searching the woods for this errant dog. All the possible horrible outcomes ran through my head. I envisioned putting up lost dog posters and lamented what to do when we don’t find her before vacation is over and its time to head home. Gut wrenching. We searched the woods a long time and decided we should go back to our campsite and regroup. At this point I was truly questioning the need for a dog when I had three little boys to keep track of! As we walked through the campground a little boy came up on his bike and said, “don’t you have a dog? I think we found her!” The sweet little girl must have realized having people was a pretty good gig and came home on her own. I aged a lot on that vacation. And she hasn’t been on a vacation since.

She has made many trips to the grandparents! My parents aren’t really pet people, but I knew they had fallen for Gracie when Hubby and I came home from an evening out with friends to find Gracie sound asleep on their bed with them:). She has that effect on people. She is a mild-mannered, lovable, but not needy girl. And she is truly a family member.

Which makes today one of the hardest days of my life. These are the times I don’t really want to be the parent. I would rather defer to someone else to make the hard choices.

Because Gracie was a stray, we don’t really know how old she is, but the doctors guess she is about 14 years old. That’s about 80 to you and me. She is not a spring chicken as my dad would say. She has lost weight and has been having some spells lately, really scary ones where she falls of the couch and can’t move at all. Most of it could be attributed to the aging process, and maybe strokes. But when it happened Thursday when just the boys were home, it was pretty frightening. Hubby took her to the vet and we found out she is a very sick girl.

Gracie has a large tumor, about 4+ inches in diameter, in her abdomen. We aren’t quite sure whether it is attached to her spleen or liver. Either way it’s operable…but she is still a very old girl. And odds are when they remove it they will find it is malignant. I think putting her through the trauma of surgery with little hope for a positive outcome would be cruel and a little selfish.

But it is so very hard to make the decision to let her go.

I think I’ve come to terms with it, knowing it’s the right decision and then she perks up and goes sniffing for crumbs in the kitchen and I question myself. We’ve talked a lot with the boys and they understand. But no one wants to say it’s time. So I called the vet and scheduled a time to let my little girl go.

And I can’t quit crying.

My mind knows it’s the right thing to do, but my heart hurts so much.

Gracie

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The Healing Power of Quiet

I don’t often have the opportunity for quiet. Or maybe I just don’t make the time for quiet.

I’m not sure which it is, maybe a bit of both. But when I do have a moment of solace. Quiet. I find peace and calm. It is intriguing to me how the absence of sound (other than the dog snoring on the couch beside me) can fill me up. Just sitting, alone with my own thoughts, if only for a moment. It is peaceful.

I have always been a very social person, being fed by the energy of interaction with others. But the older I get, the more I value the solitary moments. Not instead of interaction, but filling a different part of my soul. Maybe it’s another of God’s ways of preparing me for the life ahead. The days when my home will be silent more than chaotic. When the quiet of my living room will become deafeningly loud. The days when I will look back fondly remembering the wrestling matches in the middle of the living room. For the days when I will control the remote and miss the fights over what to watch. It is hard to see what is on the horizon and not feel a little apprehensive. Its a delicate balance between anticipating what is to come, not letting yourself be caught off guard, and continuing to be present in the here and now. Being careful not to worry or wish my life away. I guess that is the fine line I have been walking since a begged and pleaded for a full night’s sleep with a newborn or wished for just a day without a “why” from my toddler. Life is always changing. Thankfully. My challenge is to anticipate change, embrace it, welcome it, and yet be present in the moment. Not spending too much energy on the what ifs.

Silence allows me that room. The place where I can let go of the chaos of life, hear my own thoughts and maybe even dream a bit. Process life’s big events and the tiny ones too. Silence might be a good practice for this Advent season. Making room in my life for what God wants me to hear.

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Filed under Faith, Holidays