Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rite of Passage

It's that time.

I'm having my first colonoscopy tomorrow. Don't expect me to post a video. And don't expect pictures either.

Ricky let his pictures go to Wiley's science class a couple of years ago for "show and tell." I'm usually the one too frank, but Ricky tops me on this one.

But really, it's not as bad as I thought it would be (so far.) Today is liquids only. Since I don't eat breakfast and often forget lunch, that hasn't been too difficult. And there is a silver lining - one of the allowable drinks is soda, so I'm on my second guilt-free Route 44 Coke from Sonic. Woot!

Yeah, the stuff I had to drink tonight to start the process is rather distasteful. And I have to do it again tomorrow at the crack of dawn. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

But more silver linings.......I get a nice anesthesia aided nap tomorrow afternoon and (drum roll, please) I definitely should "make my weight" at Weight Watcher's this month.

Double Woot!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Favorite movie line of all time

"Do, or do not. There is no try."

- Yoda

It's hard to believe that it has been thirty-three years since I stood in line for two hours to be seated for "Star Wars." The tickets had to be bought days ahead of time to avoid a sold-out theater. No on-line ticket buying in 1977. Ricky probably remembers the details - that's the summer we dated long distance, and he came up to Oklahoma once a month.

A Star Wars marathon is running on Spike TV this weekend in honor of the 30th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back." That movie is on in the background as I putter around the house. As far as I'm concerned, Yoda's admonition is the silver screen's greatest truth.

Think about it. Think about how much time and energy is wasted in procrastination and justification. What a world we would live in if politicians either did what they said they would do, or admitted they did not or could not! We would live in a world of reliability and responsibility instead of blame and prevarication.

Consider how much energy you could redirect to worthwhile activities if you didn't spin your wheels backtracking from what you could not or did not do.

It's time to man up.

Pay attention to your Yoda, whispering in your ear.

Now go DO something this week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guest Column

Today Ricky is speaking at a luncheon which honors our high school seniors who are completing the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The school district started the program eight years ago. It is rigorous and intense. It follow a world-wide curriculum. Our high school has been very successful in implementing the program - a rare accomplishment for a public high school with more than 50% economically disadvantaged students.

Ricky is a favorite teacher, and for the sixth year in a row, has been requested by the students to give the faculty speech. Each year he has worked to tailor his remarks to that particular group. I am his sounding board and have often made minor suggestions.

This year I wouldn't change a word, and I am excerpting a portion of his speech that I find particularly relevant. While his speech today is to an audience of eighteen year olds, their families and their teachers, it's applicable for all of us. Just substitute that dream or challenge you have for the term "IB." When we are willing to work hard and embrace the world, the rewards are great.

Here goes.....

".......look at this crowd! What a success story this has become!

I remember a book from a few years ago called 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.' Like most things, I remember it as a recent book, but it's now in its 15th edition. Time flies! The author's premise was that some of the key things you need to carry you through life are among the most basic things you learn in kindergarten. Things like "Play fair.' 'Don't hit people.' 'Take a nap every day.' (Don't I wish!)

I'm going to make a slight change in the author's premise. You see, one of the first things you learn in IB is that if you change one or two words it's not plagiarism. So here' my version, soon to be a best-selling book: 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in IB.'

First, 'When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.' You could not have done this alone. I don't mean without the teachers and the administrators, even though we know how indispensable we are. I mean without your friends in the program and without your families. You've spent vast amounts of time together, learned together, laughed together, encouraged each other, teased each other, supported each other, loved each other and, at times, hated each other. Just like a family. Remember that. You'll keep some of these friendships and you'll make many new friendships throughout life, and the basic idea will always be the same - you are much better together than alone. Stay connected with each other and make lots of new connections. Value and treasure your family that got you to this time and place.

Second, 'it's a mistake to believe everything you think.' WOW! ToK (Theory of Knowledge) on a Saturday. It's true, though. We have tried to teach you more than facts and figures. IB is so much more than rote memorization. How many times have we told you that we want you to learn to think? ToK is all about questioning how you know what you know. In my class, especially during test review, I've stressed that how you think is more important than what you know. It really is.

My Economics classes have heard this many times this year, but these are in many ways unique and difficult times. Politics, culture, economics - there are troubling signs and events everywhere, and we are facing some difficult issues. In my class I have repeatedly said that many of our old theories and ideas don't seem to be working or don't seem to apply any more, and that one of the challenges we are leaving your generation is the problem of cleaning up the messes we have made. The only way you can do that is by thinking in new ways, questioning the old theories, analyzing data, and evaluating options. We were not just teaching you how to take a test or get into college - we were teaching you how to think and to lead. Our hope is that you have been prepared to go out into your chosen fields and your communities prepared to be leaders and prepared to think of new solutions.

As a third kindergarten point, 'you can get used to anything.' Late nights. Long reading assignments. Economic gibberish and graphs. Biology facts. Math formulas. Sleep deprivation. There were times you were overwhelmed. There were times you were depressed. There were times you were so sick and tired of IB that you literally became sick. But look around you - here you are, really no worse for the wear. You did it. We applaud you and we admire you. and deep down, you know in you heart that you can do anything, because you've done IB............"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A bad combination

What do you get when you cross an unsupervised puppy with the cats' automatic water dish?

A swamp.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Wonderful Week of Winston

Getting a new puppy is a lot like bringing home a new baby from the hospital, except that you get to put the pup in a crate for the night and whenever you have other things to do.

The first week has been busy and delightful for us but not nearly as interesting to the rest of the world, so I'll tell you about it now, get it out of my system and then move on. (Promises, promises.)

Kelly went with me to the airport Saturday night to pick up the puppy. Fortunately, there was no stormy weather, so the pup's flight from Spokane to Seattle to Dallas went without a hitch. We had to wait about 45 minutes for the plane to be offloaded and the pup brought to the cargo hangar.

Interesting place - a cargo hangar on a Saturday night. I listened to the stories of the manager - talking about the little Yorkie delivered at Christmas time. The family let him out on the patch of grass outside the building before heading home. After four hours, the family and airline employees gave up the search. That must have been heartbreaking. Another story about a pallet of about fifty animals being transferred from plane to hangar - the pallet falls and broken crates and loose animals are everywhere. More stories like this - all interesting, but not very comforting as I waited for my pet to arrive.

But then the crate was handed over. Opening the door, the little one eagerly came out. We passed on the bathroom break in the grass and headed home. He was a live wire, the metronome tail tick-tocking at about 200 beats per minute, curious about everything, showing no fear. Our other dog couldn't wait to check him out, so after about an hour I let them in the same room.

After three hours, I passed the puppy torch to the boys, home from Wiley's soccer tournament. Five pounds of puppy love can wear you out!

This whole week has been awesome, and I've spent my time enjoying and burning memories into my brain. Chances are, we won't have another puppy, and the first one had a steep learning curve, with the parvo and the accidents, so this is a time to relax and enjoy. It reminds me of how careful and serious we were with our first baby compared to the "let it be" attitude we had by our last baby.

So what were the highlights of the week? My husband named him Winston on the second day - a tough, sturdy, solid, conservative name. He slept through the first night in our room. The second night he fussed until we moved him to the kitchen, where he's slept through the night ever since. Krista taught him to respect his elders when dog treats are involved. Winston can walk under Krista. He likes to grab her leash and pull her around. Winston can squeeze through 2 inch wide bars to get out of the kitchen, so we have boxes stacked in front of the gate until he gets a little bigger. The two shibas play at every opportunity - nipping and herding and wrestling, punctuated with games of tag and tug-of-war. It's just a joy to watch. The little one squeals when the disadvantage is too great and runs for our feet, only to immediately return to battle. Behind my back, Winston lept into the swimming pool and swam to the edge. That was shocking, since our other shiba avoids the swimming pool like it's a snake. Winston seems to love water.

The best part is Winston's exuberance. He is so wiggly and excited to start each morning, we can hardly grab him to take outside, even as he's trying to jump into our arms. The tail doesn't slow down - at least until he finally collapses for nap time here and there. And why shouldn't he be exuberant? Why shouldn't we be exuberant? (Perhaps if it would ever quit raining and being unnaturally cold here in north Texas it would help!)

We're smiling a lot these days. The exuberance is growing.

So here are some videos from Winston's first few days in our family.

A dog and his pet boy.......

Another video from Mother's Day, playing with my daughter Lindsay..........

Also from Mother's Day....... the dogs got into a series of shouting matches. In this one the shouting is short, so you can safely watch it without ear plugs.

And finally, I told you Winston likes to play in the water (much to Krista's consternation).......

Shiba inus - they're like potato chips - you can't have just one!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wonder Woman

Every child believes or hopes that his parents are superheroes. Not wanting to name names or anything, but some children rely upon that belief.

A couple of days ago I asked my child when his band solo competition was scheduled. I knew he had been practicing. Normally, he lets me know about it, since I accompany him. Each year he has given me the details so that I could get the music, practice it and be ready when his private lesson teacher wanted to hear us rehearse.

The competition is this Saturday. His last private lesson was Monday. We have not rehearsed.

Last night we couldn't make it to the music store to acquire the music because of his end of year band concert.

This afternoon he gave me the name of the piece and I headed out to the local music store, the one which always has the music we need. They did not stock the piano accompaniment. They did have the instrument version, which we must provide to the judge to prove we actually purchased the music (required by school districts which abide by the copyright laws.) But they would have to order the piano part, and it could not get here by Saturday.

Silently seething, I called my son and asked him to call his teacher to see if the teacher had a copy of the piano part. I wrote down the stock number of the two books we needed and headed home. By the time I got there, my son had no answer as to whether we would be able to locate what we needed from the teacher.

It was 5:30 pm. I had two days to accomplish my quest. The fates were with me, though. Online I discovered a music store not too far away which had opened up a few months ago. It would be much closer than the store 30 miles and tomorrow morning away which would certainly have the music.

I called and the music was in stock and I could get there before the store closed at 6:00. Even better, my part of the music is not too difficult. I've sight read it through, worked on a couple of tricky sections, and will be able to practice it together with my son when he gets back from watching some friends' soccer game.

Turns out it was a pretty easy task for a superhero. My reputation is intact.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How much is that doggie in the window?

Two years ago I generally detested dogs. The best dogs, my friends' dogs that left me alone, were tolerable. The rest - meh.

But something softened my heart over the past few years. Part of it is being so long from having little ones around. Part of it is turning fifty and wondering about some of the things I've not done in my life.

Every one of my best friends has been or is a dog owner. My life long friend Sherri had two dachshunds when we were in high school. My friend Tami had, until old age took her last year, a yellow lab. My friend Sherrie has her family dog who is her husband's hunting buddy. My friend Sally was absolutely nuts over her two cats and dog, spending thousands of dollars and tons of time nursing her dog through old age. He had to be put down shortly after Sally died.

If all these people, who I love and admire, like dogs, then there must be something special about having a dog. Did I want to try it, at least once?

These were the thoughts swirling in my brain, privately, in December, 2008. I tentatively mentioned the idea of getting a dog to my younger son, the only child still living at home. When he was little and wanted a dog, we always told him we would get him a dog when his brother and sisters were gone and he was home alone. So did he want a dog now? I asked him to think about it and, of course, hounded him for an answer.

He didn't seem particularly enthusiastic about the idea. I kept at him, wanting him to make a decision for me. A friend's dog was having puppies around Christmas time and that would give us plenty of time to prepare and educate ourselves for dog ownership in February. I showed him pictures of what the puppy would look like - a cross between a poodle and a cocker spaniel. The bottom line? My son said "meh." He was neutral about getting a dog, particularly a girly "cockapoo." If he was choosing a dog, he preferred a dog that looked like a husky.

But husky type dogs are big and shed a lot. Cockapoos are smaller, don't shed, are friendly, easily trained and good for people with allergies. What else matters?

Finally he said, "Mom, it's okay to get a dog if you want to get a dog. I don't really care." But how could I want a dog? I'd always disliked dogs. Was I crazy to want to get a dog when no one else in the family was that interested? It's not like any of us were just sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

Talking it over with my husband, he said go ahead, don't worry about it. So in a matter of days I went from detesting dogs to determined to own a dog. (I usually don't waste time on decisions.)

On the Friday before Christmas I went to the local pet store. They happened to have an older cockapoo puppy that I could show Wiley in order to get him more interested in the upcoming litter. Then I noticed an unlabeled puppy in the window. It looked just like a husky. I visited with each puppy. They were both unbelievably cute and friendly. The husky type puppy, I learned, was a shiba inu. In all my internet research, I had not run across mention of a shiba inu.

Back at the house I researched. Shiba inus are small, fastidious, cat-like, spirited, loyal to their owners, smart and sassy. That sounded good. They don't drool and don't have an odor. That sounded very good. They shed heavily twice a year. Okay, that's manageable. I conveniently glossed over the reports that shiba inus are not recommended for first time dog owners and shiba puppies are often described as "feisty little furballs from hell."

I emailed shiba inu information to Ricky at school. I picked Wiley up from school, the last day of school before the two week Christmas break, and took him immediately to the pet store. He loved the shiba inu. Ricky came home, exhausted and ready to relax after dealing with hyper teenagers all day. "You have to come to the pet store and see this dog." He rolled his eyes, but he went with me to check it out.

With everything happening for the Christmas holidays, there was no way I could bring home that dog that day. And there was no way I would leave a dog at the pet store that was going to be mine. (That particular puppy did get purchased by a family the next week.)

Back at the internet I found a shiba inu puppy, just sixty miles from my parents' house, that would be ready for us to pick up when we were there the next weekend. By Saturday I had purchased a puppy.

The next Sunday we picked up our new puppy and brought her home. Her first night with us our devil cat Addie hissed at her when she wouldn't shut up and so the puppy went right to sleep in her crate. The second night the puppy cried the entire night, in the crate in our bedroom, like all the books said would be best. By the third night we discovered our puppy did just fine with her crate in the kitchen, under the desk. With kids home from college, there was someone around to soothe her even in the middle of the night, and she quickly settled in.

Not too long after, she got sick. Taking her to the emergency vet on a Sunday night, we found out she had the parvo virus, often deadly for little puppies particularly. The next five days were horrible, with the vet recommending at one point that we let her go. But we did everything money and love and prayers could buy, and brought her home on the sixth day. She still had to go back a couple of times a day the next few days for breathing treatments since she had developed a little pneumonia, but she survived.

Three days after her homecoming I knocked a basket of books off a stool while she was underfoot. A cat would have jumped out of the way. The basket landed on her leg and I heard my first shiba scream. We scrambled to the vet again and came out with pain medicine and a splint on her leg. The x-ray was inconclusive. So that required a trip across town to a dog orthopedic specialist, who determined ultimately that her leg was okay.

I joke now that we have a golden dog.

Since then we've learned a lot about dog food, dog treats, leashes, crates and poop scooping. We've also learned about tail wagging, yodeling, tug of war, head tossing, following commands and cat chasing.

How much is our doggie in the window? Priceless.

For everything else.......
Cost of the dog $XXX
Animal hospital $XXXX
Vet specialist $XXX
Regular vet bill $XXX
Monthly dog stuff $XX
Cost of a playmate $XXX

It's just money.

Three more days 'till the new puppy.

p.s. During the Christmas holidays in 2008 my husband told our new son-in-law......"One of the great things about being married - you can live with someone for thirty years and they can still surprise you. I never thought I would ever hear the words 'I want a dog' from my wife's mouth. An alien has arrived and taken over my wife's body."

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.