Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Logs for the Fire

My parents live way up north in Minnesota, almost to Canada. They routinely have bears and moose in their yard. They can hear wolves howling not far away.

They heat their entire house with wood. It's not a little wood-burning stove in the living room. It's an industrial size wood furnace outside, away from the house. Someone has to add wood to the fire 2-3 times every day in winter.

These photos are of my daughter (when she was much younger) helping Grandpa haul some logs to the furnace.

She's using a Norwegian kick-sled to haul the logs.

That's a big log.

Now the house will be toasty and warm.

I'm linking up today with these Wordless & Wordful Wednesday blogs:

parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Unconditional Love of a Dog

Unconditional love can be a difficult concept for humans.

For dogs, it isn't so difficult. My dog, Lucia, was a champion of unconditional love.

Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to her.

Lucia was a wonderful, very gentle soul. She was a beautiful Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier that we adopted when she was 5 years old, the same year my daughter was five.

We don't know what her life was like before she came to us, but she bonded with our family very well. Especially to me.

Lucia was my constant companion and friend. She followed me everywhere. Upstairs, downstairs, into the kitchen, into the bedroom, even into the bathroom. Lucia just wanted to be near me.

She was very attached to me. And I to her. I've never felt such unconditional love from anyone, human or pet.

Lucia liked everyone in our family, especially the cat. When the cat was sleeping in Lucia's bed, she would gently sniff his nose and wag her tail. She was the calmest Wheaten I ever knew.

Sometimes I felt bad about how attached Lucia was to me. My husband says she never left the front door when I was gone. Even when I was out of town for several days, Lucia would wait by the door for me to return.

And when I did return home, I would receive such a joyous welcome from Lucia. "Oh boy, oh boy, you're home. You're home!!!"

So with a very sad heart, I had to let her go. I had to say goodbye. She was almost 14 years old. She was so sick and would never recover. It was my job to decide when it was time.

It was the hardest job I've ever had to do.

Lucia is no longer suffering. She is no longer in pain. And I believe in my heart that she knew how much I love her. And how much I will always love her.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: Path in the Woods

After weeks of weighing all the options for where my daughter will attend high school next year, we have finally decided.

It feels good to have a plan.

It also makes me sad.

She's heading down a new path next fall.

My wish for her, is that she skips down that path happily.

Check out other Wordful Wednesdays at:

parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dress Like It's 1955

Recently, my family and I were at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. It's a huge mall with over 400 stores.

On this visit, I found a very unique clothing store - Bettie Page.

Mainly they sell 1950's inspired dresses. Some are very girly, some sexy, and some quite elegant. But all very 1950's. These dresses beg to be worn with high heel shoes and a crinoline.

I fell in love with one dress in particular. The Jazmin Black Flare.

The front is plain black with a small black belt.

The back looks like this:

(I wonder if the Giant Schnauzer comes with the dress.)

My daughter, who is 14, liked this one. The Side Effect Polka Dots.

We tried on the dresses and imagined ourselves dressed up for a very fine dinner and evening at the Guthrie Theater.

In the end, I didn't buy the dress.

But, it's on my "wish list."

With my birthday coming up, maybe I'll tap into the elegant, girly side of myself and celebrate with a 1950'2 style evening!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writer's Workshop- Life at a Bookstore

For today's Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, I chose:

4.) A memorable day at work.

I have worked at a small, independent bookstore for almost 4 years. It's located in a great, little neighborhood and has a large variety of customers.

After four years, I've met many different people, looking for a wide variety of books.

I thought I'd probably heard it all. Then one night, I found out I was wrong.

I was working alone one evening when an elderly couple came into the store. I had never seen them before. I welcomed them and smiled at how cute they were. They looked like sweet, little grandma and grandpa types if ever I saw.

Grandpa started perusing the store as Grandma walked over to me.

"Do you have an erotica section?"

I was shocked. Did Grandma just ask me about naked people doing naked people things?

"I'm sorry," I said. "Did you say erotica section?"

"Yes, Dear," she said.

Here I was thinking they were probably looking for All Creatures Great and Small or knitting books or maybe John Grisham if they were feeling daring.

But they were looking for EROTICA!

"No. I'm sorry." I said with complete composure. "We don't have an erotica section."

"Oh, that's too bad," Grandma said in her grandmotherly voice.

She walked back to Grandpa and broke the bad news. "They don't have erotica."

"Oh well," said Grandpa.

Then Grandma took Grandpa's arm and they waved goodbye as they walked out of the store.

Well, I thought. I've seen a new one tonight.

How odd. And yet, reassuring. If 78 year olds are interested in erotica books, more power to them I say.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who Doesn't Love Thriller?

My daughter and I have matching i-pods.

I don't mean the size and color. I mean the songs.

We have exactly the same music on our i-pods.

Originally, this was because I didn't know how to select only some of the songs for each individual i-pod.

But then, it didn't matter.

It turns out we like almost all the same music. I think this is cool.

My daughter thinks this is a little embarrassing.

Here is a sample of our downloads:

• Stereo Hearts, by Gym Class Heroes
• Good Feeling, by Flo Rida
• La Isla Bonita, by Madonna
• Give Me All Your Luvin', by Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj)
• Smooth Criminal, by Michael Jackson (sung by the Glee cast)
• What Doesn't Kill You, by Kelly Clarkson
• Someone Like You, by Adele
• Waka Waka, by Shakira
• The Irish Rover, by The Pogues
• A-Tisket, A-Tasket, by Ella Fitzgerald
• We Found Love, by Rihanna

And that's just a small sample.

What's on your i-pod?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some Thoughts on Valentine's Day

• At my daughter's school, they've been selling Flower-Grams for $1.00 each. I bought one for my daughter. It will be delivered to her today during 6th hour. The woman in the school office said I should write 'From you Secret Admirer.' No, I wouldn't do that. That's kind of mean. But I also didn't want to write, "Love and Kisses from your Mommy and Daddy." So, I wrote, "Happy Valentine's Day. Love M and D." That way she can say it's from Maria and Danielle in a pinch.

The Dreaded Crimping Iron
• Yesterday my daughter said, "I want a crimping iron." A crimping iron?! What year is this? I had a crimping iron when I was in college. There was one semester I was going for a bohemian-chick look with long dresses and a jaunty hat. And crimped hair! The whole thing was a failure in fashion. I told Juliana, "You don't need a crimping iron." She said, "You and dad threw away all your cool stuff!" Proof: Fads have a way of coming back around, even when they shouldn't.

What the heck is a slope-line intercept?
• I started a new job tutoring junior high kids every day from 11 - 2pm. It's at my daughter's school, which is great, because we can walk home together. When she let's me. I really enjoy tutoring the kids. They all have the ability to do well in their classes, they just aren't for some reason. The main reason is not doing homework. Most of them are missing 10 assignments, or more, and that's very daunting. Mostly it's Algebra assignments. Sometimes essays for English or worksheets for Science. Yesterday it was all about graphing and slope-line intercepts, which by the way is: y=mx+b. What the heck? I had to look that puppy up. It's been awhile since I took Algebra. But despite my ignorance of slope-line intercepts, we figured it out and finished the assignment. And my student handed it in, which always feels good.

Lucia, my dog
• My dog is still hanging in there. Or we are forcing her to hang in there. I'm not sure which. We were planning on saying goodbye to her last Thursday. Then in a last-ditch effort, I fed her warm hamburger and rice with a nice, big pain pill in it. She perked up. So we spent the weekend sleeping, snuggling, and sitting side-by-side. Now it's a new week and she can't keep her hamburger and rice down. Or the pain pill. And yet, she still seems excited to go on short walks. Am I doing this for her, or for me? When do you know for absolutely, positively sure that it's time to let go, and say goodbye?

On this snowy, gray Valentine's Day morning, I have a lot of thoughts going through my head. From funny to sad, from not important to important. It's just one of those contemplative days, I suppose. One thing for sure, I'm glad I have a date tonight with my husband, at one of our favorite restaurants. It's a set Valentine's Day menu. I only hope there are plenty of non-fish items to choose from. And a delicious dessert. Then my day is guaranteed to be alright.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Learning To Say Goodbye

I haven't blogged for a few days.

My dog is dying.

Lucia has been my constant companion. My husband calls her my "shadow." She follows me everywhere. Upstairs, downstairs, to my desk, into the bathroom. She's always there.

But the stairs are more difficult now. Sometimes she doesn't follow. Sometimes she stays downstairs.

She's 13 or 14 years old. We don't know for sure. We adopted her when she was 4 or 5 years old. When my daughter was five. They're the same age. Except they're not. Lucia is about 80 in people years.

She's not really eating.

She's not able to keep what she does eat down.

She has a mass in her abdomen.

We're going in today for an ultrasound. To see what kind of mass.

I asked, "Is there ever a good kind of mass?"

Not really.

So, I'm thinking about goodbye.

I don't like this. I don't want to say goodbye. I want her with me.

But it's not about me.

It's about Lucia.

I'm learning how to say goodbye.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writer's Workshop - The Real Me

For Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop today, I chose the prompt: "Share a photo that was taken of you, that you think really captures who you are."

* * * * * * *

The Real Me is always the Summer Me. I'm only truly myself in the summer. Anytime it's warm and sunny, I'm happy. If I'm also with my family and by water, my true self really shines.

Here I'm "Up North" at the cabin.

And here, the photo says it all. It's summer time, I'm with my daughter, my dog and by the lake.

That's the real me.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Choose a High School: Parent View

In the quest to choose a high school, my daughter Juliana, shadowed at potential high school. I wrote about it HERE. She will shadow at a second high school next week.

Then it's decision time.

Choice is a good thing. But it can also be difficult and confusing. So, when you have a choice of high schools for your child, what do you do?

These are the questions I ask myself:

How To Choose A High School? - Parent View

1. Does the school offer classes that are appropriate for my child?
- i.e. Challenging enough, AP/IB, world language offerings, music program, etc.

2. Is the school safe?
- What are the halls like during passing time? Is the administrative "on top" of issues that may arise?

3. Is there transportation?
- Can my child take the bus or walk? Or do I have to drive her every day?

4. What is the school's diversity like?
- Does the school reflect the racial make-up of the city in which we live? Or not?

5. What about extra-curricular activities?
- Will my child be able to participate in sports or drama?

6. Will my child be successful and thrive?
- While I'm sure Juliana will be fine at any school, the question is where would she most "fit in" and feel comfortable. Where will she be motivated to be the best student (and person) she can be? This is very subjective. It's about the "feel" of the place. It's about where her friends will go. It's a little bit about luck and what you make of any given situation.

Next week look for High School Visit #2. We'll hear from Juliana herself about her day.