family, humor, motherhood

Democracy in Action

Every family has a structure of ‘power’ so to speak.  It’s a dance between allowing everyone to have their say and getting individual needs met.  Let’s say you are on a 15 hour road trip one way (true story), and it comes time to decide where and when you might make a pit stop.  Each member of the family is allowed input and then a family vote is taken.

Voting System Breakdown

(should be noted this is Mad Dog’s creation):

As an adult and as a child over the age of twelve, myself and Full Speed are afforded one vote respectively.

Full Speed = 1

Mom = 1

Got it so far?  It seems straightforward but gets infinitely more complex as the process continues.

T.Puzzle gets a half vote since he is under twelve.  However, if he agrees with Mad Dog he gets a full vote.

T.Puzzle = 1/2 vote, bumps to 1 vote when he aligns with Mad Dog.

Mad Dog gets three votes.

Mad Dog = 3 votes

Yes, you read that right… three votes!

In the rare event that T.Puzzle’s half vote slips under the radar and a tie ensues, Mad Dog automatically becomes the tiebreaker.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

-Sun Tzu

Game over, Mad Dog.

Game over.

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We all voted and yes, Mad Dog makes us laugh… a lot!
humor, motherhood

How Do You Spell Amazing? (Part Two)

Towards the end of last year, I shared with you my elite status as a spelling bee prep consultant (How Do You Spell Amazing)? There are many things one must do in order to get their clients in fighting form.  In addition to being able to read a list of words out loud (gasp!), it is paramount as a consultant to live a varied and rich life.  Through your life adventures, it will help expose your clients to words that may have otherwise slipped past them.

Well over a decade ago I must have had a premonition that I would need to grow the vocabulary of my life to further the academic excellence of my children.  When Full Speed was 8 months old, Mad Dog and I had our first weekend away.  As a mom who struggled with the all-consuming role of caring for an infant, this weekend was a revelation.  Simply walking down a hall unencumbered felt foreign and liberating.  Getting a chance to eat a meal and engage in an actual conversation warmed the depths of my soul.  During this outing, Mad Dog and I also spent some time at our resort’s bar.  Having recently stopped breastfeeding, I was happily free to indulge in a glass of wine.  I’m not sure if it was the headiness of my new-found (and short-lived) freedom, but that first glass of wine there was transcendent. To this day, I wonder if it actually is as good as I think, or if it simply reminds me of that formative slice in time of being footloose and kid-free.  You may wonder where I’m going with this, but you’ll see how it plays out later.

As I continued raising my little family and expanding all of our horizons and vocabulary, I came into my own as a spelling bee prep consultant.  The result was Full Speed’s exciting win as a fifth grader and lo and behold, T.Puzzle followed exactly the same path!

So, there I was in the audience, watching my handsome and brave T.Puzzle compete in his school’s spelling bee.  Each time it was his turn, I couldn’t even watch him.  I stared at the paper list of contestants held tightly in my hands.  I proceeded to crumple that paper to shreds as I locked it in a death grip.

The first rounds were easy for the most part, but soon the words took a complicated turn.  He hung in there round after round.  Then, he got to the word:

CONUNDRUM

Immediately, I relaxed my hands and shot my mother-in-law a huge grin.  I knew my baby had it.  It wasn’t for the win but I rest assured that he was safe for another round.

‘Conundrum’ happens to be the name of the very wine I drank all those years ago.  It remains one of my favorites and has graced our table, our fridge and my outstretched hand on many occasions.

He spelled it without an ounce of hesitation.

As a mom, I pledge to do whatever it takes to help my children succeed.

 

I’m good like that.

Cheers!

Full Speed and Mad Dog took a half day to cheer T.Puzzle onto victory. A great day for all of us. Way to go, T.Puzzle!

 

 

 

Happy Holidays, motherhood

Life Lessons of 2017

It’s hard to believe, but another year is drawing to a close.  To date, this has been a year of tremendous change as Full Speed became a teenager (!) and T.Puzzle jumped more solidly into the double-digit realm.  It’s not the age-number per say, 13 and 11 respectively, but the growth and maturation I’ve seen from them.  It’s been a lot to process as I am seeing more clearly the young men they are becoming.

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Full Speed is on the left, T.Puzzle on right

T.Puzzle continues to surprise us.  He developed a love of distance running.  How Mad Dog and I produced a distance runner is still a bit mystifying, but it is awesome that T.Puzzle is finding his own interests and pursuits.  LEGO construction and playing video games remain firmly at the top of his list, but nice to know that he likes to get up and go sometimes, too.

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Full Speed became a middle-schooler this year (it starts in seventh grade in our region) and he has adjusted beautifully.  He shows leadership to his classmates willingly coaching them through Algebra assignments, and has a zest for presentations in class.  A recent assignment in Civics had him debating school politics and he was in his zone.  Leadership qualities and a passionate debater, hmmm…does that sound like anyone we might know?  He also learned that not every dream is realized as he tried out for his school’s soccer team and didn’t make the cut.  My favorite part about this life lesson was his genuine happiness for a long-time friend and classmate who did make the team this year.  It’s not to say that Full Speed’s given up on soccer forever, but oh my, isn’t there a wonderful world of possibilities out there waiting for him?

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One of the very best parts of 2017 was the addition of our newest family member, Miss Lady.  She is by no means a perfect dog, but she absolutely has been the perfect dog for our family.  She keeps things lively here which I’m not so sure our senior resident (Little Guy) appreciates.

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Little Guy’s shocked expression captures the essence of his disbelief at the amount of his new sister’s energy.

If you ever need to feel like you are the most amazing being alive, come on over and hang out at our house for a while, Miss Lady will not disappoint with her enthusiastic snuggles and love for you.

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Miss Lady is as sweet as she looks.

Mad Dog continues to travel all over America and then some as the scope of the call centers he oversees grows and grows. As hard as it is to be away from him sometimes, I see how fulfilling his position is and know that it is keeping him challenged and inspired. That’s truly all I want for all three of my boys, to be challenged and inspired.

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As for me, I’ve made a little more space in my life for the things I enjoy.  I continue to walk our dogs every day, have started a daily yoga routine and write as much as possible.

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Life is short so whatever brings us joy is absolutely what we should pursue.  It’s as simple as that.

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Hope you had beauty-filled 2017 and that the lessons that lie ahead for all of us keep us growing in the direction of love.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

dogs, humor, motherhood

A Love Story

It has recently come to my attention that I need to up my game.  Apparently, there is a new woman in Mad Dog’s life and she is much, much younger than I am.  She also is fluffy and adorable.

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A few months back Mad Dog purchased a new truck.  He is a meticulous vehicle owner.  Some days if our boys breathe too loudly while in his truck, he gets agitated.  These rule do not apply to his fluffy new love.  She can ride shotgun and she can vomit uproariously all over his leather seats and it’s perfectly fine!

There is more to the story.  Mad Dog has a history of falling in love with adorable dogs.   First there was our White Fluffy Dog (may she Rest In Peace) and now there is Miss Lady.  I call her Miss Lady because she is anything but.  She is kind of gross in her penchant for finding the worst smells in our backyard and rubbing herself in them. She also loves to eat dead worms!  I have to be vigilant that no such worms are visible to her on our lanai when I let her out to do her business.

Yes….she is a gross little dog at times, but she also is magnificent.  She is the most loving dog I have ever known.  She is the queen of snuggles and if you let her, she prefers to be draped over your lap like a fuzz-ball blanket of adoration.  She kind of makes you feel like a rock star and all you have to do is exist.  That’s it.  Just exist and she thinks you are the bees knees.

With her remarkable temperament, I am attempting to get her behaviors in line so I can share some of her bottomless well of love with the world.  The world really needs more love don’t you think?  Training her is a long, long process.  Most days I enjoy it and Miss Lady loves it every day, but the time commitment is tremendous. I have to walk her separately from our other adorable dog so she can learn leash manners.  I also do random training session with her throughout the week.  I feed her, I bathe her and I snuggle her.  And you know what that gets me?  Second fiddle.  Despite all I do for her she prefers Mad Dog to all other beings.  I get it.  He is pretty awesome.  She’ll get no argument from me.

So, when Miss Lady ripped apart a Yoda chew toy (yes, Star Wars dog toys are mandatory in our home) and then proceeded to ingest Yoda’s ear, I panicked a little.  I didn’t know what it would do to her digestive system and if she would be able to pass it.  I raced to find Mad Dog who calmly and eventually concluded, taking her to the vet would be the best thing to do.  Off they went and naturally he put Miss Lady in the front seat of his pristine truck.  Soon, her nerves and her stomach gave way and the contents of her belly erupted all over his truck’s leather seats.  There was so much carnage that inevitably, some of her vomit soaked into the seats. Thankfully within the mess was the ear of Yoda fully intact (the force with was us!).

Mad Dog relayed all this to me in a phone call.  He wasn’t upset.  He did not care one bit that ‘his girl’ threw up in his treasured truck.  All he cared about was that Miss Lady was going to be okay.

I told you he was awesome.

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children, family, humor, kids, motherhood

How Do You Spell Amazing?

As a mom I wear many hats.  Personally, my favorite is a Cubs baseball cap, but here are a few others that I inhabit:

– Chinese leftover reheater

-Dog walker and trainer (the latter may be easily disproved in a court of law or more likely, upon meeting our wildly energetic adopted dog, let’s just say, girl gets by on her looks…a lot).

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-Extremely empathetic validator of the universe’s feelings

-Housekeeper

-Wife extraordinaire

-Friend, mother, writer, sister ….and the list goes on and on.

Now the hat that many don’t know about and that I keep a closely guarded secret is…

-Spelling bee prep consultant

I have a track record of helping one young man place second in the whole county….

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Cool trophy, right?

Anyway, given my illustrious track record, it only makes sense now that this young man’s  brother is going to compete at his school’s spelling bee, he would reach out to an elite spelling instructor such as myself.  So, that’s where we are at.  I am now helping T.Puzzle prepare for his grade school spelling bee.  Truly, the only special skills I am bringing to the table are the ability to read words from a list (out loud, no less!) and patience.  I don’t mind the sometimes repetitive process as long as my spelling padawan is focused.  So far, T.Puzzle has that in spades.  Here is a recent example of the elite-type of training that I offer.

Me: “Icelandic”

T.Puzzle: “I-C-E-L-A-N-D-I-C”

Me: “Correct” (as in, he is correct, not please spell correct, I think you get the idea, so let’s move on to a word in which more elite spelling instructing is needed for clarification)

Me: “Pesky”

T.Puzzle:  “Use it in a sentence, please.” (he didn’t really say please, I just added it in for my own creative spin as moms-who-love-manners are wont to do)

Me: “Little brothers are pesky to their older brothers.” (see what I did there?  I made it relatable to my subject…genius).

T.Puzzle:  “P-E-S-K-Y”

Me: “Correct”

Me: “Annoying”

T.Puzzle: “F-U-L-L  S-P-E-E-D”

Apparently, I have my work cut out for me.

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Good luck, T.Puzzle!