Saturday, March 31, 2007

It IS a Boy!

Well, we have our baby. We finally got him yesterday, after I spent the whole day cajoling, begging, threatening, and insisting that AJ get his school work done. There were times I thought maybe I was being a bit hard on him, but his attention was just elsewhere, and it took me forever to get him to buckle down and work. But finally we were able to do it. We went to the shelter and filled out the papers, paid our money and took our baby Nathan to the car. AJ was SO thrilled.

The older boys had chess club, so we dropped them off a block away at the church, and then AJ and I headed off to get puppy food, and to return the crate and collar which were broken and too small. AJ and Nathan fell asleep in the car on the way to the store.

Getting him home yesterday was intersting. I thought our Alsatian, Princess, would have some issues with him coming into her home. The truth is, our Shepherd is terrified of him. He has snarled, growled, and even snapped a little at her a couple times. It's nothing I'm worried about. I checked it out at the shelter today, and now think what they told me--that Nathan has already attached somewhat to me and is being very protective of me. I think he's also a bit jealous of attention I pay to her when he's around. So we're being very careful of their interactions, but I think with time, assurance, and training, the two dogs will be best buds. I do think Nathan might be the leader though.

Nathan also appears to be a little nervous around Josh. It's not evident all the time, just occasionally. I confirmed today with the girls who work at the shelter that he was probably mistreated or abused by a young man or teen boy. So Josh is allowed to only play with him and treat him sweetly, and has to do nothing "bad." Nathan truly loves the younger two boys. He licks Stephen on the face every time he gets around him. His cute little tail wags constantly when he is with either of the two. They have chased him, walked him, laid next to him, on him and under him, thrown toys for him, and loved on him all . . . day . . . long. Poor pup hit a point tonight where he kept moving away from anyone who'd mess with him because he just wanted to SLEEP!!! He is now zonked in his crate, and I haven't heard a peep out of him. I did have to chase Stephen off my bed early this afternoon because he smelled so "doggie."

As for the dog himself, he is on meds for hookworms and earmites or maybe a fungus. Other than that, he seems to be housebroken, bites on us a little--but only like any puppy, tries to sniff the trash (but is figuring out that he isn't allowed to do that pretty quickly), and loves to follow us around. He's a cute little thing, and I feel good about the decision to get him every time I see him, even though it is a lot of work taking care of a "baby."

So there he is--our boy--Nathan. AJ keeps thinking of new names for him. I've encouraged AJ to call him Nathan (he originally wanted to stick with the shelter name), until we really get to know him. Mostly I just wanted AJ to have some time to really decide whether he wanted to rename the pup or not. I haven't come up with anything witty yet. Oh yeah . . . the new dog owner? He's crashed too. Hopefully dreaming sweet dreams of his new best friend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Puppy Update

Today I took AJ to the pet store to pick out stuff for his puppy. Sheesh! It would have been cheaper to adopt a KID! It was fun watching him trying to pick out a collar, a lead, toys, and so on. He is so independent in his thinking, so sure when he finds what he likes of what he wants. I could see the excitement mounting for him, and it is about to kill him that he has to wait another full day and a half. I kicked myself tonight because I realize I should have taken my camera to the pet store to take photos, but I decided to go on such a whim, that I didn't have it. I WILL take it to the shelter on Friday! The other two boys have a field trip, so AJ and I might go while they are away. I thought it might make bringing the new puppy home a little easier.

Even though Princess might have a hard time adjusting to sharing her family, this whole endeavor has been a good thing for her. It has stimulated my interest in learning about dogs, and has really increased my interest in her. Even though she was purchased for the boys, she is very much MY dog--I'm her "Alpha" as they say. So now I am studying and researching about training dogs, and I'm going to try to train her to not pull on the leash, to not bark when I tell her to stop, and to heel. She is SOOO excitable when we go out the front door, I almost can't control her. It is hard just to get her attention to get commands through her head. We watched a VERY good video on dog training today, and I tried some techniques, but I can't get her to stay alongside me long enough to use the choke chain correctly and effectively. I got a pincher collar today, and was hoping I could master the choke chain so I wouldn't really have to use it, but I think I might for a while until I can control her a little better.

Anyway that's what is going on here. Our lives are pretty much going to the dogs. Thank goodness it's not cats!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Three Days and Counting . . .

We get our new baby Friday. Wednesday he has his operation, and Friday we can bring him home. Josh and I went to see him Friday while the boys were out of town, and today we all went up at lunch time to visit him. He is SO sweet, and we fall more and more in love with him each time we are with him. I can't wait to bring him home. But AJ is the most excited of all. He feels like he has waited a long time for his doggie. We're studying about dogs this week as part of his school, so he will understand what Nathan needs, and what he will have to do. As I've read about dog adoptions, I 've learned so much--things I wish I had known when we got Princess. Here are photos of the boys with our baby today:

Monday, March 26, 2007

No More Schedules!

Every time I work up a schedule--even a loose one that's more like a "routine"--something goes wrong. Usually it's just a little something wrong, just wrong enough to be inconvenient and to prevent me from actually getting in the habit of keeping the schedule, like a stomach bug . . . or unexpected company . . . or three really good movies coming in the mail at the same time from Blockbuster. It's not usually something really horrible . . . until tonight. Today we started a new "routine." I can't even call it a schedule now, or my kids will groan. So we started a routine. We did pretty well at it . . . well, we were only about two and a half hours behind all day. But we had time to rest and read, and even made it to the shelter to see our new baby. We got most of our school done, and the house is in pretty decent order. So I felt good. Then tonight on the way to Scouts, it happened.

Pulling out of the driveway, the car was a little sluggish--not much acceleration. I've noticed it briefly the last couple times I drove, but it cleared up pretty quickly, so tonight I headed on to Scouts sure that I wasn't just going crazy, and making a mental note to push a visit to the mechanic up to the top of tomorrow's list. As I pulled out on the busy road intersecting our subdivision, I quickly realized that I should have made that note today. After 50 yards or so, I also realized we weren't going to make it to Scouts, and I pulled over to the side of the road.

I don't like car problems. Not that anyone does, but since I don't have a husband to call for help, it always makes me feel more overwhelmed to have to be the one to make the decisions about something I know so little about. I called several of the friends I usually call on to bail me out of trouble, but didnt' get anyone at home. Finally I called my best friend (by this time I was handling it all like a woman . . . yep. Crying.), who called a friend of her's close by to come help me. As I waited, an older gentleman stopped and "offered his assistance." (So glad there are still gentlemen in the world to offer assistance to dames in distress!) He began looking at the engine, and about the time he asked if I had gas in the car, another guy rode up on a bike.

I though about the question . . . um? Gas? I knew it needed to be filled soon, but I didn't think I was out. Then again, it had seemed that I'd been running on the same eighth of a tank for a while . . . . So these poor men went to get me some gas. I was left feeling very . . . blonde.

Finally there was definitely gas in the car, but still it would not start. (Relief! It wasn't about me forgetting the gas! Of course then it came to mind that the low-gas warning light never came on.) After discussing other possibilities, the guy from the bike finally decided it must be the fuel filter. So he pulled some big fat hose off something in the front of the engine (hey! Be glad I know he was working on the engine, and I'm not using words like do-hickey and thing-a-ma-jig.) Then he started pouring a little gas directly into the opening. As my brain was asking, "Isn't it a bad thing to pour gas onto a car engine?", my friend cranked the engine, and flames errupted.

It seemed like my engine was on fire forever, but I think the guy under the hood actually put it out pretty quickly, but I was seeing:
*my crazy kids trying to get a good look at the fire under my hood (as I waited for the car to explode!!!)
*the dropped bottle of gas on the curb on fire (and about to explode)
*me trying to explain to my insurance company how a $10 fuel filter caused a major explosion in my car
*my friend still sitting in my car (unaware of the engine on fire because of the hood being in his way!)
*the sane man moving back out of the way
*me standing there like a dork wondering why I didn't have a fire extinguisher in the back of the car
. . . . All of this was coming into my brain at once and I pretty much just didn't know what to do. At last the goofy guy with the water bottle of gas put out my car, and said, "Yep, it's the fuel filter." Ummm . . . do most mechanics set the car on fire to determine that?

Now I had come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to just have the car towed, so I got on the phone with my wonderful insurance company to arrange for a tow truck. After being told three times that, yes, I still was on hold and there would be someone with me eventually (Hey, thanks. Good thing I'm not in real trouble!), I got someone on the phone.

Not long after that, one of our counties finest pulled up to "offer assistance." By this time the guy who tried to make my car explode had left (not that I blame him!), and I was kind of wondering where the deputy was when my car was on fire. (I'm thinking now that somebody called when they saw the flames leaping out of my car!!!) After the men with me explained the whole thing to him, he also agreed that it was probably the fuel filter, and suggested that we bang on the little gadget a few times to loosen some of the sediment. He said we wouldn't be able to drive far, but might get it to a nearby mechanic--and my mechanic was just around the corner, so it sounded great to me. So I asked the lady at the insurance company to hang on while I waited to see if I would indeed need the tow truck, and my friend banged on the filter, but when we tried to start the car, nothing.

As I got back to giving the insurance lady information so she could send help, the deputy suggested the men push the car up and off the road. My friend thought he'd give the key one more try, and wouldn't you know it? The car started. Once again I told the insurance lady we wouldn't be needing the tow truck, made hasty arrangements to get to the mechanic's shop, and loaded the kids in the car, and we took it where it needed to be dropped off.

So for now I know I need a new fuel filter, my car can still run (I think!), there are still gentlemen in the world, and you don't let somebody pour gas on your engine. I also know that I'm without a car, I desperately need groceries, and that schedules really don't work. So tomorrow we're going to fly by the seat of our pants again. At least that way we will expect not to know what the day will bring! And expecting surprised will probably be a good thing when I talk to the machanic.

Friday, March 23, 2007

What I Did for AJ's Birthday

So I have made it my policy not to let the boys have parties for every birthday. They only get parties for "special" birthdays--like the 6th, the 10th, the 13th, the 16th (years that are important only because I think they are important, and for no reason other than my subjective ones!). This year, AJ turned 7--not a "special" birthday--so no party. I was going to try to keep it simple. So this is what I did:

Instead of a party, he got to invite a friend to spend the night. He invited five friends (three are brothers, how could we leave one out? and two are his brothers good friends. We're kind of like that--we just share everything!) So I supplied pizza (very cheap pizza), cake, sodas and snacks, decorations, and treats. Does that sound like a party to you? Yeah. Does to me too. However this is really the first year AJ has really wanted to be with friends of his own, his own age. No. That doesn't really make me feel better about it.

The one thing he really wanted for his birthday was the doggie. So after much prayer and deliberation, I decided to get it. (I've been thinking about this for over a year.) So for his "present" I am paying the adoption fee at the shelter, buying all the "necessities" like a new crate, a trip to the vet, extra food, toys, etc. The cost of this present? I'm too embarrassed to tell you, but let's just say I could get a bunch of toys cheaper.

I told AJ that if he got the dog, that was his present. There would probably be nothing else. But the night before he went to Disney with his grandparents, I began feeling a little guilty that he'd have nothing to open and decided to send "a little bag of treats" with him on his trip. So I fille the BIGGEST gift bag I could find with snacks, a few little toys, stickers, a disposable camera, and tied it off with a personalized balloon. OK, yeah. It was a present. But don't tell anyone.

I also realized at Walmart that he needed new pajamas for his trip . . . a new swimsuit (the eight old hand-me-downs aren't good enough . . . and they don't have superheroes on them) . . . and of course, a birthday outfit. So I got those for him.

I won't tell you how much money I've actually spent on this birthday. Let's just say . . . I should have had a party and presents. It would have saved me money.

At least the kid's worth it.

And I'm consoling myself by reminding myself that God understands how much I love my son. "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
Matt 7:11 (NIV)

Seven Years Ago Today . . .

. . . my life was about to change. Again.

It was about 11pm and I was almost nine months pregnant--three weeks shy of my due date. Then just before I went to bed, I began to suspect my water was leaking. I called the on-call nurse and begged to be allowed to stay home until morning, but was told I needed to go to the hospital to be checked. Once at the hospital, sure enough, my water had broken so I had to stay.

It was a fitfull night with little sleep . . . the monitor constantly moving and a nurse coming in to adjust it. They wouldn't let me get up and walk because the baby was still too high up. Finally very early in the morning the doctor came in and examined me and gave me permission to walk for an hour at a time. So I walked and got back into bed. That's when it all started.

Darned monitor slipped again. The nurse came in and tried to adjust it . . . but this time, something different. The nurse called for the doctor, then explained to me that she couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. The doctor came in and examined me and explained that they would have to do a C-section. Everything was happening so fast, but all I really remember is being wheeled down the hall and begging God to save my baby boy's life. I remember the O.R. and vaguely being put to sleep, then waking up to see Jerry and one of our Assistant pastors.

The rest of the story came later. The placenta broke away (called placenta abruptio, for you childbirth experts). I was bleeding. The baby was getting no oxygen. It was Providence that we were at the hospital instead of home. Providence that the nurse was really paying attention. Providence that Andrew and I are alive today.

That day was a very long day, as I waited all day for my baby, unable to get up and go to the nursery to see him.

He's bigger now, seven years later. But oh! In some ways he hasn't changed much at all. He's still in a hurry to do everything in ways nobody ever expects (and sometimes that we don't want to do them!). He still risks his life to do what everybody else does safely. He still provides us with some very exciting stories, and some very interesting adventures. And when you make it through all the hard stuff, he's still very much worth the adventure (or worry, or scare, or whatever!).

So while he's off right now with his grandparents camping, I'm thinking about how much I love that little boy, even though he costs me a lot, and has nearly cost me so much more. He sure is worth it! Happy Birthday sweet Andrew!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We're Adopting a New Baby . . . Well, Maybe.

It's a baby boy! (Like I need another boys around here!) He's about six months old. The place where we found him thinks he might have been abused, but he is very easy-going and sweet. We fell in love with him as soon as we saw him yesterday, and went back today with the whole family to check him out again and fill out the applications.

OK, he's a dog. We are getting him from the Safe Animal Shelter in Clay County. The woman we talked to there thinks he is a Shepherd/Retriever mix. He really loved the boys the first day we looked; he wasn't so energetic this morning, but the woman said he had been outside playing all morning so he was tired. We took Princess to see him today, and she really didn't care about him, but we thought it was a good sign that she didn't dislike him.

He is to be a birthday present for Andrew (yeah, but don't worry! No illusions here about my involvement in his care. I do intend for him to be AJ's responsibility though!) AJ has been begging for a puppy now since before Christmas, and I have been thinking about it for over a year, so we're not going into this impulsively like we have before. Everybody is actually kind of excited about him. I think he will be good for AJ, who needs someone to take care of, and for Princess, who needs a friend when we're busy or not home. Does it sound like I'm rationalizing to you. Nawwww . . . not me!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Life Lesson #493

Four boys sleeping together on an inflatable mattress is a bad idea . . . especially when it's a sleepover . . . that started at 4am . . . and you forgot Daylight Savings time was ending so it's really 5am . . . and you have to be at church on time in four hours because you are the new quarter Sunday School teacher for the Women's Sunday School . . . and two of the boys had caffeine a half hour ago, and the other two have a few hours of sleep under their belt. Bet their not as funny in a couple of hours as they are right now.

On the other hand . . . they might actually be manageable in worship service tomorrow.

Don't ask. It's a long story.

And I'm tired.