Friday, May 9, 2014

Every nine months

So it's been nine months since my last post.  And nine months since the post before that.  So, does checking  in with myself, and whoever, every nine months constitute consistency?  I guess,sort of.  Life always has a way of getting too complicated and too involved.  I find it interesting what things seem to be able to take over all my time.  Work...kids...vacation...school....gardening....hobbies....health issues....holidays....weather...not to mention the unspoken evils of politics and religion.

 Nine months ago I was getting organized for school.   Now the school year is just about over and I finally have time to try this organizing thing again.  I have a new phone so I tried to put my shopping list in it.  How convenient.  The only problem is that you have to actually look at it for it to be helpful.  Of course, I made it home without something.

  Chaos seems to rule, but interestingly enough, I keep falling back into old habits when I feel life has gotten out of control.  That means, the old habits actually do work for me, I just don't keep them up consistently once the chaos has calmed.  I just about have my bathroom not only under control, but pleasant, and peacefully organized and clean.  That's saying something.  Now...what space to tackle next?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Organized for Back To School

It's been 9 months since my last post.  That is amazing.  It also shows how busy, and somewhat unorganized my life has been for the past year.  But as of this week, the family is on schedule.  We have to be.  With three adults and two kids in the house and a second household of two adults and three kids, we are very very busy.  Everyone is in school or at work the majority of the days and then we add in soccer for all five kids.  I needed a system to keep track of where I needed to b, when, and with whom.

I tried doing a calendar on paper, but now I've gone tech and am trying Cozi.  It lets me input all 9 people and their varied schedules.  I can put the entire soccer schedule in when I get it rather than add it a week at a time.  We've managed to have a quick family meeting on Friday to lay out what's happening in the next week. I'm even putting in the dinner menu including who is cooking it.  And to make me smile, it's all color coded. Now it is a little quirky at times, not putting something on the calendar. It may be operator error, but I'm figuring it out. For the most part, so far, so good, but I'm only on week two.  I know how I am with all these "great ideas" I have.  Let's hope I can keep this up, because it has really reduced the stress of trying to get everything done and everyone to where they need to be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Give Up

The dog training continues.  For a week, we have walked the pack.  We were commenting yesterday about how it had been a  week since our last altercation with Redford and Henry.  Of course, that jinxed us, and there was a disturbance that night, and another minor encounter today.

Somewhat disheartened, I took Redford to John's (Standing Obeytion) socialization class tonight.  I was not willing to take Abby too.  I thought the car ride alone would be too much and I was probably right about that.  Redford was crazy in the car and we kept Henry in the front floor area.  When we got there, Leann and Henry got out and I attempted to put the muzzle on Redford.  I'd been working all week with that using treats and it had gone very well.  But tonight, in the car, a very excited Redford proved to be difficult to get the muzzle on, but I did.

John was busy with some other dog, so I took Redford, scratching to try to get the muzzle off, over into a side area and waited.  I was surprised when John came that he seemed genuinely glad to see Redford.  He said the muzzle was a good fit and that only one "fight" in a week was good, and soon it would be one in two weeks.  He took Redford and went off into the area with the other dogs.

I was totally amazed.  The dog that I have taken on walks all week, that barked crazily and ferosiously at especially dogs on a leash was nervous but extremely well behaved.  He had managed to get the muzzle off, but John didn't seemed fazed in the least. John turned Redford over to me and we walked with only one barking incident for the entire time.  We did switch to try a Gentle Leader to stop some of his pulling (and our constant correcting).

Bottom line, we have improved.  We still have a ways to go.  We need to commit to consistently walking the dogs every day, correcting them at home.  I think we'll try all three dogs in class next week.  Oh boy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I love my dogs, even when they frustrate me

Sometimes life takes a turn, and even though you think you are prepared and trained for something, you realize you need help.  That's where I was with my dog, Redford.

I have always considered my dogs fairly well trained.  Abby went to puppy school.  Redford had one lesson on not pulling on a leash which didn't really pan out.  They all come when called from the backyard.  They sit, shake, and lie down for cookies.  Abby learned 'drop it' and 'leave it'. both very usefull things.  They have learned to go into a bedroom when someone comes to the door, which seemed easier than making them stay back.  The only problem has been that Redford goes nuts over other dogs and cars.  He was always sort of embarrassing to take to the vet, and I couldn't take him for walks because he would go ballistic at other dogs barking.  When my one daughter lived with us for a while, Redford and Stuart, her Jack Russell, got into a fight.  We contributed that to the fact that they were too similar. Both males, both terriers, both used to being the "alpha" dog of the family.

Time goes on and all is okay until last month when Leann moved back home.  While it's a temporary arrangement, it will last for a few months.  We didn't anticipate any problems as her dog, Henry, is a pug and is stupid and docile.  Well, it didn't take long before we had an incident with Henry and Redford.  After breaking up a couple of fights and playing "musical dogs" my frustration level was too high.  We were not making any headway.  So I felt I had to get help.

Enter John Lopez.  John has his own dog training business called Standing OBEYtion.  He's really nice and seems to really understand dogs.  He came out here to help with our entire "pack".  That includes at the moment, 3 dogs, 5 cats, 2 toddlers and 3 adults.  He understood that our problem was not going to be solved by dealing with only Redford.  Everyone had to be part of the solution.  I was amazed at how he dealt with each dog differently based on that particular dog's personality and needs.  He made us realize that Henry has a fear of unknown people. I was also amazed at how he was able to get Redford to cooperate.  He left us with techniques and the assignment to walk them every day.

He was here on Thursday.  It's Sunday morning and I'm feeling a mixture of frustration and resolve.  The walks have gone better, but still have a ways to go.  We have still had a few altercations and have learned that we are unprepared to deal with them unless Leann and I are both at home to each grab and correct a dog, thus we still play musical dogs at times.  I have only called John twice, but we talked about calling him a couple other times.  I wanted instant gratification because that seems to be the American Dream, but, realistically, I know this is going to take some time.  I will be so glad when we have made more progress.  We are planning on taking Henry and Abby to John's socialization class on Monday.  I think Redford needs another week of walking before we try that with him. We called John to solve the one problem of fighting, but he has show us the light of what it can be like taking nice walks and having calm dogs in the house.  Now, I want all of that.

I love my dogs and it reminds me of how we feel about our kids.  We want so badly for them to be good and for others to see them at their best.  That's not life.  Kids and dogs need rules and discipline as well as love.  We do what we think is right, with the best of intentions, but sometimes it's hard to distinguish when we are lacking the correct balance of rules and love.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cowfest!

We all survived Cowfest and although it didn't go exactly as originally planned, I think everyone had fun.

The first twist in the plan came several weeks ago when we realized that Memory Lane Dairy had been sold to Hiland and there would be no farm tour.  We still got Memory Lane milk in chocolate, strawberry, and orange dreamsicle flavors.  We did a little taste test of all three.  They are so rich and creamy it's like liquid dessert.  The kids split on chocolate and strawberry and I thought the orange was awesome!  It was the perfect drink to go with our grilled cheese sandwiches as we discussed where milk comes from; that the black and white cows are the main milk producers; what other products we love like cheese that are made from milk;  And even how back in the old days....so old, it never happened at my house....milk used to be delivered and left beside the back door.

We told cow jokes, read cow poems, and did activity sheets of various difficulties depending on the age of the kid.  Then they settled down to check out the pictures in a photo book from Chicago's Cows On Parade.  If you aren't familiar with that fabulous exhibit, here are the basic details.  From June to October 1999, the city of Chicago was dotted with life size cow statues that had been decorated by various artists including George Rodrigue who is famous for his Blue Dog art.  He actually had three cows on display on Michigan Avenue.  The kids were more interested in these cows than I had even hoped, laughing at the silly ones, and picking their favorites.  It also was a perfect introduction to the whimsy of the cow quilts.

The quilts were presented one at a time and the kids shouted out who they thought it was for.  They matched each quilt with the right child so I knew I'd done well.  The kids loved their quilts.



The day ended as we headed off to look at some live cows.  Now that shouldn't have been a big deal, as there are cow pastures all around us, but it was so hot the cows had all moved far away from the road.  We finally tracked down a handful which were all greeted with moos before we headed home.



I'd say Cowfest was a success.  I wonder what we'll do next summer.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cows are finished


"Dairy Tales" for Morgan.  Cow and Castle with princess, Disney princess and Snow White fabrics.


"Winnie The Moo" for Mackenzie.  Cow in Pooh red sweater with 3 different Pooh fabrics and a teddy bear fabric background.


"Super Moo" for Jack.  Superhero cow with cape in Superman, Batman, and Spiderman prints flying over a city skyline of Spiderman fabric.


"Monkey See Monkey Moo" for Mallory.  Cow with 2 pink monkey prints, with green monkey print fabric in the background.


"Chugga Chugga Moo Moo" for Lucas.  Cow standing on a flatbed rail car pulled by an engine with Thomas fabric and three railroad fabrics.

All in all, they came out pretty cute, I think.  Each is tailored to the kid's specific interests.  I think they'll like them.  I'll try to post Cowfest pictures after the actual event.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hold Still


Just try to get 5 kids to hold still, and smile for a group picture.  It seems to be impossible with my bunch.  Every time I have them all in one place I try for this.  Most times, I can't even get them all in one spot for long enough to aim the camera.  For this attempt, they couldn't decide on sitting or standing.  Rather than fuss with them, I figured some could sit and some could stand.  Not your studio pose, but oh well.  And then, every picture I tried where they were actually looking at me, Jack was standing at the back, arm raised like he was holding the statue of liberty.  I'm not sure what that was all about.  It was the fourth...or Captain America Day according to Bubba.  I realized they had better things to do like swing, play with the dog, or eat desserts, so I gave up. I guess that's alright.  It all sounds more fun than just sitting still, and there will be plenty of more photo ops in the future.  But, they are a great bunch of little kids, don't you think?

P.S. I changed the background.  I don't know where this city is.  I just thought it was fun.  I wish I could change the walls in my house so easily.