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


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 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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Starry Starry quilt

I'm on my last round of the Liberated Round Robin.  I love these as I never know exactly where they are going or how they're going to turn out.  The instructions for this round were to look for "serendipity" in the quilt and finish it.  Serendipity is not exactly how I was feeling about the quilt as it stood.

My wonky stars were seeming a little claustrophobic after the last round of color. The pink seemed too much. I also had two more stars to work with. So, as much as I hate to rip.......I had to back off some. 
  I added the other two stars to balance out the center design. I didn't have enough pink to completely encase the larger design, and I didn't think I wanted to anyway. So I decided to cut some more of the yellow sporadically  into that bright pink border. 

I was feeling pretty good about it now, but the stars are so subtle. I wanted to do one last thing to help them stand out against the bright colors, so I quilted around them. I think you can see it, they almost puff out in person. Here's another picture of one of them. 

   To finish it off, my quilting friends all seem to be in agreement that the binding should be one of the darker blues, so that's what I'm going to do.  They all have a lot more experience than I do, and besides I don't have enough yellow, and I can't take any more of that pink.

I think it's going to finish up as a cute summertime table runner.  Perfect for a nighttime party that includes star gazing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Liberated Round Robin 2- Step 3

Step three of the liberated round robin was to add color or black and white.

I tried a bright blue, but that made the whole piece shades of blue which seemed to miss the point of adding color.

I tried purple, but it didn't seem to look right.

I tried black, which was ok looking.  I tried white, which seemed boring.  I even tried a black and white print, but that was too busy.

Finally, I decided that I had already used color in the small yellow and hot pink splashes.  Why not go back to that.  I didn't have any more of the yellow, but I had a gold with yellow print, and I have more of the hot pink.

The pink border is wide, so I have plenty of room to play with it, depending on the next round's instructions.

So far, so good.  I think I like it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Liberated Round Robin 2-step 2

I love a liberated round robin.  You have no idea where you are going.  It really is a great imagination stretcher.  I started with 5 liberated slash and stash blue stars and a reject Block Lotto violet.

In round 1 I used one star and the violet and came up with this.

For round two we were supposed to incorporated "made" fabric from scraps.  I used the yellow as an accent for my made fabric, but when I tried to add it to this first block, that hot pink was just!  So I cut the pink down some, grabbed two more blue stars and put the pieces back together.  This is what I came up with.

I like it.  We'll see what round 3 will bring.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Liberated Round Robin 2....step 1

I'm trying my hand at another Round Robin. This one is intentionally liberated, so it could have some crazy steps.  We'll see.  For round one, the instructions were to start with some orphan block and "liberate it" by cutting, slashing, adding too, whatever.  I am starting with these.  The five stars are already liberated in that they are a little wack-o in shape.  They were an experiment in the technique of stacking five pieces of material, cutting them apart, reorganizing them, and then sewing them back together.  They have been sitting around for quite some time with no idea how to use them.  The bright pink violet is a reject from the Block Lotto.  This one didn't line up right, so I couldn't use it for Block Lotto because I have to send them to someone else.  While I don't mind imperfections for myself, I can't send them to other people.  After selecting these, I stared at them for quite a while to figure what I wanted to do. I really didn't want to slash the stars further as some of those pieces are already pretty small, and as I said they are already liberated.  So the answer, of course, was to slash the violet and then piece them back together.

Here's what I ended up with:

I think I like it.  We'll just have to see where the other steps go to see if any of the other stars can find a home in this quilt too.

OH, and a political sidebar.....
Here in Missouri we had a Republican Primary and Republican Caucus. The Primary was not going to count, it was just a beauty vote since the caucus is how the delegates are picked.  None the less, Santorum won the primary by a big margin.  Well, the caucus a month later, in Greene county the people attending the caucus picked something like 64% of the delegates to be for Ron Paul, ignoring the primary vote completely.  Somehow, that doesn't seem right to me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

American values

"I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for…I also believe in dance.” - Ellen

I listen to all this campaign rhetoric.....all the personal attacks...all the biased twisting of the facts.  So many people seem to be afraid.....of people of a different race....of people of a different religion...even of people who are unemployed or in need of government assistance for one thing or another.   The people that scare me the most are the ones that buy into some of these fears or some of these political statements without any thought or investigation of their own.

Just saying.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 word for 2012

Here we are in a new year...and I have a new word....ACCOMPLISH

This year I want to stick to my plans and finish some of my mountain of projects.  I'm not saying that I can't start anything new, I just want to temper my enthusiasm for new projects and promote the joy of completing some that have been around for awhile.

My list of things to work on includes...
exercise..I've rejoined the Y and Paige is going to help me with this
piano...Leann is going to help me with this
quilts...of which the above clover top is only one.....
and of course, playing...It's so much fun that the kids are getting a little older and we can actually "play".  I love games and they are so great at imaginative play, and it's still cool for them to play with me, so I better enjoy it while I can.

Here's to a great 2012 where lots of things get accomplished throughout the year!