Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Puppy training and back-to-school time.

Our new puppy sure is creating a lot of smiles around here.

Look at this. How can he not?

Gunnar is a quick study. He's learning his name, he knows to head for the door when we say "let's go potty," and he has even figured out how to weasel his way into Ladybug's heart. Or is it under that poor old dog's skin? A little bit of both, I think.

He has spent the last two nights sleeping in the dog crate with very little protest. We've gotten up 2-3 times every night (and by "we" I mean me and Gunnar) to go outside which is vaguely reminiscent of middle-of-the-night wakeups when we had babies. No wonder I'm so tired.

While we're getting used to having another four-legged friend in the house we're also getting used to a new routine. Sam is now into daily practices for football and it seems like we have something else going on in addition to that every day. Last night Sam and I went to his back-to-school night. Sam had a doctor's appointment first thing this morning and tonight Rachel and I are going to her BTS night while Sam is at practice. It's busy, but it's good. Well. It's good at the moment. It wasn't so good last night when everyone was tired and the kids were bickering and I had my fill of it and went a little ballistic on them. Everyone's a little calmer and kinder today, though. Amazing how that works.

The weather's been pretty warm lately, but the mornings are quite cool. I'm starting to pull plants from the garden and toss flowers that have run their course. Time to simplify outdoors and start to think about doing some organizing and decluttering in the house. I'm looking forward to having some time during the day to focus on that kind of stuff without having kids going behind me and undoing it all.

Six days to go before they start school. Six. Days.


Friday, August 24, 2012


Oh yes I did.


We did.

We brought home a puppy.
(With daddy's blessing, of course.)

The new pup's name is Gunnar.

I took this picture when I visited yesterday.

I'm not even sure how I walked away without putting him in the truck right then. But when it comes to big decisions Steve always suggests we "sleep on it." So I tried. Do you think I got any sleep last night? Yeah ... no.

Rachel and I went and picked him up this morning. We were able to surprise Sam, as he had stayed the night at a friend's house and knew nothing about the possibility of getting a puppy.

 Gunnar is settling in.

Ladybug sniffed him out and slobbered all over him, and has pretty much ignored him the rest of the day.

I am in love. My heart goes pitter-pat every time he looks at me with those floppy ears.

Oh, we've already had to clean up a couple potty accidents in the house. And he and I had a little discussion about the inappropriateness of using my laptop cord as a chew toy. But I adore him, the kids are so happy to have a German Shepherd again (as am I), and I can see Steve falling in love with him when he finally gets to meet him.

The cats? They are not so happy. But they'll get over it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer camera roll.

I have been without a dedicated camera since someone (hint: not I) dropped ye ole digital point-n-shoot on the concrete - not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES - while in Washington, D.C. in June. The poor thing finally gave up the ghost on our last day there. I haven't bought a new one because I'm saving up for something a little nicer. I do have the camera on my cell phone, though, and that's what I have used all summer.

So, with two weeks left of summer break, here's what I find on my camera roll. Certainly not all-inclusive (either of what we did this summer, or of what is on my phone), and in no particular order ...

At our annual summer gathering with family at my uncle's lake house in Elk Rapids:

Playing at a playground near the RV park Steve has stayed in all summer:

A rare girls-only afternoon. Dessert, anyone?

My shiny baby. Paid off (early) on July 13.

 New sunglasses ...
 And goofin' with Grandma while we ate lunch at the mall in Ann Arbor.
 (We developed a love for Olga's Kitchen that day. YUM.)

On my way out the door for an overnighter with Steve for my birthday.

Deciding which sunglasses to wear ...

The view from a comfy chair in the RV park.

Sam's quadra-decker grilled sandwich. He cooks!

We did lots of this ...

And a little of this.

On one of Steve's few Sundays off, the four of us visited the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum and the Michigan Firehouse Museum. (I'll blog about these with more pictures later.)

Visited the county fair in July.
 Spent a fun evening with friends, and Rachel climbed the rock wall.

 The patio and garden: my happy place.

 One day's harvest. And there's a lot more to come.

Spent a lot of time here and looking forward to more ... until the snow flies.

 Rachel, my mom and I spent an evening at Waterfront Park recently while Sam was at football practice. First time all year we've watched the carferry come in.

This past weekend Rach and I spent two nights camping with her Girl Scout troop at Silver Lake. It was so much fun. Great memories for all of us.

Now if I hear "we haven't done anything all summer!" one more time I'm gonna' slap someone. It's been a great summer, we survived some crazy heat, and I am ready for some down time. Or at least a shift to a different kind of busy-ness. Hello, fall!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seven reasons I know fall is approaching.

1. Football practice. Sam decided he wants to play football this year, so he started voluntary practices with the team this week. Just sitting there watching those boys toss the ball around gets me thinking about cool fall evenings cheering from the sidelines.

2. Papa John's Sweet Corn. Our dear friends (and neighbors) set up a roadside stand where their daughters sell sweet corn grown on the family farm. Proceeds buy the girls their school clothes. So with just a quick walk down the road and some pocket change we've got ourselves the makings for one of our favorite late-summer dinners. In fact, it was all we had for dinner tonight.

3. Crisp morning air. Perfect for taking the dog for a stroll and then sitting on the patio with a cup o' joe without getting drenched in sweat.

4. A bountiful harvest. Yesterday my lunch was a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumber, all grown in my garden. We have enough to eat our fill and still have plenty to share. Soon I will be pulling up the beets and roasting them in the oven. Mmm.

5. Grandma's canning jars. See #4. I have boxes of canning jars stored under my bed. It is a joyous occasion when I harvest so much from my garden that I have enough to merit pulling out the canning supplies. This evening the kids helped me make jalapeno jelly with peppers from the garden. I have six 1/2-pint jars cooling on the counter in the kitchen and I may be able to make more with what is yet to be harvested.

6. The back-to-school ads and e-mails. Gag me.

7. That "nesting" thing. It's afghans and decaf in the evenings. Thinking more about paint chips and cozy furniture arrangements than petunias and planting grass seed. It feels natural to turn my thoughts inward a bit, stick close to home, bring out the cinnamon-scented candles.

We still have a few weeks of summer to enjoy before the kids head back to school, but fall is no doubt on its way. I'm OK with that. Ready for it, even. Bring it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quiet summer mornings.

When I opened one eye and punched the button that makes my bedside clock glow it was 5:56 a.m.

I won't lie. I only got up because I had to pee. Truth: I tried to ignore it. I pulled up the covers and turned off the fan hoping if I kept myself warm it would buy me a few more minutes in dreamland.

It didn't.

But 6 a.m. is no longer the beast it once was to me. These days if I get up at 6 I could have a good three hours to myself before the kids make a peep. We will slowly work ourselves back into the school-time schedule over the next few weeks, but I'm not going to think about that until after 8 o'clock. Right now it's my morning ... my quiet time.

Early mornings always remind me of my Grandpa B. I would spend a week or three with my grandparents during the summers when I was a kid. (Cue the rush of nostalgia ... gosh I looked forward to those visits!) I would sleep upstairs, so when nature called I'd have to make my way down to the bathroom in the dark, yet there would always be this glow of light creeping into the hallway from the kitchen. I would make my way out there, half stumbling, bleary-eyed and wild-haired, and there would be Grandpa sitting in his sheepskin-covered chair at the kitchen table, drinking coffee.

It felt like the middle of the night. It was probably six in the morning.

Even as a kid I could appreciate the smell of the morning's first pot of coffee. Of course then I associated coffee with old people. Go figure. (As I pause typing to reach for my own steaming cup.)

I don't know what my grandpa did at the kitchen table at that hour, other than drink coffee. Think about what he had to do that day? Make plans with Grandma for their next camping and fishing trip? Wonder how to keep this active youngster busy another day? Probably the ordinary stuff of life. No matter. The memories of those mornings will always hold something a little magical for me. Because somewhere in my mind I'm sure I thought Grandpa was up and shaved and hair combed and drinking coffee ... waiting for me. Looking forward to eating Grandma's fried eggs and bacon and toast ... with me. Making plans to pick up some strawberries at the roadside stand down the way ... with me.

Now here I am, enjoying the peacefulness of the morning, the time to sip another cup of coffee, finally able to appreciate Grandpa's (and Grandma's) early rising.

When I was in college I had a friend who always got up at 5:30, every morning. Not a morning person myself, I thought he was crazy and I told him so. You know what he said to me? "If you don't get up at 5:30 you miss the best part of the day."

The more times I watch the sun rise, the more I realize he was right. And ... dare I say ... these recent summer mornings hold their own sweetness now, too.