Today is a lazy summer day due to the rain and nothing pressing on my schedule for the day. Not all summer days are like this but many are now. It’s one of the things I treasure about summer, unscheduled days to do as I please or do nothing at all. This morning as I sipped my coffee with a sleeping puppy on my lap Facebook reminded me of past events on July 24th which made me think about writing a Before That Slice of Life.
July 24, 2018
Sipping coffee, puppy sleeping, rain arriving soon.
Before That . . .
July 24, 2017
Breakfast in Venice on a silver tray, train to Verona, gelato in the rain.
Before That . . .
July 24, 2015
Packing up memories, starting a new chapter, first dinner at our new house.
Before That . . .
July 24, 2014
Caribbean sun and a shady palapa with my love.
Before That . . .
July 24, 2013
The nest was full, the sun was shining, reading on the deck with Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Before That . . .
July 24, 2009
Painting shutters by day while taxing to and from the golf course and theater rehearsals.
For the most part time spent scrolling through Facebook posts can be a huge waste of time but it is fun to look back on the memories. Some would have been forgotten without the reminders. I have no idea what might have happened on July 24th in 2016, 2012, 2011 or 2010 but it’s fun to be reminded of the other events. I often don’t look back fondly on the summer of 2009 because all I recall is trying to paint 28 shutters while taxing Thing 1 and Thing 2 to their various summer activities. Today, Facebook helped me to see that time in a more pleasant light. It’s funny how your perspective can change.
If you’re a Summer Mom shuttling your kids to and fro counting the days until they go back to school take some time to enjoy your time with them. These days don’t last forever and while you will enjoy your new found freedom you will miss these days. Take some photos and write some silly Facebook posts so you get a reminder of days gone by in the future and think about what was happening Before That . . .
This has been my summer vocabulary as I train my now 12 week old puppy, Milo. We’re currently practicing “Settle Down” as I write. This means I’m sitting with my foot on the middle of a six-foot long leash ignoring the chewing monster on the other end. He is supposed to be sitting quietly at my feet. Instead he’s gnawing on the leash, the leg of my pajamas or the underside of the chair I’m sitting in. We’re supposed to practice this for 30 minutes. It can be a struggle.
Puppy training is exhausting. We take two steps forward and one step backwards all day long. Milo has learned many things over the past 4 weeks. He knows his name, he sits on command and he comes when called. These are huge milestones in the life of a puppy. He still has a lot to learn and some days are better than others.
Yesterday was one of the more challenging days. My knitting bags live in the rocking chair now, my computer cord is laced through the chair and around the top of the table so my computer can charge and my new math materials are stacked on the couch to protect them from puppy teeth. I’m still working on keeping him from chewing the stone on the hearth, the legs of the coffee table and the rocker my husband made entirely by hand without the use of power tools.
I know this stage is short lived and all this hard work will eventually pay off. He actually has “Settled Down” as I write and he’s looking up at me and melting my heart. Training a puppy is a lot like teaching. There will be great days and not so great days, strategies that work and ones that don’t and struggles that lead to success and growth. Focusing on the success and growth is the key to staying motivated and moving towards the end goals.
For now I can’t resist the puppy licks on my toes, or is he gnawing on the carpet? It doesn’t really matter because it’s time to grab the umbrella, put on my Muck Boots and head outside. There’s no indoor recess when you’re puppy training.
Meet Milo! He joined us last Wednesday. He’s keeping me pretty busy but he has been a wonderful addition to our house. A part of me forgot what puppy training is like. He and I are both exhausted by about 10:00 p.m.
Our days are filled with playing, training and running in and out of the house to learn about where to go to the bathroom. He’s doing an amazing job, or at least he has me trained. He hasn’t had an accident in the house yet but I’m waiting for it.
I think his dog mom trained him to use the bathroom outside because it hasn’t been much of a struggle to get him to do this. His sister Zoe learned to go on paper in the house and it was a long 6 months of house breaking that caused me to hesitate about getting a puppy. The day we brought her home appeared to be the first day her paws ever touched grass. On the other hand, Thing 2, his girlfriend and I met Milo running around his yard happily with his mom, dad and two brothers.
Puppy rearing is much like having a toddler. My day is now scheduled around Milo’s sleep/wake cycles. Thankfully he’s taking after Thing 1 and he’s been sleeping through the night since his second day at his forever home. We spend time chasing balls and gnawing on rope bones so he doesn’t gnaw on me with his sharp puppy teeth.
I’m working on being the Alpha Dog but sometimes his cuteness is hard to resist, but I must. The problem with having a toddler at my age is that’s it’s not as comfortable to sit on the floor anymore and the getting up off the floor is not a graceful act.
My summer plans are pretty well set now. I’ll work on the projects I have planned in short snippets while he naps. I schedule my outings in 3 hour increments for now so he gets used to being in the house alone. So far so good there.
We’ll go out and explore the world together so he gets socialized. We’ve met several adults so far but we need to spend time with the neighborhood children and other dogs as soon as it’s safe for him to be around other dogs.
Every experience is new for him. Some are exciting and some are scary. Our car trip yesterday to his dad’s office was a little scary. Well need to work on that one. I just hope he’s ready when it’s time for Summer Mom to go back to school in 2 months.
His dad set up an Instagram page for him. You can follow Milo if you like. It’s all about social media these days!
I’ve been Summer Wife (click to read one of my earliest blog posts from about a year ago) for five days now and I have come to the realization that the house is truly empty. So, maybe yesterday was the first day I was actually home alone because my husband took Friday afternoon off but things just aren’t the same this summer without my girl Zoe by my side. We lost our 14-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel back in February and at the time I was convinced I wouldn’t get another dog until I retire. I started looking for a new dog Saturday morning.
I know there are lots of great dogs waiting to be adopted through rescue agencies but we are really attached to Cavaliers due to their awesome personality. We also want a puppy because we’ve had a crazy dog in the past and we don’t want to live through that again. Finding a Cavalier puppy is not an easy task. The fear of getting a puppy from a puppy mill is high and Cavalier breeders can be persnickety. The breeder we bought Zoe from has one puppy right now but she is non-responsive through email which is the only way we know to contact her. She’s trying to decide whether or not to keep the puppy so she can show it. We’re hoping she discovers some giant flaw in the dog soon so she can be ours.
In the meantime I’ve been searching the internet and contacting everyone I can find in a 250 mile radius looking for puppies. I’ve found many but I’m cautious about how the puppies were bred and how they are being raised. I’ve sent Thing 1 to investigate a breeder an hour from where he lives and I have a day trip planned tomorrow to visit some puppies near where Thing 2 lives. I just don’t know if the time is right. I wake up in the morning thinking I’m crazy for getting another dog. What will happen when I go back to school? Will he/she be able to be alone all day? My school hours are changing next year and I have no idea what my schedule will be like. I will need to leave home much earlier but will I be able to get home earlier? There’s many unknowns.
Life is full of unknowns though and fretting about them isn’t profitable. I’m looking for someone to talk me out of this, to tell me I’m crazy for bringing a puppy into my life right now but I’m not having much luck. I blogged about test driving a car recently and most of my friends and co-workers were convinced the post was going to be about a dog. I did get a new (used) car and several comments about needing a dog.
I’m not sure what the future will hold but you can only look at and visit so many adorable puppies for so long before giving in. Maybe I should stop the search cold turkey so I can resist. I’ll spend my summer by the pool reading or knitting rather than chasing a puppy around and trying to housebreak it before going back to school. Only time will tell whether or not I give my heart to a new four-legged friend. Stay tuned!
Tomorrow brings the end of the best year of my 20 year teaching career. It’s bittersweet. I love summer but I’m not ready to say goodbye to the amazing group I was blessed to have in my classroom this year. We ended our last full day of school today with a Readers Theater performance for parents. We also shared three pieces of writing we published this year. I hope I am sending this group off with all they need to be successful 3rd graders but more importantly I hope I’m sending them off with a love for reading, writing and learning.
I tried to instill a love for writing in my students by introducing them to slicing. I didn’t want to take on blogging with my 2nd graders but I wanted to give my students a space to write that had nothing to do with standards and assessments. I made Slice of Life Journals for them to give them freedom to write about anything they wanted to write about.
Recently, one of my students came to me with a huge smile on her face and said, “Look what I made at home!”
As I flipped through her homemade Slice of Life Journal my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t believe what she had created all on her own so she could slice at home.
My 23 2nd graders have left an indelible mark on my heart this year. I hope I’ve left a mark on them. I hope they will take slicing with them when they walk out my classroom door tomorrow afternoon. I’m not sure I’ll be able to read Julie Danneberg’s Last Day Blues without shedding a tear tomorrow, but I’ll try.