Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mrs. Halloween Scrooge

Once upon a time, there was a Halloween Scrooge. The untrained eye would never peg her as such for she loved candy and, as we all know, Halloween is a big holiday for the sweets; she had 4 children who seemed to have as much jolly fun as they wished to have; she loved going to pumpkin patches to select festive pumpkins; and she even smiled brightly when the neighborhood children knocked on her door for candy.

But deep, deep down inside, she was not a big fan of Halloween, and with each passing year, any enthusiasm she had for the day waned even more.

The evil in Mrs. Halloween Scrooge always surfaced first when it came time to buy costumes. "These silly things cost way too much," she would complain as loudly as possible at the store so that all customers might have the opportunity to ponder her astute observations. No matter what her children wanted to be for Halloween, she would try her very best to talk them into wanting to be whatever was cheapest.

This year, Mrs. Halloween Scrooge and her family were in the Arctic for Halloween, and this made the price of costumes anger her even more. If the costumes were to be hidden under coats and mittens and scarves and hats, really, what was the point? She even suggested to her oldest trick-or-treater that she skip the costume and wear regular clothes under her coat. Who would know? Surely she would get candy anyway.

While Mrs. Halloween Scrooge enjoyed hunting for and selecting the Halloween pumpkin, the carving of the pumpkin was another holiday element which brought the evil out of the old woman. The guts were stringy, stinky, and slimy, and carving hurt her poor, arthritic hands. This year, she had the children simply paint their little pumpkins.

Then, of course, there was the matter of the candy. Like costumes, candy is far too overpriced, and she complained bitterly about buying bags of it. Of course, she did not complain about the candy her children brought home in their buckets and often, after the lights were out and the children tucked snugly in their beds, she would sneak into the kitchen and steal candy from her own children's buckets.

Mrs. Halloween Scrooge was clearly in the wrong for this violation, especially considering that, this year since they were in the Arctic, she made her husband take the children out trick-or-treating. "It's too cold out there," she whined as she shooed the children and the husband out the door while she stood in the warm, cozy house in her soft, cozy bedroom slippers.

Of course the one thing that made Mrs. Halloween Scrooge smile in spite of all of her evil was seeing how cute her children looked all dressed up, their anticipation bubbling over into their twinkling eyes and big grins.

And even as Mrs. Halloween Scrooge sits in her warm, cozy house, her feet enveloped in her soft, cozy slippers, and ponders what the dentist is going to say at tomorrow's appointment, she can't help being just a little bit excited for the children and the husband to come back home. Once they're home, the children will inevitably spend some time sorting their candy, trading it back and forth, and of course begging for "just one more piece. Pleeeeeaaase?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

BFF with the DMV

You know you've been to the DMV one too many times when you tell the children to "go to their normal seats", and they know exactly what to do...when, if the workers were wearing name tags, you could spot 5 you know by name. Yesterday we made our third trip to the DMV. As I mentioned before, my first trip was useless. But I never told the whole story about my second trip wherein I procured my Connecticut driver's license.

The process to get my license was as follows: Wait in one line to get a number; once the number is called, wait in a second line to explain the purpose of the visit and to fill out paperwork; the third line is for an eye test; the fourth line is for the picture and payment; and the last line is to receive the license.

Line #1 and Line #2 were uneventful, but I was nervous by the time I plopped down in my seat to wait for Line #3. Part of this anxiety stemmed from the fact that I had just heard the commander of Line #3 bawl out a customer with an, "I can't help you. Have a nice day", which sounded a whole lot more like, "I CAN'T help you HAVE A NICE DAY!!!!!" Moreover, I was still reeling from the news I had received in Line #2.

The majority of my time in Line #2 was spent filling out a name change form. I said to the gentleman in charge of Line #2, "You know, I have been Mrs. P for 15 years. Are you SURE you need me to fill out this Name Change Form?" He was sure. So, while I was changing my name in what seemed like a twilight zone moment, I took the opportunity to ask some questions. I explained that I was anxious to get my CT license. I needed the license to secure car insurance. And we needed the car insurance in order to get license plates. I wondered about the cost involved in registering our cars with the state. He listed the fees: $125 per car just to register, PLUS a 6% sales tax on the value of each car. My mad math skills kicked in as I was half listening. "So that's going to be between $2500 and $3000?" I exclaimed. He nodded. "But we already paid sales tax on the cars in Georgia," I argued.

"But you never paid them in the state of Connecticut," he responded then added, "Welcome to Connecticut!"

And so as I approached the lovely man who commanded Line #3, I was pondering the fact that if "Santa" must spend his (or her) life savings just to drive his (or her) sleigh in the state of CT, the children may receive nothing but coal in their stockings this year.

"Read the numbers from left to right," the Commander barked. I proceeded to read the numbers from right to left because, in my mind, he must have been asking me to follow specific, rather out of the ordinary instructions. After all, English is still this country's language, and English is read left to right. So if he had wanted me to read it left to right, he would have simply instructed me to "read the numbers". So when I received specific directionals, I assumed I was to do something different from the norm.

He glared at me. "I said read it from left to right."

"Oh." I rattled off the numbers. "I do know my left from my right," I added and flashed him a wry smile. He wasn't amused.

Next I was to look at a line of signs and identify the one that appeared the closest. I almost giggled when I wondered to myself how the Commander would react if I answered, "The little triangle one", but then I thought that perhaps not being able to identify a yield sign might be reason enough to prevent one from obtaining a driver's license in the state of Connecticut, so I refrained.

Needless to say, by the time I reached Line #4, I was not smiling so my picture looks more like a mug shot than a photo. I suppose that's more appropriate anyway. When you get stopped, I know from experience you aren't really in the mood to flash the officer a giant, friendly smile. So really the mug shot on a driver's license is a much more effective tool to use when trying to prove identity.

So I had my mug shot taken in Line #4. Line #5 didn't take long at all, and we were on our way home to await Trip #3 to the DMV.

Between Trip #2 and #3 my husband did the dirty work of finding local car insurance for both cars. Remember that ticket we got on our way to our not Disney Disney vacation back in 2009? That ticket never increased our rates with the friendly people at the Georgia Farm Bureau, but apparently when you live in the Insurance Capital of the World, they get you for everything. The ticket did indeed make a difference, but what can you do?

Trip #3 to the DMV began with the Grand Search for a Service Station That Will Check Emissions. We finally found one and headed over with both cars. At the DMV, only 2 lines were required for this task. Mark took care of his car, and I took care of mine. It was quite painless actually, and we left with new tags in our hands, a fact that doesn't make me all that happy: I had campaigned for keeping our Georgia tags through winter with the hopes that other drivers would throw me a little sympathy on the snowy roads.

As we left, I bid the DMV good-bye with an, "I hope I don't have to see you again until I have to bring my 16-year-old daughter here for her driving test." But then I retracted that farewell because, well, I have asked my daughter repeatedly to stop growing up, and I hope this year she'll actually listen to me. If she does, that will mean she'll stay at 10, and that will be fine with me.

Oh, and that astronomical tax fee the guy in charge of Line #2 on Trip #2? Well, I was informed by the kind man on Trip #3 that since we already paid sales tax on our cars in Georgia, there is no reason for us to pay them again in Connecticut. Hmmm...who'dathunk it? Now I'm just waiting for that phone call: "Uh, Ma'am, we're going to need you to come back in. Dude at Line #2 on your second trip to the DMV had you fill out a Name Change Form. That was the wrong form. Didn't you think it was strange he asked you to fill that out when you have been Mrs. P for over 15 years?"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today was a really good day.

I'm a pretty outgoing person. But I have to admit, I'm a little bit in overload and so anticipating days like today fill me with just a little apprehension. Today's agenda included ice skating with a homeschool group, an activity that, by itself, filled me with trepidation since my feet have not seen the likes of ice skates in over 20 years. Then there was the DMV, which also filled me with dread; my husband usually takes care of ugly, mundane tasks like this. Last there was church. We have found a church to call home, and until tonight, I did not know a soul there. I wasn't even sure I would feel the confidence by the end of the day to do the whole church thing.

We arrived at the ice skating rink quite early so we could take part in the lesson that was offered before the free skate. I was wishing I had special ordered matching sweatshirts that said, "Don't laugh. We're from Georgia", but everyone was super nice and helpful, and besides that, we all did great. The boys caught right on, Alex gave it a try, and Audrey took several laps holding on to the little skate walker thing. I didn't do too poorly myself.

After the skating rink, we headed to the DMV. I groaned when we walked in because of the crowd. In the middle of the day. On a Tuesday. How can this many people have business with the DMV in the middle of a Tuesday? This wasn't my first trip to the DMV. I went with Mark a couple of weeks ago. Waited in line. Waited in the waiting room. Only to find out that I needed my marriage license to prove that the Kathleen M. on my birth certificate is indeed the Kathleen P. on my current Georgia license. So I returned today to wait in the line again. Then to wait in the waiting room. To stand in another line and to wait again. Then another line. And waiting. The picture. More waiting. Strangely, all of those lines and the waiting really didn't take all that much time. You wouldn't know that from the kids, though, who complained it took too long even though they passed their time doing their schoolwork.

The kids were rewarded, though. While we were at the DMV, a new friend I met last week at the pumpkin farm called to see if we wanted to meet at a park. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in Connecticut today, so the park was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. And the kids had a great time with their new friends.

After the park, we headed home to regroup and freshen up before church...which I finally talked myself into. And I decided to go for it all: we went to the meal and to the kids' clubs and Bible studies. This church is so large for its facility that middle and high school groups meet Wednesday night while the young children and adults have their classes on Tuesday nights. It will be a little tricky next year when we have a middle schooler in our midst, but we'll figure that out next year.

The kids all had a good time in their classes, and I had a wonderful time in my study as well. I met quite a few people, joined another homeschool group, and committed to attending a Sunday School class on Sunday morning. It will be easier now on Sunday morning to go to church and see a few familiar faces; Sunday mornings are when I have most felt the homesickness--it's difficult walking the halls of a church without seeing any familiar faces.

Familiarity is good. It's what makes home feel comfortable. Connecticut is beginning to feel more and more like home. Now if only they would build a Chick-fil-A up here!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stepping Out and Up Into the Cold

I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. I took my first steps today in embracing the freezing cold. The forecast said a high of only 49 today, which to my internal thermometer is very cold. So when a friend emailed to invite me to an annual hike up a mountain, I teetered a moment. Ordinarily, I would shrug off the opportunity knowing full well that mountain ain't going anywhere between now and next summer when the temperatures are more agreeable. But we are trying to make friends, and a field trip with a homeschool group is a good way to do so.

So we went.

And, yes, it was cold! I suppose I could just give you my Facebook status to best describe the event: Bottom of Talcott Mountain: 48 degrees. Top of the mountain: about 10 degrees colder. Wind chill: minus freezing-my-butt-off. But we made it, and the views were totally worth it.

The hike up Talcott Mountain was rather steep in places, and I worried about the possibility of having to hoist the Princess on to my aching back, but she was a trooper and didn't complain once. My other kids took off with new friends, and I barely saw them. At the top we got to tour Heublein Tower which has an interesting story.

The views from Talcott Mountain are stunning, and from the top of the tower a 360 degree view offers a glimpse of 1200 square miles!

Although the hike took a good 2 hours, the kids had a great time. As for me, I'm going to be sore in the morning, but I'm sure that frigid mountain air did my lungs some good.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Farm Life

One thing I love about New England is all of the farms. Although I had traveled to these parts multiple times over the years, I still somehow had the perception that the northeast is overcrowded. I guess the sad fact is that preconceptions like these die hard because I was pleasantly surprised when we moved up here to discover that it really is less crowded here than down south. Most homes are on a decent size plot; I suppose the idea of a “cluster” home like you find in any Atlantan subdivision is a more recent idea, and since the homes here are older, they still remain on their 1 acre tracts of land. In addition, since neighborhoods are older, trees are all aged and well-established too and add even more privacy for each residence.

It is common here for homeowners who might have a little more than an acre to start a farm. I get the idea it is almost a hobby. There are at least 3 such farms within a 2 miles radius of our home. Some farmers offer just “Fresh Eggs” while others have a good selection of vegetables. A couple of weeks ago, I was unable to find good, fresh corn at the grocery store, so on the way home, we stopped at one of the farms near our home. I had seen the sign day after day and was dying to stop in to pay a visit.

At the farm, I was able to browse the shelves of the little shack store all alone because the owner was not tending to it. I then selected the corn I wanted and put my money into the little box by the door. An easy and fun transaction, plus it afforded an opportunity to discuss honesty with the kids. “Can’t someone just come and take whatever they want?” they all asked.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit another farm. The visit to the Bunnell Farm was a field trip with one of homeschool groups I have joined.

I have to admit, it is strange walking up to a group of people I don't know; I am used to being the old-time homeschooler who knows everyone at every field trip. But this was a wonderful time for me to get to know some new moms, and the kids made some new friends too.

We started our field trip with a hayride, which included a stop at the pumpkin patch where the children were permitted to select a small pumpkin.

Then we received a tour of the farm, including a stop to see the calf,

a visit to the barn to visit the horses (and a loud rooster who was trying his best to steal the show),

and information about turkeys. This farm has about 100 turkeys. Customers can stand at the edge of the coop, select the turkey they want to appear on their Thanksgiving table, and the farmer will take care of the rest.

Following the barnyard tour, the kids got to do the corn maze. It was a rather elaborate one that took the kids about 45 minutes. I made the wise decision to sit the maze out along with the Princess because I did not want to be carrying her through the last half hour of the maze. Surprisingly, my three kids along with a new friend Alex met were the first kids to successfully exit the maze. And they had found the answers in the maze to all of the trivia questions, a feat that even some of the teenagers did not accomplish.

So it was a successful day at the farm. Seeing as how I can't even handle a puppy, farm life obviously is not for me, but I sure do enjoy getting to benefit from all of these New Englanders who find joy in it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Old House

I'm prefacing this entire post by saying that we are incredibly blessed to have found such a great rental home. It's quirky, yes, but absolutely way more than adequate for our family.

The vet who took Daisy came over to our house a few days before the drop-off to meet her. "Wow! What a nice area," she commented. "It's lovely to see such new homes!" The home we are renting was built in the '70s. Having built our home in 2005, this home to us is old. I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

If you'll recall, this is the home that had the Dog Smell. Well, we certainly did not help it out at all with Crazy Daisy, but we purchased an ozone generator, and we are slowly but surely, room-by-room, eradicating the smell for good. The cat thanks us for that.

Our home is quite a large one and, in fact, has two front doors because it underwent a major addition years after it was built. The addition added a garage which is deep enough to house 4 cars.

Although we do not own 4 cars, we have made very good use of the extra garage space for storage. Above the garage is an unfinished, very large bonus area. We are not using this area for a number of reasons. First, the owners are using it for storage. Second, a rather precarious stairway leads up to the bonus area, and we aren't quite sure how to get to the local ER yet. Last, there is an odd hook and chain thing that hangs from the roof in the bonus area. I am not sure I want to know what it was used for in times past, but I can think of two mischievous boys who would be happy to re-purpose it. So the area is off limits.

We also do not venture into the basement. At least I don't. It's dark, musty, and creepy. The kids go down every now and again to play ping pong on the table the owners left. I have actually made the trip down a couple of times to check the oil level on the ancient oil tank that fuels our heat.

As for the part of our home we actually inhabit, it has lots of character. One of the things I find most quirky is all of the different flooring. If I'm counting right, there are 12 different kinds of flooring, 7 of them downstairs. There are these two different kinds of carpet in two adjoining rooms. No threshold, no transition of any kind.

Then there is this area where 3 kinds meet and are broken only by the marble threshold.

Then of course there are the light switches. There are numerous light switches. In every room. In some rooms, there are 3 switches that turn on the same light. The kitchen alone has 3 different light zones, and each zone has 1 or 2 switches that control it. There are many switches that we have not yet figured out. Then there is our room. As you walk into the room, there is a little panel where a light switch should be, but there is no light switch. Instead, the switch is way over on the other side of the room, over by the far window. I'm sure it would not be difficult at all to turn that panel into an actual switch, but since this is not our house, we will not fiddle with the electrical wiring.

"If this was our house, I'd...". That is a common phrase in this house. It's not our house so we won't make any changes, but we are enjoying living in it. Our favorite place to hang out is our kitchen, which is open to a small living room with a fireplace.

There is a lot of counter space in the kitchen, and the countertop bar seats six (someone knew we were coming), so we eat all of our meals in here. Of course, there is no commercial grade stove/oven here, but the double oven is a lifesaver, and the stove will do.

The dining room is right off the kitchen, and this is where we do school. Since it is off the kitchen, it is very convenient. There is a lovely window that looks out of the dining room onto a HUGE deck.

I suppose we might make use of that next summer. What we won't use is the above ground pool. We had them cover it. I do not like above ground pools, and I would hate to be responsible for someone else's pool. It's surprising how many people here have pools. They use them for what? Two months out of the year? And what's even stranger is that fences are not required around a pool. Not good to have the liability.

Anyway, the downstairs half bath is around the corner from the dining room. And, tada! It's a multi-purpose room. Yes, that's a toilet. And, yes, that's my washing machine. I bet you don't have a Half Bath-Laundry Room in your house!

Another favorite place is the very large living room. It is also a multi-purpose room: a gym, a library, a piano room, and a theater. OK, so it's not a theater. Our theater chairs are in there, but our other theater stuff is packed up. But our
laundry holdertreadmill is in there as is our keyboard. If only I could find the piano books. And this room has a fireplace like the smaller living room.

Off of the living room is yet another multi-purpose room. It serves as my office, a guest room, and the laundry staging area. And, yes, that is a curtain to the left of the picture. There is no door on this room, so it is not officially a bedroom, but I threaded some curtain panels on a tension shower rod and voila! A "door".

There is also a little room/closet off of the office/guest/laundry staging room that I use to store school stuff and the kitty's potty.

That is downstairs. Upstairs are 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Which I'm not going to show you because the kids rooms are a wreck, and we still have a couple of boxes in our room, and I really want to maintain the perception that we are entirely together and are totally unpacked.

So, we are very comfortable here and very happy to have this house available to us. We'll see what happens in a year. Then we will decide where we want to be. Most likely, we will move close to whatever church we eventually call home. All of our married life, we have been 30-45 minutes from our church--we have never lived where we live, and I want to change that. So once we find a church, we will better be able to choose a city in which to live. One thing I thought would never come out of my mouth is that I would love to own an old home, and not old like from the 70s but old like from the early 1900s. My oldest daughter is not at all happy about my campaign to own some history, but until she offers to pay the mortgage, we can go as far back in history as we wish!
**I stole a couple of these pictures (the 2 pics of the front of the house and the deck picture) from the real estate listing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have become very taken with New England. So a day of exploring was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Although we had very gusty winds, it was a beautiful day for us to head to the shore.

The drive there was beautiful; honestly, I'm in awe every time we step out the door. My children just roll their eyes and ask, "Are you going to take a picture of every tree in Connecticut?" Someday they'll grow to appreciate the beauty God lays out for them in this world.

I love this area of the world, and I cannot believe I spent 37 years oblivious to it. I know I said this before--OK, several times--but the landscape is amazingly beautiful. And it's not just the autumn colors (which are phenomenal!). There are places like this one 1/4 mile from our house where the view is just breathtaking.

The history of this place has captured me as well. The town where Mark works was established in 1645. I can't believe it - 25 years after the Pilgrims landed! In great excitement, I often reiterate this to the children. Again, one day perhaps they will appreciate things like that. I love the old architecture that is everywhere, the fact that not a single house is like the one next to it.

Numerous hardwood trees form dense forests everywhere, forests that bring Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken to mind. And all of the charming stone walls, of course, make his Mending Wall come alive.

I love it that there are mountains (or probably more appropriately called "hills") everywhere, yet the beach is only 45 minutes away. I love all of the interesting stores and restaurants. There are not as many chain establishments here as in the south, but that really doesn't bother me; it's fun trying all of the new things.

Of course, one chain definitely has a presence here is Dunkin Donuts; there is one on every corner. Literally.

The one thing I don't like here? There are no Starbucks with drive-thrus. I may have to give in and become a Dunkin Donut customer for that fact. But if all I have to do is give up Starbucks, I'm OK with that.

The one thing I know you're thinking, though, is, She hasn't gotten to winter yet. And, you're right--I'm still a little bit terrified about the fact that there is already snow in Canada and Vermont, and we're not that far from either. That means we'll probably start seeing it in a month, but you know what? I know it is going to be beautiful here when it snows. So, I plan to just embrace it, enjoy its beauty, and have fun playing in it with the kids.

Mark said to me last night, "If we hadn't been living here yet but had taken the drive we took today, you would have been saying to me the whole time, 'Let's move here!'". I know he's right.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Simple Phrase

Mark asked me this evening if this feels like home. I didn't hesitate in saying yes, but I followed my answer up by voicing a strange feeling I have that, on the one hand, even though we've only been here a month, it feels like home; on the other hand, it is strange because we still don't really know anyone. I have met lots of wonderful people, and I therefore can match some new faces to their names, but I don't know any of them yet. Additionally, although I can now arrive at several destinations without the aid of the GPS, I'm doubtful I know the routes well enough that I could direct anyone else to those destinations.

It is home. A simple phrase which sounds surreal to me because I never would have imagined it. In fact, if you had asked me 3 months ago for my Top 50 Places I Would Like Live list, I can almost guarantee that Connecticut would not have been on there. But after experiencing life in New England, I can't believe I never considered putting it on The List. It is amazing here. I love the charm of the little towns nestled in the trees, the homes hidden away in the hills, the little mom and pop shops that serve each little township. And besides all of that it is absolutely beautiful here! The outside is splashed with colors I never knew existed on autumn trees, and the setting for those trees is just lovely.

Nothing is flat here (which I know will present a whole new problem when I set out to drive in the winter). And there are parks everywhere. Numerous little hiking trails are tucked away here and there in every direction. Besides the outdoor possibilities, there is so much to do here. If I wanted to, I could schedule a field trip everyday.

Then there are the people. Stereotypically, a northerner is abrupt and rude. I have yet to meet someone who matches that stereotype. (Well, unless you count the guy I almost ran into at the corner of B- St. and J- St. I turned left in front of a line of cars because the front car was turning right on the street where I was. The guy behind him got impatient and tried to go around him at the same time I was turning left. I guess he wasn't all that angry because he waved at me. Poor guy, though--he was missing all but one of his fingers. I smiled to let him know I forgave him for crossing the double yellow line.) Everyone we have met here is extra friendly and bends over backwards to be welcoming and of help.

So, do I miss my old home? Of course I do. I miss the familiarity and, most importantly, the people who were, and still are, such an important part of our lives. But I'm happy here, and I look forward to growing a familiarity here and to getting to know the people who will hopefully become an important part of our lives here. It is home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God's Perfect Timing - One More Thought about the Pup

One of the first thoughts that popped into my mind when we first heard the Big News was, Oh, well that's why we were never able to sell the house! Throughout this whole event, I have been constantly aware of God's hand over, in, and through it. And, believe or not, even the acquisition of that crazy dog was His perfect timing.

After plans were underway for the move and I began to realize how extra crazy life was with the dog, I wondered about the timing. Why would God have brought this dog into our lives knowing we were about to embark on such an adventure of transition? It didn't take me long to realize the answer was that because of this dog, I woke up consistently at an early hour during that month prior to our move. And each morning after enjoying a few moments of the peace and quiet of the early morning sky and the waking of the birds, I would spend time with God. And it was during that time I received the absolute peace about all of the crazy events in my life.

If you know me, you know I am not generally peaceful about craziness. In fact, this move would have been the perfect opportunity for me to Freak Out. But I felt peace like I have never before experienced in a situation like this, and I know it was because of those early morning moments with God.

So I know that Crazy Daisy had her purpose in our lives. And now I hope she brings joy to this other family for whom she is filling an empty spot. It was hard for me to give her away in spite of my big sigh of relief. One of my biggest regrets was leaving the kids without a canine friend, although I'm not sure they were all that traumatized: I had tears streaming down my face in front of all of the receptionists, vets, vet's assistants, and customers at the vet's office where we dropped Daisy off, and in the midst of our doggy good-byes, Jacob nonchalantly asked, "What's for lunch?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Kathleen Got Her Groove Back

I'm finally ready to talk about this. The whole ordeal has been both a relief and a heartbreak. I think I made the decision the morning I was standing outside in the monsoon in my pajamas and bathrobe. Gales of wind were blowing the sheets of rain horizontally under my umbrella thus soaking my PJs and robe. It was cold and being soaking wet in the wind didn't help.

I had spent the night downstairs near the dog crate. The dog was on her third bout of diarrhea, and I needed to be near in case the urge hit her in the middle of the night. I did not want to have another 3am cleaning of the crate like I had experienced during her first bout with diarrhea. So the night had passed (uneventfully, thankfully), and here we were outside in the storm. I knew she had to go. But she wanted nothing to do with it. Apparently, Crazy Daisy wasn't too fond of the elements either. And there she sat, water dripping from her ears, her puppy dog eyes imploring me to take her back in.

"Not until you've gone," I told her. "I know you need to go." She started to shiver. And just then a school bus full of teenagers drove by. I'm sure they had fun tales to tell at school that day of a bedraggled housewife and her stubborn dog.

It wasn't just her chronic problem with the runs that made her the most difficult part of our transition to our new home. The main thing was the fact that our lives were forced into revolving around this dog. We'd be out at church or running errands. "We need to hurry home. It's been 5 hours. The dog can't hold it much longer." We would be planning a great outing--"We can go to NYC for a couple of days" or "A day in Boston would be so much fun". But then it would dawn on us. The dog. No 1 or 2 day outings. And no one up here to take care of the dog. True, some new friends offered, but I couldn't pass on a squirty dog to friends, especially new friends. And what if she developed the squirts again while at a kennel? I had visions of having to return early from fun family trips to pick up a runny dog from the kennel.

Then there was the fact that our lives at home revolved around this pooch. Even though we kept her in her crate when we absolutely needed some sane time to ourselves, she had to come out some time, and that time was spent trying to rescue kids' toys from her or cleaning up shredded Kleenex. I am convinced the canine was half-Hoodini; even though the cat box was gated off, I would lose track of her for 2 seconds and find her feasting on cat yummies. Lovely.

It wasn't all on me. I divided the day into shifts and gave one shift to each of the 3 older kids. During his or her shift, the responsible child had to hang out with the pup, keep her out of trouble, and take her out to potty. Turns out pets actually require work. Who knew? There was lots of whining, complaining, wailing, and gnashing of teeth: "Is my shift over yet?" "Can't I just put her in her crate for my shift?" "Do I have to do my shift?"

I know I've mentioned this before, but I LOVE the idea of a dog; I just don't like the reality of a dog. And my kids are the same. Once they realized how much work a dog requires, they weren't quite as enthusiastic. I suppose I was just as naive. I grew up with many, many pets--dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, bush babies--but they were never that much work. They were outside pets, and we missionaries had house help who could care for the animals when we were on vacation. There was never a worry. Having a pet here in a America--especially a dog--I just don't see how people do it. We just could not live happily with our schedule being dictated by a dog.

Don't get me wrong. Daisy was a fabulous Doodle. But she was all puppy. Anyway, I ended up calling a rescue number and asked the operator if she knew of anyone who was interested in a labradoodle. Within 10 minutes I received a call from a vet who said she knew a family who had just lost their doodle, and she was pretty sure they would love to have Daisy.

So, long story short, Daisy has a brand new home. And life is much easier here at home. I miss her though...with my heart anyway. My common sense tells me I am much happier with my newfound freedom to go where I want to go for as long as I wish. And to not have to go out in minus 1000 degrees to wait for a dog to pee. Yes, I have definitely gotten my groove back. And I think the cat has as well; she is happy to be queen of the house again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Roots Run Deep

Maybe it's because I am adopted and have no way of knowing my biological heritage. Or maybe it's because I grew up so far removed from family. Whatever the reason, I have never given all that much thought or interest to my family roots. But today was a fascinating day of digging deep into the ancestral roots of my husband's family.

Mark's dad was born and raised in Connecticut, and his family made quite a name up here. His father was known for his chicks...of the poultry kind. He owned and ran a successful hatchery. And in his generosity, he donated my father-in-law's childhood home to the Baptists of CT. It was my grandfather-in-law's vision to see the development of a place for the elderly, and so the P- Memorial Home was established and renovated in order to accommodate a nursing facility.

Today we had the opportunity to visit the town where my father-in-law grew up. We stopped first at the little town museum, which features a wall of information on my husband's grandparents, the hatchery business, and the homestead.

 After a stop at the cemetery to visit the grandparents' graves, we were then treated to a beautiful luncheon at the retirement home followed by a tour of the home.

The second and third floors of my father-in-law's childhood home have not been touched, so we were able to see his bedroom,

run our hands down the bannister he slid down numerous times, and get a feel for what life was like back in the 1930s.


 Following our trip to the Memorial Home, we stopped by another home which, from the outside, just looked like a normal home. Arrangements had been made with the current owners of the home to visit because this was the home Mark's great-grandparents owned and one which they then passed on to Mark's grandfather. He took his new bride there.

Although the interior of this home was a mess, the preserved history was absolutely amazing. The house was built in 1782, and much of the original interior is still intact. From the flooring and ceiling beams to the doors and fireplaces, even the smell of the home, you could just feel all of the history in that home. The current owners are farmers, and the orchards in the back stretch out over an amazing view.

The beautiful fall colors, amazing sunny day, and intriguing stories all made for a lovely, perfect day. And we came home with a couple of bags of apples straight from the orchard.