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Bringing Home Puppy: First Six Weeks

#newpuppy #puppymamaistired #puppy #love #writingaboutit

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It’s been six weeks since we brought our new pup home. Tonto is four months old! I can’t believe how much he’s transformed since PICKUP DAY. The days and weeks have rolled through in a blur. The piled-up laundry is mostly under control, so I’m at a good place to reflect on the new-puppy journey thus far.

 
I lost a lot.

 
Sleep mostly. Yes, I’ve lost lots of sleep. Navigating through the trenches of both crate and POTTY TRAINING contributed to my lack of Zzzzs. Puppies are like small children: no matter what time they go to bed or how many times they’ve been up during the night, they will awaken at the same time each morning.

 
I lost my bed. In the beginning, the first couple of nights, I actually slept on couch cushions pushed next to the crate. I sang to Tonto when the midnight moon peeked through the living room curtain, and again at one and two a.m. Gradually, in nights that passed like shift work, I moved to the couch. A couple of weeks later, to the next room. By the end of the month, after pulling out the baby monitor from storage, I even slept in my own bed. That would prove to be short lived though. Future post: CRATE CONFINEMNT

 
Writing time? Me time? Let’s not even go there. 😦

 

I’ve also lost tangible things. Why? Maybe my mind is mucky and worn-out. I don’t know really. It’s so unlike me. Most notably, I lost my favorite lip gloss, a cheap pair of sunglasses, and something else that I really can’t remember.

 
I lost my breakfast at least twice. From dropping, not the unsettling gastro way. The last time was after a long night spent calming the pup. I’d managed to make the youngest child a decent breakfast the next morning, rushing to get her to school on time. While trying to lock the backdoor, hold the leash, and carry my stuff—including a perfectly made avocado toast that I’d only managed one bite from, I lost it. The toast hit the ground greenside down. Tears sprung to my eyes as I quickly scooped the mess up into a poop bag, knowing that avocados are not allowed for pooches.

 
That was probably one of the lowest moments of the first month. Sleep deprivation can make anyone feel lost. Forgetful. There were a couple more tear-worthy moments. MOMENTS. But, the hours and days and weeks of what I have gained make all the bad moments so worth it.

 

I’m exercising more (even lost a few pounds). Family time has increased beautifully, revolving around the puppy. We’ve met a lot of new dog and human friends, forcing this introverted, more-of-a-cat-person momma out of her shell.

 
I’ve gained and lost focus. Other than checking email on my phone sporadically, I did not open my inbox on the lab top for FOUR weeks! I missed several school volunteer and/or donation requests. When several big boxes from Amazon arrived on my front porch, I realized I’d forgotten to skip the monthly “Subscribe and Save” orders. On the flip side, I’m re-learning how prioritizes when time is short or the puppy is sleeping. I actually made a decent Costco run in forty-five minutes flat, including checkout, while my daughter was nearby at an hour-long, rock-climbing class.

 
The pup has definitely given me a refresher in patience, too. I can only imagine the combined hours I’ve spent walking around the yard in damp socks saying, “potty.” TEETHING pain and the FIRST EMERGENCY VET VISIT have both been enlightening. We’re still in the throes of the former and just recovering from the latter.

 
But the doggedness has paid off. I see glimpses of the rewards yet to come. Perspective is what I’ve gained the most for all I’ve lost. I have a little fur buddy now. A fluffy tag along. And when he looks right into my soul with those deep brown eyes, I know that I am found.

 

 

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Bringing Home Puppy: Naming

 

IMG_20180402_131939563#puppy #namingpuppy

It’s hard not to name something that you love. Like I said in the last blog post Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting, just from watching videos and looking at pictures of our pup, my girls and I had already falling for the fluff bucket. So a week or two before meeting him, the entire family started suggesting names. And lots of them! My goal was to have the list down to five names before meeting the first time. That didn’t happen.

Here’s the longlist:

Lincoln
Moose
Shadow
Reeny
Neo
Zorro
Sirius
Pepper
Powhite
Chief
Smokey
Einstein
Took
Huckleberry
Fosco
Farkle
Rolo
Thorin
Zero
Frodo
Rohan
Zeus
Caesar
Gimli
Bandit
Apollo
Poncho
Wookie
Augustus “Auggie”
Tubby
Pippin
Odysseus
Odin
Odus
Gilly
Samson
Griffin
Gandalf
Arrow
Atticus
Ace
Titan
Merlin
Gizmo
Stemzee
Tonto

Second Longlist:

Shadow
Zorro
Tonto
Smokey
Huckleberry
Frodo
Zeus
Caesar
Poncho
Wookie

Having been shortlisted and longlisted in my writing, I can appreciate the beauty of the short list. I think the family and I did a good job in culling the selection.

Caesar
Frodo
Smokey
Tonto
Shadow

We met the puppy! Our puppy. FUTURE BLOG POST COMING! Without further ado, the pup’s name is:

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Bringing Home Puppy: Nesting

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The little guy we’re meeting!

Nesting. Some may not know that term. My ninth grader didn’t, so I explained what it meant to “nest.” To prepare for the arrival of a new little one. The washing of tiny onesies and stocking up on wipes. Some to-be moms clean as well. I was always more into the shopping and preparing of things though. This time is no different.

But there is no baby joining our family. No. Those days have long past for this momma of four (knock on wood). We are bringing home a new puppy soon! The crate has arrived. The snacks and food have been researched and secured. Leash, check. Bowls. Blankets. And my youngest has found her calling in picking out dog toys. Hence the need for a nondestructive toy bin ASAP.

We are an allergy-prone family, so this new addition is HUGE for our family. Between us, there’s asthma, eczema, food allergies, latex issues, and a plethora of environmental allergies. Enough to keep us buying Nasacort and Allegra year around. Two of my children are allergic to dogs. Most every dog. This has been an issue of sadness, not only for the allergic ones but the non-dog allergic as well.

My oldest daughter started researching “hypoallergenic” dog breeds many months ago. I tried not to encourage her, knowing that allergens are found in more than just the fur. In time I became cautiously hopeful, yet still doubtful, watching her search from the sidelines. Eventually, I was doing my own searching and asking of questions. From Goldendoodles to standard poodles to schnauzers, we considered them all. Greyhounds even. None seemed like a perfect fit though.

Then my daughter suggested a breed that I’d never heard of: Native American Indian Dog (NAID). I googled for pictures and was very suspicious. The dogs were/are beautiful, stately even. Compared to the breeds found on most “hypoallergenic” dog lists, there appeared to be a mistake. The NAIDs—and off-shoot varieties like the Native American Shepherd (NAS)—have a dense coat that is either short or long-haired, supposedly shedding only once a year. The discovery seemed too good to be true.

Evidently the NAID is a newer breed, a kind of designer mix to resemble what native dogs of America looked like long ago. Online there seems to be some contention about what those long-ago dogs did or didn’t look like. But I wasn’t too worried about all that. We just wanted a dog that would work within our family. Something we could love that was fluffy and cuddly, but tolerable allergy wise.
Some NAIDs have a wolf-like appearance, but they have the same wolf lineage as any regular dog. Alas, some breeders of wolf hybrids, or wolf dogs, are possibly using the NAID name/resemblance to more easily sell hybrid pups in states where wolf dogs are illegal. Always check out a potential breeder extensionally.

By mid-February, I’d started reaching out to breeders and people who actually owned NAIDS. The testimonials regarding allergies were all the same. Something magical started to happen: the impossible seemed possible. Maybe. At least it seemed worth the risk of trying: heartbreak and disappointed kids.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of finding a NAID in need of a home at a shelter is probably next to zero. There aren’t many breeders of NAIDS in the US. After more research, I settled on a NAID breeder about eleven hours away. I liked that she didn’t plaster a hypoallergenic guarantee on her website. Being an allergy mom for so long teaches you that there are no guarantees. What works for us may not work for other dog-allergic families and vice versa. Our breeder was just as cautious. We exchanged many emails, texts, and lengthy phone calls. I felt confident my family was on the right path. Having allergies in her own family, the breeder understood our dilemma and was willing to work with us in our pursuit of puppy ownership.

There’s a chance our puppy won’t be coming home with us. If one of the kids react to the dog, it’s all over. The dream shattered. We all know this. It’s THE thing we all know but keep hidden just behind hope. I want the hypoallergenic claims to be true, but we shall see. I’m an optimist, but still, wishful thinking cannot change everything.

While waiting for the big day to arrive, we’ve watched our puppy grow quickly through photographs and videos. I believe it’s possible to grieve something or someone you’ve never held. Love is a tricky thing. So even though nesting is underway and travel plans have been made, we might come home with empty arms. Pickup day will either be one of our family’s best days ever or one of the most disappointing. I keep this fear folded away and focus on researching the complexities of new puppy decisions. Collar or harness? Shot schedules. Rawhide or nylon for chewing?
Stay tuned! Updates to follow.

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A Good Mother Would’ve . . .

It’s February again, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m sure the holiday is welcomed by romantics, but not so much by this clutter-minded momma of four. Especially not this year: It’s my youngest child’s last year in elementary school. My baby girl is growing up. There’s to be no more class parties where sticky-cupcake fingers exchange obliged valentines. Bittersweet. I’m trying to maintain a semblance of parenting perspective.

Two years ago, when my daughter was a third grader, she taught me a lesson in planning ahead—being prepared. I was in the kitchen, hurriedly slopping together a late dinner when she said, “Momma, don’t forget I have to take in a decorated box with my valentines tomorrow.”

“Valentines?” I rummaged through a stack of school papers on the counter: Father-Daughter Dance invite, spiritwear order, the soon-to-be-late soccer physical, donation requests, and an urgent plea for Box Tops. Near the bottom, I found it. I glanced over at the calendar. Darn it. She was right. But in my mind, Valentine’s Day was still floating faraway in next week somewhere. A good mother would’ve remembered.

I turned down the stove, then rummaged through the recycling bins until I found a shoebox. I plopped the box on the table and reminded my daughter where she could find the construction paper, glue, and tape. I returned to cooking while she assembled her shoebox—unaided, other than help with the scissors. She patched her box in various shades of blue and created a kitten of sorts on the top; its mouth cut open to receive the cards. It was simply beautiful, completed all on her own. But still, we had no Valentine’s Day cards. It was very cold outside, and I’d just spent two hours at the grocery store not four hours earlier. So we ate our dinner and went to bed. A good mother would’ve run to the store for valentines or stayed up late making homemade hearts.

The next morning, after I got the high-schooler fed and out the door, it was time to wake the middle-schooler. My first daughter. Some mornings she’s delightful and thoughtful, but some days, like this day, she was totally unreasonable. From wanting to wear shorts in eighteen-degree weather to the food she was not going to eat, everything was a battle. By the time her carpool ride pulled up, I was emotionally drained and still wearing pajamas. That’s when my third grader ambled down the stairs, rubbing sleep from her eyes. I remembered then! Hastily, I got us ready and out the door. No time for breakfast. A good mother would’ve made the time.

At the nearest store, the boxed valentines were nearly picked clean. It’s no longer acceptable to give out just valentine cards; kids expect candy now, too. We continued looking, hoping. Most of the remaining valentine-candy combo kits had the dreaded warning: “May contain peanuts or tree-nuts.” Finally, I spied a lovely box of “Tootsie Pop Valentines.” The ingredients read safe! I smiled down at the promising, colorful images that plastered the packaging: butterflies threaded with sucker sticks. Simple, but cute. We checked out and left hurriedly—and hungry. I’d forgotten to buy a package of string cheese and mini muffins like I’d planned. A good mother wouldn’t have let serendipitous luck derail her plans.

We stopped at McD’s to eat and label the valentines. We walked carefully in the parking lot, avoiding icy patches, only to realize at the door that I’d forgotten the class list and permanent marker in the car. After navigating the ice again, finally, we settled into a booth near the cashier counter. I left my daughter at the table to start assembling the cards and suckers while I ordered. After paying, I looked over and saw her making funny faces—arms waving wildly. And then startling words reached over the short distance that separated us, “There’s no cards! Only candy!”

I slid the tray of food onto our table, and then studied the sucker box. Near one of the endearing butterfly images, in the tiniest of print it read: “Use your own cut outs with the enclosed pops.” I had nothing but a box of regular suckers. I turned one over in my hand, hoping for a writable place on the wrapper, but nothing. Time was ticking loudly in my head now. I looked at my disappointed daughter’s face and wondered if skipping school would be an acceptable option. Damn it. “Okay, look. This is what we have—suckers and a Sharpie—and we’re gonna have to make it work. Write the names on the white sticks of each sucker.” She printed the miniature names as instructed, while I marked each completed child off the list. Our food sat on the tray getting cold.

Fifteen minutes later, I was driving us to school, sipping my cold coffee at the lights. My daughter finished her breakfast sandwich. Time still seemed doable—maybe we’d only be slightly late. But then, I turned the corner and saw the surprising line of minivans and SUVs. I pulled to the side of the road. “Let’s walk,” I said. We jogged instead. A good mother would’ve anticipated the loads of box-carrying kids not riding the bus.

I got my third grader to the school door just before the bell rang. She flashed me a sweet goodbye smile. I watched until she disappeared into the long hallway, then turned and headed back to my car. While walking through the parking lot, I noticed some things: shouting mothers pulling their kids along, late kids popping out of minivans, and several little red faces streaked with tears. Many carried elaborately decorated valentine boxes that were just too perfect, too precise. Too pink. My child went to school happy with her self-made blue box, filled with unadorned suckers. Even though I’d goofed in preparing for Valentine’s Day, it got done. And maybe my daughter learned a few things too: improvisation, making do, and just how to go with the flow. Cluttered mind or not, a good Mother did well.

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This year’s box.

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Culture Shock, flash fiction by Jane Boch (MY SWEET WORD Series)

I love this piece by Jane Boch so much that I need to re-blog it right now! This is a fantastic piece of flash fiction! Thanks for sharing it, Silver Birch Press. 🙂

Silver Birch Press

japanese pastry

Culture Shock
by Jane Boch

Carla no longer trusted chocolate. Her bite into the filled pastry contorted her face with sourness and disappointment.

“Bean paste,” Evan said, laughing.

Carla forced a swallow. “You knew?” she accused.

Carla would be in Japan for three weeks. She hoped this trip would propel her into an engagement with Evan, a U.S. Naval Officer, or prompt them to end the long-distance relationship. She couldn’t imagine marrying a man whose career demanded replacing chocolate with the gooey pastiness of mung beans.

A walk in Evan’s hilltop neighborhood led Carla to an overlook of the bay. Turning from the water view, she glimpsed a sign picturing a loaf of bread. Inside the shop, the fragrance of freshly baked goods, arranged on racks lining the walls, reminded her of the bakery in her hometown. She asked, “Sweet?” while pointing at a croissant topped with sugar.

The baker…

View original post 200 more words

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When

What a great micro-read to start the week with…

Oblong

 

By David Bussell

 

When the waiter poured the man’s wine and offered a casual ‘Say when,’ the man did no such thing.

Instead he watched, steadfast as the wine filled the glass, until eventually it found the rim and overflowed onto the tablecloth. The waiter cocked an eyebrow as if to say ‘Play fair, sir, say when,’ but the man remained staunch as the wine cascaded off the sides of the table, soaking the carpet and pooling at their feet.

Soon the wine collected around their ankles, then their shins, and still the man said nothing. Sweat beaded the waiter’s brow as the wine flooded to the edges of the restaurant and began pressing at the windowpanes. Say when, the waiter’s eyes screamed. For God’s sake say when! The bottle faltered in his hand but still the man said nothing, so still the wine flowed.

There was a…

View original post 111 more words

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The first few words…

 

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What I wish to write about today, actually happened a couple of months ago, just as school was ending. It was my last day to assist in the middle-school library of my son’s school. It was also a scheduled testing day for many students, so the library’s book section was closed.

My job was to man a mobile book site: table, computer/scanner, and a rolling cart full of randomly, librarian-selected books. I was ready. Yet, as the minutes ticked by the halls remained silent with only an occasional squeak of shoes or hushed whispers, but no customers. I tried reading the book I’d brought along, but alas, I was bored. And that was when I had the great idea to conduct an experiment.

I had seventy-nine books on the cart: all fiction books, and all middle grade or young adult in content. My testing method was simple: pick up a book, look at the front cover, skip the synopsis and/or any prologue, and then read only the first paragraph. If the book caught my attention in that opening paragraph, it earned a spot on the top shelf of the cart.

At one point the librarian came out into the hallway to check on me. I noted the quizzical uncertainty on her face and felt compelled to explain why there were books stacked on the table, and an oddly empty book cart, especially the top rack.

What did she say? She gave me a furtive high-five as only a librarian could, and with a conspiratorial smile claimed that I was, “a girl after my own heart.”

With the seal of approval upon me, I quickened my pace–an hour and a half passes quickly when you have a timed goal to complete. I can’t describe what I thought I was looking for, but I knew that I’d know, or feel, it when I read it. I finished with literally minutes to spare before my shift was over.

My top shelf was full, and overflowed into the second tier of the cart. It was difficult, but I narrowed my list down to the top twenty-one titles, those that most surely grabbed me from the first few lines. IMG_1748

Here’s my list:

1)Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

“The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up.”

2)The Lightning Dreamer(written in verse–added commas to note line breaks)by Margarita Engle

“Books are door-shaped, portals, carrying me, across oceans, and centuries, helping me feel, less alone. But my mother believes, that girls who read too much , are unladylike…”

3)The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

“The first time I seen her, I got a bad feeling inside.”

4)The & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

“I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks.”

5)Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“It was April and all Monticello was stirring, but in their cabin Mama had just put baby Maddy down to sleep and she told Beverly and Harriet to be still.”

6)Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

“When my mother died I imagined God was thinking, ‘One down, and one to go.’”

7)Taken by Edward Bloor

“Once you’ve been taken, you usually have twenty-four hours left to live.”

8)Number 8 by Anna Fienberg

“I think the best number in the whole universe is eight. The way I see it, eight has everything going for it. It’s even, for a start.”

(The first eight are in ranking placement, however the remainder are not in any order of preference.)

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Spitting Image by Shutta Crum

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

by Erin Dionne

Kill Switch by Chris Lynch

Gone by Michael Grant

The Looking Glass War by Frank Beddor

The Battle of the Labyrinth

by Rick Riordan

Door in the Woods by James Dashner

London Calling by Edward Bloor

So what did I learn?

IMG_9826Those first few lines are so important, but they don’t have to be complicated. They are the gatekeepers into the story, and only need to stand tall, firm and, singular. Be inconspicuously vague in the everyday details, but brazenly unique in the special stuff. Intrigue the reader into the tale. Don’t hold back. Make me extremely curious!

Keep the words simple, but the thoughts so precisely complex and revealing that they belong only to this story, character, and/or moment in time. What you say must ring true, and if you try too hard, add too much, too soon, you’ve lost me.

The first paragraph, or the beginning, should offer a promise. A timeless connection between the reader and the writer (or narrator) should offer an invisible contract of whispered truths to come.

Personally, I prefer first-person narration in stories (and most of my writing). Less than a handful of the above-mentioned books were written in third-person POV. But maybe that’s just me. Interesting though!

Updates:

Obviously, I’m not too good at keeping up with this blog. However, I do “write” blog posts, but mostly in my head–although I’ve taken notes, and at some time in the future plan to share them. Right now, it seems more important to write, and finish drafting my current project, Sky.

Speaking of Sky, I’m in the process of its transcription into computer files, as well as drafting and expanding the story along the way. My goal is to be done with this process around the time school starts, and then move onto a hearty round of editing.

The poem I posted last year on this site, “Shame,” will be published the week of August 24th via a great site: http://www.thevoicesproject.org! Oddly, I receive the most random traffic to this blog because of that poem, so I wanted to have it officially accepted/published somewhere before someone plagiarized it off my site (It happens!).

I have one non-fiction short story and one new poem out there in the world, awaiting either rejection or acceptance. At this point, I still have naïve hope that both will be given the latter.

One of my planned, upcoming/someday blog post will be about my writing group. I started the small group at the beginning of the year, just for local moms. It’s been such a great experience and a wonderful way to promote more writing in my life, as well as to encourage other moms.

I’m still reading as much as I can, for fun and to improve my writing. I’m almost done with Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home–there’s hidden wisdom between the lines.

That’s all, folks! For more frequent, less loquacious updates, please like my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/ShermieRayne?ref=hl
or
Twitter @ShermieRayne

 

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The End!!!

 

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This is my completed rough draft of SKY, an upper-middle grade novel about a young-teen girl contemplating the burden of living, in a world that is unkind.

Well, it is sort of “the end!” I’ve completed my first novel-length rough draft! Yay! And, high-five, super-duper yay!!! I’ll admit I’ve been smugly smiling to myself the last couple of days with acquired accomplishment bubbling inside. 🙂

It is emphatically wonderful to announce this news, especially since I’d slowed my writing pace toward the end. There was a vague sense of uncertainty plaguing me. Despite knowing the ending and what needed to be written, an unexplainable fear held me from crossing the marathon’s finish line. Thankfully, I pushed past that fogginess and made it to completion.stock-vector-colorful-vector-runner-silhouette-background-with-butterflies-152366162But in reality, I just began another long *marathon. Because now my task will be to transcribe my handwritten draft into computer files. This step will not be nearly as exciting. Let’s just say I hated typing class in high school. A lot! I anticipate many grumpy moments ahead at the laptop. However, I’m equally impatient for the editing and rewriting/revising to begin. I’m not sure if this is a realistic goal or not, but I hope to have all of this accomplished, and a completed 1st draft, by July 1st. I want to rest the files a few months before nitpicking the heck out of them when my kids return to school. Plus, summers are so important to me. I cherish that time with my kids.

 

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*I suppose I should clarify and say a half-marathon, for my book is an upper middle-grade novel of roughly 45-50K words in length.