Category Archives: Kids

Good News – Well, For Me Anyway

Twice before in my life in corporate America, it has been rough times.  Nothing quite like this, but for the travel industry, tough.  After 911, with all the airlines shut down and folks scared, everything went very quiet in my division for several weeks.   The second time was the recession of 2009, when companies thought that having incentive programs would make them too “visible”.  All the bank programs went first (even the banks that never took monies from the government), but many followed suit.  During both of these times, management was very serious and a vice president actually said out loud that it wasn’t a time for happiness.

I’m feeling the same right now, as if joy and happiness have been outlawed and I think this is more stressful for me than the general situation.  So it is with trepidation that I announce I am experiencing some happiness right now.

When YA was six, we took that vacation to Maine for the Machias Blueberry Festival.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  I journaled, took photos and collected postcards, placemats, brochures and anything else I thought could be useful in a scrapbook.  When we got home, I found a good supply of stickers and doo dads at the craft store; I already had a good supply of rubber stamps of lighthouses – I’ve collected them for years.

I got the scrapbook designed and in the first month or so, I managed to get about a third of my material mounted and decorated.  Then things got busy and I put all the items in a black wire basket that eventually got shunted to the top of my studio bookshelf.  As YEARS went by, I often looked up at it, but never felt like I had time to really dig back into the project.  Well, I have time now, so last weekend, I pulled the basket down, dusted everything off (cough, cough) and got to work.  It took me a bit to figure out the font I had been using and I spent about an hour sorting everything out, putting things in piles by location and eventually finding a scrap of paper in the bottom of the basket that I had used to record where we had been each day.  Gold.

So I’m happy to announce that finally, nearly 20 years later, the Maine scrapbook is finished.  I was on a roll, so I also did two little scrapbooks for Rhiannon and Zorro as well!  I have all three of them in my bedroom, where every time I notice them, I get a little thrill of accomplishment.  Wondering if I would have such a good feeling about the scrapbook if I had actually finished it 20 years ago?

Any projects you’ve been putting off for far too long?

Birth Announcement

The Birch Aquarium is throwing a baby shower!  They have just welcome two very rare babies – weedy sea dragons.  Apparently sea dragons  are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the aquarium has been trying for years.

Sea dragons, as you can see, look like little flotsams of seaweed and are actually distant cousins to the seahorse.  The Birch actually acquired their first sea dragons after years of successful work with other sea horse varieties.  In the wild, most sea dragon species call the waters of Australia home.

The two new additions are about an inch long and will feed primarily on shrimp, like their parents.  At this point, it is now known the gender of the babies; according to the Birch, they “likely won’t know until they reach sexual maturity in a few years. “This bit of sea dragon news caught my eye because we have sea dragons at the Minnesota Zoo; we’ve had them for years, so I didn’t realize they were rare.  In fact, while YA is joyfully trailing her hands in the shark/ray pool (which she can do for a LONG time), I almost always wander over to watch the sea dragons.  Their alcove is kept dark and they are mesmerizing as they float through their habitat, their “weeds” floating gracefully around them.

Do you have a favorite exotic animal?

Frenzy of Pie

It’s a pie trifecta here (hope I’m using that correctly).  Stuck in the house, a little blue (working at home is not growing on me yet) and have lots of pie ingredients hanging around.

Last weekend I made a blueberry pie for YA and a pear croustade (fancy way to say pears in puff pastry).  Then a couple of days ago, a blender lemon pie (SO easy).  Yesterday I made a peanut butter cream cheese whipped cream Reese’s pie… not sure what the actual name is.  Over the weekend, there is apple crumble to be made and I might make another of the blender lemon (it went fast and I still have lemons).  My neighbors on either side are benefitting from this frenzy.

Of course, I’m also doing other dishes for comfort.  Made a pizza on Monday, roasted cauliflower on Wednesday, hash brown parmesan “cups” last night.  YA has requested tomato soup… I still have tomatoes in the freezer from last summer so that’s do-able.  Might have to make a quick run to the store for onions and garlic.  I think I might do ramen pad thai too.

I know we’ve talked about comfort food before, but anything you’re craving this week?

Speed

Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from Ancestry.com that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.

 

Mentor

I was so hopeful. For 15 years I have been the only therapist at my agency, indeed the only therapist working west of the Missouri  River (100 miles to the  east) and south of Williston  (a 2 hour drive north) who does therapy with young children. My colleagues all seemed to profess a profound fear of the under-5 crowd and would not treat them, referring them all to me. I plan to retire in about 18 months. I worry about my region’ s littles, and who will see them when I am gone.

Last spring we hired an older,  master’s level social worker who was excited to learn play therapy and who was excited to read all the materials and books I gave her. I supervised her with her cases and she really got it. Now, due to personal issues with her significant other, she is moving to Colorado.  Sigh! It is back to the drawing board and profound hope that someone will show up who I can mentor and support to treat children.

Who have you mentored? How did it work?

Declaring a Moratorium

This is probably petty, but I have decided that I will never again eat shrimp.  I made a similar declaration about carrots when I was so short that I could walk under the kitchen table without stooping.  I remember it with absolute clarity.  I was standing  under the kitchen table, facing the east wall of the kitchen which bordered on the back yard, when  I made the decision. I must have been 2 or 3 years old. I remember saying to myself  “I’m not going to eat carrots  anymore.”. There was no precipitating event. I just decided that I and cooked carrots would part ways.  I think I was just exercising autonomy  and independence at the time, and I remember refusing cooked carrots for many years. Then, sometime in Grade 2 I just decided to eat them again. I was fortunate that no one ever insisted that I eat anything I didn’t want to eat,  and I was encouraged to cook for myself at  an early age. I love cooked carrots now.

I dislike the taste, texture, smell, and harvesting practices of shrimp, especially the harvesting practices.   They are so destructive  to the environment.  Most people I know love shrimp, but I do not.  I do not think I will change my mind about this. There many other fish in the sea.

What are some irrevocable decisions you have made? What moratoriums have you declared? What fish do you like or not like. 

Rhianny-Boo

Almost 15 years ago, we had been dog-less for several months (after the death of Tristan, who was crazy, I need a bit of breathing space). Then that summer, YA and both decided it was time.  We debated and debated about whether to get an Irish Setter or a Samoyed, although we both wanted to try for rescue dogs.  There were two rescue organizations that had good reputations, one was Play it Again Sammies in Wisconsin and Save our Setters in Tennessee; we filled out the paperwork (miles of it) with both and said we would see who came up first, a Sammy or a Setter.

Rhiannon was about a year old and had actually been found in Alabama. After a few weeks of posted notices, no one had claimed her so she went to the rescue organization in Tennessee. Even though I was technically waiting to be approved, when I saw her photo on the SOS site, I called them and after a couple more phone calls, they agreed that we might be a good fit for her.  A volunteer drove her from Tennessee to Chicago and then another volunteer from Madison, drove to Chicago to get her.  Then YA and I drove to Madison on a Saturday morning to pick her up.  Except for that photo online, sight unseen.

The volunteer didn’t want us to come to her house so we met in the parking lot behind a steak house on Highway 94. I felt a little like somebody was going to show up wearing a big overcoat, whip open the coat and say “pssst, you wanna buy a watch?  Or an Irish Setter?”  My first words on seeing her were “Oh, she’s so little.”  In fact, over the years, many folks have assumed she is not a setter because of her size.

But that little body held a huge Irish Setter mentality. All toys were hers; she didn’t destroy them or even play with them much, but they were hers.  She would pick up a toy or lay down near one and none of the other dogs (or cats)  were allowed to have it.  All food was hers; over the years we had to move the trash totally out of the kitchen onto the back porch and also to lock the organic recycling.  She could open ANY trash container, including our current one that opens with a motion detector.  Food left on the counter was completely hers – just a month ago, she ate half a recipe of ginger cookie dough while it was waiting to be set on cookie sheets.  All dog beds were hers.  For the last few years, there have been two dog beds in my room, a red one and a blue one, same make and model.  If Gwen or Nimue laid on one of the beds, Rhiannon would get up and move over to the taken bed, shoving the inhabitant out.  Once she laid right on top of Nimue before the kitty could get out of the way.

And stubborn. Oh my stubborn.  Despite having passed two dog training classes, “come” was optional in her world, as well as “stay”.  Only if it suited her.  We have a dog gate to keep her out of the kitty box, a dog gate to keep her upstairs at night, dog gate to keep her in the breakfast room during parties (she once took a cookie right out of the hand of a toddler.)  And although every single treat I ever gave her over the years was accompanied by a stern “gentle”, she never mastered the art.  Grabbing was her thing.

After 15 great years, filled with treats, walks and lots of spoiling, Rhiannon has gone onto that big dog park in the great beyond. She’d been struggling for a month or so and really went downhill the last couple of weeks.  My feeling has always been that I don’t spoil my animals for years to let them suffer at the end; over the weekend it was clear that she had finished her journey and it was time for me to let her go.  All of her “queen-of-the-world” attitude aside, I will miss her gentle eyes and beautiful red fur.

Any good animal stories to cheer me up today?