Monthly Archives: September 2008

When Your Pet is a Genius

Why write about your kids when your pet provides such exciting fodder for posts?

As I believe I’ve mentioned, we are thick in the midst of house training Tessie, our gorgeous Cockapoo puppy. I’ve read lots of books and articles on this, and tomorrow we are even attending a free “Potty Training” seminar at our local Petsmart, which should be interesting.

One (or possibly more – it’s hard to keep them straight now) of the things I read about house training suggested hanging some bells by the door you use to take your dog out to “go”, and give the bells a little ring every time you take them out. Well, a friend sent me some bells, which arrived on Saturday. SInce then I’ve been faithfully giving a little jingle every time we head outside. I did have to raise them up on the second day because she was playing with them. But she’s left them alone since.

Until last night. When she rang the bells after we’d eaten dinner. She even had to reach up a bit to do it. So I let her out. And lo, she peed!

Today she has rung those bells on three separate occasions – the first time she headed out and pooped, and the next two times she peed! Isnt she a genius?? And can you believe you are reading a post about dog shit?

Who’s Training Who?

Today marks the one week anniversary with our new puppy, Tessie.

Have I mentioned how utterly adorable she is? And how sweet? Well she is both, in spades. We just love her.

Our biggest challenges right now are:

  • House training
  • Chewing
  • House training
  • Chewing
  • House training

And did I mention house training?

I am working from home for two weeks to facilitate the house training. I can already tell that is way too long for me, and way too short for her. I am starting to feel a little cabin fever-ish with being home all the time! Next week I have a conference to attend for work one morning, so I will be gone for half the day then….should be interesting.

At 10.5 weeks old now, the books say Tessie should be able to go roughly 2-2.5 hours between pee breaks. And yet, we probably head outside every hour, and sometimes more often. I have learned her signal as to when she’s about to go, and usually manage to divert her outside. But of course there have been accidents, usually when I am not paying attention (only once right in front of me). I think I’m the one being trained here…

We also started a Puppy Kindergarten class this week which is the first time I’ve ever attended formal training with a dog. I am very committed to doing whatever possible to have the most pleasant, well-behaved dog I can.

The other dirty little secret I have is that as much as she has brought into our home, I’m feeling very stressed out, and I’m taking that stress out on my children, in sometimes unfair ways. I need to be more conscious of that. And stop it!

Never Discuss This at a Dinner Party

Yep, they say there are 3 topics you should never discuss at a dinner party – sex, religion and politics. Me? I think that’s old school, since I’ve been at some dinner parties with very interesting discussions on those topics, especially if everyone stays respectful. I guess sometimes that’s a big if though.

I saw this test over at Rambling Mom’s site, and since I always thought of myself as a “Liberal Republican” or a “Conservative Democrat”, I was very interested to see what the quiz would reveal about my political leanings. Imagine my surprise:

You are a
Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an…

Economic Liberal
(35% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

All moms need something to help them keep their sanity. For some it might be a great purse, a cool kitchen gadget or their daily cup of coffee. Hmm, let’s see, I don’t own a purse, barely cook (although I do swear by good knives), and can’t stand the taste of coffee (the smell? that’s another story! yum!).

As for me, I couldn’t live without my DVR. I could be a walking commercial for Tivo, or any cable service offering. I love it so much I want to sing from the rooftops! How do I love my DVR? Let me count the ways:

  1. I can record pre-approved shows for the kids to watch when we’re actually home (since I have not found any appropriate shows for them that air between 5-8 pm)
  2. I can record MY shows, and watch them on MY schedule. This relieves all the pressure of getting the kids down before that 8:00 show starts. If something happens and it’s 8:07 before I come downstairs, no problem! That recording is already started and waiting on me! Try doing THAT with a VCR, when you’d have to wait for the whole show to finish recording, then rewind, to watch. (and hope you didn’t have another show scheduled to be recorded after that!)
  3. And I might even wait till 8:20 or so, so I can zip through the commercials, and still end the show on time!
  4. With my dual tuner, I can even record two shows at once! Or record one show, but watch something else live on another channel. Priceless, I tell you!
  5. I find I’m rarely watching anything live these days, except for sporting events. But if I miss a play, or need to answer the phone, or use the facilities, or get a snack, I can pause. Pause live TV! So awesome!

I could go on, but I don’t want to make all my other appliances jealous. Sure, I could use my scant evening alone time to do something more productive like clean my house, plan meals for the week or read. And some evenings I even do some of those things, for a little while. But I would not want to live without that DVR, which has been life changing for me.

What about you? What can’t you live without?

This post was inspired by Parent Bloggers Network and Yoplait Kids, the makers of that yummy yogurt that kids just love (Belle in particular is a big yogurt fan!) and it has 25% less sugar than other kid yogurts. Less sugar in my kids? I can live with that!

When Spelling is Everything

Krystal is in second grade. As in first grade, she has a spelling test every Friday. They get a list of words on Monday, along with other homework. The other homework is due back on Thursday, and the spelling test is Friday morning. I like that we have the week to manage the work. It’s easy enough that if we have a lot of time one night it can all be done then, but we can spread it out too. Though I suppose that might mean it’s not quite challenging enough. But on with my story!

On Wednesday night I gave Krystal a practice spelling test with her list of 18 words (nearly double the first grade list!). She missed 4 words, and had a total meltdown over it. She wanted to retake the whole test then, but I could see how tired she was (pretty good detective work, eh?) and suggested we do it the next night. Oh no, she wanted a “smiley 100 percent” now! Well, not tonight.

Thursday morning she spelled the words orally as we got ready for the day, and again this morning. I knew she could spell them all, I knew she was “ready” (one of the words), but there were also a few I knew could trip her up if she went too fast or didn’t stop to think.

When I picked her up at school, the first thing I asked her was about that test. She claimed she hadn’t looked at it yet, but pulled it out for me to look. It was marked 17 out of 18 correct, but the missed word, everything, was spelled correctly. Except, it looked funny to me. The “er” had an erasure underneath, and was written with a lighter hand (or pencil). I asked her about it and here’s our conversation:

K: You’re allowed to erase during the test, everyone does.

Me: Well of course they do, honey. That’s fine. But this word is spelled correctly on this paper, and yet your teacher marked it wrong. Did you change it after she handed it back?

K: No.

Me: Well, it looks funny. See these letters?

K: It looks funny?

And then the landscape of her face changed, and she admitted that she did change it after she got it back.

I asked her why she changed it, but I waited till later. At first she thought I was asking because I was going to tell her teacher, but when I assured her I would not, she said it was because she knew how to spell the word and she wanted it right on her test.

Maybe so. But I have to say she was really quite sincere with her story and the only reason I kept questioning it was the physical evidence didn’t match. She will totally have the ability to snow me if I have no information to refute what she says. I am in trouble.

She’s Home!

Welcome to our crazy, chaotic little family, Tessie!

Yes, that would be her sleeping on my feet last night! And we got her yesterday, rather than today, since I decided I needed someone to drive me so I could have her sit in my lap on the way home, and the only person I could find to do it could only do it yesterday. I didn’t tell the girls about the change in plans, so they were extra thrilled when I showed up to pick them up last night with a puppy in my arms!

Some challenges:

  • I haven’t actually had a puppy since I was a child – my dogs as an adult were all over a year when they came to me
  • I’ve never crate trained a dog (when I first heard about it around 10 years ago I was appalled – I’ve learned to see the benefits over the years however)
  • My kids are way too excited to really participate in the training process, meaning things are a bit stressful for me

Some Delights

  • She is freaking adorable!
  • She is so sweet!
  • She loves people! Especially me!

So far I have to say parenting a new puppy is very similar to a child, which has its plusses and minuses for me. Anyway, stay tuned as I’m sure you’ll be hearing lots more about her in the future!

Back to the Dog

So, I said I’d come back and tell the back story on the name drama of our new puppy.

Krystal named a stuffed animal Boston about a year ago, and I commented that I thought it was a great name for a pet. She initially wanted to name our chinchilla Boston, but we ended up going with Joey, which I think fits him better.

When we started thinking about puppy names, I began a list of names. And then I read “The Art of Raising a Puppy” by the Monks of New Skete in which they talk about choosing a name. They suggest a one or two syllable name ending in a long vowel sound (e.g. Nemo, Cookie), or a short a sound (e.g. Anka, Olga). I realized our list needed to be revised, so I went back to the drawing board and came away with about 10 names each for boy or girl pups.

So when we arrived at the house to look at the puppies on Sunday, Krystal and Belle wanted to know their names. The owner explained they really weren’t named, “except for these two”. Those two were named Matt and Pip. Krystal identified Pip as her favorite even in the sleeping pile, and as it turns out, that is the one we are getting. I had brought my list of names with us, but Krystal had ears for Pip only. I was sure I was going to see my name choices disappear.

So we got home and I read through all the names again, and it’s funny how once I gave over some control to the girls that it clarified my favorites. And I was pleased when it was a fairly easy selection to choose Tessie.

Now, I’ve made no secret of my love for the Boston Red Sox, and as it turns out, Tessie has a Boston connection. I showed this video to the girls after we chose the name, and now they love the name, and the song.

In which I pull my hair out — again!

This must be our year for pests. Which does not bode well for us with the upcoming addition of a flea magnet dog.

First, let me assure you that I am a reasonable housekeeper. I sweep the kitchen daily, wipe down counters and tables, and do not leave food out. My bathrooms are also kept clean. Not lick-the-counter clean, but passable. Or so I thought.

For the last nearly two weeks we have had what I have finally decided is a fruit fly infestation. At first I described them to a friend as “fruit fly-like” because they seemed to be bigger and faster than the previous versions of fruit flies I’ve been in contact with. But after exhaustive searching with your favorite search engine and mine, I must conclude they are indeed fruit flies. The mystery is – what is their food source? Also, why are they in my bathrooms???

Last Friday night I opened a bottle of wine and had a glass. I used my new Mickey-head cork for the remainder and left it on the counter. The next morning I discovered the (already existing) flies absolutely loved my wine. Either that or they are big Mickey fans.

So after my foray into the annals for ways to combat these creatures, I set up a trap. I cut the top off a 2 liter bottle of soda, poured some wine** in the bottom, and then put the top back in, upside down, creating a “lobster trap” for them. But this generation of fruit flies must be a lot smarter than the ones around when this suggestion was posted, because all they are doing is swarming/landing on the edge, and not venturing inside. And certainly not drowning in the liquid that I have treated with a drop of dish soap to break surface tension.

I created two more smaller/simpler ones by simply pouring a little wine** in a plastic cup and covering it with plastic wrap with a few holes punched in the top. These have been placed in the bathrooms, and I was surprised to discover several flies on the inside of the wrap within a few minutes of placing them. But still they are not getting down in the liquid and drowning, the little suckers!

So, calling all fruit fly experts – what else can I do?? And if you have any ideas on a hidden source I’ve overlooked, please, please, please tell me what to check! I must repeat – we have no fruit whatsoever!

** In case you are wondering, the wine used in the above-mentioned traps is cheap Wal-Mart wine. No true wines were harmed in the making of these traps.


We pick her up on Friday.

Because we have a lot to do to get ready for her! A shopping excursion for supplies, puppy-proofing, more dog training reading. And time to think about the enormity of what I’ve signed us up for!!

I’ll write about the name drama in another post.

You Want to Buy What???

My mother likes to congratulate herself for the great job she did in raising me to have a healthy respect and appreciation for money and credit. And while it’s true that I that the only debt I have is my mortgage and I use credit cards only for convenience (and rewards), I’m also not quite sure specifically what my mother did. Whatever it was, I want to do it, and more with my kids.

When your kids want you to buy something you don’t want to buy, what do you tell them? I’ve tried saying “It’s too expensive”. “We can’t afford it”, “That’s junk”, or “That’s not in our budget right now.”  But Krystal has been known to say “Just go to the ATM”, or “Use your credit card.” And this has actually sparked some really teachable conversations about how the money gets into the ATM machine, and that I actually still have to pay for everything on the credit card.

Krystal is 7, and when she was 5 I started her on an allowance. This lasted all of about 2-3 weeks as I either never had the correct change, she didn’t ask for it (leaving me to believe it wasn’t that important to her), and she didn’t seem to really “get” the Save/Spend/Share model I was trying to work with her on (I bought these little banks to help out with that).

Here’s my dilemma: I want my kids to have their own money. I want them to do jobs around the house to earn it. But I also want them to do jobs around the house because that’s part of being a family and things need to get done, even when there is no money involved. After all, I don’t get paid for putting my clothes away, doing laundry, making dinner, etc. It’s the balance that still eludes me.

I know that once money is in a child’s hand it’s “theirs” (or should be), but I still struggle with control issues there. I cringe at some of the choices I see them wanting to make. Krystal tends to want to buy videos, but never has enough money for them, so she settles on some trinket that ends up getting lost or broken, or will beg for candy which I don’t allow (we have plenty of candy in the house that I pay for!). Belle is drawn to colors, so she’s still happy in the Dollar Store and for her the thrill is still more about “paying” than “buying”.

So how do you teach your kids about money? Post about it over at Parent Bloggers (before midnight tonight!), and check out the new MoneyWi$e tool from Capital One about teaching your kids about money. Hey, maybe I should take my own advice on that!