Thursday, December 30, 2010

Puppy Chow

In the busy atmosphere of the holiday, our home has not maintained a puppy-proof status. Elliot is gradually learning the concept of sacrifice while he picks up the remainder of Ozzie's midnight snacks. It is a testament to Elliot's patience, to his loving attitude and caring heart that he has not complained about the material objects lost. I am proud of my son for his patience with his new puppy and his acceptance of Ozzie's behavior. Overall, our family has been amazed by the puppy's intelligence and unconditional love. Born in a remote location to an owner who passed away, Ozzie and his litter had no human contact for the first three months of their lives. His siblings all died of Parvo. He's the last surviving member, born in the wild, yet shines in his willingness to be a part of our family. We have watched in amazement as he demonstrates a knowledge of basic obedience commands. He's also surprised us by playing fetch, rolling over, shaking paws and playing tag. We've had some issues with bathroom habits but he's now on day three of no accidents.
But then I am a little worried about his digestion...
Although tasty and satisfying to eat, the following can't feel very good on the way down!

New Slippers from Santa

Plastic Ski Goggles

Bakugon Battle Gear

The entire contents of two fish food containers

and one winter boot that we can't find...could he have eaten the entire thing????

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


In my past, the turning of a new year brought a sense of loss, isolation and hopelessness. Living in Michigan meant that each December 31st was a long, dark, freezing night that came with snow and ice. Ice meant that it was dangerous to go out. When I was first married and living in a remote corner of the woods, I remember preparing for the last night of the year by shopping for cheap snacks to comfort myself. I knew not to expect more than an evening watching the citizens of New York celebrate under lots of lights and a glittering, descending ball. My young adult holiday was nothing like the New Years of childhood, when our Polish immigrant neighbors invited friends to celebrate in their home, made cheery with a fireplace, lively with music, a bar, a pool table and magical for children with the animated Hobbit playing on a color television.
The last two years have been different. Finally able to travel on the dry roads in mild North Carolina, my husband and I have taken the kids to celebrate in Raleigh. This is an act of love by my husband, who always has to work on New Years Day, made excruciating after driving 90 minutes in the wee hours to get home. I want to thank him for doing this because our new tradition is something we look forward to and talk about at times when the holidays are not even remotely on our minds. Going to Raleigh for the First Night festivities also takes the pressure off the idea of the perfect Christmas. If things don't go perfectly on December 25th, we always have New Years to look forward to!
And this year, the day after Christmas, at 7:30 am, our power was lost due to the massive east coast blizzard. The perfect Christmas is always out of reach for our family, no matter how much we plan and prepare. This time we had to forget the celebratory feeling of leftover holiday food, toys to assemble and books to read, in order to hunker down for a night in our home without heat.
With packages opened, the paper cleared, we are now celebrating the simple comforts of modern living; our safety, electricity, water and forced air heat.

So, back to this business of New Years celebrating. Even in the best of circumstances such as dry roads and mild temperatures to lift our moods as we stroll the lighted, festive streets of Raleigh, there's the resolutions to consider.

In 1412, resolution in Middle English meant "a breaking into parts" which came from Latin, "to loosen."
Perhaps this is one reason why we "loosen up" with champagne after "breaking ourselves into parts" critiquing the things we want to change next year.

Resolution also means to have a "strong will, determination, a statement of intent, a vow." Alternately, it is "the act of discerning detail." It is also a "formal statement adopted by an assembly."

My favorite meaning is a combination of two definitions. The first occurs in music theory which states that resolution is the:

"Progression from dissonance to consonance; a chord to which such progression is made."

In political terms, resolution is:

"the moment in which the conflict ends and the outcome of the action is clear."

The two definitions taken together describe a fluid movement and a static moment, which complicates the idea enough to keep me thinking about what I will write on the resolution tree this year. I'm comforted that neither of these phrases suggest a promise or a vow one must keep after breaking oneself into parts.

From dissonance to consonance, from the end of conflict to a clear action...

Peace be with you in 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Christmas character are you?

Some stories in our past are so good that they deserve to be celebrated, year after year. When we think of Christmas, many of us get caught up in the mania of expectations, gift giving and must-do lists for the season. I am one of them. But this year it occurred to me that what we are really doing in December is recreating a living story. Extending from the sacred birth story of Jesus, a collection of stories grows.
After the Wisemen gave gifts to baby Jesus, St. Nicholas gave gifts to good children everywhere. We, as the living Santa, give to all of our loved ones and to people we have never met. As I was thinking of the character I most identify with at Christmas, I realized that it's not the Virgin Mother but one of the unnamed Elves.
True to my Elfishness, I am short enough to wear child size clothing. Once at my daughter's elementary school, I was mistaken for a student. I am mostly invisible, which explains why children can't see me watching them during the holidays. I have a handmade toy business on Etsy and this year at least one child will be unwrapping something created from my imagination. I'm excited about that!
But even more exciting about the 2010 holiday season is that I am giving a special gift to my family. This season I am giving them the gift of my joy instead of my stress and misery. I am joyful because I realize that it is not up to me to recreate every Christmas story; I don't have to attempt a magical Dickensian holiday, or even the Christmas pasts of my childhood. This year, I am joyfully "reading" the story that my family and friends tell as they create their own version of Christmas "present".
Elliot has already received his first and possibly most beloved gift. On Saturday we welcomed into our family an eight month old Australian Sheppard named Ozzie. Ozzie is the only surviving member of his family. When his elderly owner passed away, his mother and siblings were left to fend for themselves for three months. It took rescuers several attempts to catch him. Now he is a lively, friendly dog with eyes that melt your heart and manners that put me to shame. I'm learning about the fantastic qualities of Aussies and appreciate that this new pet will be a joy to care for. Aside from chewing Elliot's video game chair on the first night, he's been perfect. He makes Elliot laugh from his gut, especially when he licks his cheeks and ears.
Emily is in love with a very sweet young man named David. It has been wonderful to have him visit. My house is full and bustling and this makes me happy!
We have some plans with our friends, plans for worship services with our church, and an annual New Year's Eve event in Raleigh.
We are making our own story and together it is full of little dramatic moments but also regular everyday moments of boredom and anticipation.
I have so much to be thankful for this year and every year. May your season be a story of joy that fills your heart and carries you like Santa's sleigh, right into the New Year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gingerbread House Raffle Winners

While creating gift bags for Elliot's friends, today I received a call from Harris Teeter saying that I won the Gingerbread House Raffle.  This magnificent construction is so big it takes up most of the dining room table.  After struggling with unresolved family issues (that impact my joy for posting regularly), receiving this generous gift was an unexpected delight amid stress and residual hurt feelings. It seems that every year, I go through some type of drama with my family of origin.  I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who pays devastating consequences for failing to live up to unreasonable expectations. 
Yet this truth remains; when doors slam in my face, others open wide.  I suddenly notice people around me; church family and friends extend hugs and kind, loving words not knowing how much I appreciate them.  A simple verbal exchange between two near-strangers can become the best gift received.   There are many many ways to give this season.  Please check in soon for a post about giving and the ways we are practicing generosity in our home school classroom.  And if you, too are having difficulty with relationships this time of year, I send lots of hugs and encouragement your way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our first Big Name Competition is the Discovery Channel!

Well, it has finally happened!  We have our first big name competitor.  The Discovery Channel is currently marketing a product similar to Knees and Paws.  I'm delighted to see this development, because
a) It validates my idea.
b) Their success or failure can be a springboard for my future proposals to investors or companies with whom I'd love to develop a brand alliance.  If it works for Discovery, it can work for us.
c) If they decide to include knee pads, I have a chance to defend myself with a patent date.

I had an opportunity to observe the quality of their product first hand when shopping at Big Lots.  The plush is high quality, the paws are stuffed so that they feel like thick pillows on the hands.  The masks included were interesting, but I'm not sure that small children would appreciate the nose pieces.  An additional feature is that the set makes a growling noise.
Click on the link below to see what they have created.  I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bill Clinton Spoke to Me (and a bunch of other people in Greensboro)

Things I Remember From Bill Clinton’s Talk on Sustaining Community, Economy….
On November 29, 2010 I was blessed with a free ticket to attend the biggest name ever appearing on the Guilford College Joseph M. Bryan speaker series.  The mood was expectant and hushed as he took the stage.  With the lights low except for a white beam that caught the silver head of our former president, his arrival on stage sent a surge of positive vibrations through the crowd.
To the enjoyment of this particular group, he began by saying how much he liked Quakers.  He reminded them that Chelsea attended the Sidwell Friends School, that he lived in a town founded by Quakers, and that he loves their philosophy of community service.
In short, he made sure to begin by reaffirming his f/Friendship with those gathered to listen.
(Note to self:  If you want to captivate people and encourage listening, it is important to begin by spreading some love.)
During the talk, I found myself wishing I had a pen and paper.  Not having this aid, I made a conscious effort to memorize bits that either reinforced my beliefs in a positive way, or helped me to think about how to navigate this crazy, big, unstable world.
I discovered what interests Clinton.   As he spoke, I absorbed these key words and phrases: biochemistry, energy, the economy, the nonprofit sector, America, The World, optimism, systems that work.  I gathered that he believes America has a chance to grow into a great nation where prosperity abounds if we would stop “assuming that the next five years will be like the last five years.”
He said that “change is an occasion for grief”.
Perhaps a stab at the current administration’s campaign motto, this quote spoke to me on a personal level.
It’s not new news, but our world is unstable because of the changes it’s experiencing at such an alarming rate.  And I feel unstable too.
Lately, everything in my life is unbalanced because of decisions I’ve made.  I’m not living on the rock of my old beliefs.  I’ve had to reevaluate the way I think about life, education, career, love, family and community.  I’m at this place were nothing feels orderly or comfy in my psyche.
Even being in the physical presence of our smooth talking former President did not make this feeling of recurring uncertainty go away.
But I left the event feeling uplifted.  On the drive home, I remembered what he said about abandoning our focus on the “big picture” and shifting to the small frame.  Microeconomics is something that I can do.  I plan to “get caught trying” to grow my small business, educate my son, care for my home, build and maintain relationships.  I plan to learn more about solar energy, systems, non profits, manufacturing and finance. One small step at a time.

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