Happy Birthday, Lucy-Girl!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

She is Ladybug's best friend.  She's Dory's best friend.  She's one of my best friends, and my heart dog.  She is Lucy Snowflake Gilbreath, and according to her pedigree, she's six years old today.

Even at six years old, she's still very much a puppy.  She's sweet and a huge cuddle-bug.  I was sick with a cold last weekend, and she happily put on her imaginary scrubs to be my Nurse Lucy once again.  She's always so good about keeping you warm when you have the chills.

She's afraid of storms and firecrackers....  and umbrellas and balloons...  and she's terrified of the smoke detectors when their batteries get low.  She loves cheese and pillsbury biscuits.

She's not a morning person, unlike her sister Dory.

She loves to play ball, chase bubbles, catch the frisbee.  She's my perfect biking companion.

She thinks that she's the queen bee of the house.  She is to Dory and Ladybug, but I have to remind her otherwise at times.

She's a form of contraception.

She's survived eating instant coffee, getting a toe stuck in a seat belt, and even Daddy accidentally cutting off part of her ear!

She's my girl.  The whole family loves Lucy!

She's even been on TV at least once!

Hollow Trophies

Friday, October 25, 2013

I read the other morning on Facebook about a football little league in Keller, Texas where they aren't handing out trophies to every kid that plays anymore.  The league wants to teach kids that the have to go above and beyond just participating in order to receive a trophy or medal.  They want kids to know that "they have to give their all to be successful, all the time, not just sometimes."  According to reports, parents are thrilled with the change.  I have to admit that I am too.  I hope that it catches on everywhere.  I don't think kids should get trophies for just participating.  There are some very important life lessons to be learned in kid's sports that aren't being taught anymore, because we're taking all of the competition out of competition.

We've made childhood too soft today.  We spend thousands upon thousands of dollars making playgrounds where children won't get so much as a scrape of the knee on them.  Every kid makes teams for sports where there are no winners or losers, because they don't keep score.  Each kid goes home with a trophy whether or not they did anything to deserve.  Those trophies go into a pile in a closet or some other out-of-the-way place and collect dust because they don't mean anything to the kid.   He or she will get another next season too.

A mother of one of the little leaguers in Keller, Texas stated that "her son has multiple trophies that don't mean anything to him, but, his championship trophy is what he treasures the most."  Why does he treasure that trophy?  Obviously because he had to work to achieve it.

We need to let our children fail.  We need them to learn that good things come to those who work hard for them.  We need to not hand everything to them on a safe, non-breakable, BPA & PVC-free plastic platter.  We need to teach our children to be hard-working, gracious winners and also how to lose and lose well.  It will help them later on in life when things inevitably don't turn out as planned.  By denying our children the chance to win or lose, we deny them the coping mechanisms to handle rejections and even corrections later in life.  Like it or not, there are winners and losers in life.  One team scores fewer points than another, and sometimes kids don't even make a team to win or lose.

When I was in the sixth grade, I tried out for the girl's basketball team.  Everyone tried out for the team.  I assumed I would make the team.  Everyone always made the team, and all of my friends did. I wanted so terribly to make the team, and I think that I worked hard to improve myself over time, but it just wasn't enough.  When the jerseys were handed out, I didn't get one.  I didn't make the team.

Yes, it hurt at the time.  It hurt more than just about anything else in school ever had,  but it didn't have a detrimental effect on my psyche.  Instead, it made me stronger and more determined to find things that I excelled at and to work hard at those.

There is a huge part of me that wants to shield Ladybug from all pain.  I want to protect her from the hurt of being excluded from things.  I want to protect her from the hurtful things others will say about her, because that is the nature of children.  I want her to succeed in everything she does. I don't want her closet to be filled with hollow trophies.  I want her to be able to pick herself up when she falls.  I want her to learn from her failures.  I want her to learn how to deal when someone says something unkind to or about her.  Most importantly, I want for her to know the satisfaction of working hard and earning honors, a spot on a team, and a trophy or medal.

  • What are your thoughts on the new policy that the Keller, Texas football little league has adopted? 
  • Do you think kids should get trophies for just participating
  • Do you think kids should have to earn their rewards?  
  • Do you think that we have worked so hard to make things "fair" that we've taken important life lessons out of things like sports for our children?

Having a toddler means...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

  • Never knowing where your shoes are, because she likes to wear them around the house - usually backwards and on the wrong feet.
  • Sudden, unexplained tantrums that end just as suddenly.
  • Singing and dancing are a huge part of the day.
  • Cuddles are the best!
  • You need to be proficient at getting all sorts of stains out of clothing.
  • Random objects will be stuffed up noses and in ears.
  • Your every word and mannerism is likely to be mimicked.
  • Being attacked at random times with unexpected, wonderful bear hugs.
  • Kisses are often freely given.  Tongue is usually given with the kisses as well.  Be warned!
  • You find random objects in your shoes like blocks and puzzle pieces.
  • Bed time is a sacred ritual and can't be varied much at all.
  • Naps are a blessing.
  • Tutus are a necessity for most girls.
  • Your devices are not your own anymore.

  • Long periods of time counting, singing, and reading with someone while you wait on her to use the potty.
  • You may find yourself eating chocolate or anything in a secured location which is never the bathroom.  That's where they always look first.
  • Just as soon as you take a moment on the toilet or start to shower, you'll hear and incessant knocking.  Then soon after that you'll see fingers creeping from beneath the door.  Then you'll hear, "Momma?  Momma?  Momma?  Momma?"
  • Crayons are often considered a food group until you break that habit.
  • Fingerprints everywhere.
  • Adventures are even more fun when she can walk on her own and participate!
  • You always have a willing helper.  Try to utilize it as long as possible, because you know that won't last past puberty!

  • You cherish every insane, crazy moment because you know that first year went by far too quickly, and the rest will as well.

Violet Is Dead, Long Live Violet

Monday, October 21, 2013

If you have a child age five or under, chances are that somewhere in your house there is either a My Pal Scout or My Pal Violet, inserting your child's name into songs and words games with a creepy HAL 9000 voice.  We got Ladybug one for Christmas last year, and she loves hers.  I'm talking about Violet is right up there in the top tier of toys.  She loves her so much that I have to put Violet on her top shelf during nap and bed times, or else we will hear (and have heard) Ladybug and Violet singing together over the baby monitor when Ladybug should be sleeping.

Recently Violet started to act odd.  She seemed glitchy.  At one point she stopped doing anything but barking, so I changed her batteries.   While I was at it, I synced her with the computer to update some of Ladybug's favorite things in the settings.  She worked great again for a few weeks, then she got really glitchy again.  She stopped working for a bit, then she just barked three barks in a row incessantly.  "Rrrrruff, ruff, ruff!  Rrrrruff, ruff, ruff!  Rrrrruff, ruff, ruff!"  Let met tell you, that got annoying incredibly fast.

I tried putting fresh batteries in again, and it didn't work.  I tried syncing her again, and she wouldn't sync.  I looked up trouble shooting on the Leapfrog website and the web in general, and I couldn't find anything.  So, Saturday afternoon she was sadly declared dead (Cue Taps).

The good thing about children's toys that no longer function electronically is that sometimes they can still be played with otherwise.  Ladybug still carried poor Violet around and loved on her, though we removed her batteries.  Since Violets aren't particularly expensive we decided to just replace Violet sometime soon.

Yesterday morning Bart was feeding Ladybug breakfast while I prepared for church since he was flying out to Arizona for the week.  While he was with her, she carried poor, no longer functioning within normal parameters Violet around, kissing and hugging her.  Bart yelled upstairs to me, "Get the kid a working Violet soon.  This is just sad!"

Since Bart wasn't home to spend Sunday afternoon with, I decided that Ladybug and I would do our weekly grocery shopping yesterday in order to just get that out of the way.  While at Walmart, we picked up another Violet.  Before bedtime the new Violet was synced and saying Ladybug's name in that creepy HAL 9000 way that makes me think I've given my child a Chucky.  I think that the creepy feelings it gives me are worth it though.

Rainy Day Randomosity

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I think Ladybug and I really needed today's rainy, cool weather to just stay inside and be.  It seems our days have been filled with some activity or craziness for far too long, and we kind of need to slowly melt into our winter groove.  Yet, I'm not entirely sure what our winter groove will be.  We're going to have to find some sort of activity for the cold months to get out of the house for some fun at least once a week!

We had a yard sale Saturday.  Bart's parents came up with a truckload of stuff, and we attempted to rid ourselves of several things that were more or less just taking up space.  I sold a couple of L's baby things, but the treasure-trove of baby clothes, play-things, and such was largely untouched.  I'm just not ready to part with any of it yet.  I still hope for one more sweet baby before I'm ready for them to go to other families.  I did sell my bike.  I didn't intend to, it just happened.  Now I'm trying to decide what I want to get to replace it.  I will get another soon, because that is how I exercise, and it has become an integral part of my life.

We went to Dickey Farms to find this year's pumpkins Sunday.  We took L to Farmland Adventures a few weeks ago, but we loved Dickey Farms so much last year that we went back there to actually pick pumpkins.  I hope it's a tradition we can continue for years to come.  I think we all look forward to it - at least those of us who remember it.

Bart picked a couple of odd-looking gourds.  I call this one Jimmy.  You in the know about VeggieTales get it.

I need to go back through all of my blog posts and clean up my labels.  This is not something I look forward to doing.  It may take until Doomsday, but I will do it.

I'm thinking of writing a children's book or series based on Dory, her abandonment, her rescue, our adoption of her, and several other moments in her life that I think would be great material.  Of course I have no artistic skills, so if this does come about I will be looking for and illustrator eventually.

We're really starting to plan Christmas gifts, and I'm even trying to start planning L's birthday now, because once the holidays hit, her birthday just comes too quickly for a party procrastinator like myself. I think this year we'll just invite a handful of her friends and her cousin who may actually be in state then.  I also wouldn't be surprised if it had an A League Of Their Own theme, so she can use her Halloween costume again.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  In some respects, I feel that this deserves its own post.  Ladybug should have a three-year-old brother or sister that we lost at eight weeks in January 2010.  There's a quote I remember from Grey's Anatomy that Cristina told George when his dad died: 
CRISTINA: "There's a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can't be in it until you're in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss... My dad died when I was nine. George, I'm really sorry you had to join the club."
GEORGE: "I... I don't know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn't."
CRISTINA: "Yeah, that never really changes."
That's how I feel about both the loss of a parent and also the loss of a child.  People can try to understand and sympathize, but until you feel that loss you just can't.  I hate that anyone has to know that kind of loss.  A part of your heart always has a hole in it.  I'm very thankful for my life that I have, but I will always wonder what he would have been like.  I wrote a letter to him last year around his due date.  I think of him every day.  I'll know him someday though, and I am so very thankful for that.

The Eyes of a Shelter Dog

Thursday, October 10, 2013

There is something haunting in the eyes of most shelter dogs.  They've known and been subjected to things that we can't and often don't want to imagine.  They don't quite have the same sparkle as those of a dog loved and pampered from birth and was placed in a happy, loving home from puppyhood until the great beyond.  Instead, there's a mixture of fear, of unknown sadness, and a knowledge of the evils of the world.

The eyes of a shelter dog are soulful and old.  Their short lives have been filled with experiences far different from learning to fetch, roll over, and play dead.  They are the eyes of dogs who have learned other "tricks," such as to cower in fear when a hand is raised.  They are the eyes of dogs who have learned to scavenge for anything that might just pass as a scrap of food, because hunger isn't some small pang when a bowl is filled late - it's a constant, growing, never-ending, aching pain.  They are eyes that have learned what it is to be cold, so cold and chilled to the bone with nowhere to get warm.  They are eyes that have learned to fear humans and run from them rather than run into welcoming arms for the comforting embrace of a hug.

That haunted look can be replaced with spark though, ignited by a great deal of love and patience from someone who is willing to take the time to be a "mom" or a "dad" or even just that dog's "person," because all any dog wants is to be loved.  Love and time are the fuel that feeds the spark.  Then in turn, you gain the dog's trust, then respect, and then her love.

Gaining the trust of a shelter dog can be a daunting task.  So often they have already placed their trust in those who never deserved it.  The littlest thing can be a setback.  The key is to be consistent, to never act in anger toward your dog, and to try and have empathy for what might be going through the mind of your dog.  With time, your dog will trust you and respect you for being a positive influence rather than negative.  She'll listen to you, because she'll realize that you mean her no harm and only want the best for her.

The best and most rewarding part of having a shelter dog is when you realize that she loves you, because love grows out of trust and respect.  That love can be shown in numerous ways from just needing to touch you to trying to comfort and protect you from hurt and harm.  Then you might notice that the haunted eyes have disappeared and the sparkle of a happy dog has replaced it.  It's a different sparkle from that of the dog who has only known privilege all her life.  It's a deeper, more meaningful sparkle, because the sparkle in the eyes of a dog rescued from a shelter is a sparkle earned by the both of you.

Dorothy Gale is a rescued shelter dog.  When she was just a few weeks old she was taken to a Walmart parking lot in the Kansas City area to be sold or given away.  No one wanted Dory or her shorter-haired, chocolate sister so they were just dumped on the side of the road.  Thankfully some good, kindhearted people picked up the cold, shivering puppies and took them to a local rescue.  They posted them on Petfinder.com, and there I fell in love with her.

Bart and I love Lucy, and Lucy loves us.  However, our love of Dory is a little different.  The way she loves us if different as well.  Even though it has been four years to this day that we brought her home, a part of her still shows an appreciation for how good her life is now.  Her loyalty and devotion are unmatched.  She has loved Ladybug in a sweet, protective way her entire life.  She was well worth the drive to Kansas City and the adoption fee.

She Dances When She Runs

Sunday, October 6, 2013

She dances when she runs.  Her little skippity-hop mingles in between strides.  She sings along with every song she hears, even those she's never before heard, and makes each song sweeter in doing so.  She loves to count and recite her ABC's.  Our conversations have grown longer and easier to understand.  She is helpful and longs to be able to do more.  She is creative and will make anything into a toy, including making a board intended to race Hot Wheels cars into a slide.  Every day she surprises us with what we didn't know that she knows.

She loves to dig in the mud and "color" the patio with sidewalk chalk.  She loves to be clean and to wear pretty dresses and frilly tutus.  She loves football, OU (that's my girl!), and especially the Razorbacks.  She loves football more if she can wear pretty necklaces, tutus, and fedoras while watching it.

She sleeps in a sea of stuffed animals, to her the more the merrier.  If she had her way she would sleep with all of her shoes and books as well.  I'm thinking of buying a poncho to wear during her bath time, as she can get rather boisterous with her splashing.

Have I mentioned that she likes music and singing and dancing?  They're very integral parts of our everyday lives now.  When Cinderella asks, we always try to say yes to a dance.  Her favorite thing to listen to is anything from the Veggie Tales, but she loves almost all music period.  She especially loves Steven Curtis Chapman's "How Great Thou Art."

She has a mean streak, and we have to often get on to her for being a little mean to the dogs.  More often though, she is sweet.  She gives the sweetest kisses, the most precious hugs.  Her smiles can melt any heart, and her laughter fills my heart.  She has started asking "Why?"

The separation anxiety of the past nine months or so is slowly melting away into confidence.  She no longer cries much when we drop her off at church.  Rather, she cries when we pick her up once church and late Sunday School are over.  In fact she has started getting upset whenever we leave from somewhere she was having fun.  While I don't want to foster the notion that it is ok to have a tantrum whenever we leave a place, right now I'm thrilled she's showing the independence to want to stay somewhere.

She will be two years old in just four months.  Today, she is 20 months, and sometimes I feel like she's going on 20 years.  I often miss my spiky-haired pudgy baby of last year, but the little girl with the long, blonde hair of today is worth the change.  She is Miss Ladybug, and she has my heart.

The Blog Posts I Love To Read

Friday, October 4, 2013

Yesterday I wrote a post, "Blog Posts I Don't Normally Read," that I'm afraid may have hurt some feelings or insulted some of my fellow bloggers.  That was never my intention, but I should have realized what would happen, and I apologize.  After all, our blogs our sort of our babies.  We put so much of ourselves into them that to read nonspecific complaints about some blogs can make us feel defensive and injured.  Again, I want to state that I wasn't complaining about one blog in particular but blogs as a whole and the directions in which they seem to be heading.  I can honestly say that I didn't have any that I faithfully follow in mind at all when writing yesterday's post, but more or less what I have run across as a whole.  So, let me now tell you the types of blog posts I love to read.

Anything About Your Kids
I'm a mom, and I love kids.  I love to read about the cute things they do, the frustrating things they do, and every milestone in between.  I may not like vlogs in general, but I love watching videos of your kids doing stuff or just talking about the blog subject.  As a mom who takes far too many pictures and videos of her own child for most people's taste, know that I love it when you share yours too.

The Things You Love
I want to read about the things you love.  The things we love are a window into who we are.  Now, they may not always be something that I particularly love, but if you're someone I've befriended, I will, if given the time,  glance at.  

Your Fears and Struggles
I don't love that you have fears and struggles, but I especially love how blogging is an outlet for sharing these things.  You have a prayer request, the blogging world is known for taking to their knees. Most of us aren't nearly as supportive of others in real life as we are online.  We often get far more support and give more support online.  I will be honest that some of the first people who knew that I was pregnant with Ladybug were my best bloggy friends who prayed for us constantly.  You can't beat that support

Your Celebrations
Just as much as blogs are a wonderful tool for sharing the things with which we struggle and getting support, they're also a wonderful place for praise and celebration.  A friend has a long-awaited baby, and we all rejoice together.  A toddler gets potty-trained, we're all thrilled.  Graduations, weddings, and just normal, everyday things that make us happy and even make us laugh are the things that make blogs wonderful. 

Your Random Thoughts
Here's where I seriously diverge with The Lady Okie.  I adore random posts.  Why?  I thoroughly enjoy learning the things that go through the heads of others.  It makes me know that I'm not as weird as I thought I was, and that there are others out there like me.  Also, I have many very random thoughts in my head at all times.

Posts About Your Furkids
Again, I disagree with The Lady Okie.  I love posts about your pets.  I'm the mom of two Rowdy Retriever Girls, whose blog was the most successful blog I'll probably ever have.  They're very important members of our family, and I know that your pets are members of your family as well.  They're real parts of our lives, and I always love reading about them.

Your Everyday Lives
I think that what I love the most about blogging is how we can share our everyday lives.  We can be real here.  Blogging has taken a great deal of the isolation out of not just being a SAHM, but life in general for me.  Whatever you're going through in life, you can probably find a blog where someone is or has gone though what you are.  We share the funny little things like a kid running naked across the front lawn and the heavy things like dealing with loss.  It is usually far, far more than just word vomit.  It's you being real, and real people are what I love.

Again, I never intended to hurt anyone's feelings by my post yesterday.  I've been known most of my life as someone with a sharp tongue.  In my older age I'm learning that you can show you are being sharp-minded without being so sharp-tongued.  The tongue, after all, is "a fire, a world of unrighteousness..."  I hope to be more thoughtful and gracious in the future.  

Blog Posts I Normally Don't Read

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recently I've read a couple of posts on different blogs that at initial glance seem rude, mean, or hateful. However if you actually really read them, you'll realize that they are both very timely and a little needed.  The first one is The Lady Okie's "5 Blog Posts I Usually Skip."  I agreed wholeheartedly with 1-3.  The second was "Feeling Complainy: Sponsored Post Overload" over at Mabel's House.  This one was just a general complaint about how some blogs are kind of becoming nothing more than one sponsored post after another.  Both posts were like a breath of fresh air to me.  So now I think that I'll be honest, do something similar, and share with you the type of blog posts I normally don't read.

Cooking Posts
You're a foodie, or you want to try to be a foodie.  I'm cool with that.  I just probably won't read that post unless there's an anecdote or something more to the post than a recipe and how yummy something tasted.  Cooking and baking just aren't my thing.  I do both and sometimes enjoy the end result, but it's not my passion.  I doubt that it ever will be.  I'm not a hater, I'm just interested by other things.

Posts About Your Hair, Makeup, or Clothes
Again, I like to look nice, but I don't obsess over these things.  I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin.  I've never spent a great deal of time discussing these things with my friends, and I'm not going to devote a lot of it to reading it.  Some days I look awesome, and some days I look like I've been scrubbing the toilets and wrestling a toddler.  I managed to dress myself before there were blogs, and I'll somehow manage if the "series of tubes" that is the Internet collapses.

DIY or Crafting Posts
Reading this, you're probably thinking that I am the worst SAHM ever.   I don't get all happy about cooking, and I find DIY projects and crafts to be tedious at best.  You're not going to see me write a post about refinishing some old dresser and making it into a media center or something like that.  In fact, I have an old dresser that we're selling at a yard sale next weekend if you want to take a crack at it!  In school, VBS, and anywhere else I always found crafts time to be little more than busy work.  The smell of hot glue kind of makes me nauseous.  I do projects from time to time when they're needed, but I would rather make a photo book online or read a good historical fiction.

Diet or Exercise Posts
Maybe it's because I spent the first thirty years of my life striving to actually gain weight.  Maybe it's because along with the clothes, hair, and makeup posts I think that people spend too much time obsessing over their looks.  It's good to take care of yourself, to exercise, and to look nice, but there's more to life than that.  Maybe it's because you can probably go from year to year on some blogs and find fad diet after fad diet.

Sponsored Posts
I like real people.  That's what I love about blogs.  I love to read about real lives, real struggles, real things that make you laugh and want to share with the world.  I don't read paid for post after paid for post, because that's not being real.  Yes, I'll occasionally sign up for a giveaway here or there, but ain't nobody got time for commercials.  If they did, then things like The Hopper and TIVO wouldn't be popular.  Television stations wouldn't haggle so much with providers over retransmission fees.  If all someone ever posts is sponsored posts, I'll eventually stop following them.  I understand that's how some people make a little money, but I sort of feel like it's selling out and takes the joy out of blogging.

I like to read blogs.  Go ahead and call me a Twenty-first Century luddite, and I don't care.  I often read blogs while Ladybug plays or while Bart plays football on his Xbox in the evenings.  Having to watch a vlog and turn up the volume to where I can hear it is an intrusion on that time.  It's a quiet time, or we're listening to something else.  I don't want to bring attention to what I'm doing.  If Ladybug hears something on my Mac, iPhone, or iPad she wants to watch too and steal my device.  Also, it's more difficult to skim to what I want to know in a vlog.

I know I must sound like a grouchy, horrible person.  However, I wanted to be honest and share this with you.  If I'm not leaving comments on a blog that I normally do, it's quite possible your post falls under one of these categories.  Also, I'm raising a toddler, a husband, and two dogs and often mean to comment when I have to stop her from coloring on the walls or flushing my keys down the toilet.  I didn't single any one blog out like the other posts I mentioned have.  I'm just noting trends that seem to be almost the norm now in most of the blogs out there.  Remember, they may be helpful to some, and some may enjoy the things I don't.  So, if you really enjoy doing it, keep doing it.  So now that I've opened this can of worms, what kind of blog posts do you usually just hit "mark read" and move past?

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