A Boy and His Dog

Joey has really taken to loving and playing on Duke ever since we got Hoss.  I think he sees Hoss as competition for my love and attention though in reality it’s no contest at all as I love my Joey best.  But given Joe’s thinking process he tends to ignore the big dog and focusses his energy on our littlest baby, Duke.

Both dogs come in each evening for storytime in Joes room, climbing up onto his bed and crowding around us as if they too want to hear the stories that we are going to read before settling Joey down to sleep.  Duke always squeezes in between Joe and I, while Hoss just stretches out along the side nearest the wall as if realizing that this is Joey’s special time and he should not try to come between us.

This past week Joey has taken to wanting to play in our front yard, which really isn’t much of a yard since it’s just a slope that leads right down to the street, though it at least is covered in grass.  He runs around out there chasing Duke and trying to get Duke to chase him back.  The other night Grandma got Joe to play catch with her with a tennis ball, showing him how he could make it bounce back and forth between them, roll it down the slide on his sand table, and throw it for Duke to fetch.  I love watching my mom and Joe interact.  It reminds me so much of my own special relationship with my mom’s mum, Queenie.  When I was little, my grandma would play with me too, teaching me how to make cookies, and making a game out of raking the leaves up in the yard.  They were such simple things but they made the biggest impression on me.  I think the same will be true for Joey when he looks back on his childhood and has his memories of my mom.

I’m so happy that Joey is growing up with animals and learning how to treat them properly with love and respect.  Duke is claimed by all but me which is ironic since originally we got him with me in mind.  Instead he took to mom and then when she went to stay with Crystal for those few months he switched his allegiance to Larry who considers Duke his since he’s a small dog kinda guy.  And Joey, Joey thinks Duke is his even though I believe Duke just things of Joey as an annoyance.  When we first got him Joey was to rough with him, running up on him and trying to hug him to tightly.  It put Duke on Edge and I have to admit he does have some attitude when it comes to Joe.  However, in the past month I’ve noticed the tide turning, that Duke is seeking out Joe more and more as he realizes that Joey just wants to love and play on him.  It’s a fun thing to watch.  The other day when they were playing with the ball, Joey decided he wanted to be just like Duke and dropped to all fours, running around on the grass, trying to get Duke to chase him.  It was priceless to watch.  My hope for Joey is that he’ll always have a dog by his side to provide companionship or a partner on new adventures.


Fear Stinks

My father in law, Pop Pop, has been struck down with Pneumonia.  He’s spent a couple of nights hanging around the ER in the past 10 days and for Larry and I that is just a scary thing.  It’s amazing how much I’ve come to love this man in such a short period of time.  He always has a big hug for me, and an Otter Pop, and just makes me feel loved for simply being myself.  That is a real gift to receive, let me tell you.

What is surprising for me is that during this time of illness I’ve just found myself distancing myself from the whole incident.  I’ve been there in the background, offering help in the ways that would help Larry’s siblings and his Mom, but I’ve not directly approached Pop to check in.  I guess even though they now have a handle on it and he’s getting the help he needs medically to overcome it, I still have been in denial.  It’s made me realize that this man who I adore won’t be here forever and that just scares the bejesus out of me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never had a “father” in my life that I appreciate his presence, his love and support, all the more.  It’s also made me realize this is somewhat of a pattern for me.

I have a very dear friend who has Huntington’s disease and we were very close when we were growing up, and still are in my heart, but in reflection over my father in law I’ve realized that I’ve done the same disservice to my very good girlfriend – distanced myself, almost in preparation for the loss.  So I only see her on rare occasions, weddings and funerals, and this makes my heart heavy.  Here I have the chance to spend time with her, here, now while she’s still amongst us and I’m just throwing that opportunity away because I’m fearing the loss that is to come.  What kind of friend, what kind of daughter-in-law, does that make me?  Let me tell you, it’s not the kind of person I want to be.  I want to be fearless and loyal with those I love.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  So today I’m going to take the steps to right this way of thinking, starting with calling my friend, and visiting with my father-in-law… right now!


Joey’s 1st Day of Preschool

Oh my gosh, where has the time gone?  Today is Joey’s first day at The Learning Cottage Preschool out here and I’m not sure if it was harder on him when I left or harder on me having to walk away.  He didn’t want me to go and started to get choked up but held it together and watched me go with a wave.  I on the other hand-made it back out to my truck and burst into tears.  I know it’s the right thing for him, and that he’s going to make some good friends and learn a lot of wonderful things, but still it’s just happening to fast.  I thought I’d have more time with him, that these past four years would have lasted so much longer, and now my baby is growing into a little man.

When I look back on his baby pictures, how tiny he was, to taking his first steps, running and falling for the first time, pedaling his bike all the way to the park and calling Larry and I Daddy and Momma for the first time these all seem like indelible marks in my mind so I don’t know why this milestone is hitting me so much harder.

Man it’s tough aging, and having my little one age right along with me.  I guess I need to focus on the positives – how this will prepare him to be away from me, give him the tools to succeed and to find new adventures to explore, the chance to make some new friends and to become excited about the prospect of learning.  I guess when I look at it that way I find there are way more positives to offset my broken heart.

So congratulations my boy on your very first day in preschool.  Momma and Daddy love you and are so proud of you.

Friday Night Favorites

Joey has started playing soccer in the Little Kickers league out here in Rancho Murieta.  They practice once a week on Friday evenings and it’s always interesting to watch and to see how well he’ll interact and play.  He tends to be like me in that respect, where he just wants to hear what the coaches have to say and then try to do it on his own, not necessarily with his team mates.  This drive his Daddy crazy, but I totally get it.  He just needs to get to his own comfort level in his own time.

Some weeks it goes great, others he’s ready to quit because it’s “boring” before it has even really begun.  We’ve begun bribing him with an ice cream treat if he practices for the whole one hour session and that seems to be working like a charm.

Last night was an especially pleasurable practice.  Grammi and Pop Pop came out to watch him practice which was really nice and made him so happy.  Then when practice was complete, Larry, Joey and I had a picnic dinner at the park made up of yummy Subway sandwiches, water, Gatorade and soda, and then we headed over to our local grocery to pick out our frozen treat.  It’s so much fun to watch Joey debate with himself over which one to pick out of the cooler and then once he’s made his selection to see him eyeballing ours to see if we’ve picked something better than him.  He always ends up liking what he’s chosen but tells us in advance that next Friday he’s going to get whatever I or Daddy had this week.  So cute.

Hoss loves these outings almost as much as we do.  He always gets to go to the park with us and tons of kids stop by to pet and love on him.  Sometimes he even gets to have an impromptu playdate with a few other dogs if there friendly and their owners don’t mind.  He’s such a sweetie with people and other animals that I never have to worry about how he’ll interact.  I wish Duke was that way as I always end up feeling guilty for taking Hoss but not him.

I don’t know what were going to do when Soccer season is over as we’ve really begun to treat these evenings as our family night of fun.  We’re going to have to come up with some other simple activities we can do to replace them once the season is over – bowling, miniature golf, etc.

Happily Ever After

It’s so hard to believe that Larry and I just celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.  It seems like just yesterday we were two strangers, walking our dogs, engaging each other in general conversation and making plans for our first date… on New Year’s Eve no less.  No pressure there.

We hit it off right away, started going out for coffee and tea or just taking rides on his motorcycle.  Next thing you know we’ve got Joey being formed in my belly, moving into a house out in Rancho Murieta, and taking our vows in front of the county clerk at the courthouse.  It’s been an interesting ride so far and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

We started a tradition right off when we started celebrating and that was no gifts of any kind.  Doesn’t sound like such a great idea, right?  Who doesn’t like to get presents, I know I do.  But instead we’ve given each other something even better – heartfelt letters.  We outline our favorite things from the previous year, what we love about each other, sometimes what we need to improve on.  It really means a lot to both of us.  We always go out to dinner and exchange letters after we’ve eaten and then tell each other what our wish is for the coming year – this year we both want to create more family time, more adventures be they day long trips or a week or more.  And more date nights for Larry and I.  Of course we say that one each year and each year it always seems to be the one thing that gets set aside.  This past year I think we managed to get in three whole dates.  In the coming year I’m hoping to at least quadruple that.  I guess only time will tell.

Here’s a photo of Larry and I from our very first “official” date.  We went out to dinner and a movie, and then headed down to Old Sac to watch them ring in the year with fireworks.  I think it was one of the best dates I ever had, though it might have been the best just because of who I was sharing it with.

There were fireworks in the air and in our hearts

Kenneth we LOVE you!!!

My sister held a Celebration of Life party to commemorate what would have been my beautiful nephew Kenneth’s 30th birthday had he lived.  Although we only had him with us for 25 years, we shared many simple pleasures together and I for one was happy to celebrate the baby, the boy, the teen and the young man that he was.

There were family and friends there to celebrate the joy that was Kenneth (aka K.C.) and to share in the memories that each of us had in our hearts.  My sister and Jeff put on quite the BBQ feast with many side dishes being provided by the guests.  Each person brought their favorite memory of Kenneth in writing to be assembled into a hard bound book for Crystal, Beth and Gracie to keep his memory alive.  We wrote messages on balloons, sang Happy Birthday, and let our messages float up to Heaven.  It was really quite moving in its simplicity.

Wherever you are Kenneth, I love you and I miss you with all my heart.  I so wish my Joey had the chance to know you since you’re so very similar in physical characteristics and your mannerisms and I know you’d have had a ball creating memories with him and with your beautiful Gracie girl.

Happy Birthday Crystal

My sister turned another year older and another year wiser last week, the big 47.  She, Joey and I spent the day together at Folsom State Park at the Beale Point Beach.  It was the first time any of us had been there and it is such a lovely beach, nice and sandy with really clear water.  We had to fight the yellow jackets for our KFC lunch but once we moved some of the meat to an adjacent table for them to snack on we were able to eat ours in relative peace.

We stopped at Target en route and Crystal bought a new float to relax on in the water, like that was ever going to really happen, and we picked up some snacks and sunscreen so we could really linger at the beach.  Luckily I’d planned a little ahead so I had buckets, shovels and all kinds of vehicles for Joey to play with when he got tired of the water, and some books for when he got tired of the sun and sand so I had my bases pretty well covered.

We ate lunch first and then hit the water.  It was perfect temperature for me to be able to enjoy myself as well and we all swam, picked out rocks to skip (or throw), and just enjoyed being together.  They’d let out some of the water from the dam and so you could almost walk all the way out to the buoy line that designates the swimming area.  Joey was thrilled to be able to walk out so far and to chase down his Aunty Crystal for splash wars, and try to tip her off her

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float.  I love watching them play together especially when water is involved since they both love it so much.

When we’d had enough of the water Crystal really got to relax on her float while Joey and I took to the sand and built sand castles and played with his vehicles.  I even managed to get a little reading done before I got too overheated.  So Joey and I trucked up the beach to find a nice shady spot under a tree on the lawn and he played with his cars on our blanket and we read stories and loved on Hoss some.  He’d been patiently waiting up by our table since they have a “no dogs” policy on the beach itself.

All in all we spent about three and a half hours just enjoying ourselves before heading home for the day.  It was really nice to spend some one on one time with my sister and to share in her special day.

Happy Birthday Crystal.  We love you.

And for those of you with inquiring minds – yes, my sons toenails are purple, just as mine are, compliments of the talented little Miss Gracie R.