Getting emotional on the eve of 40

Tomorrow is a big day. My kids start taking their state mandated End of Course Exams: a standardized test for my non-standardized kids. I dislike them tremendously. They disrupt our learning, frustrate the kids, and bore me to tears. Did I mention there are two days just for my subject? Some of my students will take a total of 3 tests that pull them out of class for 5 days total.

Contemplating those tests makes me think about what teaching teenagers and training dogs have in common. Besides using treats to get desired behavior, they are both discouraging at times. For both, this fades as I learn the individual quirks, motivations, and what we need to do to form 14a bond with one another. Then, it clicks and the positives outweigh the hard parts. I’ve been thinking about this since Haas’s training on Saturday and then today as I was reminded that I only have 5 weeks left with my kids. I’m not counting down the days and I am grabbing extra tissues.

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Some days I look at the lunch break chaos and get annoyed. Today I get weepy that it won’t be here for long.

The first weeks of training Percy were disheartening. I watched other handlers moving effortlessly around the room with a loose leash and stopping with an attentive pup immediately sitting and gazing at the handler in adoration. Percy didn’t do that. Check out this old post for more detail. Now we are a walking (or rather “heeling” heh) testimonial to our training classes. Percy is wonderful both on leash and off. Haas has his own challenges and eventually we will get it and life will be fine.

My kids are at the Percy’s-current-level-of-training phase. They don’t need me anymore and now I just have to show them. The majority have shown so much growth and development in the their reading and writing. I don’t care if someone else deems their progress acceptable; it is acceptable to me. They didn’t all grow at the same rate or even in the same amount as each other, but they grew!

Here’s where dog training and teen teaching differ. I get to keep my dogs for life. I have to let my kids go in 5 weeks. They’ll move up to the next level and I will see them in the halls laughing, crying, engaging in periodic impolite language and they will pass by without a thought and move forward with their lives. I’ll miss them but I will have to focus on my new set of kids. I will love them, too, and will let them go when it is time. I’ll keep watching those who connect on social media after they graduate and celebrate the births, mourn their heartaches, and adore their pet photos. Maybe I do get to keep them for life, in a way.

My kids –if you found this, I still love you and I don’t care or remember what you go on your MAP, ACT, or EOC. I remember YOU.

P.S. Tomorrow is my birthday and I have to give a standardized test. This is just added to my extensive list of why I hate standardized tests.

We’re back and the boys are still bad.

We’ve been away, both from the blog and from home, for a couple of weeks and we have missed you! Its been a crazy couple of weeks but they just reminded me how much I love my family, my dogs, and my school kids.

A few weeks ago a family member had a health emergency which meant I needed to drive across the state to be with that family. Since it is difficult to get the boys into boarding (no one wants to keep dogs who are the size of horses for some reason) when it is planned, it would have been impossible to get them in immediately. This meant that Percy would come with me so that our dog sitter/Grandpa could take care of Haas and Drake. They are enough of a challenge without the joys of the original terror on four feet.

Percy did beautifully on the trip back to his original home. He handled three hours in the car with minimal stinkage and was in labrador heaven at a whole new house and yard to sniff. He did have to hide from a couple of terrifying kittens who weren’t his biggest fans. I only laughed a little at hundred pound dog crying and trying to climb up my back when faced by three pounds of fluff. Percy’s second birthday happened while we were in St. Louis so instead of party he got a new hedgehog toy to destroy and a small bite of corned beef and potato. I’ll make it up to him soon and find some spray cheese.

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Percy insisted this beauty was out to get us. This is Meeko.

While Percy was living the high life and pretending to be an only child, my normally good boys were causing some trouble at home. Haas, known for being just slightly stubborn, decided he wasn’t going to listen to Grandpa. He refused to eat and refused to leave his crate.  I’d like to think it was because Haas missed me but I suspect it is more that he was angry about not being able to roam the house. He loves his crate when the door is wide open. It’s when you tell Haas he can’t sleep on a king size bed that he gets snippy about the whole crate thing. He even managed to break out of three latches on the last day to greet us at the door. I also noticed new teeth marks on the lock of the back door. I’m extra glad I hadn’t replaced that door knob yet.

Now that we are back in the swing of things, Haas also has to go back to training. He is night and day different from Percy. Percy is incredibly food driven. With just the right amount of breakfast, Percy would do almost anything for a bit of any food or food-like item. Haas isn’t food driven. Sometimes he isn’t driven by anything at all. For two weeks, I had him skip breakfast and took several different treats. Haas wouldn’t take them. This week I got desperate. We trained with popcorn. Why do I end up adopting the weird dogs? Drake’s weirdness will have to wait for another day. I still love them.

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Oh, Mom. I know you ran out of popcorn so there is no way I am going heel.

Now I suppose I should get caught up on the mountain of grading that is waiting for me. It’s a bit a challenge since I have three dogs trying to fuse their bodies to my side and lap. We’ll make it. It’s almost time to start the end of year countdown when it will be all dog all the time. Have a wonderful week!

Valentine’s Day love at our house

There is so much love in our house. I love dogs. Percy loves carrots. Drake loves sighing dramatically. Haas loves to snuggle. I thought about writing a sappy love letter about the dogs and my school and home kids but it has been a weird week, so I’ll just tell you about something that made me laugh. I love laughing so I am counting this as a love letter.

Oldest Child is smaller than Haas. That didn’t stop him from plopping his big ole butt on the kid’s lap. I could see the dog with one knee sticking out below and a teenaged elbow to one side. Before OC ran out of oxygen, Haas slid off the kid’s lap but trapped underneath him was the jacket holding the elbow along with the rest of the kid. It turns out that my kid can’t lift something that is of equal body weight.

Naturally, as any experienced and responsible parent would do, I laughed. “Help! Get off! I can’t move!” I heard. I laughed some more and, as the kid attempted to slide away, the giant Haas paw held the kid in place for the other two to slurp all over the kid’s face.

Oldest Child made it out with only a little dog slobber and none the worse for wear. I don’t think OC will admit to such a mushy emotion but that kid definitely felt loved.

If we can’t chew on humans, we’ll just chew on each other!

Sometimes Dogs Just Stink

Garbage Gut. Fat Baby. Bottomless Pit. If it has to do with eating, the name has probably been applied to Percy at some point. A few times a year, Percy causes himself gastric distress. Last night was one of those nights. Poor Percy. Poor Mom who had to clean it up.

We try to monitor what Percy eats because if we didn’t, that would be all Percy did. He doesn’t sleep, but the boy can eat. It doesn’t even have to be food to disappear down his gullet. He eats socks, nativity sets, sharpies, homework, grade books, slippers, trees, and anything else not nailed down. All of these things seem to pass right through.

Yesterday, whatever he ate must have needed an express ticket out because we were all regretting his poor choices.

At 2 am, Percy’s whines woke me and the smell that hit was more effective than my morning coffee to get me moving quickly. Haas was resting just outside Percy’s crate as if he were taking care of this poor boy. All 3 went out while Operation Crate Clean commenced.

When I was finally able to lock everyone back up and try to get an hour’s sleep, Haas decided the rules didn’t apply to him and he stole my bed. He takes up substantial bed real estate.

I guess I couldn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to sleep next to Percy either. Poor Drake. He had to hang out with Percy. Maybe Drake needs an extra treat tonight. I know I need one! I sure hope Percy learned his lesson this time…but I doubt it.

I still think they are worth it but I hope it doesn’t happen again for a long time.

I’m sorry, Mom. It tasted good.

New Year, Same Old Us

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I gave up my half-hearted attempts in about 5th grade when I failed, again, to keep my desk clean and organized. I’m good with goals, though. I dig the connotation that goes with “goals.” If I meet a goal, I get a reward or something.

This year I want to put my goals out there for a little accountability. It also provides an excuse to write another list, so, win! Add in the dogs and it is a double win!

  1. Have at least one dog pass the test to graduate group obedience classes. Drake and Haas are now the bad boy bunch with Percy causing minimal issues these days. I would love for Drake to stop hitting and for Haas to not eat my home from the foundation up. Obedience classes should be a great start.
  2. I am going to take each dog for a walk at least once per week. Hmmm. I think part of my brain may be trying to sneak in a fitness resolution. Fine. We’re not running and absolutely no burpees!
  3. Start my own YouTube channel with anti tutorials for quilting. It would be a “what not to do” so beginners feel better. On second thought, that might lead to profanity which is not a good example for my students. Maybe I will just settle for making dog beds for the demons.
  4. (I like odd numbers and wanted to stop at 3, but my most excellent mother hates them and I don’t want her to either throw things at me or to stop reading so…) I will untie my shoes before I take them off.

The dogs don’t seem to make any goals except to see how gassy they can be before we make them go outside. Do you have any goals for this bright and shiny new year? Let me know in the comments below! Like and subscribe today! (I’m practicing in case I ever start a weird YouTube channel but I would still love to read your goals or reasons not to have them)

Someone’s in big trouble.

Dear Santa,

Mom said I was in big trouble and I wasn’t getting any bones for Christmas. She said I was horrible and then said words she isn’t supposed to. I guess she was “extremely provocated” like it says in Mom’s book, but I would like to explain. (The book has to do with killing mockingbirds, which sounds tasty so I would take one of those instead of a bone.)

Mom says we have to go in our crate when no one is home so we don’t get into anything that could hurt us. I am a big boy with a big growl, big teeth, and a big bark. Nothing can hurt me. That’s why it’s my job to protect the house. I was only trying to help. I promise I’m a good boy, no matter what words Mom is still saying under her breath. (I also have big ears and I can hear her even when she is stress-cleaning her bathroom. She wouldn’t have to do that if she just went outside like we do.)

Anyway, Dad went to bed. Sometime after Andy Griffith, I heard something in my yard so I had to leave my crate and check. It’s not my fault if I needed to move the blinds. It’s hard to see with blinds and a curtain.

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It’s easier to see if these aren’t here.

Next, I tried the doorknob. I know how to open the front see-through door. The potty door doesn’t open the same way. I tried to use my teeth but that didn’t work, either.

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I was so happy to see mom and, at first, she was happy to see me at the door but then she saw what I did and that’s when the bad words started.

TL:DR — I guess I need new blinds and a curtain rod for Chrismas so Mom is chill again. She says the door still works so that is okay.

Love,

Haas

Tis the season for stress and tests.

It’s testing time! Finals begin tomorrow for the human teens in my district. Only a few days are left before celebrations begin. Kids start sleeping again while teachers can breathe and have normal-ish blood pressure. Percy is “chill,” though. No more tests or class for him. While he didn’t graduate from group obedience classes, I’d say he has the skills to be successful in the family. He is currently relaxing with his blanket on the floor. We should all be so calm.

I love learning and try to find something new every day. Sometimes it is a line from a beloved book that I understand just a little more. Sometimes it is a new recipe. Sometimes it is something as simple as learning what new shows have been added to Netflix. Today I will do a little research on de-stressing.

Here’s what I know:

  1. Dog snuggles are a great way to calm down, provided those dogs are on the proper food and haven’t broken into the kitchen and then into the ranch dip. Regular readers can probably guess who the culprit was and I am ready-ing the air freshener.
  2. Few dogs are allowed in the school so I can’t use that for my kids who believe semester finals are the key to a successful life.
  3. Semester finals are important but not at the expense of your health.
  4. I can’t afford enough chocolate to feed all of my kids for the duration of finals.
  5. I really like lists.
  6. I am easily distracted and I was intending to write about stress relief techniques.
  7. One of my co-workers gave me candy today, but I left it at school.
  8. I have candy for tomorrow!

Was there a purpose to this post? Oh! Now, I remember (reading back through helps). I have learned today that I need more stress management techniques and definitely some to share with my darlings.