Guest Author: Student Files

This blog started because my students and I participate in something called “Genius Hour” where we design our own projects and learn about one of our passions. My passion when this started was training Percy. I still love talking about him, so I am still posting.

This year, one of my sweet babies is working on building confidence in her writing. She is making a guest appearance today with a poem inspired by some of her photography. This is a big step for her in sharing her work and I hope you enjoy it! From here on out for this post, it is all Wonderful Student. If you have some love to share, drop WS a comment and I’ll make sure she sees it. See you next time!


Each day brings something new
A new outlook on life.
We all move closer to the end as we age,
But some things seem untouched by time.

The rising sun does not initially appear.
The sky lightens slowly.
A soft orange and yellow breaks out across the horizon and stretch onward,
Melting into a delicate, new blue everywhere it can reach.

The scattered light falls upon clouds,
Bathing them in oranges, baby pinks, and infant purples.
They stretch farther than life,
Taking displaying their hues.

The dawn allows itself to be captured,
In small ponds close and nearby,
To see its own reflection
Before it steadily breaks to day.

The rest of the world holds a breath,
Appearing black as night against the lit up heavens
To highlight their glory
And capture the moment.

We all change and grow older
So does the sky.
While it seems the same every day,
Each moment is unique and breathtaking.

Each day brings new hues.
New clothes pass and take their spot in the sky
Or leave open a wide, endless blue
That fades in and out.

The sun changes slightly
Scattering her beautiful rays in different ways
Reaching new and same spots
Creating art in the sky.

A picture can capture one in a million moments
As the earth spins on
As no moment will be the same
Just as we are all unique.

Who are you?

I ask this question of my students multiple times through the year. We look at influences to our identity from society, childhood and family, gender, religion, political power and many others. We also try to see how our identity changes. How do we see ourselves? How do other people see us?

Since my grading pile is not yet taller than Oldest Child (thank you assignments submitted electronically for enabling my denial). I started wondering how the boys and cat would describe themselves. Hmmm…..

Meri: I am the queen. You only live to serve me. Serve me food, right now.

The dogs are a little different (yes, that is a euphemism for nuttier than a squirrel hideout).

Percy: I am the greatest! I’m also mom’s favorite. I know this because Mom brought me home first and I get to ride in the car and sometimes I get treats but not enough so maybe Mom doesn’t love me best. I should go check. Where’s Mom? Mom! Do you love me, Mom? Look, Mom! Here’s my blanket. You have a rope, Mom? Throw it! Yes! 

Percy was really hoping Mom would put down the computer and play fetch.

I don’t think Percy would be able to focus long enough to examine his own identity since he doesn’t even stop to end his sentences. Haas might be able to, though.

Haas: I’m Dad’s favorite and he left me in charge…at least when Mom says I can be in charge. Mom is stricter than Dad. It’s my job to make sure that the cat stays on her side of the house. I also protect the peoples. The only outside peoples allowed in the house are my favorite Mima (Dad’s Mom–he has one, too) and someone Mom calls Papaw (her grandpa whom she thinks is extra special). She doesn’t let me play with Papaw, so I bark a little from my crate so he knows I am keeping things safe. Mima and I walk, sometimes. We let Mom come along and hold the leash so I am legal. I wonder if Mima is here. I’ll go check. You stay right there.

Haas was pretty sure he heard something in the front yard. That’s a scrap of Percy’s blanket and not a tongue defect.

Drake is the hardest but I think I have him.

Drake: This question is stupid. Whatever. I bet that mama’s boy, Percy, said he was Mom’s favorite. Let him think that. For now. I make sure the other two don’t get above themselves. The moment they do, I go for the back legs and take them down. If they are on the floor, Mom’s lap is empty and she’s all mine. I know what’s up.

Drake doin his thing

I will never understand my dogs.

Sometimes I wish I spoke dog. One recent afternoon, the boys were rough-housing and got kicked outside to play in the rain which really isn’t a punishment for my water-loving dogs. Drake and Percy went out and Haas hid in his crate. I watched quilting tutorials and enjoyed the silence.

Suddenly, a giant fuzzy face blocked out the tv and eyes tried to peer into my soul or maybe communicate telepathically. When Haas stares, that means he wants to go out. As Haas went out, Drake and Percy came in, so Haas, of course, no longer wanted out.

Then, the weirdness happened. Percy jumped up on the couch next to me and sat tall. Haas and Drake sat at attention facing Percy while Percy proceeded to growl, grunt, and yip at Haas who just watched for at least two full minutes. Percy dismissed his troops with a last bark and then they all wandered off to chew on various toys. Just a few minutes later, puppy wrestle-fest 2018 commenced and the boys were sent out again.

Since they went outside, I had a few minutes to imagine what Percy was saying. I’m probably way off but since I don’t speak dog and Percy doesn’t speak English, I’ll never know.

This is what I imagined…

Percy: Giant Dummy! (I think Percy was being rude) You will listen to Mom! Mom said go outside. You didn’t go outside. It’s not fair for you to have Mom all to yourself when Drake and I aren’t there. She is my mom. I was here first. Just because you are bigger than mom and dad doesn’t mean you are the boss.  Mom is the boss…I mean, I am the boss. Ha!

Drake: She likes me better.

Percy: Doesn’t!

Haas: She likes me better.

Puppy wrestling commences.

Or maybe he was giving orders instead…

Percy: Boys! Mom yells at me for barking so you must do your part. Haas–there is a new puppy to the south. Bark at it three times a day. Drake — you are now tall enough to put your face in the hole of your neighbor’s privacy fence to the north. The chickens can’t out-noise us. Our dignity is at stake! Remember, bark a lot. Mom can’t afford to buy bark collars for all of us.

It seems I need more human interaction. It’s a good thing school starts soon.

I don’t stop at dog birthday parties.

Let’s get controversial for a few minutes. I’m ready to make some people huff loudly (bonus points if you have a mustache!) and roll their eyes. I haven’t started a good “debate” in a few weeks and regular school won’t start for about 2 months so no outlet there.

I love, love, love when my kids are able to, civily, take sides on an issue or statement and explain why. I’ve heard great reasoning for why organ donation should and should not be mandatory and why the voting age should be adjusted. (Interestingly, it was a pretty even 3 way split between lowering it, keeping it the same, and raising both the voting and draft age to 25 — all kids’ ideas)

Since my brief stint in summer school didn’t allow the time for teaching self-control (i.e. not calling a classmate an idiot for disagreeing with your position), I can just voice my opinion here.

Ready? Don’t drop me if you are a follower… I don’t have many to spare.

I love clothes on dogs. It’s adorable! A boxer in boots or a schnauzer in a necktie is a dog I want as a friend! Put a hoodie on that dog and I am done. Get me a picture and a pawtograph. (OH! That could be a fun idea for a fundraiser — get a picture of you and your dog with their paw-print autograph. I could be like a photo booth. Focus, crazy dog lady….)

Just because a dog has fur doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little extra warmth.

Gypsy and Stump in older days –Gypsy loved her sweater for cold walks in the snow.

If your pooch is older, why not keep those joints warm with a brightly colored argyle sweater? I need to put that on my list for Drake. He’s a happy lookin’ fella and argyle will put him over the top. The husband will certainly agree if it allows Drake to go outside for longer periods of time with his cold-weather-loving brothers. After he gets used to his sweater, I can buy him a raincoat and rain hat. I’m sure they have one on Amazon. I just checked — there are 10,000 results when you search “dog costumes” on Amazon. Now I can start counting down to Halloween.

Getting the boys embroidered vests with their names on them would also help Youngest Child and the neighbors tell them apart. Currently, I hear about “the big black dog” misbehaving. They are all at least mostly black. Confusion eliminated. Everyone wins when dogs wear clothes!

Think of the jobs that would be created and maintained. I wonder how many dog fashion designers there are. Maybe I’ll look that up.  Someday. I’m going to guess the highly technical “a lot” with the caveat that some are probably amateur part-timers who are just as awesome as the full-timers. Do they count for job statistics? I could look that up, too, but I probably won’t. Instead, I am going to start picking out the boys’ Halloween costumes. I wonder if they make any in metal.

What’s in a name?

In college, my goal in life was to retire to the beach and make a living building driftwood furniture. I would have a German Shepherd named Hank and we would walk along the water’s edge every morning and play fetch with a tennis ball.

Since this dream was so far away, I could ignore the obvious problems: dogs aren’t allowed on many beaches, I live in a landlocked state I am rather fond of, and I don’t know how to build furniture.

Retirement is much closer these days and while I sometimes joke about running away to build driftwood furniture, I still haven’t named one of my dogs Hank. Even as my dream evolves, for some reason I haven’t let go of the idea of a German Shepherd named Hank. That part of the dream will probably never happen.

First, one of my brothers-in-law has a related name and I feel vaguely concerned that he will think I don’t like him if I use that name for a dog. It could also get confusing at family gatherings. What if I just yell, “Hank. Sit!” or ask the dog to “heel”. The brother-in-law might find out how bossy I can actually be.

Second, I tend to have rescue dogs and I feel bad about changing their names. How many names has the poor pooch had? Can dogs have an identity crisis? This is why Percy is still Percy and not Yeti or Linus. When I moved school districts, the new place calls me something slightly different from what I was accustomed to and that was weird enough. I’ll just let someone else have the chore of coming up with a name.

My new retirement dream is starting to take shape. It still involves dogs. My plan is to make lots of quilts, volunteer with a rescue organization, call and harass my children a few times a week, and work as part of a therapy dog team. This is probably a more achievable dream given that the husband has banned me from power tools that cut and superglue. (I wouldn’t super glue the furniture together, but I might want to glue sea shells on a chair or something.)

There will definitely be at least one companion on four feet (or on three — I don’t mind canines who have been through some things). I sort of even hope s/he is a little terrible at times. It’ll keep me from missing teenagers!

My, what big teeth you have!

We love rescue dogs. Almost all of our dogs are or have been rescues and mutts are our favorites. Our first family dogs were a schnauzer/basset mix that we picked up at the local shelter. They were adorable little fluff balls who grew into rather homely (if not regularly groomed) dogs. They were awesome though. We loved their sweetness and personality.

Since we know where Percy comes from, we are pretty sure about his lineage. Percy is a Labrador Retriever and Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix. He has webbed toes.  It’s kinda cool. He is also a very handsome boy who is obsessed with playing in the rain. Percy adores all water that doesn’t come with dog shampoo.

I am sitting nicely and I am all dry. Can I please go back out in the rain?

Drake is a little different. When we adopted him, he was listed as a lab mix. I could believe part of it. From his build and bark, I imagine that he is also part hound of some sort. The other parts (I know are not scientifically possible but I teach lit so I can suspend disbelief) I think some science fiction mad scientist or fantasy magician created. He appears to be part pig and part shark.

Evidence (that wouldn’t stand up in court):

  1. Drake constantly makes a snorting/snuffling noise like a small pig. He has no known sinus issues.
  2. Drake roots around in the ground and constantly has a line of dirt on his nose that make it resemble a pig snout.
  3. Drake eats everything, animal, vegetable, mineral, and fabric.
  4. Drake has incredibly sharp teeth and they often show.
  5. Drake shreds every (stuffed) animal he comes across, especially if it is losing innards.

Drake smells something tasty!

I speculate that Haas is mixed with horse. I know his breeds are big (from appearance, we believe Irish Wolfhound and Bernese Mountain Dog), but he was as big or bigger than the miniature horses that lived next door to his foster family. He also likes to rear up on the hind legs and try to nuzzle our faces for affection.  His weird feature is extra toes. I have no idea where they come from.

Teenager is smaller than Haas. Their attitudes are about the same size, though.

In reality, it wouldn’t matter if those mixtures were actually true and not just Monday-and-I-don’t-feel-well musings. I love my boys. They drive me nuts and make a huge mess. They are stubborn and take forever to train and feed. They also give the best snuggles and the happiest greetings, even when Mom comes home in a bad/sickly mood.

I am sure purebred dogs are just as wonderful and have amazing traits that my boys would never have. I think everyone who can and wants to have a dog should have that perfect fit. For us, that perfect fit is the horse dog, the webbed toed rain dancer, and the pig dog.  They are all terrible and amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for even a luck dragon.