History Repeats Itself

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I will reread some of my posts from the last year. Sometimes, it’s a bit…dull. Sometimes, I wonder how I still have three dogs who are all in good health and we still haven’t had sock removal surgery. Go Percy!

Last time I checked the diary archives, I noticed that this time last year I was counting down the days and being frustrated by Percy’s lack of training success. This year is a little different. I have avoided finding out how many days are left but I am still frustrated with dog training. This time it’s outwardly Haas being uncooperative but actually it’s me falling back on old habits. I’m letting my stress over end-of-school-year stuff get to me. I’m on top of the paperwork. I’m behind on preparing to let my kids go and on being consistent with dog training.

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Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll keep an eye out for papers that need to be graded. We’ve got this!

I figure I am learning by at least recognizing what the problem is. That’s a start, right? I know that when Drake’s turn comes around to go to obedience school, I won’t be starting in the spring. Ideally, I will get my rear in gear and have Haas finished up by the early fall. Then, I can start Drake when I am still busy but less likely to get overly emotional anytime something doesn’t go my way. This sounds like a plan! I can do this!

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We don’t need to train, Mom. Let’s enjoy the deck and my dirt wall art.

I could start my super enthusiastic return to the training regimen tonight and turn over a new leaf. The weather is beautiful, though. Maybe one more night of denial won’t hurt. Surely, I can still get everything in order tomorrow, right? My kids won’t move on for almost a month, I have several days before going to training again, and I don’t really need to come in out of the sun.

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Drake was just awfully cute and minimally dirty so I had to get a picture while I could.

Happy Monday evening to all.

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.

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.

Haas started school

After a few months off, we are back at the training thing with a different dog. Haas is a much more well-behaved boy than Percy was on his first day. Haas didn’t bark, imitate an over stimulated and under supervised toddler, or defecate in the middle of class. I count it as a win!

Geez, Mom. This is lame.

It amazes me how different they are when it comes to training. For Percy, my food-driven fiend, skipping breakfast and new treats were key. Haas wasn’t so interested in treats. Instead, I’ll have to transform into super cheerleader mom and play up the attention. I may also try popcorn since I don’t think chunks of concrete are our best choice of snacks. Haas might disagree but I bet his teeth are firmly on my side.

We have already had a decent start with learning “heel” positioning but once Haas hauls his fluffy self up, it’s hard to get him to stop when I do. He seems to think it silly to get up for just two steps. He would sigh and give me the same look I give him when he gets mud on the sofa –it’s a good thing I love you.

It almost felt anticlimactic to leave without special instruction or having to stop class to get an unruly canine under control. I know Haas will have his own challenges as we start our obedience journey. It’s almost like getting a new group of students. I am sure we’ll do fine. It’s just time to differentiate that instruction! These boys aren’t so different from my classes of teenagers. They’re wild, stinky, loving, and predictably unpredictable.

May your week be pawsitively wonderful!

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.

I’m still standing…

Some weeks are hard. Last week went beyond hard and bordered on laborious. No, that’s not the right word. It was laborious in terms of work and tasks but gut wrenching for the emotions as well. It’s fine. Days keep on passing and sometimes there is comfort in that. I find my biggest comfort in humor. That’s part of why I love my boys. They do weird stuff that makes me laugh.

As a worrier by nature, my job can be an amazing opportunity to feed that nature even while trying to fight it. Kids can have rough lives they can’t just leave at the door. I do all I can to help my kids be better than I am. If, in some minuscule way, I can help them learn how to form positive relationships, manage stress, believe in their inherent value, and see the possibilities, maybe they can avoid some of the challenges I face and they can make a difference in the world. (That sounds super self righteous but good intentions are in there somewhere)

So–how do the dogs fit in? This is supposed to be a dog blog and not just aimless ramblings by a strange old lady. How do three ginormous, blanket-eating fuzz faces fit in to this self-indulgent pity party? They are actually the good guys here. I may struggle to teach them to “down in motion” or “shake” or “potatoes aren’t toys”, but they teach me to love more and try to be less self-centered.

They don’t let me sit around feeling unloved for too long. There is always fetch to play, balls to catch, chins to scratch, and dog vomit to clean up. Tonight, Percy knows I need him. He can’t speak my preferred love language. He can’t perform acts of service for me or cook dinner. He can give dog kisses and snuggles. I know he wouldn’t have bonded with me if I hadn’t fed him and worked with him and shown him love first. He’s a payoff I may never get elsewhere, which is perfectly fine.

My kids, take-home and school, may not ever speak the same love languages I do. They are all different and have their own lives. I don’t even expect them to love me as I love them. At some point, they’ll all have to go off and leave me behind which is exactly as it should be. They all have such amazing potential to change what is wrong in our world and expand on what is right. I can’t fix the world. I can’t fix my kids, and I can’t fix myself. Someday, I’ll accept that. In the meantime, I am going to ice my sprained knee, think about the grading I should be doing, and scratch a dog or three.

Thank you for indulging me this evening. Wallow time is over now. It’s time to catalogue the trio’s tribulations for next week. I hope to talk to you next week and wish you lots of love and laughter.

Today’s list

This is the time of year that can be a challenge.

First: the weather.  Will it be 80 when I get out of school or do I need a parka? Will my backyard be a lake or… nope, the backyard will be a lake. I like to refer to this time of year as “carpet shampooer season.” It becomes my best friend and the only way to avoid growing a mud monster of my very own.

Second: Parent-teacher conferences. It’s not that I want to avoid parent contact. I get to tell parents how great their kids are. It’s the long days. At the 12 hour mark, I am feeling as if I have been away from home for forty years. I’m too introverted for that. The worst part of those long days is that I miss my trouble-making boys. For some reason, I am not allowed to pack up 250 pounds of dog and bring them to school. I know it isn’t a good idea, anyway. Drake is in a slapping phase. I hope it is a phase, anyway. I’ve never known a dog who got annoyed and hit whoever or whatever he was mad at. I caught him trying to smack Oldest Child the other day just because he didn’t want to go to bed. It’s better than biting, but why are my dogs so weird? Maybe a couple long days will be a good thing.

Third: Campaigning politicians. The television and Spotify ads are bad enough but now they are coming to my door. Normally a giant head that fills the window next to the door is enough to deter even the most persistent politician. The barking helps. Then, if they see all 3 of my boys through the storm door and still want to talk, I am impressed. Today’s visitor was smart. She complimented my boys and even remembered their names. Maybe I’ll remember hers in return.

Now I am off to spend some extra cuddle time with the terrors so I can stockpile the love for the rest of the week.

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This is a rare picture. It features both Dad and all three dogs being calm! I checked to see but it isn’t snowing…