Saturday, November 9, 2013

Finally...a new post emerges from the chaos and destruction!

Hello my friends!  First I must apologize because I know my updates are rare and I have been lazy-esp. with this little blog.   One reason is because I hate typing on my iPad (even with my wifi keyboard) but with both my desktop and laptop on strike, I must make do.   And, to be honest, I have been busier than ever lately!

My schedule has been so full (which I thought I would hate) yet I am really enjoying it!  Last year I avoided commitments and schedules and it was nice, but isolating.  This year I try to volunteer at Jackson's school weekly, and I also started co-teaching a weekly religious education class at my new church (St. James).  I am assigned to a group of adorable preschoolers, including my Forrest and have an experienced partner whom I have really enjoy working with.  I had no idea what a fun time I would have!  It's such a nice change compared to last year!

We had an awful kindergarten year (see previous post) thanks to a snobby teacher whose bullying, teasing, and goading created major emotional and physical anguish for my son, so this year I have become very involved up at the school.  Even I was intimidated and slightly afraid of last years' teacher-and it is usually VERY rare for me to be  intimidated.  With last year's teacher, my intuition told me that my interference would only make the situation worse so I laid low and stayed quiet...and those are NOT personality traits of mine so it was hard!

Thankfully this year has been a dream!  Our first grade teacher is an angel!  I have been volunteering in the classroom every Friday for two hours or more, and I must confess I LOVE helping his teacher out for a few hours.  The students are all so adorable!  Plus, I get out of the house and Matt gets to be on duty!

Jackson has become a different child too-he is not begging to stay home every morning pretending to be sick, and his whining and complaining have decreased dramatically.  He had physical symptoms too from the stress and anguish that have gone away almost completely!   The best part of all is that his confidence is back and he is at the top of the class!  I adore being there and I feel so useful helping her with grading, copying, filing, stapling etc, and recently I have been working with some of the students individually with their reading and writing!  I am so inspired that I am seriously considering becoming a substitute for the district! I didn't think teaching was for me, but this year has shown me how wrong I was!

If I could buy Ms.W. the moon and stars I would-she is one of those special teachers who we will never forget and I will always have a special place in my heart for her.  She may not be aware yet, but for our family, she is that teacher who has inspired, encouraged and challenged my son-all in a way that has changed his little life so dramatically and so positively!  I absolutely adore her, even if I feel quite old when at times while I am there helping her!  She is only a few years younger than me but she is so enthusiastic and positive that I really wonder if I have become a jaded old fart.

I have been meaning to post updates more frequently but I have so much to share that it becomes overwhelming!  And I have been having problems with finding any time to write at all!   I just wanted all to know how much better this year has been!  Jackson is thriving!  

As for Forrest, he adores his preschool and has also been growing with major leaps and bounds!  He writes his name, loves art and is a very friendly and outgoing little guy.  His teacher says, "Forrest sure has a LOT to say!"  Yup, that about sums things up right!  He is definitely ready for kindergarten next year.  How strange that will be!  Two kids gone most of the day...hmmmmm.  Forrest will be five at the end of this year which blows my mind!  As my middle child, he definitely knows how to persuade and push me much more than the other two-I wonder why that is!  He is very observant and has a memory like an elephant.  He knows the location of very item in our entire house-even if I lost it years ago or never even know its existence to begin with.  

He reminds me of my brother Michael, who as a child would drive me insane by sneaking around our home to discover what us kids we getting for Christmas-so he could gloriously burst my bubble and tell me what I was getting! I love surprises and unlike most kids, I never wanted to know the identity of my gifts until I opened them.  Forrest is a smart, stealthy, aware, and observant little boy who is never idle or bored.  He seems to have a solid understanding of the world and he observes and shares many small details of life with me-details that I usually have missed.  He seems to have a deep awareness of the people, places & things that make up his world-which is something I have always had to struggle and work at-even today.

Which brings us to Silas,.  My baby is three now, and is so smart!  He says the funniest things, and anytime I want him to do someone he isn't keen on, he tells me, "I do it tomorrow, Mommy." He will not be going to preschool next year...I am selfishly keeping him home another year because he is my last one and I want to cherish this time with my littles.  Oh, and also because I don't want to give Matt any reason to be in a hurry for me to find a job!  Not that he has said fact I think he secretly enjoys having his wife home!  All the same I want to avoid the job thing as long as I can-if not permanently! 

My boys are so awesome and I am so thankful that God helped me find a way to be home with them, where I found myself wanting and yearning to be as a full-time working mother.  I still am surprised by the intensity of my desire to quit my job and stay home-it's not a future I ever imagined wanting for myself in my younger years.  It was not even a choice, thanks to feminism, negative publicity and criticism of homemakers, and because women were focused on workplace equality and raising the glass ceiling.  Equality is important, don't get me wrong! But for me, I wish today's society would stop judging and critiquing each other's life choices and put an end to the ridiculous, polarizing, "Mommy Wars".  I want our country to join together and celebrate the way today's women have the freedom to choose to have a career, or a family, or both.  We may want to stay at home, or work part-time or re-enter the workforce when children grow, or any of the millions of variations of how we try to make our lives as meaningful, happy, and fulfilling as we can!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Work vs Family Time

Today is July Fourth and tonight I felt a little sad as I watched the fireworks display alone.  I have always loved the big, loud firework displays!  Sadly, my little guys cant stay up late yet (because they  still havnt discovered sleeping late) and my big guy can just forget about being off on any holiday.  If he is ever off its due to a rare schedule fluke! Liquor stores don't even get to close for Christmas!
So for my topic tonight I will rant and rave about my husband's hours and how a small "Mom & Pop" liquor store has been a deciding factor of many aspects of our life.

I believe that Matt's evening shift is causing my loneliness to feel worse than ever  before.  Matt actually needed the evening shift when I still worked days at the medical office, but now that I stay home his evening shift is causing our family to drift apart.  We rarely eat dinner together as a family, and Matt & I don't get to share any of the sacred "grown-up" time that occurs when the boys are asleep.  Matt is also unable to partcipate-or even watch-any of the boys' evening activities (like Jackson's karate).

I have to say though, the WORST THING OF ALL about his hours is that during the school year he doesn't even SEE his boys AT ALL during the week because school hours begin when Matt is sleeping, and he has left for work already when they arrive home.

However, I do love that he enjoys his job and he is a valued employee.  He knows his boss truly appreciates him and always treats Matt with respect and kindness.  To me, if you love a job that has crummy hours, it is better than working ideal work hours at a job that is not enjoyable.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Penguin Park

Hello! With school out, my boys are underfoot and the chaos and destruction has doubled here at our house!  I am thankful we had some lovely weather recently, making the outdoors a tiny bit more appealing to me. I despise being hot and uncomfortable, so the sweltering heat of summer is NOT a thing I anticipate.  I always start sweating profusely immediately after exiting my cool, comfy home. My hair is too short for a ponytail (stupid Momcut) and my glasses start to slide down my nose and sometimes they fog up-I dream of LASIK! So you see now why I hate summer and all its sweating!

So to celebrate the start of summer I took the boys to Penguin Park in Gladstone.  As a child this park was my number-one favorite and every trip there was special.  I lived in Gladstone until I was nine, so I have many cherished memories of playing there with my brothers and cousins.  We would dare each other to climb the elephant slide (which seemed terrifyingly high at the time) and take turns in the kangaroo slide pretending to be baby joeys by sticking our heads out of her pouch.  

 The photo on left is an old photo of the park as I remember it in the 1980's that I found on Pinterest. I couldn't find a pic of the elephant before it received its shiny new upgrades. It still looks very high from the ground-making it a fave of my boys.  The park also has been upgraded with that awesome rubber flooring which makes me feel like I am alternately bouncing or sinking.  I think I want it installed in my house! 

The park was not too busy when we arrived and the boys listened as best they can and stayed close enough for me to keep tabs thankfully.  Forrest was obsessed with the merry-go-round and the bigger kids who were spinning it as fast as possible were kind to him, letting him ride and feel like a big shot. Jackson preferred swinging and climbing. Silas was obsessed with the kangaroo slide-which is unchanged from what I could tell- it still has a slide and stairs inside, with a landing to stand on and stick your head out of her pouch. It still had a slight urine smell too-which I remember being present even as a child!

We had tons of fun and I will be back again many times this summer!  

Here is a picture I took of some of the park's new updates- alongside many of the awesome old features from my childhood- it was fun to relive it through my boys' eyes!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

So kindergarten is a's to first grade!

I am sad to share that Jackson did not have a great kindergarten experience this year.  It was rough for us both because his eacher decided on the first day that he was a problem child.  He has his occasional issues of course-but is NOT a troublemaker.  He lives to please!
I was timid and worried that if I spoke up she would just be harder on him so I tried to keep a low profile and now I regret being afraid to speak up.  All year I had a bad vibe that something wasn't right and seemed wrong, but I tried to make those thoughts go away.  Of course, I should know by now not to ignore my intuition!
So I wanted to share, and hope that maybe other parents can take heart and not let fear intimidation stop them from speaking out if something feels wrong, despite no concrete proof-other than a kid who hated school and his mommy's bad vibes!  
I want to share a copy of the letter I just e-mailed to his principal.  All I am still awaiting a reply, but I would love to get some other viewpoints on tis subject!

To explain somewhat, Jackson's original teacher (Ms.B) had to take a leave-of-absence and a sub (Mrs.S) took over the last 8 weeks of class-much to my delight!

Principal G,

Hi, my name is Maryanne Doty. My son Jackson Doty is a kindergartner at your school. His teacher all year was Ms. B and I wanted to share our experience with you.

Jackson and I both had a rough start to the school-year, and Jackson seemed to really struggle all year long in his class until Mrs. S took over due to the unfortunate illness of Ms. B's daughter. I worried about the change because of the bad attitude and negative outlook Jackson has developed over the course of the school year, and because change is harder sometimes for him to handle. I had no need to worry!

We really had a very rough year and I was shocked that my son, who is intelligent, sensitive, sweet and kind was, according to Ms. B, a disruption to class with major discipline issues. I received emails weekly from Ms. B detailing incidents involving my son that seemed to describe a boy I did not know nor had ever personally witnessed. Yes, my son has his bad moments, but I really expected his kindergarten year to be a magical beginning to a wonderful, positive, learning experience. Sadly, until Mrs. S took over, we had a different experience. Jackson hated waking up for school and tried to be sick all the time in order to stay home. But now he wakes up happy and ready to go.

I stopped in recently and thanked Mrs. S for restoring my faith that my son is a normal, smart, active six year old. He is not in need of a medical assessment, as Ms. B once suggested, but actually the normal, sweet boy I always knew he was. He recently told me Mrs S is a nice teacher and he used to think teachers were all mean.

I was intimidated by Ms. B and honestly just tried to be sure not to give her any extra reason to dislike or find fault with my son, but now that we have had an opposite experience, I feel like maybe I should have spoken up earlier about the bad feeling in my gut that, because of personality clashes, my son was being singled out in a negative, unfair way. Jackson even told me before that Ms. B used to make him sit in the safe seat at the beginning of the day without cause. He told me other kids in class would bully or goad him and get him in trouble and she allowed it and always blamed and punished him. He never had a red (great) day until the new teacher-how sad is that?!

Please let me know if this is helpful, or if I am being too sensitive? As a mother new to having children in school I am not sure what to expect or if my feedback is even helpful? I do have records of every email I ever received if they would be of interest. I feel like my son may have been given an unfair, negative introduction to his education and I really want to turn that around for him.

Maryanne Doty

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday morning: The usual chaos and destruction!

Today started like every other day. I wake up every day around six am without fail because I urgently need to pee. I sneak to the bathroom and then try to climb back in bed for a few more minutes of rest. Today was no different, and after I snuck back into bed I lightly dozed until I heard Forrest coming. It was about seven am now. Forrest climbed in our bed along with some of his toy puppies, and we snuggled for a while. Around 7:15 we heard Silas calling for us, so we got him and went downstairs. They each ate a pop tart and watched Max and Ruby on Nick Jr. I got their clothes ready and started making Jackson's lunch. He was going on a field trip to Kaleidascope today. I woke him up around 7:50 and he pottied and got dressed.  That was when the day began to sour.
As Jackson left the bathroom I told him to put his pajamas in the dirty clothes pile (2 feet away).  He refused and stomped his feet and was overall very loud and rude.  I told him in a firm tone if he did not do the job he was not going on his field trip. Then I went downstairs to turn off the tv.  I had to argue and convince Forrest to put his underwear on, and next we had a battle about his shorts. He wanted pants but it was already 75 degrees outside and getting hotter.  But I gave in quickly on this-the pants won!
Forrest seemed ready finally to cooperate and began to dress himself. I grabbed Silas-who yelled at me and kicked me as I lay him down to change his diaper and pajamas. He kicked and kicked and screamed and twisted and rolled and arched his back. He also pulled at his clothes and grabbed my hands.  Meanwhile Jackson was still upstairs yelling that he hated this, and didn't understand why I was making him do this awful task.  I told him I was calling the school when I was done with changing Silas to tell them Jack was staying home. Forrest meanwhile was checking to see if his  peepee would fit through the hole in front of his new underwear instead of putting on his shirt and pants.
This is when I made my first wrong move of the day. I slapped Silas on the leg and somehow contorted my leg over his upper body, pinning him to the floor.  I yelled at Forrest to put his privates away because we do not play with them in public areas-which our living room DOES count as.  When I finished wrestling with the manbeastbaby, I stomped upstairs and held the phone to my ear as I pretended to talk to Jackson's school. He stopped some of his protesting, and ignored me while listening.  When he decided I was not bluffing he put the laundry in the basket and went downstairs running from me yelling, "sorry sorry sorry, Mom!"
Jackson had cereal and milk, plus his iron supplement with orange juice. Then he did his Flovent inhalor which is for his asthma. I had finished his lunch and told him to go upstairs, brush his teeth and kiss his sleeping dad goodbye.  I think it was 8:25 by now. School starts at 9:10, but Jackson has to have a strict routine or he gets worked up, so he likes to be at school at 8:40, when breakfast eaters are allowed in early.  Another story is behind the breakfast ordeal....anyway, we needed to get moving so he would be on time and not begin to unravel.
Then I had gear up for another fight with Silas, who had pooped in his clean diaper. Jackson has picked up a book and started to read it and Forrest was crying because he wanted a cake pop.  I changed the mess as fast as I could, cleaned it up and washed my hands.  I took the book away from Jackson,  because he doesn't read-he becomes one with the book and life ceases to exist for him, outside of the book. He cried like a baby as I nudged him towards the stairs.  Finally he went to brush his teeth, and I got shoes on the other two-which was another battler.  Forrest wanted his red ladybug flip-flops which were nowhere to be found. He didn't want his sneakers or sanders or other flip-flops so I told him to go lay down with his dad instead of walking to school.  He settled on another pair of flip-flops (which I despise).  Silas hates socks and of course always copies his brothers so he too wanted some damn flip-flops. Fortunately their were some his size in the shoe box.  Jackson finished saying bye to Dad and put his shoes on agreeable and he nicely double-checked his backpack when I asked him to. We made it out the door at 8:35, perfect! Score one for Mom!
We walked to school with only two tantrums. One from Silas who hates holding my hand.  He hates me because I pick him up every time he lets go of me to run away. If he would walk with me I wouldn't be so insistent, but he runs away as fast as possible every chance he can. The other tantrum came from Forrest, who was rotten by insisting he be in front of us as the leader-three driveways down!   He too almost had to be carried or hold Mommy's hand.
The walk home was easier, and we made it inside!  It was 9:30 am now, and we had some time to kill....

To be continued

Friday, May 10, 2013

Re: The Newtown Connecticut Real-Life Horror Story

Note: I wrote this back on December 15, 2012 about the tragic shooting that took place the day before at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. For more info try the Wikipidia link:
I guess I wasn't sure I was ready to post it for some unknown reason. Maybe I had more to say but if so, my mind has lost it. I am still horrified by the event and have stayed away from reading detailed accounts because I feel so depressed after learning about events like this. I have managed to box it away in the back of my mind but I do hope we never forget those innocent lives that were lost. I dream that the future brings improvements to our mental healthcare system and I also hope to see our country prioritize both the importance of educating of our youth and their educators safely.

It was hard to send Jackson to kindergarten this morning. I wanted to stay with him all day. I still cannot watch/read/listen to ANY news related to the Newtown tragedy. I can't bear to learn any more at this point and in fact, may not ever be able to.

I know I can't pretend it away but I simply cannot process it yet. I have kept the news off because I am very worried about how Jackson might react if he sees or hears anything about it.

I usually manage to keep tragic, sad scary things such as this tucked away in the back of my mind. It seems, however, that I am having a hard time not thinking about this one. Maybe having gone through my own personal mental health journey in the last two years can explain this, or maybe the thought that my own darling firstborn is just like the little angels who have gone home to God's loving arms too soon but this story won't leave me alone. At night I imagine the emotions of the survivors and family of those who were killed and I find tears streaming down my face, soaking my pillow. I know this didn't affect me directly-but it is WAY to close to home for me and my silly emotions.

I pray that the tragic events that occurred in Newtown might unite our country and motivate us to work together at improving the security of ALL our children and educators. My wish is that our country will acknowledge that its future doesn't exist without our children, thereby moving public education to the top of our nation's list of priorities. If our country acknowledges that providing safe, secure, learning environments for our children IS a priority, it can only lead to a better and brighter future for ALL Americans.

In my opinion, we Americans need to place a higher value on education. The importance of providing safe learning environments for our beautiful, innocent children and their educators must not be forgotten. I also believe our country needs to improve mental healthcare access and treatment options nationwide. If our leaders can recognize that the country's mental health system is failing (indirectly leading to tragic, terrible consequences), and can take measures to try and correct the issues, perhaps some of these horrific events could be prevented in the first place.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Just Another Normal Tuesday

Hello, faithful readers.  I have been lazy as well as clueless about what to write about, and so tonight I am going to write about our Tuesday.  It is identical to most every Tuesday for me.  My apologies.

I woke at 7:00 am when I heard Silas (2) calling me from his bed. I didn't want him to wake his brother Forrest (4) so I grabbed him & headed downstairs.  Forrest managed to sleep through his roommates bellowing and didn't wake until about 20 minutes later.  Silas & I snuggled on the couch watching "Max & Ruby on Nickelodeon.  Once Forrest came down I went upstairs to wake Jackson (6) for school.

By now it's about 8:10am, & Jackson has dressed himself and its time for breakfast-we had waffles today since I ran out of milk.  After breakfast Jackson took his medicine (he has low iron, asthma & allergies) & brushed his teeth while I changed diapers on the other two. Then I had my hourly potty battle with Forrest which ended triumphantly (for me) with him peeing in the potty & putting on his underwear.  Jackson then tells his sleeping father goodbye. His dad is already gone to work at 4:10 pm when school ends for the day.

Next I packed Jackson's lunch, checked his backpack and put shoes on everyone, except Jackson who does his own, thank God.  At 8:40 am the boys & I leave the house on foot to walk with Jackson to kindergarten.  The school is almost 3 blocks away and Silas battles with me with me the entire time because he doesn't want to hold my hand.   This twice daily walk usually follows the same pattern.  Silas starts out happily holding my hand, but soon tries to give me the slip.  I pick him up and carry him every time he fights and runs away, which occurs frequently and without change.  "He HAS to catch on soon," I keep thinking to myself. I am adamant that if he wants to walk he MUST hold my hand.  Meanwhile Jackson is falling behind, getting lost in Lala Land, while Forrest runs ahead yelling "HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" to every person we come across.  Once we get to the   crossing guard and say bye to Jackson,  the 3 of us return back home in much the same fashion.

 We get home from the walk around 9:20 and the boys  watched cartoons for an hour while I laid on the couch catnapping.  I am NOT a morning person and I usually stay up too late because its so nice and peaceful after their bedtime.  Around 10:30 I began to feel like a person once again and Forrest and I argued again about pottying and somehow today he scammed me into agreeing to a picnic lunch outside if he shows me he can be a good boy. And so Forrest won that battle.  He still dawdled and wasted time fidgeting & talking but finally he peed like a big boy.

At 11:20 I woke Matt up for the first time.  Then Forrest and I packed lunches-with Forrest leading the effort.  His and Silas's lunches consisted of a slice of bread, a slice of cheese, a cookie, Goldfish, cheese puffs, and tortilla chips.  Oh, and a juice box too.  Let the record state these are NOT my choices-but I am so sick of the boys wasting food that I chose not to fight this particular battle today.

 At 11:40 am we went out back to eat after I yelled at Matt a second time to get out of bed.  Forrest and Silas ate for 2 minutes or less before they decided to play, leaving me yelling at them to to clean up the mess they had made of their lunches.  In the short time it took for me to put the trash in the bin just around the corner they managed to dig in the mud with their trucks, making a huge mess of their toys, clothes, faces and hands.  Instead of showimy annoyance,  I let them continue on another ten minutes or so because the mess was done, my anger wasn't going to change anything.   When the neighbors began mowing their yard I knew we were done outside because I can't handle mowing thanks to my allergies, so I dragged Silas inside. Happy that Matt was now on the couch and out of bed, I requested that he help clean Forrest and get him ready for pre-school, which he attends in the afternoons.  I started to wash my hands but had to race BACK outside to haul Silas inside again.  He screamed and fought as I tried to wash his hands, telling me I was "bad and needed a time-oup".

By now it was about 12:15 and Forrest was ready for the bus which picks him up at 12:45.  I jumped in the shower and left Matt on duty.  Silas tried to break down the bathroom door for awhile but the lock held firm thankfully.  I finished up and was getting dressed when I heard Forrest start fighting with his Dad because the bus had arrived and Forrest wanted ME to walk him out to it.  I threw on whatever I found ("mom" capris and a tank top) and I ran him to the impatiently waiting bus driver.  Then I came back inside and allowed Silas use of the Nabitab and soon he was busy playing Angry  Birds.

It was now 1:10 pm and I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and started a load of laundry.  Then I cleaned up the living room and vacuumed.  After that I folded and sorted three loads of clean laundry which had become permanent fixtures in the living room.  Matt was helpful and he sorted, folded, and put away his laundry. We also watched a show from our DVR as we folded the clean clothes.  Then he made a pizza to take to work for dinner and we watched another show off our DVR.  

Silas had fallen asleep on the couch-he was laying on top of his game-super funny!  I left him there until 3:30 pm, when I had to wake him up and change his diaper so he would be ready for Grandma. She usually picks him up on Tuesdays after getting off work at 3:30. Today she arrived here at 3:45, and Silas happily left me and his Dad to head up to Grandma's House. 

It was time to walk to school and pick up Jackson, so I left home at 4:00.  Matt also leaves for work at four, so we kissed and said goodbye for the day. I took Jackson's scooter with me since I only had one boy to keep track of, which he was ecstatic about. At home he had an apple while he watched Pokemon, and then he was allowed ten minutes of Angry Birds playtime. 

It was now five pm, and Forrest was due home at 5:10.  His preschool ends at 4:20 but because of distance, crazy traffic and frequent bus stops he arrives home late.  He usually is asleep and grouchy, so today was a nice change-he happily climbed off the bus and came inside agreeably.  He peed and we got ready for Jackson's karate class.  It starts at six and ends at 7:30.  Forrest played with toys, colored, or used the iPad or Nabitab quietly during class as he waited with me.  After karate ended I grabbed some yucky burgers from Sonic for the two boys to eat. Then we drove halfway to Excelsior Springs to meet my mom and collect Silas, who was all clean, bathed & fed!  Thanks Mom!  

Once we arrived home it was already 8:10 so Jackson & Forrest washed up and got pajamas on.  I have them their medicine and they went up to brush teeth followed by prayers. After tucking them in, I rocked Silas for 15 minutes, then put him in bed, even though he was awake.  He knows what  bedtime is and usually he falls asleep with no problems.   By now it was 9:00 pm and I had laundry to switch & dishes to I got on facebook of course...and now I must end this story because the laundry and dishes are still waiting.  I will go to bed around midnight, because this is MY TIME, and it is precious and rare! There  is so much that I needed to do today that did not get done but that is the story every day!   

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The End of a Dream Realized, or Farewell to My Loyal Dog

My Canine Love Story

I should start at the beginning.  I got Chopper in 2002 when he was one year old.  I was living in a little studio apartment, and now that I had my own place I was determined to get a dog.  Ever since I was a young girl I have dreamed of owning a dog.  I spent hours daydreaming about how my dog would follow me anywhere without a leash and do tricks and obey me without falter.  I just KNEW that some day I WOULD have a dog who WOULD be my best friend in the entire world.  When playing house with other children I remember I always wanted to be the dog-not the mom or sister etc.  I always felt that I had a strong understanding of canines and voraciously read any book the library had that involved a dog as a character.  When I got him it only took a day for him to learn that I was his person and he was my dog.  Chopper has always been the sweetest thing in the world, and we formed an amazing bond right away.

My dog was all I had ever imagined and then so much more.  He was my loyal companion and went everywhere with me.  I had some very tolerable friends as they always knew that by inviting me over they also were inviting Chopper.  His impeccable manners made it easier to bring him along wherever I went.  He never had an accident in the house.  In fact, he has been my dog for over ten years now and has never soiled our home-not even once!  Chopper learned basic commands from his first owner, and was also potty trained, so it was easy for me to take it to the next level.  He picked up the new tricks quickly.  His commands expanded from basic sitting and staying to include shaking hands, speaking and growling on command, rolling over, doing spins, dancing and much more.  I delighted in teaching him and showing off his skills to anyone willing to watch us.  He had perfect manners as I mentioned, and never bothered people too much.  After an appropriate greeting of a new person he would not jump or lick or bother them unless they wanted him to.

Chopper was beautiful as a young dog.  I kept his hair longer and he had a topknot that made him look like a perky cheerleader.  He had the best disposition and loved all people and other animals.  I learned about a local non-profit group called Pets for Life that offered Therapy Dog certification classes as well as arranging for the therapy dogs and owners to visit nursing home residents, hospital patients, and even students at school.  I loved this idea and Chopper passed his test the first time we took it, with no prep at all.  He had the perfect calm manner and being a lapdog also helped.  I loved taking him to nursing homes and letting the residents hold him, and hug and pet him.  The residents would open up and talk about their childhood pets  and it was always a very special activity for Chopper and me.  He was a pro and adored all the love and attention, but he never allowed me out of his sight.  If I went to the bathroom he had to come too, or he would whine and pace while waiting for me.

Chopper was my constant companion and he always rode shotgun.  He loved to ride and would stand on my lap so he could reach the window better.  At the gas station his favorite perch was on top of my little Hyundai, surveying the world like the king he was.  We had many years like this together, sharing every adventure.  Chopper always slept at the foot of my bed; he was the best foot-warmer I ever had-until the last 3 years or so.  Poor old guy stopped being able to jump up onto the bed.  I would lift him up and he would stay awhile, but would have to patrol the house every so often-which meant he lost his spot in bed.

Sadly,Chopper began to suffer from some skin allergy problems for about 4 years now. The problems began when we moved to Liberty. A vet was no help, as they wanted me to pay for lab work and skin scrapings and a whole bunch of other tests.  If money was no problem I would have done it all in a heartbeat. However, when your children do not even have health insurance it is hard to rationalize hundreds of dollars of testing on a dog.

So we gave him rotating rounds of benadryl and prednizone. This, along with weekly baths in a antibiotic and anti-fungal shampoo (also costly!) seemed to keep him in decent shape.  He still enjoyed his life, and never failed to be there for EVERY scrap of food that fell on the floor.  He always loved to sit under the baby's high-chair and he also really enjoyed walking Jackson to and from kindergarten twice a day.  As a former therapy dog he must have thought it was his job to greet each person he encountered and the kids loved him to pieces.

He passed away right after Christmas on 12-28-2012.  Taking him to be put down was the HARDEST thing I have done in all 30 years of my life but I knew he had reached the point where his life no longer was enjoyable and pain-free.  As a loving, responsible dog owner I felt it was my duty to ensure he did not suffer in the end.

I want another dog enormously!!! With the 3 little boys however it sadly is going to be put on hold for now...until then I feel that part of my life is incomplete-I really need the comfort and reassurance that only a loyal dog can provide.