Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Puppy Has an Un-Birthday

My Puppy is officially 5 months old. She's the size of my black Lab already, and probably weighs a bit more (since the Lab is now 15 years old and has no muscle tone left.)

To celebrate, I took her and the Big Dog for an early morning romp on the beach, complete with a swim in the ocean. She had a blast. She now smells of salt water and fun at the beach, scents I'll need to wash out with shampoo before my parents visit later in the week.

My husband has accused me of taking these photographs at such an angle as to make Puppy look bigger than she really is. In the interest of fairness, I sat her next to Big Dog for a few comparison shots. Our 4-year-old is a Shepherd/Swiss Mountain Dog mixed breed. She's about a hundred pounds in weight, and while the above photo makes the two dogs look similar in size, you can see below that Puppy has a ways to go.

Which is okay by me. I'd be really scared if they were already the same size, with Puppy not even half a year old. But - even though Puppy is definitely smaller, compare the sizes of their paws. Puppy's paws don't just look bigger because they are white. They are bigger. Much bigger.
The photo session wore her out, and Puppy crashed, exhausted by her "un-birthday" celebration. You know what they say - when they sleep is when they grow.

She's growing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunday Reading

I know I missed posting a book last Sunday, but I did read. I just wasn't feeling well, and didn't post. Or maybe it had something to do with that pesky magazine job and going live with the summer issue....

Regardless... I've been reading through some of my daughter's books lately. Gail Carson Levine is her very favorite author, as I've mentioned before. Last week I read both THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE and her book EVER. It finally dawned on me that Gail Carson Levine must have read Grimm's Fairy Tales every night before bed when she was a little girl, and then dreamed about the stories all jumbled together.

I know I did.

And reading her stories, I can sometimes feel the older fairy tales poking through. Not in a bad or plagiaristic way, but more in the way an old tale informs a new one. Take the works of author Shannon Hale, for instance. In, say, THE GOOSE GIRL, she takes a basic fairy tale and reworks it with details and emotions and feelings. But it's usually one classic tale at a time. Levine blends the tales together in unique and fascinating ways.

To be honest, my daughter has yet to finish EVER - she's having a hard time getting "into" it, she says, and can't quite grasp the Greek-like god concepts. Maybe when she's a bit older. She did love the TWO PRINCESSES book, and made me read that one as soon as I was done with EVER.

It's a better narrative. The characters are easier for a little girl living in New England to understand, without having studied ancient civilizations or Middle Eastern legends. And it's a satisfying story without having to know any of the fairy tales that it may be based upon.

Levine is a great writer, and has found a niche that satisfies a younger reader's thirst for adventure, as well as an older reader's thirst to reclaim some of those dreams from her youth.

Puppy Keeps Growing

Puppies are like children in so many ways. Number One on my list is that they keep growing up. Like kids, they have their good days and bad days, their ups and downs. They make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.

My oldest child graduates from 8th grade this week. My youngest child has her Moving Up ceremony today to celebrate leaving the elementary school and entering middle school. I no longer have any kids in elementary school and I'm almost the mom of a real-life high schooler.


They all keep on growing up.

This first photo of Puppy was taken in March, two days after she came into our lives. That's my kitchen stool she's hiding under. She loved to hide under things to feel safe from those other bigger dogs and kids. At least until she got more familiar with everyone...

By the time April rolled around, she no longer fit under my desk at my feet and barely fit under the stool. Although that didn't stop her from trying.
She's come a long way in both temperament and maturity since then. Heck, she'll be all of five months old on Sunday. She's still sweet and usually pretty mellow - although if you've read this blog, you've heard about a few of our learning experiences... teddies, books, coffee tables... oh, I didn't mention the coffee table? It'll be fine once I sand it all back down...

I'm hoping Puppy keeps on being mellow and keeps on learning the Right Thing To Do. Because she's still growing. And she's still very much a Puppy.

This is the same kitchen stool.
I repeat, Puppy will be five months old on Sunday.

I'm thinking we should have named her Clifford the Big Red Dog. Except that she's a girl, and she's not Red.

But she's Big.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Writer, Etc."

I was just going through my "blog roll" - the list of other blogs that I attempt to follow on a semi-regular basis - and followed a link to another writer's blog. She lists herself as a "writer, etc." which I found intriguing.

As if nothing else in her life truly matters to her sense of self, her identity, her idiom... except for her writing. The rest is all just "etc."

I found myself envious. And then I found myself confused by my envy.

Do I consider myself a writer? Yes. Yes, I do. After wanting to be a writer since second grade, I finally feel like I can call myself a Writer.

Am I proud to call myself a Writer? Instead of, say, a Doctor or a Lawyer or a Teacher? Well, I would have to say I like my chosen career. I'd like to be more successful at it, but success takes time and work. I'm working on it.

Do I consider myself to be ONLY a writer? Well, no.

I feel like my sense of self encompasses more than just the time I sit at the computer creating and editing. All the "etc." is a big part of who I am, and who I want to be.

I'm a mommy who bakes cupcakes for the last day of school and drives my son all over creation for his soccer games and follows my other son's band around Cape Cod. I'm a supportive wife who listens to her husband's work sagas on a daily basis. I'm a sister, a daughter, a friend... a landscaper, a window washer, a dog walker, a homework hotline, a recycling fiend, a taxi driver, a Girl Scout leader, an emergency daycare provider for my neighbors.... I'm also a magazine editor who has to gather stories, coax and nurture other writers, and make it all work together on the page... there are lots of things that define who I am in addition to my creative writing.

So should I be jealous of another writer who has such a narrow world view? Or just envious that she presents herself to the world in such a laser-focused manner?

I'll have to think about that.

Meanwhile, I have cupcakes to bake.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Summer Issue of CapeWomenOnline is Available!

The Summer Issue of CapeWomenOnline is available just in time for the Summer Solstice! Check it out at www.CapeWomenOnline.com

It's amazing how each issue seems to take on a life of its own, creating an overarching theme where we hadn't realized there was going to be one... and then you step back and look at everything as it pulls together and say "Aha! This issue is about..."

The Summer issue is about being brave enough to follow your dreams. For example, in our Life Stories section, you can read about one Cape mom who's taking her young daughter and moving to Mexico for the coming school year, in search of adventure. And read about another brave woman who chucked a secure job in the financial sector to follow her dreams of becoming a chef.

We have another article by Jen Villa, who followed her dreams a year ago to open her own art gallery here on Cape Cod and is now helping and promoting other women in their pursuit of artistic dreams. Debbie Hagen tells us how she's coming full circle in her life, by combining her previous career in nursing with her holistic shop.

Lynn Delaney's "Message from Spirit" always comes to us at the last minute, as Lynn waits for her spirit guides to deliver their message... and again, it never fails to amaze me how the messages fit in with the themes of the issues. This one's theme is "Shift Up from the Gear of Fear" ... don't let fear of failure stop you from pursuing your dreams.

On days like this, I feel truly blessed to be working with such a wonderful group of women and putting out such a good-looking and thought-provoking magazine.

Happy Summer Solstice, and Enjoy the new issue!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Puppy Steals a Friend

Puppy is generally a good dog... well, except for that hardcover book over the weekend, but other than that she's been really good about not taking things that aren't hers.

Except for Bitty Bear.

My daughter's American Girl doll sits on her own bed in my daughter's bedroom, with her mini-version of American Girl magazine, and her teddy bear. Luckily, Puppy has no interest in chewing up the expensive doll. But she covets the teddy bear...

She's stolen it quite a number of times... just to play with. Whenever the bedroom door is open, she makes a beeline to the doll bed, and "borrows" the teddy bear. Okay, steals.

Granted, the teddy's fur is a little stiff now from all the love it's received over the last few weeks. But as you can see, it's limbs are all still intact. Puppy just likes to play with it.

I'm tempted to let her have the teddy. After all, they are awfully cute together. But... that might set a bad precedent. As in, steal what you want and it'll be yours.

Who knows what she might decide to steal next?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puppy Visits the National Seashore

Puppy and I spent the day in Eastham this week, while Number One Son went to "Step Up Day" at Nauset High School. Puppy ate a hardcover book the day before, and I just didn't trust her to be alone for too long...

We decided to go hiking along the National Seashore, of which Eastham happens to host a large majority. If you've never been, add it to your to-do list. Pristine acres stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, and stretch through white cedar forests and salt pond marshes.

Puppy had fun.

Interpretive trails as well as winding bike trails make their ways through forests and marshes toward the Atlantic shoreline. Interesting trees and greenery line the paths.
Puppy was much more interested in the bicycles whizzing past us. Most of the bikers rang their bells or called ahead to say, "On your left!" Some slowed down to ask about Puppy, or comment on how cute she is and what a great smile she has. When we found the coast, there was no blue sky above but plenty of beautiful misty vistas ahead.

Puppy had a fun day, as evidenced by her smile. Number One Son also had a great day checking out his new school. All in all, a good day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday Reading

Okay, So technically it's not still Sunday. My Sunday was filled to the brim with nervous musicians, wonderful performances, and kids splashing in the after-party pool.

Part of me would have rather been curled up with the book I started on Saturday: THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett. I had mailed the hardcover of this book to my mom for Mother's Day... and she brought it with her on her visit for me to read as well.

My mom loved the book, and in a strange coincidence, my sister was also reading The Help on her visit, having taken it from the library. She was engrossed, which made me all the more eager to read it. It was on my to-do list last night after getting my little rock musicians settled into bed for the night.

Alas, my growing, teething, bored little puppy who wasn't allowed to come with us for the afternoon of rock concerts and pool parties... she had other ideas for my mother's hardcover book.

When we arrived home the house appeared littered with confetti, as if the puppy had her own after-concert party. Up the stairs, down the hallway, all over the living room and the t.v. room.... shreds of the bright yellow dust cover as well as ripped pages... and the hard cover, ripped off and heavily teethed upon. Uh oh. So much for leaving a 4 1/2 month old puppy alone for too many hours in a row...

So while I can now anecdotally recommend this book with great certainty - my book club loved it, my mom loved it, my voracious reader of a sister loved it, and my Puppy literally ate it up - I've only finished the first 50 pages.

I guess I need to go get on the Library waiting list. Or buy my mom a new book.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Madness of June

Ah, June. The end of school. The start of summer.

It should be a happy month of sunny weather and smooth transitions.

Okay, is that true for anyone else out there? Because in my house, chaos is at the helm.

Two of my children are "stepping up" out of their respective schools this month, and just brought home detailed day-by-day calendar sheets of the "transition" events taking place. The older child also has "Step-Up Day" at his new high school to check out, which is an out-of-district choice (read: mom has to drive) ... and the soccer team won the division so there are soccer tournaments to fit into the schedule... And the end-of-year concerts for my musicians are coming up so we need to squeeze in a few extra practices ... oh, and Garden Club decided to run right up until the last day of school... and the 8th grade dance committee needs help decorating for the semi-formal...

If you have kids, you know what it's like to juggle calendars and commitments. If you have more than two kids, you've known chaos. Three kids in three directions is too much sometimes... but I'm not sure I'd want it any other way. Would it be better if they came home every day and sat quietly watching television? Quiet? Calm? Stress-free?

No. I'd rather have them joining teams and clubs, playing instruments and singing in the school chorus. These are the things that add color and texture to the fabric of our lives.

June is just crazy-quilt month.

Do you have a secret to keep all your various end-of-school happenings and commitments organized and stress-free? If so, please share! I'm sure we'd all love to hear strategies that work!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Puppy Meets the Extended Family

I haven't posted in a while because we've been busy with Family. My parents are here for a visit, and it was my dad's birthday. My son gave him a "disguise kit," to pretend he was younger...

Puppy wasn't quite sure what to make of it all.

Families can be fun. And families can be silly. That's what families are all about. Puppy is still learning all these things.

Over the last few weeks, puppy has been meeting a lot of the extended family, both human and canine. She's been to Memorial Day celebrations and Big Birthday Bashes. She's gotten along well with just about everyone....grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, chocolate labs, cock-a-poos...

My aunt hopped in the car with my folks as they drove up the Atlantic coast. She was excited to be able to meet the Puppy while she's still a little things. Little being a relative term, so to speak.

Some of Puppy's cousins really are little. Her two Chatham cock-a-poo cousins are already tiny in comparison to Puppy's 4-month-old size, and they're full grown.

Wait'll they see her again at the next family gathering, the Fourth of July party....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Puppy Learns to Swim

It was Memorial Day weekend. The start of tourist season on Cape Cod. The official start of Summer.

It's also usually the first weekend of the year when we all head over to jump in the Lake. The aunts, uncles, and cousins all trample on over to Chatham, and kick off summer.

Sometimes, this includes the Doggy members of the family.

Puppy came along. Now four months old, it was high time to teach this Cape Cod Dog how to swim. She was carried out into the Lake, well over her head, and gently released into the water as the rest of us watched and cheered.

My husband tortured her like this twice, before the light bulb finally went off in her head.

"Wait a minute!" she barked with glee. "I'm not going to sink - I can swim!"

Once the realization struck her, she was bounding back into the water on her own, playing with the cousins - human and doggy - chasing sticks, following kayaks, and having a grand ol' time.

By the end of the long afternoon, she'd had enough. She still wanted to swim, but she had gotten so thoroughly wet and so thoroughly chilled that she couldn't stop shivering. We wrapped her in a fluffy beach towel, and had to carry her back up from the beach, up the hill to where the car was parked.

So maybe May isn't the warmest time to learn how to swim.

But she learned.