Our dog died a few days ago. He was hit by a car. The suddeness of it all, having a pet one minute and being gone the next, has been really difficult (but I know anyway you lose a pet is hard). It has left a hole in our hearts bigger than we can have imagined. My husband keeps iterating, he never knew an animal could leave that big of an imprint in his life. But, I knew when we picked out that little puppy just over 10 years ago, that he would become a good friend.

In 2001, Kevin and I had been married just short of a year. I was begging and begging him for a dog. We both didn't want children just yet, and I was sure a pet would help us become better parents. Kevin wasn't so convinced. He had dogs growing up, but never as an indoor pet. And so we came to an agreement, if I wanted an indoor dog, then I would have to pick out a dog to his specifications. It had to be one that would be good with children, smart, low shedding, and most of all...a hunting dog. So I did my research, and finally settled on a Vizsla. It wasn't a very common breed, so I wasn't even sure I would find a breeder in our area. But low and behold, within that week, we found an add in the paper for some puppies. We went to visit them, and I instantly fell in love with "the discount puppy." He was a little bit cheaper because of his white spot on his chest (an imperfection). His big floppy ears and oversized paws seemed disporportioned to the size of his awkwardly tall legs and lenky body. They made him irresistable.

So, in June, we brought him home. We named him Rudy, shortly because it was a hungarian name (and he's a hungarian breed), and also because his red nose resembled Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. He stuck to us like velcro, which is also common of his breed. So, pretty soon we felt comfortable letting him roam around the outdoors without a leash on. If we came inside, he wanted to come in as well. He didn't like to be outside without his people. He was glued to us like bread on butter. He was definitely a people pleaser. And pretty soon after, Kevin started working on him with hunting. They practiced out in the field after Kevin came home from work. Until Rudy began to even "point" at flies in our house. He would point at just about anything that moved. He was itching to hunt.

In fall of 2002, Rudy went on his first hunting trip. He had another dog he was shadowing, and it didn't take long before he got the hang of what he was supposed to do. The guys went on to do a few more fall hunting trips after that. But once we had children, they were fewer and farther in between. Just a couple weeks ago, Kevin's brother mentioned that maybe they should go out to Iowa this fall and take Rudy for one last joy ride, since he was getting up there in age. I guess he wouldn't get to go after all.

As soon as we began to have kids, Rudy's status became lower on the totum pole. We coddled him less and less, and brushed him aside more and more. He began peeing on furniture, perhaps because of the lack of attention. Every time we had a new child, he went through a 6 month phase or so where he'd pee on things. And soon after we were done having kids, he just peed if anything was out of the ordinary...we went on vacation or had company. Our vet said it was because he wasn't sure of the place in our family anymore (he was no longer alpha), and needed a job to do. So we told the girls to give him daily commands and treats too. Katie was very good at giving him treats. And when she headed to the laundry closet, Rudy knew just what she was up to. We had been out of treats for weeks before he died. Katie kept reminding me to get more treats at the store, but I kept forgetting.

So, that morning when a stranger pulled up and rang our doorbell to sobbingly tell us of that she accidentally hit our dog, the guilt set in. Not immediately, but as we pondered our memories of Rudy. Kevin felt bad that we had pushed him away so many times when he seemed to "get in the way." He hoped Rudy knew how much we loved him. And although things had changed at the tail end of his life, I knew he felt loved. Kevin had just taken him for a ride on the Bobcat a few days prior to his death, we had gone for a walk in the soybean field, and he had leaned into Kyra in antipation of her long strokes (they had recently become stronger pals). I know he still felt loved.

Now, as a few days have passed the sting is beginning to subside. I am able to tell his story without sobbing profusely. We are already speaking of him less, and beginning to heal. There are moments where I have to take a second glance and make sure he still isn't there because, I thought I heard the tapping of his overgrown toenails hit the kitchen floor. I also thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye run by as I was weeding, only to find it was the tall grass waving in the wind. He had paced back and forth in the yard so many times before while searching for bunnies. I have found myself still closing our bedroom door before we leave the house, because our bed is commonly where Rudy would sneak to once we were gone. He would unmake our bed and curl down into the covers, leaving a hairy imprint on Kevin's side.

Yes, he was annoying at times...jumping up on guests, begging for food, or prefering to drink out of the toilet instead of his bowl. But his positive qualities way outweighed the bad. He was an extremely affectionate dog. He never onced snapped at the kids, even when Andrew especially pulled his ears, tried to ride on his back, or put a death grip on his tail. He was energetic till the day he died, loving to chase the light of a flashlight, race down the steps to catch his ball, and spring up from his bed when he heard the word "walk."

We will miss our "Ruders" greatly. But I know time will heal. The kids already want a puppy. It's too soon. We are hoping that as time heals, the kids will think of the idea less. Although Kevin was sure we would never have another dog again, he is already softening to the idea. It breaks his heart to see Kyra so sad, and not even want to talk about him, or think about how Andrew (the true dog lover in the family)will not have a dog to grow with. But I think in reality Kevin himself will miss not having a dog. After all, Rudy wiggled his way into Kevin's heart before he even had a chance.

Little Moments

This summer is flying by quickly. Even my oldest is beginning to relate to the phrase "time flies when you're having fun!" She was so ambivalent to leave her friends at school, but now so unwilling to give up the freedom of the relaxed schedule she's resumed. Yes, it's going by quickly, but I'm glad for the short break we've been given to spend as a family.

This summer began with a lot of skepticism. After all, the first day Kyra came home from school, my car battery died that very day. I was stuck in the McDonald's parking lot for nearly 2 hours trying to stalk people down for jumper cables. I was determined not to cry, but got pretty close when it started to down pour rain, and Andrew was crying because it was beyond his nap time. Fortunately a man in a beater of a truck lent me a hand and got me back on the road. Then the very next day, Andrew learned how to take all of his clothes off during his nap, and proceeded to leave a rather "stinky surprise" smeared all over the crib. Needless to say we were not off to a great start.

But the largest obstacle at hand has been overcoming Andrew's temper tantrums. Now maybe I have forgotten quite a bit over the years, but I don't remember the girls going through nearly this difficult a stage. Andrew still does not speak a whole lot, which might account for some of his frustration in trying to verbalize his needs, but he is down right irritable. He screams, he throws, he whines, and is obsessive in doing things his own way. He makes my blood pressure rise. So we have spent a good part of our summer learning how to discipline him, learning how to control our own temper when dealing with him, and learning how to take joy in the little moments. And I think that right there is the key. There is hardly a day that goes by that Andrew does not have a tantrum, and for the most part I would focus on them to try and nip them in the bud! But then I would be all tense at the end of the day, feeling like I have not been able to enjoy my summer with the girls, or my whole family. I kept focusing on how frustrating life is, instead of stepping back and looking at what little accomplishments he made that day, or something cute he did. And believe you me, he certainly does make us smile. I have just been forgetting to focus on those little moments to get me through some of the more difficult days.

So this evening, when he wouldn't stop crying after I put him to bed (he used to go right to sleep, but cries almost every night and naptime...only usually for less than a minute), I picked him up and rocked him. He layed into my shoulder, until his lower lip stopped quivering, and he slowly patted my back as I sang him a song. I smiled as I watched his tiny fingers tap my back, and thought about how fortunate I am to be given this gift. He is a great cuddler, and I will cherish that little moment we had together. For even if he is back to his normal tricks tomorrow, I know he can be the sweetest boy in the world. And I'm sure with all the grief and frustration I have given God for not obeying, fleeing, or having my own tantrum, he looks forward to those little moments with me too.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

While serving breakfast at the table:
Kyra: Why are we having asparagus with eggs?
Mom: The two of them can go together. (preclaimer: the poor kid has to endure a lot of asparagus because it is currently growing in our garden, so we have it at least twice a week).
Kyra: No they don't. You always say food has to go together and these don't! Maybe they did way "back then," or in another country, but not here and not now! (Ahh, didn't realize she is picking up on my compulsive behavior to have complimentary food on the table.)

While driving in the car:
Katie: labla...tata..dadeda smarakatcha (and this went on for some time).
Mom: Katie what are you doing?
Katie: Well Andrew has his own little Spanish, so I'm making up my own absurd Spanish. (gotta love her!)

While finishing up at the dinner table:
Mom: Oh, hon...tell me Andrew didn't eat more than one cookie at church today (this boy is notorious for sneeking cookies after the church service!)
Andrew: COOKIEEEE!!! (and with that, he got down from the table, went to the pantry, and struggled to bring us the container. Andrew doesn't say a whole lot, but he knows the important words!)

If you want to read more tiny talk, visit Mary's.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

We've had a very sick household lately. I wish we could quarentine all the germs into one room...but Andrew follows the girls most places they go. The tricky part is simply trying to keep their drinks away from him, because he seems to want any cup but his own. Anyway, I am hoping with the warmer temps and signs of spring, this last bout of stomach flu was the last for the season. Amidst all the sickness though, Kyra did manage to make us smile with this little comment of hers: While sitting on the couch: Mom: How's your stomach babe? Kyra: Not so good. I really hate being sick. It's awful. I wish Adam and Eve had never sinned. (I guess she recognizes some of the consequences of "the fall" more than I realized!) Have a happy spring day everyone!

Happy Birthday Katie

My little Katydid turned 5 today. This birthday has been anticipated for some time. The poor girl has no concept of time, and every time someone would have their birthday, she'd sigh deeply and inquire when it would finally be her turn. Boy do I remember the days when time seemed to go so slowly! But she made it, and made it a point to ask every night how many days were left until the big day.

This year she simply wanted to share her day with her family and cousins. The main dish was decided months ago, when she discovered that she finally really did like soup (none of the kids are big soup eaters). Of course the only soup she really likes are the creamy ones, so she opted for the Cheddar Brocolli soup. She also made it a point to have salad (one...because she really loves salad, but I think she also did it because her sister doesn't like it, and she likes to get a rise out of her sister!). And of course, we had yet another Barbie cake. Thankfully, it didn't seem to be as hard to make now that I did it once before.

It really was a great party. I felt a little bad that Katie wouldn't be having a big themed friends party, but she honestly didn't seem to care. She was with most of the people she loved, and that's all that mattered. We had our dinner, chatted for awhile, while the cousins played with one another, and then the kids were surprised with a pinata!! The girls had been asking for a pinata for a couple years now, but I kept trying to hold out for a time when we'd have more kids. But, Aunt Linda pulled through (not even knowing the girls had really wanted one) and tacked one up in the garage. And let me tell you, it didn't take long for those little ones to catch on. Even Andrew wanted in on the fun. There were lots of squeals of delight.

We finally headed in to open presents, in which Katie really had a hard time choosing which one was her favorite. She really loved them all (she pleases easily, for which I am very grateful). But, I suppose if push came to shove, she would say her Pillow Pet unicorn.


I hope you know how much joy your smiles give us. Your giggles and carefree attitude are refreshing. Katie, I have enjoyed getting to know you better this year through our time at home "doing school." I have watched you grow in your curiosity for how the world works. Before you were such a quiet girl...spending sometimes an hour alone in your room playing with dolls. Now, you are beginning to asking so many more questions, bringing your inner voice to light! You have learned your alphabet, the sounds they make, and are beginning to rhyme as well. We have read more books than I can count, and I have thoroughly enjoyed our lap time together. You continue to be such a cuddler, and at times need to be reminded of "personal space." But I will cherish this time, because I know it won't last forever. Katie you continue to be a strong willed, want to do it yourself, but affectionate little girl. I admire your determination and hope it gets put to good use when you are older. I look forward to the new growth, and experiences you have in the next coming year and hope we continue to grow closer together. I love you very much.


Monday Meanderings

Life sure has taken us for a roller coaster these last few weeks. Everytime I think that we have a few weeks of slow pace, something new comes our way. I guess that's God's way of keeping us on our toes, and a reminder all the more that we have to rely on Him. I remember a few years back, that January and February seemed to be our "slow" months out of the year, where we could catch up on purging old files, and clothes in our closets. But I guess when you are homeschooling, running after a toddler, and keeping up with the activities of a 1st grader, that doesn't happen so much.

When the New Year came to, I had intentions of not making any New Year resolutions, but focusing on having a positive attitude. Overall, I think I have done pretty well. I have been knocked down a few times (perhaps a test from God?), but through people's encouragement and prayer, have been able to pick up my attitude and head in the right direction again. I seriously don't know how people can cope without God.

This past couple of months we have had a long visit from my parents, which was so enjoyable. It was especially joyous for me to see the bond between my kids and their Grandparents grow stronger. I love to watch them interact and am very thankful for such caring and loving parents. We have had our share of illnesses these last couple months, but were fortunately able to enjoy the moments in between. We've had snow days and opportunities to go sledding down our front yard. Kyra is enjoying the outdoors so much more than she used to, and in fact was kind of sad to see so much of the snow melt away the other day (fortunately we just had another storm and the ground is now white once again). Katie is making great strides in her efforts of learning the alphabet and how to write each letter. She really has very nice handwriting, and I'm sure she will do well in kindergarten. Andrew continues to get into more things, but mostly brings a smile to our face, although his recent bought of teething (4 teeth at once) had us at wits end. Thankfully he isn't pushing the kitchen chairs up to the countertop and turning on the coffee maker so much anymore (of course that's been replaced with toilet flushing). But he has started to say a few words now, which brings me some relief in my worries. His favorite word is "car", but he recently said "kookaburra" (odd, but I'll take it).

I still have hopes of documenting some of life's great memories in the near future, but for now will leave with a few pictures.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

If I were regularly writing in my blog, I would remember to write down more of the funny things the kids are saying...but alas I'll have to rely on what remains in the storage of my brain. Katie has been a hoot lately. She has been making us laugh with some of the words she has been making up, along with even opening up more to others. Normally she is a rather quiet girl, but even her Sunday School teacher said the last week she had them all laughing up a storm with her silliness. That is such a joy to hear, knowing that she can have a hard time opening up. She still has nothing on her chatty sister, but that's okay. I'm just enjoying the whipper snappers she comes up with at random. Here are a few:

While entering her newly decorated room (after we put up their bunkbeds):
Katie: Kyra!!! Look we finally have bunking beds!! (weeks later, she is still calling them bunking beds)

While sitting at the table coloring:
Andrew: ba, ba, dad, umph, ba (he is quite chatty that little one, but still doesn't say much clearly)
Grandma: See...he talks. He's talking quite a bit!
Me: Yes, I know Mom, but not much that I can understand.
Katie: He has his own kind of Spanish.

While sitting at the dinner table:
Kyra: I don't want to take a bath tonight! (sulking with her head down)
Katie: Mom...Kyra's not being very gladiful.
(a couple days ago we had just talked about doing things with a joyful heart, apparently Katie recognized Kyra's lack there of, and intrepretted it with a new word!)

If you'd like to read more tiny talk, just visit Marys.