Tag Archives: homeschooling

You are alive when they start to eat you.

Champagne and dinosaur dreams. ;)
Champagne and dinosaur dreams. ūüėČ

You may have read that title and assumed I’m talking about teens, but I’m not. Well, maybe not entirely. NaBloPoMo can take a toll on a family.

Here’s the deal.¬†As most of you may know,¬†our holiday celebrations¬†traditionally begin on Thanksgiving Day.¬†Boxes are pulled from the attic, holiday music is queued up, and the stash of holidays DVDs¬†is pulled from the collection and piled¬†by the TV. Throughout the weekend, we are relaxed and playful as we begin¬†dressing our home in the holiday spirit.

Except this weekend, our plans were slightly derailed.

Our plans went south before the weekend even started. With not one, but almost every room in a state of chaos¬†from the massive decluttering I’ve been doing, I was opposed to even one box of decorations being brought into the house until I cleaned up. What I thought would take only one day has taken 3. Additionally, my husband planned on spending only one day on a contract job, before it went south and cost him¬†two additional days. My daughter, A, has been a trooper and has hung out without fuss, but she’s also been fighting a cold. Makes it easy to keep her in one place to ask the “love it or toss it” questions.

In some ways, like our appetizers and holiday movie kick-off, this has been a traditional Thanksgiving for us. However, in more ways than not, it’s been very different.¬†Therefore, it wasn’t too difficult to stray further from tradition and ditch¬†tonight’s holiday movie in favor of the film A was assigned (by me) for her Paleontology class. “Jurassic Park” is on the marquee so she can write a¬†paper about the scientific inaccuracies in the film and¬†how/why they are inaccurate.¬†She’s been looking forward to this assignment all semester. She loved dinosaurs when she was little, and her curiosity only grew from there.

In particular, she loves raptors. I hate raptors. They’re vicious, but they are what fueled her desire to¬†learn more and I, in turn, have been taught more than I ever wanted to know. But we’ve¬†bonded over prehistoric creatures, making it worth ever last piece of trivia.¬†And, as she sits engrossed in her movie, occasionally blurting out a¬†falsehood, I¬†sit grateful for this family time and, especially, for the fact¬†that it’s only raptors that will eat you while you are alive and not teens, unless we’re talking about a juvenile raptor–then all bets are off.

Who knows, maybe this is the start of a new holiday tradition? Few things say festive like death by dinosaur when you live with an teen passionate about paleontology.

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Worthy of Words

SammyI retreated to bed early last night. My body and thoughts were¬†consumed by muscle aches and chills. I worried more about writing this post than I did staying up to watch election results; one outcome I could control, the other I couldn’t. With the thought I could¬†post a “Wordless Wednesday” post, I made my decision. ¬†I needed rest and my body demanded it, so I kissed my husband, daughter, and our old Beagle, Sammy,¬†good night before I crawled under the covers with a heating pad.

Our 13 year old Beagle cocked his head and watched me as I made my way out of the room. Concern and confusion filled his eyes. He always senses when something is off, be it physical or emotional, with any of his humans, and¬†last night something was “off” in both arenas for me. Physically, I think exhaustion was taking its toll. Emotionally, I was worried. Yes, the early election¬†returns were worrying me but more so, I was worried about him, our Sammy, who I knew would face surgery in the morning.

His surgery is both routine, and not routine. He is having some teeth pulled today. Fairly routine in a senior dog. He’s also having a tumor removed. Not so routine, in my world. As an old dog, he¬†developed 2¬†“fatty tumors” on his chest about 2 years ago. Cells were extracted and the results were as expected; nothing to worry about. Then, last month, I took Sammy in for his “Senior Screen” where they ran blood tests, did X-rays, and various other checks to screen for any developing or existing health problems. I asked for a needle biopsy on the latest “fatty tumor” that had developed on his side and grown faster than the previous tumors. The results showed fatty cells in addition to abnormal cells and we were advised to have it removed for a full biopsy. My heart sank, but there were other health concerns that needed to be addressed first. A round of antibiotics for a suspected UTI, a follow-up test and cultures cleared, and we were back on the road to today.

His eyes were filled with both hope and doubt when I picked him up to place him in the car today. His body frail with severe arthritis but his spirit still young, he forgets his limitations often and struggles against the aid to get up and down from locations higher than the Aerobed we leave set up for him in the living room. I settled him into the front seat¬†so I could secure him in place with his leash. Before backing out of the driveway, I flashed back to the day we brought him home. This morning, we¬†would¬†return¬†to the place our journey began, our vet’s office where 8¬†years ago his first family decided he was an inconvenience and they didn’t want him anymore, where¬†8 years ago, he chose us, really chose my girls, and my girls chose him.

We were only casually looking for a dog at that point. Our vet had a family who had a Mastiff they couldn’t keep. “Were we interested,” they asked.

Now, a brief history with our vet might clarify their request. We had already adopted 2 cats from our vet.¬† They joined our menagerie of rescued animals including 2 other cats, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a snake, an Egyptian uromastyx, and a few rats, a newt,¬†and a skink that we did purchase.¬†We often joke¬†our vet knew we were suckers when I paid $25. for a tumor removal on a rat that¬†cost¬†$2.99.¬†Animals, I’ve always believed, offer some of the best¬†lessons in responsibility and compassion and, being a homeschooling family, we had the necessary time to dedicate to all the members of our zoo.

Well, long story short, the Mastiff fell through and we met Sammy by chance on a visit. It was love at first sight. He licked and snuggled with my girls the moment they sat down. Sure, he liked me and my husband, but he LOVED them immediately and despite my doubts (I was always a big dog person, having grown up with German Shepherds), he quickly became an integral part of our family. We often joke that Sammy is the Beagle that never looked in the mirror. He rarely barks or howls like a typical Beagle, making it easy to share a home with him. He is incredibly patient and loving to all the household members, including the rabbits (while they were alive) and bonded closely with one of them. He has been a patient (most of the time) mentor to the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies we raise. And, he beats the suction of our Dyson vacuum cleaner every time! (OK, in that respect, he is all Beagle.)

As I’ve taught my girls, when we open our homes to bring in animals, be it a $3. rat or a high dollar designer dog, we make a commitment to care for¬†and love them. We promise to meet not just their basic physical needs, but their emotional needs and to offer them the best physical care we can afford, and if you can’t afford the¬†expensive unexpected vet bills, maybe it isn’t the right time for a pet. Today’s bill will be expensive. I know that. I knew it going in. However, 8 years ago, I made a promise to a spry Beagle with a heart ready¬†to love me and trust me, and when I looked into those big brown eyes this morning, I knew I was keeping my promise.

It’s Wordless Wednesday, but the love I feel for that old man Beagle of ours is worthy of words on this 5th day of NaBloPoMo.