Pets, Parallels and Principles

Indy, Cloud, & Murray

“There are many parallels between training dogs and raising children.”

I was reminded of this wisdom as my grown daughters have married and brought “fur babies” into their homes, both as puppies and as a slightly older rescue. The clarity and consistency of instruction that is required to make a dog feel safe, secure, loved, and well-behaved are often the same as required by young children, and for the very same reason.

When we feel safe and loved and our basic needs are met, we are able to perform to our highest potential.

Each dog has had its own individual needs and behaviors and as a mom of grown children, it has been fascinating to me to see our daughters applying many of the strategies and principles we used with them as they were maturing into toddlers.

  1. Lots of love and affection. Keep in mind, each child has his or her own love language and it is your job to figure out what it is and use it so that they are able to interpret and internalize the love you are expressing.
  2. Clear rules and boundaries. If you can’t explain it in a simple sentence, then don’t use it with your toddler. You don’t have to explain things to dogs, but it is difficult to remember rules that don’t have inherent logic, so why put yourself through that pointless mental exercise?
  3. Consequences. Express them simply, then apply them in a consistent manner. Children and dogs are all about precedent, so once you bend or break a rule, it is twice as hard to ever enforce again.
  4. Rewards. Yeah, this is the good part! Catch them doing something right and reinforce it with rewards. It works with dogs to train them and with kids to teach them a fundamental rule of life and society… Every action and decision they will ever make will have consequences, whether good or bad, and the good ones are more fun.
  5. Adequate levels of activity. Dogs and kids need to play to expend physical energy, promote good growth and socialization, and you get to share in the joy of their exuberant celebration of life. Both species suffer when there is not enough play in their daily routines.
  6. Realistic expectations. Believe it or not, this one often ties back to #5 in a big way. Whether you are dealing with a child or a dog, stress, pent-up energy, or over-stimulation will never make either easy to deal with and you need to be the parent or owner who anticipates, prepares, and then reacts fairly when difficulties arise.

You will think of many more parallels, and I hope you use them to your advantage so that the babies in your life, whether furry or not, grow to be confident, socially adept, and capable of loving you back as much as you love them!

 

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Claus Creativity

I begin with the fact that I am a Christian, attend church, and yes, I know the reason for the season.

That said, my husband and I decided to make Santa Claus the spirit of generosity in our house and to make it FUN! As the girls grew old enough to appreciate it, there was always a special last present from “Santa Claus,” and it was often the most desired gift on their list.

But that was not the good part, believe it or not! 

Each year Santa was left a cookie or two, a glass of milk, and perhaps a little treat for his reindeer by our daughters. He always responded with bites and sips taken from all and with a lovely, handwritten thank you note to them.

The delight on their faces each Christmas morning as they discovered evidence of Santa’s visit will live in our hearts forever. One year there were ashy footprints from the fireplace to the dining room. Another year, reindeer prints and reindeer poop (oatmeal mixed with chocolate powder and glitter) joined the mix. (Note: Do NOT do this on the carpet!) Continue reading

Quest for Turkey Perfection

Thanksgiving Turkey TossOh, Thanksgiving.

You should be one of my favorite holidays with your legendary link back to my Mayflower ancestors, the opportunity to gather with family, all of my favorite fall colors, and what may be one of the greatest excuses to bag the diet for the day EVER!

But, sadly and inevitably, when it came to my production of a perfectly browned, succulent turkey for that important day, the answer came back from fate with a resounding “No.”

My fortunes changed a bit after I married my husband and discovered that he had a deft hand in the kitchen and was not only willing but interested in making the turkey for our Thanksgiving feast.  Yes, he IS the perfect man. Continue reading

A Legacy of Pearls

This is a story of pearls.

When I was in my late twenties, a friend I worked with got an opportunity to go to China. This was not a usual occurrence at that time, and she asked me if I would like her to pick up some pearls while she was there.

“How much are they?” I asked. She wasn’t sure but she thought she could get me a really good strand for $500 or so. I told her I really loved the baroque style of pearls and a pink hue would be awesome.

“Baroque, huh?” she said, “Well, then maybe $400.” Done!

The pearls and 80’s hair – always a classic combination!

She brought back a strand of the most beautiful, lustrous, and baroque pearls and it was long enough to drape around my neck twice over. I wore them frequently, with business suits, dress up, whatever!

Then Dan and I got engaged and I decided I would like to wear them on my wedding day. My mother had done some jewelry making in the late 70s and had ground a large, oval opal herself and gave it to me as a birthday present. My husband and I discussed it and decided to have the jeweler who was creating our custom wedding rings look at it and see if he could create a strand enhancer for my Chinese pearls that would protect the opal and coordinate with the calla lily theme that was emerging from my engagement ring design and the pearl and gold earrings Dan was having made for me. Brian was up to the challenge and created a gold and pave diamond enhancer that was perfect!

Decades went by, and our older daughter was graduating from college. I had an inspiration that led me to have my pearls restrung, holding out two of the most perfect for Brian to make into earrings as her graduation present. They turned out great!

In 2017, our younger daughter got engaged and I was again inspired to take two more pearls from my string to create her wedding earrings. She had an elaborate gown and the simple, shining pearls at her ears were a lovely accent for her special day.

Our older daughter then got engaged and I thought again about those pearls. She had the earrings from her college graduation, but since she had chosen a very simple gown for her Spring 2018 wedding, would a matching necklace work?

It would, and while we were at it, I asked Brian Hoover of Avant Garde Jewelers (Still our jeweler thirty plus years later and the source of our older daughter’s engagement ring!) to look at my wedding necklace one more time and see if he could mount the opal on two single strands of pearls with a simple clasp. My plan was to wear my wedding jewelry for my daughters’ weddings and with the successive gifts of pearls, it was no longer as comfortable as a strand enhancer. Brian was up to the challenge, and there were enough pearls left over with the change to make a simple bracelet of them, as well. It was a lovely memory for me and a meaningful way to share the pearls along with my wishes for happiness in both of their marriages.

WeddingPearlsPanel

My wedding, Dani’s wedding, Devin’s wedding…and the pearls continue! Photography by Wayne Long, Teale Photography, and Amanda Pomilla Photography.

My hope is that these will be heirlooms they will treasure and pass on to their daughters or granddaughters.

This is how legacy works, right?

You invest time, talent and treasure in something you feel passionate about. You pass that on and they pass that on, and someday many decades from now, a square-chinned young woman with bright eyes and a blinding smile may be touched when she wears these old and treasured pearls that the women in her family wore on their wedding days. I do love that image and perhaps she will wear them for her wedding and continue the chain of wonderful marriages. You never know!

Here’s to heirlooms and may they travel down the ages, bringing delight and memories of time past into the future.

 

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Grief, Anger & Pain – How Can You Help?

“Anger can be grief unexpressed.”

I read that somewhere recently and thought, “Wow, I never really thought about it that way.” I knew that anger is often linked to fear, but didn’t intuitively link it to grief. Most of us know that anger is a stage of grieving before you reach acceptance, but what if you or a friend or family member simply gets stuck there. Is there an appropriate time limit to mourning?

The answer is no.

I recently saw a lovely video about helping your grieving loved ones and knew I had to share it with you.

Check it out at Refuge in Grief’s video: How to Help a Grieving Friend. There are Spanish and English subtitles you can choose if you need them, and it was a brief and lovely way to convey some very important information.

If I were grieving, I would hope that the person trying to comfort me had seen this video, and if I was comforting someone, I would be glad I had seen it.

Take a moment and check out the awesome power of acknowledgment. It will feel awkward at first; I won’t kid you about that, but it really can help that person you love or care about.

Be radical.

Let things hurt and acknowledge that it hurts instead of trying to fix it, cure it, or argue those you love into happiness.

You can do it, and so can I…so let’s make a choice to handle pain, grief, and sadness differently and start today.