Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Roller Coaster Day, Part One

(and how my honey survives the ride)

Yesterday was a pretty rough day around here on so very many fronts.  I spent yesterday morning with my brother.  Never a good way to start the day!  As a result, I was frustrated and highly irritable, and that was before my honey took me to a haunted house. My poor honey!  He was in for a roller coaster ride of a day.

It all started out fairly innocently.  My mom asked us to come over and be the sales crew at her latest yard sale.  The reason the yard sale was needed at all had me irritated before the big day even arrived.  My brother had asked my mom if he could use her yard to host a yard sale a few weeks ago.  She'd said yes and that was a mistake.  My brother and his wife brought over tons of old baby clothes and baby toys that my nephew had outgrown.  But, when it didn't all sell on yard sale day, did they pack it up and take it home? Nope.  Did they load it in the truck and take it to Goodwill? Nope.  They left all their junk piled up in my mom's sunroom from floor to ceiling.

My mom assumed they wanted to have another yard sale the following weekend to try to get rid of the rest.  A week went by and then two weeks... no yard sale.  She asked them when they wanted to have another yard sale to get rid of the rest.  My sister-in-law bluntly told my mother that she didn't ever want to go through the hassle of a yard sale ever again.  So, my mom asked them to load up the junk and take it to Goodwill.  They had a myriad of excuses for why they couldn't.  The SUV was too full already.  They had somewhere else to go after they left mom's house.  Goodwill wouldn't be open by the time they got back.  It all boiled down to one thing: they were leaving the stuff at mom's house with no immediate or even distant plans to move it.

Being an intelligent and competent parent, my mother created her own plan for their abandoned stuff.  She would hold a yard sale without them.  She would sell their stuff and pocket the profits.  You snooze, you lose!  She invited my honey and I over to help out.  We weren't really excited about having the early shift at the yard sale, but my mom was really upset about the mess in her house and super ticked at my brother for his lack of effort to correct the situation.  I didn't mention this in last week's blog, but she cried when she thanked me for coming over to clean.  The mess was upsetting her that much.  So, we stepped up to help mom out.

The big day arrived, my honey and I peeedl our eyelids up, and headed over to mom's house only to find...

wait for it...

wait for it...

(You know what's coming already, don't you?)

You guessed it!

My brother had dragged his lazy butt over to mom's house and was claiming all proceeds from the yard sale.  Now, before you start thinking that he had every right to do that, know this...if she hadn't decided to have that yard sale without my brother, he would have left that stuff at her house to rot forever.  He didn't want it and he wasn't going to dispose of it.  Possession is nine tenths of the law, after all.  The stuff was in my mother's house, therefore it now belonged to her.

To make matters worse, my brother had brought along my nephew.  Squirt was eyeing all his old toys and claiming that we couldn't sell them.  I love Squirt, but he should not have been present at a yard sale where we were selling his old toys.  To solve this dilemma,  my honey and I were pulled from the sales staff and converted into daycare providers.

That's right, my honey and I were assigned to Operation: Keep Squirt Busy.
So we took Squirt for a walk...

we fed the ducks...

and we went to the playground for a swing.
Are you starting to see the roller coaster of it all yet?
Up super early on a Saturday, bad. 
Obnoxious brother at yard sale, bad. 
Spending the morning playing with Squirt, good.

My brother thanking me for helping out at "his" yard sale, bad.
My brother being lazy and not helping clean up after the yard sale, bad.
My honey and I going to the local craft fair to pick up pit beef sandwiches for the family, good.

That second one is almost counter-intuitive, isn't it? I should have been glad he said thank you, but instead I was pissed he thanked me for coming to "his" yard sale. If it had really been his yard sale, I wouldn't have had to be there at all, damn it.

Yard sale fiasco over, we headed home and got ready for our evening plans: the Haunted Mill. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Alone

I'm a football widow!  To be more specific, I'm a football Hall of Fame widow this weekend.  Can you be a football widow if you're aren't married yet?  Whatever!  That's the title I'm going with for now.  My honey has hit the road for a guys only road trip to the football mecca in Canton, Ohio leaving me with an empty house and a lot of free time on my hands.

In contrast to my weekend away over the summer, my honey's travelling companion told us up front that he not only expected us to text back and forth during the weekend, but he was going to demand that we stay in touch.  I thought Mr. Mynd was just being funny and trying to earn bonus points, but he backed it up once the trip was under way. 

My honey had some telephonic issues related to reception.  He wasn't getting any signal to send or receive text messages.  That wasn't going to work for us, now was it?  Mr. Mynd came to the rescue by sending me updates, letting me know where they were and what they were up to throughout the day.  He even sent me pictures from one of their stops.  Wasn't that nice of him?

Eventually, they made it back to civilization and my honey's reception was restored.  What a relief!

Beyond the usual texting of "I love you" and "I miss you", I had planned to send my honey a series of pictures.  Get your mynds out of the gutter.  Not those kind of pictures!  Just little posts I'd found on facebook to make him laugh or smile or make him miss me more and want to come home sooner.  See below for examples.  But, with my honey's phone acting up, that didn't quite work out. Also, as it turned out, I was going to be far too busy to send him much in the way of texts and pictures.

To make him smile

To make him laugh
To make him want to come home sooner

Before my honey left, we made one little mistake.  I say "we" because I claim he did it and he claims I did it.  WE told my mother he was going to be away for the weekend and SHE decided that meant I would be lonely and should spend my weekend at her house, helping her clean out my childhood bedroom to get it ready to have the carpet replaced this week.  Oh, joy!

I was my mother's cleaning slave from ten in the morning Saturday until five o'clock Sunday evening.  I cleaned out old dressers, moved old furniture, boxed up old clothes and books, and vacuumed up some scarily large dust bunnies.  It was exhausting work, but it kept me too busy to miss my honey too much.  Yeah, my mom is a pretty smart cookie.  She knew how to keep me from moping around my house all weekend.  Darn her and her evil, but well-intentioned plans!

Two 10 hour days of slave labor later, all my childhood memorabilia had been sorted, stored, trashed, and/or sent home to my house for "safe keeping" (read safe keeping as: to be trashed at a later date when my mother won't know about it).  She let me go home in just enough time to run to the liquor store (to get the Sam Adams I had promised my honey would be chilling in the fridge when he got home), clean myself up and make myself pretty for my honey's return home.

I'm so glad he's finally home!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Greetings From The Service Department!

The service department waiting room or as I like to think of it "the blogger's writing room".

I have the day off thanks to the school system honoring the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshannah.  Mazel tov!  However, I am not enjoying this beautiful fall day as much as the rest of my fellow teachers.  The reason for this is simple.  I am in the waiting room of the service department of my local car dealership.

As waiting rooms go, this one is fairly well appointed.  It has a children's area with lollipops, puzzles and games, and a small television to play videos.  For the more mature waiting room hostages, they have a big screen HDTV, coffee and hot cocoa machines, free wifi and a work space with electrical outlets (my destination of choice upon arriving), and a wide variety of magazines adorning a coffee table surrounded by the requisite uncomfortable armchairs.  It's really not that bad except for the whole "I'm trapped here" part.

I've written whole blogs in this waiting room while waiting for the hybrid from hell to get serviced.  This is only a "maintenance minder" visit, meaning a little wrench magically and unexpectedly appeared on Saturday morning telling me that I had reached 15% oil life in my car.  It also meant that my car was going to pester me with an inability to see my odometer, trip mileage, and outside temperature until I visited the dealership to have them remove the little wrench.

I never know what to expect when the little wrench appears.  Sometimes, it's a quick one hour visit and a $50 charge.  At other times, like last February, it's an all day visit and a $400 charge.  The little wrench is like vehicular Russian roulette, you never know what is going to come out of a service department visit. 

I went online and printed off a variety of coupons covering a wide gambit of vehicular possibilities, in the hopes of reducing the sticker shock for this visit.  Luckily, the service department I use honors coupons from other Honda dealerships.  Although my service department's web page had no coupons today, I was able to find a 10% off scheduled maintenance coupon from a different dealership's website that they accepted.  Whatever the damage ends up being for this trip, I will only be paying for 90% of it.  Yay for coupons!

The estimate was $295, minus the 10% discount and I should be looking at about 265 bucks plus tax.  Ouch!  That only applies if they don't find anything else wrong with the car and there is plenty else wrong with the car.  Both driver's side doors have locking issues which I've been told each require a new door lock actuator.  I know from past experience that replacing a door lock actuator is a $400 hit to my budget.  I know this because I have replaced all the locks on my car at least once.  Rather than figure out what is making my door lock actuators short out, Honda just keeps replacing them.  My money is on leaky door seals causing the shorts.  I didn't care if they just replaced the actuators when the car was under warranty, but it's been five years and almost 30,000 miles so they aren't covered anymore.  After replacing the fourth door lock actuator, I decided that I was willing to manually lock and unlock the doors and live without keyless entry rather than pay for any more pricey lock actuators.

I also know that the front tires are starting to wear thin because the car gets a shimmy whenever I drive over 65 miles per hour.  According to the owner's manual, I should need to replace my tires every 60,000 miles.  I replaced two tires at 15,000 miles due to a flat and extreme tire wear from my apparently crazy driving style.  Wait... I hear my name being called!

Service Tech: "Ms. Lainey?"

Me: "Yes?"

Service Tech: "You are going to need to replace your two front tires."

Me: "Do I have to do it today?"

Service Tech: "Ma'am, I wouldn't feel safe letting you leave here on at least one of those tires."

Me: "I don't think I'm going to get the tires here today.  I'll go to my local tire place."

Service Tech: "Ma'am, the steel tread is showing through on your front left tire.  Would you like to come out and look at it?"

Me: "No, I know the tires need replacing.  The car does a shimmy whenever I drive over 65 miles per hour.  How close am I to blowing out the tire?"

Service Tech: "I'm amazed you made it here today, ma'am."

Have I mentioned that I hate being called ma'am?

Me: "How much to replace just the one really dangerous tire?"

Service Tech: "140 dollars, but we really recommend you replace both, ma'am.  You drive a hybrid and they require special tires or else the gas mileage is affected."

Me: (struggling not to laugh at the comment about affecting the mileage of my sucky Civic hybrid) "I'll go straight to the tire place after I leave here this morning."

(Service tech leaves for a minute and comes back with a camera phone picture of my wonky tire.)

Service Tech: "Here's what the tire looks like right now, Ms. Lainey.  It really needs to be replaced before you drive the car again."

Me: "Can you e-mail me that picture?" You all wanted to see the picture, right?

Service Tech: "Yes, ma'am.  Just tell me the e-mail address."

Yeah, I'm no service tech, but that doesn't look good.
(photography by Service Tech Jake)

Me: (chagrined and mentally shuffling my budget) "Okay, replace both front tires."

Crap!  My monthly budget is blown.  A $265 visit to the service department has just become a $545, plus tax visit to the service department.  I'm going to have to shuffle money from savings to checking to counteract the hit my checking account is about to take.

I really hate my hybrid.  Only eight more payments til I own the "not so green" machine outright! 
Take my advice and don't ever buy a Honda Civic hybrid.

Yet another blog completed
from the Service Department Waiting Room

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Traditions Both Old And New

or Where To Watch The Game

The facebook invite that started it all

Last year, my honey and I met for the first time at a football party on the first day of the 2011-2012 NFL season.  We met, we talked, and we were both interested in each other.  As a result, we both spent a lot of the rest of football season watching football together on the same friends' couch getting to know each other.  You could say that was an early tradition for us.

Now, fast forward seven months through the hockey and baseball seasons and a new football season has started.  Much to our dismay, the friends' house where we met and attended football parties last year isn't available to us, but that is a story for a different blog and one I'll probably never write.  So, my honey and I have to start creating our own Sunday football traditions from scratch.  Sounds easy, right?  Houston, we have a problem!

What more could you want on a Sunday afternoon?
Prior to our football party attendance, I always watched Sunday football at my mom's house.  Ever since I went away to college and came home on weekends, my mom has had a big Sunday dinner ready to eat during the one o'clock game.  We'd all sit at the kitchen table (many of us with a very convenient view of the television in the connected living room), eat and talk, then we'd all adjourn to the living room to watch the day's football games.  This was my football tradition.

My honey, on the other hand, delights in watching his Sunday football on an HDTV.  Doesn't matter whose house (his home, his parents' home, friend's homes), it just matters that the TV is large and the screen is HD.  So, you'd think he wouldn't care if we continued my tradition of watching the game at my mom's house, right?  Wrong! 

You see, my mom has a big screen TV in her living room and it's even an HDTV, but she stubbornly refuses to pay more for the HD programming.  She's a widow with no man in the house to force her hand on this issue.  She says she doesn't really see a difference between regular and HDTV programming, so why pay more?  I really can't argue with her logic.  My brother and my honey, though, they've got plenty of arguments for her logic.  But, I digress.

A decision had to be made before kick-off...
My honey didn't want to watch the game at my mom's house because she didn't have HD programming.  Instead, he wanted to watch the game alone, just the two of us, at our house.  Well, what kinda fun was that supposed to be?  Football needs couch coaching, friendly rivalries, and boisterous cheering.  As we discovered during the Rumble in the Rumpus Room, with just me and my honey watching the game, there would be none of that.
So, there we were.  I wanted to go to Mom's, he wanted to stay home. 
No matter what we decided, somebody was going to be pouting at one o'clock. 

I consulted with my mother on how to solve the problem.  I consulted with his mother on how to solve the problem.  I consulted with friends on facebook. I got a variety of answers.  My mom said to let him have his way this week and then next week we could do it my way.  His mom said we should compromise and each do what we wanted to do - he'd stay home and I'd go to my mom's house.  My friends on Facebook said I needed to put my foot down and get my way on this one.  Color me confused!  What was I to do?

His mother's advice was unacceptable.  We operate as a team.  If we went our separate ways then nobody was going to be happy.  I'd have been at my mom's missing him and he'd have been at home missing me.  Negative, ghost rider, that pattern was full of problems!  My friends' advice just seemed like asking for trouble.  Why pick a fight to get my own way?  We're not really a couple who fights or argues or even very often disagrees on anything.  Plus, my honey has a habit of refusing to engage in arguments.  He says life is too short to fight over unimportant stuff.  Man, is that ever annoying to hear when I'm seeing red and gunning for a fight!  A temper tantrum or picking a fight wasn't going to work for this, either.

My mother's advice ended up being the play I decided to call, which was really funny because she gave me the good advice and then followed it with, "but I really want you guys to come over for Sunday dinner and the game."  Sorry, Mom!  You shot yourself in the foot there by telling me what I should do before you told me what you actually wanted me to do.  So, my honey got his way and we stayed home to watch the game on our big screen HDTV.

I was the one pouting at one o'clock because I wasn't happy about our game day decision.  My honey was so concerned about my poutiness that he actually played "Hail To The Redskins" for me on his cell phone when the Skins scored.  It was kinda cute as it went against the grain for him to listen to another team's fight song.

It wasn't all that bad watching the game at home, though don't let my honey know I said that.  My brother and I facebooked back and forth throughout the game, so I had some couch coaching going on there.  Of course, he also suggested I go down to the fuse box and kill the power to my house to force my honey to seek football refuge at my mother's house.  My sister-in-law seconded that suggestion.  What can I say?  They enjoy watching football with me as much as I enjoy watching it with them. 

The Bears were playing at the same time, but their game wasn't televised locally.  My honey was getting text updates on the game from ESPN throughout the afternoon.  He was celebrating and bragging and playing "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" on his phone with every point scored, so there was some friendly rivalry and boisterous cheering happening, too.  But, what really sealed the deal and made it a good game day for me was the half-time show my honey put on for me. ;)  Maybe that will become our new football tradition!

Goal accomplished!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Six Month Anniversary

Last week was pretty rough around here at Lainey's Life Lessons, but there was one highlight to the week that wouldn't end.  My honey and I celebrated our six month anniversary of dating!  It occurred two days after our tearful parting from Roxy and I really didn't think I was going to be up for celebrating at all.  I even asked my honey if we could postpone our celebration until the weekend.  Little did I know that my honey had already put plans into place to brighten my mood on the actual day of our anniversary.

Months ago, my honey announced that he would not be celebrating monthly anniversaries.  He was a man and there were limits to how mushy he was willing to get.  This cracks me up because he has a far higher threshold for romance and lovey-doveyness than I do.  He did, however, allow that he would celebrate anniversaries on the multiples of three months (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months).  Regardless of his decree, I have always wished him happy anniversary on the 6th of every month.

On our three month anniversary, I came home to find this on the dining room table.
I'd told my honey that my favorite flowers were Gerbera daisies.  He had no idea what that was.
He bought me these chrysanthemums thinking that they were daisies.
The day of our anniversary arrived with little fanfare.  My honey gave me a good morning kiss, wished me a happy anniversary, and headed out to work.  I thought that would be the extent of the celebration for the day.  I was wrong.

I went about my work day as usual.  Children thrive on structure and routines and in my grief, after losing my beloved pup, so did I.  Being at work was just easier than being anywhere else.  I didn't take any time off work to get over my loss because the thought of writing sub plans was far worse than the thought of slogging through the day with my students.  I didn't tell my class about what had happened and the kids went about business as usual, keeping me far too busy to think about anything but what they needed me to do for them.

I love my honey and here is one of the five million reasons why. He has a mind like a steel trap! He takes in every little detail and stores it til he needs it. Sometimes he stores inane trivia, which makes him THE "go-to" guy for stats and team trivia on game day. At other times, he quietly stores away what I like to call "fun facts". Fun facts are things that I mention in passing, that I might write about in my blog, that he overhears in my conversations with my friends or family. He is fabulous at tucking away these little gems of information about me and using them to his advantage later. Last week, my honey reached into his bag of fun facts and remembered something that I wrote about in my second blog post ever.

In a Valentine's Day post entitled Happy Single Awareness Day, which I wrote before we started dating, I took a time-out from my previous "single and loving it" status to lament how I wished I had someone to send me flowers at work on Valentine's Day. I talked about how depressing it was to watch the florists' delivery vans arrive with flowers for the other teachers and not me. Now, that was one sentence in a blog I wrote seven months ago before we were even dating.

On our anniversary, as I went to take my class out to recess, the school secretary stopped me in the hallway and told me that a box had been delivered for me in the office.  Nothing more than that.  Since boxes occasionally come for me with various school materials, I didn't think anything of it.  I took the kids out to recess after promising to stop by and pick up whatever was in the office during lunch time.

When I made it to the office, all the secretaries and the school nurse were lurking suspiciously.  You know what I'm talking about...taking way to long to put a file back in the file cabinet and shooting me little sideways glances as if they were waiting for something.  I went over to a box of what looked like student test books and asked if this was the box that had come for me.  They told me, "No.  Your box is the one that says Pro Flowers on the side."  Now I knew why everyone was lurking.  Pro Flowers ships their flowers in thick, nearly indestructible cardboard boxes.  The ladies knew flowers had been delivered for me, but they couldn't see what the flowers looked like inside the box.

The girls were all hoping for red roses, but I was delighted to open the box and find a dozen red, pink, orange, and white gerbera daisies.   He remembered what my favorite flowers were!  Plus, this time he's done his research so that he knew what they looked like.  No more chrysanthemum faux daisies for this girl.  Also, hiding in the box was a cute little teddy and a big glittery red heart to put in the vase with the flowers which proudly proclaiming my honey's message, "I love you!"

I lit up like a Christmas tree when I opened that box.  The girls 'oohed' and 'ahhed' over the teddy bear and the heart, but wondered why he'd sent daisies instead of roses.  After I explained the significance of the daisies, they decided that my honey was a keeper.  I happily toted the box up to my classroom and smiled every time I looked at it the rest of the day.

Aren't they pretty?!

But, what really earned my honey massive bonus points happened before I got home that night.  My mom, who has been decidedly and justifiably upset about losing Roxy, called the house while I was driving home from work.  My honey answered and they talked for a few minutes before my honey decided that my mom needed some cheering up of her own and invited her over for dinner.  Spending time with my mom was fairly low on my honey's list of priorities for that particular day, but he's such a softy that he couldn't leave her home and lonely when she was hurting.  How can you not just love a man that worries about your mom?

There was another celebration later that evening after mom had gone home and I'd returned from choir practice, but that part of the story isn't appropriate for a G-rated blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Ode To A Good Dog

Warning: Tissues May Be Required Beyond This Point

My heart has broken into a thousand pieces. It's not broken because of any trouble between me and my honey.  Believe me, he is running around with duct tape and crazy glue trying to repair the damage as best and as fast as he can.  No, my heart is in tatters for the love of a good dog.  We had to have my beloved pup, Roxy, put to sleep this week to keep her from suffering any further from the ravages of late stage bone cancer.

Me with my "first born"
 when she was only six months old.
It's amazing how much you can love a pet.  A co-worker, who'd heard about my loss, described her dogs as her fur babies.  I guess that makes sense.  My mom referred to my and my brother's dogs as her granddogs, at least until my brother bestowed her with a non-furry grandchild.  I've often told people that I had to run home to let my baby out or take my baby to the vet.  For all intents and purposes, especially since I haven't had any kids of my own yet, Roxy was my child.

To make matters more interesting, my dog child thought she was a human.  From the beginning, Roxy acted like she was entitled to the same rights and privileges as everyone else in the family.  If the rest of us were eating dinner, she would wait patiently next to the table until my mom (Roxy's pigeon) would make a small plate of whatever we were having for dinner.  Yes, I know.  I raised a very spoiled pooch.  I don't care if you disapprove.  She was my dog child and I raised her as I saw fit.


A common sight:
Roxy with her head on a pillow, hogging most of the bed
My brother's dog, Nattie, had a bad habit of sneaking onto the bed at night after everyone had gone to sleep.  Roxy took that idea to a whole new level.  One night, when she wasn't very big at all, she dragged her blanket and her favorite toy (a small teddy bear) into my mother's room and whined until Mom picked her up (blanket, bear, and all).  She did three turns on the pillow next to my mom, plopped down, and promptly went to sleep in a matter of seconds.  So, there was my mom laying next to a puppy with it's head on a pillow, a teddy bear tucked in its paws, and a blanket down by her feet.  What else could Mom do?  She tucked the dog in under the blanket and gave her a kiss goodnight.  Roxy spent the next eight years sharing the other half of the king-size bed with my mother.  She got tucked in and kissed goodnight at bedtime every night.

She could make this chair recline and rock whenever she wanted.
And, yes, that is a dog sitting in a leather recliner.  That was HER chair!
Bedtime was not the only time Roxy showed her humanity. She also sat in chairs, on couches, and in recliners like a person.  Once when an unexpected knock at the door forced my brother to leave the kitchen table, he came back to find Roxy sitting in his chair and eating neatly off his plate.  Any other dog would have knocked the plate to the floor and chowed down.  Not Roxy. Such poor behavior would have implied that she was a dog, not a person.  She knew she was entitled to eat at the kitchen table, so she sat in a chair to do it.  Roxy even had her own chair in the living room.  After my dad died, no one in the family would sit in his big leather recliner.  Too many memories, I guess.  Roxy had no such issue.  Within a few months of her arrival, she had claimed the recliner as her own since it was an available and comfy seat from which she could watch television with the rest of the family.

That's one big dog!
Roxy was half rottweiler and half bull mastiff, or as I used to tell people half big and half bigger. By two years old, she was almost three feet tall when on all fours and weighed one hundred twenty pounds. When she stood on her hind legs, she could put her paws on my brother's shoulders and look him in the eye. My brother is 6'5" tall. 

Her size and demeanor made her an excellent guard dog.  Roxy loved to lay on the couch and keep watch out the front windows of my mother's house.  She would bark at any kid who dared to walk through our yard or anybody who walked on the sidewalk in front of the house or anyone who walked across the street from our house.  Basically, if she saw people anywhere near the house, she barked and growled.  

If a salesperson knocked on the door, she would run up and stand on her hind legs to see out the top half of the screen door.  Depending on the volume of the knock and the distance she had to run, she could hit that screen door with a fair amount of force.  If the last person into the house had forgotten to lock the screen door she could hit the handle and greet the salesperson personally.  Many a door to door salesperson or person with a petition on a clipboard decided that they didn't need to disturb us after all once Roxy had greeted them.  Any stranger we let into the house was screened by the Roxy security system.  If she thought a visitor wasn't behaving she would growl menacingly until they backed away or left.  She even nipped a contractor on the butt once when he was upsetting my mom with unexpected budget overages.  She didn't break the skin.  She just let him know his behavior towards my mother was unacceptable and that he needed to leave immediately.

"What's that, Mom?  Can I lick it?"  Roxy meets Squirt.
Despite her fiercely protective nature, Roxy was an excellent family dog, too.  She loved my nephew, Squirt, from the first sniff.  She was interested in him from the moment we first brought him home from the hospital.  She became his constant shadow.  I don't have a single photo of Squirt from his first Christmas opening presents where Roxy isn't right next to him helping with the wrapping paper or looking to see what new toy "they" had been given.  Roxy was so gentle with Squirt and infinitely patient.  That child pulled her ears, her tail, her fur, her everything when he was growing up and she never so much as growled at him. 

Squirt could even ride Roxy like a pony without a single canine complaint!
Nine month old Squirt "riding" a three year old Roxy
Two year old Squirt "riding" five year old Roxy

One of Roxy's final acts of family protectiveness was giving my honey her vote of approval.  Roxy was already sick when my honey met her.  I'd warned him that my family had a very large dog and he was nervous about meeting her.  I was a little nervous, too.  Roxy had always been very wary of strange men.  She loves my grandfather, my uncles, and my brother, but whenever strange men were around my mother or I, that was when growling and nips on gentlemen's rear ends usually ensued.  When Roxy met my honey, we were sitting next to each other on the couch.  The dog came in, sized my honey up and sat down, worming her way between the two of us before laying down on the floor.  My honey spoke to her softly for a few minutes, scratched behind her ears, and rubbed her belly.  Within fifteen minutes, Roxy had given my honey kisses and laid down across his feet (something she only ever did with family).  I knew then that I had a keeper.  Roxy, the dog who didn't trust strange men, had instantly fallen in love with my honey.

My honey giving Roxy some love
I can't really accept that she's gone yet.  I keep expecting her to come running to the door to greet me when I come home or to find her laying on the couch or in her recliner when I walk into the living room.  Being owned by Roxy, for clearly we were her people more than she was our dog, was a treat and a delight.  I've already talked about it with my honey and we're planning on getting a dog next summer when I'll be home for house breaking and puppy training.  But, no matter how much I end up loving that new puppy, a piece of my heart will always belong to Roxy, my beloved pup.

Goodbye, sweet puppy.  I love you and I'll miss you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Newbie's Guide to Lainey's Life Lessons

We've had a few newcomers join us here at Lainey's Life Lessons recently.  To get everyone caught up and on the same page with current and past life events at Lainey's Life Lessons, I feel the need to provide a study guide.  Some people might even call it a homework assignment for the newbies. 

To truly understand Lainey's Life Lessons, you have to read back into the past, and even across multiple blogs, to see how we got to where we are now.  Click on the links provided within this post to view the various blogs and posts that tell the story of Lainey's Life Lessons.  Believe it or not, Lainey's Life Lessons did not start out as a relationship blog.  Far from it!  It started out as a single girl blogging about life in general (see any blog from February 2012 for evidence of this).

But, not long after I started blogging, life changed.  A certain special someone came into the picture.  It started out slowly, painfully so to some observers.  After meeting in person at a mutual friends' football season opener party, my honey and I began communicating with some flirting back and forth through the comment section of Wily Guy's blog over at It's My Mynd.

Pon Farr: All writers are assigned a pin-up girl
 to accompany their guest post in Gertie's blog.
This is a somewhat clothed version of my pin-up.
The original was in nothing but a towel.
To get the full story in my own words (though written under a pen name), you have to go check out the guest blogs I wrote for Gertie over at I Throw Hammers At Boys.  Don't be scared off by the adult content consent button.  Gertie blogs about dating and gave herself an adult rating in case she ever wanted to go into intimate details of a date.  Both of my posts were rated E for everyone.  The first post (The Tale of Pon Farr) tells the back story of everything before the first date, while the second guest blog details the events of our first date

To understand my pen name (which Gertie selected for me) in the guest blogs, you have to be a bit of a Trekkie.  According to classic Star Trek mythology, pon farr is a psychophysical condition affecting Vulcans, in which Vulcan males and females go into heat every seven years.  Gertie thought it was a hysterical take on my love life prior to my honey's arrival on the scene.  You guessed it, I didn't go on dates very often and would have long stretches of singledom between relationships.  But, I digress.

Here are some posts to check out from the early days with my honey:

Boyfriend Black-Out - my inability to balance home, work, and friends was documented early
The Meet and Greets - my honey meeting the important people in my life
The Invasion of the Little Things - a prelude to moving in together

Here are some posts to check out from the starting to get serious days with my honey:
Love  - my honey's blog post sharing his feelings for me
Keys to the Castle - adventures in babysitting and moving in together
Beware: Spring Cleaning In Progress - his parents first visit to our place
Does This Stress Make Me Look Fat? - telling my mom we were living together

Here are some posts to check out from where we are now:
Joint Holidays - the nitty gritty of keeping two sets of relatives happy on holidays
How do you know if he's the one? - a discussion with a friend and a love note to my honey

For sheer entertainment value, you can also check out my most viewed posts.  Life Is Just Better With Reese's Peanut Butter Cups has almost 1,500 hits now, so I either chose really great graphics or it must be a pretty good read.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

School Daze

For me, back to school and back to work are the same thing.
Tragically, my summer vacation has ended.  I've been back to work for two weeks now.  The first week back for teachers is always a week of meetings, in-services, and setting up classrooms.  The second week is when the students descend upon the school.  This week was all about getting to know my new students and giving endless preassessments to see what skills and abilities they all have.  That's what has been happening on the work front.
Fun with sight word cards

On the home front, my honey no longer has a stay at home girlfriend.  He mourned the loss for the first few days.  He seemed to especially miss his "Honey, I'm home!" moments because I'm now getting home later than he does.  Believe it or not, the idea that teachers only work from nine to three is a myth.  My official work hours are eight to four, but I'm usually at work until five thirty or later.

My desk wasn't quite this messy last spring, but it was close.
When we first started dating, I raced home from work as soon as the bell rang every day, whether I'd left a stack of papers to grade on my desk or not, because I couldn't wait to see my honey.  I got really behind at work as a consequence of all that ducking out early.  This school year, I've decided I have to be a bit more sensible.  As a friend told me last spring, I just need to find a balance between home and work.  Yes, I still feel a pull towards home and honey around quarter of five when I know he's getting home, but I'm staying later at work to get things done so I don't get behind again.

To achieve a balance between home and work, I'm establishing a few ground rules.

Rule #1: I will grade all assignments on the same day they are turned in by the students. 

This means I am going to have to do some work from home.  Doing work at home is a fact of life as a teacher.  There simply aren't enough hours in the school day to grade papers while at work.  My honey has already been very supportive of this rule, though he didn't realize it at the time.  I came home with learning styles surveys that I had given my students (to figure out how they learn best) and my honey volunteered to score them for me.  Just took the stack out of my hands, grabbed a pen, asked about the scoring key, and got down the business.  He was awesome!

Rule #2: It is okay to say "No".

Whether it is saying, "No, I can't volunteer after school three days a week at your homework club."  or "No, I can't go to two weekday hockey games this week,"  I am going to work on the art of refusal.  It's wonderful that my co-workers want my help and it's awesome that my honey wants my company, but I do not have to be all things to all people at all times.  Sometimes, I am going to have to say no to keep myself on-track and my work load managable.

Rule #3: Wherever I am, I am going to live "in the moment".

When I'm at home, I am going to focus on home and honey.  When I am at school, my attention will be focused on what needs to get done there.  I will not let Sunday afternoons be ruined because I'm already thinking about everything I need to get done Monday morning at work.  Conversely, I won't be unfocused at work because I'm thinking about how I'm going to have to rush out at dismissal to make it to the game in a timely manner.  My honey seems fairly confident that the NHL is going to have a lock-out this season, so the perils of dating a season ticket holder may become moot for a while.  Either way, I am going to keep my head in the game, whether at the game or at work or at home.

Rule #4: If I can't follow one of these rules, I am not going to stress about it.

If I don't get to that stack of papers tonight because we have plans, it's okay and I will get to it tomorrow.  If I say yes where I should have said no, I will find a way to make it work.  If I get a little worried about work while I'm at home, I'm not going to berate myself for a moment of thinking ahead.  Above all, these rules are meant to help me, not to make me feel worse about myself because I can't even follow my own rules.

Plus, if I find myself struggling, I know this really awesome honey I can talk to about whatever is challenging me.  Sometimes, he'll just listen and make encouraging comments.  Occasionally, he'll be a shoulder to cry on.  And every once in a while, he'll take the stack of papers out of my hand, grab a pen, and start tackling the problem with me.

I am a very lucky lady!

We will make it work together.