Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ready to Walk

In the last five days, Buffy and I have walked 12 miles! I'm still amazed by her good behavior. Walking through the neighborhood and the adjacent park has been fun, too. I enjoy seeing the holiday decorations that are starting to show up, and the park is really beautiful and peaceful this time of year - Little League is over.

However, I wasn't prepared to walk after dark, and it gets dark so early this time of year. And it's cold, too!

So, tonight I went over to Sports Chalet and purchased a fanny pack to hold a small flashlight, my keys, and my cell phone. I also want to get some pepper spray for would-be aggressive dogs or human scum - although if I let Buffy back on my left side she'll just go back to being Mr. Hyde and defend me to the death!

I also purchased a couple of fleece jackets to keep me warm, and a pair of fleece gloves. I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold, anything below 65 degrees gives me goosebumps!

So, no walk tonight.

But I'm prepared for tomorrow night!



Not only is it very chilly outside, the wind is fierce. I don't do wind. Earlier it looked like it was going to get foggy, but the weather service says it's just "blowing dust". Yuck!

Why is it that everytime I get started with a workout routine SOMETHING conspires to keep me in the house instead?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Do You See What I See?

No wonder I can't keep her clean!

I've actually had a real breakthrough with Buffy this weekend. You see, she has never had good manners on the leash. I have tried the standard choke chain, and both the Halti and the Gentle Leader, and the Jerk-Ease, but none of them made a huge difference. She insisted on walking ahead of me and pulling very hard. Two summers ago, I hired a wonderful dog trainer to help me with some of Buffy's "issues". So, I learned how to correct unwanted behavior on the leash, and Buffy walked with Caryl, the trainer, beautifully. With me, not so much. I watched hours and hours of the Dog Whisperer, and tried his techniques. Buffy was not impressed.

The result was that I rarely took her for walks because it was not enjoyable.

On Friday morning I decided that we both needed to go for a walk. I had consumed way too many calories on Thanksgiving to sit on my behind all day, and she has more energy than she knows what to do with. So, off we went.

It started off like it usually does. She sits on the other side of the living room nervously while I gently call to her. She doesn't want to wear the Gentle Leader. I think it's because she's stubborn. I don't think the Gentle Leader hurts her at all. She finally slinks over to the front door where I am and lets me put the halter on. She waits on my left side like she always does. She reluctantly lets me take her outside. Doesn't sound too bad yet, right?

Once we're down the steps, she takes over! She's yanking on the leash and making me regret my decision to take her for a walk. We make it about an eighth of a mile, and I'm trying Caryl's methods. I'm trying Cesar's methods. I'm projecting calm, assertive energy! Buffy doesn't give a hoot. She's on a mission. A mission to pull my arm out of its socket.

I become... frustrated.

In my "frustration" I remember Cesar talking about the dog's mindset and that to change the behavior you have to change their mindset. What can I change? I've done everything I can think of... Wait, maybe if I move her to my right side?

That did it! That fixed Buffy's mindset.

Buffy walked three miles with me on my right side, just slightly behind me, in fact.

No pulling.

No lunging at people when they passed by us. (Yes, she used to do that!)

No growling and lunging at children. (That is one of my concerns about her!)

No growling and lunging at other dogs.

Three peaceful miles.

Every now and then she'd try to scoot back over to my left side, but I'd put her back where she belonged and we'd continue.

I thought it might be a fluke, but we walked again yesterday with the same results. And we'll be walking again today. I think I may walk her most days from now on, because now it's easy, enjoyable, and we're both benefiting from the exercise and the time together.

I've become Buffy's pack leader!

I always was.

She just didn't know it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I can see it!

The Light at the End of the Tunnel!

I am approaching the final stages of my master's program. I can actually list the last few things I need to do in order to be done by March 18th.

Here they are:

  • Finish three assignments for this current class by December 10th.
  • Complete the last component of my thesis during the second week of Christmas vacation.
  • Complete a simple professional portfolio by March.
  • Take the fifth and final class January - March.

I've already started to think about all the things I want to and need to do once I'm finished, but that's a whole other post!

A New Wish

Look what Stephanie made for Jillian here!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day 2006

Here's one of the beautiful tables that Rebecca and Sarah set for us.
Sarah folded all the napkins!

The delicious turkey.
Mom and Julie prepared two turkeys - one rotisserie barbequed,
and the other brined in an apple juice concoction. Yummo!

I made this! It's Ina Garten's recipe for
Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Sauteed Apples.
It's like eating dessert for dinner, but I haven't been able to convince Sarah of that!

I made this, too. My family teases me, but I insist on having the traditional Green Bean Casserole every year. Hey, we only have it once a year! It's a favorite comfort food of mine. I forgot to put the fried onions on top, though. I was too busy tracking down my grandmother, who was almost late to dinner yesterday. We can't eat without our Tata being there!

I didn't make this, but it's another favorite of mine. It's my great-grandmother's recipe for Cranberry Salad. Mom makes this every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And, here are the host and hostess with the "mostest" -
my sister, Julie and her husband, Mitch.

Tonight my family is converging back at my sister's for leftovers and some games. I think the day after Thanksgiving is more enjoyable because we always have a lot of leftovers, and so nobody has to spend much time in the kitchen preparing anything. It's also a much smaller crowd. I'll be making Ina Garten's recipe for popovers. My grandmother loves it when I make those!

I'd better get a move on. Buffy is walking me today, and I've got a paper to finish and turn in today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's time to count our blessings and celebrate them with our families and friends. Here's wishing each of you a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Secret Pal: Ladybug Fun

Oo, la, la!

Look at what my secret pal sent for Jillian!

Oh, yeah! She wrapped it in baby shower paper - I love that!

Look! How cute! There's a Fly-Away Ladybug fabric book. The pages make that crinkly sound - babies like that! And the Pop & Roll Bug features bright popping beads, crinkle wings, rolling wheels to "encourage crawling", and a "soft, easy-to-grasp character head".

I am delighted by these gifts for Jillian.

Thank you, Secret Pal!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Where are the rumors this month?

What is going on at the CCAA?

Why is this slow-down happening?

How long will I wait for a referral?

When will I meet my daughter?

Who knows?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Old Yeller

One of the things left behind by the previous occupant of my new classroom was a VHS copy of "Old Yeller". It was one of the few things I didn't throw out when I moved in. My students had earned a reward for accumulating table points for good behavior a couple weeks ago, and today I finally had the time to reward them with a movie and some popcorn. Ironically, they owed me eleven minutes off their Citizenship Recess at the end of the day for not-so-good behavior!

I had never seen "Old Yeller" - at least I don't recall having seen it before. It's melodramatic for sure, but I'm a sucker for a dog movie. I knew it had a tragic ending and I was afraid I'd cry in front of my students, so I sort of half-watched it while I corrected their tests.

The kids were really chatty during the first half of the movie - fourth graders always are! Do they do that in the movie theater, too? They drive me nuts! Anyway, after the scene with the boars, they really settled down and watched the end of the movie intently. We all learned that "hydrophobia" is another term for rabies - I looked it up on the Internet, and we were all sad to see how Old Yeller met his demise. I didn't cry though, and I don't think anyone else did, either. I think it helped that the family already had that cute, little puppy.

The nice thing about this movie was that I didn't have to gasp or make comments once about any inappropriate language. Even in G and PG movies, there is so much swearing these days. I always have to express my dismay when the characters swear because I don't want my students to think that I think it's okay for there to be swearing in children's movies - it's not! So, I'm thinking I need to get my hands on some more D*sney classics like this one for future movie days.

Do you have a favorite D*sney movie from way back when?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Welcome Home, Buffy!

She's home! She seems like her usual self with all her boundless energy and prankster attitude. What a difference from when I visited her in the hospital last night.

What I've learned from this experience:

* restlessess, excessive drinking, gulping air, and a bloated appearance around the waistline are the first signs of "food engorgement" that can lead to bloat, which is oftentimes deadly
* bloat cannot be treated with home remedies - get your dog to an animal hospital immediately
* do not feed your dogs rawhide, pigs' ears, or those Gr*eenies - they can all cause an obstruction in the bowel
* give your dog M*lkbone type treats, and brush its teeth yourself or have its teeth brushed by a professional (sans anethesia)

Lastly, I have to give some credit to the book Marley & Me which I'd read about a year ago. In the book, Marley had had an episode with bloat, and it was this background knowledge that helped me realize that I was dealing with a serious issue yesterday morning.

Take good care of your pets. Be their advocate!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Doggie 911

Poor Buffy!

Bad Mommy!

Buffy got me up several times in the night. She was restless and very thirsty. Her usually trim waistline was distended. By the time I got up to get ready for work, it dawned on me that she might have bloat - which can be deadly. I knew she had eaten too much rawhide over the weekend - that's where the "Bad Mommy" part comes in. I gave her a rawhide chew while I jumped in the shower on Sunday. I intended to take it away from her when I was done with my shower, but by then she had consumed all of it. I will never feed any of my dogs rawhide in the future. I feel so badly.

Anyway, I sprung into action. Got on the Internet and checked the symptoms for bloat, several of which she presented with. Called the animal hospital and let them know we were on our way. Called in for a substitute teacher. Threw on some clothes, and by 6 a.m. was on the freeway. The nearest 24 hour animal hospital is 15 miles from here, and by 6 a.m. we're already dealing with rush hour traffic. So, that added to my stress level.

Once there, she was seen to immediately. She wasn't happy. She growled and barked at the receptionist, so I had to muzzle her. I'm pretty sure it's because she didn't feel well. She is usually friendly when we go to the vet or the groomer.

Within a half hour, the veterinarian showed me Buffy's x-rays. She is stuffed full with food. So far, her stomach has not twisted, so she doesn't require surgery yet. They are going to try and flush her system with fluids, induce vomiting, and pump her stomach before they resort to surgery.

So, I'm at home.

Waiting to hear from the vet.

Hoping Buffy will be okay.


Update: I just returned from visiting Buffy at the hospital tonight. She is improving! The staff said she was responding well to the less invasive treatments. They've induced some vomiting and put her on an IV catheter. She's being walked regularly. Buffy looked a little stressed to me, and she definitely doesn't like the Elizabethan collar they've put on her, but it keeps her from licking the place where the catheter is. I'm hopeful that she'll be able to come home tomorrow night!

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers for us!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Anniversary Party

Last night my sister and I hosted a little dinner party in honor of our parents' upcoming wedding anniversary. This coming weeked our parents will have been married for forty years! They are going to be celebrating in style as they just flew to Maui today, but we wanted to have some family time as well. My sister made a beautiful pork roast, mashed potatoes, and sauteed green beans. I was in charge of the champagne, the gift, and the cake.

Here's the gift - well, kind of. This vase is very similar to the one we got for Mom and Dad, except theirs has peacocks on it. Our parents had traveled to Italy earlier this year and really admired the ceramics they saw there. This vase was made in one of the regions in Italy they had been to.

The cake was from The Great Dane Baking Company, and it was a Hazelnut Cream - white cake with hazelnut filling, and a marbled frosting of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocoate. Yummo!

Lastly, I've thrown in a picture of my nieces, Rebecca and Sarah. We asked them to put their Halloween costumes back on because most of the family had not seen them on Halloween. My oh so talented sister made both of these gorgeous costumes. Rebecca is in a lovely 18th century frock, a la Wuthering Heights or Jane Austen, and Sarah is in a lady pirate's ensemble.

It was a lovely time.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


My thoughtful cousin, Mary, has gifted Jilllian again! I found this beautiful CD in the mailbox yesterday. This was on my Amazon wishlist for Jillian.

In the afternoon, I had some errands to run, so I took the CD with me and put it in my car's CD player. The music is beautiful - very soothing. I hope I don't fall asleep at the wheel!

Thank you, Mary!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Personal Freedom

Yesterday I was reading a thread on a forum that I'm fond of, in which the ensuing argument focused on who has more personal freedom - citizens of the USA, or citizens of China. I was flabbergasted to read that several people on the thread really believed that the Chinese people have more personal freedom than we Americans do.

I didn't comment on the thread, but was astounded at what I believe to be a serious misconception, and I wondered what must contribute to that perception. Is it political correctness? Is it "relative truth"? Is it a lack of appreciation for the great deal of freedom we enjoy? Is it anti-American sentiment?

What is it?

I have no answers, but I do think it should be apparent that if there was a great deal of personal freedom there, then we'd be able to read our blogs when we travel to China to receive our babies. Right? But we're not able to. The Internet is censored in China.

Religion is controlled in China.

Families are limited to one child in China, with a few exceptions.

And now, in an attempt to control a rabies outbreak, many dogs (50,000) have been slaughtered. Beijing has limited the number of dogs residents can keep to just one. The dog must be registered (I assume that's like being licensed here), and if they are not, authorities have been known to bludgeon pet dogs to death in front of their owners. I wanted to link to the AP article that I read this morning about this, but I haven't been successful in doing so. I'm no animial rights nut, but I just think that this is an example of the limits of personal freedom in China, and unreasonable regulations enacted by the government in China. If I fail to license my dog here and keep her vaccinations up-to-date, then I'm fined. In China, my dog would be murdered while I stood helplessly by.

I'm not China bashing. I think Chinese culture has many wonderful aspects to it. But I think it's important to understand the vast differences in our societies and to appreciate what we have here and to not fool ourselves into thinking that life around the globe is as good as it is here.

We are very blessed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans' Day

Thank you to all veterans for your service, sacrifice, and bravery.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wandering the Blogosphere

I started reading blogs about this time last year. I stumbled across a few when I was using the Internet to research China adoption. Before then, I had heard about blogging, but I thought it was for computer geeks! Once I determined it wasn't just for geeks, I decided to start my own.

These days, I keep track of about 70 blogs. Fortunately, they are not all updated each and every day, or I'd never get anything else done! My favorite blogs are written by members of the China adoption community, and many of them seem like old friends to me at this point.

However, I have been wandering the blogosphere since last summer, and I wanted to let you know that there are so many cool blogs out there that don't have anything to do with adoption. I know, it was hard for me to believe, too! ;-)

Some of my favorite non-adoption blogs are:

AnneCuisine - written by an American woman living in France with her French husband. She blogs about her cooking experiences mostly. I love her recipe ideas.

AprilMay - you may have read April's blog. She hopes to adopt from China one day. In the meantime, she's busy teaching second grade, and raising her boys. She has a wonderful sense of humor and a great writing style.

ParisDailyPhoto - A different photograph of Paris each and every day. Tres magnifique!

Seraphic Secret - Political and social commentary written by a conservative, Jewish, screenwriter. I've learned so much reading this blog!

I recommend you give each of them a visit this week.

Are there other non-adoption blogs you keep up with? If so, let me know what you're reading - don't forget the link!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day 2006

Tomorrow, don't be complacent, lazy, or apathetic. Vote!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Four Months

Tomorrow, it will have been four months since my LID. The time has passed easily. I attribute that to being busy - working full-time, plugging away on the master's program, and all the other things that come up.

I would like to think that things will stabilize and that about ten months from now, I'll see Jillian's face for the first time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

October (?) Referrals

It seems like these should have been here before now, so I'm going to be optimistic and believe that there will be more referrals at the end of the month.

Come on CCAA!

Here's what my agency had to say:

America World is pleased to announce that we received 7 healthy female
referrals today! Families receiving referrals were logged into the
China Center of Adoption Affairs on August 17th of 2005 (group 226).
The little girls are currently located in the Guangxi provinces and
range in age from 8 to 18 months. Please join us in congratulating
these families, and in praying for them as they prepare to travel.

That's the smallest referral batch I remember seeing from my agency ever.

Anyway, many congratulations to all the families who will be seeing their babies' faces for the first time in the next few days - especially Julie, Jodie, and Lisa S.!


My secret pal came through, after all.

Thank you for the lovely gift basket, secret pal!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No Tricks, No Treats...

This little girl's expression resonates with me. I feel sad because my secret pal seems to have forgotten about me this past month.

Please excuse me while I pout.