Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Desperately Wanting a Dog

This post is part 8 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


Sometime before my 6th grade year, our dog ran away. He was my brother's dog and Sam was always a runner. Out in the country, he would bolt every time the door opened and often mocked us as we chased him, coming just close enough to grab him before he ran off in the opposite direction. In the country, we didn't worry about him wandering too far, though, and there wasn't a lot of traffic to be concerned with, either.

After we moved to town, however, his running away became more of a problem. He would bolt into the street without looking both ways (stupid dog) and we were always fearful of him being picked up by the pound. Sam was a mixed breed, medium to medium small, but he still managed to climb the chain link fence or dig underneath to follow his call of the wild. And follow he did. Since he was never neutered, he was literally being driven crazy by all the females and found a way out whenever nature called.

Well, one fateful summer, while Erik was away at church camp, Sam ran away and never returned. I remember visiting the pound to look for him, without any luck. I mourned his loss, as did my brother, I am sure.

After a year or so passed, my parents were persuaded to get another dog; this time it would be my dog, and I was ecstatic. We started by calling the Humane Society, who would link us up to a family looking to get rid of their dog.

We got the first call. A black cocker spaniel a short distance away was needing a good home. I wasn't partial to any breed, so we jumped in the car and drove to the next town to meet the dog.

His name was Bud. (Remember the Budweiser dog from the commercials in the 90's?) And while I wasn't crazy about his name, I distinctly remember thinking it would be rude to the family to say I didn't want him, and ever-optimistic that we would bond instantly, we loaded him up into the car. I jumped into the backseat with him as my Dad got into the driver's seat. Bud decided he liked the front bench seat better, so he bounded over and turned back and placed his paws on the seat, facing me. Dad had started to back out of the driveway when I playfully scratched Bud behind his ears. The next thing I know, Bud yipped and bit at my face, then retreated. I screamed and my dad stopped and turned the lights on as a look of horror settled on his face. I touched my nose and instantly saw the bright red blood that stained my hands.

Obviously, we returned the dog to his owners. I was rushed to the hospital and cleaned up and given shots, even though the dog was up to date on his vaccinations. I had 2 long scratches down my nose and Bud had grabbed my upper lip, biting it and causing it to swell into an enormous lump.

I felt fine, and dad and I drove home. My mom was gone that night, and returned home after I was in bed. I remember her telling me she just about cried when she checked in on me that night and saw the extent of my cuts. We heard that Bud did the same to the next family that visited, so he was put down shortly thereafter.

The cuts weren't pretty, but by Monday the swelling had gone down considerably in my lip, and mom let me wear makeup to conceal the cuts to school on Monday. The following Friday was school pictures and while I still wore makeup, I can detect the long, thin scars on my nose. No one else could really notice, but I still had my 15 minutes of fame in the class for such an exciting story.

A few months passed and when my parents were certain I wasn't forever petrified of dogs, the talk about getting another one began. I was fairly certain Iwanted a puppy who would grow up loving me and would no longer be threatened with having my face bit off. Easter weekend came and my brother was coming home from college. I was so preoccupied with being excited to see him, I didn't think much about my parent's suspicious behavior.

They called me outside to tell me there was an Easter basket for me. When I went out into the front yard, my dad was holding a small, white, puffy little puppy that he had just picked up for me. I was ecstatic. She was adorable and cuddly and everything you could want in a puppy. I named her "Pebbles" and she became my obsession for years to come.

I got that same feeling of excitement and possibility when Dan and I adopted our current dog, Sadie. It may be trite, but there is something special about a kid and her dog and I will never forget the good years that Pebbles and I had together.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - 5th Grade

This post is part 7 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


All settled into our new house, just blocks away from our church and school, I became quite social. My parents always allowed me to have friends for sleepovers, but living out in the country put a cramp on the frequency which I desired. Now living right in town allowed me to have friends over after school and on weeknights and even after church. My parents became more social, too. We started having more dinner companions, and even kept missionaries at our house. I might have missed our old house, but I loved our new place.

I remember being able to ride my bike to school. I loved this new freedom! But as my parents began to expect me to ride to school each day, I started to see it as a chore and began to miss the daily drive, even as it only took minutes to get there. My ever over-active imagination pictured a boogie man on every corner and I specifically remember being certain that a stranger was following me to school one morning. When I reported it to my parents, they rolled their eyes and assured me that no one was out to get me, but I wasn't convinced.

Our new house was across the street from a 20-acre park that our church owned and used for sports events for the school. I loved not having houses across from us and I loved being able to walk across the street to soccer and baseball games. There was also a small playground that my friends and I frequented and at the back of the park was a chain link fence that had been cut and a portion pulled back that made a perfect entrance to an overgrown area that bordered an old, abandoned rail road track. We often imagined outlaws lived in that area, and we spent hours exploring and often finding hidden treasures. Once, we actually did see some teenagers drive back there late at night and another car came to meet them. My parents were certain that there was a drug deal going on, so being the responsible neighborhood-watch kind of people that they were, called the police. They showed up, only after the offending vehicles had left and promised us they would patrol the area more heavily. This only heightened my fear that a boogie man was lurking in the shadows.

Around this time my mother started working for a ministry that had their offices at our church. I remember cherishing the ability to see my mom right after school and being able to roam the church halls with my best friend, Stephanie. Steph's dad was the business manager at the church and she spent most afternoons entertaining herself and her brother in the enormous, mostly empty church while she waited for him to be done with work. But before my mom's job change, I wasn't allowed to roam the halls with her, as students weren't typically allowed in the church. So when my mom became employed there, it opened up at least an hour of BFF time with Stephanie as we played in the nursery and snuck around the basement, finding secret passages I never new existed.

My 5th grade year was also the first year that my oldest brother, Kevin, was away at college. Even though we never got along at home, I missed him terribly and looked forward to his visiting on occasional weekends. My 5th grade teacher even commented on my report card that I spent a lot of time talking about my brother. This was a huge shock to my parents and to Kevin, I'm sure, and I'm still not sure what caused me to be so homesick for him, but it definitely marked a change in our relationship.

That period in my life is filled with very pleasant memories. Nothing huge and exciting happened that I can recall, but just positive changes that made my already comfortable life even more easy. God was very good to our family, providing blessings beyond what any of us deserved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - 4th grade

This post is part 6 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


Just when life was in a routine and I was getting comfortable . . .

One night my parents called me into the kitchen. It seemed serious. They sat me down and told me they had something to talk to me about. I braced for the worst. Situations like this never turn out well.

In a very quiet, serious manner, my parents said, "Donette, we are thinking about moving into town. There is a house just 4 blocks from church and school and we are thinking of buying it."

My response? "If we move to town, you are going to have to start paying for water." You see, we lived in a little clump of houses (not exactly a subdivision) and had a well on our lot. The 5 closest neighbors used the water from our well and paid us monthly for the expense. It seemed like a position of power to my 9-year old brain, not considering that we incurred all expenses for the well when it wasn't working properly. Either way, it seemed like an advantage one should not give up indiscriminately.

After my parents assured me it was a sacrifice they were willing to make, I went on about my daily living not thinking much about it. Until the day to move finally arrived. For some reason, we were moving mid-week and my parents had the audacity to insist we were to go to school that day! Luckily for me, my sensitive stomach flared up just in time to stay home that day and miraculously was settled by the time we got into the new house! I got busy arranging my bedroom and unpacking all my belongings and generally acclimating myself to the new house. How exciting was that day!

Shortly thereafter I began to miss our old house, often dreaming that we had moved back. I loved our new place, but there is just something about the first house you lived in. I've driven back there just a few times in the 23 years since, but each time I am shocked at how small the yard is, or how tiny the house looks. I prefer to remember it as I have it in my memories.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - 3rd Grade

This post is part 5 in a 15 week series sponsored by Mommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth. Week five's assignment is age 8/3rd grade.


Third grade was a year of changes for me. My oldest brother was beginning his senior year at the Christian school I attended and my other brother, who was to enter 7th grade and I were ceremoniously told that we would be homeschooled. What ?! Homeschooled?!

I guess I knew what homeschooling was, at least I don't remember it being explained to me, but in our large church, which ran the Christian school I attended, almost all of the kids I knew went to school with me. I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like to have to stay home everyday while my friends were at school.

My mom tried her best to make the school day as typical and normal as what my brother and I were used to. She made us dress for school (I even had to wear a skirt!) and we rearranged part of the kitchen to house our school books and papers. We started the day off with the Pledge of Allegiance and she told us to call her "Mrs. (insert maiden name here)" instead of "Mom". Needless to say, that lasted all of about 2 hours and we went back to calling her "mom" from then on. And we quit dressing up for school, although mom wouldn't let us do schoolwork in our pajamas.

The year went by quickly. I enjoyed the freedom that homeschooling provided, and I was usually done with my work by early after lunch. I played outside more and ran errands with my mom and stood silently by her side while strangers questioned why my brother and I weren't in school. Homeschooling, by no means a new trend in the late 80's, was still not as common as today, so most people assumed we were truant when they saw us in the grocery store at 10 AM.

I missed my friends that year, specifically my best friend Stephanie, but our friendship survived on seeing each other on Sunday and occasional sleepovers. My mom decided that homeschooling was not her calling in life and the next year my brother and I were enrolled again in our old school. I don't regret losing that year at my Christian school, except for missing out on an amazing teacher that all my classmates raved about. But overall, I enjoyed the experience of being homeschooled and I think it made me just a little bit more willing to try it with my own kids.