Monday, November 29, 2010

Lessons learned from a Dog

I've been dreading writing this post for the last week; but it needs to be done.  I promised myself a few years ago, when my Dog Bandit died (I had her since I was 12 and she died when I was 23) that I was done having pets.  Because first, I felt self inflicted guilt every time I went home as an adult because she was there in the back yard (wagging her tail of course; she was the happiest dog) almost like she was saying, "There you are, where've ya been?"  And secondly, I had a hard time when she died; even though I knew it was  going to happen someday.  She was the best dog. 

My brother's dog Duke came to live with us at the beginning of November.  He too was the best old dog anybody could ask for.  He was so loving with the boys and so obedient.  He was a good friend to Spot (our other dog I broke down and got as a puppy 2 years ago).  We loved him.  We were so blessed to have Duke live with us the short time that he did.

You see, Duke passed away.  I know what you're thinking, "What?  You sure didn't have him that long"  I know...I'm still in complete shock over the whole thing myself.  But through the shock and sadness, I have once again seen the tender mercies of my Heavenly Father helping my family even with something as a dog dying.  Duke got a twisted stomach that often happens to old dog (especially Great Danes).  We had to have him put down.  I was looking back on the whole thing, wondering if there was something I did wrong (I mean, my brother had him for 6 years just fine and I get him for 2 weeks and he dies), and I had to stop or drive myself crazy with guilt. 

I had to try and look at the good things that happened in our lives because Duke was with us for that short time.  I have come to a peace that I didn't kill my brother's dog, that it just happened.  That it was his time.  That it was also Heavenly Father teaching me and my family yet another lesson about love.  Since we had Duke, we were going on family walks with the dogs.  We've been taking more time for each other.  The boys would go outside and hang out with the dogs (something Spot has been needing).  We loved him and he loved us. 

It was a miracle actually that Duke started showing the symptoms after the boys went to bed; so they didn't even have to see him in pain.  It was a miracle that my brother (who loved that dog so much) didn't have to see him in pain. 

The only 24 hour vet clinic open at 2 o'clock in the morning was in Flagstaff.  My dear sweet husband didn't want me driving I-17 at that hour with the elk on the road, so he volunteered to take our poor old dog up.  Even then I was thinking he would be OK, and I'd see Duke back home in a couple hours.  Thank you John for being with Duke and comforting him in his last moments...for Tyrrell, for me and for the boys. 

The big thing that Duke taught me is that I always have MORE room in my heart to love.  And to love so greatly.  I didn't realize how attached I had become to him in only 2 short weeks.  The funny thing is, Heavenly Father teaches me this lesson over and over through my children, who love everyone so easily and forgive everyone so easily.  This time he taught me through a dog.  He brought our family a little bit closer, he brought me closer to my brother, he helped us care more for our little Spot.  Thank you Duke for the lessons on love.

More Popular Than Me, And I'm Good With That

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. -Alex Haley

We're so blessed to have Grandparents close by that the boys get to see regularly.   What a blessing that they will get to grow up knowing their Nanna and Papa and Grandma Armstrong and Grandpa Armstrong and have so many memories of them. 

I know for myself, I am so lucky to have such happy memories tucked away in my heart of my grandparents.  One of the funnest summers I had as a kid was the one I spent with my Grandma.  Thank you "Mom" for the memories.  I know I don't tell you enough.

 Me and my Papa.

Mom and I in Porta Viarta

And of course uncle's are pretty fun too.  Especially when their only 14 years old!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Temple Grandin

This is an amazing movie that everyone should watch; whether you know someone with autism or not.  Though I read the book already, I was hesitant to watch the movie because I was afraid of what Hollywood would do to a subject so dear to me.  Clare Danes does an amazing job at portraying this incredible lady.  It made me laugh and cry over and over.  I don't know if it is because some of the things that happen hit so close to home or if it is because it puts on the big screen some of my greatest fears as a mother.  I think it's both.  Watch it; learn and grow. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Magical Music

On Wednesday afternoons, Race gets the awesome opportunity to see Ms. Annette for an hour.  We love Music Therapy; it has been so good for Race and has given me a greater appreciation for the power of music.  I've seen him come alive and do amazing things while having this one on one with Ms. Annette.  He's really taking off and understanding rhythm, beat, and even starting hand placement on the keyboard. 

 "Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words." -unknown-

 I'm really in awe and excited about the idea that music comes so easy for him.  It's something that doesn't stress him out and cause him anxiety.  He opens up.  It calms him (and tires him out) and I think he realizes that.

I've always loved music; whether it is singing in the shower and car at the top of my lungs, pretending I have an audience of course, or if it is singing the hymns at church, helping my boys learn the primary songs, hearing a blast from the past song on the radio that totally takes me back 15 years, whatever it may be.  Though I absolutely love music, I've never been very confident in myself when it comes down to it (I think my sister got my share of the gift).  I would much rather run a race or play in a ball game than stand in front of a bunch of people and sing.  The thought totally makes me sick.  Singing in the Show Choir my senior year of High School was huge for me; I grew so much because of it and I'm so grateful for that experience.  And I always envied some of my friends who could stand up with confidence and do it so well! 

 My brother and me; love you Choo Choo.
This was our Show Choir The Ambassadors in California 1999.  Look how young we look!  Below:  Wow, a walk down memory lane.  This was part of our California trip with some of my good-good-good friends who taught me so much.  Erin had a heart of gold and could out-work anybody, Arty still makes me smile, Laura was just CRAZY fun, Cass was so wise, and Skeezie so strong.  Seems like yesterday...

I've always known that music is powerful;  whether it be for good or bad.   Good music moves our spirits and uplifts us.  So I am reminded once again as I watch Race work, how healthy music is for all of us.  How it touches all of us, it doesn't matter how our brain is wired.  Music effects all of us on so many levels.  I'm so grateful for music.  What it does for me, and what it does for my son, and for what it can do for all of us. 

Thank you Ms. Annette.  It's been so cool!

"Ah, music!  A magic beyond all we do here!"  J.K. Rowling, Professor Dumbledore

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet Duke

Meet Duke.  He's my brother's sweet dog who has come to live with us.  We all think he's pretty amazing.  Welcome to the family Duke! 
We love you Choo Choo.  We'll take good care of him. 


Yesterday for Veteran's Day we went with our dear friend Jo to visit Tuzigoot.  We had never been even though we live so close; Race and Witt had a great time.  Afterwards she and Mary took the boys and I out for some Italian Gelato!  Soooo yummy!   We sure miss you Jo.  Thanks for the fun day! 
 It was the perfect day for a hike.  I was reminded once again of the beautiful place that we live.  It was a perfect Arizona autumn day.
 Witt really misses Jo.  She used to live a few doors down from us and he would ride his bike down to her place to sit on her porch and chat.  There's something he loves about talking to "grandma's".  He likes to keep them company.
 Mary and Jo couldn't make it to the top of the "castle" as Witt called it; but of course the boys could! 

Monday, November 8, 2010


One of Lane's favorite words; BOO!!  Hope you all had a great Halloween.  We sure did, and I'm glad it's done!  We had Harry Potter, an Alligator, Dumbo, Mr. Incredible and Disco Fever down at our place.  It was such an interesting combination on our Halloween Marathon Weekend!  I'm still recovering...We went to the Stake Fall Festival, The Cook's annual Halloween Party (Thanks so much Vanessa and Adam, it made Race's day to break the pinata), and of course we had to trick or treat the neighbors. 
 This picture cracks me up!  The only family photo I got of the entire evening!
 I've said it a hundred times, I'll say it again.  We have THE BEST neighbors ever. 
 These are the CRAZY people who spoil our children.  Thanks for all you do guys!
Lane hated his costume. The only thing he liked about Halloween was the word "BOO".
 We miss you Jo!  (Lane screaming)
We love you Grandma Sara! (Lane screaming, Race getting tired of the screaming)
Happy Halloween!  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Painting and Pumpkins

Our family loves October.  John loves it because of FOOTBALL!  I love it because the weather is perfect.  And we ALL love Halloween.  Here's some of our pre-Halloween fun:

We have the best neighbors.  Our neighbors grow pumpkins every year for the boys to pick.  The boys look forward to walking down to Race and Trish's house (yes, it's crazy, our neighbor's name is Race too!  Two Race's on one street!  They moved onto the street a year after our Race was born.  Crazy!) and pick their pumpkins out of her amazing garden.  Thanks neighbors for all you do for us!
 This year Race pretty much carved his pumpkin all by himself.  Things like that just amaze me at how fast they grow...
 Witt gets WAY excited about fun stuff...
Lane LOVED cleaning out the pumpkins.  He thought the insides were pretty neat.