Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The History of Dogs in the Burdullis Home

(PLEASE NOTE: This post is about how we have come to be getting a dog this weekend. THIS IS A SURPRISE FOR OUR CHILDREN. They have no idea! I feel comfortable posting this because we won't really be seeing anyone who will read this before Saturday. But for goodness sake, if we do see you, PLEASE do not ruin the surprise! Thanks!)

When I was about four, my parents surprised us with a beagle on Christmas morning who we named Sherlock. He was a dumb dog. My older brother, Damian, took him to obedience classes but afterwards Sherlock wasn't any more obedient than he had been prior. We have many stories about that dog, but one that sticks out was during the winter when he peed in the heat register so that each time the heat switched on in the house, there would be the renewed odor of dog urine. He dug out of our fully fenced backyard many times until one day, he ran away and we never found him again.

Later on when I was a teenager, we were given another dog, Coco, who was an absolute delight, although she seemed more like my younger siblings' dog as I was older then.

Despite my first dog, I have always been a "dog person." When Jason and I were shortly married and beginning to start our family in our townhouse (with about a 10' by 10' back "yard"), we decided to get a dog. Following the advice we'd been given to choose the calmest dog at the pound, we chose a medium sized German shepherd mix who was very relaxed and named him Zeus. We soon found out that the reason for Zeus' calm demeanor was that he was sick. Once he recovered a couple of weeks later, we discovered his true personality as very energetic, strong-willed and mischievous. A month later, the pound generously took him back and assured us that they would find a better-suited home with more room for such an energetic dog. I still feel somewhat guilty about that and hope that Zeus found the right family.

That was about seven years ago. Since then, we have been waiting for the right time. That is, I have. Jason has more likely been waiting to see if my dreams of a dog joining our family would disappear. We now have a house with plenty of room and a large, fully fenced back yard. And while my dog fever has never subsided, I had accepted Jason's reason and practicality when he explained why we should wait another year or two. He has further explained that he would be much quicker to get a dog if we could have some type of guarantee that it would be a good dog, such as my brother's dog, Coco (named after our childhood dog), who is also a delight. But of course, there is no guarantee, is there?

So we haven't been looking or really considering getting a dog any time soon. But on Monday, the phone rang. My brother, Jeremy, explained that his girlfriend, Alicia, had been looking on Craigslist for months for puppies the same breed as Coco, who is half border collie and half Australian shepherd. On Monday morning, a breeder had posted two puppies who they were giving away for free. The mother had eight puppies and the breeders had found buyers for six of them. After two months, they still had two of the pups and were ready to give them away. Jeremy and Alicia would be seeing them at 5pm that evening. The question was, did we want one?

My instinct was of course, YES! But I called Jason before answering so that we could decide together. And after several long minutes of listening to silence as Jason's wheels turned on the other end of the line, he said okay. Even he could see that an opportunity like this would most likely not happen again. A female puppy the exact same breed as my brother's dog, who we love, for free? Um, well okay then!

I couldn't feel that it was any more meant to be.

In the past couple of days, a few people (including a couple of random strangers at Walmart)  have found it necessary to explain to me that puppies require a lot of work. In fact, I guess you're supposed to train them or something. What?! Who knew?!

Yes, I realize puppies are a lot of work, but I am not afraid of hard work. Most often, hard work is rewarded and in this case, I am so excited to be adding another blessing to our home. Cesar Millan's books and DVD's are on their way to our home as well as a crate and a gentle leader, so hopefully that will help us to have a good start.

So far, Jason and I have only seen pictures and video of our puppy who we have named Kahlua. She is beautiful. Last night I stocked up on lots of doggy essentials at Walmart. Then we watched Marley & Me. And now we just wait in eager anticipation for Saturday.

On Saturday morning, there will be a package wrapped in Christmas paper waiting in the living room for the kids with a letter from Santa, saying he brought them an early Christmas present. Inside will be all the new doggy supplies, which will undoubtedly confuse the boys and bring up some intriguing conversation.

We don't have a dog! Why would Santa give us this stuff?

Later that morning, it will all make sense when Jeremy brings us Kahlua, confirming that Santa sees all and that he knew we would be receiving a dog that day, which is why he gave the boys an early present.

Most likely, many more posts and pictures to follow :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who We Are

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love that the weather is ideal to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket and a good book or movie. I love that the leaves change to brilliant colors of fire, transforming our landscape into God's mural. I love the preparation and anticipation for the fall and winter holidays, the decorations in the house and the abundance of comfort food.

Above all, I love family, friends and tradition.

Today we made our annual visit to the pumpkin patch at Carlton Farm in Lake Stevens. With rubber boots on, we ritually paraded through this year's crop and chose our three prizes. As we left, I asked the boys how many years we would continue to do this. Their answer was "forever."

I hope so.

When asked what we would take with us if our home was burning down, many of us think of photographs. I would most certainly try to grab our wedding albums, family albums, laptop (more photos) and a special frame in our bedroom containing our wedding invitation, our betrothal letters from our Engaged Encounter weekend and a photo of Jason and I before one of my bridal showers.

But what is it that we photograph? Most often it is our rituals.

Birthday parties, holidays, sacraments, weddings, babies being born, proms, the list goes on and on. Of course, I also try to take photos of our everyday life. But the majority of our pictures are a record of our rituals.

And this is because our rituals, our traditions are a reminder of the time that silently sneaks by without much notice. Here we are - another holiday season to prepare for. How many of us are befuddled, wondering where the last year has gone?

I browsed our photos from last fall to remind myself what our children were like one year ago. Of course, the most change has been in Veronica. Last year, she was full of baby's first babbling and learning to crawl. I found this video:

Our rituals remind us to reflect back like this and appreciate the passing of life. If our house was burning down, I would definitely try to grab those photos if I could. But besides our family, the most important thing I would take with me is not something that I would have to grab. It is something that stays with me wherever I go, no matter what happens. It is what all of those photographs are attempting to document.

If our home was consumed by flames, I would surely take with me our rituals. For it is our rituals that make up who we are.

Joshua at the pumpkin cannon - a highlight of the outing

Veronica's new cheesy smile she pulls out each time she sees a camera

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stubbornly Shy

Children are amazing. Each day, I am in awe by something new I have discovered in one of my children. A new word. A new skill developed. A new kindness given.

Yesterday, I was completely and utterly amazed by Noah's newfound sense of stubbornness.

Noah is my shy boy. It's just who he is. It's in his genes. Apparently my grandmother thought I needed therapy when I was at his age of five due to my extreme shyness. I eventually grew out of it. Jason also struggled with shyness, so it is no wonder we have created a child who is painfully shy.

While I try to accept this about Noah, I also want to encourage him to open up and teach him to be polite. Very often when an adult speaks to Noah, he will just act like nothing has happened and not respond. He seems to believe that if he just looks the other way, no one will notice.

Noah has had eye therapy with the same therapist every week for over a month now. The first day he refused to even participate. But since then, he has done a great job at each session. That is, until the end. Even though he will have played games with his therapist, Therese, entirely on his own for forty-five minutes, he will not say thank you and goodbye to her when we leave. Therese is working with Noah to help him overcome many different types of obstacles and also wants to encourage him to grow in this area. So next week, if he won't say thank you and goodbye when I ask him to, he will not receive his weekly treat from the treasure box that he usually gets as a reward for a job well done.

I spoke with both of the boys this week about how to greet adults; saying hello with a smile, calling the adult by name, asking the adult how they are doing, saying it's good to see them, thanking them for inviting them over to their house or for coming to ours, etc.

Yesterday, we went to Jenny's house. Our two families are dear friends and Jenny is an adult who they are very comfortable with. As we drove up to their house, I reminded the boys to greet her.

Looking in the rear view mirror, I could see Noah's body begin to tense. I tried to reassure him that I would be right there, I would hold his hand and that all he had to do was say "hi" back to Jenny when she said hello to him.

I asked him if he was going to do what I was asking. He said no. Again I tried to reassure him. Still his answer was no. After much conversation, I told him that if wouldn't be polite to Jenny, he was going to stay in the car. He chose the car. I brought the other children into the house and after settling in, I checked on Noah to see if he'd changed his mind. He hadn't.

Because I didn't want to just leave him in the car, I brought him into the house and had him sit in the office by himself in a chair with the door closed. It's a glass door, so I could see that he stayed in the chair.

Remember, all I wanted him to do was say "hi."

FOR FIVE HOURS, Noah stayed in that chair other than to go to the bathroom. I checked in on him regularly to see if he changed his mind. I tried to encourage him in every way that I could. He missed playing, watching a movie, chocolate milk and lunch. With each thing, he chose to skip it rather than say hi.

While I was very frustrated with him, I was also in awe of his commitment, persistence and dedication to his decision. He really only cried when I tried to make him say hi. Otherwise, he pretty much just sat there quietly in the chair.

After five hours of this, we went home. I wasn't sure what to do at that point. Jason and I were supposed to drop the children off with friends that evening so that we could go out on a date. But I wasn't sure that was a very good idea after such disobedience from Noah. I was considering just dropping off Joshua and Veronica, and having an at-home date while Noah had dinner in his room and went to bed early. His only explanation of his behavior was he said he was tired. So an early bed time seemed logical.

But after discussing what had happened with Noah in the car, he said that he was sorry, that it won't ever happen again and that he will begin saying "hi" to adults. He seemed very sincere and for the most part, if Noah has no intention of doing something, he won't tell us that he's going to do it. He will just very matter-of-factly say, "No, I don't think I want to do that" until his mind is changed.

I was a little bit floored. Really? You mean, you learned your lesson?


Will you call Ms. Jenny right now and apologize?

"Yep." Which he immediately did.

Will you say "hi" to Ms. Jennifer and Mr. Jason who are watching you tonight?

"Yep." Which he did no problem after I reminded him. So we did get to go out on our date :)

This was all sort of a shock to me. Does this happen? Do children really sometimes go through one difficult episode and then "learn their lesson?" While Joshua has grown and matured leaps and bounds, this has been slow, very gradual progress that has oozed by in his seven years of life. Never, ever, ever has one instance of discipline gotten through to Joshua. It often feels like we are banging our head against the wall, taking two steps forward and one step back.

Now of course, this is sometimes the case with Noah too. And I obviously don't expect Noah's shyness to be cured. But it was a great reward to, at least for a moment, witness immediate benefits of discipline and of sticking to my guns. Those five hours were long. It was nice to end the situation with the feeling that my lesson to Noah may have actually been successful. Usually when it comes to discipline, I'm left hoping that we will reap the benefits of it someday in the future. And most likely, the distant future. Surely not on the same day!

When it was all said and done, I actually felt kind of proud of Noah. So I gave him a hug, told him I loved him and fed him a huge plate of meatloaf and sweet potatoes.
At least one form of stubbornness is perseverance, which came in useful during the boys cross country season :)

Noah kicking it in at the finish

Look at that stride!

Veronica's new cheesy camera smile

With their game faces on before the championship race

The beginning of the race

Bringing it home

Our cheerleader

Papa's treat at Dick's - a great way to end the season :)