Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodbye, Hello...

The Pup left yesterday. He's off to college, and then hopefully a good job. :-) Considering he left for training at a somewhat younger-than-usual age due to his precocious behavior, we're hopeful that he will fulfill his amazing potential and develop into a skilled Guide Dog. At the same time, we also know he's dealing with the "teenage" behavior you might expect from a Labrador, and hasn't quite mastered his inner goofball, so...

In the meantime, we have a house guest for a couple of days to keep our mind off missing The Pup too much. This little girl is in training, too, and Girlie has become a great puppy-sitter. We know she is missing her pal, but she can't dwell on it too much if she is fending off a wet nose, answering an urgent whine, or working on basic manners for a younger pup.

As another example of excellent timing, all the library books Girlie placed on hold last week were available today, so even when her young charge goes home tomorrow there will Unicorns and Warriors to think about.

We are so glad that things came together as well as they did so that Girlie was able to take The Pup to school for a presentation last week, and that we had an impromptu family picnic on Sunday that we could say was a Going Away Party.

A side note, for those of you familiar with dyspraxia: training an animal is an excellent way to increase one's awareness of what one's hands (and the rest of the body, but especially the hands) are doing. It's been interesting to see Girlie realize every movement she makes affects what the dog does, and sometimes with undesired results. The difference has been that the dog is not being judgmental (which is how Girlie often perceives my behavior/body language) and there is never the added burden of speech from the dog.

As grief tends to do, I know there will be times when it may pop up unexpectedly and take Girlie by surprise. We'll deal with it as best we can, but in the meantime Girlie is doing better than we hoped, and we are so proud of how much she has matured during The Year With The Pup.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Interesting Reaction...

...but what does it mean? (Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas)

We are still having real difficulties with morning behavior in our house. Boyo is a morning person and launches himself from bed. He gets things done in a loud, busy way, and can't seem to stop his mouth from making comments guaranteed to annoy any older sister. Girlie is a slow starter and always has been, and it doesn't take much input for things to break down - it's not uncommon for there to be screaming, crying meltdowns at our house at 6:30 in the morning, and she is still sometimes yelling and crying on her way out to the bus.

We had a talk again one day last week. The upshot was that Dearest and I had outlined a couple scenarios and she could choose how she would handle things: she could be completely left alone with no reminders, in which case she would most likely not be ready for the bus and Dearest would drive her to school; or she could get up half an hour earlier (5:30!) to give herself more time. Girlie chose a different path, and said she would keep things the same but have a 'restart' the next morning.

Wednesday went pretty smoothly, and Dearest was surprised at how well Girlie kept things together. Thursday, however, was a different story. When Dearest described to me what happened, I told him what I thought was the catalyst. When Girlie got home from school and we discussed it, she described to me exactly what I had imagined and told Dearest. An innocent question from him completely confused her, and that was enough to put things right back to square one! Girlie agreed that she could have handled it better and said she'd apologize to her dad.

Dearest and I had a talk, too, and I explained further what I thought had gone wrong. He needs to learn more about Girlie's style of literal thinking, for one thing. The part that was so amazing, for me, was that I had seen the problem so exactly from Girlie's perspective. Wonderful, and helpful, and kinda scary, in a way! Hopefully, this new understanding will lead to more peaceful mornings.

Everyone knows I love to knit socks; they are an easy and portable project. Recently I decided to knit a pair of tube socks and learned a bit about the construction, and why many knitters (and wearers) don't favor them. The pattern I found was from a 1941 "Knit For Defense" pamphlet, and hosted by Sarah (the designer of the Mini-Mania scarf I've been working on) on her Exchanging Fire blog. The socks are knitted in a spiral rib pattern, which means the fabric will draw in to the contours of the heel and ankle. I used a completely round star toe (not what was called for in the pattern) so there would be no direction in which the toe fabric would bunch or be uncomfortable. Anyway, Girlie chose the sparkly blue yarn, they were quick to knit, and I'll be interested in knowing how practical and durable they are in the long run.

Spiral Sock No S-111, knitted with Berroco Sox Metallic

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunny Days!

We managed to get away to Hansville for a couple days and it went pretty well. Boyo sometimes has a hard time with anxiety when we're this far out of our routine, which is reflected in his behavior, but it wasn't too bad. I finished the wool vest for Dearest after stopping at my favorite yarn shop to buy buttons, and treated myself to a skein of alpaca/silk blend yarn and a pattern to go with it.

The proprietor of my favorite yarn store really knows her buttons - these are perfect!
We had some sun, and Dearest and kiddos had plenty of beach time, which included finding several agates (Girlie found an unusually large one, which are rare)...

Girie found a large agate this time, and Boyo found two small 'red' agates
...and even the fossilized tooth of a woolly mammoth, as confirmed by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture!
A view of the chewing surface of the tooth

This image from Wikipedia compares the jaw of a mammoth and that of an Indian elephant. Hardly any change over thousands of years of evolution, so apparently the design works.

We also went to Port Gamble so the kids could see the shell museum, and of course we were able to do a lot of eagle watching on this trip, and even had a rare glimpse of a pod of harbor porpoise!

It's been a busy week, and we're finishing it up with a little more spring cleaning. Dearest is even washing the windows - let the sun shine in!