Friday, October 12, 2012


When the girls were small, I heard Poppy tell one of her friends, "I don't see how you could ever have a favorite when there are just two:  one will always and forever be your first, the miracle baby, the one who paves the way, strikes out for adventure - the intrepid one, the one who teaches you how to do what nature intended all along - and the other, oh the other will always be your baby, your darling, the one you surprised yourself by loving just as desperately much as you loved the first."
~ from The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass

Yep, that 's it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The New Dog

Well, the kids and Stuart won.  One morning in July, we were talking about the possibility of maybe looking for a rescue dog to adopt, and about three hours later, we brought home our new dog.  He's a darling rescue dog, about a year old, and he's a Lhasa/Shihtzu mix.  We've named him Snickers, because his coloring is exactly the color of a snickerdoodle cookie.

In the past few months, he has quickly become one of the family.  We learned that he was rescued from a home that neglected him, and we can't imagine what tradegdy would befall a family that would train a cute puppy like this guy and then neglect him.  He's so very needy - he wants to be with us all the time and to be petted frequently.  Which of course we have been trained to do!  He loves to sleep at the foot of someone's bed, and he checks in on us throughout the night.  We had some chewing issues, but I think the worst is over.

Like Stuart has said several times, we had specific criteria for any new dog, and Snickers fit all of them.  It's like he was meant to be our new dog.  Having him has helped us through the last stages of grieving for our old Simba, who we still miss, but not as sharply or painfully.  All of us at one point or another have yelled "Simba!" to Snickers, only to be painfully smacked with reality once again.  But those times are becoming fewer, and thankfully more nostalgic than painful.  I do believe that owning pets helps children deal with grief in good and healthy ways, and that the joy that we see on their faces and on the dog's face when we come home at the end of the day are completely worth it.

(Please remind me that it's worth it in fourteen years when I start the "my old dog just won't die" nonsense.  Thanks.)

PS - Yes, we do realize that the new dog looks shockingly like the old dog.  We know that.  We love that.  We won't be sad or upset if you point it out to us.  (I wish the nice lady at the dog hotel read my blog, because you can bet that she was kinda creeped out and very nervous about saying anything about the new dog looking like the old dog.  The kids and I laughed about that in the car on the way home!)

New thing I learned while making this post:  you can access your instagram photos on the internet using several different websites.  I used  It worked great!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Enchilada Day!

It's a cooking day today at our house.  That means I'm making a double batch of something good for dinner - usually lasagna or these enchiladas.  I'm using yams and making one batch with meat (for the carnivoires in the house) and one batch without.  It's acutally better as leftovers, and I freeze single portions for lunches.  Enjoy!

Black Bean & Yam Enchilada Casserole
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a
Adapted from a recipe from Vegetarian Times (December 2011)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 yams (or sweet potatoes), peeled & cubed
1 15oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 jar salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 large (19 oz) or 2 small (10 oz) cans enchilada sauce (or more!)
Small corn tortillas (30 small ones)
Shredded cheese (I used 4 cups Monterey jack)
Sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and limes for serving

Heat olive oil in large saucepan/pot.  Add onion and sauté 5 minutes.  Add yams, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, and ½ cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, until yams are soft.  Mash mixture with potato masher.  Add beans and corn and cook 5-10 minutes.

Spread sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. (I make two 8” or 9” square casseroles, adding ground beef to one of them.)  Top with tortillas (overlapping to cover completely), sauce, 1/3 of filling, cheese, sauce, tortillas, sauce, filling, etc.  End with tortillas, then sauce.  Cover.

15-20 minutes at 350 F.  Remove cover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 minutes more to melt.  Let rest 10 minutes or more before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Great for potlucks and freezes well for leftovers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Yesterday, the kids and I picked a bowl full of tomatoes, and then peeled and crushed them to make soup.  It was fun showing them how to put the tomoatoes into boiling water for a few minutes, then cooling them in a bowl of ice water, then peeling them.  They were fascinated that the peels came off so easily.  Then we mashed them and pushed them through a strainer to get out the seeds.  Messy work.  Kids love making a mess in the kitchen.  Then I made the best homemade tomato soup.  Guess what the secret is?  Sugar.  It tasted good, but very acidic, until Stuart suggested that I add a few teaspoons of sugar.  It worked!

Today we are off to the mall.  Sally wants to shop with a friend, and Sam needs new shoes.  I don't normally shop for shoes at the mall, but we have two hours to kill, and I don't want to spend them all at GameStop.  We may go to the pet store and look at the puppies.  Maybe.

I'm planning on writing up a long post about our fantastic trip to Disney World, but I am still too busy.  Busy in summer - loving it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

in memoriam of our dog

Our dog died this week.  It should not have been a surprise to us, because I have been trying to prepare the family for this dog's death for months now.  "He's an old dog - fifteen years!"  "That poor dog is deaf and mostly blind."  "It might be time to ask the vet if he's suffering."  Yes, I said all those things to my husband and the kids over the last few weeks.  I was trying to prepare them for what was certain to happen.

I was trying to prepare myself.

Of course, as with most things in life that you think you are ready for, we were not ready at all.  When I saw my old dog's lifeless body, I was not prepared for the depth of my grief.  I instantly started sobbing.  I sat in front of my dog's body and cried over it.  I touched his head, his body, his head again. I'm pretty sure I scared the kids.  I think I heard one of them say, "Dad, she's touching the dead dog!"  But I could not stop myself from crying and sobbing and generally falling apart.

It was awful.

However, I'm not sorry.  Simba was a great dog - a part of our family for fifteen years.  He was our first baby.  We got him when he was a puppy, before we had babies of our own. He was the first pet of both of our kids.  We have dozens of Simba stories that make us smile, dozens of pictures of that dog.  He deserved to be mourned, and mourned deeply.  After I was done falling apart, Stuart called the county and found the address where we had to take the dog's body.  (They don't want you to bury your dead pets in your yard, by the way.)  It was the quietest car trip our family has ever taken.  The people at O C Animal Care were kind and professional; each person expressed condolences before helping us.  We drove home in silence.

It's been a sad time at our house.  I found a pet brush that I hadn't thrown out, and it made me cry.  I found a coupon for dog food in my wallet when I opened it to pay for groceries, and I almost cried.  I opened the back screen door, and the sound made me remember how Simba would stick his nose in the screen and open the door and walk around the house.  It made me laugh, then cry.  Twice I have started to ask the kids if they remembered to feed the dog . . . then stopped myself.  I'm sure these moments of sadness will continue over the next few weeks.

There have been hidden blessings.  We remembered a few days before he died, we let Simba in the house and he wasn't on his leash.  This was rare, because he was starting to lose control of himself, and I kept him in the two rooms without carpeting.  He had accidents in the house almost every week in the last few months.  Anyway, he walked over to Stuart and licked his leg.  Now, Simba loved to lick people, and mostly Stuart.  Back in the day, Simba would run at full speed through the house, jump on our bed, and jump on Stuart to wake him up.  It was our favorite Saturday ritual, having the dog wake up Daddy.  But about six months ago, he stopped being able to jump on the bed.  He stopped licking us.  He didn't even like us to pet him anymore.  He was an old dog and just wanted to be left alone.  But when he walked over to Stuart and licked him that night, it was his goodbye kiss.  He knew it was time.  Looking back, I did too, but I didn't want to see it.

The emails, facebook posts, and text messages from our family and friends have been another blessing.  Everyone understands how hard it is to lose a pet.  That helps.  That heals.

As I write this, I'm crying again.  And I'm laughing at myself, because I really have no idea why or how we become so attached to our pets.  I also have no idea why we still want to have pets, knowing that their loss is certain, and that we will feel so much pain when they are gone.  This is one of the mysteries of life - it is wonderful and awful, it is joyful and painful - it is sometimes both at the same time.  You can't have one without the other.  I've been thinking of the other pets I have lost in my life - of our dog Roxy, our dog Cocoa, my sister's cat Spook, my mom's bird Pico.  I don't know if it's good theology to believe that animals go to heaven, but I believe it anyway.  Don't tell me I'm wrong, because in this area, I don't care if I'm wrong.  I believe that dogs go to heaven.  I like to imagine them up there, running around and getting in trouble and waiting for us.  I like to imagine my grandma, who was a great dog lover herself, in heaven taking care of my dogs for me until I get there.

Goodbye, Simba.  We love you so much, and we miss you so much.  I hope Grandma is giving you lots of treats, and I hope there are some of those flowers that you love to sniff up there.  We'll see you when we get there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

endings & beginnings

Tomorrow is the last day of school.  I am ready and not ready, at the same time.  In many ways this year has gone by fast - the speed of my life has been turned up and everything seems to fly by me.  On the other hand, this year has been long and difficult, learning to be a working mom and remembering how to be a teacher again.  I'm ready for summer, for some time to sit and think and process the last ten months.

This blog needs to have some changes too.  I've thought about closing down here at musings-of-a-mommy, since I have a facebook and a twitter, and now an instagram and a pinterest and a good reads account . . . that's quite a lot of things.  I think I'll change things up here at musings this summer to bring everything together.  I still like sitting down and writing a long post, even if it is only once a month or every other month.  Twitter just doesn't cut it for me.

One more thing on the To-Do-List for the summer!
  • clean the garage
  • re-type calculus reveiw worksheets and tests
  • paint the kids' rooms
  • teach the kids to cook a meal
  • take a trip
  • swim alot
  • update the blog
Yep, it's going to be a great summer!  I'm ready!
End of summer update:  everything on the list got done except clean the garage.  Oh well!  If I had to pick one thing that could not get done, that would be it! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

not mutally exclusive

Today is a wonderful Sunday - it's quiet in the house, but raining and windy and generally really nasty outside.  I'm baking cookies and muffins, and feeling like a stay-at-home baking mom.  I do miss the days where I would be the only one in the house, cleaning and planning dinner and feeling a little bored, a little restless.  I love teaching and I'm so thankful for my job, but sometimes I feel like being a good teacher and being a good mother are mutually exclusive.  Like last week, when Sally got sick and I needed to call for a sub - two days in a row.  I felt guilty for the last minute call, then guilty that I was not putting my family first.  A double-serving of guilt, which was all my own fault.  The people I work with understand that family needs to come first, and using my sick days certainly doesn't negate my hard work with my students. 

I know I'm not alone in doing this - feeling like I need to be everything to everyone and grading myself way too harshly because I don't measure up.

So today, as I bake oatmeal cookies and pumpkin muffins, I'm going to be thankful.  I'm thankful that Sally is feeling better.  I'm thankful that today is Sunday and we are all home.  I'm thankful for my comfy, slightly messy, perfect-for-our-family house.  I'm thankful for the pool and it's beautiful blue promise of summertime and slow hot days and long nights laughing with friends.  I'm thankful that, in the wide lens of life, a handful of sick days is really no big deal.  I'm thankful for my job, and my students.  I'm thankful I got the chance to meet them, to teach them math and science and maybe a little bit about life.  I'm thankful for my husband, for my daughter, for my son.  I'm even feeling thankful for my old arthritic dog.

Here's the lesson:  the next time you are being too hard on yourself, stop and start listing all the things you are thankful for in your life.  Start seeing the glass half full.  Life is hard and beautiful for everyone.  Hard and beautiful at the same time.  For every one.  Sure, some people seem like their life is all beautiful, and some people seem like their life is all hard.  But it's all hard and all beautiful for everyone every day.  The hard parts build your character so that you can appreciate the beautiful parts even more.

Love living your life!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

and we're back

at school.

I put up a countdown to summer.

It feels like we have a long long way to go.