Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another mouth to feed . . .

. . .although I think she needs a little help with portion control! On Saturday, we added a very spunky and chunky pooch to the Huffman Crew. She's part pug and part beagle, creatively called a "puggle." She came with the name "Jade", but we are going to be renaming or somehow modifying her name to avoid this scenario, which happened 20 times yesterday: I call for her "Jade, come here" and Dave, who is in some other part of the house or yard hears "Dave, come here." He says "Just a minute", to which I respond "huh?" because I don't know what I'm waiting a minute for, seeing how I didn't call him to "come here." Jade and Dave just sound too similar for him to be able to discriminate. Ironically, the dad of the family where we got her was named Dave as well, but it apparently didn't bother him. Naming has been a difficult task. Keller has primary responsibility for her (as much responsibility as can be expected of a 6 1/2 year old wild child), so we're kind of giving him veto powers on names, which he has exercised freely.

Here are a few pictures. . .if you think of a good name, add a comment to the blog!

A little back story, for those of you who may be wondering why we felt compelled to add another small dependent being to our family just six months after bringing Marley home. . .Keller has inherited my love for all things living. He has been begging for a dog for a long time. Layla and Wilson were great dogs, but they were already 6-7 years old when Keller came along, so they were never really 'his' dogs. He wanted a dog who would sleep in his room, play fetch with him, and so on. We talked about it off and on, and then Keller kicked it into high gear. Right around the day last week that I found our unnamed pooch on craigslist, Keller watched one of the Beethoven movies (again). Here is what he did after the movie was over:

*Sign that says "FOD" (food) taped to the driveway, with an arrow pointing to a trail of pretzel sticks leading into the house

*Sign that says "MOR FOD" sitting next to two bags of pretzel sticks in the garage

*Binoculars and chair, where he then sat and watched for stray dogs to show up for the pretzels

After all of that, he went inside and brought out his allowance. He said he needed help making a sign to let people know that if they were cruel to their dogs, they could give them to him and he'd give them $1 or $5 from his allowance.

So, on Wednesday night, Dave & I went on a top secret mission to meet the dog and see if we thought she'd fit into our family well. She looks so much like Layla, it was instantly endearing. When we told the kids the news on Thursday night after dinner, Keller broke down into tears of joy, which I have never seen from him before. It was so sweet, raw, and sincere--Dave and I both got a little misty, too! She did, indeed, sleep in his room last night, and she has come pretty close to fetching the ball, although she seems to have the spirit of Layla and Wilson guiding her to run up to the ball, then get distracted and move on to something more interesting rather than bringing the ball back.

In other news. . .

*The boys and I took a picnic and went fishing at the pond near us. We didn't catch anything, but the fresh air was great and it was a nice alternative to hanging out at the pool.

*Marley wore her first ponytail this week. I had no idea of her physical strength until I tried to hold her still to put this sucker in her hair. She didn't like it one bit, and was really quite angry with me for awhile afterward, but then she forgot about it. She looked so cute, but I don't know how soon I'll be ready to attempt that again. I may have to start working out a little harder, and maybe take a Clif Shot or Gu before launching my attack next time.

*We spent a morning at Clemyjontri park, which is an awesome playground that is fully wheelchair accessible. I saw something from a different perspective while we were there. I've always thought of it as a great place for kids in wheelchairs, with walkers, crutches, etc. but this time, I saw a wheelchair-bound grandma rolling all over the playground and park to watch her grandkids play. I loved seeing that side of things.

*We did a little bit of geocaching with our GPS and found a few caches in the park.

*The damn deer has been coming around to the front of the house and having a munch on the landscaping that I busted my butt to put in last year. We saw him in the backyard, trying to eat out of the (empty--haha) bird feeder the other night. He just hopped right over the fence when he was ready to leave. I bought some deer-off spray and covered my flowers with it a few nights ago. I contemplated staying up late and watching out the window through night-vision goggles to witness the look on his face when he got a whiff of that stuff, but thought that might be taking my deer revenge a little too far. Here is one of my beautiful purple coneflower blooms:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's the Little Things

(Since it is Father's Day weekend, this is the first blog post by the mysterious, little seen, and rarely heard from husband and father of the Huffman Crew)

Yes, it's the little things. One night long ago, I was on the way to the library to study with a friend and Van Morrison's Moondance came on the radio. We've all heard that song a thousand times. We've heard it so many times it is really not very interesting anymore. But, on this rainy night, it was the most amazing thing in the world to me. I forced my friend to sit in the car and listen to every last note. He impatiently stared out the window while I lost myself in the song and lost myself in the moment. And I wondered why we can't appreciate every little moment in life as much as I enjoyed that song on that night.

Fast forward to today and I just had the most wonderful day with my 3 "little things" and my wife. We did nothing special at all really. I barely even left the house. But, so many wonderful little things happened. And, I thought to myself time and time again that these are the little things that make life worth living.

Holly has made it clear that my permission to post on this blog is tentative at best so I'm going to try to keep this brief. Believe me, I've been tempted to start my blogging career talking about how fascinated I am still about the article I read 11 years ago about the Biological Basis of Morality. Or, discussing just how amped I am to set up some wireless outdoor speakers to blast Pandora into our backyard from my computer. Or, just how cool I think Shaun White's Wii Snowboarding game with the Wii Balance Board is even though I look like a fool when I play it.

But, no, on the eve of Father's day, I just want to say that it's the little things that matter so much. Some days, as a parent of 3 little kids with lots of personality, it can be hard to remember that. But, today was one of those days you want to remember forever. Like when Marley snuggled up next to me while I was putting her down for a nap. Then, we all played in the back yard for hours and it was just a perfect windy sunny day with nowhere to go and nothing to do but play on the swings and slide down the slide. When both Keller and Casey asked me multiple times to lay in bed with them a bit longer, I again felt like a very lucky man. I mean, sure, Keller was just asking because he is growing increasingly afraid of Monsters. But, he still wanted ME there with him. Plenty of days go by when these same things happen and they don't affect me the same way. But, today, this day, they made me feel like everything in life is just pretty much perfect. When Holly punches me in the arm until it is red and stings, it's just another little way she is showing me she loves me! When Holly and I both stop to appreciate just how much we love Ray LaMontagne, that's a little thing I'll plan to remember for a long, long time.

So, take all those little things and add them up, and it's a perfect day in my world. My Father's Day has already been made and it hasn't even really begun. The wheels may fall off tomorrow and it won't matter. But, I'm still looking forward to those blueberry pancakes in the morning. It's the little things like blueberries in your pancakes after all that make Father's Day so special.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weekly Whirlwind

We've had one of those weeks where we've crammed 20 days worth of stuff into one as yet incomplete week. We had a visit from Grandma Nancy over the weekend. She got to see Keller's last baseball game of the season. We attempted our first geocaching experience with our new (new to us!) GPS, but didn't quite make it happen. We went fishing with my sister and her family at a really nice lake/park on Sunday afternoon. Marley had her surgery on Tuesday morning to drain her ears and place the tubes. Keller finished kindergarten, which involved a family picnic/party on Tuesday afternoon. The boys started their summer running program. Marley had her first speech therapy appointment as well as the meeting to write her education plan for preschool for next year. We had friends over to play, went for a nice neighborhood walk with friends, and spent a lot of time in the back yard. I relaxed and destressed by spending two hours walking dogs at the animal shelter (my new favorite escape). Dave is currently sweating it up and looking more than a tad silly playing the Shaun White snowboarding game on the Wii.

I may not have had time to hold a meaningful conversation this week, or even to form a complete thought, but damn, I took a lot of pictures!

Fishing with the Rigby's at Curtis Memorial Park:

Keller's end-of-kindergarten party. He gave his wonderful teaching and amazing assistant teacher each a $25 gift certificate for Kiva. If you don't know about Kiva, you

Casey actually gave in to my daily requests for a little photo shoot. He's such a cute little guy with such an expressive face. I love these pictures--they really capture his spunky spirit.

Our whole family lives in our barefeet, inside and outside the house. Casey developed this lovely green tint from playing outside right after the grass was mowed. He kept insisting he didn't need a bath that night . . .

I love this picture of Marley giving me the look that says "Can't you see I'm working here?" which is a look she has perfected by watching her Daddy! The quality isn't great, but it's photo evidence of the 'stink eye' she gives me.

Here's Marley demonstrating a little bootie shake shake.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marley's next procedure . . .

Marley is getting tubes put in both ears tomorrow morning at 8:30. Keep her in your thoughts--she has to be under anesthesia for it, which makes the 3rd time in the five months she has been home. I will be with her in the OR until she is completely under, will wait for her during the 15 or so minutes that the surgeon takes to drain her ears and place the tubes, and then will be with her in recovery. We should be home by 10am.

It is Keller's big end-of-year kindergarten picnic/beach party tomorrow afternoon, so either Dave or I will be going to that, along with Casey to celebrate the fact that Keller got through his first year of 'real' school without ever being sent to the principal's office;)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Odds and ends. . .

Some quick snippets of Huffman Daily Life to share . . .

*Keller is a funny kid. Last week he crawled part-way into a little climbing structure at Casey's preschool's playground during the end-of-year picnic. With everything sticking out of the structure from his waist down, he called Dave over and said, "Dad, does this castle make my butt look big?" I don't know where he comes up with his little jokes, but they are pretty stinking funny. . . most of the time.

He had his end-of-season baseball party after his game on Saturday. They got bobblehead trophies, which are too cool.

He is still letting his hair grow. It usually looks pretty hip. Usually.

and I had a special date today. We went to the paint-your-own-pottery place and spent a long time making a big mess. There are no pictures from the event, because anytime I even made a subtle movement in the direction of my camera, Casey shouted loudly (and very clearly for a kid with speech issues) "If you take my picture, I'm going to fire you!" followed by an exasperated groan. He also told me that my friend Diane is a really great mommy, but followed up with "But you're probably better, Mommy." I love the 'probably.'

He got a new haircut and boy, did it bring out the "tatic" as he calls it. His hair sticks up constantly, but he's happy with it, so who I am to chase him around with a squirt bottle and brush? His mother, that's who.

*Marley is stubborn as a mule. She gets this from me, I believe ;) Dave saw us having a face-off stare-down moment the other day and said, "I think you've finally met your match." She is the queen of the 'stink eye', but only directed at me. But she's also a big mama's girl and wants nothing more than to be velcroed to my physical being anyway she can. Her latest favorite naughty thing to do is throw things in the garbage can. I've rescued toys, bottles of bubbles, and a library book so far. Not sure how many things escaped notice and are now sitting in the Fairfax County dump. Dave has been looking for for the DVD remote for awhile . . .

*The boys and I spent Monday afternoon fishing and exploring in the stream behind our house.

*I chopped about six inches or so off of my hair. Well, I didn't actually chop it off myself, although I had considered it. No, I offered up a big chunk of change for a new do. I like it. Casey says it is beautiful. Keller says I look like I'm from the 70s. Dave keeps winking at me. . .whatever that means.

*Papa Jerry came for a visit this weekend and got to meet Marley for the first time. I think she has him wrapped around her little finger already.