You can only be young once. But you can always be immature.*

They were like ungrateful, self-centered teenagers.

They didn't see that their restricted freedom was a direct result of its abuse. They thought only of themselves, not the destruction--and cost associated with it--that went along with every pastime they thought to amuse themselves with.

They didn't understand that it was their frequent late-night (and mid-day) excursions that resulted in the chains that held them down. They only applied themselves more diligently to maximizing the time when security was lax for their escape bids.

Even at the end, as we drove away waving at them, they hadn't figured out that it would be the last time--that instead of posting their bail again, after they had tunneled under the fence and escaped for the second day in a row, we had chosen the less-expensive option of leaving them imprisoned at the S.P.C.A., rather than continuing to incur the costs and the stress of being their caretakers--a role they so obviously did not wish us to have.

Everyone has to learn that actions have consequences sometime.

Brutus and Suri, may you find some wide open spaces to exercise your neuroses on in your next homes.

I guess this is goodbye. Here's looking at you, kid.

*Dave Barry

The Dog Came Back

Brutus has been taking lessons in escapism from Suri. He disappeared Friday, and didn't come back.

Well, not on his own, anyway.

Yesterday, on the way home from the S.P.C.A., Jude was so sweet. In comforting tones, he patted Brutus on the head and said, "Did you miss your friend? Are you all right? Suri missed you!"

I'm sure if my wallet still hadn't been smarting so much, I would have appreciated that a lot more.

Et tu, Brute?

Last year, I filed my taxes in September. I also registered with a GST* number for my business, which means that in addition to taxes this year, I also got to file a GST return.

This year, I managed to get my taxes filed sometime in early June, I think--a huge improvement over last year. And although my GST return was due on April 30, I dropped it in the mailbox across the street ten minutes ago, after receiving a verbal warning from the government from the self-same mailbox this afternoon. (Really, it was on my things to do last night already, but my husband, erm, distracted me. Like I was going to file a GST return after that!) I was tempted to see what would happen if I just let it sit, but they were using four-letter words like "fine," and I figured it wasn't worth paying more money to the government to find out. I'm such a wuss sometimes.

Anyway, in other news, our house grew by four more feet on the weekend. On Friday, as I pulled the van into the driveway from our homeward sojourn, Jason was filling up the water dish for Suri and friend, whom he had found wandering around downtown. After putting up a few "Found" posters over the weekend, and calling him in to the radio, his owner called us this afternoon--and said we could keep him! The voice on the other end of the line said that she had actually been trying to find him a new home for a while now, and if we wanted, we could have him.

We had already been joking about that very thing, since he is more laid-back and has less bad habits than Suri. Also, Suri is a lot less work with him around, since they play well together and he helps to keep her entertained. So, other than the additional cost of feeding another dog, there were very few drawbacks. We were planning on getting another dog when we move out to the acreage anyway, so this just saves us looking and training an "unknown."

Brutus, in all his canine glory.

Welcome to the family, Brutus.

*Government Sales Tax, applicable on practically everything, except I pay more than I collect in the course of my business, so I registered for it so I could actually get some of my money back from the government.

Thirsty Thoughts

I am sitting here in my blogging shirt, wanting to pour out some of the random thoughts that have flitted across my brain over the last few days, but I have not had time to record.

First off, Jabin. Jabin has started climbing. He is climbing stairs, and he loves the little landing in front of our master bedroom (only four stairs off the floor from the family room.) He will sit there babbling happily for up to half an hour, proud as punch that he got up there himself. He also likes to climb onto the hearth (of the fireplace we never use, thankfully) and sit there with a very self-satisfied grin on his face. He is so funny.

Last Monday, at breakfast, when I uttered my traditional "Let's pray," he completely floored me by smacking his little hands together and holding them there until we were done the prayer. He has also started adding his own version of "Amen" at the end of the prayer (which sounds a lot like "ba." You might wonder how I can relate those two, but it is so purposefully said, and he says it every time we pray.) He has also started trying to mimic other words we say. One day I was cheering for him for doing something, and he clapped his little hands and tried to imitate my "Yay, Jabin!" It's so strange, because Noah was such a late talker, to think that Jabin is actually trying to communicate verbally. He has also caught on to a few Baby signs: "down," "dog," and he has also tried "more" and "all done," although is not using them with any consistency, yet.

Suri's getting spayed today. You might be wondering why I have barely mentioned our dog since my initial post about her. The reason is, most days I barely tolerate her. The rest of the time, I harbour a secret wish that she would wander off and get eaten by coyotes. This seems harsh and extreme, and all the good feelings you got about me for being so nice to the lady at the hardware store have just fluttered out the window. But truthfully, this was not a good time in my life to get a puppy, and we maybe should have: a) waited another 6 months to a year, as per our original plan, and b) gone with a Golden Retriever, as per our original plan. She has destroyed more stuff with higher value (both sentimentally and fiscally) than she will ever be worth to me, and has gotten us in trouble with our neighbours and the SPCA by escaping three times in the same week (by different means) and being a little too frisky and nippy with the neighbourhood kids. I can't believe we are spending $250 on this operation today. I thought about just giving her away, but then I took a deep breath, set my teeth, and decided to keep waiting it out. Eventually, she'll be done teething. Eventually, she will no longer be a puppy. Eventually, she will calm down (hopefully), and not always be knocking the kids over and going ga-ga over any stranger that comes to our door and not listening to simple commands.

Or, I'll give her away. (Or maybe wait until the coyotes are howling at the moon one night and open the gate to the backyard...)

Lastly (for today), the Lord has been dealing with me on an issue that has been uncovered in my spirit over the last week. Complacency. Ugh. How did I ever end up here? Since first becoming a Christian at the age of 15, I have abhorred Complacency. I have prayed fervently against it. I have wanted to always have the passionate fire for God, and helping people, and loving others, and sharing truth with them that I had then.

The thing about Complacency is you never see it coming. You just wake up one morning and it suddenly hits you that you have become Comfortable. And in that comfort, you no longer carry the burning torch that once lit your path. Each day seems to be mapped out through the familiarity of routine. Who needs a Lamp? Why doesn't it bother you that you haven't opened your Bible for a week? Or more?

Or wait. Maybe it does. And in the very thinking of it, you realize that the parched, empty feeling you have been ignoring has originated in the lack of the Living Water in your life. A lack that you allowed, and for which you have no one to blame but yourself.

I find I want to guzzle it, now that I remember how vital it is to my health and well-being. I want to stand in it's flow and just let it wash over me, right under the waterfall, like one of those commercials for Irish Spring or something. I have had to look at my daily schedule, my routine, and revamp, re-prioritize. Now that I have remembered where my true refreshment lies, I do not want to let old habits and life's "busy-ness" quench this life-giving flow.

Thank you, Lord, for always staying constant and being there for me, even though I am fickle and forgetful.

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.

Grand Champion or Stuff On a Rock*

Rohini tagged me a couple of weeks ago. I finally got it done.

Height of cruelty - The weather these days. Whoever decided it would be good for homo sapiens to inhabit this latitude?

Height of reward - Today, Jude wrote his name ALL BY HIMSELF. Okay, so I verbally reminded him that there is a stem on the D. And I helped him with the U. But he did the J and the E on his own.

Height of challenge - Noah will not decide to potty train. I've been making him run around bum-naked for the last few days, which is about the only way he will make any effort to go to the toilet when he needs to relieve himself. Unless he's watching a movie, unfortunately. (Don't ask what the wet spot on the slip-cover is. You don't want to know.)

Height of vigilance - Between Noah and the dog, who has now decided that the basement is her own personal litter box, I have been at the height of vigilance for the last little while to make sure everyone toilets where they should.

Height of dieting - While I never used to pay much consideration to what I ate, as long as I managed to work in the four food groups, you are all aware that diet is no small matter in our house anymore. Due to how different it is from "common wisdom," it often makes me feel like somewhat of an outcast, except among the "converted" (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Height of comparison - I am tired of how people compare their children to everyone else's--and don't mind telling you if your own are not measuring up to the developmental milestones that theirs are hitting. So, if you do that, stop it!

Height of rivalry - Just before bed tonight, Noah was on Jason's lap, and they were rough-housing. As soon as Noah got down, who was up there but Jude, asking to get the same treatment. My brother can't have fun that I don't get to have! This is a small snapshot, in a very small way, of what goes on all day in our house, 24/7.

Height of anger - A few weeks ago, I made a vegetable soup that had a fairly high concentration of beets in it. Due to colour, or texture, or whatever reason, Jude decided he didn't like it. So, he got to sit at the kitchen table until whatever amount Jason had decreed was consumed (I was teaching during supper that night.) When I came out of the office after 7, Jude was still sitting at the table. I heated my soup and ate it, and he was still at the table. A few minutes later, Jude runs into the kitchen to say he ate the rest of his soup. He was carrying the empty bowl in his hands, but I noticed there was some soup along the base of it--this immediately made me suspicious. Sure enough, he had dumped 1/4 bowl of beet soup on the light beige carpet under the dining room table!! I think you can guess who it was that hit the height of anger at that point. (Don't ask what that red stain is under the dining room table. You won't want to hear the rant that follows.)

Height of table manners - Jude looked at me with his mouth full of scrambled egg this morning, then opened wide for me to enjoy the view. Reminded me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

Height of choice - Usually, I do not have a problem making decisions. When ordering at a restaurant, I usually get the first thing that grabs my attention. When buying clothes, I pick out my top faves, then narrow it down by "least-fave" until the dollar sign is within my budget.

But when I am making up my monthly Scrap Club order, indecision strikes. Patterned paper or cardstock? Neutrals or brights? Pewter accents or brass? Grosgrain or organdy?

Not a pretty sight.

Height of choosiness - Last week Jabin loved his scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. Today we were out of cheddar, so I put in slivers of cream cheese.

Apparently, this was not a good substitute.

Height of bossiness - When Noah is doing something that displeases Jude, (such as happily playing by himself and therefore ignoring his older sibling), Jude tends to lose any tentative grip he may have had on self-control. That's when I start hearing a lot of "NO! NOAH! GIVE ME THAT!!"

Height of provocation - Either that, or he will do anything he can to get attention from Noah--which usually results in Noah whining, which draws attention from me, too. Go figure.

Height of endorsement - "Mom, what you making?"

"Cream of Asparagus Soup." (I had never made it before.)

"Oh. I like that one!"

And he did.

Height of embarrassment - Seriously too tired to dig up anything like this from the depths right now. I tend to block off things that were that embarrassing to me, and they only come up when I am in a similar situation again. (If you want to know this, ask my dad. He could probably remember all kinds of stuff I find embarrassing. But he might not tell you.)

Height of irony - Well, I could point out again the number of junk food and candy machines in the doctor's offices and hospital waiting areas. Or the fact that we have lived here a year on the 22nd of December, and I finally know the phone number of the friendliest neighbours we have.

Height of starting early - I was going to start piano lessons with Jude on Monday, but I got the flu and barely made it through the two regularly scheduled students I did have to teach. However, I just got this new course for another little four-year-old guy that started, and it's awesome for pre-reading kids. I asked Jude if he wanted to take lessons, and he is really excited about it. So, hopefully, I'll get him on it tomorrow.

Height of daredevilry - Boys are always a surprise. And they are always trying things that make mother's hearts quake in fear. Not that I've become immune, but I'm having a hard time of thinking of a specific example right now. At least, nothing that wouldn't seem a lot lamer on the page than it was in real life.

Height of cleanliness - This is something I haven't seen since the birth of my first child. As much as I try to make sure the entire house and as much of the family as I am responsible for are as clean as possible all the time, there are certain times and things that I have to say, "That doesn't matter so much right now."

So, if you drop by unexpectedly (or even expectedly), I am going to assume you came to see me, not rate my housekeeping.

Height of grooming - Last week when I was babysitting the Burdick kids, all five of the older children (their three and my two older boys) spent a good twenty minutes doing their hair with water and brushes. Bailey's mohawk was my favourite.

Height of participation - I keep meaning to get a chore chart system for Jude set up, now that he's four, but it hasn't happened yet. Soon! I hope!

I tag Grafxgurl and Anne. When they are done galavanting to all the Asian countries in existence and cleaning up the mess in their basements, respectively, of course.


*According to Canadian comedien Norm MacDonald, these are the two categories of results when you go cliff diving.

Rough and Buff

Thank you, Colleen, for these. Although I didn't actually use any today, they were humourous enough to help me back on the path to sanity.

It's been a heck of a week. On Sunday, I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose. Bummer. So Jason said we should stay home ("If you go to church, you'll just sing with all the songs, and talk a lot, and then sing on the way home, and then sing while you play the piano this afternoon, and then..."), and I agreed this was probably best. However, this meant that I would not be getting out on my last chance for socialization before he needed to use the van to drive to work again for three weeks. (His car-pool buddy's wife just had a baby, and he's taking three weeks off.)

So. I've been fighting a cold all week. I took most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to sit on my butt as much as possible, occupying myself with watching the boys and our new puppy play in the yard, or making sure Suri didn't have an accident in the house, or making sure Noah wasn't picking her up by the tail, or making sure Jude wasn't chasing her around to the point of utter exhaustion ("Jude, she's just a baby! She needs lots of naps, still!") and reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

I thought I'd finally make up my own mind on the whole Harry Potter thing, since Heather Anne loves the series so much. I have to say, I can see why J.K. Rowling is so successful from it. She weaves a good tale. As far as the controversy--I can see the points on both sides. Jason read it too. I think we're going to have to think about it. However, if I got rid of my copy of A Wrinkle in Time because of the New Age leanings in it, I'm guessing Harry Potter won't be surviving in this house. We'll see.

By Thursday, my cold didn't feel any better, but I knew I had guests coming for the weekend, so I had to make some sort of an effort to put the house in order. So I spent the day working. A lot. And still doing all the same Suri-and-kids-related activities as before.

To make things more fun, I think Jude may have been fighting the cold, too, because he took a nap almost every day this week, even though he seldom takes them anymore. And his attitude has sucked.

And oh, the LIES!! This kid has a serious lying habit that I am at my wit's end about. And he just lies about stupid stuff he doesn't even need to, sometimes. What sucks is that he's the only kid that can talk somewhat articulately, so I kind of rely on him to tell me what happened in a situation I was not an eye-witness to. But how can I trust the kid when he just LIES first thing?

Jabin seems to have been getting up unusually early this week, as well. And the naps have been all wonky--I think there was one day where all three children, and the dog, were sleeping at the same time, so I got to have a little nap--I had been asleep for maybe half an hour and the phone rang. I forgot to unplug it because I am not in the habit of taking naps anymore, either. This woke both me, and Jude, up.

So between the cold, the short nights, the napless days, preventing the kids from torturing the dog, and getting completely frustrated by the liar with the bad attitude in my house, it all built up to the screaming-through-my-keyboard that you were witness to this morning.

Only because if I screamed in real life, it would scare all my kids and the neighbours would call the police.

However, there is a sunshiny end to this dismal week: my brother and father arrived tonight to visit for the weekend. This is the first time Logan has met Jabin, as the last time I saw him was only weeks before Jabin was born at my grandfather's funeral last October.

I found out something really cool about my brother tonight. He entered a strongman competition. And he pulled a bus.

You have to realize: my brother is a self-proclaimed computer geek. He has been a computer geek for as long as I remember. And although he has always been a semi-active guy, he's not the guy I had ever visualized pulling the bus in those strongman competitions.

But apparently, this is one computer geek that refuses to be totally out of shape. (Visualize Dilbert's paunch.)

Instead, he really is buff! Check out this post for pictures of the competition. My brother is the one in the blue shirt that says "I'm made of meat" on it. (You might not have been able to read it in his photo--I only knew that because he is wearing the same shirt tonight.)

Also, he has this interesting goatee look going. Tell ya, Bro--cut your hair really short, add a gold earring or two, and I'd mistake you for a drummer, not a computer nerd. (I'm thinking most people don't guess your true profession by looking at you, do they?)

My baby brother. *sniff* All grown up.

Maybe that's why I keep getting his name mixed up with Jude's: I keep forgetting he's not a baby anymore. Dang it!

Meet Baby Suri

No, I am not talking about the newest addition to the Cruise family.

Last night, sort of "out of the blue," we got a puppy.

I saw the listing on the local country music station's free "classified" service on their website: "Tradio", it's called. Jokingly, I yelled out at Jason that there were some six-and-a-half-week-old husky/black lab cross puppies for sale for $20.

That was Sunday.

On Monday (last night), we brought home a baby dog.

Running through a few names on the 1+-hour-long drive home last night, we finally hit on "Suri", and it fits her perfectly.

Never mind that I have a nine-month-old in diapers and a two-and-a-half-year-old that is not quite getting the grasp of potty training, yet. Now I have to house-train a dog, too!

But she is SO cute. And pretty smart. She and her siblings were already boundary-trained to stay off the driveway of the farm where we picked her up from. And other than having an accident in the house after breakfast (mostly because I was not paying attention, I'm sure), she has managed to "do her business" outside for the rest of the day--mostly in the spot we are encouraging her to use as her toilet.

She's been pretty tolerant of the kids. They've been pretty good around her, too. Noah's been a little hyper, but she's still small enough that she has found a few good hiding spots! In a month, she'll be able to hold her own a little better around him. Jabin wasn't thrilled at all of the places she chose to kiss him--nor was he entirely pleased when she started going after his bottle!

For her part, she's a pretty laid-back puppy so far--hopefully her personality will be more of the lab type, although we chose her from the pack because she looks more husky-ish.

All in all, though, a pretty good first day. (I mean, other than the twenty-minutes scare where I thought she must have wandered out of our not-completely-fenced-in back yard. Turns out she was hiding under a cupboard in the shed all along. But I was totally freaked out.

Other than that, though, it was pretty good.) She is already bonding well to all members of our family (well, except maybe Jabin, but that will come), and Jude is just totally excited to have her. This is good, because he has gone from having an irrational fear of dogs (even small ones) when he was around two to being only a little nervous of big or jumpy dogs. Jason and I are hoping that growing up with the puppy--or, should I say, the puppy growing up around him--will overcome the last vestiges of nervousness he has around larger dogs. (We don't believe in lapdogs. Too much redneck in our blood, I guess.)

And here she is, the new princess of the house. You can click on any photo to view it larger:

Checking out the most distinctive odour of Noah's!

"I've been hard at play for all of 5 minutes! Must...have..water...!"

I can hear her complaining about being locked in the shed for the night as I type, so hopefully our neighbours don't get too upset at us during this initial phase of "breaking in."

Now, Jason wants to go back and get her 4-year-old husky daddy that is "friendly, but needs someone to work with him."

Sorry, honey, I think I have to draw the line somewhere. One is enough! :-)