Category Archives: Trying New Things

Introducing Toast Taylor


Greg’s been saying for about the past five years, “Kepler needs a dog.” I’ve been saying for about the past five years, “I can’t imagine adding a dog into this household.” Sometimes it was more like, “ARE YOU SERIOUS.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with him; I just didn’t see how I could add another living creature into the mix, especially since when this conversation started five years ago, all five kids were living at home, and I had no positive experience with owning a dog. So, I think it’s safe to say that five years ago, what I was saying made a whole lot of sense for our family.

I didn’t see it as possible for me to adopt a dog from the pound or rescue a dog. We did look into a rescue at first, but the dog Greg found online turned out not to be a good fit for us. I didn’t really understand why until I read that a dog should match the energy level of the family or be lower energy than the family energy level. The rescue dog was very high energy and would require a GREAT deal of training; something I simply could not do. But I came to believe eventually that it would be good for Kepler to have a pet companion. Through a series of many baby steps, I heard about Toast’s breeders from another family who had one of their dogs.

I wanted to name him Mr. Rochester, after the dog who took care of Charles Wallace in A Wrinkle in Time, and call him Rocky for short, but Toast seemed to be the name that stuck for Kepler, so after about 24 hours of having him home, I decided we’d go with Toast.

For the first time in my life, I understood how important it was going to be for me to be the alpha dog here and establish my authority over him from the beginning. We have a family member who is a virtual dog whisperer who is helping me so much with training Toast in these early days. I have so much to learn but i AM learning. And Toast is quite a dog.

He’s a Labradoodle and has a temperament suited to being trained as a therapy dog or a service dog. We’ll decide about this in the next few months. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the training for the different types of pet, but have my hands full right now with all things puppy.

BLAH BLAH BLAH. I discovered today my patience DOES have limits. I discovered today that Kepler is adjusting to having a new being that also gets my attention by ramping up his questions, comments, requests for help, and other attention-getting actions. I discovered today that I remember why I used to be irritable when I got too much sensory stimulation. And I discovered today that I have resources now that make it much more possible to find my way out of a downward spiral, and that spirals are still going to occur from time to time.

I was going to go to an alanon meeting tonight. It was so good last week, but more than anything tonight I just needed a little break; some quiet time. It’s been awhile since I felt this challenged, so I’m getting lots of practice seeing the challenges as opportunities. Though sometimes I feel like growling, I try to give myself and those around me grace, and trust that I can say yes to what is. 

My answer to a question on Quora

Quora is a social media website where people post questions and other people answer them. I get emails about parenting questions and sometimes I answer them. Here is today’s question and my answer:

Q: How do I balance the needs of my wonderful aging parents, my wonderful adult children, and my little grandchildren when they live 1,300 miles apart?

My answer: I’m in a “wonderful adult children” group, but I have children and had grandparents and still have a mother. 

What my grandmother loved was receiving telephone calls. If she were still living, I think she would love to Skype. What meant so much to her was to feel that her family had time for her. So, letters, phone calls, photos, anything that let her know we were thinking of her. For that generation, tangible things are best. Actual photos can be carried around and shared with their friends.

Your adult children are likely swamped with life. The things we treasure are gifts of time and gifts of food. I love it when my mother provides a meal for my family, either by delivering it or having us over. And when she takes cares of my young son, that is a HUGE blessing. To me, food and time are even better than money!

For grandchildren, I think their real need is to know that someone cares enough to spend time, to listen, to look them in the eyes. Of course they like it when surprises arrive in the mail, but nothing takes the place of time spent together walking, playing, visiting the zoo, etc. 

Overall, facilitating intergenerational experiences is a wonderful way to balance the needs. Create a round robin letter that gets sent from family to family and added on to at each home before sending on. Start a blog! When I began posting on a daily basis, my mom was thrilled. Even if we don’t talk that day, she still sees pictures, hears about what I’m doing, hears about the grandkids, and just has a sense for what our daily life is like. Find ways that make sense to you to create connection between the generations. 

Experiences are the things that create the memories that never fade.

A Katzenjammer of Miscellany 7/29 Edition

1. I sent the down payment today for a little puppy called Mr. Rochester. The name comes from Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Ring of Endless Light, which

2. You should read if you haven’t. L’engle wrote beautifully. I loved her book about her marriage. Two-Part Invention.

3. Everyone should have a Kepler in their life. Who else gets a “Nice work, Mom” when they vacuum up some visible crumbs.

4. Having an accountant keep track of what needs to be sent where and when is what I call manna from heaven.

5. Investigated the open burn laws in my city. No more will I break those particular laws!

6. Connecting with friends on a heart level is such a juicy experience. I got to do that today.

7. Banks make mistakes too. Thankfully, they can fix them quickly.

8. It’s a precious time when a teenager wants to have a good chat with mom.

9. Cesar Millan is now my favorite author, as I try to learn everything about dogs in three weeks.

10. Still waiting for my reserved copy of Harper Lee’s book to arrive at my library. I’m about 219th on the list of patrons waiting.

11. Life is so dang good. 

ATop [Some Number] Things I Learned From an Egg McMuffin

The people outside the courthouse are truly a diverse bunch. I thought maybe some of them might not have eaten breakfast, so I picked up 4 Egg McMuffins™ on my way to court yesterday to share.

1. Have two POCKETSFUL of change for the parking meter because a quarter doesn’t get you very far. 

2. Practice parallel parking before you go downtown, lest you end up actually connected TO the sidewalk via your wheels. 

3. Keep in mind you could give away as many Egg McMuffins™ as you can carry since the ones you had were given away before you even stepped away from your car (the one attached to the curb by the wheels).

4. It really is better to err on the side of being early rather than late unless you want to have a little panic attack when you get to the courtroom and discover it’s already in session and you wonder if you missed your son’s appearance!

5. Next time, consider getting Sausage biscuits that are only $1 apiece. McDonald’s food is probably about the same, however many ingredients it has.

6. If you have the inclination to do something like share a few Egg McMuffins™ around, go for it! Everything’s a learning experience.

7. Think about whether there might be other reasonably priced options that have better nutrition.

8. Ask my readers for input. Readers! What are your thoughts about what other foods I could carry and offer? 

9. For all the bad things about McDonald’s, it’s certainly nice to be able to count on getting the same quality food from every location every time.