Josh’s Morning Routine

When Josh is getting ready for a school day, I can only imagine how he processes his to do list.

“Lets see, I have to

A. Bug Joe
B. Bug Amy
C. Bug Lauryn
D. Change underwear
E. Get dressed
F. Put on socks AND shoes
G. Brush teeth

Wow, that’s a lot. Time to prioritize. A-C are non-negotiables, but that’s going to leave me pressed. D is optional, so I’ll put that off til next week. I can manage to squeeze in E and F as long as I leave out the sock part. If I just run my toothbrush under the faucet, that might just leave me enough time for another round of A-C. This should work.”

Wonder Dog–New York Times

service dog I read an interesting article in today’s Times, titled “Wonder Dog,” about the amazing ways service dogs can affect the lives of their families. The opening anecdote focused on a family in Georgia whose son has behavioral and cognitive issues stemming from prenatal exposure to alcohol. After trying all kinds of interventions, the mom was encouraged to consider a dog who was specifically trained to intervene in her son’s frequent tantrums. Over time, the family has seen the tantrums decrease, and they have also seen some striking developments in their son’s cognitive development.

The article also talks about the training process these dogs go through, which is rigorous and highly specific. They can be trained to perform physical tasks in a home environment–everything from opening doors and turning on light switches to getting items out of the refrigerator and helping someone undress–as well as to recognize physical symptoms, such as impending seizures. Here is a video showing the training process in action.

Lauryn and the dogsAround our house, we don’t have dogs trained for service. At times, one of the 14-yr-old “seniors”–Buddy–forgets that he’s housetrained. But, as this photo attests, we’re a thoroughly integrated family. The dogs let us know when the atmospheric pressure drops and a front is moving in, Digory–the other “old man”–makes frequent rounds of the house to make sure everyone is accounted for, and the beagles . . . well, the beagles make sure that any crumbs get licked up, whether they’re on the floor, on a low table, or in an open pantry closet.

Getting Psyched About Summer Vacation Travels

In six days, we will load four sleepy kids into the car and head off to parts north, specifically upstate New York, Vermont, and Massachussetts.  I haven’t been as excited about a family vacation in a while, since I really love going north in the summer (never have understood the appeal of Florida in July; January’s another matter).

I think part of the appeal is the nostalgia attached to this trip.  Growing up, we had two kinds of vacations in my family: two weeks of fishing in Western Ontario or sightseeing and staying with cousins in Vermont.  Now I have very fond memories of the fishing vacations at Lake of the Woods, ON.  Granted, somewhere in the middle of the second week I would start to grow tired of the 6:00 am rousting from my dad: “c’mon, we got get ‘em while they’re biting,” followed by hours of trolling bays in a nine-foot Starcraft, watching my line get tangled in the Johnson outboard and my legs puff up as black flies and mosquitoes settled into their breakfast buffet.  Still, there’s nothing like eating fresh Walleye or Northern Pike every night for supper and then driving over to the local dump after supper to watch the bears come out.

But every few years we would take a break from going “into the wild” in favor of a slightly more civilized form of travel.  I say slightly because we tent camped the entire time, except for the last night before arriving home, when we would get to experience the four-star luxuries of a Howard Johnson’s or Holiday Inn.  We never did theme parks, not that there were many in the sixties—at least not of the Disneyworld variety.  We did, however, get to go to places like Fort Ticonderoga, Niagra Falls, Gettysburg, Hyde Park, Plymouth, and Boston.  Recognize a certain historical theme here?

I actually enjoyed getting to see a lot of these places, like Boston’s Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, and Mystic Seaport.  OK, I never spent as much time reading plaques and historic markers as my parents did, but my souvenir tricorner hat was pretty cool, and I collected those felt banners from all the places we visited.  Mostly, I just enjoyed getting to hang out with my dad, cracking jokes and seeing him in a completely different mode than his usual 9-5 demeanor at home.  There were games of pinochle around the campsite picnic table, car games like counting the number of Volkswagen Beetles (everyone had their own color), and of course lots of campfires.

So I’m looking forward to making a whole new set of memories this summer.  I can’t wait to get lost in downtown Boston, trying to find the U.S.S. Constitution.