Walker Dog

My dad's dog, Walker, passed away two days ago.  Walker arrived one year after my parents moved in to their lake house, actually, while we were living with Mom and Dad for a couple months while relocating to Brandon.  I remember encouraging Dad to take the dog in, saying, "Dad, you need him!"  Walker really chose the lake though, sun bathing that summer and posing such a perfect picture of contentment in Dad's yard that he did, of course, take him in.  My Dad wrote the following tribute to Walker.  I added a few photos taken by myself, Jimmy, and the last taken just a month ago by my sister Susan.


        I buried him by moonlight and suppose that was right and fitting for a hound that loved to run the woods by night.

        Walker would not be confined.  There was something in his spirit that defied all fences.  He was a close and faithful companion, yet at the same time fiercely stubborn and independent.  Walker was a survivor.  He came to us as a stray about nine months of age and managed to live fourteen years as a free dog, avoiding trucks and cars, capture (although I did pay a one hundred dollar ransom to get him back one time), alligators, snakes, food poisoning, and who knows what else.

        Walker spent a day (22 hours) in the trunk of our car, quiet and content as I drove the same car out looking for him, windows down whistling and shouting his name.  Only when he heard me getting on my bike the next morning to take lost dog flyers to the neighborhood did he utter a sound.

        The dog truly enjoyed travel, by land or sea.  When I allowed him to ride in the cab of the truck he sat up and seemed to be reading the billboards and roadsigns.  I've never had a better first mate.  Walker was a salty sailor and knew exactly when to head for the high side as the breeze came strong. He made the entire lake neighborhood his domain and all the lake residents came to enjoy Walker.  He was brave to the point of stupidity.  When the pit bull, Tyson, from next door came into the yard among the grandchildren, Walker attacked and in a flash was on the back of a dog twice his size with a mouth full of ear.  Tyson lost that round, threw in the towel and sulked back home.

      In a dog, the eyes are everything, and hounds are the winners in the eyes category, Walker appeared to be wearing eyeliner all the time.  He had beautiful brown eyes that could smile, say, "Whatever," or make you want to cry.  Most everyone thought Walker was a "cool dog" and I think the eyes played a major part in his coolness.

         In his last five years Walker graciously shared his kingdom with our black lab, Abby.  It took a little time before she was accepted as a fast friend.  Abby will miss him.

         Walker was crafty, especially when he would dart into the house behind you before the door closed.  He loved comfort and I believe his dying wish was to sleep in the middle of one of the blue couches.  Sorry boy, that just wasn't to be.  He was an outside dog and that is when I will miss him.  It will take a while to not look for him every time I open the door to go to the shop or wherever.

God gave us a very unique creation when He blessed us with dogs.  They remind us of His faithfulness and forgiveness.

        I agree with whoever said, 'Lord, make me half the man my dog thinks I am!"

Dad and Pop
January 30, 2015


Saved by the Bell

I wish, when my kids said or did something funny or memorable, that I could freeze time.  That just like in one of those episodes of Saved By the Bell, everyone around me would freeze, and I would be  Zack Morris, and I could stare at the camera and pensively give my thoughts to the collective people who care about me and my kids.

But I'm no Zack Morris.  And I can't freeze time.  I wish I did, but I don't have the time it takes to write about every single little thing that happens.  But in an attempt to not forget these moments, I have begun a file on my phone and I type in funny stuff every once in a while.  So here are some quotes from around the house in the last few months.

Mom:  Guys, I need to talk to you about something.
Kid(s):  Are you pregnant?

And along those same lines, Libby gave me a list of reasons why I shouldn't have another baby...
"Number one, I don't want to ride around in a big huge van.  Number two, you just had a baby. Number three, it's too much. Number four, you just had a baby.  Number five, you just had a baby, and number six, it's too much."

Cash continually refers to Violet as a "sweet ball of heaven."

And more about babies...
Juliet:  Mom, why did God put a baby in your tummy?
Me:  He wanted to bless us.  The Bible says it's a reward.
Penelope:  Of course we are!
Jackson:  You're not acting like a reward!

In contemplating the Elf on the Shelf:
Juliet:  Mom, Santa Claus is a giant.
Penelope: The Elf on the Shelf can't teleport.  He must have camouflaged there.

Juliet asked quite a bit of questions about the sun for a while...
Juliet:  Mom, what happens if you go too close to the sun in a rocket ship?
Me:  Well, if you get too close to the sun you would burn up and die.
Penelope:  I don't want to be an astronaut when I grow up.  There's a ton of ways you can die.

Libby came in from riding her bike one afternoon and Penelope asked her where she had been.  Libby, with a completely straight face and without missing a beat said, "I went to fight a baby dragon and then I stepped on a unicorn and saved the princess."  I then of course asked Libby where she got that from.  And she said, with a straight face, "I made it up."

When we all go for walks or bike rides I am usually urging Juliet to keep up, to pedal harder and faster.  She goes at her own pace and one afternoon I just took off ahead of her, tired of waiting.  When she caught up to me she said, "Mom, you went far away from me.  I'm your daughter, you love me, you have to stay with me!'

For some reason Jimmy has been listening to Jim Croce.  This is one step up from repulsive, but my dear husband is 40 now, and I am trying to embrace him turning into an old man.  Anyway, he was playing his music around the house and "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" was on.  It was bothering me that it says "damn" in that song but I let it play through, choosing my battles.  The next day Cash was sitting at the table doing his schoolwork singing, "Bad, bad, Leroy Brown...baddest man in the whole downtown."  And then Penelope said, "Mom, is it "baddest man in the whole downtown" or "baddest man in the whole dumb town?"  Either one, kids.

Yesterday we built a fire and threw in the Christmas tree branches one at a time.  Some of them made some pretty big flames and Cash said, "Oh Natalie!"  I cracked up.  I'm pretty sure he meant "Whoa Nelly!"

And lastly, here is a note Penelope spent quite a few minutes on...using the auto fill words and cracking herself up every two seconds.  She saved it to my phone when she was finished.


Things your Real Estate Photographer "won't" tell you

I recently read one of those Reader's Digest articles...'25 things your doctor won't tell you." Although to me it seemed full of things all these doctors were actually very willing to tell, as they gave their full name for the article!

So here is my version, real estate photographer style...

When you talk to me while I'm taking photos, I probably won't do as good of a job.  While I don't mind chatting, it forces me to do two things at once.

When you keep telling me you'll move whatever you need to, I wish that you had moved it before I got there, so I don't have to wait for you to move it.

Clear your surfaces. Don't detail clean.  When you're worried about a little dog hair on the floor, but leave your toothbrushes all over the sink, that makes no sense.  A decluttered counter is more important than Fido's hair loss problem.

And while we're on dogs, please don't let them jump on me, bite me, or growl at me.  I'm here to help you.  Also, it's a good idea to move their food and water dishes and stairs they use to get up into your bed. 

And cats.  I hate cats.  They are notorious for being under a stool or next to a couch, and I don't even realize they're in my frame before I've taken 4 photos of them.  I have to shoo them out and retake the photos- sans cat. 

Please have light bulbs in all your light fixtures.  Missing bulbs make me look bad.  And I hate the new curly kind.  Glad you're doing your part for the environment, but they don't do anything for my photos.

I appreciate all the prep work you've done.  Believe me, I've seen it all.  If I don't have to step over laundry on the floor, yours isn't the messiest house I've been in.  It really makes a difference.  Thank you.

The cleanest, most staged houses out there will leave their toilet brush next to the toilet.  If your house is pristine, this sticks out like a sore thumb.  So please move it, because I hate touching it.  In fact I usually just kick it with my foot.  Another thing everyone forgets is the bathrobe on the back of the bathroom door.  It plays peek-a-boo in my bathroom photos.

I am aware of what an invasion it is to have me in every corner of your house.  But really, it's all in a days work for me.  I pretty much forget your house once I'm done.  Unless you have green carpet in your bathroom or strange artwork on your walls...

Don't be embarrassed that you threw all your stuff in the closet, laundry room, or garage.  I'm glad you did!

You probably won't like this one, but you're going to have to clean up your back yard and blow the leaves off your deck.  Toys, unwound hoses, old paint buckets, brooms, muddy shoes, gardening tools, all these things stick out and its hard for others to see potential in your yard.

I think flags or anything else kitchy on your front porch can be very distracting.  I'm trying to photograph your house, not your stuff.

When you're having to sell your house because someone died, there's been divorce, or you're in financial distress, I usually have been made aware of this.  I feel for you.  I try to be understanding.  But I still have to do my job.  Whether you are excited about selling your house or not.

The more effort you put forward, the harder I try.  If you have your best foot forward, I step it up a notch too.

We want the same things.  I want your house to look good, have a lot of interest, and sell quick.  The realtor who hired me will use me again!  At the same time, I don't get paid enough to spend all day with you.  So if I say something isn't worth changing or moving, it's not.  Let it go.

There.  Now I've told you.  Whoever you are.


Stop walking

Yesterday we got back into the swing of things with home school and I started back to work. It has gone fine. But it is very busy. Trying to stay on top of everything has brought me into a new place. A place where I don't take a nap. It is a sad place. But if you're so busy and have so much to do that you can't take a nap, then you don't really notice the lack of nap. Except when you start to feel really tired. 

There is a constant juggling of six kids needs. I am asked questions by more than one child at a time on a regular basis. I am managing quite a lot at once. I want to sit down and snuggle to read with one child but the baby needs to eat. I'd like to drop everything and make cupcakes, and suffer mommy guilt when I have to say no, because making cupcakes would probably send me over the edge. 

Tonight Juliet was talking to me and I was listening, but was continuing to clean up at the same time. She said, "Mom, stop walking!" and I must be honest, it broke my heart a little. She sees me in motion more than standing still. 

I love my life. I really think it's going pretty well actually. But having a large family is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot that is out of my control. There are a lot of details I've had to learn to let go of.  Things fall through the cracks sometimes. But we're all here. We're healthy and we're together. It was just me and Jimmy. And all of a sudden we are eight people. It is exciting, humbling, and kind of a slap in the face all at once. 

I am, by the grace of God, finding joy. These kids are hilarious. More fun than I've ever had. And I get to do it with my best friend. Blessings undeserved. 

I found this photo on my phone tonight. This is the kind of stuff my life is made of. Pure fun. 


Maybe in 2015...

Maybe in 2015 I'll renew my drivers license.*

Maybe in 2015 I will slay the laundry monster.

Maybe in 2015 I will get to take a nap.

Maybe in 2015 I'll make dinner.

Maybe in 2015 I will mop my kitchen floor.

Maybe in 2015 I will update my photo albums.

Maybe in 2015 we will eat kale.

Maybe in 2015 it will be quiet around the house.

Maybe in 2015 I'll remember why I walked into a room.

Maybe in 2015 I won't get pregnant.

Maybe in 2015 I'll blog real super writing and stuff.

Maybe in 2015 my kids will spontaneously begin to clean everything.

Maybe in 2015 I'll organize my linen closet.

Maybe in 2015 I'll get an award for best home school in the history of the universe.


Maybe not.


Happy New Year from the J train!

*It's only been expired since 2012...