Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Susan Garrett does not have this problem

Brynley really does like to do everything with me!

I try to get some exercise on my cellerciser, Brynley thinks its time for a gentle massage. He loves it and won't get off even when I'm bouncing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

my fine young man

My son, my first born, he is growing up in to a fine young man. He's in 8th grade now, he'll be 14 in a couple of months, it's hard to believe. He is really growing up this year. We've had struggles over the years. He has dyslexia and ADD. He receives special education services at school. He is a smart kid. This year, he is starting to be the successful, confident, young man I've always hoped he would be. Next month, he will participate at his school level in the National Geography Bee. He is one of only 29 students, out of the hundreds at his middle school, that made the qualifying cut off score. A special ed  student competing in a competition that was mostly intended for the gifted kids. Rock on! Dyslexia has hidden his gifts for long enough. 
He's plays flute in his 8th grade band, right in the middle of the flute section. 

He loves fencing.

I love that smile.

He is a swimmer. Breaststroke is his favorite. When he was younger he sort of looked like a flopping fish. His times were, in a word, slow. Now he slices through the water with a smooth, seemingly effortless stroke. His times are dropping fast. 



Gliding through the water, swimmers are being passed, times are coming down, confidence is going up. 
Small rewards of being a parent. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wedding, Christmas, rambling

I am a very lucky woman. I don't have a sister, I was blessed with one brother. But thanks to my brother and my husband, I have the best sister-in-laws a woman could ask for. Actually, I just think of them as my sisters, even though I didn't get them until I was an adult. One of them is the amazing woman my brother married. He would agree it was the best thing he's ever done. She writes a popular blog (you can see it here) and designs gorgeous jewelry. She also it a great amateur photographer. She's way more creative than I am, but I'm really good at borrowing ideas. We have been in California for a family wedding, and we got the chance to get together with them for a early Christmas. So I borrowed her idea for this picture. Lisa's is way better than mine, but I do what I can. I love these stockings. My mom made the first ones when my brother and I were kids and has added the ones for our spouses and kids as they came along. 

The purpose of our visit was for the wedding of my youngest brother-in-law. His new wife happens to share my first name. It's freaking me out a little bit, seeing my name on Facebook belonging to someone else, but I love her so much, so it's ok. It means I now have the five best sisters (in law) in the world.
My beautiful daughter got to be the flower girl. It was the perfect wedding, meaningful and short! We got a little time to hang out with all my husband's family and all my family. It was a jam packed weekend, but I got to see all the people I love most in the world. Can't ask for more than that. (and it was in warm California, a weekend away from the cold and ice!)
Here's a moment with my daughter, my nephew, and my godmother. Being surrounded by so much love is reminding me to be grateful for all the good things in my life.  Little Mickey papillon dislocated his hip and it cost over $1000 to fix him, so with weddings, and vet bills and such, this Christmas is going to be smaller than we've been used to. I still have a lot to be thankful for and happy about.  I may put a bow on my Mickey and kiss him and snuggle him. It's a good year after all. 

Speaking of papillons, here is my mom's pretty little Rose. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

enjoying the sun

Sunday afternoon we headed to the Omaha Zoo to enjoy what will probably be the last of the sunny, 70 degree weather. It was beautiful, and so relaxing!

I always go crazy taking pictures of the ring-tailed lemurs. I must have taken at least 50. This guy particularly amused me.

My highlight was seeing the 5 month old Siberian (Amur) Tiger. This is Isabelle and her mom. How precious, a new baby girl in a critically endangered species. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Autumn, I just think it's a prettier word than fall. Summer has ended in the heartland. This morning was distinctly chilly. Still, I decided to play with my camera and post to my much neglected blog. We have been lucky with a warm, dry fall. It's only just getting chilly so can't really complain. 
Some of the trees have already lost their leaves. Raking season is in full swing!

Others are still showing off their beautiful colors.

If you haven't realized it, there is a relationship between which dogs are most likely to stay still for a picture and which one's pictures get taken the most often! 

Yes, Brynley is probably my favorite subject.

Annie is also cooperative. This picture made me laugh. It's such a typical Annie expression that I just had to use it!

Brynley has had a wonderful fall making his debut in agility. These are his AKC Novice ribbons. I really like his choices in favorite colors! (Green ribbons are for runs qualifying towards a title, blue is for 1st place, the multi color was for his first title)  I ran him a total of five days in AKC agility this fall. He ran outdoors on grass, in an indoor horse arena, and indoors on an artificial turf soccer field. (we both love that turf!) I was so proud of how he performed in all these different conditions. He had rock solid start line stays, no off courses, great weave pole entries, and blazing speed. He earned his first two AKC titles . He is now Jusdandy Twilight Bright NA, NAJ. Now we'll take the winter off to relax and maybe play with some obedience training and build back to what needs to be worked on for Open in the spring. The biggest issue for now is that his contacts haven't  held up as he's gone from second gear to overdrive. I'm not quite sure how we're going to address this. We can do some 2o2o work over the winter, but the real issue is putting it together with serious speed that we can't get when we're training indoors on mats or just on a contact trainer. That's my puzzle for now. Meantime, I'm looking forward to just curling up with a book and my dogs to snuggle and relax as the weather gets cold. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grass Addiction

That's grass as in the stuff growing to make my lawn where I like to play agility, not the other kind. The addict is Brynley, who may henceforth be known as "he who eats everything, all the time".

Brynley made his agility debut this past weekend. No big deal really, just a couple of classes at a local USDAA trial in performance to get an idea of how our training is coming along and how my ankle will hold up to running at a trial. Over all, it went well. I think the best part for me was that I did not walk out to the start line with jitters about running with Bryn for the first time. It just felt like something we've always done.

Of course, it wasn't perfect. I came home with a list of things to work on before we trial again. (which is coming up quickly, yikes!)  The biggest thing for me was that Brynley occasionally stopped to grab at the grass during a run. (that dog will eat anything) Yeah, I've seen it before. Usually when I correct a behavior, most often marking a problem in the weave poles and calling him out of them. So I can't say it surprised me.

This required hours of analysis, pouring over the 90 seconds worth of video from each day. I mean, oh my God, what am I to do?! Should I be running over to stop him every time this happens? Oh crap! He's not focused on me, a sin, a crime, we should be forever banished from agility trials! What to do? What to do?

Oh yeah, back to the videos.   So, the first and most obvious conclusion. It only happened in standard, not in jumpers (the only 2 classes I ran him in). Hmm....   So it doesn't happen when he's running fast and confident? Back to looking at video, frame by frame. Hmm... it only happens when I get behind him. Ok. Well, he's a fast dog, that's a bit of a problem. 

Back to videos, focus on the handler. That's me. Hmm... handler is slow, out of position, and usually late with cues (except when I'm early and he follows me off the jump, good boy!).  Well, that puts a bit of a different wrinkle on the issue.

Conclusion: the problem is 80 percent poor handling, primarily bad positions and timing, 25 percent a need for further training and practice, and 15 percent  just being a young, inexperienced dog acting out his frustration and insecurity. ( I know, it doesn't add up to 100. Just want to emphasize how much of the problem I think is my handling).  The good news, it's totally curable with more training and practice. There were some other bobbles on course this weekend, but they also were also mostly due to my problems with being in position and giving well-timed cues.

So, we're heading back to the grass for more practice. We'll work on Brynley's confidence to work away and in front of me and his understanding of going on to the obstacles. And weave pole entrances, didn't see that in practice, that's why you got to take to a trial. For me, well, I'm going to work on getting in to better positions and figuring out how to improve my timing even when I can't be in an ideal position. Lots to do, but I love spending time playing with my boy!  And, I should add, he did get his first Qualifying run and first place!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Branson vacation

stack of cousins
look out, there's gonna be a BIG splash!
the boys, and one little girl, hang out
Go carts
grown ups, too!
a break in the stream for a family photo

Saturday, July 10, 2010

sea turtles

a highlight of our recent California vacation was two days spent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Five 8 month old green sea turtles were new on display the second morning we visited. They were cute and charming and very cooperative in swimming by for pictures. I fell totally in love!

a new advocate for the sea turtles and our oceans.  Don't you want to preserve the oceans for her?

Monday, June 28, 2010

getting around

June has been quite a busy month. First, the girl and I spent a week in Missouri for a dance competition. Now, I am in California with both kids visiting family and places I love. Here is a small taste, maybe I'll post more later. 
Branson, MO
Morro Bay

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dyslexia and the learning process

Thirteen years of watching my son and puzzling out how he learns has finally led to some insight. These are some thoughts I would like to share with all his teachers, and a reminder for myself.  As his seventh grade year comes to a close, I can say that I have seen some breakthroughs that I have been waiting for for years for my dyslexic son. The biggest is that I can now say he is a reader! Not only has he finally started reading for pleasure in the last year, he now devours books almost as quickly as I do. When he was 10, I wondered if he would ever read and enjoy the Harry Potter series. The answer is yes, when he was 13.

So what do I know about dyslexia that was so hard to understand? I think I finally understand how smart my child is. And I finally understand that although I don't understand his learning style, and it takes a little longer usually for him to master something, he will get there.

My new analogy for understanding how my dyslexic son learns uses the image of building a puzzle. Most people build a puzzle in a linear fashion, finding one piece and then another and systematically building the picture. Dyslexia means building the puzzle in a completely different way. One day he may build a small piece of the puzzle. When he comes back to it the next day, this piece is gone. This pattern may repeat for quite a while. Putting small pieces together, only to seem to loose them. But suddenly, almost overnight, some kind of grand reshuffling takes place in the brain and the next day the dyslexic looks at the puzzle and the picture is complete. Complete and mastered, never to be lost again, and occasionally just a little more brilliant than the average puzzle.

Be patient with my son. Keep giving him the pieces. He may not get the puzzle on our time frame, but he will get it, and it will be better than expected.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the journey.... beautiful Iowa

I'm tearing myself away from Farmville to update my much neglected blog. It seems like things have been pretty busy. We enjoyed some beautiful weather over spring break, and I spent it teaching Brynley to weave.  Hobbling around in first a walking boot, and graduating to an ankle brace. Last week, Tracy Sklenar came to Iowa, and I got to spend four days working on moving to a higher plane of awareness in my agility journey. I'm pleased that Bryn is weaving, but I came away from the seminar with a page of things to work on in his training before we think of trialling. I'm sure I'll find the time somewhere. I have a new awareness of foundation training we need to focus on.

Meanwhile, the foot and ankle are progressing in healing. I hit a low point early last week when it seemed like it just hasn't gotten much better. (fortunately, I didn't have to run much at the agility seminar)  I've been doing physical therapy for almost three weeks. I think the last couple of days have seen a turning point. I seem to walking with less pain, and today I even went for a short bike ride (though I won't be locking in my pedals with cleats any time soon).

The agility seminar took place just over the river in Iowa at the beautiful Fairacres Agility. The views are just
fantastic, and I think this must be the prettiest agility field that I've ever been fortunate enough to run on.