Saturday, September 3, 2016

Training Your Kids for a Pet Dog

This lesson is from Shared Responsibility University
Training for Pets Course
Lessons 1 & 2

"Please can we get a dog? Please?!!!" Has that ever been voiced in your home?

When your child begs for a dog and you feel like the party-pooper because you know you'll most likely end up taking care of it, try these ideas. When a child promises to take care of the dog, give them a chance to show you. Provide these two simulations to offer responsibility experiences to inform the family decision.

Lesson 1:  
  • 6-8 large or small Tootsie Rolls, unwrapped
  • Brown paper lunch bags 
  • Incentive chart
  • Incentive marker: sticker or marker to write initials or draw a star, etc.
  1. Three times a week, place/hide multiple large or small unwrapped Tootsie Rolls (apologies to Tootsie Roll), depending on the size of the dog you are considering, around your back yard. 
  2. Put lunch bags in an accessible location to the child. The more the child can manage independently, the better for you.
    Photo Credit:
  3. Show your child how to go outside and gather the Tootsie Rolls in the bag. 
  4. Inform the child that this needs to be done three times a week for one month. 
  5. Only explain this once. Provide no reminders. Remember, you do not want the extra work of dog care to fall on you. Depending on the age of the child, additional instruction or demonstration may be warranted.
  6. Encourage the results you like with verbal specific praise and an incentive chart. See Step 8.
  7. Tell them where to set the bag, so you can check their work and later rescatter the Tootsie Rolls prior to them picking them up the next time. Reuse!
  8. Set up a chart for the child to track weekly what days they collected Tootsie Rolls. For younger children, you can help them place a sticker on the day they accomplished the task to help motivate and remember. This data will be used to assess their readiness for a dog at the end of this course. For printables: 
  9. Discuss their level of enjoyment of this routine at the end of the month.
Lesson 2: 
  • Dog food and water bowls
  • Dog food or dry rice or similar item
  • Incentive chart (can use same one as in Lesson 1.
  1. Buy a dog food bowl and water bowl. Include child in bowl selection, unless that will mislead the child into thinking getting a dog is going to happen or you want to select the cheapest bowls, not the cutest.
    Photo Credit:
  2. Buy a bag of white rice or real dog food, if you prefer.

  3. Make the rice or dog food bag accessible to the child. 
  4. Show the child how to fill the food bowl with one or two cups of dry rice or dog food and separately fill the water bowl. Some measuring skills are required. Or you can provide a scoop that measures two cups.
  5. Tell the child to fill the food bowl with rice and change the water every morning around 7am and every evening for one month. Go one week at a time. Anticipate improvement as the child adjusts to the demands.
  6. Encourage the results you like with verbal specific praise and an incentive chart. See Step 8 in Lesson 1.
  7. You can pour the rice or dog food back in the bag or jar and the child can reuse it over and over during this simulation.
  8. Discuss their level of enjoyment of this routine at the end of the month.
At the conclusion of these two simulations, have a family meeting to discuss the desire to get a dog. Use the experiences to inform the readiness decision. The child is now ready to have feed a dog and clean up the yard, relying less on you. Since they know a bit more of how much work it is, the desire to have a dog is more informed. 

There is still training and walking responsibilities to be managed. Ask to walk a friends dog together with your child, multiple times if possible. Observe a local dog obedience class and talk to the instructor about time involved practicing at home to raise a well-behaved, well-socialized pet.

A dog can be a wonderful addition to a family. Responsibilities increase with the addition of a dog, especially a puppy. Rescue a dog, if that is right for your situation. Always be prepared on how to care for a dog in a responsible and caring way. Otherwise, just continue to watch movies and read books about dogs. Or volunteer at or donate to a shelter.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

10 Downton Abbey Lessons for Life

  1. If you are sinister, suspicious, and snarky for five plus years, don't expect to end with much sympathy, support, or friendships. But we can hope.
  2. If you are the oldest matriarch in your family, understand your words, though witty and often wise, will often be a bit off-putting to those close to you. And delight your audience.
  3. As we age, new technology can startle and cause distrust at the beginning. Embrace it.
  4. Women evolve. Stand back, observe, and honor.
  5. Avoid an ulcer at all costs.
  6. Marigolds and daisies can grow together.
  7. If you cannot find the love of your life for many seasons, hold on. At least millions of people will be pulling for you.
  8. If you marry a head butler, be sure you love to run your home the same way he expects the manor to be run.
  9. Family pets, especially a Labrador Retriever, will win your heart, and when they leave you, it is painful. But we can learn to love again.
  10.  Hope and love will survive, when ways of life must change with the times. Stay optimistic.

    Thank you, Downton, for a great sixth season -- so far!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Morning After Another Tragic Event

The morning after...I'll continue to pray, to mourn for those I do not know who are going into unforeseen pain and hard-to-answer questions. I'll hold loved ones closer. I'll fight the fear of the active shooter reality, for fear steals life. I'll seek beauty, truth, and virtue, if only it were that easy.

I'll not judge entire people groups nor world religions because that interrupts the good that still exists, and disrespects my theology of God's love for all people. It also seems unfair, unbalanced, or poorly informed. I'll focus on the many vulnerable in our world, and continue to support the efforts of World Relief. I'll trust in God, who still miraculously redeems and restores in pursuit of ultimate shalom.
I'll not blame media or political parties because that distracts me from my responsibilities. That blinds me to the privilege of being present in this moment. I can make the world better with small acts of kindness. In the long run, that may have more impact than legislation.

And then there are the questions.

  • The question of where is God in the midst of such suffering. I don't have a satisfying answer. Yet. But I'm OK with asking and resting in not knowing. That does not bring me doubt. It draws me closer.
  • I'll still question the accessibility of weapons. 
  • The question of evil looms large. 
  • The question of why these situations have become so common in this land of the free and the brave is a timely question deserving response. 
  • The question of these attacks in other parts of the world that freeze us all in tragedy is crushing. 
 But the question of how we go on to honor lives lost through making lives matter is my more urgent question again this morning. Again. That word "again" is haunting on this morning after.
I agree with Larry Wilmore, The Nightly Show, "This has really got to stop."


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Control, Trust, and Today

The tension in the land between control and trust is sometimes fierce. Accept that. The crossover from control to trust is battle or surrender. Rest will come. The sense of fear, of risk, of threat is sometimes staggering. Grant grace to yourself. 

Looking at the past, faith stands strong. Looking to the future, faith can falter. Living in the present moment, faith stays focused. Give us this day our daily ________ . Whatever you need today, may you find it. 

We are promised enough for today. The lilies and the sparrows demonstrate it, as we are told in ancient writings. Breath deep. Repeat.

Friday, March 20, 2015

For Lent - Embrace

This post was written by my friend, Tara. I want to share it with you:

I recently read a blog that recounted the story of a woman going to visit a friend of hers that had recently lost her 21 month old baby.  She didn’t know what to say – she said, “I was at a loss of words because of her loss.”  She was astounded to realize that when she saw her friend that it was her words that brought her comfort.  Her friend, the one that just lost her precious baby, brought words of comfort to the author.  These were the words.

You know, you’re a mom.

These words came as she was recounting the story of the hours that surrounded the death of her daughter and unable to express her feelings, looked at her friend and said,

You know, you’re a mom.

And suddenly she knew.  She didn’t know what it was like to lose a child, but she knew the joy her friend felt when holding that precious baby and so she could imagine what it must have been like to have that taken away.

She knew, she was a mom.

These words have come back to me over and over since I read it.  I was at my son’s football game a few weeks ago and there were 2 boys racing on the bleachers.  Of course we parents that were watching knew it was going to end badly, and it did.  In an effort to jump one of the benches the boy that was in the lead tripped and tumbled over the bench and fell awkwardly onto the cement.  He immediately started to cry and a woman that was nearby jumped up to help him.  His parents rushed over and carried their crying, skinned kneed boy back to their seats.  And I thought,

I know, I’m a mom.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that her dog of many years passed away.  She posted pictures of the cute little pup from his puppy years on up through his adult years.  And I thought,

I know, I’m a dog owner too.

A friend whispered in my ear before church one day, “I just found out that I have breast cancer and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”  Tears flooded my eyes and I thought,

I know, I’m a woman too.

When I hear of friends that are going through the pain of losing a parent.  I think,

I know, I’m a daughter too.

I see teachers having a tough day with their students.  Life circumstances have made their personal lives very difficult.  Their patience level is worn very thin so that by the time they get into the classroom they are not the greatest role models for their students.  And I think,

I know, I’m a teacher too.

I see a man and his wife outside a store playing an instrument and asking for money because they are out of work and have little to nothing.  I look at them and think,

I know, I’m human too.

We may not know the exact circumstances that people face, but we can empathize because at the very core of who we are, we have the ability to understand because we are human too.  Despite our socio-economic or ethnic or gender differences,

We know, we’re human too.

During the Lenten season, people generally give up something to remind them of the sacrifice that Jesus made for them.  But, I want to embrace something.  I want to embrace my humanness and be able to look at the other human beings I see, other children of God, and be able to say,

I know, I’m human too.

Have a good day fellow human

More about our guest post contributor: Tara is a creative writer, actor, leader of children's church, and wife and mother to two awesome kids. She also loves the family dog, a young chocolate lab. She lives in Southern California where she cooks amazing recipes and practices ballet. She is my fun and caring friend.

Happy Easter, everyone -- especially us humans!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Cry Of A Tiny Baby

This remains one of my favorite Christmas story songs of contemporary times. The lyrics are powerful. The story is profound. And the simple cry of a tiny babe began a ripple of reconciliation that continues to change lives. Thank you, Bruce Cockburn, for this song.

The Cry of a Tiny Baby

Mary grows a child without the help of a man
Joseph get upset because he doesn't understand
Angel comes to Joseph in a powerful dream
Says "God did this and you're part of his scheme"
Joseph comes to Mary with his hat in his hand
Says "forgive me I thought you'd been with some other man"
She says "what if I had been - but I wasn't anyway and guess what
I felt the baby kick today"
Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe
The child is born in the fullness of time
Three wise astrologers take note of the signs
Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king
Get pretty close to wrecking everything
'Cause the governing body of the whole [Holy] land
Is that of Herod, a paranoid man
Who when he hears there's a baby born King of the Jews
Sends death squads to kill all male children under two
But that same bright angel warns the parents in a dream
And they head out for the border and get away clean
Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe
There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn't to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you've got [you have] ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It's a Christmas gift [that] you don't have to buy
There's a future shining in a baby's eyes
Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny baby

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dirty Corn Chowder

Saturday night, I started to make Corn Chowder for dinner. It looked easy enough, and a steamy bowl of homemade corn chowder sounded tasty for this chilly fall evening at home.

It was my first time to make this recipe from my Trader Joe's Cookbook.

I thought roasted corn sounded good to use in the soup. 

So I added it in to the soup. I had to chuckle. The roasted corn actually looked like dirty corn, as if I'd scraped the corn right off the pavement. I was glad I hadn't invited company over for dinner. Eww!

Just roasted and charred.

Well, it's nothing that can't be solved by chocolate, I guess. I'll serve brownies for dessert, in case the roasted corn looked nasty after all. A good plan, even though I knew the soup would turn out fine, even if did end up looking just a bit rustic.

Brownies ready and waiting to rescue if needed

Rustic is good in homemade food, right? Besides that, brownies are always a good finishing touch. So the brownies were on stand by to rescue the meal if needed. 

The final ingredients to complete the soup included salt, pepper, and thyme. I love popping leaves off thyme stems. Just slide my thumb and pointing finger down the stem and the leaves come right off. A fun little task. Then it just takes a little chopping and they are ready to toss in the soup.

Thyme stems and thyme leaves ready to chop

The fresh thyme, chopped, and added to the salt and pepper.
 With that, the soup was finished and ready to serve. It was delicious, and I'll definitely make it again.

Now, just one more thing. I had so much of the fresh herb left over. This guy wondered if we can put it in a bottle, but the question still remains.

Seriously. I need to know. Can you freeze thyme? [Insert wink.]