Saturday, December 28, 2013

Smiling is my favorite...

We celebrated our RanHonFam Christmas on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. It was the only time we could carve out a few hours for us to be in the same place at the same time, between work schedules and other responsibilities.

And it was wonderful.

We had breakfast for lunch, and late in the afternoon, we had a Chicago style pizza. I decided to treat myself to something easy – and we all love it. NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR: It’s okay to do something easy for Ma.
This also made things easy for Ma/Gram...the littles in jail. Daisie is very manageable.

My favorite part of the day was that my surprise for the kids and The Farmer was truly a surprise and a big hit!

Because we are going to Hawaii with the kids in February, I warned them that Christmas gifts would be small. Of course, they didn’t care if they got anything with Hawaii on the horizon. However, I wouldn’t enjoy it at all if I didn’t get to do SOME shopping and giving.

I went with my recent discovery (thank you, Pinterest, for this revelation) and got them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I saved the “Read” for last…

In the bottom of their gift bags was an Amazon gift card wrapped in a square of scrapbook paper. They opened it and said, “Oh! We get to pick our own book this year!” Of course, Dillon said, “Since this is an Amazon gift card, I don’t HAVE TO buy something to read…I could buy music, or whatever I want.”

That kid…always trying to yank my chain…and my chain is so easy to yank…But anyway, I ignored him, and told them to get out the piece of paper their card was wrapped in. When all had it in hand, I instructed them to go upstairs to my bedroom and find the box that had the same kind of paper on it.

Oh! They were like little kids again! Nothing is better than knowing your gift might be too big to fit under the tree! Shades of yesteryear, when they hoped (beyond hope, ‘cause it never did happen) that a Power Wheels would be up there.

No Power Wheels again this year, but they jostled and wrestled their boxes into the right hands and thundered down the stairs.

Even though the boxes were not wrapped, and the lettering was on the outside, no one noticed what these strangely shaped boxes contained. And then Jess saw the lettering…His eyes got big and he said, “NO WAY! REALLY?” The opening became more frenzied until all realized that they were holding a Kindle in their hands!

Cheering and happiness ensued…Made my whole day, well…my whole Christmas!

I thought Kindles would be a great complement to our upcoming Hawaiian adventure as we all like to read while relaxing. This way, we won’t need an extra suitcase for all the books we would want to have on hand.

And, boy howdy, were they excited about this. For the next 20 minutes, this is what I saw:

Everyone was getting their Kindle set up, and buying a book with their gift card.

I should say that we had fun with the other gifts that were given and received that day…and just being together. My kids are such nice grown-ups…God bless them! And I must say, God is gracious! It’s not like they had perfect parents by any means…(Well, Tiffany probably did.)

So it was all good…but I just love it when I can surprise my kids, and see their faces light up…Always have, always will.

Surprised smiles? They're my favorite!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Angus & Reform School...

This little guy has been living with us for the past month. Yes – Angus has been sent to Gram’s Reform School, and it is a boarding school.

Angus has reached that age/stage where you will see in the classifieds: “Free to good home, X month old puppy. Needs fenced yard and room to run. Owners don’t have enough time for him”…

Except for the fact that we know that every pup reaches this stage, and will, someday, pass through it, this might have been written about Angus recently.

Once upon a time, Angus was potty-trained…and then that little skill lost its appeal, and he decided that, though he knew how to do it, he’d rather not bother with going outside.

That’s a problem…well, actually, it’s been a lot of problems!

He even decided that peeing in his crate, aka his bedroom, was sometimes  necessary. In the dog-training world, this is an EMERGENCY! Usually, a pup will keep his bed clean and dry, and that allows you to manipulate the circumstances to teach him to do his business outside…But when he doesn’t care if he goes in his bed…well, he doesn’t care about where he goes at all.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Angus was sent to Reform School in the hope that constant supervision from Gram would renew his interest in being house-trained.  The goal was to get him to believe that outside was the ONLY place to go. The strategy was to take watch closely, and take him out often, so that the preponderance of successful duty runs occurred outside.
After a month of concerted effort, I am well trained. Angus? Not so much.

I have learned that constant supervision is CONSTANT…2 minutes of inattention will be costly.

I have become an expert at getting stains out of carpet…All you need are pet enzymes, many paper towels, and encyclopedia volumes to press out the water after the vile stuff has been removed. Weeping and gnashing of teeth, optional.

I have learned that Angus signal to go out is to look at you…which is not exactly definitive. Thanks, Angus.

When he is not evacuating something from the back end, Angus is usually ingesting something on the front end…digestibility optional.

He ate one of my Pottery Barn German Glass glittered birds...
Both ends of the dog evacuate…’nuff said.

Despite my repeated expressions of exasperation, Angus adores me. He is my shadow…which means his toes have been stepped on plenty. And if I move from room to room, so does he. And when I take my own potty break, he scratches at the door until I return.

Let me just say that being adored is quite taxing…

Angus has learned a few things since being in residence here:

Drink lots of water to keep up with Gram’s potty schedule.

The water in the Christmas tree stand is much better flavor.

Eating Fir tree needles makes your gut gurgle.

The biscuits are in the second locker in the utility room. If you stand there long enough and look pathetic you will get one.

If you go outside and go potty, Gram will cheer for you and you can run right into the house and she will give you a treat from the bucket.

Any time the back door opens and closes, run to the bucket for a treat because this is probably why you get something, not for going potty.

If you don’t go poo right away, you get a longer walk.

It’s hard to find the right spot to do your duties outside. You have to sniff and sniff and look and look, but in the house, it is easy! You just find the lightest piece of carpet and go there.

The lightest piece of carpet is in the living room

If you wreck something Gram likes, then she will give you a rawhide to chew on.

If you paw on the crate in the night, you get to see Gram more often…even though she always makes you go out in the cold to pee…It’s still worth it if you are lonely.

The Boss never gets up in the night. He doesn’t care if you are lonely.

I’m starting to believe that Caitlin has chosen the wrong Reform School. There seems to be a disconnect in Angus/Gram communication.

The habits that are becoming ingrained in his little brain, are not the ones I’m trying to put there.

Case in point – our morning walks…We make our way through the oldest part of our raspberry fields, and along a row that is particularly weak, with small canes, and not a lot of them. Angus loves to run up to the row, grasp the end of a drooping cane in his mouth, and neatly incise off the last 8-10 inches of it. So proud, he then runs on to another to repeat.

This poor tired raspberry row! I hate to see it abused further in its weakened state, so when I see Angus about to shorten another cane, I sharply tell him, “NO!” and call him to come. When he leaves the cane and comes, I reward him with a treat.

He has learned this lesson well, and while at first I was proud of him, I have come to doubt this accomplishment. Now when we walk this row, he runs quickly to grab a cane and looks back to make sure that I am watching. When I reprimand, he jogs over immediately to receive his pay…And then he runs to the next cane, and does it all over again…to receive his pay.

I have created a little extortionist.

I think I am teaching him that “NO!” means stop what you are doing. Instead, Angus learned that when you do something that makes Gram yell “NO!”, you get a treat…A quarter mile of extortion every morning as Angus runs from cane to cane. “If you don’t give me a treat, I will crunch this cane…”

I’m pretty sure that Pavlov wouldn’t let me near his dogs…

Worst of all, this little guy has found his way into The Farmer’s heart. When Caitlin offered to take him home after a week, The Farmer (or The Boss, as he is known to the dogs) said Angus should stay here “because I like having him around”…

I will not state the obvious here about who cleans up the messes and who does the nighttime potty runs…as this is an old, old argument that disappeared when the human children became low-maintenance…

And I can only hope that the need for the argument disappears again… I know it will for a short time, because Gram’s Reform School is going to close for the Holidays and the boarder will be sent home.
Angus still loves his Girl...
And loves his sis a very active way.

If The Farmer/Boss lets him go…

Oh Angus…you ARE adorable…please grow up soon! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jingle Bell Run...

On Saturday, we enjoyed our annual jaunt to the Jingle Bell Run. This year, Caitlin decided to include the dogs. Three days before the event, she decided she had better take a trial run with the two of them just to make sure they would actually run and not just wrestle and fight each other while yoked together.

Results of the dry run were manageable, so the money she had spent on outfits for them would not be in vain.

And, anyway, they looked so cute that even if they wrestled and didn’t run, it would still be worth it, in my opinion...but I'm their Gram.

Olive and Angus were so excited that I think every picture of them is blurry…Actually, almost every picture I have ever taken of the two of them is blurry…It is a way of life with those two. This morning, it looked as if they would NOT be lagging behind...but Caitlin might!

In the controlled chaos that is the start of the Jingle Bell Run, we never found Caitlin’s running companions. There are so many participants to the race that it is difficult to make connections… Especially when there are two groups each standing on a different side of the school and each group is thinking they are in the “front”. This didn’t become evident until after the race had started but then those of us who came to spectate found each other. The runners eventually found each other at the finish.

And now we all know for next year which side of the school shall be designated as The Front.

I hope we remember that.

Anyway, Olive and Angus had a great run…and Caitlin managed to keep up without falling and suffering the humiliation of being dragged by 2 small dogs through the streets of Bellingham.

And they looked pretty cute while doing it!
When all was finished, we got to see Caitlin’s friend, Heidi, with her little sweet one year old, Brooklyn…aka cutest elf ever!!! Brooklyn was celebrating her first birthday by riding in the Jingle Bell Run! She already knows how to party!!

We also found Joy, aka the Sugarplum Fairy. Everyone had enjoyed their run – though Olive and Angus seemed to think it was too short. They were obviously bored when all the running ceased.

Bored, but awfully cute...but then, I am their Gram...
And then things got worse for them when they had to spend the next hour in the crates in the car while we went out for breakfast. Joy, along with her parents, our dear friends Spencer and Ruby, joined us. Hot coffee, hot breakfast, good conversation and laughs…a great way to spend a Saturday morning during Christmas time.

I love this Christmas tradition!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thanksgiving Day...

I confess that I spent the first 3 days after Thanksgiving doing nothing at all, to make up for all the days before that I did a lot, and burned off that nervous energy I have when trying to make ready for a big event. I’ve been trying to catch up ever since!

All my early preparation was worth it as the day went off without a hitch. There were no food disasters. In fact, it all tasted very good, and we ate heartily, and repeatedly.

And that was awesome!


I tried to set a table that was somewhat festive, in a country sort of way. A nod to Pioneer Woman for the bandanas as napkins idea…

The eating was interspersed with good visiting, puzzle making, games, joking, and though we were primed for football, it took a while to get around to that. I have to say that I LOVE just hanging around with The Fam…some of my favorite people to be with. It was so relaxed, even for me! And that was a new one…I think I’m learning!

The dogs provided their usual manic entertainment, as evidenced by the blurry shots of the little ones. Daisie was pleased to lean against everyone, or put her paw on them to let them know she welcomed their attentions.
As the day wound down, Caitlin and I made our entry way into a photo booth for Christmas card pictures. Jess joined in by rummaging up some props, and before we knew it, it had turned into a lot of fun and laughing…Such good sports in our family! It really was not something they would have longed to do…but they did it because I asked them to.

They know how to get to my heart…

We all got so goofy that I’m not sure we can seriously put those pictures on our Christmas cards…Some are really cute, and some are...rare! All in all, it was great entertainment!

Most hung around into the evening…It was such an enjoyable and satisfying day.

Everyone from out of town stayed until Friday when we descended on El Ranchito. Sixteen of us went for an early lunch and had the place mostly to ourselves.

It’s so nice to have your extended family be such good friends, and good fun!

As I said last time, if making home is your calling, your vocation, Thanksgiving is just the best holiday ever!

And yes, I am thankful for that!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (