About Me

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Just another stay at home mom trying to do it all, save the world, and not run out of coffee.
My published articles: exm.nr/gkA1yp
Twitter: @CarolBruckmann

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Go Targetheels!

"May I bring you some snacks?"

Anyone familiar with my husband would not be surprised to know that my daughter loves to talk  to and yell at the t.v. during March Madness. (Last year I used the ACC Tourney as an educational tool as she learner her numbers by looking at the score, so maybe I am somewhat to blame as well.) Plus it's one time she is actually encouraged to talk incessantly. Unfortunately she would never repeat her best exclamation; after a particularly tough foul committed by UNC player Tyler Zeller (called "Zecker" by Caitlyn) she crowed, "That's how you do it Carolina! Knock 'em down!!"

Bearcat basketball attire
She loved cheering for my "Targetheels" as well as Daddy's UC "Beahcats", especially when she could wrangle a later bedtime and some popcorn out of the deal. I'm sure little Elijah didn't really understand the game, but he cheered and yelled whenever the crowd on TV or in the living room did. Daddy let him know when he was cheering for the wrong team, but I found his antics adorable even with his misplaced allegiance.

Now if only I can work out my master plan of getting everyone as excited about "April Spring Cleaning!" Maybe a bracket would help...

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Parable of the Merciful Mama

I was fairly certain that my five year old had accidentally accessed the Internet on my phone. As I don't have a data plan this would mean some charges. It had happened before, and we had taken the money from her savings as a consequence. Clearly that had not made a lasting impression. She has always been strong willed and a stereotypical oldest child who believes she is right and knows what is best. No, I don't know where she gets it. We are constantly on our toes thinking of strategies to help her become the woman God wants her to be, and I am sure we haven't seen anything yet as she and I learn to live together on her journey to adulthood.

Since this time incurred an almost $25 charge, I called Verizon to block data on our phones until we decide to pay the monthly fee. I also had the woman on the phone make sure Caitlyn hadn't accidentally signed up for anything with a recurring charge. The woman sheepishly said, "Okay, I'm unsubscribing you from two things - mobile email and Sexy Girls Next Door."
Me: You're kidding.
Her: No.
Caitlyn: (from the backseat) "You said a bad word!"
Me: "Well you did a really bad things that deserves a bad word!" (to the woman on the phone) "Well, I suppose it could be worse. I could be dealing with a teenager who intentionally signed up for something like that."

I waited a couple of hours debating and praying about how the proper punishment. (Remember my whole Lent sacrifice of trying to make my words, thoughts, and actions honor God?) After I got her brother to sleep we had a chat about things. Thankfully she didn't recall seeing anything bad on my phone, although she did realize at one point that she had gone to the Internet and tried to "x it out."

Drawing from our sermon Sunday on Matthew 18, The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, I tried to explain the monetary amount of her transgression. She has a chance to earn a quarter a week, but each time she refuses to obey she loses a penny. If she never misbehaved it would take her 2 years to pay us back. In addition she had recently clicked something on her Dad's Facebook account that would take another 2 years of perfection to pay off. For a 5 year old, this is an impossible sum of money to earn. I then explained that because God had forgiven Mommy and Daddy for our sins against him, we were going to forgive the debt she owed us. She understood that if she did it again we would be making a trip to the bank, but this time the slate was wiped clean through no merit of her own, just because God had shown his love to us and we wanted to show that love to her.

Most of it probably went over my preschooler's head, except for the part that she wasn't going to have to spend the money she is saving for her purple Honda. But I only wish all my parenting decisions were that well thought out and based in Scripture.

Did it change her? It's hard to say. But I know it changed me.

Fun with the Fitzgeralds

Jamie's sister, her three children, and his mom made the trek down to NC to visit before the craziness of soccer season hit them. Unfortunately we lost a day due to a landslide on the interstate, but we made use of time the best we could! We met at Discovery Place Kids where the youngest generation could run around to their hearts content, get some wiggles out, pretend to be chefs/ repairmen/sailor/florist/firefighters, and engage in various dance parties.

Jamie, his mom, and the three eldest grandchildren headed on Sunday to the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. They cheered on some training American and Canadian Olympic hopefuls and enjoyed some nice hikes. (As a result the following Sunday I accompanied Jamie on a trip involving peaceful flatwater kayaking on the Catawba as well as high ropes courses and zip-lines that were far beyond the reaches of my acrophobic nature.)

My grand idea was to have a fondue night, but unfortunately the cheese did not cooperate. Nevertheless we enjoyed our cheese course, meat/veggie course, and especially the chocolate fountain. The children were so chocolate covered that Elijah was unceremoniously hosed off on the back deck by his loving father. We loved having them down and wish the cousins could play more often!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letting Go

It's been a week since we put our dog Sasha to sleep. After almost 15 years together it is hard at times to remember she isn't here. One morning during her morning chores Caitlyn yelled that we needed to get Sasha some more dog food, and it took a couple of tries to remind her that we didn't have a Sasha anymore. Elijah went in the garage and emerged with two treats, saying one was for "Ze-Zeke" and one for "Satcha." When he remembers he looks sadly at me and says sadly, "Die." For me it happens at times when I feel the need to take care of her - hearing footsteps and thinking she needs to go out, clearing the toys from the floor so she'll have a clear path, seeing the cream cheese in which we hid her medicine, or thinking I need to put her on the deck if we're going out for a while. Letting go was hard, and I imagine it's an ongoing process.

The actual decision to put her to sleep was difficult. For a couple of years I had been saying that she would die at any time, then she would pull through. At Christmas we took her on our whirlwind trip since she needed such constant care. The trip was stressful for her, and we did not think she would make it. But when we came back home she pranced around the yard and perked up. Every time my heart would tell me that it was time, something would happen to convince me otherwise.

Of course I knew she was past her prime. She no longer did tricks, unless you count trying to catch popcorn in her mouth. Rather than "speaking" and "whispering" on command she would only whimper in the direst of circumstances. Her hearing and vision had been fading, and she spent most of her days sleeping. But the finality of the decision weighed heavily on my soul. You see, I fervently believe in the hope of heaven, but I am not all together convinced that "all dogs go to heaven." I do know that God's eye is on the sparrow, and if animals do have an afterlife then Sasha is a shoe-in for a good one.

In order to minimize my sadness after Sasha's death I took care of destroying her medicene the night before and combining her dog food with Ezekiel's. I made sure we completed Caitlyn's math assignment graphing pets the day before so we wouldn't have to deal with that. But wouldn't you know it, one of her reading sentences the next day was, "I hope my pet lives a long time." The night before the appointment I slept upstairs to be available any time she woke up and needed anything. At 3 am I cooked her a chicken breast for a last meal. When I dropped the kids off at my friend's house they said goodbye to Sasha, and my intuitive daughter voiced the thoughts hidden in my heart. She gave Sasha one last hug and asked, "Don't you wish they could fix Sasha and make her one year old again?" I choked out the reply, "Yes baby, that's exactly what I wish."

I held it together fairly well at the vet, taking Sasha for one last walk around to sniff the grass and only falling into sobs when we first arrived and when I was leaving. I knew that a sense of calm was the final gift I could give the sweet dog who had seen me through so many tough times in my own life. Sasha miraculously allowed them to insert the catheter that would deliver the drugs to her system, and I was able to hold her snuggled in my lap on the floor as she gently passed into peaceful slumber. In the end it was as it began, the two of us alone against the world, embracing against whatever life threw our way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Remembering Sasha (4-12-97 - 3-1-12)

People tend to think they have the best dog in the world, but I know I did. My dog was beloved by people around the globe! The summer after my sophomore year in college I decided I needed a dog. The small dogs advertised in the paper were all taken, so against my better judgment I went to check out some Rottie-Husky puppies in a guy’s backyard in Knoxville. Soon I was driving back to my apartment with my 25 pound bundle of joy. Except for a semester when she had to live with my parents, we have been inseparable.

Carson Newman
Sasha was an active puppy, and everyone at CN loved her. Several people had keys to my house and would walk her when I was in class or at work. When I would walk her around campus people I didn’t even know would say hi to her! Once when she was a puppy she found a nasty ball outside my apartment. No one would pick it up to throw it for her, so she dropped it on one side of an SUV then ran around to the other side to play “Solitaire fetch.” I never worried about living alone when I had a big dog to protect me. On the other hand, once when a pit bull got away from its owner to go after her I protected her by punching the pit bull in the mouth. (Afterwards I was shaking at my stupidity, but it worked!) She was spoiled rotten. Once, I was afraid because I thought I heard someone outside and let her hop in my bed. After that point she slept with me until I got married.

As a poor college student I often made toys from empty Mtn. Dew bottles and wadded up pieces of paper. Unfortunately one day she thought my college research paper was a toy! Thankfully my professor had a great sense of humor when I showed her that my dog literally ate my homework and allowed me to reprint after class with no late penalty. My favorite sociology professor loved to blow bubbles to relax. Knowing this I brought Sasha into class for a presentation on relaxation to demonstrate how blowing bubbles isn’t nearly as relaxing as blowing bubbles for a dog who will jump up to pop the bubbles!

She learned a lot of tricks, fetch being her favorite. I would take her to my parents’ house and hit tennis balls down the side of the mountain to try to wear her out! She could also sit, lie, down, shake, and chase her tail, but her most impressive trick was being able to both “speak” and “whisper.” She would go crazy anytime it snowed, running around the house scooping up snow in her mouth like a bulldozer and rolling around until she was soaked. I would make snowballs and throw them into the snow for her to chase. Crazily enough she often found them and chewed them up.

Moving to Texas was emotional and scary, and perhaps I couldn’t have done it without my constant companion. But she and I made some amazing friends there! She loved to wrestle with my friends (Crocodile Hunter Kathy?), and many were excited to keep her if I had to go out of state. Sasha was afraid of water until one day at a pond with a friend she really wanted to chase some ducks. After literally “taking the plunge” we couldn’t keep her away from any water source from then on… well maybe except the bathtub!

After I moved in with Melinda, Sasha found her second family with the Whighams. They loved her as much as my family did, and she returned their love. She played with Mama Dot’s little poodle Romy and raised Melinda’s cat Sebastian to be a great cat-dog. They were her family if I ever flew home, but if I made the 17 hour trek in my Honda she rode in the back like a trooper, sometimes only stopping once or twice for gas, food, and a potty break!

Back to N.C.
As much as I didn’t want to move to Texas, moving back to NC was just as tough. I moved to a place where I had no friends, and Sasha was my constant companion. After Jamie and I started dating he became her Daddy. She accompanied me to visit him from time to time until one of his neighbors called the front office complaining that he had a bear in his apartment!

Sasha came to our wedding reception as the guest of honor. Right before our wedding she popped a ligament on one knee and popped the other one right after our honeymoon. I knew my husband loved me when he unflinchingly forked over the cash for both surgeries.

Through several family additions (1 husband, 2 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 kids) she remained sweet and faithful. Although she no longer played fetch, she still loved the snow and slow walks outside. She never once growled at the kids, but she would put other dogs in their place with her Alpha personality, even when they could have taken my senior dog down in a second! In the end I was thankful to hold her as she gently passed into peace, beloved by so many and leaving a paw print shaped hole in my heart.

If you have memories of Sasha, please leave them in the comments section below so I can keep them.

You can see pictures of Sasha’s life by clicking here.

Visiting with Aunt Melinda before my wedding

Sasha never stopped loving the snow!

Eventually Sasha had to start sharing he popcorn with her younger sister and brother.
You can see more videos of Sasha on my Youtube channel.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peanut... Peanut Butter!

Your honor, to the question of how I can claim to clean so often yet still have such a messy house, we give you Exhibit A - the peanut butter massacre of 2012.

Shalom Seekers