A New Birthday

Natasha asked Jesus into her heart today.

The conversation started while we were making pitas for dinner. She was talking about heaven, how she wanted to go there, and how she’d see Great-grandma there, “and meet Grandma Teena’s daddy.”

I asked her how she could get to heaven. “Ask Jesus into my heart.” (This is the answer to a question the 4 & 5s are asked each week in Sunday school.)

“Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart?”

She paused, like she was thinking about it. “Yes,” she said. “Well, when it’s dark.”

“You want to wait until bedtime?”

“Yes. I want Jesus to come and die in my heart.”

“Jesus is done dying,” I explained. “He only had to do that once. If you invite Jesus he comes to live in your heart.”

(I’ve been thankful I’ve not yet had to explain how this works. So far the metaphor has just worked for her.)

She seemed to be thinking about this. “I want to go to heaven,” she said. “But I’ll need some grown-ups.”

“You won’t need grown-ups in heaven,” I said. “You’ll have Jesus.” She still looked thoughtful, then brightened.

“Oh! I’ll have great-grandma! She’ll be my grown-up!”

We talked about heaven for a while, and Natasha clarified she didn’t want to go right away– that she wanted to wait until she was “great big and grown-up. Like you, Mommy.”

After regular bedtime stories we read “TheLost Son” out of her NIrV (not planned, particularly, she saw the painting/illustration and asked for the story).

Some comprehension questions are after the passage, and those seemed to prompt her memory. She said again she wanted Jesus to come in her heart.

I asked if she wanted to pray herself or repeat after me, and she said she wanted to repeat, so we did that. When we were done I prayed for her, then asked if she wanted to pray herself.

I wish I better remember what she said, but it’s the first thing I can remember her praying that sounded like it was all hers (up till now I’ve heard her say mostly things with identifiable sources).

It was only two lines and very sweet and tender, something like, “Thank you for having heaven for me.”

When Jay came in for bedtime hugs Natasha told him that she’d invited Jesus into her heart.

I honestly feel this surreal sense of having a new baby in the house.

Training some more

Shadow started retrieving this afternoon.

She progressed from simply chasing a ball (which she wasn’t doing three days ago) to picking it up, to carrying it around, and eventually to bringing it back near me (to me is a little more precise than she’s yet mastered).

Have I mentioned Elisha can throw now? About a foot. It’s adorable. It makes him feel very grown-up, especially when he’s playing with Daddy.

We were playing in the front yard and Shadow came and lay between us. She kept leaning over to pick up the ball after he threw it, and he’d crawl to her (I swear he was exasperated with her: That’s not for you.) and take it out of her mouth.

I was right there the whole time and was impressed with them both, his fearlessness (purposeful but not mean) and her compliance.

At one point I threw a ball across the yard and Shadow just stayed panting in the shade. Elisha looked from me, to the dog, to the ball and booked over to get the ball himself. He was almost there when Shadow seemed to realize he was serious and trotted off after him.

He sat up and looked at her when she came even with him, then turned his back and collected the ball he was after. Shadow went over and picked up a different ball nearby.

In all this Shadow has never tried to challenge Elisha’s “authority” and is gaining great points of confidence from me.

She’s also seeming like more fun as she’s becoming interactive and available more more than snuggles or belly rubs.

Settling In

Well, it’s been nearly a week and Shadow is finding a rhythm.

She has perked up a bit and shown more interest in exercise and the world around her. She’s also begun playing with her toys– mouthing some rings and tossing a soft ball around. No “serious” chewing since I gave her the knuckle bone, but she is showing a penchant for used tissue, which was something Tilly used to do that always grossed Jay out.

I am very thankful for whatever work her last home did in kennel-training her.

I put her in when I got to bed or when I leave the house for a couple hours. She settles right down, and even when I’m up in the night with the baby she generally figures out this doesn’t involve her and she doesn’t beg to get out.

Posted in Dog

Still Getting Old…

Jay expressed concern about his fitness level while he was gone, highlighting in particular the hip that seemed inflamed the morning after a brisk, 2-hour walk.

I pitied him, but attributed it (in part, at least) to his sedentary job. Mine keeps me moving enough I shouldn’t run into that stiffness problem myself.


Two days ago I walked Shadow on my own, wearing Elisha. I think I was hoping the walk would put him to sleep. It didn’t.

I woke yesterday morning with my right hip stiff and sore. I attributed this to waking faster than before with the extra 20-pounds on my back.

Monday night, when I got home, both my calves felt pretty tight. I was reminded I aught to strech before every exercise at my age. Even a simple walk.

But then on a day like yesterday most of me feels pretty tight and uncomfortable.

Jay asked for the first time post-Shadow if this was really the right time to have a dog, and I, who felt the dog might have been the only bright spot in my day (it was Jay, not me, who found the partially-chewed roll of USPS stamps) said today was not a good day to make that evaluation.

So yesterday was my fourth day in a row to get out on a walk. Some kind of record, it feels like. Shadow is gaining confidence next to the loud expressway, and has learned to ignore passing bicyclists.

Her energy-level seems to be picking up too, and I wonder if it’s her new, “high-quality” food or the regular outlet for energy that’s perking her up.

I was initially wondering if she’d ever be interested in jogging (I think she is now) and now I’m wondering how she might do with a bike– though that would be later in the summer when we know each other better.

Whatever’s causing it she’s definitely becoming more interested in moving, and I may end up getting that no-pull walking harness soon, since she’s becoming less responsive (or, maybe “selectively responsive”) to her collar on these evening walks.

Posted in Dog

We Have a Dog Again.

I’ve started this post four or five times, and it keeps being more of a laundry-list than anything else.


I now have my dog.

She isn’t vizsla (though she does have the compact, muscular body with the short hair– dark brown instead of russet), and she isn’t a Brittany (though she is that size and already proving quite trainable and perfect with the kids).

I just mention the above because those were the breeds I was researching/pursuing the most recently.

A lab-mix, Shadow displays the best of the mellow of that breed, and has learned since Thursday night several things that are very desirable to our family.

She has even managed to not-bother Jay, though that may be as much to Jay’s credit as the dog’s.

It was Jay who emphasized we shouldn’t consider the animal shelter’s 10-day exchange policy as a trial period.

“I expect the transition to be bumpy,” he said. “So we just need to commit to her and go for it.”

Amazingly, the transition has been rather smooth, so far. The girls are becoming more assertive and Shadow is learning quickly.

The one rough spot we’ve had was Friday night when the neighbor across the street brought her dog over to meet our new arrival. That deteriorated into awful barking from both of them, so we didn’t trust them nearer each other.

We neither of us lost control of our animals, but neither dog really listened to our embarrassed orders to be quiet or “nice” either. We might try again in a week or two, to see if Shadow being more settled will make a difference.

In the mean-time, I’m going to begin classes with her, and I’m hoping the presence of a more experienced dog-person will make a difference in canine introductions. There have been no problems with people.

Both girls have really embraced their role as the dog’s boss (something in question earlier in the week), and Natasha’s favorite thing right now is “walking” the dog– holding her leash and pretending to chose which direction they go in. She frequently tries to “sneak” the leash out of my hand when I’m talking to someone, but I will only let them walk together in the fenced yard.

Sometimes Shadow indulges Natasha’s preference, and sometimes Natasha is reminded the dog is stronger.

It is very fun to watch them together.

Just Noticed…

The girls were watching me get dressed this morning and Natasha said, with some surprise:

“Your baby tummy is gone! What happened to your baby tummy?”

What I would call my baby tummy is not gone, but I felt such a sweetness from the comment, drawing as it did the direct connection between baby and belly, and my daughter’s delight in what my body had been able to do.

“Where do you think it went?” I asked her.

“It went away when Elisha was born,” She said, authoritatively. “But why?”

Happy Birthday Elisha!

Well, Elisha turned 1 Monday.

We had a little party for him– my parents and a couple friends over for dinner.

Afterwards we stripped Elisha down to his diaper and gave him his bowl of cake and ice cream. He had his first spoon, too, and knew exacly how to use it (he was surprisingly dexterous) breaking off bite-sized pieces.

The only problem was that he couldn’t get or keep them on his spoon long enough to bring it to his mouth.

He had his first cup of cow’s milk, too, but didn’t think much of that. He made a face and pushed the cup away.


The next day I noticed he’s made another milestone: he’s figured out how to tip up a cup and his head so he can drink from a cup that’s not full.

He is also climbing up the steps against our bed and the kitchen counter. He’s very good at it, and will stand up there grinning like one of the big kids, but he still doesn’t know how to get down, and doesn’t watch where he’s stepping, so he will step right off the side sometimes.

Elisha still rides well in the Ergo (always on my back now) but as soon as Dad comes in the door at the end of the day: Nothing else will do.

And if Dad walks by without picking him up– all the world falls apart.

It is very freeing for me to watch Elisha develop an attachment to Jay. It make me feel less-essential in a very good way.