and cries of Gracie! ring out

It’s not uncommon to hear cries of “GRACIE!!” echoing through the house at all hours of the day.  Morning, noon, evening – it depends on when her scamp level is at its highest, and then you just have to pray any damage inflicted is relatively contained.

Let’s just say some days that works out better than others.


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wcw – your value in the eyes of a dog

“Dogs possess a quality that’s rare among humans — the ability to make you feel valued just by being you — and it was something of a miracle to me to be on the receiving end of all that acceptance.  The dog didn’t care what I looked like, or what I did for a living, or what a train wreck of a life I’d led before I got her, or what we did from day to day.  She just wanted to be with me, and that awareness gave me a singular sensation of delight.  I kept her in a crate at night until she was housebroken, and in the mornings I’d let her up onto the bed with me.  She’d writhe with joy at that.  She’d wag her tail and squirm all over me, lick my neck and face and eyes and ears, get her paws all tangled in my braid, and I’d just lie there, and I’d feel those oceans of loss from my past ebbing back, ebbing away, and I’d hear myself laugh out loud.”
– Caroline Knapp

gratitude: for the love of paws

Some things are really cool.  Handprints left in fluffy shag carpet.  Grass that looks pokey but feels soft as a blanket.  Couches that look hard but cushion like the fluffiest clouds.

But dog paws?  Those are infinitely cool.

Their pads are scratchy but, when I rub them just the right way, they’re also remarkably soft.  And when everybody’s all relaxed I can feel that really neat webbing between their pads.

Plus there’s something so deeply trusting when a dog lets you hold their paw.  It’s like touching a pure spirit, one capable of more love than her body can hold.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

the secondary market for nanny cams

We never did invest in a nanny cam.  I can see the benefit, especially if someone else spends all day with your kids, but we never felt the need for one in our home.  Or, more accurately, the discussion of having a nanny cam never even came up between BrightSide and me.

There were plenty of times when it would have been advantageous to have a bird’s eye view of what went down in the other room.  Knowing exactly how Sharpie got on the carpet.  Being able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who threw the first Lego.  These would have saved valuable brain cells spent sorting through denials and accusations, brain cells that might even have fired up to make a dinner or two.  But alas, we went old school.

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our Gracie girl

Some of you may be wondering where Gracie’s been.  Usually I can’t go more than three weeks without documenting that dog’s nuttiness around our house, but it’s been strangely calm around here.  This may have something to do with the fact that I learned we weren’t feeding her enough at mealtimes, but bygones.

It’s not that she doesn’t get into trouble.  Gracie’s still stealing socks and pens and food when she can get her paws on it (people food – nom nom nom), but she’s just not as frantic day to day.  Maybe it’s a fuller tummy, maybe it’s our conscious effort to love on her more, maybe it’s simply getting older.  Whatever it is, life has gotten a little more peaceful.

Gracie’s been such a huge part of Riddle from the Middle, though…it seems almost wrong not to continue blogging her life.

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uh oh, she’s at it again

Gracie, Gracie, Gracie…such a big fluffikins.  Such an adorable face.  Such an incorrigible mess.


Gracie tally as of 12/11/16:

  • A Kind peanut butter breakfast bars box from our recycling pile.  After that smell she much have been so disappointed when there wasn’t a stash of delicious Jif smeared inside.
  • One boring, tasteless, frozen Eggo waffle straight off T-man’s plate.  Sad.  So very sad.
  • Texas Roadhouse steak fries.  Bear stepped slightly to the right and that was all it took for Gracie to see her opportunity and lunge.  Voilà!  One side of potatoes for the furry canine.
  • Leftover Chinese takeout rice.  Bear had scooped hers into a bowl and was almost ready to microwave it when Gracie made her move.  With big fat paws on the counter, Gracie stuck her nose in and lapped that rice up like a fat cat with a bowl of milk.
  • My niece’s sock.  Granted, it was stuffed inside a shoe left on the floor and yeah, my niece is fully aware of Gracie’s shenanigans, but still.  It’s more than a little embarrassing to have to hand someone her sock with an enormous drooly hole in it.
  • Half the wrist on a simple cotton glove.  Oops.
  • A roll of paper towels.
  • A ziplock bag full of dog treats.  To get to them Gracie had to clear off the entire dryer, knocking aside scarves and dryer sheets, until she reached the good stuff.
  • Part of a toilet paper roll.
  • Apparently our Gracie felt the need to clean her belly again.  This info was on a time delay, which is always a nice surprise.  Bear approached me the day after Gracie had consumed half a roll of toilet paper and mentioned that she was pretty sure she’d eaten a bar of soap while foraging in the bathroom.  Not great news, but it did explain some of her hinky behavior the day before.

And so it goes…

I will neither confirm nor deny

December brings articles galore about children and entitlement…keeping Christmas in perspective, helping kids avoid the Gimmes, battling the concept of I Am Therefore I Deserve. They’re particularly plentiful this time of year thanks to what I’ll politely call that mother****ing media push.

From the first year Toys ‘R Us put out its Christmas toy catalog to the 24 hour cartoon channels marketing this year’s Greatest Toy Ever that just might end up burning your house down (hoverboards, anyone?), the media has been peddling Christmas crack forever.  Shoot, we fell for it when we were kids, but now that we’re parents?  Not my kid, we say.  My kid’s gonna care about poor children in Africa.

No offense meant to poor children, well…everywhere else.

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Feature Friday

Forever Family is on hiatus this week due to what can only be called complications resulting from Life.  So be it.

In its stead, I’m sharing some Friday reads I think you’d enjoy.  Give them a try (and have a wonderful weekend!).


Gracie and Phoebe are beyond adored in this house, much like your own furry friends.  They love us without limit, but in turn they’ve endured much (especially from the kids) in the way of misplaced displays of affection.  Check out this terrific article about showing your dog affection in their own language.

5 Ways To Tell Your Dogs You Love Them In Their Own Language –


Celestial.  Paytyn.  Shiraz.  Draco.  Primrose.  Austin.  Chaplin.  Moxxi.

Let’s just take a moment here, shall we?

I understand the monumental importance of naming your child, and I even (sort of) get your drive to make the name stand out from the crowd.  But Celestial?  And Draco?  And these are the ones you can pronounce!  Forget about the ones that are a giant mishmash of consonants with a vowel or two thrown in.

Click to read Elizabeth Broadbent’s particularly passionate take on the matter.

Dear America, Don’t Name Your Kid Something Stupid 


I talk a lot about girls and self-image.  The importance of asserting boundaries, believing you’re worthy of claiming your power, and handling conflict.

Let’s all take a field trip to visit this young lady ‘cuz she’s got this on lock.

Fifth Grade Girl Writes List Of Boundaries For Boy At School


For the new neighbor, who just doesn’t quite get the insanity that is your life:

“…I also wanted to explain the conversation you heard in the backyard the other day.  As you’ve seen, I have three boys between the ages of 7 and 12.  It gets a little wild here!  I was not really going to tape up my son’s butthole with duct tape if he did not stop farting on his brother’s head.  I mean, I would love to (because the farts are never-ending it seems), but I would never really do that.”

Dear New Neighbor, Let Me Explain