Monday morning convo with Major

Major: It was a bad weekend.

Me: Yes it was.

Major: I can’t believe that game.

Me: Me neither, dude. Me neither.

Major: We should’ve won.

Me: I know, I know.

Major: We should’ve gone for two.

Me: I know, I know.

Major: It’s gonna take me a while to get over it.

Me: Same here.

Major: Now I’m nervous about the rest of the season. Did you hear that Kentucky beat Missouri?

Me: I heard.

Major: And Vandy put some pressure on Ole Miss. VANDERBILT. AGAINST OLE MISS. I can’t take it.

Me: Me neither.

Major: Mom?

Me: Yes?

Major: Do you think we’ll beat Arkansas?

Are we gonna beat Arkansas

Those brown eyes, though.

Oh how my garden grows

The weeds are bad, but everything is growing beautifully. Having never grown potatoes before, I didn’t know what to expect. So far, so good!


The Japanese eggplant doesn’t seem to be as strong this year, so I might need to give it a little boost.

japanese eggplant

Sweet onions:

sweet onions

Gorgeous romaine lettuce:


Sweet peas:

string peas


cucumber grab

My gardening companion:

Major in May 2015

Our sick puppy

We noticed Major was acting strangely Monday morning. He was lethargic and not eating, two qualities that are inconsistent with his normal behavior. By the afternoon, his food bowl was still full and he was spending a lot of time in the back yard eating grass. By the evening, he’d thrown up all the grass (in the house!) and attempted to eat some food. As Chuck and I readied ourselves for bed, we discovered areas of vomit all over the living room. None of Major’s food stayed down. Even worse, his vomit was bloody.

By Tuesday morning, I knew he was really sick. Lots of diarrhea, more vomiting, feeble… I took him to the vet mid-morning and after a round of blood tests, it was determined that he had a nasty bacterial infection that was tearing up his digestive system. Since he was weak from dehydration and needed antibiotics, Major stayed at the vet all day on an IV. I picked him up late in the evening so he could spend the night with us and not in the kennel. He had a cone around his neck to keep him from pulling out his IV catheter.

Sickly Major

He slept in the crate all night, too weak to move around and seeping blood out his backside. I don’t want to be too descriptive here because it’s unpleasant, but the vet assistant described it well this morning when she asked me, “Is he still experiencing the strawberry jam in the back?” Yes, he is.

Major is spending another day at the vet for more medicine and fluids. So far he’s eaten a little wet food and has managed to keep it down. The diarrhea hasn’t completely cleared up but hopefully that will happen at some point throughout the day. The goal is to get him well enough to come home tonight and stay home.

As for what caused this, we aren’t entirely sure. The only thing we can pinpoint is from Sunday afternoon when we spent some time on a family member’s farm. Major drank from a small stream on the property and we’re guessing there could’ve been something in the water that made him ill.

Throwback Thursday: Baby Major

Our blue tick will be two years old in December and he’s topped out at 75 pounds. He’s turned into a fabulous running buddy and is fiercely loyal to our family. It is a miracle that this is the dog we ended up with, especially since his puppy phase was mostly miserable. Caring for him was like having eight toddlers with sharp teeth.

I took Major to the vet today for yet another ear problem. He’s prone to yeast infections in his ears so we got new medicine to remedy it. When the vet assistant came in the room, she said, “I just looked through his chart and he was only seven pounds when we first saw him!”

Yep. I remember that.

TBT January 23, 2013

My other boys

One of them was happy to take a photo this morning and wish you a happy weekend. The other pretended not to hear me. Forgive his rudeness. He doesn’t care about you or your weekend or what you think about his lack of caring. You can move along now.

Fur babies



My Buddy and Me

Wherever I go, he goes.

My buddy:

Best buddyI’m not an attachment parent, but clearly I’m  an attachment dog owner.  We’re together all the time, and when we’re not together, he’s waiting for me on the other side of the bathroom door.  Hurry up! I miss you!

Major and I went on two runs over the weekend, clearly our best activity together. He’s a faithful running companion, eyeballing creepy people and urging me to run faster. (The two aren’t necessarily related.)

I’m also happy to report his behavior is light years better than it was a month ago thanks to a training collar. Y’all, it was time to find some sanity with this pet before I put his crazy butt on Craigslist.  The training collar has allowed me to be the Alpha, something I’ve tried (and failed) to do for the last year. We’ve finally turned a new leaf. Now, we can sit down to a calm dinner and Major lays down on the carpet in the living room. This is huge.

In other news, I’m still editing my first short story, but I plan to post it later this week.

Major Pain

This dog, y’all.

This dogHe’s running me ragged. I swear I could put razor blades in his food bowl and he’d still want to eat our socks. I have to keep an eye on him at all times and it’s making me dizzy. Sometimes I think he should be with a hunting family instead of us, being worked to the bone, using his canine instincts for good and not evil. (I’m embarrassed to show you the back yard. The snow from last week does a fine job of covering up the holes.)

See dog runThe boys would be heartbroken if we didn’t keep Major. Truth be told, I’d have a hard time with it too. The thing is that he’s great in so many ways. He is an excellent running buddy, not only for companionship but also for security. He’s loyal to our family and snuggly when he’s sleepy.

But when he’s awake, we have to watch his every move. In the last three days, we’ve lost two ball caps and an exercise ball because no one was watching him and he lost his little canine mind. I cannot tell you how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he’s stolen off the boys’ lunch plates. He’s faster than a Hungry Hungry Hippo after marbles.

Treeing the coon tailYes, he is one year old. Yes, he’s a stubborn hound. But God help me if this is what the next ten years will be like. Will he ever calm down? What should we be doing differently? Dog owners, give me your best advice. Tell me it’s going to get better. Tell me I’m crazy to wonder if getting a second dog of another calmer breed would help.

I’ll leave you with Salem’s dissatisfaction. I can’t say it any better. Angry Salem

Riding the high of a snow day

Finally, we’ve had a good snow. You’d think snow was a regular winter thing at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, but no. It’s rare, and when it happens, it’s like a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Yesterday, we got a big ‘ole heap of it. Since we homeschool and our usual Tuesday activities were cancelled, we didn’t have to leave the house. The same goes for today. I’m almost out of milk, but we have electricity, which means we have the Internet and a working coffee maker. The necessary provisions are stocked.

It’s not lost on me how fortunate we are. So many families were separated last night because roads and highways were clogged with wrecks or simply impassable. The stories out of Atlanta and Chattanooga are tragic. Kids were stranded at school, people had to sleep in their cars. Many abandoned their cars and walked home. Commutes that usually took 15 minutes were stretched to eight hours or longer. No, it’s not lost on me how fortunate we are.

We finished school as fast as we could yesterday and went outside to play. It was beauty-full.

LightpostMagnoliaWe don’t have a sled, but it didn’t matter. Heavy duty garbage bags work just fine.Snow dayDown the hillWipe outJack goes down the hillJeremy goes down the hillHappinessEven the beast liked the snow. Blue tickCute? Yes. Major loves the snowBut so naughty! (He steals gloves.) Cute but naughty

Our toddler

He is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen. Deeply loyal, Major has been a wonderful addition to our family.

Except when he digs, barks, whines, chews the couch, paces in anxiety, antagonizes the cat, eats our socks, and tries to steal our food off the dinner table.

Otherwise, he’s perfectly lovely.

SideshotButch pleaseJust look at that face!

(This photo was taken right before he stole Jackson’s pencil.)

I am very much looking forward to having a mature dog who naps all day. Doggy toddlerhood can bite me. (Literally.)

The Would-Be Hunter

I swear we missed the mark on this one. Major should’ve been a hunting dog. I’m not saying he still can’t be trained, but we’ve already neutered him and Chuck doesn’t hunt nearly enough on a regular basis for anything to stick. Still, after buying a rabbit pelt for him (just to see what he’d do with it), I see now that Major has a strong instinct to seek and destroy.

Sometimes I pull the pelt around the yard on a stick for him to chase, while other times I’ll lay it over a tree limb. Either way, madness ensues.

By the way, our nine-month-old puppy is 55 pounds and can reach my shoulders with his front paws when standing on his hind legs.

Almost reach it Major and the pelt Major wants the pelt rabbit pelt

Major's bayFirst day of school report: Jeremy’s curriculum is too hard for him and Jackson’s is too easy. Never a dull moment.


My Money Maker

We’ve reached a pivotal point with the dog. He has to start earning his keep. No longer do I view his shenanigans as a path to my slow, painful demise. Instead, these events are becoming content for a children’s book series. I came to this realization after he snuck in my bathroom, where I was mopping, and stole the bottle of Softsoap.

I can’t fight this force of nature any longer, so I might as well make him work for his vet bills. I mean, if he’s going to lick the Clorox bleach off the kitchen floor after I mop it, why not work that to my benefit?

You want to drink the Softsoap? Help yourself!

You want to swallow a dirty sweat sock and vomit it up four days later? HAVE FUN WITH THAT.

You want to steal a paring knife off the kitchen counter for a chew toy? GO RIGHT AHEAD. Start with the pointy end and see what happens.

Yes, really:

Eat a knifeThe children’s book idea is not my own. A Facebook friend left an ingenious comment in May on one of Major’s pictures:

Major StorytellingIs this possible? Would anyone care? Could this be the solution to my lack of having a beach house? I answer that with a strong maybe.

I know letting him in the backyard without a leash is a huge risk. It means he’s probably going to dig aggressively for the speck of whatever smells wonderful five feet underground. It means he might finally rip the cucumber vines off the garden fence. It means he might chew the cover off the grill and swallow it whole. It means he might eat the citronella candle, wick and all. I sort of don’t care enough at this moment because if I didn’t put him outside right away then I was going to kill him for chewing on my laptop cord when there was a rawhide bone RIGHT BESIDE HIM.

This is after he snatched the sugary crust off my freshly-baked zucchini bread as it was cooling in the pan.

So this means I need an illustrator, an agent, and someone to constantly tell me to do this. Now taking applications for all three.

Until you find Major in a bookstore, you can follow him on Twitter @MajorHound.



Hardest Life There Ever Was

I actually missed this little menace while I was out of town, if you can believe that nonsense.Major naps

He lives a hard life, so I’m happy to accommodate his sleeping preferences.
Hard lifeHappy Weekend to you, reader! May it be filled with all sorts of immodest napping.

The Boss

Salem is the only one with power in this house. He is the boss of us, particularly of Major, and now that the dog has started howling and baying, Salem is having none of it.

It all begins with this adorable face:

And then he starts this nonsense:Loud

Salem is usually napping comfortably until he is disturbed:
HushAnd then he’s just pissed:AnnoyedThe boys continue to have fun with their houseguest, though my little Jack is often excluded. I remember what it feels like (Becky) to be unwelcome in my older sister’s bedroom (Becky) when she had friends over to visit. I adored my sister (Becky) and she mostly liked me, until she had a sleepover, and then I was no longer worthy to be included (Becky). I’m not pointing fingers or anything (Becky) but rather acknowledging the natural order of things when you’re the youngest child. I clearly harbor no resentment.


Storms are coming tomorrow so the kiddos will be outside for as long as possible tonight. Then I will shove them in their beds by 9 p.m. because it will take them another couple of hours at least to stop chatting long enough to fall asleep.

Our growing boy

We continue to have a very busy household with Major here. When he’s not napping, he’s chewing, running, bouncing, sniffing, eating, or up to no good. We’ve learned that someone, be it an adult or child, needs to be with Major when he’s out of the crate. If we don’t pay attention, he’s more than likely eating a Webkinz or somebody’s Spiderman coloring book.

He’s also maturing, which I came to realize after catching him getting intimate with a beach blanket.  Ahem. Boys will be boys.

But we still love the snot out of him. He’s fabulous.

chew toy

Best buddies


The Puppy and the Panther

Yes, I know I should be talking about my boys here, but hang on. We’ll get back to the humans next week.

In two weeks time, Salem has conditioned Major not to cross his path. The cat will perch on whatever piece of furniture he can in order to look down upon the rambunctious eight-week-old puppy. He watches the dog with keen, steady eyes and when Major finally notices that he’s been watched, he’ll stop, stare back for a few seconds and then back up slowly. Essentially, when Major locks eyes with Salem, he backs away to give Sir his space.

When they’re outside, it looks like this:


There have been a few occasions when the pair have been within a few inches from each other and all was well. Salem is always aware, Major not so much, and I’m eyeballing the whole thing to make sure the 16-pound panther doesn’t skin the eight-pound puppy with one fell swoop.

So far, so good. And then, this morning happened on my lap:


sleeping together

Yay for progress! Happy Weekend!

School? What school?

This right here…

Portrait of Major…is why we’ve hardly done any school work. This ankle-biting, attention-seeking, shoe-chewing little bundle of adorable sucks all the energy out of our house, so when he finally crashes to sleep in his crate, we finally get to do all the things we didn’t have a chance to do beforehand.

You know, like use the bathroom.

The boys and I adhere to a university-style schedule. Though we do language, reading, and math everyday, we do history and science twice, maybe three times per week. That’s on top of co-op and church activities, so we stay fairly busy altogether.

Since getting Major last Monday, we’ve accomplished about half of what we usually do and that’s making me entirely anxious. I need to figure out some time management solutions immediately or we’ll lose our momentum by mid-February, deterring us from finishing our curriculum by the end of April as planned.

Despite the amount of work this little guy has been, he has to be one of the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen. This isn’t a blog post written out of regret. Rather, it’s written from a place of exasperation. He has so many needs, and then the boys have needs, and then there’s Salem and the house and commitments I’ve made. There are interviews to be done and dinner to make, and those towels have been sitting in the dryer for three days.

And suddenly Major’s up from his nap and whining to get out of his crate, while I’m still trying to scarf down my lunch…

You get the gist. Having a puppy really is like having a newborn, except you can’t crate a newborn. Thank goodness you can crate a puppy.

The things you don’t remember

When we got Hank, our wonderful coonhound who passed away two years ago, we were newly married and living in a small apartment. We both worked full time, which meant we learned quickly that puppies should not be left alone with your things for seven hours, or even 20 minutes. Within a week of getting our first puppy together, we started crate training him and that made a world of difference.

We’re crate training Major and fortunately that part is going well. He goes in the crate freely when he’s tired and doesn’t whine all night wanting to get out. As long as he’s gone to the bathroom, been fed and played to exhaustion, then he’s good.

That last detail is essential. Playing to exhaustion. I have no memory of playing with Hank intentionally for an hour for the sole purpose of wearing him out. Maybe we didn’t have to do that, or maybe it wasn’t for a full hour, or maybe I’m just too old to remember details from 2000.

At any rate, we are ALL EXHAUSTED. When Major is awake, we play, play, play. Tug of war, biting the rope toys, playing chase around the couch. When he starts to sniff around, we scoop him up and take him outside for potty training, and then we come back inside for more playing. We go until he can’t go anymore, then he puts himself to bed in the crate and we all collapse on the couch with the hope that we’ve got at least an hour of no playing.

And then he stirs and it starts all over again.

Camera strap

Don’t get me wrong – we’re still smitten. Seriously, look at that face! We are still so glad to have a dog again. But somehow I’ve selectively removed from my memory the work involved in caring for a puppy. Either that or Hank really was the perfect dog.

Me: “Remember how Hank would sleep all day and only get up to eat and pee?”

Chuck: “Yeah, that was nice.”

Me: “Yeah, it was.”

A video for my mother

Grandma wants to see her granddog playing, so here you go:

Don’t you just love how his ears bounce when he runs? There’s so much cuteness in this house right now that it might explode.

Major News

Our Facebook friends were privy to the news last night, but now it’s time to introduce our new puppy to the internets.

This is Major.

Daddy holds MajorWe’ve been keeping him a secret for six weeks. SIX WEEKS. It’s been so difficult for me to keep this from the boys, but we did anyway just in case it fell through. We found a blue tick breeder in early December and made arrangements to get a male from the pending litter. Seven little hounds were born on December 9 and we got first choice. (I left that task to Chuck because I couldn’t choose just one. In my tender-hearted rationale, choosing one meant rejecting six. No way could I do that!)

So the puppies were born and we waited. All through Christmas, all through New Years, all day yesterday. It was terrifically hard to be patient. The breeder and Chuck arranged to meet last night, so we decided to tell the boys prior to picking up Major. We were so ready to spill the beans. To prepare the surprise, we kept telling the boys that we were having a family meeting after dinner. We were intensely serious.

The photos we’d received from the breeder were proportionately misleading. We thought we were getting a breadbox-sized puppy, but Major is much smaller than that. At six-weeks old, he’s less than ten pounds.

Ten pounds of adorable…

Wet nose

Sweet Major Miller

Getting sleepy

Best FriendsThus far, Salem has observed Major only from a distance. He is not pleased, but he is very curious. We’re easing into it and letting natural instincts work their magic.

As for Jeremy, he’s wholeheartedly attached.

Salem is watching

Tracking a scent