Monday, October 3, 2011

Spiritual Petsitting

This week we are visiting two darling dogs, Elvis and Sophie. This is new client, referred by one of our long time clients, and we thank her again for the trust!

As I sat in the cool morning with Sophie the itty bitty poodle on my lap and Elvis the schnauzer guarding the property from evil squirrels, I thought about why I love our petsitting business so much.

Sons and I have been doing this for over 6 years. They grew up with it, first accompanying me on sits, now they do the bulk of the sits on their own. Lots of great memories together and car time to talk.

But, I love it because I feel like I am a caretaker. Caring for these pets who are special in the clients' lives. Allowing them to travel (for vacations, family events, some happy some sad) and knowing their beloved animals are in good hands. Also their house is safe and looks lived in.

But as I sit in a home, am there multiple times a day, I feel I get to know the people. No, I don't snoop, but I see. See photos on the fridge, the coats on the rack, the running shoes by the back door, the dad's shirts pressed in the laundry room ready for work the next Monday, the dishes in the sink or cheerios on the floor.

I spend my lap time with the dogs (or cats) doing my spiritual reading or meditations. It allows me to pray for them as well. There is something intimate about being in someone's home when they are not there. I am so thankful for the trust.

Today as I sat with Sophie in the pool lounge, and Elvis was doing Squirrel Sentry Duty, I felt so thankful and also in awe at the responsibility I had. I also read today's liturgy scripture about the greatest commandment- to love God with all our heart, mind and strength and one another as our self.

I feel I fail so often. What should I be doing? Big things, little things? Well, this is a little thing I can do. Love their pets. Love them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good to Great to Humble?

I am listening to the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.

Yes, it is about businesses.. recommended by my husband's business coach. (Yes, he is starting a new business, but that is a different story.)

I started listening, and it was very intriguing, but I felt suddenly like I didn't want to listen to a business book right now. Yes, I have always loved business, ended up with a degree in it, have worked for 2 really great small or start up companies, have our own little pet-sitting business, which we love... and now am going to some awesome coaching sessions with my husband.

But I feel sometimes a book like this- well, it puts one back in the box.. like "Ten Great Tips to Success!" kind of books, or article, or.. you know.

But this guy is a reseacher. He went into this project not with a pre-determined answer he hoped his data wold support, but compared himself and his team to Curious George, even calling themselves "The Chimps". They looked at a massive amount of data and 'looked under each hat' to see if they were surprised by the results and open to what they found.

What they found was the companies that were GREAT, meaning against the tide of the economy or industy or other factors, that succeeded many time over the average had great leaders. Of course, that is what they expected.

But... these leaders had an extra WOW factor. What?


That is wow. These were not celebrity leaders and CEOs, they were humble. Now I want to finish the book. That is what his is all about.. I am wondering how much they delved into faith and what is real. Can't wait to see if the book tells me.

Why We (I) Blog

Why we blog. My inspiration for this post came from Leonie. (Hi Leonie!)

I have been AWOL from blogging for a long time. I am not going to post any more dumb, boring, silly wimpy excuses why I did not blog because my life is no more busy and overwhelming than any one who is reading this. It is probably due to my serious faults, egoism (perfectionism) and lack of organizational skills, tiredness of staring at the computer screen and a serious lack of abilities to set priorities.

At this point, I have laid it all out there, so the proof will be if I keep blogging!

But one thing in particular that caught my eye in Leonie's post was
"And blogging helps me. I think and find solutions while writing. While blogging.

Writing about an idea frees me of it. Thinking about it is a circle of repetitions
. Mason Cooley

That is why I blogged before and why I am back to blogging now.

I have linked my old blogs in the side bar if you are interested. They are full of sweet and sometimes tense and scary days of Homeschooling---metamorphosis---Unschooling our two sons. Most of them were written when the guys were between 8 and 16. They are now 18 and 21. Yup.

So, my life is different. I am on the 'other side' in many ways. But still in the midst and sometimes the muck in many just as poignant ways.

What do I share, what do I not on the internet, which has also leaped into a new stratusphere since my old blogging days? (NOTE: When I last blogged there was no FACEBOOK. yeahh....)

I asked this of one very pragmatic son this question today.

"Easy", he said while chewing pizza, "Just don't write anything that you would not mind anyone in the world reading."

Yeah right. Just like a man. I told him with my best mom's arched eyebrow, I have thinks to say and connections to be made.. I am a female and very relational.

He kept chewing.

Ok, thanks for reading this, if you are. More to come...

P.S. If you read this, could you comment? I have changed my URL so many times I just really am curious if anyone still sees this?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Question: DogSitting adding free training?

Happier at Home! Pet Sitting

Question for anyone who ever thought about using a dog sitter:
We have a small family petsitting business where we focus on a small amount of clients but stellar, personalized service. We try to be the kind of pet-sitter we would want!

We go into clients' homes 2-3 times a day for between 10-30 minutes (depending on the level of need/service paid for) and walk, play, feed, whatever the pet needs.

What if we offered a short training session while visiting? The thought is it would give the dog something stimulating and fun to do (dogs LOVE training) and they would not only get their physical (potty) needs met when we were there, but also their mental needs.

We would not charge more, but add more value.
We would do 'clicker' training and give our clients a sheet of instructions and free clickers if they want to continue on their own.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Slip a Ham Sandwich Under the Door

Nora used to tell us that.

Nora is a friend on an old mom's email list I attended for years. She has a son, whom she homeschooled. As we talked on our list, she would talk about how he would be so involved as a teen in his projects and her role was to:

"Slip a ham sandwich under the door.." as he worked.

Nora, I have thought of you so often and slipped many a sandwich, metaphorically or actually!

St. John Bosco--- need a breath of fresh air?

This man influenced me greatly. He is the patron saint of our home/learning, my oldest son's patron saint, I form my parenting by his writings. And, named my nutty dachshund puppy after him. Need more proof?

(If you want a fresh breeze in your parenting or homeschool, get to know St. John Bosco. Love and discipline (discipleship) in the right order. Together.)

Dear St. John Bosco

His words bring me back to what is real. Pray for us, St. John Bosco!

Don Bosco's method of study knew nothing of punishment. Observance of rules was obtained by instilling a true sense of duty, by removing assiduously all occasions for disobedience, and by allowing no effort towards virtue, how trivial soever it might be, to pass unappreciated. He held that the teacher should be father, adviser, and friend, and he was the first to adopt the preventive method.

Of punishment he said: "As far as possible avoid punishing . . . . try to gain love before inspiring fear." And in 1887 he wrote: "I do not remember to have used formal punishment; and with God's grace I have always obtained, and from apparently hopeless children, not alone what duty exacted, but what my wish simply expressed."

In one of his books he has discussed the causes of weakness of character, and derives them largely from a misdirected kindness in the rearing of children. Parents make a parade of precocious talents: the child understands quickly, and his sensitiveness enraptures all who meet him, but the parents have only succeeded in producing an affectionate, perfected, intelligent animal.

The chief object should be to form the will and to temper the character. In all his pupils Don Bosco tried to cultivate a taste for music, believing it to be a powerful and refining influence. "Instruction", he said, "is but an accessory, like a game; knowledge never makes a man because it does not directly touch the heart. It gives more power in the exercise of good or evil; but alone it is an indifferent weapon, wanting guidance."

He always studied, too, the aptitudes and vocations of his pupils, and to an almost supernatural quickness and clearness of insight into the hearts of children must be ascribed to no small part of his success. In his rules he wrote: "Frequent Confession, frequent Communion, daily Mass: these are the pillars which should sustain the whole edifice of education." Don Bosco was an indefatigable confessor, devoting days to the work among his children. He recognized that gentleness and persuasion alone were not enough to bring to the task of education. He thoroughly believed in play as a means of arousing childish curiosity -- more than this, he places it among his first recommendations, and for the rest he adopted St. Philip Neri's words: "Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin."
Posted by Cindy at 6:57 AM 0 comments
Labels: faith

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Transformation of the Heart

Tonight at Mass, the scriptures were about the Transfiguration of Christ.

"His face shone like the sun."

I love that image.

Our Deacon talked about transformations. He used the analogy of the caterpillar and butterfly.

ASIDE: (This reminded me of all the fun we had years ago of planting butterfly weed or milkweed, the monarch butterflies flocking (do butterflies 'flock'?) and watching the whole process as they lay eggs, the chrysalis forms, the butterfly appears.
Lots of great learning memories...

Strewing Hint for those who have not done this yet! What is Strewing? Look Here )

This reality really resonated as we spent the evening watching the golden sunset after a beautiful day. The words were real, our God loves us.
Change our hearts, Lord, transform us!


We have dog-sat Buddy since his puppyhood. When his family needed to find him a new place to live, we stepped right up.

He goes back to his 'first family' when we travel. One dog- two loving homes. Lucky dog!

His favorite hang out is in our 'window room'. At the front of our 70's two story house we have this odd little room that is actually a hallway between two bedrooms, but has floor to ceiling windows.

There Buddy does sentry duty. He watches the front yard and neighborhood most day and night. We feel safe.

He is a great dog, very sweet. Only dog I ever had who asks permission before coming in a room, jumping on a bed or taking a treat out of my hand. Love you, Buddy!

The Dachshunds of Lent

Thank you Sabine and Jan for alerting me to This Article.

Humm.. Lent, Journeys, Dachshunds, dog-sitting business... how in the world could you have related that to me?!

I enjoyed This Article immensely as the dog-walking, philosophizing author considers how walking his charges with various temperaments, reminds him of the struggle we all have with our virtues, vices, personalities and desires as we live in a world with excesses the ready and are constantly urged to do 'what feels good.'

I love reading about the personalities of the two dachshunds he walks along the streets of Manhattan. I can't profess to be as deep or quite the writer he is, but I could relate and resonate very much to his words.

I love our petsitting business. I must admit I generally enjoy the dogs more than the cats, (because most cats won't play), but they are convenient for my schedule with their litter box system in place.

What do I love about it?

- Sharing it with my sons

-I love dogs. As a little girl I would cut picture of dogs out of magazines and had an ever-growing gallery scotch-taped to my bedroom wall. oOe of my goals in life is to get to know one of every breed. (better get busy)

-Love the families we serve.

-Feel like we truly help them. I am the petsitter I have always wished I had. (really)

-My sons enjoy the extra money and it is teaching them about business, professionalism and customer service. When a visit was missed, (first time that happened) the responsible son had to fess up to the owner in person and offer retribution.

-Spiritual growth. Yes, I never dreamed! One thing we tell our clients (or their owners) is we fit the sit for them. What does THIS dog need to keep him/her de-stressed. Could be: walks, throwing a ball, sit and scratch ears, or just showing up.

-It is humbling to serve the needs of a dog. (Think poop. Or getting up early on a day you otherwise would not have to.)

-These visits cause me to slow down. Sometimes when I visit a dog and we sit in the empty house, he just wanting some lap-time or ear-scratches, I will bring my reading and have quiet time to think and pray. Unlike home, there are no dirty dishes, laundry or computer calling me. We sit, talk, and just be. Sometimes I sing to them.

- The walks are wonderful. We are out, and I am always conscience of their safety and they are just having a blast. Sniff-fests, meet and greets, devouring the neighborhood. Like the author, I see a lot of life and personalities. I have to adjust the walk for the dog, help him keep safe within his temperament, but have as much fun as he can without 'sinning', as St. John Bosco would advise.

Best of all, when we show up to a house, with the owners far away, across the state, country or world, or maybe just off to work all day, our clients are always happy to see us.

Can't beat that!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Little Way of Homeschooling

I think a big part of my spiritual journey, and the ongoing journey of raising children has been beautifully summarized in , St. Therese' Liseiux- "Little Way"

Now it has come back to me, gently, with love and friendships in a new book, just published

A Little Way of Homeschooling:
Thirteen Families Discover Catholic Unschooling

I wish you could see what went on the the background of the creation of this book. I only have a small glimpse of it, the glimpse of being one of the homeschool moms Suzie Andres approached to see if we could 'write a chapter'. I have known Suzie through email lists and forums for years and we *almost* met a few times, :)

The other 11 moms and I have known each other for years and years as well. Some I know just as fellow posters on various lists, others I have become very dear friends with and met in person. We all have one thing in common. We are in love with our faith, in love with our vocation and struggling mightily each day to raise our children, understand them and help them be who the are called to be.

Well, in addition to that, in one way or another we were drawn to unschooling. My chapter ended up being an autobiography of sorts. I had all these great ideas to really make this incredible insightful, power-packed chapter. But, St. Terese stepped in. Little. Be little. That is what homeschooling for 15 years has finally impressed upon me... I am so little. Life is little. Little is sweet and where the most humongous sweetness is. Bigger love than mighty things can ever bring.

This was hard for me because I was raised in the ME generation of the 70s and 80s and went to business school to learn how to be a VP of something one day.

Big big big.

I am continuing to learn that God does expect big things of us, but we have to be little to let him determine how we are to be big.

Big-little-big-little.. this explains a recurring dream since childhood I have had- almost like an Alice in Wonderland thing.. feeling very tiny, then growing big, then feeling tiny.

Back to the book- Suzie asked, we each wrote a chapter, some of us with more trepidation than others. I had grand ideas, ended up with a rather simple account then I wondered 'who would buy this book'? But, when I read the whole thing, I saw the stories, some simple as mine, were powerful in their simplicity and honesty.

Then, we have the beautiful insights from Suzie and her husband Tony who is a professor at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in California. I wish he had explained unschooling to me, as he has done in the chapter he contributed, years ago as I struggled with the entire concept, wondering if I was truly loving my kids or ruining them... but then, I think it is all about the journey.

Oh.. good blog title!

I have loved this journey.

I invite you all to read our little book. I will post more about the behind the scenes of how it came together in another post.

But for now, please read, enjoy, share. Your stories are part of this, too.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lent, Again...

Yes, I have been remiss in blogging.

I blame lots of things: Lack of time, new job, Facebook...

I love my homeschool community dearly and have kept up on the UC list, and many of them are now chatting on Facebook. However I do miss blogging. So now I hope I am 'back'.

Funny as I had to guess at my blogspot password, and finally got back in, my son looked over my shoulder and said, "You haven't blogged in a while. That was back when we had Sprite" - referring to the doggy picture post.

Yes, and also I see I had a picture up for Lent.. as that was Lent 2011.

Well, I am back and look forward to reconnecting and sharing our lives.