Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Since I wasn't able to be with family this year for Christmas, I babysat for a single Mom who had to work. Single moms, in my opinion, have just about the hardest job in the world ... I can't even imagine the fatigue of trying to be both breadwinner, and fulltime parent. Anyway, this little guy was very sweet and we had a great time together. His favorite activity was to play in the dogs' water dish.
He was intrigued with them eating out of those bowls, and wanted to do the same. Next thing I knew, he was splashing in their water dish and dumping it out on the floor. So much fun!! 

Spending the day with a baby (something I don't get to do very often) seemed kind of fitting on Christmas Day as I considered the humble way that God chose to reveal Himself to us. My favorite Christmas passage is the first chapter of John, but another powerful word picture of the way Jesus came to earth is found in Philippians 2 ... that God would come not as a king but as a baby ... in order to identifiy with us in all of our weakness. I have a favorite song (which was recorded by Damaris Carbaugh a number of years ago) and also a favorite Christmas poem (written in the 17th century) and both of them speak to this aspect of Christ's coming. What an incredible gift to give up Heaven and all that was there in order to come as a baby and spend 33 years walking among us and then dying so that we can share in the glory of Heaven someday too! That is definitely something to celebrate!

He Became Poor - Byron Carmony

They borrowed a manager of hay for his bed,
Jesus, my Savior.
No soft downy pillow, no warm cradle spread,
for Jesus my Lord.
His were the planets and stars in the sky,
His were the mountains and valleys so high,
His all Earth's riches from pole unto pole,
But He became poor to ransom my soul.

Overwhelming Love - Richard Crashaw

"That the Great Angel-blinding light should shrink
His blaze, to shine in a poor Shepherd's eye;
That the unmeasur'd God so low should sink
As Pris'ner in a few poor rags to lie;
That from His Mother's Breast He milk should drink,
Who feeds with Nectar Heaven's fair family;
That a vile Manger His low Bed should prove,
Who in a Throne of stars Thunders above;
That He whom the sun serves, should faintly peep
Through clouds of Infant Flesh! That He, the old
Eternal Word should be a Child, and weep;
That He who made the fire, should fear the cold;
That Heaven's high Majesty His Court should keep
In a clay cottage, by each blast control'd;
That Glory's self should serve our Griefs and fears,
And free Eternity submit to years,
Let our overwhelming wonder be."

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I'm feeling joyful today because I finished my Christmas cards - finally! I trimmed my list waaay back this year, from 70 to around 30. I was also thinking about joy this afternoon when I was out running errands with the girls. It was 20 degrees above zero today ... that's warm in this part of the world ... so I had the windows open. If someone asked what I enjoy most about my corgis, I'd have to say it's seeing them bring joy to other people. I love driving around town with the girls, pulling up to a red light and, out of the corner of my eye, see them bring a smile to the driver in the lane next to us. Today, the lady in the other lane was laughing at Dee Dee, who was hanging out the window as far as she could . I love it when the girls light up someone's face ... and they almost always do. They have sure lit up my face ... and my life!

And then gradually I kept adding people back in. When I finished my last card tonight and counted up my final numbers .... I had made 76! Hmmm ... didn't do too well on the cutting back plan. Maybe next year! Yeah ... right ....

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I've been learning some important lessons lately about forgiveness. It's pretty easy to forgive people when they recognize that they've hurt you and apologize. It's a lot harder to forgive when the other person digs in their heels or worse, doesn't even recognize (or admit) that they've betrayed you. Forgiving those who 'know not what they do' has good biblical precedent though. (Luke 23:24). We all have blind spots, and I'm very glad that God forgives me for even the things I'm unaware of .... so I need to do the same for others. Today I tried to express that to someone in a tangible way. Corgis (and all dogs, I suspect) are good examples of unconditional love and forgiveness.
There are some mornings when I'm running late and am downright crabby at my girls, either for some little infraction on their part or just because I'm frustrated and they're the easy targets. I will leave for work, and come home at the end of the day and - no matter how irritable I've been in the morning - they are waiting at the door, butts wagging (corgis don't have tails but it doesn't keep those back ends from moving!!) and happy to see me as ever. They have humbled me many times as I realize I don't deserve that unconditional love, but surely am grateful for it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


We got our first major snowstorm of the season, and while I used to gripe about shoveling and icy roads, my corgis have given me a new appreciation for winter. In fact, it has become my favorite season. Since corgis have a double coat, they stay very warm and it's actually much easier to go for long walks in the winter when they can cool off and eat the snow than it is in the summer when I have to carry water. We have a very nice college campus near our house that has wide sidewalks and is well lit on winter evenings, and it's perfect for walking the girls. The students seem to enjoy having us around too. There is one large hill with a big concave area beneath it. It is like a huge bowl. The girls LOVE to go to the top of that hill, and when I say "RACE", they take off like bullets, running the circumference of the 'bowl', barking all the way. They like to create paths through our yard and chase each other through the maize. And if I throw a ball that lands in the snow, they have great fun digging, sticking their nose down in, searching for it. It always amazes me - the things they find buried in the snow. They'll be digging frantically, and suddenly emerge with a piece of pizza or part of a sandwich. One day Dee Dee found an entire hamburger and there was no way she was sharing it. There are lots of buried treasures in the snow.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


My girls teach me a lot about life. Some day I would like to write a book entitled Life Lessons From My Corgis: Devotions for Dog-Lovers. Many of the things they teach me have spiritual applications. I was thinking about that this morning as I was sitting in church and the candle was lit for the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is all about anticipation - looking forward to the coming of the Christchild. I, personally, love to look forward to things. When I take a special vacation, I enjoy planning it and looking forward to it as much as the trip itself. Anticipation is a lot of fun for me.
Dee Dee is very good at anticipating; much better than Princess. For example, if we're in the yard playing Frisbee, they are both very excited because they know I'm going to throw it. But while Princess stands next to me (where the Frisbee is now), Dee Dee goes out into the yard, watching me carefully so that she can anticipate where it's going to be thrown, much like a center fielder taking position when a powerful hitter steps up to the plate. Because she is better at anticipating, she usually gets the Frisbee. The same holds true when it's suppertime. If I say to them, "Do you want some supper?", Princess will run and stand by the closet door where the bag of dogfood is, while Dee Dee runs to her food bowl where she anticipates the food will be in just a minute. Again, she has the edge because she is good at anticipating.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Princess Gets a Squirrel

I've had a crazy weekend, and haven't gotten done nearly what I had hoped to. Yesterday, I was trying to work on my Christmas cards and the girls were wanting to go out ... then come in ... then back out ... you know the routine. Somewhere along the way I lost track of Princess, and when I went outside, she was no where to be found. She rarely leaves our yard, and when she does, she's usually just next door. So I was quite concerned when I couldn't find her yesterday and went out looking for her. A half hour later I still hadn't found her and enlisted the help of my neighbors to look for her. I was just about to get in the car to search for her, when she suddenly appeared ... coming through the trees with a squirrel in her mouth. It was a fresh kill and she had obviously been feasting on it for some time already. Both of my girls love to hunt critters and have caught various things - a baby racoon, a couple of baby rabbits and a couple squirrels. This one wasn't big but she was so proud of herself. My brother is fascinated by this because Elvis doesn't show any interest in catching critters. Must be that in the corgi family, the girls are the hunters.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! This has been a year with many changes and challenges, and yet I have so much to be thankful for! Faith, family and friends top the list - along with a wonderful home, meaningful hobbies and of course CORGIS! We had an enjoyable day with some friends who raise buffalo. I've been fooled there many times ... thinking I was eating beef, only to find out it was buffalo. But I do believe the turkey we had today was real. And it was wonderful. My friend Melissa is an awesome cook!

As I've mentioned, Princess and Dee Dee have very different personalities and the amount of human interaction they require is one of the places you really see it. They both love people and love attention, but with Princess, a little goes a long way. After a few minutes, she's had enough and will go find a quiet place to be alone. Dee Dee has a bottomless pit when it comes to affection - both giving and receiving it. She loves to have her tummy rubbed and, as this picture shows, she found a good source of it today! Aren't these girls the cutest? They have a very handsome big brother too.

The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving are two days of the year when I don't leave the house (except to take the girls for a walk). I am not a crowd person and I really don't enjoy shopping. I'll be working on Christmas cards, holiday baking and enjoying the music of the season. But Thanksgiving has always been my very favorite holiday of the year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Lights Parade

I took the girls to the Holiday Lights Parade this evening .... a chilly night, but not too bad, especially when you're standing in a crowd of people. And the floats were awesome ... horse-draw sleighs, lots of reindeer and of course Santa. Afterwards there was a community Christmas carol singalong on the plaza and then fireworks, which we didn't stay for. Fireworks and corgis (actually fireworks and any breed of dog, I suspect) don't mix well. My girls actually don't enjoy parades much either (too much commotion) but I haul them with me because they're so cute in their antlers. People love them!

I have to laugh because every time I put the antlers on them they act like they are sooooo heavy .... they'll just lie down flat on the floor like they are in these pictures. The crazy things probably weigh all of 3 oz!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So different .....

Parents often are amazed at how different their kids can be. That also applies to corgis, I've found out. My brother and I have often commented about how my girls are total opposites and Elvis is a blend of my two. Princess is a very easy dog in that she rarely gets into trouble. However, she is extremely strong willed and independent. She minds me only to avoid being punished, and when I tell her to 'come' she comes very slowly with several stops along the way as though she doesn't want me to think that she is actually obeying. Dee Dee, on the other hand, aims to please. She wants nothing so much as to hear the words, "Good Girl". She really wants to obey ... her biggest discipline issue is impulse control.

This month both girls are having teeth pulled. Dee Dee had one extracted this past week and Princess is having one - possibly two - pulled next week. An expensive lesson learned about not giving your dogs bones to chew on (or any hard object for that matter). The teeth were infected so they are both on antibiotics. And the difference between my dogs is nowhere better noticed than when giving them a pill! It's unbelievable. All you have to do with Dee Dee is put the pill in a little piece of food (doesn't matter what it is ... doesn't even have to be buried) and she swallows the whole thing - no problem. She inhales her food, so she doesn't even taste it. Takes all of 20 seconds. With Princess, it's more like 20 minutes. You can bury it in food, crush it, do anything to it you want and she will find the pill (or pieces of it) and they come shooting out the side of the mouth! Over and over and over we go through this. I've given up on burying it in food. It's not working anyway. I'm putting the pill as far back in her mouth as I possibly can, closing it and massaging her throat - like the books tell you to do. Nine times out of ten the pill still reappears on the floor but eventually it goes down.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm a big time paper crafter .... addicted to both rubber stamping and scrapbooking. Next to my 'girls', they are the best therapy I know. And I've needed a lot of that this year!! When I first started making the girls'memory albums - about 7 years ago - I was almost embarrased to show them to people. I thought they'd think I was a little 'over the top' - making albums for my corgis. At the time, I was lucky to find three or four sheets of 12X12 scrapbook paper in a dog theme. But - oh my goodness - there are dozens of dog-themed papers, kits, embellishments, ribbons, you-name-it - out there now! And of course I own every one of them!! Evidently I'm not the only person who's a little enamored with my dogs! We are now up to volume six (and counting) LARGE albums and I've had so much fun making them and showing them to people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Inner Strength

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs

Then You Must Be ...... The Family Dog!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


We had such a dank fall, but November has been beautiful so far. The girls and I went to see friends this weekend - out to a fellow SU demonstrator's buffalo ranch yesterday and today to stamp with some other friends out in Minnesota lakes country. It was a lovely day and the girls had fun chasing squirrels and hangin' out. I should have been starting on Christmas cards today, but I just can't seem to get inspired. It's been a tough year on a lot of fronts so I'm not sure that I'm going to do a letter. Maybe just a card. Or maybe I'll take the year off completely.

The girls look pretty cute in their new Lands End jackets, don't 'ya think?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Princess got into a tussle tonight with a friend's dog and got the short end of the stick. It was such a helpless feeling to watch her being attacked, but she's a tough little cookie and doesn't seem any the worse for wear - just tired and a little sore.

In the top photo Dee Dee (L) is pictured next to Princess, Princess' half-sister Blaze, and Einstein, who is the common link between my girls. He is Princess' brother and Dee Dee's father.

The girls love to go to the park with their corgi friends and if I tell them that Susan is coming to pick us up they will sit on the porch and look down the street until they see her car.    This picture of Princess is entitled "Waiting for Susan" and the raised paw means, "I'm ready!"

Introducing Elvis

I've started this blog as a place to chronicle the adventures of my two Welsh Corgis, Princess Isabella and Dee Dee (aka 'the girls'), but I have a feeling it's going to turn into an eclectic mix of all of my interests - the 'girls', rubber stamping, my spiritual journey, travels, books I'm reading ... who knows, maybe I'll even throw in a good recipe now and then.

I need to introduce you, however, to the third corgi in our extended family, Elvis - who belongs to my brother Tim in Holland, Michigan. Elvis is actually Dee Dee's litter mate and they look a lot alike. Elvis is famous. REALLY famous. It seems he does calclulus (a nice coincidence, since Tim is a math professor). He now has learned to do bifurcations too. If you google 'Elvis, corgi, calculus', you will find over 100 articles about him. He has an honorary doctorate from Hope College
and he travels with Tim all over, giving lectures about his natural ability to choose the most mathamatically optimal path. This weekend Elvis has reached the pinnacle of his career to date. He is lecturing at Boston University to a group of students from BU, Harvard and MIT.



Sometimes it's hard for my girls to live in Elvis' shadow but they've grown used to it. Dee Dee has no aspirations to that kind of fame; she's a homebody who retreats to her kennel when there's any commotion. Besides, she can beat Elvis up quite handily. Princess, on the other hand, is so regal, so independent and confident of her importance in the world, that she isn't really bothered by Elvis either.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

An Introduction ...

This picture was taken last Christmas in front of the Stave Church in Moorhead, MN. http://www.hjemkomst-center.com/church/main.htm It's a really beautiful place and we had just had one of those fresh snows where everything just sparkles in the sunlight. Princess is on my lap in this picture and Dee Dee is beside me.