Mommy’s Favorite 2016

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day!  As always, I am looking forward to it.  I can envision it now.  After I have been treated to a gourmet meal (prepared by my husband) and  all the dishes have been washed and put away (by my children), after I have been showered with gifts and hailed with words of praise and adoration, my children will gather round me for our special Mother’s Day tradition.

This year, just like the past several years, I will pit my precious blessing against one another in a highly competitive game of Mommy Trivia.  I’m excited. It is always fun to see just who has been paying attention for the last 12 months.

No doubt the kids are getting excited too. In fact, I am sure that their eagerness to prepare and train for this year’s competition is the only explanation for leaving for the day (the day before Mother’s Day)  with a giant pile of laundry on the dining table, a sink full of dirty dishes, and four dogs who need to be fed. But I digress…

The stakes for Mommy Trivia are high. The winner earns the title of Mommy’s Favorite and gets to be  photographed for a picture that will serve as my new profile on Facebook for at least a week. And this year, there’s a trophy.

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Yes, it is a repurposed showmanship trophy from the dairy goat show at the Carroll County Fair, but it’s still a really big deal and I am sure highly coveted by all my children.

Perhaps the only thing tougher than the competition is coming up with questions. Here’s what I have so far for this year.

  • Name one thing in the back of my Highlander right now?
  • What is my favorite scent?
  • What is my favorite T-shirt to sleep in?
  • What is my favorite sandwich?
  • How do I like my tea from Sonic?
  • What is my favorite store?
  • What did I get for my high school graduation present?
  • What did I get for my college graduation present?
  • Who is my favorite country singer?
  • Who is my favorite 90’s band?
  • Who is my favorite 80’s singer?
  • What is the last movie I saw in a theater?

Every year it gets tougher to come up with questions.  Over the course of the next 12 months I’ll try to make a point to do some notable, interesting, or outrageous things so that I’ll have more material for questions. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

In the meantime, Happy Mother’s Day to all of my Charming Friends. And may the best kid win!

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Growing up Jake thought his Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating man in the world. He loved to hear his grandfather’s stories about life in the Welsh orphanage where he had been sent as a boy to escape the Nazis. Grandpa Portman mesmerized Jake with tales of his childhood friends and their peculiar gifts. One could hold fire in her hand. Another could levitate. Another was invisible. Still another had amazing strength. To add to the intrigue, there were photographs, strange and haunting photographs, of these children displaying their unusual gifts.

But as time passed and Jake grew older, he began to realize that these stories and even the photographs were too fantastic to be true. In time, Jake came to see them as merely a kind of family fairytale – that is, until the night that everything changed.

When Jake’s grandfather is attacked in the woods behind his home, the police blame wild dogs. But Jake was there, and he saw the attacker. He was no dog. He was terrifying. And he was right out of one of Grandpa Portman’s stories.

Unfortunately for Jake, no one believes him – just like no one believed Grandpa Portman. To confront the nightmares and fears that consume Jake’s life, his parents try therapy, drugs, and distractions. Eventually Jake tries to convince them to let him travel, with his father, to Wales to see if he can find out more about Grandpa Portman and the place where his strange stories originated. Reluctantly they agree, hoping it will put to rest Jake’s belief in the truth of these tales.

However, there on the island of Cairnhom, Jake finds Miss Peregrine’s orphanage, old and decaying, but teeming with information. Digging through rubble and remains of the old house, Jake begins to uncover, artifacts, photographs, and the dark secrets of Grandpa Portman’s strange and disturbing childhood and the orphans he shared it with.

Set in a quaint Welsh fishing village and in the fog-shrouded Welsh countryside, this novel, part mystery part horror story, takes us with Jake on his this quest. Who were these children his Grandfather grew up with? Were their gifts real or just fantastic stories? What happened to them? And where are they now?

As intriguing as this story is, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might not be the book for everyone. I’ll admit that I half hoped the story would turn out to be a mystery of the ordinary variety. But no. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is definitely an extraordinary story.

However for adults and teens who enjoy the strange and the scary, this book is a nice departure from the witches, vampires, ghosts, and werewolves that we see in so many YA novels. The children, although very peculiar, are just children, some darker and creepier than others, but they are not supernatural nor other-worldly. There are monsters in this story, but they former Peculiars whose own attempts at immortality caused their mutation.

Another refreshing thing about this book was the lack of steamy romance. There is an emerging romance between Jake and one of the teenage orphans (yep, they’re still there), but this is not necessarily central to the plot. Unlike most YA fantasy novels where the sexually-charged relationship between some misfit human and some ultra cool vampire, ghost, or witch is the storyline, in this book the romance is more of a subplot.

Like so many YA novels today, this one is the first in a series. So, it looks like fans will have to read the next novel, The Hollow City, to see if Jake’s romance is taken to the next level. In fact, we’ll have to read on because at the end of the Miss Peregrine Jake’s adventure is really just beginning.

LANGUAGE

Yes, there are some swear words in this book and some crass expressions.

VIOLENCE

Yes. Jake and the other orphans must battle the monsters who threaten their safely. The last 40 pages or so involve a pretty intense battle between the opposing sides.

SEXUAL CONTENT

There is a kissing scene that starts to get mildly heated and at one point Jake refers to himself as a “horny teenager.” There are also references to “making out.”

SUPERNATURAL ELEMENT

Not really. As I said, neither the peculiar children nor the monsters they fight are really other-worldly. But the monsters are scary and some of the children are downright disturbing.

THE MOVIE

To give you some idea of the type of book this is, Tim Burton will be directing the movie. Check out this article and creepy book trailer.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS

To add to the eerie factor, this book is filled with photographs of the Peculiar Children – holding fire, levitating, swarmed by bees, etc. The creepy thing is that all the photos in the book are actual photos found in various flea markets, antique shops, and private collections. Chilling.

Due to language and crass expressions some parents might feel this book is not suitable for tweens and younger teens.

I Get By With a Little Help From My (Cyber) Friends

I’m not gonna lie. I miss having Little Ones. I mean I really miss it. I miss chubby, jelly-smeared faces. I miss sticky kisses and fat little arms around my neck. I miss the way my little boy said, “welwoah” and “wemon cake” and dandewion.” I miss they way my daughter used to pretend to be a baby shark – all year long, on land or in the pool. I miss the way my younger daughter spent day after day wearing fairy wings and snow boots and the way our littlest one used to play with his toes and sing a sleepy song just before dropping off. I miss all of this and so much more.

But I’m not surprised. Even at the time I knew that the moments were precious and the time was fleeting. I knew I would miss having little ones. What I did not expect, what I did not know I would lose, is the friendships I formed in those days of playgroups and play dates and long, lazy afternoons by the pool.

At the time, I did not realize what a gift it was to sit for a couple of hours (or more) each week with my friends and drink coffee or sweet tea and visit while our children played. For me, having small children meant having time for friends. As a stay-at-home and a homeschooling mom, hanging out with my friends was actually a part of my job description.

Of course, I still have friends. Some have moved. Some of us have gone back to work. But none of us had a falling out. We still love to hang out and drink coffee and talk. But now, those opportunities are rare. There are no Saturday mornings at the park because Saturday mornings are for ball games and lessons. We don’t hangout by the pool in the summers like we used to. Sitting in the sun with friends watching your seven year olds swim is normal. It’s good parenting.  If my mom friends and I joined our teenagers at the pool now several afternoons each week, they would be mortified. It would be weird.

So, we do the best we can. Somehow, every once in a great while, a few of us find a night when none of our kids has a game or a practice or a band concert, and we have dinner.

I keep telling myself that, just like those years when I could not sit down to a meal without being interrupted to nurse or take a toddler to the bathroom or wipe up spilled milk, this is a phase, a season of life. The teenage years are, in some ways, the years of isolation for moms.

Or maybe not. Having teenagers does afford me hour and hours of late night solitude as I wait (and pray) for my kids to get home safely. In those hours, I am able to connect with moms all over the country thanks to groups like Grown and Flown.

I was thrilled when I found a website and Facebook group specifically for parents of teenagers and young adults. Like a lot of aspects of middle age  this time in life, mothering older kids entails its own unique set of joys, sorrows and frustrations.  I am delighted to be connected to a supportive group of women who know what I am going through. I am even more delighted to have been able to write for Grown and Flown.

In recent weeks Lisa and Mary Dell, the women who run the site, have published two of my posts. Family Dinner: We Lost the Table and Found So Much More is about the way my family has connected by turning out kitchen eating area into a comfy sitting area. Teenagers: I Want to Remember These Last Times is about the bittersweetness of going from a house full of Little Ones to a house full of teens and tweens.

In the years that my children were small, I needed my mom friends to help me through the stress of teething and weaning and living day after day with a house full of needy little people. Those days are over, but I still need mom friends now to help through these years of living in a house full of needy (and sometimes moody, sometimes hilarious, sometimes infuriating, sometimes delightful) big people. Even though we don’t have a weekly excuse to hang out drinking coffee anymore, I am still grateful for my mom friends. And I’m grateful for my cyber mom friends too.

After all, as Mary Dell and Lisa say, “Parenting never ends.”

 

A rare moms' night out

A rare moms’ night out

Why I Am Religious and Not Just Spiritual

When I was in college I was involved in an Evangelical campus ministry. I attended a weekly Bible study (most of the time) and went to occasional social functions designed to help Christian students connect and enjoy an alternative to wild sorority and fraternity parties. Once in a while, I even dragged myself out of bed on Sunday morning and went to church.

When the subject of my faith or Christianity would come up with friends, I was always quick to point out that I was “spiritual but not religious.”

I didn’t want people to think I was religious for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to seem weird. I was still trying very hard to keep my faith from interfering with my social life. The other reason that I insisted I was not religious, was that I sincerely believed, as did almost everyone else I knew, that religion was the opposite of true faith. I thought that religion was outdated, mindless, and that it suffocated true spirituality.

Then I became Catholic.

I have been Catholic now for 16 years. I am religious, and I am convinced that my religion helps me to know, love, and serve God better than I ever could apart from the practice of my faith. That is, after all, the point of true religion.

Throughout history the major monotheistic faiths, the faiths that worship the God of Abraham – Islam, Judaism, and Christianity – have sought union with God through the practice of religion, not merely through an individual spirituality based on one’s own preferences, tastes, and personal convictions. The idea that one can know and worship the God of Abraham apart for religious practice seems to be a fairly modern idea.

I cannot speak to the trends in other faith traditions, but many modern Christian denominations pride themselves on freedom from the confines of religion, as if they have discovered some new path to God that the founders of Christianity and nearly two millennia of followers failed to discover.

Yet for Catholics, and I imagine for observant Jews and Muslims as well, our religion isn’t merely a set of rules to be followed or boxes to be checked. Our religion is the house in which our faith is born and the place where it is nurtured.

Here are some of the reasons that that I am religious and not just spiritual.

Religion is physical. Like all ancient faiths, Catholic worship includes specific, tangible physical element. Catholics kneel. We bow. We make the sign of the cross. We hold rosary beads, and we light candles. God made us body and soul. It makes sense that we would use our bodies when we pray and worship Him. Nearly every other activity we do as humans includes some sort of accompanying posture or gesture. We tell our children to sit up at the table. We rise when a judge walks into his court room or a bride steps through the doors of the church. We shake hands, hug, and wave. We hold our hands over our hearts when we hear the Nation Anthem. Soldiers salute. Actors bow. Couples kiss goodnight. All of these things are meant to communicate something – respect, greeting, affection, gratitude. Why would we think that what we do with our bodies should have no effect on how we pray and worship? Bowing, kneeling, the sign of the cross, and other physical expressions of our faith are the accompanying gestures to what we are thinking and feeling. They keep us in the right frame of mind, and they are a signal to ourselves and to others that what we are doing is sacred.

Religion is habitual. As an Evangelical Protestant, I would have equated the word habit with “vain repetition.” It is true that when we say or do anything repeatedly, we run the risk of diluting its meaning and value. A nightly “I love you” between spouses becomes empty words when void of true sentiment or action. So, of course, we must guard against mindless recitation of prayers or thoughtless reception of the sacraments. But habits, when they develop in us a desired effect or quality, are a good thing. We teach our children the habit of saying, “please and thank you” long before they know what the words mean because we want to develop in them a sense of gratitude and respect.

Developing a good habit disciplines us to what we ought to so that when we don’t want to or when we are distracted, forgetful, or distressed, we are still able to do, fairly easily, what was once a struggle. When we do something habitually, it becomes ingrained into the fabric of our being. I want to teach my children to practice their faith, to worship, to pray, and do good habitually and religiously. Their feelings might come and go, but the habit of being a faithful Catholic will sustain them through times of doubt or spiritual dryness.

Religion is unifying. One of the things I love most about being Catholic is the universalness of our faith. The oneness. There is something beautiful and powerful about the unity of religion. I love knowing that the prayers my family prays, the customs we observe, the feast days we celebrate, and the truths we believe are shared by countless other Catholics all over the world. When we profess our faith in the words of the creed at mass, we are making the same profession that billions, of others have made for centuries. When I confess my sins and ask The Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God, I do so knowing that I am aided by the prayers of billions – both on earth and in Heaven.

Being a part of a religion is about so much more than just fellowship, so much more than a great youth group or an inviting ladies’ Bible study. Being religious is about being united with other believers all over the world – those living and those who have gone before us. When you belong to a religion, you belong to a family – a family that spans generations and transcends cultures.

Religion is comforting. Like my favorite sweatshirt, a cozy blanket, or my grandmother’s kitchen, my religion is comforting. Even with all the help the Church gives us to practice our faith – the sacraments, worship, traditions, stories of the saints, and so much more – sometimes the world is just too much. I run out of words. I feel too tired or too discouraged to pray. At times like these I can fall back, not just on my personal faith, even faith can be tough in times like these. I fall back on my religion – familiar prayers, beautiful hymns, the smell of incense, the beauty of the mass, the words of the creed. My religion provides vehicle for times when my faith just need to be pulled along.

Religion is designed by God. When I was an Evangelical, we  often cited verses in which Jesus seems to be criticizing the Pharisees for their religious practices. True. Jesus was quick to point out the ways in which the Pharisees used their religion to set themselves above others or the ways in which they were hypocrites. He condemned the religious leaders of His day for burdening people with unnecessary rules and regulations. But true religion, seeks to draw people nearer to God in and through the practice of the faith. True religion is not just set of rules and laws. That sort of religion, the sort of religion that Jesus condemned, drives people to either rebel or to live lives burdened by anxiety and crushing guilt. But Jesus never tells us not to be religious at all -to just do our own thing. Jesus himself was an observant Jew, keeping the feasts and customs of His people. Not only that, but God never tells the Children of Israel to just worship any way they please or to do whatever makes them feel good and draws in more people. Instead He always has very specific instructions for how they are to conduct sacrifices and worship.

Back in college, when I claimed to be spiritual but not religious, what I was really saying was that I was free to pick what, if any, Christian customs and traditions I followed. I could decide for myself which doctrines were binding and which were not. Being free from religion meant that I could choose a church, if I went at all, that fit my preferences and taught what I believed to be the correct interpretation of scripture. Being spiritual but not religious actually meant a religion of my own creating.

Webster’s defines religion, in part, as an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules…

I like that definition. My religion organizes my beliefs. My religion gives me a framework and a system both for expressing my love for God and for helping me to grow in that love. My faithfulness to God does not depend entirely on my feelings. Through the various practices of my religion, I often do feel more love and awe for God, but I am also sustained when those feelings sometimes wane. My religion does not replace a real relationship with Jesus any more than living within a marriage replaces a couple’s real relationship with each other. Rather, my religion is the home in which my relationship with God is nurtured and grows.

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Christmas Now and Then – A Mom of Big Kids Updates Her List

Just a few days ago I wrote about what I really want for Christmas. It was a list of all the things that, in a perfect world, would be different around my house. That list is spot on. I stand by that list. And yet, as I look back over it, I can’t help thinking about how different that list is from one I might have written ten years ago – when all of my children were small. And the truth is, it made me sad.

Sure big kids are great. They like to stay up late and watch holiday movies with me. They rarely destroy the Christmas tree ornaments. And the girls usually fill their Christmas list with cute boots and sweaters that fit me too. Even so, a part of me longs for the days when Christmastime was magic. I miss having a houseful of little people bubbling with excitement and filled with wonder.

So, in addition to matched socks and a crumb-free counter, there are a few things I’d like to add to my Christmas list – things that I never would have wished for a few years ago…

  • I used to wish that I didn’t have to stay up until 2:00 a.m, assembling toys and stuffing stockings. Now I wish someone wanted a doll house for Christmas or a baby doll stroller or a train set. And oh how I wish someone believed in Santa.
  • I used to wish I could get just a little more sleep on Christmas morning. Now I wish I could hear the pitter patter of tiny feet racing down the hall and the excited squeals of children delighted to see what Santa has brought.
  • I used to wish for just a few hours to myself to bake and decorate and wrap presents. Now I wish I had sticky fingers in my hair and chocolate kisses on my cheeks. I wish I had a whole new set of Christmas ornaments made out of macaroni and salt dough and goofy school pictures.
  • I used to wish they would all sit still for a Christmas photo. Now I wish they would all be home at the same time for a Christmas photo.
  • I used to wish it wouldn’t snow. How tired I got of the bundling and unbundling, the soggy mittens and the wet boots. Now I wish I could see a chubby faced little one trying to catch a snowflake on her tongue.
  • I used to wish, in spite of the late nights and the mess and the hassle, that they could all stay little just a little longer. I used to wish I could freeze time.

Now? Now I still wish I could freeze time. I wish that my boys would always want to wrestle and rough house and make too much noise and drive me a little bit crazy. I wish my girls would always want to stay up way too late and watch schmaltzy Christmas movies with me and cuddle under a pile of blankets. I wish that my family would always go to Christmas Mass together and struggle to all squeeze into one pew. I wish they weren’t all going to be grown and gone very very soon.

No, they are not little anymore, but Christmases around our house are still pretty magical. They are all growing up to be interesting and kind and funny and the type of people I like to hang out with. So, I guess as far as wishes go, mine really are coming true.

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Originally Posted December, 2014

Six Very Short Christmas Stories for All Ages (with PDF links)

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a Literary Advent Calendar on Facebook. Each day there is a link to a Christmas story, poem, or essay. It is delightful, and I was thrilled to discover the calendar includes several works I have never read (yes, I peeked ahead).  I can’t wait to read them all. Maybe I’ll discover some new favorites. Maybe. But  I can’t imagine finding any Christmas stories more touching and more charming than these six stories – only one of which made the cut for the calendar.

These stories are touching and inspiring.  I encourage you to grab a cup of tea and a cozy blanket. If you can, gather your children around you too, because these stories are perfect for every age. But warning! You might want to grab a box of tissue too.

  • Papa Panov’s Special Day by Leo Tolstoy is based on Matthew 25,  Papa Panov is a lonely cobbler. On Christmas Eve Jesus visits him in a dream and tells him that he will come to visit Papa the next day. All Christmas day Papa Panov waits for Jesus to visit him, but as the day drags on Papa worries that he has missed Him.
image source: amazon.com

image source: amazon.com

  • The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde This is the story of a selfish giant who refuses to let the village children play in his beautiful garden. But by keeping the children out, the giant keeps out much more. It takes a very special child to show him just how much.

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  • A Christmas Day in the Morning  by Pearl S. Buck. At fifteen, Rob realizes for the first time in his life that his father loves him. This realization awakens love in Rob’s heart and  prompts him  to give his father the best gift he can think of. Rob’s gift is simple, but it’s the simplicity and his father’s reaction to the gift that make this story so touching and so relatable.

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  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. This is possibly the best known Christmas short story of all time, but it’s still worth reading every year. Newlyweds Della and Jim each want desperately to give the other a special Christmas gift, and they both make a great sacrifice to show the other love.

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  • Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt is a story is based on the childhood of Frank McCourt’s mother, Angela. Little Angela is worried that Baby Jesus in the nativity at Saint Joseph’s Church is cold. After all, she knows what it’s like to be cold and hungry. So she takes matters into her own hands. This almost gets her into a lot of trouble with her mother, with the priest, and even the police, but her brother Pat comes to her aid.

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  • A Christmas Memory by Truman Copote was first published in 1956 is Mademoiselle magazine. It is the mostly auto-biographical story of the friendship between seven year old Buddy and his special friend, and elderly relative who herself is much like a seven year old. This one is a bit longer than the other stories on my list, but definitely worth the time. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of friendship, growing up, and loss.

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As we go through Advent these stories of love and joy and sacrifice can serve to  prepare our hearts to for the most important story of all,  The Real Christmas Story.  May your Advent be blessed and your Christmas merry. And to quote another giant in Christmas literature, “God Bless us every one.”

 

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Four Reasons We Didn’t Get a Rescue Dog

We have a new puppy. We didn’t take in a stray. We didn’t find him from a pet rescue website. And we did not, as I had always imagined we would, go to our local shelter and pick out a sad-eyed, fuzzy puppy looking for his forever home. Instead we bought a purebred puppy from a breeder – no apologies. No apologies, yet I find myself explaining our decision over and over to family and friends who are advocates for shelter pets.

Actually, I’m an advocate too. I think adopting is a wonderful way to add a pet to a family. A dog certainly doesn’t have to be a purebred to be lovable and adorable. When I hear of someone looking for a dog, I always encourage them to consider a rescue dog. In fact, for many people and families, a rescue dog is the best option. Until a few weeks ago, I assumed it was the best option for our family too. But turns out, it wasn’t. A few weeks ago, after lot of research and a great deal of thought, we bought (and adopted) Rufus, a UKC registered redbone coonhound.

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Here are the reasons my family decided to get a purebred.

  • We knew what we wanted and what we didn’t. Our dog search began just after my youngest son read Where the Red Fern Grows. From that point on he was, like the boy in the book, aching for a dog of his own. He was convinced that a redbone coonhound, just like Old Dan and Little Ann, was the perfect dog for him. I wasn’t so sure. What about a nice lab mix or boarder collie combo? We did our research, and slowly we began to weed out certain breeds. We raise bison, so we ruled out any of the herding breeds – because bison do not take kindly to being herded. We have a lot of landscaping, so we ruled out diggers like terriers. We knew we wanted a shorthaired dog because farm dogs tend to roll in yucky stuff. We also wanted a dog we could keep in the house, so we didn’t want a dog who would shed or be too hyper. As the list began to narrow, we decided we didn’t want to roll the dice with a pound puppy. Turns out, my son was right. A redbone is the perfect dog for us. According to the The American Kennel Club, the breed is even-tempered, amiable, and easy to train. They are energetic and active when outside but content to lie around the house for hours too. This sounded like the perfect dog for our family and for our young son.
  • We believe in maintaining breed standard. Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die. I’ve seen it on websites, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. This slogan is catchy and a great way to encourage people to consider adopting a shelter pet. But it doesn’t make sense for everyone to stop buying from breeders. If that happens, eventually there will be no more purebred dogs. We never hear of anyone calling for the extinction of the black rhino or the mountain gorilla, but if no one is breeding labs or poodles or Siberian Huskies, eventually there will be no more of these breeds. In order to maintain quality bloodlines and breed standards, dogs have to be bred and their puppies sold to people who appreciate the specific qualities of the breed.
  • We want to support responsible breeders. Our family has alway believed in supporting locally owned, family businesses. Buying a dog from a quality breeder was in keeping with that philosophy. Also, many of the families who breed dogs do so, not just for the extra income, but for the love of the breed. Their dogs are not just sires and dams, but beloved family pets whose puppies are given the best possible care until they are sold to loving homes. Reputable breeders keep their dogs in safe, healthy, and comfortable living conditions and up to date on all shots and vaccinations. Responsible breeders are advocates for the health and well-being of dogs, just like rescue advocate are.
  • Our son deserved this dog. Our son earned this puppy by doing chores on our farm. For months he has consistently and compassionately taken care of our pigs, chickens, and ducks. He has shown himself to be responsible and reliable. It was time to get him a dog of his own. Unless something terrible happens, this will be the one and only dog we get for our son. This is the dog he will grows up with, and this dog, this breed, was his heart’s desire. We don’t always give our children their heart’s desire, but in this case we could, and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Not every family should buy a dog from a breeder, and not everyone should adopt from a shelter. Choosing and owning a dog is a big deal, a big commitment. The right dog for anyone is the dog that is the best fit for them – no matter where it comes from.

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