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Tending to the growing flock

By Gloria Yoder

Amazing how swiftly life can whisk you from one stage to another! Just a year ago we had only two children, now here we are with five little blessings! Honestly, we have had our share of “growing pains” that have gone with it, but then life wouldn’t be complete without any of these little darlings including the two foster children.

Being a mother of a flock of little ones really is a dream come true for me. There are moments when life’s road does feel a bit rocky, but then it’s like I recently told Daniel, “Family life really is so good!” For me, it’s just a matter of where I have my focus. The times I think I deserve more sleep than I’m getting with two babies or when I pine for the quietness I so much relish when I’m writing, I simply am not a very pleasant person to have around! On the flip side, if I take a moment to realize that I don’t deserve anything, life is simply a gift, things start changing considerably. The atmosphere of the house begins to change as the children sing gaily as they play church, play with their animals, or construct food dishes with their playdough. Daniel’s optimistic outlook in life has added an ever-encouraging dimension in my life, “It simply won’t help matters any to get stressed out over anything,” he has reminded me time and again.

A highlight in our household has been Julia’s preschool days.

As you may know in our little country school, we have only a couple weeks of preschool before our little ones start first grade. Julia and I have spent lots of time together the last few years, doing kindergarten work here at home. It has created many fond memories for both of us.

It took some time for me to get used to the thought of my little girl leaving for the day, not seeing her from 8:00 until 3:30. But then I couldn’t help but just be so happy for her, as the two of us got her needed school supplies together and talked about what it would be like to go to school for the first time. It doesn’t seem long since I went to school, which I always enjoyed, and here my daughter was all ready to take this big step!

On the first morning, we packed her pink lunch box with a corn dog (a rare treat for us), an apple, a cookie, and a baggie with salty snacks. Her pink backpack held her writing, gluing, and cutting gear along with the pencil box I used all eight years I went to school. On this special morning, she chose to wear her deep purple dress with a cape. Soon her hair was combed and she had on her white cap. She was ready for the day ahead! Before long she was out the door. A friend of ours escorted her to school that first morning.

“This is the beginning of a new stage in our lives,” I told myself. “We now have a school-aged child.” In a way it made me feel like we’re getting old too fast.

I had told Julia I would like to come visit her at school one day. She told me she would rather have me just drop in, then to plan ahead. That way it would be a surprise. One Thursday forenoon Austin, Elijah and I popped in on her. She really did look so cute in her little desk, writing in her workbook! Of course, she was all smiles when she saw us. Her teacher pulled out chairs for us to sit and watch. Austin was impressed with the little chair that was given to him, he informed me that he also wants to go to school!

Perhaps I’ll share our pizza pocket recipe with you. These are perfect for lunches. Simply make some extras and pop them in the freezer, wrapped in tin foil. They are ready to be reheated and enjoyed!

HOMEMADE PIZZA POCKETS

2 tablespoons yeast

1 /2 cup warm water

3 /4 cup warm evaporated milk

1 /4 cup oil

1 egg

1 /4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 cups  flour

1 pound sausage

1 cup pizza sauce

Pepperoni

Shredded cheese

Onions

Peppers

Mushrooms

Fry sausage and add pizza sauce.

POCKET: Dissolve yeast in water. Add the rest of ingredients adding flour last and let rise once, till double. Then roll the dough thin. Let rise again about 10 minutes.

FILLING: Fry sausage and add pizza sauce. Layer ingredients as you like on dough circles. Fold in half and press shut. Bake at 350° until golden brown.

Dogs and weight problems

A call from a distressed dog owner prompts this column. Her question concerned her overweight pet: “The doctor called him obese!” I asked how old the dog was because weight gain often plagues older dogs (humans too). However, this animal is only eight years old and is a relatively small breed. He should have a number of years left especially if he could trim down some.

The two main things this owner should start practicing are: 1) Stop feeding the dog every time she goes into the kitchen and start feeding a reduced calorie diet in the amounts recommended by the veterinarian. It might be an incentive to take the animal in once a week for weighing, just as human weight loss groups do. That way if there is no improvement or only a slight change, the doctor can suggest a variation of the regime.

A word of caution for any reader who has an overweight cat: Fasting is a “no-no” for cats. Any weight loss program should be carefully monitored by the veterinarian because even two days without food can cause liver “shut-down” in a cat.

2) Buster’s owner should start an exercise program which can include supervised play, a walk with the owner or neighbor’s child, a romp with other friendly dogs in a fenced-in area, limited to 15 minutes in the beginning, or fun games with neighborhood children. The games the dog will enjoy most are chasing a ball or squeaky toy and retrieving it and hide and seek. Tag is not appropriate for dogs and children because it can trigger the prey-chase instinct in dogs or in the case of the humans chasing the dog, it can cause a problem when the owner calls the dog to come.

Rough play such as wrestling should be discouraged as well as slapping the dog’s face (even gently) back and forth as a rough way of petting. The dog cannot understand this kind of play and will react aggressively if the animal is dominant-natured or become skittish or hand-shy if passive-natured.

Back to poor Buster and his weight problem. According to the medical books, obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems. Like humans, dogs can develop cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disorders as well as metabolic, endocrine, hormonal (diabetes is one), and joint problems.

Remember to start the exercise program slowly and gradually build up the amount of time and the stress. For a very overweight dog a short one-block stroll (that is half a block out and half a block back) each day for a week progressing to a whole block out and back the second week and so forth. With an active breed you might end up having a young person roller blading down the street with your dog on lead. (I doubt if Buster will ever do that, but other breeds might.)

My question to Buster’s owner is: “Wouldn’t it be better to help Buster lose weight than to agonize over an illness that could have prevented?