Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Puppy Kindergarten, Day 1

We started Puppy Kindergarten on Monday, 8/4. Denali was very distracted and had to know EVERYTHING else that was going on. She doesn’t realize she’s a puppy. I saw an 11-month old German Shepherd (who was just shopping at the Petco) whine and cower. I saw a full-grown Doberman move closer to his owner. Denali was ready to play!!! These big dogs had no confidence and were intimidated by her. Hmmm… I wonder what that means? We learned “Look,” “Gentle,” “Sit,” “Let’s Go” (same as Walk on loose leash) and tried to get them to come when we called their name(s).

There are two Maltese brothers, Shiloh and Cosmo. There is also a Dakota Shepherd girl (we’d never heard of one; it’s a cross between four dogs: English Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, and Poodles) named Dixie in our class. We actually met her a week ago when we took Denali to the pet store. Dixie will be getting a new puppy sibling this week, so we’ll have one more puppy in our class next week. Dixie, Shiloh and Cosmo are all 4 months old. Denali is younger than all the others (except the new puppy) but she’s bigger than all of them! And she wanted to pounce on all of them, too!

The class was an hour long so she was happy to get back in the car and curl up to go home when we were done. She was so cute; I took a couple of pix. They’re attached.

I talked with the trainer about her nipping and biting. If she does this, we are to yipe like another puppy would and turn away from her. If this doesn’t work, we’re to leave her and go to another room (like the bathroom) and shut the door for about 20 seconds. Supposedly, she’ll get the idea that the biting is undesirable behavior. The idea is that the teeth are NEVER to touch the skin. PERIOD.

Yesterday, Ian was on the phone with his University, trying to make sure he’s getting college credit for the college courses he took in High School and he slid the door open (between the kitchen and Dining Room) and Denali ran through. She ran upstairs and peed on the carpet. Now, she’s doing exceptionally well with the schedule we have her on… she either pees or poos every time we take her out. So I thought, maybe, the housebreaking thing was going really well. But since this happened, I know that she’s not “housebroken” yet. I asked the trainer about this incident. She said that since dogs tend to not soil their den, she’s considering the kitchen area where we keep her confined to be her den. And while she knows to go far away from her den to do business, that’s what she thought she was doing when she escaped. She doesn’t yet know the difference between outdoors and indoors… she just knows she was far away from her den.

We have a lot of practicing ahead of us…

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Friday, Orientation Day 2

I forgot to mention that our (my) hotel offers a hot breakfast. That was nice. Fresh hot waffles… yum! So, I had a leisurely breakfast on my own. Took my time getting ready since the first event this day was a campus tour; we’d done that a few months prior when we were visiting for Engineering Open House. Checked email; checked out of the room and I was over to the campus and Talley with minutes to spare.

This day was full of seminars in the same room, with no space in between them. We were free to come and go as we pleased, but I was reluctant to take a break as I was afraid I’d miss something important. My last seminar was titled “Letting Go and Letting Grow.” Most of the parents in this seminar were first-timers. Only a handful had sent kids off to college before. The seminar was emotional as we discussed our concerns with the other parents. But I was also watching my cell phone… the moment it was to ring, I would be able to go and see my boy! It was nearly 2:00 before that happened.

I met up with Ian and we walked to his dorm. He flashed his student ID! He is so proud of that thing! You should see him grin when he looks at it. He’s been waiting so long to be a student at NCSU; since he was about 7 years old and his big brother headed off to college there. He checked out of his dorm and we headed off to the book store. We found most of his books but his schedule wasn’t finalized. So we spent about $300; lucky for us, it was tax-free weekend!

Over the course of the summer, NCSU holds 9 different Orientation sessions. College of Engineering is at the end of the summer; then alphabetically, Ian’s Orientation session was the very last one of the summer. Because of this, he had a heck of a time finding open classes to enroll in. When we left NCSU on Friday, he was agitated and frustrated that he couldn’t get his schedule just right. I assured him that scheduling for his spring semester would be much better and he just needed to do the best he could with this semester.

The drive home was uneventful. And I was thankful for that. Doug made it home from Greenville before us.

Things I need to make sure Ian knows before he heads off to college in two weeks (not necessarily in this order):
o Do NOT be afraid, too shy, or too proud to find and ask for help if you need it.
o The health center also has a counseling office, if you think you might benefit from it. It’s included in your fees; don’t let “cost” deter you from using it.
o Credit Cards = Evil… at least until you have a positive cash flow and can pay your bills regularly and on time.
o Plan. Plan your classes. Plan your study time. Plan your meals. Plan your study time. Plan your work-out time. Plan your study time. Plan your play-time. Plan your study time. Plan. We bought a planner… use it!
o Review #4 above… STICK TO IT!
o Call home if you need anything. Also call home when you don’t need anything.
o Be friendly. People want to be friends with people who are friendly. Smile when you meet someone. Acknowledge that you may have already met someone; smile when you recognize someone. When someone you’ve already met calls you or approaches you, do act somewhat animated, like you’re happy to spend a few moments with them… do not act like it’s a waste of your time to speak with them. Make friends with a few upperclassmen… they could end up to be great mentors.
o Not everything is going to go the way you expected. But you are where you need to be. You’re starting the next chapter in your life. If you didn’t have challenges, you wouldn’t learn. If you didn’t have conflict, you wouldn’t figure out how to fend for yourself. If you didn’t have pain, you wouldn’t know satisfaction and happiness.
o Find and join a club. Take time out to exercise. Closely watch your diet, especially on days that you do not exercise.
o Mom and Dad love you. We’re proud of you. It’s time to make your own decisions. Try to remember to make good ones. We’ll always support you.

Thursday, Orientation Day 1

We took one car and found our way pretty easily to campus. We parked and walked Ian up to the Lee Hall dorm building where he was to check-in. For some reason, I fully expected to walk in with him and “help” or “observe” him. To my surprise (though thinking back on it, I shouldn’t have been so surprised, I mean he IS going off to college, on his own in two weeks!) the students were told to deposit their bags in a little courtyard area and head inside for check-in. “Parents need to proceed to Bragaw, just down there!” Doug and I felt like it was a little abrupt. We didn’t even know when we’d see our son again. I don’t think we were the only parents thinking the same thing.

At Bragaw, we were given a tote bag filled with papers and a schedule of seminars. Then we were off to the Talley Student Center for the first event of Parent’s Orientation. We ended up spending a lot of time in Talley through the entire event. During the very first event, my cell phone rang; Ian was looking for his immunization record, “but I need it before I can start. I got my picture taken for my ID!” In another of the seminars, one that dealt with the actual off-campus residence where Ian is staying, my cell phone rang and I opted to call him back. In typical Ian conversation, he asks me, “Where are you?” He’d just gotten out of lunch and we were headed to lunch. I told him that the Residence Hall has offered free dinner to all attending students and their parents. So I asked Ian if he wanted to do that or go to the dinner that was included in Orientation. He opted for the Residence Hall dinner, so that’s what we planned.

While waiting to pay for lunch at the dining hall, I was glancing at other parents’ nametags. Just ahead of us in line was a couple from our same hometown! I spoke up, “I see you’re from D*****. We are too.” We decided to sit and eat with this couple and had a great chat. They have a son, already at the school who is a junior this year and also a Resident Advisor. Their daughter is going into the engineering program this fall. They know one of the kids that Ian went to High School with. So we had a few things in common. We saw them a few more times throughout the Orientation.

Doug and I opted to skip a few of the seminars later in the afternoon. We stopped back at the hotel where he packed up and we decompressed some. Ian called around 4:15 and we agreed to meet at the Residence Hall at 5:00. Doug and I took separate cars so he could leave straight from dinner to drive five hours to Greenville. Ran into some traffic on I-440 and of course Ian calls, “Where are you?” We were on our way so he decided to just head in and have his picture taken for his Residence Hall ID. He met us outside the Hall. In, and up to the top floor to the dining hall; we dined on chicken and vegetables, watermelon and cake. I’ve heard good things about the food here, but I was unimpressed. Ian actually talked to us about his experience(s). He’d seen an old Middle School friend and another acquaintance from Middle School.

After dinner, Doug left for Greenville and Ian wanted me to drive him to his next event. Then I headed for the mall! I was looking for some college bedding that Ian wants… I didn’t find it. One merchant directed me how to get to Wal-mart because she thought she’d seen some bedding there. Along the way, I stopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond and a few other places I thought would be fruitful. No such luck.

Back to the room before 8:30; I tried the internet without success and watched some TV before heading to bed.

Heading off to Orientation...

Last week, Ian had Orientation at college. He’ll be a freshman in Mechanical Engineering. We’re pretty darned proud of him.

Along with the Student’s Orientation, they also offer a Parent’s Orientation. This being my first and only kid, I wanted to attend so that I would be as “in-the-loop” as I could. Doug also wanted to attend, since this is his last kid off to college.
So, the plan was to drive up Wednesday afternoon. This way, we’d be in Raleigh and wouldn’t have to get up at o-dark:30 to drive up. I told my fellow co-workers that I was leaving around lunchtime on Wednesday so I needed to get any work they needed done before that. I was hoping I’d be home early enough to spend a little time with the puppy, pack and leave shortly after Doug got home. Maybe, if we got up to Raleigh in time, we could call Doug’s oldest son, Douglas and have dinner with him. At 8:30 am, one of my co-workers drops red-marks for about 11 small projects (all prototype branch banks) on my desk. With a Friday deadline on these projects, I knew I had to fully complete the work before I left for the week. I worked through lunch, stopping only long enough to pop some Curves popcorn for a lunch/snack. I was finally able to leave the office at 4:15.

I’d like to say that the drive up to Raleigh was uneventful, but it wasn’t. Doug and I took separate cars. He needed to be back in Greenville on Friday morning for a very important meeting with the client. I drove lead and Ian rode in my car with me. We had left around 6:30 pm; much later than I had hoped. We finally stopped in Burlington for dinner. Once we got back on the road, it was dark. Getting closer to Mebane, there was some road construction. It had just dawned on me that my vehicle was due for a safety and emissions inspection, due to expire the very next day. Ian was talking about something or other and trying to find a decent radio station. I knew that one lane of traffic was being closed; the flashing arrows and cones alerted me to this. I guess I was distracted by everything and evidently I missed the sign that informed me that it was actually TWO lanes being closed. By the time my lane was being narrowed by the big orange and white barrels, I realized I needed to merge left. Looking in my side-view mirror, there was a mini-van… and an 18-wheeler right behind it. My lane was getting narrower but I couldn’t merge, yet. Do I brake? I can’t merge, that’s for sure. The way I was being squeezed between the truck and the barrels, I HAD to brake some. The 18-wheeler was not passing me quick enough and BAM! I made a very quick right hand turn… clipping the barrel at my front passenger quarter panel and I headed into the construction zone of the highway. We came to a stop to gather our wits and examine the damage. I looked left and saw Doug drive right by us. He didn’t see us. Well, he saw us, he just didn’t realize that it was us. Later, he told us that he saw NO brake lights ahead of him. No one even attempted to slow down to let me merge. Ian got out to assess the damage; most likely a good buffing will take care of the evidence, he thought. Tire was fine. No real scratches that we could tell in the dark. Ian got back in the car and asked if I was OK. As far as I was concerned, running into a barrel was much more desirable than being sideswiped by an 18-wheeler! We were safe, the car had minimal damage. Considering my options, I was great! We moved to get back onto the highway; what do you know? NO CARS! I pulled right out and got up to speed before anyone behind me was able to catch up. Figures! Ian called Doug on the cell phone and informed him that we were the ones that pulled off at the construction zone; we were fine and now about 2 miles behind him.

Getting into Raleigh, Doug took the lead and we found ourselves near to the hotel in no time. But since we didn’t know exactly where the hotel was, we passed it… and drove about 15 minutes out of our way. Until Ian actually read the map I printed out from Google. We made a U-turn and headed back to the mall and found our hotel by 10:30. So much for getting to Raleigh at a decent time. Blech!

The room was a two-room suite; complete with kitchen, separate bedroom with two beds and a large bathroom. Ian remarked how it would probably be weird for me the following night since I’ll be the only one using that big room. Free Wi-Fi in the rooms! WooHoo! Signal connection to wireless was Excellent; however, we could not get on to the internet. A call down to the front deck and we find out that the internet has been “up and down all day.” Blech! I kept trying, looking for the off-chance that it would be “up.” When it did come up, I was able to check my work email; I wanted to make sure that nothing else popped up on the Friday deadlines. There was an email, timed at 7:28 pm that stated that the deadline had a reprieve… the work that I finished earlier that day was now due the following Tuesday at noon! I wish they had made that decision by lunch time on Wednesday. We knew we had a big day on Thursday, so we all just got ready for bed.