Adventuring in DC :: Nationals game vs. Chicago Cubs

Nationals Game vs. Chicago Cubs

Rupert's work sponsors an outing to a Nationals game every year, and even though Maya and I aren't huge fans of the Nats or baseball in general, we're making it a family tradition to go. (Rupert and Ian go to a couple of other games per year.) It was an afternoon game with summer-like temps and humidity, but it was pretty beautiful ... and a good excuse to get milkshakes and shaved ice!

Nationals Game vs. Chicago Cubs

Two of my favorite things about Nats games are Shake Shack and watching the Racing Presidents. Today, instead of racing, they danced for Paula Abdul! (Honest Abe won.)

Nationals Game vs. Chicago Cubs 

Unfortunately, the Nats lost to the Cubs but we got to spend a few hours of quality time together as a family.

Nationals Game vs. Chicago Cubs

Nationals Game vs. Chicago Cubs
[I'm so happy to get an occasional photo with my son that I'll overlook my double-chin!]


Manners Class for Slinky

Slinky's first manners class

What to say about our darling barker? There are days when he's pretty good on walks, and I'm silly enough to think, "Oh yay! We're making progress." And then he'll go and bark his head off at some poor innocent soul walking by.

I'm worried that his barking and prey drive are getting worse (darn those rabbits and squirrels!), and I'm sad for him that he's so high-strung and scared that he's lashing out on our walks. He shows signs of anxiety (I think) with excessive licking, which also worries me.

Something we want to work on with him is playing. He currently doesn't fetch and shows very little interest in toys and balls. His lack of physical and intellectual stimulation probably makes his anxiety worse, so we're slowly teaching him to get some energy out in a positive way.

When I think about what might've lead to all of his issues, things seem to point to low quality of life and very little socialization. If he spent the first few years of his life like this, I know it's going to take time to get him comfortable and relaxed. I just have to remind myself to be patient and do things on his timetable, not mine.

We signed up for a basic manners class at Your Dog's Friend, a local doggie support center that was recommended to us by the rescue organization where we got Slinky. I'm hoping that I'll learn some techniques to help him become a more confident and relaxed dog. He's doing fairly well with clicker training and positive reinforcement with food as a reward. But it's easy to see that he can only do so much for so long before he gets worn out, and maybe even stressed.

Not that I didn't know this before we adopted Slinky, but being a good human to a dog is hard work (as it is with having any kind of animal in your home, including the human kind!). I hope we do good by Slinky and help him lead a happy life.


Adventuring in Maryland :: Cabin John Regional Park

at Cabin John Regional Park

Another dog owner at our neighborhood park suggested to Rupert that we try the dog park at Cabin John Regional Park. He recognized that Slinky was a rescue and it might benefit him to have more exposure to other dogs. His own dog, also a rescue, doesn't like certain breeds and finding that out about Slinky would be helpful.

I was pretty nervous about taking him to an enclosed area with lots of dogs. He barks and lunges at other dogs when we go on walks (but doesn't try to bite), and even if he gets a chance to sniff another dog and stops barking, he's timid and seems on edge.

at Cabin John Regional Park at Cabin John Regional Park
[Look -- he's not freaking out around the other dogs!]

He barked off-and-on at the various dogs we saw from the parking lot through the park until we got to the dog park. But once we went inside the small dog area, he didn't bark at all. He wasn't super welcoming of other dogs sniffing him, but he didn't object and even sniffed some of them back. But, for the most part, he stayed away from most of the dogs and he wouldn't play with them. That said, it was a huge step forward for him that he even let them approach him without barking like crazy. He randomly barked at a woman on the other side of the fence who was in the big dog area, and he warily watched the large dogs, but he was surprisingly calm. (We saw a giant Irish Wolfhound in the other area and -- poor thing -- it looked like he was getting a bit bullied by the other dogs.)

It's clear that Slinky has issues with large dogs so it's highly possible that he had a bad experience with a big dog before we got him. Figuring things out bit by bit will, hopefully, help us figure out how to make things easier for him (and us!) when we go on walks. 

at Cabin John Regional Park at Cabin John Regional Park

After a bit of time at the dog park, we hit the trail and followed Cabin John Stream for all of 10 minutes or so (each way). Slinky seemed to enjoy sniffing all the plants and exploring the stream bed. If it wasn't getting hot and humid, we probably could've stayed a bit longer. On the way back, though, he barked at several people. His barking is so unpredictable: he could be totally fine walking past one dad and little kid, and 30 seconds later, he would bark like crazy at another dad and kid.

at Cabin John Regional Park

All in all, it was a successful first trip to the dog park, and I'm sure we'll be back relatively soon. Let's hope Slinky had a good time and is willing to refrain from barking at everydog/one!


Japanese Calligraphy


This is what I was doing at 4am today ... practicing Japanese Calligraphy. Why? Well, the short answer is, "Because I'm a procrastinator." The long answer also includes procrastination, but it's really because I wasn't very confident that I could do this.

I'm in the Japanese Calligraphy group of my women's club and I'm the least experienced one in the group. I was still practicing dots, dashes, and lines until a couple of months ago. But we were given the opportunity to exhibit a piece at the May luncheon (usually, the group exhibits at the Japanese Ambassador's residence at our March Tea!) and I thought that having a deadline would motivate me to progress a bit.

So I practiced and practiced, and practiced some more:

and even more practicing  practicing Japanese calligraphy

I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it, so I pulled out the shikishi (色紙), the special square board that we were supposed to write our completed work on. Turns out, the paper texture is much smoother and slippery-er than my practice paper, so my final product wasn't as good as I had hoped. I still gave myself a pat on the back for getting it done. 

practice and final piece
[numerous practice sheets on the left, the teacher's sample on the top right, and my final piece on the bottom right]

Of course, when my piece was displayed next to everyone else's, it looked pretty amateurish, but that can't be helped. I am an amateur!

Japanese Calligraphy display @ the luncheon

This opportunity gave me the confidence to continue with calligraphy after the summer. For awhile, I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep trying, but I see that I have potential (as long as I practice), and it's a wonderful way to forget about everything else for awhile and concentrate on creating something.

Speaking of creating ... here are a few bonus pics of me attempting to draw with a calligraphy brush with the extra ink in the suzuri (ink stone -- 硯 ). It's really quite difficult, and I admire artists all the more (especially one of my favorite illustrators, Chris Riddell, who does a lot of work with black ink and a thin paintbrush).

IMG_1749  IMG_1748


It's hot & humid

Ugh, why is it so hot in mid-May?! Apparently, DC had the highest temps in the country around noon.

Apparently, DC had the highest temps today in the entire country! It is unseasonably hot and humid, which makes me pretty unhappy. (I'm actually much more tolerant of the cold weather than I am of the heat and humidity.) I really wanted to enjoy spring for awhile longer ...


clay class at Glen Echo Park, part 2

This week we worked with clay slabs. Maya loses interest rather quickly when she takes a class and she won't work on making things for longer than an hour (the class is an hour and a half).

She was fooling around with her slab and created a really cool objet d'art, so I asked her to make a modified one to see if we could get a candlestick in it:

random rolled clay slab thingy  I liked it so much that I asked Maya to make another one

I worked on a house number sign for our house:

WIP: house number plaque


clay class at Glen Echo Park

Maya and I are taking a parent-child clay class at Glen Echo Park with our next door neighbors. This week, we learned how to make pinch pots. Maya used the technique of using two pinch pots joined together to create a 3D cat.


Four legs, three pee puddles, numerous cuddles, and one ransacked kitchen garbage can

If  you know our family in real life, it's no secret that Maya loves dogs and has been asking to adopt a dog forever. Ian never showed much interest in having a pet, and certainly never asked us on a daily basis if we could get a dog (maybe because he was bitten in the face by a dog when he was a baby??).  But he certainly didn't object to getting a dog. Rupert grew up with dogs so he was also quite open to the idea of adding to our family. I was the last hold-out, mostly because I knew most of the responsibility of taking care of a dog would fall on me. Add to that, my anxiety about the unknown because I'd never had a pet growing up, and the dread of having yet another living being to take care of (I'm already raising two kids and I'm not particularly good at it or enthusiastic about it), and I resisted like crazy.

[Maya, age almost-2, pretending to pick up dog poop after "walking" her wooden dogs]

But I do love animals and I understand the benefits of having a pet, especially a dog. I also knew that Maya would do her best to take care of a pet, and she's always shown us by being really good with my in-laws' dog ... or any dog, for that matter.

[Maya walking my in-laws' dog, Lucy, during the summer of 2012.]

Maya's daily barrage of, "Can we get a dog?" continued after we moved to Maryland and I held fast, saying, "You can get as many dogs as you want after you move into your own place." During the hot, humid summers, I'd see neighbors walking their dogs while I enjoyed air conditioning indoors; on rainy days, I'd see them hustling along under an umbrella with a wet dog, and I'd imagine the clean-up necessary after each walk; and during the cold and snow of winter, I sympathized with the bundled up owners (and, sometimes, bundled up dogs) as they gingerly walked on frozen sidewalks, and not-so-secretly be glad I wasn't them. Moving here solidified my conviction that I was much too lazy and weather-wimpy to have a dog.

And, yet, here we are, less than two years into Maryland Life and I'm writing about our dog. Our. Dog. We've had him for a week, and I'm still having a hard time believing that we have a dog. It's reminiscent of my feelings after giving birth. So are the moments when I think he's a great dog, and the moments when I think I must've been crazy to okay getting a dog. Raising kids and having a dog are pretty similar.

[at the adoption event in late-March]

The irony is that I only have myself to blame. I half-jokingly forwarded an email to Rupert from our neighborhood listerv that asked if anyone was interested in fostering or adopting a dachshund that was being moved from West Virginia to the nice folks at Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW). I knew nothing about doxies except that they were originally bred to be diggers to flush out smallish animals that live in burrows, and I thought they were cute. Well, one thing led to another, and we emailed PAW, filled out an application, and went to their adoption event. And, what do you know, about a month later, we were approved to be his forever home. 

So, here he is, the newest member of our family, Slinky:

That's a bad picture of a dog, isn't it? About half the time he's at home, you'll find Slinky burrowed under blankets taking a nap. This dog is pretty darn lazy, which I'm not complaining about too much.

But, like most dachshunds, he's a barker and not that friendly towards other dogs at first sight. And he randomly barks at people (maybe he's being protective of us?) but will calm down relatively quickly. He can be stubborn and occasionally digs in his heels on our walks, and other times he's so good about trotting along right next to me.

Unfortunately, he hasn't been trained so he didn't even know the command for "sit." He's also not crate-trained so he gets into mischief when I leave him at home for too long:

This is going to be a learning process, for me and Slinky most of all. But he seems to be settling in alright and, for now, appears to be attached to me the most. It's strange and flattering, but perhaps not surprising because I am the alpha of this family! (I know affection is a fickle thing and this may not last long; Maya is definitely vying for the position of Favorite Human.)

(I'll be posting pictures of Slinky at my flickr account.)

"Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do."
—E. B. White